The Traveling Steve's

Just got back from our Emerald Princess Cruise!

<Warning: This is a LONG post! Sorry in advance for any typos, duplicate photos, text,
grammar or midnight gibberish mistakes on my part. >

Sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale on the Emerald Princess

Steve (DOS) and I arrived home on Tuesday from a 10 night Emerald Princess (partial Panama Canal) cruise. After an easy and very efficient debarkation at 9:10am, we had a four hour drive back to Orlando from Ft. Lauderdale. As it was a Tuesday, traffic was fairly light as we traveled between 9:45am and 2pm. We had a wonderful time on the cruise and are now in the post cruise unpack, wash clothes, get appointments done, and re-pack for our next trip to Jekyll Island in nine days. Wooh hoo! Over a week at home to catch up! As this is a long post, I will break it into sections, so some of the events will not be in chronological order, but at least grouped together with similar topics.

This was our second Princess Cruise together (although I had sailed Princess and P & O Australia years ago before I met DOS), and we both really loved it. We had previously sailed the slightly bigger and brand new Enchanted Princess back in November 2021, so we couldn’t help but make comparisons to the two as we happily sailed along on our journey.

Like our last Enchanted cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale, we dropped off our luggage curbside before parking in the garage. As always we take a photo of where we parked, and especially on this cruise as we would be departing from one cruise terminal, but returning to a different terminal, but still at Port Everglades.

Important tip: Verify what cruise terminal you will be departing from and which terminal the ship will be returning to prior to your voyage. In our case the respective departure and arrival terminals were quite distant from each other, although a complimentary shuttle is provided upon return to take you to your respective parking garage.

Photo taken from our debarkation terminal, yet we returned to the other Princess terminal a couple miles away where the ship in the foreground is docked.

Check-in at the cruise terminal was quick and easy, and we picked up our Princess Medallions at the port, as we had had a bit of pre-cruise issues getting them properly registered. The Medallions are a vital part of the cruise experience as they do everything from unlocking your cabin door, to acting as payment for any onboard purchases, as well as acting as your security ID getting on and off the ship itself. Once we received our Medallions, we had no issues at all with them for this 10 day voyage. We were docked next to the Celebrity Apex Cruise ship, which coincidentally one of my Facebook friends was sailing on.

We got to Port Everglades around 10:30am, and after checking in we had a wait of approximately an hour before we could board, along with the other masked and fully vaccinated and COVID-tested passengers. The time went by quickly for us as, although others in the terminal looked a bit bored and less enthusiastic to be cruising as we were! .

Once aboard the Emerald Princess, we headed straight to the customer service deck to reserve the Chef’s Table, which can only be booked onboard. Sadly, we were told there wouldn’t be a Chef’s Table Dinner this cruise, mostly likely due to COVID and/or staffing issues. Since we had done the Chef’s Table recently on the Enchanted, it wasn’t a huge issue for us forgoing it on this cruise, but rather it was one of those special dinners we had hoped to repeat as we enjoyed it so much. Maybe next cruise we can do the Chef’s Table again on another ship.

We couldn’t access our cabin until 1pm, so we explored the ship for awhile before it got busy, and the public rooms were still mostly empty.

Our first impressions of the ship: We were very pleasantly surprised and immediately loved the design of the Emerald Princess! The Emerald Princess is an older and smaller ship than the Enchanted Princess (launched in 2007 at 113,561 tons with with 3,066 passengers double occupancy, vs the Enchanted Princess launched in 2020 at 141,000 tons and 3668 passengers double occupancy), but we noticed right away the Emerald Princess had a special “charm” and “character” to it. We strolled around the smaller central Piazza atrium as we sipped our complimentary welcome aboard Champagne, listening to the beautiful and lively music emanating from the violinist playing a couple decks down below.

While the Emerald held over 3,000 passengers, it was compartmentalized and spaced out in a way that offered mini seating and semi-private areas that didn’t make the large spaces so overwhelming. There was also a rich decorative use of woods, tiles, and colors throughout the ship, which gave it a more traditional ocean liner, even masculine feel to the ship, such in the elegant Crown Grill and lounges shown below.

Some of the comments we had read online before we boarded the ship were complaints about the age of the ship and service, but we found the ship in excellent condition (always being cleaned inside and out), and the service outstanding. There were also areas on the Emerald that we liked more so than the newer and larger Enchanted Princess, such as the walk around (and traditional) Promenade Deck, the Vine’s wine lounge, and the Skywalker’s observation lounge, none of which the newer Enchanted had unfortunately.

From just walking around the ship you could tell this was a world class vessel from the plaques displayed on two of the walls; each plaque recognizing the various ports the Emerald has sailed to in its 14 year career so far.

Our Cabin: We had a nice aft Vista Suite cabin (Dolphin #736), which was located all the way in the back of the ship on Dolphin deck nine. Our cabin was very quiet (although it did vibrate a bit coming into and leaving port), but overall it felt very private as it was a corner aft cabin, and there was no one in the stateroom next to us, or even many of the cabins along the aft corridor itself.

While our cabin was a bit smaller than the aft suite we had on the Enchanted Princess, (and the balcony significantly smaller), we still had a nice corner aft balcony with a couple lounge chairs and four dining chairs, although oddly there was not a dining table on the balcony. We love being in the aft of the ship, and while it is a much longer walk to get to other places on the ship, the view, sunsets, and extra quiet and privacy are so worth it to us. Plus you burn extra calories just walking home throughout the day!

We especially prefer the aft balconies on Trans-Atlantic, Alaskan, and Panama Canal cruises such as this as the balcony is normally sheltered from high winds, and offers an unobstructed view out the back of the locks while going thru Canal, and the swift wake of the ship whisking by when sailing. Our balcony on this cruise was completely covered too, which we really enjoyed as it provided shade from the hot Caribbean sun.

My only suggestion for the cabin, was to have a larger closet like we did on the Enchanted. The closet area on the Emerald was small and not a great design when you are competing with the life jackets and plush robes for space, and carrying formal wear with even a reasonable amount of clothes (although I admit, we do pack too much!) makes for a cramped storage closet. We managed thru the cruise ok however, using the other nooks and drawers by the bedside and safe.

On the plus size, the bathroom had an actual Jacuzzi, instead of just a large soaking tub like on the Enchanted. The wall tile with the red marble highlights was especially attractive and classy, while there was a separate walk-in shower, and toilet room with sink basin in a separate room adjacent.

Skywalker’s Observation Lounge/Disco: The Emerald Princess, unlike the Enchanted Princess, did not have a dedicated Suite Concierge Lounge (which we loved on the Enchanted), but did offer an evening get together from 4:30 – 6:30pm in the Skywalker’s Lounge for Platinum, Elite, and Suite guests. We loved the 18th floor Skywalker’s Lounge for its daytime views, reminding us of the Viking Crown Lounge on Royal Caribbean, but without the smoking that was allowed on RCL. It was especially nice on the first day as the lounge was quite empty at sail-away time, and we watched from high above as some of the ships departed from Ft. Lauderdale.

As the Skywalker’s lounge was quite large and the the evening social event was un-hosted (unlike the Enchanted with a fabulous Concierge), however, it didn’t have the same sense of camaraderie that the Enchanted Concierge Lounge had. The few people who attended Skywalker’s spread out by the window seats, and didn’t seem like they wanted to socialize (perhaps because of COVID). They lounge did have a nightly complimentary cheese, fruit, and crackers setup, although the drinks were not complimentary like they were in the Enchanted’s Suite only lounge.

While that wasn’t a problem for us or most other passengers as they had the drink package, there really wasn’t an incentive for us to go there for the evening “social” without a Concierge introducing other passengers, offering assistance with cruise requests, excursions etc. The Skywalker’s Lounge is only accessible via the aft elevators, which I imagine many people didn’t even know about it, or how to get there if they did. Skywalker’s at least by day (a disco at night which we didn’t go to) is a great place to read a book, surf the web, play cards etc, in a quiet setting with hardly any passengers, and offers a fantastic view out the floor to ceiling windows, but we did miss having the Concierge Lounge like we did on the Enchanted.

Vine’s Wine Bar: Fortunately, DOS and I made up our own quiet “Concierge Lounge” nightly by going to Vine’s Wine Bar. While Vine’s was open to everyone, there were a small handful of regular wine lovers that went there each evening before dinner like we did, in essence forming our own little wine club. (The Enchanted did not have Vines Wine Bar, rather had the Salty Dog Pub there instead, big mistake if you ask us.) We really enjoyed our nightly pre-dinner wine and cheese tastings served to us by Romeo, our friendly and knowledgeable sommelier.

