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76 Princess Emerald Princess Family Cruise Reviews

This was our first Princess cruise after 12 on RCCL, 5 on NCL, and 2 on Celebrity. I was hesitant to go on Princess (not my choice) because it is in the Carnival family and there have been too many problems on Carnival lines for my ... Read More
This was our first Princess cruise after 12 on RCCL, 5 on NCL, and 2 on Celebrity. I was hesitant to go on Princess (not my choice) because it is in the Carnival family and there have been too many problems on Carnival lines for my comfort. Nonetheless, we went and had a very good time. I would say that it was quite comparable to RCCL and NCL and a notch below Celebrity. We (hubby, me, and 3 year old) stayed in a a mini-suite, which was wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the 2 TVs in the room (hubby could watch March Madness on mute while daughter watched a very good selection of family films on the other). The balcony was large, as was the bathroom. The room steward was very much on top of things, though I got the feeling that he was in charge of more rooms than he probably should have been. The food on the ship was generally good, not great. The buffet was good, but not particularly inspiring (and the crowd flow of the buffet was disastrous--seriously, Princess, do a usability study on that). Breakfast got old quick, and the dinners were okay. The best part was that they generally had the same dessert as the main dining room. The pizza and the grill were very good. The fish and chips in the Wheelhouse on sea days were also very good. The steakhouse was fabulous, though you paid for it. The food and the service at the steakhouse were outstanding. The MDR, however, left much to be desired. The food was generally okay, though bland. But the service was a nightmare. We were a table of 10 and service took three hours (which is too long for anyone, especially for a family with a three year old). On the first night, I talked to someone who I thought was a head waiter, and he promised me it would be better the next night. The next night, it was 40 minutes from when the last person sat down until we got any food. I drank the last drop of my water, and 30 minutes later, my glass still not had been refilled. I then talked to the manager of the dining room and told him that this was my 20th cruise, my first on Princess, and thus far they were not doing a particularly good job at making me want to take another cruise with them. Well, from that point on, service was impeccable. We got a new waitress, who was phenomenal. But I should have to cause a fuss to be treated in a timely manner. We were impressed with the Princess Pelican Club for the three year old. We thought she would hate it, but she wound up asking us when she got to go back to the Club. They had dance parties, painted t-shirts, got their faces painted, and more. I was impressed with the security. The door was always locked (parents had to be buzzed in) and an ID had to be presented to pick up the kids. After the first day, the staff knew my daughter by name and knew that I belonged to my daughter. Impressive. Also, one night when they went to the buffet and to a dance club, two large security guards went with them. This was the first cruise my daughter went on in which she could go to the club, so I can't compare it to others, but I was impressed. We were on the Spring Break cruise, and they had many more kids than usual (to the disdain of many of the older crowd on the ship), but the kids club seemed to handle the influx well. The only frustrating thing about the Pelican Club was that dinner started at 5:30 and the kids club didn't open until 6. So, to avoid the long dinners in the MDR, I would feed her at 5:30 in the buffet, drop her off at 6pm, and then run down to the MDR to join the group for the main dish that my husband ordered for me. I feel as though Princess could have done a better job timing everything to make things work more seamlessly. I thought the ship itself was in good shape. I loved that muster was inside. Overall, we had a good trip and would consider Princess again (especially since Houston is so convenient), though, to be fair, we already have two more cruises booked for the next two years, and neither is on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My family of four had a great time on the Emerald Princess from 8-15 Mar 15. Rather than go through the minutia about what was good, I thought it might be more helpful to explain where we saw some things lacking. ENTERTAINMENT: As ... Read More
My family of four had a great time on the Emerald Princess from 8-15 Mar 15. Rather than go through the minutia about what was good, I thought it might be more helpful to explain where we saw some things lacking. ENTERTAINMENT: As discussed on this board previously, my family also found the entertainment to be mediocre at best. I expected a higher quality of nightly performances. DINING: Food was excellent but always seemed to bother me after dinner.... maybe I'm just not used to eating foods so rich. KIDS CLUB: Although this was spring break and there were many kids on the ship, the activities weren't that robust. My 12-year-old grew bored with her group the first day and my 14-yr-old was disappointed compared to other cruise line programs. Again, there just were not enough quality activities. BAR SERVICE: Woefully undermanned. It should never take 20 minutes to get a drink at any bar on a ship (in my opinion). As I said, we generally enjoyed this cruise although I believe we would rather cruise with other lines who offer activities more in line with our own personal tastes. The alcohol program was worth it for my husband and I -- him for quantity and me for the ability to order something different, not like it, and not feel guilty about not drinking it. When you add in the kids beverage program (including malts and mocktails), we more than got our money's worth. Excellent value. My review would be remiss without a shout out to the EXCELLENT medical service. Unfortunately, my oldest daughter was sick the first day at sea but the medical staff took wonderful care of her, even calling during the day to ensure she was getting better. The Houston port was uber efficient and I will definitely cruse out of that port when we go again. Luckily, we experienced no fog. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Booked by ourselves. Little French Key (Honduras) was wonderful and cave tubing (Belize) was a lot of fun. However, at the port, we were "sold" to another trip company and things went downhill from there. Although our river guide was EXCELLENT (Javier's Adventures), the remainder of the experience was lacking.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We are older, ages 63 & 58, this was our 15th cruise, 4th on Princess. We live in Houston and were dropped off at the ship. Having cruised with Princess before on a similar ship we knew what to expect. Getting on and off the ship at ... Read More
We are older, ages 63 & 58, this was our 15th cruise, 4th on Princess. We live in Houston and were dropped off at the ship. Having cruised with Princess before on a similar ship we knew what to expect. Getting on and off the ship at Bayport was a breeze. Luckily, fog was not an issue, though we have dealt with it before in Galveston. The overall experience at Bayport was positive, way better than Galveston. I'll start with the food. We thought the main dining room food was good, but the buffet was not so good. We never had dinner in the buffet, only lunch and breakfast. Breakfast was decent, but the buffet lunch was lacking. There was good pizza by the pool and we enjoyed going to the International Cafe on deck 5. In the Botticelli Dining Room we had tables 66 and 76 located right next to each other. Sandra was outstanding. The staff seemed shorthanded so service was hit & miss on the busier nights. We never tried any of the specialty places on this cruise. Friends did the Crab Shack thing and they liked it a lot. Let's talk entertainment. We went to some, but not all the shows. We thought most of them were below par. Having recently cruised the MSC Divina and having been on the Oasis of the Seas maybe we're spoiled. Shows were better than Carnival shows, but worse than Royal Caribbean. The Princess Theater seemed a little old too and smaller than other ships we have been on. The DJs and live bands did a good job throughout the ship, however. Went to Skywalkers every night and took advantage of the two for one drink special between 10pm and 11pm. Pool deck and outside areas. We enjoyed the Lotus Spa pool and hot tubs almost every day. The Sanctuary, located above the pool towards the front seemed stupid. Looked like a ghost town to me. Just a wasted space that very few people paid to use. Spent time at the aft too near the Horizon Pool. The pool itself is small, but the aft area is a great place to hang out, especially above the pool. Never watched MUTS at the main pool, but the sound was not overpowering like it is on Carnival. I spent time outside on the Promenade Deck each morning and totally enjoyed the peace & quiet. We've been to all the ports, but Mahogany Bay in Roatan was a new dock for us. If you don't want to go to West Bay or the West End the port is fine for spending time off the ship. It's not cheap, however. In Belize, the wife shopped and I planted my butt at the Wet Lizard. We both had fun. Paradise Beach was our stop in Cozumel. Had been there before and would go back. We had a balcony cabin. I thought the balcony was rather small. The cabin was set up well, with a table and chair instead of a little couch. The storage area of HUGE. Biggest closet we've had on a ship. The bathroom was a cruise ship bathroom. Our room guy, Rocard did a good job. We like our cabin cold and it was cold. No cabin complaints. (Posted this cabin review in the deck plan section too.) Overall, we had a good cruise. We still like Royal Caribbean better and Carnival worse. For the right cruise, we'd cruise Princess again, but we'd never cruise Carnival again. The prices out of Houston were very cheap, that alone makes this cruise worth taking.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
The terminal at Houston, Tx is fairly new and very cruiser friendly. The parking lot is ample for the ships that depart from this port. The embarkation was the smoothest and quickest I have ever had on any of my cruises! They were ... Read More
The terminal at Houston, Tx is fairly new and very cruiser friendly. The parking lot is ample for the ships that depart from this port. The embarkation was the smoothest and quickest I have ever had on any of my cruises! They were organized and we arrived at the terminal, got luggage unloaded, checked in and got to our stateroom in less than an hour!! We had requested queen bed in our interior cabin and when we first arrived to our cabin, saw that there were twin beds in the cabin, as well as two berths on the walls! Surprise! Since there were only two of us, we certainly did not need the extra berths. PLUS, we had received an email from Princess a few days after we booked and paid for our trip, stating they had upgraded our room and gave us a cabin number at that time. In looking at ship layout maps and descriptions of rooms on several sites, including Princess', not one of them shows R331 to have berths in addition to the twin beds. In fact, Princess' website shows a small table and chair in the cabin, which certainly was not there, nor would have been any room for anyway. We went to customer service immediately to inquire about a different room and to request that we have a queen bed rather than the two separate twin beds. The staff was courteous and took down our information and said she would see that the beds were put together, but said there were no other rooms available. The cabin steward did put the beds together later in the evening, per our request. However, that created a whole new problem...there is only about a foot of space between the wall and the bed, on each side. With the berths protruding from the wall about 10 inches, it made it very difficult to get into bed. Once again, we made our way to customer services to inquire about a change. We received a letter later that day stating, 'Sorry, but no rooms. Enjoy your cruise,' No offer of any compensation or apology for not informing us of the annoying berths prior to embarkation. Entertainment was fairly good and entertaining during the cruise. The ship was in good condition and clean. The pool stewards made sure chairs were out around the pools for lounging, as well as watching movies under the stars, which was great. They also served cookies and milk in the afternoon. We only saw them with cookies one afternoon, but supposed to be every day. Had nice service in the dining rooms, with different servers, since we had anytime dining. Vados was the assistant waiter for a couple of evenings and he was great and very charming. Maitre d came around to diners and made conversation most nights and was very friendly. He definitely made a point to stress the ratings we give on our post cruise surveys and hoped that we all gave high marks! Food in the dining room was very good most nights. Steak overdone on the night they served them, but tasted OK. Food in the Horizon court buffet was only mediocre every time we ate lunch or dinner in there. The temperature was warm and most times the meat was dry and nondescript. Breakfast omelettes were good, and most breakfast food was good. Took shore excursion to Tabayana Beach in Roatan, Honduras. The bus ride there was quite long and along some very bumpy roads. The beach was nice, with lots of chairs and shade trees to park underneath, if you preferred to be out of the sun. They did not have water toys or shades to rent while there. The excursion included lunch while there. It was mediocre barbecue chicken, rice and beans and fruit. I would say find a tour that did not include paying for a lunch, because it really was extremely disappointing. The sand was beautiful white and smooth and the water was great. We explored the Mohagony Beach right next to the port when we returned from our excursion. In retrospect, I would have stayed at that beach to swim and sun and walked back to ship for lunch, or ridden the chairlift back and forth, which was $10 for all day, as many trips as you wanted to do. There were water floats and toys to rent. as well as shades. Fewer trees and the sand was not quite as nice as Tabayana Beach, but it was still very nice and way lots closer and didn't involve long bus ride. We took the River tour and Altun Ha ruins in Belize City and really enjoyed it. The tour guides, Ken and Sally, were great on the bus ride to the ruins. They were very informative and fun. After touring the ruins, we were taken to an outdoor area for lunch before boarding the boats for the river tour. Again, there was chicken, beans and rice and bottled soft drinks. Unfortunately, the Cokes were room temperature and the food was mediocre at best. Ken was our tour guide on the boat and we did see some crocodiles, a few howling monkeys in the trees, some iguanas and bats and some herons. No colorful birds as we had hoped, but was still very enjoyable 22 miles motoring back to the cruise port. I would do this tour again. I will say it was next to impossible to get an audience with the future cruise representative. She is only in the office a few short hours. They seem to encourage everyone to simply complete a form and drop it in the box rather than speaking with the representative to discuss future sailings. The staff did a great job of informing us what to expect for disembarkation and were well organized. Again, it was the best disembarkation that I have ever had at any port. We were very pleased with the ease and speed. Had the best porter to take our bags and got us through customs in record time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We cruised from the Houston Port (an industrial no man's land) to Mahahual, Belize and Cozumel. The Emerald Princess is a fine ship, very clean and with all the usual amenities. The staff was pleasant. We enjoyed the excursions to ... Read More
We cruised from the Houston Port (an industrial no man's land) to Mahahual, Belize and Cozumel. The Emerald Princess is a fine ship, very clean and with all the usual amenities. The staff was pleasant. We enjoyed the excursions to the Mayan temples in Chacchoben and Belize (do NOT miss the Lamanai temples in the jungle !). Breakfast and lunch at the buffet was plentiful and reasonably varied. The only real problem with the cruise was the dinner : 1- the 'filet migon' was NOT filet migon but a cheap generic tasteless cut. 2- the 'ceviche' was not edible. 3- the mussels were old and overcooked ... certainly the worst I have eaten (I have cruise over 18 times, travel to Europe at least 20 and live in a city of fine dining : Montreal). The 'fries' serve with them make McDonald's seem delicious by comparison ! B- The entertainment was unremarkable except for the excellent magic show by Michael Barron. As mentioned, the dinner was not up to par with Royal Caribbean, Holland America. Celebrity or Costa. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Houston Bayport is a great option for us in the Midwest. We loved the relaxed pace and boarding was efficient and smooth. Great facility, only wish there were more itineraries out of there. Having traveled on the Royal in Feb, we fell in ... Read More
