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Our family traveled with the Emerald Princess from April 9th through April 19th to the Eastern Caribbean. This was our 2nd time on this ship.  In June, 2007, we took this same ship for a 12 day Mediterranean cruise.  That was only Emerald Princess's 3rd voyage.  While the itinerary on that cruise was fantastic, we were not completely impressed with Princess and the service on the ship. However, since then, Princess has definitely gotten the 'kinks' out and this was a flawless cruise for us.  Emerald Princess is a heavily balcony-oriented ship with 8 decks of all balcony rooms.  However, there are only staterooms on those decks with no activities.  However, if you want a bargain I recommended passing on the balcony rooms and staying on Plaza deck.  The rooms on this deck do not have balconies, but from a convenience and access viewpoint, this is definitely the deck to stay on.  Because of our family size, we always get an oceanview room for my wife and I and an inside room for our boys.  Our room was right off of the art gallery.  From their you stroll right onto the main plaza/ atrium area.  Everything is theresidewalk cafes, front office, library, shops, dining rooms, etc.   The atrium area often has live music (string quartet, piano, etc.) and it is so nice to be able to walk right over on the same level. It also a great spot to just bring your laptop and sit. This saves you many, many elevator or stair trips from the all-balcony decks to get somewhere where there is something going on.  Emerald Princess has held up very well in the 21 months since we were last aboard.  However, the golf putting green in the back of the ship was in a shocking state of disrepair. Everything else, though, was immaculate.  We did Anytime Dining and made a reservation each day, which worked out fine. The service in the dining room was excellent.   Almost 1/3 of the passengers were from the UK, which gave our trip an international feel.  Our first stop was Antigua on Easter morning.  We quickly went straight to St. John's Anglican Cathedral for Easter Services.  We really enjoyed this service which was a completely, by-the-book Anglican service with a flair of Caribbean music.  The large, well-dressed congregation was extremely welcoming.  If you're on a Caribbean island on a Sunday, and if you are a churchgoer, this is a very interesting experience to get exposed to a different culture and style of worship.   After a return to the ship for lunch, we took the Princess-sponsored excursion to Bird Island National Park for kayaking and snorkeling.  This was an excellent afternoon outing and the inlets and lagoons were a perfect, tranquil setting for kayaking.  Our next stop was St. Lucia and we booked the Cosol tour (private). St.Lucia is a beautiful island (right out of Pirates of the Caribbean or a King Kong movie) and Cosol is THE BEST was to see it. It is about a 7 hour tour.  You are transported in 12 passenger vans so we shared the day with another family (there are 4 or more vans that caravan).  The tour includes a banana plantation stop, Soufriere, sulfur-spewing volcano, Pitons, etc., plus a stop for home-made Caribbean treats. The beach in between the twin Pitons is a spectacular spot and has great snorkeling.  On to Barbados.  We used Glory Tours which was a complete disappointment.  We booked this in January and were instantly charged US$253.    Our driver was a nice gentleman, but not an experienced tour guide. We felt like we would have gotten the same tour by just walking up to any taxi driver. He whisked us off to the Eastern shore to see Bathsheba, which is a very beautiful spot.  We drove by several sites (old sugar mills, plantations, etc.), but not a single stop or explanation at these.   Then we drove back to a beach called 'Brandon's Beach', which is only a 1/2 mile distance from the cruise ship! (in fact, you are right next to the harbor (industrial-like in appearance) and the ship itself).  This beach they was just OK, but is heavily used and has some trash, etc. We could have just skipped this part and walked there ourselves! I had to ask the guide to show us downtown Bridgetown and the government buildings on the way back to the shipHe wasn't even planning to.  