Awesome First Princess Cruise! :): Emerald Princess Cruise Review by addygirl216
Overall Member Rating
Awesome First Princess Cruise! :)
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Ft Lauderdale - Arrived early - on Friday! Had reservations at the Hyatt Place/Plantation, so we picked up our rental car (Budget through hotwire $42 for 2 full days!), set our GPS with the address and off we went. Check in went smoothly - we were offered a choice of rooms - We chose what they said would be a quiet room on floor 5 - they were right! We were given a quick tour of the facilities. Got to our room - it was fantastic - King sized bed with a pull More out couch for our DD, HUGE big screened TV (which my husband loved for NCAA March Madness). The room was clean, roomy, the bed comfy. Some more notes about hotel: *Pool - it is heated - but just a bit - it was fine for us, but there were a few people discussing it amongst themselves that it should have been warmer - it could have been, but it was definitely heated. It was unseasonably cool for FL this past week, too - I guess which may have added to the chill! *exercise room - it's small, but mighty! No weights, but for cardio machines - they were top notch! One elliptical, 2 (or was it 3) Treadmills, and a bike. These were new high quality machines that you could watch TV on, listen to FM radio, or just watch your progress on a picturesque screen. *Breakfast - this may have been the only downfall of the hotel. Keep in mind - this was spring break. It was chaotic in the breakfast room every day. We learned quickly to try and avoid the prime times - and our second day was definitely better than the first. They do have a nice selection of bagel, english muffin, fruits, cereals, yogurt, juices. If you wanted hot foods - they were available for order at a nominal fee (eggs, waffle, omelet) they also served a small selection of food for any time of the day. *Dining - we ate the most fantastic pizza ever at a wood fired pizza restaurant very close to the hotel. It was called Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza http://www.anthonyscoalfiredpizza.com/ The best pizza - bar none - that I've had since I was in Italy - and the salad (its HUGE! They say enough for 2, but probably enough for 4 - we all three ate on it and had loads left over) was the BOMB! We also ate at Smoky Bones BBQ on University (again, only a couple of miles from the hotel) for dinner and it was good food - typical to what you'd expect from a chain BBQ joint. Good service. We did eat Ole Ole Mexican for lunch one day - it was good food - but want to mention that it was a bit pricy - we could have eated at anthony's again for cheaper and been just as happy! Good food tho! *Mall - just want to mention that there is a nice big mall within walking distance of this hotel, as well as a Walgreens, a liquor store, and a grocery store all within a mile or two of this location. *Beach - there is a beach about 20 minutes or so from this hotel - straight down broward - nice clean area - parking is easy if you get there early - but later in the day good luck! :)
Sunday - we checked out of hotel, dropped rental car back at the airport, and grabbed a taxi to the cruise dock. We'd been told we could probably get on the ship about 10:30 or so, and arrived about then to the cruise terminal. (cab was $13). We were about the 4th person there! :) We were given a #1, and sent to wait. *friendly staff everywhere *Pictures are NOT allowed in the area - it wasn't really posted well, and many people were getting in 'trouble' by the security. *Staff told us they don't hardly EVER board by 10:30! LOL People began filliing up the seats, and at noon, group one was called to go through registration. I'd say it took us 5 minutes TOPS to get on the boat. And that was only because our guy checking us in was chatting up our daughter about how excited she was, and because we stopped to get a picture! It was a BREEZE! *If you are early boarding - you do not have to go to your designated check in gate for your floor - you can go to whoever is open *If there is a line - migrate towards the right of the lines - it's closest to your embarkation route! We went straight to our room - Minisuite D715 on the Dolphin Deck. Completely uncovered balcony. I literally DUMPED my bags and dashed to the Sanctuary to get a seat for the week! (more later in bullet points) Once seat secured - I flew downstairs one level and then signed up for the thermal spa for both DH and I. Then back to the room to actually look at it! LOL Minisuite was great - LOVED the layout compared to Carnival's suite - I like the longer, narrower layout a lot! The bathroom is smaller than what we were used to a little bit - and darker?....but who's spending the week in the bathroom! I loved the big closet - and then the wall of shelves to organize your clothes on!. Two TVs - nice added bonus (I think we only had one one once the whole trip tho!) Dinner that night in the Anytime Dining was great - Prime rib for DH, Barramundi fish for me, and Spaghetti and Meatballs for the Daughter. We picked the Michelangelo dining room and had Ralph from the Phillipines (side note - he was awesome, and inadventently - we sat in his section 4 times! It was funny! The final time we did request him, and gave him a tip, he'd been such a nice guy all the times we had him!) *Sanctuary - Okay - it was fantastic - don't get me wrong - but I'm not sure I'd spend the money again. I don't think I personally utilized it enough to make up for the cost for the week $105.00 I used it for a couple hours every day - and on one day I was there for about 4 hours. I figured it cost me about $8/hour. It's so nice and swank up there - those chairs are so comfy - and they treat you like royalty - bringing you cold clothes, special snacks, turning your