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My wife and I had a very good relaxed vacation. The highlight of this cruise is able to witness the Panama Canal pass through and to see how it operates. It is a once in a lifetime experience. As for Emerald Princess Cruise it is a mixed review. Our stateroom, overall service and food are great. The embarkation and disembarkation are terrible. The entertainment is either a hit or a miss. As for ports, we enjoy Cartagena Old city, Puntarenas Costa Rica, Puerto Vallarta Malecon broadwalk. Below is our trip review details. I rated each category from 1 to 5 (1 worst to 5 best). We arrived at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood airport (FLL) on port day. From FLL to port Everglades, we used Lyft. It is very easy to use Lyft/Uber at FLL. FLL has a designated share riding pick up area. The cost of our ride is $10. Embarkation 1/5: This is my 7th cruise with Princess and this one was the worst cruise check in I ever have. It was a mess. No public announcement. We waited a long line pass through check in then sit and wait in a room with no instruction. It took us over 2 to 3 hours to board the ship. Later the captain apologized for the ship delay due to transit and offered each passenger a free drink voucher. StateRoom, 5/5: We stayed at room R225 deck 14 forward interior cabin. Our room is close to gym deck 16 and marketplace buffet deck 15. During the last 2 days of the cruise I do feel shaky in the room or anywhere in the ship due to the high wind. Overall, I do not feel motion sickness or noisy being in this stateroom. Our stateroom steward Vichan is excellent. He always greets us with a smile when we see him on the hallway. We bring a shower sponge so it is helpful for dispensing soap into sponge for showering. I also bring in Magnetic hooks that are helpful to hang papers and clothes on wall. Dining 4/5: We used anytime dining. Based on our entire cruise the wait time is very minimal less than 5 minutes wait. We request no sharing table. I don’t like their 2 person sitting table. They are too close to each other’s and it is like a share table. Because of this we talked and met other passengers during our dining. The food quality and service were very good. We had 3 formal dinners. The food quality at the dining is better than buffet section. As for breakfast and lunch we usually used the marketplace buffet, salty dog burger or pizza. Again food was ok. Pretty much same things you see everyday with some new stuffs add in daily. I wish Princess can make the buffet with a different theme country each day so we don’t get the same food every day. On the last few days I get bored of their buffet food. There was one night with seafood buffet with oyster, mussels, crab legs and giant shrimp. There are some occasions with Australian bbq, Asian ramen, pub lunch in the buffet section. We did not try any specialty dining. I ordered the deck 15 Salty dog “Ernesto burger & beer” $8 plus gratitude. Expect to wait 15 to 20 minutes for the Ernesto burger. As for their regular free burger it is very good. I always ask them to make it Medium with melted cheese otherwise they will make burger well done which I think is too dry. They also serve veggie burger and chicken sandwich but I never try them. As for coffee we bring in our instant coffee onboard. I did try their complimentary coffee it was ok not as bad as i thought. Don’t forget to try the international cafe pastries, cookies, desserts, and soups. Entertainment 3/5: I think this is the weakest part of this cruise. There is no music playing on the pool deck at daytime. On the last few days I see more music singing or DJ around lunch time. For the production show it was either a hit or miss. Some shows I like for example the comedian Phil Tag and the singer John Bressler are great. I am not a big fan of their broadway music show. I also like the piano guy he is very energetic, movie under the star, a couple of their game shows like marriage couples. Gym 3/5: It has lot of equipment. Gym opens daily at 6am and treadmill machine opens at 8am don’t know why? The yoga area is very busy in early morning with classes and other users. Gym is less crowded in the afternoon. If you are over 6 ft tall and if you use their treadmill you need to watch out for hitting the ceiling. Casino: we only use the gamble slot machines to cash out our excess on board credit and Princess gift card. The process is easy. Just go to any slot machine insert your room card select a pin # and choose the cash amount you want to charge from your room to the casino bank. Once this is done you can play a little bit of game. We ended up losing about $10 on the slot machine. When you are done you select cash out on the slot machine. Then you head out to the cashier counter give them your card enter your Pin # to cash out. We have an excess of approx $325 ($25 on board credit and $300 + gift card) at the end of the cruise so we cash out all on the last day. Before our cruise American Express has a deal offer of buying $500 gift card with $100 statement credit. We bring in the gift card to customer service deck on the first day of the cruise to redeem on my room