I Finally got to jot down a few notes from out last Emerald Princess cruise from May. We were gone for 2- 7 day trips B2B since we find the 7 day trip to be much to short. I won't bore anyone with the usually details of how great everything was but just point out a few highlights of our trip experiences. The dining room was open on embarkation days for everyone but we didn't have the opportunity or ambition to use it since the food in the Horizon is plenty good & we can't see wasting an hours time for lunch. We check with the Maitre D' the first day to get a permanent table assignment & dining time for the whole trip- no problem. We had a table for 2 in the AT dining room at 5:30PM. The few nights we didn't eat there I let them know in advance to free up the table & they were more than grateful for the heads up.
We found the food in general to be just as good as most of the other Princess ships. Possible the Ruby as I recall was slightly better but not by much. We always found something interesting either in the dining room or buffet. I recall only 1 meal that wasn't that great- sliced port at dinner time. Very tough but not worth complaining about.
The buffet (both Horizon & Cafe Carib had decent selections & most items were prepared well. On previous cruises I usually avoid any Princess pies but the pastry chief on the Emerald must have found out how to mass produce them because almost everyone was very good. (Compared to the Ruby, Crown, Grand & Island on which they were always overdone).
The sail-away seafood buffet is a thing of the past on the Emerald. The first week they had scallops, shrimp & mussels but NO lobster. The second week the only had shrimp. From what I've read on CC it was only a trial to lure people from the dining room & was to expensive to continue. We did get lobster (small with 2 large shrimp each week) which were done properly.
We had to change rooms during the trip on turn around day & only had to pack the loose items into our suitcase. The hanging things were moved by the steward & myself to the other side of the ship as soon as the other cabin was vacated. We did have the sane steward which made it a lot easier but they were well aware of the change & spelled out the procedure in a letter.
As is typical for in transit pax, you have to go through customs & re-board the ship but 1 thing I found strange is they didn't want you to remove any luggage during the procedure even if it were an item you wanted to put in your parked car.
We had a balcony for both weeks & found that the usual smoke problems associated with a balcony wasn't to bad. In the past they allowed smokers to light up in portions of different lounges but it appears to have been stopped & other than the casino & Terrace pool the smell was hardly noticeable even passing by the smoking section by the main pool. There was one place that the smoke really did annoy me & it was in the main show lounge in the lower section. There are entrances to the lounge from decks 6 & 7 & they leave the doors open from deck 6 during the show. Since the casino is located down the hall on deck 6, the smoke is sucked into the show lounge from both sides & fills the whole lower section. It was so disgusting we had to change seats one evening & luckily we got reseated. Don't sit in the lower section if you're not tolerant of smoke. One side of the ship even has the cigar lounge which makes it even worse so the only solution is to sit back at least half way on the show lounge. This is a problem that could be corrected so easily by simply keeping the doors closed on deck 6.
The production shows are the same ones that have been running for the past 4 years so nothing new to report there except the dancers seems better than on the Grand & Crown.
Ice Cream (soft serve) was available up till midnight but the quality didn't seem as good as on the Grand or Ruby. They had the mix adjusted somewhat askew & it was just bland & nothing special so I resorted to going to the dining room after the buffet at lunch to have ice cream only.
Leaving on the last day was quick as usual with the self disembarkation starting at around 7:15 AM We waited in the Fusion lounge with the Elites until they threw up off at around 10:30.
The crowd on the ship this time of year was much younger than we are used to. Our cruises are typically Oct to late Feb & hardly ever in May. The avg age must have been around 50 or so while a previous trip in Feb on the Grand it was over 65. It was refreshing to see more of a mix of ages than all older people. There were 65 kids one week & 67 another. They kept them so busy you'd hardly know they were on the ship.
We were invited to the Captains over lunch both weeks & it was held in Sabatini's on Saturday. Great food each time. I recall the cutoff was around 157 days to be eligible as there were many, many first time cruisers on each week. Even the platinum cruisers had a chance of being invited which we haven't found true on past cruises.
I also found that the enforcement of the suggested dress code is much more relaxed on the Emerald. It could have also been the time of year or younger crowd on board but the minimum acceptable dress in the dining room was dress pants & dress slacks. It was a pleasure not to have to carry along the full suit & still enjoy the better selections on formal evenings. I checked over the photo board of the other dining rooms & it was evident that many of the guys just wear something a simple as a short sleeve dress shirt without the jacket or tie. I was talking to my waiter walking to Publix on the turn around day & he was telling me the only thing they look for is a dress shirt of some sort. They did inform people that they don't want any towels in the dining room at lunch & let them leave them on a table or pack them in a beach bag. Strange because there was nothing said about wearing a bathing suit in the dining room for lunch- just no towels.
Here's something I just found out- The comment cards that were once distributed in the cabins just prior to disembarkation are a thing of the past. I didn't receive one in the cabin & I inquired at the desk to find out that they send a survey out online. That's a great idea BUT they're not sent to everyone AND you can't request on if they don't send it AND there's no place on the online form to let them know about something they should correct. It appears that Princess doesn't care to hear any negative comment from their pax and unless you among the selected few who do receive the form you're opinion isn't of much concern any longer. Weird. I guess they figure they're reached perfection & comments are no longer of much use since everything is always exceptional.
I almost forgot...One evening they did have crab claws in the Cafe Carib. They looked great & I took a plate full of them only to find that they were almost impossible to open aside from beating them on the table with a knife handle. My wife let the roving waiter know that I needed a cracker & he came over to crack my claws for me as I sat there eating them. He had no intention of leaving the cracker so I could crack my own & I didn't want him to stand there cracking each individual one as I ate it so I gave up & ate something else. Another weird experience. I'm not use to having a personal attendant to feed me morsels of food.
I keep thinking of more items to post. They had a special going on aboard the ship in which they doubled the future cabin credit if you booked certain trips before leafing the ship. So instead of just buying future cruise credits as we normally do I went for the double cabin credit and booked the trips since it fit our schedule & their prices were even better than my TA had posted online. Various ships were listed, Emerald, Grand, Crown, Island, Sun....mostly in the fall & none for next year.