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Guindalf

Considering our first Princess cruise. What should we know?

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Hi there. Repetitive, boring post warning!

 

Avid cruisers here, but mostly Celebrity, NCL, RCCL, Oceania and (unfortunately) Carnival. We have 19 cruises under our belts, so we are by no means newbies, but we've never sailed Princess.

 

An opportunity to cruise Alaska in May has arisen at a very good price with some nice perks thrown in ( Drinks, WiFi, Gratuities and Flights), so it's raised a few questions...

 

1. Are there many differences between what we've done previously and what to expect on the Emerald Princess?

2. What's included in the drinks package? Coffee? Fresh juices? Soda (Pepsi or Coke? Important question!), San Pelegrino or Evian? I understand there's a 15 alcoholic drink limit, but that's not a problem as I don't drink a huge amount and DW doesn't drink alcohol at all, so if I was really in need of a 16th, I could get it on her card, but that's highly unlikely!

3. What are the charges for the specialty restaurants and which are recommended?

4. Any secrets we should know before we go?

 

We have been to Alaska twice, once in May 2009 with NCL and August last year with Celebrity. We love the place and were extremely lucky with the weather both trips. So, we've done the whale watching, White Pass Railway, float plane over the Juneau Ice Fields and even the Aleutian Ballad Crab Fishing experience in Ketchican. We were thinking of the Lumberjack Show there and the Salmon Bake in Juneau, plus maybe some kind of sightseeing tour in Skagway this trip. All of these are considerably cheaper than the last time!

 

Anything to add?

 

TIA

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Hello! Welcome to Princess! I'll try to answer for the most part, but don't claim to know much about drinks, so I'll gladly let others speak on their experience.

 

1. Emerald Princess is generally medium-sized in today's world of cruising (a la Celebrity's Solstice-class [take away a few gross tons] and NCL's Jewel-class). Decor has a lot more emphasis on wood and brass and beige, as opposed to modern and sleek. Staterooms were refreshed in a dry dock last year, though. A key thing important to most Princess cruisers: it has a promenade deck all along the sides, forward, and aft, so it's great for scenic viewing on glacier days, for example. Activity level is considerably more subdued compared to NCL/RCI. but comparable to Celebrity. It largely depends on what type of cruising experience you prefer/actively seek out. Shows are your classic revues (although one of the newest production shows in the fleet, Rock Opera, is now showing on Emerald) and you will not find aqua shows, rock climbing walls, ice-skating, etc, but you'll find a comedian and guest vocalist at night when there's no show. I don't think there's really too much different from Emerald if you've sailed on NCL Jewel for example -- things coming to my mind just now are that there's no Haven (you can reserve seats in the Sanctuary by day or the whole cruise if you want a front-of-ship view with pampering), there's no deck 13,...

 

The Emerald's buffet is called the World Fresh Marketplace and in Princess lingo, that basically means it's very modern and new. In my opinion, I like the WFM buffet, because it's much better configured for seating options, but food quality is highly up to debate (I personally enjoyed it). The theater is often packed, so arrive early if you want a seat. There's no grand atrium, but just a three-deck one which is called the "Piazza" and some events take place there, but it's more of a sitting space to lounge. Lots of live music options -- Crooners Bar, Wheelhouse Bar, Piazza, Adagio, etc.

 

I have no idea what month you are sailing, so I can't let you know if you'll have the Ocean Medallion. The Ocean Medallion will be live on the Emerald on 8/16/2020. This should explain what the Ocean Medallion is, and for the most part, it can be hit or miss, but is intended to make the cruising experience more touchless and more personal. It's worked well for me so I enjoy it and think it should enhance your experience if you'll have it on your cruise.

 

2. The Premier Beverage Package that Princess offers is here: https://www.princess.com/html/global/personalizer/ssv/beverages/disclaimer/ -- this explains a lot more than anyone could ever list. One thing to note: Princess does not/has not (yet) adopted the Carnival Pepsi-only policy, so it will largely depend on if they change that between now and the time you sail.

