Our Horrible Customer Service Experience With Princess Cruises

Our Horrible Customer Service Experience With Princess Cruises

In January, we took our first cruise. It was with Princess Cruises and it was fabulous. So, we booked another one as soon as we came back. Our 2nd cruise will be with Princess Cruises in December. After that, I highly doubt we ever sail with them again unless they address what I am sharing now promptly.

My Horrible Experience With Princess Cruises

We have been making payments on our cruise pretty much all year. I misread the final date of payment as October 8th, when in reality it was the 6th. I discovered this a week or two ago and called Princess to see if we could have a 2 day extension as we had our payments scheduled out based on that date. After my customer service rep spoke to someone else, she assured us it would be fine.

I called back 3-4 times over the next few days to make more payments. There are 4 of us going and we are each paying our own way, so that is why we are making so many payments. Each time, I made sure that my 2 day extension was still in place. Each time, I was assured that it was.

Apparently When You Book With Princess You Get Autopay Whether You Want It Or Not

Tuesday night {October 6th}, I get home to find that my Paypal account has been charged the final payment. Since I did not have the money to pay it in my Paypal account, it charged it to my backup card which is tied to my bank account. I called Princess to see why this occurred and was told that I had set up autopay when I made my booking. This is not true and I did my booking via phone with Princess. She said that I used my card to book the cruise which is true, but I did not authorize anyone to auto charge future payments to my card. It was a one time payment.

This woman told me there was nothing that she could do and that I would have to call back the next morning to speak to someone else. They open at 8am EST so I called them bright and early at 8am on Wednesday {yesterday} morning.

I was told that they would be issuing me a refund and that I should receive it in 24 hours. I also asked the customer service representative if I could make a payment later that day and she assured me that I could.

I called back later that day to make that payment {yesterday afternoon} to find out that the first person did not put in the paperwork for the refund and this new person {Kathy in Customer Relations} said she would. She told me that I should get my refund within 24 hours. She also would not take my payment as she said that it appeared that I owed a zero balance {thanks to the faulty charge} so any payment that I made would just be reversed back. She instructed me to call back in the morning {today} to make the final payment after the refund went through. I also told her that this would bounce two of my accounts and, after asking her about this twice, she finally assured me that any fees I incurred due to their mistake would be given to me as a credit.

Then I called my bank and explained to them the situation. We decided it best to do a stop payment. I will have to make an unplanned trip to my bank, which is 45 minutes away to sign a paper for this thanks to Princess.

So, today I call back to Princess Cruises to find out that the refund STILL has not gone through. The customer service person tells me that it could take 10-15 days to be reversed. 10-15 days?!?!?! You have GOT to be kidding me. It was THEIR MISTAKE! She then puts me on with a supervisor who, of course, agrees to take my payment from another card and he assured me that I “should” receive my refund in 48 hours {add that to the 24 I was told twice yesterday, I guess} as “most cards” refund it that fast. So, my cruise is paid off but three of our accounts are tied up in this now for, I guess, either “48 hours” or “10-15 days.”

Mistakes Happen

I understand that companies make mistakes. My experience with Princess Cruises had also been fantastic up until this point. I hadn’t even considered other cruise lines because our experience was so amazing on our initial cruise with Princess. However, the lack of remorse at their mistake and the inability to fix it and/or make steps to fix it within a timely manner have really changed my opinion. We are still taking our cruise in December {unless of course they screw up and cancel it for that reversal thinking we didn’t pay – I totally wouldn’t be shocked!} but I highly doubt we cruise with them again unless they fix this now.

There have been no apologies from them except a halfhearted sounding one from the supervisor {Jesse} who still did not fix the situation. Otherwise, I have been blamed repeatedly for setting up autopay which I have told them time and again that I did not. I did not even book the cruise – one of their reps did via phone. Making a deposit payment does not mean that it’s okay to set me up for autopay. I also specifically asked NOT to be set up on autopay as there are 4 of us going, using 4 different cards. There is no way I would agree to pay everything for everyone.

At any rate, when I told them I would be making my final payment on the 8th, any autopay that was set up should have then been taken off. Had I known autopay was set up, I would have specifically asked for it to be removed. But, again, I shouldn’t have had to being as I did not approve it to begin with.

This is exactly the reason I choose not use autopay. I told them I could not pay on October 6th as I had notated the date wrong {that was my only bad}. Between then and now, I have spoken to probably 8-10 different people who all told me that 1} I could pay on the 8th. When I was charged on the 6th even though I specifically said I could not pay that day that 2} they would get my refund to me asap, which has not happened. Also 3} no one has been very apologetic and a few people have even blamed me for setting up autopay, which I did not do.

