Emerald Princess entered service in 2007 as one of the largest ships in Princess Cruises’ fleet. As far as modern mega-ships go — with a passenger capacity of more than 3,000 — Emerald Princess maintains the high level of service it was celebrated for when it first launched. But it doesn’t boast the features so frequently offered by the ultramodern mega-ships — there are no climbing walls or water slides and the only zipline you’re likely to encounter is on one of the ship’s more energetic shore excursions. But what the ship does really well is balance modern needs, without over-the-top gimmicks, with rich and well-constructed excursions, allowing passengers to make the best of both the ship and the destination.
The ambiance of the ship is relaxed. Perhaps because passengers focus their energy on exploring the destination, evenings seem to be less about glitzy affairs and more about relaxed dinners. Although the ship’s glamorous Skywalkers Nightclub — with fabulous floor-to-ceiling glass windows providing never-ending ocean views — offers the perfect opportunity for cocktails and dancing into the early hours.
Updates to the ship’s specialty dining options — Sabatini’s is replaced with SHARE by Curtis Stone and The Salty Dog Gastropub has been introduced in the Wheelhouse Bar — give the ship a fresh gourmet edge. SHARE feels like the kind of ingredient-led restaurant you’d find in the culinary centers of New York City or London’s Borough Market. Foodies and those with an appetite for current dining trends will especially enjoy the sharing-style concept of the restaurants.
The ship’s updated entertainment program is a little more hit and miss. We loved «Voice of the Ocean» and so did our fellow passengers who were whopping and cheering along as contestants battled it out onstage. The atmosphere during the live final is goose bump-inducing — fully charged, but also family orientated.
While «Magic to Do» also had the Princess Theater packed, we felt it lacked a clear narrative, therefore making it difficult to follow. The vocal performances did however have star quality and conveyed the feeling of watching of a Broadway show.
The central Piazza remains a passenger favorite. Recreating a theatrical Italian-style piazza, the vibe lies somewhere between a bustling shopping plaza and an outdoor square. This is something Emerald Princess does really well, bringing passengers together in a mixed-use space. Kids — and adults for that matter — are entertained by various performers in the Piazza, plus there’s Vines, the ship’s wine bar, to one side and the International Cafe to the other, which creates a buzzy but overall relaxed atmosphere.
Movies Under The Stars is another win for the ship. The concept is simple: Install a large open-air movie screen above the Calypso pool showing a program of new release and classic movies day and night. Crew dish out the popcorn and thick cozy blankets are available for when it gets cool. What’s not to love?
If you’re looking for a cruise with a solid entertainment program, but without gimmicky rides and slides, and one that has a more relaxed dining vibe, you’ll enjoy this ship.
Emerald Princess Fellow Passengers
Most passengers are North American and British, with the passenger ratio leaning more toward the British. (On our sailing the Brits accounted for about 76 percent.) However, you’ll encounter cruisers from all over the world; on our sailing passengers represented 43 nationalities. When the ship repositions to Australia in November, we expect the ratio to tilt more toward passengers from this region. The average age is typically over 50, but during school breaks (winter, midterm and summer), the ship attracts an overwhelming number of families with children.
Emerald Princess Dress Code
The dress code on Emerald Princes is pretty relaxed, even in the evenings. Daytime wear includes leisurewear for warmer days lounging around the pools and casualwear, such as khakis/jeans and polo shirts/T-shirts or tunic tops and casual pants for women. There is one formal night on one-week cruises and at least two formal nights on cruises of 12 to 14 nights. Most men wear suits, though a number wear black ties, while most women opt for cocktail dresses rather than all-out formal evening gowns.
Emerald Princess Gratuity
Gratuities, which are automatically charged to onboard accounts, are $12.95 per person (including children), per day and $13.95 per person per day for passengers staying in mini-suites and suites. A 15 percent gratuity is added to all beverages and spa services purchases.
Emerald Princess Cabins
Despite their age, there is little sign of wear and tear inside Emerald Princess’ cabins, which have been maintained to a high standard, including the recent introduction of the Princess Luxury Bed collection during a 2015 refit.