Houston Bayport is a great option for us in the Midwest. We loved the relaxed pace and boarding was efficient and smooth. Great facility, only wish there were more itineraries out of there. Having traveled on the Royal in Feb, we fell in love with the Belini Bar and the Sushi Bar. I wish Princess would expand Vines to include pay Sushi and Belini like the royal. The way it works now (on ships other than the royal) is that you have to buy wine and you get some very basic Sushi. I notice that it is empty a lot of the time. Our evening dining service was very slow. Late sitting dinner typically took several hours, with appetizer being served 45 min after sitting. I was curious as to why that was and I noticed that my waiter spent many round trips getting wine and bar drinks for all the tables in the area. That extra duty, not typical of our other cruises, took him out of the area for 40% of the time. No wonder so slow. I recently read that they have eliminated wine stewards, perhaps that is the issue? Horizon Court was bland, over salted and smelled very dank. Apparently a prior cruise had flooding due to bad weather so I was o.k. to overlook. Lines were long during normal times. My wife and I decided to use the formal breakfast more often just to avoid the issues. This was a rare Princess cruise with 700+ children on board. Very fun atmosphere compared to the typical crowds. Youth departments did a great job of providing entertainment so hats off to them. We were disappointed with the shows as there was a lot of muscle clad guys ripping off shirts and skimpy dancers. I saw more than 10 families walk out each night. Comedian was pretty much for adults as well. Having been on Princess for 5 cruises, I have come to expect this but I would ask that if more than 10% of the cruise are children, can you not tone it down just a tad. Maybe not rip off shirts? Raunchy Vegas is old and expired. Cruise lines that provide more wholesome entertainment are thriving. Time to step it up a tad (my opinion). Tired of dance tributes with ex-Russian ballet dancers. After a while, it is just repetitive and boring. Lost one island due to weather, staff on board did a good job of coming up with another days worth of events. Watches and jewelry were surprisingly affordable. We were on board for our 20th anniversary. Worth looking at if you are in the market. A little more rust than I am accustomed to. Balcony was pretty rusty and so were the doors when disembarking. Having just come off the Royal, I guess I was just spoiled. Room Steward was great! Extra tip and a comment card. Overall, pretty good trip… Not amazing nor excellent. Seem like the crew is beginning to suffer under cutbacks? Carnival Corp (owns Princess): People take Princess for the elegance and service. This is starting to really suffer. Had a long talk with some folks on board about their experiences with Disney cruises. Family and I may just shoot for Amazing next time.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Emerald Princess cruise March 7th-17th. Southern Caribbean route. We are from South Carolina so rather than deal with the airlines we decided to leisurely drive down to Fort Lauderdale. Our first stop was in Cape Canaveral at the ... Read More
Emerald Princess cruise March 7th-17th. Southern Caribbean route. We are from South Carolina so rather than deal with the airlines we decided to leisurely drive down to Fort Lauderdale. Our first stop was in Cape Canaveral at the Radisson Resort At The Port. If you ever decide to sail out of Port Canaveral this is an awesome hotel to stay at. For $160 we stayed in a suite with king sized sleep number bed, a full separate eating area with second TV, a hot tub next to the bed and a nice marble shower. The pool is done up to look like a tropical oasis with large stone arches covered with vines and a waterfall in the middle. The service there is top notch. We ate at Kelsey's pizza right next door and had delicious pizza and Greek salads. We then ventured on to the Springfield Inn and Suites Ft Lauderdale Airport and Cruise Port. We got a king sized room with all the amenities for $193. This included a free shuttle to the port and the ability to park our car for the duration. With a 10 day cruise the savings really added up. You can book a return shuttle back from the port for $10 a person. We enjoyed yummy pizza from Carcione's pizza (large 1 topping with 6 garlic knots and a cold 2 liter...$14). Embarkation: We took the 10:30am shuttle to the port. Arrived inside around 11am and were put into group 4. It took about an hour before our group was called but once we were called things moved relatively fast. We went to our cabin and found our luggage had already arrived! We decided rather than fight the hordes at the Horizon court we would have lunch in the dining room. It was a decision well made. The dining room was not crowded and a perfect place to relax. My wife and I enjoyed a delicious cheese ravioli appetizer and then beef tenderloins in a rich gravy with red mashed potatoes. It was one of the best meals on the ship. I would highly recommend doing this instead of the horizon court. There are even cheese burgers available if you have picky little eaters. We did muster at 3pm and met in the casino. They now scan your room key card at muster so trying to hide from it won't work. It was quick and painless and soon we were ready to "escape completely". Cabin: We stayed in E 316. An inside cabin on the emerald deck. This cabin had it's ups and downs. On the upside we were conveniently located close to just about everything. The elevator was just around the corner and were were very near the theater, bars and dining venues. The room was spacious enough not to feel cramped and offered more than enough storage space. The bathroom was small but workable with a nice shower with good pressure and temperature variation. On the down side our first night we hit some rough weather with high seas and wind. The walls of cabin creaked so long and so loud sleep was almost impossible. Fortunately when we reached the calmer Caribbean waters the creaking subsided. Also we could never seem to get the cabin very cool. We didn't opt for a top sheet and later regretted it as it got pretty warm under the comforter with the little AC the room provided. We did get the egg crate mattress which made the bed more comfortable. What made our cabin stay the most bearable was taking my WDTV with portable hard drive along. WDTV is a small black box which allows you to watch Netflix, Youtube, Facebook and various other video, picture and music services with WiFi connection. We didn't utilize these since WiFi is very expensive and spotty on the ship. However I downloaded a DVD copier program (Ideal DVD copy) and burned 120 of my favorite movies to a 1 gig portable hard drive which I could plug into the WDTV. I then plugged the WDTV into the stateroom TV and by switching the sources with the TV remote was able to watch our DVD movies in our cabin. It was really great to be able to relax and watch a movie at our leisure right in the room. WDTV is $99, a 1 gig portable hard drive is $150 and the DVD burner program cost $40. So for a one time investment of $300 I can take my DVD library everywhere I go! Dining (my favorite part): We ate all our breakfasts in the dining room (except) for the last day. You should really avoid the horizon court as the food is not as good. The breakfasts in the dining room were very good. We enjoyed Eggs Benedict, blueberry pancakes, crispy french toast, and other yummy samplings. Each breakfast has 2 specials of the day and then the standard fare of eggs, pancakes, cereal, fruits, meats, etc. I disagree with other posters who said the coffee was bad. The horizon court coffee was nasty but the dining room coffee tasted just fine to me. The international cafe also makes a great breakfast stop. They have loads of pastries, donuts, coffee cake and muffins all of it tasty and fresh. For lunch we went to the dining room when available. The food was consistently good and the hamburgers outdid the Trident grill in both size and flavor. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers and bacon cheeseburgers are available on every dining room lunch menu. The Trident grill was not bad. It featured hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, brats, and hot dogs as well as a vegiburger for non meat eaters. You may want to be in line a little before 11:30am as the lines get long. I do wish they had more offerings as well. I have seen other lines offer taco bars with nachos and chili. It would have been nice to make a chili cheeseburger or chili dog to break up the monotony. The pizza grill was another great staple with some of the better pizza I have had at sea. The crust is tasty and crisp and the ingredients fresh. They offer cheese, pepperoni and a pizza of the day. My favorite was the "surf and turf" which was tenderloin and lobster bits on a pizza. Again my only complaint is wishing the had more choices. Only 3 choices with 2 of them being staples gets old quick. The international cafe offers small sandwiches and salads with a quiche of the day and soup of the day. The sandwiches include ham & cheese, Mozzarella and Prosciutto, chicken salad, and others. The sandwiches are small but light and refreshing. The quiche of the day is usually cheese with either mushroom, onion, spinach, leeks or tomato depending on the day. I didn't try the soup and the Gelato was still unavailable. We never ate in the horizon court which is available as well. For dinner we stayed with the dining room. Here is where we encountered another Princess problem. Anytime dining. Which by all definition was certainly not. When cruising with princess before we were able to make a standing reservation for a table for two for the duration of the cruise. We were told that this was not allowed by the reservation line only to discover other couples were allowed to make this arrangement. We were told to arrive at 5:30 every night and we would be seated but that isn't "anytime" dining in my book. Other lines could accommodate us "anytime" and any seating arrangement we liked. All said our meals were generally very good and the wait staff friendly and attentive. The prime rib is a must try as well as the Goat Cheese Souffle, Lobster was sweet and tasty. Do have the Chocolate Hazelnut souffle as it is very good. One other complaint is the way tables for two are set up. There is a long community couch with chairs spaced out along it to create makeshift tables for two. The problem is you don't have any privacy as there are people at both your elbows. People who want tables for two usually wish to dine alone and not be subjected to forced conversations. I would like to see Princess create real tables for two instead of trying to pass this off as such. The international cafe has yummy dessert bites in the evening which we found outdid some of the desserts in the dining room. They are also smaller and less filling. Now for my favorite. The Crown Grill. We ate there twice and can't recommend this place enough. The steaks are some of the best I have ever tasted and always cooked to perfection. I would recommend the Scallop appetizer with perfectly cooked scallops. The Black and Blue soup with tangy Roquefort cheese. I had both the 8oz fillet and the 16oz Kansas city strip both delicious. The scalloped potatoes are a must try. They are swimming in cheesy goodness. You can also add as many 4oz lobster tails as you can handle. The only throw away about the meal was the signature salt collection. The salts were too strong tasting and really not needed. The Cafe Caribe was available for dinner but we never ate there. We also never tried room service as the menu and food quality are the worst at sea. Entertainment: We skipped all the song and dance shows. We saw Al Katz and he was pretty funny. He did the usual stand up and we found getting a seat in the theater at 7:15 was not hard. We also saw Steven Scott and thought he was very funny combining sound effects with his various funny stories. He did a dead on impersonation of the captain that had everyone rolling. I would highly recommend seeing him. Our most common night activity was sneaking off to our secret hot tub. I will now share with you the secret. In the spa area is a pool and two hot tubs which are virtually abandoned at 7pm-8pm. These hot tubs are really hot, not luke warm like the ones in the main pool area. They also have powerful jets. It was very relaxing to have the place to ourselves at night with the night sky, cool night breezes and the lights of the Sanctuary giving a nice glow. Seek this place out! Just take the elevator to deck 16, make sure you get robes to wear from your cabin steward. Ports: Princess Cays: We stayed on the ship as we had been there before and it rained most of the day. I felt bad for the people who took the rough tender ride over only to be rained on with no place to find shelter. If you have been here I would recommend a day of having the ship to yourself. Nice to avoid all the cattle lines and just relax. St. Thomas: Got off briefly to purchase alcohol. If you plan to do so on this cruise buy it all here as they have the best prices and selection. We were surprised to find that they didn't take our liquor and hold it till the end of the cruise. I can't say if you will be so lucky but it was a nice way of keeping our bar tab low. The other ports had little to no alcohol stores and they were more expensive with poor selection. Dominica: Stayed on the boat. We have toured it already and once you have been there you have been there. Grenada: Had planned to go to magazine beach but it was overcast. We decided to venture into town which was a mistake. Every 3 feet some guy would try to peddle his cab tour. It usually went like this... Do you want a tour? No thanks. Let me show you my beautiful island. No thanks. With all it's waterfalls and cliff divers. No thanks. And historic forts. No thanks. I will take you to Grand Anse beach. No thanks. Repeat this with every guy you pass on the street. We did find a very nice spice store in the mall called D#1 spice shop. She had the best prices and wasn't a tacky tourist shop. Bought spices and retreated back to the boat. Bonair: One of the best stops of our trip. We chose to take a free shuttle bus to the Plaza Resort Bonair for some snorkling and relaxing on the beach. When you get off the ship just look for a set of white tents featuring tours. The Plaza shuttle driver is usually there about every 10 minutes. The shuttle is free and the resort costs $10 a person for use of their beach chairs, pool, bars and restaurant. Bring towels as none are provided. This was the best snorkel spot I have ever been to. The water is glass clear. The sea floor is a mixture or rock and coral so there are tons of fish. The best part is you don't have to be a great swimmer to snorkel here. In waist deep water you can literally stick your face in the water and see all kinds of sea life. We saw Parrot fish, angel fish and even an eel poking his head out of his hole. I do recommend some water shoes to keep your feet from getting cut or slipping. The beach itself is small and relaxing. When you are ready they will contact the shuttle to take you right back to the ship. Here is a video I shot, please excuse the shakiness since my flip cam lacks image stablization... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pK5LkuZ0DI&list=UUWFaowMaC-ERNs2OSSFidug&index=1&feature=plcp Aruba: After reading the various Cruise Critic boards we decided to venture to Eagle beach for a nice beach day. The weather was perfect, sunny with a nice breeze blowing. Originally we were going to take a taxi there, $13 one way per cab but a tour driver said to us "Why do that when the city bus will take you there both ways for the two of you for $5?" The bus station is right outside the port terminal. The busses are clean and modern and very safe. We purchased our bus tickets and headed on our way. On the bus we met up with "Myrtle Beach", a Boston snow bird now living in, you guessed it. She told us all about Eagle beach and what it had to offer. She was quite the character. She also introduced us to beach towel clips which we are going to have to get next time. She bought them at Bed, Bath and Beyond and they seemed to hold the towels neatly against the chairs. We arrived at the yellow exterior of the Amsterdam Manor which is right across from the beach and we got off. The beach was pristine with soft sand and clear blue water. Chairs were $10 a person and they had bar, changing area and port-o-lets. Myrtle Beach clued us in that we could use the Manor's restroom and that there was a Coke machine in there with $1 Cokes and Water. We stayed on the beach so we never found out if this was the case. Had a great day and decided to leave at 1pm which was good since the busses were getting a little crowded. All in all a perfect beach day. Sea Days (one early and two at the end): We spent our sea days lounging in the sun. We tried a number of places on the ship. The Mutts pool area seemed to lack a good breeze due to the tall glass windows all around it. We sat by the main pool upper deck area which had decent breeze but a lot of other people packing in like sardines. I wish some of these people grasped the concept of " personal space " We tried the highest deck by the Doplar radar globes but ended up naming it the frying pan due to the heat coming off the floor since they didn't put down the blue turf carpeting. I will now reveal to you the sweet spot. The best spot to spend an entire day sunning. Grab this spot early and guard it like a pitbull. Just outside the Sanctuary there is a glass wall that leads to a series of chairs. If you take your chairs and position them right next to the edge of the ship facing the dolphin shaped Sanctuary sign you will catch both a breeze from the side of the ship and a breeze blowing in from the front of the ship. Also you can use the pool located in the Sanctuary which is very cool and if you go into the spa area there are some very nice bathrooms close by. This is the same area with the awesome hot tubs. Disembarkation: Self debarked and were off the ship by 7:15. Shuttle back was prompt and the driver parked right next to our parked car. We were on the road by 8:00. Closing notes: We had an enjoyable cruise but feel that Princess has lots of room to improve. Anytime dining needs to be refined maybe by adding more dining venues. The Trident grill and pizza grill should expand their menus. The room service menu needs to be retooled and improved. Vines is a complete waste of space. Nobody used it except as overflow from the Piazza. The staterooms need better temperature control. Not to be missed sunrises and sunsets. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was our 6th cruise with Princess in 7 years and we're back to the Caribbean again, this time the Southern route. We flew from Vegas to Ft. Lauderdale and stayed at the "rustic" Ramada Inn,with several other nice ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise with Princess in 7 years and we're back to the Caribbean again, this time the Southern route. We flew from Vegas to Ft. Lauderdale and stayed at the "rustic" Ramada Inn,with several other nice cruisers also joining us on the Emerald.We got to the port about noon and it was a mess lines backed up into the parking lot, uh oh, something looked terribly wrong, and it was ? Well 90 minutes later we finally got moving and boarded about 1:45, whew ! The ship looked great just as it did last March for our East. Caribbean cruise. We got the same room,as last year near the slow elevators and stairs.It was clean, but small for 3, and after meeting Eli our steward and making some requests for hangers, mattress pads and robes, were off to find some lunch and explore the ship. We had some kind of mechanical issues with a life boat and did not pull out of port until dark 6:45 in the light rain. We're not off to a very good start I'm afraid. It has to get better right ? The "sail away" party what there was of it was also a bust ! Hope you like "art" it was everywhere and often.The crew and staff seemed very nice and happy to see us and made us feel welcome. We enjoyed meeting and playing along with the C.D. staffers JJ, Chantal,Megan,Andy & Oxsanna.As for the C.D. and his deputy, good voices, but pretty mediocre from there. Their morning "wake show" was pretty cheesy and boring, just sayin.Sure miss the Isl. Princess Billy Hygate, now that's a CD.Lot's to see & do on the Emerald, trivia, karaoke my favorite, bingo,eat,games, shows (3) per night,eat,check your daily patter and take it with you for reference.The ship looked great throughout, no worse for wear it receives.WE tried to do most activities but it's really impossible to see & do it all.The service was very good, sometimes too good, servers always trying to sell. Happy hour deals 4-7 ask your server for the "deals", or drink special of the day. The Photo studio same thing, you know if the photos were more reasonably priced they would sell more, creating higher profits. I'll bet they throw away, or re-cycle 75 % of everything they take ! Dining : Anytime is the best time ! You still need to make a standing reservation on your arrival day,asap. No waiting, go straight on in. The food was good to very good, depending on what you order. Some of the beef/meat selections were lacking, (cost cutting) measures I'm sure. The shrimp,scallops, lobster were all good, not great and many of the appetizers/pasta were better. We loved all the fresh salads, sand. and deserts in the Intn'l. Cafe in the atrium, delicious. The pizza and burgers were very tasty out by the pool if you did'nt mind waiting 10 min. or more for a burger,slow ! Loved the Pub lunches in the Wheelhouse lounge on sea days. Great Fish n Chips, bangers& Mash etc. A nice break from the crazy busy Horizon Ct. buffet. So hard to find an empty table for breakfast! Do yourself a favor, eat in the more relaxed Dining Room deck 6 the Bochelli. Great eggs benedict and the coffee is better,stronger too. Entertainment : Wow lot's going on and they have added a condensed show so there are 3 instead of 2 now, 7:15,8:30,& 10:00, good move Princess. The best show by far is definately the "Beatle Maniacs", get there early ! We also like the comedy of Al Katz, & Steven Scott, Mentalist Wayne Hoffman & Magician Jean Bouchard. I was with the famous "sisters" who were in the mentalist & magician show we got stopped and questioned quite frequently. So many extra nice people on this ship, I can't begin to tell you we meet such wonderful people on board, it was a real pleasure ! M.U.T.S. too many Muppet movies, we wanted to see "War Horse", or something better. Whoever schedules the movies needs some help in that regard.Karaoke and Princess Pop Star was great even if I was one of the main singers.Some really talented and fun people, thank you guys & gals. By the way if you tried to win a bottle of that champagne don't be concerned, it was pretty bad. In summary Princess still has a lot of little things to improve on, but overall another great vacation ! The nice folks they attract make the cruise what it is. Remember it's what you make it and the people you surround yourself with. We were lucky and met some extra special people to all of you that Hop,Karen & I met, THANK YOU and happy cruising. Next stop Hawaii March 9,2013 hope to see you all again, " ALOHA ", Monty Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We flew on Southwest from Vegas the day before where we met up with my sister and nepew. We had a nice flight, on time where they met us and off to spend the night at the Ramada Inn (cruise port). Turns out several of the nice people ... Read More
We flew on Southwest from Vegas the day before where we met up with my sister and nepew. We had a nice flight, on time where they met us and off to spend the night at the Ramada Inn (cruise port). Turns out several of the nice people staying there would also be fellow passengers also on the Emerald Princess. We had a tasty fresh mexican dinner that night, and visit with our nephew before our departure the next morning. Ramada did a nice job scheduling & transporting 3 large groups of us to the port, but I would not recommend the hotel, spend a little more, you will be glad you did. We arrived at noon and from the looks of the long lines not moving we could tell their were some major problems. We had heard later that someone had died, and the U.S. Coast Guard had sprung a random safety inspection witch one lifeboat failed, and had to be replaced. This caused another lengthy delay, and not much of a "sailaway party" sorry to say. We finally boarded just short of 2 pm, whew !We met our kind steward "Eli" and he took good care us throughout the cruise, the room was very clean. We finally pulled out in the dark & drizzle about 6:45. Like I said, "better late than never".Hopefully, the worst is behind us ? The weather was pretty choppy the first 2 days out and we had some overcast and drizzle at Princess Cays, but not bad, and it was warm, so it's all good.Our room was right near mid ship on Aloha deck so we were close to the stairs and the elevators, which were painfully slow, and usually packed with an avg. age of 60+, just sayin. Nice folks, some of the best we have ever sailed with.My sister and I were chosen to work with the mentalist on stage and later the magician in the Princess Theater, so we were recognized, and questioned often throughout the ship.How did he do that, etc. ?Entertainment, overall was good, not great. We really enjoyed the "Beatlemaniacs" again this year, Al Katz & Steven Scott, mentalist Wayne Hoffman and Jean Bouchard, magician. The Theater fills up fast so get there early, the back fills up the fastest. The C.D. staff were a lot of fun running all the various games, Karaoke & shows, JJ, Chantal, Andy,Megan, Oxsanna, thank you ! M.U.T.S. missed War Horse, seems like the Muppet Movie was playing all the time ? Happy hour is usually 4-7 ask your server for specials and the drink of the day, as drinks can be quite pricey.Loved the Cadillac Margarita & Mai Tai, umm good !Refer to your "Patter" as so many things going on you need it for a road map to remember it all.The dancers and singers were pretty good especially the two lead ladies, the guys, well I think some of the male Karaoke singers were as good as they were. 3 shows now in the P.T. so no need to rush dinner, a very good move by Princess on this, as the theater fills up quickly. Dining: We had "anytime dining" in the Michael Angelo, the secret here is make a standing reservation the first day with the maitre de, same table, servers and no waiting, just walk right in, like you own the joint ! Most people do not know this and had to wait.The meat/beef selections were not all that good but loved the seafood, many of the appetizers, and pasta's. I think overall food quality has dropped due to cost cutting measures? The "service" however was excellent. Thank You Sanya & Ketut very nice fellas.We also loved the Intnt'l. Cafe in the atrium, fresh salads,sandwiches, quiche & deserts, yum ! The Pub Lunches in the Wheelhouse were very tasty on Sea days. Loved the burgers, fries, & pizza out by the main pool too, get in line early for burgers, it really backs up.Don't forget room service for am and late nights too, just a little "tip" will do ya.  Cafe, great salads, fresh sand. quiche, and mini deserts deck 5, in the atrium.The Horizon Court, alias every man for himself. Folks just too many in there every morning during peak breakfast hours. In 3 words, "not enough tables". Do yourself a favor, relax and have a nice quiet leisurely breakfast,or lunch in the Bocheli dining room. deck 6. You will be glad you did, wish we would have too. Ports: Wow, just snorkled in P. Cays weather was just mediocre, but any beach day is better than your best day at work, right ? Saw a lot of fish & scenery there. St. Thomas shopped and beached at Emerald beach near the ship, next time were going to make it to Trunk Bay on St' Johns Isl. for sure ! Been to Megen's Bay before, very scenic and tranquil. Dominica: The best shore excursion ever #362. Thanks Joan & Alex. Check out Sassy falls and the tropical jungle, nicer and less crowded than Trafalgar, gorgeous ! Grenada:Took a nice catammaran over to the underwater sculpture park, wow ! Wish we had more time there, then off to Grande Anse beach, and a lot of rum punches, whew ! The crew kept pouring & pouring, a fun trip, but over way too fast. Bonaire : Best snorkeling & diving anywhere in the Caribbean. For $10 p/p we took a short drive to the "Plaza Resort". Pool, lounges, tiki bar, restrooms, showers, hammocks, and the best snorkeling ever right of the rocky beach ! Wear water shoes, and enjoy swimming in an "aquarium", tropical fish everywhere, beautiful parrots, angel fish galore in shallow water, incredible decision ! Aruba: 100 A S.E. nice hikes in the rocks, Calif. Lighthouse visit, and Palm Beach,beach stop. Very nice but crowded with too tours stopping at the same place, same time. They need to better organize these, but still worth while. All in all, another great Princess Cruise. Not perfect but pretty darn good, considering the crazy embarkation day and late sailaway. So many nice people we met and hope to see again someday, especially all my husbands Karaoke gang, Leeroy, Glenn, Jim, Claire, Robert,Heather & Daniele, Larry, Mayta, Bruce, Jeff,Nancy, Byron, Gordon, Barbara, thanks everyone for a wonderful vacation ! Princess has some kinks to work out, we all know it, but hey, nobody is perfect, we're all a "work" in progress". So how about "Hawaii" March 9, 2013 on the beautiful Sapphire Princess ? Be there or be square. Happy Sailing & ALOHA !!!   Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was our 6 th cruise with Princess, so we're pretty familiar with them. We took the red eye out of Vegas via Atlanta and depite Delta breaking our wheel on our bag made it safely and on time into Ft. Lauderdale. Our nephew picked ... Read More
This was our 6 th cruise with Princess, so we're pretty familiar with them. We took the red eye out of Vegas via Atlanta and depite Delta breaking our wheel on our bag made it safely and on time into Ft. Lauderdale. Our nephew picked us up and we were off to Einsteins Bagels for a quick breakfast and some great coffee too. We arrived at the terminal early and were on baord without delay by 12:45. Our room was on deck 12 Aloha 432 right at mid ships near the goofy elevators and stairs. More on the elevators later. Our room steward Jerome was friendly and brought us our robes, egg crates & hangers promptly as requested. The room was clean, fairly small, but had a nice roomy closet and flat screen TV.The ship was a beauty, only 3 1/2 years old, next to the Ruby Princess, the 2nd newest in the Princess fleet, and the crew was constantly cleaning, and sprucing up the ship. In fact our balcony railing was re-varnished during the cruise, so we could not lean on it for at least 24 hours.The sail away party was off and runing with the house band from St. Lucia, "Icon", but before that the mandatory muster drill. Beautiful blue skies, seas, and 78 degrees,made a perfect setting for our embarkation.So much to see & do the ship's "Princess Patter" refrencing is the only way to see and do the things that interest you. Take it with you whenever you leave the room..We elected to have "anytime dining" and made a reservation for 5:45 every night, so we would not have to wait, or miss a show, or activity that interested us. We just bypassed the line and walked right over to our great table location next to the windows.Now for the mysterious elevators that sometimes worked and sometimes had a mind of their own. On several occassions throughout the cruise, we found the elevators would only go up so far sometimes deck 8 or 9 and then heading back down on their own, even though many of us had pushed 11,12, & 14.Time for a major overhaul I'd say Princess. Many of the passengers would start pileing into the elevatoe before others could get off, and some were very rude. Pool chairs & lounges typically filled up fast, if you did not reserve one by at least 9 am, forget about it, same for the evening movies (MUTS) under the stars.No enforcement was seen as some lounges were vacant for several hours at a time ? The pool near MUTS is very loud due to movies, or concerts being played all day. I think they should just play music during the day only as the MUTSis very loud and not condusive to relaxing. A far as the food is concerned we really enjoyed the dining room for breakfast and dinner, it sure beat fighting the crowds in the buffet, and the lack of tables to sit 3,100 ! We also enjoyed the tasty but very thin pizza out by the pool and burgers, chicken sand. and fries. A nice variation from the buffet, and don't forget the "Pub Lunch" in the Wheelhouse Bar on Sea days, Fish N Chips, Bangers & Mash etc. delicious. "Shows", lot's going on at night we saw Russ Harris a funny Commedian, impressionest Michael Brown, and "4" major shows with the Princess singers and dancers. You usually only get 2, and they are repeated, so that was a big plus we enjoyed all of them. We picked up the Fab 4 the Beatlemaniacs in St. Kitts for one night only and they brought the house down with the majority of the 50 + crowd, singing along to some pretty talented guys ! The entertainment was much better than I had read in other cruise critic reviews, but so was the food. One note on a "downer" here the "Explorer Lounge" is just too small of a venue for any act good or bad. I would guess it only holds about 100 or so passengers yet they held several comedy and magic acts there. Club Fusion was a little larger but still too small. Princess Pop Star (Karaoke) was held there and I want to thank DJ Clinton for finding my song I wanted to do by Michael Buble not in their older karaoke library.We missed a couple of other entertainers just too many places to be and things to do. The Casino was ofcourse tight as a drum, especially the slots, yet consistantly busy every night ? Lot's of waisted floor space in the middle of Gatsby's Casino for some unknown reason. Photos are taken often, and everywhere, including on shore, it's big business for Princess, say "cheese" ! Bingo, we won $75, having to share with 4 others sigh, lot's of games daily, the "not so newly wed game"," passenger feud", trivia, shopping shows, fruit carving, 50's 60's sock hop, country western night, bar wars, and various pool games (days) going daily. The "deck party" out by the pool was a big hit (late night), conga lines group dancing, limbo bars and good music made for a fun night.We had 3 days at Sea, which is my favorite itinerary, no rush to get off or on the ship, just relax and do whatever, the more sea days the better I say. "Happy Hour" is currently 4 pm to 7 pm, on this cruise, so you can get certain cocktails for only $3, take advantage of that if you can, otherwise drinks are expensive.We met lot's of nice people especially two nice British couples and many Canadians. Most passengers were very cordial and happy to be aboard, despite some of the rude elevator people I mentioned earlier, a good mix of all ages. It's not the ship,and what belles and whistles it has, it's the staff/crew that make your ship & cruise a wonderful experience. The C.D. staff on this ship was a bit inexperienced, perhaps (new) and it showed on many occasions in comparison to the 5 CD staffs we have sailed with in the past Billy London's crew needs some re-training,and to be more