May 9-16, 2010
by Mary & Vincent Finelli
On Mother's Day, we set off on the Emerald Princess, the sister ship
of Ruby and Crown Princess. These jewels of the Princess Fleet are
all built in Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani Stabilimento di
Monfalcone, Italy. The Emerald is hull number 6131, launched in
2007, as the bronze plaque on Promenade Deck 7 portside states. Her
name is beautifully emphasized by the emerald green and gold Tiffany
inspired ceiling of the Atrium Piazza. After sailing on the Ruby
Princess last year and the Star Princess last month, we looked
forward to this cruise and returning to Princess and its terrific
food and service.
Maitre d' Nicola Furlan was on board and we anticipated a great
cruise, which we always do, since a positive attitude seems to
produce happy results. Great expectations usually result in great
Traffic on I-95 on Sunday is light and we arrived at
Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale at 11:45am, and were quickly through
security. On the pier, we checked our luggage and immediately inside
the door was wheelchair assistance. After filling in a short medical
form, we went directly to check-in. This procedure only took five
minutes, since Vincent does pre check-in by computer. Thus, we were
in our stateroom C303 in less than 15 minutes (curb to cabin).
The Emerald Princess is a cookie cutter duplicate of
the Ruby Princess, which we described on this site in 2009. However,
certain facts deserve repetition: the Emerald is 113,000 tons; 952
ft. long; 159 ft in the beam which includes the bridge wings. By the
way these overhangs give the ship a hammerhead shark silhouette when
seen from her prow in port. Her height is 195 ft. and she has 19
decks. The rear spoiler holds the Skywalkers Nightclub. There are
1,539 cabins with 80% having balconies. There are 25 wheelchair
accessible cabins (16 balconied, 4 ocean view, and 5 inside). Alas
none with automatic door openers. Passenger capacity is 3,080 and
this cruise there were 3,200; Crew numbers 1,200--a very nice
passenger to crew ratio.
Decks 1,2,3 and Gala deck 4 are reserved for ship's crew, except the
Medical Center which is located on deck 4, fortunately we did not
Plaza deck 5 forward has cabins and a laundromat. Midship is the
Atrium Plaza with a circular mosaic floor and music stand, where
Monika (Poland) played an excellent repertoire on the white Grand
Piano; and, John Kingsley a young guitarist pleased all with his
unique riffs. The International Cafe is located here serving
terrific espresso, pastries, tea sandwiches and freshly baked
cookies--try the oatmeal ones. Vines, the wine and cheese bar, is
also here and close by there are the Escapes Travel desk, Future
Cruise Sales and the Internet Cafe. Here are also the Michelangelo
Dining Room and the Art Gallery.
Fiesta deck 6 has the boutique shops, the Gatsby Casino & Speakeasy
Cigar Lounge. Midship is the Da Vinci Dining Room and all the way
aft is the Botticelli Dining Room. The Dining Room murals are lovely
including one of Bacchus with his grapes in the Da Vinci. On deck 6
forward are the Conference Center and the Princess Theatre, which is
the height of simplicity, with unobstructed view from any seat.
Promenade deck 7 forward there is the Balcony of the Princess
Theatre with the last three rows reserved for the handicapped.
Midship are the Wheelhouse Bar, the Library, the Crooner's Bar and
the Promenade Galleria. Toward aft are the Crown Grill (a specialty
restaurant), the Explorers' Lounge and Club Fusion.
Emerald deck 8, Dolphin deck 9, Caribe deck 10, Baja deck 11, Aloha
deck 12, and Riviera deck 14 are all cabins with a laundromat on
each deck. Laundry services are so reasonable that we do not use the
laundromats; however, perhaps those with children and a lot of
laundry would find the laundromat faster and less expensive.
Lido deck 15 has many passenger venues--forward there are cabins
then midship are the Mermaids Tail Bar (nice mosaics here),
theTrident Grill, Neptune's Reef pool and hot tubs; toward aft are
the Ice Cream Bar and the Pizza area, and the Calypso Reef pool and
hot tubs. Aft are the Horizon Court Buffet and the Terrace, and
Outrigger & Cafe Caribe.
Sun deck 16 has the Movies Under the Stars, a giant outdoor screen
showing sports events (the first evening Red Sox vs NY Yankees),
concert videos, and movies (one evening Avatar was shown, with
complimentary popcorn and fresh cookies served). Many watched from
lounge chairs with lap robes. Aft is Sabatini (the other specialty
restaurant) and Adagio (an Italian Aperitif Bar). Forward are the
Lotus Spa & pool, the Fitness Center and the Wedding Chapel.
Sports deck 17 forward is the Sanctuary (cover charge for quiet
private sunning). Aft is the Youth Complex with Chill Out, Fun Zone,
Off Limits, and the Video Arcade.
Sky deck 18 and Star deck 19 have Skywalkers Nightclub, the Princess
Cybergolf, the Jogging Track and Center Court.
On the Emerald Princess there are three sets of lifts (elevators)
one set forward, one midship and one aft. She is well kept and
elegant in every way. This ship has a nice lay out and easy access
to all areas. There is even an Oxford Dipper to assist the
handicapped in and out of pools. Excellent!
Cabin C303 is wheelchair accessible with beige
walls, walnut wood trim and blue and white carpeting. When entering
on the right is the large bathroom with a 4'x4' shower and a double
wide folding shower seat. There are safety rails all around, one
small sink and small shelves for amenities. The only improvement we
could see is that the commode could be higher for
handicapped. Then, there is a king-size bed flanked by two long
bureaus, each with a shelf, four drawers and a reading lamp.
