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Emerald Princess March 30 sailing in a nutshell: Highlights: 1.The ship - beautiful and spotless2. The Chef's Dinner worth every cent 3. River tubing in Grenada  Disappointments: Booking a Caribe balcony cabin and finding ourselves next door - and downwind - from chain smokers. The entertainment Longer-cruise demographics Cruises of more than 7 days seem to attract a much older crowd, which can mean a low-energy level THE BASICS: WHO WE ARE: 60 somethings from Ohio who aren't ready to pack it in at 8 p.m. (most times, we aren't even ready for dinner then). By comparison, it seemed like we were the youngsters on this cruise.  WHY WE CHOSE THIS CRUISE:  We like Princess, wanted the chance to do the Chef's Table, the itinerary included less-often-visited islands - yet the ship left from a mainland port. EMBARKATION: VERY SMOOTH. We arrived early - about 10:30 a.m. and were given a number and allowed to sit inside the terminal. By noon, there were hundreds in the holding area but with numbers, embarking was orderly and fair. THE SHIP - Beautiful and well-cared for. (Beware, however, because the deck on the non-Mutts side gets very slippery from wet feet, and we witnessed people slipping). CHEF'S TABLE: By 12:30 on boarding day, we had called the dine line from our room to ask for a reservation - that's why we went to the terminal early.  Everyone apparently is told they will be put on the waiting list. By 1 p.m., we were in line to hand a written plea to the maitre'd.   This 10-day cruise had three Chef's Tables  - all on port days. We were among the lucky ones to get on the list early enough to get a seat.  Interesting point: Almost everyone at our table of 12 had heard about this special meal from the Internet/Cruise Critic. Dinner at the Chef's Table ($75 per person) was a 3-plus hour indulgence, which started with a galley tour, hors d' oeuvres and champagne and ended with a shot of lemon liquor made on the ship. In between, we had veal cooked (and tableside carved) two ways - a shank and tenderloin. We had pate foie gras with truffles, caviar, asparagus risotto topped with lobster claws and sorbet with vodka, plus several wines, dessert . . .the list goes on.  The chef and maitre'd made it all very special.  BEST REGULAR FOODS:  Pizza! You can see the bakers hand tossing the thin crust constantly to meet the demand.  The Wheelhouse fish (on sea days only) was as crunchy as Arthur Treacher's. The almond croissants in the International Cafe at breakfast are a surprising treat.  The fruit soups are like smoothies. The rotisserie chicken in the Caribe Cafe is a welcome break from saucy foods. Do not hesitate to order the creamy pasta Alfredo as a side at dinner (even though it is listed daily as an entrEe). FAVORITE SHIP VENUES: VINES - the wine and sushi bar.  Excellent sushi for just $1 each LOTUS pool - a great place to get refreshed - it seems to be warmed and for adults  only Our balcony when the smoking neighbors were not around. (Smoking is only allowed on one side of open-deck areas. Why can't balcony rooms be assigned as smoking or non-smoking? (Husband lost a lung to a fungus infection, so we are extra sensitive about taking care of the remaining one. ) TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT:  In anytime dining, they steer you to share tables, which is fine much of the time.  But there were times when we just wanted a bite to eat alone. However, there are some sets of tables for two that are only 4-6-inches apart from another "table for two."  Not exactly intimate. You either be rude and ignore the folks or you talk with them as though you were table sharing. ENTERTAINMENT: There were two good bands, including Hindsight, but they didn't play on the deck much - usually about 45 minutes at sail away.  There was a piano  player in the lounge named Barty, whose music might have been popular at the Waldorf Astoria in the 1950s.  (Two years ago we were on the Caribbean Princess where the open-lounge pianist had a standing-room only crowd).  Other venues were just slow.  We went into the Adagio two nights after dinner and it was almost empty. We went into Sky Walkers one evening at 7:30 for a before-dinner drink and there was not a server or bartender in sight.    