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30th Valentine's Day Wedding Anniversary We did back to back sailings on the Emerald in February - the 6th and 16th - and chose those cruises to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. We had sailed on Princess to celebrate our wedding anniversary four times before so anticipated a really special experience for our 30th. In January 2009 we did 10 day B2Bs on the Emerald with Commodore Romano and considered the Emerald something special. But as they say - things change. This review is for our first cruise, The Southern Caribbean. Embarkation We did B2B sailings on the Crown in January so needed a one night stay in Ft Lauderdale before we boarded the Emerald. The Rodeway Inn had a stay and park and cruise program so we tried that. The rates were good, the room was fine, we signed up for the included transfers to our ship - but we found when we went to the lobby at the 10:30 am designated time that the Rodeway Inn program for cruisers was extremely popular as the lobby was absolutely packed and people were even standing out in the parking area. So it took a bit longer than we expected but our van left for the terminal in about an hour or so. There we learned what the Platinum and Elite "Preferred Check-in" benefit really means. We were directed towards a doorway where we could see some people standing. Leaving those who were not Platinum and Elite sitting comfortably in the terminal, we stood for about 20 minutes in what should really be called the "Preferred Stand Up" line. When the line finally began to move it emptied out into the check-in area. The Preferred Check-in booths had long lines so we went to the Caribe deck booth where the line was shorter. And then onto the ship where we quickly recognized faces of staff we had sailed with before - and all was good and happy again. The Ship and Cabin When we first booked these cruises there were no cabins available for both cruises in the area we wanted, so we had to book different cabins. We tried inquiring a number of times to see if we could avoid the move but it was not to be. So we ended up in the very same cabins we booked - the upgrade fairy apparently was busy taking care of others on this cruise and didn't get around to us. We booked inside cabins amidships on the Caribe deck, and they were in a very convenient location and very comfortable. Our cabin steward was absolutely super excellent. The Emerald was oversold for this cruise - a number of people on our role call got move over offers and some others got great upgrades. The ship was very crowded - painfully obvious on February 6 as it was Super Bowl Night and we learned that we could only watch the Super Bowl in the Explorer's Lounge or MUTS - Emerald management did not obtain a license for in-room viewing according to the purser's desk. (However those on the Crown apparently not only could see it in their cabins but also at Skywalkers according to reviews posted on CC -we should have stayed on the Crown!). I probably don't have to tell you it was a zoo in Explorers and apparently if you didn't get a seat first thing after muster you wouldn't get one later. I stood up for a little bit of the first half but gave up - first Super Bowl I have missed in years. Those that have sailed Crown class ships know how crowded they can get - and the Emerald certainly was crowded. On the Emerald they do things differently than what we have become accustomed to on other Princess ships. For example they don't publish a menu/drink schedule for the Elite Lounge so you have to go up there every day to find out what they happen to be serving - and if you have been there you know some selections are very good and others not so much. In the gym on the Emerald they only have two exercise balls - and every time we were there they were in use. On the Emerald the Captain's Circle Party is held in the piazza. We are used to Captain's Circle Parties held in Club Fusion (on this class ship) where you can sit comfortably and order a drink and have some nibbles before the Captain gives a little speech about what is new with Princess and the most traveled awards are made. Since Princess has a lot of repeat passengers they typically have multiple parties because of the number of people that are invited as well as being able to have separate cocktail parties for those who eat early and those who eat late. But that is not the case on the Emerald - there is only one party and that is at 7:30 pm. That was rather strange for early diners - go to a cocktail party after dinner? The "party" itself was most bizarre. At the beginning there were about 2000 people milling around in the piazza on decks 5 & 6. There were just a few waiters serving the standard Princess free drink tray setup that includes those strange orange and yellow and green drinks and some other watered down mixtures. The poor waiters were mobbed and all their drinks were taken the moment they came past the barriers (apparently the Princess guards tried to keep first time cruisers out of the party - but didn't do a very good job of it) so the mob kept moving to try to find waiters with something on their tray other than empty glasses. And when the soft spoken Captain tried to say a few words the about 800 people kept talking (only 800 because of lot of people left.) It was