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1,018 Princess Romantic Cruise Reviews

22nd cruise with Princess...definitely in the top 3 of our experience...great itinerary---Sydney-Melbourne-Hobart-Fiordland-Dunedin-Lyttleton (for Christchurch)-Tauranga-Auckland...Captain Sagani is the most personable Princess Captain ... Read More
22nd cruise with Princess...definitely in the top 3 of our experience...great itinerary---Sydney-Melbourne-Hobart-Fiordland-Dunedin-Lyttleton (for Christchurch)-Tauranga-Auckland...Captain Sagani is the most personable Princess Captain since Captain Creighton in the late '70's---his 12 o'clock reports are informative and entertaining (people were actually listening to them!) and his sailaway comments were a hoot-"the staff captain is at the helm so fasten your seat belts"...Cruise Director Adam Goder is the best we've had since J. J. King on the old "Royal Princess"...he had a spontaneity that was a relief from the canned dialogue of some of his peers on other ships and his leadership of the cruise director staff is apparent (their rendition of "If I were not upon this ship..." at the International Crew Show was a hoot)...there was adequate time in each port---we chose not to take any organized tours because they were quite expensive and most had long bus rides to the destinations...we heard the time spent on the bus detracted from the destinations...we did our own walkabouts in Melbourne, Hobart (I found the "Ball&Chain" restaurant that my squadron adopted in 1976...great memories even though the restaurant has been 90% made over), Dunedin (take in the railway station and the Cadbury chocolate factory-good prices on the big 200g bars!), Christchurch (do the hop on-hop off tourist tram first to get a feel for the downtown area then walk around the places you want to see in more detail), Tauranga (take the beautiful no-cost 2 mile walk around Mt. Maunganui at a leisurely pace to savor the incredible coastal scenery or if you're fit enough climb up the mountain for a great view of your ship and surrounding area)...our cabin (E326) was amidships so we didn't feel much "motion of the ocean" which was not very severe although the Tasman Sea can be a bit rough at times...the cabin is listed as obstructed view but the obstructions are minimal...the cabin steward, German, was superb and mostly invisible as are most of the cabin stewards we've had the pleasure of getting to know...dining was phenomenal each day---we dined in the Savoy Dining Room and specifically enjoyed the starters, soups, and sorbets---the dinner entrees did not disappoint us and the selection each evening was varied giving us many delicious options (we especially enjoyed the snapper, barramundi, halibut and shrimp)---we had a standing table for two next to a window 5:30 reservation through the head waiter in the anytime dining scheme so we could eat leisurely and stroll up to the Princess Theatre for the evening shows...the 5 production style shows were excellent---we had seen 4 of them before but they still were immensely enjoyed---the dancing and singing cast was quite talented especially Ella---the rest of the entertainment was pretty good---an aging English comic, Bobby Dennis whose act we've seen before is still funny with his rapid fire jokes and stories, a Tom Jones tribute act from Jacques Renay that was powerful albeit a tad corny at times, Gregg Arthur did a good job reviving crooners from the past, Placido Rodriguez a so-so comic vocalist, and Ella who filled in admirably in a solo act for a female vocalist headliner who became ill and did not appear...the remaining entertainers were outstanding from long-time Princess fixture Maurizio on the keyboards, the classically talented Astoria String Quartet, lounge acts Exotique and Amante were accomplished musicians and singers...some new (for us) wrinkles on "Diamond Princess" were enjoyed (specialty lunch buffets-Indian, Mexican, Asian, and dessert...the no-cost soft ice cream station...the no-cost waffle station all on the Lido Deck were quite good)...the cleanliness of the entire ship was greatly appreciated (all public venues including restrooms and the Horizon Court buffet were kept at the highest standard despite a small minority of passengers who could occasionally put pigs to shame)...the boutique staff were congenial and many good values could be found there...as expected, the beverage, photo, and spa services were somewhat overpriced in my opinion but participation in those activities is strictly personal choice...The Captain's Circle Hostess Loren was a delightful young lady who has a wonderful outlook on life and is one of the most congenial people on this planet...We would choose this itinerary and crew again in a heartbeat!!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Arrived about 11:30ish Sat, we spent a few days at Disneyland and were mulling over different ways to get to the terminal. We decided to rent a car from Enterprise, drive around and get our wine and pre cruise shopping done and then drive ... Read More
Arrived about 11:30ish Sat, we spent a few days at Disneyland and were mulling over different ways to get to the terminal. We decided to rent a car from Enterprise, drive around and get our wine and pre cruise shopping done and then drive the car to the Enterprise San Pedro location at the Crown Plaza Hotel. Enterprises also has a shuttle taking you to and from the ships, just be there before noon on a Saturday as they close at noon. I was upgraded to platinuim this trip so had priority check in and then we were ushered into a private room to wait to board the ship, it seems that Sapphire was running an hour late as she was alate arriving. OJ and coffee were offered in the room as well as the chance to pre-buy coffee cards, we did buy another coffee card as they were worth their weight in gold to us on the CB cruise. By noon we were on the ship and eager to get to our room. Aloha 611, it is our very first balcony room and while I loved it, Dh was a little disappointed as he had paid the best upgrade possible when he bought the cruise and he was a little taken back by how small the balcony was and how covered it was. I already knew what to expected because of the posters in CC and actually loved the balcony. He wants to ask what are the most coveted balconies to have?? He saw some that were partly covered partly exposed and not at all as private as our balcony about three floors down, maybe the dolphin?? . We were right across from the laundry room 9what a thoughtful man he is) and right under the buffet. Laundry room being so close was great and buffet noise was non-existent , we actually ran up to the buffet almost every day around 4ish to bring a plate of cheese, fruit, crackers, appys to nibble on with a glass of wine. We found the weather going down to be quite nice and we suntanning by the pool on the first sea day from 1-3 and from 11-3 the next sea day. Weather was quite warm and nice going down, going back was a slightly different experience LOL Also being on this deck meant we were so close to the main pools as well as the adult pool, loved this deck but it did seem a little more rockier the last two sea days back. Sawang is our room steward and he is the best steward we have ever had. We tipped him a extra $20 at the end of the cruise and made sure we filled out a "you made a difference" card for him. He told me that I kept the room so tidy it was very easy for him to do his job. We did anytime dining and first night found a wonderful team in the Savoy. Roland and Belazs, window table 230 becomes *OUR* table for 4 of the 5 nights. Two of the other nights we sit in their sections but different sections. One night we eat at Santa Fe and have horrible slow service. We tipped Roland and Belazs an extra $15 each and fill out the *you made a difference * cards for them as well. Belazs needs to be promoted to a higher level. Food on this Sapphire cruise was the best we have had on any of the Princess cruises. Prime rib on sail away night was one of the better Prime Rib we have had anywhere. Before I start sounding like a Princess Cheerleader, let me say the other Sapphire Princess food wasn't very good. Well the chef changed or got a whole lot better cause this food was wonderful. We had planned to do the sir charge restaurants (something we did on the NCL Spirit as an escape from their horrid food) but once we got on this Sapphire cruise, we decided to stay with the Savoy and such. Food highlights the Prime rib, the rack of lamb, the Cornish game hens, the pot roast (we were both shocked at this, as my husband said, I didn't know Pot roast tasted this good), watermelon and feta salad (really really good order two), crab legs are gone but lobster was still going strong. I ordered the pheasent instead and dh enjoyed his lobster and prawns. ENGLISH PUB LUNCH.....OMG!!!! This was offered in the Savoy twice on a sea day going down there and coming back. We had lunch there coming back and YUM!!! Steak and Kidney pie, curried chicken, bread prawns and chips, fish and chips, scotch eggs and salad, sherry trifle. I had one of the best steak and Kidney pies ever and Dh has a chicken curry so good I didn't get one bite. Glad we had a chance to try this. Very good. Entertainment Sat Welcome aboard show with Steve Morris and the Sapphire Princess singers.....we skipped this, too tired. Sunday First formal night champagne waterfall.... Piano Man in Princess Theater and later at saw Steve Morris at the Explorers lounge. We saw the early show of Steve Morris and he was funny and liked the fact in added music to his act. At club Fusion they had the start of Pop Star Idol or heat. Again too tired, saw some of Steve's second act but it seemed that he merely replayed his first act, word for word, it was funny but not worth seeing again. Monday Piano man again as well as Steve Morris we saw some of Steve's second act but it seemed that he merely replayed his first act from Sunday , word for word, it was funny but not worth seeing again. Tuesday princess theatre had Alexander and explorers lounge had a 50 &60's rock and roll party with the Baby Dolls. Weds Princess theatre had production show Do you wanna dance? And Explorers had Carlos Oscar......OMG this man is funny funny, funny, doesn't utter a single swear word and needs to get his own show. I laughed so hard I cried. We made sure we saw all of his shows. Loved his facial expressions. Thursday Production show in Princess theatre was I got the music Explorers show was Carlos Oscar tonight was the second formal night. Friday they had a farewell variety show and the pop star final Port days Puerto Vallarta we tend to go to PV a lot and intend to retire here one day, it was interesting to go as a one day cruise passenger. We grabbed a yellow cab from the main street for 50 pesos to the |Malecon and walk it then hike over to the River market then walk and spend the day at Playa Los Acros hotel. 4PM comes too early and we grab another taxi with friends met on the cruise, cab costs 80 pesos. Mazatlan.....WOW interesting city, last time we ended up in the Golden Zone and the only thing we liked about it was finding a Macdonalds with timeshare salesmen free bathrooms.....those guys were everywhere. This time we grabbed a cab to old Mazatlan for about 50 pesos to the old part of town and walked around to we hit a local's market. I remember shopping here with my parents when we used to drive down and stay in a motor home. Husband loved it but was a little shocked by the pigs heads, while sides of meats, whole chickens. It was incredible. Found a small purse I wanted and was going to offer her 50 pesos for it, (last one I bought cost me 80 pesos) when I asked her how much she said 50 epsos and I gave her a 50 pesos note, she looked shocked I didn't barter. To be honest I stopped bartering as much as I used to, Mexico hasd been hit with a huge drop in tourism and they need our money. Walked through a lovely old church and then hauled an open air cab (50 pesos) to the Water Taxis (20 pesos pp) at Stone Island. Spent a relaxed day at Victors on Stone Island, 320 pesos and we were well fed with garlic and coconut shrimp (bigger then some of the lobster tails on formal night). Got back to the ship around 3ish in time for our 3:30 naps........ We took many 3:30ish naps this trip and I am worried that my first day back to work I will need my 3:30ish nap. As we sail out the Captain comes on to alert us about the weather off the California and how it is going to effect us. He was patient, level headed and not once did I disagree with anything he was saying. He told us because of the approaching bad weather we would be sailing into 24 ft waves and would have to go very slowly. He was sorry but we were not stopping in Cabo. He needed to go as fast as he could now so that when the bad weather hit and he had to slow right down he could so so and still be safe and still get us back on time. I agreed with everything, especially since we had a 1:00 flight out that Sat. I saw most passengers nodding their heads but on man scowling, as I walked by him, I smiled and said, "better be safe then sorry" The weather started getting rougher but was still nice but by the afternoon of the Thursday 9the missed Cabo day) it was rough, we were getting the last of the sun up at the main pool and I commented to someone about the rain, turns out it was the splash from the waves. It was getting rough then suddenly the sun was gone, the wind was there and it was getting rougher. Thank god for ginger tablets, I woke up quite a bit that night and at one point the bed was shaking from side to side. I give the captain and crew full credit for deciding to come home and miss Cabo. On Friday someone fell and hurt themselves at the pool. So slippery and rough. All the staff were great about it as were my fellow passengers. Anytime someone grumbled about missing Cabo it was quickly squashed. Must say this was the best cruise ever!!! We signed up for two more cruise credits. 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Sail Date January 2010
My wife and I took our 3rd cruise ever, but our 1st with Princess on the Sapphire Princess January 16th - January 23rd. We have done the east & west Caribbean and decided to try the Mexican Riviera to see something different. I'll ... Read More
My wife and I took our 3rd cruise ever, but our 1st with Princess on the Sapphire Princess January 16th - January 23rd. We have done the east & west Caribbean and decided to try the Mexican Riviera to see something different. I'll try to break it down by parts & ports and then have a little summary on my thoughts as a whole for this cruise line (both of our other cruises were with Carnival so there will be some comparisons). Embarkation in San Pedro: This was fairly easy. We flew in the night before and stayed at the Double tree in San Pedro (I used hotwire and got the hotel for $69 a night). We flew in late Friday night and used Super shuttle to get to the hotel. Here is my thread on strategies for coming in late Friday http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=22394397#post22394397. I recommend ordering some wine from Off The Vine (just google it) and having wine delivered for free to your hotel before you arrive. Note the doubletree was too busy the morning of the flight to run us to a local grocery so I had to ask for them to shuttle me to Vonns at 10:30 at night. It worked out well for last minute items as the shuttle runs until 11pm. The Doubletree was nice but the morning breakfast buffet was a little expensive so I'd pack a granola bar and save 30 bucks (for 2) if I had to do it over again. Anyway, we scheduled the shuttle to take us to the pier at 10:30. Arrived and flew through the Princess check in process. You end up waiting in kind of a terminal looking area where they hand you an embarkation number. We were given number one and we waited. The ship apparently came in an hour later than normal so we weren't allowed to board until 12:15 or so. There were several people already boarding but I assume they were loyalty program members that got an early embarkation perk. They had a TV in the terminal so really we just watched some basketball instead of sitting in our rooms. Room: We were in an outside balcony room on Aloha deck (A618) mid-rear of the ship. I actually really liked the room and the location on the ship. The room itself had a lot of storage and places to put your stuff. I liked the area for hanging your clothes and easy access to the safe. My netbook fit nicely in the safe but a full size laptop probably won't fit. I felt safe and did leave it on the desk a few times but for storage reasons it just made sense to put it, my cash, and our passports in the safe. I'd take these rooms over the ones on Carnival. Nothing overly special, I just thought the layout was a little better. The balcony was plenty big for two of us to have a glass (or 2+) of wine while getting ready for dinner. There was a refrigerator in the room. The fridge had a few cans of soda along with a large water bottle. They charged you if you used them so I asked our steward to remove the items (she was very good and polite when we spoke to her). I also asked for her to fill the little ice bucket in the fridge all week (for room drinks). I tipped her $5 for her trouble and we had plenty of ice every day. The Ship: Honestly, this is one of the best ships we've been on. I know it's not brand new but I really didn't see any wear or tear. Everything was kept very clean. I would describe the ship as more elegant than previous ones I've been on. The carnival ships seemed to be a little gaudy. I just remember all the bright teal and purples on our other ships that seemed to try to be too much like a cheap vegas theme. This ship seems more like an upscale hotel. The layout takes a little getting used to but every ship I've been on is that way. After a few days you know where you are going. Quick useful tip: The room levels have a pink strip on one side and a blue strip on the other. So once you know what side you are on, you can quickly find your room from the elevator. You will get turned around every now and then so this trick really helped me. The Casino: I liked the casino. I don't gamble a ton, but I'm not afraid to throw some money out. I liked that the casino didn't feel too cramped and was well decorated. Some of the little touches (for example the poles were decorated as trees) made it seem a little classier than the riverboat type casinos I see at home. My wife likes slot machines so she tried her luck at some of the nickel and quarter machines. As a whole, she was up a few bucks by the end of the week. So she won a few bucks and then lost it back at times but ending the week with $20 is considered a win to me (usually losing slow is a win for me). One of our friends on the ship liked to play poker and they have a cool card table with built in screens that does all the dealing. It looked pretty slick but I didn't try it out. You kind of have to get your own game going but it was cool you had the option to play poker. It was not a limit game and you had to deposit $50 but you could take your money out at any time and leave. I like to play blackjack and they had two $5 tables. One thing I would have liked to know ahead of time is that the $5 blackjack table played a slightly different game of 21. It was called "fun 21" which basically meant they took all the queens out of the deck and you could surrender at any time. I don't know how this really affects the odds as I've never played it before. I only surrendered a few times and played basic strategy and won. I turned $20 into $55 one day and another $20 into $80 another time. I lost a little back but ended up about $100 when all was said and done. The dealers hand shuffle and use about 6 decks so I had the same odds as I get in my regular casinos. My only complaint about the casino is that they would rather have two open and empty $10 blackjack tables instead of just opening up more $5 ones so more people could play. Many casinos do this but I guess I don't see the point. More people would be playing if you had more $5 tables. Besides, if nobody is playing the $10 table, what is the point of having 2+ open? Dinning: The food was very good on the Sapphire. We did anytime dining and really never had to wait very long. They also have those buzzers you see at most restaurants so you could wonder around the shops for 10 minutes or so while you are waiting for a table. There isn't much of a point in putting in a reservation when you have anytime seating. I'm not really sure why they even mention it as you can only put reservations in before 6:15 or after 8 (or so). So the only time you can reserve a table is when you wouldn't have any trouble getting in anyway. We ate at 3 of the 4 restaurants and thought The Savoy was the best looking. The dining experience is nice and what we expected. The part I was actually surprised about was how awesome the buffet was for breakfast and lunch. Some reviews made it sound like the Horizon Court was just a burger line. Well my experience found that to be far from the truth. They served burgers and pizza on a grill near the mid ship pool but I never found these items in the buffet. One night we ate dinner in the buffet line and I actually had lamb. LAMB from a buffet and it was very good. So other than the few thousand calories I gained by stuffing my face 3 times a day, there were zero complaints from me on the food. Entertainment: I saw the Piano man and it was somewhere between ok and pretty good. If you like this kind of show you will like it. If you don't normally enjoy singing shows than it will just be ok. All the comedians we saw were very good. Those shows are in the Explorers lounge area which is a bit more intimate. It's a decent sized area but tables to get filled up so plan on going a bit early. There is a bar and waiters so you can enjoy a couple drinks and talk while you are waiting for the show. Overall there was a