Decor is consistent throughout all cabins, with a ruby-red patterned carpet and neutral color tones on the walls and furniture, which features light maple wood trims. The color scheme creates a light and airy ambiance, and while cabins don’t quite feel luxurious, they do have a calming, premium quality about them.
All cabins feature a desk and chair; an additional chair; a small glass-top round table; a queen-size bed that can be separated into two twin beds; two nightstands, each with a bedside lamp; 100-percent Egyptian cotton linens; telephone; mini-safe; hair dryer and flat-screen HD TV showing a small collection of TV channels — catch reruns of «Downton Abbey» and «The Love Boat.»
Above the desk is a double 110-volt American-plug power outlet. British passengers will perhaps notice the lack of a kettle and tea and coffee-making facilities in cabins, although ice is provided daily in a small ice bucket in the mini-fridge. Each bedside table contains one drawer with plenty of additional storage space found within the cabin.
Cabin bathrooms feature a shower with a small built-in shelf and a body wash and shampoo dispenser attached to the wall, a towel rail and three small corner shelves by the sink to store vanity products. There is also a washing line to dry clothes and a power outlet to connect electric shavers.
The Princess Luxury Beds are the biggest perk of the cabins since their roll out. The beds are made up of a medium to firm mattress, which provides enhanced back support, a two-inch-thick pillow top and large feather and down pillows (four pillows per double bed), making for an incredibly indulgent night’s sleep. If you decide to take an afternoon nap or would like to wake by a set time in the morning, we’d recommend setting an alarm, otherwise you’re likely to sleep right through!
One especially nice touch: If you are worried that your luggage might be overweight, your steward will weigh your bags for you the day before disembarkation so that you can make adjustments.
There are two family suites onboard and 30 cabins in a variety of categories are equipped for disabled travelers.
Interior: The 436 windowless interior cabins — located on Decks 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15 — range in size from 162 to 182 square feet. Interior cabins equipped with a pulldown bed can accommodate a third or fourth passenger, although space can feel tight, particularly around the bed and desk. Interior cabins feature a wardrobe, with ample hanging space and a long shelf above.
Oceanview: The 84 ocean-view cabins with unobstructed views, on Deck 5 and 8, are approximately 179 square feet, while the 138 ocean-view cabins with obstructed views, on Deck 8 and 15, range in size from 158 to 179 square feet. Both feature a picture window, a queen-size bed that converts to two twins and shampoo, conditioner plus body lotion in the bathroom. Similar in size to interior cabins, some oceanview cabins contain a pulldown bed and can feel tight around the bed and desk area, especially if there are more than two passengers staying in the cabin.
Balcony: With a total of 675 balcony cabins available onboard (not including suites), located on Decks 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15, this is where Emerald Princess cabins really win. They’re a generous 231 square feet, with an additional 45-square-foot private balcony, equipped with furniture including two convertible chair-to-loungers and a small circular table. Do indulge in breakfast on your balcony one morning — it offers a thrilling way of sailing into a new port — although it’s worth noting that Decks 1 to 10 have staggered balconies, which means anyone staying on a higher deck has a full view of those below. Some Balcony cabins also contain a pulldown bed to accommodate additional passengers.
Mini-suite: The 178 mini suites — located on Decks 8 and 9 — are 323 square feet, each with a 57-square-foot balcony with two convertible chair-to-loungers and a small circular table. In addition, mini-suites have two flat-screen HD TVs and a separate seating area with a sofa bed to accommodate a third passenger. The bathroom features a shower/tub combo, offering mini-suite passengers the opportunity to indulge in a soak, although bubble bath is not provided so remember to pack your own. Mini-suite passengers are also greeted upon embarkation with a glass of Champagne and treated to nightly chocolates on their pillows.
Suite: Suites and family suites are broken into five sub categories, the main difference being the size, ranging from 460 to 687 square feet. Suites also feature two HD TVs and a separate seating area with a sofa bed. Additionally, suites are equipped with upgraded wooden balcony furniture, including padded loungers; a table and two padded chairs; there’s a complimentary mini-bar and a separate fridge; a CD/DVD player with access to a complimentary DVD library; a walk-in closet; and evening chocolates at turn-down.
