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Warren Steffey

Age: 66

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 10

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Emerald Princess

Sailing Date: 2011-01-7

Itinerary: souther Carribean

Very similar to the Ruby Princess last year. Service was a little better, food maybe not quite as good, entertainment unfortunately no better. Still a very good cruise line if you have reasonable expectations.

One needs to consider dinner and buffet food differently. We do not expect 5 star dinners on any reasonably priced cruise line, and I don't think anyone should, especially experienced cruisers. At a dinner table of 6, two would have an excellent meal, three would rate theirs very good, and one would express disappointment. A suggestion or two for dinners. One, if you have a favorite food, steak for example, and the best steakhouse in town greats you by name, do not order steak on a cruise. You will surely be disappointed. If your mother makes the best Fettucini (I know i spelled that wrong) Alfredo in the world, do not order it on a cruise. Get the picture? Try things you do not normally get at home. Two, do not hesitate to tell your server if you are unhappy with the meal. They will try very hard to make it right.

Buffet food was excellent. Perhaps it is because they prepare it in smaller batches, or have a little more time, or you can just pass on anything that does not look appealing. We did not use either of the premium resturants, but found the poolside grill fine, and the pizza OK.

Princess has not changed stateroom design or decoration since the Grand Princess over ten years ago, so we got exactly what we expected. The room was spotless, and the steward perfect. We had a standard balcony stateroom, so it was small but functional and comfortable. The bed was fine, the television service, not so much, but we don't cruise for the TV service.

Non-existing to minimal. We ignored the art auction, which seems to go on forever, and visited the shops only to wonder at the high prices. Princess has entertainment in the Piazza, but the best act was the hula-hoop girl. We did attend one production show in the Princess theater. The effects were excellent, but these shows now use canned music and lip syncing. More of a dancing show instead of a musical show. Disappointing, and we were glad we didn't attend any more. Think cheap, cheaper and cheapest for all the other musical presentations. Most groups consisted of a drummer, one guitar and one multipurpose keyboard. Most couldn't get a gig playing for a wedding. The comedians were funny. Where's Burt? (inside joke) We skipped Princess pop-stars, line dancing lessons and DJ entertainment. At sea courses were good introductions to various things, but very basic unless you paid an extra fee. Be prepared to entertain yourself.

Some popular excursions with specific activities such as zip-lining sell out, so you can only get them through the cruise. You can arrange your own tours at dockside, but these usually mean nothing more interesting than a bus or taxi drive around the island. We had specific activities we wanted to try, so we booked through ship in every port but St Thomas.

We arrived at the ship at 2:30 and were wisked on board the ship a fast as we could walk, or in the case of my mother in law, as fast as she could be pushed. Even a missing boarding pass did not slow things down. We were in our cabin by 3:00, and our bags were delivered sometime during the lifeboat drills. At first we tried reservations for anytime dining, but soon found they were not necessary. Never a wait at 6:00, but we did observe short lines for later arrivals. For some reason the ship seemed less packed than before. We were able to get poolside chairs and good tables for lunch each day, and the buffets were less taxing, even with the infamous Princess buffet traffic patterns. My wife and I are early risers, so running out of things to do and see by 10:00 at night was OK. We did spend some time giggling at what must be the worst "art" we have ever seen. Also notably less annoying were the photographers. A simple "no thank you" was all it took to send them on their way.

Princess has a policy that allows you to buy one bottle of wine ashore to enjoy in you cabin, but confiscates the harder stuff until the last day. At one port, I placed two bottle of rums in a backpack for easier transport. The bag was x-rayed, but nothing about the bottles was said and we just walked them past the confiscator. It seems as if the rule was not well enforced.

Disembarkation would have been smooth except for some new port workrules. It seems that Princess wheelchair pushers must leave their charges at the top of the elevator to baggage claim. Port pushers are supposed to take over for the rest of the process. My wife and I took the escalator down, claimed our bags, engaged a porter and went looking for my mother in law. I finally found her at the top of the elevator waiting, along with 12 other wheelchairs, for the port pushers to arrive. A flustered Princess employee was trying to follow procedures but couldn't find any port pushers. Finally she said "Maybe my radio isn't working, I'll go find my supervisor. If you are not here when I come back I'll assume something worked out". As soon as she was out of site there was a flood of wheelchairs pouring from the elevator, with family members as pushers.

By far, the most rude people we met on the entire trip were the Customs "Officials" at Ft Lauderdale. The one we had responded to a cheerful "good morning" with a "what's good about it" Well, you have a probably overpaid Federal job, with excellent benefits, no physical risk (like a cop), no accountability, a part-time work schedule, and, unlike the porter next to you tossing around 60 lb suitcases, dragging a hand cart with 4 or 5 60 lb suitcases working for minimum wage plus tips, no physical effort. And by the way, our Customs Official would not extend himself to reach for my mother in law's passport, which she was holding out from her wheelchair. He waited until she stood up out of the wheelchair and placed it in his hand.

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