Year Started: 1965
Ships in Fleet: 18
Summary: Princess is one of the most consistently excellent cruise lines in the upper mainstream to premium group. All the diversity of larger ships but personalized service.
Regions:Canada, Caribbean, Europe
Good for: Families. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Alaska, California Coastal, Panama Canal
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, South America
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Asia & Africa, Australia
Good for: Families. Teens. Children`s Programs.
Regions:Canada, Caribbean, Europe
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Group.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Group.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico
Good for: Overall Service. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Alaska, California, Panama Canal
Good for: Seniors. Group. Singles.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Europe, Hawaii
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Value for Money. Group.
Regions:Caribbean, Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Overall Service. Teens. Children`s Programs.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, Mexico
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, Panama Canal
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Alaska, California, Hawaii, South America
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Teens.
Regions:Asia & Africa, Australia, South Pacific, Tahiti
Good for: Overall Service. Disabled Travelers. Seniors.
After booking our next cruise last April (we sail in Novermber) with Princess, a few months later we saw a better price. We called Princess and requested the lower price. Princess said they no longer honor the "low price guarantee." And the more we read, we see more and more cruise lines are following this policy. So, what advantage is there to booking early?
Official Barbados Tourist link; http://www.visitbarbados.org
Our 5th cruise is now completed (November 15 - 29, 2010) We completed all our packing, clothes, monies, electronic gadgets including sanity ready to see family in Barbados and then get on the wonderful 14 day cruise of the Islands around Barbados (Grand Caribbean Adventurer Round-trip Barbados). We live in Victoria , Vancouver Island , Canada so ahead of us were two main flights, Victoria to Toronto than Toronto to Barbados but we would have 10 days in Barbados to relax before boarding the Sea Princess.
We overnighted at the Airport Hotel in Toronto at Terminal 3. Beware of Airlines these days who change aircraft on you. Air Canada changed their aircraft from Boeing 763 / 767 to an Airbus 321 / 319.
We had booked Executive Class and were looking forward to those new 'Stretch and Lie Down seats. Well at least we still had more leg and seat pitch room plus were able to relax in the lounges. In all our years visiting family in Barbados I had not seen any of the Islands around Barbados.
The cruise itself...(14 days) Left on a Monday, November 15, 2010Bridgetown, Barbados with days being, Grenada, At Sea, Bonaire- Aruba , Curacao- Antilles, At Sea, Grand Turk- Caicos Islands (became an extra Sea Day) , At Sea, Tortola- B.v.i., St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad , Barbados. Arrived back on November 29, 2010
I did a couple of things prior to the trip. Bought Trip and Medical Insurance, ordered Rum and Coke and Ginger for the cabin, new summer clothes bought, as I discovered I had no short sleeves shirts and found four pairs of pants bought last year hidden away. My Bajan wife was right, you need more clothes in the tropics and wear shorts. In our case we travelled with an extra suitcase which came in handy for all the gifts we bought on the islands for grandchildren and dirty clothes. For dirty clothes we had a plastic bag that compresses air.
As we were walk-on passengers not Air/Cruise then we were driven to the terminal where you can get a porter to take your bags to the ship ($1 each bag minimal) as you have to walk through the actual terminal which is full of great shops, phones. A person is at a table to ensure you sign the health form questions, then checks your name off a list. In our case we confused them as the list was really only Air/Cruise passengers so I just said look we do have our tickets, where do we board.
You have to walk outside the terminal , across a road and into the shed near the ship. The shed is where most of the Brits on the Air/Cruise arrive by bus around mid afternoon, in our case we came about 2pm and were able to miss all the hordes arriving by bus that day. As we walked in the shed from the ship side then we had to navigate the ropes to control the mob, just us two to see about 15 check-in folks wondering who we were. In two minute we were checked in , CC verified, and then stopped by the photographer as were his first ones.
On to the ship, sea card into security unit and SMILE. Nobody takes you to your cabin but they do ask what deck and point to elevator. We were on Aloha (deck 10) A327 Balcony which at first we found small because we had been on Golden Princess a few years back which is a newer ship. Not to worry , once we had our bags and unpacked, lots of room for two adults and the balcony does help for privacy and quiet.
