We just got back from the Emerald two days ago
We had a wonderful time. Yes, there were lots of kids, but since we brought a 15 year old and an 18 year old I can't complain. For us the many kids helped. Our 15 year old said it was the best cruise ever for him (#4).
I really liked the fact that there are a few programs specifically for the 18-20 cruiser (at least at Christmas) as I was concerned about how our older son would meet friends without the teen programs.
We had great success in the dining room. We chose fixed seating and had wonderful wait staff who got to know us. I wonder if some of the less successful meals came from the open seating, the staff don't have the same incentive?
My boys and I were less thrilled with the buffet (my husband disagreed with us)and found it less satisfying than RCI and Celebrity. Not enough variety and too many stew like dishes (felt like left overs). I never starved though! I never quite sorted out the difference between Caribe and Horizon.
Shows were fine, but I don't try to go to one every day so I was satisfied.
Smoking was not an issue on this cruise (except one cigar which drove me from a deck chair). I even noticed they had one non smoking casino night. I guess that is one of those things that will vary from cruise to cruise.
The staff on Princess (this princess) were superb. Knowledgable, friendly and outgoing. No complaints at all about the staff.
I would go back on the Emerald, and indeed, I am, next New Years!