Overall I am a pretty easy going person and had a great time on the Emerald Princess.
A few minor complaints about this cruise that could be worked on were that we did not see the Captain at all except for the Captain's Night introductions, not even see him at the Captain Circle's Happy Hour. Hoping he was on the bridge driving the boat. Also, they had the Captain's Circle Happy Hour on an off night, not on a formal night which took some of the fun out of it. Might have been just a scheduling conflict but was better on the Ruby last year. Saw the Cruise Director at the Meet & Greet and at the shows, but that was about it.
The cruise was over Veterans Day and so they had a very tasteful service and were selling poppies for donations which, a great way to show support and overall nice day.
The embarkation process could be refined as the queues that are set up a little disorganized, but overall the process didn't take that long. Debarkation was a breeze with the set times and shuttles to the airport. We left out of Ft. Lauderdale but flew into Miami (direct flight) and used the Princess shuttle service, worth the $10 per person, they greeted us by the baggage claim and took over from there, finally dropping us right at the terminal hassle-free.
Had the anytime dining option in the Michelangelo dining room, if you get Carlos from the Philippines, you will be in for a great dining experience from beginning to end, ask for him if you can. Shared tables each night with other travelers and always got great people and great conversations. Overall the food was great and did not have any complaints. Cruised with Princess before and the food was the same standard as the last, only a few dishes were under seasoned that I came across (one was the Native Fish in Tomato broth.) I am not a picky eater and like to try different things. I usually ordered two entries to try something different and ended up eating both because they were that good. For breakfast and lunch, usually ate at the buffet at Horizons or got a pizza/burger on deck. Each of them were great and had a bunch of different options to choose from, almost everything was good. Did not try the specialty restaurants on board, heard from other passengers that they are good.
Had C723 on the Caribe deck which has a larger balcony, definitely would advise if you are going to get a balcony cabin, get it on this deck. The chairs were definitely great as they were the recliner type, which were definitely nice when you are sitting there in the mornings as you are arriving in ports or grabbing a glass of wine or cocktail as the ship is leaving port. The cabin was the normal cabin for a cruise, the beds could always be more comfortable, but room was clean and always made up per usual. We did hit some rough waters on the first few days on our way to St. Thomas because of the storm that was in the Atlantic. Could definitely feel the ship move at night, mainly the first few nights of sleep were interesting, then the seas calmed down. One thing about having an aft cabin is that you felt the thrusters in the morning and at night when we were docking. In the future, I might check into getting a cabin more towards the midship to see if it would make a difference. Was on the Ruby last year and did not feel the boat move, but was in the Mediterrean which did have calmer seas. Outside of that, really didn't have any complaints.
The entertainment was alright, the Beatle Maniacs were great cover band that were spot on and both shows were great. The comedians were good and some of the street performers were good. The production shows weren't the greatest. Two out of the four shows were good, the Motor City and Boots one were ones I could have passed on, maybe they were just off on the shows that I caught. Also make sure you show up about half an hour early or you won't find a seat for the early show.
First time I was here, neat little island. We hit it on a windy day with choppy seas so the tender ride were an experience, kind of like a roller coaster of sorts, waves were about three to four feet and got bounced around a bit. Nice beach but a storm rolled in in the early afternoon, so we hopped the tender back to the ship for lunch.
I did the BOSS underwater scooter excursion, which I highly recommend since this was one of the five places that you can do it in the world and positively a great experience as you are able to breathe under the water without a mask, just in a bubble while steering this underwater scooter around. They take you down about eight feet and once you get over the initial shock of being able to breathe under water, it is great being able to steer your scooter and grab some great underwater shoots. Worth it for all ages, the oldest lady on our excursion was 80 years old and had no issue with it.
Did the rain forest tram excursion, a definite must see. The island was hit recently by storms and the roads are somewhat washed out, but currently being repaired. Going through the rain forest at tree top level at a slow pace with a guide was a peaceful experience with great scenery and there was a great walking tour at the top that took about 25 minutes. There was also an extra zip line excursion which looked like fun, but did not partake in it. Other passengers said it was worth it and a lot of fun. Amazing how the temperature change was from the pier where it was in the high 80's, up in the forest it was in the 70's with a breeze. Also, definitely need to try the Ginger Wine that they make there, reasonable priced and made a great mixer with Sprite.
I did the underwater sculpture park snorkel tour, was pretty neat even though the currents were strong that day and it was overcast so the visibility wasn't as good as it could have been since it had rained the day before, we were still able to see plenty of sculptures once the guide pointed them out to us...they have become part of the reef itself now and it really is amazing to see something that is part from our world and part from the sea. The boat ride after to the beach was great and was able to spend an hour or so at the beach in the water just relaxing and there was a cool little bar on the beach that had a great local brew, not to mention the tour guides kept coming around with the rum punches.
Prime spot for snorkeling as I researched, after I did snorkeling in the last few ports, I wanted a day to recoup and ended up doing an island tour by private taxi, just walked off the ship and there were four people hopping into a cab and we jumped in as well as another couple (eight people in all) $20 a person for a two and half hour tour around the entire island. The salt production was neat to see and the whole tour was worth it. Definitely a great cost effective way to see the whole island, only thing we didn't get to see was the Flamingo preserve, but we saw a few on the northern part of the island.
One word of advice, if you are planning on doing a snorkeling or diving adventure, it is worth paying the money for a reputable guide. There was a couple that was coming up behind up on the pier where they rented a car for the day, which got broken into and everything they had in the car was stolen: their IDs, money, cruise cards, cameras, etc. If you are going to go out on your own, get a guide.
Did a pirate boat snorkeling excursion which was a lot of fun. Great reefs and plenty of tropical fish and being able to experience it on an old wooden ship was neat. When we were at the shipwreck(1st boat there in the morning) with 26 of us were in the water, we almost got run over by the flat bottom boat driver that was going over the shipwreck, thinking some people just shouldn't be driving a boat. We stopped at a couple other reefs with plenty of tropical fish and great snorkeling and really good rum punch.
The days at sea were packed with things to do if you wanted, but it was nice to just relax by the pool, did a few things here and like the wine tasting, and worked on napping much of the time. Overall it was a great trip and ready to do it again. Definitely would recommend the Emerald Princess for a cruise in the future.