personable, instead of trying to out cute each other. Sorry folks, but that's the way I see it, and the rest of our group of 5 felt the same way. Ports:First portAntigua - was our first stop and let me say after leaving the tourist shopping areas most of these Island nations are really poor desperate people who dearly rely on us to visit and spend money. Antigua has 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. After finding a fair price he took us to Valley Church beach about 15 minutes from the port, it was absolutely gorgeous. They had a nice bar, showers rest rooms and it was very clean, great beach day in Antigua. On the way back we found a few gift shops before re-boarding the ship.Our second stop was St. Lucia. We went zip lining at theTreetop Canopy, and had a great time zipping across 12 different lines over the St. Lucia rain forrest and river below. A great excursion I definately recommend it.We saw some very poor housing conditions along the way, sad.It's a beautiful island, we wish we had more time to see it all.No time to see the beautiful "Pitons" (mountains), maybe next time, I hope. Next was Barbados, after doing a little shopping we decided to walk into town and found the "Boatyard" a private beach which was recommended by the CD on his morning show. We paid the admission $12-15 ? At entry you get 1 cocktail beach chair or lounger, umbrella, and transportation back to the ship. We noticed hardly anyone was in the water ? It turns out this particlar beach was infested with jelly fish that day and several tourists had been stung. We asked for a refund and headed back through town on foot. We found a nice bar had a drink then walked back to the ship stopping along the way to shop. Turned out to be a not so good beach day as some light rain came down. This was the only time we had weather of any concern. I will say the people of Barbados were very friendly even though my sister in law was asked why she did'nt buy anything from them in a commanding way. Stay together Sales, it's a tough racket ! St. Kitts - Another beautiful Island, after a brief stroll through the tourist shopping areas, we saw some cute little monkeys vendors were using for photos and some local men dancing through the courtyards in their native attire & headgear, very flashy dancers. We found an inexpensive 90 min. tour through the city area, with a later stop at a beauitful beach, South Frigate and again ran into many Emerald passengers with their blue & white stripe towells. On the way we stopped at a beautiful overlook and admired both oceans from high above the Caribbean on one side and the Atlantic on the other. A spectacular view in either direction, including the new mega-resort "Marriott". St. Thomas - What can I say shopping areas everywhere, although very spread out.We booked the Magens Bay & Blackbeard Castle tour. The later was just a made up tourist trap by a lot of fun and facts along the way. Again, the elevated view above the city & bay was spectacular. Three pools for swimming, jewelry stores, gift shop, and ofcourse a couple of bars. Hurry up with that rum ! There was a regatta in the bay at the time, sail boats everywhere. Magens Bay our first stop was breath taking ! National Geographic ranked it one of the top 10 beaches in the world for sure beauty, and I can see why. A calm horseshoe bay surrounded by green rolling hills on both sides. The beach had all kinds of lush green foilage everywhere, rentals, bathroom and bar complented the beach as well. Princess Cays - Eluthera (Bahamas) It's been 5 years since I first visited P. Cays and they have really fixed it up, plus added many more things to see and do. This was our last stop before Ft. Lauderdale and it was the dreaded "tender" ! We decided to have a nice calm & relaxing breakfast in the dining room before getting in line. You meet in the Michael Angelo dining room deck 5, where you can sit and relax until they call your group number. It was a good idea, as everyone seemed to want to be the first one's over for our brief 6 1/2 hour stop. The whole process took apx. 45 minutes, not bad really ! There are plenty of loungers over there, but the shaded gazeebos fill up fast, so if you need shade, go early ! We enjoyed a nice clean beach, bathrooms, showers, a fair tasting lunch, and some great swimming & snorkeling. My wife, sister in law, daughter, and friend all rented various floating devices and we all had a great beach day together, our last on the cruise, sigh ! For late March, it was perfect, 82 and I guess the water was in the hi 70's. Definately worth the short visit, and your time. We look forward to our next visit there, again in March 2012, check it out !That being said, I guess it's time to talk about disembarking, and that did not go as well, or as smooth as embarkation. We were asked to leave our cabin at 9 am sharp by our steward, despite our group not being called to leave until after 9:30. Please do yourself a favor eat early in the dining room before (9am) so yo don't feel so rushed off the ship even before yout time. Our luggage was mis-placed in the hanger, so it took another 20 minutes to find it in another section, that was stressful. Now for "Terminal 21", good luck, it's a real mad house out on the street. Make sure you have an advance reservation for ground transportation, and they know specifically where you will be, and at what time, otherwise it's mass chaos curbside ! I guess there is no such thing as a perfect cruise really, it's impossible to please everyone, so just go with the flow, don't worry, be happy as the song goes. Happy cruising everyone ! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
This cruise was my 5th time on Princess and 3rd time on the Emerald Princess. The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship, but there was a drop in the number of entertainment options & activities compared to my previous Princess Cruises ... Read More
This cruise was my 5th time on Princess and 3rd time on the Emerald Princess. The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship, but there was a drop in the number of entertainment options & activities compared to my previous Princess Cruises (all within the past 2.5 years), e.g. no more golf pro on board and no support for Sunday's church service from cruise staff....the passengers had to pull it together. I hope this is just temporary as I love the Princess brand and want to take many more cruises with them. I travelled with my husband and this cruise was special to us as we got married on the same ship just a few months earlier and were now expecting our first child! What was noticeable on this cruise compared to previous cruises was the high number or senior cruisers (70+ years of age). We were among the youngest passengers and were told so by many crew members and our fellow passengers throughout the cruise. We often requested to be seated at lunch or breakfast with people close to our own age and were told it was not likely to happen..so off we went to a table for 2. Princess needs to guard against becoming the retirement cruise line: more options catering to the working professionals, such as discounted internet time, would help strike a healthier balance. Some of the shows could be a bit more modern, too (where you did not have to be born before the 1970s to "get it"). Nevertheless we had some nice conversations with our fellow passengers during the cruise and enjoyed our vacation. We celebrated a birthday on this cruise and had noted so on the Cruise Personalizer. On the day the card you hand out to the head waiter in the main dining room to get your cake arrived promptly but no balloons. My husband called later that evening as we saw many other doors had balloons and had always had these before for birthdays, our honeymoon etc. and passenger services had some sent promptly. The balloons now are "generic" congratulations balloons vs. birthday/honeymoon/anniversary etc. as in the past. I thought it was fun to see what people were celebrating and was a little disappointed by this efficiency measure. I hope they go back to the more personalized approach to celebrations! EMBARKATION DAY: We spent a few days in FL prior to the cruise and drove our rental car to Fort Lauderdale in the morning. We dropped off the car in downtown and were a little concerned about getting a taxi as there were many ships departing that day (incl. the Oasis of the Seas), but a taxi arrived within 5 minutes and whisked us to the port in about 30 minutes. We arrived at around 12:20 p.m. in the port and the embarkation process was very smooth with virtually no waiting time anywhere. We dropped off our luggage with the porter, proceeded to security, filled out the health form and got checked in. Everyone from Princess was very friendly at the terminal. We were in our stateroom by 12:45 p.m. STATEROOM: Having stayed in mini-suites and balcony rooms on earlier cruises we had decided that the room was not important this time and we signed up for the lowest cost interior room guarantee on deck 5 (Plaza). We were excited to get an upgrade to a great mid-ship location on deck 9 (Dolphin). This room was super quiet (no neighbor on the other side) and very comfortable. Our cabin stewardess was Sherrill and she stayed on top of everything - the room was always immaculate when we returned to it. DINING: We were very pleased with the quality and variety of food options. We had dinner in the main dining room (Da Vinci) every night and also ate breakfast and lunch there on most days. We enjoy being served this way while on vacation and only visited the buffet for snacks. The halibut was a little tough/overcooked one night, but otherwise everything was excellent. We love traditional dining and had signed up for it (although only 5:30 p.m. time was available), just to find out Da Vinci also served as an anytime dining room, so there was a lot more traffic than in a true traditional dining room and the staff were incredibly busy. At the end of the cruise the Baked Alaska parade was the express version of what you see in the true traditional dining rooms. A tip: the ship's policy is that you must arrive within 15 minutes from dining time or your table may be given to someone else. We noticed that nobody claimed a great window table for the first 3 nights -- it was always assigned to walk-in anytime diners later in the evening - and checked with the maitre'd on the possibility of having this table assigned to us since we were always promptly there and typically finished eating by 6:30 p.m. He was happy to accommodate us and we really enjoyed our view while dining! Great Princess service. Our waitress Natasha was also wonderful.The pizza on the ship is excellent so we also had a slice a few times during this cruise or picked up some baked goods from the International Cafe. ENTERTAINMENT: I had read on these reviews earlier that the popular shows, such as Beatle Maniacs, start filling up about an hour prior to show time. So we prioritized what we wanted to see in the Princess Theater (Beatle Maniacs and the International Crew Show) and made sure to be seated no later than 45 minutes prior to show time. We also saw the comedian Jay Mohr one night in the Explorer's Lounge (funny) and saw some performances on the Piazza. We tried to watch the movie Social Network at Movies Under the Stars one day, but it was very hard to hear. We made a couple of requests to have the volume turned up, but it was competing against music playins at the other mid-ship pool and just did not work out. The MUTS is a much better experience in the evening. It would be great if more movies could be played in the Princess Theater in the afternoons. We enjoyed going to the Lotus Spa gym and played some golf on the sports deck, but it was sad not to see anyone using the golf simulator or take lessons from a golf pro like always before...I used to enjoy the chance to take a little 30-minute lesson to work on my swing and now you are basically on your own. PORTS: We enjoyed the picnic in Princess Cays, just took it easy and enjoyed walking on the beach on a beautiful day. In St. Thomas we went shopping and found 2 beautiful pairs of blue topaz earrings. The above two were ports we were familiar with from before. In Dominica we took one of the shuttles that runs to runtown for $2 pp. It was raining as it often does there due to the rainforest climate. We were surprised by how little there was to see in the downtown area...took some photos of the crabs crawling all over the waterfront, looked at the local merchandise but did not find anything to buy and headed back to the ship after just 30 minutes. This was our least favorite stop during the cruise. In Grenada we had signed up for the St. George's Highlights tour, as it was low physical activity and being pregnant I have to take it easy. My husband and I were pulled from the line and assigned to a very old van for this tour and soon realized the van did not have working air-conditioning (although the tour is advertised as being suitable for people with physical limitations)! Long story short, the driver had to drop us off about 10 minutes into the tour and find a newer van to assign us to that had working air-conditioning. From that point forward we were very comfortable. The guide was silent for long periods of time during the excursion and did not use a microphone, so we felt like we did not learn as much as we would have liked but at least we were comfortable and saw a lot. In Bonaire we just went to downtown to check out the stores, very clean & delightful but also rather expensive. We returned back to the ship within an hour. Aruba was the best port on this cruise! We took the island tour that visits the Aloe factory and includes a 1-hr beach break and had a great time. The guide was also very knowledgeable and shared a lot of information with us. Great tour! Afterwards we went back to the ship for lunch, grabbed our laptops and went to the local Starbucks for some quality email time (no charge). DISEMBARKATION: Very easy, no lines, and off to the airport within minutes! We were comfortably seated in the Michelangelo dining room waiting for our turn. In summary, mission accomplished in terms of a relaxing cruise vacation with great weather, lots of laughs and wonderful memories to cherish during the years to come! We plan to return to Princess with our little one in a year or two. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Stayed at Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort the 2 nights prior to cruise and rented car. Short drive to Port from hotel, but 8 ships departing on same day, including the Oasis(6k passengers!) so the traffic was really heavy and slow ... Read More
Stayed at Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort the 2 nights prior to cruise and rented car. Short drive to Port from hotel, but 8 ships departing on same day, including the Oasis(6k passengers!) so the traffic was really heavy and slow going. Rental car facility at FLL airport has free shuttle to the Port, usually 15 mins, but an hour with the traffic on this day. Check in was a breeze, walked straight through with no lines. In mini-suite midships on Dolphin deck. Good size cabin, with a full size sofa (3 sections), 2 sections pull out to sofa bed. The balcony was smaller than the mini suite on Sapphire. The cabin was about half way walk to mid ship elevators and half way to back of ship elevators. Quiet room, never heard neighbors. Wall mounted boxy hairdryer was horrible, would bring my own. The shower never got hot, just warm. The sink tap got hot... The check in agent said there were 800 Kids on board, the ship has I think 3,400 passengers. It felt quite crowded, with lines for most things, show seats all full 30 mins before start times, and a line for the AnyRoom dining rooms each night (except when it was seafood night at the buffet). I much prefer the 4 smaller AnyRoom dining rooms on Sapphire to the 2 larger ones on Emerald. The Sapphire didn't have lines, just gave you a pager occasionally if you had to wait a few minutes for a table. On Emerald, you had to wait in line for 5 mins just to get a pager... Dining room food seemed better on Sapphire in March. The Emerald was ok, but nothing memorable. The buffet food was very stodgy. very little fresh fruit and veg, no berries. Same melon/pineapple choices every day. Room steward Eric was very good, personable, friendly, learned our names day one and always greeted us. Hard worker. Pools got very busy, lots of kids, all loungers were full early. Some coveted loungers at the back of the ship deck 15/16 were held from 6.30am!!! all were usually spoken for by 8am. Great kids club, my 5 year old really enjoyed it - which was great, because the pools were just too crowded for a little one most of the time. The strangest thing about this cruise / ship was there were a lot of 'odor's. The back stairs usually had a very strong fishy smell and around mid ship on our deck (Dolphin) there was a strong stagnant/reclaimed water smell. The cruise director Tim D, as many others have commented, did not seem to like people. His staff were really great, personable, silly, fun, friendly. But he seemed like he viewed passengers as 'punters' and was rather rude and patronizing, not approachable. The co-cruise directors on Sapphire in March were really great, funny, friendly, approachable. I'm sure all mass market lines are the same, but being sold to all the time, gets really annoying. Disappointed that there wasn't much Port information available, but lots of info about where to shop. Port lectures were 'where to shop, what to buy' lectures. Maybe a sentence or two in the Patter about Port points of interest, but that's it. No printed material at the excursion desk. Pursers desk staff were very good, kept professional despite some of the really rude and unreasonable passengers they had to deal with. (one fellow the day before disembarkation was shouting at a purser about the standard custom form, how it should ask for 'places' you visited vs 'countries'... !) Ports were good, but it is always humbling to see how poverty stricken most of the island are once you get away from the tourist area. Nice Holiday touches were: Gingerbread house making competition (48 teams!), Santa visit, carol singing in Piazza, snow fall in Piazza. I will cruise over the holidays again, but on a smaller ship next time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Let me start out by saying that this was our third cruise, and the first one with good friends. We decided to go with another couple on a princess cruise because they are our good friends and were expecting and we had a baby the year ... Read More