The service by our room steward was great in he respected our times in the room and we told him when we would be out, it also helps to place the card that says clean or leave us alone please in the lock. One day our toilet overflowed by not stopping when filling during the ships emergency practice day and our steward responded to my cry for help as he was out in the hall, five minutes later our safe would not open as I had accidentally pressed a reset button. The Pursers Office sent some one up to reset the combination. course leading zeros are not recommended. A few days later our shower control knob parts flew off onto the shower floor. I had a small set of tools and fixed it then called our steward to let him know.
The ship is about 2,200 passengers of which we had 1,915 Brits on board, 25 USA , 26 Canadians and a mix of others which means when the sun is out then you better get a lounge chair early as all the Brits will be SUNNING themselves.
Our table mates were great as we had a table of 10, all with different accents including us and our servers were great but over worked as they had three other tables of 4-6 each plus they get your wine and rum for you. We closed the room most nights as we were on 2nd seating and because of that missed some of the shows. The main theatre is not that large and only one aisle is in the middle which makes moving through the seats ugly at times so you normally have to arrive 15-30 minutes prior to a show, not my style. Shows were not bad but I found the bar and movie better , the shows tend to repeat including the daily events each day.
It is a nice ship and had been adjusted for British tastes in food, beer but the only Caribbean food offered was Jamaican Jerk Chicken, they could offer more variety of Island food but I understand majority of food, is out of the states and shipped frozen. The food was good and meals were hot. Wine testing event was not expensive ($15) for five samples and a free glass. We had an extra sea day when we could not dock at Grand Turks due to waves and wind and as this is a port intensive cruise , my thought would be to introduce a 4th sea day in the last five days.
All the Islands offer different variety and experiences but when it comes to shopping it is better to space your purchases out per Island otherwise you might have bought everything in the first few days.
The ship offers specials on the first sea day and Internet specials as in coupons of xn free minutes are offered the first day and then some others. The only add-on expense is when they charge you $4 for an admin fee to setup your Internet. The speed can be very slow , stick to emails or use Internet cafés on Islands , most Islands will not give you free access unless you buy something.
St Lucia was one of our best islands including its rum and tour. The ships excursions were fine as we normally take 1/2 day type ones and take other days to tour by walking around the dock area ourselves. St Maarten is wild when six cruise ships are in, like 20,000 folks.
What seems to be new is that every island wants to see your sea card for security and you must have your passport on your person, no exception. Some of the docks are large to walk to the ship, so ensure you are on board before the appointed time. If it rains on the way back the crew offer towels and coffee on the dock, nice gesture.
The only thing that bothered me was when having lunch or an afternoon snack at the buffet as most times a section was closed off to allow setup for supper . The food and choices were fine and they do come to your table offering drinks , coffee , tea .
Most of the crew do go out of their way to help you and it is a nice ship. The cruise itself is busy but that is me as I like to have some do nothing days We had a wonderful time and will do it again.
My Blog: http://robbarcruise.blogspot.com
This was our first cruise on board the Crown Princess, but her class includes the Ruby and the Emerald Princesses which are exact replicas, and we have sailed on both of them. The tradition of creating new classes of ships built to one basic engineering design is a good one, since passengers feel that they already know the deck plan well from sailing aboard a sister ship. It also reduces time spent looking for various locals on board --- theater forward, dining rooms mid to aft, Piazza or centrum Decks 5, 6, & 7, Buffet and pool areas Deck 15 etc. etc. etc. The Crown Princess Captain Andrew Proctor can usually be seen at morning tea with his lovely wife in the International Cafe'. He says that he enjoys this area of the ship immensely because the open atmosphere invites informal conversations with passengers. This kindly gentleman sets the warm mood of the Crown Princess.
EMBARKATION On Princess ships embarkation is speedy and orderly. Baggage is taken at curbside and for wheelchair passengers there is direct access to Priority Check In counters. All passengers go to Check In counters individually marked witheach deck name. This system reduces long lines and needless waiting. The gangway once again was quite steep, which means reversing the swing away pedals on the wheel chair to protect them. Vincent also shut off his scooter to avoid jamming the motor or gears. This was our 88th cruise, so by now we know how to avoid equipment damage.