chair for you, covering it each day with a super nice towel! The spa pool was a level down from here and although some people say no one was ever in that pool, this week it was fairly crowded all week. And - to get there from the sanctuary - you had to go all the way out of the sanctuary, down a level into that area. Too bad it couldn't have been a little different layout maybe? Anyway - really really nice - probably worth every penny - but for me, I'd probably take that money for something else next time. *Thermal Spa - first day special $149 for two people for the week. This facility is awesome also - ceramic hotbeads, rainhead showers, steam rooms with different scents, very private! We loved, loved, loved this. But again - we didn't utilize it as much as I thought we might - I'd say one of us used it every day - and maybe twice we both went on the same day. That being said - it made it about $17 a visit for us - not terrible really - it was so relaxing. I only shared the room a couple of times with anyone. I'd probably spend the $$$$ on this again - before I'd do the sanctuary again - although after typing all this, I think the sanctuary might be worth it again! LOL
We rented a bungalow at Princess Cay - Had we not - it would have been sunny and 100*. Since we spent the $199 on the BB, it was 70 and rainy! LOL Such is life! We made the best of it - Some people love princess cay, and some don't - we liked it - would we pick a cruise because of it - never! HOwever, if the weather had been nicer we'd have enjoyed the beach day loads (We are beach and ocean junkies!). The bungalows are awesome - roomy with a table for four - an airconditioner, shelves to put your stuff on. Lots of towels to use - the outside shower head would be nice on a hot, sandy beach day! We swam - YES - we were a few of the idiots that actually made it into that cold water! LOL *DD got her hair braided - $30 for half a head. Cheaper than some of the places we've had it done before. *If you like to shop - don't come in with an expectation of it here - you'll be disappointed as there isn't a lot of shopping here - there were several little kiosks - but many had the same or similar items. *The BBQ is okay - burgers, hotdogs, baked beans and potato salad. Pretty much it - again - had it been a hot sunny day, we might not have been searching for 'snacks' so much! LOL *music - there was some live music - which I love! It was relaxing to sit and listen to him while shivering from the rain
Sea Day! We had a great day - lots of activities! *Bingo - $20 for a three card pack that gets you 4 games. These are cards that you mark - unlike carnival. We bought dabbers - but you could have used just an inkpen if you wanted. I think it was offered twice this day - special note - the time posted is the time that the game Begins - get there before that time so that you are ready and not missing out! *cruise director staff is loads of fun - first time I really witnessed them around the ship, involving people all the time. For example, I was sitting in the explorer lounge watching Evolution (one of the ships bands) and here come some of the crew - one of the guys got my DD up dancing, one of the girls sat down by me and chatted me up some. The rest of the trip when they saw us, they spoke and remembered us. Nice touch that we hadn't really witnessed on carnival! *casino - won a little $$$ in the casino - started the week with $20 and by today was up to about $178 in my casino account. The cruise card system is so easy - not sure what all the hub bub is about it - put your card in - it asks you to set up account - pick a pin number, enter it again and voila - you are in business! St. Maarten - We went into port - not a lot to do at this dock that we were at, and since we had a tour scheduled in a short time, we didn't have time to do much else, as far as taking the water taxi to shopping, etc. - bought a hat (good parenting = sunburnt daughter! LOL), bought a couple cute trinket stuff, and headed off on our excursion! *Golden Eagle Sail - This was a good trip - efficient crew. We were supposed to have gone to tintarre beach (that isn't right, but if you've been on here you know which beach I mean) Because of the roughness of the water, we went first to a snorkel location that was okay, then to mullett beach. The snorkelling we saw was not the greatest I've done, but it really wasn't the crews fault. The water was a bit choppy, and it was a good distance away from the boat before you could see anything. We did see some fish, and a little bit of coral, but had more fun just floating around in the ocean by the boat. Next stop mullet beach - where my daughter was traumatized by the lack of clothing! LOL (side note - HILARIOUS day at the pool after - listening to all the kids talk about their experiences at the clothing optional beaches - really was one of my more entertaining afternoons/evenings by the pool! LOL) We saw a pod of dolphin as we were leaving - which was really really neat - a baby and several others - and I understand that seeing them in that area is fairly rare! We watched them for about 15 minutes swim right around our boat - great ending to a nice day! My all time faves of the trip - both of these days were amazing!
We'd been to St Thomas before - love love love the shopping there, but since DH drop a jackload of money on a gold Rolex the last time we were there, I opted for an all day cruise to avoid him spending more than a used car of something stupid again!
Cabin review: D715
This was an awesome cabin - in fact, we'd book same location again! Right around the corner from rear elevators, but far enough away no noise. Laundry just across the hall. Passenger cabins above and below us - no noise at all. Fully uncovered balcony - which I wasn't sure I'd love, but ended up liking quite well!