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14 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Caribbean - Southern

This was the second time we've been on the Emerald. We were on it during its second year in the Mediterranean and now it is seven years old. She still looks very nice and they take good care of her, painting, replacing carpet, etc ... Read More
This was the second time we've been on the Emerald. We were on it during its second year in the Mediterranean and now it is seven years old. She still looks very nice and they take good care of her, painting, replacing carpet, etc that we saw while on board. Our mini suite, cabin D114 (portside), was very nice, but we were very forward and did feel the movement a little more than the mid ship staterooms we were accustomed to, but it wasn't real bad by any means. The Christmas decorations were beautiful around the ship! The added room in our cabin was nice with three of us sharing the space. Having a tub is also something you don't get in a regular balcony stateroom, and we enjoyed the bigger bathroom. The sofa bed for our grown daughter was great because the long sofa still had a portion to sit on even though the bed was open. Good idea! Our large queen size bed was comfortable for me but not as comfortable for my husband. The dining staff was the best of any of our 7 other cruises (4 th on Princess) They went way out of their way to please us, no matter what we requested! If we wanted a bottle of wine that we had not finished in a previous dining room for Anytime Dining, they tracked it down. If we wanted to try two different desserts, they just brought them without us even asking for both. They were all so friendly and never acted as if we were troubling them in any way. Many had a super sense of humor and made our dining experience a real pleasure. Entertainment we saw only on some of the evenings, so can't judge them all. The trivia game in the Explorers Lounge was very fun, the comedian illusionist was terrific, and the Casino non- smoking nights were good for just a little while, so as not to lose too much. Dancing in the Wheelhouse Bar was nice. We even learned some new dance steps in the Club Fusion. Bingo was well attended and was more reasonable to play than on other cruise lines. When you think about the chef having to plan for 15,000 meals per day, it is amazing what they are able to accomplish. We ate one evening in the Crown Grill Steakhouse and thought it was outstanding, well worth the $25 surcharge. Also on our last evening, we dined in the beautiful Sabatini's restaurant and had a wonderful meal, also a specialty restaurant. We never bought the alcohol package because we didn't feel it was worth it. You are allowed to bring a 750 mL bottle of wine per person in each cabin without a corkage fee. It was nice to sip a glass of wine on our balcony before dinner. At dinner we'd order a glass of wine and a pina colada by the pool, but never would have spent the amount of the alcohol package. The exciursions were okay except that in Belize we had to use local catamarans that held about 200 passengers to tender us to shore instead of the tenders from our ship. Because of that, it was open air and cooler on the morning trip to shore. The 2 hour river cruise was in an open air boat that was not very comfortable, it rained on us and we were cold, but we saw many crocodiles, iguanas, birds, and even bats on trees. Interesting. Tulum in Mexico was a long trip from the ship because you had to take a 30 minute big enclosed speed boat trip before taking a 45 minute motorcoach ride to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum . I felt it was worth it to see this ancient civilization on the gorgeous turquoise sea, but felt that I also missed a day on the beautiful beaches. You can't do it all! I figured that you can't always see the ruins on this magnitude. I loved this particular cruise because there were 3 full days at sea and it was so relaxing to just do your own thing! Whether it be walking the Promenade deck 3 times around for 1 mile of exercise or going to the big fitness center or just lounging under the huge outdoor screen to see a Beatles concert or see an NFL game, there was always something to see, eat, or do. I truly believe that it is up to each individual's attitude as to whether you will enjoy yourself or not. Some people complain about very minute things when on the whole picture, the cruise was wonderful and the staff was terrific in every way! Would we cruise with Princess again? Absolutely. It is very economical for what you get and if you paid a lot more on a high end smaller cruise line, you would expect more. Free liquor with dinner, smaller numbers at dinner, no waiting, etc., but we didn't break the bank and were very pleased ! We had a great time.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was the 28th Cruise for my wife and me on 23 different Ships and 8 Cruise lines, mostly over the last 14 years or so. This was our 6th Cruise on Princess and 2nd on the Emerald having sailed on her back in '09. Both times we ... Read More
This was the 28th Cruise for my wife and me on 23 different Ships and 8 Cruise lines, mostly over the last 14 years or so. This was our 6th Cruise on Princess and 2nd on the Emerald having sailed on her back in '09. Both times we chose a Lido level Balcony as we like the closeness to the Pool areas, and also like a cabin near an Elevator and in the Mid-ship to bow area. We like the sound of the waves crashing off the bow of the ship and the motion of this area more than the aft. We flew down to FLL two days early as we have come to do lately and stayed at the Embassy Suites on SE 17th Street. We have stayed there a few times in the past when the rates are decent and enjoy the location for the many restaurants and the good shopping options in the area. It is also a short taxi ride to the Beach area if you want to head down that way. This trip we rented a car for one day from Gold Coast Car Rental, who picked us up at the hotel to get to the rental location nearby and also took us to the Pier the next day when we dropped off the car. The price of the car was less than taxi fares would have been to get to the spots we wanted to visit and the ride to the pier was a bonus. Embarkation day had us arriving at the Pier just before 11:30am as we typically try to do. Normally the process has been very smooth on our last few Cruises, not quite so lucky on this visit though. Boarding was delayed and the first folks who arrived much earlier did not start to board until about 11:30. They stopped check in for about 20 minutes or so while we were in line and we ended up boarding around 12:30. No real reason was given for the delays. Nice thing is, the cabins were ready and we were able to drop off our bags before getting a bite to eat. The cabins on this class ship have a very large closet and plenty of storage space to handle everything we brought with us for the voyage. Closet even had enough space to handle a couple of the suitcases with the rest being placed under the bed. Only improvement I would like would be a shower door in place of the curtain and perhaps a bit larger shower similar to some of the newer Solstice Celebrity ships. The Emerald is very well maintained and very clean. She looked much as we remembered her from our cruise in 2009. The Crew was very outgoing and friendly and very eager to make sure everything went well for everyone on board. The food in the MDR was ample and very well prepared and our waiter Ray made sure we were very happy with whatever was served. Ray and the Headwaiter Luis also took very good care of my wife's Gluten Free issues by bringing the menu for the next evening so she could pick out her selection that could be adapted to the GF issue. This class of ship does make getting from here to there a bit more of a challenge than some vessels, especially back in the MDR area and on the upper decks but you learn to figure it out as you go along. I do like the ships as a whole, and really enjoy the International Cafe area for a lite lunch or breakfast. On this trip we actually learned to enjoy the MUTS movie area, especially the padded lounge chairs in the area. I did not find it near as loud in the area this time as I have in the past few cruises on Golden Princess, etc. The Itinerary for this Cruise was Southern Caribbean which included Princess Cays, St. Thomas, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire, and Aruba with three Sea Days along the way. The only new stop for us was Dominica where we took a tour with some of our Cruise Critic group with Pepper's Tours. It was a full tour of the island with stops at Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, a nice fruit stand, and Champagne Reef for snorkeling. Cost was $57pp and was well worth it for a full day of activity. We stayed on board at Princess Cays and for the half day visit to Grenada. It was nice to have a quiet ship mostly to ourselves. Entertainment on the ship was ok overall. The Production shows are very typical and we do not attend many of them, but those that did enjoyed them. The piano player did a nice job and had a big following and the comedians were also fairly good overall. The crew talent show had some highlights and worth checking out in most cases. There were lots of Trivia events on board also which many enjoyed on a regular basis. Our Cruise Critic group had a very active thread leading up to the trip and had a few things planned for on board. The Sail Away Gathering was lightly attended, which sometimes happens but the Meet and Greet in the Sky Lounge had a nice turnout and some folks also took part in a Gift Exchange toward the end of the get together. We also had a group Slot Pull on the first Sea Day, only about 16 of us took part but we had a good time and ended up only losing $1, pretty cheap entertainment and a good way to mingle. Disembarkation went very smoothly. We used their EZ luggage system so did not have to find our bags or take them to the airport. They were checked through to our final destination and worked very well for us. It is really nice on Saturdays and Sundays when you cannot check your bags at the airport until two hours prior to your scheduled flight times. You do have to be out of your cabin by 8:00 which is a bit early, but the Lido Buffet is open for breakfast until 10:00am. Taxi to the airport is about $15 plus a tip and a much better deal than Princess transfers, or a little better than a shared van. This was a very good Cruise on a beautiful ship with a wonderful crew. We booked the Sapphire Princess while on board for a 28 day Hawaii, Samoa, and Tahiti Cruise which goes RT Los Angeles in the fall of this year. Booking on board got us the $150 pp. OBC for this upcoming Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Our cruise on Princess was a wonderful holiday treat. We would give it 5 stars. Princess is a conservative line with very traditional cruises. There are no transparent showers, or blue man shows, just a traditional cruise done very ... Read More