 

3. Specialty restaurants offered are here: https://www.princess.com/ships-and-experience/food-and-dining/specialty-restaurants/

  • SHARE by Curtis Stone (many courses with more interesting dishes) -- $29/person
  • Crown Grill (steakhouse) -- $29/person
  • Chef's Table (a menu created by the Executive Chef -- special galley session and then a private table) -- $??/person; I forgot how much it costs on Emerald but it's ~$100 something
  • The Salty Dog Gastropub (pub food located in the Wheelhouse Bar) -- a la carte
  • Ultimate Balcony Dining -- just throwing this in there because many people enjoy this experience, but Alaska cruises might make it a little too chilly for it. 

Crown Grill is the classic steakhouse -- steak quality has been of much debate over the years. It depends on how you like your steak. SHARE is a unique Princess offering (only on 3 ships in the fleet) -- I think it's a love-it-or-hate-it type of thing, but if you're a foodie, you might be more inclined for that, and you'll also really love the Chef's Table. 

 

4. Secrets for Emerald, specifically? Adagio Bar on deck 16 is often quiet. Good space for relaxing. Skywalkers Nightclub on deck 18 is also often a nice space during the day. You can also walk to the deck atop the bridge (most people will have no idea shhhh) -- just walk through Lido deck 15 (through the staterooms) and enter a door you'll see at the very front.

 

There's also many things that Princess does Alaska-specific throughout the cruise, so I encourage you to google "Princess Patter" for Alaska. For Emerald's 2018 Alaska season, someone posted these: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipNlSosuREg5VVGfSTX1ciTmOvkZ44M9kO9wWrimhOqXYuoThPFP8uFCgHPwLlElmw?key=aEcxU29MeEZBaXBFcGgwYlpZdFBzdnhKSllQQkFR

 

Hope this helps!

Edited by snoozecrooze

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8 hours ago, Guindalf said:

Hi there. Repetitive, boring post warning!

 

Avid cruisers here, but mostly Celebrity, NCL, RCCL, Oceania and (unfortunately) Carnival. We have 19 cruises under our belts, so we are by no means newbies, but we've never sailed Princess.

 

An opportunity to cruise Alaska in May has arisen at a very good price with some nice perks thrown in ( Drinks, WiFi, Gratuities and Flights), so it's raised a few questions...

 

1. Are there many differences between what we've done previously and what to expect on the Emerald Princess?

2. What's included in the drinks package? Coffee? Fresh juices? Soda (Pepsi or Coke? Important question!), San Pelegrino or Evian? I understand there's a 15 alcoholic drink limit, but that's not a problem as I don't drink a huge amount and DW doesn't drink alcohol at all, so if I was really in need of a 16th, I could get it on her card, but that's highly unlikely!

3. What are the charges for the specialty restaurants and which are recommended?

4. Any secrets we should know before we go?

 

We have been to Alaska twice, once in May 2009 with NCL and August last year with Celebrity. We love the place and were extremely lucky with the weather both trips. So, we've done the whale watching, White Pass Railway, float plane over the Juneau Ice Fields and even the Aleutian Ballad Crab Fishing experience in Ketchican. We were thinking of the Lumberjack Show there and the Salmon Bake in Juneau, plus maybe some kind of sightseeing tour in Skagway this trip. All of these are considerably cheaper than the last time!

 

Anything to add?

 

TIA

 

You'll find the overall experience to be most like Celebrity.

 

There's no sharing of the drinks package though, so you would not be able to get that 16th drink on your wife's package.

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Previous answers on point.

 

Couple of suggestions for your tour excursions.   Lumberjack show is fun.  Easy to walk to the venue from the ship and purchase tickets, or can do so on line.

