This report covers ten day back to back sailings aboard the Emerald Princess departing Fort Lauderdale the 6th of January 2013 and returning 26th Jan. These were our 17th and 18th sailings with Princess.
We traveled by car from Ottawa, Ontario departing December 29th and arrived in Fort Lauderdale January 3rd after visiting friends en-route. In Fort Lauderdale we stayed at the Cambria Suites located just off I-95 and Stirling Ave. We took advantage of their Stay and cruise package which allowed for up to 30 days of parking. We were very pleased with this hotel and its proximity to other facilities. We highly recommend this hotel option.
After using the hotel's shuttle our boarding in FLL was very efficient. We were checked into our C753 cabin by noon. This is our favored corner aft cabin. We were soon greeted by Jayson our cabin Steward. All of our cabin Stewards have been good but Jayson exceeded our expectations. Although our departure was for around 4:30 we did not leave until about 5:30.
We were disappointed to discover that this ship does not offer the "wine card" or "power hour" promotions. We were told that the ship offers the "Clean Sweep" promotion instead. This is a card with 30 places for hole punches. Depending on bar purchase, beer =1, bottle of wine =6, holes are punched until card is full. Completed card goes into draw to have full bar charges removed from your bill. We do not consider this promotion to be equal to "Power Hour" or the "wine card". Why is there no standardization between ships? This is our only real complaint with our Princess experiences.
We managed to get one of our favorite seating locations for our anytime dining in the Michaelanglo dining room. Our waitress, Tassanee, was very delightful and efficient but not fully supported by Peter the assistant. We enjoyed the location and service so much that we made a standing reservation for this table for the duration of the cruises.
During the first sea day the ship ran a very active entertainment program. This was the most use of Piazza area we have seen. Many senior officers present.
We are not active tourists and are happy to just enjoy the ship. We did do a high speed boat and snorkel excursion out of Barbados and a "Champagne" cruise out of St. Thomas on the first cruise. The Champagne cruise was the better of the two. For the second cruise we booked a private scuba dive with Aldive out of Dominica and did a snorkel Cat cruise out of Grenada. The dives were exceptional and the snorkeling in Grenada was unique. They took us to an underwater park were numerous statues and objects had been placed in about 10 feet of water. We were led around in a circle to discover all these objects and told of their meaning. Following the snorkeling the bar was opened en-route to Grand Anse beach where we stopped for about an hour. This tour was the best value of all the ship's tours we have ever taken.
Observations: Aft hot tub was closed for the last two nights of the first cruise. Why?
Many lights on upper decks are not functioning including stairway lighting. Why? Energy conservation or lack of maintenance?
Head waiter, Michael in Michelangelo dining room, was never visible. Where was he?
Second cruise beginning 16th Jan. Much the same. Head waiters changed in Michaelanglo's. New assistant waiter for Tannasee named Abdul. He is very personable and likes magic. At the end of every dinner he presents us with a new trick. Great fun.
Went to Crown Grill for last formal night. This is what I expect of a Crown Grill not the poor excuse of a Horizon Court makeover found on the Sapphire and others. Great dining experience although my favorite Grill experience is found in the Bayou Grill on the Coral and Island.
With the exception of the last day where we had overcast skys and strong winds and moderate seas we were fortunate to have very good weather throughout.
Overall this was a delightful cruise and Princess did not fail to please. If the Emerald had offered the Wine Card and Power Hour promotions she would have tied with the Sapphire as our favorite ship.
Congratulations to Captain Giorgio Pomato and his outstanding crew.