The most fun we found was karaoke because there were a couple of really good singer/passengers aboard. DRINKS: The drinks are expensive - in the $6.25 to $6.95 for wine and alcohol. Plus, they automatically add 15 percent.  That adds up (our bar bill was nearly $800). But some of the wait staff didn't seem happy with just 15 percent. They always looked to see if we left extra.  If we didn't, they disappeared. If we did, they came back too often. It should be pointed out that Princess is good about letting people bring beer and wine on board. Never a hassle. PORTS: A PLUS of this cruise. Aruba is beautiful.  The beaches and shopping in St. Thomas are always great (We managed to find a steel drum CD of gospel songs like Amazing Grace). The river tubing in Grenada was so much fun. The water was warm and shallow and there were lots of helpers. The ride up the mountain in a mini-van bus was treacherous.  Perhaps we should have done more in Bonaire than roam the shopping area near the port. This city may want tourists, but public restrooms - if they exist - are impossible to find, so think twice about drinking too many of those $2 beers at the bar near the port unless you are heading back to the ship. FINAL FOOD PERSPECTIVE:  Would we rate this the best ever food? No, but let's put it into perspective. In 1988, we took a 7-day Princess cruise on the original Sun Princess and saved the menus. There is no comparison. The selection then was superior. But we paid $1,100 each, essentially what we paid this time for a 10 day cruise on a much superior ship. That 1988 rate did include airfare to San Juan, which we would value at about $250, based on fares at that time.  So assume $850 pp as the comparison since airfare was not included in the  2009 price.  While the food in 1988 was wonderful, there was no all-day pizza, no 24-hour buffet, no hot tubs and only one pool. And that $850 price paid for a bottom-level outside room, which consisted of one very small portal. Our $1,100 this time bought a balcony, four pools, multiple hot tubs and eating venues.  In summary, cruising is a value that has only gotten better with age.

Feeling young at 60 +

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by artist-man

Trip Details
Emerald Princess March 30 sailing in a nutshell:
Highlights:
1.The ship - beautiful and spotless2. The Chef's Dinner worth every cent
3. River tubing in Grenada
 Disappointments:
Booking a Caribe balcony cabin and finding ourselves next door - and downwind - from chain smokers. The entertainment Longer-cruise demographics Cruises of more than 7 days seem to attract a much older crowd, which can mean a low-energy level
THE BASICS:
WHO WE ARE: 60 somethings from Ohio who aren't ready to pack it in at 8 p.m. (most times, we aren't even ready for dinner then). By comparison, it seemed like we were the youngsters on this cruise. 
WHY WE CHOSE THIS CRUISE:  We like Princess, wanted the chance to do the Chef's Table, the itinerary included less-often-visited islands - yet the ship left from a mainland port.
EMBARKATION: VERY SMOOTH. We arrived early - about 10:30 a.m. and were given a number and allowed to sit inside the terminal. By noon, there were hundreds in the holding area but with numbers, embarking was orderly and fair.
THE SHIP - Beautiful and well-cared for. (Beware, however, because the deck on the non-Mutts side gets very slippery from wet feet, and we witnessed people slipping).
CHEF'S TABLE: By 12:30 on boarding day, we had called the dine line from our room to ask for a reservation - that's why we went to the terminal early.  Everyone apparently is told they will be put on the waiting list. By 1 p.m., we were in line to hand a written plea to the maitre'd.   This 10-day cruise had three Chef's Tables  - all on port days. We were among the lucky ones to get on the list early enough to get a seat.  Interesting point: Almost everyone at our table of 12 had heard about this special meal from the Internet/Cruise Critic.
Dinner at the Chef's Table ($75 per person) was a 3-plus hour indulgence, which started with a galley tour, hors d' oeuvres and champagne and ended with a shot of lemon liquor made on the ship. In between, we had veal cooked (and tableside carved) two ways - a shank and tenderloin. We had pate foie gras with truffles, caviar, asparagus risotto topped with lobster claws and sorbet with vodka, plus several wines, dessert . . .the list goes on.  The chef and maitre'd made it all very special. 
