A bit of background, I have had somewhere around 13 cruises, mostly on RCI, so still a newbie by many accounts. I have enjoyed all the cruises I have taken, and I don’t really have a preference for a particular line. I have mostly been ... Read More
A bit of background, I have had somewhere around 13 cruises, mostly on RCI, so still a newbie by many accounts. I have enjoyed all the cruises I have taken, and I don’t really have a preference for a particular line. I have mostly been on RCI only because if I travel with my sister in law, or some friends of ours, they are loyal royal. I am not. Variety is more important to me. So, I have a goal to try all of the mass lines. So far, from my vantage point, they are all more alike than they are different. I sometimes travel with my husband and our two children, and sometimes I travel with friends. This time it was myself, and my college roommate from many moons ago.
This was my first Princess experience. For reasons I can’t explain, I thought that this line would prove to me that there are some lines that are superior lines. I didn’t really come away with that idea being validated. However, I did very much enjoy Princess, and will certainly cruise with them again. And, I do realize it isn’t fair to compare any line with just one voyage under the belt. Two voyages on the same line are often night and day in comparison.
At any rate, on to the review of this sailing:
So I think it is very safe to say this isn’t considered a “typical” Princess sailing. (very likely another reason why it didn’t deliver the experience I expected.) This was a 5 night sailing on Emerald Princess, leaving FLL and sailing to Princess Cays and Grand Turk. It was also the peak of spring break, and many, many young adults (and I use “adult” very loosely here) were on board. I am only 44, but I felt WAY old on this sailing. Which I think from all the research I have done, is not the norm on Princess.
Embarkation: A breeze, but only because my friend had some status with Princess, so we got to skip the long line and pretty much get right on board. I usually am up and ready to get the port by 11, but on this voyage we didn’t arrive until closer to Noon. We got right on the ship, and the room was ready! That is something I am not used to, and I LOVED being able to check out the room and leave my carryon items. AND, our luggage was delivered right away. We were all settled in and unpacked before muster! A first for me.
Another small thing I really liked, is they provided us with maps of the ship that are little fold up paper maps with a cardboard front and back to keep it protected. It was great to have in my pocket. When I was sitting in my lounge chair I could pull it out and refer to it. A small, but nice touch.
I also appreciated their ap, Princess at Sea. I was able to do all kinds of things on that ap. I usually turn my cell phone off and toss it in the safe for the voyage. This time I decided to try the ap, and I really liked it. I can’t compare it, as I have not an ap yet on any other line.
Muster was interesting. You still have to bring your life vest on Princess, I have not done that for a long time on other lines. And they took a lot longer to go through the process than I expected. It was made a little better by sitting in a lounge instead of being packed like sardines on the deck, but we sat there for about 40 minutes, and couldn’t hear half of what was said.
The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship in my opinion. It was clean, and the décor was pleasing and beautiful. The only thing that drove me nuts about this ship was the lay out of the Horizon Court buffet. What a nightmare it was getting in and out of there! But the food was fine, and there are lots of other options. The pizza was very good, there were several excellent choices at the International Café, and we attended a PUB lunch that was complimentary in the Salty Dog on one day, so our exposure to the buffet was limited. We ate at the MDR each night, and the service and food was very good. We shared a table with others most nights, and enjoyed the company of meeting new folks.
I did not enjoy the shows on this voyage. There was a hypnotist, who was not to my liking for entertainment value, and there was a comedian that was sort of funny, but mostly just kept cracking up at himself. The CD was a bit of a snore as well. Nice man, but not very engaging IMO. One thing that I really did enjoy was movies under the stars. This concept is excellent. They put soft coverings on the lounge chairs, offer blankets, and have popcorn available. We saw a couple of recent releases and I really liked this option. I don’t have time for movies when I am home running from work to my kids various activities and such, so this was something that I appreciated being able to do. They also had some other good entertainment on the screen, like Elton John, and Bon Jovi. That is of course my opinion, but I liked what they had going on the screen. I made my usual donation at the casino, as far as casinos go, this one was not any better/worse than any other ship casinos IMO.
Our cabin seemed bigger than I am used to for an inside. I book all over the map as far as room type. It depends on the itinerary and cost as to whether or not I am going to spring for a balcony or suite. I went with an inside this voyage. The room was plenty big enough for two with plenty of storage. I much preferred the layout of this cabin over any other ship inside that I have had. And the beds, my word the beds…. I have never slept in a more comfortable bed on a cruise ship in my life! A big thumbs up for the beds. Two very nice oversized pillows, super comfy bedding, and the mattress was perfect. I wanted to bring it home with me.
Our room steward was excellent. Perfectly attentive. The only thing that I did not enjoy with our cabin was the shower. On most, if not all of my cruises to date, the shower nozzle has a way to lift it up and down, or totally off so that with limited space, you can take the shower nozzle in hand. That makes things so much easier. This one did not offer that convenience. Not a huge deal, but shaving was an adventure in this shower. I am glad I am somewhat flexible and short!
This voyage stopped at the Princess private Island, Princess Cays, and at Grand Turk. Princess Cays was your typical private island. A very nice beach area, with lunch served and a bit of local shopping. We had to take a tender to the beach. This was pretty much just a wonderful, lazy beach day for us. Weather was beautiful. They offered plenty of activities, but we were content to lounge under the shade of a palm tree and nap, and read.
The other stop was Grand Turk. I can’t comment on the actual island, as we did an excursion that left right from the beach. So we didn’t venture into Grand Turk itself. The ship docked here, so it was easy to get off and on. As soon as you depart the pier, there is a Jimmy Buffet restaurant, and shops. Also there is a beach right at the pier area. Along the beach there all kinds of companies selling excursions. I had done some prior research, and we walked down the beach and bought a snorkel/swim with sting rays excursion with lunch for $50.00 that had been recommended. We very much enjoyed this! Very small group. 6 of us total. We were well taken care of. I am glad we did the excursion, the beach was way too crowded for my liking. There was a Carnival ship that arrived a few hours after we did which made for a very busy day at the beach.
A few more random thoughts: I am unsure if it was just my cabin, but the hairdryer they provided was a little better than horrid. I am glad I brought one. I wish there had been more trivia, we did this one afternoon and it was fun, but I didn’t see that they offered much in the way of trivia. The jogging track on this ship was pitiful. Very, very small. I used it once. Then I just settled on walking the promenade on deck 7. The gym is not well designed in that there are cabins directly underneath, so they do not allow people to use treadmills until 8 am. By then I want to be done with my exercise! That was a bummer. Walking the promenade and doing all stairs instead of the elevator was good enough for this sailing.
All in all, this was just what I wanted, a nice relaxing vacation. I will definitely sail on Princess again, I am interested to see what a longer voyage not during spring break would be like. For now, I am going to give Celebrity a try next spring.
Happy Sailing! Read Less