The bathroom includes a whirlpool tub, in addition to the shower, and upgraded Lotus Spa toiletries, such as body lotion, an exfoliating sisal mitt and cooling eye mask.
Passengers staying in suites (with the exception of mini-suites) get a large selection of added benefits, too. There’s complimentary laundry and dry cleaning to take advantage of; a welcome bottle of Champagne and fresh flowers; a pillow menu and a terrycloth bathrobe and slippers. Additional amenities include complimentary use of the Lotus Spa’s thermal suite; priority boarding, disembarkation and tendering; as well as a dedicated guest services desk and private disembarkation lounge.
Suite passengers also receive a complimentary breakfast in the Crown Grill, where a la carte service is provided; hors d’oeuvres in one of the bars (reserved just for suite passengers); and the option to request in-room afternoon tea or evening canapes. On cruises of six nights or longer, suite passengers can dine free at a specialty restaurant of their choice on the first evening of the cruise.
Vista suite: Slightly larger than a mini-suite, the six Vista suites — located on Decks 8, 9 and 10 — range from 460 to 495 square feet (including balcony).
Penthouse suite: There are 15 524- to 534-square-foot (including balcony) Penthouse suites located on Decks 10, 12 and 14.
Premium suite: At 568 square feet (including balcony) the two Premium suites are located on Deck 15.
Owner’s suite: The largest of the ship’s suites, the two Owner’s suites — located on Deck 12 — are 687 square feet (including balcony).
Two-bedroom Family suite: There are two two-bedroom Family suites, both 607 square feet (including balcony) on Deck 9. The two bedrooms, each with their own bathroom, are accessed off the living area and contain a queen-size bed that can be converted into twin beds. These cabins can sleep up to eight people.
Emerald Princess Dining
The ship’s dining options cleverly cover all bases, while remaining faithful to what Princess has done well in the past: Finely balancing pleasing those passengers who prefer a traditional cruise ship dining experience (set time, tablemates, server and restaurant), while also pleasing those who enjoy the flexibility of choosing a different restaurant at a different time.
There’s a strong slow food ethos in the ship’s new for-fee dining options — both of which are backed by celebrity chefs — including SHARE by Curtis Stone and The Salty Dog Gastropub. The relaxed, yet gourmet-style dining of the new offerings complements that of the steak and seafood restaurant, Crown Grill.
The ship accommodates vegetarian dietary requirements well, although those with an allergy or intolerance to gluten might find it more difficult to find suitable choices without giving the ship advanced notice. Similarly, it is advisable to let the line know of any other special dietary requirements in advance.
Michelangelo Dining Room (Deck 5), Botticelli Dining Room (Deck 6) and Da Vinci Dining Room (Deck 6): Emerald Princess’ three main dining rooms are all similar in style; large open rooms with neutral color tones, rich wood paneling, patterned carpets and rustic Italian paintings on the walls. Crisp white linens cover traditionally set circular tables.
All three restaurants serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Botticelli Dining Room offers fixed dining times (7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for breakfast; 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. for lunch; 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for afternoon tea and 6 p.m. or 8:15 p.m. for dinner); while Michelangelo (5 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and Da Vinci (7:30 to 9:30 p.m.) Dining Rooms offer anytime dining, which means passengers aren’t restricted to a reservation time.
The breakfast menu is extensive, featuring dishes such as Maine blueberry pancakes, eggs Florentine, a fresh fruit plate and grilled minute steak with ranch-style eggs. Lunch includes brunch options — such as James Beard’s French toast with a cornflake coating — for late risers, plus a range of other options from burgers and vegetarian burritos to crisp-fried calamari. Desserts — a fresh fruit tartlet, cinnamon rice pudding and double chocolate fudge cake, as examples — round off the menu.
The dinner menu, which is the same in all restaurants though changes daily, is broken down into appetizers, «always available» dishes, soups and salads, pastas, main courses and desserts. Typical dishes lean toward traditional Italian (the executive chef is Gaetano Patamia who has been with Princess Cruises since 1976!), including gnocchi filled with Asiago cheese in a creamy truffle sauce, roast veal or aged beef tenderloin in a whole-grain mustard crust with chasseur sauce and rich sweets such as a Normal Love chocolate dessert.
