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Age: 40s

Occupation:Travel Agent

Number of Cruises: 45

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Emerald Princess

Sailing Date: 04-19-2009

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

Emerald Princess April 19-29, 2009

We started off our trip at the Renaissance Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale on 17th street the night before our cruise. You can see the ships from this hotel; just ask for the view when you check in. We did, and it was great. There is a Walgreens, as well as other shops and restaurants, within walking distance of this hotel.

Onboard the Emerald Princess we had cabin B752. This cabin is a category BB, full AFT view balcony cabin. We were instantly in love with this cabin! The view was fantastic, the sides of the balcony were private, and they blocked the wind. There is also a full roof covering this balcony. By late afternoon each day around 4:00pm the sun was low enough to be on the balcony and it was perfect. We could enjoy it during the day without worry of sunburn, and then get some sun, late in the day. We enjoyed both sunrises and sunset from the balcony many times during our 10-day cruise.

The cabin had plenty of storage. The room also had a mini fridge. We asked the steward to take away the sodas and we stocked it with our own. A couple of 2 liters that we picked up in Ft. Lauderdale fit in perfectly, as well as a couple of 1-liter water bottles. This always works out great since there is always ice and glasses in the cabin. There is a flat screen TV with remote. We bring our own Mp3 players and speaker set up to listen to music.

We also brought our laptop for the first time on a cruise. We were able to get a wireless connection in the cabin. Princess has you sign into their site and then you buy a package for however many minutes you plan to use. Since we are platinum past passengers we each received 250 free minutes to start and ended up buying one additional package of 250 minutes for $100.00. It is pretty costly, but it kept us in touch for 10 days. I also liked having the laptop to upload our pictures from our camera each day. The speed and connection was pretty good most days.

A lot of questions always seem to come up regarding the food options on the ship. Let me say, we tried them ALL! I figured it is my duty to report back you all, clients and cruise critic friends, so I tried them all.

We made sure to walk the promenade deck for exercise, and walked around in all the ports to try to defer all the eating….lol.

First a word about breakfast, after reading in advance about the International cafe, I knew it was for me! I purchased the coffee card on the first day for $24 plus 15% gratuity. With the card you get 15 punches for specialty coffee, either hot or cold, in a small or large size and you can have it there or to go. With the purchase of a coffee card, the regular brewed coffee, and the hot chocolate are free and unlimited as long as you have at least one punch left on your card and will not cost you a punch.

The International cafe had fresh baked croissants and donuts and varies pastries each morning. The chocolate, almond croissant was the best! There is no charge for the pastries. In the afternoon, this spot has Greek salad, and shrimp salad, and tuna and sub sandwiches. Again, no charge. This area does also have a few treats that you can pay for. Chocolate strawberries are $1.00 each, a chocolate fondue set up is $5.00 and they have tapas in the evening for a few dollars each. They also offer out of the world gelato for $1.50 for three scoops!
It is easy to miss this spot, because most people just head up the buffet or dining room for breakfast, so it was never crowded. It is located on the main floor of the atrium by the piano player. Deck 5.

We had the anytime dining, so we had the flexibility to eat wherever, whenever we wanted. We had dinner in the main dining room 3 times during our cruise, we ate in Sabitinis, the Italian specialty restaurant one night ($20 p/p) and in the Crown Grill one night ($25p/p) and the rest of the nights we had dinner in the Caribe Grill buffet restaurant.

The Crown Grill was probably our favorite choice. The room is incredible, large leather booths, or nice tables for larger groups. The menu was incredible. The French onion soup is not to be missed and filet minion was oh so tender. They also bring several side dishes served family style. The dessert sampler with the molten chocolate cake is to die for!!!
I have a copy of the full menu if anyone has questions about the rest of the choices in this restaurant.

Sabitinis, the Italian restaurant, was also a beautiful setting on the 17th floor of the ship at the back. We enjoyed dinner in there with some new friends and had a stunning view of the sunset!

I had read in advance to be sure to check out the "pub lunch" in the Wheelhouse bar on sea days, it did not disappoint. There is no charge for this, just show up and be seated. The fish and chips were terrific! They also had some other pub favorites like Shepard’s pie and bangers and mash!

