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32 Venice Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

This was our eighth cruise, the first one on Princess. We had a Baja balcony cabin, which we liked a lot. Calm seas and warm temps enabled us to use it more than any previous balcony. We paid $2,000 pp for the 18-day cruise, a bargain. ... Read More
This was our eighth cruise, the first one on Princess. We had a Baja balcony cabin, which we liked a lot. Calm seas and warm temps enabled us to use it more than any previous balcony. We paid $2,000 pp for the 18-day cruise, a bargain. That said, we are likely to resort to cheaper alternatives in the future. For a cruise in January from Fort Lauderdale to Buenos Aires on Carnival we have booked an inside, our first. We are in our mid-60s, have traveled a lot around the world. We had been to Italy and France before. I had been to Spain and Portugal, my wife had not. I am sure that the following statement will be greeted with sneers and flaming but people are nuts who go on a seven-day Mediterranean cruise, visiting a different port each day. In our opinion, it's just too hectic. We like a slower pace and found the sea days most agreeable, particularly the Atlantic crossing. But to each his own. Overall, a terrific bargain. Here are some random comments. We flew from BWI to JFK and then nonstop to Venice on Delta. Highly recommended. We arrived in Venice around 9 a.m., checked in, had lunch on the ship and started sightseeing. There has been some previous discussion as to whether the $15 pp Princess water shuttle from the ship to St. Mark's is worth it. Absolutely. Wouldn't recommend any other way. It was particularly useful when we returned from looking at Venice the first night, tired enough about to collapse. (We slept very little on the plane due to a passenger with a nervous condition sitting in front of us. Every 20 seconds or so he made a loud grunting sound that could be heard nearby despite considerable engine noise). We also did Grand Canal using a regular shuttle boat. Worked fine, enabling us to see lots of ordinary Venetians going about on their daily business. Did not visit any museums. Since we had lived in the Soviet Union for five years, we found it fascinating to discover how much St. Petersburg had been influenced by Venice. Similarly, buildings in parts of old Moscow look copied from Rome. No wonder. The czars used Italian architects in both cities. Naples: We had planned to take a hydrofoil to Sorrento but could not find the landing. Thinking we had found it, we bought tickets in the port area that turned out to be bus tickets. (The bus terminal is some 200 yards left of ship on the waterfront, immediately after you exit the port). Parts of the drive to Sorrento were scenic, giving us an idea about what one would see in Amalfi. After strolling around in Sorrento and having sandwiches, we took the Circumvesuvio train to Pompeii and then back to Naples. At the station there, my wife said she was tired and we took a cab back to the ship. It was not worth 10 euros. You can easily walk to the port from the train station. Had we known it, we probably would have taken a bus from the port area to Amalfi, instead of Sorrento. A Chinese couple from Canada, who were extremely well prepared, did so. Certainly the cheapest way to see the Amalfi coast. Rome: We liked Civitavecchia. Took the train on our own to Rome, where we did sightseeing from the upper deck of a HO-HO bus. An incredible city. Livorno: We had planned to go to Florence but decided we were too tired. Tried to look around Livorno, but it was a disappointment. Cannes: We had been there before so we just took city transit buses to look around. In the afternoon, I took a dip in the Mediterranean from a beach just a few yards from the tender pier. Refreshing. Barcelona: We made a big mistake. We started from Las Ramblas, which to our world-weary eyes was little more than a freak show. We then walked to the cathedral without realizing that it was not Gaudi's but an older one. It was a perfectly nice one, though, with geese parading in the inner courtyard. Cadiz: I had been to Cadiz before and will return. This splendid port city was used in a James Bond movie featuring Halle Berry as an ersatz Havana. Unfortunately, everything was closed due to Columbus day. We took a Ho-HO bus. Later in the day I strolled through the labyrinth of the old city's narrow streets and alleys and got hopelessly lost. By that time some bars were open and the city was starting to wake up. Lisbon: We took a private group tour arranged by Evie Almeida, a CC fellow traveler. Even though Antonio, with his halting English, turned out to be little more than a driver, the tour was a highlight of our trip, packing quite a bit into the few hours we had available. I had been to Lisbon decades ago. So it was fascinating to see how one-time cork forests had been replaced by suburbs and shopping malls. We got to the palace in Pena while the morning mist was still quite thick. This gave the visit an ethereal storybook quality. The tour then continued along the coastal road to Cascais, where the group had lunch at the Albatroz, a hotel/restaurant overlooking the sea. My wife and I opted for a short lunch, using the time instead for a stroll around the neighborhood. Lots of cheaper (and less scenic) eating spots. We also chatted with Antonio, the driver, who told us about his life. The tour continued with a quick drive-through of downtown Lisbon. This majestic city is a favorite of mine. Ponta Delgada: Our favorite. Colonial Portugal in Hawaiian setting. Strolled around. After lunch on the ship, I returned downtown and took a regular city shuttle (25 cents) to get a better idea. That shuttle, known as B, goes by the hospital as well as a big shopping mall. It was standing room only, but enable a dirty old man to enable the cleavages of pretty Portuguese girls of all hues. Overall: No complaints worth registering. We had a Baja balcony cabin which we used more than on any previous cruise. Warm temps and calm seas made that possible. Indeed the seas were so calm that I managed to complete the cruise without getting seasick, a predilection that I have on big bodies of water regardless of wave conditions. The Emerald's pizza on Lido deck was the best I have tasted on any ship and the grill's braunschweiger wasn't bad either. Except for one night of Indian food (which was somewhat disappointing), we took all our dinners in the Boccacio dining room. I don't think that food quite measured up to Celebrity's or HAL's level. As to entertainment, we saw the production, two MUTS. The Emerald orchestra was first-rate, a treat at the dinner dance. A final food note: My wife thinks I am nuts but I chose a cold soup each night mostly to make sure that that option stays in the menu. The Emerald's cold soups were mostly like smoothies. None rose to the level of HAL's Noordam; in fact, several attempts were quite disappointing. Our dining room servers were Gary and Mercado from the Philippines. They did as good job as can be expected from guys who have to serve a minimum of 20 people each dinner shift. Kudos to the hardworking Princess staff. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We are in our 50's and this cruise was our 39th anniversary gift to ourselves. This was our 16th cruise overall but our first transatlantic. Cut to the chase...it was our best cruise ever! We booked our Delta flight on ... Read More
We are in our 50's and this cruise was our 39th anniversary gift to ourselves. This was our 16th cruise overall but our first transatlantic. Cut to the chase...it was our best cruise ever! We booked our Delta flight on www.ticketstoeurope.com non-stop from JFK to Venice. Upon arrival we caught the blue bus (3 euros) to Piazzale Roma and from there it was a short walk to Hotel Dalla Mora which we found on www.tripadvisor.com. It was perfect for our 1-night pre-cruise stay. Venice was just as we remembered as we had lived in Europe in the 70's and early 80's and had visited several times before. This was true of all the ports we visited; the only change we could see was that everyone carried a cell phone, even the gondoliers. Otherwise things seemed just as they were then. We boarded the ship the next day and it took around 45 minutes from the time we turned in our luggage to the time we entered our stateroom. Very smooth process. Since we had cruised on the Crown, her sister ship, the Emerald seemed like home and we settled right in. Princess balcony staterooms are smaller than their counterparts on RCCL and Carnival but ours was sufficient for our needs. The ship is only a year or so old so everything was pristine and kept spotless by a tireless crew. We chose traditional late seating in the Botticelli dining room We requested a table for two and that is what we got. Unfortunately it was cafe-style seating with bench seating on one side and single chairs on the other so we requested a change to a stand-alone table and it was granted. We took nearly all our meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) in the dining room with the exception of a breakfast or two and lunches ashore. We found the quality and selection of food to be excellent. None of the menus were repeated. I wouldn't exactly call us gourmands but we know good food and service and that is what we found on the Emerald. We also took advantage of the Chef's Table offering and we were delighted with the entire experience. We recommend it unreservedly. Be sure to reserve early as there are only a very limited number of openings for this exceptional dining experience. Ports of call were Venice, Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Cannes, Barcelona, Seville (Cadiz), Lisbon, Ponta Delgada and Ft lauderdale. We took Princess excursions in Rome and Florence (unescorted bus drop-off and pick-up) and did the rest on our own. In Naples, we took the hydrofoil to Capri (17 euros each way) and enjoyed every minute, even the bus ride inches from the cliffside. A tip on changing money; the worst rate was at the Venice airport and the best rate in a little change shop in Anacapri. Rates vary widely. Change some money in the USA before you go so you won't be pressed to accept a bad rate. Rome and Florence offer more to do than the time available so plan ahead so you won't be disappointed. Cannes was beautiful and we ogled the many exquisite yachts along the seafront. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll on the Ramblas in Barcelona and had plenty of time for shopping as well as wine and tapas in a local tavern in the Gothic quarter. We enjoyed exploring the maze of streets in Cadiz rather than trekking to Seville. It was our first visit to Lisbon and we look forward to returning soon. There was so much to see and do that we had to narrow the list to a visit to the Castel Sao Jorge for the extraordinary city views, shopping for some of the local port wine and a leisurely lunch at a sidewalk cafe. By the way, every lunch was taken al fresco at every port and the weather was absolutely perfect; 70-75 degrees and mostly sunny. Ponta Delgada in the Azores was a great stop for strolling, shopping and we actually stopped at a mall. The selection and style of shops rival any in the USA. The mall was decorated in a whaling theme with a full-size whale sculpture at the entrance. After we left the Azores, we had 5 wonderfully relaxing days at sea. A little more detail about the ship and fellow cruisers. There was a significant contingent of fellow Cruise Critics aboard and we enjoyed two Meet-and-Mingle sessions. Princess provided complimentary cocktails at the first. Thank you Princess. Fellow passengers were predominantly 50-70+ and I don't believe there were more than 10-20 children on the ship. 20 and 30 year olds were nearly nonexistent and this would not have been the right cruise for them at any rate. Just a much more sedate crowd than usually encountered on Carnival or RCCL but typical of longer Princess cruises. There were endless opportunities for daytime and evening entertainment. We can't comment on the shows as we usually don't attend any and this cruise was no exception. We did however enjoy many of the performances offered in the Piazza, the Emerald's central atrium. The were jugglers, acrobats, and groups playing various types of music etc. A good selection of recent-run movies were offered at Movies Under the Stars, in the theater, and on television in the staterooms. Opportunities for dining abound on the Emerald. There's traditional dining, anytime dining, two specialty restaurants, the Crown grill (steak and seafood), and Sabatini's (Italian dining)available for a nominal charge of $25 and $20 respectively, the Horizon Court buffet open 24 hours, a pizza and ice cream bar (pizza and pasta are free with a nominal charge for ice cream), Vines wine and seafood bar, the International Cafe in the piazza which offers a variety of free and pay as you go specialty foods and of course 24hr room service. There is literally something for everyone on this ship. Transatlantic cruises have been the best-kept secrets for savvy cruisers for quite some time as they offer lots of bang for the buck and this cruise was no exception. By booking early we were able to snag a balcony cabin at an interior rate thanks to Princess' double-upgrade promotion. We went to see the future cruise consultant while on board and she informed us that the same promotion was available for the same itinerary next year aboard the new Ruby Princess. Needless to say, we booked immediately. Upon reflection we can honestly say this was the best cruise we've ever taken. The entire experience including flight, pre-cruise stay, the ship, the service, the dining, the entertainment, and most importantly, the ports of call, was everything we hoped it would be. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Emerald Princess 10/03/08 TransAtlantic We did basically the same cruise last year and liked it so much we sailed it again this year. We spent 2 nights pre-cruise at the Hotel Al Ponte Antico on the Grand Canal very close to the ... Read More
Emerald Princess 10/03/08 TransAtlantic We did basically the same cruise last year and liked it so much we sailed it again this year. We spent 2 nights pre-cruise at the Hotel Al Ponte Antico on the Grand Canal very close to the Rialto Bridge. We had a Junior Suite overlooking the canal and the bridge. The hotel is not inexpensive (hotels in Venice are pretty pricey in general), but it was an excellent choice. It is family run and you are treated as a member of the family from the moment you arrive. We enjoyed it enough that we are booked for a stay there next October (2009). I will not comment on Entertainment Shows or the Casino because we did not go to either. Embarkation was simple and quick and we were on board before 1 PM. I will not say much about the physical aspects of the ship since much has been written about those except to make a comment about our cabin. We had a PH suite R 406. I was apprehensive about this suite because so many people have written about the noise levels from the Lido deck above. My fears were unfounded. We occasionally heard some walking overhead during the day, but at night it was quiet. Perhaps it's louder on a Caribbean cruise but even though I am a light sleeper I had no problems AT ALL. Service on board was uniformly excellent. We had one of the best cabin stewards we've ever had. In all the dining venues we had excellent and prompt service as well. We thought the food was also very good. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the Horizon Court and we found there to be something for most any taste. We had no difficulty finding a place to sit. We liked that silverware and napkins were placed on the tables and that your beverage order was taken and brought to you. That meant less juggling of things for us. As for dinner, we only ate in the Dining Room (we had Anytime Dining) five nights. We like the ambiance in Sabatinis and the Crown Grill better so we ate there multiple times. At Sabatinis we begin by telling the waiter that we only want the things we order, not the whole "experience" so we never leave feeling like stuffed turkeys. We found that even the menus in both places are fixed, we had enough choices that we didn't get bored eating there several times. We did not attend any shows and the only entertainers we heard were the musicians playing in Adagios, Crooners or in the Atrium. All sounded very good. Our favorite lounge is Adagio on the Emerald. The only activity we participated in was Trivia. Our impression was that there were plenty of activities available for people during the sea days. On most of the days crossing the Atlantic we spent the afternoon in the Sanctuary. We love the lounge chairs there and the place is conducive to relaxing which was just what we wanted. Tours: We took three ships' tours and did three private tours. In Naples we took the Elite tour to the Amalfi Coast (the same tour we did last year). Although it is expensive we thought it was worth it to go with a small group. As we did last year, we had lunch at Le Sireneuse Hotel in Positano which is one of the most beautiful places I can think of and the lunch was excellent too. We didn't regret taking the tour again. In Civitavecchia we took a ship's tour to city of Orvieto. The drive through the countryside was interesting and Orvieto was spectacular! The city is a naturally fortified medieval town with dramatic views of the surrounding countryside. The streets are narrow with lots of little shops, many of them selling magnificent ceramics for which Orvieto is known. The Duomo is renowned for its mosaic façade. The tour included lunch in a local Osteria and we had braised rabbit stuffed with olives and herbs, evidently a dish that the city is known for. We thoroughly enjoyed this tour as well and would recommend it to anyone wanting to try something other than Rome itself. In Livorno we took a ship's tour to Florence where we visited the Accademia to see "David" and then did a whirlwind walk to the Duomo, the PonteVecchio, past the Uffizi, Santa Croce and had a few minutes for shopping before proceeding outside the city to a beautiful Villa Hotel on the Arno for lunch. After another excellent meal we drove on to Pisa to visit the Leaning Tower and Field of Miracles. While it was great to see the Tower, I have to say that the carnival atmosphere of vendors outside was not to our taste. I had been to Pisa many years ago as a child and I didn't remember it quite the same way. Nevertheless it was worth seeing. In Cannes, I had booked a private tour for 8 of us with Revelation Tours. We had the same driver as last year, Cecile, and as last year she did an excellent job. This year we stopped first at the market in Antibes, which had just opened up as we arrived. I have never seen such fresh produce. The most interesting thing to me however were the spice vendors with their open bins of spices and herbs for sale. The smells were a symphony for the nose. Next we drove away from the coast to the village of Tourettes sur Loup, noted for its production of violets. The town sits perched on a mountainside with the houses forming a wall down the side of the mountain. The streets are reminiscent of Eze I think without being so steep. After a short stay we were on to St. Paul, my favorite. We wandered the streets and had a lovely lunch on a sun drenched terrace. We sampled some of the local wine which was excellent. I'm not a fan of rose wine, but the Cote de Provence rose we had was very dry and crisp and I loved it. Our final stop was Eze, another medieval village. Eze is spectacular but very hard on the legs since every is built on a steep hill. After a ride along the middle Corniche road we were back to Cannes and the tender dock after a wonderful day ashore with great companions. In Barcelona I had arranged for a car and driver to pick us up at the pier and take us to Montserrat. Last year we took the ship's tour there and we noticed then that there was a funicular going to the top of the mountain and a cog railroad going down, neither of which we had time to try last year. The driver took us up to the Monastery and dropped us off. We bought our ticket for the Funicular and took a nearly vertical ride up a couple of thousand feet to the top of the mountain. The view was to die for. When we went back down to the monastery level we stopped and bought some local cheese from one of the vendors there. We had bought some last year and brought it home. It was great so we had to replenish our supply. Next we boarded the cog railroad for the ride down the mountain to our waiting driver. The train ride also afforded great views. It was an expensive trip, but we wanted to do it one time. In Cadiz we had the only rainy day of the trip. It was Sunday and Columbus Day so the tour we wanted to take to Jerez was unavailable. Instead we wandered around the city which is eminently walkable. There is a very pretty cathedral and nearby is the sea wall from which you can get a nice view of the city. We stumbled upon the market area (the market was closed) but the area was bustling anyway with people going to Tapas bars and shopping at the local supermarket. As it started to rain harder we made our way back to the ship. Lisbon was our next port and it's one of my favorite. I had arranged a private tour for 8 of us to Sintra, Cap da Roca, Estoril, Cascais and back to Lisbon. We did the same tour last year and liked it enough to go again. When we arrived at the Palace of Pena in Sintra it was foggy and it lent an air of mystery to the turreted castle perched on the top of the hill. The town of Sintra was bustling with visitors. The ride out to Cap da Roca, the westernmost point on the European continental mainland was interesting and scenic as were the rides through Estoril and Cascais. Back in Lisbon we stopped at the cafe that serves the pastais de belem and all had one (am I obsessed with food or what) and visited the Belem Tower and the Discoverers monument. It was a great day with another great group of fellow tourists. Finally we stopped at Ponta Delgada in the Azores. The new terminal is right on the downtown waterfront and very convenient. The town is easy to walk around with lots of interesting shops and wonderfully friendly people. There is a lovely church to visit, an old fort and enough to keep you busy for a few hours. The last five days were spent chilling out as we transited the Atlantic. It was calm and fairly warm all the way. We passed within 275 miles of Omar during one night and I woke up at some point and we were doing some bouncing, but it wasn't bad. One day we passed some rain squalls off in the distance and we saw a rainbow. The last four cruises I've been on I've seen rainbows so I consider that to be a good omen. All in all it was an absolutely fantastic cruise with great shipmates. We liked it enough that we are doing the same cruise on the Ruby next year. I already have in mind some different things to see so I know we won't be bored. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
DW and I are in our 50's. This was our 8th cruise but our first on princess. I booked the cruise and airfare via princess. I also paid extra for the business class upgrade. It was expensive, but well worth it for the 10 1/2 ... Read More