We had purchased the drink package which includes all drinks and wines by the glass up to $12. The Vine’s had a nice and well rounded selections of vinos from around the world, and fortunately Princess would let you pay the uncharge difference if there was a premium wine you liked, although theirstandard selections were very good. We took advantage of the up-charge most nights and payed a small premium ranging from a couple dollars for a nice Chianti, to an eight dollars up-charge for a glass of Jordan Cabernet.

Vine’s was conveniently located on the 5th floor midship, directly across from the Piazza, and each evening the violinist would play in the lobby there, with his music overflowing into Vine’s were everyone could enjoy it.

Dining Aboard the Emerald Princess:
Breakfast at Sabatini’s: One of the nicest suite perks we enjoyed daily, was having breakfast in Sabatini’s Italian (specialty) Restaurant. Like on the Enchanted, breakfast in Sabatini’s was a quiet and classy venue with outstanding service, and only open and available to full suite guests for breakfast. We quickly made friends with the staff there and a few other passengers, and also went there a couple nights for dinner as well.

Unlike the 5th floor center location on the Enchanted, Sabatini’s was located high up on the ship’s aft on deck 16, and overlooked a courtyard with two small fountains. During breakfast we usually sat by the windows inside Sabatini’s, and this was our view. The courtyard area never seemed busy, probably as most people didn’t realize it was even there, much less how to access it. (Access was either via an outdoor stair walk up from deck 15, or via the quiet adjacent Adagio lounge across from Sabatini’s on deck 16.)

The Adagio Lounge on deck 16 across from Sabatini’s is a nice place for a pre or post dinner drink, and has access to the terrace area in front of Sabatini’s.

Dinner at Sabatini’s: We dined at Sabatini’s for two nights and quickly learned not to order a little of everything on the menu the first night we went there! We were so full from all of the rich pastas, breads, prosciutto, charcuterie platter, salads, entrees and desserts, not to mention some great red vinos as well, that we vowed to eat more reasonably on our next visit, which we did. The pasta trio alone was huge and much larger in portion size than on the Enchanted, where it was more like a small tasting of lasagna, chicken parmigiana, and ravioli. Our waiter did warn us the trio was more like an entree than a second dish, but I figured it would be the same size as the Enchanted’s trio, and boy was I wrong! The pasta trio was huge and filling!

Grilled lamb kabob appetizer.
The dreaded but delicious pasta trio: 3 cheese ziti, chicken parmigiana, and lasagna.
Portion sizes for this were double what they were on the Enchanted, so don’t order
as an appetizer if you get full easy. You’ve been warned!
Mediterranean seafood parcel. Assorted seafood wrapped in parchment.
Our waiter assisting DOS with unwrapping his seafood entree.
Pork Tenderloin entree, served in a rich sauce with vegetables.
But we still have a dessert course!
Like I really needed the decadent chocolate dessert, much less the
after dinner drink to go with it! LOL!

The second time we went to Sabatini’s was with some friends we met on the ship. DOS and I ate much more in moderation and again we have a very enjoyable night out. I didn’t take any photos during the meal, but here are the four of us as we left the restaurant.

Club Class Dining: Another perk of Suites and also Club Class Mini-Suites, was the Club Class Dining in the Da Vinci Dining Room. There are actually two main dining rooms aboard the ship, (the Da Vinci and the Botticelli) and while Club Class shared part of the Da Vinci Dining Room, it had a separate entrance and seating was spread out and arranged so it felt as it was its own private dining room. Club Class Dining provided open seating for dinner from 6pm – 9pm. We did not use Club Class dining for breakfast as we ate in Sabatini’s, and lunch at either the 15th floor Marketplace buffet or outdoors on deck by the pool.

The dinner menu offered a wide variety of choices, and the quality of food was excellent. Also, Club Class diners were offered an additional entree choice each night that was not on the regular menu.

We went to the Club Class dinners on half the nights of the 10 day cruise (including the two formal nights), alternating between Sabatini’s Italian Restaurant and The Crown Grille on the other nights. The Da Vinci restaurant had lower ceilings than some ships we’ve been on, but it was not an issue for us; on the contrary, it may have kept the noise level down to a minimum as the dining room was fairly quiet overall. We really enjoyed the Club Class Dining, and it had a more intimate feeling than many of the main dining rooms on other lines we have sailed, some of which had multi-level and grander dining rooms, but were quite noisy and felt more rushed and crowded.

