This is Ralph Grizzle, editor of The Avid Cruiser magazine. Today, Thursday June 14, is a significant day in the history of cruising. For the first time ever, Princess Cruises will christen a vessel in Portofino, Italy.
Lorraine Artz, Princess Cruises’ most-traveled passenger, will name the 710-passenger Royal Princess in the picturesque Italian Riviera port. Lorraine also becomes godmother of the ship.
I mentioned Lorraine in yesterday’s podcast. She’s cruised more than 10 years, cumulatively, on Princess ships. I met this remarkable woman during one of the four cruises I was on last month. That cruise was on Emerald Princess.
Carrying 3,070 passengers, Emerald Princess is a large ship with lots of facilities and lots going on. The ship’s piazza (in the atrium area) is the heart of the ship. At intervals during the day, there is entertainment in the piazza – from acrobats to jugglers, from comedians to concerts. Like its Italian counterpart, the piazza is a great place to sit and watch life pass.
Food and service on Emerald Princess was superb, and I particularly enjoyed the reservations-only restaurants, Sabatini’s (modeled on an Italian trattoria) and the Crown Grill.
I stayed in a mini-suite, and these are an excellent value. They measure about 323 square feet including the balcony. The brochure rates for the mini-suite on my 12-day cruise between Rome and Venice worked out to be about $375 per day per person. Of course, you should check with your cruise seller for special savings. Gratuities and alcohol are not included.
Weak points: Hard to think of any. Well, here’s one: Getting from one end of the ship to the other took time. But even though the ship was large, it never felt crowded. Don’t take my word for it, though.
Remember Marion Ross, who played Mrs. Cunningham in “Happy Days?” She was one of the godmothers on Emerald Princess, and she is accustomed to cruising on ships one-third the size. How different was cruising on a 3,070-passenger ship for Marion? She says, “You don’t feel the difference at all . . . and it’s never crowded.”
Now the smaller ship that Marion has cruised on is the Crystal Symphony. It was also one of the four ships I sailed on last month. I’ll be talking more about that ship in a future podcast, but I’ve posted an additional interview right away. It’s an interview with Bill Smith, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Crystal Cruises. Bill says that there are still some really good values for cruising Crystal in 2007. He explains why in the separate video.
As for Emerald Princess, the ship is a wonderful addition to Princess Cruises’ ever-expanding fleet. I’ll be talking more about that ship on this web site, so be sure to return often. This is Ralph Grizzle. Thanks for tuning in.