The menu also features a selection of Princess Favorites that are available every evening, such as grilled salmon or chicken. Vegetarian options are creative and clearly indicated on the menu, including dishes such as the zucchini ripieni gratinati (cheese and onion stuffing with a cannellini bean ragout), a caramelized onion and potato tart, and tomato salad with sauteed mushrooms and scallion cream.
Michelangelo and Da Vinci suit the flex-dining crowd who prefer to dine at different times each day. The advantage to this is you can work around your day’s schedule and dine earlier — or later — should you feel like it. On the downside, the restaurants are naturally very busy and occasionally passengers have to wait in line for a table.
International Cafe (Deck 5): Across from Vines, by the Piazza, the 24-hour International Cafe has its own bakeshop (with onsite ovens so you can smell the tantalizing cookies, desserts and croissants as they cook). For breakfast, there are croissants and pastries, and for lunch there are salads and quiches, all included in your cruise fare. The cafe does have a short menu of specialty items that are available for an extra cost — the chocolate fondue is worth every cent and calorie.
Horizon Court Buffet (Deck 15): The ship’s buffet venue is open for breakfast (6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.), lunch (11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.), snacks (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and dinner (5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.).
Breakfast includes a range of cereals, yogurt, fruit, pastries, cold meats and cheeses, bread, made-to-order omelets and cooked items such as fried and scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, grilled tomatoes and beans. There’s also a selection of muffins and waffles to cater to the sweet-toothed passengers.
At lunchtime there’s a well-stocked deli area, sandwiches and meats, soups and a whole host of sides and salads.
Dinners are sometimes themes — a Bon Voyage; Welcome Dinner (on the first formal night), Candlelight or Bavarian Beerfest — for example.
Horizon Court is extremely popular at breakfast and on sea days at lunchtime and despite the large space, one problem we found was a lack of seating. Though stewards are quick to wipe down and turnaround tables as passengers leave the restaurant, one morning we scouted out the entire restaurant to find a seat and ended up sharing a table with a fellow passenger.
Cafe Caribe (Deck 15): Just behind Horizon Court Buffet on the Lido Deck is the smaller and slightly more intimate Cafe Caribe. The cafe offers terrific themed buffets for lunch on sea days, such as Mexican, Indian and Trattoria. Wines are sold only by the glass here. Cafe Caribe opens from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. for a continental breakfast; 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. for a full breakfast and 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch. It is closed for dinner.
Pizza and Ice Cream Bar (Deck 15): On the same deck, midship, you’ll also find a pizzeria and ice cream bar, open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. It’s an ideal quick fix for rumbling tummies and the pizza slices are delicious. Feasting on a late-night snack of pepperoni pizza while curled up to watch a film on the big outdoor screen by the pool brought us pure joy on one of the evenings at sea.
Trident Grill (Deck 15): The poolside grill serves made-to-order grilled items such as hamburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, chicken and fries. Trident Grill is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Room Service: Room service is free and available 24/7.Breakfast can be ordered from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. by completing the cabin card and placing it on your cabin door by 11:00 p.m. the previous evening. The complimentary room service menu includes sandwiches, salads and pastries.Canapes and pizza can also be ordered via room service at a $3 charge.
Vines Wine and Seafood Bar (Deck 5): Although technically the ship’s wine bar, Vine’s also offers freshly prepared sushi and tapas in addition to the best selection of wines onboard. This is not your standard buffet sushi either; like in authentic sushi restaurants, the chef makes your sushi roll to order, right in front of you. The same with the tapas. Both are complimentary when you order a glass of wine.
Salty Dog Gastropub (Deck 7); $19: Located inside the Wheelhouse Bar, Salty Dog brings the gastro pub vibe to Emerald Princess. The restaurant is a result of Princess Cruises’ partnership with Argentinian chef Ernesto Uchimura.
The menu (offered nightly from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.) offers excellent value for money at $19 per person. It starts with a complimentary appetizer of Ernesto’s Dip Sticks, including a beer-cheddar fondue; followed by a selection of small plates (passengers select three) such as Maryland-style jumbo lump crabcakes, calamari frites, wild mushroom saute, pale ale pork cheek and a to-die-for lobster mac and cheese. Don’t miss the feted Ernesto burger, which includes a fresh ground rib eye and short rib patty, grilled pork belly, cave-aged Gruyere, caramelized kimchi, beer-battered jalapeno and charred-onion aioli served in a smoked salt and pepper brioche bun!
