Emerald Princess Cruise Review by HankBuckley: A good first cruise
Overall Member Rating
A good first cruise
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We had never been on a cruise before. This was a good one to start with. 3 days at sea and 5 ports. It was a mostly older crowd. The staff was lovely and so was the weather!
Having never cruised before, I have nothing to compare it to. However, my only complaint would be the food. While there is quantity (you can as eat as much as you want, whenever you want) there is very little quality. If your idea of a good restaurant is The Old Country Buffet or The Olive Garden, you will be fine. We were just used to a little higher standard - in both dining out and the meals we make at home. The only food we had that was really excellent was in the Crown Grill (for which you have to pay extra).
Also, the coffee at the buffet is terrible. I tolerated it on the mornings that I had to, but did get real brewed coffee in the restaurants and from the coffee bar (had to pay extra) more than once. I'm not a coffee snob by any means, but what they serve you at the buffet and for room More service is not good.
Nice room. Room decor is a little dated compared to the rest of the ship. Excellent room steward kept it clean and was very accommodating and unobtrusive to our varying daily schedule.
I will say that having a balcony on THIS floor is perfect. The floors below have a larger balcony that extends beyond our floor - so everyone above can see onto your balcony. I liked the privacy of the smaller balcony on the Baja Deck. Less
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Cabin review: B305
Nice room. Room decor is a little dated compared to the rest of the ship. Excellent room steward kept it clean and was very accommodating and unobtrusive to our varying daily schedule.I will say that having a balcony on THIS floor is perfect. The floors below have a larger balcony that extends beyond our floor - so everyone above can see onto your balcony. I liked the privacy of the smaller balcony on the Baja Deck.
Port and Shore Excursions
I wish we could have spent more time in this port. Next time!
Took an enjoyable boat ride to a snorkeling spot (lots of fish and coral), then to the sunken ship. The water was choppy at the sunken ship and very deep. It was also crowded with other boats and divers present. Many of the older and more feeble people on the excursion stayed on the boat and just watched others snorkel(a very smart choice). We had a great time on the boat ride back with complementary rum punches!
Walked around the shops in Aruba (lots to choose from) and ate a little snack. A very enjoyable day!
We did the glass bottom kayak and snorkeling excursion. It was "ok." We walked a few 100yrds down the beach from the port to the kayaks and then kayaked up the coast a ways. I enjoyed kayaking, but it wasn't particularly scenic or interesting and nearly impossible to enjoy looking through the glass bottom when you have to keep moving.
The snorkeling spot was shallow and small. There were some very colorful fish, but that was it. We then kayaked back to the starting point. For some reason we were back 45min prior to the scheduled return time (perhaps to have the kayaks ready for the next group).
Afterwards, we walked around Bonaire (bars, restaurants, and touristy shops). Enjoyed some gelato, a beer, and a little snack.
Whale & Dolphin Watching
This was our LEAST favorite port.
Whale/Dolphin watching: We saw absolutely NOTHING the entire boat ride. While the crew was very nice and tried many locations in order to get us to see something, we saw nothing and it was more than a little disappointing. That's the risk you take when trying to see wild animals in their natural habitat. There are no guarantees! I wish we had chosen a different excursion, in hindsight.
We were there on a Sunday and almost everything was closed. No shops, maybe 1 or 2 restaurants (we ate at CocoRico cafe - it was lovely), and a small open air market that sold touristy trinkets. We were back on the ship with hours to spare.
Took an excellent bus tour around the island with a knowledgeable and friendly tour guide. The bus stopped at 3 locations (Nutmeg factory, Herb and Spice Garden, and Rum plant). At each location you get out, take a guided tour of the facility and sample. Very enjoyable and educational. We purchased and took home a lot of the items we sampled!
With very little time left after our excursion, we walked down the street from the port to a grocery store/restaurant and had a local meal and bought some unique grocery items.
We took a taxi to downtown St Thomas and quickly realized that other than 50,000 jewelry stores, there was nothing there. We then took a taxi to the ferry and went over to Trunk Bay on St Johns. I'm so glad we did...It is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen!! I only wish we could have spent more than 2 hours there, but because of where the Emerald Princess docks, it is a long and rather costly commute (45min taxi, 40min ferry, 15min taxi, and a park entrance fee). There is a ferry closer to where Princess docks, but unfortunately, the return trip is too late in the day.
The 2 hours we got to spend at Trunk Bay were worth every penny and minute of the commute!
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