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underwhelmed by Princess (Emerald)

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Gosh, I had a wonderful experience on the Emerald Princess (my first Princess cruise but 33rd cruise overall).  I thought the food was good, in fact I remember telling others how impressed I was with it.  In fact, that cruise is what made us book another 3 cruises on Princess, of which we've already been on two (Royal and Crown).  I suppose the OP's username tells the story.  Perhaps another cruise line would be more suited since cuisine seems to be the most important aspect of their cruise. (oh, I just saw the previous post stating the OP is a writer for a food magazine.  That's all I need to know...…)

Edited by Diver2014

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11 hours ago, tawlaw1526 said:

Oh goodness, please don’t tone down your expectations based on one persons opinion.    I find the Emerald to be a wonderful ship.  The food never disappoints us and the entertainment was plenty and very good.   I have been on 16 Princess Cruises in 4 1/2 years and all of them in my opinion have been excellent cruises.  Princess has never disappointed me.    Enjoy your cruise. 

Thanks for the good thoughts and encouragement concerning the Emerald.  As mentioned before, I am going to Hawaii on the Emerald in March.  Thanks again! ☺️

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1 minute ago, Cruiserkenn said:

Thanks for the good thoughts and encouragement concerning the Emerald.  As mentioned before, I am going to Hawaii on the Emerald in March.  Thanks again! ☺️

And we will be on her for the first time in November!

 

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10 hours ago, Skai said:

What led you to think that Princess was 4*?

 

Furthermore, in what scenario have you ever sailed a cruise ship with 3K pax(or even 2k pax) where the food was anything above that of banquet quality? 

 

It would appear that perhaps you had unrealistic expectations that led to your being "underwhelmed"...

 

Simply an observation.

The reviews from cruise critic show it as 4 Star. The food on Celebrity is very good and their optional dining Murano is close to Michelin 1 star dining. I simply expected the MDR to serve appetizing well prepared food and again I chatted with over a dozen other passengers who also said and I quote "Princess has slipped in quality" I don't think getting quality meals daily is unrealistic and again I let the Exec Chef know by detailed letter (no reply at all)

pep.jpg

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13 hours ago, cruisingourmet said:

 

The ship itself is very disjointed with bad flow from bow to stern and many dead ends.

The daily activities are movies on the deck BIG WHOOP ! or activities where they want to sell jewelry.

Considering what a unique place Hawaii is they could have had many many lectures on

what to see and learn on this island state.

 

I have to say this the bad flow is on all of Princess's Grand Class ships. Most Princess cruisers get used to this and adapt. Those loyal and have only cruised Princess don't know other lines do a better job.

 

I agree about lectures.

 

The food on my last Princess cruise was mediocre, at best. It was funny - I got off that ship and within 24 hours of being home flew off to an IT conference at a state college. The conference had approx 600 people - so a good size but not the same as the ship I was on. The food at this cheap conference was exceptional and blew away any food I had on the cruise. I have no doubt they could compete on a larger scale the same way. Princess's food has declined through the years.

Edited by Coral

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5 hours ago, crawford said:

With 20 cruises under your belt in the last 6 years and a writer for a food magazine, I would love your opinion of the food on comparable 3*-4* lines. Been exclusively on Princess for over 10 years; maybe a change is in order? 

Try Celebrity especially their Solstice Class ships and if you like a deal book a Trans-Atlantic, I did one in April this year I was very happy with the food and when you go to their "Oceanview Cafe" which is used like the Princess "Horizon Cafe" you will be very presently surprised with the layout and variety, you have to get your water or tea and silverware bundle at the self-serv station, but you won't be disappointed with the huge variety and open floor plan of the food service area.

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To be fair other than the deficiencies I listed in the OP I would say that the

service from employees was very good, the room attendant great, the bed comfortable

the cabin storage quite ample, the entertainment & theater very good (although the times for shows conflict with dining times)

the embarkation/debarkation efficient so I am being fair & honest so folks can draw their own conclusions.

 

Again I am not saying Princess is terrible, I am just sharing some detailed observations and it would seem I am not alone in these observations, as someone onboard the same ship currently has echoed the same issues I have laid out.

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21 minutes ago, cruisingourmet said:

Try Celebrity especially their Solstice Class ships and if you like a deal book a Trans-Atlantic, I did one in April this year I was very happy with the food and when you go to their "Oceanview Cafe" which is used like the Princess "Horizon Cafe" you will be very presently surprised with the layout and variety, you have to get your water or tea and silverware bundle at the self-serv station, but you won't be disappointed with the huge variety and open floor plan of the food service area.

