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Emerald Princess Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,737 Reviews

The good, bad, and ugly

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by Natslive

11 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Apr 2019
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Balcony

We chose this cruise for the full Panama Canal transit. We were on board for the first 15 days from LA to Ft. Lauderdale. The ports visited were Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco Mexico, San Juan Del Sir Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, full transit of Canal, Cartegena. This was our 12th Princess cruise and as usual embarkation was smooth and efficient. We enjoyed all the ports and took several excursions - more on that later.The ship had just come out of dry dock. Our balcony cabin was fine except that the balcony had numerous paint chips/rubber pieces all over. In order to get the door to lock we had to slam it. Numerous problems with elevators, laundry facilities didn't work, problem with toilet that was resolved fairly quickly. The food was just ok except for the Crown Grill which was excellent both times we went. Buffet was lacking in selections the few times we ate there, dining room ok, enjoyed the triple smoked burger at the Salty Dog Grill, wanted to go to Planks for the BBQ but was closed the several night we wanted to go. The service in dining room was wonderful, our sever was organized, efficient and very funny. We ate about 1/2 our dinner meals there. Bar service in Crooners was excellent as well. Entertainment was not bad, the production shows ok, comedian was fine, several guest entertainers were fantastic and a few others I could have skipped. Crooners pianist fine, the party band was ok but the other 2 entertainers were ones we checked out once and that was it as didn't enjoy. The destination speaker was outstanding, the other speaker Leo Rossi who talked about his time in rock/roll was interesting.

The really ugly part of the cruise were the shore excursions and the staff there. Our Puerto Vallarta excursion was a big disappointment as we only did 1/2 the tour and spent the last 15 min listening to our guide give a sales pitch for his products. We complained to desk and asked for a 50% refund. It took 4 days to hear back and after several lies they refunded us 25%. That was bad enough but the whole fiasco that occurred with the Costa Rica excursions is unforgivable. Except for tender ports we have never met on board somewhere before getting off for an excursion. For some reason this cruise we had to meet in the Princess Theater each day BUT there was no organization, no stickers or tours sitting together. For Costa Rica they had 1 gangway open and lost control as we were all leaving for excursions in long lines, people merging in from all over. We were in the 4th row of Princess Theater - made it to our bus but had to wait over 90 min for everyone to get there due to fiasco. Many people stood out in heat for over an hour, tours were cut short because they started too late - just a general incompetence. People complained to the desk but nothing happened - no apology letter, nothing - no acknowledgement of mistakes or loss of control. Just ridiculous. So bad that for last week of cruise it was a continuing topic of discussion everywhere. I filed a complaint with Princess upon returning home, they responded but all I heard during phone call was excuses - not a real understanding or comprehension of what had transpired.

Disembarkation was fairly seamless despite a bit of confusion with the transfer buses.

Overall despite everything we enjoyed the cruise but don't think we will be sailing Princess anytime soon as this definitely didn't live up to expectations based on our past experiences. There are other cruise lines such as Celebrity that have better customer service in my opinion.

Natslive's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Cabin BB B506

Usual size with balcony. Was fine except for debris on balcony and problem with door. Just had to slam to shut.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Only did 1/2 of tour as description was not accurate. No stopping at restaurant with view, no shopping except to stop at jewelry store where nothing else was open.

View All undefined undefined Reviews

Took an excursion to see area thru ship and was very good.

San Juan del Sur

Not really sure why this port. Not much to do and given state department advisory did not do an excursion. Did take tender over just to check out.

Train ride

Did the train ride and a short Eco cruise. Enjoyable.

View All 40 Train ride Reviews
Fuerte Amador (Balboa)

Took tender over, ended up going late due to backup so ended up just having a nice lunch in local restaurant.

City Tour

Took the hop on/hop off city tour complete with walking tour of old walled city.

View All 367 City Tour Reviews

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