Our cruise on Princess was a wonderful holiday treat. We would give it 5 stars. Princess is a conservative line with very traditional cruises. There are no transparent showers, or blue man shows, just a traditional cruise done very well. It is the friendliest line we have cruised on. I am not referring to fixed smiles, or cheery good mornings. I am talking about a professional staff that really seems to like the passengers and their jobs, and does their best to be compassionate and helpful. We saw the same thing on a Med cruise on Princess several years ago. It is not as rigid or formal as most. For tours, you did not have to meet in the theater, and be marched off in lockstep. You just walked ashore at the right time and tour personnel were waiting to show you where to go. The captain was more willing to wait for late passengers returning from tours than most lines, and we had that same experience with them in the Med. It is really more "laid back" than most. The mix of passengers was truly great. Americans may have been a "plurality" but were not a majority. There were many, perhaps more, Canadians. Also a number of Brits, with some Aussies and even a family from New Zealand. We had "shared table lunches and breakfasts in the dining rooms, and met folks from all over including Switzerland, Germany, and Eastern Europe. Ages ranged from several infants to some very senior citizens. There were a lot of preschooler, grade schoolers, high schoolers, and young adults. Everyone, children included were very well behaved, friendly, and made a Christmas cruise so much better for us old folks. The food and service in the main dining room was the best we have seen in some years; at least as good on a 6 star Crystal cruise in the Baltic 8 years ago. The menu was quite varied. We had one night of lobster and two nights of excellent prime rib, and a couple of nights of small steaks. If you wanted a large rib eye, however, you needed to go to the Crown Grille. There was beef, chicken and sea food every night. Appetizers, soups and salads ranged from standard to exotic and were excellent. The MatreD was very helpful and they did the best job of accommodating my wife's gluten intolerance. They even had gluten free pancakes. They had sugar free and gluten free deserts every night. The breakfasts and lunches were also fine, and service was great for all three meals. We ate most meals in the dining room. We used traditional, but folks using anytime said they got seated with only a short wait at worst. The International Cafe, their coffee shop (extra cost) was excellent, and had a good light meal (free) three times a day. We used it at lunch; they had several excellent salads, a quiche of the day, and several small sandwiches. The only discordant note was the Lido deck. The food was fine, and they had lots of happy diners with plates filled high enough to make me slightly ill, but the selections were somewhat more limited than most. They had no "deli counter" to make sandwiches. They did have an omelet bar. There was a separate Pizza place, soft serve ice cream station, and a trident grill for burgers and dogs. Our rooms, ocean view unobstructed, was one of the smallest we have seen but very well designed and comfortable. No couch but the excellent flat screen TV was well positioned to be seen from the bed. Plenty of storage and closet space, and a decent bathroom with shower. We like the room very much but there was one problem. Our cabin had fold down bunks over the regular bed. If the cabin is made up as a double, access along the sides of the bed is partially blocked by the bunks, making access rather difficult; I had to face and hold on to the bunk while side stepping. I guarantee you will bump your head more than once. Bad design. The solution is to have the cabin made up as twin beds with the aisle down the middle. The room then works out very well. Entertainment was traditional but good. The production shows had four excellent singers and 11 quite good dancers. On non show nights, there were the usual range of comedians, singers, jugglers et al. All fine but I did tire of flatulence jokes. There was also good entertainment in the lounges, and in the main atrium (the Piazza) there were often musicians or performers. We were on a Christmas cruise to the Southern Caribbean. Aruba and Bonaire have good snorkeling and/or diving, with the usual overprice shops, and very little else. Never want to go back. Grenada is a great stop with both historical sites and some great natural scenery. Dominica is the most primitive and most beautiful of the windward/leewards, and a great spot for eco tours. St Thomas is St Thomas. Princess Cay is very well done but quite standard. We have done all of the lesser Antilles on sailboats and know the islands. The alternate Princess Souther Caribbean itinerary is better, but we wanted to go over Christmas. Interestingly, we saw few activities, only a game room, for the kids. There may have been more but they all enjoyed the lovely pools. The pools could not be covered but that was no problem in the Caribbean. Enrichment activities were a bit limited. A number revolved around the spa. There were French lessons from the Assistant Cruise Director. The best was a series of lectures by a lawyer. It may sound like an improble subject for a cruise line, and likely to be boring, but Michael Beshay was very interesting and very enjoying. He was not lecturing on the law, but using legal cases to entertain. Don't miss him if you have chance. One disappointment was the loss of the traditional afternoon tea. There was tea served at 3:30 in the main dining room, with background music, and all the sandwiches, pastries et al you could eat. However, the afternoon tea served in an intimate lounge setting with musicians playing classical music is apparently dead. Actually, there were no classical musicians aboard. Second year on two different lines we have seen this. Victim of the economy? I read the reviews on the Emerald before we left, and saw everything from one to five stars. I was a bit worried, but then I saw the same pattern for all th other lines. Different people want different things and that partially explains it. I do think some folks would give only one star to heaven, and others would give five stars to a garbage barge. Be interesting to see a graph drawn by Cruise Critic showing number of people giving each star rating. Certainly a bell curve, and the area under the curve would show the relative performance of each line. I would give Princess five stars. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our sixth cruise for our family of four. It was our second with Princess and we found it to be an extremely enjoyable cruise with great weather and ports of call. The food and service was excellent at the Botacelli and DaVinci ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise for our family of four. It was our second with Princess and we found it to be an extremely enjoyable cruise with great weather and ports of call. The food and service was excellent at the Botacelli and DaVinci dining rooms that we frequented. The Horizon buffet was adequate but often crowded -- the sit-down dining is a much better choice. Our waiter and assistant waiter, Johnry and Arturo were fabulous, providing good recommendations (for food and entertainment) and service. The head waiter, Manuel, was always friendly and checking on our needs. We made good use of the gym, which had a good selection of exercise equipment. It was crowded one or two times during the cruise, but most often not. We had an inside cabin on the Carib Deck and found it quite spacious as staterooms go. We also had excellent service from our stateroom steward, Angelo. We greatly enjoyed the entertainment. We had two very funny comedians and an excellent performance from the BeatleManiacs. We also enjoyed many cruise staff-led events -- including trivia and an excellent "Liars Club" which we had never seen before -- worth checking out! We also enjoyed events in the Piazza including Christmas caroling, flamenco dancers, and a holiday cooking demonstration. This was the first cruise that had "Under the Stars Movies". We enjoyed a few movies plus NFL football games. Being a sports fan, this was a real treat! They also had servers that brought popcorn, pizza, and cookies/milk during the movies & football -- a very nice feature. One evening was a bit cold, but they provided blankets to the movie audience. We also took part in the 3-part "Survival French" class. We enjoyed all the ports of call. On Aruba, we caught a taxi (from Carl an entertainer who played his music for us on the ride) that took us to Eagle beach which is among the most pristine that we have ever seen. For $5 the adjacent hotel will provide you with a lounge chair and towel. At Bonnaire, we hired a taxi to take us to the Plaza Resort which was quite rocky -- should have brought water shoes -- but excellent snorkeling there. At Grenada, we hired a taxi (from Morgan who gave us a history of Grenada as we made our way up the elevations) to take us to the Seven Sisters Falls which was a more strenuous hike that took about an hour each direction. It had rained that morning, so the path was muddy and slick which added to the difficulty. The falls were beautiful with two cascades set in a rain forest. There was a local diver by the name of Super Butterfly who performed a back-dive off the first falls and also did a hop, skip, and jump off the second falls -- both quite daring! At the next stop, Dominica, we tried to book a whale watching excursion but we missed the boat by a half-hour, so we did a small tour of the town and found an internet cafe. We missed out on some eco-tours through their rainforest, but were a bit tired after the hike the previous day. At St. Thomas, we booked a sail/snorkel excursion through Princess -- offered by "Castaway Girl". It was fantastic! A very pleasant and relaxing sail out to an offshore island and then about an hour of snorkeling over a shipwreck and a coral reef -- and then a sail back with rum punch offerings. Highly recommended! Our final stop was at Princess Cay where we rented a cabana from Princess. It was a little pricey, but a five course catered lunch and free drink were included. The cabana was air conditioned which made it easy to spend five hours on the beach. There was an outbreak of norovirus that the ship's crew responded to appropriately to contain. We had been careful from the start of the cruise to frequently wash hands and use the purell dispensers found throughout the ship -- so escaped. There was a bit of a wait to get on the ship -- we arrived about 1:30 which may have been peak boarding time. Recommend arriving earlier. We chose the walk-off option which went fine and we had pre-booked a taxi to meet and take us to the airport. All-in-all, this was a very satisfying, entertaining, and relaxing cruise. Thanks, Princess! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
People in our family have gone on 3-5 previous Princess cruises as well as several Carnival cruises and have been happy with our experiences up to this cruise. However, I was a little concerned after reading reviews here that quality of ... Read More
