The time is almost here. Several months ago I booked my wife and I on a 7-night, Eastern Caribbean cruise with Princess Cruise Lines. The ship of choice for this cruise...The Emerald Princess. Here is a little preview of the ship as well as the ports of call that we will be visiting:
The Emerald Princess is in Princess’s “Grand Class” of ships. Most would consider it a mega-ship due to it weighing in at 113,000 tons and having the ability to whisk over 3000 passengers away on a relaxing vacation. The Emerald is one of Princess Cruise Lines newer ships (built in 2007). I am going to classify its decor as stately and elegant and put its passenger demographic in the “age 40 and up” group. This is my opinion so far based on the training I have had as well as studying a bit about this ship’s public spaces and its ports of call. I guess I will see if I am right once we get onboard.
I am excited to see what movies are playing once we get onboard on the big LCD screen that Princess calls “Movies Under the Stars” or “MUTS” for short. I am also excited to try one or both of Princess’s specialty dining experiences; Sabatini’s and the Crown Grill. I will be grading my experience based on the reputation Princess Cruise Lines has in the way of stellar service, excellent cuisine and attention to detail so stay tuned...
Ports of Call
This 7-night cruise will makes it first stop in the Bahamas at Princess’s private island, Princess Cays. This little Bahamian oasis is actually found on the tiny island of Eleuthera. Things to do onshore include snorkeling, kayaking, taking a ride in a banana boat or simply relaxing under a palm tree. I will stress that I am looking forward to the “relaxing” part of this stop.
We then sail on (after a full day at sea) to St Maarten. This island is only 37 square miles, but is shared between two countries, France and the Netherlands. Each side is dramatically different. The French side is known for its beautiful beaches and sidewalk cafes while the Dutch side is known for its “liveliness” and shopping opportunities. Our plan for this cruise...take a nice guided island tour which will stop on the French side and give us a chance to taste some of great pastries that France is known for.
Then it is off to St Thomas, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Vacationers have been flocking here ever since WWII and it boasts one of the Caribbean’s highest standards of living for those lucky enough to call it home. Those looking for gorgeous scenery can find it here since St Thomas is known for its beautiful vistas and pristine beaches. But it is not known for being a tranquil stop due to its popularity with the cruise lines as well as with those who have decided to pack everything up and move to a warmer climate. Beaches are usually crowded so you have to take the good with the bad.
After leaving St Thomas...it is off to Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos. This is a fairly new port of call for the cruise industry, but not new as far as being considered a world-class travel destination. It is a small island (only about 6 miles long and just over a mile wide), but boasts of one of the best coral reefs that any diver could dream of visiting. The temperatures are ideal most of the year (mid-80°’F) with plenty of sunshine. Due to its fairly popularity amongst the cruise industry, it is recommended to visit this destination sooner rather than later since development will most likely change it into another Nassau...in my opinion.
Once we leave Grand Turk...it will be time to start heading back towards Ft Lauderdale after another relaxing day at sea.
Last but not least, I want to just mention which stateroom category we will be staying in onboard the Emerald Princess. Our stateroom is a category D outside stateroom. We will be on the Plaza deck in stateroom P309. Staterooms in this category have @155 sq. ft. While it is not a large stateroom in comparison to higher categories, it should be ample. I chose this category so I could add it to my list of categories that I have sailed in. After this cruise I will be able to speak with first-hand knowledge of what it is like to sail in a balcony stateroom, an inside (no window) stateroom and an ocean view (window) stateroom.
With this being a preview of my upcoming cruise...please check back in a few weeks to read my full review of the cruise along with some tips and suggestions that might help you have a better cruise experience in the future.