The plates are small but surprisingly filling. If you have space left, desserts include strawberries and cream, bourbon chocolate pot de creme, coffee and doughnuts and a lemon posset.
Salty Dog’s menu also offers a selection of classic craft cocktails ($8.95), many of which feature gin and throw a modern twist on classics such as the Salty Dog Negroni and 24k Margarita.
The craft beer movement is celebrated, too: There’s the Seawitch IPA, Seawitch Blonde and Seawitch Denali Red (all $5.95), in addition to the regular offering of beers, cider and wines.
Nothing about the venue — the Wheelhouse Bar — has changed and passengers who are just looking to enjoy live music over a beer, cocktail or glass of wine also frequent the space during these times.
Crown Grill (Deck 7); $25: The ship’s signature steak and seafood restaurant, Crown Grill, is a real treat — the kind of restaurant you’d visit to celebrate a romantic dinner or birthday. It balances old-style glamour with a relaxed atmosphere, with images of New York scattered over the walls and a table showcasing the different marbled cuts of beef to tempt passengers before they order. Passengers can either sit in the leather-clad booths or at circular tables.
Specialties include seared scallops, Chilean sea bass, brioche-breaded king prawns, four-ounce Maine lobster tails, New Zealand double lamb chops, a Madeira-glazed Wisconsin veal chop and an array of steaks.
Although the menu is based on steak and seafood, there are touches of fine dining that make for a really memorable experience, such as the salt menu; a selection of salts are served from around the world, from Hawaiian black salt to pink Himalayan salt, paired with your steak. After feasting on seafood and steak, the dessert menu’s s’mores are a must. You also find cheesecake and lemon meringue, among other classics.
SHARE by Curtis Stone (Deck 16); $39: SHARE by Curtis Stone, the Australian celebrity chef with a presence in Australia and the U.S., has brought the slow food movement to Emerald Princess.
The restaurant has a relaxed feel and a modern look — think industrial decor and eclectic art. There are a selection of two- and four-seat tables offering ocean views and long farmhouse-style tables in the main space.
Diners may choose one selection from each course (appetizers, mains, sides, cheese and desserts). Following current restaurant trends, the restaurant features a sharing concept that encourages passengers to order a selection of dishes to share.
A charcuterie platter opens the menu, which flows with a selection of appetizers, including a shrimp salad and an indulgent roasted Alaskan king crab tagliatelle. Mains include roasted turbot with a Gruyere crumb, butter-poached lobster, wild mushroom ragu, a magnificent twice-cooked duck and a fall-apart beef cheek pie.
Dishes are small, allowing room for the cheese and dessert courses; there were French, Italian and Spanish cheeses, as well as a delightful Californian cheese, which were followed by desserts of ricotta fritters, a citrus tart and dark chocolate cremeux.
Chef’s Table; $95 with paired wines, $80 without: The 10-person chef’s table (you don’t have to be part of a group of 10 to enjoy the experience) makes for another memorable dining experience. Starting with Champagne and appetizers in the ship’s galley during the height of dinner preparation, passengers get to see chefs and waiters in action — a real behind-the-scenes experience; just that is worth the price of admission alone. After appetizers you’re led out to a specially designated table in a private dining area and served a multicourse menu paired with wines that are selected just for the evening. Dinner is a bit theatrical — the meats are wheeled out and carved tableside and the chef interjects between each course to talk about the dishes — with flair. Chef’s Table guests also receive a group photo and signed cookbook at the end of the meal.
Ultimate Balcony Dining; $45 for breakfast and $100 for dinner, per couple: You need to reside in a cabin with a balcony, of course, but what you get is a romantic meal for two, outdoors, complete with table set with white linen and festooned with flowers. The $100 per-couple charge includes a four-course meal, a small bottle of sparkling wine, a pre-dinner cocktail and a photo portrait. Breakfast is available from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. and dinner is available from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; reservations are required.