Thanks. We were on Celebrity several years ago and was not disappointed. Time to give it another try.

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Oh, that's too bad.  I agree that there have been some cut backs and some are barely noticeable to us but others have diminished our experience.  For me, I am so used to the layout of the Grand / Crown class, getting around is second nature.  However, one thing that Princess could definitely improve upon is the maintenance of their ships.  Some of the areas are an embarrassment.  

And yes, I am a bit of a stickler for a quiet cabin ... luckily, I haven't been in a really noisy one for quite some time now.  Getting inadequate sleep can make or break a good cruise ... that's for sure.  

I've not sailed on the Emerald in quite some time but chefs / cooks change out all the time.  The food has actually been very good the last few times I've been on Princess.  Previously, I have had some complaints about the food in both quality and variety  ... I think it can just be hit or miss.  Of note, I am not a foodie so maybe not the best judge in this area.  The service in most food venues has been top notch, though ...in my experience.  However, I am not crazy about the new dining times and long waits for a table in anytime dining.  I'm really not sure how they managed it before but they took was a good thing and turned it into chaos.  

I do agree that it seems a lot of the entertainment during the day has just gone missing.  I love live music and you can't seem to find that much anymore during the daytime.  I do love MUTS but in the earlier hours, they just show concerts or maybe not even that.  Why not a good family movie (not cartoon movies) for those that choose to stay onboard or on sea days?  I don't know how many times I can see Tina Turner or those Minions on the big screen.  Ugh!!  

One thing I need to mention, though ... when I first started cruising, I would set my price limit around $100 a day pp for the cabin, excluding government fees and taxes.  That was what I considered a deal for which I was willing to pay.  That was for an inside or maybe oceanview cabin ... not for a balcony and certainly without any perks thrown into the package.  Fast forward 50+ cruises and about nearly 35 years later, wow, the prices really haven't gone up that much on these mainstream cruiselines, such as Princess, Celebrity, Holland, NCL, etc.  The taxes / fees, gratuities, etc have all gone up but not really seen so much in the pricing of the cruise itself.  Sometimes, they even include the gratuities or drink package ... maybe even wifi and some onboard credit!  How do they do that??  They cut back on the things they can.  I am a bargain traveler so I accept these cutbacks pretty much without too many complaints because, for me, it is still the best value in travel.  And, if I want to splurge and get the best of the best, that option is open to me but I probably couldn't justify the cost.  

 

 

 

 

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Question to the OP:  Did you visit SHARE on the Emerald Princess?  

 

I agree that it is easy to denigrate the meals on Princess.  Our usual complaint is that most of the venues add too much salt.  However, as multiple posters have recognized, it is a mass-market cruise line, and they do what they can to satisfy a vast majority of the two or three thousand people on any given cruise.  Remember, they are going for the "fat part" of the bell shaped curve--not the "pointy parts."

 

Regular readers of this board probably have me pegged as a "SHARE cheerleader."  Since the OP did not specifically mention that venue, I am curious about his opinion.

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Just booked Emerald for the 18 Jan 2019 Hawaii cruise so I will get a chance to see how bad the food has gotten from last April when we did the Hawaii Tahiti cruise.  For anyone interested Princess put this cruise on a super sale today and there a quite a few cabins available.

 

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We cruised 28 days on Emerald Princess in October of 2017. Wonderful cruise. Wonderful ship. Good food - actual spicy (well, mildly spicy) Indian food. The food in MDR always seems to be dependent on the head chef. We sailed 17 days on Princess once and the first few days of the cruise the food was horridly bland. Suddenly it changed and was vastly better. When we asked about it we were told that the head chef had changed as the ships "regular" head chef had come back aboard at one of our stops. From then on the food was quite good. I really don't see the issue with the layout of Emerald Princess. We enjoyed the ship greatly and are booked on Emerald for a TA next November.

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8 minutes ago, Thrak said:

I really don't see the issue with the layout of Emerald Princess. 

Thrak - have you sailed on lines outside of Princess?

Edited by Coral

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4 minutes ago, Coral said:

Thrak - have you sailed on lines outside of Princess?

 

Nope so I obviously have limited perspective. However, I still don't have a problem with Emerald Princess. I never expected a 4 star experience. I can't afford a 4 star cruise line - I can't actually afford Princess but I do cruise anyway. I do have issues with Princess ships funneling folks through the buffet in order to get to other areas but we often tend to just take a different route even if it is less direct.

