Our family recently completed a 16 day Transatlantic cruise on the Emerald Princess.
Ship - The Emerald is a beautiful ship, multiple restaurants, bars and lounges. We had a balcony stateroom (usually have a mini-suite but they were almost double the price of a balcony stateroom on this cruise) which was a little cramped for three persons. The third bed dropped from the ceiling so it was not in the way except if one had to use the restroom during the evening. We especially enjoyed the Adagio lounge on the 16th floor at the back of the ship. This was probably the most geriatric crowd we have ever encountered - I would estimate the average age to be in the 75 year range. Many "typical" New Yorkers aboard, and if you don't mind hearing how great they are, or being told by some how to do things you will survive just fine.
Ports - The itinerary was a great one - left from Copenhagen and visited Oslo, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast, Iceland, Greenland (missed due to weather), St. John's NF and St. John NB. Iceland far exceeded any of our expectations - suggestthe "Golden Circle" excursion. Skip the Blue Lagoon as it is over rated. We also did an excellent excursion to Culzean Castle in Scotland - much better than Edinburgh in our opinion. We had eight sea days which, unless you keep occupied can get a little boring.
Entertainment - We thoroughly enjoyed the singers and comedians they brought on board. The ship's Broadway shows were also quite good. The biggest disappointment was the lounge performers. There was a piano/singer in the Crooners Bar that was absolutely terrible - he had no idea of how bad he was, but he sure was loud and off-key. There was a European band called Cactus Jack that played primarily in the Explorer's Lounge. If you like american music with a distinct European accent they are your cup of tea. Also was a duo named Allan & La Donna - to be avoided at all costs!
Staff - Overall the cruise staff were OK, but many did not seem to enjoy being there. We found the wait staff at Da Vinci to be very personable. Cabin stewards were disinterested. The Captain was one of the most friendly we have encountered. The Cruise Director Lee Childers is exemplary - outgoing and extremely helpful. On of the CD staff (Karen from the UK) ran a lot of the games, including trivia. She was the consummate drama queen, even breaking into tears when a passenger criticized her.
Food - On the whole the food was pretty typical for Princess. The Da Vinci anytime dining restaurant started out poorly but continuously improved through the cruise. I would rate their food a consistent 7 out of 10. The Horizon Court food on the other hand is poor (very). Two or three times a day you have to avoid the "Charge of the Overweight Brigade" to get to the buffet. Anyone whom wishes to see why our country is in such poor physical shape only has to take a cruise. Watching 200+ pounders carting around two or three heaping plates of food will send you to the gym in a heartbeat. I would be hesitant to rate the Horizon's food? above a 3 out of 10.
Summary - To me there are no bad cruises, only a few bad moments. We always enjoy Princess or Celebrity cruises and this one met our overall expectations.
We celebrated our 33rd anniversary on the Emerald. Joining us were our two daughters, ages 23 and 18. This was our 5th cruise, 3rd on Princess, and the 2nd for the girls.
Embarkation: We took a shuttle from the Best Western Oceanside, Ft. Lauderdale Beach, and arrived at the port at about 11:30 a.m. and were in our room by 12:15, a very quick and efficient process on the part of Princess.
Stateroom: We booked cabin C752, aft. The good: the ever-so-slight rocking of the ship and the sound of the wake was very calming, the view is awesome, and the privacy from cabins above was a definite plus. The not-so-great: (1) the hike - while we appreciated the benefit of exercise, the long walk to the cabin was a pain after a long day in port; (2) lack of a real breeze on the balcony; we missed the ocean breeze felt on the port & starboard side cabins. Also, due to the lack of moving air, the tobacco smoke coming from our neighbors was a little annoying at times. Our cabin steward, Saul, from Mexico, attended to our every need witha friendly smile and willingness to please.
Crew: We did not encounter any rude or unfriendly crew members in our 7 days on board. Everyone was always ready with a smile and a friendly "hello", really amazing considering how hard they work.
Beds: We found the beds to be perfectly fine and comfortable for us. We did not ask for or need an egg crate, and we were provided with four comfy pillows.
A/C: I was anticipating inefficient A/C, so I packed a fan, but never had to use it because the A/C was fine, and we even had to lower it a few times. The A/C around the ship was comfortable for the most part, and I only found myself needing a sweater once at dinner in the dining room.
The Emerald: She is a gorgeous ship, very clean and elegant. We found the staff regularly walking around tidying up, polishing, sweeping and otherwise keeping her ship-shape. Navigation around the ship decks is fairly easy, once you figure out the "can't get there from here" hot spots. The mid-ship Piazza is particularly spectacular, with featured entertainment, the International Café, Vines wine bar, and retail shops, making for a great gathering place. By the way, good deals can be found in the ship's stores. I got a great price on a Citizens watch as a birthday gift for hubby.
Dining: We had Anytime Dining, and never had to wait for a table. One evening, we just showed up around 7 pm, offered to sit with others, and were seated immediately. For the other nights, we made a reservation in the morning, arrived at the dining room at the appointed time and, again, were seated immediately. Food and service were both great, and even our picky daughters were able to find something they liked on the menu.
Crown Grill: This is where we celebrated our 33rd anniversary. The steak and filet were both great, and the service as well. DH showered me with gifts, and the waiters brought a cake and sang "Happy Anniversary". Interestingly, the restaurant was not crowded at all, perhaps because it was a port day and the passengers were exhausted from the long day in port (the ship was only scheduled to leave Cozumel at 7 p.m.).
Horizon Court: Standard buffet fare. The staff members were helpful in finding seating and serving drinks. The buffet gets crazy at prime times, so we avoided it on a couple of occasions by having breakfast in the dining room, light lunch at the International Café, or even room service.
Caribe Café: We dined here one evening because we didn't like the Caribbean menu in the dining room. This was a nice alternative to the dining room – informal, but with more class than Horizon Court. The atmosphere was nice, with real napkins and tablecloths. The food was good, but the desserts were great!