DW and I are in our 50's. This was our 8th cruise but our first on princess. I booked the cruise and airfare via princess. I also paid extra for the business class upgrade. It was expensive, but well worth it for the 10 1/2 hour flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt and then hour flight to Venice. We opted for a two night stay in Venice prior to the cruise. This was laso booked via princess. We stayed at the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal. Very nice hotel despite the room being a little small. We had one dinner at the hotel's restaurant which was a little expensive and nothing special. The princess rep at the hotel was extremely knowledgeable and very helpful answering any questions. Our hotel was right on the grand canal and a very short distance from St. Mark's Square. St. Mark's square was fantastic at night. We sat and ate some desert while we listened to some great live music. We also did a night gondola ride which was also very nice. One thing I found, via information from the local princess rep, was I could have saved a lot of money if I booked the gondola ride when I arrived instead of purchasing it online. On embarkation day, after a short water taxi ride, we arrived at the ship terminal. Embarkation, for the most part, went well. One thing that surprised me is this was the first time we had to find our own way to the cabin. We had a penthouse suite (R412) on rivera deck. Our cabin steward was average and our room was always clean. The Emerald princess was a beautiful ship. It was always clean and the crew always had smiles on their faces and did their best to ensure we had everything we needed. We had late seating traditional dining in the Botticelli dining room. Our waiter Anatoly from Romania and his assistant Maria from Mexico were great. The main dining room food was good to very good. We ate at both Sabitini's and the Crown grill. Sabitini's was amazing with tons of food offered...HINT (Go Hungry). The Crown Grill was average and really didn't wow us. The Horizon court was your typical buffet food. Cafe Caribe was nothing special. We also tried the offerings at the International cafe and I tried the sushi at Vines. All food at these two venues was very reasonably priced and good to very good. The hamburgers at the Trident grill were great and we also enjoyed the pizza. We didn't see any of the main production shows, but saw several funny comedians in the explorer's lounge. Our overall experience with the Emerald princess was great with only a couple of exceptions. I had pre bought a bottle of champagne that I wanted in our cabin for sailaway. With all our previous cruises, the champagne was waiting in an ice bucket when we arrived in the room. With princess there was a voucher and I had to call room service and request the champagne be delivered. My only real disappointment with the Emerald was for the money I spent on our PH suite, I feel I should have gotten more. The cabin itself was smaller I thought it should be. The balcony was also very narrow and made for little room for the upgraded wood furniture. Our shore excursions were all done private with other cruise critic members. All ports visited were great and we had a grand time. It was nice only having a maximum of 8 people in the van instead of a bus full of people. We had to pass on Rome however as my DW's back got overworked on our 2 hour walk through Pompeii the day prior. The stop at Ponta Delgado was also very short. We could have used a lot more time here. They also recently opened a new dock area that is very nice. The five days at sea were wonderful.. We only had one day of rough seas as we had to deviate south from our intended course as a result of hurricane Omar. All in all, with the exception of the sub par value of our penthouse suite, the cruise was a great time. Our fellow cruise critic buddies also made the cruise one for the record books. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We had a very enjoyable cruise on Legend of the Seas last year , so this year we joined daughter and family ( 3 children ages 6, 4 & 2.)on this cruise on the Emerald. The views in this report relate to my wife and myself as daughter ... Read More
We had a very enjoyable cruise on Legend of the Seas last year , so this year we joined daughter and family ( 3 children ages 6, 4 & 2.)on this cruise on the Emerald. The views in this report relate to my wife and myself as daughter has already submitted her report. We flew from Manchester on Titan Air , a Princess charter with the 200 people on board all heading for the ship. There was not as much space on the plane as I had imagined from previous posts , very tight for eating. The food was good served with proper crockery and cutlery and copious amounts of drink. Unfortunately the flight times had been changed a few weeks before , which meant that we did not arrive at the ship until 7 pm instead of before lunch on the original timings. It felt as though we had lost a day - some people were very upset that they had no time to go into Venice. The transfer to the ship was excellent and we were on board very quickly. The ship seemed enormous as we drove up to it, but looked really beautiful. It was even nicer on board , We hurried to our cabin on Caribe deck and were very pleased. Everything was shipshape and the balcony seemed enormous. I have to recommend the balcony cabins on this deck, as, although the people above can see you when you move to the edge , there is plenty of Privacy and room further back. Daughter had kindly given us a present of the use of The Sanctuary for the entire cruise. This was a real bonus as our beds were reserved for the whole time (always the same ones) and you are spoiled in there. They give you MP3 players, cold towels and continuous ice cold water. The healthy eating in there was lovely , and the fruit skewers to die for. It was nice to be able to come and go. Generally we enjoyed the food , breakfasting in the Horizon Court each day where we felt the choice was fine. If we were on board we lunched there or in the Sanctuary. Often had the ice cream served in Horizon at 3.30pm for 1 hour, it was excellent. I also liked to enjoy a coffee at the International Cafe , Though I found the coffee on the ship generally O.K.. There was also a good selection of teas. In the evening we had anytime dining, and this was excellent. It suited us just fine and despite a full ship we rarely waited long. We regularly got a table for 2 , but did notice that some people had reserved the same table every night but with the family we could not tie ourselves down to fixed times. It seemed easier to get the larger table when we all ate together. I thought the choices were good, and considering the numbers being served, it was very good. We tried Sabatini's one night and, for us, it just took far too long. Lots of small courses and when the main course came along it was, unfortunately, too rare for us. We were told that this was the way it was done there so we skipped that and enjoyed the marvelous Tiramisu instead. In all it took 3 hours so we shall avoid this if we sail on her again. Of course on anytime dining you have not always got the same wait staff, but generally the Filipino staff were very good. This comment applies to the rest of the staff, and particularly to our cabin steward, Felix, who was excellent. How they all keep so cheerful is amazing. We did not do many shows so cannot comment on them, time just seemed too short. The Explorers lounge entertainment always seemed very popular. There were many children on board but you would not have known it. We enjoyed so many aspects of this ship, from the pools to the Sanctuary, the dining and the ice cream bar. The itinerary appealed to us. We did a ships tour to Ephasus , the whole area was far too busy in August and with so many people it was hard to hear. We also took a ships tour in Istanbul, very interesting but not really long enough and we ended up having little time for the Topkapi Palace. We went on the tour including lunch and a cruise on the Bospherus, I would avoid that and stay on land. The traffic was horrendous and we were glad we were on a Princess tour as we only just made it back before sailing. We were all very disappointed to miss Mykonos, the winds had increased to 65 mph and the ship suddenly listed , the pool water all draining to one side , so it was obvious we could not make it. In Naples we went on a ship tour called "Sorrento and the lido". It was a re-visit to sorrento for us where we spent a lovely holiday 15 years ago. Yet again time was the enemy, though it was a lovely tour. The lido was nice , lovely warm water and a nice restaurant on the beach. Disembarkation came all to soon - arrangements went very smoothly. Overall my wife and I loved this cruise and would have no hesitation on boarding her again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Find here a review of our just completed Mediterranean Cruise on the Emerald Princess. It was a 12 day 10 port affair starting in Venice, visiting Piraeus / Athens, Kusadasi / Ephesus, Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples, Civitavecchia/Rome, ... Read More
Find here a review of our just completed Mediterranean Cruise on the Emerald Princess. It was a 12 day 10 port affair starting in Venice, visiting Piraeus / Athens, Kusadasi / Ephesus, Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples, Civitavecchia/Rome, Livorno/Pisa/Florence, Marseilles, and finishing in Barcelona. Forgive the bad composition and poor English as my hope is simply share tidbits about our experience to help others decide if it is for them or what to consider after deciding on such a cruise. . We aren't big time cruisers, usually finding time and justification to get the whole family together every few years for one. This one was a special one, as it was the highlight event of my sabbatical and we had parents, in-laws and kids all along, a small party of 11! Its base purpose was to give those that hadn't been to Europe a taste of historical Europe as none had been there before. ( My wife and I the exceptions, having been to Europe several times before). In the end it was everything we hoped for and more. It was a whirlwind tour as these must be, with not nearly enough time for all that one would want, but there is never enough time for these wonderful cities. First some general observations that were big questions for me before my trip. Passports: Never took them into port. Princess asked for them right after we left Venice and returning them before we arrived in Barcelona. So there was no option to consider taking them into port and worrying about losing them. I suspect the reason for this is our visit to the Turkish ports. Regardless, given my personal experience I don't think I would take them into port even if I had them. I heard that if you miss the port the local Princess agent can help facilitate your transportation to the next port, at your own cost of course. With the likelihood of getting pickpocket or robbed being higher then missing the port I figure it's a far safer practice to leave it on the ship and take a copy and other documentation into port, but that is my 2 cents. Tours/Excursions: This cruise was all about a whirlwind tour thru historical European cities. I have much to thank all the cruise critic members for providing me the names of our fabulous private tour operators and in most ports we arranged private tours. After costing out the ship based tours and considering the limited mobility of my parents private was not only cheaper but far better. My biggest nightmare was getting off the boat to find no tour driver and / or getting taken or getting a bad driver, horrible tour. I can happily say that all the tour operators were on time and easy to find right after we disembarked. All the drivers and guides spoke excellent English and provided great history and details on the attractions, and the places we went for lunch or snacks were tasty and reasonably priced and gave us great local flare. The CC recommendations were all dead on, and the operators were great! ATMs: Even with my best planning and securing all the Euros I thought I needed to pay for the private tours I ran out. I had to go to the ATM well numerous times. My suggestion is when budgeting cash don't forget the little things, snacks, meals, entrance fees. Even after my best estimates a I came up short! Many places in Europe don't take credit cards ( AMEX / Discover for sure ) and almost all vendors I saw preferred cash to credit cards. The budgeted Euros disappeared very fast in the first three ports, and started to look for ATMs when I got to Rome. I can positively say after seeing my latest statement that ATM is the way to go! If I didn't have daily limits I would have done everything thru an ATM. ATMs were easy to find in Rome, Florence, Marseilles and Barcelona. I can't comment about the other places, as I didn't remember seeing any but I also wasn't looking as I hadn't run short Euros yet either. Ship: I was less concerned about the ship and or line as the cruise was all about the ports. Nothing made me happier then finding a Princess ship that matched my must see ports as I loved my experience on them when we last cruised Alaska. Another positive was how new the Emerald was. Emerald is a big ship with all the trimmings. Everything on the ship was spanking new and looked good as it should! Everywhere the crew was friendly and service was good. The lone exception was the steward for our cabin. I suspect he was the exception as others in our party had nothing but good things to say about their steward. While on the ship we rarely felt the crowds you'd expect for a full ship. There were two excepts, at the main Theater or walking about on Formal night it was always a mess. The lounges, bars, and other venues were rarely crowded. The pool, now that was another matter, as the chair hogs were out in full force and it was impossible to find more then a single lounger after 10am on most days. At sea days during the day and in port between 4:30 - 5:30pm sun decks and pool were crowded, but not unexpected. My only comment and suggestion to Princess would they need to figure out how to control the chair hogs as on both sea days in the hours I spent at the pool many chairs never saw anything but a book and or a pair of shoes. As an earlier riser I guess I could have reserved at 7:30 but that isn't me. Food: We made it an effort to have sit down dinner every night even the tiring port days, We did sit down breakfast and lunch for all but the port days where we had early tours. Dinner was anytime with a standing reservation at 6:15, and that turned out perfect! We always had 30' to an hour when getting back in port to get ready for dinner and it was early enough that we could finish and still relax and or catch a show yet go to sleep early enough that the next day we wouldn't be exhausted from the early rise. Food and service were good, so good that we decided against going to either of their specialty restaurant for a couple B-Days that we had previously reserved. I will say that sea food dishes at dinner were a bit sub par and had the overcooked texture you'd expect for mass production. Some of the desserts while pretty in presentation didn't live up to their visual promise. The cheese cake one of my favorites was horrible. Others in my party seemed satisfied and continue to select sea dishes and or the changing dessert selections. I quickly defaulted to the meat/chicken/pasta main course which was always good and the always yummy ice cream sundae. On our sea days we always did Tea and the service and food was better then what I recalled of my experience on Carnival or Disney. There were no complaints about food or service for sit down Breakfast and Lunch. They were outstanding like dinner. Lido deck buffet was exactly what I would expect from a buffet that needs to feed thousands. Nothing close to gourmet food nor presentation but far better in selection and quality I would find in my local all you can eat buffet, even the more expensive ones. Several in our party did eat dinner there on port days when they were simply too tired to make the 6:15 early dinner. They all enjoyed the changing selection themes and food. Entertainment: If this was a Trans Atlantic or longer Caribbean cruise I would have been disappointed with the entertainment. The big theater show had all the trimmings but was very bland and the one night we watched we left early. The comedians, musicians, magicians, acrobats, jugglers, etc. were all reasonably entertaining but we seemed to see them doing the same act over and over again by mid-way point. Luckily they were never expected to be highlight for our cruise but simply light entertainment before the next days big port attraction. Cable TV and Movie under the Stars was very good with lots of interesting first run or recent movies, but again you can get that on land these days. We do regret that we saw nothing of the 2nd half of the Olympics. I would have thought Princess would have made some effort to secure good and timely tape or live broadcast of that. We attended numerous art auctions, they were entertaining and informative but we had little interest in buying anything as the walls in our home are all spoken for. Sea Days: Went by fast with 4 sit down affairs; Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and Dinner. We did two Movie under the stars, and watched the comedians magicians every evening. By the second sea/formal day we had lost interest in the repetitive acts and instead danced, enjoyed various lounge music and played cards. Ship Tours: No comment on any ship ones as we went all private. As mentioned earlier I can't imagine why any one would use ship tours. With a little research we ended up paying far less and seeing far more with much more convenience and mobility then anything I saw offered by the ship. For those interested in who we used only need to search the Mediterranean board to find the much recommended operators we used. Key Port experiences in the Brief: Venice: Dinner and sunset along Rialto was special and believe it or not wasn't highway robbery. A sub-group of us did take a Gondola ride, the consensus from them was very special and well worth every cent even though it is steep. They all talked about the great experience sailing the very narrow back canals. Basilica and tours were enjoyed by all that actual made the effort to stand in line and do it. Walking the streets with family, meal on the Grand Canal, and the private water taxi to and from Venice was the highlight for me. Athens: Acropolis, get a tour guide and do it early as possible before the crowds,. descend and make the whole thing feel like subway at rush hour. Or do it late in the day, but then you got to deal with the heat. We arrived at the opening and enjoyed views and sights before the masses came up. It was so bad going back down as you felt like a fish swimming upstream in a river of humanity, GO EARLY!! The Archeological Museum was great! It is something you can spend more then two hours but we only had an hour or so. Plaka wasn't a big hit for us as it was really hot during our time there, and many were still wishing for more time at the Museum. Athens was nice but at bit of a disappointment for us. Could have been we hadn't adjusted, could have been the long hot couple hours in Plaka but one person in our group said what I think sums up why Athens was less then what we expected. You can't go to Europe and say you saw the highlights without including the Acropolis, but after what we saw later ports we were less then overwhelmed by the attractions Athens presented. Kusadasi: Ephesus was the surprise number 1 ruins attraction for our group. I read much but everyone from 7 to 82 enjoyed this one! It was made much more positive by great guide with rich stories that brought the place alive. Again, I have the same tip as Acropolis, get there early before the crowds and heat arrive. We wished we had more time here to have seen more ruins and taken in more shopping. Istanbul: Do Topkapi Palace first and early. Go straight thru the entrance and skip everything and see to the fine treasure exhibit. Then, come back to enjoy the rest of the palace. If you don't, you'll find yourself in a mass of people. The St Sophia and Blue Mosque were spectacular for people that enjoy these things. The kids were less interested, but enjoyed the many stray cats we saw. I have what must be hundreds of random pictures of cats from Turkey. For those that enjoy unique local eating experience you can check our photo blog for a very neat small Art University combo cafe right outside St Sophia were we had wonderful Manti in a beautiful outside terrace, HIGHLY Recommended for experience, price, and location. This city was where we ended up doing the most exhausting walking. As such with our older parents our scheduled slipped a little and we didn't get the time we wish to visit both the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market. Mykonos: Port missed due to high winds 65 MPH. It was a sight to see the whole ship tilt in the wind and the pool water tilted and sloshing out.. Naples: Do Pompeii with a guide. We choose not to and as wonderful as the ruins are it was hard to appreciate the story behind them even with a book. It is the only regret I had on this trip of not spending the 100 euros for the guide here. Like other places, get here early, the place is so different right at opening then 45' after opening. Amalfi is pretty but we felt over rated compared to Ravello. We had a wonderful lunch in a quiet local place in Pontone with spectacular views. Again, something I think you only get with private guides. Revello was the highlight as we had a leisure hour to shop, enjoy the views and more gelato. Civitavecchia / Rome: So much to see so little time. We walked / enjoyed Forum, Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon, Four Corners/Key Hole. We stopped for a look and great history talk from our driver at Circus Maximus and the Forum. We drove by Spanish steps and many other sights but too much to see so we didn't stop. Had lunch right next to Vatican in what was clearly the convenience lunch stop for our private tour operator. Lunch was satisfactory and reasonable priced but couldn't compare to our meal experience in Istanbul or Naples for ambience or local flavor. The museum, chapel and St. Paul were spectacular and we could have spent more then half day in any, but so little time and so much to see. They say not to take pictures and or video of Sistine, but everyone was, some even with flash. It was simply impossible to control as it felt like standing in a subway station at rush hour. Given everyone ignoring the no picture rule I also snapped a few pictures of the great ceiling and wall. After the Basilica it was mad dash back to the ship. Rome is the one stop I wonder why cruise ships don't try and do two days, but the drive from Port also makes for much wasted time too. Livorno / Pisa / Florence: Another city with so much to see and not enough time. We intended to split into two groups, one doing Florence with more time to do the Museums and another doing Pisa / Florence. In the end we all went to together and did both Pisa and Florence. We got to Pisa early and were able to climb at 9:00am with no reservations. The climb was special experience to feel the tower lean change from one side to the other as you go up the steps. Of course we all got the posed pictures holding up the tower. Next stop was a Church overlooking Florence for photo's and a tour. Then it was time to get our reserved slot at Accademia for David. Get reservations as the line was long like the Vatican but we waited less then 5'. It is somehow sad to be in Florence yet only have 45' to an hour to enjoy the Accademia but that is the way with these whirlwind tours. We had a nice lunch overlooking Santa Croce then toured the church. After that was a quick drive to the Plaza where we visited Dumo. There was no time to climb it but we had about 45' for shopping and a walking tour of the various Plaza's and Ponte Vecchio. Then one it last gelato and we were off to the ship and left Italy. Marseilles: This was a rest/recovery port. Even with many exciting things to see here after Naples, Civitavecchia and Livorno we had long ago planned nothing here. After a leisure morning that including sit down breakfast we took the Princess shuttle to town. The highlight was train to Notre-Dame De La Garde to see the beautiful church and nice views of the city. Later we took a leisure walking shopping exploration of the port. For lunch we searched out a genuine French meal complete with cold and rude waiter. We came back in the early afternoon to enjoy sometime battling the chair hogs at the pool. Barcelona: Was the cruise really over? We took our last day in with a leisure morning including sit down breakfast and we were almost the last off the ship. Our hotel was right at the end of Las Ramblas. We had lunch and spent a hour strolling before siesta. We then checked in to the hotel. Some opted for a siesta too or watching Olympics. A few of us hurried out to catch La Sagranda and La Pedrera. That evening was more Las Ramblas. Next morning our wonderful vacation ended as we returned to the US but not without special memories to treasure for a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Arrived in Venice, transfer was smooth, however embarked on deck 4 - when we've been before there has always been huge welcome on Piazza/Plaza deck.Disappointing. Ship was appealing and as has been previously said did not feel as ... Read More
