I’m from East Texas and drove to the port. On Saturday night before sailing on Sunday, we spent the night in Baytown, TX at the LaQuinta Inn & Suites on I-10 East. Great location, very convenient , close to Denny’s for breakfast, ... Read More
I’m from East Texas and drove to the port. On Saturday night before sailing on Sunday, we spent the night in Baytown, TX at the LaQuinta Inn & Suites on I-10 East. Great location, very convenient , close to Denny’s for breakfast, Target, Walmart. Easy 20-25 minute drive to cruise terminal, depending on road construction. Muddy & messy after a rain near cruise terminal area. Once you get onto port/terminal property they have things very organized and well-staffed. Parking was a breeze and embarkation very smooth. Long lines but moved fast. We arrived inside the terminal building at 10:45 and walked on the ship at 11:55. Went straight to our cabin and dumped our carry-ons then went for lunch & exploring. Our luggage arrived before 2:00.
Dining: We had late dining (8:00). On Sunday night we walked out of the dining room at 9:55…very slow service that night and most nights. I wasn’t impressed with the breads, and I tried many varieties of rolls. I ordered beef filet medallions (on the menu every night) and didn’t think they had a very good flavor; also had a lot of gristle; very disappointed starting off the first night. However, Crème Brulee was awesome as was the cheesecake and heart-shaped chocolate love boat dessert, and these were offered every night also. They had two shows in the Princess Theater the first night, at 8:00 & 9:30, but were in the dining room during both shows. Lobster was on the menu the second formal night and it was awesome, prepared perfectly. I found the staff/crew on this ship to be the least friendly & cheerful of any ship I’ve sailed on and the food not the quality as on some other cruise lines. I found even higher quality meats tough and prepared with not a lot of taste. Ricardo, the Head Waiter in my dining room (Botticelli) was very arrogant and it appeared to be beneath him to spend more than 15 seconds saying hello from a distance. We were a table of 6, mostly women, and he never actually came to our table and carried on a conversation with us. He just rubbed me wrong from the beginning! The butter pats on the table for bread were chilled so hard they wouldn’t spread, and one night ours were even frozen. Grilled salmon was on the menu every night and it was awesome; prepared just perfect every time.
Pizzaria & ice cream bar located mid-ship deck 15. They had hand-dipped ice cream as well as soft-serve. They served it to you, not self-serve. I didn’t think either were very good, and I tried several flavors on several days; just not the flavor/quality like I’m used to.
International Café (deck 5 mid) in the Piazza is a great place to pick up a complimentary light (mostly continental) breakfast, a light deli lunch, a dessert, a snack. Really good food there. Gelato available for a nominal charge. Also in the International Café is a coffee bar with specialty coffees that you have to pay for. The Best thing going is to purchase a coffee card for $29 + gratuity, for 15 cups of any specialty coffee and unlimited regular coffee. You can choose to have your coffee in a glass cup or in a take-out cup, and you can have a 12 oz. or 16 oz. cup. And the great thing about this is that if you have any punches left on your coffee card at the end of the cruise, they carry over to your next Princess Cruise; just the specialty coffees, not unlimited regular coffee. There aren’t many real bargains on a cruise ship, but to me this is one. Vines wine bar is in this same area in the Piazza, as well as the 24-hour Internet Café & Future Cruise Sales desk.
The cabin: In the shower they provide shampoo/conditioner combo in a pump container as well as shower gel (no soap). If you want an antibacterial or deodorant soap you have to bring your own. Wall mounted hair dryer by the dressing table/desk is plenty hot and plenty powerful. Small refrigerator in cabin but doesn’t get very cold at all. Had to ask cabin attendant to remove their drinks so we cold use it for our own stuff. TV in the corner on a shelf but not interactive, so you can’t check your account, menus, make reservations, etc. I’m used to this and was very disappointed. Can be a real hassle because you have to actually go somewhere to check on anything. Kiosks are around the Passenger Service desk where you can swipe your card and check account balance/activity. Love the closet set-up in cabins on Princess ships. Smart design, easily accessible and no door to get in the way. Traditional electrical outlet (two plugs) at desk/dressing table, but if you need another, the one where the TV is plugged in has one plug available and is very convenient. Our cabin was on deck 10 and had an extra large balcony, even though it was the same BE category as cabins on other decks with much smaller balconies. Ours overlooked the balcony below us…something to seriously think about if considering deck 9; NO privacy there at all. We felt so guilty for “intruding” on our neighbors below, but made the most of our nice balcony and used it often. Cabin doors are recessed in the hall, which makes it nice when entering your door with other people walking in the hall; however, the halls are incredibly narrow and you can barely get thru when a cabin attendant’s cart is in the hall or you pass someone walking the opposite direction. In my opinion that is a definite design flaw. It is very nice that Princess’s cabin attendants still put a piece of chocolate on your bed when they turn it down at night. Many cruise lines no longer do this and I appreciated this special little touch.