Let me start out by saying that this was our third cruise, and the first one with good friends. We decided to go with another couple on a princess cruise because they are our good friends and were expecting and we had a baby the year before! The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship, I loved the Atrium! It was nice to walk around the shops and see all the many items they had. I have never written a review before, so I will try to make this as brief and informative as possible Ship and Cabin Both were very beautiful! We had an inside room and really only spent time in there to sleep, but it was perfect for us! Our room Stewart was amazing...always smiling and happy and always willing to strike up conversation with us. The ship itself was very clean and very nice...we were impressed by the sheer beauty of the Emerald! I think it looked nicer than any Royal Caribbean ship...even though we liked them too...this ship has just a more elegant feel to it! Service Well this is one area that I have to say can be lacking. Our dining room waiter was awful...and I am not a picky person but everyone at our table felt the same way. I am not one who does not tip, but after going 2 nights in a row we decided not only not to go back to the dining room, but to take the tips off and give them all to our room Stewart. Our waiter at diner rushed us and made snippy comments about ordering too much food and really rushed the whole process. Not only that, but on the formal night he pretty much ignored us for like 15 minutes. We were one of the last tables to leave that night and its not because we choose to..it was because he was not around and we were waiting for our dinner. After those 2 days we ate in the buffet and we had great service! Food Very good! That pretty much sums that up. Ports of Call St Thomas, St Maarten, Grand Turk, Princess Cays, Been to both St Thomas and St Maarten...love both islands, however decided to go on the boat over to St John and loved it! Walked to a deserted beach and then over to Trunk Bay....great place! Went to Orient Bay in St Maarten and had a nice time. As far as Grand Turk...we took a tour through the cruise ship and had a great time...saw a shark!! The rest of the island is really a beach hang out with a Margarita ville! Princess Cays was ok...not anything spectacular...but it was kinda rainy and gloomy and then really hot so we didn't enjoy it as much. Overall we had a great time and would not hesitate to book another cruise with Princess. Every vacation will have ups and downs...and even though the service in the dining room was not good..the rest of the staff was great! We are not too picky when it comes to vacation and don't let one small hiccup ruin our time! I think that a vacation is all what you make it out to be! Anyway, hope that helps! Oh and make sure you check out the art auction...won a beautiul print and the guy really does know his facts and its interesting...although I wouldnt buy anything from there it was a neat experience! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
I have cruised with Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and now Princess. I had been under the impression that Princess would be a step above the others, but after a week onboard, can't really say that. What WAS impressive was ... Read More
I have cruised with Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and now Princess. I had been under the impression that Princess would be a step above the others, but after a week onboard, can't really say that. What WAS impressive was arriving on board to find friendly crew members in the lobby, elevators and on our deck, welcoming us and directing us where we needed to go. My first impression was "Wow! This is going to be great!" First time ever being greeted and helped to that extent. The ship itself was beautiful, well maintained, and very easy to "negotiate." I have been on cruises before where it took me almost the whole week to find my way around, but not the case this time. I'm guessing because of the price point, there were not as many children on board as my prior cruises. It was, however, the noisiest cruise I've ever been on. There were teenagers on our floor, who RAN the halls at night. And twice we were trying to get out of the elevators, when as the doors opened, children came rushing in. Both times accompanied by parents, who said nothing to them. Our cabin was just "okay." My mom didn't like it, (she is a frequent cruiser), and we were surprised at the size of the balcony after looking at the photos online. I would have expected three chairs on the balcony, since they knew there were three of us in the room, but we had to request and wait until late in the day for an extra chair. We had requested robes in the cabin online prior to arrival, and they were not there. The bathroom was standard, the cabin was standard, but the closet space was exceptional, especially for three of us. The refrigerator in the room did not work, and after several phone calls, we got a replacement. Our cabin steward, Jesus, was absolutely a gem, and went above and beyond for us the entire trip. We had traditional dining, early seating, and were placed at a table with another couple traveling with their adult daughter, who faulted just about everything except the desserts. We only ate dinner with them three times, as we opted for dinner one night at Sabatini's, one night at Crown Grille, and the buffet one night as we were still in port in Grand Turk at dinnertime. The food in the dining room was good, not great, and our server was informed, not terribly attentive, not overly friendly - just okay. The first night, prime rib, I ordered medium and received well done. Had it been undercooked I may have sent it back, but it would have had to be redone and everyone else would have been finished, so I just ate it. The best night was the lobster tail, which was perfect. Two of the three nights there seemed to be a long time between main course and dessert, where no waiter was anywhere near. Not what I expected at all. My mother disliked the food onboard, everywhere. My daughter, a "foodie," loved Sabatini's and the Crown Grille, but didn't care for the dining room or the buffet. My opinion - dinner at Sabatini's was incredible, well worth the $20 extra. Superb food, service and atmosphere. Dinner at the Crown Grille was not nearly as good; food, service or atmosphere. The ribeye was huge, but tough, tasteless, and served on a pool of wine sauce I didn't care for. Nowhere near worth the $25 surcharge. Side dishes were unimpressive, although plentiful. The buffet was overcrowded, and the food was plain. Seating was sometimes a problem. The absolute jewel of the ship was the International Cafe in the beautiful Piazza, which served various pastries and salads, and the best gelato I've ever had. After the free soft-serve ice cream on deck the first night, and discovering the $1.50 gelato the next day, I never went back for the soft-serve. What a bargain the gelato is at $1.50! Three scoops of heaven. The coffee shop is right next to the International Cafe, and well worth the extra charge, although it could be better staffed. There were routinely long lines. As far as the shows - the comedians were fabulous; can't say enough about them, and my mother and daughter both agreed with me on this. The other "variety" type shows were good, not great, for my daughter and I, but my mother is a fan of the "Vegas" type shows from cruises past. I had read complaints about people saving seats for the shows, so we just arrived early, but all of the shows were full, so if you didn't arrive early, you would have a problem with this. We purchased a pass for the "thermal suite" in the spa for the week, which was great and a good value. Took advantage of the sauna and steam rooms, and the incredible "stone beds" almost every day. But whoever planned this part of the ship made a huge mistake placing the workout area on the floor above the thermal suite. There's a sign stating "quiet area" when you walk in, but people jumping on the floor above you and dropping weights on the floor is hardly quiet while you're trying to relax! The Sanctuary on the top floor was very nice, and although there was a small surcharge, we took advantage of it several times. My daughter went for a facial, and was happy with the result, but didn't enjoy the smoker's breath from the technician who performed it. We spent our pool time at the pools on the front and back of the ship, but not the main "family" pools, and didn't attend any of the Movies Under the Stars. Some movies were shown over and over, but the one we wanted to see was only shown once, during a time we couldn't go. The ship's first stop was Princess Cays where passengers were tendered to a little island for the afternoon. My daughter and I did not go over, but my mother did, and it was as expected. Little booths set up selling straw items, and a luncheon on the beach. I didn't care for the itinerary overall - too little time spent in each port, I guess. Our first and last days on board were at sea, but the middle of the week went quickly with all three ports three days in a row. Overall - I would probably cruise Princess again, although I was disappointed it wasn't a little more upscale as it's pricing indicated it would be. My mother would definitely not, and neither would my daughter. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Here is a brief review of our Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Emerald Princess - May 30 to June 6th. Background: We are a family of 3 (our daughter turned 9 during the cruise) and this is our 5th cruise overall (first on Princes, one on ... Read More
Here is a brief review of our Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Emerald Princess - May 30 to June 6th. Background: We are a family of 3 (our daughter turned 9 during the cruise) and this is our 5th cruise overall (first on Princes, one on Carnival, 3 on Royal Caribbean). We drove down the day before and stayed at the Cambria Suites in Dania Beach. This is an excellent hotel with a good location (especially if you have a car). They let us park there for the cruise week for $30 and provided free transport to the pier. Embarkation: Arrived at the pier around 1:15 PM and check-in was smooth. The only glitch occurred when we were crossing the gangway and we finally realized that our cabin had been re-assigned. The lady at the desk (we were supposed to be on the Dolphin deck) did not mention this. Turns out we were "upgraded" to an outside on the Plaza Deck, P336 to be exact (right beside the International Cafe). Room: Pleasantly surprised at the size of the room compared to the size of our cabins on our previous RC cruises. It was nice to be on the Plaza deck in terms of location/logistics. However, being right beside the International Cafe kitchen caused a lot of noise in our cabin both at closing and then before opening in the morning. Of course, we also heard all the noise from activity on the piazza. In short, if you like to sleep a lot, this is not the cabin for you. If you like to be near the action, this would be a good choice. Food: Overall, we were pretty pleased with the food both in the dining room and at the buffet/horizon court. I would say it was comparable to Royal Caribbean and better than what we recall from our previous Carnival cruise. To be fair though, we haven't been on Carnival in 10 years. We also very much liked the concept and execution of the International Cafe. Princess really excels here. We did not partake in any of the specialty restaurants on this cruise. Time just got away. Outdoor space: We made frequent use of the main pool spaces as well as the "Movies Under the Stars". Only on the last sea day did we have a problem finding a lounger. We also enjoyed strolling the promenade deck even with the stairwall issues. Our daughter enjoyed the mini golf course. Children's Program: Overall, our daughter enjoyed the Shockwaves program. She made several friends there and they're already emailing each other back and forth. The counselors seemed very competent and got to know the kids pretty quickly. Having said that, I do think that this is an area where Royal Caribbean is still a notch above. While Princess focused mainly on "fun activities", RC went out of their way to mix in educational themes. Last year, the kids on the Monarch of the Seas even did a talent show for the ship to show everyone what they had learned during the trip. I would be remiss though if I didn't give a "shout out" to Princess for their Junior Chef @ Sea program. Our daughter participated in this program, and it was one of the highlights of the trip for her. If you have a child interested in this, make sure to let one of the counselors know on the first day as the program is limited to 10 children. Activities: As this was our first Princess cruise, we weren't sure what to expect. The cruise was a nice mix of ages, trending a bit older (but not much) than some of our RC cruises. We really enjoyed the random trivia contests, karaoke, and even theme dance nights in Club Fusion. The program/shows in the Princess Theater were also good. The only "negative" was for a ship the size of the Emerald the Princess Theater is a bit small. Get there early for a seat. The comedian on our cruise was hilarious, but certainly geared to an adult audience. The gym facility is pretty nice but a bit cramped. We did not use the spa on this cruise. Ports/Activities: Princess Cays: Just enjoyed a lazy day on the beach. Lines were a little long for the food, but nothing to terrible. Food overall was pretty good. St. Maarten/St. Martin: We booked the Butterfly Farm/Orient beach tour through Princess and it was pretty good. The butterfly farm was fun and interesting and the beach was pretty good. I will say though that they take you to a pretty sketchy looking beach "area" on Orient where if you walk just a bit to the right there are some nicer beach bars and restaurants. I know that some parents might be concerned about this, but we saw very limited nudity here (contrary to rumors). St. Thomas - We booked a combo shopping/sightseeing/beach tour privately through Godfrey Tours. This was a great decision as he charged us less than half of what they charge through the ship and we really maximized our time on the island. We ended up going to Magen's Bay/Beach. It was a wonderful day and a great bargain!! Grand Turk - Just hung out at the beach and enjoyed the pool at Margaritaville. The food/drinks there are a ripoff though. You can do better elsewhere on the island. Disembarkation: Was a little behind schedule, but went smoothly overall. Only negatives of note: 1. Our cabin assignment was moved without notifying us, and we ended up with a lot of cabin noise. In fact, the people's names who were supposed to have our cabin stayed on the door until Day 2! 2. We had talked with the folks at Princess about celebrating our daughter's birthday with balloons and a cake. I even called back to confirm. Well...we did get the balloons but never any recognition in the dining room. She was a little sad about that, but the sadness only lasted about 10 minutes. Lol!! 3. After 10 PM children's program/child sitting: On Royal Caribbean they had a lot of "after 10" activities for the kids including pajama parties, treasure hunts, etc. Our daughter was always begging to go to this. On Princess, they stuck them with the little kids and made them lay down and watch movies. We only kept her to 10:30 PM at the latest. Overall, we really enjoyed our time on the Emerald Princess. It truly is a beautiful ship with lots to offer. Aside from some minor things here and there, it was a memorable vacation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
First of all, here's a few pictures from the cruise: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1203502 I loved the cruise, and so did my daughter. She stayed on for another 7 days and is currently on the Eastern Caribbean ... Read More
