After nearly twenty cruises with Royal Caribbean / Celebrity, we booked a Panama Canal cruise on Emerald Princess leaving on 29 February 2020. Having never sailed with Princess before, we decided to do a test drive by booking Golden Princess for a 5 day cruise departing Adelaide on 25 January, visiting Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln and Phillip Island before disembarking in Melbourne.
Our assessment - Average. I am. hoping for better from Emerald Princess.
How did we reach that assessment:
Golden Princess will be handed over to P & O Australia in August and it shows. Maintenance levels seem to have dropped - plenty of signs of rust not being attended to was one indication.
We stayed in a very unusual stateroom - a Suite on Fiesta Deck (Deck 6) that does not have a balcony - it is one of six Suites created out of un-needed restaurant space or something similar. The room itself was large, with plenty of storage and a great bathroom, but no independent ventilation and an air conditioning system that was not working properly - the thermostat was set at 19 Celsius but the room temperature hovered around 23 Celsius for most of the cruise and on our only sea day hit 26 Celsius. Yes we reported it on Day 1 and No - nothing was done to rectify the issue.
We thought that the staff that we dealt with were friendly and helpful and the level of service pretty good (not good enough to overcome the issues raised earlier)
It is a bit hard to criticise the cruise line about the call into Kangaroo Island - the residents there had just experienced a serious bushfire, but lets be honest here - if you don't take up an overpriced shore excursion then bad luck - there was no independent transport that we could find and two hours ashore was ninety minutes too long.
Phillip Island was also a bit of a disappointment.
The icing on the cake for me though - and a warning for everyone concerns the issue of lost property. I (stupidly) left my R M Williams Sports Coat in the wardrobe in the cabin when we disembarked in Melbourne. I realised what I had done two hours later whilst at Melbourne Airport and called the Princess Customer Service number to report the loss - only to be told that I had to do so through their website. I did so immediately and (13 days later) am still waiting for a response to that email - I'd call that poor Customer Service. I followed up with a web chat and then 3 days later with another phone call to be told that company policy was to destroy clothing found on the ship for health reasons. I find this totally unacceptable in my circumstances - a relatively high value item located inside a cabin where the owner can be easily identified AND the owner has contacted within hours reporting the loss and stating that they can arrange for the item to be collected in Melbourne. I think on reflection that AVERAGE is a generous assessment of the cruise.
F303 is large but without external ventilation which makes it quite stuffy - especially as in our c are when the air conditioning is not working properly.
Stuck between a rock and hard place here - the shore excursions are over priced but there is nothing to do independently
Worth a walk around