lot to do on the ship so you can be as busy or lazy as you want. We chose lazy most of the time and hung around the aft pool area. Ports: You WILL be asked to buy stuff from people constantly in port. You just have to accept that. Simply say "no gracias" and they'll move on. They'll come back later but they really weren't that pushy. Just consistent (sometimes every 5 minutes a different person will come by). Puerto Vallarta: We walked off the ship and ignored the white and cream colored taxis (the cheaper ones are yellow). Basically you veer left and walk about 2 blocks. We stopped at a shop that had internet and phones to call internationally. It cost about 35 cents per minute to call the states. So we had a quick conversation with the in laws who were watching our child and it was a couple dollars. This place also exchanged some cash for pesos at about a 12 to 1 rate. We had a cab take my wife and I to the Guadalupe church in downtown for $4 per person. So we walked through the old (but beautiful) church and then walked down two blocks to the malecon area with tons of shops and bars. We shopped for a few hours and then had a taxi take us to the Playa Los Arcos hotel (http://www.playalosarcos.com/). We paid about 150 pesos per person to use their pools, towels, and beach area. 110 of those pesos are a credit to the restaurant/bar. The food was good, the drinks were good. The pools, Jacuzzi, and beach were all good. This place probably isn't as extravagant as a Dreams hotel but it is very nice and much more affordable. We split a cab back to the ship with some friends we made on the cruise and got back about a half hour before we left port. Mazatlan: The port is a little weird getting off in Mazatlan. You get off the ship and you are in kind of a container holding area. There are federal armed guards around so don't get too afraid if you see people in camo with M16s (we only saw one but it freaked my wife a little). You just kind of wait once you get off the ship for 5 minutes and a guy driving a kind of trolley will come and drive you to the actual port area. The port area has some shops you have to pass through to get to the other side. There are a bunch of cabs waiting there and then there is a large metal door that lets you in and out. It looks a little spooky but everyone was very polite. I emailed Mazatlan Frank prior to taking the cruise and wanted to do some kind of a city tour for half the day. I didn't email him until close to the cruise so he was already full but he told me he would have someone else do our tour. There was some confusion once we got there but everything worked out. Mazatlan Frank is actually pretty tall so he can be easier to find (maybe 6'2"). His English is very good. He had us ride with a guy name Andres (I believe that is correct but I might be a little off). The tour was good. I wouldn't call it great but it gave you a good idea of what the town looked like and we got to see the highlights (even stopped at the beautiful cathedral and take some pictures). It wasn't cheap at $35 per person but I'm not likely going to be back soon so it's nice to get a feel for the city in a short time. We saw some of the huge all inclusive (the RIU) as we dropped off some people and the place was beautiful and gigantic. I'm not sure if it was worth it (the tour plus all inclusive was $79 per person) so we were happy with the tour and found our own trouble later. So we had Andres drop us off at the water taxi around noon. It cost about 2 bucks to take the water taxi to Stone Island. Once you are off the water taxi you take a right. Now there is a hard right and a road that just kind of veers right and runs along the mountain ridge. You veer right and walk for about 5 minutes. You'll start to see the bars/huts along the beach. We thought the beach was beautiful. People describe Stone Island as "rustic" but there are a ton of restaurants and bars there. So it's not like you are out in the middle of nowhere. The bathrooms were fine for men, but I guess the women's one my wife used didn't have doors on the stalls. We walked about 2/3rds the way down to a place called Victor's (blue sign on the beach) to meet up with another couple. We feasted on $1.50 Pacificos and the very large garlic shrimp (maybe $11 for the plate and it was a ton of food). So we got to see the city and hang at the beach (which is what we wanted) before heading back to the ship. We didn't get to see Cabo because of weather. I understand they have to keep things safe and I'm not going to disagree with the captain. There is no reason to put three thousand people in danger of missing flights for 4 hours in Cabo. BUT, this is the one sore spot I had with Princess. I only get to cruise every few years. So I don't get to see Cabo and quite possibly will never get to see it (at the rate I'm going it'll be at least a decade). I understand it is weather related and it's not Princess' fault. I guess I just wanted to get a little something for missing the port. Nothing big, but can I get a happy hour or two? Can I have some $2 beers or something? Maybe $3 blackjack in the casino? It would have been pretty awesome if they would have given us a break on something as you get your 3 thousand people to stay on board and spend even more money. So out of a 7 day cruise we had 4 full days at sea. I don't mind days at sea but I'm positive that my next cruise will be much more port intensive. I understand the Mex. Riviera geography pretty much guarantees 3 days at sea. 4 is just too much (but I'm on vacation so I'm going to have a good time regardless and did). So if Princess would have given us a little something it would have helped soften the blow a bit IMO. Disembarkation: We stopped at the desk and told them we wanted to do the walk off disembarkation. I know people on the forums say you have to be very careful about picking a flight that is too early as you can have all kinds of trouble getting to LAX. I'm sure they are right but our day went ultra smooth in this regard. The ship showed up in port early at about 6:30. We ate breakfast at about 7AM and grabbed our bags. Our info told us to go to Club Fusion for the last walk out group scheduled at 7:55. Once we were carrying our luggage and got to the right level, a crewmember told us to walk a certain way and pointed out the door and off the ship. We were off the ship by 7:41 and through customs by 8:05. We walked out and took a cab for $56 to the airport and arrived at 8:35 for our 12:15 flight. So you shouldn't book anything too early but if things work out smoothly, you can get to the airport very quickly. Conclusion: We had a great time and the ship was beautiful. Both Mazatlan and Puerta Vallarta were beautiful and fun. I wish I had been able to be there during the night so I could see some nightlife but we got adequate time in both ports. Princess overall impressed us. Everything was clean and well done. The people were friendly and helpful. I'd say that the ship and experience was a bit more elegant than the Carnival ones we've been on. We did take the offer to deposit $100 per person and get a future cruise credit if we use it in the next 4 years (or a refund if we don't). So I'm officially a Princess fan. Other than no special happy hour for missing Cabo (which shouldn't be expected and maybe I'm just asking for too much) they didn't miss the mark on much. I'm 30 and don't feel like Carnival was anymore fun to "party" on than this ship. If you have tried some other ships and want a new experience, I definitely think Princess is worth a try. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We are a couple in our 40's. This was our 5th cruise, 2nd with Princess. Embarkation was a breeze. We were there early, they started the process at noon, by the time we signed up for the ultimate ship tour, dropped our carry ons in ... Read More
We are a couple in our 40's. This was our 5th cruise, 2nd with Princess. Embarkation was a breeze. We were there early, they started the process at noon, by the time we signed up for the ultimate ship tour, dropped our carry ons in our cabin, we were in the buffet by 12:30. I felt that even though this is the largest ship in the Princess fleet, it was very easy to navigate your way around. Many of the places were in the same general area as they were on the other Princess ship that we were on prior. The only place that seemed crowded, was in the casino in the evenings. Other than that, it seemed as though there was ample space. Even at pool side, there were many people there, but didn't have any difficulty finding a lounger the staff was very attentive and plesant. Not once did I run into a rude worker. They were all very attentive and polite. Our room steward, Raymondo, was wonderful!! Our cabin was always clean and tidy, and was able to do this without any interuption to us while we were in our cabin. We spent alot of time there as we would rest and sometimes take naps between shore time and the evening meal. We were in cabin C7523! Amazing! The corner aft balcony was a dream! Relaxing on the large balcony with a drink was sooo relaxing! And listening to the wake in the evening as we were sailing was awesome! The cabin itself was nice by ship standards. Of course the bathroom/shower was small, but adequate. There was normal wear and tear to the carpeting. The bed was actually pretty comfortable. We (for the first time) actually were barely able to notice the seam where the 2 beds were pushed together. And no, we did not have an egg crate. I have read postings in the past where people complain about having difficulty with their cabin being too warm. Well, we must have had a very compliant group on board, at least in our area and they didn't leave their balcony doors open, because in my opinion, the room temperature was fine. I was a little chilly at times, but my husband was always comfortable. (but I'm always the cold one) Dining was another great experience! Frank, our waiter, and Jamie our assitant waiter were very professional, and entertaining. Jamie was quite an outgoing young man. Singing as he came to the table, and always a smile on his face. I Love the cheesecake they serve for dessert! I had it every night except for the night that they had teramasu (sp). The last night of course, they had the baked alaska, not a big fan of that. Frank, knowing my eating habits, brought me a piece of cheesecake without even asking. I had never seen anybody not seated in the dinning room because of how they were dressed until this cruise. As we were walking into the dinning room, a young man, in his early 20's maybe, that was dressed in long kaki shorts, was leaving and saying, "I didn't know the dinning room was formal!" I found that to be entertaining in and of itself, to think that dockers and a polo shirt would be "formal" to him! We packed some alcohol in our checked luggage and it arrived in our room without difficulty. We had even bought some beer at port in Tortola and brought it back on the ship without a problem in our carry on. Though we did notice a table set up by the elevator when you got back on board, and they were actually taking the alcohol from the people that were getting back on the ship. It was mainly liquor, I didn't notice any 6 packs of beer sitting there. We didn't go to any of the shows. One of the comedians, and one of the productions was the same as the ones we had when we were in Alaska last summer. We took part in the Ultimate Ship Tour!! That was a very worthwhile experience. There were 10 people on our tour. We started backstage of the shows, went to the galley, including the area where they prepare they vegetables and meats, medical center, laundry, printers, photography area, engineer control area, funnels, and ended on the bridge where we had champagne as we talked with the captain. I may have left out some areas, but its hard to remember them all. We were treated to personalized stationery, a plush bathrobe, chefs jacket, and pictures. All included in the tour. We thought it would be nice to do the EZ check for our return flights! This was really the only glitch in our trip though it all worked out well. Made us a little nervous though. When we received our paper work and luggage tags for this process it only had our boarding pass for boarding in San Juan, not for our connecting flight in Atlanta. They also had my husband and I separated on the airplane. Didn't quite understand that either since the booking was together. I called the desk and they said we needed to come down. Of course the line was fairly long, but they went through it at a pretty good pace. They told us that this is normal, and we would have to get our boarding passes for our connecting flight when we arrived in Atlanta and that maybe the airline would be able to fix the seating arrangement when we arrived at the airport in San Juan. I didn't understand why they wouldn't give you the boarding pass for the whole trip. I thought the whole idea of it was to avoid the lines at the airport and to have them handle your luggage. That was a bit of an irritant to us. They said our luggage tags were correct, and that they would arrive in Kansas City. We weren't to sure about that since the boarding passes only got us to Atlanta. Luckily, when you do the EZ check, you disembark the ship fairly early. We were off of the ship by 8:30, found our luggage without difficulty, went through the long customs line that moved very quickly, which by the way when we handed the agent our passport, he stated he didn't need it. We then found a taxi, which was not difficult since they are lined up waiting for you when you get off the ship. I don't know how the Princess transfers are, but I can only assume that it would take you a little longer to get to the airport since they wait to fill the bus. Anyway...since we arrived at the airport early, there weren't any lines at all! Amazingly! No waiting for the USDA inspection, or at the airline counter, which, they were able to fix our seating arrangements, and print our boarding passes for us for the connecting flight in Atlanta. We had a semi-long line to go through the security area at that point, but it moved along well. Our flight didn't leave San Juan until 3:20, so we still at this point had a little less than a 5 hour wait. But I am very glad we arrived early! I would say by 11:00, there wasn't anymore seating available. The terminal was very crowded with people sitting on the floor and standing in the walk way. VERY CONGESTED! People were frustrated with the situation and one lady was downright rude when she was told a seat was taken. (the person that was sitting there next to her husband had just gotten up use the restroom.) The lady that was going to take the spot said, well that's just too bad! At least by the time the other lady returned, they began to board their flight. In the end, our luggage DID arrive at our final destination just as they stated it would. All in all, it was an amazing trip. If you expect nothing but perfection, then you will be disappointed. There are always going to be little issues, but most can be resolved quickly and easily. If you go with the flow, then you will have an amazing trip aboard the Caribbean Princess. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
EMERALD PRINCESS CRUISE REVIEW SAIL DATES SUNDAY JANUARY 24, 2010 - SUNDAY JANUARY 31, 2010 FROM PORT EVERGLADES FT. LAUDERDALE FLORIDA CRUISING THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUMMARY: This was our first cruise and will be the start of many more cruises. We had the greatest time on this trip and very happy with our experience. The Emerald Princess is in pristine shape after coming out of dry-docking a month earlier. The exterior was sparkling white with fresh paint. The interior was immaculate with fresh carpet, paint, and tasteful decorating. The crew is in very good spirits and service outstanding from day 1 till the end of the cruise. Weather was wonderful with the minor exception of Princess Cays. This cruise was so nice we will be doing our best to return to her next year around this time. 5 Stars all the way. We will go into detail for all of the aspects of the cruise we experienced. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at theansons@hotmail.com or on Facebook (West Anson and Michelle Anson). BIOGRAPHY: We are West and Michelle, a married couple around 40, from Omaha Nebraska. We celebrated 20 years of Marriage on 1/29/2010. Never getting to take a honeymoon when we were young prompted us to go "all out" for this celebration. We are your average couple with 2 teenage kids. Both of us work hard and enjoy our time off trying new experiences. We were deciding between an All-Inclusive resort and a Cruise to a warm weather climate. After thinking it over we decided to go "cruising" and I am certain we made the right decision. PRE-PRE CRUISE: We started planning 3 months prior to our actual cruise date. This gave us enough time to do research and prepare for the expenses which go with a cruise. We studied all of the major cruise lines and destinations. It came down to Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean. We wanted the Eastern Caribbean because of the ability to go to the beaches in the wintertime. The tough call was choosing RC or PC, we decided to go with Princess because both of us watched "The Love Boat" growing up and since we were celebrating "our love" it just seemed to fall in place. We did all of our booking through the Princess Website. We originally booked a AA Mini-Suite as we wanted the balcony and some of the extra amenities which come with the higher class cabin. Three weeks prior to departure we were pleasantly surprised as we received a "free major upgrade". They had moved us up to a Penthouse Suite! We were in absolute shock as this is unheard of. The only suite higher in class is the Owners Suite. We were very excited now. To prepare ourselves for the cruise we purchase a few items every payday. Since we had plenty of time, 3 months, it was not a burden. Each of us updated some items in our wardrobe, but not too much. Formal wear was the big purchase, luckily we found lots of stuff on sale just after the holidays and tuxedos are plentiful on eBay. Both of us are semi-active, but we really got active and watched the holiday eating so we were in decent shape prior to the cruise. In addition, all people should go "tanning" long before your cruise. We are not kidding or trying to insult you. First off, you want to look good for the cruise as you will be in your bathing suits and summer clothing in the wintertime. Secondly, if you do not tan you will get "burned to a bright fire red!" Seriously, we could not help but laugh our asses off when we saw some of the people after one day in the sun. They looked terrible and could tell they were in absolute pain! We have no doubt they were very ill during the cruise from over exposure to sun. Photos are taken all of the time while on-board and the ones which had sunburns looked absolutely hideous! Photos are displayed throughout the cruise along the hallway to the dining rooms. Everybody was laughing so hard at those who were "red-faced" in more ways than one. So for your physical and psychological health please visit the Tanning Booths a couple months prior to departing. Sunless tanning is not tanning and using UV protection lotion will not work, you will go from orange to red-orange after day one. Do the tanning beds for a couple of months and you will not regret it. About 2 week before departure we started packing. This was a 7 day cruise with 2 formal nights and 4 Island stops. We over-packed at first and then pared down on the last couple of days prior to leaving. This worked out great as we had plenty of time to really think about what we really wanted to bring and what was just not needed. Each of us had 2 large checked bags and 2 small carry-on bags. We had plenty of extra room to "smuggle" alcohol and bring back souvenirs. We booked our excursions and special requests prior to embarkation. When you book through Princess you are guaranteed a spot. Excursions filled up fast and not having to wait in line before docking in ports was a real time saver. The prices are the same whether you book pre-cruise or during the cruise. Be sure you have your passport and all other materials prior to leaving. Do not pack your passport or sailing documentation in your checked bags as you will need them to board the ship. PRE-CRUISE: We recommend booking your pre-cruise transfers with Princess for two reasons. The first, all of the arrangements are made for you and don't need to think about it. Princess Personnel will meet you when you arrive at the airport and guide you. Secondly, perhaps the best benefit is you get Priority Embarkation. When we arrived at the Cruise-port we were able to go in the side door. The main entrance had a line about a mile long and could tell the passengers were not at all happy to be waiting in such a long line. We had our ID cards and on the ship in 20 minutes. The other passengers spent at least an hour getting aboard the ship. This alone is worth the Pre-Cruise Transfers cost, we paid $99 each for hotel and all transfers. The hotel was a nice Marriot about 10 minutes from the Cruise-port and close to stores/restaurants. We purchase our alcohol and last minute items at the local liquor store and Walgreens. BOARDING: Each passenger goes through security and ends up at the check-in stations. The check-in stations are separated based on classes of cabins. We had the Penthouse Suite so we were able to check-in the Preferred Line. The Preferred line had red-carpet and Paparazzi snapping photos, no not really but it was better staffed. Each line went very quickly and we were on the ship in about 20 minutes. This process is very smooth and did not see many issues. CABIN: Penthouse Suite R412 (Aruba Suite, Riviera Deck 14). We had a good idea of what to expect when we arrived at our Suite. However, it was better than expected. The Penthouse Suite is huge in size, over 