Star Princess Cruise Review by geezer408: Enjoyable cruise, disastrous disembarkation
Overall Member Rating
Enjoyable cruise, disastrous disembarkation
Destination: South America
We started with a lovely Princess Machu Picchu pre-cruise tour. The weather was perfect both days in the valley, and our guide was outstanding. We did experience altitude sickness the last night in our hotel in Cuzco and found out the next morning that the hotel provided 15 minutes of oxygen every 4 hours if needed. One passenger I talked to at breakfast did just that and said she recovered in the first 10 minutes and had a great sleep. Too bad we weren't told about this option. The flight to Valparaiso and the transfer to the ship went smoothly.
In Puerto Montt we took an all day smaller private tour to the Orsono Volcano, Petrohue waterfalls etc on a beautiful sunny day. The next was a sea day and we viewed the glacier on a very calm sea but somewhat cloudy day. It reminded us of our Alaska cruise.
We didn't find a tour that interested us in Punta Arenas and the town is pretty modest but we enjoyed our walking visit. Ushuaia was larger with a more developed center More which offered more to explore on another sunny day.
Cape Horn weather has a reputation for a wide range of possibilities but for us the sea seemed almost calm with moderate winds. Overall the Cape looked very bleak and must have seemed very unwelcoming to the first sailors in the area.
Like the Cape, the Falkland Islands have a reputation for a wide of weather and we ran into 60kt winds and seas much too high for tendering. This was a big disappointment to many who were looking forward to the famous Volunteer Point penguin sanctuary.
We took the Princess penguin tour on a bright sunny day from Puerto Madryn and it certainly was worth the somewhat long bus ride. In Montevideo we had a great private car tour of the city including a wine tasting at the Bouza Winery. Also had a lovely lunch at the winery and interesting a tour of the owner's classic car collection. Montevideo is a beautiful city with fabulous beaches and luxurious housing stretching for miles to the east.
The day before Montevideo we met with Passenger Services to book the proper time slot for disembarkation so we could connect with an 11:45am flight to Iguazu Falls from the AEP airport about 25 minutes max from the pier terminal.We were slotted "Independent Arrangements", the 26th group out of 61 total, departing the ship at 8:10am. We were assured by Passenger Services that we would make our flight despite, as we found out later, Princess new that about 8000 passengers would be disembarking from a number of vessels that morning, plus about a month earlier almost the same number were disembarking and Princess passengers were delayed in the range of three hours. Logic suggests we wouldn't be off until about 11:00am (which is just about exactly what happened). We quickly collected our bags, met our transfer service and got to the airport in short order but arrived at the check in desk about 7 minutes before departure and of course our seats had been reallocated.We checked with both airlines and neither had any space until around 2:00pm the next day, far too late for us. Two letters to Princess resulted in a call from Customer Relations with the explanation that "Extraordinary Events" caused the problems and Princess offered no assistance. We suggested that the situation was totally forecastable based on Princess's experience about a month earlier and we should have been in the third slot (Independent Passengers Early Arrangements) disembarking at 7:00am. The Customer Relations representative repeated that it was management's final decision but he had no argument to refute our logic so we asked to speak to someone in management with authority to review the decision or provide some sort of logical defense of their decision but Princess policy is not to allow that access. So we lost the $1700 prepaid cost of our tour plus, more importantly, we didn't see the Falls. We are in our late 70s and unlikely to return to the area. It is notable also that Princes slots "Princess Transfers to the EZE Airport for Flights Before 4:00pm!!!" in the 7th slot departing the ship at 7:10am which would also have worked for us but we weren't a Princess transfer.Needless to say we have little faith in Princess's concept of fairness and unlikely to use them in the future. Less
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