Arrived in Venice, transfer was smooth, however embarked on deck 4 - when we've been before there has always been huge welcome on Piazza/Plaza deck.Disappointing. Ship was appealing and as has been previously said did not feel as large as it really is. Pools: Great layout- busy on sea days - some live music but definitely could be more!! I was told there is more in the caribbean by the cruise director???? Deck attendants really helpful and kind. If you have no children rear of ship is excellent- huge jacuzzis,pool and bars.. Entertainment: Every time I looked at the Princess Patter I was looking for something different- same each night e.g. Eric in Crooners, The Roxx in Explorers..even managed to miss the Captain's welcome as it was so poorly advertised. Must mention kind staff in Explorers always with a ready smile- just a shame this did not continue throughout the ship. Cruise director Neil is not as bouncy as previous ones we have had and realize this is the key to a good atmosphere on board. Definitely preferred older clientele and he suggested that the lack of midnight buffets, fun waiter nights and deck parties was because cruising is cheaper now!!! I would suggest that it is a Princess/Carnival cost cutting profit making margin.. Cabins: These were o.k - no better no worse than experienced- probably expected better- good wardrobe space and television was varied if you had a moment....Saw St Kitts suite aft- looked lovely- frustrating that these large rooms only take 2. Cabin stewards fine, laundry service good but beware quite a few things shrank.... Restaurants: Can not understand the fuss about Caribe - tried it twice- didn't enjoy...felt a bit like a motorway cafe- prefer the main restaurant however not at all sure about any time dining. Maitre'D in both was impersonal and had little care about where you sat...Indeed, in Da Vinci one couple permanently sat by the window - no explanation was given.. is this fair on ANY TIME DINING???? Some staff were good , others mediocre and others poor. Would definitely go for formal dining in future. Food was good in restaurants and excellent for Chef's table. Tours: Did Athens- Acropolis was quite slippy- lots of marble/gravel/rock- glad I'd left the youngest with my parents on board. However.... brilliant-not to be missed.( Don't take children under 3) Ephesus was very hot and crowded- hard to keep up with party.. yet again amazing- was surprised at cliff top coach ride to Mary's shrine- not mentioned anywhere- a little scary. Istanbul- Did Cruise with lunch along Bosphorous- good traditional food served. Morning was a little rushed- The Blue Mosque, St.Sophia and the stunning Topkapi palace- just wished we had spent more time there- beautiful!! Did Grand Bazaar in p.m. interesting but no toys which upset my 6 yr old boy!! Had some fun bargaining. Did not experience the hassle recorded by others- try Cairo!Beware if you do your own trip as we all arrived late- traffic was at a stand still ship only waited because we were on their tour. MISSED MYKONOS-storm blew up- quite scary.. was on lido deck at time- water came out of the pool and towel holders started moving- ship tilted very obviously to one side- winds up to 75 mph. Could only see sea on one side...are these huge ships just too top heavy? Naples: Did Sorrento and Lido tour- great for children and adults alike. Livorno- Did Pisa- much better than expected- tranquil setting. Marseilles: Village of Cassis- what a hidden treasure- beautiful- hit market day too.. Barcelona: Real issues here as had to purchase a Princess tour - $37O.00 in order not to arrive at the airport before 2.30 p.m. (ALREADY HAD A PRINCESS TRANSFER BUT WOULD HAVE HAD 8 HOURS AT THE AIRPORT WITH 3 KIDS!!!) Princess bills: TAKE CARE- Unlike RCL they charge for soft drinks- children do not drink fizzy drinks - during the day. Was unaware until last Princess tour that children under 3 did not pay for tours- calls to Princess in Southampton and the Pursers' desk were very unsympathetic- staggered by attitude- take care. Lots of extras- ice cream, even drinking bottles which we always buy for children was of a poor quality- very thin and broke quickly- still have last years from RCL. I think this ship is too large..less customer service, staggering long lines everywhere for everything..... Children on board: Are they welcome... not sure... Kids club is brilliant,pools good apart from some people ( older Canadians) annoyed there were children in the main pool in August- I would have enjoyed the adult only facilities open to them like my parents did. No restaurant entertainment meant we were in and out fast when they were with us- would suggest RCL is better for children. Would we travel Princess again.....not really sure...not the Princess I was expecting. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Just back from a wonderful vacation and now trying to deal with jet lag, laundry, and the accumulation of dust while gone. Our family of four (two sons age 14 and 15) flew from Los Angeles to Venice three days in advance of our cruise. We ... Read More
Just back from a wonderful vacation and now trying to deal with jet lag, laundry, and the accumulation of dust while gone. Our family of four (two sons age 14 and 15) flew from Los Angeles to Venice three days in advance of our cruise. We chose to use a private water taxi since we had left Los Angles 26 hours earlier. I did not prearrange for a water taxi. Collecting our luggage was easy and we headed out the door into the main terminal. There we headed for the water taxi desk and got a slip and instructions as to where to go. In less then 5 minutes we were at the docks and boarding onto our private taxi. The cost was 100E, this was for 4 people, 5 suitcases, and 2 backpacks, and included the tip. We gave them our address to our hotel and off we went. This is the way to go. It alleviated any worries that we had since we were tired. This ride was a great pick me up, and we could take all of the pictures we wanted and stand or sit anywhere. I booked the Hotel Antiche Figure located on the main Canal www.hotelantichefigure.it. This hotel is rated number three on Trip Advisor (they have various rooms with view or no view). The hotel had a dock right in front of it. We booked the Deluxe Triple Room + extra bed overlooking the Grand Canal with buffet breakfast. I am glad that we booked this room overlooking the Grand Canal. We could go outside and people watch and boat watch, which was fun or just go out sightseeing. The hotel is located directly across the train terminal. Our room was comfortable and never had any issues with any noise. Also just outside our hotel was one of the areas to hire a gondolier, they were very busy. We were given some great ideas for places to eat and shop and were not disappointed by any. Make sure you pre-purchase your tickets for the Doge's. The line outside was running over 2+ hour wait in line for those who did not pre-purchase. We also took the Secret Itinerary. It was okay, we learned and saw plenty. The only thing that I would highly recommend is taking a fan with you if you are going in summer. It is extremely hot in some of the rooms, and our guide got upset that some of the people wanted to leave these rooms early because of the heat. (Oh yeah, she was the only one with a fan, and stood by the windows). We loved Venice, we had two days of brief rain, but this added to our experience. We would run to doorways with locals and other visitors waiting for the rain to let up. You could see they were also having fun doing this. I highly recommend to just get your self lost in the different alleys and streets. You will be amazed with the things that you will experience along the way. I would also highly recommend to coming early to Venice. There were quite a few people who flew through Princess and had less then ½ of a day in town. Plus when we arrived into our room we were notified that we would be leaving early in the morning when it was dark not the 8am departure like planned. We once again took a private water taxi to the dock, where they took our luggage and sent us off to do the normal embarkation process. We were in our room in less than 45 minutes. The majority of the rest of my review will mainly cover the ports visited. The ship was nice and really did not have any complaints. We did not make any of the evening shows. We actually were heading to a show, when we found out that we would be sailing by Stromboli, while sailing by we were entertained by it's eruptions, we later decided this was the best show. We were on the Sapphire last August and felt that the food on the Emerald was much, much better and that the buffet and Caribe buffet worked 100 times better. The staff that we interacted with were all attentive and wanting to help to make your cruise a memorable one. I booked private operators for all but one port. We were not disappointed by any. They all gave us a great day in each port but there were three tour operators who were absolutely outstanding. Athens - I booked with Athens Taxi- www.athenstaxi.org. Paul met us at the dock and immediately took us to the Acropolis as he said the crowds could get awfully bad. He was right, when we were heading back to his vehicle the bus were unloading and the crowds were thick. For those of you taking children under 18 they are free at many venues, just have a copy of your passport and they will let them in free. Over all we enjoyed Athens. Kusadasi/Ephesus - I booked with Ekol Travel www.ekoltravel.com. We booked Tour - 2 Ephesus, Terrace Houses, and the Temple of Artemis. We started the morning at Ephesus and had a wonderful time here. Make sure you have water and a hat. Pay the extra money and visit the Terrace Houses. Are family thought this was one of the highlights on our cruise. Yes there are steps to climb up in the beginning and at the end but I use a cane for a bad knee so I just went slower and did just find. The Temple of Artemis wasn't really much. The only problem we had with Ekol's is that they talked us into stopping at a handicraft cooperative. This turned out to being a rug stop. I would have preferred that they had been upfront with us. Istanbul - I booked with Kagan Kosagan and his wife Lale - Kosagan@yahoo.com. To start with we also tried to book them also for Ephesus but they were already booked. Lale Kosagan met us at the ship and she was one of our three favorite tour operators. She has such a love for her country and wants to be able to share it with you. We visited the Blue Mosque, the St. Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and the Cisterns. She allowed us as much time as we needed and was great with the boy's questions. We had a short time to also visit the Grand Bazaar. Everything was easy to do and had a great lunch that the locals like to eat at. Like I stated before, I would highly recommend their company. Mykonos - I originally booked a tour with Princess to tour Delos but we lost this port due to high winds of 65+ knots. The only excitement that day as we approached Mykonos was that the boat listed at least 10+ percent. It was a bit scary as one watched the water from the pools flowing out to the other side. Princess offered nothing for this loss. Naples/Pompeii- I booked benvenutolimos - www.benvenutolimos.com. Palo picked us up and suggested that we head straight to Vesuvius to hike the last ½ mile, before it was crowded and hot. It was an excellent idea. As we were hiking down, the cruise buses were just arriving. We then headed off to Herculaneum. Here we were met by Patrizia our guide for both Herculaneum and Pompeii. Patrizia was great and it helped having her at both sites. I would highly recommend visiting Herculaneum, which was buried under lava not ash like Pompeii. Many of the areas uncovered are in better condition then Pompeii. Benvenutolimos was our 4th favorite tour operator. Palo took us to a restaurant not usually visited by tourists. Here I had one of my best meals during this cruise. Rome - I booked Rome Cabs - www.romecabs.com. We were met by Big Marco who was one of our three very favorite tour operators. Marco was charming and thoughtful in making sure everyone was doing what he or she wanted. He seemed to go out of his way to get me as close as possible to the various sites. He said he wanted to make sure that my knee would hold up for the private afternoon tour at the Vatican. I had Marco once again arrange for a private guide at the Vatican and was extremely glad. It is so expansive and so many things to see. Once again would highly recommend RomeCabs with Big Marco. Livorno/Florence - I booked with Tuscany in my Pocket. Our family's goal was to spend the day in Florence only, as we wanted as much time in the museums there. We started off visiting the Accadamia, which besides the David had another special collection that was just amazing. We ended up spending an extra hour more then planned. We then grabbed a quick snack and headed off to the Uffizzi. What a great collection they have. We ended up at the ended with a bit of extra time and stopped by for a short visit to Pisa, which was perfect for us. Marseilles - I booked with Planning RVP - www.rendez-vous-provence.com. We were met by Thibaud Boyer who also was quite a nice young man. He made sure that beside us that the boys were having a good time. We chose this tour company because the boys wanted to see the Pont Du Gard up close and then spend as much time as we could in Avingon. There is a bit of hiking if you want to get up close and personal with this Roman Aqueduct. Had lunch outside the castle gate in Avingon, which was charming but expensive. Barcelona - I booked with Pepitours. Unfortunately I can't find his e-mail but search CC and you can find it. Pepitours was also one of our three favorite companies and a wonderful way to end our vacation. We visited Genoa a medieval castle and city, the Costa Bravo (the beach), and Barcelona. Everything about this day was great, great, great. We had a wonderful time visiting the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. There were unfortunately people who would not pay the 5E to go in. That is a total mistake in my opinion. You need to experience this in person and it helps to pay for the building of this church. We stayed at the Marriott Renaissance in Barcelona it was okay. But not up to the usual Marriott standards. As far as disembarking in Barcelona it only took us max of 15 minutes to disembark (we left the boat at 7:15) and meet up with Pepitours. Princess seems to have this well planned out. I hope that this information might help others plan their trip as other fellow reviewers at CC helped me. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
I travelled with three friends. All of us are independently-minded and two of us suffer from ill-health and needed to take things slowly. This formed the basis for some of our choices. We travelled to Venice independently, three ... Read More
I travelled with three friends. All of us are independently-minded and two of us suffer from ill-health and needed to take things slowly. This formed the basis for some of our choices. We travelled to Venice independently, three days early, so we could spend time looking around this wonderful city. We had booked at the Hotel Ala (Best Western), which has a great location and low prices. The rooms were small but clean. The bonus for us was being so close to St Mark's Square, so that the two of us with ME/CFS did not have to walk too far. After looking at various costs, we chose to take a water taxi from the airport to our hotel. With four of us travelling, it cost very little more than taking public transport, and saved about an hour in travelling time. We had pre-purchased Venice cards for travelling around the waterways of Venice, and had planned to collect these from the dock. However, the pick-up office was closed for tea, with no indication when it would open, so we had to leave without them and one of us spent a few hours the next day taking a water bus to the train station to collect them - a frustrating waste of time. Apart from that, the Venice cards were great. We travelled a lot by water in order to get our money's worth! It meant we saw more than we might otherwise have done. Our time in Venice was wonderful but we would have appreciated information from Princess Lines on how to reach the boat for embarkation. I had asked over the phone before leaving the UK and had been told it was simple. It was not. We wanted to use our public transport tickets. We knew the boat was at Stazzione Marittima, but the waterways map showed two places with those names! We asked about 10 different people and got 10 different answers. In the end we followed one set of advice and took a waterbus to the car park. After hunting around for the coach we had been told would be there (bad information!) we took a taxi to the port. It cost about 12 euros and was worth it! This event was our biggest disappointment on the cruise. We felt that Princess Lines was only interested in people booking hotels and transfers through them, not in independent travellers. Embarkation was simple and quick. My cabin was clean and a good size, though one of my friends ended up cleaning her bathroom herself! My steward was friendly and helpful and full of smiles, and even lent me his phone charger. The other friends were disappointed with their stewards - hardly saw them and certainly received no smiles. I grew to enjoy shipboard life. I spent 4-5 hours most days touring our ports of call. After that I could relax and rest in my room and build up energy for the next day. It is a perfect holiday experience for someone with low energy. Both my friend and I managed more than we ever expected. It's great to be able to get away from the stresses of everyday life and to have someone else prepare meals so all we had to do was walk to the dining room. One disappointment, however, was the slowness of room service. I gave up asking them for hot water after waiting 20-30 minutes on several occasions, and simply took my mug up two flights to the international cafe and asked them to fill it. I became well-known there! We chose not to go on any organized shore excursions. We did not want to spend that amount of money. We did not want to be locked into other people's timetables. We did not know if we would have the energy to keep going at a pre-set pace. On reflection, I think we enjoyed ourselves far more being independent. We did everything we wanted to do. We were able to arrange a fair price for taxis. Our trip to Ephesus was amusing as an example of bartering. The taxis outside the port wanted 120 euros. We offered 80 but had no takers. Then someone suggested we walk 2 minutes along the road and would find taxis willing to take us for that price. Instead, on the way we found someone prepared to take us for 65. We had to walk for 5 minutes to where his taxi was parked, but it showed us what is possible. We enjoyed all of our time in port, being able to decide for ourselves where to go and how long to stay there, and when to stop for a cup of coffee. Santorini is one place where you might want to consider ship excursions. Oia is a must for visiting. We found that all the taxis were booked so went by local bus. There was no queuing system and it turned into a real scrum at the doorway. If you are no good at pushing, then take a ship's tour rather than missing it. I looked in on a few of the evening shows and was not particularly impressed. I preferred to return to my room, put my feet up and read a good book. We dined most of the time in Da Vinci or Michelangelo. I am a very fussy eater but always found food that I could enjoy. I was impressed. I enjoyed the dining room experience and even had breakfast at Da Vinci rather than at the buffet. My daily highlight was the superb afternoon teas. I managed to get to afternoon tea every day. At the end of the cruise we had planned to stay in Rome. Getting there independently was more difficult than we had expected. There were no taxis to take us to the train station at Civitavecchia. We had to take the free port bus to the entrance and then walk. We managed it, stopping every hundred paces for a rest. From there it was easy. We took a train to Rome and had booked a hotel within walking distance of the station - Hotel Contilia. Again, we were happy with this choice. It was cheap but clean and in a handy location. We took a taxi to the airport for our return home. Our flight was with British Airways and unfortunately their refrigerators were not working properly and they were unable to serve us any food. We were hungry by the time we arrived at Gatwick airport! However, when we complained by email we were given 500 air miles each or £50 worth of travel vouchers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
This was our 11th cruise (many, but not all with Princess)and we feel one of our very best. We chose to stay 3 days in Venice prior to our embarkation, but made our own reservations rather than Princess' pre-package. We arrived to the ... Read More