Around the ship: They have a sorry excuse for a shuffleboard court; half-court only and right in the middle of a walkway; very badly placed. Mini golf (deck 19 aft) is just a little putting green with a few holes, not actual miniature golf at all; very disappointing. Beautiful show theater; offered 3 shows Mon., Tues. & Fri. nights, 7:00, 8:30 & 10:15 and 2 shows the other nights, 7:00 & 8:30. Club Fusion (deck 7 aft) is a real neat & comfortable place with some fun activities there, including sometimes Trivia. Trivia is offered twice daily and sometimes has themes. Gatsby’s casino (deck 6 mid) is very spacious and comfortable. They offered 2 non-smoking nights and it was extremely pleasant in there those 2 nights; other times the smoke was almost unbearable. They had lots of penny slots and a nice variety of games. The Piazza is the central hub and was the venue for various entertainment throughout the week. They had a pop choir who performed the last day and they were really good; on Valentine’s Day the captain did a vow renewal ceremony for couples who wished to participate; the last night they had fun & lively Mardi Gras celebration with singing & dancing, as well as some other things. It’s a really nice area and can be seen from above on decks 6 and 7. The Sanctuary is a large space fixed up nice and offers great pampering, but is very under-used. We never saw many people there and it seems such a waste of good space for so few people. The cost is $20 for half-day and $40 for full day per person. I’m sure the cost is what keeps many from using The Sanctuary.
Entertainment: Comedian duo Alfred & Seymore were very good. Theirs was a unique comedy show, not like anything I’ve ever seen. They were funny, clean and quite entertaining. I was very disappointed in the production shows by the singers & dancers. They didn’t seem as polished as most production entertainers usually are. Tom Franek was another entertainer who was awesome. He plays the piano (not like anyone you’ve ever seen before) and sings and has a really great show. Another entertainer was Andrew Phipps; he was a good entertainer but not a good singer. Not one of my favorites for the week.
Ports: Docked at the Puerta Maya pier in Cozumel. Lots of ships in port that day and we shared a pier with another ship. In Roatan we docked along-side also and in Belize we tendered; very nice shopping in all port areas. In Roatan we took an excursion to Gumbalimba Park. It’s at the extreme west end of the island and is a great excursion for wildlife up close & personal. NOTE: can’t take bags, backpacks or large purses into park; can take small across-the-chest purses. Best not to wear jewelry either as the monkeys love to grab it. Can rent a locker for $3 to store things not allowed in the park. Can have your picture taken with a macaw on your arm or monkey on hour shoulder…very neat and lots of fun. Will also see iguanas & other lizards, hummingbirds, “rabbit rats”, butterflies & parrots. 40 minute (+/-) bus ride to park; bathrooms there & small snack bar. Entire excursion takes less that 4 hours.
Disembarkation was the most amazing yet. I’ve never seen a smoother, more organized or streamlined plan. From the time we walked out of our cabin pulling our bags for self-assist disembarkation till the time we got in our car in the parking lot, it was probably 15 minutes, and that includes a stop at customs on the way out...a truly exceptional process. Other cruise lines should take some notes on Princesses procedures here!!
All in all, sailing on the Emerald Princess was not my favorite cruising experience, but it was still a very enjoyable cruise with a very dear friend and we had a really nice time. Will I sail on this ship again…only if I find a truly exceptional deal that just can’t be passed up.