The van we were transported in had no seatbelts or air conditioning.  The tour operator (Sarah Taylor) told us we would get a partial refund because of the condition of the van, but never put it through. I forwarded her e-mail to our credit card and made it a billing dispute to get my money back.  We do not recommend this tour company at all.  St. Kitts was our next stop. This is a beautiful islandthe south part is a bit more arid than St. Lucia or Barbados. We did a half day "Capitol Tour and Beach Splash" with Grey's Island Excursions.  We saw Basseterre and stopped for a couple of spectacular photo spots and then on the Cockleshell Beach at the south tip of St. Kitts with a great view of Nevis. This is a great snorkel spotwe retrieved 3 beautiful conch shells. One the way back we saw the wild monkey's which populate this part of the island.  Our guide on the way home was Mr Sackville Grey, a retired engineer and brother of the company's owner.  Mr. Grey worked for one of the St. Kitts sugar mill companies.  He is a very charming gentleman and gave us an excellent tour back and a very interesting overview of how sugar is made.  Next to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.  We arranged for an all day sailboat trip to St. John and Virgin Islands National Park through Interline Sails (Omar van Ruyens).  To do a full day snorkel trip to St. John for 5 people was about $420 through the ship.  We paid $575 for a 7 hour sailboat trip manned by a 2-person crew ( a much better value!) to two spots on St. Johns (Hawksnest Bay) and Great St. James Island with lunch and drinks included.  This was the highlight of our cruise and I strongly recommend this option if you visit St. Thomas. Our boat left from Red Hookthe only problem is the $100 round trip taxi fare!.  The taxi's on St. Thomas are unionized and the rates are fixedvery expensive, but there is no other option.  Havensight Mall is the best place to shop of all the ports we visited and the place to buy souvenirs.  Also, you pay in US$ with no credit card fees for foreign currency.  Our last stop was Princess Cays.  This was the only 'downside' of being on a ship with 3,000+ passengers.  We waited about 45-50 minutes for the tenders to bring us over.  Princess Cays is a very nice island and a picturesque stop, but the quality of the beach is not as good as Holland America's Half Moon Cay.  Half Moon Cay has one of the most pristine, beautiful beaches I have ever seen. We rented a clam shell, which was a very good investment to have shade from the intense Caribbean sun. We enjoyed the BBQ on the island.  Waiting for the tenders to go back is alot more pleasant because one just 'hangs out' at the great beach.  Returning to Fort Lauderdale was a bit chaotic.  Apparently the port crew (or someone) took the luggage off in reverse order (meaning that the first scheduled group's luggage was not even off the ship when they were scheduled to disembark, so everyone disembarked late).  We had a 1 p.m. flight from Miami Airport and we started to get concerned about 1 p.m.  Some of the crew was blaming it on customs, but I learned otherwise. Finally after talking to a crew member, I learned that our luggage was already off (even though we were scheduled at the endwhy didn't they just tell us so we could get off?)  We finally disembarked on our own (before our group was called) almost 90 minutes past our scheduled time.  Then there were 5 or 6 ships in port, so the taxi scene was very hectic and disorganized with no queue at all.  Tax's were taken by the most aggressive and outspoken passengers. Returning to home port in Fort Lauderdale on a Sunday is not a good plan.   This was our second Princess cruise and we left with a much more positive impression of the cruise line.  We have taken 5 cruises with Holland America and enjoy the more middle-age crowd and more families that you find on Princess.  Holland America tends to attract a much older group of cruisers.  Great trip, excellent ports, and an overall excellent way to spend Easter vacation.