This was our 11th cruise (many, but not all with Princess)and we feel one of our very best. We chose to stay 3 days in Venice prior to our embarkation, but made our own reservations rather than Princess' pre-package. We arrived to the ship just minutes before the 12 noon embarkation process. This was our first cruise as "Platinum" members, and it paid off. We were in the 1st group called and "whisked" on board immediately. The entire boarding/embarkation process was well organized. Our cabin was ready and available. We chose an inside cabin for this cruise. Since this is a new ship (just over a year old) we were pleasantly surprised to notice updated efficiency within the cabin and the entire ship. It was very noticeable that even with an inside cabin, it was NOT a claustrophobic situation. The room "felt" larger than expected and was well planned for space usage both within the main part and the closet/bath area as well. Our cabin was mid-ship and only 2 rooms down from the elevator area and NEVER heard a thing. Nice Work Princess! TOURS and EXCURSIONS...We booked ALL of our tours on-line WELL in advance of embarkation (about 90 days)and we were glad we did. Upon boarding, we noticed that 4 of OUR 8 tours (amongst others) were already sold out before the cruise began. So, this is something to really consider and I HIGHLY recommend. Each morning when the excursion groups were assembling and debarking on their tours, it was EXTREMELY well organized (the best we have ever encountered on any ship). There were plenty of ship service personnel assisting in the process. WELL DONE!! About excursions... Though the descriptions and explanations were accurate, it sometimes isn't exactly as "you" may have in mind. For example - "Beach Excursions",...(we went on 2). The 1st one in Corfu is a gravel and stone beach (NO SAND) - didn't see that one coming. Also, it is more of a water sport recreation area than a peaceful beach situation. The 2nd beach excursion was in Mykonos. Though it is advertised as "beach chairs and umbrellas "may" be rented if you so choose", it is almost impossible to find a sand area that doesn't already have a chair/umbrella on it. It was as if you are "forced" to rent. Caught many people by surprise. Also, this beach was more of a marina, than a true beach. Now, though I mention this, it is for information only. We were still satisfied with our excursions. As far as our other excursions, they were all fine and were very well organized. However, beware of summer crowds. Virtually EVERY excursion was in the same area as other cruise ship's (other companies in the same port) excursions. It was crowded and VERY busy in most excursion areas. DINING...BREAKFAST - on days we had shore excursions, we ordered "the light/continental type" breakfast to our room. Here's something we didn't expect...it usually came at least 15-20 minutes earlier than we ordered. On one hand, this was nice. On the other hand, we were still sleeping on 2 occasions when the knock came. The breakfast buffet and dining room were good as well. If you hit the breakfast buffet at the wrong time, it was hard to find a place to sit,...anywhere. Earlier the better for breakfast. DINNER - we had anytime dining in the Michelangelo Dining Room. However, when you first board the ship on day 1, you are given an opportunity to meet with the Maitre D' for any dining assistance or questions you may have. We asked for a table for two and if we could reserve the same table for the entire cruise. He granted our request and we had the same table for two by a window for the entire cruise. A couple nights later, a couple we met asked for "their" same table and they were granted for the rest of the cruise. So, it pays to ask. OVERALL SERVICE...We thought the service in every situation was excellent. It was noticeable that the buffet crew and pool/deck attendants were also doing a fine job of asking and providing service in many many ways. They were quick to attend to you. I say this because on our last cruise with a different cruise company, the overall ship service was horrible - especially with the buffet and deck attendants. So, it stuck in our minds. With the Emerald Princess, it was EXCELLENT. Our room steward was excellent and very much on the ball from the very beginning. Our dining waiter and Jr. waiter were very attentive and excellent as well. SHOWS AND ENTERTAINMENT...The shows were good for the most part. I actually thought the ship's own entertainment group was better than the guests they had on board. HOWEVER,...one thing to keep in mind is that at any given time it (the show) may be rated PG-13. There were a few situations from comics and even the ships own entertainment group, that went a little too far in some areas of suggestiveness if you know what I mean. It may have been a little embarrassing for some parents of children in the audience. This ship has the "Movie Under the Stars" screen on the pool deck and was a good thing. They also played movies throughout the afternoon for all those they may have been interested while laying around the pool. If not interested, do what we did and move to another area out of ear-shot. There was plenty of deck space. In the evening, they showed a different movie each evening. We thought it was a neat thing to see. PHOTOGRAPHY...Not as good as we were hoping. There were MANY opportunities to have your photo taken day and night. However, with the candid photos as you left the ship each day - though framed nicely in accordance with the port of call, many were just "snapped" without any time to get a good set-up or get other people out of the picture. We did not purchase MOST. Though many had potential to be a good picture, the photographers didn't take enough time/care to get the subjects (us) ready so there were flaws we didn't care for. DISEMBARKATION...We thought it went well. Since we were staying in Rome after the cruise on reservations that we made (not Princess purchased), we needed to make arrangements to get into the city. So, when I went to ask questions at the desk and purchase a transfer, they said..."just tell us what time you want to disembark and we'll accommodate". WOW!!! Usually you are TOLD when you will disembark. So, that was really nice. We were one of the LAST passengers to leave that day because we "chose" the time. It was nice to take our time on the last morning. ALL-IN-ALL,...we REALLY ENJOYED our cruise on the Emerald Princess. Being a new ship and many new cruise ship type "efficiencies", as I call them, it was nice to see and made the cruise EXCELLENT!! We would definitely take this ship again. I believe ALL Princess cruise ships should take their lead from Emerald Princess. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
This was about our twentieth cruise and the third cruise on Princess. This particular itinerary from Venice to Barcelona was the "Cruise of my Heart". It was the cruise we were supposed to do last year on Celebrity, but the day ... Read More
This was about our twentieth cruise and the third cruise on Princess. This particular itinerary from Venice to Barcelona was the "Cruise of my Heart". It was the cruise we were supposed to do last year on Celebrity, but the day before the cruise we were informed the cruise had been cancelled because they broke the boat. I can't complain about Celebrity because they refunded all our monies and gave us a replacement 14 day cruise to the Baltic and that was wonderful, but it wasn't my cruise to Venice. Immediately on return from the Baltic Cruise, we called our travel agent and said we still wanted to do the Western Med cruise, but because of the problems with Celebrity on the first cruise, we decided to change cruise lines to Princess and booked the Western Med Cruise for July 29th 2008. We started our cruise by flying into Venice two days early and stayed at the Hotel Antiche Figure (cannot recommend this hotel highly enough). We loved our two day at Venice, but were ready to get on the ship. We walked to the Piazza Romalla and got the free bus to the port, that drops you off God knows where inside the port and the port is very poorly marked. We got off the bus, with what felt like all 200 pieces of luggage and went toward the building that was marked Princess. Once we got to the building, we were told that we were in the wrong place, our luggage had to go to another building to be placed on the ship and then we could come back and begin the check in process. It was after 2:00pm, it was hot, and the rolling luggage was heavy as the devil and I will admit I was getting a bit cranky. We finally found the building to drop off the luggage and proceeded to return to the original building to check it, It was a decent process, not the best I have seen but not the worst. Once on board, we were shown to our staterooms (we were traveling with another couple) and were thrilled to death with our Baja deck stern balcony cabins, I can honestly say we spent more time just relaxing out on the balcony than on any other ship. It was fantastic. We explored the rooms found our dining cards and discovered that even though we had booked our cruise a full year in advance connected all our travel with the other couple, we were not seated at the same table as we has requested. While our husbands relaxed, my friend and I went down to see the head Maitre'd...what a waste of time. We were supposed to have a table for 4 early dining in the Botticelli room, that is what we had requested over a year prior to the cruise..well we were wrong again, by the time we got to the Maitre'd he had already had a lot of mix ups and told us he could put us at large tables in areas that we probably would not like or he would give us a table in the DaVinci dining room that would be ours every night. That was our choice, so we took the table for every night in DaVinci and it turned out alright because we had a fabulous waiter and a Maitre' d who when he realized my husband was Sicilian could not do enough for us. We almost became family by the end of the cruise. But to book a cruise over a year prior to embarkation, state the preference you have, and then have them completely ignored is discouraging. Overall, cruise stops were wonderful, the excursions were great, and I was so glad to finally get to see the Western Med. What bothered me the most was the constant nickle and diming that the Princess Line did. When we went on the Baltic cruise on Celebrity last year I did NOT see it like I did this year on Princess. You pay for ice cream, appetizers, every time we turned around there was another charge. When we stopped in Marseilles, France, we had not booked an excursion and thought we would just go into the city on our own. Princess told us that we were not allowed to walk out of the marina and provided buses into town for $5.oo per person each way, that was put right on your card. We also had to go down and have the water taxi fee in Venice taken off our charge at the beginning of the cruise. We all arrived home saying that the destinations were everything we had hoped they would be, but all us feeling very disappointed with Princess Cruises overall. I had just finished unpacking and telling everyone that everything about the trip was wonderful, but was not thrilled with Princess and we would use other of our favorite line from now on, Celebrity, Holland-America, RCL, when my daughter called and said she just got a great bonus at work and had booked herself, her daughter, myself, and my husband on....wait for it Ruby Princess for over Thanksgiving this year. It was a terribly sweet thing to do, but truly wish she had picked another Line. We did try to call and change to booking to another line, but they were all filling up fast. I won't look a gift horse in the mouth, and I"ll go on this vacation cruise to spend the time with my daughter and my granddaughter. But this will be the last Princess Cruise for me, I prefer the Celebrity or Holland-America lines, that don't seem to nickle and dime you to death. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Overall my family of 4 had a great time. The ship is absolutely beautiful and very clean. Embarkation/disembarkation were very easy and the cashless system within the ship very convenient. The automatic $10.50 tip per person per day is ... Read More
Overall my family of 4 had a great time. The ship is absolutely beautiful and very clean. Embarkation/disembarkation were very easy and the cashless system within the ship very convenient. The automatic $10.50 tip per person per day is also convenient but it feels weird not to tip individual people for their great service (and we did find many employees that went out of their way to serve and be be pleasant)Our cabin was very small but there was plenty of storage room and I never felt closed in. The ship did not feel crowded except at a couple of nights when the main action was in the atrium and when everyone decided to go to breakfast after the drill. The food in the dinning room was ok, but everything else (especially the sushi) was very good. The two specialty restaurants were outstanding. The service in all areas was very good. Friendly staff, happy to do their jobs and do it well. The kids clubs: Remix (13-17) had great activities, but Shockwaves (8-12) was geared to smaller children so my 12 year old was bored after so many days of pool. I think there should be more entertainment in the pool area (ping-pong tables, air hockey, etc)The shows did not meet my expectations and the atrium entertainment got repetitive. The Spa, although expensive, was very good (great sea weed massage and manicure). Did not used the Sanctuary, should be free but perhaps timed by reservation?? The Internet cafe is a rip off. It is very expensive and slow so you are throwing away your money while connecting, really this should be free!! The show about the ports you'll visit the next day is very informative and entertaining. The excursions were very organized and the guides fun and knowledgeable. I would prefer to have lunch on my own though, as the lunches offered by the tour were mass produced in a hotel setting. All the ports were beautiful and the specific places we went to (Ephesus, Acropolis, Pompeii, Vatican, Pisa, Blue Mosque, St Sophia, Cisterns and others) were amazing. The movie under the stars is very nice but they need a better choice of movies. The overall experience was very good. It does seem at times as though they are out just to get your money and this looks cheap(for example charging $15 Venice cards that we did not need or wanted or charging $48 for each soda sticker plus a 15% tip ) Hopefully Princess will listen to their clientele suggestions and improve on a few of these points. Otherwise.. great ship, great itinerary, unforgettable experience!!! Ely Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
We went on the Greek Islands tour on the Emerald Princess. It was my first cruise and my wife's third, my wife and I are in our twenties. We had a great time and I found it to be a great introduction to cruising. Dining: The food ... Read More
We went on the Greek Islands tour on the Emerald Princess. It was my first cruise and my wife's third, my wife and I are in our twenties. We had a great time and I found it to be a great introduction to cruising. Dining: The food was great. We ate at Da Vinci's every night with the anytime dining option. Don't even bother with the buffet, it's nothing compared to the restaurants. It does a really nice breakfast also. The food was what I'd expect from a restaurant charging $70 each for dinner. One great thing is that if you have only half a bottle of wine they will store it for you for the next night - at any ship restaurant just tell them where you last had it, and they will send someone to get it for you. If you are in a rush try to get there early, so you can get a table for two at the start, otherwise it is quite a wait to get a solo table, or just join a group table, but then it will be quite a slow process. The wait staff were really good, and were able to recommend things and help us with any requests. Entertainment: The shows at the Princess theatre were pretty good. There was a bit of an art to getting to dinner at the right time that you can leave and make it to the shows before it fills up, but without getting there so early you waste time waiting. They had good singers, dancers, comedians and even a hypnotist show. Rooms: We had an internal room on a high floor. It was pretty quiet with very little foot traffic. I'd recommend not getting a room on the top floor, as people were always walking past to get to the pools. The room was big enough, with a lot of hanging space. The bathroom was very small, some of the larger Americans on board must have had real trouble not getting wedged in the shower; however it was a normal size, not bad, not good either. Venice: Try to get there a few days before. We stayed on Lido, take the ferry out to Burano (skip Murano, it's full of tourists). Embarkation: This was one of the only let downs of the cruise. I'd booked online through a discount cruise website to get a really cheap price, however I wasn't sent any information about embarkation. Luckily I had filled out the cruise registration details directly on the Princess website. We were in Venice for a couple of days before the cruise departed and the Emerald Princess is huge, so we could see it on the other side of the islands. But we had no idea where to go, and when. I had no info from the website I'd booked with, and couldn't find anything on the Princess website. So I phoned the Princess travellers help line, they told me to go to the International Maritime Terminal. We were on our way there using the Venice ferry system, when we got off at Piazza San Marco to change ferry's and saw a shuttle ferry for the Emerald Princess. We told them we were on our way to the Emerald Princess and could we just use the shuttle. "No. This is only for passengers who have already checked in. By the way, we've already charged your room for this transfer anyway." Hmm, I'm not allowed to use the transfer that you've already charged me for? That's BS! Disappointment number 1. I asked at least if the ferry we were going to catch was the correct one, and they told me no, the ferry drops you off a very long walk from the boat, and there's no way to get there, and it's too hard, and there's a fence and blah blah blah the only way to get there is to use a water taxi (at 75 Euros!) There were some other people from the Emerald going through the same thing, so we shared the water taxi. Turns out the ferry drops you really close to where the ship was, and we find out later there's a shuttle bus running non-stop. Disappointment number 2. We check in, a very smooth process, and ask how we can get back to town. Again, it's all too hard, and the ferry stops running early, and the terminal closes, and the only way is to use the shuttle transfer that they've already charged us for. We found out later there's a tourist shuttle and it's really easy to get into and out of the main part of the islands. Disappointment number 3. Dubrovnik: This was a shuttle transfer and then a bus into the town. We had our eyewitness travel guide; the town is really small and was very quick to walk around. You could do an entire lap around the town walls in about half an hour. We took a walk further along the coast, stopped at a local bakery then had a walk along the beach. There were several cruise ships in port that day and the town itself was packed with people on cruise tours. Corfu: We hired a car in Corfu, big mistake to drive in Greece. After almost being run off the road by a couple of buses a car drove straight into us. We'd hired the car as we'd wanted to catch a bus across the island; however it was a public holiday so the buses were on a Sunday timetable. We drove to the monastery; it was quite nice, then along the cliff sides past some nice towns, had a terrible lunch with a great view then headed to the Alexander hotel. Waste of time. If I go back to Corfu I'd spend time at some of the great beaches and grottos we passed in the car, and more time in the old town. Katakolon: This was the only other time I was disappointed with the Emerald Princess. I asked if there was any way to get from the town to Olympia by public transport. The cruise desk staff told me straight out that the only way was to go on a Princess tour, or pay 80 Euros each way for a taxi. We figured we'd give it a go on our own, at least if we shared a cab it would still be cheaper than the Princess tour. Taxis were about 60 Euro return, but if you walk another 100m past the taxis there's a train, 1.50Euro, return, yes 1.50 Euro! We had a small book about Olympia, but I think it would have been better if we'd had a tour guide. After coming back we picked up our bathers and some towels and went back to the beaches and had lunch at one of the town's beach side cafes. Athens: We walked from the port Piraeus to the train stop into town. Best if you have a map for this walk. Then on the train / subway someone from the cruise was pick-pocketed. Athens was easy to get around. Most of the main attractions are all within easy walking distance. The Acropolis was jam packed with tour groups; it was even difficult to move with all the other tourists around. The Placa was nice to walk around; we saw a changing of the guards at Parliament. The roman and greek Agoras were some of the best parts of our day. We caught the train back to Piraeus, then walked back to the boat. Piraeus is a dump. It's worth paying a few Euros and getting a taxi from the train station to the port. Mykonos was nice; we caught a ferry across to Delos - the mythical birthplace of Zeus. It was all ruins, with hardly anything remaining, just explanations of what used to be there. Kusadasi: we took a tour bus booked at the port to the main sites: Ephesus was great. Virgin Mary's house and St John's Basilica were also good. We were dragged to a carpet selling scam which we left as soon as we could. Avoid anything to do with carpets like the plague and just concentrate on Ephesus. Rhodes: We walked all through the old town and were trying to get on the town tourist bus that drives around all the main sites, however Princess had booked out all buses, for the whole day (then quadrupled the price!). We had a nice lunch at a beach cafe. The beaches were full of both tourist and locals. Santorini: This was the best day of the whole cruise. It was a tender port, then a cable car up to the rim - Fira. Don't take the donkey, and don't even think about walking up that hill. We took a local bus along to Imerovigli and walked along the caldera edge. This was great, we stopped at some old churches and a monastery right on the edge. We caught another bus to Oia, then walked down to Amoudhi beach, lunch right on the shore, then took a swim. The bus system was totally unable to cope with the number of tourists that day, we took a taxi back from Oia to Fira - I don't know what the 100 or so people who missed that last bus back did. Naples: We took a bus to the train station; someone was on the bus for less than 5 seconds before a guy had his hand in her bag and had pulled out her purse. So watch out. We then caught the train down to Pompeii and picked up a tour guide there. That worked out really well, it was a lot cheaper than organizing something through the cruise. We had a train timetable but one train just didn't show up, so waiting another 45 minutes for the next one put us close to missing the last shuttle back to the boat. Again on the train back it wasn't the safest feeling. Make sure you carry your backpack in front, stand with your back to the wall so that no one can sneak up from behind you, and don't flash your cash. In the end we made it back with an hour to spare after taking a dangerous taxi from the train stop in Naples back to the port. Disembarkation at Rome: This was pretty efficient, my wife requested one of the later check out slots, but we didn't realized that this meant you couldn't check out before that time, not like at a hotel where you check out any time up until that. We took the train from Civitavecchia to Rome. The staff at the train station had no interest whatever in helping us determine which stop to get off at in Rome. Tip: the train from Civitavecchia only meets the Rome subway system at Termini, nowhere else. Found that out the hard way. If you are going straight to the airport the train is pretty efficient, just make sure you allow enough time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Emerald Princess is a beautiful behemoth of a ship. We embarked in Venice after staying two nights at the Courtyard Marriott near the Venice airport. The Courtyard Marriott is a good place to crash in Venice after flying in from ... Read More
