Emerald Princess February 4, 2008 By Host Joe My first impression of Emerald as we boarded is what a beautiful ship it is. The furnishings and themes are gorgeous. As we toured the ship we became more impressed with her immense size, ... Read More
Emerald Princess February 4, 2008 By Host Joe My first impression of Emerald as we boarded is what a beautiful ship it is. The furnishings and themes are gorgeous. As we toured the ship we became more impressed with her immense size, however a little disillusioned with the layout as it is a little hard to get around (and we have cruised a lot on many ships!). With 19 decks it is a real adventure to get from one part of the ship to the next. All in all, though, Emerald is a an amazingly beautiful ship with many amenities.
As the passengers boarded, it became increasingly crowded, which was kind of a shock to us. It was like being in a popular mall the day after Thanksgiving! At most meals at the Horizon Court you stood in long lines followed by having a very hard time finding a table to enjoy your meal. On many occasions I saw people standing up eating their meal, unable to find a table. That is just unacceptable! Princess has done a disservice to the beauty of the ship and to all of her passengers by packing it so full of people. It seemed that almost every time you wanted to go somewhere onboard you were in a herd of people, which gets very annoying.
According to guest services, the ships regular capacity is 3070 passengers; however the maximum including triples and quads is 3700. They informed me that we had 3700 aboard on our cruise. Our table mates had been onboard for the past two sailings and they reported that the crowds had been the same each cruise. This leads me to believe that they must pack it at the maximum on most cruises.
The food and service onboard was good. Once you got to the food at the Horizon Court (and found which station was open out of the 4 stations!). I was impressed with the staff at Horizon Court and how eager they were to offer you a beverage which was nice.
We had late traditional seating as we always do and the food and service there were quite good and we enjoyed it very much. Our wait staff team was great. I am very happy that we did not have anytime dining because we heard endless comments on how the large church group that was onboard had taken up all of the anytime dining slots from 6pm to 8pm and it was a nightmare.
Sabatini's, the Italian themed specialty restaurant onboard, is absolutely wonderful. The $20 service charge per person is definitely worth it in my opinion. Once seated they tell you to only pay attention to choosing your entrEe, as they bring the rest of the menu out for you to sample! They kept coming by with little samplings of everything and it was out of this world. The service was flawless and this was a truly wonderful experience. We both had the sea bass as our entrEe and it was fantastic.
Our experience at the other specialty restaurant onboard was not very good. The service charge was $25 and in my opinion was not worth it at all. The appetizer and salad were good but it went downhill from there. We had a filet mignon and a porterhouse steak as entrEe's. The porterhouse was over half fat and grizzle and average in flavor. The filet mignon was a little dry and not very good quality. The worst part was the desserts. Both of our desserts were fluffy and had little flavor. The service was very sub-par as well. Our waiter could not even remember who got what at each course and there were only two of us! I am sorry, but when I go to a specialty restaurant and pay an extra fee, I expect it to be special! The Crown dining room did have very nice furnishings and was decorated very well. We heard others say that they had a good experience there, so maybe we had just an isolated bad experience.
They put the internet cafe (the only one onboard for some reason!) all the way down on deck 5. It is small and adequate, but most passenger cabins are on upper decks. Our cabin was on deck 12, so you had to trot down 7 flights of stairs to get to it. There is no wireless in the rooms, so you must go to a public area such as the atrium to get access to it. If you are Platinum or Elite as we are, the internet package does not include wireless for some reason and you must use the computers on deck 5 only. A ship this size should have another internet cafe located mid ship, higher up like most others do.
A true design flaw is for people that are somewhat tall (6 feet or above) that want to use the gym equipment. I use an elliptical for exercise and was shocked when I found that they made the ceiling height too low in the gym to use it unless you are shorter. When I got on the elliptical I instantly hit my head on the ceiling, unable to stand straight up. I did one workout in the gym and ended up with a back and neck ache from having to slouch and duck my head while exercising. I saw several other taller men having the same issue that day, a couple just walking away shaking their heads. What on earth were the designers thinking?