500 square feet. The sleeping area and living area can be separated by a heavy curtain partition. A very large walk-in closet is just off the sleeping area. The bath is a 3 foot deep whirlpool Jacuzzi! Large glass shower is separate from the bath but next to the bath. The lavatory and sink is separate from the bath area and is well stocked with upgraded amenities. There is a huge dressing vanity in the sleeping area separate from the vanity in the bathroom. All of the walls and ceilings are very posh and nicely lit. I believe there are about 10 different lighting accents. The balcony is very wide and adequately deep, enough for the 2 lay-down wood lounge chairs and a cafe type table and chairs. Riviera is also the highest cabin deck, you can see down into the other balconies but they cannot see up into yours. The sides are partitioned off and locked. This Suite has so many amenities to list. You can get a basic list from the Princess website but here are the ones we really enjoyed. • Free access to the Thermal Suite in the Lotus Spa (~$200 pp value). This is absolutely the best kept secret on the entire ship. The Thermal Suite is a secluded, quiet, & very private area with 2 wet saunas, 2 rainforest showers, dry spa, & 5 hot beds. You get to go anytime to just relax. They will put a star sticker on your Ships ID card when you visit the spa the first time. We visited on a daily basis and really became spoiled. • Free access to the Captains Circle Elite Events held everyday. Numerous events are held just for Elite and Suite Members which you get special treatment such as gifts, food, drinks, etc. • Free access to VIP Port events. All of the ports have special events for VIP members from the ship which you get special treatment such as gifts, food, drinks, etc. • Upgraded Room Service menu. Suite owners get the entire kitchen at your "beck and call". Seriously, you get whatever you want just ask for it. • Free internet and laptop use. Not many know this but you can have a ship provided laptop in your room. Go down to the internet cafe and just ask for one. If they have one, which they will because nobody knows about them, you can have it for the entire cruise. When you sign up for internet access, sign up for the max price plan and you will be charged at first then credited later that night. • Free laundry service. No need to bring a lot of extra clothes with use of the laundry service. Put your clothes in the laundry bags and they will be returned the next day cleaned, pressed, and on hangers. • Afternoon tea available everyday. This isn't your typical "tea party". You get many different teas, sandwiches, & pastries. One order is enough for 6 people. We hosted a "tea party" on the last day with a few of our fellow shipmates and had a great time. • Free breakfast each morning at Sabatini's. Suite owners get free access to Sabatini's for made-to-order breakfasts which are much higher quality than anywhere on the ship. • Priority Tender processing for Princess Cays. You get to go on the tender when you want and they will bump everyone else for you to have your spot. While we didn't get to go to Princess Cays, due to weather, this would have been nice as there were hundreds of people waiting in line. • Anytime disembarkation at the end of the cruise. Want to sleep in on the last day? Go ahead; you get to leave the ship when you feel like it. You will have to depart the ship eventually but at least won't be rushed off the ship. Plus you get a Continental Breakfast while waiting. FOOD AND DRINKS: We choose to have Traditional Dining on the second seating as opposed to Anytime Dining, it was a great decision. Second seating is at 8:15pm giving you plenty of time to be prepared for eating. Traditional Dining is served in the Botticelli Dining Room. If we were hungry earlier we would simply visit one of the Cafes, room service, or grab a snack. The food in the Traditional Dining was outstanding and exquisite. Finer dishes along with standard fares were served by very professional and courteous maitre des. The room was beautiful and the other patrons were very festive throughout the cruise. When we think of Cruise Dining this is what we thought of and received. Talking with fellow shipmates about their experience with Anytime Dining confirmed our decision was correct. While the food and service with Anytime Dining was okay, it was not spectacular. In addition, many complained about the wait time. Go with the Traditional Dining and you will be very happy. As for the Specialty (pay extra) Dining, we enjoyed Sabatini's for our complementary breakfasts a couple times. The service and food were very good made-to-order breakfasts. This was included in our Suite so we did not have to pay. A couple of our shipmates we talked with said both Sabatini's and Crown Grill were good and worth the $25 pp. In addition, we requested to have the Chefs Table Dinner for $75 pp but were not selected. We were hoping to get this but there are a limited number of spots and selected by lottery. The best dining we had was the Balcony Dinner which we paid $50 pp to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary. It was incredible, absolutely the best time we had on-board. We were served a 5 course meal with alcohol, wine, & champagne. Each entrEe was 2 extremely large Lobster Tails, at least 2 lbs each! They were magnificent and the other dishes were just as good. We were so full and drunk we couldn't even leave our room. We highly recommend doing this at least once on-board. The buffet and deck area food was satisfactory. Don't expect giant seafood buffets or exquisite meals coming from the buffet. It is on par with Old Country Buffet or Golden Coral. You won't be dissatisfied, but you will feel longing for something better. The "fast food" around the pool area was good, especially the pizza and ice cream. The food in the Piazza was very good. The International Cafe has a great mix of salads, "fingerwiches", and deserts. Vines wine and Sushi bar is outstanding. Sushi is free with purchase of wine. We ate about $100 worth of Sashimi for the cost of $20 in wine. We highly recommend visiting Vines a couple times while on-board. The English Pub had fish and chips every other day. We enjoyed the typical English fare but after eating it twice that was enough. Now for the 3 things most people want to know. Here is the skinny on soda, coffee, and alcohol. Soda, buy the soda sticker as soon as you see someone selling it. The crew personnel are by the elevators and throughout the ship selling them and you get a free soda bottle. Cost is $30 pp for the whole cruise and can get soda anywhere. Sodas will cost around $2 each without the card. We carried around a flask to spike our sodas when we wanted a mixed drink. Coffee, we are not so sure about the value of the card. We are not big coffee drinkers so we did not get a card. Free coffee is available in all dining areas and the buffet. The buffet coffee is terrible and would be better put to use as a cleaning agent. The dining room coffee is good. The Cafe coffee is outstanding. We found out why the buffet coffee is so bad, it is made from liquid concentrate. All other areas it is made from grounds. If you don't care about paying exorbitant prices for adult beverages then don't read any further. If you want to save money, "smuggle" onboard rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila, etc in Rum Runners (www.rumrunnerflasks.com). We did not get caught and I don't think many others did either. Wine and Champagne can be brought on board without any questions, just remember to bring a corkscrew it will cost you $15 if you don't. In addition to our own "stash" we bought numerous specialty drinks which were very good. Each day there is a specialty drink for $6-$7, otherwise expect to pay a lot for alcohol. SHOWS AND MUTS: The large production shows provided very good entertainment. Each night, in the Princess Theatre, a Music Show or Comedian performed. The two Comedians on-board this cruise were Kevin Hughes and Phil Tag. Both were outstanding at poking fun at the ships "special features", fellow shipmates, and life in general. The Music Shows provided good entertainment and the costumes very elaborate. Throughout the ship, in the lounges and sitting areas, performers also performed acts and small shows. The Piazza was the busiest with short acts every few hours while at sea. Be sure to catch as many of the shows as possible, you will not be disappointed. Tim Donovan is the ships Cruise Director; he was a show in and of himself! Defiantly see all of the shows in which his staff performs. The London Pub Night was a riot, be sure to catch this show with Tim and his staff. Movies under the Stars, a.k.a MUTS, was always on in the pool area Amidships. Most of the shows being played were recent DVD releases along with some concerts and sports. We caught a couple of the movies while at Sea. OTHER SHIP AMENITIES: The gym on board the ship is very modern and all of the way forward on the upper level. The gym was busy while at sea with lots of people staying in shape and enjoying the views. The spa is in the same location as the gym and is very nice with reasonable prices. As a suite passenger we had unlimited access to the Thermal Spa. The TS is incredible and worth the cost if you really want to unwind on a daily basis. We did not visit the Sanctuary as we didn't feel the need to use it. Duty/tax free shopping can be done on the ship. Your ships ID card is used to pay for everything and should be monitored daily. Every morning we would get a print out of our account to keep track of expenditures. Some good deals can be purchased while on-board, some not so good deals. Photos are a little expensive but are very high quality. There can be deals throughout the cruise but wait till the last day as all of your photos will be on display. The casino is a typical casino. Lots of slots, a few table games, etc. You can use your ships ID card or cash for playing. Be sure to "cash in" your casino winnings before the end of the cruise. If you don't you will not get your money you have won. PORTS OF CALL AND EXCURSIONS: The Eastern Caribbean is well known for the POC featuring beaches and lots of sun. For the most part, we were please with the POCs we visited and the excursions we participated in. Be sure to book your excursions early to avoid missing out on the best excursions. While the veteran cruisers have no problem going out on there own, first-timers should probably stick with the planned excursions. The prices are reasonable and if the Princess sponsored excursion is late, the ship will not leave. The ship leaves at precise times and will not wait for late-comers. There were at least a few shipmates who found that out the hard way. The first POC was Princess Cays, Bahamas. When were arrived in Princess Cays the weather was not the greatest and the seas very high. Due to the high seas the Captain cancelled this POC. While we were disappointed in this it ended up being a good thing for St. Maarten/St. Martin. The Captain was able to get us into St. Maarten/St. Martin 4 hours earlier on day 4 and stay an hour later! St. Maarten/St. Martin is one island with 2 countries. St. Maarten is the Dutch side with good shopping and where we docked for the day. You will not be disappointed if you plan on visiting St. Maarten for shopping. As with all of the POCs in the Eastern Caribbean, you will find great deals on jewelry, liquor, tobacco, perfume, and clothing. The day prior to our arrival, the ship's "Shopping Guru" has a large POC presentation you will not want to miss. The presentation will give you the best places to shop for the goods you are looking for and be sure to purchase a POC Shopping Book for $25. All of the ports offer great deals and this book lists them along with the "free stuff". We visited St. Maarten in the AM to purchase some great items. Color changing clothing from Del Sol, some great local Guava Berry Rum, a Cuban cigar to smoke while in port, and the best chocolate we have ever tasted. As for the "free stuff" don't expect to get a $1000 diamond ring. However, you will be able to get lots of loose gemstones and other items for free just by visiting the shops. Don't get too stressed out trying to get all of the free stuff, just wonder around and if you see something you like go take a look. Of course, if you have a problem with "hard sale" salespersons you may want to avoid shopping. But you really can find some great deals and believe me you are not the only ones who just "browse" for the free stuff. Some of the places prefer cash but all of the shops take CC and are duty/tax free. When we checked our bank statements there also was no money conversion fee, so the price you see in US Dollars is the price you pay. St. Martin is the French side of the island with the great beaches. We booked the Orient Beach Bash via Princess and were not disappointed. A tour host meets and greets you on the pier and guides you all the way. Orient Beach is a "Clothing Optional" beach about 20-30 minutes away from the pier. The weather was windy, sunny, and warm. The beach is very clean; the water was warm and absolutely beautiful. Free rum punch was served all afternoon and food/other drinks are available for extra. However, the prices are high and they only accept Euros. We ate on the ship prior to the excursion so eating was not very important. The scenery was wonderful, including the "clothing optional" beach-goers. After a short while we didn't even take notice to the topless women. The full nude beach is further south and was busy as both sexes just "hang out", literally. While one of us had no problem taking it all off (you can guess which one, West), Michelle never felt intimidated and rather enjoyed the views. We had such a great time here we will defiantly visit Orient Beach in the future. On day 4, the ship visited St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. St. Thomas is very modern and not much different than a typical city in the United States. This is where we made our "steal of the cruise" purchase of 2 Movado Museum Watches for $300! We were given the "heads up" in the POC Presentation and did not want to miss out. We were very happy as these watches are over $300 each in the States. We purchased some other small items as well. For our Excursion we chose the half-day catamaran/snorkeling tour of St. Thomas and St. Johns. A tour guide met us just outside the pier and we took a shuttle bus through St. Thomas to the docks where we met the catamaran. The weather was incredible in St. Thomas/St. Johns and the excursion was outstanding. Food and drinks flowed at this excursion and the catamaran crew was great. On day 5, the ship visited Grand Turk. Grand Turk is still recovering from Hurricane Ike in 2008. While the port is new and modern the inner city has been devastated. If at all possible try to save a lot of your shopping for this port as the country really needs as much help as possible. You will find the best deals on alcohol, tobacco, perfume, and clothing. There are some local goods, but not much as there is not much of an island or people left over after the hurricane. We visited Governors Beach for the day for sun and snorkeling. The water is absolutely crystal clear and clean! We could see 20-30 feet down. Coral and fish were everywhere. Grand Turk is a superb place to snorkel and SCUBA dive. Food and drinks were available for those who paid for the excursion. The beach is a couple of miles from the pier and within walking distance. Of course, a trip to Grand Turk is not complete till you visit Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Once again I highly recommend spending as much money as you can afford at Grand Turk. The deals are good and the island desperately needs the tourist money. DAYS AT SEA: We enjoyed three and a half days at Sea relaxing and getting to know our shipmates and the ship. There are lots of areas on the ship to see and escape to. We highly recommend starting at the top and keep working your way down. This ship is very large but you will learn very quickly how to best navigate the winding halls and large common areas. Carry the pocket map with you along with your ID card at all times. The pool areas are very large and of course you must deal with the "chair hogs". A fun game is to get up early and hang out on the pool decks and remove all of the "chair hogs" towels from the chairs then watch them freak out! Hahahahaha! There are three pool areas with "distinct" patrons on each of them. You will figure it out immediately as they will gravitate to the "not pre-determined but you swear it is" locations. Use the stairs as the elevators are always packed with "people" riding the elevators up/down one level instead of walking one hundred feet. It is so funny to see people take an elevator one level when they could simply walk. You will not have access to the crew areas, but magically crew members come out of nowhere! DISEMBARKATION AND POST CRUISE: Sadly it all must come to an end and the ship will be in Fort Lauderdale. Disembarkation is very simple and you will be off the ship in an orderly fashion. You can pay to have your bags sent to the airport by the ship and disembark early if you need to leave promptly. Otherwise the night before you will get color/number coded luggage tags. The last day you will muster in the designated areas and leave the ship. We stayed an extra day in Fort Lauderdale to visit the area and see the NFL Pro-Bowl. Rented a car for cheap and stayed near the Cruise port/Airport. Shuttles and taxis are in abundance. Taxis are reasonable and recommended to get to your final destination the fastest. FINAL WORDS AND THOUGHTS: This was the best vacation we have ever had and will be cruising for the remainder of our life. It is really hard to beat the luxury and value of cruising compared to other forms of vacation. Princess Cruise Lines and The Emerald Princess have our loyalty and trust to make sure we have a great time in the future. We hope you enjoyed this review and if you have any further questions please contact us at your convenience. We kept most of the cruise specific documents such as Princess Patters (daily news and schedule) and other items. We have tons of photos and videos which we are posting on our Facebook Pages(West Anson and Michelle Anson). Let us know if you want anything. See ya my friends! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was our first ever cruise, and we had such a wonderful time that we've just booked another one with Princess this September! The Emerald Princess is absolutely beautiful: everything is clean and modern, and the huge ship has so ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise, and we had such a wonderful time that we've just booked another one with Princess this September! The Emerald Princess is absolutely beautiful: everything is clean and modern, and the huge ship has so many things to do and see. It was only on the last day that we eventually got to know where everything was - which was a bit of a shame, because we'd had a lot of fun getting lost beforehand. We opted for a full suite, which was simply fabulous. There was plenty of room, and it was very comfortable. Our cabin steward (from the Philippines) spoke excellent English and he was very helpful: always around when we needed him, and never intrusive. Towels were changed twice daily, so we always had fresh towels for each use. Fresh fruit was provided in our cabin, and re-stocked as the days passed. We were also delighted to see that extra touch to make passengers feel special: fresh flowers in the room, and nightly chocolates on the pillow. The bathroom was very large, with two sections: a toilet/basin section, and a bath/shower section. There was a separate shower cubicle, and a whirlpool tub. The huge balcony had sun-loungers and a separate table and chairs. We had anytime dining. When we booked the cruise, we were told that the minimum table size was 4 - so we could be sitting with others. However, we always had tables for two and never had to share - which was just how we wanted it. Not that we're unfriendly - but the purpose of our holiday was a romantic trip for two, and not to meet other people. Therefore we were very pleased. On all but one night, we never had a problem getting a table - we just walked into the dining room and were assigned a table immediately. There was only one evening where we were told there was a 45-minute wait. Not a problem... because room service was complimentary, so it did not cost any more to just eat in our cabin. So we ordered room service, and it was served on our balcony's table - complete with tablecloth which was brought with the food. The next day, the dining staff remembered that we chose not to wait, and telephoned in the morning to invite us to make a reservation. The service was just wonderful. The quality of the food was second to none. The dining room served gourmet food, which was tasty without bloating you up. And no-one could ever complain about the quantity of food served: there was so much of it, that it was hard to stop "grazing" throughout the day, therefore leaving it as a challenge to be empty enough for the evening meal. On the first day of the cruise I saw the burger grill, and the pizza & ice cream bar - and asked my girlfriend rhetorically: "why would anyone want to fill themselves up with junk food, when there's so much good quality food elsewhere?" However, a few days later I changed my tune when I tried the burgers and pizzas: they're not junk food at all, they were top quality, very meaty burgers - and authentic Italian pizza with stonebaked taste! So even the so-called "junk" food was not junk at all - it was all excellent. The entertainment was good. We never attended a show with the "Princess Dancers"; instead opting to go for all the comedy shows. Kevin Hughes was very funny, and always packed out the theatre. Tim Donovan - the English cruise director - was also an entertainer in himself, as he always had a humorous way of introducing the guest performers. Regarding the ports of call: we were supposed to go to Princess Cays in the Bahamas, but the waves were too rough to be safe for the tender service, so that day was skipped. The other places we did dock at were St. Maarten (Netherlands Antilles), St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands) and Grand Turk (Turks & Caicos Islands). We did not want to pay for any of the Princess-organised tours and activities, as they seemed overpriced for what they were. However, you can easily wander around town on your own without paying anything. One thing I have to say about these ports of call - they are very much geared up for the tourist market. There was nothing in particular to see in terms of sightseeing - but the streets were lined with diamond and gemstone shops, trying to sell to the supposedly rich cruise ship passengers. At the other end of the scale, there were the shops selling tourist tat. We were interested in neither! So really, the purpose of the cruise was in order to experience the luxury of the ship itself - not in order to visit the ports of call. Although my girlfriend was delighted with being able to bathe in the sea in Grand Turk - which she said was crystal clear. One more thing to add, regarding tipping. I'm English, and we regard a tip as an optional payment given in reward for a service performed which exceeds expectations. However, as an American company, Princess sees tipping as an automatic payment: rooms are by default charged an amount of "tips" per day, payable on the onboard account. They may say that this is in order to pay the staff - because many of them (especially, for example, the people who wash up in the kitchens) must be poorly paid. However, I see this as cheating. They should pay their staff a decent wage in the first place. The difference in price can then be included in the advertised price of the cruise. This is why it is cheating: to entice people to book by advertising an attractive sale price, but then relying on "tips" to supplement the staff wages. No. Take note please, Princess: you should pay your staff a decent wage to begin with, and reflect that in your advertised prices. Then no passengers get a nasty shock with "hidden" charges. Anyway - as I said to begin with, the experience was so wonderful that we decided to book another cruise with Princess again. I just hope the experience matches our expectations! I'll let you know. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We just returned from sailing on the Golden to Hawaii 1 week ago 2/14/10. It was our 20th wedding anniversary valentine's cruise. It was my third cruise but first time on Princess and my husband's first cruise. I must say we had ... Read More