Emerald Princess-Family Easter Vacation in the Caribbean

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by janeaustenruns

Trip Details
Our family traveled with the Emerald Princess from April 9th through April 19th to the Eastern Caribbean. This was our 2nd time on this ship.  In June, 2007, we took this same ship for a 12 day Mediterranean cruise.  That was only Emerald Princess's 3rd voyage.  While the itinerary on that cruise was fantastic, we were not completely impressed with Princess and the service on the ship. However, since then, Princess has definitely gotten the 'kinks' out and this was a flawless cruise for us. 

Emerald Princess is a heavily balcony-oriented ship with 8 decks of all balcony rooms.  However, there are only staterooms on those decks with no activities.  However, if you want a bargain I recommended passing on the balcony rooms and staying on Plaza deck.  The rooms on this deck do not have balconies, but from a convenience and access viewpoint, this is definitely the deck to stay on.  Because of our family size, we always get an oceanview room for my wife and I and an inside room for our boys.  Our room was right off of the art gallery.  From their you stroll right onto the main plaza/ atrium area.  Everything is theresidewalk cafes, front office, library, shops, dining rooms, etc.   The atrium area often has live music (string quartet, piano, etc.) and it is so nice to be able to walk right over on the same level. It also a great spot to just bring your laptop and sit. This saves you many, many elevator or stair trips from the all-balcony decks to get somewhere where there is something going on. 

Emerald Princess has held up very well in the 21 months since we were last aboard.  However, the golf putting green in the back of the ship was in a shocking state of disrepair. Everything else, though, was immaculate.  We did Anytime Dining and made a reservation each day, which worked out fine. The service in the dining room was excellent.   Almost 1/3 of the passengers were from the UK, which gave our trip an international feel. 

Our first stop was Antigua on Easter morning.  We quickly went straight to St. John's Anglican Cathedral for Easter Services.  We really enjoyed this service which was a completely, by-the-book Anglican service with a flair of Caribbean music.  The large, well-dressed congregation was extremely welcoming.  If you're on a Caribbean island on a Sunday, and if you are a churchgoer, this is a very interesting experience to get exposed to a different culture and style of worship.   After a return to the ship for lunch, we took the Princess-sponsored excursion to Bird Island National Park for kayaking and snorkeling.  This was an excellent afternoon outing and the inlets and lagoons were a perfect, tranquil setting for kayaking. 

Our next stop was St. Lucia and we booked the Cosol tour (private). St.Lucia is a beautiful island (right out of Pirates of the Caribbean or a King Kong movie) and Cosol is THE BEST was to see it. It is about a 7 hour tour.  You are transported in 12 passenger vans so we shared the day with another family (there are 4 or more vans that caravan).  The tour includes a banana plantation stop, Soufriere, sulfur-spewing volcano, Pitons, etc., plus a stop for home-made Caribbean treats. The beach in between the twin Pitons is a spectacular spot and has great snorkeling. 

On to Barbados.  We used Glory Tours which was a complete disappointment.  We booked this in January and were instantly charged US$253.    Our driver was a nice gentleman, but not an experienced tour guide. We felt like we would have gotten the same tour by just walking up to any taxi driver. He whisked us off to the Eastern shore to see Bathsheba, which is a very beautiful spot.  We drove by several sites (old sugar mills, plantations, etc.), but not a single stop or explanation at these.   Then we drove back to a beach called 'Brandon's Beach', which is only a 1/2 mile distance from the cruise ship! (in fact, you are right next to the harbor (industrial-like in appearance) and the ship itself).  This beach they was just OK, but is heavily used and has some trash, etc. We could have just skipped this part and walked there ourselves! I had to ask the guide to show us downtown Bridgetown and the government buildings on the way back to the shipHe wasn't even planning to.  The van we were transported in had no seatbelts or air conditioning.  The tour operator (Sarah Taylor) told us we would get a partial refund because of the condition of the van, but never put it through. I forwarded her e-mail to our credit card and made it a billing dispute to get my money back.  We do not recommend this tour company at all. 

St. Kitts was our next stop. This is a beautiful islandthe south part is a bit more arid than St. Lucia or Barbados. We did a half day "Capitol Tour and Beach Splash" with Grey's Island Excursions.  We saw Basseterre and stopped for a couple of spectacular photo spots and then on the Cockleshell Beach at the south tip of St. Kitts with a great view of Nevis. This is a great snorkel spotwe retrieved 3 beautiful conch shells. One the way back we saw the wild monkey's which populate this part of the island.  Our guide on the way home was Mr Sackville Grey, a retired engineer and brother of the company's owner.  Mr. Grey worked for one of the St. Kitts sugar mill companies.  He is a very charming gentleman and gave us an excellent tour back and a very interesting overview of how sugar is made. 