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1 hour ago, Cruise Raider said:

Oh, that's too bad.  I agree that there have been some cut backs and some are barely noticeable to us but others have diminished our experience.  For me, I am so used to the layout of the Grand / Crown class, getting around is second nature.  However, one thing that Princess could definitely improve upon is the maintenance of their ships.  Some of the areas are an embarrassment.  

And yes, I am a bit of a stickler for a quiet cabin ... luckily, I haven't been in a really noisy one for quite some time now.  Getting inadequate sleep can make or break a good cruise ... that's for sure.  

I've not sailed on the Emerald in quite some time but chefs / cooks change out all the time.  The food has actually been very good the last few times I've been on Princess.  Previously, I have had some complaints about the food in both quality and variety  ... I think it can just be hit or miss.  Of note, I am not a foodie so maybe not the best judge in this area.  The service in most food venues has been top notch, though ...in my experience.  However, I am not crazy about the new dining times and long waits for a table in anytime dining.  I'm really not sure how they managed it before but they took was a good thing and turned it into chaos.  

I do agree that it seems a lot of the entertainment during the day has just gone missing.  I love live music and you can't seem to find that much anymore during the daytime.  I do love MUTS but in the earlier hours, they just show concerts or maybe not even that.  Why not a good family movie (not cartoon movies) for those that choose to stay onboard or on sea days?  I don't know how many times I can see Tina Turner or those Minions on the big screen.  Ugh!!  

One thing I need to mention, though ... when I first started cruising, I would set my price limit around $100 a day pp for the cabin, excluding government fees and taxes.  That was what I considered a deal for which I was willing to pay.  That was for an inside or maybe oceanview cabin ... not for a balcony and certainly without any perks thrown into the package.  Fast forward 50+ cruises and about nearly 35 years later, wow, the prices really haven't gone up that much on these mainstream cruiselines, such as Princess, Celebrity, Holland, NCL, etc.  The taxes / fees, gratuities, etc have all gone up but not really seen so much in the pricing of the cruise itself.  Sometimes, they even include the gratuities or drink package ... maybe even wifi and some onboard credit!  How do they do that??  They cut back on the things they can.  I am a bargain traveler so I accept these cutbacks pretty much without too many complaints because, for me, it is still the best value in travel.  And, if I want to splurge and get the best of the best, that option is open to me but I probably couldn't justify the cost.  

 

In order for DH to agree to a cruise, he wants me to get it to $100/pp/day.  However, I factor in OBC, free grats, and other perks to get it to the $100.  And I have gotten that on OV and Balcony cabins.  But it is getting harder and harder and I think he is going to have to give me a little more leeway on that price!  LOL!
I'm also a bargain shopper and I want the most bang for my buck!  And if it's something really special like our upcoming "In Search of the Northern Lights" sailing, I will splurge a bit since this is a bucket list item for me!

Our last 25 day sailing was on the Crown.  I would say there were maybe 3 delish meals in the MDR......the rest mediocre or awful!  Out wait staff tried to help by suggesting other options but by that time, I was essentially "over it".   Our meals in the specialties were very good but our friends (4 of them) did not enjoy the gastropub.  We thought it was ok.  The Crab Shack was one of the best meals we had onboard!

 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Thrak said:

 

Nope so I obviously have limited perspective. However, I still don't have a problem with Emerald Princess. I never expected a 4 star experience. I can't afford a 4 star cruise line - I can't actually afford Princess but I do cruise anyway. I do have issues with Princess ships funneling folks through the buffet in order to get to other areas but we often tend to just take a different route even if it is less direct.

Many other ships/lines have several decks (other than Deck 7) that run the entire length of the ship. this confuses a lot of people who are not used to Princess. If you think about it - how odd it is to have to go across Deck 7 to the Traditional dining room and then down a deck. How many people struggle finding this? Deck 7 is always congested due to this (think about those exiting entertainment shows/picture area). Those who started with Grand Class ships or have sailed several times on them, get used to it. It is a common complaint amongst those new to Grand Class ships that have sailed on other lines.

 

It really is worth trying different lines, even if you discover that Princess is the line for you.

Edited by Coral

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1 minute ago, Coral said:

Many other ships/lines have several decks (other than Deck 7) that run the entire length of the ship. this confuses a lot of people who are not used to Princess. If you think about it - how odd it is to have to go across Deck 7 to the Traditional dining room and then down a deck. How many people struggle finding this? Deck 7 is always congested due to this (think about those exiting entertainment shows/picture area). Those who started with Grand Class ships or have sailed several times on them, get used to it. It is a common complaint amongst those new to Grand Class ships that have sailed on other lines.