First of all, here's a few pictures from the cruise: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1203502 I loved the cruise, and so did my daughter. She stayed on for another 7 days and is currently on the Eastern Caribbean leg. Here's a short review of my experience. My daughter is going of to the Army, so this was a chance for me to spend quality time with her in a great environment. First the ports: Princess Cays A nice Caribbean beach - white sand and blue water. I thought it was fun being tendered to shore. A place to relax and do some water sports or just get in some sun. My daughter and I did the banana boat. My daughter was the only one to fall off and she got some decent bruises on the fall. There was a basketball court and volleyball to do. You can rent a bungalow for I believe $200 to relax in. The barbecue they served was decent, and had a few drinks at the bar. The drinks were the same you could get on the ship. Jamaica My daughter and I did not book an excursion, but we did three things by ourselves, all within walking distance (a healthy walk) from the pier - climbing Dunn's Falls, and doing bobsledding and zip lining at Magic Mountain, which includes a chair ride up and down the mountain. All were a lot of fun. After that we walked into Ocho Rios. I wasn't the biggest fan of my first experience in Jamaica. I found the street sales people to be aggressive, almost desperate. After being told the word "respect" by almost every street vendor I began to feel it was almost a ploy to make me feel comfortable so I'd spend money (OK - sounds like a conspiracy theory). Also, I lost track of how many times I was asked if I wanted to get the "best" weed on the island. On this cruise though, the prices for shopping were much better than the other ports. Cayman Islands The port town of Georgetown was a nice Caribbean town. We also had to be tendered ashore here. The prices in town were really expensive, at least I thought so. We did the island tour and turtle farm excursion. Although the turtle farm was nice (holding the turtles) it was a bit disappointing. I guess I didn't do my homework because I didn't realize it was a breeding farm - tanks of turtles at different stages. I always wanted to see the island, but halfway through our drive it felt like I was in Florida. Somehow the Caribbean flair wasn't there for me. We went to Hell (a town), and then rum tasting at a Tortuga outlet. I popped many little shots as well as sampled all of their rum cakes. I purchased a Tortuga rum gift pack which had smaller bottles of five flavors. Once back to Georgetown we walked the shops before heading back to the ship. I purchased more rum in town, including Seven Fathoms rum which was made at the bar where I had a few drinks. The other rums I bought included a free rum cake - Blackbeard's banana rum cake, which my daughter and I both liked more than the Tortuga brand. Mexico We docked at Cozumel, but we never stayed there or saw the port. Our excursion meant that we took a 30 or so minute ferry ride to the mainland. Playa Del Carmen where we docked at the mainland is a beautiful resort town. We immediately got with our excursion group for some underwater snorkeling in a cavern. The cool thing about this excursion was the size. There were seven busses full of people for the Mayan ruins excursion. Our excursion was only 10 people - love it small and intimate. We went about 20 minutes out of town. We were given a little history along the way, and touched the "real" Mexico - poor, etc. Snorkeling in a cavern was a great experience. No colors, no fish - but the feeling of being in a cave in cool and fresh mineral water looking at formations was awesome. The ship - Emerald Princess This was my second cruise ever, and the second on a princess ship. My first was on the Crown Princess, and the Emerald to me is identical. It's a beautiful and classy ship. We were in an interior room - Caribe Deck 10, C203, towards the front of the ship. The room was fine for freshening up and sleeping. After receiving egg crates the beds were sleepable, but not nearly as comfortable as my memory foam at home. My daughter and I did the following: Ate at the Crown Grill - great porterhouse steak, well worth the $25 up charge over and above the anytime dining Ate once at Michelangelo's - had to do one sit down. It's a nice restaurant experience, and the food was really good. I had beef and lobster tail. Anytime dining - overall the buffet was decent. I'm not a picky eater so my experience may paint a better picture than what a more finicky eater would like. A couple of times I was a tad disappointed in the quality, but overall I thought the food was very good. The deserts were OK, but I do admit they have great chocolate. I found myself on the pool deck many times grabbing a soft serve ice cream cone or a piece of pizza, both delicious. There are so many options to get food on board, even at 2AM in the buffet area. Champagne art auction - it's ffun watching art be sold while sipping champagne, although I admit I do not appreciate art enough to spend the money they were asking for the art even though it is deeply discounted. Rum tasting in Club Fusion - we didn't do anything else at the club, but it is really a nice club Skywalkers nightclub - we went there three times during the cruise, and to us the place was pretty quiet. I suppose the passenger mix just wasn't "club" enough to make it hopping. Had a few drinks there. The place is nice, but without the hopping it wasn;'t anything special. Gatsby's Casino - played there a few nights. A nice small casino, but as always with my luck at casinos didn't win anything. Lotus Spa and fitness club - my daughter and I spent $30 for spinning class (3 classes during the week). We missed one but replaced it with a Pilates class. I worked out a couple of days in the club so as not to "totally lose it". I also had a scalp massage in the spa. A nice experience. Movies under the stars - I never stayed for a whole movie, but I think it's a nice think to set up chairs with padding and blankets and lay out on the deck to catch a flick. A drive-in feeling. Also caught part of the Yankees - Red Sox game which was cool. Pools - my daughter and I sunned around the pool and watched some activities, but we never swam in the pools (we're not pool people) Princess Theater - never saw any shows because that's not my cup of tea, but did see one movie in the theater. It's a nice theater that rivals most movie houses/theaters I've been to. Crooners Bar - a nice bar to have a martini in the Piazza. Since I drink only rum, they had the Tropatini which was delicious. One day I power walked around the main deck. It takes almost five minutes to walk around the ship once doing a fast walk for exercise. I did nine laps before stopping. It's fun going up the small flight of stairs to walk around the front tip of the ship - very windy. OVERALL I easily give this cruise a 9.5 out of 10 (because there's no such thing as perfect. Once I was onboard my Crown Princess experience came back in a flash since the boat is identical. Afterwards I was thinking about being a regular cruiser - whats' more important, the ship or ports. There was a comfortable feeling being on a ship I already knew, but also a wanting feeling to be on something different. I love Princess based on my 1st two cruises. I love the Emerald Princess - very elegant and upscale. The Piazza area is nice - the snacks/deserts are excellent. I purchased an internet plan which I used on my iPod Touch, so I never hit the internet cafe. The week went by and I was never bored - always found something to do. I am going on a Bermuda cruise in August (Norwegian Spirit out of Boston), so it will be interesting to compare that experience to this cruise (ship versus ship). Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Smoothest/fastest embarkation ever Debarkation- also smooth and fast Crew very nice. Food- great selection, but kind of bland. Entertainment- Eh. I have seen better Princess Cays was very nice, beautiful, and relaxing. Ship was ... Read More
Smoothest/fastest embarkation ever Debarkation- also smooth and fast Crew very nice. Food- great selection, but kind of bland. Entertainment- Eh. I have seen better Princess Cays was very nice, beautiful, and relaxing. Ship was beautiful. Cabins very small and lack of storage. Cabin bathrooms were the smallest I have ever seen. Balcony was huge- I could have had a small party out there! This was my first time sailing on Princess. I usually sail on RCCL and Carnival (I have also sailed on MSC and NCL). I have done a ship inspection of Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This was a family cruise to get away from the winter weather and what an escape it was. I sailed with my wife, mother-in-law and grown son. We had a great time overall. I'll try to break this review down by categories and include any ... Read More
This was a family cruise to get away from the winter weather and what an escape it was. I sailed with my wife, mother-in-law and grown son. We had a great time overall. I'll try to break this review down by categories and include any info I think might be useful. Airport: We flew overnight from Portland, OR into FLL and arrived at 10:30am. We collected our luggage, were in a cab and at the port b 11:10am. If there are more than one of you take a cab. The fare was about $14 so for the four of us it was a deal even with a tip. Embarkation: Sine we were early we had some seat time in the building. They have WIFI so you can entertain yourself. They handed out numbers and called us by these numbers. Everything went smoothly. Fill out your info online and you will cruise through, no pun intended. The Ship: The ship was cleaner than I had expected. All of the public areas were clean and in good repair. No big stains on the carpet etc. They have even been applying lacquer to some of the wood surfaces. The ship took a little getting used to for us. Once you realize that deck 7 and 15 are the ones that go through things get better. Our cabin was as expected a small inside cabin. I've had everything from inside to a two room suite and each has its bonuses to me based on the weather. I say if you're cruising to warm climates spring for the balcony and if going to a cold one go without and save the money. I did the opposite on both cruises just to not go with my own advise. The Experience: We cruised on the April 18th sailing. Day one was a trip. Started out with a bit of rain ending in a full on downpour with winds blowing at 50knots. The ship was leaning sideways as we sat to eat diner. They wouldn't allow us outside as the weather was so crazy. The staff worked really hard to make sure we were happy. Look out for those table cleaners in the buffet. They will take your plate as you're eating off it! I wish the business model for cruising was not based on the upsell. Sure food is included but unless you like water or iced tee swill you're up the creek. You can ask for lemon-aid etc. but they aren't too happy to go get it. On Carnival there was at least water, coffee, iced tee and lemon aid freely available. As for the entertainment we saw comedians and had a good laugh. We went to the MUTS which was fun although the sound was a bit hard to understand. We didn't see any production shows. Stop trying to sell me diamonds, jewels and art! I guess it's like a casino, my trip is cheap because someone else is buying this stuff. The Food: We live in a town that has very good reasonably priced casino food so take my review with a grain of salt. We found the food in the buffet to be very bland and without taste. Mexican food night was pretty good however. They seemed to find the spice jars that evening. The deserts are tasteless. It seemed as if everything had a great look but nothing to back it up. Key lime cheesecake tastes like cheesecake. It seems like you had to really work at discovering the flavor of whatever you were eating. We did find the food in the dining room to be much better. The deserts were better there as well. Over all the food was average to us. Is the flavor so bland because they're trying to appeal to broad tastes or merely trying to save a buck? The Ports: I'm not sure if my reviews below will show up so I will summarize here. This is a beach and water vacation. If you get off the ship head straight for a nice beach. In our opinion there is nothing of value to see on these islands. It makes me sad to say this because I enjoy meeting to people and experiencing their culture. These islands are in a sad state economically and environmentally. Disembarkation: Walked off early. Nearly the first off. Got back to the airport so fast we didn't know what to do with ourselves. Overall: It was a nice trip and we got what we paid for. Seven days of hot sun, water and beaches. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Great first cruise experience! What I learned: -you DO feel the boat moving! Some people warned me ahead of time that you wouldn't and it surprised me how much you did feel it, especially at the front of the boat (gym in ... Read More
Great first cruise experience! What I learned: -you DO feel the boat moving! Some people warned me ahead of time that you wouldn't and it surprised me how much you did feel it, especially at the front of the boat (gym in particular). Some nights when we traveled at a faster speed you could really feel it, other nights that were slower you didn't -cruises are different than all-inclusive resort trips! Things I liked better than all-inclusives: variety of ports/locations become snapshots for future travelling. Food is more consistent. Water is drinkable from tap. Lots of variety of indoor and outdoor options during the daytime. Things I liked less than all-inclusives: lack of outdoor time at night (walking around etc), less of a need to be active with everything so close. Less beach time. Much smaller living quarters, especially the bathroom! More aware of number of guests/crowded pool areas and the need to prereserve chairs (especially for at-sea days). bill at the end of the trip for excursions/alcoholic drinks/gym fees etc - although i'm sure the price is built in with all inclusives you are more aware of spending the $ each day there. Wine corking fees if you bring your own to dinners. Set mandatory gratuities for each person on bill, rather than paying it out to whom you think did a good job. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
About us: I am a single mom travelling with 2 girls ages 13 and 10 along with my parents (in their sixties)from Canada. My parents have cruised a bit and this is only my second time and the girls first. Decided on Princess because of a ... Read More
About us: I am a single mom travelling with 2 girls ages 13 and 10 along with my parents (in their sixties)from Canada. My parents have cruised a bit and this is only my second time and the girls first. Decided on Princess because of a deal our travel agent told us about. Fort Lauderdale: Flew out of Buffalo. We arrived the day before having flown in to Fort Myers and renting a car to drive over...cheaper than the flight to Fort Lauderdale! We stayed at the Comfort Inn. The room was ok but there was no where around to go to dinner that wasn't fast food. We shopped in the morning at the local mall, got some liquor for happy hour in our cabin and soda for the girls. No one checked bags getting onto the ship. Next time, we would stay closer to Port. Embarkation: Once we dropped off the rental (Budget was hard to find), they shuttled us to Port Everglades. There was a huge line when we got there but it seem to dissipate within a half hour. The only hassle was trying to fill out a health form as you were trying to get through to the lines for deck/cabin registration. We went straight to the cabin to drop our stuff and tour the ship & grab some lunch (the buffet was packed, but go past the horizon court to the cafe...always more room back there!) Make sure to be outside for the sail away...amazing! Cabins: We had an inside cabin on Emerald deck. It had the robes we requested and the foam topper. Overall, very nice, clean and a lot of storage. My parents cabin was an outside with obstructed view from the lifeboat...but with the nice big window you could still see out rather well. Both had the same set up but ours had 2 bunks instead of a queen. We emptied the fridge and put our soda in. We had a steward named "Ekk" who was from Thailand...he was the best! Very friendly and accomodating, always talking with the kids when we saw him in the hallway and always had a big smile. I say that if you are nice to people they are nice back to you....can't understand why others have so much trouble with staff. Cabin was sufficient and since we were only sleeping in there, worth the price. Ship: We toured the ship and overall very nice...neutral decor. Easy to figure out. The piazza is gorgeous with glass elevators that my daughter loved riding! This week there was only 60 kids on board compared to 500 the week before so the kids area was rather empty. My kids were not disappointed as they spent the majority of their ship time in the pool!! You can exchange wet towels thru'out the day as well. We also made friends with a waiter named Nick. Very funny guy, always made the kids smile and they had a lot of fun singing around the pool with him. He remembered my name from day 1 and was always friendly. The adult pool at the back of the ship was less crowded but many old people and people smoking...it was a horrible smell and we decided not stay back there. The sanctuary area and lotus spa pool area were mostly shady and 'no kids' so that wasn't an option for us, but if you are travelling alone, seems to be very quiet. Compared to my last cruise on a small boat, you could hardly feel anything on this grand ship. Both myself and my oldest didn't bother with the patch, although my youngest who is prone to motion sickness, did have one, she was fine, other than the first day. She did get a nose bleed on the tender to Princess Cays. Food: As we had anytime dining, we had a few dinners in the Da Vinci which were excellent. Staff was friendly and tried to be light hearted and funny. The food was really good and between the five of us, we tried almost everything from the menu each night. No one had any complaints, not even the kids. If they couldn't decide on a dish, there was the Fettucine Alfredo as a back up. Tried Michaelangelo once...atmosphere was too stuffy there for us. We