People in our family have gone on 3-5 previous Princess cruises as well as several Carnival cruises and have been happy with our experiences up to this cruise. However, I was a little concerned after reading reviews here that quality of this cruise would be diminished compared to past cruises but to my very happy surprise, that was not the case. I have never written a review before but since I read so many before my cruise I thought I would chip in with one. EMBARKATIONAN/SAIL AWAY As others mentioned, the line for embarkation was a bit long due to a problem with people disembarking from the previous cruise but once in the terminal things moved quickly and efficiently. Our rooms were ready when we boarded and we attended the 'sort of' sail away party (boat left port late). There was a raffle during the party for people who visited about 8 different venues on the boat before the party and had a card stamped but we barely had time to board, eat, tour the spa, Muster and get to the party, much less get cards filled out so that made the raffle kind of boring, I would suggest giving raffle tickets away to those who dance and participate in the party, that would sure liven things up and get more people to participate! SHIP/ROOM Ship is in great shape, public areas are pristine and there is something for everyone. Our rooms were on the Riviera deck (3 connected balconies) and I was concerned that there would be noise issues from the Lido Deck above but there really weren't (we were just forward of the public areas). Beds are hard but we brought a queen memory foam stuffed into a big suitcase and that really helped. Our stewards were efficient, helpful but not doting which was OK with me, we had everything we needed when we needed it. Food/Entertainment This is where, in my opinion, things were much better than some of the reviews here indicated they would be. We ate at the late seating in the Da Vinci dining room and had a fantastic experience every night. Eduardo the Maitre D, Raymond the Head Waiter, Nick our waiter and his assistant Richie all did a fantastic job of making our experience a great one. My daughter is gluten intolerant and they did an absolutely outstanding job of accommodating her needs and giving her a top notch dining experience. Food variety was good and the key was taking Nick's advice on selections. Yes, there are a few items on the menu that are below par but you definitely can have a gourmet experience if you trust your waiter and get the right things and you can always send back a below par item if you get one and have a better selection. The Lobster, Red Snapper and Lamb were high end restaurant quality as well as many of the appetizers and deserts. I found the Buffet to be fine, not great, but serviceable for breakfast and snacks. The International Cafe is a great option for lunch and snacks and I especially enjoyed the Trident Grill for tasty chicken sandwiches and fries. Bartenders were very friendly (especially Nadia and Andrew)and you never had to wait long for service either at the bars or poolside. Cruise Staff/Entertainment I found the entertainment to be enjoyable and of good quality. The band for the stage shows was very talented and the Poolside Band had great energy and enthusiasm throughout the cruise. The shows were very enjoyable and fun unless you were looking for Tony Award quality and I thought the Hypnotist, Comedians, Magician and Beatlemania concert were all entertaining. The cruise staff worked very hard and with great energy (especially Amy and Oxsana)to create a fun atmosphere for those who wanted to participate and the assistant cruise director did a knock out job at the mid cruise deck party. Only thing that would have been nice would have been more 20-25 year old mixers/activities earlier in the cruise for my daughters to meet others their age (they eventually solved that issue on their own!). Photographers did a nice job and weren't intrusive and I didn't feel as pushed to buy things in the shops on the ship as I had been on past cruises! SPA/Fitness Spa staff was great! Especially enjoyed the extreme shave and two massages. Prices a bit high compared to on land spas but discounts for multiple treatments and those offered as the cruise goes on help offset that. Fitness center was very well equipped and not very crowded most of the time. Logistics I never once had to wait in a long line, struggle to find a deck chair or fight for a seat at a show. The cruise was completely booked but I never felt crowded out. Yes, I tended to purposely avoid the times I knew would be busy but it didn't take much to schedule around the busy times. The crew did a great job of keeping things clean and moving, especially considering the added logistics involved with the NORO precautions. Ports The itinerary was a good one, nice ports interspersed with at sea days. I would have preferred docking in the St. Thomas dock closer to the main part of town and possibly trading a longer day in Grenada for a shorter day in Dominica but otherwise a good schedule. Private Island, as always, was one of my favorites, Paradise Point in St. Thomas is a kick, Went to St. George's Cathedral in Grenada for Palm Sunday and it was a fantastic experience but that didn't leave much time to enjoy Grand Anse beach, which is a gem. Dominica tubing was OK, river was low, Bonaire independent snorkel through Woodwind was the best excursion I have ever been on and we blew it going to Palm Beach in Aruba (very crowded) instead of Eagle Beach (pristine) Summary Overall, a great cruise. People can always find something wrong or to complain about but if you come in with a positive attitude, the Emerald Princess and her crew can provide you with a great cruise experience! Footnote: We were originally on the Caribbean Princess out of San Juan for 14 days but had to rebook on Emerald when Princess cancelled the first week of our CP cruise one week before our departure. Still waiting for response from Princess on the economic displacement we suffered by having the one cruise cancelled (even with 25% credit) and having to rebook (higher cruise fares, lost cabin credits and balcony breakfasts, less cruise days, higher airfares) so hopefully that will turn out the right way and we will all be on another Princess cruise soon! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Pre-cruise: We flew into FLL two days early and instead of staying at the usual pre cruise hotels, we rented a car and drove 45 minutes (in traffic) down to Miami's South Beach and stayed at The Miami Loews Hotel. Our stay was ... Read More
Pre-cruise: We flew into FLL two days early and instead of staying at the usual pre cruise hotels, we rented a car and drove 45 minutes (in traffic) down to Miami's South Beach and stayed at The Miami Loews Hotel. Our stay was fabulous! Great location, awesome service, great pool and beach area. My only tip...get a room with a balcony, otherwise the rooms are a bit small. Embarkation: Husband dropped the 3 of us off at the cruise terminal at 10:45, then he returned the rental car (rental car place gave him a complimentary ride to the cruise ship terminal). I handed off luggage (1 large suitcase per person and one bag of snorkel gear) to the porter and filled out the "health" forms. We waited in the platinum, elite & suites lounge...husband arrived 15 minutes later. We checked in at noon and then boarded immediately. The ship: We had been on the Emerald 2 1/2 years ago...we thought the ship was still in fabulous condition. We had a balcony cabin forward on deck 15 and our boys had an inside cabin forward on deck 14. We requested egg crate for the bed and bathrobes. We did anytime dining in Michelangelo dining room. Our waiter was Romeo Gonzalez from the Phillipines...he was awesome. We loved the pizza and did get 1 pop card and the boys the UKP cards. A tip for the UKP cards: you can get rootbeer from the bar and then go to the ice cream counter and get a scoop of hard vanilla and make a float. We thought the food varied from awesome (lobster and prime rib) to bizarre - we don't eat frog legs and sweet bread (aka brains and glands). The Horizon court and Cafe Caribe were good, and afternoon tea is fun. We ate in the Crown Grille once and it was good, but c'mon, food is definately plentiful and probably would not do it again. We saw a few shows, our favorite were the two Beatles music shows - they were awesome and not to be missed. Comedians were good and the production shows were...so-so. We were pleased that the crew did not push drinks as much as we have seen on other ships. We thought the ship was decorated nicely for Christmas and it was neat that Santa was around and thought the snow in the atrium was cool. We thought the crew did a great job keeping plates out of the hallways and the elevators were quick. There were 416 kids on board and most behaved well. It was interesting that the Emerald uses hand held devices to scan your cruise card when entering your designated muster drill area - no escaping muster anymore. The Ports: Princess Cays: we booked a bungalo...accommodates 4 people. We enjoyed it and thought it was worth it. It was nice to get out of the sun, wind, crowds etc. The snorkeling was very good. St Thomas: We have been here before and so we decided to go to St John on our own....We took a taxi to Redhook Ferry ($44 for 4 of us), the ferry to St. John ($24 for the 4 of us), a taxi to Trunk Bay ($42 for the 4 of us), paid to get into the park ($8 for 2 adults), then found out it was too rough and windy to snorkel and swim. Paid for a taxi back to the ferry, ferry back to St Thomas, and taxi to the shopping area. We wandered the shopping area and walked back to the ship...I think I would have just done a ships excursion. Dominica: We used AL Dive. 2 of us did a 2 tank, 2 locations dive...and 2 of us did 2 location snorkeling. It was incredible and would definately use them again. Grenada: We used Eco dive Grenada and 2 of us did a 2 tank, 2 locations dive and 2 of us (my 12 year old's first dive!) did intro to diving and a 1 tank dive. It too was incredible. We also wandered the market and picked up some spices. We loved Grenada. Bonaire: we had made arrangements to rent a car thru Hertz...well Hertz did NOT show up. Instead we made plans to dive with VIP diving. They were drumming up business outside the pier. And it worked out well, but I would avoid Hertz car rental in Bonaire. Aruba: I tried to rent a car before hand and had a tough time since it was Christmas that day, so we were just going to wing it. Well when we arrived, from our balcony we could see a car rental place at the pier so my husband hurried off the ship and rented a jeep for $100 cash and we spent the day touring the island, stopping at beaches, snorkeling, eating at Senior Frogs, getting a Starbucks mug, etc. We had a great day and loved Aruba, however because it was Christmas 99% of the stores were closed. It was ok for us cuz we are not shoppers, but something to keep in mind. Complaints: We were disappointed that Princess no longer gave platinum members a complimentary glass of champagne. And our pet peave is...babies (in diapers) in the pools...Princess' rules prohibit diapered kids in pools, but parents don't listen and crew does not enforce, same thing with under aged kids in the hot tubs with out a parent there. It's really not the kids fault, more like the parent's fault. Also saving seats/chairs in the Princess Theater, Club Fusion, Explorer's Lounge and by the pools. To those adults who put towels, shoes, magazines, sunscreen and oh yeah the potato bag chip clips to "reserve" chairs....you all suck! There is a couple of different ways to approach this issue. 1. Don't do anything about it and just silently complain. 2. Tell security and watch them do nothing about it. 3. When in Rome do as the Romans (and just join 'em). Or 4. Stand up for your right to sit in an empty seat and pack your boxing gloves. (security actually had to break up a fight poolside over this matter). Disembarkation: This was the first time we "walked" off the ship with our luggage...it went great. Post Cruise: For post cruise we took a taxi to the airport and rented a car and drove down to Key West for 3 nights. We stayed at Casa Marina. It was a very nice resort, just a few quirky issues (like a yapping dog in the room next to us). We absolutely loved Key West and the 4 hour drive was doable. After 3 nights in Key West we drove back to Fort Lauderdale and stayed at the B Ocean Hotel for 1 night and then flew home the next morning. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was a last minute decision to take the Emerald Princess for a New Year's sailing with my husband. Our daughter and her boyfriend, both first time cruisers, joined us. We had a very enjoyable cruise after the 28 hour trip from ... Read More
