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Emerald Princess - Cruise Ship Review - Passenger Reviews

What do you get if you take the Grand Princess and add another deck? Why, the Emerald Princess, of course. The Emerald Princess and her siblings feature everything that makes a Princess ship special. And while not the largest ships in the Princess fleet (that distinction belongs to the Regal and Royal Princess), the Emerald and her sisters are the most popular.

Emerald Princess Public Rooms
For example, the 113,000 gross ton Emerald Princess offers Princess Cruises’ trademark, giant poolside LED screen for “Movies Under the Stars”—a feature that has been retrofit aboard most other ships in the fleet and subsequently copied by other cruise lines, most notably Carnival and Disney. The Emerald Princess also comes complete with the line’s new piazza-style atrium that’s sort of like a seagoing street fair, plus a Caribbean café, international café, and a wine-and-seafood bar. Put it all together and you’ve got a world-class seagoing resort.

High above the bridge, the Emerald Princess has a forward-looking ocean-view spa and fitness center, with a lap pool. Further aft, the ship offers two outdoor pool areas: One amidships with two separate pools, the other a more secluded spot overlooking the stern.

Dining aboard Emerald Princess
The Emerald Princess has three main dining rooms that come in handy for the line’s Personal Choice Dining Program, which allows passengers to choose from Traditional Dining with early and late seatings for dinner or Anytime Dining. The ship’s 24-hour casual restaurant, the Horizon Court, offers a buffet alternative for breakfast and lunch; at night it becomes a sit-down bistro. Tuscan-inspired Sabatini’s is the ship’s venue for upscale Italian fare, and has established itself over the years as one of cruising’s more popular alternative restaurant concepts.

Emerald Princess Cabins
The designers of the Emerald Princess wanted private verandahs to be available to virtually everyone, and this ship has nearly 900 cabins with balconies, ranging from standard outside cabins to mini-suites and full suites. The mini-suites are among the largest of its kind, featuring a full sitting area with a large sofa, a comfortable chair, and a second TV. Mini-suites also have large balconies that extend further out than other balconies. The design means the balcony above doesn’t block the sun, but it also does not offer much in the way of privacy.

In keeping with the “Big Ship Choice, Small Ship Feel” mantra of Princess Cruises’ ships, there are a number of nooks and crannies for a little peace and quite, including a small library, writing room, and a card room. Kids, on the other hand, will find plenty of spaces just for them.

Emerald Princess at sea Ship Information
Emerald Princess belongs to Princess Cruises' Crown Class of cruise ships. The ship rivals the most luxurious resorts, with features such as the Lotus Spa, Movies Under the Stars®, nearly 900 balcony cabins and an entire deck of Mini Suites, plus dozens of dining and entertainment options.

Ship Facts
Year Built 2007 ♦ Ship's Class: Crown Class ♦ Country of Registry Bermuda ♦ Tonnage 113,000 ♦ Length 951 ft - 289 m ♦ Cruising Speed 22 knots ♦ Passenger Capacity (double occupancy) 3,080 ♦ Passenger Capacity (incl. upper beds) 3,763 ♦ Passenger Decks 15 ♦ Officers and Crew 1,200 ♦ Officer's Nationality British and Italian ♦ Crew and Hotel Staff Nationality International

Total 1,532 ♦ Suites with Balcony 206 ♦ Oceanview with Balcony 674 ♦ Oceanview without Balcony 218 ♦ Inside 434 ♦ Accessible Cabins (all categories) 31 ♦ Princess Cruises introduced the concept of affordable private balconies on modern cruise ships. For longer cruises the Mini Suites are an even better option, with a separate sitting area, walk-in closet, and bathtub. Amenties in all cabins include luxury bedding, refrigerator, extensive satellite TV programming, and complimentary room service.

