Just a warning::: This is long!!!!
I just returned from a 10 night sailing on the Emerald Princess from 3/25-4/4.
Cabins A506 & A510
Embarkation: We drove down to Port Everglades from Orlando. It took about 3 1/2 hours. We took our 3 kids, ages 2, 10 & 11. We dropped off the luggage, then parked in the garage.. which is $15 per day.
When we came off the elevator we were near one security entrance that did not have a long line of people, so a nice man from Princess Cruise Line directed us to the empty line! (Maybe because my 2 year old was in a stroller).
We got right through security, then found seats in the Platinum/Elite area. We waited about 15 minutes, then they called our group to proceed to the check-in area. It took just a matter of minutes and we were upstairs in the waiting area. We waited only about 5 minutes, then boarded the ship. They start boarding at noon! We were in our staterooms within minutes.
Stateroom: We got rooms next to each other, and had our room steward open the balcony door so we could walk between rooms. We were on the Aloha Deck (deck 12) midship. Our room stewards were Maciej from Romania and Kulapas from the Phillipines. Both men were very friendly and helpful!
After dropping off a few items in our staterooms we went up 2 decks to the Horizon Court Buffet. We all enjoyed the food, expect for my 11 year old daughter who called it "adult food". She didn't like the fried scallops or sandwiches they offered. So after we ate at the buffet, we went to the Trident Grill next to the pool and she got a cheeseburger and fries! This was my children's favorite place on the ship. They could get burgers, hot dogs, and fries for free whenever they wanted! On the other side of the pool was the Pizza and Ice cream parlors. The pizza was free, but there was a $1.50 charge for ice cream. Still a good deal, considering what I pay at my local ice cream shop for the same amount!!!
DINING: We chose Traditional Late Dining in the Botticelli dining room, table 136. It was a table for 5 or 6 nestled in the corner next to a window! I couldn't have asked for a better table. We felt very lucky! Our waiters were Woody from Thailand and Oliver from the Phillipines. They were so much fun and a pleasure to see every night! I miss them already!
I have to say, the food was incredible! My most memorable meals were the Beef Wellington (my favorite), Lobster, Lamb, Thai Fish with jasmine rice and Spicy Crawfish and rice in a cream sauce!!!
Desserts were also out of this world! The soufflles were some of the best I've had! Every night on the menu they had the "Love Boat Princess Dream". It was a chocolate mousse with a brownie crumb crust on the bottom, shapped as a heart! I did order this a few times!
My favorite appetizer was the Crab Quiche!
We did not eat in the Specialty Restaurants this time, since we did back in October.
PORTS: Our first stop was Princess Cays. We decided to cross the bridge and sit on the quieter side of the beach! Best decision we made! The bar, bathrooms, and BBQ lunch were all right there! The lines were very, very short for the BBQ, we didn't have to wait at all.
I also like how Princess Cays has a paved area to walk on the entire lenght of the island! My 2 year old is in a weird phase right now where he doesn't like sand, so he was very happy walking on the paved area!
St. Thomas: We took a taxi to the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort. It is an All-Inclusive resort. I had met the owner's daughter about a month ago, and she invited us to come visit the resort! We had such an amazing day! One of the best of the entire trip! Since the waves were too high that day, we swam in the pool. After about 10 minutes of swimming my husband says "Look at that!!!!". I'm expecting to see maybe a boat, or a bird!! Instead, at the edge of a pool was a huge Iguana!! It hovered near us, then a second one showed up! They caused quite a commotion! They didn't seem to mind the people and just walked right around us. At one point the big Iguana was just about a foot away from us! My kids' thought this was the greatest thing next to sliced bread of course!!! We enjoyed the Bolongo Bay Resort. They have two restaurants, the Lobster Grill and Iggy's! They also have a dive shop, gift shop and a wonderful staff!!! We felt very welcomed! We ate lunch at Iggy's right on the beach! We could have stayed there a week! But we needed to get back to the Emerald Princess.
St. Kitts: I have to say, this was our favorite island. The dock is right next to the shopping area and I love all the colors of the shops! This had a smaller island feel, which we loved! When we were walking to our taxi, the St. Kitts' Governor General was sitting in his Limo! My kids' waved to him, but I don't think he saw them!! lol.
We took a taxi to Frigate Bay and paid $10 for two lounge chairs! We sat right outside the Shiggidy Shack! Great $5 Daquari's!! My husband took the older kids out on a wave runner, and then I paid $20 for them to have 30 minutes on the water trampoline!! The waters were still a little too cold for me!! I live in Florida, so I'm spoiled!
After a few hours we ate lunch at a nearby restaurant, then returned to the ship!
