Since her refurbishment in 2015, Emerald Princess is graced with the same elegance and design as her three sister ships in the Grand class. The focal point of public spaces is the marble-floored Piazza-style atrium with its grand spiral staircase and glass elevators. It’s a great spot for guests to mingle or settle in at the adjacent coffee and wine bars to watch "street" entertainers perform.
The high percentage of balcony cabins (more than half the total cabins) and the distinctive, privacy-affording design of those balconies is Princess’ distinguishing architectural feature. The majority of cruisers who choose an outside cabin have a balcony; only 20% of outside cabins don’t.
This ship spends half the year sailing European itineraries out of a Western Europe port, and the other half plying Caribbean waters out of her homeport of Fort Lauderdale. Her activity programming is diverse enough to appeal to both culturally-minded European cruisers and those with a fun-loving Caribbean mindset.
With a great mix of formal and casual dining, no-fee options and special occasion venues with a surcharge, this ship has always been at the forefront of cruise dining trends.
Recent forays into celebrity chef partnerships have created some great new experiences. Foremost among the celebrity concepts is SHARE by Curtis Stone, which debuted on board Princess in the winter 2015/2016 season and on Emerald Ruby (with a fleet-wide rollout to follow). This restaurant combines shareable family-style dining with high-end gastronomy at a surcharge of $39 per person. Immediately after SHARE was launched, the line introduced Salty Dog Gastropub by chef Ernesto Uchimura, the original chef at Los Angeles’ wildly popular Umami Burger chain. This inspired bar bites concept lives inside the Wheelhouse Bar at night and carries a nominal $19 per person surcharge.
Guests have historically always been happy with the quality of the food of food in the 3 main restaurants on board, and that remaints true even as the ship continues to diversify/modernize alternative offerings. In the traditional evening shipboard fashion Botticelli dining room offers two seating times with assigned tables, Michelangelo and Da Vinci dining rooms offer flexible “anytime” dining. One of the dining rooms also serves breakfast, lunch and a sumptuous afternoon tea.
There are two buffets on the ship: the traditional one at Horizon Court and the smaller more specialized Café Caribe. The latter is only open for lunch and dinner. Quick counter service options include a burger grill, pizzeria and ice cream counter.
One of Princess’ smartest policies is that in some restaurants, there are things you can get for free and then extras for a fee. For instance, at the popular International Café, fresh-baked breakfast pastries are free but espresso drinks and specialty dishes are an additional cost. Wine bar/small plates restaurant Vines is among the most popular dining venues on board—food is complimentary with the purchase of wine.
Though Sabatini’s is no longer among the alternative restaurants, Crown Grill remains as a steakhouse option, at a surcharge of $25 per person.
Other special dining experiences include Chef’s Table for those who want a peek behind the curtains, and Ultimate Balcony Dinner—the perfect splurge for cruisers who prefer a little privacy while dining. Finally, though it’s not exactly a square meal, Chocolate Journeys by the brilliant Norman Love should absolutely be at the top of every gourmand’s to-do list.
Bars & Lounges
This ship has the same classic cruise line lounges (and lounge names) as sister ships, and the same venue themes that most of the bigger ships have offered for decades. There’s the old-school clubby Wheelhouse Bar; the martini bar Crooners with a view of the Piazza; and the smoker-friendly Churchill Cigar & Sports Lounge. An extra frisson of excitement can be found in Club Fusion, the venue for karaoke and crowd participation games, since Voice of the Ocean has come to this ship. Talent scouts will be looking for standout voices to enter the vocal competition inspired by the hit show.
Production shows in the Princess Theater have always been an evening highlight, showcasing a mix of Broadway and Top 40. Professional live entertainment will get an interesting amateur boost with the introduction of Voice of the Ocean, based on the hit TV show. Standout karaoke singers will be plucked from the small nightclub stage and entered—if they choose—into an interactive talent competition.
Movies Under the Stars® are a Princess original that’s gone industry-wide. This ship shows a variety of Hollywood hits ranging from family-friendly to just for parents.
The casino is always abuzz with action, especially during poker tournaments. And late at night, Skywalkers Nightclub cranks up the DJ-spun disco hits for dancing fun.
Princess’ daytime recreation leans more toward enrichment, and its latest offering, Festivals of the World, is a very intriguing next chapter. The line looks to iconic festivals in some of its most-visited cruise ports to inspire shipboard events, from parties to live performances.
Four freshwater pools, a huge outdoor screen and a wraparound walking track lure guests outdoors during the day and often into the evening. But for the many cruisers who just want ultimate relaxation and pampering, the Sanctuary adults-only area is the place to be. Even though there’s a nominal fee to enter, this luxurious roped-off area books up in advance of sailing.
Sports and recreation offerings are on deck 19 and include table tennis, a golf putting green, basketball court and lawn games.
The youth program is the best Princess has to offer, thanks to a new partnership with Discovery Communications. Hit Discovery properties like MythBusters and Shark Week inspire the activity lineup. Princess splits its youth areas and programming up into two groups: teens and children.
- Flexible anytime dining feels a bit more like a neighborhood value chain when you go to check in and are presented with a pager that’ll buzz you when a table is available.
- The lack of an officially designated adult-only pool can make the pool scene a little rowdy for adults during the family holiday season.