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453 Princess Emerald Princess Cruise Reviews

A long BA flight from Heathrow and then a night's stay in Fort Lauderdale which was a waste of time realy. Off to the ship next morning and quickly on board. Nice inside cabin but as I am only going to change and sleep in it so ... Read More
A long BA flight from Heathrow and then a night's stay in Fort Lauderdale which was a waste of time realy. Off to the ship next morning and quickly on board. Nice inside cabin but as I am only going to change and sleep in it so what. Ship is huge, 19 floors for the lifts and stairs to the 20th for mini golf. Quite a few bars but only Stella on draught in one or two and that was nothing like you would expect or want. Fosters in big cans wasn't too bad and Jamesons whisky was quite cheap. Entertainment was OK but the karaoke got quite boring by the end of the voyage. Same old voices that couldn't sing... Trips ashore a bit short on time and expensive on ships own ones. Taxi trips - Antigua was great, Barbados was boring as the driver wittered on about who with millions lived or stayed where. St Kitts was useless as driver was an idiot who kept trying to speak through a distorted PA system. Ruined a good day out. Food on board in the main restaurants was nearly all Italian or just over fancy and not to our humble tastes. After two nights we all moved permanently to Cafe Caribe. Speedy disembarkation at Port Everglades and sight seeing trip of Miami and then the Mall. They have a lot of concrete in Miami and not much else. Dolphin Mall was a load of rubbish. Miami airport, the less said the better and then 9 hours on a 1 hour late flight. What did I think over all. I'm glad I did it but I wouldn't do it again. Too long flights and not enough time to see the places. 9000 miles and I need another holiday. Have booked again but this time its the Mediteranean. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
My boyfriend and I went on the New Years Cruise aboard The Emerald Princess.I personally have been on many cruises prior with Family and friends, but this was the first time for my boyfriend. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the night ... Read More
My boyfriend and I went on the New Years Cruise aboard The Emerald Princess.I personally have been on many cruises prior with Family and friends, but this was the first time for my boyfriend. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the night prior and stayed at The Embassy Suites Hotel.The following day we arrived at Port Everglades. From my previous experience I have found that if you check in later, there are no line ups and you will board with NO WAITING.We got acquainted with the Ship and enjoyed the sail away party. We are both fitness buffs and went to the gym the first day. In order to use the equipment, we had to dodge the Spa and Fitness people who were trying to sell all their wares on the first day of the Cruise.The Gym was very well equipped and we went there everyday of the cruise. We basically enjoyed the food but found ourselves at the buffet for the majority of our meals.We prefer to dine casually and the buffet had many choices daily. We really enjoyed the Steak House and Sabatinis Restaurant. Both restaurants were well worth the surcharge with excellent service and Meal options.The Continental Cafe is a great place to relax and have a cappuccino.We purchased the coffee card as we don't like the coffee served in the buffet areas and it was supposed to save us money. Unfortunately this was not the case as most of the time the espresso machine was not operable.So much for saving money... We like to go and see all the entertainment the ship has to offer, so we attended most of the Broadway style singing and dancing shows, however, I realized quickly that my boyfriend was not a fan of those shows as he wanted to leave those particular shows as soon as they started...We missed the first Comedian, but did see Al Katz. He did a good job, but his material seemed a little dated and geared for an older audience.There was a hypnotist named Fernandez who was excellent. This show was hilarious. I have personally seen many hypnotists during my university years and I appreciated that he did not do any offensive material with the people who volunteered. The bands in the Explorers Lounge and Club Fusion were very good with lots of musical variety. We really enjoyed the 70's night party. The Cruise Director Tim and his staff were very friendly and did a great job.We ran into him all over the ship. We are not gamblers, but did play the slots a few nights, unfortunately Lady luck was never on our side. The casino seemed to have a lot to offer if you played table games. Because our cruise was during the Holidays, there seemed to be a lot of children running around the deck unattended, on some Sea days the Hot Tubs were filled with kids, making it impossible for adults to even get near. The moral of the story is don't cruise during the Holidays if you expect any relaxation time on the pool decks, too many kids splashing, screaming and running around. We didn't take any of the shore tours offered by Princess and elected instead to go beaching on every Island.We just hopped in cabs and made our own way. We especially liked the beaches in Antigua. The disembarkation was very smooth and well handled, no delays. All in all, we really enjoyed This cruise, and will definitely be booking Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We are back on land after a great 10-day cruise on the Emerald Princess. We departed Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) on Jan.17th 2012. We had a great time, where we escaped completely. In an attempt to escape completely, we only ... Read More
We are back on land after a great 10-day cruise on the Emerald Princess. We departed Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) on Jan.17th 2012. We had a great time, where we escaped completely. In an attempt to escape completely, we only brought our electronic readers, our MP3 players, a camera and a HD camcorder. all told, we took nearly 1,000 pictures and 2 hours of HD video. No phones, no computer, no email disturbed our day-to-day life. How great it felt! ABOUT OURSELVES: we are 2 cruising buddies, average age 60. We shared an inside cabin on Emerald deck, 8th floor. I will not bore you with details that are not attributable to Princess. Suffice it to say that we live in Delray Beach (FL), 35 miles North of Fort Lauderdale. On departure morning, we loaded our 2 suitcases into the car and drove to Port Everglades on our own, parking the car at the Convention Center's parking garage. From there, we wheeled our suitcases to the Princess terminal, which is located next door. We left Delray Beach promptly at 9:30 AM, arrived at the terminal around 10:15AM, gave our luggage to the porters and made our way into the terminal. We waited until 10:45AM to collect our keycards and make our way to the ship. We were on board at 11:00AM. We were informed that our cabin was ready, so we proceeded to check it out. THE CABIN: This was an inside cabin on deck 8 Forward. Three cabins further forward and we would have been outside the ship. Below us was the Princess Theater. We loved the cabin. It featured loads of storage; more that we could use. As you entered, there was a hallway to the left with the bathroom, a cabinet with shelves and a safe and an 8-foot rod to hang our clothes. There was no need to stow our luggage under the bed because they fit very comfortably on the floor, under the hanging clothes. An 8-foot shelf sat above that rod, where the life jackets, pool towels and spare sheets were stored. All this is completely separate from the rest of the cabin. In the living section, there was a desk with 2 shelves at one end and the refrigerator at the other end. The TV hung from the ceiling, with a shelf positioned below it. We used that shelf to recharge our electronic readers and MP3 players. Electrical outlets were sparse in the room: 2 outlets could be had, no more. There was also a chair, a circular table, 2 very comfortable twin-size beds and 2 night stands. The bathroom featured a vacuum commode, a nice-size shower, a molded counter and 3 shelves. The room was immaculate. I did not perform a white glove test because I must admit that I am not 3 sesame seeds and a speck of dust away from living in a plastic bubble. In retrospect, I must admit that this was one of the best-designed inside cabins I have had in my 26 cruises to date. One thing I didn't approve about the cabin: Both our full names were printed onto a card and displayed in a special slot outside the cabin. I don't want everyone to know my name, or my Captain's Circle level. The label was quickly removed and I promised myself I would have terse words with the cabin's attendant if another identical label was placed there again. Thankfully, it didn't reappear and for that, I was thankful. THE SHIP: The Emerald Princess is clean from stem to stern, flotation line to top of the stacks. However, you have no need to pack an alarm clock on that ship. Whenever you arrive at a new port of call and the thrusters are activated, the whole ship shakes, rattles and groans like you are in a category 5 earthquake. Our cabin creaked so much, one night I thought someone had entered the cabin after we had gone to bed. There was no intruder: the cabin was just creaking: creepy! In rough seas, the ship sometimes hits a wave head-on, which sounds like a cannon being fired. Leave the alarm clock at home and bring some ear plugs and some sleeping aids, if you are a light sleeper. We also lived near a family of sasquatch, or were they yeti, or Fantasia's dancing hippos? They stomped their way up and down the hall at all hours of the day and night. When our neighbor closed his cabin door, the whole wall shook. Soundproofing between the cabins was all right. We never heard the neighbor's conversations or their TV. The soundproofing did provide some relief from the hysterical cruise director who got on the public address system 7 or 8 times a day to announce some can't-miss, once in a lifetime, knock your socks off, unbelievable event being held somewhere on the ship: jewelry sales, bingo, slot machine tournament, hairy back contest, spa treatments, art auction, teeth whitening, massage, more jewelry sales, ad nauseam. I must confess to having precious little patience with those people. THE FOOD: We dined at the Michaelangelo or Da Vinci dining rooms 5 times during our 10-day cruise. Two more evenings were spent having dinner at Sabatini's and here's the best-kept secret on the ship: When you want to have dinner in a quiet corner, without the hub-hub of the dining room or the expense of one of the specialty restaurants, head to Cafe Caribe for delicious buffet food. Every time I sat down to eat on the Emerald Princess, I knew that the meal would be great. Never did I have to send back anything for whatever reason. Everything was fresh, nicely presented, appetizing and tasted good. I added a bit of salt because I like a bit more salt on my food. Basically, everything I sampled was very good. We heard comments from people who said the food was not good. That only left us wondering where they had eaten, what they had ordered and what they eat at home. There is no accounting for taste. As a rule, I stay away from beef during a cruise because I like mine "bleu" - less than rare. We ate fish, seafood, turkey, duck, chicken, roast pork and so much more and it was all very good. THE STAFF: The staff was always very polite, eager to serve and please. We never encountered rude or gruff staff. However, on a couple occasions, I had the impression that a few of them either did not understand English, or that I had suffered a stroke and had lost my command of English. One memorable incident occurred at the photo gallery, when we enquired about a photo album and the gentleman who answered us answered me something like: ruler, phone, tire, cardboard, please, yes thank you? We finally concluded the transaction, but each sentence was an uphill battle. The same thing happened when attempting to book lounge chairs at The Sanctuary (more about that later). We did cause a bit of a concern among the staff when we requested postcards with a picture of the Emerald Princess. There was no such thing on board. It was like asking for something totally novel, as if nobody before had ever asked for that. The souvenir shop didn't have any. The purser's desk didn't have any and could only refer us to the Photo Gallery for assistance. For Heaven's sake, Princess... one used to get a few of those in the cabin at the beginning of the cruise. We ended up buying a few stock 8x10 inch pictures. Upon returning home, we scanned them, resized them to postcard size and emailed them to Costco for printing. We mailed them and they looked marvelous; no thanks to Princess Photo Gallery. ABOUT THE SANCTUARY: Deck 17 Forward is home to The Sanctuary, an adult-only, relaxed area of the ship featuring wonderful lounge chairs and very attentive attendants who bring you lemony water, cold towels, the lunch menu and can even lend you MP3 players with your choice of music, if you didn't bring one with you. This is a for-fee venue: $10 for a half day, $20 for the whole day. However, making a reservation at The Sanctuary is an adventure in itself. You have to line up at the hostess' desk before 8AM to secure reservations. Reservations are on a first-come, first served basis. They can't take reservations for tomorrow, or any other day during the rest of the cruise. They don't have a computer system to keep track of reservations. The process couldn't be more disorganized if you tried and we got the definite impression that the person who listened intently to us did not speak English. Perseverance finally paid and we managed to book the last 2 days of the cruise in The Sanctuary. A few notes in passing about The Sanctuary: there is no bathroom on that floor and the 17th floor is only accessible to handicapped people by means of an elevator, which had been out of service for a while. Be forewarned: The Sanctuary is still subject to public address announcements by the hysterical cruise director. Someone should give that guy a shot of morphine, already. ABOUT SMOKING: Princess has just implemented new smoking rules. You can't smoke in your stateroom. You can't smoke on your balcony. You can only smoke in certain outdoors areas, on the port side. The casino allows smoking on most nights, but some nights are smoke-free nights. You can't smoke a cigar anywhere on the ship, with the exception of the ship's cigar club: the Speakeasy. Some nights were standing room only in there. Smokers grumbled about the new smoking rules, while discussing the political debates shown on the cigar room's TV. Even worse than political debates were the cricket matches. At some point, I would have settled for reruns of The Golden Girls, or Gilligan's Island. Still, my cigars tasted great with a double Drambuie neat. The rest, as they say, is irrelevant. ABOUT DEBARKATION: My buddy and I signed up for walk-off debarkation, where you disembark and carry your luggage under your own power as soon as the ship docks in Port Everglades. Originally, that was scheduled to take place at 7:00AM on January 27th. Three days before the end of the cruise, we were advised that the walk-off debarkation would take place between 6:00AM and 6:30AM because it suited the good people at Customs and Immigration better. Well, I have news for you, Princess: at 6:00AM, we were not docked yet. We were in the channel that leads to the terminal. Pretty soon, it's going to be a swim-off procedure. We were herded into the Michaelangelo dining room. You would have sworn that this was the first time ever that they had organized a walk-off debarkation. We really felt as if they were making up rules as they went along. Finally, the ship was made fast at the terminal and we were allowed to disembark. We were sitting in the car at 6:40AM, happy to be home. We got home around 7:30AM and the world was still spinning gently upon it axis. We had a great vacation. We managed to isolate ourselves from the rat race that has become our daily life and we felt good about it all. We would do it again in a flash. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
My wife, son ( 8yrs) and I just returned from a 10 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise on board the Emerald Princess. This was our 7th cruise with Princess so we are pretty familiar with their product and service. We booked our flights ... Read More