really sad that those on the Emerald responsible for putting that party in the piazza did not even think about how many of those invited could not stand comfortably for 45 minutes straight as there were very few places to sit available. So this is the way Emerald management chose to "show how special our repeat passengers are"? If you have sailed Princess for years you might recognize it was exactly like what used to be called the welcome aboard party. Of course in those days the Champagne Waterfall was later in the evening on formal night after the Captain's farewell cocktail party and dinner. Also on the Emerald they don't do a most traveled passenger luncheon - they just have a short cocktail party with some nondescript appetizers passed around. Pardon my rant but on the Emerald they are changing the very reasons we have chosen to prefer sailing with Princess over the years. It just seemed that they were cutting corners on all kinds of activities and it seemed really cheap. Princess used to be moderately elegant and sophisticated - not so on the Emerald. We usually don't feel the ship's motion on these big ships but the Emerald was an exception. There was very noticeable side to side motion, even when the seas did not look that rough. The Food Food on the Emerald was ok - some of our favorite dishes weren't as good as they were on other ships. There also seemed to be a problem when you specified how you wanted your steak (or prime rib or rack of lamb, etc.) At times requesting "medium-rare" delivered meat with just a little pink in the middle (medium?) but it might also be blood red (very rare?) at other times. We watched an interesting back and forth at the next table where a steak was sent back three times - and then the diner said she only really wanted the vegetables anyhow. Cruising can be both fun and funny. We tried the DaVinci the first two nights, were seated at not so good tables and the noise level in the dining room was very loud. We tried the Michelangelo the third night and were seated at a great table that was somewhat secluded. The waiters were excellent so we asked to have that table again the next night - and it became our regular table for the rest of the cruise. The headwaiters in the Michelangelo were also excellent and we found dinner there became the highlight of each day. The Entertainment The Emerald has the usual cruise ship entertainment - production shows are usually fairly good but the other acts range from great to absolutely terrible. We found them pretty average. The cruise director Billy London had just joined the ship and obviously was having a little difficulty getting adjusted. We usually turn on the TV when we get up and half listen to the Wake Show. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is informative, sometimes it is boring, but mostly they are just trying to sell you something. But we usually try to answer the question of the day and write dedications on very special occasions. Billy forgot to ask a question of the day on one day, forgot to give the answer to a question he asked on another day, and did not read any dedications on Valentine's Day - the obvious day we had written dedications for each other for our 30th anniversary. Perhaps there were too many to read but at least he could have said that. So instead of Valentine's Day dedications by passengers for their loved ones they talked about their own personal situations - and the rest of the Wake Show was trying to sell stuff like the spa and shops. They did have a nice renewal of vows ceremony in the piazza that a number of us enjoyed. But rather than the Captain performing the ceremony - it was done by the CD Billy London. But as I have been saying - they do things differently (even strangely) on the Emerald... Disembarkation Since we were doing a B2B we were in-transit passengers so were instructed by a separate letter to meet at the Michelangelo at 10:35 am for processing. We were in the process of changing cabins shortly after 10 when they announced over the PA system that all in-transit passengers should report to the Michelangelo. So we quickly put our stuff in our new cabin and headed downstairs to sit in the Michelangelo for 20 minutes. Then we were herded into the terminal and sat there for 15 minutes. Then we were herded to a line for passport inspection and directed back to the terminal sitting area where we sat another 20 minutes before going back onboard. Since we had just done a B2B on the Crown we were reminded just how differently the Emerald does things - on the Crown it took about 30 minutes for the entire process. Highlights I felt very fortunate to be able to celebrate 30 pretty wonderful years of marriage with my Valentine's Day bride on a Caribbean Cruise. The renewal of vows ceremony was fun and our anniversary dinner was superb. We met some great people. Last Thoughts Many repeat Princess passengers we spoke with on this cruise were disappointed and others even agitated and angry with the changes in the "Princess Experience" being implemented on the Emerald. A major concern was that Princess might implement these changes fleet wide. Was it a terrible cruise and are we saying we will never sail Princess again? Absolutely not. We have 8 cruises booked on Princess between now and spring 2012. However, none of them will be on the Emerald.