Next to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.  We arranged for an all day sailboat trip to St. John and Virgin Islands National Park through Interline Sails (Omar van Ruyens).  To do a full day snorkel trip to St. John for 5 people was about $420 through the ship.  We paid $575 for a 7 hour sailboat trip manned by a 2-person crew ( a much better value!) to two spots on St. Johns (Hawksnest Bay) and Great St. James Island with lunch and drinks included.  This was the highlight of our cruise and I strongly recommend this option if you visit St. Thomas. Our boat left from Red Hookthe only problem is the $100 round trip taxi fare!.  The taxi's on St. Thomas are unionized and the rates are fixedvery expensive, but there is no other option.  Havensight Mall is the best place to shop of all the ports we visited and the place to buy souvenirs.  Also, you pay in US$ with no credit card fees for foreign currency. 

Our last stop was Princess Cays.  This was the only 'downside' of being on a ship with 3,000+ passengers.  We waited about 45-50 minutes for the tenders to bring us over.  Princess Cays is a very nice island and a picturesque stop, but the quality of the beach is not as good as Holland America's Half Moon Cay.  Half Moon Cay has one of the most pristine, beautiful beaches I have ever seen. We rented a clam shell, which was a very good investment to have shade from the intense Caribbean sun. We enjoyed the BBQ on the island.  Waiting for the tenders to go back is alot more pleasant because one just 'hangs out' at the great beach. 

Returning to Fort Lauderdale was a bit chaotic.  Apparently the port crew (or someone) took the luggage off in reverse order (meaning that the first scheduled group's luggage was not even off the ship when they were scheduled to disembark, so everyone disembarked late).  We had a 1 p.m. flight from Miami Airport and we started to get concerned about 1 p.m.  Some of the crew was blaming it on customs, but I learned otherwise. Finally after talking to a crew member, I learned that our luggage was already off (even though we were scheduled at the endwhy didn't they just tell us so we could get off?)  We finally disembarked on our own (before our group was called) almost 90 minutes past our scheduled time.  Then there were 5 or 6 ships in port, so the taxi scene was very hectic and disorganized with no queue at all.  Tax's were taken by the most aggressive and outspoken passengers. Returning to home port in Fort Lauderdale on a Sunday is not a good plan.  

This was our second Princess cruise and we left with a much more positive impression of the cruise line.  We have taken 5 cruises with Holland America and enjoy the more middle-age crowd and more families that you find on Princess.  Holland America tends to attract a much older group of cruisers. 

Great trip, excellent ports, and an overall excellent way to spend Easter vacation.
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Cabin Review