International Café: I have to say, of all the food on the ship, this was our favorite. They serve light lunch fare, perfect for a light snack after a morning excursion, or even a continental breakfast, as well as sandwiches, quiche, salads, pastries, and even cookies & milk in the afternoon. I never got around to the gelato – I'll save that for next time around. The addition of entertainment – whether pianist or string quartet – makes for a relaxing mid-day break.
Wheelhouse Bar: You'll find a pub lunch served on Tuesday and Thursday, with some of the best fish & chips you'll find anywhere. Also tried the cottage pie, which was good, but seemed to have more potato than meat & veggie.
Note: If you are celebrating a special occasion, call for your dining reservation, tell them you are celebrating, and a card will appear in your mailbox. Give this card to the maitre d, and a cake and singing waiters will appear at the end of the meal.
I was surprised to see the Baked Alaska parade done in the anytime dining rooms. This was a special treat on the last night, which also happened to be hubby's birthday. So not only was there Baked Alaska, there was also cake and singing waiters for the birthday boy.
Pizza: Delicious and always a favorite for us, though it's still a mystery to me why they charge $3.00 to deliver it to your room.
Trident Grill: Hotdogs were memorable, burgers were just okay.
Entertainment: Time got away from us, and we missed some events. Here's what we did see:
"Grand Adventure Showtime": We could have skipped this. It was just really just a run-down of the week's happenings by cruise director, Tim Donovan, with a little music, dancing, and comedy.
"Princess Pop Star": A favorite of ours, as our younger daughter was a contestant and proud to say, a finalist!
Noteworthy musicians we heard included the band "Evolution" (daughter did the "live" karaoke with them), the Polonia String Quartet, the pianist in the Piazza, and for you loyal Bert Stratton fans, he was in residence, as well.
We did not catch the big production shows, but found comedian, Troy Thirdgill, to be hysterically funny!
Casino: Sucked up our money like a vacuum. Need I say more. Gladly, there were a couple of smoke-free nights in the casino.
MUTS (Movies Under the Stars): Get out there early for a good seat. I like MUTS, but always fall asleep during the movie – it's that relaxing.
Pools: As with MUTS, get out there early before the chairs are one, especially on sea days. We plan our pool & sun time for early morning, before 9:00, stay until lunch and leave when it gets really hot and crowded. I particularly like the quiet location of the aft pool, but the re-design of the aft pool area on the Emerald has eliminated a good deal of seating as well as the precious shade from that on the Caribbean Princess. I really miss this.
Princess Cays: Again, we're morning people, so we tendered over early, got a chair in the shade, snorkled and swam for a while, and went back to the ship. We skipped the barbecue this time around, so no comments there. The water was warm and beautiful, and we saw a ton of fish. For snorkeling enthusiasts, go to the left of the pier, down to the second outcropping of rocks, for the best fish sightings.
Jamaica: Jamaica has gotten some bad press lately, and I didn't know what to expect. I decided to book a tour with a reputable guide, so went with Mark Morris, who took us on his Dunn's River Falls/Highlights tour. Mark was friendly and his love of Jamaica was very obvious. He took the time to call everyone by name, and especially remembered that I wanted to go to his dad's pottery studio and try some authentic jerk chicken at Scotchies. Mark took us around in his clean, modern van, giving a little history along the way, providing an attractive picture of Jamaica that those who don't leave the port could never experience. The chicken at Scotchies was delicious, and his dad sold us some beautiful pottery. Dunn's River Falls was a thrill, but not an easy climb. I am happy to say that we made it out with only a few scrapes. The girls finished the trek to the top. However, when I saw the final steep slope of rocky ledge ahead of me, I decided I had enough and got off at the second "escape" route. Not a bad feat, since I only decided to make the attempt at the last minute.
Grand Cayman: We did the ship's Catamaran Stingray City tour. This was a really great experience. There were maybe 60 people or so on the boat, with a friendly, experienced crew of 2. However, due to the number of ships in port (4), the sandbar was packed. While we had a good number of rays to play with when we arrived, the appearance of more fully-packed boats, made the rays scatter off to find new food sources. The catamaran's sails were then raised, and we had a pleasant, relaxing ride back to port.
Cozumel: We went to Tulum with the ship's excursion. I have been there previously – once, back in 2002. The girls' main reason for coming on this cruise was to see ruins, so this was one we couldn't miss. However, a lot has changed in 8 years. The little roadside pit stop has turned into a large brick & mortar building with restrooms, snacks, drinks, and every sort of tourist trinket you can imagine. The stop has gone from 15 minutes to about 35. No more box lunch on the bus, either, because Tulum has now become a bit of a tourist trap, with restaurants, a Subway (are you kidding?!!!), and a whole bunch of vendors. The ruins at Tulum are still spectacular, but this time around I have to say it was really overrun with cruise passengers. That fact, combined with the oppressive heat and humidity, meant that once the narrated tour was done, we took a few photos and headed back to one of the restaurants for lunch, drinks, and then the bus. Fair warning: the margaritas in Mexico are lethal! Maybe it was the combination of the heat, dehydration, and an empty stomach, but after a few sips, that potent potion went right to my head and knocked me out for the rest of the day. My girls found me to be very amusing.
I find the history of the Mayans fascinating, and the next time we do ruins, it probably won't be on a cruise.
Disembarkation: Princess has an amazing procedure for this – very efficient. We were given colored tags for the luggage, which we left out the night before and given a time and place to wait to disembark. We left the cabin, as instructed at 8 am, went for a leisurely breakfast in the dining room, arrived at 9:30 to wait for our tags to be called, which was about 10 minutes. We proceeded off, collected our luggage (which was easy to find due to our own easy-to-find IDs on each piece), and headed out for a taxi to our post-cruise hotel. Note: Be sure to follow the signs for taxis, and don't do what we did, which was to follow the guy who said he had transportation for us. Once we realized he wanted $11/pp (!!), we said no thanks and headed back to the taxi sign. It was a quick ride to the hotel – from ship to hotel, less than 20 minutes. Perfect ending to a great cruise.