We arrived in Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL at 12:30pm and had assistance all the way to our cabin C303 where we dropped off our walker and hand luggage and were off to the buffet at 1:00pm. After lunch Vincent went to the Crown Grill Restaurant where Maitre D'Hotel Francesco Ciorfito assigned us an exquisite table for two, by the window, in the Da Vinci dining room. Personal Choice Dining allows us to dine at the same table every evening with the same wait staff. Now all that remained was the Boat Drill at 4:15pm. On Princess this is painless since the Muster Stations are indoors and seating is available.
THE SHIP The Crown Princess is the first of three ships in the Crown Class. She was built by Fincantieri Shipyards at Montefalcone, Italy in 2006. She is Hull #6100 to come from this venerable builder. There is an abundance of wood, brass and marble which contribute to its elegant interiors. Throughout the ship are many paintings and mosaics. Her Port of Registry is Hamilton, Bermuda. Her gross tonnage is 112,894, her length is 951 ft. and breadth is 118 ft. Passenger capacity is 3,150 and she sails with a crew of 1,200. She has a cruising speed of 22.5 knots. There are three sets of elevators: one forward, one aft and a Panoramic set of lifts mid ship.
Gala Deck 4 has crew areas and the Medical Center.
Decks 5, 6, & 7 (Plaza, Fiesta & Promenade) are all public passenger areas. Forward on Deck 5 there are passenger cabins and the Laundromat (other Laundromats are on Decks 8, 9, 11, 12, & 14 aft, and on Deck10 midship). The theater is located on Decks 6 & 7 forward.
Plaza Deck 5 midship are the Piazza, with live music and entertainment and the International Cafe', with terrific coffees and hot chocolates, not to mention marvelous desserts, salads, soups and sandwiches. Here is also served Italian Gelato (three huge scoops on a special elongated dish for a $1.50). There is a beautiful Peacock mural and mosaics everywhere and even on the floor. Midship are also the Internet Cafe', with its many interesting chiaro-scuro photographs of Venetian scenes, the Travel Cafe' Escapes, the Vines (a wine and cheese bar), the Future Cruise Sales and the Art Gallery. Aft is the Michelangelo Dining Room.
Fiesta Deck 6 midship has the Gatsby Casino, Reception Desk and the shops of Meridian Bay. Aft is the Da Vinci Dining Room, with its light maple wood walls and low ceilings and lovely art work. Aft is the Botticelli dining room, accessible only from the upper decks by the aft lifts. On Deck 6 forward is the lower level of Princess Theater with wheelchair accessible seats through a corridor.
Promenade Deck 7 has the promenade around the ship with the exception of the forward part, which continues through the stairs on Deck 8, Emerald deck. On Deck 7, forward there is wheelchair access to the upper level of Princess Theater. Here are also the Wheelhouse Bar with its nautical décor and the Library with its excellent stacks.
Decks 8 through 14 (Emerald, Dolphin, Caribe, Baja, Aloha and Riviera) are mainly for passenger cabins and suites.
Lido Deck 15 forward has cabins, midship are the Trident Grill with more mosaics, the Neptune's Reef & Pool with the Pizza and Ice Cream station. At midship there are also the Pool and the Movies under the Stars. Aft is the Horizon Court & Terrace for buffet dining.
Sun Deck 16 forward has the Lotus Spa with the Beauty Salon, Sauna and Massage rooms, Aerobics, Fitness Center and the Hearts & Minds wedding chapel. Aft is Sabatini's gourmet Italian Restaurant and the Adagio Bar with elegant entrances of wrought copper grape vines.
Sports Deck 17 forward is the Sanctuary, an exclusive area reserved for sunning and relaxation. All the way aft are the Teen Center with Chill Out, The Fun Zone, Off Limits and the Video Arcade.
Sky/Star Decks 18/19 have the Center Court, Cybergolf and the Jogging Track and the Skywalkers Night Club at the top.
