Gibbon Travel

My Take on Cruising ~ Part I ~ The Ship

Welcome aboard the Emerald Princess of Princess Cruise Lines!  Launched in 2007, Emerald Princess is one of the largest cruise ships in the princess fleet.  She is a massive 3,000+ berth, 1,200 crew member, 19 deck beauty, and she is my first experience with a cruise ship.

Our relaxing morning strolling along Fort Lauderdale beach seems to fly by, and suddenly it’s time to head for the ship.  We are giddy with excitement as we approach the dock, head through the airport-style security, stop to pose for a quick photo op, then finally step on board.

Gibbon Travel ~ Cruise Ship

The Emerald Princess

On the Ship

Upon boarding, we step into the stunning three-storey Piazza, elegantly decorated with crystal, marble, and wrought iron, and surrounded on the main floor by the “International Cafe” of little shops for coffee, wine and tapas, and desserts.  Soft lighting surrounds us and live piano is playing delicately in the background as we and the other awed passengers try to take it all in.  The atmosphere is calming, yet buzzing with activity.

Gibbon Travel - Cruise Ship

The Piazza & International Cafe

Gibbon Travel - Cruise Ship

Live music is being performed nearly all the time in the Piazza

We wander around the ship for a minute, then decide to head to our stateroom to freshen up (and kind of to make sure our luggage arrived – which it did, thankfully).  It is an inside room, meaning no balcony or window, which is fine for us on this trip – however, next time will definitely be a balcony, as we couldn’t get enough of that fresh ocean air!  The room is small, but sufficient.  There are two beds, each with a bedside table, a large dressing table / desk, a closet area, and a teeny little bathroom with great water pressure.  Considering the amount of time we plan to be indoors, this room will do just fine.

Gibbon Travel - Cruise Ship

My home for the week! Small but cozy

We head up to one of the top decks to check out the views.  The ship is massive, and is buzzing with happy people, the sound of music coming from everywhere, and the smell of barbecue filling the air.  We grab a hot plate and a cold drink, and find a seat overlooking the port so that we can wave farewell to all the Fort Lauderdale residents seeing us off.  Let the adventure begin!

Gibbon Travel ~ Cruise Ship

Emerald Princess ~ one of the four pools, a couple hot-tubs, and the massive “Movies Under the Stars” screen in the background

Gibbon Travel ~ Cruise Ship

Emerald Princess ~ the Sanctuary

We wake in the morning to the sunrise on the live Bridge Cam via our stateroom T.V., and can see nothing but sea and horizon.  The feeling that we’re in the middle of nowhere is strangely freeing, as if not a single responsibility could reach us way out here.  Free to relax, and to do whatever we feel like doing.  Refreshing.  But, if the need for perspective arises, we can easily view a live map showing whereabouts we’re located at any given time.  This is fun to know so that if we spot land off in the distance, we have an idea of which country we’re looking at.

Gibbon Travel - Cruise Ship

Our view of nothingness!

Deliciousness

Enough said.  Seriously, everything is delicious.  There are so many options for dining onboard.  Of course, there is the open-early and closed-late buffet style eatery (Horizon Court), which serves three themed meals each day, along with never ending snacks, hot and cold beverages, fresh fruit options, and anything else we could even dream of wanting. There are also the poolside cafes, which serve burgers and hot dogs, pizza slices, soft serve ice cream, and freshly popped popcorn all day long.

For a more formal style of dinner, we visit the Michelangelo and Da Vinci Dining Rooms, which each have a menu that changes each day, and incredibly friendly and helpful wait staff to serve us.  The meals served in these venues rival the finest establishments we have found at home.

Note ~ all of these options are at included in the cruise fare. Delicious food is all the more delicious when you don’t have to make it, pay for it, or clean up after it, am I right?

Gibbon Travel - Cruise Ship

I’m not into the habit of photographing my food, I apologize. But, I did find a quick snap that I took of our shameful dessert hoarding to share with you all!

In addition to the included venues, there are specialty restaurant options that charge a nominal fee per person (on this ship, the specialty restaurants are SHARE by Curtis Stone, and the Crown Grill).  Both of which I’m sure are mind-blowing, but we don’t manage to get around to trying either one.  Next time….

Oh, and the 24-hour International Cafe is another great option for teas and specialty coffees, wine, and snacks.  Also for a small fee.

Activities

We could not be bored if we tried.  To relax, we book massages at the Lotus Spa, or take out a library book to read on deck.  Soaking up the sun in the mornings, wandering through boutiques and jewelry shops, and people watching in the Piazza are other chill activities that we greatly enjoy.

For our more lively moods, we can play croquet, golf, or basketball in the sports center, and participate in trivia and casino games in the evenings.

We have found the perfect balance between busy and relaxed.  Afternoon Tea in the dining room is a sophisticated way to meet new and interesting people, and the Movies Under the Stars screen is ideal for a sun-bathed, snack-fueled movie break.

Gibbon Travel - Cruise Ship

Bingo night! Wish I could say we won…

Gibbon Travel - Cruise Ship

Gatsby’s Casino

Gibbon Travel - Cruise Ship

Never-ending entertainment at the International Cafe

Gibbon Travel - Cruise Ship

The view we had while reading and enjoying in the fresh ocean air

What we enjoy doing most each day is strolling along Deck 7, which allows us to make a complete lap around the ship.  The air is salty and warm, the sun is always shining, the views are epic and the conversation is perfect.

We love relaxing with a hot tea and a good book on deck, trying to spot land in the distance, or to find whales racing alongside us.  We meet and get to know fellow travelers.  And most of all, we soak up every minute that we’re away from our day-to-day responsibilities.  If you want to feel relaxed, removed, and well taken care of, a cruise should definitely be your next trip.

Gibbon Travel - Cruise Ship

Our last night on the Emerald Princess

Do you have any questions or comments about the Emerald Princess?  Or about cruising in general?  I’d love to chat!

And if you’d like to read about the destinations we visited during our cruise, check out this post!

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