Emerald Princess Entertainment
The 800-passenger-capacity Princess Theater is the ship’s main show venue, and it also hosts movies from time to time when not featuring production shows and comedy acts. Seats are plush with spaces to hold drinks (there’s waiter service before the shows start).
The theater’s main productions (both new to the ship as of 2016) are «Voice of the Ocean» and «Magic To Do.» «Voice of the Ocean,» a take on the popular TV show, «The Voice,» offers passengers the chance to take part in auditions early in the cruise, before competing against other shortlisted passengers in a live final in the Princess Theater. The final takes place on the last night of the cruise and features three judges (usually a mix of the ship’s professional performers and the entertainment director) who critique performances in front of the live audience. The show is popular with passengers who get behind each performance, clapping and cheering them along. Our tip is to arrive to the theater early to grab the best seats.
«Magic To Do» is the line’s Broadway-style production developed by award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz. The concept of the show is intriguing. It includes a musical compilation of Schwartz’s work — featuring songs such as «Magic To Do» from «Pippin»; «Popular» from «Wicked»; and «It’ll Be Me» from «Houdini»; plus there’s a song created exclusively for the show, «A Little Magic.» All are mixed in with a series of magic tricks. Although we struggled to follow the narrative, do check it out for the strong vocal and orchestral performances.
The Piazza is the hub of the ship and a marvelous destination. Located on Deck 5, the bottom deck of the three-story atrium, it serves as an impromptu performance venue and demo area. And, on one of the formal nights people thronged all three levels to watch the fabled «Champagne pour,» a Princess tradition.
Beyond the Piazza the ship has an overwhelming number of entertainment options, plus a variety of lounges, each with a different personality. Take time to read over the daily Princess Patter, which features activities such as the fun Princess Pyramid Game Show in the Explorers Lounge, a Trivia Challenge and afternoon movies («Bridge of Spies» and «The Revenant» were showing on our sailing). There are also ballroom dance classes, Ping-Pong tournaments and Wii Sports challenges, among others, for those seeking more energetic activity.
Evening entertainment is as varied as the daytime offerings, with an emphasis on live music, featuring vocal performances and musical melodies.
You’ll also find dancing to live music, with the Rhumba Duo in the Wheelhouse Bar, and karaoke and shows such as Marriage Match in Club Fusion. A DJ plays until late in the Skywalkers Nightclub.
Movies Under the Stars, Deck 15, draws crowds with two showings in the evenings (usually 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.) screening a mix of classic and newly released cinematic blockbusters.
Gatsby’s Casino, Deck 6, has an assortment of slots and game tables. On sea days, cashiers open at 10 a.m. During port days, the full casino opens 30 minutes after sailing.
Emerald Princess Bars and Lounges
Vines Wine and Seafood Bar (Deck 5): Vines is a popular meeting spot for pre-dinner drinks and is the ship’s dedicated wine bar. Wine lovers can order single glasses or tailored flights — such as the «Trio of White Grapes» and «Norman Love Confections,» which is paired with Norman Love chocolates as part of Princess’ Chocolate Journeys package. Made-to-order sushi and tapas are complimentary with any wine purchase.
Speakeasy Cigar Lounge (Deck 6): The ship’s smoking lounge is tucked into Gatsby’s Casino within a separate room; it offers a comprehensive selection of 15 cigar varieties, ranging from $8.50 to $21.
Crooners Lounge and Bar (Deck 7): Right in the heart of the action, Crooners overlooks the Piazza. It features a vocalist, and specializes in martinis, serving 52 different types.
Club Fusion (Deck 7): The lounge-style Club Fusion, on Deck 7 (it’s not a nightclub, despite the name), is busy during the day — with Ballroom Blitz, line dancing, bingo and Jeopardy — and into the evening. This venue also hosts Captain’s Circle meetings for frequent Princess cruisers.
Explorers Lounge (Deck 7): Many of the ship’s day and evening activities take place here. The 250-seat bar features comfy lounge seats and tables, centered around a level stage area.
Wheelhouse Bar (Deck 7): The ship’s pub offers a nautical theme with live singers and pianists performing nightly.