This was a last minute decision to take the Emerald Princess for a New Year's sailing with my husband. Our daughter and her boyfriend, both first time cruisers, joined us. We had a very enjoyable cruise after the 28 hour trip from Canada to FLL!!! For any of you driving to Florida, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Airport/Cruiseport on Sterling. Included in our night rate was free parking, a hot buffet and a shuttle to and from the cruiseport. Excellent service, newer hotel. Not your average stay over FLL hotel. Reasonably priced too!! All that for $200.00 Canadian, for 4 people! (They charge $20.00/day just to park at Port Everglades) The ship was beautifully decorated for the holidays and New Year's Eve was a night we will never forget. Hector, the head waiter in the D'vinci dining room is our new best friend. When he found out my daughter's boyfriend had a nut allergy, he took great interest and had him choose his dinner the evening before, telling him what he could and couldn't have. We would just tell our waiter we pre-ordered and halfway through the meal, Hector would come by to make sure all was well. Although we found the entertainment on the ship so-so (the kids enjoyed it all) we totally enjoyed the last evening of entertainment when the staff sang. Hector was the star of the show, singing My Way!!! Our stateroom steward, Romel was fantastic!! One of the better ones I've seen. They are all good, but he always went the extra mile to speak with us and make sure we had everything we needed and wanted. The food was plentiful and delicious. We really enjoyed the Fettucine at dinner (as a side dish) plus our entree, which the selections were plentiful. The lunch buffets had a great variety and their salad bar was so fresh! The late afternoon sandwich bar was a big hit with us, especially the Tuna. I'm very picky since I cruise often. I love Princess Cruise Lines and have cruised with them often. There were a few items I thought needed improvement on this cruise. First, I found there was a lot of dirty glassware and dishes left around the Terrace pool everyday, which I haven't seen before. The chair hogs were back, but after a number of people complained about chairs being left with just towels on them for hours, the deck attendant started removing them after a few days. I do think Princess must make the Terrace "Adult Pool" sign larger for all to read. It took a few days but the parents of the children (one in a diaper) finally understood. Some pretended they didn't understand....too funny!! I was surprised at the number of people wearing jeans in the dining rooms for dinner. I feel if people want to wear jeans to dinner, the Horizon Court or Caribe Cafe was better suited for them. I found the buffets to be a bit chaotic. I've been on other ships that have an oval as their buffet, which is much better. I found people going this way and that in the buffet line and some getting a little hot under the collar with fellow passengers when they thought they were next. With that number of people on board, I thought it went quite well....there was enough food to go around and then some! We had arranged for the shuttle to pick us up at 8:00 a.m. so we could get back to the hotel, pack up our vehicle and get back on the road asap for the trek back to Canada. In our haste, we left behind a piece of luggage but was unaware of it until Princess called our cell to let us know. We had disembarked at 7:45 and here they were calling us within the hour. We decided to return to the ship (10 minutes) but our luggage wasn't released by Customs until 11:30 as they had to wait until each piece of luggage removed from the ship was accounted for and then the left over luggage scanned. The Princess rep felt bad, but it was out of her control. She went beyond to make contact with us before we left the States. We are forever grateful to her. All in all, another great cruise with Princess!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Pre/post cruise: We stayed at the Sheraton Airport/Cruiseport Hotel in Dania, just a few minutes from the airport. We got a good price and the hotel provides free shuttle to/from the airport and charges $10 pp for a shuttle to/from the ... Read More
Pre/post cruise: We stayed at the Sheraton Airport/Cruiseport Hotel in Dania, just a few minutes from the airport. We got a good price and the hotel provides free shuttle to/from the airport and charges $10 pp for a shuttle to/from the cruiseport...good deal. And since our flight home was at 7:30 pm the next day, this hotel allows guests to pay $10/hr. beyond the normal late check-out time to stay through 5 pm—which we did and lounged by the beautiful pool. Only problem with this Sheraton is that there are no restaurants within easy walking distance, and the Sheraton's restaurant can be a bit expensive--as are taxis in the Ft. Lauderdale area. Problem solved: there are several near-by places that will deliver food to the hotel...much cheaper (hotel staff can give you brochures).The Emerald Princess and staff were great! We were in a forward balcony cabin (R-210) which was very nice...size about average for similar cruise ships (though being as far forward as we were was a bit bumpy a few days). Our room stewart, Shirley, really exceeded our expectations. She was very attentive and made sure that we had everything we needed. Our dining room waiter Izzy, and asst., Gerry, were wonderful...efficient, friendly, and had great senses of humor. We thought that the dining room offerings were very diverse and quite tasty. We did try both specialty restaurants as well...well worth the added cost. The movies under the stars was a wonderful option for us...we watched three of these movies wrapped in our deck chair blankets and eating the fresh warm cookies and milk that were served. As on most cruises, getting deck chairs on "at sea" days was somewhat problematic, but not to the point of ruining the day. On Princess Cays, lack of lounge chairs was even more problematic...we went back to the ship and sat at the pool (which was just as fine for us). Finding seating in Horizons for the morning breakfast was also a bit problematic, but not too bad if you were willing to sit with fellow passengers and share a table...which we willingly did. Dominica was a very surprising and interesting island...we took a 2+ hour rain forest/waterfalls tour, which we arranged on our own right at the dock with a local tour guide (Ask for Lennox--half the price of the official ship excursion). On Bonaire, another self-initiated internet snorkeling tour on a 42-foot sailboat...great fun (look up Compass Sailing Bonaire with Wim and Marianne...www.compassbonaire.com). Aruba's Palm Beach was perfect (as usual).Relative to entertainment onboad, we really didn't take advantage of much. We had the late (8:15pm) seating. We did go to the Bealtes' tribute band show-- very entertaining and enjoyable. The late-night "blue" comedian's performance was really not worth staying up that late (though some people did enjoy his show).All-in-all a terrific ship, wonderful staff, and a nice itinerary (can't fault Princess for the 2-3 days of rain that uncharacteristically befell us...oh well, no beach, just port shopping). My wife and I met some wonderful people, and really enjoyed our 40th anniversary cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I have traveled with Princess many times before, but this cruise was the best one. Although I loved the Alaska scenery, the Emerald Princess outshone every previous Princess ship on which I have cruised. Whoever is responsible for managing ... Read More
I have traveled with Princess many times before, but this cruise was the best one. Although I loved the Alaska scenery, the Emerald Princess outshone every previous Princess ship on which I have cruised. Whoever is responsible for managing this ship deserves a major bonus. The employees really impressed me above and beyond the norm. They were all very pleasant and friendly. I felt like they were having as much fun as we were. Our room steward, Christian, was perfect, always prompt and took care of all our needs. The most fun, however, was in the Crooners Martini Bar where the waiters took service to new high. When you ordered a martini, they served it with a "shaker" dance and defied gravity on many occasions. They also had many magic tricks to entertain and puzzle us, many of which we are still trying to master. We looked forward to seeing Richie and Ramil every evening. Besides the employees' great performance, the ship itself was immaculate and beautifully decorated for Christmas. The decor of the ship is elegant, yet not stuffy--truly comfortable. One of the most unique experiences we've every done was to take part in the Chef's Table. You need to sign up for this the second you get on the ship because they only do it 2 nights for a very limited number of diners. We started the evening in the Piazza where the Maitre d'Hotel, Nicola Furlan, met us, told us what to expect, and fitted us in white lab-type coats. We then paraded through the dining room to the kitchen, attracting the attention of the diners at their tables. We toured the kitchen, then stopped at a service area covered with white linens and decorated with ice sculptures and flowers. The Executive Chef, David Whelehan, joined us for champagne and amazing appetizers. My favorite was a crab martini. He told us about his experiences and described our meal. He was from Scotland, and we all enjoyed his stories. While enjoying our appetizers, the Sommelier described our wines of the evening and what his job entailed. He also came around during dinner to describe each one. Our table in the dining room was beautifully decorated with flowers and a bouquet of bread sticks of varying sizes--very clever. The first course was a pasta with clams. I am not a clam eater, but this was amazing. I had to force myself not to eat it all since I know more was coming. Then, they brought us a sorbet to cleanse our pallets and added a generous amount of Grey Goose to it. No one left any in their dish. After the sorbet, they brought our main course consisting of beef fillet, large lobster tail, lamb chop and scallops. Huge!!! We had a cheese course next, then the dessert which was a work of art. Besides the wonderful food and commentary, we all received a photo and a personally signed cookbook of Princess menus. Definitely, a night to remember. We enjoyed all the ports, but I think Dominica was one of the most beautiful and unique islands. They even had a Christmas parade that day which marched in front of our ship. On Dominica, we saw a Santa Claus with many helpers unloading boxes of toys. Princess delivered toys with Santa to orphanages on every island we visited. We were all impressed with their Christmas spirit. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We had a fantastic time - here's my long winded review! Preface - We are a 40"s couple travelling with our 11 year old daughter. This was our 4th cruise - but 1st with Princess. DH is a dentist, I'm the office manager in his ... Read More
