Princess Cruises Guests Upset at Long Delay, Little Compensation

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Guests boarding Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess for an extended Mexican Riviera cruise this week were frustrated by a lengthy delay for their sailing with what seemed to be little regard from the cruise line.

The cruise was originally scheduled to depart on Tuesday, December 12, and while part of the delay was expected, it turned out to be a much longer wait to set sail than anticipated.

Crown Princess Delayed Until Next Day

Crown Princess was originally scheduled to set sail on a 10-night Mexican Riviera sailing from San Francisco at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, December 12. Several days before embarkation, however, guests were notified of a delay because of harbor conditions that wouldn’t permit the ship to dock.

A buildup of silt near the dock, along with unexpectedly low tides in San Francisco Bay, meant the 113,561-gross-ton, Grand-class ship would have not have the required under keel clearance to dock at the designated time.

All guests were notified on Sunday, December 10, that the cruise would be embarking at 6:30 p.m. instead, and were asked to delay their arrival to the terminal. Guests who did arrive at the previously scheduled time were also explained about the new situation and delay.

Crown Princess Cruise Ship
Crown Princess Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: eyematter)

Ultimately, Crown Princess did not depart until 1:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and some guests had been waiting many hours before they could embark the vessel.

The ship can welcome 4,800 guests aboard at full capacity, and is also home to 1,200 international crew members.

What Did Guests Do?

While Princess Cruises had advised guests not to arrive at the terminal until later in the day, many guests still arrived early, and the cruise line took steps to ensure their comfort as best as possible.

“Several hundred guests who could be accommodated in the terminal were provided with snacks and refreshments while they waited,” a statement from the cruise line said.

“In addition, Princess Cruises worked with the nearby Hyatt hotel to arrange an alternative space in the hotel’s convention area for more than 1500 guests. This arrangement included transportation to and from the hotel, as well as snacks and refreshments.”

Many guests remained in San Francisco enjoying the city’s many sights and attractions before proceeding to the cruise port later in the day.

Whether guests arrived at the cruise port and opted to wait or visited the city, they all received a $25 onboard credit for the inconvenience and as compensation for the delay.

Some guests, however, feel the compensation is minimal considering the extended delay, which lasted hours longer than first expected. While snacks and water were provided to waiting guests, those items were much more limited than the food that would have been provided onboard with embarkation lunch buffets, main dining room meals, pizza, ice cream, room service, specialty dining, and more.

Because of security restrictions at the cruise terminal, guests could not arrange food delivery while waiting at the port, and many travelers did not want to leave and risk losing their place in line for embarkation.

It should be noted that Princess Cruises’ Passage Contract, section 8 does cover changes in timing, particularly when such circumstances are outside the cruise line’s reasonable control.

“You shall have no claim against [Princess Cruises], and [Princess Cruises] shall not be liable for damages or a refund of the Cruise Fare, … nor for hotel or meal charges, travel expenses or other loss, delay, inconvenience, disappointment or expense whatsoever … whenever the cancellation or change was otherwise beyond [our] exclusive control,” the contract reads.

Bay silt buildup and low tides are very much beyond the cruise line’s control. Nevertheless, Princess Cruises did provide the onboard credit.

Because the first three days of the sailing are days at sea, there do not appear to be any immediate changes to Crown Princess’ itinerary. Her first port of call will be to Manzanillo on Saturday, December 16, followed by Puerto Vallarta on Sunday and Mazatlán on Monday. After another day at sea, the ship will visit Cabo San Lucas on Tuesday, December 19, and will return to San Francisco on December 22.

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