This is a beautifully kept ship with much to do for all ages.
FOOD & SERVICE The service on board is top notch -- fit for a queen -- every afternoon at 3:30pm High Tea is served in the Da Vinci Dining Room. This is a must experience. Maitre D'Hotel Francesco Ciorfito is a patient and kind man dedicated to giving the passengers a wonderful experience on board. Head Waiter Giuseppe Renda made us welcome each evening in the Da Vinci. Sous Chef Federico Femiano sent us some marvelous specialities like Lucullus (egg plant rolled around angel hair pasta, baked with a tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and topped with Parmigiano Reggiano), and a Risotto ai funghi (mushroom risotto) that was delicious. Our waiters each evening were the very adept Douglas Garcia and his assistant Despot Cvedanovic. They served the meal at a nice pace and always with a smile. We especially like the crisp salads and innovative soups including the cold ones (Pina Colada, pear and peach were superb).Lunch time was always pleasant with the the very cordial waiter Enrique. Head Waiter Mihai Baroi was everywhere on board and overlooking everything. The luncheon menu is quite good, in fact we think the best afloat: including fried Calamari, Vitello Tonnato, osso buco, etc., items usually found in upscale restaurants only!
We ate dinner in Sabatini's ($20) with what seemed like 18 courses. Our table was next to a fountain and the delightful room design is repeated circles of round tables and wood décor with a huge Tiffany ceiling globe, similar to the one in the centrum. All in all a gorgeous room. All the breads on Princess are exceptional, but the Food & Beverage Supervisor Claudio Guarnieri told us that the Corporate Executive Baker was on board to "Tweak" the recipes and has already had great success with the focaccia.
Since this was our fifteenth cruise with Princess, we are now Elite members and were invited to breakfast in Sabatini's. Excellent! Mary recommends the poached eggs served over tiny roasted potato cubes in a snifter of sorts with Hollandaise sauce on the side. Vincent recommends the freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice with James Beard's French toast, or an excellent Belgian waffle. Sous Chef Ivano Milani (a student of Executive Chef Antonio Cereda) makes Sabatini's a terrific place to dine. Vincent, as an Italian, usually avoids Italian food when dining out, because he is afraid of being disappointed, but not on Princess with her many terrific Italian born chefs. We feel Princess has the best food on the seas. Hotel General Manager Martin Ford has every right to be proud of the service aboard the Crown: It is superb!
CABIN C303 on Caribe Deck 10 is a wheelchair accessible cabin with ample space. When entering on the left is a parking area for the wheelchair and next a triple armoire, with two sections for hanging clothes and one with shelves and a personal safe. Next, there is a flat screen TV and a refrigerator, a long counter area and one cabinet with two drawers. There is also a small round coffee table and two chairs.
When entering on the right, there is a large bathe with a fold up shower seat and a single sink with shelves for amenities. All was nicely tiled and kept exceptionally clean by our Steward Marius. There is a large queen bed with a puff quilt. The bed is flanked by two bureaus with four drawers each and a reading lamp too far away to shut off from the bed. The décor is blue, gold and cream, very cool.
The balcony is oversized and held two lounge chairs, two chairs and a table. There was a cover over half of it. It was very convenient, private and protected. We were very comfortable here and the chocolate dipped strawberries and fresh fruit daily made life a dream.
ENTERTAINMENT Princes always has excellent music in the Piazza, the Dining Rooms and on deck poolside. Cruise Director Ron Goodman leads off the cruse with a Sail Away at Neptune's Reef on Deck 15 and the music and dancing begin. In the Explorer's Lounge on Promenade Deck 7 there was an early movie "Oceans" and the cruise was off to a great start. The Princess Theater usually has two nightly shows: 7 and 9pm. We dined at 5:30 and sometimes made the early show. The Princess Orchestra and Dancers star in two shows "Motor City" and "Destination Anywhere."
