Check in was a breeze, walked straight through with no lines.
In mini-suite midships on Dolphin deck. Good size cabin, with a full size sofa (3 sections), 2 sections pull out to sofa bed. The balcony was smaller than the mini suite on Sapphire. The cabin was about half way walk to mid ship elevators and half way to back of ship elevators.
Quiet room, never heard neighbors. Wall mounted boxy hairdryer was horrible, would bring my own. The shower never got hot, just warm. The sink tap got hot...
The check in agent said there were 800 Kids on board, the ship has I think 3,400 passengers. It felt quite crowded, with lines for most things, show seats all full 30 mins before start times, and a line for the AnyRoom dining rooms each night (except when it was seafood night at the buffet).
I much prefer the 4 smaller AnyRoom dining rooms on Sapphire to the 2 larger ones on Emerald. The Sapphire didn't have lines, just gave you a pager occasionally if you had to wait a few minutes for a table. On Emerald, you had to wait in line for 5 mins just to get a pager...
Dining room food seemed better on Sapphire in March. The Emerald was ok, but nothing memorable. The buffet food was very stodgy. very little fresh fruit and veg, no berries. Same melon/pineapple choices every day.
Room steward Eric was very good, personable, friendly, learned our names day one and always greeted us. Hard worker.
Pools got very busy, lots of kids, all loungers were full early. Some coveted loungers at the back of the ship deck 15/16 were held from 6.30am!!! all were usually spoken for by 8am.
Great kids club, my 5 year old really enjoyed it - which was great, because the pools were just too crowded for a little one most of the time.
The strangest thing about this cruise / ship was there were a lot of 'odor's. The back stairs usually had a very strong fishy smell and around mid ship on our deck (Dolphin) there was a strong stagnant/reclaimed water smell.
The cruise director Tim D, as many others have commented, did not seem to like people. His staff were really great, personable, silly, fun, friendly. But he seemed like he viewed passengers as 'punters' and was rather rude and patronizing, not approachable. The co-cruise directors on Sapphire in March were really great, funny, friendly, approachable.
I'm sure all mass market lines are the same, but being sold to all the time, gets really annoying. Disappointed that there wasn't much Port information available, but lots of info about where to shop. Port lectures were 'where to shop, what to buy' lectures. Maybe a sentence or two in the Patter about Port points of interest, but that's it. No printed material at the excursion desk.
Pursers desk staff were very good, kept professional despite some of the really rude and unreasonable passengers they had to deal with. (one fellow the day before disembarkation was shouting at a purser about the standard custom form, how it should ask for 'places' you visited vs 'countries'... !)
Ports were good, but it is always humbling to see how poverty stricken most of the island are once you get away from the tourist area.
Nice Holiday touches were: Gingerbread house making competition (48 teams!), Santa visit, carol singing in Piazza, snow fall in Piazza.
I will cruise over the holidays again, but on a smaller ship next time.