My wife, son ( 8yrs) and I just returned from a 10 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise on board the Emerald Princess. This was our 7th cruise with Princess so we are pretty familiar with their product and service. We booked our flights independently and left the Edmonton International Airport on Boxing Day. The cruise was set to depart on December 28th so we always like to leave a couple days early to allow for any unexpected delays and have a chance to unwind a bit before embarking the ship. We have stayed in Ft Lauderdale before and this time we decided to stay at the Sheraton Beach Hotel. The hotel is in a great location right on the beach and is close to several restaurants and shops too. The room was unremarkable but good enough for two nights. The staff were very friendly mind you and made the experience that much better. We had booked Princess Transfers from the hotel....but in hindsight it is such a short distance to the port it really is not required. We also like to board after the rush and with using the Princess Transfer we were right in the middle of the big rush to get on board... It is really painless to board if you show up past the first hour or so of boarding. Mind you...I never get too bothered by the wait as after all we are on vacation .. Our stateroom was exactly what we expected when we booked. Small room with a large balcony. Storage is not an issue mind you as they do use what limited space they have very well...with the exception of the bathroom. Seems of all the ships we have been on Princess has the least amount of space in this department ! Obviously not a big deal for us as we have continue to book with Princess. As we were cruising as a family this time our son had a great bunk above our bed which he always thinks is pretty neat. Our room steward Tavorn was quite simply...awesome ! He kept our room spotless and treated us and our son 1st class all the way. He really was a one of the best we have ever had on any ship. The ship is quite nice and very welled laid out. It doesn't have a huge wow factor to it like a large atrium on some other lines. For some reason the ship felt crowded on this cruise...we have sailed with Princess numerous times and never had that feeling. I do know they had a complete sell out and had lots of kids on board, which is great but it did feel crowded. The activities on board were ok. Usually they is one or two enrichment lectures I like to take in during the day,,,but quite frankly the schedule had really nothing that peaked my interest at all. We still had a great time on board as a family and managed to get our fill of laughs and good times ! Our son did check out the kids club a few times. The staff are really good but as it was a holiday cruise it had almost 600 kids on board and it was crowded there as well. He is still a bit of a shy lad and I think the large numbers turned him off a bit. The entertainment on-board was ok to good to really good. The Beatles's tribute band was by far the best, but it went downhill from there. Actually I thought the cruise director Tim Donovan was pretty funny and good at what he does. I know he has been slagged a bit on here, but I thought he was pretty funny. As we were with our son are entertainment schedule was pretty much set by him and there were not many late nights. I never made it to the casino or was able to check out the night life after 11:00 p.m. ! Lots of stuffed planned and looked like fun but with the sun and early mornings our son never made it too late into the night. We had the early sitting in the Botticelli Dining room. Our wait staff Gary and Galdino were fantastic ! The head waiter Daniele was also very engaging and made the effort to come by and say hello each night. He also made some special pastas on a couple of nights that were fantastic ! The food served in the dining room was good but not what we normally expect with Princess. There were few wow moments with the food which is how I base the quality...don't get me wrong it was good but it has been better in the past with Princess. I still managed to clear my plate each night. We had been to most of the ports before but were looking forward to going back. Princess Cays has changed quite a bit since our last visit. We rented a private bungalow and had a private lunch served to us which was nice. On a hot day it would be nice to have the air-conditioned retreat but we actually had to turn it off ! Weather was just ok. We still had a lot of fun here and were one of the last people to get back on board. We booked all all excursions through Princess. In St Thomas we booked the Sea Lion Swim at Coral World...it was one of the best excursions we have ever done ! It was an awesome family activity and left us with memories for a lifetime ! Great staff and really neat to get that much interaction both in and out of the water with the Sea Lions. Expensive ...? Yes but worth it. In St Kitts we took a 4wd tour and beach tour. Great way to see the Island in an old British Army Truck. Note it was rough and some folks were bothered by the smell of diesel.... Our family had no problems and enjoyed it. Barbados was a bust...no fault of the ships. We booked the submarine tour which was canceled... it did tick me off a bit that the tour operator told that they informed the ship two hours earlier and no attempt was made to contact us... We took a cab downtown but all shops were closed for a National Holiday...so not much happening. We went back to the ship early and hit the pools etc. St Lucia we booked the Whale watching tour.... If you have been to Alaska and have done whale watching the service and boats up there blow this tour out of the water...that being said we did see some Pilot Whales and Dolphins but there was absolutely nothing said on-board the tour that would enlighten us about the island or the wildlife...basically it was a four hour float with 15 minutes worth of sightings. We never got to see much of the island after the tour. Antigua is the one spot we have not been. It is a beautiful spot. We did another Island 4wd tour which was much better than St Kitts. Nice Land Rover vehicles and some great stops for sightseeing and photos and an incredible beach at the end. They say Antigua has 365 beaches..one for every day of the year and after seeing some of the island I believe them. Very nice place. I did notice that there is a clear divide between rich and poor on the island after having traveled through a ghetto style area on the island. Lots of young kids near the ships asking for change etc...a bit sad indeed. BTW...the ships literally dock right in town.... can walk off very easy here. I do wish Princess would have made Princess Cays the last stop on the iternary...2.5 sea days at the end of the cruise were ok but it seems as the moment we left Antigua they started telling everyone what to do for disembarkation....kind of set a bummer tone to the last two days...having the stop at Princess Cays would have broken this up. The Gym was great. Both my wife and I used it regularly and had no problems. I see some people say it was crowded and too small....I did not think that at all and in fact thought it had lots of machines etc. Disembarkation was a breeze...even though there were 9 ships in port. They do have this down to a science and it works well. Overall this was a good cruise...not the best Princess Cruise we have done but the level of service and product was exactly what we expected. We had a great time as a family. One of my pet peeves would be with some of the parents. We know if we are traveling with our son we are responsible for his behaviour and we make every effort to do family activities...there were a lot of kids running around unsupervised which does tick some people off who are traveling without kids.... a small thing yes but it could make a big difference for everyone if you actually kept tabs on your kids once and a while. We will continue to cruise with Princess but have also started to like what Celebrity has to offer after having cruised with them in the summer so will be looking into sailing with them some more.. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Overall I am a pretty easy going person and had a great time on the Emerald Princess. A few minor complaints about this cruise that could be worked on were that we did not see the Captain at all except for the Captain's Night ... Read More
Overall I am a pretty easy going person and had a great time on the Emerald Princess. A few minor complaints about this cruise that could be worked on were that we did not see the Captain at all except for the Captain's Night introductions, not even see him at the Captain Circle's Happy Hour. Hoping he was on the bridge driving the boat. Also, they had the Captain's Circle Happy Hour on an off night, not on a formal night which took some of the fun out of it. Might have been just a scheduling conflict but was better on the Ruby last year. Saw the Cruise Director at the Meet & Greet and at the shows, but that was about it. The cruise was over Veterans Day and so they had a very tasteful service and were selling poppies for donations which, a great way to show support and overall nice day. Pickup/Embarkation: The embarkation process could be refined as the queues that are set up a little disorganized, but overall the process didn't take that long. Debarkation was a breeze with the set times and shuttles to the airport. We left out of Ft. Lauderdale but flew into Miami (direct flight) and used the Princess shuttle service, worth the $10 per person, they greeted us by the baggage claim and took over from there, finally dropping us right at the terminal hassle-free. Dining: Had the anytime dining option in the Michelangelo dining room, if you get Carlos from the Philippines, you will be in for a great dining experience from beginning to end, ask for him if you can. Shared tables each night with other travelers and always got great people and great conversations. Overall the food was great and did not have any complaints. Cruised with Princess before and the food was the same standard as the last, only a few dishes were under seasoned that I came across (one was the Native Fish in Tomato broth.) I am not a picky eater and like to try different things. I usually ordered two entries to try something different and ended up eating both because they were that good. For breakfast and lunch, usually ate at the buffet at Horizons or got a pizza/burger on deck. Each of them were great and had a bunch of different options to choose from, almost everything was good. Did not try the specialty restaurants on board, heard from other passengers that they are good. Cabin: Had C723 on the Caribe deck which has a larger balcony, definitely would advise if you are going to get a balcony cabin, get it on this deck. The chairs were definitely great as they were the recliner type, which were definitely nice when you are sitting there in the mornings as you are arriving in ports or grabbing a glass of wine or cocktail as the ship is leaving port. The cabin was the normal cabin for a cruise, the beds could always be more comfortable, but room was clean and always made up per usual. We did hit some rough waters on the first few days on our way to St. Thomas because of the storm that was in the Atlantic. Could definitely feel the ship move at night, mainly the first few nights of sleep were interesting, then the seas calmed down. One thing about having an aft cabin is that you felt the thrusters in the morning and at night when we were docking. In the future, I might check into getting a cabin more towards the midship to see if it would make a difference. Was on the Ruby last year and did not feel the boat move, but was in the Mediterrean which did have calmer seas. Outside of that, really didn't have any complaints. The entertainment was alright, the Beatle Maniacs were great cover band that were spot on and both shows were great. The comedians were good and some of the street performers were good. The production shows weren't the greatest. Two out of the four shows were good, the Motor City and Boots one were ones I could have passed on, maybe they were just off on the shows that I caught. Also make sure you show up about half an hour early or you won't find a seat for the early show. Ports Princess Cays: First time I was here, neat little island. We hit it on a windy day with choppy seas so the tender ride were an experience, kind of like a roller coaster of sorts, waves were about three to four feet and got bounced around a bit. Nice beach but a storm rolled in in the early afternoon, so we hopped the tender back to the ship for lunch. St. Thomas: I did the BOSS underwater scooter excursion, which I highly recommend since this was one of the five places that you can do it in the world and positively a great experience as you are able to breathe under the water without a mask, just in a bubble while steering this underwater scooter around. They take you down about eight feet and once you get over the initial shock of being able to breathe under water, it is great being able to steer your scooter and grab some great underwater shoots. Worth it for all ages, the oldest lady on our excursion was 80 years old and had no issue with it. Dominica: Did the rain forest tram excursion, a definite must see. The island was hit recently by storms and the roads are somewhat washed out, but currently being repaired. Going through the rain forest at tree top level at a slow pace with a guide was a peaceful experience with great scenery and there was a great walking tour at the top that took about 25 minutes. There was also an extra zip line excursion which looked like fun, but did not partake in it. Other passengers said it was worth it and a lot of fun. Amazing how the temperature change was from the pier where it was in the high 80's, up in the forest it was in the 70's with a breeze. Also, definitely need to try the Ginger Wine that they make there, reasonable priced and made a great mixer with Sprite. Grenada: I did the underwater sculpture park snorkel tour, was pretty neat even though the currents were strong that day and it was overcast so the visibility wasn't as good as it could have been since it had rained the day before, we were still able to see plenty of sculptures once the guide pointed them out to us...they have become part of the reef itself now and it really is amazing to see something that is part from our world and part from the sea. The boat ride after to the beach was great and was able to spend an hour or so at the beach in the water just relaxing and there was a cool little bar on the beach that had a great local brew, not to mention the tour guides kept coming around with the rum punches. Bonaire: Prime spot for snorkeling as I researched, after I did snorkeling in the last few ports, I wanted a day to recoup and ended up doing an island tour by private taxi, just walked off the ship and there were four people hopping into a cab and we jumped in as well as another couple (eight people in all) $20 a person for a two and half hour tour around the entire island. The salt production was neat to see and the whole tour was worth it. Definitely a great cost effective way to see the whole island, only thing we didn't get to see was the Flamingo preserve, but we saw a few on the northern part of the island. One word of advice, if you are planning on doing a snorkeling or diving adventure, it is worth paying the money for a reputable guide. There was a couple that was coming up behind up on the pier where they rented a car for the day, which got broken into and everything they had in the car was stolen: their IDs, money, cruise cards, cameras, etc. If you are going to go out on your own, get a guide. Aruba: Did a pirate boat snorkeling excursion which was a lot of fun. Great reefs and plenty of tropical fish and being able to experience it on an old wooden ship was neat. When we were at the shipwreck(1st boat there in the morning) with 26 of us were in the water, we almost got run over by the flat bottom boat driver that was going over the shipwreck, thinking some people just shouldn't be driving a boat. We stopped at a couple other reefs with plenty of tropical fish and great snorkeling and really good rum punch. The days at sea were packed with things to do if you wanted, but it was nice to just relax by the pool, did a few things here and like the wine tasting, and worked on napping much of the time. Overall it was a great trip and ready to do it again. Definitely would recommend the Emerald Princess for a cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Emerald Princess, ten days in the Eastern Caribbean. Great service, especially in the bar areas and cabin stewards. Very clean at all time, and all crew members were extremely helpful and always gracious in their manner. Food pretty ... Read More
Emerald Princess, ten days in the Eastern Caribbean. Great service, especially in the bar areas and cabin stewards. Very clean at all time, and all crew members were extremely helpful and always gracious in their manner. Food pretty good for a vessel of this size, but gourmet in the specialty restaurants - one night in the regular dining room, and we opted for the specialty areas the remaining nights. A great selection of ports, with easy get/off, get/on in each. Plenty of choices in excursions. A large Internet Cafe with ample terminals and a support staff member there nearly all the time. As expected in the ocean, connectivity to the Internet was spotty at times. Otherwise, very functional and accessible. And yes, the usual "art auctions", and always a photographer in your face - even in the specialty restaurants. I guess we're a little spoiled by the all-inclusive tours - I can understand the nickel and dime bit every time you want a cocktail - but charging for coffee and tea each time? - "May I see your card, please?" At lease some of the bar stewards would suggest running a tab during the evening for cocktails and wine. My wife and I, and my cousin traveling with us, were extremely disappointed, however, with the advertising of the "Chef's Table". The "Chef's Table" is advertised as a gourmet meal served an unusual setting, and the courses described by the Chef. This was one of the features that I was really anticipating. A healthy upgrade charge, but it included the meal, cocktails and wine, as well as the Chef. Indications were that we were to call for reservations immediately upon arriving on the ship. I did so, and was told that reservations were closed. Only by pressing was I able to be told that I would be on a "waiting list". The next day I received a letter in my suite saying that the waiting list was closed. Being told there were ten table settings with about ten per table - meaning about 100 settings on a vessel that carried 3,000 passengers! What's wrong here? We feel that the advertisement was very misleading What's Princess thinking to advertise something so desirable like the "Chef's Table", and then make it so very inaccessible? The last stop of the voyage was at Princess Cay - a spot in the Bermuda Islands set up by Princess. A lot of great sand and sea activities. My wife and I are not sun/sand enthusiasts, but we took the tender over to the Cay for lunch. When we arrived at the food service area at 1:25, it was closed. Not only closed, but food was already packed away. A sign was posted at the food area stating the hours it would be serving, but there was no mention of the serving time listed in the on-board daily paper, "Princess Patter". We were extremely disappointed - especially with the attitude of the steward barring the entry - saying that we should have checked the1:30 serving time ending. And, the same steward was not wearing a name tag - said he had "lost" it somewhere. When I mentioned the discrepancy of service notice to the Customer Service personnel, she said that it was an "oversight" and that they'd do better posting the serving period time the next cruise. Sure didn't help our lunch! Overall, an enjoyable cruise, but still a "cattle call" with so many, many passengers. Be prepared to spend time in a line quite often! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Introduction A friend and I were on the Emerald Princess for its Southern Caribbean Cruise from September 29 to 8 October 2010 out of Ft. Lauderdale with Ports of Call at Princess Caye, Bahamas; St. Thomas, USVI; Dominica; Grenada; ... Read More
