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Author Topic: New Member: Review of Caribbean Princess Panama Canal Feb 6-16th, 2018  (Read 347 times)
Orinoco Flow
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« on: February 27, 2018, 05:53:04 PM »

Hi all,

I'm new here. I came because CC censored this post and I became really disillusioned with the site as a result and felt I couldn't trust it.

But, onwards! I will repost here and I look forward to your insights and feedback.  I was actually getting great, useful feedback on CC Before they canned the thread.

Best,

Orinoco Flow (I used this handle there, too)

Background: My husband and I just finished our third cruise with Princess. We'll be Ruby after this cruise but frankly, we're very uncertain whether we'll continue. we'd be interested in the perspective of others with more experience. It's not so much that the things are fouled but it seems Princess isn't able to keep their word -they really disappointed us twice-and they don't seem to care if they do or not.

WARNING: this is a long post but I promised my fellow PAX I'd put this all down.

Understand, before I start, that on our last cruise (Dec 2016) we were on the ill-fated Grand where the cruise was cut short by 2 days at the last minute due to the tender door issue. Princess, to their credit made things as right as they could, with a generous discount on our next cruise, putting us up in a nice hotel in SF for the extra two days (and we live here so it was really unnecessary but a nice treat), and giving us generous OBC for our next cruise.

Fine, we figure, these things happen. We book the Caribbean Princess for the Panama Canal.

Now on to this cruise: as many of you know, the itinerary changed. They swapped out Ocho Rios for Grand Cayman. I had been to Grand Cayman before but my husband hadn't, so it wasn't a major hardship. They also reported the ship was traveling "slower"-which didn't seem to be a major issue. Also, the Cartegena port stop was vastly shortened, but again we were eager to get out of town. (in hindsight) the measly $50 in OBC granted for all this was really not something we should have accepted, but I digress).

Here's what went well:
1. Early embarkation. We got to FLL early, (like 10am) and we were onboard and at lunch by 12:30. Our stateroom steward was a rockstar - the best we've ever had on Princess.

2. Crown Grill: easily one of the best steaks we have ever had on land or sea; and we frankly can't understand how anyone could be disappointed with the food quality or quantity. We are food snobs, especially when it comes to beef; and I've paid triple the amount for lower quality steak in very famous steak houses. We also loved the "black and blue" french onion soup. We tried this at the recommendation of a fellow pax and that alone is a reason to go to Crown Grill.

3. The sanctuary. Based on CC users (thank you) I toodled up early to get a reservation on Cartegena day to try it out and boy did we regret not booking for every sea day. We were able to snag a morning spot later in the cruise, and even during a small squall it was so relaxing, quiet and fun. (that said service really wasn't what they promised, the real relief is an escape from the crowds and chair squatters, as well as the ever present blaring music).

4. The new TVs in the room are large and while we didn't really watch any movies, we have been on some cold weather cruises where we really would have lvoed it. We used the tv mostly to watch destination presentations, the ship's log, and some of the princess only filmed travel stuff. (we tried very hard to stay off news and other stuff for what we think are obvious reasons: it's a vacation!)

5. The salty dog and pizza counters are amazing, and yes, the ernesto burger is absolutely worth it. The deck staff were attentive, friendly and ever present. When I ordered the ernesto burger to eat at movies under the stars, the deck staff brought it to me! (it's a 25 min wait for it).

6. I have a professional theater degree and the "Bravo" show as well as the comedians and musical entertainment on the ship was fantastic. We had our second cruise with David Juneau as a pianist and we've come to call him our friend now, which we love. There was also a great jazz band who did a super long set in the wheelhouse bar (3 sets) and please Princess, more of this!

7. As always we continue to believe the food is excellent value for the money especially in the international cafe (we are coffee card users and love the unique pastries there).

8. When we had to accelerate the trip to Cartegena to get several pax to emergency help, we sincerely appreciated being allowed to disembark at 9pm and go to Cartegena at night!. The port is very hot during the day. This may not be for everyone, but my husband speaks fluent spanish so we were well equipped to handle this and had a ball. We were so happy to have that time there as much of what's cool about Cartegena is at night. 

9. Disembarkation. As walk on/walk off cruisers, we have learned something this trip. We got up at 6 am, and left the room with all our bags. then we went to the international cafe for our last coffee and waited until the dining room opened about 7ish. We were off the boat at 7:30 am. Yes, you have to leave the ship early, but with the early boarding, and beating the hassle of crowds in elevators and whatnot, we felt it a fair trade. Also easier to get a taxi!

NOW YOU ARE WONDERING HOW ON EARTH WE COULD BE MADE SO UNHAPPY? READ ON.

1. Panama Canal/Cristobal.
The major incident here was that 1700 pax were left in the Cristobal terminal with almost no services for hours awaiting a delayed ship. we were told there was a natural gas ship that required a six hour delay. We do not believe this as canal crossings are scheduled a year or more in advance and cruise ships pay far more.

When our bus arrived (and we were some of the lucky ones as we were on the all day transit so we only were stuck there 90 mins or so , and bless their hearts the tour operators let uair-conditionedir conditioned bus, and thankfully we'd all hit the restrooms before leaving). there were 4 portapotties in Panama with 1700 pax waiting for the ship to return.

NO FOOD
NO WATER

Finally the ship arrives, and ONE gangway is open. I have photo and video of the lines waiting to board 1700 people simultaneously. As we're waiting to board, the head of shore excursions, Luis, tells us how they're going to "let" us go to dinner in casual dining clothes, and not enforce the dress code. OH REALLY? thanks, dude.

Imagine if you'd taken a short tour and planned to be on the ship by 4, but didn't board til 9pm? Imagine how you'd feel!