account. Cartagena 5/5: We visited old city. This is a must see. We joined the Emerald princess shopping shuttle bus organized by the Effy store. You need to sign on their tour bus in the shopping talk. They charge $15 r/t per person paid at the end of the tour. We arrived at old city at around 9:15 and came back at 12:30. Once you are at old town you can join their shopping tour or do your own sightseeing and meet at a designated spot (church) at 12:30pm. We did our own sightseeing and we did not take their shuttle back to port. We took a taxi back to pier and it cost us $10. Old city is nice to walk around. Make sure do your research before you come so you know where to visit. I saw merchants came to me asked me to buy stuffs. We just said no thank you and they did not bother us. Panama full transit 5/5: This is a once in a lifetime experience to watch this Panama Canal pass through. Our cruise went through a full transit through two new lots. Agua Clara lot on the Atlantic side and Cocoli lot on the pacific side. I personally liked to watch the action from the front. On the first lot we spent most time on deck 15 forward. You can access here passing the emergency exit and you would have all the front view. We also watched from deck 16, 7, ... and aft side. You need to walk around the ship to watch different views front back and side. Princess has a commentator described events throughout the transit day. He is also the same guy described each port activity before we arrived at each port. Panama City (tendered dock) 4/5: We visited Casco Viego. This place Is very similar to Cartagena old town. We took princess complimentary shuttle bus to Albrook mall then from there I called Uber to Casco Viego $3.6 to explore on our own. Do your research know the area before you come. On the way back to Fuerte Amador port I ordered Uber to port cost $5.3. My phone is T mobile with simple choice plan and I have free international data. Data speed is 2G not fast but enough to check email WhatsApp message or use Uber ... Uber works out well and cheap in Panama City. It use the same Uber apps like in US. You will able to see the ride cost, driver name, make of car and license plate #. Costa Rica Puntarenas 5/5: My wife and I joined a day tour with Dimas Saravia (tratursa dot com). I found him from TripAdvisor review. Dimas met us promptly at the gangway at 8am with our name. It was a long fun day with him and 4 other cruise passengers from our cruise. We went to see monkeys, jungle crocodile safari boat tour and had a nice lunch at a resort up at the mountain with a nice view. The tour price was very reasonable. He told us a lot about the city and himself. I highly recommend his tour. Nicaragua San Juan Del Sur (tendered dock) 4/5: We try to walk from port to the Jesus statue. We walked the wrong way. When you walk along side the beach walkway to the end you see a crazy crab I walked to the right I should walk to the left to the beach. So I ended up taking a taxi $5 to the statue. There are approximately 100 steps to walk up. There is a guy at the entrance to collect $2 each entrance fees. The view up there is amazing. Must visit. We walked back to the pier. There are many shops, bars and restaurants near the port. Huatulco 2/5: We took a taxi to the town La Crucecita. We visited the white washed church then walked round down town and took a taxi back to cruise port. We then went to a bar at the San Jose beach for drinks and use their WiFi. San Jose beach is next to pier and it is occupied mostly by bars and restaurants. This is my least favorite port of this cruise. Taxi from port to town is $3 each way. Puerto Vallarta 5/5: We had a great time at Malecon. I highly recommend to come here. We took a local bus to Malecon. The bus stop is on your left side after you leave the main terminal gate. Bus fare is $10 peso each. I gave bus driver US $2 for 2 of us. Bus driver told us where to get off. We walked from Hotel Rosita all the way south to Romantic zone Los Muertos beach. At Los Muertos, there are many water taxis vendors if you like to visit the island. It was a easy pleasant walk along Malecon. I suggest come here after 10am when store open. Most people here are able to speak English well. There are many benches to sit down. There are many trees on the side so you can walk under shade. We visited the our lady of Guadalupe church, seahorse and many other statues. There are many shops and bars on the broadwalk. I bought a T shirt from senor frogs store. On the way back to cruise port, we took local bus with sign Wal-Mart and Sam Club in front. The cruise port stop is one stop before Wal-Mart. We stopped by Walmart to buy some stuffs before we head back to ship. Highly recommend to come visit Malecon by bus. Note Uber is available in Puerto Vallarta. Disembarkation (1/5): delayed again. Our schedule departure time was 9:05am and we left platinum lounge at 10:50am. Immigration line was long and by the time we left San Pedro terminal was 11:30am. The disembarkation delay was not princess fault. The terminal has very limited immigration staffs to handle all passengers. Once we complete immigration our luggages are in our designated area to pick up.