Introduction A friend and I were on the Emerald Princess for its Southern Caribbean Cruise from September 29 to 8 October 2010 out of Ft. Lauderdale with Ports of Call at Princess Caye, Bahamas; St. Thomas, USVI; Dominica; Grenada; Bonaire and Aruba. I am a 55 year old male and my friend is a 48 year old female from Mexico that speaks little English. We are new to cruising with only one other seven day cruise on Carnival Conquest out of Galveston in May of this year. Arrival We flew from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Ft. Lauderdale, arriving at 3:30 p.m. on the 28, a day before the scheduled cruise departure because I no longer trust the airlines. Flight was uneventful. I had done quite a bit of research on Ft. Lauderdale, the location of the cruise terminal and hotels and other amenities in the area of the cruise terminal. The cruise terminal is very close to Ft. Lauderdale International Airport and about a 15 minute taxi cab ride from the airport which costs $12. Departure Port Hotel We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at 1500 SE 17th Street Causeway, 954.728.2577. I had booked the hotel about a month before our stay and had no trouble with getting a room. The hotel was fairly new, comfortable and moderately priced at 109.89 with taxes. It is two blocks west of a Walgreens if you need any last minute items for the cruise and there are a number of shops and restaurants in the area, as well as a number of hotel choices. Best of all it was only an $8 taxi ride to the cruise terminal from the hotel. We had dinner at Kellys Landing, 1305 Southeast 17th Street, without reservations and the food was outstanding and the service excellent. It is an Irish Pub with an excellent seafood menu. Coming from Texas, the seafood was a great change of pace from BBQ and Mexican food! Embarkation Process The next day we slept in and headed to the cruise terminal at 11:30 a.m. which took only ten minutes from the hotel. There were many people already there and I wished I had gotten there two hours earlier to beat the rush. Princess says to be there at noon on the day of embarkation. The process went very smoothly. I had filled out all forms immigration and boarding pass - before the cruise on-line. After going through security, we were given a colored piece of plastic and you could only go to a service desk when your color was called. We waited for about ten minutes before our color was called and preceded to the service desk and waited in line for about 15 minutes to get our Cruise Cards, and then preceded to another line to board this ship. From the time we arrived at the cruise terminal to the time we had our pictures taken on the cruise ship and were free to explore took about an hour and fifteen minutes, but keep in mind we did arrive early. We were very impressed after experiencing the Carnival boarding process. First Hours As soon as we boarded the ship we went to our stateroom. Before entering, I saw our stateroom steward, Fernando, in the hall and introduced myself and asked for a couple of ashtrays as my friend and I are both smokers. He proceeded to tell us that smoking was not allowed in the stateroom or on the balconies, but that he would look the other way if we smoked in the bathroom. I had checked out Princesses smoking policy on-line before booking the trip and again verified the policy with the Princess travel agent that took my reservation and booking. Needless to say, I went ballistic with Fernando. Fortunately, there was another steward in the hall that overheard our conversation and corrected Fernando by telling him the new policy of no smoking in staterooms and balconies did not take effect until 15 January 2012. This was not the way I had hoped to start off my cruise and left me very angry. Smoking Policy Princesss smoking policy states, Clearly marked Designated Smoking Areas are available onboard and include a sufficient number of ashtrays that are emptied regularly. Smoking areas were NOT clearly marked. Ashtrays were the only indicator as to where a smoking area was located. After my confrontation with Fernando, I asked three people at the service desk over a two day period to explain their smoking policy and provide me with a map of the designated smoking areas. I also asked three uniformed crew members and no two answers were the same. The only consistent answer I received was smoking was allowed on the Port side of the ship, but when I lit up there, other passengers complained and of course there were no signs or ashtrays to be found anywhere on the port side of the ship. When I tried to smoke in Skywalker Lounge, one of the areas of the ship where crew said I could smoke, smoking was only allowed on the starboard side and I know I offended some people who were on the Port side of the ship. I am a considerate smoker, but was extremely frustrated as I could never understand where smoking was allowed. I counted only 80 seats in public smoking areas (36 by Neptunes Reef Pool; 16 Speakeasy Cigar Lounge; 28 Horizon Terrace). I never did figure out whether Skywalker Lounge was smoking or not. In the day there were no ashtrays. At night, there were ashtrays on tables. And no one could tell me the policy. Its hard to be a respectful smoker when none of the crew could answer policy questions! The Ship The ship was big, laid out well, and never seemed crowded, even in the dining areas. My only complaint was on the Lido Deck by Neptunes Reef Pool there were structural steel members and tables and chairs making a very narrow corridor for those walking. It seemed like one in seven people on board were in wheel chairs or other mobility devices and if you got behind one of these, traffic jams occurred. The tables and chairs along the port and starboard side around Neptunes Pool should be removed to aid in wider and better pedestrian walk ways. I consider this a serious safety hazard in an emergency. Stateroom Although I had requested on my Special Requests form on-line I wanted two twin beds and not a queen, the queen bed had not been prepared as requested. When our steward broke the bed apart, he removed all linens and mattress pads and stuck them under each of the now separated twin beds allowing little room for our suite cases. After three days of tripping on my luggage protruding from under the bed, I tossed all of the bedding out in the hall and it magically disappeared. My twin bed had no mattress cover and was very uncomfortable. We were in Dolphin 115 (9115), a mini suite, and were three staterooms from the bow of the ship on the starboard side. We encountered small waves during the voyage and at night you could hear the waves slam into the ship and feel a shudder. I cant imagine what moderate to large waves would sound/feel like. I will never book a room that close to the bow for this reason. The balcony was good size with four chairs, but there was no ceiling and it was uncomfortable sitting outside when the sun was on that side of the ship. We also had like an island separating the beds from the small sitting area that I felt was wasted space. There were two TVs, one on each side of this island and the one remote controlled both TVs, so when youd try to turn the TV on or off, the other would come on or go off, too. Princess needs to automate their TV system so you can access your charges like almost all hotels do now. Dining Our seating for formal dining was for 8:15 p.m. in Botticellis. The food was good and the service was good, but it was very obvious the servers were overworked and it affected their attitudes. They were so busy and always in a rush that they never had time to be friendly and make you feel welcome. I blame this more on Princess and not the hard working staff. We dined in Botticellis for only three nights and then dined at Michelangelo for three nights and then in the Caf Caribe and Horizon Court the other nights. I thought the food was very good, but the service in the Caf Caribe and Horizon Court left much to be desired. One would load up with food and by the time the wait staff got to your table, took your drink order, and returned from the bar with a soda or other drink, you were almost finished with your meal. I just opted for the iced teas at the self-service bars. Orange juice in the morning was another ordeal. The wait staff would bring you this small 8 oz glass, filled to only five or six ounces, never to be seen again. When I asked for two glasses of OJ, the waiter said it was policy to bring only one juice at a time! And the coffee in Caf Caribe and Horizon Court just sucked. It was horrible! It had to be instant. Even though it bordered on putrid, I drank my fair share before I discovered the Calypso Coffee Bar on Deck 5. But at $2 to $6 a pop for a coffee or cappuccino, the costs added up. I do not understand why Princess would skimp on good coffee what a disappointment! Room service coffee and coffee in the dining rooms were very good. And I dont understand why they didnt have milk dispensers or cartoned milk or soda/juice fountains in the drink stations. I was not pleased with the drink accommodations on board. Of course, Princess does this for revenue. I am amazed at how Princess reaches into your pocket at every turn to make a quick buck. Talk about corporate greed on Wallstreet Princess is the epitome of profit maximization. If hotels can create all inclusive packages, why cant the cruise lines? Id easily pay more on the front end, rather than being nickeled and dimed every time I turned around. We really enjoyed the Pizza and Ice Cream Bar. The staff here were the friendliest on the entire ship. Kudos for the staff! The ice cream was good, but very rich. Carnival has a number of self-serve ice cream machines on the Conquest and their ice cream is yogurt which I enjoyed much more. Room service was OK but had a very limited selection of items. Two mornings we waited for room service way past the time we had designated on the cards we hung outside on the door the night before, and finally gave up and went to Caf Caribe or Horizon Court. I was very disappointed in room service compared to Carnivals room service. Kudos for Princess for having menus in other languages. My Mexican friend was very happy about that! Carnival only had menus in English. Soda Card I had purchased two soda packages at $11.75 each and was very dismayed when I found out the only diet soda you could get with the cards is Diet Coke! If you wanted Sprite Zero, you had to pay $2.00 a can! I spent several hours in ports trying to find any clear, diet soda and finally was able to buy some diet Mountain Dew in Bonaire, but this was another strike against Princess. I did, however, receive a full credit for each soda card at the end of the cruise, but never requested one. Not sure how that happened as I never complained or mentioned it to anyone. Entertainment Because my friend didt speak English, we didnt do too many of the Entertainment venues, however I did step in to the Beetles show for about ten minutes and it looked and sounded excellent. I very much enjoyed the String Quartet in the Piazza. We did attend a Big Band Concert, at least that was how it was billed in Princess Patter and the only Big Band Tune played was Moonlight Serenade, the very first song. Everything else was from the late 50s or 60s. Apparently, the band was not familiar with the era in which Big Band music was popular. I looked forward to this event all day and was very disappointed. Activities Because my friend doesnt speak English, we did not do many on-board activities. We did enjoy the swimming pools and hot tubs, but wished the ship had a water slide. I watched part of a movie at Movies under the Stars and wished I had seen more. It was really cool, but very loud. We didnt find too many good deals on board from a shopping perspective. They did hawk some neat T-Shirts but they all had Princess Cruises written on them and I wont be a walking billboard for any company. The perfume was priced the same as back home at Dillards. The jewelry was overpriced, but they did sell a lot of imitation stuff for cheap and my friend bought a lot of that. Shore Excursions 1. Princess Cayes One of the biggest tourist traps I have ever seen designed to get passengers to part with their dollars. All excursions were at least double the price of those in other ports. Princess hopes to cash in on your dollars by making this the first port of call on the cruise. Talk about corporate greed! I tried to take a picture of my friend in front of a plastic shark and was told I couldnt because the shark was private property. A Princess photographer would take your pic and try to sell it back to you for $25 bucks. Absolutely amazing. When I went to snap a pic of my friend in front of the shark, the lady photographer pushed (yes, pushed) my friend out of the way and stood in front of the shark to block the shot. Incredible! Absolutely incredible! 2. St. Thomas Castaway Girl Shipwreck Cove Sail and Snorkel. This was a great and inexpensive shore excursion. The crew and staff were more than friendly and helpful, plus they were happy. Not many of the crew and staff on Emerald Princess seemed genuinely happy. I would highly recommend this excursion. After the snorkel we taxied into Charlotte Amalie and went straight to AH Rise where I bought a Rolex watch. I dont think I got any kind of a deal, though, compared to anywhere else. Buyers beware. If you buy more than $1,600 in the Virgin Islands, it is subject to duty when you get back to the States. I had to pay $250 in duty for the Rolex. Had I bought it where I lived, the tax would have been $675, so I did save a little. For you smokers, AH Rise sells dirt cheap cigarettes. I paid $125 for five cartons, or a little under half the price per carton I pay in Texas. 3. Dominica Titou Gorge Swim and Hot Springs and Scenic Drive. This was another excursion I thought was well worth the money. At the Titou Gorge, you swim to a waterfall through steep canyon walls. I had my wallet and two cameras with me and did not want to leave them unattended, so we did not see the falls. The hot springs were awesome and I could have spent a couple of hours there very relaxing. (Left all valuables in the van this time.) We then shopped downtown and wasted about an hour trying to find clear, diet soda. 4. Grenada - Grand Etang Park, Ft. Frederick & Annadale Falls. Well worth the money. Ft. Frederick was like any other old fort but had excellent views of the island. Then we drove around the island and saw coco pods, passion fruit and breadfruit. We stopped in St. Andrew and I was able to buy 8 oz. of saffron for $4. Then we went up on a mountain and saw an extinct volcano crater good photo op. After the excursion we shopped downtown for a bit. 5. Bonaire I had not booked this in advance like all the other excursions and we were disappointed. We did a snorkeling cruise to Klien Bonaire dont have the exact name in front of me. We began at 3:30 p.m., sailed to Klien Bonaire and snorkeled. The lady in charge of the boat was a witch very bossy and not friendly at all. She treated my Mexican friend terribly to the point I had to tell her if she said another word to my friend, Id throw her overboard. She seemed to get the point. Skip this excursion. For years I have heard about how great Bonaire is for scuba and snorkeling, but we didnt see much of interest. Got back to the ship with just five minutes to spare. 6. Aruba I did the Certified Scuba Dive and it was excellent. Saw the Antilla ship wreck and a lot of wildlife and coral. My friend did the Snorkeling Cruise and Antilla Ship Wreck. She said it was a great experience. After the cruise were shopped in Aruba. We bought an underwater camera from the photo gallery for $23, and it seemed to work under water, but none of the pics came out. Im sure Princess bought these for $5 each and made a ton of money on faulty equipment. Disembarkation We had to be out of our staterooms at 8 am and were assigned to wait in the Windjammer Lounge until our group was called at 9:30 a.m. At 9:40 am our group was called and by 10:20 am we were off the ship, had our luggage and on our way to the airport by taxi. Princess really tries to get you to take their transfer to the airport for $18 per person. We took a cab for a total price to $12. Just one last attempt by Princess to separate you from your money. Dont fall for it. Overall Experience Overall, the cruise was very pleasant and we did enjoy ourselves. But several factors really detracted from the experience like the lack of a smoking policy, only one diet soda option on the soda card, the deplorable coffee, and not being able to get much to drink in Caf Caribe and Horizon Court. The ship was beautiful, the ports and islands were awesome, and most of the shore excursions were well worth the money. Overall, the staff were hard working folks, but seemed overworked and not happy. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My wife and I are in our early 50's and we chose this cruise because it was 10 days long instead of the usual 7 day cruises that we have been on in the past. It always seems like 7 days is just a little too short. This was our first ... Read More
