Great Relaxing and Fun Cruise

Emerald Princess Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 4
Helpful Votes: 50

Overall rating:

4.8 out of 5
Emerald Princess

15 Night Panama Canal - Ocean To Ocean Westbound (Fort Lauderdale To Los Angeles)

Sail date: December 18, 2019

Ship: Emerald Princess

Cabin type: Suite

Cabin number: D227

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review summary

We had a great time and met some wonderful people from all over. This cruise met our expectations based on past experiences with Princess. Each cruise has had differences in entertainment and food, but none as been 'bad.' The food wasn't highest on the list with Princess Cruises, but it was not the worst we've experienced. We certainly never went hungry. As always, the staff was top notch, and a major reason why we stick with Princess. We did have issues - delays on tenders, power went out and engines stopped for a short time one evening, and terrible delays on embarkation and disembarkation - but all in all everything was great. Sadly, the biggest drawback to this cruise came from other passengers. There were times where I had to walk away not to listen. Everyone has things that are not up to their liking, but when people try to band together to get others to be angry with them, it just makes those people miserable. Yes, things happened. No need to whine or let it ruin your cruise. If I did that I would gotten angry at least 3 times a day when people tried to get on the elevator before others got off. I just shook my head, no sense in getting frustrated at lack of etiquette. And it was refreshing to see a Princess employee tell a passenger to use tongs and stop touching the bananas, lol. As I stated earlier, we had a great time. And though it wasn't always perfect, it was always relaxing, worth the money, and better than being at work. .

Embarkation

4 out of 5
We had a long delay (2 hours), due to issues with Customs, which were out of Princess' control. They did their best to keep u comfortable and informed, when they had no real answers for us.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
Service was fantastic as always. We mostly ate in the MDR, and with this being the first 'Non-Club Class' experience in 5 cruises, I was apprehensive. As it turned out, we had the same server for 9 of the 13 days, and Robert was fantastic! We liked the food. Some nights were better than others, but meals were never cold, arrived quickly, and was overall very good. We had breakfasts in the buffet. Selection was not varied, but adequate for our needs. The one thing I do not like about the Fresh Market Place on this ship is how it is split into 4 non-connected sections. I totally understand why it is so, as there was no other way to make the buffet area bigger. I heard the food at night was pretty good, though we have never eaten in a buffet at night, on any cruise. Crown Grill was wonderful, as always. We tried Planks, and the only complaint I had was the amount of food, and the guilt I felt in wasting so much I wasn't able to eat. I will go there again on Princess, as the food was fantastic. But this time, I think I'll pay for 2 and try to insist that they bring only one meal. We also did Balcony Dining, and it was fantastic with both food quality and service.

Onboard Activities

5 out of 5
We did some of the silly games, such as carpet bowl, and Taboo. Mostly we sat at the Explorers lounge and watched the trivia and game shows there. I never participate, except will those sitting next to us, but I love watching them. We did the Ultimate Ship Tour and it was fantastically informative, and the loot we got - 4 pictures, a plush robe, an apron, and stationary - had a value of more than the tour price, so for us it was a win win (even though I wouldn't have spent that money on those items outside of the tour ;)

Entertainment

5 out of 5
We didn't see any of the stage shows this cruise, but the entertainment in the lounges, piazza, and on deck was great. One comedian was extremely funny, and we saw all 4 of his shows. Being a Christmas/New Year cruise, there were a lot of other entertainment 'tidbits' such as caroling and dances by staff in the Piazza.

Explorers Lounge

5 out of 5

My favorite lounge on all the Grand Class Princess ships. It's the center of the promenade, and a great place to people watch, look at the windows, and just hang. We are usually at the bar and facing the stage so we can watch the games, bands, comedians, and such. We have also always had super friendly bartenders at this venue, and really missed this lounge on our cruise on the Regal. Love this lounge!