Emerald Princess 15 days Panama Canal relaxed vacation mixed review

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by bigdaddy930

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My wife and I had a very good relaxed vacation. The highlight of this cruise is able to witness the Panama Canal pass through and to see how it operates. It is a once in a lifetime experience. As for Emerald Princess Cruise it is a mixed review. Our stateroom, overall service and food are great. The embarkation and disembarkation are terrible. The entertainment is either a hit or a miss. As for ports, we enjoy Cartagena Old city, Puntarenas Costa Rica, Puerto Vallarta Malecon broadwalk. Below is our trip review details. I rated each category from 1 to 5 (1 worst to 5 best).

We arrived at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood airport (FLL) on port day. From FLL to port Everglades, we used Lyft. It is very easy to use Lyft/Uber at FLL. FLL has a designated share riding pick up area. The cost of our ride is $10.

Embarkation 1/5:

This is my 7th cruise with Princess and this one was the worst cruise check in I ever have. It was a mess. No public announcement. We waited a long line pass through check in then sit and wait in a room with no instruction. It took us over 2 to 3 hours to board the ship. Later the captain apologized for the ship delay due to transit and offered each passenger a free drink voucher.

StateRoom, 5/5:

We stayed at room R225 deck 14 forward interior cabin. Our room is close to gym deck 16 and marketplace buffet deck 15. During the last 2 days of the cruise I do feel shaky in the room or anywhere in the ship due to the high wind. Overall, I do not feel motion sickness or noisy being in this stateroom. Our stateroom steward Vichan is excellent. He always greets us with a smile when we see him on the hallway. We bring a shower sponge so it is helpful for dispensing soap into sponge for showering. I also bring in Magnetic hooks that are helpful to hang papers and clothes on wall.

Dining 4/5:

We used anytime dining. Based on our entire cruise the wait time is very minimal less than 5 minutes wait. We request no sharing table. I don’t like their 2 person sitting table. They are too close to each other’s and it is like a share table. Because of this we talked and met other passengers during our dining. The food quality and service were very good. We had 3 formal dinners. The food quality at the dining is better than buffet section.

As for breakfast and lunch we usually used the marketplace buffet, salty dog burger or pizza. Again food was ok. Pretty much same things you see everyday with some new stuffs add in daily. I wish Princess can make the buffet with a different theme country each day so we don’t get the same food every day. On the last few days I get bored of their buffet food. There was one night with seafood buffet with oyster, mussels, crab legs and giant shrimp. There are some occasions with Australian bbq, Asian ramen, pub lunch in the buffet section.

We did not try any specialty dining. I ordered the deck 15 Salty dog “Ernesto burger & beer” $8 plus gratitude. Expect to wait 15 to 20 minutes for the Ernesto burger. As for their regular free burger it is very good. I always ask them to make it Medium with melted cheese otherwise they will make burger well done which I think is too dry. They also serve veggie burger and chicken sandwich but I never try them.

As for coffee we bring in our instant coffee onboard. I did try their complimentary coffee it was ok not as bad as i thought. Don’t forget to try the international cafe pastries, cookies, desserts, and soups.

Entertainment 3/5:

I think this is the weakest part of this cruise. There is no music playing on the pool deck at daytime. On the last few days I see more music singing or DJ around lunch time. For the production show it was either a hit or miss. Some shows I like for example the comedian Phil Tag and the singer John Bressler are great. I am not a big fan of their broadway music show. I also like the piano guy he is very energetic, movie under the star, a couple of their game shows like marriage couples.

Gym 3/5:

It has lot of equipment. Gym opens daily at 6am and treadmill machine opens at 8am don’t know why? The yoga area is very busy in early morning with classes and other users. Gym is less crowded in the afternoon. If you are over 6 ft tall and if you use their treadmill you need to watch out for hitting the ceiling.

Casino: we only use the gamble slot machines to cash out our excess on board credit and Princess gift card. The process is easy. Just go to any slot machine insert your room card select a pin # and choose the cash amount you want to charge from your room to the casino bank. Once this is done you can play a little bit of game. We ended up losing about $10 on the slot machine. When you are done you select cash out on the slot machine. Then you head out to the cashier counter give them your card enter your Pin # to cash out. We have an excess of approx $325 ($25 on board credit and $300 + gift card) at the end of the cruise so we cash out all on the last day. Before our cruise American Express has a deal offer of buying $500 gift card with $100 statement credit. We bring in the gift card to customer service deck on the first day of the cruise to redeem on my room account.