My wife and I are in our early 50's and we chose this cruise because it was 10 days long instead of the usual 7 day cruises that we have been on in the past. It always seems like 7 days is just a little too short. This was our first time on Princess and we were interested on how it compared to Royal Caribbean, which is the only line we have cruised on before. The demographic was definitely much older than RCL and probably had something to do with the length of the cruise and it being during the school year. I swear there were only about 6 kids on the whole ship. Flew into Ft Lauderdale the night before, stayed in a hotel, and was efficiently shuttled to the pier by the hotel. Boarding was efficient, no long lines, and we were aboard and checking out our stateroom in a matter of minutes. Plenty of ship employees offering directions and assistance. We went up to the Horizon to have a bite of lunch and by the time we got back to the stateroom, all the luggage had arrived. The ship was beautiful as well as clean and well-maintained. Although this ship is the same size as the RCL ships we've sailed on in the past, where the RCL ship is very open, Princess divides the ship up into a lot more separate and intimate areas. First time we've ever booked an inside room and it worked out fine. We've found in the past, we spend very little time in the room and any extra features just go to waste with us. Wall to wall mirrors at each end of the room make it appear much larger than it actually is. We went with the scheduled 8:15 pm dinner in the dining room because we like to have plenty of time from playing on the islands to get ready for dinner. We had 2 other great couples at our table and thoroughly enjoyed their company the entire cruise. The waiters were great, attentive, courteous, and friendly, with some personality. The food was delicious, well prepared, and there was a good variety. We ate breakfast everyday in the Horizon and the food was very good. There were several staples that you could count on every morning, but they offered some different items each day as well. We did not go hungry. Breakfast was somewhat challenging when looking for a table to sit at once you had your food. But, we were able to share tables with others, and quite often met some pretty interesting people. Although breakfast was quite busy, we never really stood in any long lines to get our food. We would often have lunch or snack from the café in the atrium. The shrimp salad is awesome and of course, they had all kinds of desserts available from the bakery. Sometimes lunch was pizza or burgers by the pool, which was very good. Get a big plate of fries and finish it off with some soft ice cream from the ice cream bar. The one place where we feel that Princess fell down pretty severely was the entertainment. After cruising with RCL we were kind of spoiled by the quality of the production shows and the quality of the musicians and groups. Other than the Beatles show, most of the shows were pretty average and mostly lip-synched. We have always enjoyed a good piano bar guy, but the one on this cruise was pretty bad. If you like 30's show tunes he is your man, but his voice is not very good and probably should have retired a few years back. There was one band that seemed to play all the time. They had them play during the day and were the one group that played well into the evening. They were very, very average at best and were way over exposed, as we heard some of their tunes over and over. There was one good jazz band, but they always finished right about the time we were finishing dinner. We got to hear them once for 15 minutes and they were excellent. And this is where the main problem lies. The scheduling was terrible. It seemed like a lot of the shows and music conflicted with dinner and each other. We've never been on a cruise where we had so much difficulty with the schedule. Yes, you usually have to make choices, but that wasn't the case here. The schedule is simply not well thought out. And, I don't know if it's because of the age of most of the folks on board, but any nightlife after 10 pm was severely limited. A bright point was the string quartet that played in the atrium every day. They were quite good. We made 6 ports on the cruise. We found something to enjoy on each one. We're not big shoppers, so we pretty much turn a deaf ear to all the sales pitches, both on the ship and on the shore. In the past, we've taken excursions through the ship, but this time we decided to go out on our own. I just googled info for every island we were going to visit and decided on the best beaches to visit. Then it was simply a matter of getting a taxi, water taxi, or public bus to take us where we wanted to go. Most of the time this took us away from the rest of the tourists and often it felt like we had the island to ourselves. We never felt uneasy or unsafe at any of the locations. Princess Cayes -��" only stop where we had to tender to the beach. We walked all the way to the end of the beach and were all by ourselves. People have a tendency to walk a few feet from the dock and stop. Walk a little more and you will have a lot more quiet and you can relax. St. Thomas -��" taxi to Koki beach. A little bit more of a locals beach, but absolutely beautiful. White, sandy beaches and some pretty good snorkeling. Bring your own gear and you never have to worry about renting or finding a place to rent. Dominica -��" taxi to Champagne beach. Not much in the way of sandy beaches on this island, but some pretty decent snorkeling. Bubbles come up out of the ocean floor from volcanic fissures. Grenada -��" walked around the town, soaked up the scenery, perused the fort on the hill, and enjoyed some time with the locals in the marketplace. Then a water taxi to Grand Anse, a nice, white sandy beach away from everyone else. No decent snorkeling, but some nice relaxation in the surf. There are so many very nice beaches on Grenada. Bonaire -��" a little walking around the town while we waited for our turn on the water taxi and then we were on the boat and headed out to Klein Bonaire. The best snorkeling and an awesome beach as well. The water is crystal clear and the reef is pristine. Aruba -��" much more commercialized than any other island. But, we hopped on the public bus and for $1.50 it took us all the way to the end of the island where we plopped down on Arashi beach, another beautiful sandy beach. Snorkeling wasn't bad either. We relaxed, away from the hotels and Burger Kings, and pretty much all the other tourists. The two sea days on the way back to Ft Lauderdale allowed us to relax and take in some of the amenities of the ship that we had missed when we were on the islands. The big screen over the pool is pretty cool. Make sure to have the afternoon tea and absolutely have the scones. Getting off the ship was a breeze and we went ahead and had Princess shuttle us and our luggage to the airport. Bottom line, it was a nice, relaxing, enjoyable cruise. We never felt on edge or that we needed to be somewhere at a certain time. Probably because we didn't book excursions or worry about the shopping demo's. The food was very good, the service was excellent. I can honestly say I did not have one ship employee act anything less than helpful and friendly. The ship-board entertainment was disappointing, but the islands more than made up for that.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Stateroom We were in room A534, which is a balcony room, mid ship, port side. It was a very nice room. The view was excellent at every port and we loved having breakfast on our balcony. We didnt have any issues with our neighbors smoking ... Read More
Stateroom We were in room A534, which is a balcony room, mid ship, port side. It was a very nice room. The view was excellent at every port and we loved having breakfast on our balcony. We didnt have any issues with our neighbors smoking or anything like that. The bed was horribly uncomfortable as most of the other reviews indicate. We requested, and received, the egg crate topper and top sheet from our room steward, which might have helped though my back wasnt too convinced of that! Food & Dining We originally signed up for traditional dining, second seating, which was 8:15PM in Botticellis Dining Room. We kept this seating for a few nights but quickly realized that we were missing a lot of shows. There are two shows every night, one in the theatre and one in Explorers or Fusion, each of the shows is scheduled twice a night at 8pm and 10pm. The people that had the first seating for dinner could eat at 6pm, see one show at 8pm and a different show at 10pm. Since our dinner was at 8pm, we could only make the 10pm show. After a few nights, we asked our head waiter if we could switch to the first seating. It turned out that our same table was available for the first seating, so we were easily able to switch and keep the same table and waiters, which was great. As far as food quality goes, it was random. I was hoping to see a lot more grilled veggies and fresh fish. They did serve fish a few nights, but it was not very good. Once, I had salmon, which was excellent. I had the rockfish, which was okay and the tilapia was just okay. Since I dont eat red meat or pork, I tried the chicken off of the alternative menu and it was very dry, so I didnt have that again. There were a lot of really good soups served; some of my favorites were the black bean, split pea and cream of tomato. The salads were not all that great; there was an overall lack of veggies at every meal. Occasionally, we had grilled zucchini or eggplant, but the salads tended to be a few pieces of lettuce with one cherry tomato. I was able to order green beans on the side and they brought me a HUGE bowl of beans. It was so funny, everyone at my table had green beans! My husband really liked the lamb and on the second formal night we had lobster and prawns. Everyone thought the lobster was dry but the prawns were delicious! The waiters brought over extra prawns and they were quickly gobbled up. The deserts were amazing, sometimes too good ;) We ordered room service for breakfast on our early port days and had no issues writing in what we wanted, along with checking off the boxes for the standard items. Also, we wrote in the preferred delivery time and the food was pretty close to that schedule. We went to the International Caf every day for our specialty coffees. We always ordered a large, which came in a paper cup. In the dining room, they only had the glasses, which were for the regular sizes (not enough caffeine for me). We were able to order a large from the dining room, but I think someone had to run down to IC to get the paper cups for us. On-board activities We were a little disappointed with the lack of onboard activities on the sea days. Im not really sure what I was expecting, Chris seems to think we never had anything to do on sea days, no matter which cruise line it was. My opinion is that the average age on this cruise is probably 55, and the activities are geared more to that age level. So we had our choice of crocheting, napkin folding, line dancing or afternoon tea. There were also a lot of glorified sales pitches; for example, the free foot analysis is really trying to sell you insoles. We had our choice of multiple sales pitches every day. There were a few games of dodge ball or water volleyball and zumba. I went to Zumba once on the last day of the cruise and was very impressed with the workout that I got; I was pouring sweat by the end and definitely recommend taking a bottle of water and just keep moving for the most cardio benefit. Other than that, we played a lot of board games and hung out at the pool deck and read books. Entertainment The shows were so disappointing, probably the worst Ive ever seen on a cruise ship. The comedy shows in the lounges were much better than the theatre shows. There were a couple of good shows in the theatre (Beatle Maniacs band, Rootberry jugglers, and the last production show was good), but overall, it was better to skip the theatre and go directly to Explorers or the Fusion club for their shows. There were a couple of really good short shows (15 min) in the Piazza during the day. Also, the Newlywed game show is not to be missed we ve seen in on all of our cruises and its always hilarious! Princess Cays We woke up around 8am, got our lattes from IC and went to Horizon Court for breakfast. By about 9:30, our group of four was ready to hop on the tender and make our way to Princess Cays. We went to Michelangelos and picked up our tender ticket, got on the boat and started our journey to the island. About half way through, the engine died and we floated around in the water for about 45 min turning in circles and bouncing with every wave that came by. A lot of people started to feel seasick; luckily, no one threw up but a few were very close, including our friend, Casie. We eventually made it back to the Emerald around 10:30, but Casie was so sick that she needed a break from the tendering scene. It was 11:30 by the time we tried again. By that time, there were tons of people in line to get a tender, so we had to wait. It was probably about 12:30 by the time we actually made it to Princess Cays. At first, we were concerned because the last tender back to the ship was at 3:15pm, but we soon discovered that 2-3 hours of snorkeling, swimming and exploring is about all you can take anyway. I tried to find the little cemetery on the beach, but did not make it. I walked along the beach until it turned rocky, walked along the rocks for a while and realized that I didnt want to walk along the rocks for as long as it seemed that Id have to, so I cut through the woods, hoping Id find the road. I found a sandy road and followed it for a while but it had a swampy section that I didnt feel like walking through, so I turned around and went back to the Princess area. I decided I should take a dip in the ocean and, almost immediately after I stepped in, I sliced open my toe on a rock or maybe coral. That was the end of my ocean time :) After hanging out on the beach, we went outside of the Princess area (directly behind the first aid station where I picked up a Band-Aid) and looked through the items the vendors were selling. I bought a straw purse and we were done. We only needed to show our cruise card to the security guard at the gate to be let back in. Besides the tendering incident in the morning, Princess Cays was very nice and relaxing. Ports & Excursions We had the most fun at the ports of call. On two of them, we used the Princess excursions and on the other three we arranged our own plans. The Princess excursions were good but pretty crowded. The excursions arranged on our own were awesome and I highly recommend going this route if you can adequately plan ahead, take everything into consideration and try to mitigate the risk of not making it back to the ship in time. We had absolutely no problems with getting back in time, in fact, we werent even close to the all-aboard time except for while on a Princess excursion! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was the first time we had a balcony and it was wonderful to be able to open our doors at anytime and breathe in the fresh air...not sure I want to go back to an interior room after this holiday. The staff were all very pleasant and ... Read More
This was the first time we had a balcony and it was wonderful to be able to open our doors at anytime and breathe in the fresh air...not sure I want to go back to an interior room after this holiday. The staff were all very pleasant and greeted us with a smile. The room was cleaned to perfection twice a day with chocolates on the pillow each night. Room service,when used, was prompt and the food was as requested and hot. We tried the Princess theatre but decided it wasn't really how we wanted to spend our time. The smaller venues were much more appealing and featured bands for dancing and an excellent vocalist that was flown in for 2 nights to entertain. We went to 2 of the restaurants that required a $25pp charge. Sabatinos and Crown grill were excellent. The extra cost was a hit to the pocket book but the quality of the food surpassed the regular dining areas and was quieter for a special meal away from the crowd. We were too busy with excursions to enjoy the Santuary pool area but I could see this area would be worth paying for if the cruise had more days at sea or for those not interested in getting off the ship. Embarkation was painless but the disembarkation had us leave the ship much sooner than we would have liked. The ride and getting our luggage was very smooth but... We had to wait over 2 hours at the airport for the service counter to open. They said taxis would be a huge problem and taking their shuttle was the smartest plan. This was not so! The taxis were lined up waiting and would have been available at a proper time for us to relax on board and leave the ship at a sensible time yet still be off the ship before 11 am. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We cruised the Baltic with the Emerald Princess in June 2011. First, the non-cruise stuff. We went to Stockholm for three days, then Gutenberg for a day and a tour of the Volvo factory, and finally Copenhagen for three days. At the ... Read More
