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  1. Australian cruises have been cancelled till June 15th, in accordance with Australian Govt requirements. https://www.princess.com/news/notices_and_advisories/notices/australia-cancelled-voyages.html Interestingly, the compensation for passengers on these newly cancelled voyages seems less generous than previous cancellations. Previous cancellations from 60-day pause: Option A: 100% FCC + 50-125% Bonus FCC (depending on how far away the departure was) Option B: 100% Refund + 25-100% Bonus FCC Latest cancellations in Australia: Option A: 100% FCC + $50-$5000 bonus FCC (depending on the cruise length - $500 or less for cruises under 25 days) Option B: 100% Refund + NO Bonus FCC I don't know if this new policy is unique to Australian cruises, but it's not entirely unexpected given the likely cash-flow situation. Maybe a sign of things to come for Alaska cruises as well ...
  2. We didn't receive the late embarkation notice for FLL, but embarkation was slow. I'm not sure when embarkation began in the morning (maybe someone else that arrived earlier can chime in), but embarkation was slow and backed up when we showed up at around 1PM. I think we waited around 30 mins or so in the lounge after getting our cruise cards. Unrelated, the ship also left port a couple of hours late that day, as they were loading supplies well into the evening. Disembarkation in Long Beach was also delayed - they announced that this was due to unexpectedly long immigration times. At around 10 AM, they were running an hour or so behind the times posted in the patter for the luggage tags, and all the disembarkation lounges were full. They made announcements that passengers should wait in other lounges till further notice. I'm not sure when it caught up, as they were still behind when we finally disembarked close to 11 AM.
  3. On the holiday sailing, they said there were 345 kids (out of ~3100 passengers). I’m assuming that number will be lower on your cruise. In no particular order, our kids enjoyed the following on the sea days: Sports Deck activities – Deck 19 aft. They enjoyed the golf, croquet, bocci ball and basketball on several days. There were generally always other kids there when we went, but it was not too crowded and we didn’t have to wait long to get a turn. We had a great weather though sometimes it was pretty windy up there (which added to the kids’ enjoyment). Camp Discovery – Deck 18, the kids club. There were organized activities on the sea days (solar system/planet modelling with clay, ping pong and fooseball tournaments and so on) which were a hit. There were 15-20 kids in camp on most sea days, so at other times that they just hung out and/or played games in smaller groups. Crafts – There were a few craft arts-and-crafts activities even outside of camp discovery (check the patter), that were suitable for the entire family. On our sailing these got full relatively quickly, so you had to show up early. Wake-Show Write-ins – This may sound a little silly, but they really enjoyed sending in jokes to the Wake Show (there’s a box in the library, Deck 7 fwd) and having those (and their names!) read out on TV by the cruise director. They even won a wake show drawing prize one day … it was a Princess coaster. Family Fun-Fair – This happens on one of the sea days in the Piazza – they have a few activities like face painting, and a few games like bean bag toss. There are small prizes for each game you master. This can be fun, but it was a little crowded on our sailing. Pizzas, Fries, Ice-creams and Screen Time – We tend to limit screen time and food like pizzas and ice-creams on land, but are much more generous about these on cruises. So the kids had a blast having ice-creams, jellos, pizzas, fries and so on every day. And watching more movies than they usually get to. The in-room TV had a selection of family movies, and also interesting documentaries and animal channel/science TV shows. Swimming Pool and Open Decks – There were a couple of days towards the end where it was a little colder and the ship rocked a little more, but otherwise the weather was great for pool and deck. In addition to the pool, they also enjoyed lounging on the deck chairs and reading books they had got along. There were a couple of kid’s books in the ship library, but I wouldn’t depend on it. Interacting with Crew, Santa Visit and Duck hunts – as mentioned in my original post. Cooking Show – on the final sea day, the Executive Chef and Maitre d’ put on a cooking/comedy show, followed by a tour of one of the galleys. This has been a standard on all the Princess cruises we’ve been on, and is usually fun. Not Doing Homework – enough said. Couple of other notes: We went to the "Breakfast with Stanley" activity, but were not impressed with that. It's just an MDR breakfast (with special bear-shaped pancakes for the kids), and Stanley comes to visit for a few min and poses for photos at each table. We didn't feel it was worth it. We got the unlimited photo package ($299 onboard and $249 pre-cruise). It may be a little pricey but we felt it was worth it for us as it was a long cruise, and they had some formal or informal backgrounds setup almost every evening - and it was great to have photos as a family. They had photographers roaming around the ship for special events (and the canal transit as I noted previously) - any photos from that was also included. We ended up with a thick stack of photos from the cruise. Hope you all have a great time!
  4. @Thrak - @snoozecrooze is correct, the CD was Aaron Hawkins. He said he had just transferred over from Ruby Princess in Australia, and was jetlagged the first few days. I'm not sure of Sophie's last name. Scottish Ken was still onboard as one of the assistant CDs. We didn't interact much with him other than for one event (Stargazing), that happened to be a complete disaster. (Though I'm not sure how much of it was his fault, vs just overall poor event planning by whoever was scheduling it.)