We just returned from sailing on the Golden to Hawaii 1 week ago 2/14/10. It was our 20th wedding anniversary valentine's cruise. It was my third cruise but first time on Princess and my husband's first cruise. I must say we had our doubts going in about this line due to the horrible customer service we received from the customer service dept. the 8 months prior to sailing. We were continually speaking to staff at the 1-800 princess number who knew very little and continually gave us inaccurate or completely wrong information. Our travel agent was horrified and had to report them to her princess contact twice. Needless to say we were apprehensive about using this line and spending the extra big bucks for a balcony cabin which we had to wait list for several months before trip because we needed a wheelchair accessible cabin. We decided to chance it anyway and go. When we arrived at the terminal in San Pedro it was a completely different story. It was like entering a parallel universe thankfully!, The terminal and ship was an airtight, organized, professional, well oiled machine starting with the porter at the curb, Wow! What a disconnect between the two entities. Embarkation was a snap after the hassle of getting thru security. This is when our trip began for us. I have never been on a trip with a more professional, courteous and genuinely polite staff. From the time we arrived to the day we returned we were treated with such respect and politeness. About the ship: We were immediately greeted with smiles and then by our room stuart (Marco), Then wecdid the life boat drill. (important when you are 5 days at sea)The ship was large and beautiful, lots to see and do. We left a half hr. late as someone was not yet on board. The Captain will wait for a short time. Get the 800# you are suppose to call from Princess prior to boarding if you are going to be late. The food was good but could have been better but it wasn't bad. We chose anytime dining a first for me, I would suggest it. We ate at the buffet most days, good variety. Most of the shows were very good. And "movies under the stars" was fantastic sound and picture quality. Our wheelchair cabin and bathroom were huge and ample storage. The balcony was a bit small and covered but nice to have. The ship hit a storm in the Pacific going out and the sea was very rough. The ship was rocking and many were sick, including me. The Captain was an emphatic safety guy and was good about updating us and trying to avoid storms and danger. The ship as very tight security which is good and also a big push for cleanliness of both ship and passengers so as not to spread sickness or disease which everyone appreciated. I never felt unsafe. We sailed during the 2 earthquakes (Chile and Japan) which affected the weather, sea and ports. There were two tsunami warnings, 1 in Mexico and the other for Hawaii (which we just missed) The Captain purposely waited an extra hour before docking in Ensenada to miss the swell although it turned out not to be necessary but he had our backs as usual. The crew was in a word "superb" by far the most warm and inviting ship I have ever seen. I miss the crew (really!) We had very bad weather most of the time and the going out was hardest due to crossing against current we spent little time on deck with only a few sun days but the crew had lots for us to see and do. Coming back was smooth as we went with the current and you didn't know you were on a ship. There was always something going on. (the weather isn't their fault after all) The weather improved once we reached the islands. From here on out it was smooth and relaxing sailing until Mexico that is. The quakes hit a day or so before. I comment on the islands below. They were fantastic, each one unique and different. Here are some helpful hints wish I would have known about: 1)If you get sea sick try eating green apple or wearing the wrist bands, they work but are expensive on board $9 so buy before. Get as flat as you can, it helps. Try to book your cabin mid ship and not too high (avoid top sway) not above deck 10. We were on the Aloha deck 12 port side and our balconies were covered but the most private. This would have bothered me more if the weather was better. The decks 11 and lower are uncovered and I think Caribe has the largest decks. It was nice to have when entering ports. Avoid the very rear of ship (Aft) and the very forward or top decks for entertainment until you get your sea legs. Avoid alcohol, too much food and know where the bathrooms are. A good place to rest is in the conservatory loungers I found. 2)You will be told in Hawaii that you may bring lei's back into the states, which is true if you went straight home. Since you will be going thru Mex. They will not allow it. So, unless you just want to wear them on ship I wouldn't bother, Most lei's only last 3 days. Food must be sealed and in it's original pkg. 3)Princess offers fresh lemonade upon request. They really don't advertise it much but just ask, it's complimentary and good. 4)The Aft (very rear of ship under night club) Jacuzzi's are rarely used in the late evening. I went around 11:30pm and felt I was the only person on board. I think they close at 1am. 5)You will be automatically obligated to pay tips at end of trip unless you opt out at the pursers desk. Not that they don't deserve a big tip, they do but they will delegate where your money goes unless you direct it. You are allowed to cash tip in person which is what we did. 6)Be sure to have your ship card, photo ID and your passport (or photo copy of passport)when you go ashore especially in Mexico. You will not be able to reboard without them. The pursers desk can make you a copy of your passport when you embark. 7)If you book anything prior to sailing like rental cars, non ship tours etc remember to allow time. The Hawaiians don't do anything quickly and think we are always rushing. It takes time to get thru security and on and off ship. So HANG LOOSE! It will save you some stress. 8) Try to plan as much as you can prior to trip. You have such a limited time on islands and you won't want to waste it. Rental car vans will pick you up right at terminal and take you to their office. 9)We suggest not taking the ship tours unless you worry about getting back on time, they are overpriced. We rented convertibles and drove ourselves which is easy on islands but make sure you know your distances, the two way roads and towns get crowded. Listen to your cruise director on the princess TV station in your cabin, He is fantastic and has tons of good information. Other people negotiated a price with van drivers just outside the terminals. For 35$-40$ each they saw much of the islands and had a good time. 10)The very aft and forward sun decks are usually the least crowded for sunbathing and the most pleasant. Also a note: people say the beds are hard. I have a bad back and neck and I did fine. I did ask Marco to bring me a pad to cover the mattress and he did so happily and immediately. 11)Be sure if you have your portraits taken that you gather them and choose before the last day because they will not reprint the size for you or accept credit cards the final day, cash only. Big mistake on our part. 12)The ship is all wheelchair accessible but challenging in parts. Especially getting thru doors during high winds. The Princess theater fills up quickly and w/c seats way in the back are limited. The early shows fill up faster than the late. The Vista lounge is more difficult to find seats especially for w/c users. Don't worry, the crew will try to accommodate you. They will even carry your plate at the buffet. On a scale of 1-10 I would rate this trip an 8. If the weather had been better it would have been a 9. I can't say enough good things about this ship or the people both crew and passengers. I am trying to realistically think of the negatives. The food could have been better I would rate it a 7 and the casino was a bit smokey except two first formal nights. They could use a few more convenient bathroom locations and the spa is a little pricey but that is normal on a resort vacation. A lot of people from the UK sail this line which made the trip extra special. The English don't tip very well so it's up to we Americans to do it. The crew really deserves it. Enjoy your trip and contact us if you have any specific questions at abmorrow@msn.com. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Background This was our 6th cruise. We have also used Princess to cruise in Alaska. We have been on Carnival cruises 3 times and Celebrity once. This trip was taken to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. This was my wife's first trip ... Read More
Background This was our 6th cruise. We have also used Princess to cruise in Alaska. We have been on Carnival cruises 3 times and Celebrity once. This trip was taken to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. This was my wife's first trip through the canal and my second. We choose Princess because they offered the best itinerary and price for a duration of 10 days which fit our schedule. February 27 We traveled to Acapulco on Saturday to make sure we would have no issues with a delayed flight. We spent Saturday night at Las Brias hotel overlooking Acapulco. We had room with a private pool and great view of the bay. The hotel supplied us with a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers for a snack before dinner. We had dinner in the El Bellavista Restaurant. It was an excellent. The view from our table was picture perfect as the sun set. The next morning we had fresh fruit and rolls for breakfast on our balcony next to our pool as we watched the sun rise. We could not have had a better start to our vacation. I highly recommend the hotel. February 28 Sunday morning we took a tour of all the sights in Acapulco. It was super. We took the tour from Rosie who was recommended on several cruise reviews that I read before we left. I contacted her and she made sure that everything was set for an enjoyable day in Acapulco. She took care of us and I plan to use her again. She has my strongest recommendation. Rosie's contact information: dew_days@hotmail .com or enjoy@acapulcorosietours.com. We boarded the ship in the afternoon. The boarding process was quick and easy. We had a nice night at sea. March 1 Today we pulled into Huatulco and went on a small boat to a secluded beach for a swim. Now it is back to sea. Formal night tonight. Huatulco is still being developed and unless you take a tour there are only limited options for other things to see or do in port. March 2 Our port call today was in Guatemala which is an underdeveloped country. Poverty is everywhere. Nothing is really available at port except for a few vendors in tents selling their wares. We took an all day trip to a lake thru sugar cane, coffee and pineapple fields. We saw lots of small villages......mostly without running water or electricity. If nothing else, the trip was eye opening. When we boarded the boat to cross the lake there were lots of poor children trying to push you to buy trinkets. March 3 Today we stopped in Nicaragua. We took a tour to Amayo Hacienda. This was the retreat for the first woman elected President in Nicaragua. The owners were exceptional hosts. They went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Activities included a beach, horse back riding and cow milking. The sister of the former president and her daughter served us lunch. It really was a big deal for them to make us feel at home. March 4 We had a little adventure today. We took a tour to visit the hot springs at Arenal volcano in Costa Rica. On our way up the mountain which is only accessible via a narrow road with no guard rails we got into an accident. Our bus was run off the road and came within a foot.....yes 12 inches of falling over the cliff and down the side of a steep grade. The bus had the front 2 tires on the road but was leaning over the edge with one rear set of tires in the air. We all got off safe. No injuries. Eventually after two hours a back hoe......no tow trucks up there..... came along and pulled the bus back on the road. Nothing like a little excitement. We had to turn around and return to the ship. They gave us our money back. I now know why I go to church every Sunday. :) March 5 Today was an at sea day so I will comment about the ship. The Island Princess was a fine ship and in excellent physical shape. Our stateroom which was a mini-suite had a sitting area and a bathroom with a tub. The balcony was also a little larger than a normal balcony and offered us a good place to relax and spend time looking out over the ocean. We were disappointed in the dining options for the cruise. We are not big fans of anytime dinning. We like to eat our evening meal at reasonable time. The options for this cruise were either 5:00pm or 8:00pm. The part calls described above all ended after 6:00pm and left us few options except to eat at the buffet or join the hoard trying to get anytime service. When were able to eat at 5:00pm we were dismayed to find that the number of wait staff had been reduced. It made for a long and painfully slow dining experience. The wait staff was excellent but just overworked. They did what they could to make our experience the best possible. March 6 We got up early this morning to get prime seats on the bow for our transit. The 3:30am wake up time was well worth it. The canal is an awesome engineering feat. It is hard to believe it opened in 1914. The canal system which lifts you up 84 feet and then drops you back down again is a sight to behold. The canal is in excellent shape. You can also see where they are starting to dig to widen the canal. Our clearance as we passed thru the canal was just 24 inches on each side of the ship. We made a brief stop on the Atlantic side of the canal. Vendors were available on the Pier. There was no time for tours or to go explore. March 7 The entertainment on the ship was superb. The shows were top notch and worth seeing. The casino was nice and had electronic Texas Holdem tables. We had the opportunity to stay busy or just relax during our at seas days. The average age on our cruise was 65. Being married 20 years was just a drop in the bucket for most folks on the cruise. If you are looking for a high level of activity you probably should go with Carnival. March 8 We are in Ocho Rios Jamaica today. We took a tour to Dunns River Falls where we climbed 900 plus feet up a water fall. It was an exciting climb. We got plenty wet........good sense of achievement after we finished. Next we went up a mountain to experience the Jamaican Bobsled course. It was a thrilling ride. This is our last port visit. We have one more day at sea before we get back to port in Florida on March 10th. Comments This was an outstanding cruise. It is well worth taking. It was a great way to spend our 20th Anniversary.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
My wife and I just returned from a great Mexican Riviera cruise on the Sapphire Princess. We had a wonderful, relaxing time and since we received such great information prior to our cruise from the Cruise Critic Boards we thought we should ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from a great Mexican Riviera cruise on the Sapphire Princess. We had a wonderful, relaxing time and since we received such great information prior to our cruise from the Cruise Critic Boards we thought we should return the favor. So here is our review and I hope it does not get too long. If it does, I beg your pardon but I am trying to think of things that would have been helpful to me in planning for this cruise. Trip to Los Angeles We left a day early and flew into LA from Kansas City on Friday evening, February 12th. We used our Marriott points and stayed at the Courtyard Los Angeles/LAX Marriott at Century Boulevard. It is literally at the entrance of LAX and has a free shuttle to the hotel. It is a short shuttle ride, but be aware, since it is so close it is the last stop on the circuit that stops at 3 hotels. Nice hotel, nothing fancy but ideal for a one night stay close to the airport. They have a small restaurant in the lobby area that serves a nice buffet style breakfast (for a charge) in the morning. Transportation to the San Pedro Cruise Ship Terminal We had purchased round-trip shuttle transportation through Princess Cruise Lines ($24 per person each way) so we had to take the hotel shuttle back to LAX. Since we had come in the night before, we had received information to meet at the Delta Baggage Claim Area between 12noon and 1pm to meet the shuttle. As it turned out, at least 3 other parties on our cruise were also on the airport shuttle so we followed each other to the designated site. Princess staff were there to greet us and assist with getting luggage on the bus. We boarded the bus almost immediately and shortly after we headed for the cruise terminal. The Princess person said it would take about 45 minutes, but traffic was not bad and the trip only took about 30 minutes. When you get to the terminal, they park the bus for a while and another Princess staff person gets on and passes out some health forms that must be filled out prior to embarkation. It is also a method to space out the passengers arriving on their buses. After a short stop, we were taken to just outside the terminal where we got off the bus and went in. Embarkation We are Gold members (just our 2nd Princess cruise) so we joined the line and it moved pretty quickly. We were on the ship and at our stateroom by 1:30pm. Two pieces of our luggage were already at the stateroom and the other two showed up about 5 minutes after we did. We met our cabin steward, Nilo from the Phillipines, right away and he gave us a quick orientation. We requested an egg crate mattress (as we had read on Cruise Critic) and he said he would get one to the room as soon as possible. Very smooth, quick and effortless embarkation. We had received the $1000 Treasure Hunt card as we embarked so we headed out to get all our stamps. Besides the chance to win some prizes, this is an excellent way to get a quick orientation of the ship and its services. One of the designated spots was Sabatini's (specialty restaurant) and this worked out great because we wanted to make a reservation for Valentine's Day dinner. I wanted to make it a special evening because February 14th is also my wife's birthday. After we collected all our stamps we headed to the Horizon Court for a quick lunch and then went back to our stateroom to unpack. We did the mandatory muster drill at 3:15pm (our muster location was Club Fusion) and then went up to the main Pool Deck for the Sailaway Party. Fortunately it was a beautiful evening for our sailaway and everyone had a great time as we began our journey. Stateroom Our stateroom was A704 on the Aloha Deck (Deck 12-Aft). We had a balcony and it was completely covered. We could look down on the open and partially closed balconies on the lower decks. We were a little concerned about being one deck below the Horizon Court because of potential noise from tables and chairs being moved around; but we hardly noticed any noise at all. Just a couple of times on 1-2 mornings did we hear anything. We were near the elevators (no noise) and the staircase which was very handy. We could walk up one flight of stairs and be at the entrance to the Horizon Court for breakfast, coffee, etc. Very Nice!! But the best thing was that we were only a few doors down from the Aft (Terrace) Pool Area. This was great as the Aft Pool area is less crowded and the pool itself is "adults only". You really had a great view off the back of the ship. I cannot say enough about how nice this was. The stateroom itself was nice. The 2 twin beds had been pushed together to make one Queen bed and the egg crate mattress really made for a comfortable night sleep (definitely get this). We found we had plenty of hanger space with storage above and below, a full-length mirrored door opened up to several shelves for storage. There was a nightstand on one side of the bed with 2 drawers and the desk had 5 drawers for additional storage. There were 2 outlets near the desk but we had brought along a power strip so we had plenty of outlets. There is also an one outlet in the bathroom. There was a desk chair and one other chair in the room. Each room also has a TV with a few channels and a refrigerator. The bathroom was small but nice. The shower was very small but the water pressure was great all cruise long. The balcony on Aloha deck is small but nice—enough room for 2 chairs and a small table. Dining We chose Anytime Dining and it worked well for us. We did share a table with 2 other very nice couples on the first night in the Santa Fe dining room. We dined in Sabatini's ($20 per person charge) on Valentine's evening and it was very good. The other nights we had no problem getting a table for 2 and the times were anywhere from 6-7pm. The food was good but not overwhelming. I seem to remember from other cruises that on several occasions I left the dining room really feeling that we had experienced something special. Unfortunately, I cannot say that we had that experience during this cruise. Don't get me wrong, the food was good; just not outstanding. The Santa Fe Dining Room was our favorite. We ate there 3 nights, in the Pacific Moon twice and in the Savoy Dining Room once. The wait staff in all of the dining rooms were excellent, very friendly and very attentive. We ate breakfast in the Horizon Court every morning and had lunch there a number of times. The food was good and there was a lot of variety. A few times the area seemed crowded but overall it was fine. Wait staff were ever-present to offer coffee and juice. You could also get hot tea upon request. We enjoyed the Pizza and Burger Bars at the Main Pool Area on Deck 14 on a couple of occasions and this was nice for a quick bite to eat. There is also an Ice Cream Bar near the midship Pool. By the way, formal nights on the cruise are Sunday and Thursday. Entertainment We had seen a lot of negative comments about the production shows but we generally thought they were good. The Welcome Aboard Showtime on the first night was not that great—it was more of an orientation and a preview of Steve Moris's comedy show scheduled for the next night. Of the production shows, we did enjoy "Piano Man" on Sunday night and "Do You Want to Dance" on Wednesday night. We were less enthusiastic about the "I Got the Music" show on Thursday night. The same production troupe did all three shows. We really enjoyed Steve Moris's full comedy show in the Explorer's Lounge on Sunday night. Tom McTigue (another comedy show) was also enjoyable. We did not care for Lorenzo Clark (comedy/magic) who performed in the Princess Theater on Tuesday night. A few funny moments but generally his act seemed kind of "forced". The other musical groups (the Baby Dolls, in particular) which appeared in various locales around the ship were entertaining. We took part in the Movie Trivia program in the Explorer's Lounge on Tuesday night and our little team of 2 managed to tie for 1st place with another team of 4 getting 18 out of 20 correct. Both teams won a free bottle of champagne (we took ours to dinner on Friday night and our head waiter swapped it for a chilled bottle that we had with dinner). Ports/Excursions The first two full days of the cruise were at sea and we were blessed with great weather. On Tuesday, we docked at Puerto Vallarta at 9am with a departure time of 5pm. PV is on Central Pacific Time and is 1 hour ahead of ship's time. Since this was our first time in PV, we booked the City and Coastal Drive Tour through Princess. This tour gave us a nice overview of PV and the surrounding area. We disembarked the ship and met our tour group at 9:20am. We took an air-conditioned motorcoach to the Malecon (downtown shopping district) and made a 30 minute stop to do a walking tour of the Malecon and the Cathedral. We then boarded the motorcoach again and proceeded to a small shopping district where we could get some refreshments and use restrooms. We then continued on the Coastal Tour which ended at the site where the movie "Night of the Iquana" was filmed. Beautiful coastal scenery!! We then returned to the Malecon for a 30 minute stop to enjoy a free cold beverage of our choice, use restrooms and shop. We were given the choice of returning to the ship by motorcoach or we could stay and return to the ship on our own. We needed to be back at the ship by 4:30pm for boarding. We elected to stay and look around on our own. We took a yellow cab back to the cruise ship terminal and the cost was $7 US for the two of us. At the terminal, there were currency exchange facilities and a small shopping market. We boarded at around 4pm. On Wednesday, we docked at Mazatlan at 7am with a scheduled departure time of 5pm. As we were standing out on our balcony in the morning, the Mariner of the Seas came into port and docked Aft to Aft with our ship. Thanks to tips on the Cruise Critic boards we had decided to take the local Water Taxi to Stone Island on our own instead of doing the ship excursion. This would have been great except for the fact that we had lousy weather that day. It was very overcast with intermittent sprinkles. We decided to go anyway. At the port in Mazatlan, all passengers must take the complimentary shuttle to the terminal because it is a commercial dock. Once at the terminal you have the usual press of vendors and people trying to direct you to taxis. We had to wade through these folks (and say No Gracias several times) to get to the gate exiting the terminal. From there you turn left and walk a couple of blocks to where the street curves to the right. You proceed straight ahead on an unpaved street to a small yellow building. This is where you purchase your water taxi tickets. The cost is $2 per person for a roundtrip ticket. They will give you 2 tickets so be sure to retain one of the tickets for your return trip. The water taxi is pretty small with a covered roof and the ride is pretty quick across the channel to the small dock on Stone Island. From the dock it is a short walk over a small rise to a rocky entrance to the Stone Island Beach. As I mentioned, the weather was not cooperating. This had all the potential for a great day on the beach but the wind came up and it started to rain. We wondered down the beach to Victor's (which we had heard so much about on these boards) and decided to take shelter to wait out the rain and hope for improvement in the weather. After a couple of beers, we finally made the decision (a wise one as it turned out) to give up and head back to the ship. We met a few other hardy souls on the way back who had also heard about Stone Island on the CC boards and were giving it a go. We made the return trip in short order and reboarded the ship. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the pool (under the covered part). On Thursday, we anchored at Cabo San Lucas at about 7am. Since we were on the port side, we had a great view of Land's End from our balcony. We had nothing special planned for the day, so we took our time with breakfast and then wandered down to the Vivaldi Dining Room as instructed to get our tender tickets. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there were no lines and we could immediately board the tender for the trip into the marina. It was a short trip and we were quickly on the boardwalk around the marina. We had stayed in Cabo in 2008 so we were very familiar with the Marina and Cabo in general. We spent our morning leisurely walking in the marina area and in the main Cabo shopping district. Around 11:45am, we stopped at the Nowhere Bar at the marina for a few cold beers and some chips/salsa. Very relaxing place to people watch. We then headed back around the marina walk to the tender pier. A long line had already formed for the tenders but it moved along pretty well. Soon we were back on the Sapphire for our 2pm departure. It really is a shame that the port time in Cabo is so short. It is by far our favorite port and is really a beautiful place. We ate a quick lunch onboard and then headed to the Aft pool for the afternoon. It was one of the best weather days we had and it was a beautiful sailaway from Cabo. Friday was another Sea Day on our way back to LA and the weather was pretty lousy once again; overcast, windy and cool. It was definitely not a "pool" day. Onboard Activities Some examples of some of the special activities include: *Captain's Champagne Waterfall Party in the Atrium on Sunday night (formal night) *Princess Pop Star (an American Idol style karaoke competition) on several nights *Fiesta Deck Party on Pool Deck 14 at 10pm on Monday night *Art Auctions *Farewell Mexico Dance Party and Balloon Drop in the Atrium on Thursday night (formal night) There is a 9 hole miniature golf course near midship and a Cyber Golf Simulator (which always seemed busy). The Promenade on Deck 7 is nice and wide. 3 trips around equals a mile; although you have to go up and down some stairs to Deck 8 to go all the way around. There is a walking track Forward on Deck 16 near the Lotus Pool. 10 trips around equals a mile. Of course, there is the usual array of activities (Bingo, trivia, etc.) everyday. Staff/Service We found the service from the staff to be excellent throughout the cruise. Nilo, our room steward, was excellent. He seemed to be out in the hall near our room every morning with a smile and a warm greeting. He took care of all our needs in a very professional manner. We cannot say enough about his excellent service. The wait staff in every dining room did a great job and were very accommodating; the same for staff in the Horizon Court and throughout the ship. Everyone was very friendly and were quick with a smile and greeting. Disembarkation We received our disembarkation packet and luggage tags on Thursday night so we had plenty of time to figure out what needed to be done. I went to the Internet Cafe on Friday afternoon and purchased a special 15 minute package (offered on Friday) for $8.25. Since I had a coupon for an additional 15 minutes with purchase of any plan, I had plenty of time to print our Southwest Boarding Passes for our return flight. By the way, there is a printing charge of $0.50 per page. Princess has what they call "Silent Disembarkation". There are no announcements made on the morning of disembarkation. Everyone just needs to go to their designated areas at their specific times. We packed our two big pieces of luggage on Friday evening, filled out our luggage tags, attached them and placed the bags outside the stateroom just before we went to dinner. The next morning we arrived in LA at 7am and we ate breakfast for the last time in the Horizon Court. We finished packing our remaining stuff in our carry luggage and left the stateroom at the requested time (8am). Since we had purchased a Princess Transfer and we had an afternoon flight, we were in the "Orange" Group and were instructed to meet in Club Fusion by 8:40am (our disembarkation time was 8:50am). Since we had to be out of our stateroom by 8am, we decided to go down to the area near Club Fusion to find a "nook" to settle in. We were surprised to be ushered into Club Fusion right away. Groups 1-6 in Orange Group were all gathered there and they had coffee and water available. Right at 8:50am, our Group was called and we disembarked the ship. 40 minutes later, we had found our luggage, been through Customs and were on our motorcoach for the trip to LAX. The whole disembarkation process went very smoothly and was very efficient. We were placed on the transfer coaches by Airline designation so our bus deposited us at Terminal #1 at LAX for Southwest. Lines for baggage check-in and security were crazy but we were eventually on our way. Unfortunately when we arrived in Kansas City at 9:25pm that night, we found ourselves back to reality in the Midwest. The temperature was 31 degrees and it was sleeting/snowing. We had a harrowing 3 ½ hour drive (normally 2 ½ hours) back to Mid-Missouri on snow/ice covered highways. But we made it in one piece. The Sapphire Princess is a beautiful ship and the 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise was great. We will definitely sail on Princess again. We highly recommend both the ship and the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
This was our 2ND cruise with Princess and I cannot say enough about our cruise, we had a balcony on Caribe 534 , our balcony was huge with 2 regular chairs and 2 loungers and a table, were mid-ship,leaving out of Fort Lauderdale Feb 14Th, ... Read More
This was our 2ND cruise with Princess and I cannot say enough about our cruise, we had a balcony on Caribe 534 , our balcony was huge with 2 regular chairs and 2 loungers and a table, were mid-ship,leaving out of Fort Lauderdale Feb 14Th, our Wedding Anniversary. Princess had decorated our cabin door with balloons and we had a certificate for a complimentary chocolate cake for 2 which we presented to a maitre'd and it was delicious! The Sanctuary: we reserved our chairs for the entire cruise,we just shop at the ports so we chose to spend our time relaxing at the Sanctuary, the staff was superb and always very polite, they served us citrus water, cold facial towels ans we were ordered food from their special menu which is only a 3.00 gratuity charge, so we were pampered!!! Dining: We had anytime dining again, as before on the Ruby, never did we have a wait longer than 10 minutes, some days we were seated immediately! We did dine twice at the Crown Grill & twice at Sabatini's, both have delicious food and again the staff was wonderful! We met many couples in our age 45-50, and Princess does offer something for all age groups! We even booked our next cruise w/Princess again for a 10 day Eastern next February and remember your vacation is what YOU make of it, we work hard and when we cruise we do so in Princess style! Wishing all happy sailing! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We sailed on the Golden Princess from March 28th - April 11th, and were booked in a Mini Suite on the Dolphin Deck (AA Category), midship. We arrived in LA the day before and stayed at a hotel near the airport. It was only a 30 minute ... Read More
We sailed on the Golden Princess from March 28th - April 11th, and were booked in a Mini Suite on the Dolphin Deck (AA Category), midship. We arrived in LA the day before and stayed at a hotel near the airport. It was only a 30 minute trip to San Pedro so you really don't have to stay in that area if you don't want to. It also gives you more of an opportunity to see all that the LA area has to offer before you embark on your cruise. Check-In/Embarkation: We arrived at the port just shortly after 12:15. Princess moved us through the process pretty quickly and efficiently. There was a short delay of about 30 minutes while we waited for our seated pre-boarding section to be called, but once we were called to board, the process through security went very quickly and we were on-board checking out our stateroom by 1:00. Stateroom: Again, our room was located on the Dolphin deck, mid-ship. The room was slightly larger than other outside staterooms with balconies that we have had on other cruise lines. The bed was set as a queen, the bathroom had both a tub and shower, and offered plenty of room for toiletries. Closet and drawer space was plentiful (for two people and five bags of clothing!). It had two TVs, one pointed towards the bed and the other facing the sofa and balcony area. The balcony was about a standard size, not offering any additional space for being attached to a mini suite, but again was more than adequate for the two of us. The balcony was uncovered due to the way the balcony rooms on the ship are set up, so it did not offer any real sun or weather protection, but again, this was not an issue and we enjoyed our time out there every day. It certainly was a positive to be in an AA category stateroom mid-ship, as it helped regarding how much we felt the movement of the ship while at sea. The Ship: The Golden Princess is a very large ship, but for us it really did not feel that big after we got our bearings. There was plenty of public space, the theater and lounges mostly had appropriate seating for those who wanted to partake in the activity in such. Casino was large enough for the amount of people that wanted to use it, however it was very smoky, and that could make it unpleasant for non smokers. Food & Drink: The food offered in the full service dining rooms was outstanding! We did try Sabatini's, and although the presentation and food quality was nice to experience, we would not do it again. This dining room is definitely subject to individual tastes, and therefore I don't want to say anything bad about it as it was good, just not our kind of experience...although most everyone we spoke with that went there did indeed love it. To each their own. We are not big drinkers, so I cannot offer any feedback on the lounges and bars regarding drinks. Although we did order one drink on our first night, and there was so much alcohol in it, the taste was not too good. Again, being fair, others seemed to like them. Again it's all about personal choices so I don't want to say a lot of negative things about them. Activities: The best activities on this cruise were all related to the Hawaii ports of call. Hula dancing, Lei making, Ukulele classes...all a lot of fun. They did have different activities for different age groups...Survivor, Ballroom Dancing, Drink Mixing, Computer classes, and even things for the "juniors". All in all, we found plenty of things to do. The only feedback I would offer is that sometimes you have to either be creative or willing to try something out of your comfort zone in order to take advantage of a majority of the activities going on. Service: Room accommodations...OUTSTANDING! Dining staff...OUTSTANDING! Casino Staff....AVERAGE AT BEST! Most of them had little or no personality. Very rarely spoke to anyone who was not a crew member. Very disappointing. Horizons Wait Staff...OUTSTANDING! We pretty much sat in a different place every morning for breakfast, yet every waiter on that side of the room was professional and personable. Other Crew...OUTSTANDING! Really made you feel that you were welcome and appreciated. Entertainment: Some people on board complained, others were elated with the entertainment. Here is my feedback. Have I seen better, yes. Have I seen worse, yes. They had everything...jugglers, acrobats, comedians, singers, dancers, a hypnotist, lounge bands, piano players, an orchestra, DJs just to name a few. I look at it like this...I would say that as an example, in Las Vegas, you get a certain kind of show at the Bellagio, and a different kind of show at the Stratosphere...this was more Stratosphere type of entertainment. It was enjoyable, it did provide entertainment, but it may not be what some people expect, so temper your expectations. Overall Summary: I felt that I got more than my money's worth on this cruise and this ship. It was a relaxing, enjoyable, yet exciting cruise for us and we would definitely sail on the Golden again and would recommend both Princess and the Golden without reservation! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
My husband and I flew into LAX the morning of our cruise arriving at 9:30 am and even though we were early Princess was there to meet us. We were told that the early arrivals were being taken to a hotel until we could start boarding the ... Read More
My husband and I flew into LAX the morning of our cruise arriving at 9:30 am and even though we were early Princess was there to meet us. We were told that the early arrivals were being taken to a hotel until we could start boarding the ship. To our surprise we were the 1st bus to go straight to the terminal. Getting on board was very well organized and we were on board my 11:30 am!! Being able to board so soon (actually 2 hours after the last of the passengers from the previous cruise left) speaks very highly of the Princess crew to quickly turn the ship over for newly arriving guests. As with our last cruise on Caribbean Princess, we were impressed with the lack of crowding. The only crowding we saw were 1st the muster drill and 2nd a very popular show in the Princess Theater, we actually sat on a stair to watch the show and that was fine with us. The show was good and so were the cast. The food on Sapphire was as good as we remembered. My husband actually gained a few pounds which he needed. I refuse to get on the scales but think I did fairly well. A fellow Cruise Critic member told me a "secret" about the Santa Fe---items NOT on the menu, Fajitas. The best ever and beats out my favorite restaurant here at home. Each dining room has a speciality that is not on the menu, so ask your waiter what the dining room has to offer. Sabatini's was very good and takes 2 hours. Since we had not dined there before they asked us to choose an entree and they bring samples of everything else. We were definitely very full by the end of that meal. The wait staff make sure you understand the cost is $20 pp so there are no surprises. We also dined at Sterling Steakhouse also very good. The steaks are very big, and cooked to perfection. The crew was amazing! We did not encounter any problems with crew and our room steward Ruel was very kind and most appreciated by us. We were on the Dolphin deck in a mini-suite and never had an issue with our cabin. Room service in the morning for coffee was great and amazingly quick considering the number of requests. Passanges aboard seemed for the most part a happy group. I only saw a few grumps one of which had a point. There are hand sanitizers everywhere that there is food. In the buffet one morning a passenger saw quite a few people ignore the sanitizers when entering. Princess does have crew members reminding passengers to clean their hands and some just ignored them. It is up to the passengers to keep the germs at a mininum as the crew is unable to force those not into hand cleaning to follow the suggestions. The weather was not very cooperative and consequently a little cool but Princess carried on and there was fun for all. All in all, a great cruise with wonderful Cruise Critic memebers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Arrival: We arrived a day early this year to relax and spend some time in San Juan ahead of the cruise. Booked a room at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Nice hotel and room. Only a short taxi ride to the Pan American ... Read More