Outrigger Bar (Deck 15): Offering some of the best views onboard, Outrigger is an often undiscovered oasis located at the back of the ship. Grab a bar stool and stare into the ocean over a chilled drink.
Calypso Bar and Mermaid’s Tail (Deck 15): The ship’s two lively poolside bars are a hive of activity on sea days when they can become overcrowded, particularly around the Calypso Bar.
Tradewinds Bar (Deck 16): An outdoor bar catering for those who want a drink as they lounge on the sun deck.
Adagio Bar (Deck 16): Located in a light-filled space next to SHARE, Adagio Bar is an elegant, Ritz Carlton-esque venue with a cabaret singer and pianist. Adagio Bar opens from 4 p.m.
Skywalkers Nightclub (Deck 18): Buy-one-get-one-free happy hour takes place daily from 10:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. There is a live DJ (DJ TJ on our sailing), a dance floor that can feel cozy on busy nights and plenty of large booths and high stool seating. (Minimum age of entry is 18.)
Emerald Princess Outside Recreation
Emerald Princess is home to four pools; all are surrounded by nautical-themed blue and white loungers. Two hot tubs are located by each of the ship’s three main pools.
Two pools — Calypso Reef & Pool and Neptune’s Reef & Pool — are located on the Lido Deck, and are where most of the action takes place. The areas can be especially lively when the Movies Under the Stars screen is showing a big football game (that’s soccer to North Americans) by the Calypso Pool. If you’re looking to rest and read a book in peace, these areas are probably not for you.
The Terrace pool (Deck 14) is far more peaceful and relaxed. In fact, many passengers don’t even discover it until later in their cruise.
The adult-only Lotus Spa pool, located within the Lotus Spa, offers a more private poolside refuge. Located on Deck 16 it features padded loungers and two hot tubs. Many passengers tend to use this pool before or after a gym session or spa treatment.
Kids also have a paddling pool, located adjacent to the Youth Center at the back of the ship on Deck 17.
Though Emerald Princess doesn’t compete with mega-ships’ recreational offerings, it does have a Ping-Pong table, a nine-hole mini-golf course, a lawn area used for bowls (similar to bowling, but outdoors), a croquet area and a court that can be used for basketball, tennis, volleyball and badminton.
The ship’s sun decks are centered around Decks 15 and 16, and offer ample space for families and individuals to lounge by the pools. There’s also a sun deck area by the Terrace pool on Deck 14 and near The Sanctuary, Deck 17.
The Sanctuary — one of the ship’s adult-only spaces — can be used for $20 for half- and $40 for full-day use. Open from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., passengers can relax on sumptuous sofas or padded chaise lounges and enjoy massages (for an extra fee) in special outdoor cabanas while «serenity stewards» bob about dispensing chilled face towels, Evian water and healthy drinks, such as citrus water. Passengers can borrow MP3 players (there’s a $10 deposit, which is refundable providing they’re returned in the same condition they were loaned out.), which come loaded with relaxing music. Be sure to book ahead for this facility on sea days, which is when it tends to be most popular and books up quickly.
Emerald Princess Services
The passenger services and loyalty desks are located within the atrium on Deck 6, while a destination expert mans the Tour Desk on Deck 7 (usually 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.). The Shore Excursions Desk is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The ship’s art gallery is located on Deck 5, the Library on Deck 7, the photography and video Gallery is also on Deck 7 and a conference room can be found on Deck 6 by the Princess Theater.
There are four boutiques on the ship, located on decks 6 and 7. Calypso Cove sells guidebooks, snacks, liquor, local souvenirs, toiletries and Princess logowear, while the upscale Meridian Bay features designer handbags, sunglasses and jewelry. Essence focuses on perfumes and luxury watches, and Facets is all about jewelry.
Self-service laundry rooms are handily located in each deck’s cabin corridors, and feature access to an iron and ironing board and token-operated washing machines. Detergent and washing powder can be purchased by a simple swipe of your keycard. Dry cleaning services are also available for an additional fee.
One quirky Princess feature is its wedding chapel, which hosts marriage ceremonies and vow renewals. The chapel can also be used for conferences and other events.