  5. Over the holidays, we went on a 15-day Panama Canal Transit from Ft Lauderdale to Los Angeles, on Emerald Princess. The cruise was fantastic – and rather than a detailed chronological review, I wanted to share our highlights and lowlights. For context, we have two kids (<10 years), and this was our fourth Christmas cruise on Princess. We’ve previously been on Holiday cruises on Regal, Star and Caribbean Princess. We’ve previously also been on Carnival, NCL and Celebrity cruises, but Princess has been our default cruise line for the past few years. Sorry this post is long! Highlights There were many things we enjoyed about this cruise, but to call out a few: Ports and Itinerary – we enjoyed all of the ports on this itinerary. In Cartagena, we went to the old city and then the bird sanctuary right where the boat docks. In Puerto Amador, we went on the Embera Indian village visit – very enjoyable. In Puntarenas, we went on the rainforest aerial tram, butterfly garden and sloth sanctuary tour – a big hit with the kids. In the other ports (San Juan del Sur, Huatulco, and Puerto Vallarta) we mostly just went to the beaches and/or short city walks – each with its own flavor. One other thing we enjoyed in this itinerary was the mix of sea days and port days … it was good to enjoy a relaxing sea day after every one or two port days. Panama Canal – naturally, this was a highlight of the cruise, and it was amazing to see this wonder. The ship went through the new (Agua Clara and Cocoli) locks. We alternated between viewing areas on multiple decks (16, 15, 8, 7) over the course of the transit. They had commentary on the open decks and in the buffet area throughout the course of the day – giving interesting facts as well as calling out points of interest as we passed them. I hadn’t realized it ahead of time, but the transit was a full-day affair … we approached the Atlantic locks around 6 AM, and by the time we were in the Pacific it was past 6 PM. The decks were really crowded early in the morning as we approached the locks, but the crowds thinned during the day (especially when it drizzled a little). It was still crowded, just not as much. They had ship photographers on land taking photos of passengers as we transited the locks. Some folks had made posters they held up while being photographed. I had read “The Path Between the Seas” before the cruise – I highly recommend that book to more deeply understand the magnitude of what the Panama Canal builders achieved! Crew – As always, the ship crew were amazing. They were very friendly and made the cruise memorable for us (especially the kids). I particularly appreciated the waiters in WFM and at Tea Time who’d come talk to the kids every day, the servers at International Café, the ship photographers who worked hard to get smiles, and the room stewards (who even made towel animals on a couple of days!), Aaron (CD), Sophie (Assistant CD) and the entertainment staff, the cleaning staff around the ship … in short, pretty much everyone. All with pleasant smiles on their faces! The crew on every cruise we’ve been on have worked hard to make it fun for us, and this was no exception. And as usual we spent the final morning filling out a thick stack of “Moments that Matter” feedback cards. Santa – This was a holiday cruise, and Santa came to the Piazza to hand out gifts to the little kids. This is such a fun tradition on Princess. (The captain or bridge officer of the watch usually makes announcements 5-10 minutes earlier saying they have spotted an unidentified flying object or boat, and as it gets closer they announce it’s a sled, they see reindeer … and then that Santa has landed on the ship and coming down to the Piazza … and then finally Santa walks down to the Piazza, preceded by the band playing “Santa Claus is coming to town”. Santa sits in the Piazza, and there’s a long line of kids who go to Santa one a time to get a gift and pose for photos). It’s such fun event for the kids. One thing we liked on this cruise was that since the ship was going to be in port on Christmas day, they had Santa come the previous evening. On previous cruises, Santa came during the day on Christmas day even when the ship was in port … which meant we had to cut short our port trip that day to be there for Santa’s visit. Duck Hunt! – I have to thank our fellow CC members for this. Our kids found a few hidden toy ducks over the course of the cruise, and it was really fun for them. The best part for me was that they never complained about waiting in any lines on this cruise no matter how long it took – they happily used that as opportunities to go duck hunting while we stood in line! It was the first time I had even heard of the hidden ducks … thank you CC members! Also thank you to the Santa’s helpers who left fun little things in the stockings outside our door. There were many other “standard” things we enjoyed about the cruise, such as the International Café, kids club, tea time, “British Pub Lunch” day, the Wake Show write-ins, music and football games on MUTS, daily sudoku/crosswords, and so on … too numerous to call out in detail, but all of them together helped make it a great vacation. Lowlights Of course, not everything was perfect, and there were a few things we didn’t enjoy as much: Flooded Stateroom - we woke up at 4 AM on day 3 of our cruise to wet, soggy carpets across the whole cabin! Apparently one of the pipes in the bathroom started leaking overnight, and overflowed to the room. Everything on the floor (suitcases, bags, formal shoes, backpacks ... including stuff inside the backpacks) was wet. Princess laundered and sanitized the stuff, but we ended up having to throw away a bunch of things. They also sent some folks with vacuums to mop up the carpets, and had large fans in the room all day to dry it out (making the room inaccessible to us). Despite this, the room had a very musty odor, and Princess finally offered an alternate room late that night (~10 PM ... well past the kids' bed times). Even then there were disconnects between guest services and the