For the first time ever, we arranged our air fare and all transfers through the cruise line. We were the only couple arriving in Fort Lauderdale on our flight, but a nice Princess rep was waiting on us in baggage claim. She loaded our bags on a cart, pushed the cart to the curb, and waited with us until our bus arrived to take us to the Embassy Suites hotel. The hotel was very nice and extremely convenient. On embarkation day, the Princess-arranged bus picked us up at noon and made the very short journey to the port. We checked in with no line and went straight to our cabin, which was ready (as contrasted to the last cruise we took--on Celebrity--where we had to wait in public areas of the ship for two to three hours before cabins were ready).
The Emerald Princess was immaculate, with no signs of wear or tear anywhere. Our cabin steward, AUJ ("AJ") did a great job of cleaning everything whenever we disappeared from the cabin for a while. We would frequenly see him as we left or came back, and his friendliness, smile, and "have a good day" or "welcome back" were always appreciated.
We usually book a mini-suite on Princess, but this time we were offered an upgrade to a full suite (D736 at the rear of the ship). It wasn't free, but we considered the cost to be a bargain considering what we got. The cabin, of course, was about twice the size of a mini-suite and included a whirlpool tub as well as a shower, and the balcony was about four times as large, with a table and four chairs, two lounge chairs, and two side tables--all of wood rather than plastic or aluminum. From Fort Lauderdale to Bermuda, rolled-up beach towels were in the lounge chairs each day. Once we left Bermuda and the weather became much cooler, the towels were replaced by warm, 100% wool blankets.
We had read on line that there was a "post" coming up through the balcony of this particular cabin, but we found a photo of it and decided it would be no problem. Indeed, the post is an integral part of the structure of the ship, but it is way towards one side of the balcony and does not in any way interefere with enjoyment of the space. The balcony is on the rear of the ship, and we greatly enjoyed lounging there with the wake passing beneath us. The balcony protrudes from the rear of the ship, with a wrap-around end, so the view is phenomenal.
The entertainment was superior. The production shows and comedians were wonderful, but our favorite was Arnie G, who played the piano and sang every night in Crooner's bar. He is a phenomenal talent. In other review, someone made negative comments about the ego of cruise director Billy London. However, he was the best we have had on any cruise, and is a great singer. On several nights he joined Arnie G in performances.
We especially appreciated the large number of tables on deck. Whenever we wanted to eat outside, we could find a space to do so without having to balance plates on our laps.
Room service meals always arrived at the time requested and were delicous. One of the perks of a suite is breakfast at Sabatini's (the Italian restaurant in the evening). They will prepare pretty much whatever you wish, and the food and service were both wonderful.
We had arranged a day in Copenhagen through Princess, and the transfer and hotel were great.
All in all, this was a wonderful cruise, and we recommend the Emerald Princess without reservation.