Cabin Amenities
TV with music channels ♦ In-Cabin Movies ♦ In-Cabin Internet Access ♦ Private Safe ♦ Minibar ♦ Hair Dryer

Traditional 1st and 2nd Sitting Assigned Table Seating ♦ Optional Open Seating - "Princess Anytime Dining" allows you to be seated any time the main dining room is open ♦ Ultimate Balcony Dining features fresh flowers, champagne and a deluxe four-course meal featuring delicate sweet lobster tail or juicy steak among many available delicacies. ♦ Formal Nights ♦ Specialty Restaurants: Sabatini's, Crown Grill Steakhouse, Cafe Caribe ♦ Specialty Coffee Bar ♦ 24 Hour Food Service Available

Public Rooms
Bars and Lounges ♦ Library ♦ Internet Center

Showlounge ♦ Casino ♦ Disco/Nightclub ♦ Movies Under the Stars® ♦ Card Room/Game Room ♦ Video Games Arcade

Sports and Activities
Outdoor Pools ♦ Sports Court ♦ Fitness Center ♦ Jogging Track ♦ Promenade Deck wraps around the ship, using two decks ♦ Golf Simulator ♦ Putting Course

Spa and Wellness
Full Service Spa ♦ MedSpa Services ♦ Sauna or Steam Room ♦ Beauty Salon ♦ Yoga ♦ Pilates ♦ Fitness Assessment ♦ Health and Nutrition Evaluation

Children and Teens
Family Cabins ♦ Organized Age Specific Activities ♦ Children's Pool ♦ Outdoor Children's Play Area ♦ Youth Staff ♦ Dedicated Teen Center ♦ Teen Programs ♦ Teen Staff ♦ Group Babysitting Services

Other Facilities and Services
Duty Free Shops and Boutiques ♦ Dry Cleaning and Laundry Service ♦ Business Center Services ♦ Medical Center

Best Value Staterooms: Mini-Suites

Setting Sail: Emerald Princess

Princess cruising the Greek Islesby Ralph Grizzle. An award-winning travel writer, and recognized cruise ship expert.

This week, I am reporting from Princess Cruises’ brand new Emerald Princess. Our 12-day Greek Isles and Mediterranean voyage takes us from Rome to Venice.

The 3.070-passenger Emerald Princess is nearly identical to the Crown Princess, launched last year, but with a few new twists.

Monte Carlo
After departing Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) on Saturday, Emerald Princess docked in Monte Carlo Sunday morning. The fact that we docked was a surprise, because the ship was scheduled to tender passengers ashore. Among the more popular shore excursions:

A Visit To Nice, France, less than 1 hour from Monte Carlo. This half-day tour was designed to give guests time in the cosmopolitan city. Price, per adult, $72. A full-day Nice and Cannes combination was priced at $143 per person.

Medieval Village of Eze: The half-day tour visits a charming hilltop village overlooking the Cote d’Azure. Highlights include walks along winding, narrow, cobbled streets and visits to shops and perfumeries.

Emerald Princess PubOld Monaco and The Royal Palace: This guided half-day tour (cost $57 per person) visits the top attractions in Monaco, a sovereign (postage-stamp-sized) state that is less than one square mile in area.

Though hilly, Monaco is small and easy to get around. Sustained by gelato (the wonderful Italian ice cream), I spent a couple of hours wandering along the sea cliffs, up to the Royal Palace and around to the world-famous casino and such famous hotels as Hotel de Paris (pictured).

Chef’s Table
Last night, we were welcomed into the inner sanctum of the ship: the galley. For “foodies,” this is a true pilgrimage.

We not only got a chance to see how Princess prepares meals for the more than 3,000 passengers on our sailing but also witnessed just how well service was orchestrated during the busiest time of the day (dinner). There were a few collisions and more than one broken plate, but overall service was carried out with admirable aplomb.

Our behind-the-scenes look was part of a new program called, The Chef’s Table. For $75 per person, up to 10 passengers can enjoy this experience on Emerald Princess (the program also is being rolled out fleetwide).

