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Sail Date: May 2010
We just returned after a great 7 days on the Caribbean Princess. I'm not going to go into great detail about the ports, but rather concentrate on the actual "CRUISE" components: Embarkation: We arrived in San Juan a ... Read More
We just returned after a great 7 days on the Caribbean Princess. I'm not going to go into great detail about the ports, but rather concentrate on the actual "CRUISE" components: Embarkation: We arrived in San Juan a day early. Having gotten a great deal on priceline for the Marriott Stellaris/Casino, I inquired at the front desk if any upgrades were available. For a small additional charge we got an oceanfront room on the 18th floor. GREAT View, great hotel, great service and great location. Unlike past cruises we decided to be in the first wave of those embarking--primarily because we want to make sure we got on the list for the Ultimate Ship Tour. We arrived at the Port around 10:45 and got in line to check our luggage. Unlike other terminals, there are no porters, you get in line and check luggage. It was a quick and easy process. At 11:00 the doors were opened to the "waiting area" and we were seated in comfortable chairs until they started the check in process. After a wait of approximately 30 minutes we were directed to the line for check in which was the fastest process we have ever experienced. We were quickly on the ship and headed directly to the pursers desk to get on the list for the Ultimate Ship Tour. Our Stateroom: We went to our stateroom and were quickly greeted by our room steward, Arturo. He was, without question, the best room steward we have had. Our few requests (additional feather pillows, egg crate, etc.) were immediately addressed. Our AB mini suite was like "coming home" to prior mini-suites. This is the first time, however, that we were midship having always done locations at fore or aft. It's true what you read---movement of the ship is much less noticeable midship. Food: The first night seafood buffet was great. King crab, shrimp, assorted fish selections all made for a great first night dinner. Increased presence of waitstaff at the Horizon Court was noticeable. There was not one time during the entire cruise that I had to get my own coffee or Iced Tea. There was always a waiter that would appear and ask if I wanted something to drink. The second night we dined at the Crown Grill. The service was impeccable, the food as good as anything you can get at Ruths Chris. The only problem was there was too much food. The $25.00 surcharge is definitely worth it---highly recommend the Crown Grill. We opted for anytime dining and never had a wait for a table; most likely because we are early diners. This is the first cruise, however, where the dining line would not take reservations for tables for two. Whether this is fleet wide, or just the CB is unknown. The main dining room food was excellent. In fact this was probably the best MDR food we've experienced in 4 Princess Cruises. Service was always efficient and friendly. There was a notable absence of the Maitre'd and his assistants wandering the dining room inquiring if everything was OK. Entertainment: Dan Styne was the Cruise Director and was the best we have experienced. He was hilarious at the shows--he could be a stand up comedian. The shows that we saw were good, especially Joshua Seth (the hypnotist) and Tom Briscoe (comedian). Also, the last night "International Crew Talent Show) was great. Princess Pop star was fun and there was some great talent on this Cruise. I'm really glad the "Black Velvet" woman from Philly won (sorry--forget her name). Ultimate Ship Tour This is something that everyone should do. You get a chance to see parts of the ship that are off limits to passengers. The cost of $150 is worth it; especially considering the gifts you get (A plush terry cloth Princess bathrobe, chefs jacket, photos taken during the tour and personalized stationary). The only down side to the tour was the visit to the Bridge. Captain Pickford said Hello then disappeared and left us with the Junior Officer (a nice young man) to do the bridge tour. The first officer was clearly irritated that we were there---his disdain was oozing out of him. He wouldn't even say hello and kept giving us dirty looks. Many in the group of 11 commented on the weird feeling on the bridge and the Captain snubbing us without so much as a picture. Captain Pickford needs a lesson in customer relations. He is obviously very impressed with himself, which is a good thing since he did not impress me or others I talked to with his PR skills. Regardless of Captain Pickford and his First Officers disdain for those that paid $150 for the ship tour, I would definitely recommend it as something everyone must do. The pride that the Chef, the laundry manager, the ship doctor, etc., show for their respective areas was impressive. The Chef was particularly informative, leading us through the entire galley as well as all of the food prep and storage areas. Disembarkation: A nightmare. We had a noon flight and decided to do express walk off. Instructed to show up at the Casino at 7:15 we arrived to a packed room. There was no Princess staff visible. No announcement were being made in the casino and it soon became apparent that there was no way we were getting off at our appointed times. Finally, around 8:00 a hard to understand announcement was made that they were having trouble with the gangway. A few minutes later, we were told that we would have to go to deck four (three decks down) to disembark. A mad rush ensued for the elevators and stair. We got to deck four and a crew member started yelling that she was going to "make us go back" upstairs. Hundreds of people, having pulled luggage down three flights of stairs were not going anywhere. After another wait of approximately fifteen minutes the doors were finally opened and those with express walk off were able to disembark. We proceeded to the taxi area and found a Town Car that was available. We grabbed it and headed to LGA. Since then I have learned that the high winds made the ships hit the dock--it wasn't a problem with the gangway. Princess should be ashamed of their lack of communication during this process. It appeared as though no one was in charge. I understand that the disembarkation process went downhill from there, with many being delayed for several hours. Summary: This was a great cruise with many high points and some frustrating low points. The Cruise Director was the best and the Captain was (IMHO) a jerk who doesn't like passengers and allows his officers to act the same way towards passengers. The food was great, Arturo, our room steward EXCELLENT. I do not like the fact that Princess has gone to an email survey after the cruise instead of the paper survey of passengers. Having just completed the email survey, I can tell you that there is only one space for comments and that it is a much abbreviated version of the comprehensive document that was used until recently. Bottom Line: Great cruise, weird Captain, good food and a disembarkation that raised questions of how Princess would handle a true emergency. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