Emerald Princess is a beautiful behemoth of a ship. We embarked in Venice after staying two nights at the Courtyard Marriott near the Venice airport. The Courtyard Marriott is a good place to crash in Venice after flying in from California. It's modern, clean and reasonably priced by Venice standards. They provide a free shuttle from the airport and will arrange a van to the port for two people and bags for 35 Euros. The bus stop is right in front of the hotel so you can get to central Venice in about a half hour. The boarding process for the ship was fairly smooth considering more than 3,000 people had to be accommodated. We were in cabin E215. I don't recommend that cabin or anywhere near it because we were right over the Princess Theater. We got the program three times as the rehearsal is in the afternoon and two evening performances follow. The noise was very annoying, sort of like a constant boom box. Unfortunately it was raining as we departed Venice but it is quite a sight to pass by St. Mark's Square on the ship. At our first port, Dubrovnik it was still raining, however, we boarded the tender with much anticipation as this was our first time to visit Dubrovnik. We opted for a self-guided tour which was fine except for the overwhelming crowds of people in the old town making it difficult to maneuver or enjoy the surroundings. After walking the length of the main street we took refuge from the crowd and the rain in the nearby Dubrovnik Hilton and the internet cafe across the street before returning to the ship. A word about the food on the Emerald Princess-Two years ago we took the Star Princess Baltic Cruise. It was our perception that the food and service has deteriorated considerably over the two year period. The food is certainly plentiful, but the quality is not what we were served two years ago. Interestingly enough we spoke to several passengers with similar views. We didn't go to the extra charge restaurants which were reported to be very good. The next port was Corfu. Be warned that it's quite a walk from the port to Corfu town and I would suggest taking a taxi which was not too costly. Corfu was also very crowded but interesting. Be sure to try the Kumquat everything. The main esplanade with the park and many cafes is quite enjoyable. We walked a long ways to the archaeological museum and in my opinion it's not worth the effort-very small and unremarkable. Katakolon might be a good port to stay on board the ship and rest or take part in any ship activities. There just isn't much there but the ever present Greek souvenir shops and cafes. In Athens we took the ship transportation into the city as it is quite a distance. We went to the National archeological Museum which is world famous and very interesting. Many years ago when it was much easier we spent several days in Athens, and therefore had already visited the parthenon and other areas of Athens. There's only so much you can do in a busy city in six hours. I would suggest more time in Athens for those who really want to see the city or more of Greece. Mykonos does have some style. I especially like their mascot pelican. Mykonos still seems a little more like what you imagine a Greek island should be. We've all seen photos of the windmills and they're really there. Kusadasi is a port where you should take an organized tour to Ephesus. We took the morning history tour and it was very good except of course for the ever present hoard of people all trying to see the same things. After the ship tours Princess has arranged with a carpet company at the port to provide you with the drink of your choice and a heavy dose of carpet sales. If you are interested in buying a carpet this is fine, however, I resent the fact that Princess is pushing sales to an almost captive audience. Apparently Kusadasi has changed dramatically in the past few years because of all the cruise tourists. We were told that what was only a few years ago an old fashioned market now looks like the mall in your hometown. Also, the constant harangue of the sales people trying to lure you into the stores is very annoying, and it doesn't seem to me that there are any real bargains there. At Rhodes the ship is moored very close to the town. We easily walked downtown and to the famous Street of the Knights. It's very interesting to see the walled city, but the main activity is more stores and restaurants with millions of people pushing and shoving. This was not the picture I had of Rhodes from photos and history classes. Santorini is probably the most interesting Greek Island from the standpoint of geography. it sits in the caldera bowl made by a volcano thousands of years ago. Unless you are on a ship tour you must take a donkey or the cable car up the cliff. We opted for the cable car which is quick and inexpensive. The ship uses tenders again at this port. The port of Naples is very beautiful,however, the city is very ugly and dangerous. Getting across the street is a life threatening event. No third world country could possibly have traffic as bad as this. Because of safety concerns I would suggest a ship tour or as we did the hop on hop off bus which can be boarded at the entrance to the port. The ship docked at the port and then had to be removed away from the port so when we returned to the ship we were required to take the tender a long distance in fairly rough water. Getting off the tender and back on the ship was very rocky and many people had to wait in long lines returning to the ship. I don't know if this was an unusual situation. They really never tell the passengers much of anything. Entertainment was ok but certainly not up to the standard of the Star Princess Baltic Cruise we took two years ago. The cruise director on Star Princess was much more knowledgeable than the Emerald Princess cruise director. On Emerald Princess they hired a couple who were not as well versed on the ports and seemed to be reading out of a book. I would also suggest that Princess needs to provide more assistance at the purser's desk. They make passengers wait in long lines for help. In spite of these criticisms we had a good trip, however, I won't be taking the Emerald Princess again. It's too big and too crowded. In fact if and when we take another cruise we'll probably choose a different line. Maybe they're all alike, but I think Princess is putting too much emphasis on selling stuff, paintings, photos, drinks and so on rather than customer service. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
The Emerald Princess was our second cruise and first time on Princess. We enjoyed every aspect of our trip. With this review I hope to help others with a few tips. Our trip started in Venice with no connection with Princess Cruises. Our ... Read More
The Emerald Princess was our second cruise and first time on Princess. We enjoyed every aspect of our trip. With this review I hope to help others with a few tips. Our trip started in Venice with no connection with Princess Cruises. Our hotel was Ca Angelic and was found on trip advisor. Highly recommended. We found embarkation onto the ship confusing due to either our travel agent or Princess not giving us clear directions. Or we didn't find out but we remind folks to be sure to know how you get to the ship, and how the whole program works. The ship is very large, 3000 passengers. But at no time did we feel crowded. In every way Princess does its best to make you feel like you are an individual on the trip not just part of mass. The pools are excellent with lots of space. I often swam by myself in a large pool where I felt I could do laps. Our stateroom had a balcony which we used frequently to relax. But we never took meals there. This cruise is very port oriented. A stop every day. We would recommend going on the roll call and finding a group doing things that you are interested in doing. We were able to do excursion at half the cost of the Princess programs by working with groups of people we met from Cruise Critic. Here are our recommendations for ports- Dubrovnik-On your own. Easy town to just walk around Corfu-Take a tour of the grottos. Most beautiful water in the world. Visit the Palace with views that can't be beat. Olympia-Be sure to get a guide. The ruins only come alive when someone is explaining what took place. Athens-We booked a walking tour found on trip advisor. Be careful as two members of our party were pickpocketed on the train. Mykonos-We rented an ATV while others rented a scooter. Great way to get around the whole island. Ephesus-Again, be sure to have a guide to help you learn the stories of the ruins. Rhodes-Many people just explored the town which was excellent. We also visited Lindos and again witnessed great views of beaches and beautiful waters. Santorini-We sailed on a Catamaran found on trip advisor. Others travelled to the other communities to see the blue dome churches. Everything you do here will be spectacular. Naples-Use DriveAmalfi and get out of Naples. Tour Amalfi Coast and of course Pompeii which also needs a guide. Rome-We flew home. However we recommend Angel Tours as a great walking tour of the area. Here are our few downsides for this cruise. We were disappointed that Princess chooses to sell ice cream as opposed to having some available for free. We also find the internet service expensive and not user friendly. Most of our money was spent trying to sign on. The food was average but the service was excellent throughout the ship. Lots of nickel and diming throughout the cruise. 6 euros to take a short shuttle to a place that you then have to walk to get into Mykonos. There were a couple of these. Highly recommend this cruise and these ports. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
My husband and I took the 12 day Grand Mediterranean cruise on the Emerald Princess leaving from Venice on June 29th. It is a gorgeous ship and the entertainment was the best we've ever seen on any cruise yet. A super hotel to stay at ... Read More
My husband and I took the 12 day Grand Mediterranean cruise on the Emerald Princess leaving from Venice on June 29th. It is a gorgeous ship and the entertainment was the best we've ever seen on any cruise yet. A super hotel to stay at before the cruise for 2 days is the Antiche Figure in Venice right on the Grand Canal and not too far from the cruise terminal in Venice. You'll need to take a water taxi if you are over 50 years old and need to carry luggage. Try and share with another couple from the hotel to the ship and it will cut your cost to 40 euros from 80. The bridges will kill you to carry your luggage up and down all of those steps in the heat! We know because we took the ACTO bus from the Venice airport and from Piazza Roma we had to carry our luggage in the heat up and down many steps to the hotel. It was a nightmare, so be prepared. Our cabin on the Emerald was R 705 and it was near the elevator and was a bit noisy. Our stateroom had a balcony which was nice and being on the Riviera deck, we were only one flight of stairs from the buffet above and the terrace pool was very close by,too (adult only pool). The food was very good and the chef had many specialties in the Anytime Dining , which we chose. You could eat in Da Vinci, or Michelangelos, the Caribe Buffet, Pizza Bar, Hamburger Grill or Room Service for breakfast on your balcony. That was the only way to dine for us and we hardly ever had to wait more than 5 minutes for dinner with Anytime Dining. The Crown Grill was superb ($25 extra) but well worth the extra fee. Sabatini's was outstanding and only $20 extra). The choices of places to eat were very good, especially Sabatini's Italian 6 course meal! Outstanding, and we have been on many cruises. Also the laundromat was close by our cabin. ( 6 quarters each machine) My husband developed pneumonia shortly after boarding the ship. The medical staff of 2 doctors and 4 nurses took x-rays, did blood tests, and quickly had a diagnosis of a lung infection. They immediately put him on iv steroids, as well as many other meds, and he only missed one port of call. They were most efficient and professional. He did recover well and it didn't spoil the entire trip. Be sure that you have good medical trip insurance to cover these emergencies because you never know. In our cabin we had a terrible rattling noise coming from the mirrored headboard and bulkhead when the ship was underway. We lost a few nights of sleep ( I even tried to sleep on the balcony one night) until we finally called for the crew to come and listen to the noise. They put us in another cabin for the night while they fixed the noise by screwing 3 screws into the bulkhead and then we were able to get some sleep for the duration of the cruise. It was our fault that we didn't call for their help sooner. Here are some reflections from the excursions: Athens- We did the Best of Athens and climbed to the top of the Acropolis. Be prepared with a scorching sun- you need a hat and plenty of sunscreen. The crowds were enormous! Water is essential!!! Wear athletic shoes. Kusadasi, Turkey- Again, a scorching sun, and be sure to take water with you. Be sure also to go to the Shrine of Virgin Mary. It was a beautiful area. Ephesus was amazing, but HOT! Water, water, water! Wear athletic shoes again. Istanbul- The Best of Istanbul was a full day and I really loved this port. It was so exotic. You must see The Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace ( Sultans and Harems) and of course The Grand Bazaar. Be sure to have your camera this day. The lunch was included in a restaurant that was so hot and it was an eggplant and lamb dish didn't have much taste and was kind of gooey. The rice pudding was burned, but the salad was good. Mykonos- We did the half day tour around the island and had free time in Mykonos Town at the end to have lunch. It was a lot of fun walking the narrow streets. Be sure to eat at one of the tavernas on the water. Try the stuffed mushrooms and spinach pie and saganaki. We had a light Greek Beer. Use the terrific bread to sop up the remaining sauce. This one you can do on your own and just get the shuttle to Mykonos town for a few euros. We should have done that instead of the tour. Naples- Be sure to see Capri and that was the highlight. We did the all day tour of Capri, Sorrento, and Pompeii. Again, don't forget the water! Capri was so crowded and the streets were crazy but you can't miss it. The funicular was on strike right after we took it to the top. Buses on the streets were a half of an inch apart on the narrow streets. The flowers were beautiful on the island and everywhere you looked there was a view. Lunch was in Sorrento on that tour and the lunch was fabulous and the wine was flowing in this garden setting. It was very warm being surrounded by the lush gardens, but very pretty. Be sure to buy some Limoncello on this day.Delicious! Pompeii was very hot and dusty but you can not for one moment think of missing Pompeii. What a thrill- bring the water and wear athletic shoes because of stones! Rome- Noisy, busy, and hot, but so interesting to be there. We did Rome on Your Own. Have a good map. You can't do anything else besides The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's in the morning. If you want to see the Coliseum in the afternoon, you need to take the Metro. We saw the Spanish Steps and ate lunch (pizza) on a side street. Since we had been to Rome before, we just wandered around ourselves, but if you haven't seen the Sistine Chapel, join a group for that and not do Rome on Your Own like we did. Florence- This was one of our favorite tours. Florence on your own in the morning and Tuscany countryside for lunch at a castle and then a wine tasting stop. This was very fun and the pasta lunch was out of sight! Flowing wine on top of a hill in Tuscany. Couldn't be any better. The tour guide was a riot- so humorous and fun! Best tour. Marseilles- We did it all on our own in the port area. For 10 euros, the ship shuttle took us to town (15 minute ride) and we had lunch on our own and just caught the sights in this bustling city. If you have never seen Provence area before, be sure to get one to the countryside. Since we had already been there, we stayed on our own in town and it was cheaper. Barcelona- This was the morning to depart the ship. You had to be out by 8:00 and then have breakfast before our 9:30 turn to disembark the ship. If you are staying in Barcelona on your own, the taxi line took us 1 hour to get through to get a taxi to our hotel. Arrange something else if you don't want to wait in the hot sun that long in a taxi line. We stayed for one night at Hotel Gravina near Las Ramblas area, an average, but clean good priced hotel and it was also convenient for the Aerobus at Placa Catalunya (caught on other side of this park). It was a blue bus and about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. The bus comes about every 15-20 minutes and costs 4 euros a piece. It was crowded at 6:30 am. Don't miss walking the entire length of Las Ramblas street. What an experience! Overall, this was a marvelous trip, but bring plenty of money because the euro is a killer. We ate a lot of pizza and baguettes on this trip! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Let me give u a little back ground on our selves, we are in our early 30's and have never cruised before but have travelled abroad twice before. We thought we would finally try a cruise but like everyone else, we had our reservations. ... Read More
Let me give u a little back ground on our selves, we are in our early 30's and have never cruised before but have travelled abroad twice before. We thought we would finally try a cruise but like everyone else, we had our reservations. We were concerned about getting seasick, the food and if we would even like the ship! We decided to fly into London first and spend a week there exploring before we moved onto Venice for our cruise (Will Review London In The Boards Section). Spent three days in Venice enjoying the sights and doing some shopping, the Hand Blown Glass their is incredible! Embarkation Day: Took free shuttle to pier which was vary convenient as it was right next to our hotel on Plaza Del Roma, didn't have to walk more than 500ft. to drop bags; go to check-in area and board bus to be dropped off at ship. We were even surprised how little there was involved in boarding our ship, nothing more than sliding your cruise card into a card reader and having your pic taken! From there we were left on our own to make our way to our Suite on deck 8 (Montego Bay). When we arrived at our suite we found it to be everything we thought it would be and more! It was far bigger than we thought it would be, the bed was huge; the bathroom was all tiled and also very spacious. There was a fresh vase of flowers and a welcome package which included a tray of canapes and all the paperwork we would need to enjoy our cruise! Our room stewards name was "Litto". Very nice man who always had a smile on and was willing to help/Answer any of our questions' he brought us our champagne when we first arrived which I thought was a nice touch although we couldn't drink because of the "Bominine" which, by the end of the cruise; we would have three bottles of Champagne/Wine and eight small bottles of spirits to carry home with us. Sail-A-Way/Day 1: Sail-A-Way was wonderful, especially when you are enjoying breakfast on your HUGE balcony and the sunshine is beaming down on you! Note on food: We decided since we were looking for quite a bit of privacy and we had a Suite that we had ALL of our meals delivered to our room. Also, to all the naysayers; i've eaten alot of good food before but the food on the Emerald Princess was some of the best food i've ever eaten so I don't quite get the complaints that are made. Oh, and don't forget the Chocolate cover strawberries and fresh cookies! Day 1/2 At Sea: Two perfect days at sea cruising on smooth waters. Note on Sea Sickness medication, we started taking Bominine the night before Embarkation and I believe that if we hadn't taken it we might of had problems later on in our cruise when the waters became a little choppy! Only draw back, it tended to make us a little drowsy; my wife called them her "Happy Pills" :) During the first two days at sea we did some shopping in there boutiques which were very well laid out and all in one area, found good deals on gold and silver chains as well as watches and ship souvenirs. We played bingo and watched an ice-sculpting demonstration up by one of the two beautiful pools and generally relaxed as we had already been on the road for eight days! Note on ship layout: As some people have noted, the ship is a little cut-up but if you have ANY sense of direction, you can find your way around without too much hassle! Entertainment On Board: We had decided from the beginning that we were not going to go to see a show in the Princess Theatre for the simple fact that we had seen Phantom Of The Opera in London and did not think that we would enjoy these ones as much. The music provided in the other areas of the ship was fantastic, the violins in the Piazza and the band in the Explorers Lounge were especially good! If you were into watching movies their selection was great both for Movies Under the Stars and for people who had a suite like us we had a large selection of new releases dvds to choose from. Port-Of-Call review: Athens, Greece: Unfortunately I was feeling a little under the weather in the morning but me being the trooper I pushed through it and by lunch was feeling much better! We booked all our shore excursions through the ship as to make shore that there were no problems getting back to the ship on time. For athens we booked a excursion that was to get us to the center of Athens with a small amount of sightseeing and then pick us up at a pre-determined time.The bus was nice and the guide was very informative, the only complaints I had is that we were 15-20mins. late getting off the boat and it seemed like we wasted allot of time getting to our drop-off point considering we only had four hours to see all the sights! Besides that Athens was beautiful, we took a trolley around the base of the Accropolis and then went up on the acropolis; using the elevator because my wife has Kidney disease and cannot walk too far. Then we did some shopping in the plaka district and had an outstanding Greek lunch near our drop-off point. Kusadasi, Turkey: Beautiful small port town with a large bazaar and some historical sights to see. We decided to stay in town to make sure we kept a good mix of sightseeing with just enjoying the view. We actually had a funny story to tell, my wife saw a nice bracelet in a shop window and went into ask about it and the lady who ran the store asked us where we were from and it turned out that she had gone to University where we lived (Eastern Canada) and had lived right in the same area where I work. She was planning to come over to see some friends at Christmas so we gave her our phone # and will probably here from her, go figure! Istanbul, Turkey: Took an Elite Tour Package which included lunch at Ciragan Palace. This was one of two tours that we took that we considered "Outstanding". Our guide was fabulous, the Blue Mosque, The Hippodrome, St. Sophia and Topkapi Palace. We thought the day could not have gotten any better when we started eating supper on our