We cruised the Baltic with the Emerald Princess in June 2011. First, the non-cruise stuff. We went to Stockholm for three days, then Gutenberg for a day and a tour of the Volvo factory, and finally Copenhagen for three days. At the end of the cruise, we went to Bergen and took a six day tour of Norway. I'll comment in port reviews on the length of time the ship spends in ports. Air arrangements: we used miles, except for SAS from Copenhagen to Bergen. Embarkation took a little time. No champagne on boarding. We had a balcony room. The balconies are not as useful as in the Caribbean, so we took a room with a smaller balcony. We were on it on occasion, usually for breakfast. Our steward was outstanding and usually invisible. Room service was just average. For the first time, Internet was reliably available in our room. (We used about 850 minutes as we had to keep in touch on business matters.) We had the late seating for dining. I think the food was a notch lower than last year. In particular, the beef was of a lower grade. Service was great. We ate in the dining room for breakfast and a few lunches. Service was decidedly less than with our regular waiter for dinner. One waiter refused my wife's request for grilled chicken for a chicken Caesar even though, according to a sign in the kitchen, "chicken is always available." We had the Chef's Table dinner. Tour of the kitchen, hors d'oeuvres and champagne in the kitchen, dinner in the dining room. $75 per person. Well worth it. I tried to do the ultimate ship tour, but it was cancelled. We renewed our vows, with a crowd of 12 people we met on the ship. We did Sabatini's one night. Not as impressive as the Crown Grill. You dine at their pace. Everyone in the room eats at the same pace. If the food is not to your liking, it is still what's on the menu. When we ate breakfast in Horizon Court, things went smoothly until we needed a table. And we're not bashful about asking to share. Some of the folks we shared with were talkative, some were really stand-offish. The ship was sold out. There really was never a problem or a crowd, other than in Horizon Court for breakfast. We used the spa and spa pools. Never crowded. One massage, which was good, and my wife had her hair done twice. I'll cover ports in other reviews. We took the Princess tours in Stockholm, Helsinki, Berlin and Tallinn. All Tours in St. Petersburg. (Great!). On our own in Arhus and Oslo. We purchased Princess transfers to CPH for a flight to Bergen. $34 each. A bargain. Less than one hour from stepping off the ship to tying my shoes after airport security. We're trying to figure out next year's cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We enjoyed our cruise on the Emerald Princess. Our meals at 8:15 in the Boticelli Dining Room were good, the choice varied and service was good. The air conditioning and cold draft at our table made it uncomfortable during dinner. We ... Read More
We enjoyed our cruise on the Emerald Princess. Our meals at 8:15 in the Boticelli Dining Room were good, the choice varied and service was good. The air conditioning and cold draft at our table made it uncomfortable during dinner. We mentioned this several evenings but nothing was done to improve our comfort level in the room. Our cabin was well located and well serviced. Clean towels were always provided and our ice bucket kept full of ice. Our room attendant always had a kind word to say to us. Even though the weather was cool, rainy and cloudy a lot of the time, we enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub and swimming in the heated pool. At times the buffet was very crowded and it was difficult to find seating. We were impressed with the cleanliness and freshness of the food at the buffet. Our group of six arranged a private tour with White Nights to tour St Petersburg. We corresponded with Kate on line to set up the package. Kate was prompt in her replies and adjusted the tour to suit our wishes. When in St Petersburg, our tour guide, Dasha, was a delight. Dasha spoke perfect English, was on time, polite and very knowledgeable about St Petersburg. Since it was her place of birth she had a special love for the city. We were able to bypass line ups, find quiet places for her to speak to us when viewing the very crowded Hermitage and Catherine's Palace. The van we used was very comfortable and the driver excellent. When touring Berlin our group of six hired SPB Tours. We travelled by tour bus with about 40 people to Berlin, a 3 hour ride, met our tour guide in Berlin, had a 4 hour tour in a small van for the six of us, 3 people faced forward and 3 faced backward making visibility poor. We returned to the ship by tour bus, a 4 hour ride due to heavy traffic. Our tour guide spoke excellent English, since he was from Australia, but his love, knowledge and enthusiasm for Berlin was not nearly as good as we experienced in St Petersburg. We joined a Princess Cruise Tour in Oslo which had 40 people in the group. It was difficult to hear our guide and we missed the intimacy we experienced on our other tours. The on board shore tours lecturer John Lawrence was very good. If we missed the talks we watched them on TV in our room. We also enjoyed the TV play by play description of points of interest as we left Stockholm. On board all public areas and washrooms were always clean. An enjoyable vacation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We have cruised with many different cruise lines and itineraries, but this was our first time with Princess and with the Baltic. I must say that both are pretty darned impressive. As experienced cruisers, however, we found ourselves making ... Read More
We have cruised with many different cruise lines and itineraries, but this was our first time with Princess and with the Baltic. I must say that both are pretty darned impressive. As experienced cruisers, however, we found ourselves making some mental comparisons with previous experiences. Hopefully this review will help others get a sense of expectations. THE GOOD: Somehow Princess has really figured out the embarkation and disembarkation process. This may be a function of some proprietary magic Princess has or with the Danish authorities in Copenhagen, but getting on the ship for the first time and off for the last was a breeze. We arrived at the port at noon, were directed to the waiting staff for processing, were issued room card keys and got on the ship. Period. The stateroom was ready for occupancy so there was none of that hanging around the lunch buffet with 3,000 other folks with all manner of carry-on luggage. We were ready to sail. Getting off was just as easy and from the time we left the stateroom and arrived at the Copenhagen airport was no more than 40 minutes. Of note is that we had pre-processed on-line and had purchased shuttle service from the port to the airport...this is highly recommended. Other items such as service/ attentiveness of the wait staff and room attendants, cleanliness of facilities, quality/quantity of food,entertainment and overall cruise experience are on par with other premium cruise lines and we consider them the price of entry to the category. Really good...but not remarkable. THE BAD: One baffling fact is that Princess prides itself on being the industry leader in food service by introducing 24-hour dining; yet access to their health club facilities is very limited being open from 7a-10p every day (in the interest of the war on obesity, you'd think these two would be reversed) . This fact coupled with a pretty aggressive Baltic itinerary put some logistical strain on our daily work-out regime as many of the port tours start around 7:30 or 8:00 am. Additionally, while casino and food court opening/closing times are listed in the daily "Princess Patter", there is no mention of the work-out facilities, nor are there special "walk-a-mile" programs as found on other ships. Deck 7 which is the Emerald's official walking deck, includes two sets of stairs and is usually being hosed down by maintenance folks early in the morning. The treadmills in the facility are in dire need of regular maintenance. Please be aware of this if this type of thing is important to your vacation experience. We had pre-arranged locally-based tours for Berlin and St Petersburg, so our experience with the Shore Excursion Desk is limited to a very mediocre (and expensive) city highlight tour of Helsinki. This is where we found out that most of the ports we visited have "Hop-On; Hop-Off" bus tours available with excellent recorded commentary in a variety of languages for a fraction of the Princess tour price. This became our preferred mode of city touring. Tour desk personnel were obviously trained to steer people to their proprietary offerings to the point where they would give us incorrect and conflicting information. Off-setting this bias however was John Lawrence, the on-board port lecturer. He really knew his stuff and provided valuable historical and practical information on each port of call. John kind of looks like Kelsey Grammer and kind of sounds like John Houseman. I'm not sure John is available throughout this cruising season, but he really added value to our cruise experience. By the way, Cruise Critic was very useful in helping us connect with TJ Tours in Russia. While the process of signing up for one of their tours may seem a little confusing at first, this is a top-drawer outfit which offered smaller tour groups better access to some of the most crowded tourist sights at a cost of some $100 cheaper than the Princess offering. The Princess information is written in a manner that would lead one to believe that the only way to get off the boat in Russia is to have a privately arranged visa or to use the Princess tour. Not so. Do yourself a favor and check this out. THE TRULY UGLY: For those interested in accessing the internet on your cruise, please be aware that the ship's offering is expensive and almost worthless. You'd expect slower service than DSL with a satellite-based system. What you wouldn't expect is to pay hundreds of dollars for a service that works only occasionally with non-responsive screens that read "service not available. Too many users are logged on". This seems like a fairly simple fix...build in more capacity. This was an unexpected disappointment. Overall, we truly enjoyed our experience on the Emerald Princess and its various ports of call in the Baltic. Given the above, however, we may look to another cruise line for our next adventure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Overall we were very satisfied with this cruise. We traveled with 2 other active couples like ourselves who are all in our early 60's. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We know what to expect from Princess and have found ... Read More
Overall we were very satisfied with this cruise. We traveled with 2 other active couples like ourselves who are all in our early 60's. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We know what to expect from Princess and have found them to be consistent in all areas. The food ranges from good to very good. The entertainment is okay. We never feel pressured to make purchases on board like we did on Norwegian. They ask once if you would like a drink, put a napkin down to indicate you were asked and do not bother you again. We never take pictures anymore and saying no thanks one time is sufficient. There is still pressure to take shore excursions through Princess but we know how to get around it and I will talk more about this when I talk about the ports. Our room steward Tarahut from Thailand was very attentive to detail and Juan in the Michelangelo dining room was outstanding. We had anytime dining, never had to wait and requested Juan each night and half the time he had an open table. Otherwise we found the service to be very good from anyone. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. We arrived after 2PM to embark as Princess suggested and there was no line. Princess offers a transfer to the airport for $34 pp when leaving. We took the train for $8.00 pp US money which Princess never tells you about. It is a 17 minute walk from the ship on a well marked sidewalk. You change trains once. The person selling tickets will tell you where to change. People in Denmark are amazing. It is a total of 45 mins from the ship to the airport via the train. We were very lucky on this cruise as the weather was very warm and sunny. Many people only packed for cold weather. Big mistake. Check the forecast before you leave as we did. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Copenhagen was the worst city I ever visited in Europe. It was dirty, hard to find a garbage bin, even you found one, they were all full to the top with a lot of garbage around it on the floor. We arrived 4 days earlier which was a big ... Read More
Copenhagen was the worst city I ever visited in Europe. It was dirty, hard to find a garbage bin, even you found one, they were all full to the top with a lot of garbage around it on the floor. We arrived 4 days earlier which was a big mistake. We booked a junior suite at the Radisson Royal Blue hotel which is in a good location. But for a five star hotel, there was no turn down service, no bottle water, nothing special for US400 a night...Room rate including breakfast, but no one told us we could have breakfast on the top floor, until 3rd day. Breakfast on the ground floor was chaotic, lots of empty tables and long line up, but no one clear the tables... Just don't expect any service... Same thing for other restaurants... Lousy service all around town...Including expensive restaurants... Staying in Oslo will be a better choice than Copenhagen which is not a tourists friendly city... Near the little Mermaid, there was no sign whatsoever, and we made a wrong turn, ended up in a park full of dog waste, you can't avoid stepping on the dog waste as it was just full of it, the whole path... I have never seen anything like this... Weather was lousy and rained a lot during the cruise. Embarkation was nice, the service and the food was the best princess cruise I have ever taken. This was our fourth princess cruise, but the food and service was almost as good as the celebrity cruise we took last year, which really surprised us as I did not expect much from Princess. The best port is St Petersburg. Tallinn was the second best port. The rest ports are just waste of time. I would advise people not to take a cruise to Northern Europe, just join a land tour for a week in St Petersburg. Most of the ports are not worth to visit, either too short, such as Oslo which is much nicer than Copenhagen, only three hours ferry ride, we stayed there from 8-2, but the museum and art gallery don't open until 10 or 11. Whoever designed this itinerary should be fired. If you are retired and has nothing to do and don't mind to waste your time, this is a good cruise as the food and service are both 5 star. By the way, we had 4 dinners at Sabatini, and we loved the food and wine selection. However. being our annual vacation, and it took me more than 6 months to plan this trip, it's a big disappointment because of the lousy weather and itinerary. By they way, it's too cold to go to Northern Europe in June, I think July and August will be better. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Most interesting cruise we have ever taken. Not a cruise for sea days....almost every day was a port of call, and as we had never been to any of the countries visited, it was very exciting. Boarded in Copenhagen after spending the ... Read More
Most interesting cruise we have ever taken. Not a cruise for sea days....almost every day was a port of call, and as we had never been to any of the countries visited, it was very exciting. Boarded in Copenhagen after spending the night at the "Admiral" hotel. Very nice and close to the port.....( short cab ride ) ..... Ship was immaculate, and the staff very friendly. Weather was unpredictablem and we had an equal amount of rainy and sunny days....temps were cool for June, mostly in the low 60's. St Petersburg was the highlight. We contracted with a local Russian tour agency ( SPB Tours ) and it was fantastic. We saw musch more than the Princess tours offered at half the price. They were on time, responsive to our requets, and I can't say enough about the experience. Our guide, Eugene, was fantastic.....our small group of 11 was whisked around for two days in a Mercedes van, avoiding traffic and never waiting to see all the sites. Especially loved the subway experience that brought us face to face with all the images of the Communist era in the Soviet Union. ( One complaint about Princess....they tried to make everyone believe that they may be left on board if not tied to an official Princess tour....this is NOT TRUE ) .... as long as you book with a local agency authorized to come to the pier, you do not need a VISA or an authorization from princess. ) Tallin was our second favorite port......Beautiful mid evil city and beautiful smiling people.....Loved it. No tour required....easy walking throughout the city. One scary event on board occurred on the night of June 22/23..... Woke up in the middle of the night to the ship listing heavily to the port side. I literally had to walk up hill to close the balcony doors and keep out the rain and wind. We remained like this for a couple of hours. In the morning, it was the talk of all the passengers, but no statement was made by the crew. "I feel they should have offered an explanation"....in the end I approached an officer and was told we encountered Hurricane force winds that caused the ship to list.......it was pretty scary ......They should have posted something on the TV so as no to alarm passengers....it was clearly unusual and discomforting. Lastly, aside from the listing experience, it was an amazing adventure, and one I would recommend to all.......Be sure and say hi to Marina and Goce in the Crooners lounge if you take this trip. They were Awesome! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Perhaps I should get this over with first. Princess Air total botched our airline reservations. Despite being advised by me that Delta insisted our names on the reservation be spelled correctly, Princess of several occasions insisted ... Read More