The Piazza has many entertainers among which were "Duo Alia" (two gorgeous girls who did "adagio body balancing" a unique acrobatic routine. Then there is the Champagne Waterfall Party hosted by Captain Proctor and built by Maitre D' Francesco Ciorfito, where many ladies had their pictures taken with the gracious and patient Francesco. This was formerly held at midnight, but has now been moved to 7:30-8:30 pm with free champagne for all. There was an abundance of comedians on board. We thought the best was Cary Long in the Explorer's Lounge. The well organized "Princess Patter" lists all the daily activities and events—Go have a ball.
PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Depart 5:00pm Day 2. At sea Day 3. Grand Cayman Arrive 7:00am Depart 4:00pm Day 4. Roatan, Honduras Arrive 10:00am Depart 5:00pm Day 5. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 7:00am Depart 8:00pm Day 6. At sea Day 7. Princess Cays, Bahamas Arrive 9:00am Depart 4:30pm Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL Arrive 6:00am Disembark 7:00
DEBARKATION Debarkation was as organized and simple as embarkation. Passengers were called by their luggage tag colors. Wheelchair Passengers met at the Crooner's Bar and, since our color was already called, we had immediate assistance, thanks to our new acquaintance F & B Manager Claudio Guarnieri. We were off, collected our luggage, and were through customs, passport check and outside awaiting our son Marcello by 8:30am. Excellent!
CONCLUSIONS This was our fifteenth cruise on Princess and another pleasant one. We are now Elite members of the Captain's Circle, so we look forward to more cruises on Princess ships for the enhanced benefits, such as complimentary Mini Bar set up, free laundry and professional cleaning services, deluxe canape selections and, most of all, the special breakfasts at Sabatini's! However, our next cruises will be a three day cruise to nowhere on the new Allure of the Seas Nov. 23rd and a seven day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the same ship Jan 23rd, 2011. Happy Cruising!
Just back from a 7-day on the Golden Princess. First let me say this was my 10th cruise overall, first on Princess, 8 on Carnival and 1 on NCL. My wife and I are both in our 50's and are real easy to please. I'm not going to get into great detail on everything, but will try to keep things to a point.
We booked this cruise on Princess mainly because of the itinerary, ship times in port, and price. We chose an inside room for this trip. This being my first trip on Princess we really didn't no what to expect but were expecting just a little more than we got, I'm talking cruise ship. Our first impression of the ship was rather dull, not much done to the interior to add that bling affect. The ship was very clean and well maintained, but just didn't sparkle. I will get into that later. First the ports and check-in.
Seattle Check-in: If you fly in it's a 40-50 dollar cab ride depending on number of people. This is way cheaper than the ship offered transfer. The terminal area is rather smallbut these people really knew how to get you checked in promptly, this had to be the easiest check-in we have ever had, showed up at 12.30 and was on the ship by 1.30 very impressive.
Juneau: We booked a ship tour of the Glacier and Fish Hatchery, well worth the price. If you haven't seen a Glacier up close this is a must see in your life. The town in general was awful, the same Jewelry stores that you find in any cruise port, and for that matter it was like being at any other cruise port with one exception, everyone speaks great English. If you travel here get outta town fast and see what they have to offer, which is the real beauty of Alaska
Skagway: The ship offered many tours but we decided to venture out on our own. We rented a mini van and traveled the Klondike Highway all the way to Emerald Lake, which is in Canada; this was another one of the great experiences of my life. This is the only way to see Alaska, plenty of stops that offer real souvenirs not the crap they sell in town. Be prepared to be stopped at the Canada border, these guys are very hard-core so don't make any jokes they are way too serious. The same for the trip back into the US, our border guards are the same but it gave me a good sense of security. (DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT) Both ways don't care if you're on a cruise ship or not. The town was just like I said for Juneau.
Tracy Arm Fjord: One word AWESOME, this is a must see in your lifetime. Nothing else to say.
Ketchikan: We decided to just walk the town, Creek Street and the town is very pleasant, the town still has the same stores as in each port but it was still a nice place to visit.
Victoria B.C: Not much to say, we stayed on the ship.