I am mad. Very mad.

Incidentally, I have also had to fix my phone number with them now 3 times. I am not sure what the deal with that is, but they seem unable to change it in the system from when it was first messed up by them. *shaking my head*

What Other Cruise Line Would You Recommend?

We are looking to book 1 or 2 more cruises for next year when we come back from this one. Have you had a great experience on a different cruise line? Which one would you recommend? Why or why not?

About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn is a full time travel and lifestyle blogger. Besides Cheap Is The New Classy, she also owns and writes for EatPlayRock.com, an entertainment site. Her interests include traveling, home decor, DIY projects, organizing her home and enjoying a nice cup of coffee {or two}. She currently resides in North Carolina with her dog, Daisy.


  1. Disney Cruise Line is by far the best (unfortunately the most expensive as well.)

    Norwegian isn’t bad. We have never had any big problems with them, and we have sailed with them 3 or 4 times now.

    I hope you get your money back soon. I know how big of a pain that is!!

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      I haven’t even checked on Norwegian. I definitely need to do that! Disney Cruise Line does look really fun – and expensive – I agree! Thanks for the tips.

    • I have never been on a cruise before. I would love to take my family on the Disney cruise. I am sorry that this happened to you.

  2. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says

    I am sorry to hear about your bad experience. I have only been on one cruise, with Princess, and we paid it off at the time we booked it.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      I think if we ever book with them again that is what we will do. This bad boy was over $5,000 though, so that’s a huge chunk of change to throw down at once, lol.

  3. This is terrible, I am so sorry this happened to you. I have never been on a cruise before, and this makes me leery about going on one..

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      Our cruise itself was awesome. However, the booking process for this last one has been the problem. So, I would definitely still recommend a cruise. I am just not sure what to tell you about booking. I think I will definitely be looking elsewhere and let you guys know how it turns out.

  4. What a nightmare! There’s nothing worse than bad customer service. ESEPECIALLY when you’re putting out so much dough.

  5. Oh wow! Remind me never to book with Princess. I deplore bad customer service.

  6. Bad customer service is the worst. It’s such a hassle to deal with people who either don’t know what they’re doing or don’t care enough to do it right.

  7. I’ve cruised many many times. I always go back to Carnival. They are reasonably priced and we always have a great time!

  8. We have always use carnival and have nothing but great customer service. They have great cruises and great prices.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      Their prices are definitely better. I learned that today looking around. I am still worried that Princess will screw up and cancel our cruise when that stop payment comes back, even though we repaid it from another card as instructed by them. I have absolutely no faith in them now, so I have some back up cruises lined up with different companies, just in case.

  9. Wow, I am so sorry! My parents have gone on this cruise line several times and haved loved their experiences. I hope you get it resolved.

  10. Sorry for your experience. Good to know that you can make payments on cruises though. I did not know this.

  11. I’ve never been on a cruise before so I am not sure who to recommend, but I hope you get the situation resolved quickly!

  12. Gosh this reflects the customer service for so many different companies. I can definitely sympathize with you. I like to avoid autopay for these reasons too and it’s weird that they set it up without your permission.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      I agree. I never do autopay because I think it only benefits the company and is, otherwise, just a recipe for disaster.

  13. I hear so many bad experiences about cruises. It seems like customer service means so little to some places. It’s made me never want to go on a cruise.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      It’s sad. I loved the first cruise with them and have been looking forward to this one all year. I am not very excited about it anymore. 🙁

  14. I am sorry to hear about your experience. Nothing turns me off more than poor customer service and nothing makes me more upset than having my money messed with.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      Me too. I dropped cable because of the poor customer service and we have switched cell phone companies because of it, too, after being with the same one for 10 years. I have just gotten to an age where I don’t find it cute anymore. Fortunately, the rest of the companies I deal with seem to be pretty awesome – especially the car dealership we buy from. This is our 3rd car from them – we just don’t even look anywhere else now. We go straight to them since they are so awesome to deal with.

  15. I would go with Disney. They may be a bit more expensive but heir service is well worth it.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      Princess wasn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination either. It’s a 10 day cruise and for 4 of us, it costs over $5,200. Since looking around this afternoon and yesterday, I have found several cheaper cruises. I just felt Princess was worth the price when I booked it before. Now, I am not so sure.

  16. That is so terrible but I thank you for sharing your experience. Places like these I will avoid because I DON’T agree with autopay, or how long you have to wait to fix their mistakes!

