This was a last minute decision to take the Emerald Princess for a New Year's sailing with my husband. Our daughter and her boyfriend, both first time cruisers, joined us.
We had a very enjoyable cruise after the 28 hour trip from Canada to FLL!!! For any of you driving to Florida, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Airport/Cruiseport on Sterling. Included in our night rate was free parking, a hot buffet and a shuttle to and from the cruiseport. Excellent service, newer hotel. Not your average stay over FLL hotel. Reasonably priced too!! All that for $200.00 Canadian, for 4 people! (They charge $20.00/day just to park at Port Everglades)
The ship was beautifully decorated for the holidays and New Year's Eve was a night we will never forget.
Hector, the head waiter in the D'vinci dining room is our new best friend. When he found out my daughter's boyfriend had a nut allergy, he took great interest and had him choose his dinner the evening before, telling him what he could and couldn't have. We would just tell our waiter we pre-ordered and halfway through the meal, Hector would come by to make sure all was well.
Although we found the entertainment on the ship so-so (the kids enjoyed it all) we totally enjoyed the last evening of entertainment when the staff sang. Hector was the star of the show, singing My Way!!!
Our stateroom steward, Romel was fantastic!! One of the better ones I've seen. They are all good, but he always went the extra mile to speak with us and make sure we had everything we needed and wanted.
The food was plentiful and delicious. We really enjoyed the Fettucine at dinner (as a side dish) plus our entree, which the selections were plentiful. The lunch buffets had a great variety and their salad bar was so fresh! The late afternoon sandwich bar was a big hit with us, especially the Tuna.
I'm very picky since I cruise often. I love Princess Cruise Lines and have cruised with them often.
There were a few items I thought needed improvement on this cruise.
First, I found there was a lot of dirty glassware and dishes left around the Terrace pool everyday, which I haven't seen before.
The chair hogs were back, but after a number of people complained about chairs being left with just towels on them for hours, the deck attendant started removing them after a few days. I do think Princess must make the Terrace "Adult Pool" sign larger for all to read. It took a few days but the parents of the children (one in a diaper) finally understood. Some pretended they didn't understand....too funny!!
I was surprised at the number of people wearing jeans in the dining rooms for dinner. I feel if people want to wear jeans to dinner, the Horizon Court or Caribe Cafe was better suited for them.
I found the buffets to be a bit chaotic. I've been on other ships that have an oval as their buffet, which is much better. I found people going this way and that in the buffet line and some getting a little hot under the collar with fellow passengers when they thought they were next. With that number of people on board, I thought it went quite well....there was enough food to go around and then some!
We had arranged for the shuttle to pick us up at 8:00 a.m. so we could get back to the hotel, pack up our vehicle and get back on the road asap for the trek back to Canada.
In our haste, we left behind a piece of luggage but was unaware of it until Princess called our cell to let us know. We had disembarked at 7:45 and here they were calling us within the hour.
We decided to return to the ship (10 minutes) but our luggage wasn't released by Customs until 11:30 as they had to wait until each piece of luggage removed from the ship was accounted for and then the left over luggage scanned.
The Princess rep felt bad, but it was out of her control. She went beyond to make contact with us before we left the States. We are forever grateful to her.
All in all, another great cruise with Princess!!