We chose the Emerald Princess for our first cruise ever because it was described as “a cut above” by our travel agent. Having just returned from the cruise, I can describe it in one word ---DISAPOINTING!
Following is a list of our many disappointments:
Dining: On the first night in the Michelangelo room, we were pushed a hard sell on alcoholic beverages 3 times within the first 5 minutes. Once the waiter finally realized we were not buying, he became surly for the rest of the meal. Ice tea and water glasses were never refilled. The rest of our meals were in the Da Vinci dining room. The waiters were poorly trained. Why would a waiter reach over two passengers to clear plates when there were no obstructions around the table? Why is dress code not enforced on Formal nights? There were guests in tee shirts. Why were some passengers allowed to make advance reservations for future nights but not us? I was given 3 different false reasons by three different people before finally having the problem rectified by a personal conversation with your Customer Relations Manager.
Most meals the food taste wasaverage at best. The steaks were over cooked and tough. The minestrone soup tasted like a can of baked beans. The pasta fazzole tasted like dish water. The breakfast hash brown potatoes were the consistency of a hockey puck. The vegetarian dish one night had the consistency of ground gruel served at a nursing home. We found the menu selection to be very limited with too many repeats during the week and too heavily weighted toward seafood. Since we were in “anytime” dining, we ate with different people most nights. It was not just us. Many meals were returned by others. My wife's Hungarian goulash tasted like the top fell off the salt shaker but the meal was served anyway. Basically, most of the people we spoke to were dissatisfied with the meals. I will say that the presentation of meals was excellent. Only the content/taste was poor. Of about 7 or 8 waiters over the week, only 2 were truly friendly.
Why were both sides of the Horizon Buffet closed when I stopped in at 10:20 pm on Tuesday when the hours are supposed to be until 11:00 pm?
On Friday, at the Horizon Buffet breakfast, at about 9:15 am, there was no seating because dozens of tables were not cleared after use. When I asked a waiter to clear one by the window, he did so grudgingly after I refused to sit at an undesirable table he was just finishing in another area. Once seated, why did it take over 10 minutes to get beverage service?
Why do you have passengers sign a waiver when ordering hamburgers medium, but the waiver is a plain piece of paper with no explanations on it? I am not happy signing blank chits.
Entertainment: The entertainment in the Princess Theater consisted of the same comedian on 4 different nights, one floor show for 2 nights, and one floor show for 1 night. While the comedian's routine was very good on 3 of the nights, how about some variety in the entertainment.
The floor show dancers were just plain bad (amateurish). Using video taping of their rehearsals might actually produce some synchronization.
General Planning and Execution:
There is a considerable lack of planning of events/demonstrations/etc.?
Why is the Captain's champagne fountain ceremony held so close to the Princess Theater’s first show that you cannot attend both (since you must arrive about 30 minutes early for first shows due to the limited seating?
If you are going to have demonstrations in the Piazza, like the towel folding/flower arranging/food art, how about setting up some chairs so people can see? The mob scene in the area is not appropriate or conducive to a meaningful demonstration and viewing.
Why do you have symbols for meals on the excursion sheet legends, but not next to any excursion listed even though several include meals?
Many sections (about 6) of the main light fixture ant top of the Piazza atrium were burned out or inoperable. Many of the lights around the pools were burned out. Why such poor maintenance on a relatively new ship?
To be honest, most of your crew appeared to be going through the motions with little sincerity. Two waiters and our cabin attendant, were the only ones to appear genuinely friendly.
In conclusion, future cruises will be on other lines.
On Mother's Day, we set off on the Emerald Princess, the sister ship of Ruby and Crown Princess. These jewels of the Princess Fleet are all built in Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani Stabilimento di Monfalcone, Italy. The Emerald is hull number 6131, launched in 2007, as the bronze plaque on Promenade Deck 7 portside states. Her name is beautifully emphasized by the emerald green and gold Tiffany inspired ceiling of the Atrium Piazza. After sailing on the Ruby Princess last year and the Star Princess last month, we looked forward to this cruise and returning to Princess and its terrific food and service.
Maitre d' Nicola Furlan was on board and we anticipated a great cruise, which we always do, since a positive attitude seems to produce happy results --- great expectations usually result in great cruises.
EMBARKATION Traffic on I-95 on Sunday is light and we arrived at Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale at 11:45am, and were quickly through security. On the pier, we checked our luggage and immediately inside the door was wheelchair assistance. After filling in a short medical form, we went directly to check-in. This procedure only took five minutes, sinceVincent does pre check-in by computer. Thus, we were in our stateroom C303 in less than 15 minutes (curb to cabin).
THE SHIP The Emerald Princess is a cookie cutter duplicate of the Ruby Princess, which we described on this site in 2009. However, certain facts deserve repetition: the Emerald is 113,000 tons; 952 ft. long; 159 ft in the beam which includes the bridge wings. By the way these overhangs give the ship a hammerhead shark silouhette when seen from her prow in port. Her height is 195 ft. and she has 19 decks. The rear spoiler holds the Skywalkers Nightclub. There are 1,539 cabins with 80% having balconies. There are 25 wheelchair accessible cabins (16 balconied, 4 ocean view, and 5 inside). Alas none with automatic door openers. Passenger capacity is 3,080 and this cruise there were 3,200; Crew numbers 1,200 --- a very nice passenger to crew ratio.
Decks 1,2,3 and Gala deck 4 are reserved for ship's crew, except the Medical Center which is located on deck 4, fortunately we did not use it!
Plaza deck 5 forward has cabins and a laundromat. Midship is the Atrium Plaza with a circular mosaic floor and music stand, where Monika (Poland) played an excellent repertoire on the white Grand Piano; and, John Kingsley a young gitarist pleased all with his unique riffs. The International Cafe` is located here serving terrific espresso, pastries, tea sandwiches and freshly baked cookies --- try the oatmeal ones. Vines, the wine and cheese bar, is also here and close by there are the Escapes Travel desk, Future Cruise Sales and the Internet Cafe`. Here are also the Michelangelo Dining Room and the Art Gallery.