Cabin
Emerald Princess is a heavily balcony-oriented ship with 8 decks of all balcony rooms. However, there are only staterooms on those decks with no activities. However, if you want a bargain I recommended passing on the balcony rooms and staying on Plaza deck. The rooms on this deck do not have balconies, but from a convenience and access viewpoint, this is definitely the deck to stay on. Because of our family size, we always get an oceanview room for my wife and I and an inside room for our boys. Our room was right off of the art gallery. From their you stroll right onto the main plaza/ atrium area. Everything is theresidewalk cafes, front office, library, shops, dining rooms, etc. The atrium area often has live music (string quartet, piano, etc.) and it is so nice to be able to walk right over on the same level. It also a great spot to just bring your laptop and sit. This saves you many, many elevator or stair trips from the all-balcony decks to get somewhere where there is something going on.
  Emerald Princess Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Antigua
    Our first stop was Antigua on Easter morning. We quickly went straight to St. John's Anglican Cathedral for Easter Services. We really enjoyed this service which was a completely, by-the-book Anglican service with a flair of Caribbean music. The large, well-dressed congregation was extremely welcoming. If you're on a Caribbean island on a Sunday, and if you are a churchgoer, this is a very interesting experience to get exposed to a different culture and style of worship. After a return to the ship for lunch, we took the Princess-sponsored excursion to Bird Island National Park for kayaking and snorkeling. This was an excellent afternoon outing and the inlets and lagoons were a perfect, tranquil setting for kayaking
    View All 1,553 Antigua Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Antigua Cruise Port Review
  • Barbados
    On to Barbados. We used Glory Tours which was a complete disappointment. We booked this in January and were instantly charged US$253. Our driver was a nice gentleman, but not an experienced tour guide. We felt like we would have gotten the same tour by just walking up to any taxi driver. He whisked us off to the Eastern shore to see Bathsheba, which is a very beautiful spot. We drove by several sites (old sugar mills, plantations, etc.), but not a single stop or explanation at these. Then we drove back to a beach called 'Brandon's Beach', which is only a 1/2 mile distance from the cruise ship! (in fact, you are right next to the harbor (industrial-like in appearance) and the ship itself). This beach they was just OK, but is heavily used and has some trash, etc. We could have just skipped this part and walked there ourselves! I had to ask the guide to show us downtown Bridgetown and the government buildings on the way back to the shipHe wasn't even planning to. The van we were transported in had no seatbelts or air conditioning. The tour operator (Sarah Taylor) told us we would get a partial refund because of the condition of the van, but never put it through. I forwarded her e-mail to our credit card and made it a billing dispute to get my money back. We do not recommend this tour company at all.
    View All 1,528 Barbados Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Barbados Cruise Port Review
  • St. Kitts (Port Zante)
    St. Kitts was our next stop. This is a beautiful island the south part is a bit more arid than St. Lucia or Barbados. We did a half day "Capitol Tour and Beach Splash" with Grey's Island Excursions. We saw Basseterre and stopped for a couple of spectacular photo spots and then on the Cockleshell Beach at the south tip of St. Kitts with a great view of Nevis. This is a great snorkel spotwe retrieved 3 beautiful conch shells. One the way back we saw the wild monkey's which populate this part of the island. Our guide on the way home was Mr Sackville Grey, a retired engineer and brother of the company's owner. Mr. Grey worked for one of the St. Kitts sugar mill companies. He is a very charming gentleman and gave us an excellent tour back and a very interesting overview of how sugar is made.
    View All 1,704 St. Kitts (Port Zante) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's St. Kitts (Port Zante) Cruise Port Review
  • St. Lucia
    Our next stop was St. Lucia and we booked the Cosol tour (private). St.Lucia is a beautiful island (right out of Pirates of the Caribbean or a King Kong movie) and Cosol is THE BEST was to see it. It is about a 7 hour tour. You are transported in 12 passenger vans so we shared the day with another family (there are 4 or more vans that caravan). The tour includes a banana plantation stop, Soufriere, sulfur-spewing volcano, Pitons, etc., plus a stop for home-made Caribbean treats. The beach in between the twin Pitons is a spectacular spot and has great snorkeling.
    View All 1,393 St. Lucia Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's St. Lucia Cruise Port Review
  • St. Thomas
    Next to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. We arranged for an all day sailboat trip to St. John and Virgin Islands National Park through Interline Sails (Omar van Ruyens). To do a full day snorkel trip to St. John for 5 people was about $420 through the ship. We paid $575 for a 7 hour sailboat trip manned by a 2-person crew ( a much better value!) to two spots on St. Johns (Hawksnest Bay) and Great St. James Island with lunch and drinks included. This was the highlight of our cruise and I strongly recommend this option if you visit St. Thomas. Our boat left from Red Hookthe only problem is the $100 round trip taxi fare!. The taxi's on St. Thomas are unionized and the rates are fixedvery expensive, but there is no other option. Havensight Mall is the best place to shop of all the ports we visited and the place to buy souvenirs. Also, you pay in US$ with no credit card fees for foreign currency.
    View All 4,674 St. Thomas Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's St. Thomas Cruise Port Review