Arrival: We arrived a day early this year to relax and spend some time in San Juan ahead of the cruise. Booked a room at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Nice hotel and room. Only a short taxi ride to the Pan American pier. Embarkation: Embarkation began at 2:00pm but it is recommended to arrive after 3:00pm to avoid the lines. We arrived shortly after 3:00pm and although the line-ups were slightly longer than last year we were in our room within 35 - 40 minutes. Overall, Princess has this process down very well. Room: We booked a mini-suite on Dolphin deck. The room was ready upon our arrival and our room steward Noel was there to greet us within 5 - 10 minutes after our arrival. The room was cleaned by noon each day and the bed turned down each evening before we retired. Towels and amenities were replenished daily. Noel was very attentive all week and was able to look after all our requests. The mini suite has lots of storage space and was well maintained. We love sitting on the balcony and relaxing during the late afternoon, watching the sail away from the ports. Dining: We booked 'Anytime dining' and all our dinners were in the Island Dining room on deck 5. We never made a reservation, but our longest waited was 20 minutes one evening, otherwise we generally were seated within 5 - 10 minutes. Eduardo and Jason were our servers for all dinners except one. Their service was great all week. We cannot thank them enough. Menu choices were varied throughout the week and overall the food was very good. Wine was reasonably priced. Breakfast and lunch was in the buffet restaurant all week. Busy at times but overall the traffic flow isn't too bad. Overall, the food quality was good with no major complaints (it's a buffet... mostly hits with a few misses mixed in) Entertainment: Only attended one show in the main auditiorium which we enjoyed. Relaxing in the Piazza and enjoying the entertainment during the early evening is one of the highlights of the cruise. Ports: We booked 3 tours through Princess this time (BVI, Antigua & St. Lucia). Our favourite was Antigua. Would definitely consider a resort vacation to Antigua. Disembarkation: We had an early flight (11:35) so we were scheduled with one of the first groups off the ship. Right on time, found our luggage quickly and we were through customs within 5 minutes. On the shuttle to the airport within 20 - 30 minutes. No complaints here. Overall: We had a great vacation and it was a much needed break from our daily routine. Although this was only our second cruise, I think were hooked. We're already planning our next cruise for the week leading into Christmas. It will be a very different Christmas this year being in a tropical climate and not the cold and snow (we can hardly wait). Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We just returned home today from our first experience with Princess Cruise Lines. Right from the moment we stepped out of the car to unload our bags in front of the terminal the port staff was extremely friendly and helpful. We were amazed ... Read More
We just returned home today from our first experience with Princess Cruise Lines. Right from the moment we stepped out of the car to unload our bags in front of the terminal the port staff was extremely friendly and helpful. We were amazed how quickly and efficiently we were processed and on board the ship despite a large number of passengers in line for embarkation. Our stateroom accommodations were very good. I called Princess in advance to confirm it's permissible to bring our own bottled water and soda on board which they acknowledged as long as it's not open so we stocked the refrigerator that is included in every stateroom. The cabin steward did a fantastic job of servicing our stateroom twice daily. We opted for the Anytime Dining which we will probably not do again. On previous cruises we established a repoirte with the same dining attendant that you don't get with this option. Also, you are subject to waiting for a table if you dine at peak times. The food was very good. There were very few items that we ordered that we didn't find to be delicious. The 24-hour pizza was outstanding. The ice cream that is available next to the pizza was somewhat disappointing as they only served it in cones with optional sprinkles. It appeared to be set up for Sundae toppings but I never saw that available. The burgers available on the Pool Deck were also very good. We ate breakfast/lunch each day (except for days on shore) in the Horizon Food Court which has an excellent buffet. The only inconvenience was finding an available table during peak times and the beverage service was sometimes slow at these meals. We like to drink Iced Tea with some of our meals and Orange Juice with breakfast but the only beverages we were offered was coffee or bar service, we had to ask for Iced Tea or Juice. It was as if those beverages were no-charge secrets. The Entertainment staff was incredible. They had a lot of fun doing their jobs which made it more fun for the passengers. The activities that we participated in (mostly in Club Fusion) were very well organized and a lot of fun. For the final Bingo session, they should have started selling the cards earlier in the day as the line got to be very long. We are accustomed to a variety of very entertaining shows in the theater every night which we had gotten on Royal Caribbean cruises but found some of the theater shows on the Crown Princess to be boring. One such show was played on two consecutive nights meaning that there were six shows instead of seven. The best shows were the opening night, closing night, and when they had outside entertainers (juggler, comedian, hypnotist). We sometimes could not enjoy our cabin's balcony due to people smoking on nearby balconies. It would be wise to isolate smoking balconies if possible. The Movies Under the Stars was fantastic except that the nights were a bit cold. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Well first off my wife and I flew out of Prov and had a early flight into Fll....I had read that they wouldnt let you get onto the ship till about 12pm but i was thinking about all my reservations and my sanctuary reservations i wanted to ... Read More
Well first off my wife and I flew out of Prov and had a early flight into Fll....I had read that they wouldnt let you get onto the ship till about 12pm but i was thinking about all my reservations and my sanctuary reservations i wanted to book....So when we got there we were set up in group 1 which was great...I have to say enter all your info on the computer before you get there as well as putting in your credit card....I was in line for 2 min then off to the gangway for our first picture then onto the ship..We then headed straight to our room to make our reservations over the phone but then decided to make a trip up to deck 16 and seeing the sanctuary in person....Great place and as we were walking around there were about 10 more people in line...Even though we had already booked excursions we still wanted to have the choice of going up there when we wanted to so we booked the whole week for $105 each....So our first stop was princess cays....We werent going to get off cuz it was cloudy and all but we had rented a sanctuary bungalow in the adult area....Very nice place and there might have been 2-3 more people around us but the weather was lousy and the water was cold...But it was nice to be away from all the music and kids in your own area..But about the emerald it was nice and everyone on the ship were really nice...We had anytime dining and ran into a wait only once but you have to remember you can go to any restaurant seeing that they are serving the same food on deck 6-7.....We booked a balcony dinner....All i gotta say is YUMMMY....Also booked a night at sabatini's and crown grill....SABATINIS took way too long but good but crown grill was the best..I had a nice porterhouse steak....Well im all done typing but if you have any questions please feel free to email me at MNTROSPORT@AOL.COM Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
My husband and I set sail on the beautiful Emerald Princess on March 28th to celebrate my birthday AND our over-due honeymoon. I had been reading several member reviews on CC for several weeks before our cruise because I wanted to be as ... Read More
My husband and I set sail on the beautiful Emerald Princess on March 28th to celebrate my birthday AND our over-due honeymoon. I had been reading several member reviews on CC for several weeks before our cruise because I wanted to be as well prepared as I could be and to know what to expect or not expect from this cruise. This was my husband's 10th cruise (he has sailed several lines prior, including Princess), and only my 2nd cruise (previously on Carnival). This is my review of the ship, the food, the entertainment, the staff, the itinerary ports of call. EMBARKATION: This was the smoothest embarkation you could ever experience. I think from the time the shuttle dropped us of at the port (we parked at a remote parking lot because it was cheaper) to the time we were on board and in our cabin (WE WERE ON DECK 14 and had to use the stairs)...it took us about 30 minutes!!!! And we even had to tag our luggage because someone forgot the luggage tags at home! As mentioned, my husband has been on several other cruises, and he even said that this was the best embarkation he ever experienced. THE SHIP: The ship was very beautiful. It was very clean and the dEcor was perfectly matched for each venue. There were several clubs/venues, some of which we didn't get to spend much time in because we were off doing something else on the ship or in port. I think the spot we frequented the most was Club Fusion, and it was a nice place at the back of the ship where trivia, music, karaoke, bingo and several other things were going on. We had a balcony cabin on the Riviera deck (Deck 14) which is just below the Lido deck (where all the pool activities and MUTS take place). Our balcony was small than some of the one's on the lower decks...but the plus was that no one could look down on top of us since there were no balconies above us! The closet was large enough for all our clothes and we were able to stow our luggage under our bed perfectly. I will advise though, to request one of those egg carton mattress pads that you hear people talk about on here. We did not, and the bed was not very comfortable; kind of like sleeping on a sofa bed or futon. I will request one on any future cruises with Princess. THE FOOD: This is where it gets a little tricky! We chose anytime dining for our dinner option, and after reading the reviews on this here on CC, I was really worried and nervous that we were going to have a hard time when it came time to eat dinner. I was pleasantly surprised however, that whenever we went down to the dining room (there are two designated for Any Time dining), we had no problem getting sat right away, even for just a table for two! Of course, we chose to go down for dinner around 5:30pm because of the previous posts about having problems on waiting...but it worked out perfectly for us. I will say though, that we only chose to eat in the dining room 3 or 4 nights out of the 7 because the menu just didn't suit our appetite. It was very strange, some of their options and what they were paired with. To be quite honest, I think they do this to encourage people to eat at one of the two specialty restaurants they have on board which require a cover charge of either $20 or $25 per person. We however, did not partake in either of these restaurants, but chose either to have dinner in the Horizon Court (buffet) or have pizza or a hamburger, hot dog or grilled chicken sandwich with some fries. Some of you have probably read some reviews saying that the pizza wasn't good. I completely disagree on that! It was really good, and we had it several times during our cruise. On one night in particular, there was just so much going on that we wanted to do, we sat out to watch MUTS (they were playing The Blind Side) and we had pizza and milkshakes for dinner! We also had a beautiful bowl of fruit (we got to choose what fruit we wanted) brought to our room on Monday to eat from all week). THE ENTERTAINMENT: This cruise had some pretty good entertainment throughout the week. There were 3 production shows, Boogie Shoes, I Got The Music In Me and one other one that escapes me right now. There were two comedians and a magician which they called "The Bad Boy of Magic", and trust me, his show was not a magic show I would have allowed my kids to watch, even though there were some in the audience that night. He was funny...and did some amazing tricks, but he was a little...shall we say "vulgar" at times. The one comedian, Kevin Hughes (a Carolina native), was hilarious. We saw him several times throughout the week. When we saw him listed on the Princess Patter, we made sure to make the show; that's how much we liked him! The singers and dancers on the boat were pretty good. One of the shows I didn't care too much for, I thought it was a little weird (Boogie Shoes). I will tell you that if you want to have a drink during the show, stop at the bar before you go into the theater because the seating is such that you will not get served unless you are sitting on the end of a row and there are only servers for about 15 minutes prior to the show, and with 800 people, you might have a hard time getting service. THE STAFF: For the most part, the staff was great. Our room steward, Dennis was fantastic! I was a little surprised to find out that they don't do the towels animals anymore unless you have children in your cabin. But...Dennis made it up to me and made me my very own "monkey". The only staff member that really shocked me (in a negative way)...was the CRUISE DIRECTOR...Dan Stein. He was funny, don't get me wrong. Whenever he would MC a show or on his morning show (The Wake Show), he was pretty funny. HOWEVER, whenever we would pass him on the ship OR while we were in port, he didn't really acknowledge anyone. He just wasn't as personable as a Cruise Director should be. He had a staff of 7 I believe, that were on the Cruise Director's team...and there were some of them that were much better suited for that position IMHO. One of which was Mark! LOVE HIM!!! After one night, he knew me and my husband by name and he always had a smile and fun way about him. He is someone I could totally be friends with him for years to come! ? ITINERARY: On this cruise we visited Princess Cays, Bahamas...St. Martin... St. Thomas, USVI...and Grand Turk! Princess Cays was just a beach day, and the water was freezing. There really isn't anything to see here, so it's a day to relax on the beach or do some water sports/excursions. St. Martin was a big cluster of people because there were 7 ships counting ours that were in port that day. One of which was the Oasis of the Seas which added about 20,000 people to that little island for shopping! You couldn't hardly walk around inside a store because there were just so many people! TIP-on the ship they will have a Port & Shopping seminar on your first sea day (Tuesday), DON'T MISS THIS! You will find out some great pointers for the three ports you are going to as well as have the option to pay $25 for a book with loads of coupons for FREE stuff and BIG discounts! ALSO, very important for you to know as well. The ship will tell you that they have their "recommended shops" and that those are the only shops you should buy your jewelry. What that really means is, those shops are paying Princess for advertising, and you can get some great deals at other jewelers, sometimes even better than what the "premium recommended jewelers" offer. St. Thomas is where we did our jewelry shopping, as we have a jeweler there that my husband has been using for several years "Imperial Jewelers". We got a great deal on a beautiful blue diamond ring, a tanzanite ring and a citizen watch for my husband! But out of all the ports, Grand Turk was our absolute favorite! The water was the clearest and the bluest of all ports. It was very untouched and so clean. It was the one port where we didn't feel like we were being haggled at the shops like we were in St. Martin and St. Thomas. The largest Margaritaville is located here with its own pool and beach, cabanas and chairs which are complimentary to the cruise passengers. We did a reef snorkel and stingray encounter excursion here, and it was fantastic. SO, if you are debating on which port you want to do your excursion(s) at, I highly recommend Grand Turk. Save your shopping for St. Martin and St. Thomas and for those of you who have never been to either island, know that most of the stores you see in St. Martin, you will see in St. Thomas and the prices will be about the same...in regards to jewelry. The only complaint really that I had about the entire cruise was that it seemed as though there were not enough children activities. It seemed like the boat was over-run with kids ranging from 2-18...and they were running rampant throughout the ship. It was very aggravating! I would definitely not cruise this time of year again because of Spring Breakers. I thought that most of them were already done with their holiday, but obviously not. I was talking to Mark (the cruise director staff) about all the children, and he said there were about 2-3 children for every adult on the ship! They were booked to capacity this cruise, so that gives you an idea of how many there were. If you sail this ship, I truly don't think you will be disappointed. 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Sail Date March 2010
We were met at the L.A. airport by Princess and taken to the ship. They took our luggage and we didn't see it until we entered our beautiful mini suite after checking in. We were taken by bus to the port where everything was well ... Read More
We were met at the L.A. airport by Princess and taken to the ship. They took our luggage and we didn't see it until we entered our beautiful mini suite after checking in. We were taken by bus to the port where everything was well organized for boarding. We dropped off some items in our cabin and went to have a bite in the Horizon Court. Overall the food was very good with the exception of some items that needed to be heated up. We are the kind of people who when we order hot soup, we want it hot. The staff on the ship were most accomodating also with the exception of a head waiter who seemed to make faces and grumble when we asked for a table for two each day. Sometimes you just need to be together without the general conversation of strangers. We certainly are not snobbish and did meet some wonderful people through Cruise Critic. We sat with them for the three formal nights and sat with one particular couple for many of the other nights. We did have dinner at Sabatini's one night and one night at the Bayou cafe. I would say after looking back on these extra charge restaurants, that the main dining room had the best food in comparison. We chose the anytime dining option and were most pleased with that arrangement. The ship is most accomodating with reservations and without reservations for dinner. We arranged for several private tours with some couples from Cruise Critic and they all turned out to be terrific. Rosie's in Acapulco is the best. (www.acapulcorosiestours.com) Rosie met us at the pier and we were two groups in two airconditioned vans. She provided us with cold drinks and water and ice cold towels (when needed) to keep cool. We took a tour of several interesting places with her and it also included the Cliff Divers. Her tour was very reasonable and we highly recommend her. We took a tour in Costa Rica with Odessey Tours (Alvaro) He was right there to meet us and highly knowledgeable about his wonderful country. Took a tour of Manuel Antonio Park. In Panama we hired Anne of the Embera Village. This tour is not to be missed although getting there was a bit difficult since we sat on a dug out canoe for one and half hours each way plus a van to get to the landing. It was worth it when we met the wonderful amazing people of this village who are so gentle, sweet and giving of themselves. We didn't take a tour in Cabo or Huatulco. Aruba was a walk-around but if you like snorkelling, it's the place to enjoy that. (I believe Huatulco and Cabo are also great places for that too.) The sailing through the Panama Canal was an experience. We started early in the a.m.and it took an entire day to get through from the Pacific side to the Atlantic side. There were some comments from a man over the intercom at various points of the day. We had a wonderful time and would definitely take the trip again. We arrived back in Fort Lauderdale at the end of our cruise and since we live in West Palm Beach, it was easy getting home from there. (Had a card service pick us up) Princess really outdid themselves with this one.! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Our experience with Sapphire Princess was the best cruise we have taken so far. Embarkation was a breeze - never waited in line, boarded before noon and had lunch.Our bags were waiting at our door when lunch was over. This was our first ... Read More
