Emerald Princess Cruise Review by Peter & Jacky: Silver Wedding Anniversary Cruise that was all we dreamed of
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Silver Wedding Anniversary Cruise that was all we dreamed of
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We had read about long queues to embark, but that could not have been further from the truth. We arrived at around 12.30pm and we were in our balcony stateroom before 1pm. It was simple and straightforward. The stateroom was on deck 14 (Riviera) and was clean, spacious (the double be was huge) and well appointed. The balcony was slightly smaller that we had expected, but it was not a problem. The higher balconies are smaller than the lower one's, but you get a better view.
Alcohol is quite expensive, but we are not big drinkers so it did not bother us. You can carry on 1 bottle of wine per stateroom in each port, so that is what we did. White Zinfandel cost us USD 10 in Barbados, whereas on the ship it costs around USD 30. If you like Coke etc and want to drink it, they were doing a promotion where you got unlimited drinks for USD 4.25 per day plus 15% tip. This saved us a lot of money. We also More purchased a Coffee card which gave us 15 premium coffee's for USD 27. If you like Latte's etc it is worth it.
Food was superb. Lots of it and great quality. We were on Anytime Dining and never booked a table. The longest we waited was 20 minutes, but we mostly walked right in. On our Silver Wedding Anniversary we booked the Ultimate Balcony Dining. It was USD 100 extra, but was well worth it, as it included a cocktail, canapEs, the best starter I have ever tasted, a salad, and either lobster, steak or both as the main course. The dessert was devine and we also got half a bottle of champers and an 8 x 10 photgraph all in with the deal. Our personal waiter looked after us fantastically and even provided a 25th anniversary memento made out of the Champagne cork and some silver paper.
There is so much to do every day, but 95% of it did not interest us. This did not matter, as we were fully occupied. For book readers who want some quiet to read, try Skywalkers nightclub during the day. Nice and quiet but with a great view. Usual problem with people reserving sun loungers with towels and the crew really needs to get to grips with this as those who play by the rules lose out.
We purchased a pass to the Thermal Suite of the Lotus Spa, which was sold to us on the first day. In hindsight I would not do that again, as the novelty wears off. For USD 119 each I would have preferred to save the money and use it elswhere.
The Sanctury is nice, but very difficult to get into on a sea day. Do what we did and book in for the morning on a shore day (8am to 12.30pm) and do an excursion in the afternoon. Half a day costs USD 10 each.
Entertainment was a bit Cheesy, but worth a look as the shows only last about an hour. The best entertainment was a Canadian Comedian called Ed Harris.
The Eastern Caribbean has some stunning scenery and was as impressive as we had hoped.
Emerald Princess is a huge ship, but we never felt crowded or overwhelmed. We could always get some peace somewhere and find some entertainment if we needed it. Princess Cruises is geared more to Adults than families, but there were still 100 kids on board. The children's clubs must be good as we hardly saw any of them.
If you are not sure about cruising, I would certainly recommend you give Princess a go. We were blown away by how good it was. Less
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Cabin review: BBR631 Balcony
Up on deck 14 so the balcony was smaller than on some of the lower decks, but you get a great view.We thought is was spacious compared to what we expected and the double bed was huge, although it was slightly more firm that we would have liked.Storage space was very good and we had lots of hanging space and drawers.Temperature control is easy and we were comfortable throughout the cruise.The toilet and shower was compact but worked very well. I have experienced a lot worse in hotels, so we were pleasantly surprised.The only downside was the passenger in the next cabin. He was a chain smoker and was always on the balcony puffing away. This caused us to use our own balcony less than we would have liked.I would be happy to have this cabin again on any future cruise.Read All Balcony (BB) Reviews >>
Port and Shore Excursions
We skipped the official excursion and did our own thing. We went to Dickinson Bay in a Taxi which took us right next to the Sandals resort. The beach was lovely sand with turquiose sea.
We paid USD 12 return each in a Taxi with a group that the taxi firm put together at the port. The only problem was that one couple wanted to return to the ship ay 12 noon, so we were stuck with onlu half a day at the beach. My tip is to negotiate with the group BEFORE you get in the Taxi.
Sun beds under a cover cost USD 10 for 2. Altogether the cost was half of what the official tour paid. Also, the tour were crammed all in together on another part of the beach and had no shade.
Beware beach traders. The are a bit of a pest. We were conned by a guy who said he had been doing the best Rum Punch on the beach since 1991 for USD 5. It turned out to be a bit of rum in a fresh coconut with a cherry. It was awful - AVOID.
At Barbados we went on a Tiami Catamaran to swim with the Turtles. The weather was overcast again, but don't be fooled as I still nearly got sunburn.
The boat pulled up near a very nice beach and the captain gave a briefing. He ended it by saying that there were a lot of jellyfish in the water and that we could swim, but only at our own risk. Most people did and a couple got stung but none too seriously. You could see the jellyfish and if you were careful could avoid them.
There were some lovely fish to see while snorkelling, but the Turtles proved elusive. One of the crew eventually found one nearby and lured it to the boat. It was worth the wait as it was absolutely beautiful.
We spent some time on the beach and the crew opened the free on board bar. Beer, rum punch and the captains special (rum and a mix of fruit juices) were flowing all the way back to the port. The crew were a lot of fun and it was a great day.
The last port was Princess Cays, which is in the south of the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas.
This was a disappointment compared to the hype about the place. The sea was clear but cold compared to other beaches on the trip. The sea was full of coral rocks, so you need swim shoes to enjoy the water.
There is nothing but the Princess resort that you can walk to and it is quite crowded in parts. My advice would be to hire a clamshell as they are located on the quieter parts of the beach.
We booked a banana Boat ride, but the staff were the most miserable watersports people I have ever come across. I would not recommend it.
If we went back we would probably book one of the tours of the island, as that would have been much more interesting than this pretty but rather dull beach.
St Kitts is beautiful and not yet over developed.
We took a taxi with a group (put together by a taxi firm at the port) and went to Cockleshell bay. The scenery is stunning and the beach is great. Sun loungers and sun shades cost USD 5 per item.
There is a beach bar and loads of locals offering massages with fresh Aloe Vera. This can be tiresome as the are all vying for your business, but a friendly no usually gets rid of them.
Taxi fare was USD 13 per person return. We would definately like to go back to visit St Kitts again one day.
We were really excited about visiting St Lucia, but it disappointed us. The weather was not good, as it was overcast all day, but it still did not match up to the other places we visited.
We took the official fun at the beach tour and probably should have just got a taxi like we did in Antigua. The tour bus arrived late and the driver was just interested in selling St Lucia as a holiday destination or a place to buy property (he knew a guy who could help us!)
The beach was Smugglers Cove Resort, which was not very picturesque and we felt we were intruding on the guests own holiday. We were given tags so we could not get any of the all inclusive fare.
On the way back, the driver insisted in telling us all about the St Lucia health care system - WHY?
St Thomas has absolutely stunning scenery.
We took the views of St Thomas tour and it visited Paradise Point (home of the Baily's Bushwhacker) and Mountain Top (the home of the Banana Daiquiri).
Beware, the free drink at Paradise Point is a tiny sample of the Baily's Bushwhacker and not the full drink. Mountain Top is basically a tourist shopping mall and it is expensive (the Banana Daiquiri was USD 8.50). However, the view of Magens Bay is worth the trip on its own.
Be careful if you are doing some research and think you can walk from your ship to Paradise Point. Princess and some other Cruise lines use a different cruise port right across the other side of the bay.
St Thomas is another island we are keen to visit again.
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