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With seven voyages under our belts with Princess Cruises, we had never considered the possibility of looking to another cruise line -- We never needed to do so. We have just completed an "average" cruise with Princess from the port of Houston down to Cozumel, Roatan and Belize. Unfortunately it was only average because of a number of annoyances which added up and put a damper on the trip -- something that hasn't happened to us before with Princess. One fellow Canadian traveler who we met on the ship put his finger on what we were feeling, that Princess "over-promised and under-delivered." I have to agree. We started cruising with Princess in 2009 and were blown away on our first couple of cruises -- the food was incredible, the selection was amazing and the service was outstanding from everyone on board. Princess passengers -- the repeat cruisers -- also seemed to be very classy and well behaved. Perhaps we were lucky in the first few cruises, but Princess set a benchmark that they haven't been able to meet consistently. Obviously rising costs and competitive prices have thinned their margins a little and they are trying to keep making a profit. You really notice it in the food - one of the staples of a great cruise. The cuts of meat are downgraded -- and you don't see crab and shrimp unless you "pay" $50 per couple for the Crab Shack, or lobster if you pay an extra $50 per couple for the Crown Grill. Don't get me wrong - we enjoy travelling with Princess and we think they are very good -- but they are starting to become really predictable and that's a bad sign. Staff at the Port of Houston are far less friendly than in the previous port of Galveston -- and the luggage handlers managed to break a hardshell suitcase between the curbside drop and it getting to my cabin. We also found something more disturbing -- a lower common denominator of behavior and manners from passengers -- something we noticed through recent sailings out of Texas. Worse is that the cruise line seems to let anything go among some passengers -- perhaps out of fear that a customer might not come back. But what if that customer is so offensive they drive off those of us who travel with them exclusively and every year? They need to consider that possibility. Onboard, there was a large chunk of poorly behaved clientele that one would expect to see at a bus station rather than on a cruise ship. Examples of behaviours: * Bathing suits with no coverups in the dining rooms * jeans and ballcaps on formal night! * drunks in the traditional dining area yelling loudly and talking inappropriately at the top of their lungs * the man in a wife-beater T-shirt on deck daily sporting white supremacist tattoos. * a huge group of boisterous children brought into the bar during serving hours for an Easter egg hunt among the paying patrons quietly enjoying the wine bar! * despite a plea from the captain on Day 1 about people being responsible for their children - some ran and yelled through halls after 10:30 as people tried to sleep. * I am not exaggerating - and no staff stopped them or intervened in any way despite being asked in all of these cases. Another major annoyance in travelling through Texas ports is that the state charges you for bringing in duty free liquor and cigarettes -- even if you are just passing through the state on your way out of the country! It cost us $7.00 for two small bottles of rum -- the state had set up a booth after US Customs manned by an obese sweaty man in a t-shirt stopping passengers who had been cleared to see if you have booze or smokes. After all the money we spent in the state on the way down to the cruise, staying at a hotel, dining in the area, visiting attractions, spending money contributing to the Texas economy, their parting gift to visitors is a parasitic tax on the way out. We also took a "tour" with Princess from the port through Houston and finally to the airport. The tour organizers didn't keep the group together and it took 90 minutes to get everyone through Customs. The buses we late and the tour was cut in half and included a five-minute stop at a museum and a five minute stop at the San Jacinto monument -- seriously! Five minute stops. Then the tour dumped everyone at one of the airport terminals forcing us to carry baggage past two adjacent terminals because you can's use a cart on the train! The tour was a disaster and cost us a fair dollar. Onboard, the activities are becoming predictable and standard - from bingo to trivia and karaoke. Unfortunately there were no interesting lectures and few learning experiences apart from getting a chance to learn how to play You Are My Sunshine on the steel drums:) Luckily, we had great scuba diving excursions in Cozumel, Belize and Roatan that made up for the lower standards on board the ship.

Minding your manners on cruise is not just a suggestion

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by canadanewsman

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
With seven voyages under our belts with Princess Cruises, we had never considered the possibility of looking to another cruise line -- We never needed to do so.

We have just completed an "average" cruise with Princess from the port of Houston down to Cozumel, Roatan and Belize. Unfortunately it was only average because of a number of annoyances which added up and put a damper on the trip -- something that hasn't happened to us before with Princess.

One fellow Canadian traveler who we met on the ship put his finger on what we were feeling, that Princess "over-promised and under-delivered." I have to agree.

We started cruising with Princess in 2009 and were blown away on our first couple of cruises -- the food was incredible, the selection was amazing and the service was outstanding from everyone on board.