Our experience with Sapphire Princess was the best cruise we have taken so far. Embarkation was a breeze - never waited in line, boarded before noon and had lunch.Our bags were waiting at our door when lunch was over. This was our first experience with a balcony, I loved it. My only complaint was the couple next to us smoked and I have asthma and am recovering from a year long bought with pulmonary disease. So, if we were docked and they were smoking I couldn't enjoy the balcony. They were aft of us, so no problems when we were moving. However, there was never a smoke smell in the cabin, the halls or anywhere else other than the casino. The cabin was clean, bright although the furniture was a little outdated. I can handle the outdated furniture since the cabin was clean. We had anytime dining, which we found to be interesting since we never ate in the same place twice. The food is the same regardless of where you eat, and we got to meet some great people every night. We found the food to be good (average restaurant quality)most nights, not five star, but not bad either. We never had to wait in line, we had reservations a few nights at 6:00, but didn't have to wait on nights we didn't have a reservation. We have been on this itinery twice before and chose to not get off the ship at ports, we relaxed by the pool - so I cannot review the ports. There were wonderful activities onboard for just about any age group. Different music in different lounges, games, new run movies such as Avatar and This Is It, comedians, musical reviews and childrens activities. There are two bands on board. The Sapphire house band (theater band) was wonderful. They accompanied the singers and dancers during the musical reviews and played onboard a few times. The second band was called Splendor. The lead singer is considered "reggae" but is more like a bad imitation. His voice is off key most of the time but, he gets the crowd going at the pool with party and noise. The female singer of the group is wonderful. They should let her sing in all venues and allow the lead to sing only at the pool. There was also a Mariachi band in the Atrium that was very enjoyable. Disembarkment was just as easy as embarkation. We were in a group that was scheduled to leave the ship at 8:30 but had to wait until 9:00 due to customs. When we were cleared, we were off the ship in minutes and waiting for our shuttle by 9:15. They are now using a color coded silent disembarkment system that works like a charm. Very easy and efficient. Over all, I would say that all the negative points in other reviews just didn't happen. We had a great cruise and would do again in an eyeblink. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Being from the Phoenix, Arizona area, we choose to drive to San Pedro, that way we could pack anything we wanted. We arrived in San Pedro at the Double Tree hotel at approximately 1.00 PM and had no problem checking in early. When you ... Read More
Being from the Phoenix, Arizona area, we choose to drive to San Pedro, that way we could pack anything we wanted. We arrived in San Pedro at the Double Tree hotel at approximately 1.00 PM and had no problem checking in early. When you check in at Double Tree, you get their wonderful warm chocolate chip cookies. Check in was generally easy and pleasant, but did have to run down my own bellman and although the sign says "Valet", they do not have valet service at this hotel. We checked in with the Bell Captain to set up our shuttle service to the ship the next morning. The check in clerk was very informative about this procedure. Our room at the double Tree was excellent, as was the food and service. At about 6:30 AM on Saturday, I watched the Sapphire Princess come into port, followed by the Norwegian Star, which backed in. We participated in the "Bon Voyage" offered by Princess (new this year), so we checked in at about 10:45 AM and boarded the Sapphire Princess around 11:30AM. Our cabin, the Grand Suite, was ready for us and our guests arrived about 11:45AM and joined us in the suite. We took a tour of the ship, had and wonderful Princess class lunch in the International Restaurant, then went back to the suite to visit until 3:30 PM, when they had to exit the ship. We really enjoyed this marketing tool that Princess has introduced. I hope they keep it up and get many new customers from the program. We cast off on time, following the Norwegian Star out of port. We had the early dinner seating, 6:00 PM, so it was unpack, get dressed and head down to the International Dining Room. We were promptly seated at Table 23. Bill and Mira, Vancouver B.C., were already seated and Jim and Jackie, Tucson, Arizona, showed up shortly after we arrived. We had already ordered when the last couple showed up. All I remember about them is they were from New Port Beach, Ca. (they never returned to the table the entire voyage). We had never used fixed seating dining before and found we greatly enjoyed it, especially meeting new friends. After diner, we had a nice bottle of champagne in our cabin, finished unpacking and spent the rest of the evening enjoying our cabin and being on cruise again. Sunday, being the first full cruise day, was also a sleep in day and breakfast in the suite was on the agenda. This breakfast was delivered hot and on time, actually a few minutes early. The food was excellent, well prepared and well presented. It was the first of every breakfast that was never quiet what we ordered (ordered two orange juice, got 4 etc., etc.), but nothing earth shaking. Today was Kathy's Lotus Spa day, which is one of the most important days of the entire cruise, and I had a haircut in preparation for the first formal night. I also attended the Cruise Critic get together in Skywalker's and met some very pleasant people and put some faces to some Cruise Critic "handles". The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the ship and the obligatory shopping. Monday was another day that was very busy. We had n early "lunch", which turned out to be eating "too much" in the Horizon Court. We were very pleasantly surprised at the improvements in the service in this 24 hour restaurant. The food, as usual, was excellent, the flatware and cloth napkins were on the tables and the beverage service was prompt and cheerful. We did though overeat and subsequently did not eat supper that evening. We arrived in PV on time at 9:00 AM on Tuesday and began disembarking immediately. The disembarkation was handled well and was rather quick. We took a private tour, arranged through Mazatlan Frank, and our driver and guide was Fernando Alfredo Navarro. I had two places I wanted to make sure we went (Donna Engracia Tequila Factory and La Mismaloya Resort) and left the rest up to Alfredo. We agree that this was one of the very best tours we have ever taken. We got to go where we wanted and also were taken to places we would never have even thought about, or been aware of. We had wonderful Margaritas in a beautiful restaurant by the bay on the south side of PV, then proceed on south and toured La Jolla de Mismaloya Resort (it is beautiful). Later Alfredo took us to a wonderful restaurant way back up in the hills and we had a marvelous lunch under the forest canopy. We went to some viewpoints that gave us a wonderful view of Banderas Bay and the city and area of PV. I am glad my camera takes about a million pictures (-: We returned to the ship around 3 PM (we could have gone shopping, if we wished), but we were ready to head home. We left PV a little late. Some boat excursions were only arriving back at 5:45 PM, when everyone was supposed to be on board by 4 PM, but some van tours were way late also. Any way, we left port around 5:20 PM and sailed out of the beautiful bay and headed towards Mazatlan and new adventures tomorrow. Again, having eaten too much at noon, we did not eat supper that evening. Our tour in Mazatlan was cancelled due to insufficient number enrolling. This is the very first time I have ever had a tour cancelled on a Princess cruise. Maybe it is just luck, but I found it odd, in that the cruise was sold out. We decided not to take something we had already done, or something we weren't sure about, so we just took a taxi, an adventure in itself, to the Golden Zone, the shopping area for tourists, in north Mazatlan, the newer section of town. The cost is $10-12 each way and worth it as it is quiet a way from the ship to the shopping zone. We got our necessary jewelry shopping done and had a snack of guacamole and chips before returning to the ship. Wednesday night we had the Ultimate Patio Dining. We actually had it in our wonderful dining room with the view, and it was excellent. We had the lobster and Halibut dinner, which was a five course dinner and included flowers, pictures, 1/2 bottle of champagne and a margarita. The desert was to kill for. The service was 5 star and we will remember this for a long time. We had our friend Bill and Mira from Vancouver B.C. join us and they made for a most memorable evening. Thursday, it was up early, 5AM, and off to the boats for our tour to Todos Santos. We weren't sure what to expect on this tour, but it turned out to be a really rustic little village about 75 minute up the coast, which is supposedly the home of the famous California Hotel. There is such a place and we ate a nice lunch there and walked around the city visiting and shopping. They have a lot of galleries. This is what Cabo was 15 to 20 years ago. Nice bus, only about 12 people and a really good tour guide, Libby, made this a good tour. I need to say that Ranelo Arevalo, our cabin steward, is really excellent and took very, very good care of us throughout this cruise, seeing to our needs and providing information about anything we asked We got back just in time to cast off and head north. Tonight is formal and Captain's Circle night, so into the monkey suit again. After diner, we had the pleasure of our dinner partners, Bill and Mira from Vancouver B.C. and Jim and Jackie from Tucson, AZ, in our suit for a wonderful evening of conversation. We had some great wine to go with the conversation. Friday was a very cool day on deck, with cloudy skies. I was amazed at the number of people on deck in swim suits, but covered completely up with towels and etc. I guess they were getting their cloud tans. There were a lot of sales at the stores, as the cruise was coming to an end and we took advantage of them to renew my t-shirts and get some perfume and other beauty items. On Friday evening, we had dinner as the guests of our friends from Vancouver, who treated us to a most marvelous Italian feast at Sabatini's. The meal was multi coursed, with excellent Italian food and terrific service. If you ever cruise Princess, be sure and eat as Sabatini's at least one evening. The extra charge, per person, is well worth it. Again, Bill and Mira made this a very memorable dinner. We arrived, on time, in the Port of Los Angeles (San Pedro) at 7:00 AM on Saturday and disembarked with no problems at around 8:45 AM. The Double Tree Hotel picked us up within 15 minutes after we called and took us directly to the hotel, where we loaded our car and headed home. Pro on this trip: The Grand Suite is absolutely a Pro. It is elegant to the extreme and of course we enjoyed it as it was meant to be enjoyed. We noticed the crew on this ship was very friendly and helpful in all instances. The Bon Voyage program was a hit with us. We were able to have our nephew and his girl friend join us, tour the ship and have a Princess class lunch. They were very impressed. I think they will be booking a cruise soon. Boarding and disembarkation were handled very well. We had not cruised Princess since 2008 and were very pleasantly pleased to see the service improvement in the Horizon Court (the 24 hour restaurant). Having the flat ware on the tables and the cloth napkins was a definite upgrade. Also, the attitude and service level in this restaurant was greatly improved. Dining there was a pleasant experience. For suite and elite passengers, Princess provides a special place for breakfast, Sabatini's, and a special area in Skywalker's between 5 and 7 each evening. We used fixed time seating for the first time ever. We took the 6 PM seating and were served in the International Dining Room. Our table companions were excellent and we greatly enjoyed them, with one exception. One couple, from "Newport Beach" sat the first evening, found out the rest of us were not from "Newport Beach" and we never saw them again. Our food was excellent in this restaurant and the service was superb. Cons on this trip: It is hard to find one. I would only say that the Customer Service desk personnel frequently lacked knowledge about procedures and, with the exception of a person named Cory, whom I only spoke to on the phone, lacked really good customer skills and attentiveness. This was the only place on this ship that we experienced this. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
After reading a few mediocre reviews about Princess Cruises (food, entertainment, room size), I was very pleasantly surprised at how excellent the entire cruise experiences was. The Crown Princess was clean, beautiful and very stable. It ... Read More
After reading a few mediocre reviews about Princess Cruises (food, entertainment, room size), I was very pleasantly surprised at how excellent the entire cruise experiences was. The Crown Princess was clean, beautiful and very stable. It was the small touches that made it beautiful: the marble and tile in the lobby, the fabrics, etc. Sure, it had some wear and tear. But when you consider that 3,000 people trapse on and off every week, you realize how well kept the ship actually is. The crew went out of their way to be nice and friendly. The dining room food was excellent. The shows were fun and elaborate. The cruise made me realize that some of the negative reviews must be coming from negative people who would find fault with the Normandie. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at Pt. Everglades around 10:30, had to wait in a hot boarding area until about 11:45 AM. The upside is we were one of the very first people on board. The ship was empty. Nice. We were the very first couple to sign up for the Ultimate Ship's tour. Then went up to the Spa to get one of the few couples' passes to the Thermal Suite. We finally made it into the dining room for lunch. Again, only about a dozen people eating in the dining room. The lunch was excellent. Our standard size BA cabin high up on Lido Deck was much roomier than I expected. Not too many cabins up on Lido, which was nice. The bigger verandas down below us were exposed to the sun, but had no privacy. We booked a 'guarantee' balcony cabin, which is the lowest fare. And to our pleasant surprise we were upgraded 7 categories for the same price! (we booked directly through the Princess web site.) Our cabin steward was very friendly and always out and about. We tipped extra. The dining room food was excellent. Anytime dining was great. No trouble getting a table for two (we ate early-ish), but some of the tables for two are close together. The only flaw with the ship's food was the terrible, terrible food in the Buffet. But we only made that mistake once and from then on ate lunch in the dining room. The shows were fun. Hint: the seats in the lower part of the theater are much too close together. No foot room at all. However, the seats in the balcony area are roomier and have more leg room. Ports and tours: Grand Cayman - Swimming with dolphins and stingrays. Excellent and something we'll never forget. Roatan - clear kayaking and snorkeling was just OK. The snorkeling was excellent, but the clear kayaking was more like clear kayak racing with no time to observe the reef underneath us. Next time we'll just snorkel. The BIG turn off at Roatan was Mahogany Bay, a Carnival Corp. shopping center that is literally a tourist trap. The only way off the pier is through a gift shop, which empties into a series of more shops that looks like Downtown Disney. There is also a beach area, which we skipped because it looked like Princess Cays 2. Once we were driven past the gates (yes, Mahogany Bay is for ship passengers only - no locals allowed!) we got a chance to see the island, which is beautiful. To sum up, Roatan is beautiful, Mahogany Bay is a corporate turn off. Unfortunately there's no way to skip it. Cozumel - the tour of the Tulum ruins was breathtaking. Another unforgettable memory. Princess Cays - think Miami Beach and you get the idea. We walked around for a few minutes, saw 3,000 other passengers lying in lounge chairs then headed back to an empty ship that was ours to enjoy. Extras that were worth the extra $$: * Balcony dinner. Maybe the highlight of our cruise. Time it with sunset for some amazing pictures! The food was EXCELLENT: steak Diane and Heidsick Champagne. The waiter was very friendly. Took about two hours but we will never forget it. * Couples Rassoul Mud with unlimited access to the Thermal Baths. The small, private massage area is a great idea. It had a small steam closet and very nice oils, salt scrub and mud. Our skin glowed for a few days after this. The Thermal Baths were very relaxing. Hint: if the heated relaxation beds are all occupied, the tiled benches in one of the steam baths are also heated. This room is great for anyone with a bad back! * Ultimate Ship's Tour. Absolutely worth it if you love ships. At four hours it can get tiring, but at the end they serve champagne and canapes in the piano bar. A nice way to end the tour. * Sabatinis. The food was very good, but not the ten course extravaganza we read about. More like an antipasti with four or five varieties, a soup, a salad, main course and dessert. The decor is very nice, quiet and intimate with nice water fountains outside the windows. We ate here as we were leaving Ft. Lauderdale so it was empty. Very nice and very empty. * We enjoyed the Crown Grill the best. The Porterhouse steak was actually too big. The dessert sampler was excellent. Elegant decor with nice woods, marbles, and interesting paintings of Merlin and Camelot. * Coffee card. The extra cost coffees were excellent. One card per couple should be enough. We bought two cards and wound up with one card with no punches! * EZ check. Do it! An amazing convenience for only $20. At disembarkation we met at the casino at 8:30, flew through customs and were on the bus by 8:35. No kidding. At the Ft. Lauderdale airport we bypassed the HUGE line at the check in counter (think Oasis of the Seas!), flew through the security check (because all those people were still in line at check in) and were at our gate literally 5 minutes after getting off the shuttle bus! So all in all our cruise turned out to be a great experience. The extras were all worth it (except for the second coffee card.) The only negatives were the buffet food and Mahogany Bay. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Embarkation Getting on board the ship was swift and easy. We didn't encounter any lines and the people checking you in moved you right along. We got on the ship about 1:30ish but didn't have our bags delivered until after the ... Read More
