September 20, 2011
AT SEA on the Emerald Princess –We are just over halfway through this 18-day Northern Atlantic repositioning cruise on the Emerald Princess cruise ship and this would be a good time to make some observations on the cruise itself:
The passengers: Most passengers on this cruise are experienced cruisers, with platinum or elite status with Princess. Many are holdovers from the previous Baltic Cruise. They are also very thrifty. Therefore, they know they have 18 days aboard and they are spreading out their expenditures…not spending as much on spa, bingo, photos, casino, specialty restaurants, etc. Most bought soft drink packages and/or coffee packages. They flock to 2-for-$10 T-shirt sales. Fewer are buying ship shore excursions; more seem to be striking off on their own.
Anytime Dining: Traditional dining with set table partners is offered at 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Because we like to dine around 7 p.m., we opted for Anytime Dining and that is working out fine with us. We can eat when we want and we can dine as a twosome or join a larger table. We have done both and enjoyed it. Our service has been excellent. Kudos to the main dinner waiter, Francesco.
Formal nights: Aren’t formal anymore. Not only do very few men bring tuxedos, but many don’t even wear ties. Most do wear suits or sport coats in the dining rooms and those that don’t want to bother eat up in the Caribe Grill. Women tend to dress up a bit more but many wear shoes/sandals on formal night that are downright awful.
Lotus Spa: I get the feeling that the spa is not doing particularly well on this cruise as there are spa staff members sprinkled around the ship promoting treatments. Also, spa specials are being offered which is not always the case. The fact is that the passengers on this cruise just do not seem like spa folks. We have many days at sea, so you would think the spa would be buzzing, but its prices are extremely high and I believe that discourages customers. I would love to do more at the spa, but don’t want to pay $169 for a massage! They finally ran a special on facials so I booked one for tomorrow.
Internet service: In a word: Terrible. The worst I have ever experienced on any ship, anywhere. People are lined up daily complaining about it. The staff member in charge is constantly have to credit minutes back to people. Just to check email usually takes me at least a half hour! And to post a blog, a task which usually takes 10 minutes, took me 44 minutes today! It open a web page usually takes at least five minutes. Abysmal. For this reason, I have not posted hardly any photos in my blog…so come back later to see all of these postings with photos added!
Food: The food has been extremely good, particularly at dinner. Lunches are so-so. Breakfast is fine. I don’t care for arrangement of the Lido buffet. I like ships which offer serving stations for different cuisines. Everybody runs into each other in this buffet. It can also be very difficult to find seating.
Entertainment: Shows in the Princess Lounge and the Explorers Lounge are scheduled at 8:15 and 10:15, making it impossible for most Anytime Diners to make the first show and 10:15 is too late for us. The majority of people on this cruise are between ages 50-80 and they don’t stay up late so the early shows are packed…I mean packed. People come about 40 minutes early to get seats. As a result, we have seen very few shows. The one show that works out for us is Tom Franek, the pianist in Crooners Lounge who comes on at 9:15 p.m. (I interviewed him today and you will read more about him in a future blog.)
As we have so many days at sea, it would be nice to see a few more shows scheduled during the day. The afternoon movie in the Princess Theater is popular when good movies are shown. Why in the world did they put Casablanca on the outside screen?? The weather outside is not conducive to watching the huge outdoor screen which shows movies three times a day.