They tell you to eat a hearty breakfast, but they don't arrange for sandwiches or other things. We just went to the buffet and got rolls with meat and cheese (those ziplocks we packed came in handy!) - or you could order the sandwiches the night before and pack them up, which is also a good recommendation. The all day tour did have a nice lunch, and plenty of free sodas and water, which we appreciated.

2. Limon
So the next morning we're supposed to go on our all day tour to the rain forest and for me this was the port I was most looking forward to. We were a bit delayed, about 2 hours, we were told, due to "engine issues" (and after speeding into Cartegena we really didn't get this), and frankly, we did have a nice morning on the Promenade where birds were at eye level and we saw a pod of dolphins.

But then suddenly we were delayed again. And our all day tour was cancelled. At first they told us the shore excursion couldn't be re booked at all! I was furious: if I had had time to research in advance I'd have been ok, but with now limited time in port we were hosed.
The lines and frustration at the excursions desk, well you can imagine.
Finally my husband notices one of the shore excursions pepole is rebooking folks and we manage to get on a greatly shortened tour (which was only $20 cheaper than our original tour so ***). Perhaps the delicious irony is that we were delayed by traffic so we didn't get back until 6:30pm and they had ot hold the ship for us.

3. Grand Cayman
I was so excited as a diver to take my non diver husband to snorkel with stingrays. We'd booked an all day tour on valentine's day that was also to include lunch and drinks on a private beach. WE got up super early to be on the tour and AS WE WERE WALKING ONTO THE TENDER THEY CANCELLED THE TOUR. We had little money (it was to be an all day thing, remember?) and no credit cards and had to tender back then tender out again. We ran into some friendly fellow pax who got us out of our funk and went with us to seven mile beach for an hour an half; but with no snorkel gear and no chair available, it was really, really disappointing. Princess is terrible when something goes wrong. Surely this can't be the first time tours are cancelled for weather? Why wasn't someone there to say, "wait right here, we'll work on an alternative for you?" The fact is I pay for Princess tours not just because of the guaranteed return but because I'm very busy and I don't have time to do all the planning I'd need to do tour on my own.

4. How princess handled it all:

I was willing to let Cristobal go. But after Limon I started a daily trip to the service desk to explain our situation. My husband's parents are elite and frankly, we were looking forward to that day when we became elite cruisers. I explained to the desk that thi wasn't about money per se; it was about trust. I looked forward to this trip all year, particially because of those two shore days and neither met my expectations. Half of our tours were not fulfilled. I said after what had happened last year and now this that we really didn't know if we wanted to continue. They basically grin f--ed us. They kept tellin gus to come back the next day; and some "manager" basically promised us they'd send us a letter to our stateroom with how to resolve this once we are off the ship; Well you can imagine how that went. Everyone on the cruise got the same "go f- yourself" letter.

I'll answer any questions you want about stuff I may have left out because it's tiring writing all this up! We were so disappointed and frustrated and while we really, really love cruising; and overall felt princess was good value for money; these disappointments coupled with their "so what" attitude have left us considering other cruise lines.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback.
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Ruby Captain's Circle
Caribbean Princess Panama Canal Feb 2018
Grand Princess SFO - Mexico Dec 2016
Star Princess Buenos Aires - Antarctica Jan 2008

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Caribbean Cruise 2001
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2018, 08:54:17 PM »

Thanks for your review.  On the Caribbean Princess you should always expect the unexpected, especially with the C.P. port engine problem slowing down the ship.
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NSWP
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2018, 07:02:36 PM »

Welcome to Princess Chatter and thanks for your review.  I have had a couple of posts removed from 'that site' in the past few weeks.  They are a bit touchy.

Not done Caribbean in full, only a couple of Ports when we did Panama Canal on Coral from FLL to LA a few years ago.  I would like to do the whole Caribbean thing though. Grin
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CHEERS..Les from Batemans Bay, NSW, Australia

Princess Elite Cruiser, (480 days,) also cruised with Celebrity, P&O Australia and P&O UK, Carnival, Cunard and Sitmar.

Last Cruise:   March 2017 - QM2 - Sydney to HK - 18 nights.

Future Cruises:
May/June 2018 - Sapphire Princess - Scandinavia B2B with Sapphire - Baltic Heritage.  Total 21 nights.
June 2018 - Royal Princess - British Isles - 12 nights.
RichC
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2018, 03:21:33 PM »

I quickly read you post & couldn't see why CC might have pulled it. Strange indeed.
Having comments censored by CC is nothing new, especially for myself. They hate for anyone to post truthful comments that actually happen & shed a bad light on Princess.
It happens regularly as soon as something is of negative opinion. I do believe the comments on their bulletin board are controlled by Princess directly and if they do leave it posted you be chastised by dozens of their cheerleaders.

Never the less I'm reading that most of your disappointment came from cancelled or tours that had delay problems.
This could have easily happened on any cruise line although Princess could have been more sympathetic.
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obendus
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2018, 11:52:54 AM »

I quickly read you post & couldn't see why CC might have pulled it. Strange indeed.
Having comments censored by CC is nothing new, especially for myself. They hate for anyone to post truthful comments that actually happen & shed a bad light on Princess.
It happens regularly as soon as something is of negative opinion. I do believe the comments on their bulletin board are controlled by Princess directly and if they do leave it posted you be chastised by dozens of their cheerleaders.

Never the less I'm reading that most of your disappointment came from cancelled or tours that had delay problems.
This could have easily happened on any cruise line although Princess could have been more sympathetic.

Who would go-to a site named 'Cruise Panderer'? The legitimacy of a site that is paid for by advertisements on behalf of the industry the site 'claims' to critique is suspect at best. Active censoring of posts unfavorable to the marketing of cruises, or those that reflect unenthusiastic imagery of the cruise experience seems to be not only permitted, but policy at 'that other board'.
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