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New Year 2009 Cruise

"Our ten day New Year cruise on the Emerald Princess, Dec 30, 2008 to Jan 9, 2009"

Overall Rating: Good


Sail Date:12/30/2008
Destination:Caribbean - Southern
Departed From:Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
# of Nights: 9-10 Nights
Cabin Type: Inside
Sailed As: Couple


Overall Value:Good
Embarkation: Fair
Debarkation: Very Good
Staff/Service: Fair
Overall Rating: Good


Our ten day New Year cruise on the Emerald Princess, Dec 30, 2008 to Jan 9, 2009 with a two day pre-cruise at the Renaissance on 17th Street in FLL<br /><br />The itinerary:<br />Dec 30 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 12:00 AM 5:00 PM <br />Dec 31 Princess Cays, Bahamas 9:00 AM 4:00 PM <br />Jan 1 At Sea <br />Jan 2 St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 7:00 AM 6:00 PM <br />Jan 3 St. Kitts, St. Kitts and Nevis 7:00 AM 4:00 PM <br />Jan 4 Barbados 9:00 AM 6:00 PM <br />Jan 5 St. Lucia 8:00 AM 6:00 PM <br />Jan 6 Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda 8:00 AM 6:00 PM <br />Jan 7 At Sea <br />Jan 8 At Sea <br />Jan 9 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 7:00 AM<br /><br />Our cruise trek started on the morning of Dec 28 with our one hour flight to Chicago for our connection to FLL. We found out at our local airport that our four bags would cost us $160 extra since Princess booked our airfare with American Airlines. You pay for all checked luggage! It will be our last time on this airline, for sure!<br />We had approximately a 3 hour layover so we had lunch at an Irish Pub at O'Hare. We split a steak sandwich which turned out to be our best steak of our twelve day trip.<br />After arriving in FLL we were greeted by the Princess Rep. After gathering our bags she took us to the taxi stand were our bags were loaded in the first arriving taxi. Whoops, it was the wrong taxi! Since Princess was providing the hotel transfer we could only take a Yellow taxi. Funny thing, the Yellow taxis are actually painted white! Any way the driver who really did not understand how he was getting paid took us to our pre-cruise hotel.<br />We were very happy with the hotel and our room for our two day stay. We give them two thumbs up! Rita's son was supposed to be driving down from Orlando, however he called to tell us he had a very bad cold and would not be able to make it. That was a very big disappointment but understandable. We had dinner in the hotel bar as we watched two college bowl games at the same time on their big screens.<br />The next day we took a long walk looking for some shopping, however the liquor store was the best shopping we found. We picked up a small bottle each of Drambuie and Cognac for our stateroom. That afternoon our friends, Frank and Ellie, drove in from Solivita (Kissimmee) and later on that evening we went to the Big City Tavern on Las Olas Blvd to meet up with Rose and Howie for diner. Later in the evening Jason, Cheryl, and Wayne from CruiseCrazies joined us. We had a great time. You would never know we were in a recession based upon the number of people on Las Olas Blvd on a Monday night! The entire area was packed!<br /><br />Tuesday, December 30, 2008, our cruise date had finally arrived. After booking on March 26 the wait was now over! We decided not to use the cruise shuttle bus and took a taxi to the port around 11:15 AM. It took all of 5 minutes and a fare of $4.90 to get us to the ship. We dropped our luggage with a porter and picked up our boarding number 4 in the cruise terminal. We sat there about an hour and fifteen minutes before boarding numbers were called. The speculation was the ship was probably being cleaned from an outbreak of the Norwalk Virus from the previous cruise. Once the numbers started being called the process took about 20 minutes until we were aboard and heading to our inside stateroom R507 on the Riviera deck. We were very happy with our cabin, which is one of the roomiest we've had. We met our room steward and the service was top notch for the duration of our cruise. We gave him an extra tip on the next to last day.<br /><br />We met up with our friends and headed to Horizon Court for our first meal. It was like a feeding frenzy and pretty much stayed that way the entire cruise. The food was only fair at the best--in our opinion. This included the breakfast buffet. A lot of the time we had hot plates for lukewarm to cold food. I will admit I did like the sandwiches. The desserts were okay but not great.<br />That evening we went to our assigned table in the Botticelli dining room for our late seating, however Princess had that messed up as we were supposed to be dining with friends. We got it all straightened out the next day and ended up at a table for four and had great service each night. The food, on the other hand, was just okay. Nothing to write home about. Remember, this is just our opinion based on sixteen previous cruises.Our waiter and his assistant received an extra tip from us for the great service they provided. With one exception that was pretty much the end of great service. Every where else we went on the ship from the clubs to the pools, etc. the service was fair to mediocre. The servers seemed like they did not understand, and in some cases, did not care to give good service. The one exception was Orlina in the Wheelhouse Bar. She was very friendly and acted as if she enjoyed serving us. She was the only other person we gave an extra tip. There seemed to be a turf war going on in this bar and the other servers had no clue of how to give good service. I would blame poor supervision and training. This was wide spread on the ship. It is a very beautiful ship, however beauty is only skin deep. We would not recommend this ship to anyone. Not sure if we would recommend Princess, as well. The nickel and dimeing on this cruise was the most yet.<br />It seems to be the trend for cruise lines these days.<br />We met some great new friends and had a great time with them and our friends from a past cruise. Some times you just have to roll with the punches. We do not let bad service ruin our vacation!<br />Rita did get a sore throat a couple days into the cruise so we went to the medical center one morning to get her some medicine and that experience will stay with us for a long time. The charge nurse with the British accent made Nurse Ratchet seem like a saint. This was someone who definitely did not enjoy her job! One thing about her though, she was very consistent as she was rude to everybody!<br />We never attended any shows in the Princess Theater, as we been there and done that on past cruises. The theater is very nice and well designed. We did attend a comedian's show in the Explorer Lounge and he was one of the funniest we've ever seen. A+<br />We also went to the theme nights in Club Fusion and did a lot of dancing there. They have one of the best and biggest dance floors on the high seas. The three bands, Derringer, Tempo Quatro and Serious Sounds all played good dance music there and in the Wheelhouse and on the pool deck. We did a lot of dancing, which we do enjoy. We did an East Coast Swing in the dance contest and won a trophy and bottle of champaign. Only four couples signed up for the contest. This was amazing to us considering 3,000 plus passengers. We also had our invitation drawn out from the past passenger event and won another bottle of champaign.<br /><br />Now as far as excursions went we only booked one--the pirate ship in Antigua. It was a blast. I got to swing out from the rope into the warm sea and jumped in from the plank. We also went to a nice beach, except for the bothersome vendors. The rum flowed freely and we danced and joined the conga line.<br />In St Thomas our friends and the two of us took the tram to the top of Paradise Point and enjoyed the view of the islands. It make for a great photo opp!<br />We stayed aboard ship at Princess Cays and did some shopping in St Lucia and Barbados. In St Lucia we were to meet up with our UK tablemates from the Constellation last New Year, however our ship and their ship, the Galaxy, docked in two different cruise terminals and we did not hook up. In Barbados we did run into our UK tablemates from our New Year Zenith cruise two years ago! They were also on the Galaxy.<br /><br />The disembarkation went fast as we were in the first group off the ship. All and all we had a great time with our old friends and our new friends. They all made the cruise special.

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