balcony the call to prayer rang out across the city and we were in awe how beautiful of a place this was. Mykonos, Greece: Small island off the southern coast of Greece, beautiful white washed houses and half-a-dozen windmills. We loved this little island because it allowed us to set a good pace and do some SHOPPING, which my wife likes alot! The buildings an ally-ways were well kept and a good mix of Blu-Doors/Shutters and different colored flowers could be found at every turn. We even came across a Pelican who decided to take a seat in a local cafe!:) Last Sea Day: This is where the waters started to get a little choppy but as I said previous that the medication kept us from having any real problems (4ft. swells) We passed the day relaxing on our balcony and enjoying the view! Note On Staff: Not ONCE did encounter a rude or insensitive employee onboard the ship, yes there was one or two that were in a hurry and had to answer us on the fly but thats to be expected. Note on People onboard: I found the age group to be just right since we were looking for a quite cruise and not a party atmosphere and this I why it did not bother me that I overheard the odd person complaining about this or that. Naples, Italy: Took shores excursion to Sorrento, Pompeii. Drove by motorcoach to Sorrento where we switched to smaller van to take us up into hills to see Cheese Making demonstration at a local farm. Had a small snack of fresh cheese and bread which was good and then back to city center where we bought a beautiful in-laid jewelry musical box. From there we were taken to a restaurant overlooking Bay Of Naples for a fabulous Four-Course lunch. Then it was onto Pompeii where we were given a "Cameo" demonstration and then toured the ruins which were fabulous, especially the remains which were preserved for people to see. Little bit of rain at end of tour but it did not dampen our enthusiasm! Note On Rough Seas: Unless u know for sure that u will never get seasick, I would suggest taking something just to be safe! We weren't 10mins. out a we encountered 12-14 ft. waves/swells because of the wind so it made for a nervous night. We popped a second bominine and half a ginger pill and even though my wife was a little dizzy she did not get sick. Rome, Italy: Unfortunately, since we take two Bominine each the night before it left us really tired and after an hour and a half ride from the boat to Rome we were just to tired to do everything we wanted to so we just toured the Vatican Museums including the Sistine Chapel and had a nice lunch. Note on touring vatican museums: Book tour directly through the museum online, that way u can skip the line which was about six hundred people long and you don't even have to stay with the group! Florence/Pisa, Italy: After a smooth ride from Rome we took another Elite Package which included a walking tour of Florence with a tour of the Accademia which houses Michelangelos David. Then we had lunch at a beautiful Villa outside of Florence where just a few weeks earlier "Madonna" had rented the whole place out for vacation. After lunch we made our way back to Pisa and saw (And I climbed) the "Leaning Tower" which was breath taking to say the least! I would have to say that this was our favorite excursion with Istanbul a close second and Naples third. Marseilles, France: Beautiful port in southern France. We took shuttle bus into town and then caught a trolley which took us on a tour of the western part of the city including Notre-Dame De La Garde. When we finished the trolley we did some shopping and then back to the ship for lunch and to pack our stuff. Note on packing: DON'T OVERPACK!, we came over with two large suitcases and two carry-ons and came back with four large suitcases and five, yes; five carryons. I personally don't know how we got on the plane with that much stuff!!! Disembarkation Day: After a beautiful cruise it was time to say a sad goodbye to all the great food, nice people and beautiful places we had seen. We had settled our account the night before without any problems and had received all of our info. on disembarking. We were still shaking our heads at how much stuff we had when we saw it was time to go so we said goodbye to our suite and maid our way down to Club Fusion to wait for our turn to disembark. Note On Tipping: Because we felt we had such a wonderful time we tipped our Room Stewart 1/4 of the total tip which we had been automatically billed and Room Service 1/6. Note On Photos: Princess excels at providing every sort of pic of your vacation even though some of them may be a little pricey. They even have a video called "Reflections" you can buy at the end of the cruise that documents your journey. So, our color/# were called and we got off the sip and made our way to the baggage claim area which looked chaotic but really wasn't. They had Porters there to help u with your luggage so that was a nice ways to end our cruise! All-In-All we had a blast, saw some beautiful places and met people who we will never forget. The food was 1st class and the service was top-notch and I would do it again in a heart beat, in fact, we will be booking something in the Caribbean next week! (We stayed in Barcelona 3 days but will cover that on the boards) And to all who love to cruise, we salute u! Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
My voyage on the Emerald Princess was my sixth cruise, my past history consisting of trips on Carnival's Imagination, Paradise, Triumph, and Glory as well as the Emerald's sister ship the Crown Princess. While my overall vacation ... Read More
My voyage on the Emerald Princess was my sixth cruise, my past history consisting of trips on Carnival's Imagination, Paradise, Triumph, and Glory as well as the Emerald's sister ship the Crown Princess. While my overall vacation was a blast, I feel that the Emerald itself provides just an average value for the money at this time and I don't think I would choose Princess for Europe again any time in the near future. Embarkation The Emerald Princess Mediterranean itinerary runs between Venice and Barcelona. We embarked in Venice, which I was pleased about as I had a basic familiarity with the city after spending four days there previously. Most passengers fly in a night before boarding is permitted, which I highly recommend. Embarkation was scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. Saturday and run as late as one the next day, when the ship would finally depart. We boarded at around 3:00 p.m. Saturday and faced a very short wait at check-in. The embarkation process was particularly easy for mr_chelledun and I since the Venice airport lost all of our luggage leaving us with nothing but a small carry on-bag containing toiletries and medications and my laptop. My parents did have luggage to check in with the ship, and received it in time for our 8:30 p.m. dinner time. After two Princess cruises, I have to say the line does an above average job with making the embarkation process as smooth as possible. Our Room Per usual, mr_chelledun and I booked one of the cheapest, smallest rooms on the ship. This time our room, E310 was literally in the lowest class, due to the astronomical costs associated with going up even the tiniest category on a twelve-day Mediterranean cruise. Despite this, we actually ended up in better shape this time than on our previous Princess cruise since we had a room intended only as a double rather than as a quad. This meant no fold-out beds overhead and no bumping my head every morning. The room was bland but clean, with beige walls and a couple of Greek-inspired paintings hanging on either side. The bathroom was correspondingly tiny, with space for a shower, toilet, and little else. While people often complain that Princess gives less room space for the buck than other mass market cruise lines, and it does, in my opinion the poor layout is to blame for the cramped feel of the rooms. In both my small room and my parents' much larger junior suite, it was a regular occurrence to open the bathroom door and smack someone in the head who was trying to get clothing out of the closet. The hairdryer, for some reason, is firmly mounted over the desk, making it necessary to primp in the main room instead of the bathroom. Larger, more expensive rooms are still far too narrow in terms of space between the bed and the wall. Mr_chelledun and I don't typically care that much about our room, especially on a port-intensive itinerary, but twelve days of bumping into each other did get a bit old. Public Spaces The Emerald Princess is in very good repair as a result of being nearly brand new. The public areas are tastefully decorated. Some are very attractive, others are a bit boring. Our very favorite space was Crooner's Martini Bar, a well-staffed lounge overlooking the ship's central atrium. The Crooner's bartenders knew us all by name at the cruise's end, and contributed greatly to our cruise experience with their daily jokes and card trips. I also enjoyed watching shows in the plush chairs of the intimate Explorer's Lounge, and dancing in the top-floor Skywalker's Disco which overlooks the ocean. Other public rooms left my group saying "why?" The main showroom, Princess Theater, is simply too small for the popular shows that play there. I complained about this after sailing on the Crown Princess and the poor design is echoed on the Emerald. During the first two out of four production shows, the theater was completely packed, with some patrons sitting on the steps and standing in the back of the theater. I just can't understand why Princess doesn't duplicate the grand theaters found on most other large cruise ships. Club Fusion, a dance club which turns to showroom for the popular Princess Idol event, suffers from many seats with blocked views thanks to GIANT pillars situated throughout it. My dislike of these small showrooms is symptomatic of my major complaint about Princess - after two voyages, I still don't care for the layout. The ships' public spaces are too sectioned off, slightly claustrophobic, and lack a sense of awe. Why design a huge ship to feel like it isn't a huge ship? Princess fails to take advantage of the height and girth of its ship by limiting what could have been an amazing atrium to a three-story one, and breaking up its formal dining areas into three low-ceilinged rooms. Members of our group have sailed on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and NCL, and all of us ranked Princess last in terms of interior ship layout. The ship's exterior areas fare better in my evaluation. None of the pool areas were ever terribly crowded during our journey, perhaps because everyone had more than enough sun during our lengthy times in port. Fresh water in the two main pools makes for a more pleasant swimming experience than on other lines. I also like the readily available pool bars, and everything outside was always neat and clean. It is also possible to walk laps around one of the ship's lower decks. All five of us participated in an on-ship Walk on Deck for the Cure 5K event for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and in doing so learned that 7.5 times around the ship equals 3.1 miles. Food Food is always available in mass quantities of varying quality on any cruise. We weren't really as concerned about the ship's food on this particular trip, since we ate many meals in port to sample local cuisine. Still, we definitely ate enough meals on the ship to get a good feel for the available options. The main dining room food was a big notch above average in terms of quality. One night I enjoyed the best rack of lamb of my life. Other recommendations include most pastas, the beef Wellington, baked spinach, and the neopolitan ice cream dessert. Really, I would love to have dining room food this good on a less port-intensive cruise. While we generally enjoyed our server team and food in our 8:30 traditional seating, my family commented repeatedly that Princess seems to understaff its dining rooms. Whereas other cruise lines offer a cocktail server/wine steward in addition to wait staff, the Princess setup requires the assistant waiter to disappear into the wine cellar for long periods of time, leaving the main waiter alone and stressed out for much of the meal. As a result, occasionally we had a wait of as much as an hour between appetizers and the main course or a half hour between receiving our dessert and our coffee. While the formal dining room food was great, the more casual venues definitely disappointed on this trip. I complained about the layout of the casual Horizon Court and Cafe Caribe buffets on my last cruise, as the lack of a defined line going one way results in traffic jams in every direction. This problem was dramatically amplified on the Emerald as so many passengers skipped formal meals in favor of an attempt to grab something quick. Even once we were able to get our food from the buffet, it wasn't very good. I tried flavorless pastas, oddly mushy desserts, and bland omelets before swearing off the buffet altogether. Mr_chelledun and I took to ordering a breakfast of fruit and bagels from room service each morning in an effort to avoid the whole zoo. We weren't thrilled with the grill food either, which consisted of overcooked hamburgers and hot dogs which had sat too long. The one bright spot for casual dining is the International Cafe and its fresh sandwiches, salads, and cookies. Entertainment After receiving amazing entertainment on the Crown Princess this January, mr_chelledun and I were psyched to enjoy some excellent shows and movies during our trip. While the itinerary is port-intensive, a couple of sea days (one unexpected) and a couple of short port times make it so the on-ship entertainment experience does still matter somewhat. Unfortunately, we were very disappointed with the shows and activities on the Emerald. It seemed that fewer activities were being offered than on a typical cruise, perhaps because a week's worth of events was being spread over a twelve day period. Worse, any time interesting events were made available, they were scheduled in competition with each other. Several of the comedians we saw were absolutely terrible. One was so bad I walked out of a show for the first time ever on a cruise ship. We aren't easily offended folks or anything, this was just a matter of him being incredibly unfunny. Each Princess ship also advertises at least two different Las Vegas style shows spread throughout the duration of the cruise. This twelve-day trip actually had four. The newest of these production shows, Groovy Shoes, has some potential but also some parts that are just...odd, cheesy, or boring. This show feels like several different music videos have been stuck together, and a few of them seem to be from a much earlier decade. Also, there are only so many songs which can be twisted to be about "shoes" or "feet" without sounding completely stupid. We didn't use Movies Under the Stars, the on-deck, open air theater facility, at all on this trip. This was mainly because many evenings the facility was designated for a child or teen gathering. Very, very little on-deck music was played in the pool area. On our Ephesus port day, everyone had to be back on ship by around 12:30, so the afternoon was for all practical purposes a sea day. Still, the band performed only from 3:45-4:45. To be fair, there were some entertainment highlights. We enjoyed the production show Motor City, which had a great set of songs performed by talented vocal artists. One very funny comedian had the entire Explorer's Lounge in an uproar with his physical stunts. Princess Pop Star, an American Idol-style competition, is always entertaining. My sister participated this year, which made for a good time for the family. We also had a good time enjoying free cocktails at both the Captain's Welcome Party and the Past Guest party. On the whole, though, entertainment this trip seemed to be lacking. The Ports The real reason we booked this cruise was for the amazing itinerary. It did not disappoint - we saw a tremendous variety of unique places and things. Emerald Princess calls at Venice, Athens, Kusadasi (gateway to Ephesus), Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples (gateway to Pompeii/Amalfi Coast), Civitavecchia (gateway to Rome), Livorno (gateway to Florence/Pisa), Marseilles, and Barcelona. Two sea days are scheduled, which provide for forced relaxation. We wanted an itinerary with a little bit of everything, but heavy on the Italy ports. In the end, I was surprised that my favorite stops were, far and away, the Turkey ports. Istanbul may be the most amazing city I've ever been to and the Ephesus ruins are breathtaking. Other particular favorites were our Pompeii/Amalfi Coast stop, Athens, and Barcelona, where we spent two and a half days post-cruise. We came away from the trip with stunning pictures and happy memories of everything from touring Istanbul's spice market and Blue Mosque to sipping Lemoncello in Sorrento to time spent admiring Gaudi's art and architecture. After branching out some on our last cruise, I've come to conclude that Princess tours are vastly overpriced and of questionable quality, as they take place on busses in groups too large to maneuver easily around a busy city. Most use the same vendors one can book privately, keeping the markup margin as profit. As such, our group of five used private tour guides, prebooked a taxi, or got around on our own in all the ports. In doing so, we saved a ton of money while receiving more personalized tours. I won't go into too much detail about our particular experiences, but I will specifically recommend Shorex Turkey (http://www.shorexturkey.co.nr/) out of Turkey, which we used for both Istanbul and Kusadasi. This company is probably the most well-run tour operator I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with and our guides dramatically enhanced the overall quality of our experience in Turkey. In Athens, we had an extremely memorable experience with Spiros (spirostours@yahoo.com) which included one of the best meals I've ever enjoyed in any country. In Naples we arranged for a private tour through DriveAmalfi with Salvatore (driveamalfi@hotmail.com) to tour the Amalfi Coast. Unfortunately our ship was late docking in Naples due to some shipping traffic and so we did not get off the ship and start our tour for several hours. The positive side to a late docking was our ship delayed leaving the port for 1 hour so we did get to see all that we had planned for the day. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant called S.Giovanni. Great spot and the food was good. Had a sample taste of lemoncello and meloncello as well. Purchased a bottle of lemoncello in Amalfi and had no problems with it in the checked luggage back home. In Santorini we decided to do a day on our own for this port stop. Tendering ashore was quite a thrill as the tender boat and the docking areas (off the ship and also on the island) were not always in sync. Quite a few times they had to stop people from boarding or disembarking the tender since the boat was moving too far away from the step off point. We took the tram up to the top - 4 euros each one way. Spectacular view when you're going up or down. Lots of donkey poo on the streets. Ventured out through the narrow streets and donkey poo to find the famous blue doom church. Spent time at the archeological museum, did some shopping/browsing and then headed back to the ship around 1:00pm and have lunch on board the ship for a change. Overall... I should finish by noting that the three star rating is for my Emerald Princess experience only, not my overall fabulous vacation. Fortunately, we spent the majority of our days in fabulous ports, nearly all of which receive five stars from me. In the end, I'm not sorry I picked this ship and its diverse itinerary. Had I opted for a land trip instead, most of the trip would have been spent in Italy and the Turkey ports that turned out to by my very favorites wouldn't have even been on the radar. Still, the ship itself had a few kinks that brought it down to an average rating for me. While food is very good, entertainment is somewhat lacking at this time, and the layout is just not my cup of tea. Given the very, very high price per person, I'm not convinced the Emerald Princess is the best value for Europe at this time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
The Emerald Princess was definitely designed for the needs and wants of Americans.  It also had what I would call an age itinerary for this length of cruise 18 days.If you were under the age of 50 this cruise would definitely not be your ... Read More
The Emerald Princess was definitely designed for the needs and wants of Americans.  It also had what I would call an age itinerary for this length of cruise 18 days.If you were under the age of 50 this cruise would definitely not be your cup of tea.In fact I would not recommend the Trans Atlantic trip for those under 50 as you would have little to do other then play bridge,bingo,cards etc.I attended one Scholarship at Sea class about photography and learnt absolutely nothing and walked out after 20 minutes of rubbish and refused to pay for what was a waste of time.It was more like a discussion group of first graders rather than cruisers who truly wanted to learn something about their cameras and simple ideas about using the basics of their camera.I was very disappointed,and what was charged as an hour lecture, tended to be more like 25 minutes. It was a waste of time and the lecturer (the ship's photographer was not sure of all his info so would refer to the other photographer sitting on the side). This in no way lessens the total experience of cruising but does change your cruising day when little else is offered. I found the Emerald Princess to be far too big for the service given.I did not enjoy all the shows but the performers were all world class and the comedian who was an American favorite created a lot of laughs and I enjoyed that night. It is a lovely ship and some tender loving care has been put into the decorating,design of cabins whether inside or out, both were lovely and large in comparison to many ships, and very soundproof as there was no outside noise noticed throughout the entire cruise.The colors and little artistic add ons made for wonderful photos. But it completely lost itself when designing the kitchens though.The vicinity of where they were in relation to the dining rooms,in particular.We dined in the early seating of the Botticelli dining room, and I noticed there were many empty tables at the early seating,which meant that there were waiters who literally had nothing to do, if only one table had patrons at it and the other tables had none. Then there were some who had to work very hard because there tables were full.The kitchen seemed miles away,and the assistant waiters,had to walk miles to get special items from the bar,as an example, to get my nightly cocktail that I ordered.How ridiculous is the design of a ship when one cocktail takes an assistant waiter away from the dining room for 5 minutes,and how inefficient.The meals also seemed to take such a long time to arrive from the kitchen, Princess seemed to have wanted the noise of the kitchen away from the dining room, but in doing this has allowed the dishes that would have been perfect straight from the kitchen to have lost some if it's flavour.A waiter stacking plates on trays and then having to walk with them stacked on a tray to the dining room, made me feel as if l were eating from a cafeteria. The buffet room was wonderful most of the time but I found many sections of food choices to be luke warm rather than hot, which made me uneasy when thinking of rules of preventing food poisoning to the passengers.I also noticed at times many kitchen hands, not necessarily handle the food hygienically and this also made me feel uneasy about the preparation of the food itself. Other than those issues the time at sea was restful and calm, and the smile of many of the staff, as you met by them was appreciated.I would not cruise again on a big ship and with so many different dining areas, as the ship just becomes a mass of people that you might see at the beginning of a cruise and never see again. My last issue was with the need of money. The old phrase of when you cruise everything is taken care of, was not present on this ship.Everything seemed to cost extra.Even the tenders(cost!!!!) to get you too the town you were visiting, was ridiculous considering how many elderly people were on board.What was really silly was one town we visited, where we were supplied with transport to the end of the wharf and then left a good mile from the town and for many that mile was a long way,when they might not have got off the ship if they had known the distance to the town.So it is a personal choice and hopefully others will add to these reviews, as cruising is a very personal thing and each to his own. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This was my wife and my first Transatlantic. This was our 12th Cruise, first on Princess the others RCCL, Carnival, Holland America. Both in our 50's. Pre Cruise: Flew from Miami to Rome for 2 days prior to cruise. Stayed at the ... Read More
