It's long, not complete, and it happened to real people, 8 adults and 2 children.
This 17 day cruise through the Panama Canal and up to Vancouver on the Coral Princess was to be a perfect family vacation. My wife and I were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, her 70th birthday, and my 75th, all in 2011. We had booked and paid for three side by side mini suites. My son and his family completed the embarkation paper work in a separate line from us, and my daughter and her partner. My son registered a Master Card, and my daughter a Visa. They were in separate rooms.
No problem getting on, and from then on it was a great cruise. Our rooms were better than expected and our room steward, Rosalie, was a real gem. My wife and I have had a number of cruises (Platinum Level) and no one could compare, or even come close, to Rosalie.
We enjoyed tours in Aruba and Cartagena, and the Canal crossing was great despite the rain. The clouds and rain probably saved us northerners. Fuerte Amador and Puntarenas tours were great, and so was the tour with Libby in Cabo San Lucas, the dolphin swim for my granddaughter, and snorkeling for the rest of them. Three of our group visited Alcatraz and were very,very, pleased with the tour.
Everybody was always happy with the food, service, and room service.
After we left San Francisco it turned colder and cloudier, but that's not the fault of any cruise line.
But what had already started to happen can't be blamed on the weather, just PRINCESS CRUISE LINES.
When the credit card statements came before San Francisco ALL my daughter's charges were on my son's Master Card. My daughter went down and signed in her Visa again. How they got mixed up I can't imagine, But the same thing happened again when we got to Vancouver. My daughter HAD to go and register her card again, a THIRD time.
(Imagine what a comedian could do with this on stage!)
We were just lucky this happened between family members. Others may have experienced this.
My son and I were more than a little ticked off with PRINCESS. He later decided to ask that the $11/day charge for his two children be reversed for the last two days. He was told it had been. I witnessed this. But it seems it hasn't been. Typical???
Then there was the matter of services paid for the cruise, assuming it was for 17 days as shown on our itinerary. Our son bought stickers to put on his two children's room cards. This showed that pop, chocolate milk, hard ice cream, non alcoholic drinks, etc. were prepaid. They ran out in San Francisco. My granddaughter asked for hot chocolate at lunch and, no, we'd have to pay for that. She had lemonade instead.
Out of 8 adults in our party of 10, 6 bought tickets for the Sanctuary at the stern, $210 per person.
I know my receipt said for the "full cruise". It turned out that PRINCESS had a different interpretation for that, one that hadn't been communicated to myself, or the girl who sold the space to me.
That 'payment for a privilege' also ended in San Francisco! If I had wanted to sit in the 'Sanctuary' to watch the city fade away like a bad dream, I would have had to pay for the space I took up.
Later on the next day we were advised by the captain that due to adverse currents, and leaving the last port late, we weren't going to get to Vancouver on time. 10:00 became 11:30. Passengers with flights out before 4:00 p.m. would have to make alternate arrangements. Phone calls were free, but soon swamped. Internet was free but with only less that 12 public computers and very slow internet service, you'd have to be very lucky. My daughter-in-law did find there was a later flight out, but that was it. My time on the internet had run out and no mention was made of it being free to all.
I just couldn't accept the adverse currents being that "unexpectedly" strong. For a ship as powerful as ours?? And later I found out on "Cruise Critic" that we were late leaving the last port due to the complete failure of the security system when boarding the many people who were travelling to Vancouver or Alaska. Some had to wait in line for an hour and a half. Little did they know what they were all in for.
Some time after we went for our last dinner and a show, someone delivered luggage tags and directions for putting luggage out to be collected. The directions advised us to put out what we could by 10:00 p.m., and the rest out by 10:00 a.m.. On this four page set of directions it also showed the time and place we could meet on the ship to be taken down for our departure. Our tags indicated we were last in the group of, "INDEPENDENT ARRANGEMENTS WITH EARLY AFTERNOON FLIGHTS", to meet an hour and twenty minutes after the first group who had a 11:30 meeting time. Any hope for four of our group who had a 2:10 flight was gone.
Besides that one of our group was given a different coloured tag, indicating a time 40 min. later that the rest of us.
Now some days prior to this we had been given a form to fill out and hand in. Our group were in four different cabins so I collected four forms and filled them all out the same. I requested an early time off the ship for each cabin. When I took these to passenger services these were stapled together. I offered to write on an explanation for the request but was told that wasn't necessary. I wish I had ignored her. Later I was to find it was all ignored.
Anyway, we three men hurried down to passenger services to see if we could make some changes. There we found two people at the desk and a line stretching half way across the ship. During the 30 min. wait there was lots of time to study the schedule of passenger departure times.
It really annoyed me to see that the first off had a "PRINCESS CRUISE HOTEL PACKAGE - 3 NIGHT TO VICTORIA". Then "SEATTLE BUS TRANSFER". This was followed by two groups who could get there own luggage off. Then three groups "YVR FLIGHTS TO USA PRINCESS AIR" , another walk off, a "YVR FLIGHTS WITHIN CANADA/NON-US WITH PRINCESS AIR", another couple of walk offs and two organized tours, and then "PASSENGERS WITH PRINCESS TRANSFERS TO YVR AIRPORT".
One walk off group was next, and then 1 hr, and 10 min. later than the first PRINCESS group the people who hadn't paid anything but the price of their cruise, plus some people who could obviously be late.
This understandably led to thoughts of discrimination on the part of PRINCESS CRUISE LINES.
We finally got to the counter and tried to get on the early group as previously requested. We were given a story about customs requiring it to be that way and threatening fines if it were changed. We were given a time 20 min. earlier to appease us. As for the charges for changed flights, it was suggested that perhaps our flight insurance would cover it.
As well the person with the later departure tag was given one that put him with the rest of us.
We got off the ship about 1:00 and started the search for our luggage. My wife and I found ours last, about 1:30. It came out with a mixed set of tagged luggage, some which should have been off well before.
By 2:00 we were all in the van we had arranged to take us to the airport, and then home.
Now I had looked out at 6:30 that morning. The ship was sitting still off Victoria in calm seas. About 7:00 it started to move slowly. Later it was going faster, but not hurrying. When I was home I looked up the website for the dock we eventually tied up at and found no indication of a 10:00 booking, only an arrival at 11:32.
Later a retired police officer, a fellow passenger, informed my son that he had looked out about 4:30 a.m. to find us in the same position I witnessed two hours later.
Makes you wonder!
Makes you want to travel with PCL again doesn't it.
With all our cruises with PCL we only had one problem, and this seems to have been corrected.
Obviously more needs to be done, and the buck stops at head office.