While DOS and I had our own table each night, we enjoyed chatting with our fellow passengers, and enjoyed getting to know them and our servers throughout the cruise. The Beef Wellington on the last formal night was especially delicious too!

The Crown Grill: We went to the Crown Grill three different nights of the 10 night cruise. On the first night of the cruise, a specialty restaurant is complimentary for suite guests, so we choose the Crown Grill, which we obviously enjoyed it as we went back two more times.

The Crown Grill (like Sabatini’s) is a large specialty dining venue, but it is arranged in different sections, so it feels more intimate and refined. Indeed with the rich woods, plush chairs, artwork and faux fireplace, it feels like you are dining at the Capital Grille or Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse back home. The surcharge for The Crown Grill is a bargain at $29 a person, and like Sabatini’s it feels like a night out on town, even though you are still obviously aboard the ship.

On our third and last visit to The Crown Grill, we had our wonderful dinner as usual, with DOS getting his usual two lobster tails, and me getting a filet this night (instead of my usual ribeye). We even splurged calorie-wise and got some truffle fries, along with the mushrooms DOS ordered.

We weren’t expecting the quartet of servers and manager coming to our table singing Happy Anniversary and delivering us a decadent chocolate cake! DOS had put in on the Medallion app that our anniversary was on January 9 (actually the day before we sailed), but neither one of us expected a surprise dessert with singing, friendly, servers! Very nice touch by the Emerald Princess Crown Grill.

Happy 17th Anniversary Steve and Steve!

Our Port of calls: On this 10 day itinerary, we had a total of 5 sea days as the port of Cartagena was canceled by the country of Columbia due to COVID concerns, even though everyone on the ship had to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test two days prior to sailing. DOS and I had been to Cartagena before so that was fine with us having another sea day. The other ports we visited were Grand Turk/Caicos, Panama Canal/Cristabol, Port Limon/Costa Rica, and Falmouth/Jamaica.

Our first port stop was Grand Turk in the Caicos, which was wonderful! The port area there has to be one of the most passenger friendly ports, and has a couple large sections of beachfront (complete with complimentary beach lounge chairs) available for cruise ship passengers.

The beach area was spotless and had nice restrooms, and no local people harassing you to buy this hat, trinket, or braid your hair. The beautiful beach area is right as you get off the ship, and there are places to snorkel, eat, drink, and relax. If you are a beach lover, Grand Turk is really a gem, and no ship or private excursion is necessary if you just want a beach day, as the beach is walking distance from the ship, and is beautiful and best of all, quiet.

At Grand Turk, there is also a beachfront walkway, that has several NASA space exhibits in one area. The exhibits are quite interesting and not something you would expect to find along the beautiful beaches. The different Apollo spacecraft mock-ups and displays told about the early days of space travel, and how several of the spacecraft had splashed down in the waters near the island there.

Grand Turk also had a nice shopping village and craft market for the typical Caribbean beach gear (hats, T-shirts, trinkets) etc, including some fun surf shops such as Margaritaville, Ron John’s, and even a Harley Davidson shop among others, along with some beach bars.

Grand Turk was a wonderful stop, and felt more like a private island such as Princess Cays. DOS and I took lots of photos here, such as this panoramic with him on either side of the photo.

I even coached him at trying to get the perfect photo with his hands in the position of “holding up” the two ships in port (ours and a Holland America ship docked next to us.). While the photo didn’t exactly work as I had planned, it was funny listening to the short video of me “instructing” DOS on his hand placement, while he willingly and silly played along! LOL!

A huge shout out to the port of Grand Turk and it’s beautiful and cruise-friendly passenger port!

After Grand Turk we had another day at sea due to the Cartagena cancellation. We welcomed the extra sea day, and I didn’t hear any passengers complaining about missing a port of call either. We relaxed a bit on the balcony in the afternoon, while DOS experimented with our new GoPro camera. DOS had given me the GoPro for Christmas, but I think he’s getting more use out of it than me! (I usually just use my iPhone for pics and video). As we were going thru the Panama Canal the next day, he wanted to make sure how to use the GoPro properly, and hopefully find a decent place to mount the camera as well for time-lapse, and various video and still shots.

Our next port was actually a sea day as well as we did a partial sailing thru the Panama Canal. Steve (DOS) and I have both been thru the old Panama Canal several times, (including our favorite trip of all in March 2015 on Celebrity Cruise Lines Infinity), but we have never been thru the new locks before. On the Infinity cruise we were in Panama the following day so we toured the new welcome center that was just be completed overlooking the new locks.

