This was our 22nd cruise, 10th with Princess, and the 4th time on the Emerald. We cruised this ship last April, over Easter with several of the same couples we cruised with last year.
Embarkation..even though the port was under construction and the normal pier for this ship was closed.. the process was smooth and easy...on the ship in no time...Cabin was ready when we got on board..dropped off our carry on's and off to eat and to the pool.
Cabin Balcony on Caribe deck, mid ship... No issues other than the same one everyone has been complaining about for years...PRINCESS...ITS TIME TO CHANGE THE MATTRESS'!!! THEY ARE WORN OUT!!!
Having sailed on this ship 3 times previously, I simply want to know, What Happened to My Emerald? Was A little disappointed by some of the changes Princess made to this wonderful ship...and for years telling everyone how much we loved everything about this ship, was saddened to see how far and fast it went down hill.
First, The entertainment..they had the same 2 comics, and same hypnotist as last year with the same material. Time for some new comics....Beatlemaniacs was a good show...Seems like the cruise staff disappeared on this ship, with the exception of Oksana for the pool chipping contests and during the fiesta pool deck party, never saw them!! No more horse races, pool games, conga lines...What happened? The pool band played the same songs almost every set...and what happened to having music at the pool when the band wasn't playing? Muts was good with a large selection of different movies...Just recall last year that there was always something playing on the big screen during the day..whether it was sports , concerts, documentaries, movies...And when there was a sports playoff whatever it was,it played on the big screen! Too many long breaks with a still picture on the screen. Also the schedule for the big screen was not very well published...
Second...The food... As always I thought the food is very good whether we ate in the crown grill, the buffet, anytime dining, or the international cafe, and even had a few bites of sushi. What Changed in my opinion for the worst, was service and options. The buffet last year on this ship was opened late night til 4 30 am..in the rear of the ship. This allowed late night people to grab a bite after dancing or the show, but now they all close at midnight. The outrigger Bar at the rear of the ship also closed very early, whereas last year it was opened til 4 am..again for late night get togethers. We spent many evenings sitting and chatting with the bartenders and friends there( its the cover picture on my phone).After Skywalkers closes usually around 2 30 am the only place open is the international cafe on deck 5. Not the best place for late night partiers to go hang out after dancing, But the only place left for them to go.These features were some of the perks that we loved about the Emerald, eating a late dinner then enjoying a show and some dancing, knowing that later if you wanted to grab a bite that there was still options opened to you.The service in the dining rooms felt harried and at best you could tell the waiters were understaffed. Long waits between courses. Food was still good , just took forever.
Also drink prices are over the top and just keep getting worse. 26.00$ for 5 Bud lights is crazy. I realize that this is equivalent to a resort and understand resort pricing... but the line would make more through sheer volume than overcharging and losing sales. Cocktail prices were on the rise also. 8.99 for a Mai Tai. If the cruise lines want to know why more people are sneaking booze aboard , just look at your prices.. One good note..I did notice that the prices of wine at dinner were lower than last year, not a reduction in choice or name vintners , just a lower bottle price. They still over charge by the glass, but the bottle price was MUCH better.
Okay( and I am willing to Take all the negative comments on this one, but please hear me out first)
Princess smoking policy..And yes I am a smoker.I knew at the beginning of the year that Princess changed its smoking policy and you could no longer smoke in your rooms and on your balcony. We always get a balcony, and that is where i would smoke so I did not smoke in the room. While it was a bit of a pain for me, I did not have a problem throwing on my shorts and going to the designated smoking areas to have my smoke. Princess made deck 16 the smoking area, on the port side of the ship, at the pool deck and also right outside of their speciality restaurant Sabatini's( this made no sense to me , if I was spending extra on a speciality dinner with my wife, I would not enjoy my view out the window to be the smoking lounge and not the beautiful view off the aft of the ship. Also this is right above where they decided to put tables for people to eat food. Love having my breakfast and someones ashes blowing over the rail and landing in my food.) My complaint is that while using the designated areas I do not need or want the smoking police giving everyone who smoked a hard time.Asking for a Ashtray was similar to robbing a bank. I even heard one bartender threaten to call security on a elderly female who was smoking to close to the bar stool.
Snookers Cigar bar is no longer there, It was changed to a conference room. So other than a few spots on deck and the cigar nook off of the casino, there is no place for you to enjoy a cigar. And on no smoking nights in the casino, it looked like Jeff Spignoli's van from Fast times at Ridgemont High every time someone opened the door to the smoking room. And Guess where Princess decided to place the sports TV's ? You got it.. in Gatsby's cigar bar!! Which is conveniently located mid ship deck 6 with doors that open to the pursers desk and into the casino..HMMM !! So it was interesting listening to people complain about the smoke while waiting in line to talk to some one at guest services about the smoke!!!Princess set up 3 tables and chairs in the casino bar area and put little placards on them stating..NO SMOKING TABLE!! Yet 2 feet on any side of those tables was acceptable smoking areas. And it did provide me with an alternative venue of entertainment watching several different groups of people sit down at those tables and then complain about the smoke. I am a very considerate smoker, I don't smoke in my house , my cars, my cabin, my balcony, and I really don't care where Princess puts the smoking section...but if I am in the designated smoking section, Please, SHUT UP!!! I cannot avoid your over use of cheap cologne or perfume, at dinner, the elevators, the theater, or strolling around on deck, but you can avoid the smoking sections.
Princess is still my line of choice... The extras that they used to provide are slowly disappearing. Please understand that the Emerald is a Fabulous ship..and we had another amazing time aboard her...But when you have been spoiled and are used to something amazing and that is taken away...kinda lets the air out of my balloon..it also makes RAVING about Princess and this particular ship, that much harder to do...