The waiters/waitresses were a variety of nationalities and unfortunately some had a poor command of the English Language. The evening meal was all display and no substance on most nights the vegetables were sliced green beans and carrots, they presumably make a good display. The main courses were pan seared (English translation fried) again the waiters had a poor command of the English Language and were in a rush to get us out of the restaurant we were never offered a complimentary after dinner coffee. There are no designated wine waiters so the two waiters had to serve meals clear tables and pour wine which could explain why we were never offered coffee.
The entertainment in the theatre comprised of 2 comedians on the first 3 nights, a hypnotist, a Freddie Mercury tribute Act (quite good), a female pianist whose CV included playing in residential care homes when not playing on board ship and Bernie Flint who won Opportunity Knocks in the 1970s (he was very good). The Theatre Company relied on Motown and Boogie for the theatre shows and did not include one west end show throughout the cruise.
A gratuity of 15% is added to all drinks orders and this resulted in the cost of a can of Strongbow and a bottle of Budweiser costing 14 dollars (£9.50 in real money).
Embarkation. An absolute breeze! Despite the fact that I didn't have a boarding pass-I refused to input my credit card details to enable me to print off my boarding pass at home. Princess say that this is "mandatory". I spoke to my travel agent and they told me that I didn't need a boarding pass. When I was asked for my pass, I told them I didn't have one. I was redirected to a secondary queue in which I was given a small form to fill out and told to go onto the main embarkation queues. The whole process was extremely well organised and within 20 minutes I was onboard.
NOTE: Princess, like every other cruise line, make a daily charge on your onboard account. Princess call this a "Hotel Charge". These charges will be between $10 and $15 PER PERSON,PER DAY INCLUDING CHILDREN! This money is distributed around all the staff as gratuities. For a family of four, based on a charge of $10 per person/day for a 10 day cruise, it will cost $400 (around £300) on top of your onboard spend. If you don't know about this it could come a quite a shock. The first thing you must do is go to the Guest Relations desk and ask to be removed from this charge. Princess cannot refuse to do this if a guest asks to be removed. You will then be free to tip as you see fit and not as Princess wants you to.
Princess wil encourage you to use your credit card for onboard purchases although all purchases will be via your keycard as cash is not accepted on board. I refuse to do this opting for a cash deposit so that I can keep to my own budget.
Cabins. My cabin was an oceanview which was a free upgrade from Princess. It does make a big difference as opposed to an inside cabin which I normally have due to the extra cost of travelling alone. The cabin felt light and airy and was well fitted out. John-my cabin steward- was extremely helpful.
Guests. These were predominately American with a small number of Brits. I didn't hear any other language apart from English. I would have expected a small amount of Spanish/European accents but this was not the case on this cruise.
Food. Excellent! I opted for the traditional dining at 8.15 pm. in the Botticelli dining room. I was on a table for 8 but after the first night, 2 of the guests disappeared. One of my table-Paul from Bournemouth-did bump into them later. They said that they had met some friends who they didn't know were onboard and had moved tables. I can't comment on this but they seemed a bit aloof and didn't want to know about other people. Two of the guests didn't even turn up so that left four of us. The other couple were Phil and Dale of Chicago. I was also disappointed that many of the tables around us and in the dining room in general were empty all the time. On one night I counted 10 empty tables just in my immediate area. Yet in the other two dining rooms-Da Vinci and MichealAngelo-which were for the "Anytime" dining-were full all the time. Considering that the menus are the same for all dining why book at table and not turn up? The exception was for the two formal nights then all the tables were full. Go figure! The menus were quite varied and included a very good vegetarian selection for the non-meat eaters. All of the food was of excellent quality but the general selection didn't flick my switch. The exception being the second formal night-Beef Wellington.
The Horizon Court/Cafe Caribe buffet didn't disappoint either. The breakfast menu didn't change much and was to the American taste. Hash browns, VERY crispy bacon, burgers, steaks, eggs benedict, muffins, cakes etc. but the lunch and evening meals changed every day. However, if you decide to go for a late breakfast say 9.30 to 11.00 be prepared for a very long wait. I had a few beers on one night and didn't get up till 9.30. I went to the Horizon Court and was confronted with queues that snaked right around the (self service) buffet and out into the seating area-which was aslo chock-a-block. The buffet has two sides and both were backed up. I had to wait till around 11.15 to even get a look-in at the buffet. I was so late the lunch service had started.