 

Many thanks for the explanation and info. We did enjoy having both deck 6 and deck 7 available as "transit ways" on our recent sailing on Coral Princess. (Of course the unusual atrium on that ship was another matter... 😛)

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15 hours ago, cruisingourmet said:

I agree, even a mediocre cruise is better than 2 weeks on land.

It is just that I was expecting a 4 star experience and got 3 star

 

Your biggest mistake was,  you had your expectations set too high.  I learned a long time ago to not have high expectations, then my disappointments won't get the best of me.  I have to agree with your assessment of the food on Princess.  I call the Star Princess the sausage ship.  The chef must of had his culinary training in sausage dishes, because on the Lido buffet 90% of the dishes had sausage in it.  He broke away once from sausage, and had a hot dog stuck down the center of a meat loaf.  It was served hot one day, then the next day it was served cold on the salad bar.  If you were a lo-carber that was the dish for you.  So, you will get more misses than hits on some of these cruises. 

 

I also agree that the lectures that occur on board are worth going to, and I wish they would have more on these cruises.  On our Panama cruise, we had a lecturer who was an astronomer, very informative.   On another, a forensic investigator - he thought Jack the Ripper was a woman - possibly.

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We sail on Princess one or two weeks every year.  I was on the Ruby for 7 days earlier this month.  I found the food to have improved from what it was in the recent past.  The beef in the Main Dining Room was better (more tender, more tasty), without upgrading to the extra-fee Crown Grill selections. 

 

We usually go to the Crown Grill once each week, but the MDR was good enough that we did not go to the "Specialty restaurants" at all.

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4 hours ago, Cruiserkenn said:

Thanks for the good thoughts and encouragement concerning the Emerald.  As mentioned before, I am going to Hawaii on the Emerald in March.  Thanks again! ☺️

We will be on the Emerald to Hawaii next week.  I'll let you know how it goes!

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We just recently did 33 nights in Emerald.  28 day r/t South Pacific followed by 5 day Cabo

The head chef changed in between, left the ship - and Princess - upon return to LA from South Pacific.   There was a very distinct change in food taste and presentation between the two cruises. Obviously,  menus repeated, so we saw lots of the same dinner items both cruises, and presentation on the second cruise, along with flavor, was distinctly different - and nowhere near as good as the 28 night.  

The 28 nighter had very good food, including in the buffet. Indian and curry dishes with actual flavors, and some heat, meats cooked tender, veggies not mushy, etc.  The MDR had well cooked fish and beef, plenty of extra green veggies when we asked for them (every night, lol), soups that had depth of flavor, etc. 

The next cruise - blah.. The buffet was disappointing,  MDR had much more bland foods, weren't able to supply extra green veggies, or when they did it was 4 pieces of broccoli, soups all tasted alIle.

 

We were frankly quite surprised at what a difference it was between the two cruises - and how much of a difference the head chef really did seem to make.

 

And the Cabo cruise only had approx 100 more people aboard, so it wasn't a huge change in people served or such either.   

 

We'd have been sorely disappointed if the food on the 5 nighter had been what we had for the previous 28 days. 

 

We did eat at Share, several times. Absolutely outstanding. I'll take it over just about any Celebrity specialty restaurant any day...outstanding.  Wish it was on some of the Princess ships sailing the Caribbean!! 

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5 hours ago, cruisingourmet said:

Try Celebrity especially their Solstice Class ships and if you like a deal book a Trans-Atlantic, I did one in April this year I was very happy with the food and when you go to their "Oceanview Cafe" which is used like the Princess "Horizon Cafe" you will be very presently surprised with the layout and variety, you have to get your water or tea and silverware bundle at the self-serv station, but you won't be disappointed with the huge variety and open floor plan of the food service area.

 

Sail the Royal or Regal Princesses, and you'll also find a upgraded buffet and a modern experience that's in some ways surpasses the Celebrity Solstice class ships, but equally true before subjectively hailing Celebrity, the OP should sail on a Celebrity Millinium class ship which like Grand class ship are much older and have far smaller buffets, and overall amenities , and do not come close to resembling  the newer Celebrity Solstice class ships with their glitz and glamour.

 

 

If you want or need a new ship experience, then sail new ships, but don't try and compare the two

YMMV

Srpilo

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18 hours ago, Colo Cruiser said:

I am thinking there is more to this story.   

This gives me more reason to hop a plane and then spend the 2 weeks discovering the Islands ...right?

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