Embarkation Getting on board the ship was swift and easy. We didn't encounter any lines and the people checking you in moved you right along. We got on the ship about 1:30ish but didn't have our bags delivered until after the muster drill which wasn't a problem. Being budget-conscious and having a desire to enjoy a few cocktails on our cruise, we did some research about bringing alcohol on board. We settled on packing a 1.75 L (handle) of vodka in one of our checked bags, a 12-pack of beer in a carry-on backpack, and about 8 bottles of wine in a cardboard box which we also carried on. We also put a luggage tag on a case of bottled water and two cases of soda all taped together. For good measure we gave the baggage handlers a decent tip, for what that is worth, and we had no issues whatsoever with any of it getting delivered to our room. It was well worth the planning, as it was nice to have a cold beer waiting for you in the room after a long day on the beach, and a cocktail or glass of wine while getting ready for dinner. Ship Overall first impression of the Crown Princess is understated elegance as opposed to the flashy, flamboyant and colorful decor of the Carnival Destiny. The state room was very comfortable, especially thanks to the balcony. The refrigerator was also a nice touch as it saved us from having to constantly fill an ice bucket to keep wine cool or having to fill cups of ice in order to drink soda. The expansive closet space and shelves were an added bonus. The bathroom was on the tiny side but adequate enough for what we needed. One downfall was the temperature. From the moment we entered the room it felt muggy so we set the thermostat to the coolest setting and it never really seemed to cool down. We spoke with other people who had the same problem and then a few more who had the opposite, their rooms were too cold. We concluded that it may have had to do with the side of the ship your room was on as those of us on the starboard side wished for cooler air and the port side needed warmer clothes. The Steward assigned to our room was Samuel and he was a joy! He was attentive, friendly, accommodating and humorous! Any time we saw him in the hall he would give us a bit of a jab about the amount of liquor we had. But he also made sure we had 2 wine glasses ready to go every night. Our room was on the 14th (Riviera) deck towards the back of the boat just down the hall from the Terrace (adults only) Pool which we frequented daily. Lounge chairs were limited at the terrace pool, especially on the days at sea but there were bar stools, tables and chairs that looked down into the pool that allowed for extra seating. The pool itself was great; clean and inviting. The other pool areas on the ship were less crowded, we never had an issue finding a lounge chair even on the days at sea, but were louder and allowed children. The mid ship pools also had entertainment, live bands, movies, games, etc. which were ok but we definitely preferred the relaxing atmosphere of the Terrace Pool. We utilized the fitness center 3 days on the ship. I had signed up for 2 yoga classes, both on the days at sea. There are two fitness instructors on board, Katie & (forget his name). Katie was the instructor who taught the yoga classes. Unfortunately I found the classes boring and less than challenging. About 20 people had signed up for the two classes and I would say about 15 attended the first day, some people even got up and left in the middle of the class. The 2nd day there were far less people in attendance, maybe 7? I don't know that it is necessarily the instructors fault as I'm sure she is required to cater to all age groups and fitness levels but if you're someone who is looking for a good work out these group classes are probably not the best bet. The fitness center itself was beautiful. Plenty of cardio and weight equipment. We received a tour of the entire spa on the first day and it was also impressive. If you're looking to pamper yourself be prepared to fork over quite a bit of $$$. It was worth taking the tour of the spa on the 1st day just to check it out. Dining Food was never a shortage on the cruise! We opted for a late seating (8:15) of the traditional dining which was held in the Boticelli Dining Room...the only dining room on board that offered this choice. The other two dining rooms, the DaVinci and the Michelangelo, were for "anytime" dining. We were assigned table #73 which originally was set for 10 people but one of the couples had to cancel the cruise at the last minute. So for the first few nights we were a table of 8. We were by several years the youngest couple at the table (we are in our late 20s/early 30s) but found our table mates to be kind, social and charismatic and thoroughly enjoyed their company. After the 3rd night one of the couples elected to switch their dining choice to the anytime dining so the remainder of the cruise was just the 6 of us. On our previous cruise with Carnival we had been paired at dinner with another couple that was about our same age and also from the Northeast (New York) whom we enjoyed spending time with each night. Although we did enjoy our table mates on this cruise, we were a little disappointed that Princess did not do as well with seating us with similarly aged couples. Our waiters were friendly and attentive. Leandro, the assistant waiter, didn't say much but poured our water and cleared our plates with a smile! Panya, the head waiter, was quite talkative. He gave us his recommendations on the appetizers and main dishes every evening and his recommendations were usually the best! He was very accommodating to any of our requests. The only slight downfall was at the end of our dinner he would be quite chatty offering his reviews of other ports and itineraries and going off on a tangent about his home land of Thailand. Overall the dining room experience was excellent. We utilized the room service continental breakfast option every morning so that we could eat a lighter fare and enjoy coffee and juice on our balcony rather than filling up our bellies at the buffet. It worked out great for us. On the last day we did go to the DaVinci dining room for the formal breakfast. There is an option to sit by yourselves but that would have typically resulted in a wait. We sat with 3 other people who were all friendly. The service was a bit on the slow side and the breakfast itself was tasty but not any better than what you can get at the buffet. We did eat at the buffet usually for lunch and/or a light snack before dinner and found that there was a lot of repetition in food choices and some things tasted as if they had been left out for too long. However, the buffet options were definitely an improvement to the options we had last year on Carnival. We did not partake in any of the private dining (Crown Grill or Sabatini's) or the smaller vendors (Vines, International Cafe) but did have lunch one day at the grill...burgers and chicken sandwiches which were decent but nothing to get excited about. The pizza was quite tasty though probably not as enticing for us Bostonians who are spoiled with delicious pies and have high expectations. The food at dinner was exceptional while the rest of the ships options were decent. Carnival for sure had better desserts! Entertainment Entertainment is not one of the enticing factors of going on a cruise for us. For me, I have zero desire to go to any Las Vegas style song and dance show or those that involve passenger participation. No thanks. We did however enjoy the piano bar on our Carnival cruise last year so thought that would be something we might check out this time around. Before we left we read on CC that Bert Stratton, pianist/comedian, was going to be on our cruise and people seemed to be generally ecstatic about his presence on the ship. This was reiterated to us by our table mates on the 2nd night. We checked out Bert (with an "e"!) that night in Crooners bar and got there at the tail end of a show. He definitely seemed talented and we decided to pay him a visit the next night as well, and the night after that, and the night after that haha. We attended pretty much all of Bert's shows with the exception of Thursday night when we attended the stand up comedian Troy Thirdgill's act. He was very entertaining and humorous though my only complaint would be that his crowd interaction at certain parts of his act prompted a few loud mouth individuals to interject on their own...one who was sitting right next to us. Quite annoying. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Well for being my first cruise I can truly say The Emerald Princess didn't disappoint!!!! My wife has been on several, and I have been lucky enough to have traveled quite a bit, but no cruising. All I can say is that I'm sorry I ... Read More
Well for being my first cruise I can truly say The Emerald Princess didn't disappoint!!!! My wife has been on several, and I have been lucky enough to have traveled quite a bit, but no cruising. All I can say is that I'm sorry I waited. My wife was very impressed with everything, the only knock I can think of is it took to long to get our orange juice in the morning, and ice tea at lunch. Other than that absolutely wonderful!!!! It's amazing for almost being 3200 people aboard you never felt as if there were any crowds at all. The only time it felt crowded was in the theatre which held 800 people. Other than that the pools weren't crowded, the buffet lines were a little long at breakfast, but not so bad. The food was excellent, The Crown Grill was a culinary treat, and the sit down dinners were superb!!!! Our waiter made nothing but the best recommendations to the point I wouldn't open my menu!!!!! There was so much to do on board there was not even remotely enough time to get to see and or do everything we wanted. Besides being a beautiful ship, the staff was excellent, fun, friendly and everything in between. The movies under the stars are perfect for a nice relaxing evening, we even did pizza and a movie!!!!! Highly Highly recommend... And this coming from a hospitality major!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We set out for a once in a lifetime opportunity that I must, must, must do again. We are a forty-something couple, married 22 years. Three couples we are friendly with (ranging in age from 42 - 62) booked a cruise-tour with Princess and we ... Read More
We set out for a once in a lifetime opportunity that I must, must, must do again. We are a forty-something couple, married 22 years. Three couples we are friendly with (ranging in age from 42 - 62) booked a cruise-tour with Princess and we decided to join them to celebrate our anniversary. The land-tour portion was sold out, so we settled (!) for a mini-suite with balcony and managed to get the land portion covered on our own for about the same cost they were paying for balcony staterooms. Passengers included all ages. Some young couples had stroller-bound infants and other young kids. I believe I saw around a dozen kids in all. There were some new college grads along with their parents and plenty of seniors. There were a fair number of passengers with disabilities and the ship seemed quite navigable by all. It did not seem crowded at any point. Embarkation: This hinged on disaster. There was absolutely no signage and it was quite confusing to determine where to check our luggage. We took the advice to arrive after 1PM for faster boarding. A broken elevator and three ships boarding simultaneously made for an extremely crowded terminal full of cranky people. We got there around 1PM and were on-board at about 4PM. The sequence of events was get in line, pre-check-in, find out that luggage needs to go outside into an unmarked van, go back and get in another line that snakes throughout the terminal, show passport & boarding pass to go thru security with X-Ray. Next came customs. Then came a health form -- but also a chance to sit down. Then finally check-in, collect keys, and get on-board. Smile -- Princess will take the first of about a million photos that you can later purchase. Cabin: We had a mini-suite in the middle of Baja deck close to stairs and elevators. We had Starboard side for a North Bound Inside Passage cruise, so we got to see the sunrise from our room every day. Our room was in the bump out portion which made for great views from the balcony. Our door was directly across from the service elevator, but there was only a little noise on the last evening when they were taking luggage down. We were (at that time) getting ready to go to dinner so it was not a bother. I appreciated the full-sized bathtub and the sofa in the mini-suite, but will try to get a room lower on the ship for my next cruise. They appeared to have bigger balconies, and we did spend a lot of time out there. Our cabin steward was wonderful, bringing us Champagne and balloons. He saw that we had brought our own wine aboard and brought extra wine glasses, and kept us nicely supplied with everything we could want. Dining (and drinking): We had anytime dining, which meant the Bordeaux dining room. But we only ate there on formal nights. On those nights, the food was OK. Not spectacular, or especially generous. We celebrated our anniversary on the first formal night and were given a lovely chocolate cake. We ate in Bayou Cafe one evening where portions were larger and the desserts were truly extraordinary. Several in our group had beef throughout the week, and the consensus is that the ship's grill or broiler does not get hot enough to do a good job searing the meat. The rest of our meals were in Horizon Court or Pizza/Grill type fare. The seafood buffet on the Lido Deck while in Glacier Bay was the finest meal of the cruise week. Hubby bought the soda package which was worthwhile for him. We attended the first wine-tasting even which seemed worth the price and wound up ordering some of those wines to enjoy with meals throughout the cruise. I'd read somewhere that the cruise ship coffee left a lot to be desired so I brought along my own coffeemaker. I enjoyed my in-room Starbucks, but it was not necessary. The ship's coffee was fine. I did, however, have my own travel mug which will come with me again. We ordered room service for about half of our breakfasts Entertainment: We saw the comedian (Billy Vader) twice. We caught Movies under the Stars a few times, it was fun. They provided warm blankets and I had my hot mug of coffee. We saw the hypnotist's show which was very good and listened to many of the musicians. No events or nightclubs were ever crowded. Activities: We aren't gamblers, but our friends made great use of the casino and bingo. They were winners. We attended one of the wine tastings and the Art auction. The art was nice, but I do more research before making that kind of a purchase. Maybe next time. After the first Art Auction, we were invited to a Champagne Art reception where canapes were served. It was a nice gesture, but I'm glad I never ordered (and paid for) canapes to be delivered to our room. There was an opportunity to do pottery and if I'd known enough in advance to make time for it, I'd have taken advantage of this. Again, maybe next time. We attended the Naturalist's last presentation. She was terrific and we highly recommend everything she does. Highlight of the Cruise: Sight-seeing from the ship. The first and last at-sea day were full of a lot of sight seeing and looking for wildlife. We saw humpbacks, orcas, eagles, sea lions and bears all from our balcony. A pair of binoculars for each passenger is a must. The day in Glacier Bay was split between viewing from our balcony, viewing from Decks 14 & 15, and viewing from my perch in the pedicure chair in the spa. Things I wish I'd known: There is a push to get you to shop, buy drinks, book the next cruise, buy photographs, buy, buy, buy, buy. We got better at dodging this as the week went on. Next time, I'll be better prepared for it, but I include it here because I wish I'd known it was coming, planned my budget more carefully and been able to focus on what I really wanted. The next thing I wish I knew is that Laundry rooms are on each floor. At only $1 per load to wash and $1 to dry, we could have brought half as many clothes. Alaska isn't all that cold in May, so some of the heavy layers were never needed. Post Cruise Land Tour: We tried to cover the land portion of the tour that our friends were getting with Princess by doing it on our own. We booked thru an Alaskan tour provider closely approximated their experience. Instead of a train from the ship to Denali, we took a bus from Whittier and had a leisurely ride to Anchorage. We visited the Alaska Heritage Museum and had lunch at their restaurant then took another bus to Talkeetna where we spent one night. The next day, we took a jet boat tour and did some more flight-seeing, flying around Mt. McKinley. Spectacular. The views from Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge are breathtaking. Later that day, we took a bus to Denali and stayed one night at McKinley Chalet. The first day in Denali, we did the Tundra Wilderness Tour seeing dozens of wild animals. Our next night was in the Denali Bluffs. We ate at the Grande Denali and had the finest meal of our entire trip. The next morning, we went White Water Rafting and saw a fox. We then boarded the noon Alaska Railroad train to Anchorage. After an overnight in Anchorage, we had plenty of time to walk around town before catching our afternoon flight home. Alaska is so beautiful, it warrants a return trip. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We stayed a few days in Venice prior to this cruise and I 'm very glad that we did as the city was lovely and we would not have had enough time to fully appreciate it if we had boarded on the day prior to departure. Embarkation was ... Read More
We stayed a few days in Venice prior to this cruise and I 'm very glad that we did as the city was lovely and we would not have had enough time to fully appreciate it if we had boarded on the day prior to departure. Embarkation was smooth although some passengers were provided water taxi vouchers to St. Marks square, we did not receive them and therefore had to pay full price for our transfers. Thankfully this was not a big deal. I have to say that the Crown is gorgeous. We especially liked the Piazza area and Vines was a regular stop for us in the evening. The staff was always pleasant and Victoria at the pursers desk was exceptionally helpful with a wheelchair issue concerning a disabled traveler in our group. The food however, was off and the breakfast menu was frustratingly difficult and repetitive for those who are on a low carb diet. They didn't even have whole grain bread for toast - only cracked wheat. They also had issues with beef and fish on the trip; the fish was always too fishy and the one night I ordered a fillet it looked more like a hockey puck than prime grade. I do give them points for creativity though, there were some dishes that were very original and quite good. And finally, decent nightlife choices. The Crown was never lacking in things to do in the evening and even though this ship has a huge amount of passengers, it rarely felt congested or crowded. I went to the Spa twice and the facial and massage I had were wonderful, but the product sales were high pressure which is irritating. They tried to sell me a body brush for $45 and I already have one which I only paid about $5 for. The gym was great - never a problem getting on the equipment. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
When I initially booked this cruise, it was not with the intent to renew our vows. After reading about the opportunity on board it sounded like a meaningful ceremony for us. We choose cruises for the ship experience, the ports are ... Read More
When I initially booked this cruise, it was not with the intent to renew our vows. After reading about the opportunity on board it sounded like a meaningful ceremony for us. We choose cruises for the ship experience, the ports are secondary. I will offer my opinion on various portions of the trip: PRE-CRUISE STAY AT EMBASSY SUITES/ FT. LAUDERDALE: The hotel was tropical, clean and pleasant. There is a beautiful courtyard in the center where they serve a very generous breakfast buffet each morning. They also have a manager's cocktail reception each evening for 2 hours. These are both included in the room price. The rooms were suites with a nice living room and separate bedroom. I would suggest not taking a room across from the elevator. The elevator door opens and you can see directly into the suite. These rooms are also very dark. You can see the ships from this hotel, and that is very important to me. MINI SUITE. CATEGORY AA: I was concerned about the balconies on this deck. They jut out further than the deck above, and the neighbors upstairs can look right down at you. There is NO privacy. Actually it was nice. We had pleasant people upstairs to chit chat with, and the openess above was amazing for stargazing at night. The room was a bit narrow, but had plenty of room overall. THE CROWN GRILL: I was a bit disappointed in the steak. It was average at best. It was tasteless and not grilled. I expected better. My meal last year on the Carnival Valor steak house was outstanding. SABATINI'S: I had a very squeeky chair and did ask to be moved to another table because my back was to the tray that they loudly scraped the dirty dishes. They almost gave me a hard time, and then did move us 1 table over. They make me feel like I was unbalancing the dining room. Despite that, the meal was very good.They give you lots of small tastes of almost everything on the menu. It was actually too much food for us. BOTTICELLI DINING ROOM: The service and meals were all very nice. We chose the early traditional dining. The food in general was outstanding,but I thought some of the deserts were a bit tasteless..specifically the bananas foster which was bland and carrot cake which tasted too floury. VOW RENEWAL: There was little information ahead of time about this. We were contacted the first day and got to chose which sea day to have the ceremony. Johann was the coordinator for us. I had a short white dress, my husband rented a tux. They supplied the corsage and boutonniere. The captain was very gracious. It was held in the chapel with wedding music and the captain doing a lovely reading. They supplied a photographer. We both had short vows that we wrote. We cried like babies. It was more meaningful than our original wedding 33 years ago. We had no guests, it was just for us. SOME OF MY FAVORITES: We loved the SANCTUARY. For $10 a person you can spend a half day there. $20 for a full day. It's very exclusive feeling. The lounge chairs have thick soft mattresses. They offer you flavored waters, and cold washcloths. It's very peaceful. And you don't see hamburgers or pizza. I felt healthier just sitting there! I had a facial and a massage in the spa, they were very nice, but the pushiness of the products gets a bit annoying. I realize this is their job. I loved the fact that they have your names on a card outside your cabin door, and your name is programmed on the cabin phone.The cabin stewards used the passenger names more often, making you feel special. The thing that impressed me the most was that it never felt crowded (except for going ashore at Princess Cays.OMG). There were always deck chairs available, always room at the Horizon cafe. A FINAL NOTE: There was a rescue at sea on our last day. A passenger needed immediate medical help that could not wait a day. The captain announced this and kept us updated as to the arrival of the Coast Guard helicopter. It was quite disruptive, all upper decks were cleared of chairs and people. A pool was emptied. They hovered above and dropped a basket to collect the passenger. Everyone was very cooperative and clapped as they completed the rescue. Over all, I was very impressed with Princess' concern for passenger safely. The life boat drill was extremely thorough.They emphasized many times how our well being was # 1. I will cruise with them again most definitely. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
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