also had the buffet on some nights when we wanted more casual dining. Some theme nights were great, especially the Bavarian night. During the day, many brought pizza to their deck chairs. I wasn't that impressed by the pizza as many have raved about, it was a very thin crust which was sometimes burned and boring but ok. I guess some people have really not had good pizza to compare to! The grill, however, was pretty good. The kids loved the hot dogs/bratwurst and fries! The free ice cream was great too - ask for sprinkles! Can't understand why so many complain about the food overall...there was anything from low end hamburgers to fine dining lobster. There has got to be something for everyone...definitely better than a lot of Carribean resorts!!! Entertainment: We took in all the comedy shows and the comedien. All were great. The MUTS was good during the day and we caught a few at night too. There was popcorn and a blanket and of course, the Stars! We didn't do a lot of other scheduled events, but that is not our thing. My parents enjoyed the other musical shows as well. There is something for everyone, just highlight what you like in the Princess Patter newsletter the night before so you know when and where! Monday- Princess Cays - Bahamas: Princess leases some land at the bottom of this island. Tendering out wasn't too bad as we had to be one of the first out to make the tour. We took the glass bottom boat excursion here and had a lot of fun watching all the different fish around the coral. My daughter also got her hair braided here by a local lady that sells souveniers. She was very nice and we found out a lot of information about the area. My parents had rented a clamshell here (worth it if you need shade). The water was refreshing as it was really hot sunbathing all afternoon. Princess puts on a free BBQ here for everyone...the food? well, what can I say...it was a BBQ so average. There was a lot of fresh fruit and of course those awesome cookies! It's too bad you don't get to see the rest of this beautiful island...all the locals say to come back and stay! Tuesday - Sea Day - Deck 15 is the place to be!! I was up bright and early and had a very quiet breakfast in the Horizon Court...plenty to choose from and a lot of light/healthy choices if you want to stick on a plan. I headed out to the pool where the MUTS screen was and was able to find 3 chairs together as it was early. Most of the best chairs are taken by 830am so get out early this day. This ended up being the pool that we were at for the cruise...the kids were all here and my girls ended up making friends with a few other kids that they hung out with for the week. The movies were as new as the latest DVD releases at home along with a few football games. It was not too loud as described by others, but just right as the crowd and ship are noisy and it has to be loud enough for all those watching to hear from sun decks above. The other pool in the center of deck 15 was very crowded and had all the little babies....very noisy too! The band played by this pool all day, so if you like that instead, find a chair early too. The two main pools overall are crowded and noisy but fun...this is supposed to be a fun cruise ship. There are quiet areas too...so you just have to decide what you like and go there. My dad can't handle the noise but found some quiet areas. Make sure to go to the Wheelhouse for lunch on a sea day...the fish and chips were delicious! Wednesday - St. Maarten: We booked the See and Sea excursion. It was on an airconditioned bus taking you to the French side, which I hadn't seen yet. Definitely more beautiful than the Dutch side. We drove out to a beach area where we boarded a boat that took us out to the coral reef. The bottom of the boat had glass walls and we were impressed by all the ocean life. The ride back included a stop in a shopping area. St. Maarten is very expensive overall but some very nice things. The excursion was ok for our first time, however, I would rent a taxi on our own next time. Thursday - St. Thomas: We booked the Ultimate excursion here which takes you on a safari type truck thru downtown traffic to road stops at higher elevations. Beautiful views from the 2 stops we made. This is the most picturesque of the ports. Then a 2 hour stop at Magen's Bay. The water was warm and so clear. The beach sand is soft and so white. Then, they dropped you at Blackbeard's Castle, where you toured the castle and some other homes as you walked down the hill toward town. Once, downtown, you just had to walk to the water and board a large boat that takes you back to the pier. Again, wouldn't do a tour again, just grab a cab and head to some of the best beaches. Friday - Grand Turk: We booked a snorkeling excursion here and it was the best tour yet! On the beach, we boarded a boat that took us out to a private cay called Paradise Cay...it was gorgeous....although the boat ride out was rather rough...big waves, it was so much fun with the group of people we had. We found a calm area and got on our snorkeling equipment. The coral here was beautiful along with all the fish we saw! Then we swam to the island for a little hike and my kids found some shells. Back to the boat for some rum punch!! The kids and I had so much fun...we would do this one again! Back to the island which is so beautiful, like the islands used to be! We found Marguerittaville and our friends from Pricess. Some of the boys had paid for the Florider which was a surf machine. We had fun watching them try! This place was fun and the pool was gorgeous, but it was late and the kids only had a quick swim before we had to get back. My parents stayed on the beach all day and loved it. Mom said the water was the warmest at this location. Saturday - Sea Day: Another day to relax and enjoy a good book and movie by the MUTS pool. The kids played in the pool all day. We hit a sprinkle of rain on our way back to Florida but just enough time to slip in for lunch. Watch out for those college football fanatics!!! Florida vs. Alabama...should I say more! Departation: We decided to carry off our own bags with about 500 other people. We were asked to meet in the dining room for 7 am. The room was full but they were organized and got people off in an orderly fashion. It probably took 1/2 hr overall. Customs was no problem. We got onto the pier and there was a SouthWest Airlines truck terminal right there. We gave them our bags and got our boarding passes immediately. Took a taxi to the airport. We got our bags right away when we landed so I definitely recommend this process if you are doing the same. Quick and easy and we didn't have to carry our bags thru to the airport. Overall: We all loved the trip. Everyone we met was friendly and accommodating and after reading about Princess being a "money grab", I have to say, I was on a limited budget and never felt that I "had" to buy anything. No one bugged me about drinks, nor treated us any less friendlier that those that were buying. This is a ship of choices...eat when and where and what you want, lots of entertainment choices or just relax, shore excursions or not. I have heard many complain about everything, but again, just do what you choose. If you are open minded, people friendly and not too picky...you will enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Overall, it was a good trip. We are a family of 4 (kids are 16 and 20) and were in cabins E414 and E610. This was our second sailing on Princess. The first was 10 years ago. There were some noticeable differences. Embarkation—We ... Read More
Overall, it was a good trip. We are a family of 4 (kids are 16 and 20) and were in cabins E414 and E610. This was our second sailing on Princess. The first was 10 years ago. There were some noticeable differences. Embarkation—We arrived at the pier at 11:45, the doors opened a little after noon and we were in our cabins within 15 minutes of entering (and we didn't even have our boarding passes yet.) Initial Impression--The ship is beautiful and tastefully decorated with just the right amount of Christmas decorations. Onboard, we had lunch in the Horizon court (so-so) and then went exploring. We made reservations for Wednesday night at Crown Grill, booked two spots in the Sanctuary for the week and purchased coffee cards (a must for coffee drinkers.) Room—Room was laid out very nicely. Our cabin stewards were excellent. E414 had virtually no obstruction and E610 was almost totally obstructed. I would definitely book E414 again if sailing on this class again. Dining—For the most part, the meals were mediocre. I was a little bothered that the "themed nights' set out in the brochure on our desk did not match up with what ultimately done. The highlights were definitely the Crown Grill and the International Cafe (loved this place.) Our waiter was the most unfriendly we have ever had on any ship (we've sailed Disney, Carnival, NCL and RCCL) and the assistant was only slightly better. The staff at the International Cafe were exceptional. We also enjoyed the London Pub atmosphere and food at the Wheelhouse Bar on sea days. Entertainment—We did not attend the production shows (rare for us to skip them) so we can only comment on the others. The hypnotist was boring and her act was repeated for the first 3 nights in different locations. The impressionist and comedians brought on later in the week were much better. We enjoyed the Chistmas caroling in the Piazza as well as some of the specialty performances. MUTS was hit and miss. My kids went up for the teen movie the first night only to have football run over and the movie not played. We did enjoy it during the day (except announcements always came at bad times.) The cruise director, Tim Donavan, and his staff were very good though I would probably skip the London Pub night next time (too long and not very funny.) Ports—Princess Cays was beautiful and renting a cabana was great. The basic rental did not come with anything special (food delivery, etc) but it could as most of the waiters were just standing around that day. In St. Maarten, we toured with Bernard (Slim was our tour guide) and it was an excellent tour. In St. Thomas, we toured with Godfrey and the tour was so-so (in fairness to Godfrey though, the weather turned bad and St. Thomas just isn't what it used to be.) We were about an hour late docking at Grand Turk due to a Seabourne ship being late getting out (this was very disappointing since the time in Grand Turk was so limited and cut short by rain a little later.) We had been on one of the first ships to visit Grand Turk and it is much better now that it is more fully developed. We had reserved the Flow Rider in advance for the kids and were glad we did since it was all booked up for the day. Grand Turk is an excellent port and surprisingly not as crowded as I feared with the Glory also being there. Onboard Activities—This is where I think the biggest decline has occurred. They were fairly lacking and not much to appeal to our kids' ages. We do not gamble but the casino looked pretty empty most of the time. The midnight mass was excellent. The Sanctuary was wonderful (and they even let us cancel the first sea day when it was overcast and then we just booked the next sea day.) The Spa was also excellent (I had a massage, my wife and oldest had detox/slimming treatments and my youngest had teeth whitening.) Disembarkation--We walked-off early due to having an early flight. It seemed like everybody else did as well whether they needed to or not (everyone but us in the shuttle heading back to the airport had afternoon flights.) They really should limit the number of people doing this to those having early flights. The process was made worse by the number of people around us complaining about the cruise or the dismbarkation process (some people need to get a grip.) Overall Impression—It was a good cruise, but nothing special other than being away on the holidays. I think the problem is that Princess tries to be all things to all people and in the process doesn't stand out in any one area. They don't have the "fun" ships (Carnival), the cruises are not all about family (Disney) and they aren't really geared for the active lifestyle (RCCL.) I think they know that also. One of the funniest moments to me was the night we left St. Maarten when the cruise director, in an attempt to be humorous, made mention of the number of ships in port, which included the Oasis, and asked, "Did you see those people on the other ships leaning over their balconies and watching our movies?" I thought, "Yeah, right." So that I don't end on a negative, I must say the ship never seemed crowded except the first night when we went to dinner. I like how the ship is "broken up." I also thought the kids/teens on the ship were well behaved despite seeing some obvious underage drinking on the pool deck on Christmas night. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Emerald Princess June 15-25 2009.  Weather started "early spring" and ended "early summer".  We used hop-on/hop-off (HOHO) buses in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tallinn, walked in Oslo, DenRus in St. Petersburg and a ... Read More
Emerald Princess June 15-25 2009.  Weather started "early spring" and ended "early summer".  We used hop-on/hop-off (HOHO) buses in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tallinn, walked in Oslo, DenRus in St. Petersburg and a taxi driver/private tour in Gdynia/Stopot/Gdansk.  Emerald Princess dinner food is fabulous.  The seafood is kept truly fresh - the executive chef told us that they "blast chill" the food when it arrives on board.  Evening ship entertainment not for us.  The Las Vegas style shows have the performers emoting; the comedian had his moments; the hypotist and the juggler struggled; the string quartet played VERY light classical.Examples of the excellent food: truly fresh Alaska king crab, shrimp and scallops; Beef Wellington and Fettucini Alfredo as if it was from the origins; bisque and cold soups that definitely took time to makeWe spent 2 days in Copenhagen before the cruise.  Restaurants charge USD 6.00 for coffee, orange juice, water, but the shopping for clothing was great - high quality and value.   Emerald Princess is a quieter, spacious ship.  They don't have as much blaring commercials and dinner time is quieter.Our children (ages 16 and 18) immediately made 6 close friends and were consumed with the Teen Center.Copenhagen pier can be reached by a 7-minute walk to Nordhavn train/metro station with 2 stops to Copenhagen central station, and then 3 stops to the airport. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Having sailed the Emerald Princess last year my wife and I were really looking forward to our return trip this year. Embarkation went smoothly and we got on board early enough to enjoy the day reacquainting ourselves with the ship. Once ... Read More
Having sailed the Emerald Princess last year my wife and I were really looking forward to our return trip this year. Embarkation went smoothly and we got on board early enough to enjoy the day reacquainting ourselves with the ship. Once our cruise started we were more than a little disappointed in the following. The production shows in the Princess theater were the exact same shows we saw last year and now they show them two nights. So there goes some of our evening entertainment. The cruise director was basically nonexistent other than his daily appearances on his morning TV show and his staff as a whole seemed to be following in his footsteps as they also were rarely seen. The wait staff in the Michelangelo dining room left a lot to be desired. On more than one occasion we were left wondering if we aliens due to the fact that we left holding our menus with not so much as a glass of water. We complained to the Maitre D' who seemed to take it personally and basically became a nuisance afterwards. We were much happier when we switched to the Da Vinci dining room. Our visit to Sabitini's was excellent as always with a great wait staff and a wonderful meal. My wife saw the s'mores dessert on the Crown Grill menu and being the dessert freak that she is wanted to try it. The dinner seatings were filled so I took a chance one evening and asked if we could come in, just for dessert and coffee and was quite happy when they said it was no problem. Kudos to the Crown Grill. We are active people and try to find the most active shore excursions we can on all our cruises. A word to the wise DO NOT book the bike tour on Water Island in St. Thomas. The bicycles they use are UNSAFE and in severe need of attention. The chain popped off my bike three times. The cable fell out of my rear brake on a downhill and it has to be one of the shortest bike rides around an island I have ever encountered. In comparison the bike tour on Bonaire was on of the best. Excellent equipment, attentive tour guide, excellent ride around the island(if only it were longer than 13 miles). Highly recommended for those looking for something a little more active. Stay in Grenada was to short, I realize that its a long way to Bonaire from Dominica but if thats the case skip a port and hit all three of the ABC islands. Dominica is one of the most beautiful islands I have ever stepped foot on a must see for anyone who loves the tropical side of the Caribbean. Bonaire is just as beautiful but in a completely different way. The desert atmosphere is amazing and the island is very low key. A complete opposite from the tourist mecca of Aruba.I guess after writing this I have come to the realization that overall we did have a great time, other than a few minor incidents it was a wonderful time except for the fact that the time flew by and it was over before we knew. I guess we are going to have to start booking longer cruises. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