This was my wife and my first Transatlantic. This was our 12th Cruise, first on Princess the others RCCL, Carnival, Holland America. Both in our 50's. Pre Cruise: Flew from Miami to Rome for 2 days prior to cruise. Stayed at the Hotel Alimande right across from Vatican, a little pricey but the room was great, and the breakfast is terrific. Saw the main sites, Coliseum, Forum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Pizza Navona, Pizza Veniza, all by public transportation(bus), easy to get around take the 82 bus will take you every place you want to go. Food was great, buy your wine in grocery stores alot cheaper and house wines are great. Buy the ones without labels. They are the best. Day of Cruise: Took train to Venice 1st class, took 4 hours. Do not get off at Mestre. Had to drag luggage down 30 steps and then back up another 30 steps. No escalators, no elevators. Had driver meet us there and took us to port. 22 Euros a couple. (3 couples). Embarkation: This was a breeze maybe took about 20 minutes. Got on ship and went to Cabin (A738) on Aloha deck with balcony got a great upgrade from outside room. No one escorts you to room. Lets cover the ship first: Beautiful!!!! Can't say enough about the decor of the ship. Reserved, Marble, Marble, Marble!! Shops, are not abundant but enough. Lounges are very nice and the drinks are expensive. Casino rather small but adequate. Rooms are just about the same on all other lines except the showers are really cramped. Don't drop the soap or your posterior might be in the hallway. I showered up in the steam room after the first day. Big showers and they have all the amenities. The closet space is abundant with safe also. Flat screened TV and alot of channels. Balcony's are small but if you get the Caribe Deck they are bigger. Some Decks the balcony's aren't covered. No Hank Panky on those. They give you bath robes but you have to ask. The Cabin Steward was great. I'll cover Service next. Beds were very comfy. No towel animals but you do get chocolate on the pillow. Just remember it's there or you wake up the next morning with it all over your face!! You Think?? Of course you have a frig and min-bar. Extra pillows and blanket if you ask. The shampoo and soap is from the Spa so I guess it was good stuff. No razors or other goodies. Safe is easy to operate and works well. Service: Impeccable!! The service in the Buffet was great, to the Dining Room. Cabin Steward I put 20 Euros in his hand the first day and told him I needed a bottle of wine on ice at all times and never was my wine bucket empty. We had Anytime Dining and ate at 8 or so every night and had the same table. Table 254 in the Michelangelo, the waitress name is Sanda and she was a kick. The bartender in the Wheelhouse bar Mario is also great. There's a waiter on the back of the ship at the Tradewinds bar named Joel he will take good care of you. Everyone talks to you tells you to have a nice day and are so pleasant. They all remember your name too!! Dining: Buffet is disorganized!! You bump into people constantly. Princess has to fix this. Sometimes I couldn't figure out just how they decided to arrange the food set-ups hot and cold were almost different everyday. Breakfast was great, no waffles, but enough of everything else to satisfy your morning. Lunch, was great also always some sort of roast, plus different themes everyday. Pizza was New York Style, yes you had to do the fold. I wasn't crazy about the burgers. Don't ask why I just couldn't put my finger on it but they didn't taste all that great. The Brats were very good. Diner: The menus are out of this world and not once did we have to send anything back, cooked to perfection. Lamb, Lobster, Filet Mignon, Prime Rib, you name it it was very good. The ice cream is free for an hour a day, and also in the dining room anytime else you have to pay. Ice tea and coffee is free as is the juice in the morning. If you want anything else you pay for it. Activities: They got a great steam room and sauna that is free up in the SPA. They also have a Package you can buy from the Spa for other things I didn't do it so I can't comment. My wife got the works and it cost me about $290. Oh well!! They also have a Sanctuary that cost you $10 for half a day. My wife did it and liked it but I passed. Comfy lounge chairs and peace and quiet I guess?? Normal Bingo, Trivia, Art Auction, Horse Racing etc. No belly flop contest or hairy chest stuff which was OK with me. MUTTS!! This is a plus. Concerts and Movies. Hot Tubs, and the pools never seemed crowed. They are not heated so be prepared for shrinkage. Entertainment: Saw the symphony, two violinist, a great Comedian twice, but no broadway shows. They had them just to tired. This was a very port intensive cruise. Went dancing at the Wheelhouse bar, groups were OK. They had some sort of entertainment every night in the plaza which was good. All in all entertainment was good. Ports: Venice, was wonderful we got lost a couple times, took a gondola ride sang That's Amore to my wife I scored points there, had pigeons go the bathroom on me, spent 10 Euros for an expresso in St Marks Square and bought alot of things back made of murano glass. The city is magical especially at night. Nothing better than to stand on the back of the ship sailing down the Grand Canal listening to the Opera Singer singing It's time to say Goodbye!!Of course with the drink of the day!! Naples: We took a private tour 8 people in Van for 175 Euro a couple. Went up the Amalfi Coast with Marcello. Went to Sorrento, Postiono, Ravello were we had a feast for lunch!! By the time we were done 8 of us drank 12 pitchers of wine. That didn't count the bottles of Lemoncello we drank. When it was time to leave I couldn't hit my behind with either hand and we had to walk down this mountain to get to the van. The lunch was 20 Euro a couple including the tip!! Then went to Pompeii, were it poured rain but we still got to see alot. We cut our tour about a half an hour due to the weather. The scenery was breathing taking. Rome: Went to the Vatican. Can't say enough, Sistine Chapel takes your breath away. Had a tour guide from Angel Tours and she was great. Had a little rain in Rome also but only for an hour. Trick here is to have a tour guide so you don't stand in any long lines. We took the train from the Port to St Pietro stop and walked right to Vatican about 15 minutes from train station. If you decide to go on the train make sure you get the 4:30 train back. Got back to the ship about 5:15 plenty of time to get on the back of the ship for sailaway. Drink of the Day of Course. Cannes: Took a tour with a private company again and this time the tour guide was not as good (Dream Tours). Went to Monte Carlo, Monaco, Nice, Eze and St Paul de Frence, Saw the changing of the guard at the palace, went into the cathedral, and the Casino. Eze was really neat little shops on the side of the mountain as was St Paul finally had to sit at local cafe and watch bocci ball and drink a bottle of French wine. The beaches in Cannes are mostly all topless so was some good sight seeing there. Barcelona: Was there on a Sunday. Mostly all shops were closed but took the Hop on and Hop off bus. Great way to see the city. Cleanest city so far. Walked down Las Rambles and never got pick pocketed. Had lunch and wine at little cafe and was great. Gaudi has influence all over the city. Cadiz: Old Spanish town was nice did shopping and saw the city by walking the cobble stone streets. One tip do not wear heels in any of these cities. Never saw so many people with stitches from falling down. Cadiz was nice had tapas for lunch with more wine. Portugal: This was one of my favorite ports. Least expensive, and beautiful city. Went to Sinitra, Cacis, Belem, and Lisbon. Took a private van with Revelation tours. 55 Euros per couple and was worth every euro. The guide we had was an encyclopedia full of information. When you stop for lunch in Sinitra he tells you to get the Sardines. I did and really didn't like them and I like fish. We visited St Anthony's Cathedral and it was beautiful. Went to a palace on top of this mountain and was breath taking. We left the port at 8 and had to be back by 5. They were taking up the gang plank when we got there. Last one's back on the ship. Azores: Toured the city on foot. More Cobblestone streets. Bought more wine, had to have enough for the 5 days across the Atlantic. It's an old Fort and has a couple lakes and a Pineapple plantation. It's OK but not my favorite port. Five Days across the Pond: These days went really fast played the trivia games layed out in the sun, went to the steam room, relaxed from a very intensive 12 days. Lost a lot in the Casino, drank wine. You can buy wine at every port and bring it back on the ship. They say two bottles but I brought 4 in Naples and Cannes and nobody ever said anything to me. I did see them take a bottle of hard liquor from a passenger in Spain. Deck Chairs they save them but if you go up higher there's always room, mostly around the MUTTS area. In fact the higher you get the bolder the women are if you know what I mean. The average age on the ship was maybe 62. One teenager, and 6 kids(little ones). Saw them twice in 17 days. Princess nickels and dimes you to death. Alot of things you pay for on Princess are free on other lines. This was a great cruise, great ports, great food. The weather was almost perfect and only had one rough night leaving Cadiz going into the Atlantic. Taking a Transatlantic back is the only way to go. I would have hated to fly those 12 hours after the cruise was over. Will I cruise Princess again, yes, would I cruise Carnival again yes. There's good things about all cruise lines that are different than others. All are great!! Sure beats working!! Have a good cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This is my review of our 10/08/07 sailing on the Emerald Princess from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale. We flew to Venice 2 days early via air that we arranged ourselves using FF miles. We were unable to get a non-stop from JFK or ATL to Venice ... Read More
This is my review of our 10/08/07 sailing on the Emerald Princess from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale. We flew to Venice 2 days early via air that we arranged ourselves using FF miles. We were unable to get a non-stop from JFK or ATL to Venice so we did have to make a connection in Amsterdam to a KLM flight . Encountered no problems and all our luggage arrived. We stayed at the Locanda Orseolo in Venice and were fortunate that the water level was low enough that our water taxi from Marco Polo airport was able to take us directly to the Locanda where we entered through their water window. The hotel is splendidly located 5 minutes from St. Mark's on a small canal. The accommodations are very nice, clean and the staff is wonderful. You are greeted by your first names as if you are friends visiting. Breakfasts, as many have commented before, are wonderful, especially the chocolate banana crepes! The only drawback is that there is no elevator. However, the staff carries you bags up and down so you only have to get yourself up the steps. Our room had a small sitting room and a bedroom both on the canal. It was wonderful to open the windows and hear the gondoliers serenading their passengers. We took the Doge's Secret Palace tour ( arranged by one of our cruise critic group) and did a lot of wandering around Venice. The day we arrived was rainy but we wandered anyway. The next day was glorious - sunny and mild temps. We decided that instead of taking a gondola ride, since they seemed to be perpetually involved in traffic jams on the small canals, that we would ride the complete route of the Vaporetto. We boarded near St. Mark's heading toward Lido. We bought the 24 hour ticket for 16 euros each and as we got to the Lido end of the line we were able to get seats up front. We took the Vaporetto back the complete length of the Grand Canal and had plenty of time to take lots of pictures since we were on the local. At the Piazzale Roma we had to get off and change to go back, this time on the express that runs outside. Along the way we were able to see the Emerald Princess which was overnighting in Venice with the people from her last cruise. She looked beautiful. During our two days in Venice we had 2 great dinners - one at the Osteria de Santa Marina (my favorite) and the other at Aquapazza. We also had a fantastic lunch at the Ristorante Alla Borsa. Because of the exchange rate things are not cheap in Venice but everything we ate tasted wonderful. On 10/08 we took a water taxi from the hotel to the ship around 11 AM and encountered an easy and swift boarding process. We were on by noon. As soon as I got on I called Dining reservations to book the Chef's Table for us and 3 friends. If you are interested in doing this you really must book it immediately. For the rest of my review I won't give a day-by day description because I'm too long-winded. Instead here are some comments about various aspects of our voyage. Cabin - We were in A753, an owner's suite. It was beautiful with more room than we needed. We felt no vibrations despite being aft, and during the only squall we hit with any seas on the first sea day, we felt no excess motion. Service - We had wonderful service from every staff member we encountered. Our cabin steward kept things spotlessly clean, replenished toiletries and ice and contended with our never ending stream of laundry tirelessly. Dining and Food - We had Anytime Dining and thoroughly enjoyed it. We are late diners so we always went around 8:30PM to the DaVinci Dining Room where we always had a table for 2. Godwin, the headwaiter of that venue, knew us by name after the 1st evening and took good care of us. We had tables in different parts of the dining room and encountered consistently good service. We ate at Sabatinis on 4 nights and at the Crown Grill 3 times and obviously enjoyed those as well. I actually liked Sabatinis a little better than the Crown Grill but they were both very good. We learned our lesson several cruise ago about Sabatinis "whole experience" and we don't do that. We order specifically what we want and therefore don't feel so stuffed we can hardly move when we finish. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the Horizon Court and thought the food was pretty good there to for a buffet. There were always plenty of choices. I was happy to see that waiters there would get beverages for you, and silverware and napkins were on the tables already. No more juggling of too many things as you look for a table. We also never had a problem finding a place to sit. We only tried cookies from the International Cafe so I can't comment on other things there. We had a light lunch one day at the Sanctuary and that was also very good. Facilities on the Ship - Despite 3000 passengers on the ship the only time we felt crowded was the night of the Captain's cocktail party in the atrium when it seemed that all 3000 were there. We loved the Adagio lounge up by Sabatinis. They had a great pianist, wonderful olives and it was far less crowded than Crooners (which was our favorite spot on other ships). On the Emerald, Crooners is part of the thoroughfare around the atrium and so always seemed busy. We don't go to shows or the casino so I can't comment on those. We did go to the Sanctuary nearly every sea day and loved it. It is one of the most relaxing places I have been to and the chairs were so comfortable that they encouraged a little nap. The Lotus pool just next to the Sanctuary was the pool we liked best, much more peaceful than the 2 pools in the middle. The Veranda pool at the aft was also very nice. The gym was very well-equipped and only on one day did I have to wait to use an elliptical machine. The Thermal Suite was very nice but probably not big enough for the number of people onboard or perhaps more people know about it now than on our previous cruises when we've had it almost to ourselves. Both of us had Bali Hot stone massages and really enjoyed them. No one tried to sell me anything, but my husband (who had never been to the spa) did succumb to buying something. I got a haircut and styling and the guy who did it was great, in fact I told my husband I need to go on the ship every 5 weeks to get my hair trimmed. Ports and Shore Excursions - We loved every port and can't wait to go back. We took the Princess Elite tours in Naples and Rome. We thoroughly enjoyed them. We had a small group of people, excellent guides and lovely lunches at 5 star places included. In Cannes and Lisbon we went on privately arranged excursions and enjoyed those as well. Without going into specifics these are the tours we took. If anyone has questions if you ask on the Princess BB I'll try to answer. Naples - Elite tour of the Amalfi Coast (beautiful!) Rome - Elite tour to the Vatican Museum, St. Peters, the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum Cannes - private tour to Nice, Le Tourbier (sp), Eze. St. Paul de Vance and Antibes Barcelona - Princess tour to Montserrat Cadiz - Princess tour to Sevilla Lisbon - private tour to Sintra, Cascais, Cabo da Roca and Lisbon Punta Delgada - Princess tour to Crater lakes and scenic drive Weather - We had incredible weather. The temperatures were generally in the 70s so we basically needed no cold weather clothing. The seas were unbelievably calm. In summary, we loved the Emerald Princess and our cruise on her ( so much so that we're doing the same cruise next year). The only thing which I think she lacks is a covered pool. I can see that if we had cooler temps or inclement weather that would be a nice feature. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This review covers the Mediterranean Transatlantic Cruise originating in Venice and ending in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in October 2007. As background, this was our 8th Princess cruise and we have done 15 cruises together. In Venice, we ... Read More
This review covers the Mediterranean Transatlantic Cruise originating in Venice and ending in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in October 2007. As background, this was our 8th Princess cruise and we have done 15 cruises together. In Venice, we chose to add a two-day Princess pre-cruise hotel stay in order to see the city. We stayed at the Hotel Saturnia, which was accessed by chartered vaporetta from Marco Polo airport. We were dropped off at a vaporetta stop several blocks from the hotel. We were told we could not use the water window at the hotel because there were too many gondolas in the area (?!?). This meant schlepping our carryons over to the hotel. Our other luggage, which was picked up by Princess at the airport, was promptly delivered to the hotel. In other cruises with Princess, embarkation began around 1:00PM and lasted into the late afternoon. Since we were staying in port overnight before sailing, it seemed reasonable that we could get three sightseeing days by embarking in the afternoon of Oct. 8. However, the Princess transfer to the ship was done only once, at 10:30AM from the hotel via chartered vaporetta. While there was a $15.00 shuttle back to St. Mark's Square from the ship available, much of the available time was taken up in the embarkation process, leaving little or no time for sightseeing on the day of embarkation. This was our first experience with this new class of Princess ship. We've previously cruised on the Diamond Princess, which is the same size, but carries 2670 passengers compared to 3120 on the Emerald. The 450 passenger difference calculates to more cabins on the same size ship although they have made more three person cabins. The space had to come from somewhere and it seems to have been a little bit from everywhere. The Princess Theater appears to be smaller than on other Princess ships. Also, with a primarily retired passenger group on board for the Mediterranean and Transatlantic cruise, the lack of a railing up the middle of the stairs in the theater was a noticeable omission as almost everyone touched every aisle seat as they worked their way to and from their seat. The accountants saved maybe three inches there. In fact, "nickel and dime" was a common refrain heard from passengers in all areas of the ship. Admittedly, Princess refers to itself as a Mass Market cruise line providing good value for the money spent on the cruise. It does not refer to itself as a premium cruise line, as Holland America does in its literature. For this cruise, we chose to go with Traditional Dining in the Botticelli Dining Room. Our hard working waiter and often reassigned assistant waiter did the best they could to cover what must have been 5 tables with at least with 20-25 persons total to serve. Mid-way through the cruise, our table spoke to the Head Waiter about the slow service and he added another assistant waiter. This, and the return of the often absent assistant waiter to our set of tables greatly improved the service as there were now enough staff for the number of people to be served. In many ways this ship and its services seemed to have been designed by the Carnival accountants rather than travel professionals. The food quality was very good and options abound as on any Princess ship. The Horizon buffet on Lido deck has an add-on at the back of the ship called the Caribe Cafe, which has a separate buffet menu. Caribe is also the place for milk and cookies after 11:30PM. The Movies Under the Stars theater also provides popcorn, milk and cookies for its guests on Lido deck. While this cruise population was a fairly quiet crowd, Princess has created "The Sanctuary" on the top deck of the Emerald to provide a quiet place to retreat and relax. It, however, costs $10/Half Day for some peace and quiet. We heard it contains a pool and the Spa folks do massages there. Entertainment was quite good, with Broadway style shows, musicians and comedians in the Princess Theater and afternoon shows of jugglers, acrobats and chamber music in the atrium (called the Piazza).The Explorer's Lounge and Club Fusion also had entertainment nightly. There is also the Movies Under the Stars on the Lido Deck and many of the lounges have live music. There was a daily class in different varieties of ball room dancing that seemed to be well attended and seemed to result in a good number of folks using their new skills on the dance floor in the evening. Disembarkation was less organized than we've seen on previous Princess cruises. As usual, they want you out of the room by 8:00AM. For Platinum and Elite Captain's Club members, they provide coffee, juice and Danish in Club Fusion aft on Deck 7. However, there are no announcements on the public address system or in Club Fusion to tell you when to leave the ship using the color coded luggage tags system. For example, for Green 2, you had to leave Club Fusion and go to the Explorer's Lounge to be told by a crewmember when you could leave the ship. During disembarkation, navigating from one point to another on the ship was made more difficult because 3120 other folks were trying to do the same thing at the same time! Porter service was available once you were off the ship to carry your luggage to immigration and customs. Transfer to the Miami airport from Port Everglades was not well organized. The Princess rep told us "There's not enough space for the busses and too many people getting off at once!" This is, however, all under the control of Princess and could be better organized. Ports: We used Princess excursions exclusively in the ports. Venice: The city is absolutely beautiful and easily walkable; although the streets are cobblestone, so ladies, leave your heels in the hotel. The Saturnia Hotel has an elevator and a beautiful view of the city from the roof garden, accessible from the fourth floor. Deutsches Bank has an ATM across the street from the Hotel Saturnia, if you want to get Euros. At the time of our trip, one Euro cost $1.42. This eliminates the need to carry money on your flight to Venice. Lisbon: The City by Bus and Tram excursion was great. In the old city, the streets are so narrow that ordinary busses cannot fit. We transferred to electric trams, which could run on the streets and up and down the hills. The streets are so narrow, you can reach out the window and ring someone's doorbell as you drive by! Great photo stops on this tour. Ponta Delgada, Azores: This is a very walkable city, although built on the side of a mountain. A shuttle took us to the entrance of the port and you can walk from there or take a taxi. On Rua Muchada del Marcado, there is a market that is where the locals get their fresh food and vegetables. There is also a more touristy section of the market where souvenirs can be found. This was one of the ports that I'd really like to revisit for a longer time. Cannes: This was my favorite port. We tendered in and went to Monte Carlo and Monaco. The scenery is beautiful on the way as you see both the Mediterranean and the Alps. Actually seeing the venues of the Grand Prix and The Grand Casino will never be forgotten. Naples: For us, going to Pompeii wasn't negotiable for any other venue and it didn't disappoint. The only word to describe it is AMAZING. In the afternoon we went independently to the Archeological Museum in Naples where they have many of the better things that were found in Pompeii. It is straight up the mountain from the port and the cab was probably extremely overpriced at 30 Euro for about a 10 minute trip. We chose to do Princess tours rather than book them privately. The husband likes the comfort level of knowing that the boat will wait for a late returning tour outweighs the advantage of a smaller group and seeing more of what you wanted. One couple seemed to have missed the boat on a private tour in one of the ports. The Transatlantic portion of the trip was very smooth and pleasant. The Captain found a great route, so that there were no heavy seas to disturb the crossing. So much nicer than flying back from Europe. Princess remains good value for the money spent, we'll be returning to the Emerald in January of 2008 for a Western Caribbean cruise from Fort Lauderdale. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
We were met at Venice airport and shown to our coach then taken to the Pier. Queues moved quite smoothly and told to sit and wait for embarkation which took about 1 1/2 hours. Eventually our numbers were called and off we went - the ship ... Read More
We were met at Venice airport and shown to our coach then taken to the Pier. Queues moved quite smoothly and told to sit and wait for embarkation which took about 1 1/2 hours. Eventually our numbers were called and off we went - the ship is huge and like most others we got lost several times. Cases were delivered to our cabin after a couple of hours and our cabin steward came to introduce himself to us. A very nice young man who was always helpful and pleasant as were all the staff and none of them would pass you without saying hello. We went on all the trips and we had to gather at our designated places on board, these went very smoothly and can't fault any of the trips, although hurried sometimes but found this was necessary for good timekeeping. After all most of the trips were tasters for future visits. We cannot praise the food, shows and everything on board enough. So I will comment on disembarkation.We had to get our cases outside our cabins before 9pm and there are so many restrictions on what you can carry on as hand luggage on a flight, this was difficult. All our toiletries had to be packed the night before etc. We had to be down in our designated areas by 7.45am and this went smoothly. Once off the ship and at the port we had to find our cases and get them to the coach we were to travel on. Things were a bit messy here and we feel this can be improved upon. We were given a sticker with our trip number, as we had been before, but unfortunately the coach we needed did not have this number on, so we had no idea which coach to get on. We did a trip around Barcelona so put them on the appropriate coach eventually. At this point I would advise putting plenty of home address labels on to your cases as some had come off ours. After our trip around Barcelona we were taken to the airport and found the desk. This is a huge airport and we the staff there to be most unfriendly. We did not hear our announcement and found out by watching others on our flight who found out from somewhere what was happening. We flew with Titan airways and there was extra leg room and the meals were excellent. We would certainly cruise with Princess again as we found it to be 5 star. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
This site was invaluable to me in planning our cruise... I hope some of you can benefit from my thoughts on the entire trip we just returned from. It should be said that this is our second cruise, and we don't have lots of basis to ... Read More
This site was invaluable to me in planning our cruise... I hope some of you can benefit from my thoughts on the entire trip we just returned from. It should be said that this is our second cruise, and we don't have lots of basis to compare... but we know what we like. We had networked with a group of people here on this site to organize a lot of private tours, and we all (35 of us) got together in the Adagio bar on sailaway day to meet and greet. September is an excellent time to sail the Mediterranean. The summer weather has cooled, but on our voyage every day was sunny...no day over 90 degrees (Athens), but most in the high 70's. The Ship Emerald Princess is huge. You can burn off most of the calories from the food simply by walking a few times end to end. The ship is well appointed and has a wonderful staff, all of which attempt to learn your name if they see you regularly. We had Anytime Dining and chose to utilize the Da Vinci dining room most evenings. The food was in our opinion, wonderful...the portions were not large, but more than adequate. The wine list was long, but compared to local restaurants in our home town, by no means overpriced. Most evenings we had a great bottle of wine for under $30. The staff occasionally tried to sell after dinner drinks in a souvenir glass, but were not obtrusive about it. We were in Cabin B748, which I have seen written up as a choice corner balcony cabin off the back of the ship. Room size was great, and the balcony was spacious... ideal for the Venice sailaway where we didn't have to fight the crowds on the upper decks. The person in the cabin below asked the staff to move two of the 4 chairs off and replace it with a recliner from the pool deck, which they did... she still had plenty of room. We did have two occasions on this trip where we had 8-12 foot swells, and you definitely do feel that in the back of the ship more than in the mid ship. However, the normal propeller vibration is not a problem at all. No problems bringing in wine from the shore to have in your room. A great find for quiet poolside resting? The terrace pool in the back on level 14/15. Its right near the buffet, a hot tub is nearby, and no children allowed. Especially convenient to our rear cabin. Claim your chair early. The only negatives on the ship overall? I noticed while walking down our corridor that there was a lot of vibration somewhere near where I think the stacks went up through the ship, even on Baja deck. I cant help but think that even the balcony cabins near that would have felt that...it was very pronounced. Also, the elevators in the back of the ship don't go all the way down to the dining level...kind of a pain. We went to two evening shows. Skip the Motown tribute show... nothing interesting about a group of marginally talented white people attempting to cover Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross or the Temptations. The other show we attended was a Elton John imitator, and he was spot on... make sure you go. One disadvantage to being in the back is that when the ship is docking early in the morning, the thrusters used to manipulate the ship create such a vibration that you feel you are in the midst of a 3.5 to 4.0 earthquake. Not pleasant at 6 in the morning. Probably the biggest weakness was the port lecturer, David Toulson. Using slides from the ports that had to be 20 plus years old, he was basically a joke when he had a microphone in his hand. While he did have some useful suggestions on shopping, his commentary during sailaways was nothing short of ridiculous most of the time. And he apparently had a problem holding down the microphone button because he would cut out mid sentence. All in all, an embarrassment. Shore Excursions/Ports/Activities This is a port intensive cruise, and if you take a tour each day, you are a tired puppy by the end of the cruise. Whether you use a private guide or the ships tours, mix it up... after a while you can only look at just so many ruins and churches. Go visit some of the scenic areas and small towns. Besides, the level of crowds in the cities can really be frustrating after a while. Starting in Venice, we spent a few days ahead of time in the Hotel D'agoressa, a little hotel near the train station, which I would recommend highly. It was a long walk to St. Marks, but it was also far away from the daytime crowds there, which were incredible. We booked our own tours at the Doge's palace (Secret Itineraries Tour...do it early), St. Marks (tickets are free to help avoid lines...go between 1130 and 1230 when all the mosaics are lit) and bought tickets to Musica a Pallazo...40 Euros to hear a chamber group and two singers perform opera in a pallazo alongside the Grand Canal, and it was great, although a bit warm (no A/C). We took a gondola ride...50 minutes for 100 euros. Water taxi from the hotel to the ship, 75 Euros, but the Princess people are right there to get your bags. The morning of the sailaway we took a Princess Tour to Murano (glass blowing) and Burano (lace and great scenery)...my advice would be to skip this tour unless you could just go to Burano, as Murano was 15 minutes with the glass blower and 45 minutes for selling. No complaints about check in and embarking ... it was easy. Chefs Table We signed up for this as soon as we got on the ship...calling the dining staff at extension 6219, and they put you on the list. We are not "foodies", but we were intrigued to see a kitchen and exec chef at work. Its $75 per person, but I have to say it was an incredible evening...it was run 3 times on our cruise for 10 each night. Cruise critic folks were the entire group my night and at least one of the other two. We all donned white coats and went in to the kitchen for a quick tour, some Champagne and hors d'oeuvres. The Maitre D'hotel, Silvio is a real pro, as is Michell, the exec chef... but the fun part was waving at all the staff, most of whom probably never see their customers... we have some great pix. We then paraded out to our specially decorated table and had a five course dinner, most with their own specially matched wine. Michell flambeyed the meat at the table for us, and the pastry chef made us an out of this world mousse for dessert. We all agreed this was an extraordinary evening...and it was different for each group. As this is rolled out to other Princess ships, I would recommend this experience highly. Athens We used the driving services of Paul (Athens Taxi) who has been discussed on this site. He met us on time and took 16 of us in a very comfortable van to the Acropolis (get there early, the crowds are overwhelming), but did not guide us himself... you can hire there. One guide quoted us 10 Euro a person, which we turned down in favor of guiding ourselves. We went to the Temple of Jupiter, Archeological museum, Shopping at La Placa (lunch there on our own), Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the unknown soldier. He did what he was hired to do, and was very personable. Would have been nice to have a guide in this city though... we feel in retrospect we could have benefited from this. Grade for Paul is an A- Ephesus/Istanbul 8 of us were guided by Kagan Kosagan (TourGuidesinturkey) at both locations, and I have to say that he made this the highlight of the trip. His enthusiasm for his country, his knowledge of history and his storytelling ability brought this location to life. We went to all the major sites in these two locations (ruins, temples, palaces, bazaars, spice markets), and I have to say that the only place I personally would have skipped was the Virgin Mary's house... I know this probably has significance for some, but this place has "tourist trap" all over it, and I sense that Kagan felt the same way. Grade for Kagan A++. PS... don't miss the Terrace Houses in Ephesus! Mykonos We took the ships tour to the Platis Gialos beach ($19 for a 10 minute bus ride), and enjoyed the beach very much... was about 2/3 full, water a bit cool, salty and the beach a bit rocky but very clear and a great setting. We wandered around the town upon return and it was very pretty. If you wanted to skip the beach, most could navigate the town on their own. Some in our group rented scooters and had a great time. Naples We hired Salvatore and Roberto (two eight passenger vans) from DriveAmalfi for a morning ride down the Amalfi coast, lunch at a restaurant overlooking the coastline, and the afternoon in Pompeii. Roberto was great... his english was very good and he was a great driver on some difficult roads. We were there on a Saturday which helped a bit with traffic. There was a bit of selling going on... we stopped at a hotel for a view of the coast and were handed a brochure... but it was not a problem. They had gotten us a guide for Pompeii named Franco, and we all became part of the "Franco family" for two hours. It was a great day and I recommend them highly. Grade A+ Rome We were with Stefano of Rome Cabs. What a driver...this guy could navigate really narrow streets and park right next to major monuments so we didn't have to waste time and energy walking a long way. We were scheduled to see a lot of the major stops, and did in fact see them (Colosseum, Catacombs, Trevi, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Roman Forum, St. Peters), but also stopped at St. Pauls outside the Walls, the supposed burial site of St. Paul. This was an added treat and I recommend it highly. Grade A+ PS Vatican Museum is closed on Sundays except the last Sunday of the month. Livorno/Florence We went with Marco of Tuscany Tours as a driver here...spent the morning in San Gimingiano, just a spectacular hilltop town in Tuscany, and then Florence in the afternoon, where we got a quick driving tour of the major sites of the city, and then dropped off to visit them in the 3 hours we had there. Marco spent most of the time on his cell phone, and it became a bit of a joke. The baptistry near the Duomo is spectacular, as was the church of Santa Croce. But I think you could find a more engaged driver than Marco. Grade A for the locations, but a C for the driver. Marseilles Catherine D'Antuono of Provence Travel took a group of 16 of us to 4 hilltop villages in the Luberon region of France...took a while to get there...about 1.25 hours, but was definitely worth the ride. We went to Gordes, Rousillon, Lourmarin, and Bonnieux for lunch. The lavender had been harvested a while ago, but these villages are each something very special, and were a great break from all the ruins at other stops. Gordes had a morning market that day, so shopping was done there. I think Catherine would be better suited for a smaller active group, but she was certainly very capable. Grade A. Barcelona Disembark, while early, was trouble free, and getting a cab was a 10 minute wait. We stayed at the H10 Raco Del Pi, right in the middle of the Gothic District. Room was very nice, but the bed was like a slab. Still would recommend it though. We took the Bus Turistic and went to Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia which were most interesting...the next day was a day trip on our own to Monserrat monastery, which was a wonderful location on a beautiful day, and can be done easily without a guide. Barcelona is a big active city, and they have a great subway. Flew out the next day. Overall, this is a great cruise... but leave yourself a few days afterwards to recover, because you will be tired...but very happy! The Taxman Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Having sailed on much smaller ships, we were apprehensive about our cruise on this very large one, but I must say that with few exceptions, our fears were unfounded. The length of the passageways (which seemed to stretch interminably) was ... Read More
Having sailed on much smaller ships, we were apprehensive about our cruise on this very large one, but I must say that with few exceptions, our fears were unfounded. The length of the passageways (which seemed to stretch interminably) was a bit daunting at first but we soon got used to navigating our way around and were never conscious of being part of a group of over 3000 passengers. The cabin size was perfectly adequate and we were delighted to find that our balcony (on Caribe deck) was much larger than comparable ones on Holland America and Oceania. One problem though with larger balconies is that it may encourage partying and we were bothered by quite a bit of noise from the adjoining balcony where our neighbors seemed to be out partying every night. The shower was much too small and it was very difficult to have a decent shower in the space. We are not large people and I can only imagine how difficult it would be for some people. Closet space (not enclosed) was very generous and we had no problem hanging all our clothes. We liked most of the public areas in he ship - and really liked the piazza area where we often found good entertainment e.g. a string quartet or a pianist. We also LOVED the Sanctuary where we were able to escape for a quiet read and to listen to some music using the Bose headsets which are available on request. Our only peeve was that on one occasion there were very noisy people in the swimming pool below (just outside the Spa). There is a sign saying that it is a quiet area but it was completely ignored by the noisy chatterers in the whirlpool. I also found that the Spa staff who were giving treatments in the tent within the Sanctuary were often loud and seemed to be unaware that people in the Sanctuary were there to escape noise. We opted for Anytime Dining. In general it worked quite well but we were annoyed to find that many people were permitted to book tables at the same time every night which seems quite contrary to the concept of Anytime Dining. Princess needs to look into this and to see how many fixed-time diners are opting to go to Anytime dining. We found the food was very good - just as good as Holland America but not quite up to the standard of Oceania. There was a pretty good selection of reasonably priced wines - much better than on Holland America. On the negative side we encountered quite a few wait -staff who seemed rather rough and ready. Often the interaction verged on rudeness and I think Princess needs to do more to make sure that its wait staff is properly trained. We took only one ship's excursion and instead opted to join a private group for most of our excursions. The one ship's excursion we took to Cinque Terre was excellent but it arrived back late. Thankfully we had taken a ship's excursion or the ship would have left without us! Entertainment is very low on our list of priorities. We don't like Vegas shows and so we didn't really pay much heed to the shows. Those we tried we didn't like very much and left early. However we did like the opera singer who sang on our first night and one of the highlights was a film about Pavarotti which was also shown on our first night. We used the Adagio and Crooners bars once each and found them very pleasant but with such a packed itinerary there really isn't much time or inclination to sit around drinking in the evening. With the notable exception of our cabin steward, Henry, who was simply wonderful, we didn't find the staff particularly pleasant or helpful. I think this may be due to the automatic tipping policy and we would prefer to tip individually. The future cruise director was condescending and unhelpful and I would expect Princess to do a better job of choosing someone for this important position. One thing I really quibble about is the policy of not allowing passengers to bring liquor on board. One can bring liquor to an hotel room and there is no reason (other than profit motive) to have a different rule on the ship. Of course no-one wants to encourage drunken behavior but why not allow each passenger to bring one bottle of liquor on board? I certainly missed having a gin and tonic on our balcony! Overall impressions? We loved the itinerary (even though it was packed) and the only regret was not including Santorini. Barcelona is a wonderful destination (it was our first time there)and is highly recommended. We loved all the amenities on this larger ship and we would have no hesitation in recommending the cruise to our friends. One final point. We love Venice and stayed there for a few days before the cruise. Although our hotel was only a few minutes from the Princess dock we still had to pay 90 euros for a water taxi... Sheer daylight robbery....so be prepared - if you have a few suitcases it's the only way to go. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Emerald Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.5 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

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