On this sailing, the Emerald Princess had a shore excursion to the new welcome center along with a land tour of the lock area ending in Cristobal, where the passengers then returned to the ship. We did not do the Emerald’s excursion since it was too similar to our last trip, but many passengers did go on the excursion once we arrived to Gatun Lake, and the ship was very quiet at that point.

The day started early as we were outside on our balcony at 6:30am catching the morning sunrise, as we slowly were guided towards the locks with the help of a couple boats; one in the front and one in the back of the ship. These weren’t traditional tug boats per se as they weren’t touching or pushing the ship, rather they kept the ship in “tow” via cables so it wouldn’t go too fast or astray, like a brake or lower gear to our huge ship.

As the ship moved slowly in tow towards the first locks, we went under the Atlantic suspension bridge, as seen from the aft of the ship as we pass under it and then behind us in the distance.

We turned on our in-room TV to the ship’s channel, which offered narration of the history of the Panama Canal, our current progress thru the transit, and also views from the front of the ship. This was a great way to see what was coming up, while we watched the view from our aft cabin.

Here are lots of photos as we slowly made our way thru the locks, and eventually to Gatun Lake. The much smaller Azamara Journey ship was in sight distance behind us, but as we approached the first locks, it veered off to the right (left as we were facing it from the aft) and transited the old locks as it was small enough to do so.

Look how large the locks are! There are two sets of elevator-like doors that close horizontally, unlike the old canal doors that are seven feet thick, and open outwards like a swinging door.

By 9:15am we were thru the new locks and anchoring in Gatun Lake, and headed to breakfast. The Azamara Journey we saw go thru the old locks earlier, was also anchored in Gatun Lake on a similar partial transit like our ship.

We would anchor in Gatun Lake near the Azamara ship for a few hours so the passengers going on shore excursions could tender off the ship and go on tour of the welcome center and other land-side views of the locks.

Sailing thru the locks, no matter how many times you have done so, is always an engineering marvel that makes you say WOW! I always take loads of photos, so had to narrow this down to just a few. DOS took this incredible short video of the new Panama Canal locks closing in a 18 second time lapse video. The mammoth duel set of elevator-like doors actually close very slowly; perhaps taking 4 or 5 minutes, so I give DOS kudos for holding his hand so steady without having a tripod!

Later in the afternoon we went to the bow of the ship as the Captain had opened up the front of deck 15 for better passenger viewing, as we sailed back thru the same locks. The front of the ship offered a spectacular view of the Canal, and also overlooked the crew deck and pool area.

The deck space was not overly crowded at this time either, as many of the passengers had gone ashore on the port excursion, and wouldn’t be back until our brief stop at 4:30pm at Cristabol, Panama. Earlier in the morning a person told us it was five people deep in the same same we were standing!

Our next port of call was Limon, Costa Rica. It was very hot this day, and as we had both been to this port before, DOS and I walked around town for a bit, bought a couple caps and T-shirts before heading back to the ship for lunch. Costa Rica is a beautiful country, and on previous trips I had done a white water rafting excursion there and toured the rainforest, but on this trip we were happy just browsing thru town before heading back to the ship.

We had another sea day before our last stop in Falmouth Jamaica. Like the other ports, we had been to Falmouth before, and after having had open heart surgery last September I was not about to climb Dunn’s River Falls like I did on my first visit there back in 1998! Some of the people on the ship climbed the falls, including a lady in her 70s, and I congratulate her and the others for their youthfulness and bravery! Falmouth, like Grand Turk (although Grand Turk was much nicer) is a port you can easily stroll thru if your time is short, or you don’t wish to do an excursion.

The port of Falmouth has what we call a make-believe village at the cruise terminal; i.e. a large and neat complex of shops, bars, and open squares for several blocks, making it a nice place to walk thru, have a drink, meet your tour, relax or buy that souvenir jewelry or like us, a t-shirt. As this final port stop was only until 2pm, we skipped any tour, and even skipped having a port stop drink at Margaritaville, although we did walk thru the complex there to see it.

Like in Grand Turk, Margaritaville Falmouth had a nice setup for passenger use, including a complimentary use of the pool with loungers, outdoor bar, and logo shop among other things. If the stop had been longer, a couple hours lounging by the pool with drinks would have been nice without having to go into town, but after getting our daily walking steps in, we went back to the ship for lunch and later sail-away.