 

We took this excursion in Skagway, and highly recommend.  http://tntours98.com/index.html

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The Chef's Table mentioned by snooze isn't available to book online. If you're interested, check out some of the reviews/pix that have been posted on CC. IMHO: it's a once in a lifetime (or more) experience for a foodie. If you want to do it, you need to run (not walk) to passenger services (PSD) as soon as you board to sign up (you can also speak to a headwaiter, the Maitre D', or call the dine line). Limit of 12 diners. The cost is around $90 without wine, a little over $100 with wine). Pack close toed shoes, altho' on an Alaska cruise that shouldn't be an issue :classic_biggrin:.

 

Another great activity is the Ultimate Ship's Tour. Also, sign up at PSD. Cost is $50-100 (can't remember exactly). The swag that you receive is about equal to the cost. Closed toe shoes required. Check out the reviews on CC.

 

If anyone in your group is active military, retired or veteran - send the appropriate documentation to Princess and get OBC ($50-250), for Alaska probably $100. It depends on the length of the cruise. Once you've sent the docs in, you don't have to do it for another cruise.

 

If you own Carnival Corp. shares, send in the required paperwork for OBC (same amounts as for veterans).

 

One nice thing about Princess...ALL OBC is stackable (within some limits which most cruisers don't need to worry about). We usually get between $500-1000 OBC, when we sail on Princess.

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Many thanks for the replies so far, especially such a detailed response from Snooze. This is just the information I was looking for. Keep 'em coming!

 

The specialty restaurants seem relatively cheap compared to other lines (Celebrity's Tuscan Grille is $45, Murano, $50 and Le Petit Chef is $55!), although there are offers to be had. Typically on the first night, there's a 30 or 35% discount. We dined at a Chef's Table once (on the world's worst major cruise line!) and it was wonderful. The only bright spot on an otherwise mostly dreadful cruise experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

 

We're looking at the more frugal end of the excursion spectrum after spending a LOT on them back in August (float plane tours ain't cheap!!). The Mt. Roberts cable car is an attractive proposition. I am limited to how far I can walk without a lot of pain thanks to neuropathy in my feet and hands, so easy is the order of the day. I do love to eat, so the salmon bake, which we cancelled last time in favor of the float plane, it top of the list.

 

Oh, and of course I know it's verboten to share the drinks package. The chances of me hitting 15 drinks in a day is highly remote anyway. At home, if I buy a six-pack, the last one is usually out of date before I get to drinking it!

 

Please keep the info coming. It is all much appreciated.

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Since OP is only considering Princess and not yet booked, TA's are permitted to Discount Princess's best rates .

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If you need air fare use ezair which you can use directly with Princess.  Prices are great and if they go down in price you can refare with no penalty.  Can also cancel or make changes up to 45 days prior to cruise.

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Our favorite two activities when we do Alaska has been the s. Bake ( they serve chicken too) and the lumber jack show.

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Don't miss the International Cafe, Celebrity and NCL don't have anything like it. You'll find it on the lower floor of the atrium, and it offers an assortment of "small plates" throughout the day. No charge, with an occasional exception I think. In the morning, you'll find delicious donuts and pastries plus an egg sandwich. The rest of the day, it's small sandwiches and salads and soups plus sweets. The coffee bar is right next to it. We love grabbing a snack and just relaxing at one of the tables, watching all the people go by. 

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Not an excursion, but a "must do" activity for us in Juneau is to get fish tacos at Deckhand Dave's.  Great fish tacos--and, actually, their french fries are also pretty good.  It's a reasonable walk from the docks on the corner of Franklin and Front Streets.  Since it is not right at the docks, there will be as many locals as tourists eating there.

 

In Skagway there are some hiking trails that I like to do.  At $0, it's hard to beat the price.