Princess passengers -- the repeat cruisers -- also seemed to be very classy and well behaved.

Perhaps we were lucky in the first few cruises, but Princess set a benchmark that they haven't been able to meet consistently.

Obviously rising costs and competitive prices have thinned their margins a little and they are trying to keep making a profit.

You really notice it in the food - one of the staples of a great cruise. The cuts of meat are downgraded -- and you don't see crab and shrimp unless you "pay" $50 per couple for the Crab Shack, or lobster if you pay an extra $50 per couple for the Crown Grill.

Don't get me wrong - we enjoy travelling with Princess and we think they are very good -- but they are starting to become really predictable and that's a bad sign.

Staff at the Port of Houston are far less friendly than in the previous port of Galveston -- and the luggage handlers managed to break a hardshell suitcase between the curbside drop and it getting to my cabin.

We also found something more disturbing -- a lower common denominator of behavior and manners from passengers -- something we noticed through recent sailings out of Texas.

Worse is that the cruise line seems to let anything go among some passengers -- perhaps out of fear that a customer might not come back. But what if that customer is so offensive they drive off those of us who travel with them exclusively and every year? They need to consider that possibility.

Onboard, there was a large chunk of poorly behaved clientele that one would expect to see at a bus station rather than on a cruise ship.

Examples of behaviours:

* Bathing suits with no coverups in the dining rooms

* jeans and ballcaps on formal night!

* drunks in the traditional dining area yelling loudly and talking inappropriately at the top of their lungs

* the man in a wife-beater T-shirt on deck daily sporting white supremacist tattoos.

* a huge group of boisterous children brought into the bar during serving hours for an Easter egg hunt among the paying patrons quietly enjoying the wine bar!

* despite a plea from the captain on Day 1 about people being responsible for their children - some ran and yelled through halls after 10:30 as people tried to sleep.

* I am not exaggerating - and no staff stopped them or intervened in any way despite being asked in all of these cases.

Another major annoyance in travelling through Texas ports is that the state charges you for bringing in duty free liquor and cigarettes -- even if you are just passing through the state on your way out of the country! It cost us $7.00 for two small bottles of rum -- the state had set up a booth after US Customs manned by an obese sweaty man in a t-shirt stopping passengers who had been cleared to see if you have booze or smokes.

After all the money we spent in the state on the way down to the cruise, staying at a hotel, dining in the area, visiting attractions, spending money contributing to the Texas economy, their parting gift to visitors is a parasitic tax on the way out.

We also took a "tour" with Princess from the port through Houston and finally to the airport. The tour organizers didn't keep the group together and it took 90 minutes to get everyone through Customs. The buses we late and the tour was cut in half and included a five-minute stop at a museum and a five minute stop at the San Jacinto monument -- seriously! Five minute stops.

Then the tour dumped everyone at one of the airport terminals forcing us to carry baggage past two adjacent terminals because you can's use a cart on the train! The tour was a disaster and cost us a fair dollar.

Onboard, the activities are becoming predictable and standard - from bingo to trivia and karaoke. Unfortunately there were no interesting lectures and few learning experiences apart from getting a chance to learn how to play You Are My Sunshine on the steel drums:)

Luckily, we had great scuba diving excursions in Cozumel, Belize and Roatan that made up for the lower standards on board the ship.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Scuba Diving
    Nice diving in Belize, good visibility. Not as many species of fish as we are used to seeing at most dive sites - possibly because of heavy fishing in the region.
    View All 14 Scuba Diving Reviews
  • Scuba
    Amazing diving in Cozumel with Dive House -- saw massive groupers and baracudda. Excellent ratio of divemasters to divers and good facilities on the boat.
    View All 109 Scuba Reviews
  • Historic Downtown
    Cruise staff didn't get the group off the ship together, leaving us waiting for 90 minutes until everyone cleared customs. The buses were late. The tour was reduced to a drive to the airport with two five-minute bathroom breaks and we didn't even go to the two things we wanted to see - the battleship and the tony area of Houston.
    Then the bus dropped us off at terminal C and we had to carry all our bags to terminal A without a cart as you can't use them on the trains --- a waste of money and source of frustration.
    View All 1 Historic Downtown Reviews
  • Scuba Diving
    Good diving with many sites available. Managed to dive a wreck and see 8 turtles. One downside was only one tank per diver and we had to return to swap out tanks for fresh ones and then go back out to the site.
    View All 38 Scuba Diving Reviews