Poolside decks:

Shipboard Entertainment: The Emerald Princess had multiple venues featuring live entertainment, in addition to the many trivia games, guest speakers, Love and Marriage game etc, and ranged from the excellent violinist who played in the Piazza (featured earlier in this post) to poolside fun and games, to full scale production shows in the Princess Theater on select nights.

In between there were different bands playing in various lounges, including a piano player and singer in the Crooner’s Lounge, another group in the Explorer’s Lounge, a poolside band and DJ, and my favorite band, “Too Cool”, who played nightly in the Wheelhouse Bar (performing in different colorful attire each night, with the man color coordinating his hat with his wife’s dress or accessory!)

2 Cool”, is a husband and wife duo who played a vast repertoire of hits from the 60’s to 80s, with special themed nights such as Motown, Fleetwood Mac, the 70s, etc. “2 Cool” were very talented and entertaining, and have been playing worldwide as well as on and off the Emerald Princess for several years among other gigs. Thanks “2 Cool” we loved your entertaining us every night!

Our favorite production show was “Rock Opera”, which was performed in the Princess Theater on the first formal night by the Princess singers and dancers. This was a high energy show featuring various rock songs performed in fancy and colorful costuming with numerous changing backdrops and sets. Some of my favorite songs from the movie “The Greatest Showman” were performed, and the musical talent by the singers and choreography with the dancers was outstanding! I love the movie The Greatest Showman, and seeing the music performed live on stage was an awesome experience that made you want to sing along!

After the show we met the lead singer, Connor Bogart, who had stopped by the Wheelhouse Lounge where we were watching “2 Cool”. I saw he was alone at the bar (with a Diet Coke) and congratulated him on the awesome show, and asked if he wanted to join us at our table for a bit which he did. Conner, DOS and I had a nice talk about the show, his career, family, and life aboard the ship.

Per his contract, Conner starred and appeared in the first production show only, (1 of 3 performed on the ship by the Princess singers and dancers), but also did his own headliner solo show a couple nights later which was fantastic!

I told him after the show I don’t know how he had the energy to perform nonstop by himself for his 45 minute high energy show (as well as the production show), but he is a professional and did great! Connor was also nice enough to pose with us for a selfie both the first formal night, and later on in the cruise right after his solo show. Thanks Connor; it was so nice to meet you and best wishes in your career! You can follow Conner at: www.facebook.com/officialconnorbogart

Sea days: Our 10 day cruise had 5 sea days, so that gave us plenty of time to relax; and enjoy the great outdoor weather and a few indoor activities too. It was nice some days just hanging out on the balcony and watching the waves and clouds go by.

You know you’re having a lazy sea day when you lay on your balcony chair and stare up at the clouds and guess at what the constantly changing cloud formation resembles! If you look at the clouds long enough you will start to see images, and no I wasn’t drinking alcohol at the time!

I guess a cow’s head with the two horn and eyes, and long nose, and mouth slightly open?
Cupid’s Heart, with an arrow along the top?
An alligator, or perhaps a duck or platypus? Whatever it is, it’s free and fun to look at!

On several evenings we were treated to a beautiful sunset (or sunrise) from our aft cabin balcony. Yet another reason we love the aft cabins, as you have at least 180 degree unobstructed view.

Or occasionally the moon and stars, although not a great photo.

GYM and Spa: We did go by the gym, as in walking right by it, but did not use it. LOL! We did take a couple photos if that counts. The large gym had plenty of equipment ranging from weights to plenty of treadmills offering a nice view out the windows, as well as fitness and wellness classes that were offered.

I still can’t lift heavy weights since my heart surgery last September, but we did our daily 45 minute walks around the Promenade instead, usually before lunchtime when it wasn’t as hot, where only 2 1/2 laps equaled a mile.

Versus the top mini deck (and uncovered deck) where it took 16 times to equal a mile! We did this walk only once as it was quite hot, and preferred the Promenade deck for walking.

There was also an outdoor mini putting green in the middle of the upper jogging track where we did a few post-walk putts.

We didn’t use the kids/teenagers play area down below though! Actually it was closed as there were no kids on the ship.

We also did some shorter 30 minute walks a few evenings around the Promenade Deck, especially the nights after eating in the specialty restaurants to help walk off our dinner.

