We flew to Ft Lauderdale the same day as the cruise and landed at 3:15. The ship sailed at 5:00 and while this made me nervous, all connections were on time. We normally fly in the day before but it didn't fit our schedule this time.
Getting on the ship was a breeze with no lines. I did miss the photographer that takes your first picture but he wasn't there since we were late arrivals. The upgrade fairy gave us a room with a window, a first for us. We actually didn't use it since the curtains were always drawn, but it was a very nice gesture.
The room was a little small for the three of us. We've sailed the last two times on Carnival and it seems their rooms are a little bigger as well as the bathrooms, but the room was ready for us and we found the ship beautiful. The room steward, Paola, greeted us with a warm smile.
The Horizon buffet was easy to maneuver. Actually the whole ship was easy. Our room was close to the middle elevators which made it very More
easy. I also remember about the carpet being a different color on the port side vs the starboard which made things easier.
The comedians were wonderful on this ship. I love the time of the shows with the first showing at 8:30 and the second at 10:30. I always feel Carnival's shows are too late leaving you nothing to do if you are early diners. We only went to one production show as once you've seen one, you've seen them all.
We did the anytime dining and always seemed to eat early. The first night we ate in the upstairs and the rest we ate downstairs or in the buffet. We found the food was a little too fancy for our taste and the buffet was a better choice for us. We also noticed that you have to wait between courses until everyone in your section is ready to move on. This causes quite a break sometimes between courses. The waiters seemed a little frustrated that we didn't want anything from the bar or bottled water. Also, you can't get the lemonade in the dining room. Overall, we felt the waiters in the Horizon Court much more accommodating and friendlier. I did notice that around the poolside, Princess does a better job with getting drinks not from the bar, and with keeping tables cleaned.
We had no problems with chair hogs and we love, love, love the pools on Princess. Much bigger than on Carnival and I love the fresh water. We also loved the movies under the stars. They had a good selection of movies and sports and the cookie and milk man and the popcorn made it even better. Excellent job Princess!
We did some gambling. It was fascinating to watch a Russian family gamble such high stakes at blackjack. The dealers were all friendly.
There is quite a difference between Carnival and Princess on dress codes. Princess is much more formal. My DH, who uses a wheelchair wore shorts with a polo shirt the first night (pants hurt his legs) and they advised us he'd be okay for that night, but would need pants in the future. No problem mate. Princess is also much better at helping with wheelchair assistance.
Princess Cays - Nice beach day. Very clean and beautiful beach. Not alot to do here but enjoy the beach.
St. Thomas - we did the Screamin Eagle Jet Boat thru the ship. This was great fun and would definitely recommend it.
Dominica - We have been here before and did the Champaign snorkle. This time we did the river tubing thru Antours. This was the most fun excursion we did. The boys that keep you out of trouble were excellent. Many rapids as the water was high due to rain.
Grenada - Did the tour thru Mandoo. He is very informed. I wouldn't recommend more than a 1/2 day tour as the bus rides get tiring.
Bonaire - we booked the landsailing thru the ship. We failed to see the paper they left us the night before (they give you so much ) and didn't realize it had been cancelled due to a death in the family of the people who run it. We sat in the hot sun for sometime before someone finally told us. We ended up hiring a taxi to take us to see the island. Crazy driver was great. I was really disappointed in the cancellation as this was an excursion we were really looking forward to, but you have to understand when a death occurs.
Aruba - We booked Jolly Pirates direct and this was our biggest disappointment of the cruise. I would not recommend booking direct with them as they do not always honor it. They cancelled but we did not know this until we had taken the city bus to the hotel row, walked about 1/2 mile down the beach (with two people that have trouble walking distance) and then was informed that our trip was cancelled due to engine trouble, but they said they sent an e-mail a couple of days before. (hello, we are on a cruise ship and not getting e-mail). We could see the two ships off the beach. The one thru the cruise sip went out. We tried to find another snorkle trip, but since it was Sunday, no one was going out and returning in time for our ship departure. When I got home, I read the e-mail and it did not mention engine trouble, but said the cruise ship bookings were more than they expected. We had booked and paid for our trip months in advance. We had saved snorkeling for this port and therefore did not get to snorkel. Very unprofessional of Jolly Pirates. Less
Emerald Princess Cruises to the Southern Caribbean
obstructed view - large open closet, small bathroom (what cruise bathroom isn't). slept 4. We had 3 in the room and it made it crowded. Not noisy even though the elevators were close. Great location for accessibility.