30th Valentine’s Day Wedding Anniversary

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by DrJohn

Trip Details
30th Valentine's Day Wedding Anniversary



We did back to back sailings on the Emerald in February - the 6th and 16th - and chose those cruises to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. We had sailed on Princess to celebrate our wedding anniversary four times before so anticipated a really special experience for our 30th. In January 2009 we did 10 day B2Bs on the Emerald with Commodore Romano and considered the Emerald something special. But as they say - things change. This review is for our first cruise, The Southern Caribbean.



Embarkation

We did B2B sailings on the Crown in January so needed a one night stay in Ft Lauderdale before we boarded the Emerald. The Rodeway Inn had a stay and park and cruise program so we tried that. The rates were good, the room was fine, we signed up for the included transfers to our ship - but we found when we went to the lobby at the 10:30 am designated time that the Rodeway Inn program for cruisers was extremely popular as the lobby was absolutely packed and people were even standing out in the parking area. So it took a bit longer than we expected but our van left for the terminal in about an hour or so. There we learned what the Platinum and Elite "Preferred Check-in" benefit really means. We were directed towards a doorway where we could see some people standing. Leaving those who were not Platinum and Elite sitting comfortably in the terminal, we stood for about 20 minutes in what should really be called the "Preferred Stand Up" line. When the line finally began to move it emptied out into the check-in area. The Preferred Check-in booths had long lines so we went to the Caribe deck booth where the line was shorter. And then onto the ship where we quickly recognized faces of staff we had sailed with before - and all was good and happy again.



The Ship and Cabin

When we first booked these cruises there were no cabins available for both cruises in the area we wanted, so we had to book different cabins. We tried inquiring a number of times to see if we could avoid the move but it was not to be. So we ended up in the very same cabins we booked - the upgrade fairy apparently was busy taking care of others on this cruise and didn't get around to us. We booked inside cabins amidships on the Caribe deck, and they were in a very convenient location and very comfortable. Our cabin steward was absolutely super excellent.



The Emerald was oversold for this cruise - a number of people on our role call got move over offers and some others got great upgrades. The ship was very crowded - painfully obvious on February 6 as it was Super Bowl Night and we learned that we could only watch the Super Bowl in the Explorer's Lounge or MUTS - Emerald management did not obtain a license for in-room viewing according to the purser's desk. (However those on the Crown apparently not only could see it in their cabins but also at Skywalkers according to reviews posted on CC -we should have stayed on the Crown!). I probably don't have to tell you it was a zoo in Explorers and apparently if you didn't get a seat first thing after muster you wouldn't get one later. I stood up for a little bit of the first half but gave up - first Super Bowl I have missed in years.



Those that have sailed Crown class ships know how crowded they can get - and the Emerald certainly was crowded. On the Emerald they do things differently than what we have become accustomed to on other Princess ships. For example they don't publish a menu/drink schedule for the Elite Lounge so you have to go up there every day to find out what they happen to be serving - and if you have been there you know some selections are very good and others not so much. In the gym on the Emerald they only have two exercise balls - and every time we were there they were in use. On the Emerald the Captain's Circle Party is held in the piazza. We are used to Captain's Circle Parties held in Club Fusion (on this class ship) where you can sit comfortably and order a drink and have some nibbles before the Captain gives a little speech about what is new with Princess and the most traveled awards are made. Since Princess has a lot of repeat passengers they typically have multiple parties because of the number of people that are invited as well as being able to have separate cocktail parties for those who eat early and those who eat late. But that is not the case on the Emerald - there is only one party and that is at 7:30 pm. That was rather strange for early diners - go to a cocktail party after dinner? The "party" itself was most bizarre. At the beginning there were about 2000 people milling around in the piazza on decks 5 & 6. There were just a few waiters serving the standard Princess free drink tray setup that includes those strange orange and yellow and green drinks and some other watered down mixtures. The poor waiters were mobbed and all their drinks were taken the moment they came past the barriers (apparently the Princess guards tried to keep first time cruisers out of the party - but didn't do a very good job of it) so the mob kept moving to try to find waiters with something on their tray other than empty glasses. And when the soft spoken Captain tried to say a few words the about 800 people kept talking (only 800 because of lot of people left.) It was really sad that those on the Emerald responsible for putting that party in the piazza did not even think about how many of those invited could not stand comfortably for 45 minutes straight as there were very few places to sit available. So this is the way Emerald management chose to "show how special our repeat passengers are"? If you have sailed Princess for years you might recognize it was exactly like what used to be called the welcome aboard party. Of course in those days the Champagne Waterfall was later in the evening on formal night after the Captain's farewell cocktail party and dinner. Also on the Emerald they don't do a most traveled passenger luncheon - they just have a short cocktail party with some nondescript appetizers passed around. Pardon my rant but on the Emerald they are changing the very reasons we have chosen to prefer sailing with Princess over the years. It just seemed that they were cutting corners on all kinds of activities and it seemed really cheap. Princess used to be moderately elegant and sophisticated - not so on the Emerald.



