My husband and I are experienced cruisers. We have cruised mostly in the eastern,western and southern caribbean and once to Hawaii. We usually cruise with a group of 6-12 adults, ranging in age from 55-75. We believe that the ship is the destination, and the ports are just a bonus, so keep that in mind as you read the review.
Travel to Port Everglades:
We usually travel to the embarkation port a day ahead, and this time we made arrangements to stay at the Embassy Suites at the port. Very nice hotel,tropical in decor with a beautiful atrium where breakfast is served in the AM. Bring your bathing suit because the outdoor pool area is very pretty. Nice gift shop and there is a shopping/restaurant area within easy walking distance. There also is a grocery store adjacent to the shopping area, so my husband and I bought the toiletries there to save room in our luggage due to flight restrictions. We had a one-bedroom with living area and microwave/refrigerator/table space. Very nice because we were staying with our friends for the one night prior to boarding the ship. There is also an on-site restaurant and bar too. They also have a shuttle that you can arrange transportation to the port right at the hotel. Very convenient-cost about 15.00 for two people.
We never let the cruise line dictate when we arrive at the port, so therefore, we don't take any transfers by the cruise line. We arrived at 11:45 and were in line filling out the health screening cards within 5 minutes. The line moved slowly at first, but we were on the ship within 20-25 minutes. Our room was ready and we were able to relax immediately!!
We had a balcony room on Caribe deck. I highly recommend this deck!! the balcony was 9x9 with the first 5 feet covered, and the last 4 feet exposed to the sun and other decks above. This did not bother us, as we could be in the shade or the sun whenever we wanted. Our friends were right beside us, so our room steward opened the divider between our balconies for easy access. It was perfect!!! The bed was comfortable and had a million pillows to rest our weary heads after a day filled with rest and relaxation! The closet was just like a walk-in the way it was arranged in the room and did not have a door, so it was a lot better as far as space goes. Also attached was a safe and another stacked storage space with a door. Now for the bathroom. I'm not sure how most people can fit into the tiny shower that had a fabric shower curtain that allowed water to splash out onto the bathroom floor. It is the smallest shower we've had on any of our cruises. I didn't mind it, but I couldn't help but wonder about other people!!! We had a mailbox outside our door that was great!!
Upon arrival, we had arranged for chocolate dipped strawberries, cheese and crackers, shrimp and wine to be delivered to our room. No problems with room service. Our room steward was very attentive, but not intrusive.Sigfried was nice
Princess does A lot of things well. The decor was stunning and the Piazza was a great place to listen to many different musical/variety acts. Get there early to grab one of the seats available nearby, or at the International Cafe where you can have a cup of coffee with a freshly made pastry or cookie. On a personal note, one of our friends has ancestors that are from Hungary, and the young lady that waited on us at the coffee/wine bar just happened to be from Hungary!! It was interesting that they also shared the same Hungarian last name!! Needless to say, we always liked to stop by and say "hello" during our time on Emerald. The outdoor areas were also wonderful and MUTS was a first for us! The wool blanket, milk and warm homemade cookies hit the spot!! The pools were very clean and we never had a problem getting a chair. The aft pool was unusual, not a lot of chairs available. There was this huge wooden stadium styled seating that was very hot and extremely slippery. A man actually slipped and feel down several of the levels and hurt his back. The ship's medical staff quickly responded after they were alerted. The theatre is lovely, but seems smaller compared to Royal Caribbean's theatre. Elevators were plentiful, but often packed at the peak times due to the older population aboard, as steps were not an option.Confusing layout, but folding map helped.
My husband and I had a couples massage and it was WONDERFUL!! Be aware that it is expensive and they will want you to buy the products used, but hey, if you can do it I suggest you try it. Ask for Elizabeth and Anne. They were great!!
The dining rooms are very different. They were individually placed throughout
the ship instead of one three-tiered dining room with an expansive staircase. The arrangement was not as spectacular, and the servers were very business-like, with not much time to really give that wow service we've become accustomed to. On several occasions, two of the four of us went through an entire meal, up to desert without a drink, even after we had requested it. They seemed overwhelmed by the design of the serving area and were not very attentive. One day, we ran into one of our waiters as we came back on the ship and told him that we were having dinner on our balcony, so don't wonder where we were at dinner, and he replied "don't worry, tip is the same". He was right, this was the first time we did not give extra tip over the allotted.
The food at the pool area was good and in the Horizon/Cafe Caribe was mostly good, enough food to find something to eat.The desserts were the best we've ever had, even the sugar-free was good!
The Ultimate Balcony Dinner is well worth the 100.00/couple. Fresh flowers, picture and five-course meal served by our own personal butler, including wine and cocktails. Well worth the money.
We really loved the Beatle Maniacs and the comedians. The musical acts left us unmoved, so we did not attend most of the theatre acts. The cruise director was lame, but there was a much younger man that was a lot more visible. He was good. Enjoyed the groups Evolution, and Xtasea and Barty Brown had a great sailaway evening of St.Patrick's Day music!! Games galore and DJ dynasty was fun and very accommodating.