As part of Princess Cruises’ largest ever fleet deployment to Australia this wave season, its biggest vessel makes her maiden arrival into Australian ports this November. We tell you how to eat, stay and play on the Emerald Princess in this three-part series; in this final part, let’s play!
The grand – and Grand-class – Emerald Princess burst from the gates in 2007 as a giant, filled with the latest of everything the Princess line had to offer in terms of at-sea diversions and fun in the sun. Since then, the ‘new’ megaships have set a fresh standard of activity and glitz that Emerald doesn’t attempt to emulate – nor does she really need to.
While you won’t find bumper cars or circus school, you certainly won’t be twiddling your thumbs when presented with Emerald’s endless amusements.
Start at the open Piazza at the foot of the majestic three-storey atrium, filled with twinkling lights and sweeping staircases, where many passengers choose to simply lounge and enjoy dancers, mimes, acrobats and musicians. The art gallery, cafes, shops and bars also radiate from here, so it makes a perfect pre-dinner hangout.
The four swimming pools and two hot tubs are a natural draw – and both by day and as evening falls, Princess’s signature Movies Under the Stars screen lights up the Calypso pool on the Lido deck. Find a more tranquil ambience up on Deck 14 at the Terrace pool, or find adults-only peace in the pool within the Lotus Spa area.
If you’re feeling sporty, the nine-hole mini-golf course or lawn bowls area will keep you moving, as well as a jogging track, ping pong area, grassy croquet court and general sports court too.
To exercise your mind as well as your body, the Emerald runs Princess’s ScholarShip@Sea edutainment program featuring guest lecturers on a variety of topics with at least six courses to choose from per sea day. The fleetwide Discovery at Sea program brings everything from astrophysics to shark ecology experiences to both onboard and on-shore activities.
Your wallet can get a workout in the duty-free boutiques – big names such as Calvin Klein, Swarovski and several cosmetic brands offer up to 30 per cent off. The art gallery also runs popular Champagne auctions, and of course there is Escapes, where you can buy your next cruise while you’re still carried away with cruise fever.
Get carried away even further in Princess’s fabulous singing competition ‘Voice of the Ocean’ – move your way through try-outs to sing with a live band and make your way to the finals, if you’re good. If you’re not, do remember that you can’t escape your audience – you need to hold your head high poolside later. Of course, if you make as many friends as you can at the buffet, it can really pay off, since passengers have the final vote on the winner.
If you’re looking for a pleasant hideaway (whether or not it’s due to a woeful singing performance), the Asian-inspired Lotus Spa has a very up-to-date menu of treatments that begs more than a single visit. More utilitarian services such as teeth-whitening or cellulite reduction are on offer, alongside acupuncture, hair treatments and men’s grooming services, but the “couples’ rituals” in the Spa are particularly lovely, including the ‘rasul’ mud room where guests are invited to treat each other with body scrubs, exotic oils and, of course, that nutritious mud.
The gym has been completely updated, with super-techie cardio machines ready for TV or USB, and there are both complimentary and for-fee fitness classes depending on how seriously you’d like to train – boot camp and TRX suspension training are even available.
The kids are also well taken care of, with three kids’ clubs separated by age group and their own ‘Chill Out’ splash pool on the same deck (toilet-trained kids only). The youngest group (3 to 7) has themed parties and arts and crafts, the 8 to 12s enjoy cooking classes and karaoke, and teenagers can hang out together at Remix, with ping pong, cool dance lessons, video games and a separate sunbathing area.
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.