Cartagena 5/5:

We visited old city. This is a must see. We joined the Emerald princess shopping shuttle bus organized by the Effy store. You need to sign on their tour bus in the shopping talk. They charge $15 r/t per person paid at the end of the tour. We arrived at old city at around 9:15 and came back at 12:30. Once you are at old town you can join their shopping tour or do your own sightseeing and meet at a designated spot (church) at 12:30pm. We did our own sightseeing and we did not take their shuttle back to port. We took a taxi back to pier and it cost us $10. Old city is nice to walk around. Make sure do your research before you come so you know where to visit. I saw merchants came to me asked me to buy stuffs. We just said no thank you and they did not bother us.

Panama full transit 5/5:

This is a once in a lifetime experience to watch this Panama Canal pass through. Our cruise went through a full transit through two new lots. Agua Clara lot on the Atlantic side and Cocoli lot on the pacific side. I personally liked to watch the action from the front. On the first lot we spent most time on deck 15 forward. You can access here passing the emergency exit and you would have all the front view. We also watched from deck 16, 7, ... and aft side. You need to walk around the ship to watch different views front back and side. Princess has a commentator described events throughout the transit day. He is also the same guy described each port activity before we arrived at each port.

Panama City (tendered dock) 4/5:

We visited Casco Viego. This place Is very similar to Cartagena old town. We took princess complimentary shuttle bus to Albrook mall then from there I called Uber to Casco Viego $3.6 to explore on our own. Do your research know the area before you come. On the way back to Fuerte Amador port I ordered Uber to port cost $5.3. My phone is T mobile with simple choice plan and I have free international data. Data speed is 2G not fast but enough to check email WhatsApp message or use Uber ... Uber works out well and cheap in Panama City. It use the same Uber apps like in US. You will able to see the ride cost, driver name, make of car and license plate #.

Costa Rica Puntarenas 5/5:

My wife and I joined a day tour with Dimas Saravia (tratursa dot com). I found him from TripAdvisor review. Dimas met us promptly at the gangway at 8am with our name. It was a long fun day with him and 4 other cruise passengers from our cruise. We went to see monkeys, jungle crocodile safari boat tour and had a nice lunch at a resort up at the mountain with a nice view. The tour price was very reasonable. He told us a lot about the city and himself. I highly recommend his tour.

Nicaragua San Juan Del Sur (tendered dock) 4/5:

We try to walk from port to the Jesus statue. We walked the wrong way. When you walk along side the beach walkway to the end you see a crazy crab I walked to the right I should walk to the left to the beach. So I ended up taking a taxi $5 to the statue. There are approximately 100 steps to walk up. There is a guy at the entrance to collect $2 each entrance fees. The view up there is amazing. Must visit. We walked back to the pier. There are many shops, bars and restaurants near the port.

Huatulco 2/5:

We took a taxi to the town La Crucecita. We visited the white washed church then walked round down town and took a taxi back to cruise port. We then went to a bar at the San Jose beach for drinks and use their WiFi. San Jose beach is next to pier and it is occupied mostly by bars and restaurants. This is my least favorite port of this cruise. Taxi from port to town is $3 each way.

Puerto Vallarta 5/5:

We had a great time at Malecon. I highly recommend to come here. We took a local bus to Malecon. The bus stop is on your left side after you leave the main terminal gate. Bus fare is $10 peso each. I gave bus driver US $2 for 2 of us. Bus driver told us where to get off. We walked from Hotel Rosita all the way south to Romantic zone Los Muertos beach. At Los Muertos, there are many water taxis vendors if you like to visit the island. It was a easy pleasant walk along Malecon. I suggest come here after 10am when store open. Most people here are able to speak English well. There are many benches to sit down. There are many trees on the side so you can walk under shade. We visited the our lady of Guadalupe church, seahorse and many other statues. There are many shops and bars on the broadwalk. I bought a T shirt from senor frogs store. On the way back to cruise port, we took local bus with sign Wal-Mart and Sam Club in front. The cruise port stop is one stop before Wal-Mart. We stopped by Walmart to buy some stuffs before we head back to ship. Highly recommend to come visit Malecon by bus. Note Uber is available in Puerto Vallarta.