We had a fantastic time - here's my long winded review! Preface - We are a 40"s couple travelling with our 11 year old daughter. This was our 4th cruise - but 1st with Princess. DH is a dentist, I'm the office manager in his office. We are just middle of the road people - not too fancy, fairly easy to please. (just giving this info so you can base my opinions on food and quality by "who" we are....) My opinions are only that - opinions! :) We like nice things, but don't require a certain 'caliber' to be happy! Ft Lauderdale - Arrived early - on Friday! Had reservations at the Hyatt Place/Plantation, so we picked up our rental car (Budget through hotwire $42 for 2 full days!), set our GPS with the address and off we went. Check in went smoothly - we were offered a choice of rooms - We chose what they said would be a quiet room on floor 5 - they were right! We were given a quick tour of the facilities. Got to our room - it was fantastic - King sized bed with a pull out couch for our DD, HUGE big screened TV (which my husband loved for NCAA March Madness). The room was clean, roomy, the bed comfy. Some more notes about hotel: *Pool - it is heated - but just a bit - it was fine for us, but there were a few people discussing it amongst themselves that it should have been warmer - it could have been, but it was definitely heated. It was unseasonably cool for FL this past week, too - I guess which may have added to the chill! *exercise room - it's small, but mighty! No weights, but for cardio machines - they were top notch! One elliptical, 2 (or was it 3) Treadmills, and a bike. These were new high quality machines that you could watch TV on, listen to FM radio, or just watch your progress on a picturesque screen. *Breakfast - this may have been the only downfall of the hotel. Keep in mind - this was spring break. It was chaotic in the breakfast room every day. We learned quickly to try and avoid the prime times - and our second day was definitely better than the first. They do have a nice selection of bagel, english muffin, fruits, cereals, yogurt, juices. If you wanted hot foods - they were available for order at a nominal fee (eggs, waffle, omelet) they also served a small selection of food for any time of the day. *Dining - we ate the most fantastic pizza ever at a wood fired pizza restaurant very close to the hotel. It was called Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza http://www.anthonyscoalfiredpizza.com/ The best pizza - bar none - that I've had since I was in Italy - and the salad (its HUGE! They say enough for 2, but probably enough for 4 - we all three ate on it and had loads left over) was the BOMB! We also ate at Smoky Bones BBQ on University (again, only a couple of miles from the hotel) for dinner and it was good food - typical to what you'd expect from a chain BBQ joint. Good service. We did eat Ole Ole Mexican for lunch one day - it was good food - but want to mention that it was a bit pricy - we could have eated at anthony's again for cheaper and been just as happy! Good food tho! *Mall - just want to mention that there is a nice big mall within walking distance of this hotel, as well as a Walgreens, a liquor store, and a grocery store all within a mile or two of this location. *Beach - there is a beach about 20 minutes or so from this hotel - straight down broward - nice clean area - parking is easy if you get there early - but later in the day good luck! :) Sunday - we checked out of hotel, dropped rental car back at the airport, and grabbed a taxi to the cruise dock. We'd been told we could probably get on the ship about 10:30 or so, and arrived about then to the cruise terminal. (cab was $13). We were about the 4th person there! :) We were given a #1, and sent to wait. *friendly staff everywhere *Pictures are NOT allowed in the area - it wasn't really posted well, and many people were getting in 'trouble' by the security. *Staff told us they don't hardly EVER board by 10:30! LOL People began filliing up the seats, and at noon, group one was called to go through registration. I'd say it took us 5 minutes TOPS to get on the boat. And that was only because our guy checking us in was chatting up our daughter about how excited she was, and because we stopped to get a picture! It was a BREEZE! *If you are early boarding - you do not have to go to your designated check in gate for your floor - you can go to whoever is open *If there is a line - migrate towards the right of the lines - it's closest to your embarkation route! We went straight to our room - Minisuite D715 on the Dolphin Deck. Completely uncovered balcony. I literally DUMPED my bags and dashed to the Sanctuary to get a seat for the week! (more later in bullet points) Once seat secured - I flew downstairs one level and then signed up for the thermal spa for both DH and I. Then back to the room to actually look at it! LOL Minisuite was great - LOVED the layout compared to Carnival's suite - I like the longer, narrower layout a lot! The bathroom is smaller than what we were used to a little bit - and darker?....but who's spending the week in the bathroom! I loved the big closet - and then the wall of shelves to organize your clothes on!. Two TVs - nice added bonus (I think we only had one one once the whole trip tho!) Dinner that night in the Anytime Dining was great - Prime rib for DH, Barramundi fish for me, and Spaghetti and Meatballs for the Daughter. We picked the Michelangelo dining room and had Ralph from the Phillipines (side note - he was awesome, and inadventently - we sat in his section 4 times! It was funny! The final time we did request him, and gave him a tip, he'd been such a nice guy all the times we had him!) *Sanctuary - Okay - it was fantastic - don't get me wrong - but I'm not sure I'd spend the money again. I don't think I personally utilized it enough to make up for the cost for the week $105.00 I used it for a couple hours every day - and on one day I was there for about 4 hours. I figured it cost me about $8/hour. It's so nice and swank up there - those chairs are so comfy - and they treat you like royalty - bringing you cold clothes, special snacks, turning your chair for you, covering it each day with a super nice towel! The spa pool was a level down from here and although some people say no one was ever in that pool, this week it was fairly crowded all week. And - to get there from the sanctuary - you had to go all the way out of the sanctuary, down a level into that area. Too bad it couldn't have been a little different layout maybe? Anyway - really really nice - probably worth every penny - but for me, I'd probably take that money for something else next time. *Thermal Spa - first day special $149 for two people for the week. This facility is awesome also - ceramic hotbeads, rainhead showers, steam rooms with different scents, very private! We loved, loved, loved this. But again - we didn't utilize it as much as I thought we might - I'd say one of us used it every day - and maybe twice we both went on the same day. That being said - it made it about $17 a visit for us - not terrible really - it was so relaxing. I only shared the room a couple of times with anyone. I'd probably spend the $$$$ on this again - before I'd do the sanctuary again - although after typing all this, I think the sanctuary might be worth it again! LOL We rented a bungalow at Princess Cay - Had we not - it would have been sunny and 100*. Since we spent the $199 on the BB, it was 70 and rainy! LOL Such is life! We made the best of it - Some people love princess cay, and some don't - we liked it - would we pick a cruise because of it - never! HOwever, if the weather had been nicer we'd have enjoyed the beach day loads (We are beach and ocean junkies!). The bungalows are awesome - roomy with a table for four - an airconditioner, shelves to put your stuff on. Lots of towels to use - the outside shower head would be nice on a hot, sandy beach day! We swam - YES - we were a few of the idiots that actually made it into that cold water! LOL *DD got her hair braided - $30 for half a head. Cheaper than some of the places we've had it done before. *If you like to shop - don't come in with an expectation of it here - you'll be disappointed as there isn't a lot of shopping here - there were several little kiosks - but many had the same or similar items. *The BBQ is okay - burgers, hotdogs, baked beans and potato salad. Pretty much it - again - had it been a hot sunny day, we might not have been searching for 'snacks' so much! LOL *music - there was some live music - which I love! It was relaxing to sit and listen to him while shivering from the rain We made the best of our day - and headed back to the ship towards the end of the day. While it certainly didn't compare to the other stops, it was an adequate stop - I think we'd have liked it towards the end of our trip better. I think people are so in anticipation of shopping and restaurants, and tours, and whatnot - they are disappointed with Princess Cay - where if you were doing at the end of the trip - you could use it for a relaxation and unwind day from all the go go going of your trip - I think it would be better received that way! Sea Day! We had a great day - lots of activities! *Bingo - $20 for a three card pack that gets you 4 games. These are cards that you mark - unlike carnival. We bought dabbers - but you could have used just an inkpen if you wanted. I think it was offered twice this day - special note - the time posted is the time that the game Begins - get there before that time so that you are ready and not missing out! *cruise director staff is loads of fun - first time I really witnessed them around the ship, involving people all the time. For example, I was sitting in the explorer lounge watching Evolution (one of the ships bands) and here come some of the crew - one of the guys got my DD up dancing, one of the girls sat down by me and chatted me up some. The rest of the trip when they saw us, they spoke and remembered us. Nice touch that we hadn't really witnessed on carnival! *casino - won a little $$$ in the casino - started the week with $20 and by today was up to about $178 in my casino account. The cruise card system is so easy - not sure what all the hub bub is about it - put your card in - it asks you to set up account - pick a pin number, enter it again and voila - you are in business! St. Maarten - We went into port - not a lot to do at this dock that we were at, and since we had a tour scheduled in a short time, we didn't have time to do much else, as far as taking the water taxi to shopping, etc. - bought a hat (good parenting = sunburnt daughter! LOL), bought a couple cute trinket stuff, and headed off on our excursion! *Golden Eagle Sail - This was a good trip - efficient crew. We were supposed to have gone to tintarre beach (that isn't right, but if you've been on here you know which beach I mean) Because of the roughness of the water, we went first to a snorkel location that was okay, then to mullett beach. The snorkelling we saw was not the greatest I've done, but it really wasn't the crews fault. The water was a bit choppy, and it was a good distance away from the boat before you could see anything. We did see some fish, and a little bit of coral, but had more fun just floating around in the ocean by the boat. Next stop mullet beach - where my daughter was traumatized by the lack of clothing! LOL (side note - HILARIOUS day at the pool after - listening to all the kids talk about their experiences at the clothing optional beaches - really was one of my more entertaining afternoons/evenings by the pool! LOL) We saw a pod of dolphin as we were leaving - which was really really neat - a baby and several others - and I understand that seeing them in that area is fairly rare! We watched them for about 15 minutes swim right around our boat - great ending to a nice day! My all time faves of the trip - both of these days were amazing! We'd been to St Thomas before - love love love the shopping there, but since DH drop a jackload of money on a gold Rolex the last time we were there, I opted for an all day cruise to avoid him spending more than a used car of something stupid again! We picked the Full Day Sail with lunch. This excursion might well be the highlight of our trip! I honestly did it to keep my husband out of the shops, and couldn't believe the day we had! We were on a catamaran - the Dancing Dolphin http://www.thedancingdolphin.com/index.html The crew was Ian, Lilly and....