You can read the detailed story and see the amazing pics from our trip here. Emerald Princess Cruise.

I have to admit I was a little nervous about this one. We’ve never cruised on one of the really big ships, so I had loads of questions before we travelled:

  • Would getting on and off be a nightmare of queueing?
  • Would I hate our inside cabin?
  • Would we be thrust onto tables with loads of people with whom we had nothing in common?
  • Would the public areas be super crowded?

The quick answer to all of those questions is no, no, no and no!

I actually loved every minute of this trip, and the first thing I did when I got home was to look at options for next year with Princess.

The team at Princess have really cracked their market niche – I’d describe it as 4 star cruising – in hotel terms, think Barcelo or Hilton. The food is genuinely excellent, and the service is superb. The staff are obviously happy in their work, and enjoy engaging with the passengers and sharing a laugh and some excellent banter. Our stateroom steward Marilyn was just amazing – I witnessed her greeting a dozen passengers, including us, by name from day two onwards.

The Emerald team also have boarding and disembarking down to a fine art – whether it was on arrival, into ports on shuttles, or departure, I didn’t seem to spend a single moment waiting around.

I wouldn’t choose an inside stateroom again, though. Not because it felt claustrophobic, but because I missed seeing the world go by, especially navigating the fjord at Kotor. In the event, the inside staterooms are as spacious as any, have a good sized bathroom and the best bed I’ve ever slept in.

Which leaves us with the guests. They were an excellent bunch – mainly American and Australian, with a sizeable group of Asians and New Zealanders thrown in for good measure. We didn’t run into any of those “cruise bores” who want to tell you how many trips they’ve taken over the last ten years.

Princess’ “Any time dining” is a top idea. Instead of being allocated a table with the same people each night, you rock up at one of the restaurants when you’re ready. You can choose to take a table for two, or let them know you’re happy to share with others. We chose the latter for all our meals – you end up meeting different people each time and have some fascinating conversations. And if you hit it off with others, you can make a date to meet the following night at the same time and take a table with them.

One thing we elected to do was buy the All inclusive drinks package. I think it’s expensive, and I know we didn’t “spend” anything like the price we paid when you worked out the drinks we actually had. Nevertheless, it takes away the stress of working out how much you’ve spent each day, or wondering if you really should have another Pouilly Fumé with your meal, or a Cognac with your coffee, so I would do it again. I just wish it was a little cheaper!

But overall, it was a fabulous experience. You really can’t beat waking up in a new port every day, not having to pack and unpack and coming “home” after a day exploring a new place, where the staff all know you, you know you’re going to enjoy some excellent food and drink, and be entertained royally.

If you’re on the fence about cruising, I’d highly recommend it with Princess.