Looking for a new cruise itinerary from a port we could drive to, we chose the Island Princess Panama Canal round-trip. The embarkation and debarkation process at Fort Lauderdale was by far the easiest we have encountered. We stayed at the Rodeway Inn which provided free parking and shuttle to and from port. Our mini-suite was very nice, with full bathtub and two flatscreen TVs, fridge.
Cabin attendants were efficient and friendly, but no towel animals. Food and service in main dining room were excellent. (We chose anytime dining, and did not do formal nights). Buffet was OK, but it seemed NCL has better selections. Interior lounges, theaters and other public areas were beautiful. But pool deck seemed a little drab and uninviting. Outside bars and eateries had cheap plastic tables and limited seating. Lotus pool area was much better. Shows were not up to NCL standards, and very short.
The average passenger was a little older on Princess, very few in their 30s or 40s. This is not a bad thing for someone like me in his 60s. Children were even rarer, although we did have a toddler a few cabins down that liked to cry a lot.
Casino did not provide a players club or free drinks like NCL. We are casino fans, so this was a major drawback. We missed Cayman due to bad weather, and Colon due to riots, but this is not Princess' fault. All in all, we would return to Princess if the itinerary was attractive, but prefer NCL so far.