Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

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allatc
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Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

Post by allatc » 13 Feb 2016, 14:05

We booked this cruise (which was actually two one week cruises back to back)
a) Because the first week included ports of call we had never visited before - Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Roatan (Honduras) and
b) To get some winter sunshine.

The good points :-
The ship is in good order decoratively. It is a sister ship to Ruby Princess with pretty much identical layout and venue names.

The food in the MDR (Anytime) was good and we never found it necessary to choose one of the "Standard" menu offerings in all 14 days.

The Production shows were good, particularly "Magic to do" and Tyler Bryce a musical impressionist.

Disembarkation was quick and on time (but see below)

The tour to Chichen Itza from Cozumel was good but it's a three hour journey each way with only 90 minutes actually on the site.

Mahogany Bay on Roatan was good; a mix of Grand Turk and Princess Cays for those who know those locations. There is a chair lift that takes you to a beach area with water sports, bars and restaurants.

On Grand Cayman we did the almost obligatory "trip to Hell and back" (look it up)

Princess Cays Is OK, owned (I think) by Carnival, it's a beach with water sports although there are tours to the rest of Eleuthera for those who want to explore. Food is provided by the ship. Nearly every Princess cruise calls in so we had two visits scheduled.

Any P&O cruises you have done count towards your "Captain's Circle" score

On St.Martin (Sant Maarten) we took the local bus to Marigot (US$3 or 3 Euro each way). Interesting trip ! The buses come in all shapes and sizes. If you've done Philipsburg (where the ship docks) to death then it makes a nice change. Mobile phone charges in Philipsburg were £1.65 / minute but in Marigot only 9 pence - weird !

The not so good points :-

We tried the evening meal in "Horizons" - the buffet, won't do that again> OK if "never mind the quality, feel the width" is your style.

The information in the cabin states that you can book tables in the Anytime dining rooms but this is no longer the case. We found our group of six being moved around different tables even though we arrived at the dining room at the same time each evening.

There were some VERY cold spots in the Michelangelo dining room

Embarkation was slow and for some reason late starting so we were all queuing to get into the building. Once inside we separated from one set of friends, we went into the "Preferred Guest" line, they went into the standard queue. They were on the ship fifteen minues ahead of us !
One of our other friends on the cruise has mobility problems and needed a wheelchair to get on board. The queueing system for people like him was chaos with people who arrived later than him getting on first. He spent two hours in the sunshine waiting to get on.

Disembarkation at the end of the first week was slow and running 90 minutes behind schedule. We were told that this was because U.S. immigration had only four people on duty instead of eight.

You recall I said it was two cruises back to back; we decided to remain on the ship in Fort Lauderdale between cruises but even so we, and the several hundred like us, had to proceed to the theatre at the end of the disembarkation process and parade past a US Immigration official who took a cursory look at our passports. What a waste of time.

There are laundry facilities on each deck but unlike P&O (Britannia) which was free there is a charge of $3 for a washing machine and $3 for the tumble dryer. (A good tip is to take Fabrite washing machine sheets with you (available on the internet)

We missed our first visit to Princess Cays due to heavy swell (it's a tender ashore stop).

A couple of the "comedians" were anything but.

There are no tea making facilities in the cabins and you are forbidden to take your own electric kettle


So, in summary we enjoyed our cruise(s) and would recommend them and Princess. I think there is now very little difference between P&O and Princess although maybe Princess is aiming at a more "transatlantic" mix of clientele.

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Jan Rosser
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Re: Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

Post by Jan Rosser » 13 Feb 2016, 14:44

Interesting review as I am travelling on this ship in August with my son and family - we are doing a 14 nights cruise - Fjords and North Cape. I hadn't sailed with Princess for many years but did a cruise with them on the Ruby Princess around Britain a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it particularly as my P&O points gave me Elite status with lots of extras - free laundry being one of them. Last year we went on Caribbean Princess and enjoyed a cruise with Scandinavian ports.