Children's Programs

We had no children with us.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
As always the service was top notch! We spent a lot of time at the Explorers Lounge in the evenings, as we could watch games and entertainment,people watch and talk to the friendly and funny staff all from one place. Our room steward was on top of things, and was always ready with a smile, a hello, and a thank you (I made him towel animals every day, and he said no one had ever done anything like that for him and was very appreciative). Dining staff was always friendly (except for a new guy one night at the beginning of the meal, but we are all subject to having bad moments occasionally). Olena, the hostess at Di Vinci MDR, was exceptionally friendly and welcoming. All in all, everyone, everywhere had a smile and a good morning/afternoon/evening, as they walked by.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
Though I do like the layout of the Caribbean Princess a bit better (it's just different for some of the venues) the layout is good. The Grand Class ships are our favorite, and though some are a bit more user friendly to our cruising habits, the Emerald was familiar and worked for us. The rest rooms and toilets are a bit worn in the public places, and should probably be replaced/updated on next dry dock. There always seemed to be a 'under maintenance' sign somewhere. But nothing close to making our cruise unpleasant. There was always cleaning going on somewhere, and I didn't run across any areas that were particularly in need to TLC. In fact, the Explorers lounge had just gotten new chairs and on our ship tour there was a huge amount of carpeting ready to be installed. Up on deck 16, near the Tradewinds bar, the tables out front could use some umbrellas.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
This mini suite was extremely comfortable, and had a chair and a couch. The balcony was large enough for us to do balcony dining and not have to move out existing furniture to bring in new for the dining experience. Yes, the cabins above can look down on to your balcony, but we knew that from the past, and were okay with it. We had no issues with plumbing, and the bathroom was clean and of a good size.

Ship tip

Tip #1: Be okay with things happening that at less than perfect. If you do, you won't ruin your vacation with m=being miserable over things that don't really matter. Ship Happens and if you let it get to you, it will. Tip #2 If you eat in the MDR, figure out a good time to eat. On this sailing if we arrived between 6:30 and 7:00 pm, we never had a wait. When we left at 7:30 and on, there was always a line. I am thinking that each sailing would be different, but if you watch you can get to know your fellow passengers.

Ports of call

Cartagena, Colombia

5 out of 5
We didn't do an excursion or even go into the old city, as we've been here before. I thoroughly enjyed the little area at the end of the port though. I wanted to at least get off the ship, and this little areas with the gorgeous birds, was perfect to fill the hour I wanted to stay ashore.

Panama Canal Transit

5 out of 5
What was there not to like? We had great weather and though we've gone through the Gatun Locks before, it is still so interesting.

Fuerte Amador, Panama

5 out of 5
We did a brief boat ride excursion and I saw the Howlers, Red Necked Tamarins, Capuchins, and sloths I had hoped to see. Friendly and informative guides, made it all the better. There was a long delay with the tenders, and we did have to wait a long time, but except for not knowing how long we were going to have to wait, I didn't let it ruin my experience. We still went, and that one hour wait, was just a hour moved from sitting on the ship after the tour to before. A lot of people canceled excursions and were extremely angry about the wait, but the only ones that anger affected were themselves. The ship did what they could, and our excursion was not affected at all.

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

4 out of 5
We did not do an excursion here, and the souvenir/tourist area around the port was overcrowded and not extremely appealing. I spent the hour off the ship that I had expected to, got my magnets, and went back to the ship.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

5 out of 5
We did a tour to a hacienda where we got a great view of the volcanoes. We also went to Rivas where were toured the old church. The highlight of this tour was the guide, who was very informative about the history and politics of Nicaragua, and the changes that are now under way, and in the makings.

Huatulco, Mexico

5 out of 5
Again, we just visited the port area. This is a beautiful small town. Extremely clean and friendly and welcoming. This is a place that I would consider coming back to and spending some time at.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

4 out of 5
We only got off again, and this was not a port to do that. Walmart was across the street, and the port area had hardly anything for the casual tourist. Other than those areas, you had to take a taxi to experience the city.

Disembarkation

3 out of 5
Long wait of over 2 hours to get off the ship. I gave this 4 stars, as it wasn't due to Princess and I put it all on Customs & Immigration. Princess did what they could to keep us informed, but due to the delay, passengers who arrived earlier to the meeting places than their set times, made those that arrived on time have no where to sit. That part could have been handled better. But then, those people would have had no where to sit. Since this seems to be happening more with customs, maybe princess needs to rethink the waiting to get off and passenger waiting areas. Also, we had a Princess Transfer t the airport, and got dropped off at the wrong terminal at LAX. It worked out okay, as we had a long wait to fly out, but it could have been really bad, if we were in a hurry to get our g=flight.
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