The cruise began with a quick non-stop flight from the Raleigh/Durham airport. We purchased Princess transfer (as we always do in New York) and had to wait about 45 minutes for another plane to arrive with more passengers with transfers. The ride from the airport (JFK) to the port in Red Hood/Brooklyn was unbelievable. Our shuttle driver would have fit right in with the crazy drivers in Rome. My husband and I shared the shuttle with about 10 British passengers. We were all GREATLY relieved when we arrived at the terminal after about an hour. Embarkation was painless. We were onboard within 30 minutes. We arrived late so it was almost time for mustering once we got onboard. We got that out of the way and went to dinner and about 7 pm the ship left, headed for Newport RI the first stop.
We arrived in Newport the next morning to pretty good weather -- sunny and about 60 degrees. That was the last of the sun we saw for quite some time. This was our fourth Canada/New England cruise and we've never had such yucky weather. I think we only saw the sun about five times during the 20 days. The ports were very nice. It's a beautiful cruise but it's much better with a little sunshine! Some of our favorite highlights from this cruise were: the land and sea tour in Newport, walking through the town of Bar Harbor (our favorite stop), the cute farmer's market in Saint John, New Brunswick, and the three day stay in Quebec City. We did a fantastic walking food tour in Quebec through a local company Le Vieux Quebec.
The Emerald Princess is a nice ship although it's a little to big for our tastes. It's due for dry dock in December but it was in pretty good condition and didn't really show a lot of wear and tear. We had a wonderful cabin steward and waiter -- Princess always does a great job here. The food was very good at all locations. The ice cream and pizza on the Lido were some of the best.
The music onboard was very good. The "party" band for the first 10 days, "Cactus Jack" was good. The one for the second 10 days, "Serious Sounds" was pretty bad. The group in the Wheelhouse (where we usually do our social ballroom dancing), "Rosie Quartet" was warm and cold. Sometimes you could dance to them, sometimes not. They had a very good guitar player and pianist but the drummer couldn't keep the beat most of the time and the lead singer was not very good. Two treats, as far as music, were "Allan and LaDonna" and Chris Jankowski. Allan and LaDonna rotated in the Explorer's Lounge and Club Fusion. They were a lot of fun and very talented. The piano player, Jankowski played in several locations (early in the Wheelhouse, the Piazza, and sometimes in the Adagio Lounge) and he was GREAT! Very talented and wonderful social ballroom dance music. Another surprise was when we found Gordon Hough as music director and orchestra conductor. We've met Gordon on about five different cruises and he's one of the best music directors Princess had. If he's on the ship, you'll have good music. Gordon and the orchestra did two great Dixieland Jazz nights in the Piazza as well as several jazz nights in the Adagio Lounge.
Negatives: the Princess Patter was inaccurate every night, the terrible thin paper towels in the public restrooms that stuck to your hands, and the service at the passenger service desk. We are elite on Princess and still have trouble getting an answer or service at the passenger service desk. From our cruising experience, this is the weak link on Princess Cruises. They get wonderful staff everywhere else on the ship -- why not at the passenger service desk where it is really important?