Perhaps I should get this over with first. Princess Air total botched our airline reservations. Despite being advised by me that Delta insisted our names on the reservation be spelled correctly, Princess of several occasions insisted otherwise. I had to begin straightening things out at our local airport and then then, when we arrived in Amsterdam, we had double reservations. I had to run, not walk, run, two concourses to straighten things out and reach Copenhagen. On the return trip we spent a half hour at the ticket counter while KLM sorted out the mess. This could have been entirely avoided if Princess Air had been willing to correct the names on our tickets. I do not recommend anyone use Princess Air. Our cabin steward was unobtrusive and most competent. We never returned to our cabin without finding that everything had been cleaned and he ensured we were aware of any matters that required our attention. Our servers at the 8:20PM dining were outstanding in every way. I found the tone of Princess' lectures distinctly low brow, not to enriching and imagine that they match the interests of the majority of Princess passengers. It would be pleasant if a corporate entity, even a cruise line, actually attempted to provide lectures that truly uplift and teach. That said, their Baltic expert's lectures, repeated on the television, were first rate. Diner was a splendid experience on the Emerald Princess. Our 8:20 seating was most pleasant; the food, excepting the fish, was excellent, the waiters were superior and the wine reasonably priced with a good selection. The wines essentially duplicated those we drink at meals and carried no more markup than standard in a restaurant, however, they did add a 15% tip! We wandered quite a bit throughout the ship, which I was told holds 3,000 persons, and I don't recall feeling crowded at any time, except when we looked around the shops down in the bowels of the ship and at the Horizon Court Dining Room. We found the service at the Horizon Court Dining Room to be grossly inattentive. At breakfast, the waiters and bus persons walked past us, not offering coffee, juice or anything. After you hailed them, which often brought about a sneer, then they would continue to pass you without looking to see if you needed a refill. Now, one imagines the better personnel work the service for about a week at the Horizon Dining Room. Others have said this but the coffee was truly horrible; it was watery, tasteless and was delivered through a pipe! Our cruise was splendid once we boarded in Copenhagen We found the majority of the ports visited by the Emerald Princess to be excellent. We would recommend Tallinn, Oslo, Stockholm and St. Petersburg to anyone. Tallinn is undoubtedly one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in the North and it has managed to survive without damage either natural or man-made. I can't imagine a trip to the Baltic without a stop in Tallinn. St. Petersburg is wonderful. We had a tour with ALLA tours and the itinerary and guide were first rate. If we never get to Aarhus or Helsinki again, it won't be much of a problem as these ports were at best time fillers. Tallinn is undoubtedly one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in the North and it has managed to survive without damage either natural or man-made. I can't imagine a trip to the Baltic without a stop in Tallinn. St. Petersburg is wonderful. We had a tour with ALLA tours and the itinerary and guide were first rate. Incidentally, this is the best place to buy either Scandinavian or Russian gifts. The quality is high and the prices much, much more reasonable than the later ports. Frankly, Aarhaus isn't ready for prime time. There was little to do of value, and that was a shame, because we spend only about 8 hours in Stockholm, far too little time. Helsinki was a bit of letdown, especially the monument to Sibelius, my favorite 20th century composer. It is worth a ten minute look at most. Oslo is a bit different in the way its people view the work and gosh, everyone should see the Sculpture Park there. Three hundred nude statues done in a distinctive style, my that's wonderful; let the prudes get their apoplexy, I found the statutes alive and, in all cases the depictions either caused one to consider aspects of the human condition or laugh. It was great fun and we will never forget it. Also, the cruise's walking tour of the downtown was super; the woman to walked with was an opera singer and she sang to get our attention. She was deeply committed to Oslo and really provided an insightful commentary as we walked. What little of Stockholm we were able to see was outstanding; the problem was that 8 hours doesn't cut it for such a city. We plan to return and explore some more. The rating is lower because Princess failed to make a sufficient commitment to visiting the port. We thought Helsinki would be something special. It wasn't. We managed to spend a day looking around, but our time would have been better spent in Stockholm. The Hermitage, Russian Orthodox churches, the Peter and Paul fortress and Catherine and Peter's palaces are the highlights in and around St. Petersburg. We spend two days there and could have stayed a month. It is very different than other European cities and possesses some of the best museums and preserved palaces in Europe. The architectural style is a bit over-the-top but wow! We couldn't imagine a Baltic cruise without St. Petersburg, the absolute high point. We took a small group tour with ALLA Tours, a local outfit and it was just wonderful. Outstanding itinerary and great guide. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We reserved the nine day Imperial Cities tour which covered visits to Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin before joining the ship in Copenhagen. I had polio as a child and now use a travelscoot scooter as I am both somewhat unsteady on my ... Read More
We reserved the nine day Imperial Cities tour which covered visits to Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin before joining the ship in Copenhagen. I had polio as a child and now use a travelscoot scooter as I am both somewhat unsteady on my feet and a slow walker. The scooter allows me to keep up with the group. I found the normal and expected obstacles throughout Europe. There are fewer curb cuts and many cobblestone areas but I did better than I expected. The primary challenge was getting on and off the bus. Princess uses Globus tours for the Imperial Cities Tour. The bus driver, named Marco stayed with us for the entire tour and was excellent both as a driver and in loading and unloading my scooter at each stop. At the first stop in Budapest I did not have an accessible room as Princess had not notified the tour operators that I had reserved an accessible cabin (and filled out their required form) on the ship. However the guide arranged an appropriate room in the other three cities. Upon arriving at the ship in Copenhagen we found the ship on Norovirus precautions being maintained from the previous transatlantic cruise. This caused us no problems and was removed about three days later. We have cruised previously on the Crown Princess and found the Emerald to be almost identical. The ship met our expectations with one exception. On previous cruises on this class of ship we have sailed to the Caribbean. The ship always felt spacious. However it was cold and rainy during this cruise and almost everyone stayed inside all the time. We found the bars and hallways extremely crowded, especially the hallways when the boutiques had their sale tables set up. Our accessible cabin had enough room for us to store the scooter inside the room. The bathroom was level entry with the room. The shower had a pull down seat. There was one minor problem with the room that could not be fixed. The temperature control did not cool the room sufficiently. The food on this cruise was excellent. We ate one night in the buffet, one night at Sabatini's (old menu), and one night at the Crown Grill. All of our other meals were in the anytime dining rooms. We always chose to share a table and never had any wait. Most evening we ate about 6 or 6:30 PM. For lunch we chose to go to the International Cafe for the shrimp salad. At breakfast we used the buffet when we had early excursions and the dining room other mornings. I was always offered assistance in the buffet but if it was not crowded I declined the assistance. Our only problem with this cruise was the personnel in the Shore Excursion Department. I had never previously experienced discrimination due to my disability. Every time I or other passengers using walkers or wheelchair/scooters passed the shore excursion manager she rolled her eyes. One time I heard her sigh. This plus the poor excursion we had in Aarhus, Denmark were solely her responsibility. We had a train excursion in Aarhus and there were four of us who did not have seats. I spent the train portion of the tour seated on a wooden table in front of the door to the washroom. Three men stood on the deck outside the car because there were no seats. Although this was completely unacceptable it was not addressed on the ship even after I complained. After I returned home and snail mailed a complaint to Princess I got a phone call that informed me I was on a tour that was "too strenuous" for me. I also found this to be unacceptable. I was on the train, I didn't have a seat for the ride but since I can't stand for long periods I sat on the wooden table. This should be unacceptable for anyone, disabled or not. Overall this was an excellent cruise. We had an outstanding cabin steward. The food was very good and we enjoyed seeing so many new and exciting cities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Don't pass up Rostok. The tours, except for St. Petersburg, were expensive and unnecessary. Helsinki and Arrhus could have been bypassed to give more than 4 hours in Stockholm. Two days in every city would have been nice. Food ... Read More
Don't pass up Rostok. The tours, except for St. Petersburg, were expensive and unnecessary. Helsinki and Arrhus could have been bypassed to give more than 4 hours in Stockholm. Two days in every city would have been nice. Food was great except for any beef dish. It seemed to me that beef quality was sacrificed. The best salad was the Greek salad, available at the salad/dessert station before the dining room. That was also where you get the best chocolate desserts. The men at the salad station and also the hot dog station was very friendly and got to know what I wanted as soon as I got there. Chocolate ice cream had a strange taste. Towels in the pool area, were not stacked and had to be requested each time. Hawking drinks was excessive. Don't even think about buying internet time! You don't get what you pay for as the system is very inefficient and you're lucky to actually get 25% of your time. More reclined bikes are needed in the gym. Two of the men's showers in the gym were not working and the showers could have been cleaner. There is a $3 charge for exchanging dollars. The ship's staff were excellent. They always gave great service. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 11am and were seated in the Platinum area with all the other early bird arrivals. Shortly after we were on board and in our cabin. Our luggage did not arrive until after the muster drill so ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 11am and were seated in the Platinum area with all the other early bird arrivals. Shortly after we were on board and in our cabin. Our luggage did not arrive until after the muster drill so that gave us plenty of time to explore the ship before we really got settled in.Ship: The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship. She is the largest ship I have sailed and holds about 3500 passengers give or take. Everything seemed to sparkle on the ship and you would always see crew out doing routine maintenance. There were plenty of areas to go to if you wanted to find a quiet place to read or just relax (other than your cabin).There are four public pools spaced throughout the top open decks of the ship. The Terrace Pool aft is an adult only pool. The water felt like bath water and was a little too warm for my liking. I like to feel refreshed when I take a dip. The chairs around this pool are popular but there are different levels where you can sit with easy access to the pool. The Calypso and Neptune Pools are mid-ship and very popular pools. The Calypso is where the big movie screen is and there was always something playing on the screen throughout the day and night. If you are sensitive to noise, I'd advise avoiding this pool during the day as it is loud and the screen is hard to see if the sun is out. It's a great place to catch a movie at night though. The Neptune pool is where the cruise director staff held their outdoor activities and by far the most popular pool. The water is 'refreshing' and cooler then the Terrace Pool. The Lotus Pool is located forward and connected with the Sanctuary and Lotus Spa but is available for all passengers to use. This is also the pool that has the swim against the current jet. We saw some people use it but it is not a quiet machine. There is a nice sun area adjacent to the Sanctuary that doesn't cost you with easy access to the Lotus Pool.The inside promenade deck is the place to be in the evening if you don't take in a movie under the stars or visit the casino. The Princess Theatre, Explorers Lounge, Crooners, Club Fusion and Wheelhouse Bar are located on this deck. You could call this the entertainment deck. The production shows happen in the theatre, the talent (hypnotist and comedians) are in the Explorers Lounge and there was dancing in a couple of the other venues. This is also the deck where you can walk completely around the ship outdoors.On deck 5 and 6 you could find the three main dining rooms, future cruise sales, internet cafe, the passenger services desk as well as the casino. I found the casino small compared to other ship casinos but let's be real, this isn't Vegas.The heart of the ship is the Piazza. It is a beautiful open area three decks high. Different entertainers perform throughout the day. If you have not been treated to the International Cafe on other ships, you must give it a try. Everything we tasted from here was delicious.We tried the Crown Grill restaurant once and regretted that we did not enjoy dinner in the venue more often. The food we had was tasty and the dessert, decadent.We had booked a mini-suite mid-ship. We felt minimal movement in this location but heard from other passengers that they felt a lot of motion forward and aft. In the past we have been either forward or aft but were totally confused as our point of direction was out of whack. We were still having problems after 20 days of which way to head. Our mini-suite was a perfect size for the 20-days. Having the larger bathroom with a tub is definitely a bonus plus the extra seating area with the sofa bed was nice to have. This is the 2nd time we've had a mini-suite. I'd be happy with a standard balcony cabin but would definitely not turn down a mini-suite if offered.If I had the opportunity to sail this ship again, I would.Crew: We found the crew on the Emerald Princess amazing. Everyone we encountered always had a smile on their face. The cruise director staff, despite the cruise director himself, was great. I never paid much attention to the cruise director and didn't think much him. I would hope that any future cruises I take with Princess do not have him working on board.Our room steward Sherrill was fantastic. She accommodated every request we had. There was one morning we were sitting out on the balcony and didn't know she was in our room until we walked back in. She laughed and said told us she wanted to quietly finish our room without us knowing she had shown up to do it. That would have blown me away but we did catch her in the act of cleaning.Islands: Every port we went to was unique in its own way. However, it certainly made you appreciate what you have at home and how fortunate we are. Many of these islands have high poverty rates and their housing showed this. Of course many of these islands have suffered devastating damage from hurricanes over the years. I wish the weather had been a little better on the first 10 days but it was actually perfect for the shore excursions we did since it wasn't too hot.Someone asked me if I had a favourite island between all the ones we visited. That was a hard question for me to answer. Each island was special but different from the other. Dominica was beautiful for the lush green rainforests, Barbados was scenic, St Kitts history was interesting. I could go on and on without pegging one as my favourite. They were all my favourites in different ways.Cruise Critic Meet n Greet: We attended the meet n greets for both cruises and met some great people. Both events were well attended and held up in the Skywalkers lounge.Passengers: There was definitely a different dynamic of passengers between the first and second cruise. There was an older crowd on the first cruise and a younger-family orientated crowd on the second. The first cruise was quiet and laid back. You really felt like you were on a vacation and we found the passengers very friendly. The second cruise was louder, busier and not as relaxing.My personal experience with some of the passengers on the second voyage was they weren't as friendly and in and a couple of instances rude. I was born with a flushed complexion and my cheeks are rosey 365 days a year. The number of passengers that told me I was burnt, to the point one person was actually arguing with me, was beyond my tolerance. I have never been so put off by cruise passengers as I was during this cruise. By the time the cruise was over, I didn't feel like leaving my cabin and was ready to go home.Despite the few passengers and how I felt at the end of the second cruise, we had a great time and look forward to our next trip to somewhere... just have to figure out where. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Cruising history - this was our 12th cruise. #5 on Princess, 4 on Carnival, 2 on Disney and 1 on Royal Caribbean.Embarkation was great and really organized. As people are allowed into the terminal, they are grouped and then that group is ... Read More
