If you have read any of my blog posts, you already know that I am a dedicated Princess Cruise Lines fan. My most recent cruise took my friend Jo and I aboard the Emerald Princess, for my second time, on a week long trip up and down the Black Sea Cruise. I was most anxious for traveling with Princess this year because it was their 50th anniversary. Their cleverly thought out 50th logo was everywhere, and it really looked good; however, I am not fond of their new tagline, “Travel the World, Come Back New”. I think their old tagline, “Escape Completely“, is a much more accurate description of cruising with Princess.
Cruise Itinerary and Ports of Call
Embark Athens, Greece
Istanbul, Turkey (2 days with an overnight)
My Favorite Thing at Each Port of Call:
Athens, Greece– Participating in a 3 hour Walking Food tour with Viator, tasting the things Greece is famous for as we explore the city on foot with a guide.
Volos, Greece– Taking a side trip to the amazing Matrinitsa village, complete with pedestrian cobblestone paths and a mystical old-world charm feel.
Khios, Greece– Traveling through the gorgeous countryside, snaking our way up steep mountains, to visit Nea Moni Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Constanta, Romania– A small group tour featuring a sampling of 5 Romanian wines along with local foods with our guide from the Murfatlar Winery.
Burgas, Bulgaria– The day trip to Nessebar, a fantastic medieval village full of churches, shops, cafes, and the most amazing views! This was our favorite port of the entire trip.
Istanbul, Turkey– Seeing the enormous Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque were bucket list destinations, plus shopping at the Grand Bazaar is definitely something everyone should experience in their lifetime.
Why I Chose This Cruise: I love to shop around for cruise deals and when I stumbled upon this discounted cruise, $699 for an inside room, I jumped at the opportunity. This was actually a three week cruise for many of our fellow passengers.
Cruise Ship and Line: Emerald Princess
Favorite Activities: Trivia, Disco show by the Princess Dancers, Afternoon Tea, Movies Under the Stars, and 24-hour Love Boat reruns shown on our stateroomTV’s.
Food Worth Mentioning: Risotto cakes on the appetizer menu were yummy. The buffet themed German night was my favorite dinner of all; tasty sausages, sauerkraut, sweet red cabbage, pretzel rolls, German potato salad, and apple strudel were some of the choices available.
Special Offerings by Princess: The British Pub lunch, held in the Wheelhouse Bar, is one of my favorite Princess offerings. On that day, you may choose between Bangers & Mash, Fish & Chips, and Shepherd’s Pie. They are all three delicious and a real treat.
Best Part of the Cruise: Winning trivia six times, but who is counting?
Worst Part of the Cruise: Our room steward on the Emerald Princess was a dud. This was the first time for both Jo and I, who are very seasoned cruisers. He was not one bit friendly, very demanding of us, actually yelled at us, and was a horrid pest the entire cruise. We ended up not having service many times so we did not have to cross paths with him.
My Thoughts: This Black Sea cruise had a fantastic itinerary, one that is uncommon with smaller ports. After we toured Bulgaria, we learned that last year the country had 90 cruise ships visit and this year, our ship made was only the 16th. They have a slim 6 slated thus far for next year. Bulgaria is a very poor country, with extreme beauty and made for our best day of this trip, so I hope the cruise lines reconsider their itineraries and include this one more often. I would definitely go back.
Suggestion: I think Princess Cruise Lines needs to consider doing passenger pictures the way Disney does them; where a card is given to the photographer and you can look through your pictures at a kiosk at any given time. This would save all that printing expense of photos that just get trashed, as well as save people the trouble of having to sort through thousands to find their own pictures.
FYI: At embarkation, our passports were collected at check-in and we were given a receipt in order to claim them before we sailed to Romania. I have never been asked to surrender my passport, nor ever read about this on any website or post, so we Americans were alarmed by this procedure. I would love to know the reason behind it and why we were not informed prior to the cruise. We retrieved the passports from our room steward, which seems like a huge liability for the cruise line to be taking.
TIP: Hold on tight for your tender into Khios, as the waves are incredibly rough and many people got sick.
Bonus: The embarkation lines for boarding the Emerald Princess were basically non-existent and we were on the ship within 5-10 minutes. We arrived at our cabin to find our luggage already standing in the doorway. Impressive, Princess! What a way to start our Black Sea cruise!
(cruise ship photos)
(excursion/port of call photos)
For posts about my ports of call, click here: