Arriving at Southampton’s Mayflower Terminal, I couldn’t wait to ‘Come Back New’ on Princess Cruises’ Emerald Princess. I had a fabulous 12-nights on Royal Princess back in June 2015, and I was hoping to have an equally fantastic experience this time, even if it was just three-nights.
The first thing guests see when boarding the ship is the stunning three-deck high Piazza. It’s certainly the heart of the ship, with most venues located just a short walk from the elegant, expansive space. On Deck 5 is the quiet Vines wine bar, the popular International Cafe (which serves pastries, sandwiches and desserts, plus specialty coffees), as well as the Internet Cafe and Future Cruise Sales Office. The usual onboard shops are located surrounding the atrium on Deck 6 and 7, as well as the Effy store situated just round the corner opposite the Wheelhouse Bar.
My Inside Stateroom (#C106) was located all the way forward and tucked away from the main corridor. The size of the cabin was very good, and just like what I had had on Royal Princess, and P&O Cruises’ Azura. One major downside to the accommodation, which I find totally unusual, is that every single power outlet requires a US-adapter. There is not one single UK, or EU-socket in any of the cabins. Although there are four sockets, the close proximity means only two can be used with an adapter, and even that can only be achieved by unplugging the television. A highlight of the stateroom was the large open-plan wardrobe and the bed…especially the bed! It was sooo comfortable. It felt as if I was being cuddled by a giant marshmallow!
The choices in the Horizon Buffet were a lot more limited than on Royal Princess, and on the first day nothing seemed that appealing. The Trident Grill and Prego Pizzeria were a popular alternative, serving burgers, hot dogs and “the best pizza at sea” according to USA Today.
The Sanctuary is an exclusive relaxation area at the front of the ship on Deck 17. For a nominal charge, you can enjoy panoramic ocean views, massage treatments and comfortable sun loungers. Sheltered from the wind on Deck 16 is the adult-only Lotus Spa Pool.
The Skywalkers Nightclub is a quiet lounge in the day, but a groovy nightclub in the evening. One side of the nightclub is a designated smoking area, which is directly next to the bar. The place was always energetic during our short cruise, but the large crowds and long orderly queues to get served at the bar did become a pain. But on longer cruises where the average passengers are not hen parties, and those who truly test the capabilities of the $56 per day all-inclusive package, the venue wouldn’t be as unpleasant.
Princess is famed for its Movies Under The Stars. Each night, a movie is shown on the giant outdoor movie screen above the Calypso Pool. Snuggling up in a blanket with a bag of popcorn is a great alternative way to spend the night!
Club Fusion is home to dance sessions, bingo and karaoke, with the Explorers Lounge home to game shows and live music.
The Princess Theatre is the main entertainment venue on Emerald Princess and is home to three nightly shows by the production cast and guest performers.
The food onboard was great. Emerald Princess has three dining rooms, Botticelli for traditional dining at 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., whereas the Michelangelo and Da Vinci restaurants are for any-time diners.
Overall, Emerald Princess is a lovely ship, but I just didn’t warm to her. Despite recently returning from a refurbishment, the ship felt rather dated and it was actually incredible hard to tell what work they had actually carried out. Half the time it felt as if I was onboard Azura as the layout was almost the same. Although the Piazza is spectacular, I much prefer the decor of P&O’s Azura and Ventura.
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