Cruising history - this was our 12th cruise. #5 on Princess, 4 on Carnival, 2 on Disney and 1 on Royal Caribbean.Embarkation was great and really organized. As people are allowed into the terminal, they are grouped and then that group is called to check-in. Waited outside for about 20 minutes - inside about 10 minutes. Arrived at terminal about 11:30am. In our room by 12:30pm. Luggage arrived before 2pm.Cabin steward Romeo was fabulous. He introduced himself after we returned from the buffet lunch. He asked if we had any special requests. We mentioned that we like ice refreshed 2-3 times daily and we'd like 2 Patters delivered daily. After that we hardly saw him but he never failed to meet our expectations. When we did see him, he always addressed us by name and with a big smile! Our cabin was fine. We usually have a mini-suite but decided to go with a balcony. Our only complaint was how small the bathroom was. The choice was ours and we were not surprised. However, next time, back to mini suite.Ship is beautiful and we loved the Piazza. The International Cafe was great. We purchased the "coffee card" because I like fresh brewed coffee. All servers were wonderful. Husband and I decided to get some of the gelato (3 scoops for $1.50) The server pulled out 2 plates and proceeded to give us 4 scoops each and only charged us $1.50 total. Yummy!!! All other products served there were great. Loved the area for people watching and a great place to meet up with friends.Entertainment was OK. Nothing special. The Beatles tribute show was great! I love the movies shown in the Princess Theatre. The theatre really is too small for the shows. Finding 4 seats together was difficult unless you arrived 30 minutes before the show. Same situation applied for "MUTS".Food was good and sometimes excellent. I continue to believe that "Sabatinis" is the best eatery afloat. Love the service and the sampling. We also ate at the "Crown Grill". No real problems but the steaks served in the dining room were equal to those served at the grille, and they didn't cost $25.00 extra.We thought the food in the buffet was good to very good. As mentioned in previous reviews, finding a seat for your party was often difficult.Now for the reason for my title - Great Cruise........but:Customer service seemed to be an issue. On more that one occasion, we felt that the response from staff was lacking. Some examples:1. At the Pub Lunch in the Wheelhouse bar, we asked for iced tea and was told it was not available. We then asked for water. We requested a refill of the water 3 separate times to the same waiter and never received it. The next time we went there for the pub lunch, we brought our own drinks!2. On the day we visited St. Thomas, we were told we could leave on Deck 4 forward. Apparently, they decided to hold a drill for the crew and closed that door. When we went to deck 4 forward, doors were closed and no crew members in site. We waited a few minutes, other passengers arrived, and finally a crew member walked through. He told us we would have to go up to deck 5 midship. As we were leaving the ship, I saw the Shopping Guide person. I told here that passengers were going to deck 4 forward and perhaps they might want to post someone there or at least put up a sign directing people. She stated "That's not my problem - you should tell someone in Security". This response is unacceptable!3. We used Anytime Dining. We have used this before and always been very happy and satisfied. This time, we noticed that the waiters and assistant waiters were efficient but not really friendly. I usually ask the waiter for their recommendation at dinner. One time I was told "Everything is good". I couldn't put my finger on anything specific but I was disappointed. Toward the end of the cruise, we found Enrique and Francis from the Phillipines and didn't want to let them go. They were both friendly and efficient, always smiling and asking how they could best serve us. When I ask for a recommendation, Enrique suggested a complete menu. I couldn't decide so he brought both. At the end of the meal, he brought a plate of petit-fours to the table (one of us had not ordered any dessert). This were very thoughtful and much appreciated.4. One evening we went to the buffet for dinner. We had our first course and went to the buffet for our main course. When we returned to the table, our first course plates had not been removed. No big deal - I just moved them to a nearby empty table. However, this should not be necessary. Apparently, dining supervisors thought so, too. After I moved the plates, we noticed that the dining supervisor was in the area and additional staff appeared to be assigned to the dining area. Princess DOES care about their image!We will go on Princess again. We believe that the service issue was an anomaly on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
This was our 6 th cruise with Princess, so we're pretty familiar with them. We took the red eye out of Vegas via Atlanta and depite Delta breaking our wheel on our bag made it safely and on time into Ft. Lauderdale. Our nephew picked ... Read More
This was our 6 th cruise with Princess, so we're pretty familiar with them. We took the red eye out of Vegas via Atlanta and depite Delta breaking our wheel on our bag made it safely and on time into Ft. Lauderdale. Our nephew picked us up and we were off to Einsteins Bagels for a quick breakfast and some great coffee too. We arrived at the terminal early and were on baord without delay by 12:45. Our room was on deck 12 Aloha 432 right at mid ships near the goofy elevators and stairs. More on the elevators later. Our room steward Jerome was friendly and brought us our robes, egg crates & hangers promptly as requested. The room was clean, fairly small, but had a nice roomy closet and flat screen TV.The ship was a beauty, only 3 1/2 years old, next to the Ruby Princess, the 2nd newest in the Princess fleet, and the crew was constantly cleaning, and sprucing up the ship. In fact our balcony railing was re-varnished during the cruise, so we could not lean on it for at least 24 hours.The sail away party was off and runing with the house band from St. Lucia, "Icon", but before that the mandatory muster drill. Beautiful blue skies, seas, and 78 degrees,made a perfect setting for our embarkation.So much to see & do the ship's "Princess Patter" refrencing is the only way to see and do the things that interest you. Take it with you whenever you leave the room..We elected to have "anytime dining" and made a reservation for 5:45 every night, so we would not have to wait, or miss a show, or activity that interested us. We just bypassed the line and walked right over to our great table location next to the windows.Now for the mysterious elevators that sometimes worked and sometimes had a mind of their own. On several occassions throughout the cruise, we found the elevators would only go up so far sometimes deck 8 or 9 and then heading back down on their own, even though many of us had pushed 11,12, & 14.Time for a major overhaul I'd say Princess. Many of the passengers would start pileing into the elevatoe before others could get off, and some were very rude. Pool chairs & lounges typically filled up fast, if you did not reserve one by at least 9 am, forget about it, same for the evening movies (MUTS) under the stars.No enforcement was seen as some lounges were vacant for several hours at a time ? The pool near MUTS is very loud due to movies, or concerts being played all day. I think they should just play music during the day only as the MUTSis very loud and not condusive to relaxing. A far as the food is concerned we really enjoyed the dining room for breakfast and dinner, it sure beat fighting the crowds in the buffet, and the lack of tables to sit 3,100 ! We also enjoyed the tasty but very thin pizza out by the pool and burgers, chicken sand. and fries. A nice variation from the buffet, and don't forget the "Pub Lunch" in the Wheelhouse Bar on Sea days, Fish N Chips, Bangers & Mash etc. delicious. "Shows", lot's going on at night we saw Russ Harris a funny Commedian, impressionest Michael Brown, and "4" major shows with the Princess singers and dancers. You usually only get 2, and they are repeated, so that was a big plus we enjoyed all of them. We picked up the Fab 4 the Beatlemaniacs in St. Kitts for one night only and they brought the house down with the majority of the 50 + crowd, singing along to some pretty talented guys ! The entertainment was much better than I had read in other cruise critic reviews, but so was the food. One note on a "downer" here the "Explorer Lounge" is just too small of a venue for any act good or bad. I would guess it only holds about 100 or so passengers yet they held several comedy and magic acts there. Club Fusion was a little larger but still too small. Princess Pop Star (Karaoke) was held there and I want to thank DJ Clinton for finding my song I wanted to do by Michael Buble not in their older karaoke library.We missed a couple of other entertainers just too many places to be and things to do. The Casino was ofcourse tight as a drum, especially the slots, yet consistantly busy every night ? Lot's of waisted floor space in the middle of Gatsby's Casino for some unknown reason. Photos are taken often, and everywhere, including on shore, it's big business for Princess, say "cheese" ! Bingo, we won $75, having to share with 4 others sigh, lot's of games daily, the "not so newly wed game"," passenger feud", trivia, shopping shows, fruit carving, 50's 60's sock hop, country western night, bar wars, and various pool games (days) going daily. The "deck party" out by the pool was a big hit (late night), conga lines group dancing, limbo bars and good music made for a fun night.We had 3 days at Sea, which is my favorite itinerary, no rush to get off or on the ship, just relax and do whatever, the more sea days the better I say. "Happy Hour" is currently 4 pm to 7 pm, on this cruise, so you can get certain cocktails for only $3, take advantage of that if you can, otherwise drinks are expensive.We met lot's of nice people especially two nice British couples and many Canadians. Most passengers were very cordial and happy to be aboard, despite some of the rude elevator people I mentioned earlier, a good mix of all ages. It's not the ship,and what belles and whistles it has, it's the staff/crew that make your ship & cruise a wonderful experience. The C.D. staff on this ship was a bit inexperienced, perhaps (new) and it showed on many occasions in comparison to the 5 CD staffs we have sailed with in the past Billy London's crew needs some re-training,and to be more personable, instead of trying to out cute each other. Sorry folks, but that's the way I see it, and the rest of our group of 5 felt the same way. Ports:First portAntigua - was our first stop and let me say after leaving the tourist shopping areas most of these Island nations are really poor desperate people who dearly rely on us to visit and spend money. Antigua has 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. After finding a fair price he took us to Valley Church beach about 15 minutes from the port, it was absolutely gorgeous. They had a nice bar, showers rest rooms and it was very clean, great beach day in Antigua. On the way back we found a few gift shops before re-boarding the ship.Our second stop was St. Lucia. We went zip lining at theTreetop Canopy, and had a great time zipping across 12 different lines over the St. Lucia rain forrest and river below. A great excursion I definately recommend it.We saw some very poor housing conditions along the way, sad.It's a beautiful island, we wish we had more time to see it all.No time to see the beautiful "Pitons" (mountains), maybe next time, I hope. Next was Barbados, after doing a little shopping we decided to walk into town and found the "Boatyard" a private beach which was recommended by the CD on his morning show. We paid the admission $12-15 ? At entry you get 1 cocktail beach chair or lounger, umbrella, and transportation back to the ship. We noticed hardly anyone was in the water ? It turns out this particlar beach was infested with jelly fish that day and several tourists had been stung. We asked for a refund and headed back through town on foot. We found a nice bar had a drink then walked back to the ship stopping along the way to shop. Turned out to be a not so good beach day as some light rain came down. This was the only time we had weather of any concern. I will say the people of Barbados were very friendly even though my sister in law was asked why she did'nt buy anything from them in a commanding way. Stay together Sales, it's a tough racket ! St. Kitts - Another beautiful Island, after a brief stroll through the tourist shopping areas, we saw some cute little monkeys vendors were using for photos and some local men dancing through the courtyards in their native attire & headgear, very flashy dancers. We found an inexpensive 90 min. tour through the city area, with a later stop at a beauitful beach, South Frigate and again ran into many Emerald passengers with their blue & white stripe towells. On the way we stopped at a beautiful overlook and admired both oceans from high above the Caribbean on one side and the Atlantic on the other. A spectacular view in either direction, including the new mega-resort "Marriott". St. Thomas - What can I say shopping areas everywhere, although very spread out.We booked the Magens Bay & Blackbeard Castle tour. The later was just a made up tourist trap by a lot of fun and facts along the way. Again, the elevated view above the city & bay was spectacular. Three pools for swimming, jewelry stores, gift shop, and ofcourse a couple of bars. Hurry up with that rum ! There was a regatta in the bay at the time, sail boats everywhere. Magens Bay our first stop was breath taking ! National Geographic ranked it one of the top 10 beaches in the world for sure beauty, and I can see why. A calm horseshoe bay surrounded by green rolling hills on both sides. The beach had all kinds of lush green foilage everywhere, rentals, bathroom and bar complented the beach as well. Princess Cays - Eluthera (Bahamas) It's been 5 years since I first visited P. Cays and they have really fixed it up, plus added many more things to see and do. This was our last stop before Ft. Lauderdale and it was the dreaded "tender" ! We decided to have a nice calm & relaxing breakfast in the dining room before getting in line. You meet in the Michael Angelo dining room deck 5, where you can sit and relax until they call your group number. It was a good idea, as everyone seemed to want to be the first one's over for our brief 6 1/2 hour stop. The whole process took apx. 45 minutes, not bad really ! There are plenty of loungers over there, but the shaded gazeebos fill up fast, so if you need shade, go early ! We enjoyed a nice clean beach, bathrooms, showers, a fair tasting lunch, and some great swimming & snorkeling. My wife, sister in law, daughter, and friend all rented various floating devices and we all had a great beach day together, our last on the cruise, sigh ! For late March, it was perfect, 82 and I guess the water was in the hi 70's. Definately worth the short visit, and your time. We look forward to our next visit there, again in March 2012, check it out !That being said, I guess it's time to talk about disembarking, and that did not go as well, or as smooth as embarkation. We were asked to leave our cabin at 9 am sharp by our steward, despite our group not being called to leave until after 9:30. Please do yourself a favor eat early in the dining room before (9am) so yo don't feel so rushed off the ship even before yout time. Our luggage was mis-placed in the hanger, so it took another 20 minutes to find it in another section, that was stressful. Now for "Terminal 21", good luck, it's a real mad house out on the street. Make sure you have an advance reservation for ground transportation, and they know specifically where you will be, and at what time, otherwise it's mass chaos curbside ! I guess there is no such thing as a perfect cruise really, it's impossible to please everyone, so just go with the flow, don't worry, be happy as the song goes. Happy cruising everyone ! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We arrived a few days before the Feb 6 departure due to weather concerns and all went smoothly. The night before we left we stayed at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood. We had a great evening, dinner and great music. The rooms are ... Read More
