My Husband and I have just come from a Panama Canal Cruise on the Island Princess. What a treat! For a very long time, seeing the Panama Canal has been a dream of mine. However, a 10 day cruise was out of the question until this year. Although we did not travel completely through the Canal, it was enough to get the experience. What also enhanced the experience were the TV shows and presentations on the history of the Panama Canal. those are a must if you want to get the most out of this cruise.
I really enjoyed the set up of this cruise. There were two days at sea, several ports, the Canal, another port, sea day, port and a final day at sea. On other cruises, the port days have been back to back without much time to enjoy the ship. The days at sea were just enough and at the right time to relax and enjoy cruising. The choice of ports were also good. Besides the Canal, I especially enjoyed Aruba, Cartagena and Costa Rica. The locals selling wares in Jamaica were a little overpowering.
The Island Princess is a mid-sized ship and, since our previous cruise had been on one of Norweigan's larger ships, it took a little while to adjust. However, I can't say enough about the mini suite with a balcony! The cabin was spacious with a full size bathroom including a bathtub, two TVs, plenty of storage room and a great balcony.
Some of our favorites about the Island Princess were the breakfast room service, the Lotus Spa and the Movies Under the Stars. It was a true pleasure to have breakfast on the balcony. On the first cruise day we paid to use the Lotus Spa tranquility room for the entire trip. The steam, sauna and eucalyptus rooms were great but the heated tiled loungers were wonderful, especially after a day of sightseeing. At night, Princess turned the chairs in the pool area into movie loungers and showed first rate movies on a very large screen. I loved snuggling up in a warm throw (provided by Princess) sipping a beverage, eating popcorn and watching a good movie with waves splashing in the pool and the cool ocean breeze blowing across my face.
The buffet choices and foods were very good. However, I wasn't as impressed with the formal dining arrangements. We had signed up for "anytime dining" because I didn't want to eat early or late. I probably wouldn't do that again on Princess. Because the wait for the dining room was lengthy, we ate most evening meals at the buffet instead of the fine dining room. We did eat in the speciality restaurant, Sabatini's, which was excellent except for the $25 per person cover charge. That combined with a bottle of wine made the cost over $100.
All in all, we had a wonderful time with a lot of memories.