This was our 1st princess Cruise I booked it because of the great itinerary, and it worked for my kids spring break. The Emerald is a very clean pretty ship. I have only been on Celebrity ships of about 1,500 passengers so this was my 1st ... Read More
This was our 1st princess Cruise I booked it because of the great itinerary, and it worked for my kids spring break. The Emerald is a very clean pretty ship. I have only been on Celebrity ships of about 1,500 passengers so this was my 1st bigger ship experience. The crew was very friendly through out the ship. Our cabin was always serviced well. My 11 and 14 year old daughters went to the kids club a few times but said that it was not as good as the one on Celebrity even though the room was nicer. They did not bring the kids around the ship as they did with Celebrity. Ice cream on Celebrity was free all day and on the Emerald it was free only for a few hours during the afternoon which was fine on sea days but not port days. The pizza was fabulous and free all the time. We choose early seating traditional dining, our wait staff was very good and friendly. The food was not as good as it was on Celebrity but still good. The meats were not as good and the fish dishes were a bit over cooked. The snow crab legs were excellent. The peanut butter cookies were the best soft and chewy. The layout of the ship I found confusing as did a lot of others I spoke with. There were a lot of going up to do down and the kids club was hard to get to. After about 5 days I started to find my way around but it just seemed not a good layout. We did not take any of the ship's excursions but others I spoke to who did said they were over priced ad not that fun. a fellow cruise critic passenger broke her foot on a private excursion and she said the medical care was very good on the ship. The house band was a lot of fun, I danced everyday I wish they played longer when they played out by the pool. we did not go to any of the big production shows in the Princess lounge. The hypnotist was fantastic, a very funny show. The comedy was OK I went to see both of them. We got to the dock around 1:00 to embark and were happily surprised that it only took about 20 minutes and we were in our cabin! It only took about 10 minutes to disembark which was also very smooth. The cabin was a bit smaller than the Celebrity ones but were still OK as we do not spend a lot of time in them. All in all we had a great time but I think I would not go on another Princess cruise unless it was on a smaller under 1,500 passengers. If Celebrity has a good itinerary around our spring break I will go with them again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Emerald Princess January 19-29, 2009 This review is a collaborative effort between my wife (cruzinchris) and me. The cruise was our 11th with Princess, second time on the Emerald. Last year, we sailed in early February on the southern ... Read More
Emerald Princess January 19-29, 2009 This review is a collaborative effort between my wife (cruzinchris) and me. The cruise was our 11th with Princess, second time on the Emerald. Last year, we sailed in early February on the southern Caribbean voyage. Pre-cruise (Chris): As Marriott Rewards members, we choose Marriott properties when available at our destination. We opted for the Renaissance on 17th Street where we had not stayed previously. We liked this hotel and location that was convenient to restaurants and shopping. We used NW flier miles for our afternoon flight from DTW and arrived in FLL at 5:00PM. We took a taxi to the Renaissance; there is no airport shuttle provided by the hotel. After checking in and freshening up, we headed to Total Wine and dinner at Carlos & Pepe's that was highly recommended by frequent-cruiser friends and the hotel bellman. We enjoyed a light meal, the food and Margaritas were very good, service was friendly and prompt; we would definitely go to Carlos & Pepe's again for a pre-cruise dinner. The following morning, we discovered that neither of us had dental floss, so Mike made a quick trip to Walgreen's while I showered and dressed. He also picked up some bagels at nearby Einstein's because we didn't really want a full breakfast. Unlike some of our cruises, we were in no hurry to arrive at the terminal and boarded the Renaissance shuttle shortly after noon ($6 per person) for the quick trip to Port Everglades. Embarkation (Chris): Upon arrival at the ship terminal, the driver pulled up near the end of the lengthy serpentine line, and we hadn't noticed the Elite/Platinum sign. We checked one large bag and proceeded to the end of the queue. At first, we seemed to make little or no progress, but the pace picked up and we finally saw the preferred embarkation sign and moved into the shorter line. Once through security, check-in was smooth, we were onboard the vessel at 1:00 and in our Baja inside stateroom at 1:15. Stateroom/Steward (Chris): We have never had a steward on Princess who wasn't competent and personable, but Hector from the Philippines is among those who go above and beyond in their efforts to please passengers. He met our every need cheerfully and promptly and truly earned "You Made A Difference" recognition. While we have enjoyed several balcony staterooms and one mini-suite, we are perfectly satisfied with inside staterooms that are blessedly quiet and offer freedom from smokers or noisy balconies. Once we are unpacked, clothing hung or placed in drawers or cabinet, luggage stored, small table moved into closet, we are happy as clams! The requested egg crate mattress pad was on the bed upon arrival, but we noticed that the shell-shaped dish on the bathroom vanity was missing. There were no beverage napkins, and the Princess notepad was a meager 5 or 6 pages. We had to ask Hector for the napkins, more notepaper, and more shampoo when the original bottle was nearly empty. We understand that Princess must make cutbacks, but these are such insignificant items that it is pitiful that they are being doled out only when requested. How can passengers "escape completely" when they're worried about running out of shampoo in the shower!?! Public Venues (Mike): Having sailed on the Emerald last February, we appreciate some of the changes made from the Grand Class ships and not others. The ship still seems new, showing little wear after 20 months in service. Our favorite venue is Adagio lounge located Deck 16 aft next to Sabatini's. This was our favorite spot for a quiet afternoon game of Scrabble or a pre-dinner cocktail with Chris' beloved bleu cheese-stuffed olives. There is live piano music beginning at 6:00PM. The Adagio bar staff wished that more passengers would discover this secret paradise. We found the piazza to be quite crowded especially when the sale tables are out in front of the shops. It's almost to the point of creating a hazard as passengers try to squeeze past sale tables and come dangerously close to falling down the marble staircase. The traffic pattern that forces patrons exiting the Princess Theatre to walk through Wheelhouse lounge seems poorly designed. The Sanctuary seemed to have moderate use and most enjoyed the amenities of this secluded haven, but the jogging track and basketball court have been banished to a location that is difficult to access. Dining/Food (Mike): As in 9 of our previous 10 Princess cruises, we selected Anytime Dining. We choose Anytime not only for the flexibility but also because 6:00PM is too early and 8:15PM is too late for us to dine. Although we are usually willing to share a table at breakfast (generally don't do lunch), we like a table for two at dinner. Through friends who are Elite, we received a personal introduction to Maitre D'Hotel Nicola Furlan who secured us a standing reservation in DaVinci dining room for 7:15. We experienced a 3rd different dinner menu in the past eleven months. On the Emerald last February, we had the short-lived "Small Plates, Large Plates" format, in September on the Star, the "old menus", and this time the inclusion of "home style entrEes". Overall we found the food quality very good but slightly below that of previous Princess cruises. On a couple of evenings, no entrEe offering sounded appealing, and I chose the "always available" salmon cutlet and the Princess favorite, Fettuccine Alfredo. As always, Princess excels in soups and sauces, the eggplant Parmesan is divine, and the rack of lamb is superb. We also really enjoyed the lamb shank, veal Marsala, and Coq Au Vin. Dinner service was excellent, especially Valentina from Estonia and Norvin from the Philippines who served us four evenings. Food quality at breakfast was very good with service somewhat slow especially at the 9:00AM closing rush. Overall the dining room staff seemed overburdened with too many tables. On a day when we missed breakfast, we tried the pub lunch in Wheelhouse lounge. We learned that the lunch is freshly prepared in the Wheelhouse kitchen. The fish & chips and the Plowman's lunch were a tasty repast but portions are somewhat small. Those looking for a hearty lunch might have to seek another venue. This is certainly another revenue enhancement opportunity for Princess as many fellow pub-lunchers enjoyed a cold beverage with their lunch. We don't frequent Horizon Court but often enjoyed a light afternoon snack of chicken salad and shrimp salad at International Cafe. Both Trident Grill and Pizza Station provide quality pool deck food options. Activities (Mike): The Emerald had the usual complement of daytime activities. This itinerary had 5 consecutive days of 8 hour port calls so activities were more limited on these days. Activities included line & ballroom dancing, Bingo, trivia, pool games, golf putting & chipping, and hosted game play. Additionally there were two guest lecturers on board, speaking on Bridge and Caribbean history and culture. Bingo appeared to be popular based on lines to purchase cards which formed outside Club Fusion. I only participated in trivia. There were two special Presidential trivia games on Inauguration Day sponsored by CNN (I won two CNN tote bags) and a passenger-inspired trivia on the last day - a compilation of passenger submitted questions. Most trivia sessions were spiritedly contested and well attended. The cruise staff under the direction of Paul O'Loughlin (new to the ship this cruise) were competent but not nearly as friendly or outgoing as those on previous Princess cruises. Entertainment (Chris): Similar to the plethora of shipboard activities, there were many and varied entertainment options throughout the day when at sea and every night of the cruise. It would be impossible to attend all the performances, so I will list only those that Mike and I attended. We were delighted that the talented Astoria String Quartet was onboard for our sailing as we enjoy classical music. We missed a couple of their performances in the Atrium due to misinformation in the Patter but listened to these lovely ladies as often as possible. Astoria performed a concert in Wheelhouse on my 1/27 birthday that was spent confined to my stateroom, but I asked Mike to go even though I couldn't. After the performance, he told them how disappointed I was that I was unable to attend, and they wished me Happy Birthday in Russian and autographed a program for me. We enjoyed Exotique band that performed in Explorer's Lounge and on deck. This is one of the best groups that we have seen on a Princess ship, and we watched many of their shows. I was happy to hear that Exotique was scheduled to perform at the "Champagne Waterfall" on the second formal night and asked if they would do some Motown tunes for my birthday. As with the classical concert, I was disappointed that I couldn't attend, but the band wished me a belated Happy Birthday and played "My Girl" in my honor the following night. We spent several evenings listening to pianists in Adagio Lounge or heard them play at various times in the Atrium. We had seen three of the four production shows on previous cruises but have yet to see "Boogie Shoes". We went to a late performance of "Motor City" one night because there were plenty of empty seats. We've seen this show three times and think it one of the best we've seen on Princess. Ventriloquist/comedian act, Willie Tyler & Lester, was light-hearted and a blast from the past for us as we remembered the duo from variety shows of the 60s and 70s. Ports of Call (Mike): As mentioned earlier, we sailed the Southern Caribbean itinerary last year and chose the Eastern this time. We had visited Antigua and Barbados previously (1997) but had never been to St. Lucia or St. Kitts. We do only Princess shore excursions and cannot comment on private tours. In Antigua, we chose "Nelson's Dockyard and English Harbor" tour. We saw a good portion of the island on our bus tour, well narrated by driver, "M.J.". A short guided tour of the historic Nelson Dockyard with an explanation of how sailing ships were repaired in the early 19th century was provided. Here we also received the staple of all Caribbean shore excursions. . . complimentary Rum Punch! In Barbados, we opted for a beach day and went on the "Malibu Beach Getaway". This gorgeous beach was a quick bus ride from the dock; in fact, the ship was in full view from the beach. Lounge chairs and an umbrella were provided, but we spent most of the time relaxing in the clear blue Caribbean waters. We declined the optional tour of the adjacent Malibu Rum factory but enjoyed the complimentary Rum Punch. In St. Lucia, our excursion was "Colors of Mamiku Gardens". The gardens are part of a large private estate located at the far end of the island from the port. There was a lengthy, hilly, winding bus ride narrated by guide Devlin. At the gardens, we were treated to beautiful floral displays described by our articulate and informative guide, Gilbert. Walking sticks provided at the garden entrance aided as we traversed steep and uneven terrain with slippery stone paver steps. We made a brief stop at the concession stand where we were served fish cakes, banana bread and a drink. We were pleased to meet Veronica Shedlington-Smith, the 80-something owner of the estate and designer of the gardens. The return bus trip passed the scene of a serious car accident and finally reached the dock 5 ½ hours after our departure. In St. Kitts, we rode the "St. Kitts Scenic Railway". This tour combined a 45-minute bus ride and a two-hour train trip that covered most of the island. On the train that was converted from one that transported sugar cane from the plantations to the factory, we were serenaded by a girls' singing group and served sugar cake and pina coladas. The island itself was not particularly beautiful and the tour less that we had hoped for. We did not disembark at St. Thomas or Princess Cays, having been to both ports often. Disembarkation (Mike): Our flight home was not until 1:18PM, so we enjoyed our last breakfast in the dining room, relaxed in Club Fusion until 9:15, claimed our luggage, proceeded through customs/immigration and boarded a taxi, arriving at the airport at 10:00. Very smooth! Miscellaneous (Chris): While Mike and I didn't participate in onboard religious services, I know that prospective cruisers are frequently interested in what is available. There was a Catholic priest traveling with a parish group who said Mass almost every morning. There was a request for a passenger to conduct Jewish Shabbat service on Friday at 5:15 (Barbados) and the Deputy Cruise Director led a short interdenominational prayer service on Sunday at 5:30 following our port call in St. Kitts. On more than once occasion, there were errors in entertainment times printed in the Princess Patter. We showed up for at least two performances by Astoria String Quartet only to find out that they had finished playing or would perform at a later time. This was among the few minor issues that annoyed us on the cruise, and I included it on our comment form. Much to our surprise, Internet connectivity was generally very fast, although our Comcast email was slow to load. There was a 30-minute bonus offered if passengers signed up for Internet packages on embarkation day, so we ended up with 280 free minutes and had not used 60+ minutes by the end of the cruise. The International Cafe is a nice venue for a light meal but I don't eat Danish, donuts, muffins, etc. for breakfast or rich pastries at other times of the day. I am more likely to select cheese after dinner than most desserts. That said, I missed the dainty "refrigerator" cookies that used to be offered at the Patisserie. We rarely attend Afternoon Tea, and it occurred to me that the delicious cookies may have been served at that time. I didn't see them at HC and find the large, chewy cookies a bit too sweet. I noted the "missing" cookies on the comment sheet. There were some precautions taken during our cruise to prevent the spread of Noro. I have posted elsewhere about my brief illness that may have been a mild case of the dreaded gastrointestinal virus. Rather than include my comments here, I am providing the link if you would like to know about my symptoms and how the situation was handled. I also kept the special In Room Dining Light & Healthy Menu and will post it on a separate thread if anyone is interested. Conclusion: If you have reached this point, thanks for your time and patience. Please let me know if we can answer any questions. Mike Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Emerald Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.5 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.0

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