During this review, I will not address my impressions of the ports, because your feelings of these places depends on what you are going to do while docked there. As an example, those that only shopped in Antigua found it to be a very hot & dirty place, but those that snorkeled said the island was fantastic. My advice is to research the ports prior to sailing, and decide what is best for you.
This was our 20th cruise and our 8th with Princess, and we couldn't have been any happier.
One advantage to large ship sailing is that they have a larger budget for entertainment, and on this ship they did an excellent job with their resources. Although we are not a big fan of production shows, the ones on this ship were a cut above the usual 'Salute To Broadway' type, and very well done. Mark Preston's show was excellent (he was one of The Lettermen), and the lounge performers did a very nice job. One pleasant surprise was that most nights there was a show after the 2nd dinner seating, which a lot of the lines have stopped doing.
The food aboard was also very well done. Dinner service in the main dining room was outstanding, as was the food quality and presentation. The food in the Horizon Court buffet was above average, but you have to keep in mind that it is a buffet and you will never find outstanding food in such a venue. Where the Horizon Court really shines is the service by the wait-staff. They are totally on top of everything, and your water/coffee/ice tea glass is never half full; when a table is vacated, it is cleaned instantly.
The Emerald Princess is a very large ship, however the stability is outstanding, unlike the Golden Princess. On this ship, the movement over the sea is hardly felt, even in 8 foot swells. Overall cleanliness of the ship is also outstanding, with hand sanitizers in abundance. One notable exception was there were no sanitizers at the entrance to Botticelli's Dining Room, which was very strange.
The upkeep of the ship was very good, with no threadbare furniture or dirty carpets, although some of the chair seats in the Horizon Court need replacing. You can't walk through a public area without seeing a crew member cleaning something. Most areas on the ship are smoke free (including cabins & balconies), making the ship smell pretty fresh.
The internet connection on this ship is the fastest we have experienced at sea. Most connections are usually like a slow dial up speed, but this is like a slower broadband connection. Most cabins and public areas have reception.
Our room was a standard balcony cabin (#R626) on the 14th deck port side. It was large enough for our needs, with ample storage in the closet area. The bathroom is very small, and the shower is ridiculously small. I am 6'-3" tall, and my shoulders touch both walls, with the shower head at the height of my chin. Showering is by no means impossible, but it takes some thought. If you are larger than I, you might consider up-grading to a mini-suite.
The mattress was very comfortable, the bed linen was acceptable, and the general layout of the room was fine. Although we did not spend time watching TV, the 19" flat screen was adequate. The balcony was large enough for 2 chairs and a small table, but you will not be hosting any parties out there. Our room steward, Emilian, was efficient and responsive to any requests we had. You simply could not ask for better service.
Embarkation & Debarkation
Both were pretty poor.
This is an excellent stop, even if you are not into water sports. Do not miss it if you get the chance