A word about the Caribe buffet at dinner, they had plenty of choices, and on a few nights, they were carving a turkey, which we really enjoyed.

During the day we had lunch anywhere from the Horizon buffet to the grill by the pool, to the pizza place.

Just so you don't think all we did was eat - we also went to the movies under the stars or MUTS. We saw Mama Mia! It was a lot of fun and like being at a drive in at night. The chairs are padded and they have free popcorn and cookies.
Princess also shows movies in the main theater and we saw Frost/Nixon in the theater. They also show movies in the room and we saw Doubt.

This ship has a large casino with all the games. I did notice that one of the nights they did have a non-smoking night, which I was glad to see. There was also bingo, horse racing, and art auctions. They had the regular port and shopping talks and on our sailing we had a special guest lecturer series of talks put on by "Pharmacist Phil." We thought he was both entertaining and informative on the ports of call. He talked about the history of the islands and then some of the things that are native to the islands. Hopefully we will see him again on a future cruise.

Ports of Call:

Aruba: In Aruba we took a taxi over to the Radisson Hotel. It cost us $15.00 one way. After we got to the hotel and met up with some of our cruise critic friends, they told us to take the bus back to the port for $1.50 each! The bus was a van that stops right out in front of the hotel at the bus stop and worked out perfectly! They said there was a bus (van) stop by the pier, but we did not know to look for it so I am not sure where it was.

The Radisson was a great choice for a day at the beach in Aruba. When we got to the hotel we told them we were interested in a day pass. They charged us $16 per person and gave us armbands and told us to go to the towel hut. The towel hut gave us towels and assigned us each a chair on the beach. There was also plenty of shade available at the beach if you desired it. We were also able to enjoy the two pools at the hotel. They rented floats for $5.00 that you could take in the beach or the pool. They also had lots of other water sports available for purchase at the hotel.

Bonaire: In Bonaire we decided to go on the Woodwind snorkel boat. It was $50.00 per person and they met us just outside the gates of the pier. The ship does not stay in Bonaire for very many hours, so our guide told us we could walk to town to shop a bit if we wanted and then be back by 9a to walk over to the boat. This worked out great since we did not have anytime for shopping when we returned. The snorkel trip was well organized and they spilt the group of 25 into 2 groups. One for experienced and one for those who where first starting out or need more assistance. They went to two different spots and then served lunch and drinks aboard the boat.

I would recommend that if you are going to Grenada that you pick a tour from the ship. We did not, and thought we would just walk around the shopping etc. Well, the natives are pretty restless in Grenada and they never stop hassling you to take a tour with them either by car or walking. I am a pretty experienced traveler and had not been to this island before, so I did not know what to expect. We could not shake the guys that follow you around, so I decided we should just go with it because he seemed to be able to shake off everyone else that was trying to get us to go with them. It turned out he walked us to the best places in the market for shopping and then walked with us up to the fortress that is near the pier and showed us around a bit. We did tip him, as it turned out around $15 a person.

That night was the Caribbean deck party aboard the ship and we had a great time listening to the music and watching the dancing and games.

Dominica: In Dominica we did not plan a tour in advance. It was raining when we arrived and there were amazing rainbows in the sky for the sail in and for the sail away! We took our time getting off the ship and then just walked around the shopping in the pier area.

St. Thomas: We have been to St. Thomas before and had decided we were going to go shopping. The Emerald Princess came into Crown Bay in St. Thomas and there were shuttles that ran into town for $4.00 per person each way.

Princess Cays:
We enjoyed our day in Princess Cays. Once on the island there were plenty of chairs and shade. The cruise line reminds you to take your cruise card, but forgets to tell you to take any money; there is a local craft market on the island that takes cash. The buffet lunch on the island is free and there are many bars if you want a drink. The beach was nice and the water was a little cool. I was very glad I had brought and worn my aqua shoes as it there were a lot of rocks going into the water.

The spa area has a lot going on. I did take a tour and saw the spa pool, the thermo area, the salon and treatment areas. I also took a tour of the Sanctuary area. All looked great!

It was very relaxing in the Caribbean, the weather was great, and after 7 days, I was really glad there were 3 more to go! If you have any questions about this ship or any other, or need help planning your cruise, please email me.
Bon Voyage!

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