We stayed on deck 10. Room C532, our room Stewart had to be the hardest working gal on that ship, her name was Lilia and was just Outstanding, she was courteous, kind, and gracious. She seemed to always be at your door greeting you with a smile. She was by far the best we have ever had on a ship. Now for the not so good, this was the only ship we've been on that did not display any towel animals on your bed, way disappointing. This was always something we looked forward to at night, but not on this ship. Sorry Princess you missed the boat on this one. Every previous ship that we've been on was designed with some theme in mind, this ship was about as plain as you could get.
We had assigned dining at 5.30 in the Bernini Dining Room, our waiter and busboy did a superb job, they truly seemed like their jobs. The weeklong dinner menu was just ok; they seemed to put more emphasis on how fancy to make food vice making it taste good. A+ for creativity and a C- for taste. The only night that we truly enjoyed was Lobster night, hats off to the cooks on that night.
Shipboard shows: In twelve words ( The worst shows on any cruise ship we've been on to date), if I was the Princess show director I would resign, the shows had very little flair, no talent and frankly lacked that showroom experience. Very disappointing.
Tours: Be prepared to spend a lot for these tours, I'm by no means tight, but I think with the seasonal tours they have to up the prices to cover their yearly cost.
Disembark: Like check-in this was just way too smooth, we stayed in our room until our assigned meeting time of 9.45 in one the lounges, once we arrived in the lounge we were allowed off the boat and our luggage was waiting for us. (Way too easy). Was kind of hard to get a cab but nothing to complain about.
Overall we would rate this cruise as an 8 out of 10, so taking the good with the bad at least we got to see Alaska. The cruises we've taken on Carnival were always a 9 out of 10. Now, having said that, we always talk to a lot of people while cruising and find many with more cruises under their belts than us. Each of these folks had the identical experience we had. So if the issues we had don't seem big to you then Princess may be the way to go. For me I am going back to Carnival.
Overall the cruise was great. I went with my husband , 15 year old son and extended family . We stayed on Emerald Deck 8. Our room had a window (partially obstructed view). We were on the lifeboat deck but were located between lifeboats, so the view was still good. We couldn't afford the balcony room, but this allowed natural light in and I didn't feel as claustrophobic. My parents had a balcony room, (Caribe Deck 10), so we took advantage of their room too. Balcony was larger than we expected. It fit a round table and 4 chairs. If you get a balcony, go deck 10 or higher. Deck 9 balconies did not have overhead covering and were exposed to sun/rain. My sister and husband had an inside cabin. All three cabins/bathrooms were the same size. We had a room that could sleep 3-4 persons. Each bed had another that pulled down from ceiling above it to form a bunk bed. Steward will put bunk beds back for you during the day. Room service is included. You can get breakfast delivered to your room - just ask. You canorder fruit to be delivered to your room in the afternoon also.
Ask for egg crate foam mattress toppers for the beds and robes (can be ordered online or calling Princess Cruises in advance). We were missing both when we got there but we told the Steward and got them within a day. We didn't have top sheets on our beds and my comforter did not smell like it was freshly washed so we requested the sheets and got them the rest of the week. Do not over pack! They have laundry mats on each deck. $1.00 for washer, $1.00 for 30 minute dryer time (I used two cycles per load, and $1.00 detergent. Change machine was finicky. Had to get quarters at purser's desk. Ironing board and irons also available in laundry room (they were free to use). There were large sinks for hand washables too. When packing - remember - layer, layer, layer. I didn't take enough short sleeve tops. There will be times when you're spending time mostly inside the ship. You can always keep a sweater or jacket with you if you go out on deck.
We had great weather. Every port was sunny and warm (even in September). This is not typical from what we were told, but if you layer, you'll be prepared for any weather. Raincoat with hood is best.
Traditional dining at 5:30 pm worked well for us. Waiters got to know us by name, and anticipated our drink orders and preferences. Get a table by the window if possible. We saw some wonderful views while dining. Buffet was open very early till late at night but we didn't like eating there as much. Waiters were sometimes slow bringing our drink orders. Twice I tried to get a waiter's attention and they acted like they didn't hear me (when it was obvious that they at least saw me trying to flag them down). Drinks that are available anytime are water, unsweetened ice tea, coffee, hot tea, and hot chocolate. My husband and son got the soda sticker for their cards. It totaled $34.00 for the week. It is only available for purchase on the 1st day. A sticker for $9 a day (more like $11.00 when you add the gratuity and taxes), is available for soda, milkshakes and mock cocktails. I didn't end up getting it and was glad I didn't. I don't think I drank enough to justify it.