My partner and I have been on more than a dozen cruises on several different lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. I really wanted to try Princess because I had read and heard they offered a superior product. That is ... Read More
My partner and I have been on more than a dozen cruises on several different lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. I really wanted to try Princess because I had read and heard they offered a superior product. That is simply not the case. Frankly, Emerald Princess afforded probably the worst service I have encountered on any cruise line. Aside from our room attendant, Elvira and one dining room waitress, Sandra, the service was terrible, sometimes even rude. It seemed like the crew could not care less about the passengers' enjoyment. The ship itself has a terrible layout. Only decks 7 and 15 allow passengers to traverse the entire ship. All the other decks except the stateroom decks have a blockage requiring you to go up or down a deck or two to move from front to back of the ship. You have to have an engineering degree to figure out how to get to the aft pool and hot tub without going through the dining room. And, there are far too few public restrooms for a ship with 3000+ passengers. Probably the biggest problem is the small size of the main show lounge. It seats only about 800 passengers and there were 3300 on our cruise, meaning that less than half can see a show on any given night. You literally have to grab a seat an hour before show time to insure a seat. Ridiculous! The ship also feels crowded. On the plus side, the pools are all fresh water and heated and there were enough deck chairs even on sea days except by the aft pool (supposedly adults only, but not enforced). They also are not "towel police" like RCL. You don't have to account for each and every towel or pay a $20 fine like Royal Caribbean. Another complaint I had is the excessive drink prices. Alcoholic beverages averaged in price from about $5 to $7 each, much more than other cruise lines I have utilized recently and they measure each and every shot exactly! No free pour allowed. I know they are trying to generate extra revenue, but they could at least pour a decent drink. The cabin is unusual in layout, but nicely appointed. The closet is large, but it takes up cabin space so there is no seating area in the balcony cabins. The bathroom was adequate, but had those awful shower curtains, not the door that is much more common now. I did notice substantial wear in some of the carpet in the hallways and stairwells, something uncommon for a newer ship. And I did not observe maintenance being preformed during our cruise. Even the windows were not washed during the entire cruise and the salt spray significantly clouded the views. The food, in my opinion, was better than industry average. Significantly better than Royal Caribbean, which is my favorite line; however, the buffet was disappointing. It had a smaller selection than even Carnival and a very congested layout at peak times. We dined at Sabatini's and I would have to say that it was probably the best meal I have every had on any ship. Well worth the $20 surcharge. Crown Grill on the other hand was unexceptional, but still quite good. They charge $25 extra per person. All said and done, I would definitely choose Royal Caribbean over Princess and even Carnival was somewhat superior in service. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
We set sail from Ft Lauderdale on Dec 27th. This was our first cruise. We have been to numerous 5 star resorts and none compare to the experience on the Emerald Princess. We had a great time. Food was wonderful!!! We had anytime dining and ... Read More
We set sail from Ft Lauderdale on Dec 27th. This was our first cruise. We have been to numerous 5 star resorts and none compare to the experience on the Emerald Princess. We had a great time. Food was wonderful!!! We had anytime dining and didn't run into problems in the dining room, but we normally arrived between 5:30-6. (the lines looked like they got a bit crazy when we were leaving) There was never a shortage of food, buffet was always well stocked!! Burgers and fries, pizza and ice cream around the pool were amazing!!!!! The shows in the theater were FIRST CLASS!!! 3 wonderful productions!!! New Years Eve was celebrated in style in many locations so no one location was overly crowded. We purchased the Pop card, allowing us unlimited pop. The cost of alcoholic drinks was steep, but service was great and many drink varieties available!!! Movies under the stars were enjoyable with many different types of movies shown throughout the week. Our room steward was fabulous, keeping the room clean and turning down the bed each night. They were in when you were out and out when you were in the room!! The Emerald Princess has everything you would want from a Sushi bar, to a bakery (a must try in the lower lobby!!!) the Skywalkers night club was a great time with fab music and lights. The gym was comparable to most health clubs in any city!!!! (great view out the front of the ship and spin classes were offered) Tropical Island night was another fun party, most passengers wore tropical island gear and entertainment took place around the pool! Never a dull moment, from ice sculptures down around the pool, ballroom dancers in the lobby to bingo and trivia in the lounges. We look forward to our next Princess Cruise!!!! Read Less
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