Fiesta deck 6 has the boutique shops, the Gatsby Casino & Speakeasy Cigar Lounge. Midship is the Da Vinci Dining Room and all the way aft is the Botticelli Dining Room. The Dining Room murals are lovely including one of Bacchus with his grapes in the Da Vinci. On deck 6 forward are the Conference Center and the Princess Theatre, which is the height of simplicity, with unobstructed view from any seat.
Promenade deck 7 forward there is the Balcony of the Princess Theatre with the last three rows reserved for the handicapped. Midship are the Wheelhouse Bar, the Library, the Crooner's Bar and the Promenade Galleria. Toward aft are the Crown Grill (a specialty restaurant), the Explorers' Lounge and Club Fusion.
Emerald deck 8, Dolphin deck 9, Caribe deck 10, Baja deck 11, Aloha deck 12, and Riviera deck 14 are all cabins with a laundromat on each deck. Laundry services are so reasonable that we do not use the laundromats; however, perhaps those with children and a lot of laundry would find the laundromat faster and less expensive.
Lido deck 15 has many passenger venues --- forward there are cabins then midship are the Mermaids Tail Bar (nice mosaics here), theTrident Grill, Neptune's Reef pool and hot tubs; toward aft are the Ice Cream Bar and the Pizza area, and the Calypso Reef pool and hot tubs. Aft are the Horizon Court Buffet and the Terrace, and Outrigger & Cafe`Caribe.
Sun deck 16 has the Movie Under the Stars, a giant outdoor screen showing sports events (the first evening Red Sox vs NY Yankees), concert videos, and movies (one evening Avatar was shown, with complimentary popcorn and fresh cookies served). Many watched from lounge chairs with lap robes. Aft is Sabatini (the other specialty restaurant) and Adagio (an Italian Aperitif Bar). Forward are the Lotus Spa & pool, the Fitness Center and the Wedding Chapel.
Sports deck 17 forward is the Sanctuary (cover charge for quiet private sunning). Aft is the Youth Complex with Chill Out, Fun Zone, Off Limits, and the Video Arcade.
Sky deck 18 and Star deck 19 have Skywalkers Nightclub, the Princess Cybergolf, the Jogging Track and Center Court.
On the Emerald Princess there are three sets of lifts (elevators) one set forward, one midship and one aft. She is well kept and elegant in every way. This ship has a nice lay out and easy access to all areas. There is even an Oxford Dipper to assist the handicapped in and out of pools. Excellent!
CABIN Cabin C303 is wheelchair accessible with beige walls, walnut wood trim and blue and white carpeting. When entering on the right is the large bathroom with a 4'x4' shower and a double wide folding shower seat. There are safety rails all around, one small sink and small shelves for amenities. The only improvement we could see would be that for the commode to be higher for handicapped. Then, there is a kingsize bed flanked by two long bureaus, each with a shelf, four drawers and a reading lamp.
When entering on the left there is a parking space for the wheelchair, a triple armoire with one section of shelves and a personal safe, and two sections for hanging clothes. Next, there is the TV, refrigerator and a long desk/vanity with lighted mirror, a desk chair, an upholstered barrel chair and a small glass top table.
The far wall is all glassed with matching sheers and draperies, facing the double deep balcony on which are 4 chairs, a table and a chaise for Vincent's stargazing: During the early evening hours on this cruise Venus could be seen in the western sky as the most brilliant object in a moonless night. Beautiful! Our steward was Jonathan and he was both polite and very efficient.
FOOD & SERVICE Our expectations from Princess Cruises are high and we are happy to report that they were met. Service comes down from the top and Captain Marco Fortezze runs a tight ship especially keeping to the schedule. He also throws a very nice cocktail party where he graciously and patiently greets every passenger and poses for photos. A product of Genoa, Italy; he has the sea in his blood. Hotel General Manager Graham Kelly is quite friendly and accommodating. The dining facilities are overseen by Maitre d' Nicola Furlan, who welcomed us back with open arms. This elegant man gave us beautiful Table # 433 located in a quiet corner by the window in the Da Vinci dining room: marvelous! Nicola also recommended us to Head Waiter Francesco Memeo who greeted us every evening and made sure that everything was just perfect. Thank you, Francesco! Our excellent waiter was Stefan Radojikovic and his assistant Aldritz (Speedy) Adriano who has a memory like an elephant: on Monday at lunch he remembered our table number, and Vincent's preferred wine after only seeing us once.
Our meals were nicely served and courses were evenly paced. The menus are standardized across the Princess line --- the Corporate Head Chef Commendatore Marzi has done a fabulous job of providing variety. This was the first time for us that the executive chef on board was not Italian ----Christophe Belin from France put a delightful twist on the soups, while simultaneously producing exquisite Italian favorites such as the following: Fettuccini Alfredo, Ossobuco, vitello tonnato, etc. etc. etc. However, we were disappointed in the pizza served on the Lido Deck 15, it was too hard and dry: Princess Executive Chef Antonio Cereda (now on the Caribbean Princess) closely watched both how the dough was prepared and the toppings, thus producing some of the best pizza afloat. This time the pizza left something to be desired. The salads were great, and so were the desserts and the fresh hot crunchy rolls and breads!
We used the Bell Box (Room Service) for Continental Breakfast and it was always prompt. One morning we had the special Champagne Breakfast in our stateroom: Quiche Lorraine, bacon, smoked salmon with cream cheese, onions and tomatoes on brioche, juice, coffee, hot chocolate and a carved cantaloupe filled with wild berries and whipped cream, a basket of delicate breads and Danish pastries and the grand finale was a small bottle of Champagne from Epernay, France. What a way to start the day.
At lunch Head Waiter Francesco Di Tullio was so kind and always helpful. We especially enjoyed fried calamari with marinara sauce. Needless to say the food was something to write home about.
ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Tim Donovan has a lively group and he is quite funny himself. The Emerald Singers and Dancers are peppy and they have a nice production show Motor City a tribute to Motown Music. The Comedy Club featured the hilarious Kevin Hughes and his "relationship humor." There were classical concerts with the Polonia String Quartet and even London Pub Night. There are Bingo, Culinary Demonstrations with Maitre d' Nicola and Chef Christophe, Trivia, Dances, Gatsby's Casino Texas Hold'em Tournaments, and movies just about everywhere on board. In other words there is just about something for everyone.
PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale Sail Away 4:30pm Day 2. Princess Cays Arrive 9:00am Depart 3:45pm Day 3. At sea Day 4. Ochos Rios, Jamaica Arrive 7:00am Depart 3:30pm Day 5. Grand Cayman (tendering) Arrive 7:00am Depart 3:15pm Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 9:00am Depart 6:30pm (tardi) Best shopping forr T-shirts, Embroidered dresses and perfumes. Day 7. At sea Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 7:00am Debarkation Begins.
DEBARKATION This was one of our simplest landings. We had a complete delicious breakfast in the Da Vinci Restaurant at 7:00am. We then went back to our stateroom, collected our hand luggage and went down to the Gatsbys Casino on Deck 6, where there was wheelchair assistance. Our color brown had already been called, so we went to baggage pick up and were through passport check and off by 9:00am Simple and easy.
COMMENT This was our thirteenth cruise on Princess ships and nice one; two more cruises will make us Elite members of the Captain's Circle (the "frequent floaters" of Princess). Now we are Platinum members with some benefits such as Vacation Protection (travel insurance) upgrade, complimentary Internet package, Preferred Check-In and Debarkation, special robe in the cabin, etc. With the Elite membership we will have additional benefits such as complimentary laundry and professional cleaning services, shoe polishing, complimentary Mini Bar set up in the cabin, deluxe canapes selections and upgraded bathroom amenities. We look forward to our next cruise on Princess which will be in November on the Crown Princess.
We have also booked our next three cruises: Celebrity Solstice on Aug. 1st, Liberty of the Seas on Sept. 5th and Norwegian Epic on Oct. 2nd. Happy Cruising!
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful cruise on the Emerald Princess. The Emerald Princess is an amazing ship. The lobby is elegant yet still had a welcoming feel. I loved the evening performances they had in the lobby. My husband and I would have a little wine and sushi and enjoy lobby performances. All of the pools and pool areas were great. We spent most of our time either at the pool with the big screen television or the back of the ship pool which was a little more quiet. Each night when movies were shown and the lounge chair had large cushions on them with blankets. We would curl up with our blanket and some fresh popcorn. We ate at the any time dining and both the Michelangelo and DaVinci restaurants were equally wonderful. Our cabin was nice but typical of any other cruise we have been on. We saw several of the comedians and all were very good.
Only went to one of the musical productions but it was good as well. Emerald Princess goes to four ports of call. First was the Princess Cays theirprivate island. It was a beautiful island with lots of available lounge chairs. There were some nice little shops and musical entertainment as well. We spent the day lounging in the sun and doing some snorkeling.
Next port was St. Maarten. We took a cab to the French side island and spent the day at Orient Beach. Beautiful beach and crystal blue water. Our next port was St. Thomas where again we took a cab to Coki beach which was famous for great snorkeling. Our last port was Grand Turk where we had reserved a scooter so we could see the entire island. Grand Turk is a very flat and small island so a scooter was a great option. We were able to ride to the lighthouse and different beahces.
Since this was our 9th cruise and 7th in the Caribbean we chose to see the islands ourselves. I can't recommend Princess Cruiseline enough, this was our 3rd time on Princess. I find Princess a little more upscale than some of the other cruiselines and perfect when it's just my husband and I cruising. I look forward to booking another cruise on Princess in the very near future.
This was our first cruise and we consulted the cruisemates site for comments and reviews prior to the cruise.
Let me start with a quick summary: This was a very, very good, and delightful cruise, and exceeded our expectations in most ways.
The Emerald is an impressive/comfortable ship with excellent service, excellent food, and plenty of activities. Now for some details.
My wife and I are just turned 50 and are celebrating our 25 yr wedding anniversary. The cruise was pretty heavily booked, near capacity is my guess. This was over Easter break, so there were approx 500 teenagers on board out of the 3300 passengers. We have teenagers so we are ok with that, and frankly, they have a separate deck for the teenagers, and they just were no problem at all,I would say they just blended in and were fine. We booked an inside room on the Caribe Deck and the room was perfect for 2 adults. Frankly, we were only in the room to sleep, change, and get ready for the day. We considered the outside balcony rooms, but glad we chose the inside, we just were there as apit stop. The bed was very comfortable, the room is very functional, and the bathroom, while smallish, get's the job done. Really, no complaints with the room whatsoever. It was quiet, never heard any noise at all. The room was tended to by a room steward while we were out, and she did a nice job and was extremely sweet and polite. I wish we had more people like this here in the US.
Lets talk food. My personal opinion is that the food was outstanding. The quality, variety, preparation, freshness, you name it, they had it and they did it right. We ate in the buffet dining room frequently, and also ate at the DaVinci for Dinners. Great selection, well prepared, I could go on for hours about the food. The only thing I would maybe avoid, the Grill located out by the pool area serves up hamburgers/chicken sandwiches, that was pretty so so, did it only once, the first day.
Main pool areas are popular, thus pretty crowded and a tad noisy for us, we avoided those areas and hung out at the pool at the back of the boat. The boat overall, outstanding. Public areas are very pleasing, the service staff was very good in all depts. These people are highly attuned to every detail of running a modern large cruise ship. They totally have there act together in every dept. Very well run ship.
We made a stop at Princess Cays, a beach day basically, with a lunch prepared and all good. St Martin has some great beaches, didn't care for the rest of it, the downtown shopping was overrated to us. St Thomas was our overall favorite, nice shopping/dining downtown, nice beaches. Could have spent a week on St Thomas and St John. last stop Grand Turk was another nice beach day, we mainly avoided the Margaritaville, it was packed, loud and for the youngsters. Lastly, Ft Lauderdale, we had an extra day and nite, great beach and we did the water taxi's around town. Highly recommend a couple days in Ft lauderdale.
Last paragraph, a few areas I think that could use a little improvement, this is feedback for the Princess CruiseLine. Mind you, this is 1% or less of the total experience, so I don't want to make over much about any of these points. The main pool areas have a live band at one pool and a large screen TV playing concerts at the same time on the other. The noise tends to blend a bit, a tad too much noise in those areas for us. Like most people, our nerves are shot from the day to day grind, when on vacation, we don't want things that grate on the nerves. We attended the Shopping show for St Martin. That was too long(2 hours) and just too intense/hard sell for me. Keep it to 15-20 minutes, and keep it light, and skip all the free stuff. Just hand it out if you want to give it away. My only regret on the entire cruise was going to this show, and my wife wasting time collecting the worthless free trinkets. Finally, we opted out of the CruiseLine sponsored excursions based on feedback on this site. For the most part, the feedback we received from other passengers was that the excursions are a tad overpriced, and not all that great. Some did like them. Take the taxi's on St Martin and St Thomas, they will take you wherever you want to go, and are plentiful. Do not attempt to drive these mountainous islands with narrow roads. Same for bikes, mopeds or other.
-Background- We're a couple aged 41 and 51, and this was our second cruise. We had cruised the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Valor in 2007 and had enjoyed it so much that we wanted to cruise again and try a different cruise line. We were looking for a beautiful and attractive ship from a premium cruise line offering flexible dining and affordable fares, so we chose the Emerald Princess.
-Embarkation- We liked Fort Lauderdale better than Miami. We found the airport very welcoming. We stayed overnight the day before our cruise and found the city very nice and pleasant. We got to the port around 12h30 noon. There was already a long line outside the terminal but it moved quickly and within a few minutes we stood in line in front of the check-in counters that were identified with the deck names. The check-in was a breeze and by 1 pm we were already on board the ship. Our lifeboat drill was held in Club Fusion around 4pm and took about 15 minutes.
-Cabin- We had a standard balcony cabin on deck 12 near the stern of the ship. The walk-incloset was a nice feature. The tiny shower stall had a curtain and bars of soap and samplers of shampoo were provided instead of a dispenser mounted on the wall. We had requested an egg-crate mattress and found the bed and the pillows very comfortable. There was an individual air-conditioning system, a flat screen TV above the minibar, plus a small desk and a chair. We experienced some vibrations sometimes but it didn't bother us. Our cabin steward was very friendly and did a good job.
-Ship in general- She's a very beautiful and attractive ship. The public rooms are all tastefully decorated in subdued earth tone colors and the decor is similar throughout the ship. There's nothing gaudy here, all the spaces are luxurious, pleasant and inviting. The Italian-style Piazza is small but very nice. However, we found the decor in the Princess Theater rather plain. The indoor space is generous and we rarely felt it was crowded but sometimes we had to wait a while for the elevators. In comparison to our first cruise, we found that the ship was pitching and rolling a lot even though the sea was calm, making both of us feel seasick sometimes. The average age on board was 50-60, and really not many kids or teens.
-Dining- We had Anytime Dining and it worked just fine for us. We usually went for dinner to the Da Vinci dining room around 8 pm and requested a table for two. There was usually no wait at all and we always got a table for two without any problem. We were given a pager twice and our table got ready in less than 10 minutes. We found the dining room very nice, cozy and not noisy at all. The service was good and quick, and the food was very good. All in all, Anytime Dining is a well-run feature.
We had dinner one night at Sabatini's. It was really the best meal of our cruise. We got an impressive selection of cold appetizers, hot appetizers, soup and pastas, then the entrée, and it ended with the dessert. Everything was so good and we ate a lot. The $20 per person fee was really worth it!
The Horizon Court buffet was disappointing. The decor was nice and cozy but eating from plastic plates wasn't exactly what I had expected. We also found that the stations area was cramped and most of all we found that the buffet was poor. There wasn't a lot of choice, it was disorganized and not looking good, and there wasn't any mouth-watering cake or dessert of any kind. At breakfast, it was not possible to get an omelet cooked on the spot in front of you. It was totally not like what we had seen earlier on the Carnival Valor and certainly not suitable for a so-called premium cruise line. Having beverages delivered to the table was nice, though.
We liked very much the International Café, located just off the Piazza, where we could sit down and people-watch while sipping our cappuccino. There were a few tables and waiters came at the table to take the order. I bought a coffee card good for 15 specialized coffees for $24 (gratuities excluded). Plus there was a nice selection of croissants, pastries, danishes and sandwiches, most of them free of charge. We also liked Vines, also nearby the Piazza, where we had cheese and wine one night and sushi and wine one other night.
-Outdoor areas- We found that the outdoor space was generous and beautiful. The outdoor promenade on deck 7 was a nice place to stroll and relax. It went all around the ship and had many padded wooden chairs. The terrace on top of the bridge was a well-kept secret and you could access it through exit doors located at the end of the hallways on deck 15. We liked the two adult-only pools and hot tubs located at both ends of the ship. At the stern was the Terrace pool from where the decks rose in tiers. We liked the few outdoor tables on the Horizon terrace (overlooking the Terrace pool and the wake) for al fresco breakfasts and lunches. Better yet, the tables and the padded chairs by the two small fountains on the deck above (outside Sabatini's and Adagio). At the bow on deck 16, the Lotus Spa pool was very nice and had a few padded loungers. It was a little bit hidden and better accessible from the deck above via a flight of stairs. It was designated as a quiet area but unfortunately some people were ignoring those rules while we were there. Also, we found that the swim-against-the-current system was noisy when it was turned on and not very appropriate for that so-called quiet area. We liked The Sanctuary with its plush loungers where we spent an afternoon on a day at sea for $10 per person. However, we thought that there was not enough loungers in the sun (most of them were in the shade or partial shade) and that the noise coming from the nearby Lotus Spa pool could be annoying (we heard some people behind us complaining). During sea days the outdoor decks were crowded. Even the Lotus Spa pool and its two small hot tubs could be crowded sometimes. However, we really liked being able to take a hot tub at night under the stars. We didn't go to the Movies Under The Stars but it seemed pretty popular and fun with the loungers specially covered for the occasion.