hotel staff about the move. It was a disappointing day overall, and we had to deal with some ongoing issues for the next several days. But, you know, stuff happens, and I kept reminding myself that even a disappointing day on a cruise is better than a full day at work! We moved on from it and still had a fun vacation overall. Princess did give some OBC, and a couple of free onboard services to help with the inconvenience. Ship Age - The ship seemed generally well maintained, and had new carpets, mattresses and so on after the April dry dock. But there were a few minor incidents over the course of the cruise where I think the age showed. On embarkation day, there was water dripping from the ceiling in Lido WFM buffet area. On day 3, our room flooded due to leaky pipes as noted above. Later in the cruise, someone was complaining about their bathroom getting flooded that afternoon due to leaky pipes. In one of the tendering ports, we were delayed by an hour due to “technical issues” with the ship tenders. One evening, the entire ship lost power! The engines shut down (so did the room lights and TV, most deck lights, MUTS, hot tubs, etc), and only emergency lighting was on. It was fully restored in 15 min – the captain came on air three times to reassure us that though we were drifting, we were in navigationally safe waters with no other traffic. On a different day, one of the production shows was cancelled as the stage lift equipment stopped working – it was rescheduled to the following day. Again, none of these were big in and of themselves … but I’ve never run into any of the above on other Princess ships I’ve been on. These could’ve been isolated incidents – so if you’re booked on Emerald, know that it’s still a great ship that I’d happily go back on! Food – This is of course subjective, but overall we were not impressed with the food choices, compared to other Princess cruises we’ve been on. I have to note that we only go to WFM – so the MDR food might have been good. Particularly if you’re vegetarian, there were not many choices on several of the days in WFM. I think I still did put on a couple of pounds on the cruise though … so the hot dogs, pizzas, ice-cream and desserts were clearly not all that bad 😉 Entertainment – This is also very subjective, but we were not impressed with the entertainment assortment on this cruise. On other cruises, we’ve seen more variety (more comedians, acrobats, magicians, and other “kid-friendly” shows), compared to this cruise where it was mostly singers and vocalists other than the production shows. The performers were good, but we’d have enjoyed more variety. Also, they hardly had any performances in the Piazza … the Panama brochure said there’d be some “Panama carnival” festival in the Piazza to highlight local flavors – we didn’t have that on this cruise (unless I missed it). Some of the organized events (in particular the Stargazing Event) were complete flops. Overall we feel happy and very fortunate that we got to go on a great cruise, enjoy quality time as a family and see the marvel that’s Panama Canal. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions!
  6. I made some changes to our booking that resulted in part of the payment needing to get refunded back to us. I had used a combination of multiple credit cards and gift cards to make the original payments over several months - and the refund amount was more than the charge on any single card. So I was curious to see which card(s) would get refunded. What the Princess rep said their policy was: they would refund the last (most recent) credit/gift card for up to the amount paid with that card, and then work their way backwards through each credit/gift card (for up to the amount originally paid with that card), till the total refund amount was met. What actually happened was: they refunded the last credit card for the amount paid with that card, then skipped all the gift cards, and refunded the earlier credit card till the total refund amount was met. I actually prefer this, since it means I don't have to carry around the gift card to add to my onboard folio on the cruise! They said it'd take up to 15 business days for the refund to get processed, and they were right - it took them 10 business days. Just wanted to share in case anyone else runs into this situation!
  7. Hi everyone, I'm new to these boards (this is my first post!) We've been on Princess a few times, booking directly through princess.com. Based on some tips on this site, I'm thinking of transferring the booking for my next cruise to a TA. From reading this site, I understand that I need to send a form to Princess (I'm within 60 days of original booking date, and it's not paid in full yet) - and my booking conf number, stateroom number, OBC and so on will remain the same. I also understand that for any changes to the booking such as "re-fares" in future I will have to call the TA and not Princess directly. But I had some questions that I couldn't find answers to, that I was hoping the experts here can help with: 1. Can I transfer the booking to a TA even if it includes flights through EZ Air? Anything special to be aware of? And if the EZ Air flights need to change in future for any reason, will the TA to handle that, or will I need to go through Princess directly even after the booking is transferred? 2. What about things like booking shore excursions, making dinner reservations, and so on? Can I use the princess.com Cruise Personalizer for those, or will they also need to go through the TA after the booking is transferred? 3. And for the remaining cruise fare payment - can I pay directly to Princess through the cruise personalizer if I wanted, or will all future payments need to be made to the TA? I'm thinking of transferring to a "big box store" TA to get some additional OBC, if that makes a difference. The cruise is in Dec 2019, so there's still plenty of time to make the final payment (and for the fares to go up/down!). Thank you for any information you can provide!
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