This was my fifth cruise and the fourth with Princess. I have never been to the Caribbean and was looking forward to seeing the sites. Since I live on the west coast and my sister in the south we arrived on Saturday and stayed at the Hilton that night - enjoyed the happy hour menu and the views of the marina. The trip to the terminal from the Hilton was about 5-8 minute ride and about $10 with tip. Boarding the Emerald Princess was quick and easy; they have this down to a fine science. The staff helped direct everyone to their cabins, which made finding our way around the ship much easier and staff were very welcoming. The ship wasn't full in fact it was only about 2,000 people. On this trip I was cruising with my sister and we were celebrating our birthdays aboard the Emerald. We booked a mini-suite and it was fabulous. Our room steward, Eric, was great and very attentive. Loved the additional space - great closet, bathroom and seating areas - the balcony was also spacious and we enjoyed the balcony every day. We were welcomed aboard with a glass of champagne. The welcome aboard and kick off event at the main pool was lively as usual and helped set the pace for a great experience. Our evening dining was in the Botticelli second seating and we enjoyed a table with two other couples. Our dining experience was fabulous and routinely we were the last ones to leave the dining room each night. Our table steward and his assistant were very attentive. We enjoyed dining in the dining room and missed only two nights. A fairly extensive wine list was provided and we did enjoy several bottles of wine. Food in the buffet was good, sometimes a little spotty but overall good. We did enjoy the International Cafe several times, having just a snack for lunch was all we needed and to go by and grab a cookie late in the late afternoon yumm they bake them right there and were warm. I purchased the coffee card and enjoyed a latte (or two) each day. I would recommend that you take a moment (at least once) and enjoy tea in the dining room, it's another way to meet some new friends and it's a very pleasant experience. We also enjoyed the English Pub lunch once and that too was great, along with a glass of good beer or two. We purchased the thermal room package in the spa. We used it only three times and when we did it was very relaxing. The difficulty with this is two points: they over sold the packages and it because of this it was overcrowded and in fact I believe many people by-passed the mandatory check in and entered in off the Sanctuary and secondly we were frustrated that people were "camping out" on the beds and placing towels (holding their spots). All of this could be abated if they had more staff over site of that room.
We enjoyed the pools in the back and front of the ship, pool attendants were great and kept people happy. We did take in a few shows, which were good. The entertainment throughout the ship was pretty good. I stepped into the presentation by the shopping gal who explains and sells to the crowd the stores to go to when in port. Was very disappointed in the over selling and fast talking strategy of this. It seems pretty consistent throughout the ships with this kind of presentation. Oh well, I just know not to go to this again. Disembarking the ships was flawless. Had breakfast prior to leaving and we were processed quickly off the ship. I did note that Southwest has luggage assistance and for $10.00 you can have your luggage taken to the airport and boarding passes printed - a service I would use. Again, I took a taxi back to the Hilton to spend the night and took off early the next day to return to reality. Signed up for future cruise while on board and look forward to another trip on board Princess.