I was fortunate to sail on the Emerald on the third cruise she made which was in the Med in 2007 so my experiences were alot earlier than yours.
I was really impressed during my week on the Emerald and found the Horizon Court to have decent food, and a pleasant place to stop for something to eat.Sometimes one side of the Horizon was closed but one could always find a table.That said I had all of my evening meals in the dining room with anytime casual dining.Again provided you were happy to be put on a table with others there was always a table available.
As a non smoker I also had concerns about whether my enjoyment would be spoilt by excessive smoke but on the cruise I was on it was barely noticable and just once it was slightly annoying in a shared lounge but for the most part the smokers were invisible.Maybe I was fortunate on my cruise.
I thought there were some exotic teas offered on my cruise maybe things have changed or you were expecting a greater variety.
I can't comment on the size of the seats as I found them ok but for the popular shows yes you do have to get there about 20mins beforehand if you want a seat.
Regarding the trivial comment...well I have to say that on most cruises I've been on they are extreemly tight with the prizes they give out.It's not just princess.
Regarding the food ... didn't know about the specials ( I was on anytime ) & didn't think to ask but I found the quality, preparation and service was very good.Maybe that was because the cruise I was on was also the naming ceromony cruise but I'd prefer to think it was the normal princess high standard.
I had icecream a couple of times in the dining room and it seemed normal enough to me.
My cruise on the Emerald was a delight and certainly gives me a warm glow when I think of princess but I realise everyone has different experiences even on the same cruise and can see things in a different way.