Emerald Princess Cruise Review to Caribbean - Southern

Second Mate

7+ cruises


Helpful Votes

4 out of 5

My wife and I...

Sail Date: September 29, 2011

Reviewed: 5 years ago

Traveled As: Large Group

Room Type: Inside

My wife and I just returned from the Emerald in Fort Lauderdale. We were on a 10 day cruise to the Southern Caribbean.
Some background:
I am 40 years old - my wife 32. We were traveling without children. Both of us have sailed on Princess previously in addition to other lines. We had originally booked a 7 day cruise out of Port Canaveral - bought cheap airfare into Orlando, but no return ticket. As I did some research, I discovered this cruise, for a considerable bit less than the previously booked 7 day. So, given that a drive from Orlando to FLL was not that bad and we had no return airfare purchased, we instantly booked this.
Going into this, we knew that this cruise was clearly not our demographic. However, the price and itinerary was perfect for us. There were 5 ports new to us on this sailing, so we figured we would make our own fun and enjoy anyhow.
The ship was standard Princess fare. While I have been on the Golden and Grand previously, this was a step up in size and offerings. Outside of the Piazza (not yet installed on Grand or Golden at time of our sailings), the decor is classy and typical Princess. Learning our way around the place was pretty easy given our prior experience.
We chose Anytime Dining and an Inside Cabin. We still really think Princess builds the best Inside Cabins. We are still unsure how or why - but we seem to move around better and have the most space in the Princess Inside cabins, so not getting that desired balcony is not a big disappointment for us (we are of the philosophy that it's Balcony or Inside only - a window is just a tease!). While speaking of cabins - a quick word about our stateroom host is necessary. Teodoro of the Philippines was our cabin steward. We were on Aloha - 12 deck in room A417. If you are in his area - lucky you! He was so happy, friendly, and accommodating. He greeted me by name each time I saw him, starting the very first time he met me. What a happy man he is and he certainly got a lot of praise - hopefully my survey input goes to give him what he deserves.
Ports were wonderful for us. Princess Cays is an OK beach day. It is nothing special, but a welcome start to the cruise and a pleasant weather day. We were disappointed in the food on the island, but there was plenty! Sadly, we forgot to reapply sun screen and inaugurated our cruise with bad sunburns! Oh well...still plenty of fun to be had...
So, with a Sea Day ahead of us, we cleaned up and began dining experiences and trying to find nighttime entertainment. This was a constant frustration. The food, was hit or miss. I've never sent food back, always making do, but twice soup selections were just disgusting. But we did find some gems and enjoyed some meals quite nicely. It just seemed as if it was very Jekyll and Hyde. Entertainment too was like this. Although the most frustrating part was the inability to get a seat at any of the shows unless you showed up practically an hour prior to the event. This was especially true for the comedians (held in the smaller Explorers Lounge). I am not sure how to alter the schedules, but in a few cases if you did not make the early show - you missed out on that venue throughout the evening...which meant you missed those offerings entirely. For reference Billy London was our Cruise Director. Prior to travel he got horrible reviews. In my experience, he was pleasant in person, although pretty well hidden. So - maybe scheduling snafus fall on him...jokes were ok and he seemed entertaining, but things were not quite the most well oiled machine.
Ports were nice.
St. Thomas is what it is - beautiful - but commercial. Short shopping day as it was a Sunday.
Dominica was nice - very poor and just had suffered heavy rains and mudslides, so some excursions were unavailable. We took a taxi found outside the port for $20 per person to the Emerald Pool and rain forest. It was a harrowing ride up the mountains with all the washed out roads. But the driver was proud of his home and we enjoyed the experience.
Grenada is a very poor island. But the citizens are very proud and not at all wallowing in it. They are very resourceful and thankful for the tourists. They have a beautiful island with much to see and taste (food grows all over the very fertile island). We took a Best of Nature tour with AE tours for $30 each - we traveled to see several sites including a beautiful falls, rain forest and rum factory.
Bonaire was missed by us - we were not feeling real well, so we walked the town a bit and got back on board to rest. But it looked pretty and none of the sales folks were pushy at all. We'd love to go back to see what we missed.
Aruba is beautiful! They call themselves One Happy Island. And it's very true. The desert portions of the island are gorgeous to see. We took a Princess tour that took us to the wreck of the Antilla, California Lighthouse, Natural Bridge, rock formations and wonderful discussion throughout the trek. This is a beautiful place we want to see again soon.
This trip was silky smooth. Very difficult to know it was hurricane season until the last night - we ran into a storm heading towards Florida and we had some mild bumpy ride heading home overnight, but I've survived MUCH worse. Kudos to the captain (who was never seen!) for a smooth trip.
OK - the philosophical view section is here:
We were fish out of the water for the most part. Younger cruisers that were not foreigners or honeymooners. However, we experienced some very unique things in this trip that other cruises have not shown us. Of course we ran into some miserable people that given foreign travelers and older folks bad stereotypes. Those I suffered as patiently as possible. But we met some beautiful people. Like for example the Air Force retiree that was an amazing human being that I later learned was suffering from Stage 4 cancer - living his life to its fullest with what he has left, sharing his zest for life with a big smile, and thanking us for keeping the cruise from being all gray! Or perhaps the Canadians that met early on and shared experiences, traded stories and had wonderful conversation throughout. The Brits we shared Pub Lunch with and then later an excursion. We learned much culture with their patient conversation, and humorous view of life. Or another couple of Canadians we ironically shared dinner with two evenings, with whom we discussed politics, religion and travel - with nary an argument to be found! And for good measure - I got to spend time with my grandfather from 15 years ago. He's now 90 - but a man much younger with all of his traits and personality allowed me to step back in time for a few meals because he reminded me of my grandfather! Or the NOrth Carolina mother also suffering from Hodgkins, but vowing to beat it and without a bitter bone in her body! These were the people that made our cruise - and a different approach to cruising and stepping from our norms to find a different way to vacation - and love the experience!
We ate less - and enjoyed more. We worried less about hitting all the activities - we watched more movies, slept in longer, went to bed earlier, laughed more, talked more, watched more, and let vacation happen rather than command it!
So - we are happy to be home - but it was hard to fly over the port and see the Emerald at the dock - without us on it. It was our longest cruise and certainly not where we belonged - but we found ways to enjoy it never the less - and while I was critical of some things, we relaxed and found ways to enjoy far more than we paid for!

Recommends Emerald Princess? Yes!

Cabin / Stateroom
Well laid out and functional
Food and Dining
Hit and miss - some exceptional - some yuck!
Some good stuff, some not so good - choose wisely!
Children's Programs
Not many kids on board, so that was not necessary
Service and Staff
All staff were happy, helpful, and friendly
Onboard Activities
Easy to get to machines and treadmills as necessary
Destinations and Excursions
Great port intensive itinerary

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