(gawd, I've forgotten his name! LOL) We started out of St Thomas on the boat - only about 19 people on the boat to Turtle Cove. This is in the wild - out in the ocean, where you can snorkel above sea turtles swimming - they would come up right beside you for air - it was awesome! Even more so - they did a guided snorkel tour for the first half hour or so, where Lilly would explain about what kind of fish we were seeing, bring sea urchins up for us to see and handle, all the while explaining how to protect them and treat them, and how to help the ocean. Lots of interesting different facts about the ocean, where sand comes from, etc. Best snorkeling tour ever that we'd taken - lots of info -lots of free time to do our own thing! Then, with the rum punch flowing after the snorkeling - the second half of our day was spent at honeymoon beach, with BBQ ribs and chicken, salad, etc. More rum punch, soda, beach volleyball, more snorkeling if you like. This crew was the perfect combination of fun and professionalism. We ended up tipping them $50 at the end of the day - the most fun 6 hour excursion we've done! I cant' say enough about this day - its an expensive excursion, but well worth the $$$! Grand Turk - WOW. We loved it here. It was just beautiful! The prettiest water and sand of the cruise! We did the 'ultimate snorkeling tour' and loved it. This was a shorter, inexpensive tour - but had lots of bang for your buck. Fun crew, LOTS of people on the boat tho! We went to two different snorkeling stops - the first there were tons of the huge stingray like Grand Cayman - that the guides would go down and grab so you could touch them. Lots of coral, wonderful visibility. Tons of conch shells - many of them empty and there for the taking! The second stop was near the surf break - so a bit more choppy, but nothing even my 11 year old couldn't handle - TONS of sealife and fish here - and a resident 'PET' barracuda that swam with us. a little creepy, but so cool - saw some very amazing and unique fish here that I've never seen on the 15 or so snorkeling tours I've taken! We spent a short time at margaritaville, and did a little bit of shopping - and then it was way too soon time to leave this GEM of an island! I cannot believe people say they don't want to get off of the ship here - its a small island - but it packs a mighty mighty punch as far as beaches, sea life, and beauty! We were out of the cabin by 7:45 - off to the zoo of the buffet. Then on to the Wheelhouse - our appointed 'waiting' spot! Within about 5 minutes they called us to leave - We did the EZ Check - let me tell you - IF YOU HAVE A LATER IN THE DAY FLIGHT - the is the ONLY way to go - and the BEST $20 you'll spend per person on your trip! People with an earlier flight, it'll make it easier for you - but not like the people who have to wait several hours for your flight. Our flight didn't leave until 4:17. Because we did EZ Check - we were first off the boat after self carry. We walked directly off the boat! Here's where EZ Check made the difference in our day - the airport was a ZOO. The airlines have a policy that you cannot check your bags until 3 hours prior to your flight. This means, you can't go through security and down where there's food, lots more chairs, etc, until you've checked your bags. because people couldn't check their bags, they were stuck in the area by check in that has very little sitting which means in every direction you looked - the floor was covered with loads of tired people and all of their bags :( We only had our carry ons - and were able to roam about, go through security and get seats etc. Looking back, I wished I had rented a car for the day to meander around, but now I know for next time! Some notes about Princess difference: *I thought the food was better than carnival - DH thought food was better, but that carnival had more choices geared towards his likes. By the way - sidenote! The Sea Bass on Grand Turk night (captains night) was the BEST I've had - it was fantastic! Also the fish on the first sea night (monday) was delicious! *anytime dining - I've read some negatives about it - we didn't experience that at all. Only one night were we asked to share a table - and ended up meeting a lively crew that we enjoyed seeing the rest of the week. We did have to wait in line to be seated for maybe 10 minutes every night, but the hostess was very friendly and kept everyone entertained. We never got a beeper - in fact - only saw one person with one the whole time. We found the michelangelo was faster, and a shorter line, so aside from one night we ate there. We ate at all different times - the line was about the same all the time. Early early, and late late seemed a smidge less crowded, but we were pleased with our dining on all nights. *I noticed what I'd call a 'quiet elegance' about the staff. My DH kept saying - they don't seem quite as attentive as carnival, and I'd say, well - what is it that you need, and he'd respond - well, nothing, it's all taken care of. I liked that not 'in your face' sort of attentiveness. I don't think DH didn't like it - it just wasn't what he was used to. If you needed help with anything - they were all more than willing to help. *I really, really loved the way Princess utilizes all of their public areas for different things. Instead of doing 'everything' in the theatre. It made me more acclimated to the ship, and I felt like I'd seen the whole ship, not just the pool, theatre and dining room! *Embarassed to admit I saw very little entertainment on this cruise! We fell in love with Evolution on first day - and like someone on here mentioned, sort of stalked them around the ship! They had such an eclectic range of what they could do and were loads of fun, too. *Don't bring books - HUGE library!! Save the room in your suitcase and check something out there - very handy! *MUTS - lots of fun, love that they bring you blankets, popcorn, and cover the chairs with comfy covers! We had a great cruise - One of our best so far - definitely will travel with Princess again as we took advantage of the $100 deposit and onboard credit for booking while we were on the ship. I also booked a European cruise for a friend and I to get the deposit discount and onboard credit for it! I have all the patters! Didn't get home until late - so no pics up yet, but I'm happy to answer questions you might have or scan those patters and email them to you - as well as the list of Muts Movies, Spa Specials, etc. My email is addygirl216@sbcglobal.net Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
My wife, son and I arrived the day before the cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn Plantation. The hotel is a pleasant place to stay, providing you with breakfast and it is within walking distance of the Broward Mall n case you have any ... Read More
My wife, son and I arrived the day before the cruise and stayed at the Hampton Inn Plantation. The hotel is a pleasant place to stay, providing you with breakfast and it is within walking distance of the Broward Mall n case you have any last minute shopping needs. We appreciate that they have a shuttle that will pick you up from the airport and it will also take you to the cruise terminal. Embarkation was smooth. We were quickly able to get on the ship and familiarize ourselves with the ship's layout prior to the muster drill. The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship with a number of nice features (e.g., Vines the wine bar, the Sanctuary, and the International Cafe that serves pastries and light sandwiches). The sail away party was fun. The first two days of the cruise were sea days, which we always enjoy. We get excited reviewing the Princess Patter and identifying the activities that will be available the following day. Our son enjoyed the kids club and other kid activities (i.e., Nintendo sports). O.k., I enjoyed the Wii sports too, particularly when I had the high score for bowling. My wife and I tried and enjoyed a number of the activities. This included the dancing lessons; lectures on the islands; demonstrations in the making of towel animals, martinis, and animals out of fruit; dicey horse racing; movies; trivia; and art auctions. We found the cruise director and staff to be energetic and personable, the best of any of our cruises. We also took advantage of the books and games in the library. With respect to the shows, we enjoyed the juggler, comedians, and shows in the Princess lounge. This was a change for us as we had not watched many of the shows on our previous cruises. I enjoyed watching the final four on MUTS (giant movie screen near one of the pools.) Nothing could be finer than watching your team win the national championship while you are enjoying a beautiful evening under the stars with crew bringing popcorn and pizza to you. My wife enjoyed the movies that were shown on the ship. We found the itinerary to be an excellent one. Aruba was the first island on the itinerary. We did an ocean snorkel through Princess that we thoroughly enjoyed. On the excursion, we went to two different locations, one of which was a ship wreck from WW II. The ship next sailed to Bonaire where we did a shore snorkel. The coral and fish were awesome. We next went to Grenada. We were excited that the Sea Princess was also in port, as this had been the first ship my wife and I had sailed on. We booked a trip through Princess to a spice garden and rum distillery and were pleasantly surprised. The next day found us in Dominica where we did the river tubing. We had a blast and the tour operators did an excellent job keeping folks safe. On St. Thomas, we decided not to plan anything in particular and to relax. We ended up taking the tram up to Paradise Point where we had a beautiful view of the island. We also did a little shopping. After another great day at sea, the last day of the cruise was spent on the private island. It was a little cool, but we still found a way to enjoy ourselves. In general, the food was good. We had traditional dining, second seating. We are always apprehensive as to our table assignment and the waiters that we will have for the entirety of the cruise. We were pleased with how things worked out on both counts. Our family was assigned to a table of wonderful Canadians. It was a pleasure going to dinner every night and to discuss what folks had done during the day. Also, it is always a pleasure when you spend time with people who are truly out to enjoy themselves and do not get caught up on things to complain about. Our waiters Ross and Mark did an excellent job, providing good recommendations and demonstrating a sense of humor. The food in the dining room was great. I enjoyed the steaks and lobster while my wife enjoyed a number of shrimp dishes. We enjoyed having breakfast in the Horizon court as there were always things we enjoyed such as French toast, Eggs Benedict, and Fresh Fruit. We enjoyed our two lunches in the dining room: my wife particularly enjoyed the vegetarian option (stuffed pepper). We had an awesome lunch of fish and chips at the Wheelhouse Bar one day and always enjoyed the burgers and pizza by the pool. I think our son could have gotten by on just burgers and cookies. For the first time, we tried one of the specialty restaurants (Sabatini's) and were not disappointed. The eight appetizers that came with the meal were fantastic, as were the main courses and desserts. Disembarkation went quickly and efficiently. We have already begun to discuss where to take our next cruise, probably Hawaii or the Panama Canal. In summary, it was a great cruise in which the food was good, the crew was friendly, the ship activities were enjoyable; and the islands were amazing. Sure there are a few things that Princess could improve on. However, we found it easy to enjoy ourselves and can't wait to sail again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Emerald Princess March 30 sailing in a nutshell: Highlights: 1.The ship - beautiful and spotless2. The Chef's Dinner worth every cent 3. River tubing in Grenada  Disappointments: Booking a Caribe ... Read More