In the Wheelhouse Bar, they served a British "Pub Lunch" on two sea days. These were very popular indeed with lengthy queues for a table. The lunches included genuine British fish & chips, steak & kidney pies, ploughmans and a selection of meals found in a traditional British country pub.
There are several speciality restaurants including the Crown Grill (steak house), Sabatinis (Italian) and a few others. There is a small cover charge for these-usually around $15-$25 per head not including alcohol. I would recommend trying one of these. The food is prepared to order by the chefs actually in the restauarant so that you know that your meal is cooked to your taste.
Entertainment. I can't comment on this as I didn't go to a show. I am not a "show" person and I don't like musicals. But the general reports I received from those that did were very good. The rest of the trip included a Princess Cruises Talent Show, karaoke, trivia quizzes etc. There were also a couple of comedians, one of which was an "adults only" late night show which I was told was quite blue but very funny. All of the bars had some sort of band playing MOR music which was not intrusive. The Explorers bar was the most busy. The Skywalkers nightclub was not well attended. Initially say 11-12 pm. it was quite full but around 1.30 people satrted to drift off back to their cabins. On my last Princess cruise, the nightclub was nearly always full right up to 3 or 4 in the morning.
On the first formal night, the Captain started a champagne fountain. I wanted to video this but by the time I arrived, there were over 500 people (possibly more) in a very limited space. This made it very busy indeed and I eventually gave up trying. Princess needs to sort this out or move it to a venue were people can see properly.
Excursions. The excusions provided by Princess are very good indeed, very reasonably priced and can be booked online before you go-and you don't have to pay for them until you are onboard. The charges are added to your account. The trips cater for all tastes from certified deep-sea diving, general sightseeing, swimming with dolphins and even a submarine that dives down to 100 feet! I opted for sightseeing Princess Cays, eco-hike USVI, Trafalgar Waterfalls Dominica, Seven Sisters Waterfalls Grenada and an Ostrich Farm Aruba. I did my own thing in Bonaire.
NOTE: If you choose to do your own thing and explore the ports on your own and you miss the ship-TOUGH. The ship will not wait for you. The locals on the islands who offer tours when you get off the ship are NOT obliged to get you back in time, although they know when to get you back but it's up to you if you want to take the risk. We picked up a couple in Aruba who missed their own Princess ship around two weeks previous and were left to fend for themselves. If this happens to you, you are on your own, it's your fault and no recompense will be forthcoming from Princess or anybody else. In 7 cruises, this is the first time that I have known that we picked up stranded tourists.
There are a couple of flies in the ointment. On my excursion to the Trafalgar Waterfalls, the trail to the second of the falls is treacherous! The trail was littered with tree roots and rocks, was extremely steep, very slippery and you have to be very careful indeed. Some of my fellow travellers-senior citizens-had to be helped. I don't mind helping but Princess should have warned people that the trail was for the adventurous. Not only was the trail difficult we were at tree-top height, the guard rail was very flimsy and the trail was only a couple of feet wide in places. The trail almost resembled a rock face and even an experienced rambler would find it difficult. I dread to think what would happen if somebody fell-we couldn't see the forest floor. Not only was this dangerous, several other excursions turned up after us which meant up to 80 people going up and down the trail making passing very difficult.
On my trip to the Seven Sisters Falls in Grenada, we got to the visitors centre which was basically a wood hut with a lean-to shed nearby and the heavens opened. At this point I will concede that I am in the tropics and in a rain forest so rain will be expected. But not like this. This rain was of monsoon proportions and was bouncing off the floor to waist height. I estimate that around 2 inches of rain fell in about 3 hours. Our tour guide-Kendrick-went to one of the buses to put on some waterproof clothing. I spoke to him about the fact that I wasn't prepared to go on with the tour due to the weather. Six of my fellow travellers agreed with me and we stayed behind under the lean-to. Kendrick and I got into an argument in front of around 40 people with him saying I was "another Brit complaining about the weather". I replied with I was not prepared to carry on in monsoon rain getting soaking wet and told him to "p*** off with the rest of the tour". I would like to add that there was a sign at the entrance to the falls that said "enter at your own risk". Kendrick also told us that we would have to cross a river (there was no bridge) and when we got to the falls it could be "a little muddy". I later learnt that "a little muddy" meant ankle deep mud and the river had to be crossed by stepping stones. After a couple of hours the tour returned with several of the people stripping off down to their undies (both male and female) due to the fact they were soaking wet. I'm glad I didn't go and in my opinion this tour should have been cancelled due to the extreme weather. I have spoken to my travel agents and they have advised me to put my concerns in writing to them and they will forward my views to Princess.