When entering on the left there is a parking space for the
wheelchair, a triple armoire with one section of shelves and a
personal safe, and two sections for hanging clothes. Next, there is
the TV, refrigerator and a long desk/vanity with lighted mirror, a
desk chair, an upholstered barrel chair and a small glass top table.
The far wall is all glassed with matching sheers and draperies,
facing the double deep balcony on which are 4 chairs, a table and a
chaise for Vincent's stargazing: During the early evening hours on
this cruise Venus could be seen in the western sky as the most
brilliant object in a moonless night. Beautiful! Our steward was
Jonathan and he was both polite and very efficient.
FOOD & SERVICE
Our expectations from Princess Cruises are high and
we are happy to report that they were met. Service comes down from
the top and Captain Marco Fortezze runs a tight ship especially
keeping to the schedule. He also throws a very nice cocktail party
where he graciously and patiently greets every passenger and poses
for photos. A product of Genoa, Italy; he has the sea in his blood.
Hotel General Manager Graham Kelly is quite friendly and
accommodating. The dining facilities are overseen by Maitre d'
Nicola Furlan, who welcomed us back with open arms. This elegant man
gave us beautiful Table # 433 located in a quiet corner by the
window in the Da Vinci dining room: marvelous! Nicola also
recommended us to Head Waiter Francesco Memeo who greeted us every
evening and made sure that everything was just perfect. Thank you,
Francesco! Our excellent waiter was Stefan Radojikovic and his
assistant Aldritz (Speedy) Adriano who has a memory like an
elephant: on Monday at lunch he remembered our table number, and
Vincent's preferred wine after only seeing us once.
Our meals were nicely served and courses were evenly paced. The
menus are standardized across the Princess line--the Corporate
Head Chef Commendatore Marzi has done a fabulous job of providing
variety. This was the first time for us that the executive chef on
board was not Italian--Christophe Belin from France put a
delightful twist on the soups, while simultaneously producing
exquisite Italian favorites such as the following: Fettuccini
Alfredo, Ossobuco, vitello tonnato, etc. However, we were
disappointed in the pizza served on the Lido Deck 15, it was too
hard and dry: Princess Executive Chef Antonio Cereda (now on the
Caribbean Princess) closely watched both how the dough was prepared
and the toppings, thus producing some of the best pizza afloat. This
time the pizza left something to be desired. The salads were great,
and so were the desserts and the fresh hot crunchy rolls and breads!
We used the Bell Box (Room Service) for Continental Breakfast and it
was always prompt. One morning we had the special Champagne
Breakfast in our stateroom: Quiche Lorraine, bacon, smoked salmon
with cream cheese, onions and tomatoes on brioche, juice, coffee,
hot chocolate and a carved cantaloupe filled with wild berries and
whipped cream, a basket of delicate breads and Danish pastries and
the grand finale was a small bottle of Champagne from Epernay,
France. What a way to start the day.
At lunch Head Waiter Francesco Di Tullio was so kind and always
helpful. We especially enjoyed fried calamari with marinara sauce.
Needless to say the food was something to write home about.
Cruise Director Tim Donovan has a lively group and
he is quite funny himself. The Emerald Singers and Dancers are peppy
and they have a nice production show Motor City a tribute to Motown
Music. The Comedy Club featured the hilarious Kevin Hughes and his
“relationship humor.” There were classical concerts with the Polonia
String Quartet and even London Pub Night. There are Bingo, Culinary
Demonstrations with Maitre d' Nicola and Chef Christophe, Trivia,
Dances, Gatsby's Casino Texas Hold'em Tournaments, and movies just
about everywhere on board. In other words there is just about
something for everyone.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale Sail Away 4:30pm
Day 2. Princess Cays Arrive 9:00am Depart 3:45pm
Day 3. At sea
Day 4. Ochos Rios, Jamaica Arrive 7:00am Depart 3:30pm
Day 5. Grand Cayman (tendering) Arrive 7:00am Depart 3:15pm
Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 9:00am Depart 6:30pm
Best shopping for T-shirts, Embroidered dresses and perfumes.
Day 7. At sea
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 7:00am Debarkation Begins.
This was one of our simplest landings. We had a
complete delicious breakfast in the Da Vinci Restaurant at 7:00am.
We then went back to our stateroom, collected our hand luggage and
went down to the Gatsbys Casino on Deck 6, where there was
wheelchair assistance. Our color brown had already been called, so
we went to baggage pick up and were through passport check and off
by 9:00am Simple and easy.
This was our thirteenth cruise on Princess ships and
nice one; two more cruises will make us Elite members of the
Captain's Circle (the “frequent floaters” of Princess). Now we are
Platinum members with some benefits such as Vacation Protection
(travel insurance) upgrade, complimentary Internet package,
Preferred Check-In and Debarkation, special robe in the cabin, etc.
With the Elite membership we will have additional benefits such as
complimentary laundry and professional cleaning services, shoe
polishing, complimentary Mini Bar set up in the cabin, deluxe
canapes selections and upgraded bathroom amenities. We look forward
to our next cruise on Princess which will be in November on the
We have also booked our next three cruises: Celebrity Solstice on
Aug. 1st, Liberty of the Seas on Sept. 5th and Norwegian Epic on
Oct. 2nd. Happy Cruising!
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