Emerald Princess March 30 sailing in a nutshell: Highlights: 1.The ship - beautiful and spotless2. The Chef's Dinner worth every cent 3. River tubing in Grenada  Disappointments: Booking a Caribe balcony cabin and finding ourselves next door - and downwind - from chain smokers. The entertainment Longer-cruise demographics Cruises of more than 7 days seem to attract a much older crowd, which can mean a low-energy level THE BASICS: WHO WE ARE: 60 somethings from Ohio who aren't ready to pack it in at 8 p.m. (most times, we aren't even ready for dinner then). By comparison, it seemed like we were the youngsters on this cruise.  WHY WE CHOSE THIS CRUISE:  We like Princess, wanted the chance to do the Chef's Table, the itinerary included less-often-visited islands - yet the ship left from a mainland port. EMBARKATION: VERY SMOOTH. We arrived early - about 10:30 a.m. and were given a number and allowed to sit inside the terminal. By noon, there were hundreds in the holding area but with numbers, embarking was orderly and fair. THE SHIP - Beautiful and well-cared for. (Beware, however, because the deck on the non-Mutts side gets very slippery from wet feet, and we witnessed people slipping). CHEF'S TABLE: By 12:30 on boarding day, we had called the dine line from our room to ask for a reservation - that's why we went to the terminal early.  Everyone apparently is told they will be put on the waiting list. By 1 p.m., we were in line to hand a written plea to the maitre'd.   This 10-day cruise had three Chef's Tables  - all on port days. We were among the lucky ones to get on the list early enough to get a seat.  Interesting point: Almost everyone at our table of 12 had heard about this special meal from the Internet/Cruise Critic. Dinner at the Chef's Table ($75 per person) was a 3-plus hour indulgence, which started with a galley tour, hors d' oeuvres and champagne and ended with a shot of lemon liquor made on the ship. In between, we had veal cooked (and tableside carved) two ways - a shank and tenderloin. We had pate foie gras with truffles, caviar, asparagus risotto topped with lobster claws and sorbet with vodka, plus several wines, dessert . . .the list goes on.  The chef and maitre'd made it all very special.  BEST REGULAR FOODS:  Pizza! You can see the bakers hand tossing the thin crust constantly to meet the demand.  The Wheelhouse fish (on sea days only) was as crunchy as Arthur Treacher's. The almond croissants in the International Cafe at breakfast are a surprising treat.  The fruit soups are like smoothies. The rotisserie chicken in the Caribe Cafe is a welcome break from saucy foods. Do not hesitate to order the creamy pasta Alfredo as a side at dinner (even though it is listed daily as an entrEe). FAVORITE SHIP VENUES: VINES - the wine and sushi bar.  Excellent sushi for just $1 each LOTUS pool - a great place to get refreshed - it seems to be warmed and for adults  only Our balcony when the smoking neighbors were not around. (Smoking is only allowed on one side of open-deck areas. Why can't balcony rooms be assigned as smoking or non-smoking? (Husband lost a lung to a fungus infection, so we are extra sensitive about taking care of the remaining one. ) TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT:  In anytime dining, they steer you to share tables, which is fine much of the time.  But there were times when we just wanted a bite to eat alone. However, there are some sets of tables for two that are only 4-6-inches apart from another "table for two."  Not exactly intimate. You either be rude and ignore the folks or you talk with them as though you were table sharing. ENTERTAINMENT: There were two good bands, including Hindsight, but they didn't play on the deck much - usually about 45 minutes at sail away.  There was a piano  player in the lounge named Barty, whose music might have been popular at the Waldorf Astoria in the 1950s.  (Two years ago we were on the Caribbean Princess where the open-lounge pianist had a standing-room only crowd).  Other venues were just slow.  We went into the Adagio two nights after dinner and it was almost empty. We went into Sky Walkers one evening at 7:30 for a before-dinner drink and there was not a server or bartender in sight.    The most fun we found was karaoke because there were a couple of really good singer/passengers aboard. DRINKS: The drinks are expensive - in the $6.25 to $6.95 for wine and alcohol. Plus, they automatically add 15 percent.  That adds up (our bar bill was nearly $800). But some of the wait staff didn't seem happy with just 15 percent. They always looked to see if we left extra.  If we didn't, they disappeared. If we did, they came back too often. It should be pointed out that Princess is good about letting people bring beer and wine on board. Never a hassle. PORTS: A PLUS of this cruise. Aruba is beautiful.  The beaches and shopping in St. Thomas are always great (We managed to find a steel drum CD of gospel songs like Amazing Grace). The river tubing in Grenada was so much fun. The water was warm and shallow and there were lots of helpers. The ride up the mountain in a mini-van bus was treacherous.  Perhaps we should have done more in Bonaire than roam the shopping area near the port. This city may want tourists, but public restrooms - if they exist - are impossible to find, so think twice about drinking too many of those $2 beers at the bar near the port unless you are heading back to the ship. FINAL FOOD PERSPECTIVE:  Would we rate this the best ever food? No, but let's put it into perspective. In 1988, we took a 7-day Princess cruise on the original Sun Princess and saved the menus. There is no comparison. The selection then was superior. But we paid $1,100 each, essentially what we paid this time for a 10 day cruise on a much superior ship. That 1988 rate did include airfare to San Juan, which we would value at about $250, based on fares at that time.  So assume $850 pp as the comparison since airfare was not included in the  2009 price.  While the food in 1988 was wonderful, there was no all-day pizza, no 24-hour buffet, no hot tubs and only one pool. And that $850 price paid for a bottom-level outside room, which consisted of one very small portal. Our $1,100 this time bought a balcony, four pools, multiple hot tubs and eating venues.  In summary, cruising is a value that has only gotten better with age. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
My wife and I are from Michigan, in our early to mid 50's, and my 17th cruise and DW's 18th cruise. Our fourth cruise with Princess and booked number five (14 Day RT Hawaii for 2010) while on board to take advantage of the OBCs. ... Read More
My wife and I are from Michigan, in our early to mid 50's, and my 17th cruise and DW's 18th cruise. Our fourth cruise with Princess and booked number five (14 Day RT Hawaii for 2010) while on board to take advantage of the OBCs. We traveled with my brother and his wife and two other couples we met on a cruise five years ago. We stayed two nights pre-cruise at the Marriott North on our own as the other two couples booked through Princess and were staying here. I rented a car at Budget at the airport as they have a drop off near the pier (on 17th St) and provide a free shuttle to the ship from there. The Emerald is a beautiful ship and looked familiar as we sailed two years before on the Caribbean Princess. I do like some of the additions such as Vines for wine and fresh Sushi; International Cafe for pastries in the morning and light lunches etc. later in the day (this is also the Coffee Bar) and we loved Adagio Bar next to Sabitinis on Deck 16. We usually met here for a cocktail pre dinner and enjoyed the light piano music and the fact that it was never crowded. Only thing that needed work on board was the 9 hole Putt Putt course. For only a couple years old it was really beat up. Must have been built by the low bidder as it is falling apart already. We had a balcony cabin port side on Lido Deck which is very handy for the pools and buffet areas. Also right near is the Ice Cream/Pizza Station which also had waffles in the morning. The pizza was the best I have ever had on a cruise ship, especially since I like thin crust style. Our Cabin Steward Antonio was quiet and very efficient and took great care of our cabin and requests throughout the cruise. I had asked ahead of time for the egg crate and top sheets and they were on our bed at arrival. The eight of us ate late seating traditional as usual and had a nice table in the back. Our waiter Fin was wonderful and always in good humor even though we kept him hopping with multiple dinners and desert choices for many of us. His assistant was also very good and took care of all of our drink and wine orders with a smile and a cheerful tone. Food in the dining room was above average for Princess and portions were very good sized. Fin was there to handle any and every issue with how the food was prepared for us. The Maitre D' was also very attentive and arranged for calamari for the table twice and a special request for escargot on another evening. They also had cheese plates for us on many nights as an added appetizer. They all made it a wonderful dining experience and even the other two couples (who are loyal RCI Cruisers) thought everything was very well done. We had room service on the island days and was always delivered on time. Enjoyed breakfast and coffee on the balcony these mornings as we prepared to head ashore. International Cafe is a great stop for a light lunch with great salads, shrimp, and desert choices as well as the option to get ice cream (three scoops of 3 diff kinds for $1.50). Our stops included Antigua where we went to Dickenson Beach in the morning, Barbados where we hit Accra Beach, St Lucia where we did a Cosol Tour which was wonderful, St Kitts where we went to S. Figate Bay which was very uncrowded and the Shipwreck Beach Bar was a rustic looking gem, and St Thomas where we had arranged on line to do the Snuba located out at Coki Beach. We shopped a bit in the afternoon on the islands. We had a very active Cruise Critic Group on line before the cruise and we met on a number of occasions throughout the voyage. We had a Sail Away party at Outriggers Bar back by the Terrace pool and probably 25-30 people stopped by for a chat. The first day was a Sea Day and we did a small Cabin Crawl. The next day was also at sea and some met for formal tea and then Princess had arranged a Meet and Mingle for us up in the Adagio Bar from 4:30 to 5:30. They closed the area for us and arranged for the bar and servers to be there. Drinks were paid for by those who wished one (or two). We also met on Day 9 for lunch in Da Vinci and we had over 20 people who attended this event. All in all a great time with fellow Cruise Critic sailors. In summary this was a great cruise on a beautiful ship. The crew were all very friendly. If you give them a smile and a hello, they always responded in same. Some had mentioned an issue with this on prior reviews, but I believe "you get what you give" and this proved true through the cruise. Disembarkation was very smooth. We had to be out of our cabin by 8:00 and breakfast was served until 9:00 in the Horizon Buffet. We then went to our assigned meeting location and were escorted down to our bags right on schedule. We were off the ship by 9:30. If you are doing your own transportation to the airport, I would advise getting a porter to haul your bags. It gets you through the lines faster, and they have a special area to take you to get a taxi much faster than if you do it on your own. Worth the tip in not having to stand in the large taxi line for those who did not use a porter. Can't wait to get on the Golden Princess next year to Hawaii as it is being upgraded this spring to include Vines, International Café and some other improvements. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Christmas Cruise Review Dec 20 - 30 on the Princess Emerald. Embarkation and Rooms: We arrived at the port via our hotel shuttle and spent a bit of time in line in a big warehouse. The whole process didn't take long and was ... Read More
