Welcome to part 2 of our Disney-loving family’s adventures aboard the Emerald Princess. In part 1, I offered comparisons between the Disney Fantasy and the Emerald Princess in terms of the ships themselves, their amenities, and crew. Part 2 includes comparisons of the suites, suite perks, some the obstacles we had to overcome and finally a price comparison between Disney and Princess.
I’m very fortunate to have traveled both of our Disney Cruises in a Concierge Suite. My father vacations with us, and we’ve learned that (if you book early enough) a one-bedroom concierge suite is only a little more expensive than two balcony staterooms (for which my dad would have to pay double occupancy.) On the Disney Fantasy, one-bedroom suites are spacious at 622 sq. ft. (including balcony), and thoughtfully designed, with 2 full bathrooms, a queen bed, double sleeper sofa, twin murphy bed and dining area.
At the time we booked the Princess Cruise, they were offering a “buy one, get one half off the 2nd passenger” rate and a discounted rate for children. Because of this, my dad, my son, and I were able to travel in the Owner’s Suite (the largest stateroom on board). At over 680 sq. ft. it was a little larger than the Disney one-bedroom suite.
It was very spacious, but I felt they aren’t efficiently, or creatively using all that the space. The dining area is enormous, as is the empty space between the bedroom and living room.
There was only one bathroom, but there is a door between the bathing/shower and sink/toilet areas.
The wet bar in the main living area is a very appreciated convenience not found in the one-bedroom suites on the Disney Fantasy.
The balcony of our aft suite was considerably larger and included loungers and a dining set.
I loved the placement of the bed in relation to the balcony. It was a real treat to wake in the morning, roll over, and look out at the ocean.
On the Fantasy, all the concierge suites are situated forward on decks 11 and 12 with easy access to the Concierge Lounge on Deck 12. We love the lounge – not just because of the free happy hours every evening or the heavenly espresso machine – it’s our favorite Disney Concierge perk because of the Concierge Team. The Concierge Team is the best of the best of Disney Guest Services.
They arrange reservations, book shore excursions, deal with stateroom account concerns, and even get damaged luggage repaired. (Who knew there was an upholsterer on board?) And Guests never have to stand in the Guest Relations line!
I was concerned because no such lounge or team existed for suite guests aboard the Emerald Princess. All I could learn in advance was “suite and elite guests would get priority access” at the Guest Services desk. I’ve seen similar offerings before in other hotels and resorts and sometimes those lines can be quite lengthy. Fortunately, this was not the case on the Emerald Princess. I never saw more than 2 people in the suite/elite line and they were always called before others standing in the regular line.
This was the last evening, when everyone was trying to reconcile/settle their stateroom accounts. The suite/elite queue is the one person in the scooter on the left.
Suite guests also enjoy priority reservations at the “anytime” dining locations as well as at the Crown Grill and SHARE, the two select dining venues with cover charges. Calling for a reservation at SHARE, I was told there was no availability. I advised I was in a suite and gave our stateroom number & miraculously there was a table for us. Priority tendering and embarkation are other perks, and there is a special lounge for suite guests on debarkation day.
We were able to order room service from the main dining rooms as well as traditional afternoon tea. A complimentary bottle of champagne, mini-bar set-up, a special pillow menu & free access to use the Thermal Spa (very similar to the Rainforest room on the Disney Fantasy) were just a few of the added perks of being a suite guest on the Emerald Princess.
But by far, my two favorite suite perks were free laundry service (so much less to wash when we got home!) and the Exclusive Suite Breakfast served in the Crown Grill (moved from Sabatini’s due to the opening of SHARE) which included a complimentary “Good Morning Mimosa.” The service and the food at this breakfast was excellent and the perfect way to start the day!
This mostly-rosy review is not to say we didn’t have a few bumps along the way. On all the cruises I’ve taken, I’ve been blessed to never need to visit the Medical Center. However, on this short trip I got to know the center and its staff very well. The first night, Andrew threw up at the kids’ club because he was “laughing too hard.” The next morning, via phone call, I was asked to not bring Andrew back to the kids club for 48 hours. I reminded them it was only a four-day cruise (one day down) and that wasn’t going to happen. I told them I would bring him to the medical center for inspection. The staff at the center was great, checking him out and declaring him fit to return to the club.
Just as I dropped Andrew off, I got a message from my dad. Now, he was at the medical center. I went back down to join him, where he was getting x-rays of his leg, which we learned was fractured from a bad fall he’d had the day before. An air-cast and cane later and we were back in business. Although we had to cancel our shore excursion because of the injury and the last day at sea was too choppy for my dad to get around much.
That evening, after Andrew was asleep and my dad was out, I was sitting on the balcony with a cup of hot chamomile tea reflecting on the day when the ship’s alarms went off. Over the intercom someone in the background was yelling, “Don’t open the fire doors! Don’t open the fire doors!” Then an officer started speaking, “there’s a fire on the lower decks. We believe we have it under control, but I am calling all crew to their muster stations as a precaution. No passenger action is required at this time.” Several announcements later, and after I’d put on my yoga pants and packed an emergency bag, the situation was over and crew was able to return to their duties. I had a big glass of champagne and went to bed.
Despite all of this, the three of us had such a good time that my dad has already booked another Princess Cruise for us next year and Andrew proudly shares that now he likes Princess BETTER than Disney Cruises. I was floored!
The kids’ club may have made quite an impression on him, but the cost difference is what has me looking at Princess again. This past October, we spent $2,843 per person for 4 of us to stay in a one-bedroom concierge suite on a 7-night eastern Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy.
The Princess cruise just booked for next year is an 8-night eastern Caribbean, again, traveling in the owner’s suite. For the 4 of us (my dad, me, my husband, and son) it will be $2,182 per person.
Was the Disney Fantasy a better ship, with better amenities, and incredible service? Yes. Was it $2,644 (and one fewer night) more impressive than our experience aboard the Emerald Princess? Not for our family. Will we take another Disney Cruise? Of course! But, I bet we get in a couple Princess Cruises before then.
The list of suite perks, as published by Princess Cruises is below. If you have any other questions about our experiences on either ship, please leave me a note in the comments below. I hope to see you on the high seas, but until then, happy sailing!
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