When choosing room location, I'd recommend the Starboard side (when facing front of ship). The views were best on that side. Also try to be mid to aft of the ship. Most nightclubs/shops/restaurants are located on that end of the ship. The only exception is the theatre which is in the front of the ship. The carpet color is different on the starboard and port sides of ship. This is helpful when returning to your room. Odd and even rooms are on either side of the ship.
Activities are fun. Just make sure you get there about 10 minutes in advance for ballroom and line dancing classes. The instructor always started them early. Shows in Princes theatre are good too, but get there at least 20 minutes in advance to get a seat. Some were standing room only. Naturalist is great. I loved her lectures. She speaks over intercom in common areas while cruising through Tracy Arm Fjord. Trivia was our favorite. We won once and got medals and champagne for a prize. Bingo is expensive - starts at $10 a card. Still popular though. Comedians were very good. Especially like Ron Lucas.
Ports of Call:
All ports have tour information available when you disembark. Ship's excursions are more expensive. There is a large tour building at Ketchikan with every tour available. You can bicker with the operators for a better rate! Tour of Ketchikan cost $50 a piece. My sister managed to get them for $40. My husband, son and I took the Duck tour. It was disappointing. We did get to see some bald eagles up close but wished we had spent more time in the town. Make sure you get to Creek Street. Salmon were spawning on our trip. Very thick in stream and saw them jumping up the falls. Two large seals were feasting on the salmon when we were there. Fun to watch. Lumberjack show a little overrated. Similar to other lumberjack shows that we've seen at local outdoor show. Incline plane to Fox Lodge was a little disappointing too. Not as scenic as I expected.
Juneau - We paid extra for city tour but there wasn't a whole lot to see. Breezed past Capitol building and state buildings. They took us to an island across from it but there wasn't much there. Recommend the bus to Mendenhall Glacier for $7 each way and walking through town on your own. Must see - the Red Dog Saloon. Sky ride was extremely expensive. We opted out.
Skagway was our favorite port but we didn't have enough time there. Shuttle bus to town is $2.00 each way or $5.00 unlimited. White Pass Scenic railway was awesome. If you buy the ticket as an excursion from the cruise line, you have to catch the train at the dock. Would recommend doing the train first and walk through town afterward. We took the afternoon train and had to shuttle to town, and shuttle back to dock to catch the train. Shuttle lines got long at times. More inconvenient. The train followed the trail of the miners during the Yukon Gold rush. Not good if you're afraid of heights. Try to get on the left side of the train (while facing the front of the train). Will change seats with those across the aisle from you at top of mountain, but best narration is on the uphill climb.
Architecture of town was just like the late 1800s. We didn't have time for the museum -very disappointing. Park service offers free tours. We had to leave it midway through to catch the shuttle to the train in time. Must see - Red Onion saloon. You'll feel like you stepped back in time.
Beautiful views on port side of trip after you leave Skagway. Lots of snow peaked mountains/glaciers/waterfalls. Liked it as much as Tracy Arm.
Victoria B.C. is the only place I would recommend getting a cruise excursion. Shuttle to town was inexpensive, but line was very long. We took a taxi for 4 which cost $10 each way. We didn't get to town until 8:00 pm and the stores closed at 9:00 pm! It beautiful to see but there wasn't much we could do at that time of night.
Teen program is great. We went after Labor Day so there were only 5 teens participating (the week before there were 80). They played video and board games/cards together and had karaoke/dance parties. My son loved it.
We began our trip with a few days in Seattle. Stayed at Maxwell hotel. It was close to everything. Don't need to rent a car. Walk to Seattle Center (Space needle/monorail). Monorail is $2.00 each way and will take you to downtown. Free bus service in town until 7pm. Don't miss Pike's Place Market and Underground Tour . Ferry ride is fun too.