The Sanctuary was located in the front of the ship, but was unfortunately closed during our 10 night sailing, due to some maintenance and refurbishment they were doing there. The Sanctuary is a private, adults only, “retreat” from the rest of the outdoor deck areas, and offers assigned lounge seating in a partial covered area, with dedicated and attentive service staff to serve you and the others in this area. It can normally be rented for a full or half day block.

We went there the first day to inquire about securing space for the Panama Canal Day as we had read online they usually offer a package for that day, with a few extras thrown in to the mix as well. The staff hostess we spoke with said they were hoping to open it for the Panama Canal Day only, and took our names for a call-back the day before sailing thru the Canal. Unfortunately the Sanctuary was shut down on the Panama Canal Day as well, but as the ship wasn’t very full and we had a nice quiet aft balcony, the closure wasn’t an issue for us.

There was also a seating area right in front of the sanctuary (no additional charge) that was open for lounging in the sun that we did not use, and it wasn’t very busy during the cruise either.

The Princess Spa is also located near the Gym, and just below the Sanctuary area. The large spa had many treatment rooms as well as the steam room, wet and dry saunas, and thermal stone beds to lay on. Sorry I didn’t take any photos as we toured this the first day, and we did not use the spa this sailing as it did not have an indoor thalassotherapy pool, which we enjoyed on the Enchanted Princess and Celebrity Cruises.

Ship Capacity: On our sailing, there were only 950 passengers aboard the ship which could hold well over 3,000, and 1,100 or so crew members, so the ship never felt crowded, except for possibly the Production shows in the Princess Theater. With the reduced passenger capacity, there is only one show a night instead of two when the ships were fuller pre-COVID. As the theater seats sover 900 people, we always got a seat so it wasn’t a problem, and masks were required by the passengers.

Pool areas: There were several pool areas aboard the ship, and depending on your mood; i.e. quiet, energetic, or somewhere in between, there were plenty of areas to get some sun and “chill” in the hot Caribbean sun. The Movies Under the Stars section of the pool even had tiered seating so you could watch the latest NFL or other game, or afternoon televised concerts by various artists which changed on the hour.

Captains Circle Party: On the last formal night, we were invited to the Captain’s Circle Party which was available to Platinum, Elite, and Suite guests. On our way to the party, I saw a nice photo opportunity near the atrium, and Steve (DOS) and I got our photos taken by a nice couple seeing me struggling trying to take a selfie there! The couple photos they took of us turned out much better than my selfie’s would have. Thanks anonymous couple!

The Captain’s Circle Party was held in the Fusion Lounge, and had quite a large attendance, with the Princess Loyalty Hostess indicating how many repeat Princess passengers were aboard by status level. The dress for the evening was formal, and everyone at the party seemed to adhere to the dress code guidelines.

The top three cruisers were recognized, and one of our friends we met aboard got the third place award with over 900 cruise days, and some umpteen (I forgot how many) cruises. That’s almost 3 years of cruising Princess!

The top couple has over 1,200 cruise days! DOS and I obviously have a few hundred more days on Princess to catch up! The Captain’s Circle Party was a nice event, with complimentary cocktails and Hors D’oeuvres served and refreshed often during the one hour event.

Yes, we still have the Baked Alaska Parade! On our last night of the cruise, DOS and I had dinner in the Club Class section of the Da Vinci Dining Room. The last day is always a bit sad as you have to pack up to go home, tag your luggage and put it outside your cabin, and say bye to friends and crew you have met over the last 10 days.

We had a nice farewell dinner, and we were pleasantly surprised Princess still did the Baked Alaska Parade; a traditional send-off with the waiters parading thru the dining room, and passengers cheering them on with their swirling napkins.

With anytime dining now vs the set dinner hours, it makes for more of a challenge when to do the Parade. I was glad to see the Emerald Princess did this shortly before the 9pm closing (not sure if they did an earlier one for the early seating diners.).

By the way, the Baked Alaska was wonderful!

So I guess that will wrap up this lengthy post about our trip on the Emerald Princess. If you’re still reading this, thanks for hanging in there to the end. Our next cruise is on February 26 on the Majestic Princess, which happens to be a “Love Boat” themed sailing with the original TV cast. Hopefully that will happen, and COVID won’t be rearing it’s ugly cancelation head! We have a couple other trips before then, including 3 days on Jekyll Island next weekend, followed by a cross-country train trip in early February. Stay tuned, and thanks again for reading our travel blog!

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