I’m just back from a very enjoyable week on the 2007 built Emerald Princess. It took us from Southampton on a round trip to Vigo, Lisbon, La Rochelle and Guernsey.
Each of these ports is worthy of a separate blog in itself and, over the next week, each will have one. But, for now, I’d like to start by giving you some kind of overview of the ship herself.
Emerald Princess comes in at around 114,000 tons, and has a passenger capacity of roughly 3,100, tended by a crew of 1,200. She’s a bubbly, busy ship, suffused with a good slice of Italian styling and ambiance that underpins the whole dolce vita lifestyle that Princess continues to promote.
It is instantly most evident in the central, four story atrium lobby, styled as the Piazza. Here, a soaring upward sweep of brass, marble and shimmering glass creates a central crossroads for the ship that buzzes and hums with life at all hours of the day, and well into the small hours.
It features two distinct, yet complementary venues at the lower level. Vines is a dedicated wine bar that also offers a wide range of complimentary tapas through the day and evening, while the adjacent International Cafe serves up a range of rich, exotic coffees, teas and lattes, together with free pastries, cakes and sandwiches, almost around the clock.
A ‘coffee card’ costs $31, and allows you some fifteen drinks in all. For a week long cruise this is wonderful value; lingering over a coffee in the always busy lobby allows for some platinum chip people watching of the finest kind; the downside is that the entire area is so popular that even getting a seat can be problematical at peak times.
Most of the public rooms, however, run from fore to aft on seven deck, some two levels above. From the forward facing, five level Princess Theatre to the Club Fusion right aft, you stroll past a string of venues offering every different kind of music and entertainment imaginable.
Crooners is the dedicated piano bar on this deck. It overlooks the Piazza on one level, and has a row of floor to ceiling windows overlooking the outside promenade deck on the port side. Suffused with everything from show tunes to modern classics, it’s a plush, popular venue, where the bar staff actually shake and pour your selected martinis at table side. That’s a truly classy, retro touch in and of itself.
On the opposite side further aft, the capacious Explorer’s Lounge is an inward facing, semi circular venue that is used for quizzes, competitions, and sometimes live shows as well. Forward of the Piazza, the same deck has the nautically themed Wheelhouse Bar, with its complementary, in house Salty Dog eating house. The food venues as a whole will be covered in another blog on this ship.
The passenger flow as a whole through this central main deck is good. The shops are arranged around the starboard side of the Piazza, and thus form a central break point between the theatre and the other entertainment venues. The one aberration in this otherwise flawless, beautifully furnished run of rooms is the photo gallery.
This is simply too big and open on a ship where genuine lounge seating is at a premium. In this digital age, it could surely be halved in size, with the surplus converted into a lounge overflow area. One thing that this otherwise well thought out ship definitely needs is more seating; partly because so many passengers simply ‘hog’ seats for hours on end, and partly because occasionally bad weather drives most people inside from the open decks.
For my money, the most beautiful public room is situated right aft on deck sixteen. Adagio is a lush expanse full of comfortable sofas and chairs. Swathed in rich, deep wood panelling, it oozes style and expansive largesse at every turn. Large windows on three sides admit a welcome wash of sunlight during the day, and the rich, deep piled carpet underfoot lends this upper deck venue a truly raffish, elegant vibe. The outdoor terrazza has artificial grass underfoot, sprinkled with tables and wrought iron framed chairs, set against a backdrop of a bubbling fountain and gorgeous, arched window frames. The location gives it a natural shade from the breeze, and it soon became my favourite spot on board. I should imagine it would be wildly popular on some balmy, star filled Caribbean nights.
I’ll be back shortly with another blog on the outdoor areas on board this quite extraordinary ship. As ever, stay tuned.