-Bars and entertainment- We liked Crooners, the martini bar, for pre-dinner cocktails. Adagio was very nice but it seemed that nobody went there, so it lacked some ambiance. The Skywalkers nightclub was always busy late at night. We saw only one show in the Princess theater so that we cannot comment on that, but we liked the quartets that played regularly in the Piazza. Here's what we paid for some drinks (gratuities not included): can of Sprite $1.95, imported beer $5.75, martini $6.50, frozen margarita $6.75, glass of Rosé d'Anjou $6.75, glass of Pinot Grigio $7.75, glass of Pouilly Fumé $9. There was not many intrusive announcements. However, we found that they were trying too much to draw our attention to shopping with flyers and shopping speeches of all kinds. We even heard at many times crew members asking passengers "Did you go shopping today?". Has shopping become the main reason for cruising today?
-Ports of call- This will be brief because we didn't take any tour. In spite of cloudy skies, Princess Cays was nice and well-organized with lots of things plus a free buffet. In St-Martin, we took a cab to Marigot on the French side and had lunch on the terrace of a French bistro overlooking the marina. Before going back on board, we strolled a bit in Philipsburg. In St-Thomas, we took a cab to the beautiful Magen's Bay beach ($4 entrance fee), and after a while we came back to Charlotte Amalie to have lunch and to stroll a little bit. In Grand Turk, we stayed in the cruise facility which had a good sandy beach just a few feet from the pier.
-Debarkation- We paid $20 per person for the EZCheck service. With that service, we got our boarding passes and luggage tags the day before debarkation, allowing us to leave our luggage in the hallway the night before as usual and collect it at our destination only. No hassle with the luggage in the cruise terminal or at the airport and no need to check-in with the airline. Worth it! On the final morning, we were invited to meet at the Crown Grill between 7h30 and 9h00, we showed up around 8h30, waited there about 20 minutes and then we were escorted out the ship.
Thumbs up for... - the beauty of the ship - Anytime Dining - Sabatini's - International Café - Vines - adult-only pools and hot tubs open day and night - The Sanctuary - Movies Under The Stars - EZCheck
Thumbs down for... - Horizon Court - the swim-against-the-current lap pool located in the quiet area - the importance attached to shopping
Finally, was our cruise on Princess better than our cruise on Carnival? Is it fair to say that Princess is better than Carnival? The answer is probably no. Princess does a few things better, Carnival does some other things better, but all in all it is certainly similar.
This was a 10 day Southern Caribbean Medley cruise.
We had an obstructed view cabin E504 which had a good view and was mid ship.
We had Anytime Dining and made a standing reservation for 6pm at Da Vinci dining room. We found the buffet to be better for breakfast and lunch. The food in general was typical cruise ship fare, nothing spectacular.
We had seen 2 of the production shows on other cruises, and we felt the entertainment was mediocre.
The crowd was older -- and there are lots of penny slots in the casino. The movie selections were very good.
We enjoyed all of the ports. In Aruba we took the bus to Palm Beach, then we went to Eagle Beach. We caught a taxi back to the ship.
In Bonaire we did the ship's tour to Klein Bonaire, where the snorkeling was superb.
In Dominica, we booked Bumping Tours for the Roseau Valley Treasures tour, which was a great day!
In Grenada we took a water taxi to Grand Anse -- the spices at the beach and at the port were the cheapest (not in the town). The beach was gorgeous, butthere are vendors who bug you.
We went to Emerald Beach in STT, having been to Sapphire and Megans Bay previously. It is convenient to Crown Bay and like a mini-Megans Bay.
Princess Cays started out chilly, but turned out to be beautiful. It never got crowded because so many older folks did not want to tender.
After 10 days I didn't want to leave. It was a great cruise.
My wife, Ginny, and I cruised on the Emerald Princess to the Southeastern Caribbean, embarking in Ft. Lauderdale on November 30th and disembarking 10 days later on December 10th. The ship was very nice and the staff were excellent. This was our 8th cruise on Princess and it lived up to our expectations.
Parking and Embarkation We drove from Suntree, Florida, just north of Melbourne, Florida, to Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades, about a 175 mile drive South on I-95. This required parking at the terminal which was complicated by the fact that the Emerald Princess departed from a different terminal than it planned to return to after the cruise. It required leaving passengers and baggage at one terminal, driving a couple of miles to another terminal and taking a shuttle back. Internet directions did include the correct parking garage but not the correct pier. I followed signs at the port and it worked out okay but created a little anxiety.
Hint: Take cell phones if you drop off passengers so you can contact them if you are separated. It took about 40 minutes to park and shuttle while fellow passengers were expecting 5or 10 minutes. Our cell phone contacts kept everyone informed.
Embarkation was fairly routine and it took only 15 or 20 minutes to board the ship at about 12:30 PM even though the ship was booked to capacity. We had "preferred" boarding passes but went through the regular lines.
Ship The Emerald Princess is a beautiful, 113,000 ton, 3080 passenger ship. Its venues, restaurants, lounges and dining rooms are all similar to the other Princess ships in its class. A couple of very notable exceptions are the renaming and positioning of the steakhouse, the repositioning of the Wheelhouse Bar, and the Adagio Bar. The Crown Grill is now the steakhouse, a much more elegant and upscale restaurant compared to the Sterling steakhouse on similar Princess ships. The Wheelhouse Bar location was traded with the Crown Grill with both locations benefiting. The Adagio Bar sits next to and nicely complements Sabatini's restaurant on deck 17. The Sanctuary of the Lotus Spa is a new venue on deck 17 but we are not spa patrons so don't have a feel for it. The lounges, shops, and casino are all very nice.
Restaurants There are three main dining rooms with two designated for "anytime dining". We elected "anytime dining" and had our choice of either the DaVinci dining room on deck 6 or the Michelango dining room just below it on deck 5. We had no wait of longer than five minutes for dining anytime during the cruise.