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      It’s funny, they take that money fast, but man they take their time giving it back when it’s their mistake. Ridiculous.

  17. I am so sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. I have had this happen to me and it was so frustrating.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      I am sorry to hear that. With Princess Cruises, as well? Or with another company?

  18. Bummer that you’re having to deal with this! I hope they’re able to make it right (at the least refund any fees you receive for being overdrawn). Good luck!

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      So far, my bank has been really cool about it. I got GREAT customer service from them, at least. 🙂

  19. We have traveled with Holland America and had a great experience. It has been awhile since we took a cruise so I am really not very knowledgeable on what the best cruise lines are. So sorry about your bad experience.

  20. Ugh, I am so sorry you had to go through all of this. I haven’t been on a cruise, myself, but agree that you did everything right and Princess needs to MAKE IT RIGHT!!! IMMEDIATELY… I wish you luck and will come back to check on it all…

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      Thank you so much. The first cruise was so much fun that I felt I would be their customer for life. I really hope they fix this {hours later and they still haven’t}.

  21. I have never been on a cruise, but am so sorry to read about your experience with this company 🙁 I hope you find a happy customer service experience soon and can plan your cruises!

  22. Uggg… so frustrating when you get bad customer service. Really leaves a bad taste for something that is supposed to be so amazing. I have never done a cruise so no advice, but I hope you get a better end to the start of a bad situation.

  23. I have always wanted to go on a cruise. I am glad you had a good time on the first one you went on. I hope this one is just as good despite all the issues you are having now.

  24. That is not very good customer service. I hope your refund goes thru quickly and you have no more hassles.

  25. I hope they fix this after reading your post. Customer service means everything. We’ve been on 3 Celebrity Cruises and can’t wait to do more. We’ve also done a Viking River Cruise, which was awesome, and are going on our second one next month. Will be following this to see what Princess ends up doing. I hope they make it right.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      Thank you so much. I really hope they do, too. I absolutely loved the cruise I took with them in January. I am loyal and really prefer to just stick with a company, but I will definitely switch over poor customer service.

      • Dawn McAlexander says

        Incidentally, how was the river cruise? I have been wanting to try one of those myself. 🙂

  26. I am very sorry that you had this experience. Despite your experience, I hope you enjoy your cruise.

  27. Oh man, this sounds like such a headache. Sorry you had to go through all that. I hate when there are issues with payments, it can really make things a mess!

  28. This is so disappointing. I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience. It’s always so frustrating when money is involved, especially when its not your fault. Hopefully they make it right!

  29. Ugh, I hate when something gets put on auto pay and you didn’t authorize it. That could really mess you up, I know!

  30. That’s a terrible thing to happen. I hope they would address your concern immediately and that you get your refund.

  31. Debbie Denny says

    I had a pretty good experience with them. I think you have to be careful with the fine print. So sorry it turned out like this for you.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      Yeah, I had a great cruise with them. When I booked the second trip is when the problems began. There was no fine print as I did it over the phone. The person just signed me up for autopay when I did not authorize it, and no one has made the situation right since. I will definitely keep this in mind next time I book a trip by phone though.

  32. Customer service issues can be such a nightmare. But, accidents do happen, communication issues happen, software glitches happen…. I think if I were any of the people you named here I would be a little embarrassed and upset; especially if that were my phone extension. Its not hard to look up Princesses customer service line. Make me wonder if the trolls and data scrappers are having a good time with that today.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      Thank you for your insight. You are right about the extension part, so I took it out. I definitely wouldn’t want anyone harassed over this. I just wanted to tell the story as accurately as possible. However, if they are “embarrassed and upset,” perhaps they will think about this with the next customer and do a better job next time.

  33. This is a shame expecially since you had a great time on the cruise. I hope the staighten it out ASAP.

  34. Wow this a whole lot of mistakes in a row! I could understand your frustration with the cruise line 🙁

  35. I love how it takes them 10 business days to refund money that they wrongly took from you in less than 10 seconds. Their “little mistake” has cost you a lot of time and headaches. I am sorry you are going through this.

    • Dawn McAlexander says

      That is exactly what I think. It’s amazing that they make a mistake but the only one who gets inconvenienced by it is me. They should have fixed it immediately.

  36. What a headache! I know that kind of experience can put a damper on your whole trip. Hope it ended up relaxing and entertaining despite the booking.

  37. Sabrina @ Dinner, then Dessert says

    I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience! I hate it when customer service promises things and then never delivers!