Emerald Princess, ten days in the Eastern Caribbean. Great service, especially in the bar areas and cabin stewards. Very clean at all time, and all crew members were extremely helpful and always gracious in their manner. Food pretty good for a vessel of this size, but gourmet in the specialty restaurants - one night in the regular dining room, and we opted for the specialty areas the remaining nights.
A great selection of ports, with easy get/off, get/on in each. Plenty of choices in excursions. A large Internet Cafe with ample terminals and a support staff member there nearly all the time. As expected in the ocean, connectivity to the Internet was spotty at times. Otherwise, very functional and accessible.
And yes, the usual "art auctions", and always a photographer in your face - even in the specialty restaurants. I guess we're a little spoiled by the all-inclusive tours - I can understand the nickel and dime bit every time you want a cocktail - but charging for coffee and tea each time? - "May I see your card, please?" At lease some of the bar stewards would suggest running a tab during the evening for cocktails and wine.
My wife and I, and my cousin traveling with us, were extremely disappointed, however, with the advertising of the "Chef's Table". The "Chef's Table" is advertised as a gourmet meal served an unusual setting, and the courses described by the Chef. This was one of the features that I was really anticipating. A healthy upgrade charge, but it included the meal, cocktails and wine, as well as the Chef. Indications were that we were to call for reservations immediately upon arriving on the ship. I did so, and was told that reservations were closed. Only by pressing was I able to be told that I would be on a "waiting list". The next day I received
a letter in my suite saying that the waiting list was closed. Being told there were ten table settings with about ten per table - meaning about 100 settings on a vessel that carried 3,000 passengers! What's wrong here? We feel that the advertisement was very misleading What's Princess thinking to advertise something so desirable like the "Chef's Table", and then make it so very inaccessible?
The last stop of the voyage was at Princess Cay - a spot in the Bermuda Islands set up by Princess. A lot of great sand and sea activities. My wife and I are not sun/sand enthusiasts, but we took the tender over to the Cay for lunch. When we arrived at the food service area at 1:25, it was closed. Not only closed, but food was already packed away. A sign was posted at the food area stating the hours it would be serving, but there was no mention of the serving time listed in the on-board daily paper, "Princess Patter". We were extremely disappointed - especially with the attitude of the steward barring the entry - saying that we should have checked the1:30 serving time ending. And, the same steward was not wearing a name tag - said he had "lost" it somewhere. When I mentioned the discrepancy of service notice to the Customer Service personnel, she said that it was an "oversight" and that they'd do better posting the serving period time the next cruise. Sure didn't help our lunch!
Overall, an enjoyable cruise, but still a "cattle call" with so many, many passengers. Be prepared to spend time in a line quite often!