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Emerald Princess Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,737 Reviews

A Panama Canal cruise should be on everyone's bucket list!

Emerald Princess Cruise Review by marygvancott

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2020
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Interior

We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We wanted to go from Fort Lauderdale FL to Los Angeles CA through the Panama Canal. We were not disappointed. The best part, by far, of this cruise was Bill Fall. This incredibly knowledgeable man held several presentations, sharing slides that helped us understand the history and construction of the canal far better than we ever expected.

Next to Bill Fall, the best part was our cabin steward, Jonathan. We have cruised many times on various lines and he is at the top with his genuine helpfulness and positive nature.

Our dining experience was average to better than average overall. Crown Grill was exemplary for a specialty restaurant on a ship - best steaks ever. Anytime dining very helpful to our schedule, though we didn't have the advantage of the same server to accommodate our tastes. The food was better than average overall. We appreciated having outdoor options as well.

Entertainment was as expected. Some shows very fun and others not so. The cruise staff personalities varied to such an extent that we found ourselves picking the evening activities based on who was hosting.

Ports very interesting overall. Huatulco is a beautiful sleepy beach town but if you choose a "Highlights of Huatulco" shore excursion, please note that there aren't many highlights in Huatulco. Stick with sitting on the beach as that's the best part. Our favorite shore excursion sponsored by the ship was the La Paz waterfall trip in Costa Rica - well worth it! We also went off the ship's excursion list with a Vallarta Food Tour in Puerto Vallarta (10 stars!) and a segway tour in Cartagena (another ten!).

And top marks to Princess for having a texting service that allowed my family to stay in touch while on the ship. You put your phone in airplane mode, select the ship MedallionNet wifi option and add your family names as contacts. This was wonderful for us to be able to know where all six of us were at any given time.

The best part was going through the Panama Canal - I think everyone should do that at some point in their lifetimes!

marygvancott's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review


Very clean and lots of space - an interior room. Only complaint was the bed and pillows - guess we missed our bed at home. Bring magnet hooks to put on the wall as it really helps expand your ability to store things.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

We did not take an excursion but we did arrive a day early and enjoyed visiting the marina and local stores.

Segway Tour

Fantastic tour! Cesar very knowledgable. We would definitely do this one again.

View All 11 Segway Tour Reviews
Fuerte Amador (Balboa)

Not a whole lot to see here unless you like a downtown setting or a very old city

Our guide Evelyn made this a very special trip for us. What waterfalls! and the animals we got to see were amazing too - butterflies, mammals, hummingbirds... and orchids! Lunch very delicious though slightly rushed for us who happened to be at the end of the line.

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San Juan del Sur

We signed up for a visit to Granada and that's what we got. But there aren't a lot of highlights in this poor country and we picked a shore excursion that had a long drive and then not a lot to see but it did give us a view of the countryside. Just ok.


This shore excursion was doomed from the start. It was a perfect storm of things that could go wrong and did. An overly enthusiastic extrovert of a guide sort of put people off from the beginning - he was nice and well-intentioned but he just didn't mix with the personalities on the bus. Kudos to him for trying, especially after he cut himself with the broken glass incident. He just didn't have much to work with as "highlights of Huatulco" is sort of a misnomer - there simply aren't any except for the view from the cliff top. We liked the snacks provided but there wasn't time to eat them. He gave a talk on how things are made in a wonderful gift shop but then whisked us out before we could shop!? But then he took us to a Princess store where similar items were being sold and - how about that - did give us time to shop. He said we'll see mariachis and dancers but then took us inside and showed us movies with mariachis and dancers. Sadly, this was probably our worst shore excursion ever in all of our cruises...

Our favorite shore excursion this trip! We were given a walking tour in Pitillal and taken to places where street food was served - OMG! carnitas, carne asada, tamales...even popsicles! We were stuffed but it changed our idea of what makes great Mexican food. Can't recommend these food tours enough - we'd do this again!

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