BEST REGULAR FOODS:  Pizza! You can see the bakers hand tossing the thin crust constantly to meet the demand.  The Wheelhouse fish (on sea days only) was as crunchy as Arthur Treacher's. The almond croissants in the International Cafe at breakfast are a surprising treat.  The fruit soups are like smoothies. The rotisserie chicken in the Caribe Cafe is a welcome break from saucy foods. Do not hesitate to order the creamy pasta Alfredo as a side at dinner (even though it is listed daily as an entrEe).
FAVORITE SHIP VENUES:
VINES - the wine and sushi bar.  Excellent sushi for just $1 each LOTUS pool - a great place to get refreshed - it seems to be warmed and for adults  only Our balcony when the smoking neighbors were not around. (Smoking is only allowed on one side of open-deck areas. Why can't balcony rooms be assigned as smoking or non-smoking? (Husband lost a lung to a fungus infection, so we are extra sensitive about taking care of the remaining one. )
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT:  In anytime dining, they steer you to share tables, which is fine much of the time.  But there were times when we just wanted a bite to eat alone. However, there are some sets of tables for two that are only 4-6-inches apart from another "table for two."  Not exactly intimate. You either be rude and ignore the folks or you talk with them as though you were table sharing.
ENTERTAINMENT: There were two good bands, including Hindsight, but they didn't play on the deck much - usually about 45 minutes at sail away.  There was a piano  player in the lounge named Barty, whose music might have been popular at the Waldorf Astoria in the 1950s.  (Two years ago we were on the Caribbean Princess where the open-lounge pianist had a standing-room only crowd).  Other venues were just slow.  We went into the Adagio two nights after dinner and it was almost empty. We went into Sky Walkers one evening at 7:30 for a before-dinner drink and there was not a server or bartender in sight.    The most fun we found was karaoke because there were a couple of really good singer/passengers aboard.
DRINKS: The drinks are expensive - in the $6.25 to $6.95 for wine and alcohol. Plus, they automatically add 15 percent.  That adds up (our bar bill was nearly $800). But some of the wait staff didn't seem happy with just 15 percent. They always looked to see if we left extra.  If we didn't, they disappeared. If we did, they came back too often. It should be pointed out that Princess is good about letting people bring beer and wine on board. Never a hassle.
PORTS: A PLUS of this cruise. Aruba is beautiful.  The beaches and shopping in St. Thomas are always great (We managed to find a steel drum CD of gospel songs like Amazing Grace). The river tubing in Grenada was so much fun. The water was warm and shallow and there were lots of helpers. The ride up the mountain in a mini-van bus was treacherous.  Perhaps we should have done more in Bonaire than roam the shopping area near the port. This city may want tourists, but public restrooms - if they exist - are impossible to find, so think twice about drinking too many of those $2 beers at the bar near the port unless you are heading back to the ship.
FINAL FOOD PERSPECTIVE:  Would we rate this the best ever food? No, but let's put it into perspective. In 1988, we took a 7-day Princess cruise on the original Sun Princess and saved the menus. There is no comparison. The selection then was superior. But we paid $1,100 each, essentially what we paid this time for a 10 day cruise on a much superior ship. That 1988 rate did include airfare to San Juan, which we would value at about $250, based on fares at that time.  So assume $850 pp as the comparison since airfare was not included in the  2009 price.  While the food in 1988 was wonderful, there was no all-day pizza, no 24-hour buffet, no hot tubs and only one pool. And that $850 price paid for a bottom-level outside room, which consisted of one very small portal. Our $1,100 this time bought a balcony, four pools, multiple hot tubs and eating venues.  In summary, cruising is a value that has only gotten better with age.
artist-man’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BA C428
C428 No complaints. Being near the central elevators was a plus. Convenient and very steady. Caribe balconies are extra large.
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