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Just to add a bit of clarity concerning alcoholic beverages in the package, the limit is 15 per day

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Regarding specialty restaurants: if you like a good steak, the Crown Grill is great IMO.  Their Filet Mignon (or Tenderloin, can’t recall what they call it) has never let me down, I get it Medium Rare.  And they have great starters (Lobster Cake or French Onion Soup amongst others) and some great desserts too.  Also, you can order from the Crown Grill menu in the MDR as well (at least you could last summer on the Emerald!) for $19 per person and they’ll bring you the steak and the sides (garlic fries, green beans, spinach, a bunch of stuff) but not any starters or dessert (you can order MDR items/dessert to complement the steak).

 

Enjoy!  I love Alaska too, so beautiful!

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In Juneau, you can wait until you're there before deciding about the Mt. Roberts tramway. If you can't see the top of the mountain from the base, there's no need to go up. 

 

Skagway has some interesting tours given for free by the National Park Service. It's easy to catch the public bus to Totem Bight State Park in Ketchikan to see the totem poles there. 

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, Guindalf said:

Many thanks for the replies so far, especially such a detailed response from Snooze. This is just the information I was looking for. Keep 'em coming!

 

The specialty restaurants seem relatively cheap compared to other lines (Celebrity's Tuscan Grille is $45, Murano, $50 and Le Petit Chef is $55!), although there are offers to be had. Typically on the first night, there's a 30 or 35% discount. We dined at a Chef's Table once (on the world's worst major cruise line!) and it was wonderful. The only bright spot on an otherwise mostly dreadful cruise experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

 

We're looking at the more frugal end of the excursion spectrum after spending a LOT on them back in August (float plane tours ain't cheap!!). The Mt. Roberts cable car is an attractive proposition. I am limited to how far I can walk without a lot of pain thanks to neuropathy in my feet and hands, so easy is the order of the day. I do love to eat, so the salmon bake, which we cancelled last time in favor of the float plane, it top of the list.

 

Oh, and of course I know it's verboten to share the drinks package. The chances of me hitting 15 drinks in a day is highly remote anyway. At home, if I buy a six-pack, the last one is usually out of date before I get to drinking it!

 

Please keep the info coming. It is all much appreciated.

If you want to indulge in the freshest dungeness crab, look for the shore excursion in Ketchikan . Or Google Georges Inlet lodge. Contact them directly to book a feast of all you can eat dungeness crab. Salad and dessert included.

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On 2/15/2020 at 11:27 PM, Guindalf said:

2. What's included in the drinks package? Coffee? Fresh juices? Soda (Pepsi or Coke? Important question!), San Pelegrino or Evian? I understand there's a 15 alcoholic drink limit, but that's not a problem as I don't drink a huge amount and DW doesn't drink alcohol at all, so if I was really in need of a 16th, I could get it on her card, but that's highly unlikely!

 

 

17 hours ago, blloydtbird said:

Just to add a bit of clarity concerning alcoholic beverages in the package, the limit is 15 per day

 

Great point blloydtbird.  I'm not sure the OP was aware of that.

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Ask someone you know who has sailed with Princess before to register you, before you book, under the Captain's Circle Refer-a-Friend program. Easy to do on the Princess website. They just need your (exact) full name and email address. Then, "You both get a $25 reward for each successful referral." as onboard credit.

 

Conditions apply:

https://book.princess.com/captaincircle/referralRewards.page

 

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On 2/15/2020 at 11:27 PM, Guindalf said:

I understand there's a 15 alcoholic drink limit, but that's not a problem as I don't drink a huge amount and DW doesn't drink alcohol at all, so if I was really in need of a 16th, I could get it on her card, but that's highly unlikely!

True but she could always order a drink & who know what she decides to do with it. 

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Compare the basic price for the same cruise, with the price for the Best Sale Ever (which includes beverage package, gratuities and WiFi).   We never buy WiFi onboard although it's included now that we are Platinum.   In your case, if you can do without onboard WiFi (get it free in coffee shops in port) and your wife does not drink at all you might come out ahead by booking the basic fare and paying separately for coffee, tips and a few drinks. 

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Hope you booked at least a Premium Balcony cabin as any of their regular balcony cabins and below have only one desk chair to sit on.

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