Disembarkation (1/5):

delayed again. Our schedule departure time was 9:05am and we left platinum lounge at 10:50am. Immigration line was long and by the time we left San Pedro terminal was 11:30am. The disembarkation delay was not princess fault. The terminal has very limited immigration staffs to handle all passengers. Once we complete immigration our luggages are in our designated area to pick up.
bigdaddy930’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin IF
We stayed at room R225 deck 14 forward interior cabin. Our room is close to gym deck 16 and marketplace buffet deck 15. During the last 2 days of the cruise I do feel shaky in the room or anywhere in the ship due to the high wind. Overall, I do not feel motion sickness or noisy being in this stateroom. Our stateroom steward Vichan is excellent. He always greets us with a smile when we see him on the hallway. We bring a shower sponge so it is helpful for dispensing soap into sponge for showering. I also bring in Magnetic hooks that are helpful to hang papers and clothes on wall. We are very happy with our room. We found a great deal this cruise so it is very good value for the money.
Lido Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Cartagena (Colombia)
    We visited old city. This is a must see. We joined the Emerald princess shopping shuttle bus organized by the Effy store. You need to sign on their tour bus in the shopping talk. They charge $15 r/t per person paid at the end of the tour. We arrived at old city at around 9:15 and came back at 12:30. Once you are at old town you can join their shopping tour or do your own sightseeing and meet at a designated spot (church) at 12:30pm. We did our own sightseeing and we did not take their shuttle back to port. We took a taxi back to pier and it cost us $10. Old city is nice to walk around. Make sure do your research before you come so you know where to visit. I saw merchants came to me asked me to buy stuffs. We just said no thank you and they did not bother us.
    View All 757 Cartagena (Colombia) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cartagena (Colombia) Cruise Port Review
  • Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
    From FLL to port Everglades, we used Lyft. It is very easy to use Lyft/Uber at FLL. FLL has a designated share riding pick up area. The cost of our ride is $10.
    View All 1,987 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Review
  • Fuerte Amador (Balboa)
    We visited Casco Viego. This place Is very similar to Cartagena old town. We took princess complimentary shuttle bus to Albrook mall then from there I called Uber to Casco Viego $3.6 to explore on our own. Do your research know the area before you come. On the way back to Fuerte Amador port I ordered Uber to port cost $5.3. My phone is T mobile with simple choice plan and I have free international data. Data speed is 2G not fast but enough to check email WhatsApp message or use Uber ... Uber works out well and cheap in Panama City. It use the same Uber apps like in US. You will able to see the ride cost, driver name, make of car and license plate #.
    View All 85 Fuerte Amador (Balboa) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Fuerte Amador (Balboa) Cruise Port Review
  • Huatulco
    We took a taxi to the town La Crucecita. We visited the white washed church then walked round down town and took a taxi back to cruise port. We then went to a bar at the San Jose beach for drinks and use their WiFi. San Jose beach is next to pier and it is occupied mostly by bars and restaurants. This is my least favorite port of this cruise. Taxi from port to town is $3 each way.
    View All 192 Huatulco Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Huatulco Cruise Port Review
  • Puerto Vallarta
    We had a great time at Malecon. I highly recommend to come here. We took a local bus to Malecon. The bus stop is on your left side after you leave the main terminal gate. Bus fare is $10 peso each. I gave bus driver US $2 for 2 of us. Bus driver told us where to get off. We walked from Hotel Rosita all the way south to Romantic zone Los Muertos beach. At Los Muertos, there are many water taxis vendors if you like to visit the island. It was a easy pleasant walk along Malecon. I suggest come here after 10am when store open. Most people here are able to speak English well. There are many benches to sit down. There are many trees on the side so you can walk under shade. We visited the our lady of Guadalupe church, seahorse and many other statues. There are many shops and bars on the broadwalk. I bought a T shirt from senor frogs store. On the way back to cruise port, we took local bus with sign Wal-Mart and Sam Club in front. The cruise port stop is one stop before Wal-Mart. We stopped by Walmart to buy some stuffs before we head back to ship. Highly recommend to come visit Malecon by bus. Note Uber is available in Puerto Vallarta.
    View All 1,010 Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port Review
  • Corobici River
    My wife and I joined a day tour with Dimas Saravia (tratursa dot com). I found him from TripAdvisor review. Dimas met us promptly at the gangway at 8am with our name. It was a long fun day with him and 4 other cruise passengers from our cruise. We went to see monkeys, jungle crocodile safari boat tour and had a nice lunch at a resort up at the mountain with a nice view. The tour price was very reasonable. He told us a lot about the city and himself. I highly recommend his tour.
    View All 2 Corobici River Reviews
  • San Juan del Sur
    We try to walk from port to the Jesus statue. We walked the wrong way. When you walk along side the beach walkway to the end you see a crazy crab I walked to the right I should walk to the left to the beach. So I ended up taking a taxi $5 to the statue. There are approximately 100 steps to walk up. There is a guy at the entrance to collect $2 each entrance fees. The view up there is amazing. Must visit. We walked back to the pier. There are many shops, bars and restaurants near the port.
    View All 108 San Juan del Sur Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's San Juan del Sur Cruise Port Review