I loved the landscape of St. Kitts. It was so beautiful. My husband thinks we should retire there!! lol
Barbados: Let me first say, this was our favorite place to swim! However, getting to the beach was an ordeal!! We walked off the ship and followed the signs to the taxi area! We waited under a tent in line. When we finally got to the Port Authority official, we told him that we wanted to go to the Boatyard! He directed us to stand by a nearby taxi! When we asked that driver if he could take us there, he said no, he was going downtown. So we went back and they Port Authority official just told us to wait!!! There were tons of taxi's and drivers, but no one seemed to know what was going on! All taxi drivers have to get an exit slip from the Port Authority official and he wasn't handing them out very well!! Needless to say after about 35 minutes of waiting, we finally convinced a driver to take us to the Boatyard. We got in the taxi---then waited another 15 minutes for him to get his exit slip!! He got into an argument with the official! Don't know why, but we thought we would never get going!!! So about an hour after we got off the ship, we were on the way to the Boatyard!!
The Boatyard was fantastic! For $15 per person, you get entrance to the beach, a free drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), beach chairs, and free transporation back to the ship! The free shuttle back to the ship was worth it right there!!!
We loved the beach! The sand was silky soft and the water was crystal clear. For the $15 you also get free use of the Water Trampolines. We all had a blast! The water was warm enough for me, so we spent most of our time in the water! My two year old got mad at us, when we tried to take him back to the beach chair!
While I loved the Boatyard, I think next time I visit Barbados I will take a tour. That way I will not have to deal with the taxi problem again!
St. Lucia: Our first views of this island were breathtaking! Our cabins were on the port side of the ship! As we approached the island we saw a large mountain area! Then as we started into port, we passed a small airport right at the edge of the water. My husband is a helicopter pilot, so he was loving this! One thing we noticed was how green everything looked!! After a few minutes in port we figured out why!!
We signed up for the Catamaran Tour to the Pitons. We got off the Emerald and waited with our group, when the skies opened up and it poured!!! It poured for about 10 minutes, then stopped. We got on the catamaran then it poured again for about 10 more minutes. Once we were on the way, and out of the port area, it finally stopped raining and the sun came out! Since we all had our bathing suits on, we didn't mind the rain so much! It took about 45 minutes to arrive at the Pitons!!! This looked like a scene out of Jurassic Park! The Pitons are two large mountains that St. Lucia is famous for! This was such a beautiful scene!! I took a ton of pictures here! Our captain then turned the boat around and we went to a small beach for swimming. We only had 20 minutes to swim! I could have spent an hour in the water, but after 20 minutes we were told to come back onboard! We then sailed into Marigot Bay. This is billed as the "Prettiest Bay in the Caribbean". It was easy to see why! Very beautiful!
We arrived back at the ship about 12:30pm and dashed off for lunch!!! We had a great time in St. Lucia!
Antigua: We decided to forgo to beach this time around hire a taxi driver to give us a tour of the island! Our driver Carrie, along with her young nephew, drove us to Shirley Heights first!! This was at the top of the island. We could see the nearby volcano on the island of Monsterrat and Nelson's Dockyard! The view was worth the trip! We then drove down to Nelson's Dockyard and visited the Historic District. We walked through the museum and hotel and then the rain started up again! After getting a quick look at some very large and I'm sure, ultra-expensive yachts, we drove back to the port area! We were very lucky that day! We got right off the Emerald in the morning and found a taxi. Since there were 4 cruise ships in port that day, there were alot of people getting on tour buses!!! As we were leaving Nelson's Dockyard, about 20 tour buses from the cruise ships showed up! We missed the huge crowds by just a matter of minutes.
After our tour we got back on the Emerald so my 2 year old could nap! I decided to take my daughter back off the ship to the shopping area. She had wanted to see the shops! We enjoyed our shopping trip. I used my last $9 in cash to buy a t-shirt. My daughter used her money to buy a hand-made steal drum! When we returned to the Emerald my husband and oldest son were on their balconies waving down at us!!! We got a kick out of that!
Kid's Club: My two oldest kids were in the Shockwaves group! I was worried how they would like the kids' club, but they had a blast! We rarely saw them on sea days! They spent most of their time there. Both my son and daughter made friends and enjoyed the Kids Club! They made t-shirts and shark necklaces. They even gave out teddy bears!
Since my youngest was only 2, he could not be left in the room by himself, but we were allowed to stay in the Princess Pelicans room with him! They had lots of activities for the 3-7 year olds. I give Princess very high marks on their Kids' Activities!
Entertainment: I have to say that we didn't go to any shows! We were exhausted from our shore excursions and since we had late dining, we always seemed to be in a food coma after dinner!
I did however, go to the Cooking Demonstration that was followed by the Tour of the Galley! This was a highlight for me! I really enjoyed this demonstration!
We spent the last two days at sea, relaxing!!!
One of our favorite nights was Caribbean Night. We went up to the pool deck for the big party! The live band was very good and everyone seemed to really be having a great time!!
Overall I would say this was our favorite cruise so far!!!