Disembarkation. Again, extremely well organised. I opted for a trip to the Dolphin Mall shopping centre as my flight was not until 5.20pm. (I was off the ship around 9am). We had three or four hours in the centre which was very clean and I am told one of the safest in Miami. We were then taken directly to Miami Airport for our flight home.
In conclusion: a very good cruise-Princess know what they are doing, very clean ship, great staff and very relaxing. I would recommend Princess to the first-time and seasoned cruiser!
Travel operator: Bolsover Cruise Club
The buffet was excellent - huge choice, so clean, each buffet area was shut down and cleaned during the day. Staff were extremely polite and helpful, and the buffet area was cleared speedily so no piles of dirty crockerty left lying about. We enjoyed the freedom dining which meant we could eat when we felt like it, and at a table size of our choice. It really works brilliantly. At peak times you are given a bleeper and can go and sit and have a drink while you wait, but we never waited longer than 20 mins. Food was superb, the best we have found. Good choice, beautiful desserts etc. Both quality and quantity could not be faulted - and we are fussy as we have been on so many ships and it is difficult not to compare.
Ships staff were excellent, polite and helpful.
Ship's entertainment was good. Some brilliant comedians and the late night shows were particularly entertaining.
We would definitely sail on Emerald Princess again.
Travel operator: Princess
Travel operator: coop travel
we could'nt beleive the size of the ship when we seen it first, it is overwhelming a stunning looking cruise ship amazing inside felt like a big resort with shops and casino it was extra special because it was decorated for christmas, we boarded in miami after an over night stay in the miami intercontanintal which was also fab. our cruise was for 10 nights first stop antigua then st lucia,st kitts,barbados,st thomas then last stop princess cays. If you like jewellery you won't be disappointed best place to by st thomas.
the staff on board where lovely all nationality's, so friendly nothing was to much trouble,the first night on the ship our cabin steward knocked to ask if we wanted bath robes, no extra charge, the room we had was on baja deck, which was a high floor,it had a fridge which was handy to keep cold drinks in with ice bucket filled every day,we had a balcony which did cost a bit more but if you like to sit out with a drink it's ideal, we had breakfast on the balcony most mornings, no extra charge you order what you want the night before and the time you want it delivered and hang order outside the cabin door,
we decided on anytime dining which i thought was great as you are not tied to any time schedules and the restraunts where excellent best food i have ever tasted, you are sure to put on at least half a stone, there are a couple of special places to eat, we only booked to eat in the crown grill for our anniversary, extra charge of $25 well worth it,they even brought us a little cake with happy anniversary on it and three members of staff sang to us, we had balloons outside our cabin also.
the drinks are not included on the ship you are given cards for any charges you need to pay for and this is billed to your room which you can pay at the end off the holiday,the ship is a money free inviroment prices are not expensive a cocktail was about £3, there was a deal on board for soft drinks as much as you can drink the whole trip for £20 good deal as it is £1 a drink. If you like a drink with your dinner you can buy a bottle of wine and if you do not drink it all they will keep it for you until your next meal you just tell them you have wine and they fetch it for you.
so many things to on board not enough time to do it all, there was art auctions,dance classes,bingo, games by the pool on the days at sea,library,films on the outside cinema day and night, gym, spa loads of others, entertainment was great either shows in the theatre very professional, dancing with like caberet some audience participation, live bands either caribbean music,rock, brass a very big assortment also a disco, something to suit everybody.
just one note of caution they will automatically add tips to your account which is about 100 dollars each unless you go to reception and tell them you would like to pay tips at your own discretion, you can sign a form then you will not be charged.
can't wait to go again think we will go for longer next time. best holiday we have ever had.
Travel operator: going places
The ship was amazing to look at and amazing on board. Very clean, food good with plenty of variety. Two restaurnts if you wanted to pay extra, Crown Grill. There was also an Italian one next to the cocktail bar - in this one if you had the starters you had about l5 difference dishes - a little of each one. Staff could not do enough for you. Plenty on board to keep you occupied if you did not want to leave the ship at each port.
Trips out were also mostly well planned and thought out.
Weather could have been better though, experienced some gale force winds which for me spoilt the cruise -had a May Day in the early hours of the morning and had to go and rescue five people of a small yacht - not the ships fault of course.
Hope to cruise again with Princess cruises.
Travel operator: emerald princess
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