Try to take the 10 day cruise if you can. I'm disappointed that we couldn't see Glacier Bay. Even so, it was a great experience overall. All the staff were friendly (not sure if it was sincere sometimes), but they did go out of their way to accommodate us. I've never been so pampered. I would highly recommend it.
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.
First, let me give a brief description of who was going on this trip. Me and my wife both in our early 30's with our 2 yr old boy (he turned 2 on the ship :) ) and my mom and aunt both in their mid 50's. We had been looking to go on a Alaskan cruise for so long and after lots of research and planning we chose to go on the Sapphire Princess. We chose this because we wanted a little bit of luxury but still have a really great play area for our son. We also liked the fact it went out on sunday in Seattle as we flew in Friday night and spent all day Saturday, this is highly recommended. We were about 1/2 - 2/3 right on our decision.
Ship: The ship was about what we expected. It was really pretty with room to move and never felt really crowded. The ship took about a half a day to figure out which I know isn't too bad considering some of the new ships with a maze for a layout. The atrium was beautiful, butdid not feel as nice as it could of. They could of made the atrium look a little taller and it would of felt even better.
Rooms: First this first... GET A BALCONY IT"S WORTH THE MONEY!!!!! We took 1 inside cabin for my wife, my son, and myself and my mom and aunt had a balcony right across the way. This turned out to be the best thing as we all got privacy and were able to use the balcony. To our surprise the inside cabin was quite large and spacious. We had more than enough room to have all 5 of our bags and a crib for my son. Never felt cramped at all. The rooms were very basic but nice. I have heard this ship is due for a refit soon and could use a little fixing up as there was couple of nics and scraps. Overall, nice. The biggest issue I had with the rooms (and the ship) was the toilets. They were the most uncomfortable seats I have ever used, and tis seemed to be a general consensus. Princess, please fix this.
Kid Area Ok this is where I need to unload for a second. We chose this ship because, out of the nicer lines, had the best play area for children. We knew we could not leave our son as he was under 3 but we were never prepared for the atrocity that we experienced. The 1st day at sea my wife and I took our son to play, and he started to love it. At that point we were approached by a CL worker who said "we understand you don't know but only one parent can be with the child at the time... but since you were uninfomed we will make an exception". Odd if I am on a family cruise cant my family be together? We said thank you and kept on playing. We took to the outside area where we noticed an unaccompanied 4 yr old walk over to the splash pool (by the way it was about 55 degrees out) strip to his skeevys and jump in. Being afraid for the child's safety my wife informed on of the 4 workers of the unmonitored minor in the pool. The staff member asked "where's his mom?" of course we don't know so she runs out yells at me with a "are you his parent". After I said no she yanks the kid out and yells at him. Another 5 mins later they asked one of us to leave as "there is only one parent aloud per child. Needless to say we did not return.
Food One word AMAZING. Everything was perfect. Especially in the Sterling steakhouse and of course Sabatini's. These are worth the extra as we would of paid to eat at those every night.
Service Princess has a great reputation for service, which they did not disappoint. Our big issue was that every employee and I mean every employee, sells. Right as you get on the ship, walking around and even at the dinner table. I got really annoying. I understand the 1st day trying to sell the soda cards and coffee as they are worth it, but ease up the rest of the trip. Honestly I also do not want my fantastic dessert disrupted by my waiter hocking a $25 cookbook every night. Take away the selling and you have impeccable service.
Ports We went to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria B.C. with a cruise in Tracy arm. All ports with the exception of Juneau were awesome. Juneau's issue was, though other ports had it as well, too much commercialism. It really spoiled the beauty. Make sure in Ketchikan you see rainbow falls and do the white pass train ride in Skagway, expensive but OH MY GOSH, Highlight of the trip. I was also impressed by Tracy Arm. I never heard much about it and when I woke up that morning I didn't need my coffee the beauty was my caffeine.
Overall this was an excellent cruise. Yes there are many opportunities that needed to be taken care of, especially with the kids area. But with the food, the pretty ship and the itinerary it all became perfect.
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!
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.
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.