Our evening began in the Da Vinci dining room, where, as curious diners looked on, we walked through the stainless steel doors into the galley. Once inside, we were greeted by Corporate Executive Chef Alfredo Marzi, who treated us to champagne (the real stuff) and hors d’oeuvres. Chef Marzi had gone shopping in Monte Carlo earlier in the day to purchase fresh ingredients for our dinner. The accompanying video shows some of Chef Marzi’s creations and highlights of our evening.

Balcony dining on Princess CruisesTours today included trips to Florence, the Tuscan countryside and Cinque Terre, as well as Pisa, Lucca and Livorno.

Touring Pompeii
Of the many tours offered from Naples, I opted for the half-day tour of Pompeii. The excavation site is 14 miles southeast of Naples, so it only took 30 minutes to get there.

Pompeii was crowded, but, as we were here in month of May, the crowds and the heat were nothing like they can be in mid-summer.

Pompeii is for the sure-footed. I saw two people fall. Be sure to watch where you’re putting your foot down on the uneven stones and wear shoes with rubber soles as Princess Cruises advises.

The tour itself was challenging to follow along. We were given radios and earpieces but had difficulty hearing our guide, who was wonderfully informative but hampered by equipment. Still, Pompeii was fascinating.

At the base of Mount Vesuvius, the city was destroyed by the volcano’s violent eruption on August 24 AD 79. Historians know the exact date because of an eyewitness account in two letters by Pliney the Elder.

There were 10,000 to 20,000 inhabitants in the city at the time, and their skeletal remains were remarkably preserved (as was the city itself) in up to 23 feet of pumice stones and ash. Those who weren’t killed by falling debris died of asphyxiation the next day when pyroclastic material and heated gas reached the city walls.

Pompeii remained buried until 1748 when excavations began.

Walking The Marble Road, Ephesus
Emerald Princess Wine BarShuffling my feet along a street made from marble slabs, I was following in the footsteps of the Virgin Mary, who, our guide tells us, lived near this ancient city, now part of Turkey, in the final years of her life.

The Marble Road cuts through the heart of what was the second largest city in the Roman Empire. Our guide points to grooves carved from the frequent traffic of chariots and carts, and to beautiful mosaic sidewalks alongside the road. Mark Antony and Cleopatra rode in procession here. St. John lived nearby.

Temples and businesses lined the Marble Road. Now only ruins remain. The two-story fa?ade of the Celsus Library boasted 12,000 papyrus scrolls when it was built in the 2nd century. Across from it, a brothel, now roofless, has traces of frescoes and mosaics on walls still intact.

We were fortunate to be able to see the 2nd-century Terrace Houses, opened only in 2006 and fortunate also to be here in May, when the temperatures are tolerable.

But tolerable or not, Ephesus is a must-see in any season. Bring along a hat and drinking water, and join a smaller group if possible (Princess, for example, has what it calls "Elite" shore excursions).

Walking the Marble Road is a walk through classical Greece and early Roman history. Emerald Princess awaits us in Kusadasi, less than 30 minutes by bus from the ruins of Ephesus.

Piraeus, Greece
Under brilliant blue skies, the new Emerald Princess was named today in Piraeus, Greece.On board to officially welcome the new 3,070-passenger ship into the Princess Cruises’ fleet were television icons Florence Henderson, best known as “Carol Brady” on The Brady Bunch, and Marion Ross, aka “Marion Cunningham” of Happy Days fame and their TV daughters, Susan Olsen (“Cindy Brady”) and Erin Moran (“Joanie Cunningham”). Love Boat Captain Gavin MacLeod, (“Captain Stubing”) performed as master of ceremonies.

At the Piazza

Emerald Princess Atrium

Few travel experiences can top sitting in a piazza, watching the world pass while sipping on a cappuccino or a glass of chianti or digging at a delicious dome of gelato.