Many years ago we did Caribbean cruises with Princess - I remember well going to Princess Cays - didn't realise it's still a port of call - did you have the barbecue on the beach?

We are on Anytime dining but generally just turn up and as our party is composed of myself, my son and his wife and two granddaughters plus son's in-laws we usually get a table to ourselves and we do eat early.

Thanks again for posting your review - now looking forward even more to our trip :thumbup:
Janis

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Re: Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

Post by allatc » 13 Feb 2016, 15:02

Although there are two Anytime dining rooms the Da Vinci does not open until 7.30. It seems to have overflow fixed dining passengers from 5.30.

To avoid a wait you will need to be at the Michelangelo no later than 6.15.

There has been a lot of building work at Princess Cays since 2010 when we were last there. Additional covered dining areas, more sunbeds. The barbecues are now under cover.

Have a great cruise

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Re: Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

Post by Happydays » 14 Feb 2016, 23:12

I like to read people's reviews, good to have other options.
We have been on the Emerald Princess before and enjoyed the cruise same layout as Azura and Ventura.
When we were on it was a fly cruise from Venice so lots of Italians and Spaniards! Quite a few Americans as well but a lot less British people than with P&O probably because it wasn't sailing from Southampton.
Thank you for the review.

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Re: Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

Post by oldbluefox » 15 Feb 2016, 08:29

Thank you allatc for your warts and all review. Interesting to read of other alternatives to P&O and to hear how they all compare. We weren't overly keen on Ventura a or Azura so probably not for us although I know many would probably enjoy her. That's the value of a good review.

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Re: Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

Post by Manoverboard » 15 Feb 2016, 11:22

allatc wrote: The not so good points :-

The information in the cabin states that you can book tables in the Anytime dining rooms but this is no longer the case. We found our group of six being moved around different tables even though we arrived at the dining room at the same time each evening.
Interesting point but my understanding was that one can deffo book a table for six but NOT the same table every night ... to prevent window hogging I assumed. Were all your bookings ' linked ' ?

Thanks for the report, we deffo enjoyed Princess a few years back.

:wave:

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Re: Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

Post by allatc » 15 Feb 2016, 16:03

We were told "no-booking" was a policy introduced a few weeks ago which is why the literature, presumably printed in huge numbers beforehand, still states that you can; but when you try you are told you can't.

Whether that is Princess ships in general or just Emerald Princess I don't know.

The Maitre'd was not the most obliging person I've ever met.

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Manoverboard
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Re: Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

Post by Manoverboard » 15 Feb 2016, 17:11

allatc wrote:We were told "no-booking" was a policy introduced a few weeks ago which is why the literature, presumably printed in huge numbers beforehand, still states that you can; but when you try you are told you can't.

Whether that is Princess ships in general or just Emerald Princess I don't know.

The Maitre'd was not the most obliging person I've ever met.
Do you think it could be a policy type where only certain ' guests ' can pre-book and that such ' guests ' are only to be found in the higher cabin grades ?

Just a thought.

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Mervyn and Trish
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Re: Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

Post by Mervyn and Trish » 15 Feb 2016, 21:44

A few years ago when we did a short cruise on Ventura, the only time we've ever had a suite, and one of only twice we've done Freedom Dining, about the only thing we got our Butler to do was book tables for dinner, both in the MDR and a Select Dining venue, so you may be right Moby. We've been steerage since.

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Re: Emerald Princess cruise E605A Jan/Feb 2016 review

Post by Manoverboard » 16 Feb 2016, 09:31

Your favourite Cruise Line, Merv, ( as in Calamity ) seems to offer ' priority ' dining bookings in their Concierge Balcony cabins .... so why not all the others ?

They state ...

" The key to effortless cruising is your personalised Concierge service. Allow us to seamlessly take care of the finer details of your holiday, such as dining time preferences ..... "

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