Hint: You can make reservations for "anytime dining". You might also avoid times that are real busy if you do not have a reservation. We always dined about 6 PM without a wait.
Sabatini's, one of the personal choice dining rooms, is a special treat. We have tried Sabatini's on several Princess ships and have always been pleased with the service, food and atmosphere. With the Adagio Bar next door, the two make for a pleasant evening.
Hint: Skip a late afternoon snack before Sabatini's because the amount of food treats in the dining experience are big!
The Horizon Court Buffet, where we had our embarkation lunch, several breakfasts, and afternoon snacks is in the Horizon Court. A very nice feature is that it is open around the clock in some form. A hidden feature is the afternoon ice cream and waffle bars which are open around 3:30 PM.
Hint: Don't give up if you can't find "free" ice cream. It was usually on the side marked as "buffet line closed".
The food in all the restaurants was very good. Occasionally we ordered something to try that we didn't care for, but more often than not the things we tried were very good. I didn't care for the smoked sturgeon, for instance, but the butterfish and tiger prawns were excellent.
Ports We didn't take any shore excursions although there were many for passengers who wished to tour the islands, partake in water sports, or shop. Shopping was available within walking distance from the ship at all the ports. The significant near pier shopping was in Aruba and St. Thomas with St. Thomas having a clear edge in variety. Pier side shopping in Grenada, Bonaire and Dominica was meager, at best. You could get local souvenirs.
Hint: If you want to see or experience the island stops, book a ship's sponsored tour. You cannot properly experience the island or its people with a pier side visit.
Shipboard Life We cruise in the Carribean principally to experience the shipboard life. There are a large variety of activities and venues. The pool areas on the upper decks may be the most popular. There is also the casino which we enjoy. The Emerald Princess had a nice variety of games and slot machines in the casino with optional coinless play.
Hint: Establish the coinless bank system for yourself using your cruise card. It is an efficient, fast and safe way to manage money in the casino.
Disembarkation Disembarkation was fast and efficient. We enjoy every minute of our cruises, but waiting around in one of the public areas in order to be called for disembarkation is painful for us. Spoiled? Yes. Princess provides the option for "drag your own bags off" which is nice if you and every one in your party can manage their own bags. We opted for going to a designated area and getting our bags after we disembarked. Bags were well organized in the pier area and it took just a couple of minutes to find ours. Customs was painless.
Hint: Be timely to your designated disembarkation area. Princess was. Have your cruise card, customs form, and passport ready before they are needed.
Staff Every member of the Emerald Princess staff we encountered was excellent. There were smiles and greetings everywhere. We felt comfortable and pampered.
Conclusion We had a very nice time on the Emerald Princess and will sail with them again for the 9th time. Why? We booked an open future cruise with the future cruise consultant.
Hint: Booking a future cruise on board is a great deal. Great benefits, like shipboard credit and lower booking down payment, with little or no risks.
This was our 8th Cruise, 6th on Princess but we have also sailed with Carnival & RCCL. I am 59 and DH is 60. We really enjoy cruising and prefer it to land vacations since you unpack once, but get to see so many different places.
The Emerald Princess is a beautiful ship and I noticed it immediately after boarding how everything shined. The Piazza is really lovely, done in beautiful green hues, with mosaic tile floors & stunning staircase. The crew we encountered were all very friendly, the food was the best we ever had -- on any cruise -- and service was great.
Our cabin was aft (B749) and we thoroughly enjoyed it, had great views of the sea & our room steward took good care of us -- no complaints. We had a couple of nites of rough seas leaving FLL, after that they were pretty calm. However, we learned real quickly to put the hangers on the floor so they don't bang around in the closet!
We did anytime dining in the Di Angelo dining room with Marvin our waiter who knew the menu well and made greatsuggestions on what to select for our meals.
The Horizon seemed a little better organized on this ship. Not sure why but maybe the "Enter" & "Exit" at each end instead of everyone wandering all over helped.
We ate breakfast in the dining room 3 times and it was such a treat, especially on disembarkation day. The "Crown Grill" was delicious -- DH had the pork chop and I did the lobster tails and oh, don't miss the desert "Crown Dependence." It is a sampler of all of them!
Even though we are Platinum we do not use the Internet service. We are on vacation and I want to enjoy our time away from a computer. (I have enough of that at work!)
Princess Cay was rain on & off, but we always enjoy a few hours there. In St. Thomas we did a taxi on our own to Coki Beach and it is to date, my favorite beach. Great snorkeling too and don't forget the dog biscuits, the fish love them. Beach chairs, drinks & food are available as well.
Dominica is a beautiful rain forest island & we did an island tour with a private group that was fun, but with a lot of driving up & down hills. It lasted almost 5 hours and that was really too long of a tour for us. Grenada we just walked through the port terminal shops and went back to the ship for some R&R by the pool.Aruba -- What can I say -- this place is beautiful. You can walk from the terminal to all the wonderful shops. We heard that you can take a bus to the beaches for $2.30 round trip. DH wanted to take a taxi for $10.00, but I balked and found the bus terminal, hopped on bus No 10 and off we went. Since I had a map of the island we followed the stops along to "Eagle Beach" and got off. They had chair rentals ($5.00 each) and a tiki hut with snacks & drinks, right across from Amsterdam Manor, which is a resort, I think. Anyway, hadn't been on a bus in years but it was fun.
In Bonaire we did a Princess excursion on the Samur -- a Sail & Snorkel to Kline Bonaire. We had a great time on the beach, it's also a good snorkeling spot. I would recommend them.
As for the entertainment -- We enjoyed "Motor City" in the Princess Theater, and the magician. We also enjoyed the music in the "Wheelhouse."
On sea days we loved to relax by the pools, read, play the wooden horse races, go to bingo and even played "Elevator Roulette" -- not to be missed -- it was a riot! And -- the pool patrol was on their toes! We saw six chairs that had towels, no other personal items, that were left vacant for just over an hour and a staff member removed the towels!
What more can I say? We loved the ship and hope to sail her again soon!