I know, because I spent such a day on the Italian coast, returning to my table at the piazza several times to take in the play of life. I watched acrobats flip, jugglers toss, musicians play and crooners send their soft melodies to the far reaches of the square. The world was indeed a stage that day, just as it is every day at the piazza.

What made my experience highly unusual, however, was that my piazza was floating. No, I was not in Venice. I was on a ship, the Emerald Princess.

As I write these words, I am seated at a circular marble-top table with three small scoops of gelato in front of me. I hear the hiss of the espresso machine at the coffee bar, where baristas serve up specialty coffees. A magician entertains in the heart of the piazza, looping rings as a gathering audience looks on. All eyes fall on the center of the piazza, and those on the second and third decks, stand against the railing, on the stairs or at the balcony perches to watch the magician.

“The piazza is the heart of the Italian lifestyle,” says Generoso Mazzone, the ship’s maitre d’ hotel. “And on Emerald Princess, the piazza is the Italian heart of the ship.”

The Ship’s Heart And Soul
It is 2 p.m., and the Emerald Princess is en route to Venice. The piazza is abuzz with activity. At the International Café, couples linger at tables. Some are lunching on mozzarella and tomato panini (the Italian sandwiches); a mother and daughter whisper over glasses of wine; a young man sips a foamy cappuccino; a waiter pours sparkling Pelligrino. Others, like me, are working on their laptop computers, using the wireless internet service (for a fee). The piazza has the feel of a working village.

“I tell everybody I work downtown,” jokes Romanian-born Eugen Feraru, food and beverage supervisor on Emerald Princess. “The piazza is the heart of the ship. Everybody’s passing by here, no matter where they’re going.” Indeed, sit in the piazza long enough, and you’ll see the whole of the ship pass by.

The piazza is also the place to grab a snack. Freshly baked goods are served, along with delicious cashew chicken salad (free of charge). Evenings, tapas are served. A variety of deserts are available — some at no charge, such as fresh fruit tarts, Swiss chocolate cake, carrot cake — and others for nominal charges: fruit with chocolate fondue, $5; apples dipped in chocolate or caramel, $4. Seven flavors of gelato are served, including my favorite, stracciatella, and for $1.50, you get three scoops. Cold milk and hot cookies are served each afternoon from 3:30 until 4:30 free of charge both at the International Cafe and on the pool deck as well.

Across the piazza is Vines, which specializes in wine, sushi, raclette. The latter is dish whereby the eponymous cheese is heated, then scraped onto potatoes and served with gherkins, pickled onions and prosciutto. Flights of wine are available so that you can sample three wines for a fixed price (beginning at $7.50 for a flight on my cruise). Or leave the choice to Stefano Bart, the excellent sommelier on Emerald Princess.

Italian Birthright
“Princess is Italian born,” says Corporate Executive Chef Alfredo Marzi. An Italian by birth, Marzi has worked for Princess since 1974. “There’s more of an international flavor now than there was then,” he says. “But we’re still very Italian.”

And perhaps nowhere is Princess more Italian than in the kitchen. The pizza at poolside Prego is as good as what you might get in Rome. The Italian dishes are inspired by family recipes. Sabatini’s, deck 16 aft, has the feel of an Italian trattoria, with beautiful views of the sea and an ever-changing landscape. And Chef Marzi’s lemoncello, the popular Italian liqueur made from fresh Sorrento lemons and vodka, is about as authentic as it gets.

In fact, Princess Cruises makes its own lemoncello. And it’s served free of charge. There’s a catch, however. You must pay $5 for the glass. The lemoncello is as bright as the sunshine of the Amalfi Coast. It’s healthy too, Chef Marzi says, aiding digestion while refreshing the mouth.

The piazza is so pleasant and so convincingly Italian that you may not want to get off the ship, even as you call at Italian ports on your Mediterranean cruise. You don’t need to. Experience Italy at its best — at the piazza on Princess.