Christmas With A Princess

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Emerald Princess

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Sadly, the writer of this story, a friend of mine, passed away. I’ve left the story, but his photos no longer appear as they were on his server. – Ralph Grizzle]

Emerald is a variety of beryl that is highly valued as a gemstone. Emerald Princess is a variety of cruise ship that is highly valued by anyone who steps on board. I found that absolutely true as I sailed with her for a holiday cruise in the Caribbean.

But, first things first. If you take Princess out of Fort Lauderdale, book your flights through Princess. You’ll be met at the airport and whisked over to Hyatt Embassy Suites. Your vacation starts; two rooms, an LG TV that has an incredible picture, and breakfast cooked and served in a lovely lobby.

At an appointed time all will gather in the foyer to identify luggage and board a bus to the ship; waiting time can be avoided by grabbing a shuttle outside for $7.00.

Although stuff gets in the way, the first view of Emerald gets the juices flowing.

The minute you enter the atrium, those juices boil over.

A choir was singing and decorations were everywhere.

My cabin was at the stern and just a short elevator ride to the Lido.

I loved breakfast there. Each day, besides all the fruit, cereal, eggs, etc., specialties popped up every morning and changed daily.

I passed on the Soup. Although it was lovely in Lido, you could eat outside A short trek through the adjoining Café Carib takes you to the stern area with tables, counters, and a gorgeous view.

No matter where I went there was a friendly smile from each crew member. even the window washer  gave a grinning wave.

Did I misunderstand at lifeboat drill? i seem to remember being told if you see anyone go overboard, yell “Man Overboard” and throw a life preserver into the water to mark the spot. Strangely I saw no life preservers along the rail.

“Sorry Captain, I couldn’t find a life preserver so I threw what I had.”

“There are two good places to take the sun in semi privacy. The one that not many find is in the stern of Emerald. To reach it go to the back of Cafe Caribe and through the door. There are tables and stools for eating meals, an accessible pool. Up a flight is a bit more classy. You can also get to this area through the Adagio bar. Up a flight from there and you’ll find a large bubbling spa tub. There also is a small warm pool.

The other special place is the Sanctuary.

It is forward and reached by stairs off deck 16. It truly is a place to escape trying to escape. The sun lounges are lovely and so comfortable you just sort of sink in. I saw one available and that’s what I did. I took off my sweats and my flip flops, and wriggled into my comfort zone.

Eyes closed, sigh escaping, and waiter appearing. I ordered a beer. He then said the lounge I was on belonged to someone else. But, I countered, there was nothing here saving the seat. His counter won the game.” Sir, these are rented by the day for twenty dollars. And this one is rented.”

Ten feet away there were plenty of empty deck chairs. As a matter of fact, I have yet to be on a ship with so many places to sun. Better to not sit all day, sports are waiting. There is a Bocci Ball court.

And even Croquet. But remember this is a Christmas cruise.

And teenagers are Croquet impaired, but they do understand golf.

As most ships, Emerald had regular dinner seating and Anytime seating.  Again most ships have lines waiting for “Anytime”, but Princess handles it beautifully. You take a buzzer, head to the bar, and when you get buzzed (electronically) your table will be waiting.

Also you might try talking to the Maitre D’ about setting a regular time. I did, and every night at 6:30 I had a table in a nice room away from the busy dining area. Dinner menu was  amazing. There were many choices and specials. My favorite was braised oxtail on waffle pasta.

Then  came Showtime. The main production shows were entertaining,

but, my favorites were the comedians. Sarge was the best I’ve seen experienced.

There is no way to describe his act. He is an ENTERTAINER!! This is the first comedian on a ship that I’ve seen get a standing ovation. You can check him out here: www.iamsarge.com.

The other comic was Darryl Joyce.

Funny guy, but it was here that the Cruise Director relied on the Cruise Director’s Handbook.Most Cruise Directors like to leave the stage after their announcements with a round of applause. They can hardly say, “How about a round of applause for my announcements?” So they say “How about another hand for the band?” The band, still on stage, takes what amounts to their third round of applause; the first from the performers, the second from the Cruise Director coming on stage, and then this one. This time after he had finished more than a few announcements, the Cruise Director strolled off stage to “Let’s have another round of applause for Darryl Joyce!” Darryl by that time was probably in the hot tub.

Not interested in a show, well there’s movies under the stars, with, wait for it, Popcorn.

Dancing and special music are here and there. One night a jazz session, and another a revisit to the 80’s.

Princess offers many special things to their “Captain’s Circle” members. My favorite was the nightly goodies for Elite and Premium members of complimentary hors d’oeuvres offered at Skywalkers including lower priced.drink specials. (I would have happily paid full price for this Margarita Royal.)

Last minute observations:

Princess has the most organized and easiest debarkation you’ll come across. And get this, your cabin attendant has a scale so you can weigh your baggage. Oh about baggage, I hate baggage so I had Luggage Forward handle mine. It left my house in Los Angeles and showed up in my cabin. It left my cabin and showed up at my house. No sore back for me.

You know how it’s said that something will exceed your expectations? Emerald Princess tripled mine.  I was sad to leave.