We arrived a few days before the Feb 6 departure due to weather concerns and all went smoothly. The night before we left we stayed at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood. We had a great evening, dinner and great music. The rooms are fantastic. Embarkation went well as usual. The port was very busy with many ships leaving and it did take us a while to get to the ship. Once we were there it was a breeze. So far so good. We went to our room and luggage was there very quickly. This was our 6th and 7th cruise on Emerald or Ruby and 17th overall. We knew that going to the buffet area would be a challenge but we were hungry so off we went. It always is a surprise when we get there, very crowded and as usual, everyone going in a different direction. Our cabin steward was a lovely man who had too many cabins to take care of. Our observation was 19-20 cabins with no help, this was our first clue that things had changed. Our first night at dinner we were introduced to our waiter and assistant for the next 20 days. We already knew Princess has little or no excitement going on in the dining rooms which is a disappointment to some people but not to us. I am Celiac so I need a special diet and in the dining room the staff do an excellent job meeting that need. I do feel the food however was not up to previous cruises, not bad but not fantastic either. After two nights of dry food I asked the head waiter to chat away from the table. I stated the problem quietly and the food was much better from that night on. We did notice a trend of pushing the fun activities into public areas like the Atrium. The larger areas were being used for selling whatever! Who wants to do Zumba (a fun idea though) or learn to dance in front of a bunch of gawking strangers. Trivia areas were so full people were leaving or sitting on the floor. Does Princess really want their guests sitting on the floor. Princess Pop Choir! That was a new surprise! The Captain's Circle in the Atrium, we could not hear a word anyone said. Maybe Art or Shopping shows make money but indirectly so do cruise staff adventures, I would suggest a new look at this issue. By the way, please put some alcohol in the drinks, someone left them out. The staff in the international Cafe is the absolute best. The coffees are great and so are the foods served there. The Coffee card is a good buy, however the offer of a free stainless steel coffee mug in a coupon book with the purchase of a coffee card doesn't work if the mugs won't be in until March. We spent a lot of time in the casino where we expect to leave the money behind but keep in mind we want to enjoy ourselves doing it, not have all the slots taking the cash in ten minutes, every one was complaining and many just stopped playing the machines. Aruba's casinos are great! There are many reasons we cruise with Princess and the Spa pool is at the top. Another reason, we may move to 30 days and the laundry on each floor is nessessary. I also skip the buffet in favor of the great hamburger and hot dog place on the pool deck. The pizza place is also really good, along with the ice cream next door. I don't need to go over the chair hog situation at the pools, something has to change and Princess must know it. The noise in the two major pool areas make the spa pool essential to us, can't stand the noise during the daytime at the two other pools. The entertainment, we did enjoy a couple of comedians and the Beatle Maniacs. Unfortunately cruise ship entertainment in some ways never changes. First time cruisers are loving it, the rest of us are bored. The crew shows are just great. Of course we wouldn't cruise if we didn't have a great time and we did have fun this time as usual. Everyone on a cruise ship is really having their own cruise doing their thing. Sun and warmth are what it's all about. What I expect from Princess is enough staff to do the job. We observed cutting back or what surely felt like cutting back. I saw a women fall on the pool deck in pain and no deck attendants for ten minutes. The man serving hot dogs came to help. Getting a drink out by the pools was impossible. I was on a lounger at the spa pool for two hours and was never asked if I wanted something to drink. I would go to the bar and get it myself. Why can't we get a swim towel at the pool on sea days? All these small things leave you wondering, should we try something new next year? Probably not but we do wish Ruby was on the ten day cruises next year. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This cruise was my 5th time on Princess and 3rd time on the Emerald Princess. The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship, but there was a drop in the number of entertainment options & activities compared to my previous Princess Cruises ... Read More
This cruise was my 5th time on Princess and 3rd time on the Emerald Princess. The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship, but there was a drop in the number of entertainment options & activities compared to my previous Princess Cruises (all within the past 2.5 years), e.g. no more golf pro on board and no support for Sunday's church service from cruise staff....the passengers had to pull it together. I hope this is just temporary as I love the Princess brand and want to take many more cruises with them. I travelled with my husband and this cruise was special to us as we got married on the same ship just a few months earlier and were now expecting our first child! What was noticeable on this cruise compared to previous cruises was the high number or senior cruisers (70+ years of age). We were among the youngest passengers and were told so by many crew members and our fellow passengers throughout the cruise. We often requested to be seated at lunch or breakfast with people close to our own age and were told it was not likely to happen..so off we went to a table for 2. Princess needs to guard against becoming the retirement cruise line: more options catering to the working professionals, such as discounted internet time, would help strike a healthier balance. Some of the shows could be a bit more modern, too (where you did not have to be born before the 1970s to "get it"). Nevertheless we had some nice conversations with our fellow passengers during the cruise and enjoyed our vacation. We celebrated a birthday on this cruise and had noted so on the Cruise Personalizer. On the day the card you hand out to the head waiter in the main dining room to get your cake arrived promptly but no balloons. My husband called later that evening as we saw many other doors had balloons and had always had these before for birthdays, our honeymoon etc. and passenger services had some sent promptly. The balloons now are "generic" congratulations balloons vs. birthday/honeymoon/anniversary etc. as in the past. I thought it was fun to see what people were celebrating and was a little disappointed by this efficiency measure. I hope they go back to the more personalized approach to celebrations! EMBARKATION DAY: We spent a few days in FL prior to the cruise and drove our rental car to Fort Lauderdale in the morning. We dropped off the car in downtown and were a little concerned about getting a taxi as there were many ships departing that day (incl. the Oasis of the Seas), but a taxi arrived within 5 minutes and whisked us to the port in about 30 minutes. We arrived at around 12:20 p.m. in the port and the embarkation process was very smooth with virtually no waiting time anywhere. We dropped off our luggage with the porter, proceeded to security, filled out the health form and got checked in. Everyone from Princess was very friendly at the terminal. We were in our stateroom by 12:45 p.m. STATEROOM: Having stayed in mini-suites and balcony rooms on earlier cruises we had decided that the room was not important this time and we signed up for the lowest cost interior room guarantee on deck 5 (Plaza). We were excited to get an upgrade to a great mid-ship location on deck 9 (Dolphin). This room was super quiet (no neighbor on the other side) and very comfortable. Our cabin stewardess was Sherrill and she stayed on top of everything - the room was always immaculate when we returned to it. DINING: We were very pleased with the quality and variety of food options. We had dinner in the main dining room (Da Vinci) every night and also ate breakfast and lunch there on most days. We enjoy being served this way while on vacation and only visited the buffet for snacks. The halibut was a little tough/overcooked one night, but otherwise everything was excellent. We love traditional dining and had signed up for it (although only 5:30 p.m. time was available), just to find out Da Vinci also served as an anytime dining room, so there was a lot more traffic than in a true traditional dining room and the staff were incredibly busy. At the end of the cruise the Baked Alaska parade was the express version of what you see in the true traditional dining rooms. A tip: the ship's policy is that you must arrive within 15 minutes from dining time or your table may be given to someone else. We noticed that nobody claimed a great window table for the first 3 nights -- it was always assigned to walk-in anytime diners later in the evening - and checked with the maitre'd on the possibility of having this table assigned to us since we were always promptly there and typically finished eating by 6:30 p.m. He was happy to accommodate us and we really enjoyed our view while dining! Great Princess service. Our waitress Natasha was also wonderful.The pizza on the ship is excellent so we also had a slice a few times during this cruise or picked up some baked goods from the International Cafe. ENTERTAINMENT: I had read on these reviews earlier that the popular shows, such as Beatle Maniacs, start filling up about an hour prior to show time. So we prioritized what we wanted to see in the Princess Theater (Beatle Maniacs and the International Crew Show) and made sure to be seated no later than 45 minutes prior to show time. We also saw the comedian Jay Mohr one night in the Explorer's Lounge (funny) and saw some performances on the Piazza. We tried to watch the movie Social Network at Movies Under the Stars one day, but it was very hard to hear. We made a couple of requests to have the volume turned up, but it was competing against music playins at the other mid-ship pool and just did not work out. The MUTS is a much better experience in the evening. It would be great if more movies could be played in the Princess Theater in the afternoons. We enjoyed going to the Lotus Spa gym and played some golf on the sports deck, but it was sad not to see anyone using the golf simulator or take lessons from a golf pro like always before...I used to enjoy the chance to take a little 30-minute lesson to work on my swing and now you are basically on your own. PORTS: We enjoyed the picnic in Princess Cays, just took it easy and enjoyed walking on the beach on a beautiful day. In St. Thomas we went shopping and found 2 beautiful pairs of blue topaz earrings. The above two were ports we were familiar with from before. In Dominica we took one of the shuttles that runs to runtown for $2 pp. It was raining as it often does there due to the rainforest climate. We were surprised by how little there was to see in the downtown area...took some photos of the crabs crawling all over the waterfront, looked at the local merchandise but did not find anything to buy and headed back to the ship after just 30 minutes. This was our least favorite stop during the cruise. In Grenada we had signed up for the St. George's Highlights tour, as it was low physical activity and being pregnant I have to take it easy. My husband and I were pulled from the line and assigned to a very old van for this tour and soon realized the van did not have working air-conditioning (although the tour is advertised as being suitable for people with physical limitations)! Long story short, the driver had to drop us off about 10 minutes into the tour and find a newer van to assign us to that had working air-conditioning. From that point forward we were very comfortable. The guide was silent for long periods of time during the excursion and did not use a microphone, so we felt like we did not learn as much as we would have liked but at least we were comfortable and saw a lot. In Bonaire we just went to downtown to check out the stores, very clean & delightful but also rather expensive. We returned back to the ship within an hour. Aruba was the best port on this cruise! We took the island tour that visits the Aloe factory and includes a 1-hr beach break and had a great time. The guide was also very knowledgeable and shared a lot of information with us. Great tour! Afterwards we went back to the ship for lunch, grabbed our laptops and went to the local Starbucks for some quality email time (no charge). DISEMBARKATION: Very easy, no lines, and off to the airport within minutes! We were comfortably seated in the Michelangelo dining room waiting for our turn. In summary, mission accomplished in terms of a relaxing cruise vacation with great weather, lots of laughs and wonderful memories to cherish during the years to come! We plan to return to Princess with our little one in a year or two. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Have taken about 10 Princess cruises and this one left a lot to be desired. The cruise hosts/hostesses were no where to be seen to ask and see if you were enjoying yourself. As well, no attendants for the pool areas were around, cleaning ... Read More
Have taken about 10 Princess cruises and this one left a lot to be desired. The cruise hosts/hostesses were no where to be seen to ask and see if you were enjoying yourself. As well, no attendants for the pool areas were around, cleaning up towels that were used to save unused chairs, cleaning water to prevent slipping on the deck/stairs etc. No regulation of smoking rules. No towels available at pools. It should not be necessary to bring one from your room - perhaps this might be a way of controlling chair saving. The change in eating times made the lineups for eating and for the shows intolerable. It is not necessary to go 45-60 minutes before a show to get a seat. When the times were changed back to 7:00 and 9:00pm, it was much improved. Perhaps the time has come to issue tickets and specific seats for a show to prevent having to go early, to prevent seat saving and allow one to finish eating without getting indigestion worrying about a line up for a show, or getting a seat. The waiters in the Horizon Court and Caribe Buffet had to be prodded too often to get a table cleaned up,or to bring a drink etc. They spend too much time near the serving tables chatting with each other and not paying attention. Again, there is a complete lack of officer or maitre d' supervision in the dining areas. There should be a better system for open seating in the dining rooms. The system of having fixed seating until 7-7:30 in the daVinci, and then opening it up to open seating becomes very confusing, and even moreso when reservations are taken. Keep one dining room for open seating and perhaps a system like Celebrity to charge for open seating, this charge covering the tips for the waiters (as well as the cabin attendants)... also the fact that the restaurants are open until 10:00pm is sometimes uncomfortable when arriving to eat at 9:00-9:30 because of a show. At times one felt very rushed, especially when the waiters were chatting or setting the tables for breakfast. That should not be done around people who arrive later than most, because they chose to dine later. The pool areas in the center of the ship are overcrowded. Again, a system to watch out for chair saving should be instituted, like the one on Celebrity Solstice/Equinox, where they have a 'police' system.... a card is actually left on your chair with a time, and if 30 minutes passes without your presence, your towel etc. is removed. The noise level in the pool with the large screen is deafening during the day - no need. It is very aggravating (except when loaded with kids on spring break), and perhaps no loud noise but some relaxing music might be an alternative. The stops were the usual, except the trip to Turtle Bay in St. Thomas, to snorkel.... this place was downright dangerous!! Many boats, coming and going through the waters where people were snorkeling. The boats were parked very close together and this was a very uncomfortable situation. Now for the positive side, the food and selection was excellent, with a lot of choice. The routes, south and east were nice, with good stops. A bit longer in Bonaire, Barbados and St.Kitts, would be nice. Also the day on Princess Cays is short. The cruise director was very good. The internet was very good in the room with a laptop. Our waiter in the dining room (Romeo and Nancy) were superb. Our cabin steward, Karn, was superb. The maitre d' in Michelangelo, Marius was a gentleman, helpful, courteous and very understanding. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
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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