We were just on the Emerald from 2/24 to 3/5/08 from Ft. Lauderale. The ship is huge. We had a great time. Every age group from newlyweds to seniors. We chose the Open Seating for dinner and had no problem getting a table. The dining room on the 6th floor gets a waiting line, so then we would go down to the dining room on the 5th floor. There is so much to do - something for everyone. The Horizon Cafe is for breakfast and lunch and then the Caribe Cafe, right beyond the Horizon Cafe has a continental breakfast, different theme lunches and dinners. On embarkation night, don't miss the Seafood Extravaganza held in the Horizon Cafe. It was great. The Caribe Cafe closes around 10pm and then opens up again at 11:30 p.m. for an evening bistro, with salads,sandwiches, fruit, cheeses and desserts. We didn't try the special restaurants, but heard from other cruisers, how wonderful the Crown Grill is - but it takes about 3 hours. Didn't hear to much about Sabatini's.
They have 4 pools and the one pool is where the movies under the starsis. They have two movies at night, usually 8pm and 10:30 p.m, they give you a blanet and popcorn. The hamburger grill is open from 11am to 1am. They have great burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, bratwurst, and of course french fries. The pizza grill has a different pizza each day. We really didn't care for pizza, as we come from an area where pizza is great. They have an ice cream stand near the pizza stand. Its Hagen-Daz, but they charge you for it. $3.50 for a cone. We didn't buy the ice cream from there, as in the Horizon Buffet each day was free ice cream around 3pm.
The only complaint we had was on the sea days when some cruisers would go up to the pool decks and put out towels on anywhere from 5 to 10 chairs. But during the course of the day, the deck attendants would remove the towels if there was no activity on the chair for 30 mins. or so.
We never had a problem getting a chair. I like the shade and my husband liked the sun. Also we aren't smokers and the smoke in the casino was terrible. Also we had a balcony and someone near us on another balcony must have been a smoker, as sometimes we had to keep our balcony door closed due to the smell. On the pool decks the smokers are kept to one area, which is great. There's nothing worse than getting settled and having someone next to you smoking, yuck!
Also we like to walk the promenade deck everymorning for exercise, but on this ship you started walking on one floor of the deck and then had to climb two sets of stairs, continue on that deck, and then come down the stairs. The stairs were close to the front of the ship and the sea spray made the steps slippery, even with sneakers onl. So we didn't do that too
I like the smaller ships but overall had a good time on the Emerald.
Hope you have a great time. We booked another Princess Cruise to the Panama Canal for next Feb. while on this cruise.