The ship’s 24-hour internet cafe is located on Deck 5. A variety of packages are available for use in the cafe or on individual tablets, smartphones and laptops. Wi-Fi packages start from $73 for one hour. Special packages are also offered, such as the Frequent Buyer package, which offers 40 minutes free when passengers purchase a second Wi-Fi plan.
We found Princess’ own free app, Princess@Sea useful for keeping up to date with ship events and activities. It also helped us find our way with a handy map containing a deck plan. To access the app, passengers are advised to turn their smartphone to airplane mode, connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi (Emerald Princess) and open a web browser. The app also lets passengers check their onboard account and access restaurant opening times and menus.
Emerald Princess Spa & Fitness
Emerald Princess has plenty to offer fans of pampering with its Asian-style Lotus Spa, which spans two decks (16 and 17) and offers a full-range of treatments. They range from a Thai Herbal Poultice massage (75 minutes for $195) and Elemis Hot Stone Massage (75 minutes for $195) to revitalizing hair and scalp treatments and facials. Also on offer are teeth whitening, 50-minute acupuncture sessions and more intensive treatments, such as the Ionithermie Cellulite Reduction Program.
Hair treatments ranging from express blow drys to hair coloring are available in the salon. There are also several grooming treatments for men, including an Elemis Express Shave and facials. Couples looking to indulge in treatments together may opt for the 50- or 70-minute couples massage.
The Thermal Suite, with its heated ceramic loungers, tropical rainforest shower, aromatic and steam rooms, is another indulgence, but costs extra to use.
The Lotus Spa & Beauty Salon is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. After our treatment, the spa therapist offered helpful advice on skincare, but on the downside this was followed with an attempt at upselling the luxury Elemis products used in the treatment.
Emerald Princess’ gym received all brand-new equipment during its 2016 refit, including more than 40 cardio machines with TV and USB connections, medicine balls, free weights and weight machines.
Lotus Health & Fitness is open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., although the treadmills aren’t accessible until 8 a.m. because cabins are situated beneath them. Access to treadmills is permitted until 8 p.m. For those who prefer to run outside, there’s a jogging track, albeit short (it takes 16 laps to reach a mile), which circles the ship’s nine-hole putting course Princess Links on Deck 19.
Complimentary stretching, core strength and ab strengthening workouts are available, and, for a small per-class fee, passengers can sign up for body sculpting boot camp, yoga, Pilates, TRX and cycling classes.
Emerald Princess for Families
Emerald Princess is well-equipped to serve children of different ages and on our cruise there were certainly many of them to keep occupied. There are three kids’ clubs on Deck 17 for children between the ages of three and 17.
Children must be six months old in order to sail. There is no private in-cabin babysitting, but group babysitting is available for a fee of $5 per hour, per child for children 3 and older.
Some additional services are available, including diaper and baby food in-cabin delivery service, although Princess advises passengers to purchases diapers before their cruise. Passengers should notify the line in advance of traveling if they need cribs. The ship’s restaurants are child-friendly, with kids’ menus in the main dining rooms, and highchairs are available.
Youngsters have their own «Chill Out» splash pool on Deck 17. They must be potty-trained and under the supervision of a parent to use it. And it goes without saying that more generic attractions, such as Movies Under The Stars, hold an instant appeal for kids, too — but beware of what’s being shown, as sometime the language is more suited to an adult audience than to young viewers. The two main pools on the Lido Deck are popular with children, but they’re deep, so kids need to be reasonably good swimmers.
Princess Pelicans serves kids ages 3 to 7 and offers a range of age-appropriate activities, such as kids-only dance parties, movies and cartoons, ice cream and pizza parties, pajama parties, theme nights, a family fun fair and art projects.
Shockwaves is for kids ages 8 to 12 and features activities such as kids-only dinners, dance parties, movies, video games, scavenger hunts, karaoke and talent shows, sports tournaments, Jr.CHEF@Sea cooking classes through the Princess Culinary Academy and theme nights.
Remix, with a hip and edgier vibe, offers a place for 13- to 17-year-olds to hangout, listen to music and play on game consoles. There’s also a selection of card games, board games, Ping-Pong tables and jukeboxes. Teens also have a separate Jacuzzi and sunbathing area. They can even mix their own dance tracks and take hip-hop dance lessons.