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Emerald Princess Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,737 Reviews

28 days in Fantasyland

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by loge23

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Feb 2020
  • Destination: the South Pacific
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony

Well, if 28 days aboard a beautiful cruise ship, being catered to, sailing to Hawaii and Tahiti - AND not getting sick isn't Fantasyland for the Senior Set, than I'll have what you're having.

Embarkation was uneventful, after a night at the Long Beach Hilton and a Princess arranged transfer. We enjoyed the cruise card again, perhaps for the last time, as the Medallion era is now upon us. The ship has begun the refitting for the medallion - no more name tag and mail shelves outside the rooms.

Captain was the imitable Steven Lewis accompanied by his lovely family. Captain Lewis's noon-time positioning announcements and "something completely different" observations became an amusing must and were talked about by many throughout the cruise.

The original itinerary has us going to Samoa, in addition to Hawaii to Tahiti, but on the 2nd or 3rd day, Captain Lewis made the call that we would abort the Samoan ports due to the Samoan authorities insistence that all crew and passengers would undergo a comprehensive health screening to eliminate any threat of the virus du jour - the coronavirus. Naturally this was not possible so we extended on the heretofore not included Big Island with calls in Hilo and Kona, and some additional time in Tahiti. This unfortunately eliminated the dateline crossing but did reinstate Valentine's Day to the calender.

We found the Enrichment lectures by Mike Raick and Sharron Faff quite good. We also had the wonderful Hawaiian "hosts" Kino and Lokelina aboard entertaining us with Hawaiian song, teaching us to hula and play ukelele, and just plain spreading joy throughout the ship. Five stars across the board for those four!

We had a fair number of comics aboard, mostly very good - Gary Delena, Carlos Oscar, and Mike Wilson notably.

The Emerald Princess orchestra was well-staffed with the typical Princess sharpshooters on horns, bass, guitar, drums and keyboards. Great band! We caught the three (3) jazz shows fortunately, since there were only three this time cruise. One up in the way under-utilized Adagio Bar, one in a Explorer''s Lounge show, and one in the Piazza with the fantastic Michael "Banjo" Young accompanying them.

Other entertainment was very good as well: a terrific Piazza/Lounge pianist Marius Beatica whom also played a fine electric violin, Arny G was our Crooner's pianist, the Charme Duo were quite good - a male keyboardist and female vocalist, a folk-rock duo Char & Philly held court most nights at the Wheelhouse, and the LADO strings brought the classical genre forward with style, blending in some pop classics.

My favorite though was Heather Sullivan a songwriter, pianist, and one heck of performer.

Ms. Sullivan was a Crooner's pianist ten years back and was now onboard as featured performer. She was a knock-out! More please!

Food was very good throughout. We loved the new format World Fresh Marketplace which replaced the outdated Horizon Court mess. Well done, Princess!

Entrees in the MDR were consistently good if you are an adventurous diner and will at least try something other than beef or lobster. The fish dishes in particular (mahi, snapper, cobia, etc.) were all delicious. Our servers in Botticelli late sitting, Victor & Hendri were superb. Kudos also to the area's Heard Waiter, George who thoughtfully stopped by each table in our area every night to check on us.

We tried Share, Curtis Stone's new venture which curiously replaced Sabatini's space next to the Adagio. The restaurant is decorated nicely, but we found the decor more interesting than the very limited cuisine. It was good, but not return good.

We also ate in the Crown Grille as is our custom and thoroughly enjoyed the Veal Chops - too much food though!

That brings me to my latest pet peeve on Princess, which has been simmering for the last few cruises: the wine service. We enjoy wine - with our meals mainly. We also generally travel with the Beverage package. That would indicate that our best bet is wines-by-the-glass. And that's where Princess just doesn't do very well.

My primary complaints about this are the availability in the MDR, the main place to enjoy a glass of wine with one's meal. Aside from the paltry selection (in comparison to a well-thought out bottle selection), Princess has an annoying tendency to run of the by-the-glass selections in the MDR, some very early in the cruise. The Chablis was gone in Week 1 of a 4 week cruise. This was closely followed by the Mondavi Cabernet, the Pinot Grigio (absurdly featured on the menu on the night I tried to order it), and ultimately the Poully Fume (which became my go-to white by default). There were probably others that I never ordered. Now I get the argument that we're at sea and so on, but what I don't understand is 1) Some of these very wines were in stock at other bars - one at another MDR, necessitating the overworked Asst. Waiter's run to go get it, unasked by me). 2) Why not replace the stock outs by opening up other similarly priced wines by the bottle?

Additionally, my wine peeve extends to the rose bud vase that Princess apparently thinks is one size fits all wine glass in the MDR. This is really poor, considering that the water glass would serve as more appropriate wine vessel, let alone using one Holy Grail Rieldels under lock and key at the Vines.

Want a glass of real Champagne? That sir, is only available at the Crooner's Bar.

Want a glass of the excellent and popular Embruix Priorat red wine offered at the Vines?

Not in the MDR, but it was also found available at the Explorer's Lounge - no other bars.

This is nonsense, IMO. Standardize your wine lists - AT LEAST to the extent that ALL wines-by-the-glass available on the ship are made available in the MDR. Frankly I shouldn't have to plea for this on a revenue conscious operation such as Princess. You'll sell more, if you haven't figured that out yet. And bring back the wine stewards while you're at it!

Four stars.

loge23's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony

Mini on Starboard side. Bed was comfortable. Couch was a little, umm, used.

Steward was one of the best we ever had on Princess - stealth, but he delivered everything we asked of him. Loved the big balcony but didn't use it very much due to the imclement conditions (cool, windy, rainy)

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

City Tour

as indicted above

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If you want an authentic luau experience, not a glitzy-produced extravaganza with hundreds of people, go to the Nutridge Experience. #1 on Trip Advisor!

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USS Arizona

Excellent tour gave us just what we wanted - tickets to the USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, and a brief city tour. Neil was wonderful and brought us to a Hawaiian donut stand for a treat!

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Wanted to do this independently, but Princess brought out the tour.

We had a good time and actually got to see a lot of the island, but let's just say the Hawaiian diet isn't very healthy.

Highlights: the poke bowl stop at a terrific wine shop

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We picked up the trolley at the 2nd shuttle shop, in a shopping plaza across the street from Duke's.

Had a great time - saw quite a bit and learned a little something about the Island.

Free shuttle to and from ship.

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Met the tour at the exit of the tender. A women was selling around the lagoon boat tours. Couldn't have been better - according to many others who booked different tours. Only 16 of us on a new boat/outrigger piloted by a local who grew up in these waters. We swam with tropical fish at one stop, with sharks and string rays at another, at a powder white sand shoal at another, and visited a mutu that belonged to the Captain's family where we walked from the lagoon across a land with exotic fruits trees and plants to the ocean side. Best tour of the trip!

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Tahiti (Papeete)

Went to town and shopped for black pearl. Mission accomplished!

Motu Islet Beach

Very nice day at the motu with BBQ lunch. A little crowded, as ship's tours always are, but manageable - spent most of day in the beautiful warm water.

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