Emerald Princess entered service in 2007, and with a passenger capacity of more than 3,000, the ship maintains the high level of service it was celebrated for when it first launched. While Emerald Princess might not have all of the venues and features of the Royal-class ships that have come since, the ship still provides an excellent vacation for couples, groups of friends and multi-generational families.
What the Emerald Princess cruise does really well is balance modern needs, without over-the-top gimmicks, with rich and well-constructed excursions, allowing passengers to make the best of both the ship and the destination.
Emerald Princess deck plans are laid out in a way that allow for easy passenger flow. Restaurants and bars are just an easy elevator ride or flight of stairs away from the venues that draw the most passengers, such as the pools, the theater, and the Piazza. Taking the panoramic elevators located midship are a great way of getting a feel of all the things the Emerald has to offer.
Deck 15 is the place to be on sunny days – it’s where the family pools and most casual free eateries can be found. Those seeking some peace and quiet can either go down to Deck 14 to the more secluded Terrace Pool, or head to the adult-only Sanctuary on Deck 17. The Skywalkers Nightclub is located on Deck 18, well away from rooms so as to not disturb passengers’ rest. In fact, the ship’s deck layout allows for quiet nights in most rooms. However, if you’re a light sleeper, there are a few cabins to avoid on Emerald Princess, including those closest to the Piazza or directly below the theater, as well as staterooms directly below the pool and the buffet.
For the curious traveler, here are a few Emerald Princess ship facts: it has a gross tonnage of over 113,000; a length of 951 feet (which is about 3 American football fields), and 1,200 crew members. The extensive renovation of 2019 brought new life to this older ship, which feels fresh and elegant.
The ambiance of the ship is relaxed. Perhaps because passengers focus their energy on exploring the destination, evenings seem to be less about glitzy affairs and more about relaxed dinners. Although the ship's glamorous Skywalkers Nightclub -- with fabulous floor-to-ceiling glass windows providing never-ending ocean views -- offers the perfect opportunity for cocktails and dancing into the early hours.
The ship's updated entertainment program is a little more hit and miss. We loved “Voice of the Ocean,” a take on the popular TV show, "The Voice," but we felt that other shows lacked a clear narrative, therefore making it difficult to follow. The vocal performances did however have star quality and conveyed the feeling of watching of a Broadway-style show.
The central Piazza remains a passenger favorite. Recreating a theatrical Italian-style piazza, the vibe lies somewhere between a bustling shopping plaza and an outdoor square. This is something Emerald Princess does really well, bringing passengers together in a mixed-use space. Kids -- and adults for that matter -- are entertained by various performers in the Piazza, plus there's Vines, the ship's wine bar, to one side and the International Cafe to the other, which creates a buzzy but overall relaxed atmosphere.
Movies Under The Stars is another win for the ship. The concept is simple: Install a large open-air movie screen above the Calypso pool showing a program of new release and classic movies day and night. The Emerald Princess crew dish out the popcorn and thick cozy blankets are available for when it gets cool. What's not to love?
If you're looking for a cruise with a solid entertainment program, but without gimmicky rides and slides, and one that has a more relaxed dining vibe, you'll enjoy this ship.
For the most up-to-date testing, masking, and vaccination requirements aboard Emerald Princess, please refer to Princess Cruises. You can also use Cruise Critic’s guide to health requirements on the world’s major cruise lines as we know them.
· Meals in three main dining rooms and the buffet, plus meals and snacks at the Salty Dog Grill, Slice Pizzeria, Coffee & Cones (selected items), International Café; also 24-hour room service (excluding select menu items)
· Water, coffee, tea (including iced), and select juices in the buffet area
· All main theater production shows
· Most daily activities and events onboard, including games and events
· Movies Under the Stars, including complimentary popcorn
· Use of the fitness center (excluding classes)
· Use of the sports court
· Scheduled activities in the Camp Discovery Youth Center through 10 p.m.
· Gratuities (amounts vary depending on cabin type)
· Most specialty dining
· Lotus Spa and Salon services
· Beverages outside of water, tea, basic coffee and select juices in the buffet
· Auto-gratuities of 18 percent for beverages and spa treatments
· Most fitness classes
· Access to the thermal suite inside the Lotus Spa
· Use of The Sanctuary sun deck
· Shore excursions
· Activities including, but not limited to bingo, casino gaming and wine tastings
· Internet access/packages
· Evening group babysitting in Camp Discovery
· Photos and art gallery purchases
Most passengers are North American and British, with the passenger ratio leaning more toward the British. (On our sailing the Brits accounted for about 76 percent.) However, you'll encounter cruisers from all over the world; on our sailing passengers represented 43 nationalities. When the ship repositions to Australia in November, we expect the ratio to tilt more toward passengers from this region. The average age is typically over 50, but during school breaks (winter, midterm and summer), the ship attracts an overwhelming number of families with children.
Daytime: Daytime wear includes leisurewear for warmer days lounging around the pools and casualwear, such as khakis/jeans and polo shirts/T-shirts or tunic tops and casual pants for women.
Evening: The dress code on Emerald Princes is also relaxed in the evenings. There is one formal night on one-week cruises and at least two formal nights on cruises of 12 to 14 nights. Most men wear suits, though a number wear black ties, while most women opt for cocktail dresses rather than all-out formal evening gowns.
Not permitted: In the dining rooms, items such as shorts, pool wear, distressed jeans and baseball caps are not permitted; shoes must be worn at all times.
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