Our stateroom was A633, which is a standard balcony cabin. It was very nicely appointed. The furnishings and the duvet were great. The flat screen TV was a nice addition. I loved the walk-in style closet. When it came to the bathroom, though, the shower is the worst I have ever experienced. Not only is the shower small and you have the cling-on shower curtain, but the shower head was too low like an old 70's hotel and there was no room to store toiletries, etc that you use during showering. Overall I was very pleased with our stateroom.
We loved the itinerary of our 10-day cruise. The first stop was Princess Cays, which we enjoyed a wonderful BBQ lunch and swam in the ocean. Next we had a day at sea. We found most places outside on the decks to be fairly loud with either the Movies Under The Stars or the pool band.
Next was St. Thomas, where we went to Coki beach on our own. The cost was only $9 per person each way for the taxi. The chairs on Coki were $5 each and there were bar and food servers everywhere. We snorkeled, swam and enjoyed laying in the sun.
Dominica was our next port, where we were booked through the ship for the Champagne Reef snorkel. This was one of the very best ship-sponsored snorkel tours we have ever done. We usually avoid them, but we were very pleased with did this one. We had over 2 hours in the water and the snorkeling was very pleasant. The Champagne part is where the bubbles come up from the old volcano crater and shimmer like diamonds in the water.
In Grenada we decided to just go in on our own and walk around. We were only in port until 1pm. We walked around for a couple of hours, buying lots of spices. I can understand why they call this the spice island, as there was the smell of spices everywhere! The spices were offered at very good prices, too.
Next up was Bonaire. We arrived at noon, and booked passes to Klein Bonaire (little Bonaire) through the ship for $29 per person round trip, including a beverage on the island. We did this on our own last year and paid $20 per person round trip but the transportation was a rickety old boat that was packed full and uncomfortable. I will gladly pay Princess the extra $9 for the nice boat we went over to the island on! Klein Bonaire is strictly a beach with no amenities and some of the best coral reef that the Caribbean has to offer! We walked down the beach towards Bonaire and watched for a break in the reef, which is just a few feet from shore. We entered the water in that little break and did a drift snorkel along the edge of the island back towards where we were dropped off on the beach which is where the reef breaks again. The current is fairly strong and provides a very nice pace as you go along the outside edge of the reef. Below you is the DEEP big blue of the ocean! The fish are huge and abundant and the coral is amazing. I repeated this snorkel process three times, taking up our whole afternoon on the island. What a day!
On our last two days at sea we found a wonderful slice of heaven onboard Emerald Princess. The sanctuary is located all the way forward on the top deck. They charge $10 per person for a half day, and reservations are taken day of only on a first come, first serve basis. Both mornings I went up mid-morning and reserved the afternoon session for us. At first the thought of paying $10 to use a section of the ship made me a little angry, but once I enjoyed it I understand. First of all, you choose a seat inside, under a series of shades or outside directly in the sun. The chaise lounges are heaven, with really thick pads. You are greeted by a who shows you to your chair, fills a glass full of ice water that is infused with citrus fruits and a cool towel. The stewards come around regularly, refilling your ice water all day long as well as offering fresh cool towels. Talk about being spoiled! They also have a menu that you can order from so that you don't have to join the 3700 other passengers trying to have some lunch! Both days were pure bliss for me. I sat and listened to my Ipod and gazed out at the ocean (you can have your chaise lounge face the ocean). If you do not have an Ipod, they offer the use of theirs that are accompanied by Bose noise-cancelling headphones. If you feel like a dip in the pool, the spa pool is one deck below the Sanctuary, and is easily accessible.
The new debarkation that is very similar to what Celebrity has been doing for quite some time worked pretty well. We were scheduled to meet at 8:40am in Michelangelo and we left there about 9:10am. All went smooth from there.
We were booked on a sister ship to Emerald for next year but cancelled it before we departed the ship, rebooking on a Celebrity cruise. I will always consider a Sun or Island class aboard Princess, but this is the last Princess mega ship for me. The interesting thing was that we talked with many people onboard, and inevitably the comments would start flying about how crowded the ship is and that this will be the last Princess for them. I am very sad by this, as I have always enjoyed the Princess product and I am afraid they are ruining it with these mega ships being packed too full. We would love to go on Emerald again as she is such a beautiful ship, however the memories of the crowds everywhere will stop me from booking it. Read Less