We usually don't feel the ship's motion on these big ships but the Emerald was an exception. There was very noticeable side to side motion, even when the seas did not look that rough.



The Food

Food on the Emerald was ok - some of our favorite dishes weren't as good as they were on other ships. There also seemed to be a problem when you specified how you wanted your steak (or prime rib or rack of lamb, etc.) At times requesting "medium-rare" delivered meat with just a little pink in the middle (medium?) but it might also be blood red (very rare?) at other times. We watched an interesting back and forth at the next table where a steak was sent back three times - and then the diner said she only really wanted the vegetables anyhow. Cruising can be both fun and funny. We tried the DaVinci the first two nights, were seated at not so good tables and the noise level in the dining room was very loud. We tried the Michelangelo the third night and were seated at a great table that was somewhat secluded. The waiters were excellent so we asked to have that table again the next night - and it became our regular table for the rest of the cruise. The headwaiters in the Michelangelo were also excellent and we found dinner there became the highlight of each day.



The Entertainment

The Emerald has the usual cruise ship entertainment - production shows are usually fairly good but the other acts range from great to absolutely terrible. We found them pretty average. The cruise director Billy London had just joined the ship and obviously was having a little difficulty getting adjusted. We usually turn on the TV when we get up and half listen to the Wake Show. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is informative, sometimes it is boring, but mostly they are just trying to sell you something. But we usually try to answer the question of the day and write dedications on very special occasions. Billy forgot to ask a question of the day on one day, forgot to give the answer to a question he asked on another day, and did not read any dedications on Valentine's Day - the obvious day we had written dedications for each other for our 30th anniversary. Perhaps there were too many to read but at least he could have said that. So instead of Valentine's Day dedications by passengers for their loved ones they talked about their own personal situations - and the rest of the Wake Show was trying to sell stuff like the spa and shops. They did have a nice renewal of vows ceremony in the piazza that a number of us enjoyed. But rather than the Captain performing the ceremony - it was done by the CD Billy London. But as I have been saying - they do things differently (even strangely) on the Emerald...



Disembarkation

Since we were doing a B2B we were in-transit passengers so were instructed by a separate letter to meet at the Michelangelo at 10:35 am for processing. We were in the process of changing cabins shortly after 10 when they announced over the PA system that all in-transit passengers should report to the Michelangelo. So we quickly put our stuff in our new cabin and headed downstairs to sit in the Michelangelo for 20 minutes. Then we were herded into the terminal and sat there for 15 minutes. Then we were herded to a line for passport inspection and directed back to the terminal sitting area where we sat another 20 minutes before going back onboard. Since we had just done a B2B on the Crown we were reminded just how differently the Emerald does things - on the Crown it took about 30 minutes for the entire process.



Highlights

I felt very fortunate to be able to celebrate 30 pretty wonderful years of marriage with my Valentine's Day bride on a Caribbean Cruise. The renewal of vows ceremony was fun and our anniversary dinner was superb. We met some great people.



Last Thoughts

Many repeat Princess passengers we spoke with on this cruise were disappointed and others even agitated and angry with the changes in the "Princess Experience" being implemented on the Emerald. A major concern was that Princess might implement these changes fleet wide. Was it a terrible cruise and are we saying we will never sail Princess again? Absolutely not. We have 8 cruises booked on Princess between now and spring 2012. However, none of them will be on the Emerald.
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Cabin c404
great location, quiet
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