Christmas Cruise Review Dec 20 - 30 on the Princess Emerald. Embarkation and Rooms: We arrived at the port via our hotel shuttle and spent a bit of time in line in a big warehouse. The whole process didn't take long and was pretty painless. It was much like at a ride in Disneyland. Lots of people but moved along fairly quickly. We were issued our cards and before long were in our cabins. We had C406 and the boys had an inside across the hall C408. We were pretty much smack dab in the middle of the ship. The room was certainly big enough. The closet was huge and also the cabinet with the safe had additional shelves for storage. The bathroom was fine and again, more than enough space for all our stuff. We never had a problem with the size of the shower or the shower curtain contrary to what I had read often on this board. We had a balcony, partially covered and would say that I would not cruise without one. We spent a lot of time on our balcony. We really enjoyed watching from our balcony as we came into ports in the morning and also sitting and enjoying the views leaving the ports. We also enjoyed having a drink or coffee on our balcony and just being able to relax a little and enjoy the warm weather and fresh air. Ship: The ship is simply beautiful. Having never cruised before, I can't compare but I thought it was stunning.......and, well really, really big. It took me several days to figure out what was where and which way to go to get there. The staff that take care of the ship do a wonderful job at keeping everything immaculate everywhere. It was nicely decorated in the main areas for xmas and they had a nice display for when Santa arrived for the children as well as snow "falling" on xmas eve. Pools, MUTS, Gym: We had three sea days and I was up early (as usual) to find a pool lounger on all of those days. It was very interesting to be up at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. relaxing with my book and watching the chair hogs scout out their spots. These were not people choosing a chair for themselves. They were reserving 4, 6, 8 chairs, throwing a towel or a pair of shoes on the chairs and then disappearing for hours. Understandably, there were a lot of families on this cruise, but does every family member really need a chair? Maybe they should all get up early and get there own and actually use it. The first day was at the very back of the ship which is a fairly quiet area and pretty peaceful. The other two days I choose a lounger near the MUTS screen, once on a lower deck and once on an upper deck. It was nice to be able to watch a movie while laying in the sun. This is a very, very busy area. I literally felt like a sardine......it's an obstacle course to get through the chairs and people and there is no room between the loungers. We did not sit and watch a movie in the evenings but often walked by and there were lots of people enjoying the big screen. I think the MUTS is a pretty cool idea. I went to the gym on a couple of occasions when it opened at 7:00. There were lineups and it was quite busy. I thought that it was nicely equipped and maintained. Decided to just walk outside on the Promenade deck after that. The track that is on the top deck of the ship is a nice feature, but it was too narrow and short for my comfort. It felt like you were always bumping into or trying to avoid other people. Also, way too hot up there for me. There were lots of people using it throughout the day. Dining: We had the late seating in the dining room at 8:30. I have to say that the meals we had in the dining room were absolutely wonderful. All the food was just so good and nicely prepared. I had several of the fish dishes and all were fantastic. Some of the favorites were the seafood stew served in puff pastry, grilled rack of lamb, sea scallops on ratatouille, French onion soup - yummo!! Also the king crab was delicious as well as the lobster. The lobster tail was served with two or three massive prawns which were to die for. There was lots of variety of appetizers, salads, soups and desserts in addition to the "always available" menu. I would definitely say the food on this cruise was far superior to any 5-Star All Inclusive that we have been to. We almost always had breakfast in the DaVinci dining room. You could always order things like bacon & eggs, pancakes, etc from the menu. There was a different breakfast feature each day. Eggs Benedict one day, an asparagus and fontina cheese omelette another day, and so on. Also, as soon as you were seated a waiter would appear with a tray of fresh pastries. I am having withdrawal from the fresh, warm donuts sprinkled with sugar. We tried breakfast once or twice in the buffet but were obviously spoiled from the dining room as the food in the buffet was only what I would say mediocre at best. We also had the odd snack from the buffet, but honestly, the food is so much better in the dining rooms there wasn't much point in eating at the buffets. We also had lunch a couple of times in the Wheelhouse Bar, very nice fish & chips. The other thing I have to rave about is the afternoon tea. My younger son and I stumbled on this quite by accident, but I must say, sure glad we did. Tea is served in the DaVinci Dining room every day from 3:30 - 4:30. There were a few times we missed due to being in a port, but this became one of our favorites. Very formal, white glove service and some very interesting table companions each time. Tea would be served and then trays and trays of delicious little sandwiches, pastries, and the absolute best scones I have ever had. Fresh and warm, served with jam and clotted cream. It was my son that couldn't wait to go to tea every chance we could. I also had a few lunches from the International cafe. They had a nice selection of salads and sandwiches. I found it somewhat frustrating that one day, these items would be "free" and then the next day, the items had a charge. There were items clearly marked that were extra such as the gelato and chocolate dipped strawberries but the lunch items were a guessing game. The coffee here was also pretty good. This is the only place on the ship that actually uses real cream for coffee. Everywhere else on the ship they use milk. I am a diehard coffee drinker and found the coffee practically undrinkable anywhere else. Coffee in the dining room was okay.......but I just don't like milk in my coffee. The coffee card was a good deal for me and I would recommend it. I think I went through three of them. Shows/Casino: Unfortunately, we made it to only one show. A comedian in one of the lounges. He was quite funny and we enjoyed it. We are not much into shows and we found the times were just a bit inconvenient for us. We found the early shows too early to get to and of course having the late dinner, we missed most of the late ones. If I were to cruise again, I think I would choose anytime dining. I think dinner at 7:00 would be ideal for us to take in a few more of the shows. The 6:15 seating is too early, and 8:30 was just a bit too late. We usually spent an hour or so in the casino after dinner. It was never really too busy and it would be nice if they would have a better selection of slot machines. I felt most of the ones they had were pretty outdated. Princess Cays. Nice enough beach. Nothing too special here. St. Thomas: We had nothing planned for St. Thomas. We ended up taking an island tour by a nice local guy. Spent two hours or so with him and saw some of the sights. We also walked around on the strip with the shops. I suppose if you like jewelry and watches, you would enjoy this port. We walked just one block back off this strip to a little convenience store to buy some juice and had a lady in her jeep stop to tell us that we were not in a safe area. She was very adamant about us not being in the area we were in. For me, this was the least impressive port that I visited. Dominica: I had booked a tour to go river tubing with Antours. We spent some time touring some of the island and then went to the river. This was so much fun and I'd recommend doing this to anyone. I think some were expecting a lazy relaxing float down the river, but it was actually pretty hairy in some places - what a blast! We went back into town after, but it was so busy as it was Christmas Eve. I have to say though, I thought the local people in Dominica were the friendliest, nicest people of any of the ports we visited. Grenada: We had an island tour booked with Mandoo Tours. A very pretty island and some very interesting history here. Mandoo is extremely well educated and probably knows more about the politics of my own country than I do. He talks constantly while driving the vehicle, but wow, this guy knows his stuff. He is a very, very interesting man. I bought lots of fresh spices on the island to take home. Bonaire: By far, this island has the most amazing snorkeling I have ever done. The water is so beautiful, clear and warm. So many beautiful fish and we also were able to see several sea turtles. We took a water taxi to Klein Bonaire for a few hours. There is nothing on this island, not even a washroom (I think) but it is a great place to snorkel or suntan on the beach. The port area was so clean, pretty and so well kept. The shop keepers were pleasant and for a change didn't hound you buy stuff. Of all the ports on the cruise, this was my favorite and the only one I would want to visit again. Curacao: Hmm. Mixed feelings here. We went into the shopping area for awhile. Holy Knock-Off Ville. After wandering around a bit, we ended up going back and getting towels/bathing suits and took a cab to Kon Tiki Hotel. The beach there goes for awhile and there are several hotels along this area. Pretty average beach, somewhat disappointing really. Other Things: I actually liked the picture taking stations set up in the evenings. We went several nights for family photos and ended up with some very nice pictures. The pop card for kids or teens is a must I think. I can't remember exactly how much, but somewhere around $40 for the 10 days. My kids also ate at the burger place and the pizza place and said it was pretty good. The ice cream card is also a good idea. My kids met a lot of people their age and had a very good time with their new friends. I guess this is true as they usually did not get back to their room until the wee hours of the morning. They would usually be sitting at the back of the ship visiting or in the nightclub as I did check on them to see where they were and what they were up to. I didn't notice any bad behavior by the kids on the cruise as some people have mentioned. Generally, I thought they were pretty well behaved. Other than the last night when they were several boisterous groups around the ship, but it really just seemed to me that they were saying their good-byes to one another. I also have to mention the dress code. I know this can be a touchy subject but something that really ticked me off. I had read repeatedly on this forum that people would be turned away from the dining rooms if not dressed appropriately. Well, I can certainly say that on this cruise there was NO dress code whatsoever in the dining room. The first night there were several people in line wearing jeans, T-shirts, sloppy runners, etc. I figured that because there were so many problems with many people just barely getting to the ship due to the terrible storms that they had relaxed the dress code for a day or so. I know also there were several who had not received their luggage till very late or not at all. No, this was the norm the entire cruise. These are not designer jeans I'm talking about. Frayed, dirty looking jeans, leggings, washed-out ill-fitting t-shirts, shorts, ipod earphones stuck to their ears, etc. I thought we were going to a hot-dog eating contest somewhere - that's how bad these people dressed. Rant over. All in all, we had a good time and it was a really great experience and we saw some great places. Would I do another cruise? Probably not. As silly as it may sound, I found this a "hectic" vacation. Not really relaxing at all. I felt that I was constantly looking at my watch. The ship is beautiful and huge, but it felt claustrophobic in a way compared to what I am used to. I love to walk a lot and just going around the promenade deck for my twice daily walks just is not too exciting after the first 3 laps. I missed the tranquility of a beautiful, un-crowded beach. Relaxing in a lounge chair reading and enjoying the great weather without people stepping over me. Just things like that. However, I do think for those that haven't cruised and are considering it, you should try it at least once. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
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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