Emerald Princess Cruise Review by BURNSMN: WONDERFUL CRUISE ON THE EMERALD PRINCESS
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WONDERFUL CRUISE ON THE EMERALD PRINCESS
My wif and I flew into Ft. Lauderdale late the night before the cruise. Stayed at the Hampton Inn Ft Lauderdale Airport North Cruise Port. Free shuttle to hotel from airport and shuttle for a nominal fee to the port. This hotel is in a convenient location to the airport and cruise port with a strip mall with department stores, liquor store, and restaurants right next door. Management makes an extra effort to please cruisers. Will stay here again.
First time out of Port Everglades in awhile and it definitely takes a little longer to get on the ship in this port. Arrived at port around 11:45 am and it took till about 1:15 pm before we were in the Da Vinci Dining Room for Lunch. Our room was ready upon embarkation and we dropped off out carry on luggage before lunch.
The Emerald was in great shape and we were glad to be back on a Princess Grand Class ship. We know the layout well and like to spend our time in our More favorite areas, the Piazza, the International Cafe, around the Promenade, and at the Lotus Spa Pool.
We had an Oceanview Cabin forward on the Plaza Deck. We found this to be a great location. It was extremely quiet and the only noise we ever heard was when they were moving sets above us in the Princess Theater. We loved the fact that we were extremely close to the International Cafe and the Piazza and yet we did not hear any noise from those areas.
We had anytime dining in the main dining rooms and were assigned to the Michaelangelo Dining Room but found on most nights we could also be seated at the Da Vinci Dining Room if space was available. Between the two we were always able to be seated immediately if we would share a table or with a short wait if you wanted a table for two. Most of the tables for two are so close to other tables for two that we soon realized you had much more room if you would share a large table. The food was good as usual, not great, but we always found something we liked on the menu. We ate at the Horizon Court Buffet for most of our breakfasts as the variety and flavor seems to be better there in the morning than at the main dining rooms. We did not eat at the specialty restaurants but did enjoy pub lunches on sea days.
The highlight in this area was the Cruise Director, Kelvin Joy. On our ten cruises we have been on he is right at the top of the list along with Matt Baker who used to work for NCL. We went to and enjoyed all the shows in the Princess Theater and the quality of the acts seem to be the same from cruise to cruise on Princess.
We love the Southern Caribbean Itineraries. As always, we had some wonderful excursions at our ports of call.
Water was warmer here this year and enjoyed swimming, snorkeling and the quieter beach to the right of the the tender marina as you come in from the ship. We shared a clamshell with another couple who were nice enough to allow us to use if for the afternoon after they used it in the morning.
St. Thomas-Jester Sailing
This was a independent booking made with Jester for a 10-4 sailing with a total of six people from Secret Harbor to St. John. We had done a similar tour with the Yacht Nightwind before and have also been to St. John a couple of times with other excursions. We love to sail and love the beaches and water in the Virgin Islands. The only worries I always have are time it takes you to get a taxi both going to and coming back from excursions from the Crown Bay Dock in St. Thomas. Even with getting off the ship at 8:30 am it still took us till about 9:45 to get a cab and make it to Secret Harbor. They always want to take additional passengers and make additional stops. This time we had to go to the Red Hook Ferry Dock first with
other people. But we did make it on time and took a dinghy from shore to the sailboat. We met two other couples on the sailboat and had a wonderful day sailing to Honeymoon Beach on St. John then swimming and snorkeling, having lunch and drinks, and continuing on to Christmas Cove for another swimming and snorkeling stop. Food and drinks were good and plentiful all day. A great excursion. We did have the stress of the taxi on the way back again as we did not get back to the dock until 4:45 pm for a 5:00 pm departure. Don't know if we will keep doing these independent sailings on St. Thomas.
Dominica-Woody's Off the Beaten Trail
This was the best shore excursion we have ever done! We had a private tour for the two of us scheduled with Woody for our entire time in Dominica. Woody met us right at the pier and walked with us to his four wheel drive vehicle where we met his son Warren. He asked us if it would be okay if Warren rode along with us outside in the back of the vehicle while we toured. We told him that would be fine and Warren actually ended up being my buddy for the whole day and doing some waterfall swimming, rock climbing, river crossings and other adventures with me. We had been to Dominica before and had a wonderful time hitting all of the main attractions for first timers. This tour was about going to a lot of other places on the island that we missed the first time and getting off the beaten trail. We visited waterfalls, soaked in hot springs, waded in rivers on both the Atlantic and Caribbean sides of the island, swam in the Caribbean, went on dirt and rock roads, and saw many wonderful sights all over the island. Woody is the best.
Our time in port was short and we decided to do a Princess Tour on the Rhum Runner. We had a good time on this boat. We did a short water tour on our way to Morne Rouge Beach. There was a calypso band playing while we were touring and the drinks started flowing. We had a couple of hours to enjoy this beautiful beach. On the way back the band started playing and the dancing began. Rum and sun and music all day!
This excursion gets some of the highest recommendations on Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. Unfortunately we did an afternoon snorkel when the conditions were not the best. After a walk to their dock we met the morning snorkel as they were coming in. It was obvious that they had a wonderful time based on their comments as they were getting off the boat. However, as we were boarding the boat the weather became windy and cloudy. When we got off of the coast of Klein Bonaire the water was quite choppy. A few of the snorkelers got in and then back out because they didn't like the rough seas. I stayed in but then the jellyfish came out and started stinging. This again sent some people back to the boat but I stuck with it and endured many minor stings. We did see lots of fish and many turtles chasing the jellyfish. When I got back to the boat they did put cream on the stings. They said the jellyfish were not dangerous and there would be no lasting effects. I did not have any problems. Not the best day.
Aruba-Bus to Eagle Beach
We went on our own to the bus station and lined up for the #10 bus to the beaches. It was going to be twenty minutes until the next bus but they brought over a large van and we were off to Eagle Beach. We got off at the Amsterdam Manor and rented loungers. This was an easy excursion to do on your own, you can stay on the same bus and go to Palm Beach if you like. We had a beautiful day on the beach and when we were finished a bus came along within five minutes to take us back to the bus station which is a short walk from the dock. Great day at one of the prettiest beaches in the world.
Disembarkation and Tour
Met our tour group in one of the main dining rooms. We then were called to disembark and quickly proceeded off the ship to pick up our baggage, go through customs, and get on a bus to start our tour. Everything went smoothly and we were on the bus in no time. Our tour took us on an Everglades Airboat Ride and then on to Flamingo Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary before returning to the Ft Lauderdale Airport. This was a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend a few hours before heading home.
We love the Southern Caribbean, the Princess Grand Class Ships, and ten day cruises. This was a wonderful cruise! Less
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The crew makes this ship.