One of Our Favorite Princess Cruises to Date Overall, we had a great cruise. The itinerary was incredible, the weather was warm, the ship was in great repair in spite of its being readied for drydock, and we met some really nice people.
Pros: Beautiful ship, amazing staff and friendly, personal service, gym not usually crowded, very easy to get chairs on deck, delicious and ample food in all venues (ate everywhere except the Bayou Cafe). Magnitudes is the best party band we've experienced on any of our ten cruises. We also really enjoyed the group of classical musicians as well as the Crooners piano player -- he was amazing. The classic movies shown on MUTS were great afternoon selections! Platinum happy hour lounge was a great perk that we did not know about going in (you only need five cruises to be Platinum). We met some great people and had wonderful, reduced price drinks!
Cons: Cruise Director (CD) staff not very visible. The LGBT gatherings were unhosted by anyone, CD staff or otherwise (yes, there are other gay employees on board besides CD staffers). I was excluded from pool games one day because I showed up right on time instead of early, even though on other days folks who showed up late were welcomed to participate (the CD staffer was a different person in my incident). The house entertainment was much better than those hired to come on board such as the wild female pianist, the female Broadway singer, and the tenor. We did not see the comedian, magician, or mentalist shows.
Puntarenas: Too bad there isn't a nicer area for a west coast port call in Costa Rica. We enjoyed the northern part of the country much better when we traveled there on our own years back.
Panama City: Two worlds! The slums are unsafe and are among the worst we've ever seen, but the new high rise area sparkles. You *must* take a taxi to get to the old city, which is undergoing major restoration. (We tried to walk and were stopped by helpful and caring locals and police who warned us to get into a cab right away.) The Canal museum in the old city was interesting, though the displays were all in Spanish (the audio tour was in English but didn't cover all of the material).
Cartagena: Gorgeous, restored walled old city and interesting fort. We felt very safe there going in taxi from ship to fort, walking through a neighborhood from fort to old city, and then taxiing back. Walking through the tunnels in the fort was fun but claustrophobic. We did not make it to the new Boca Grande area. The weather was oppressively humid -- I'm not sure how anyone would be able to make it in the summer!
Aruba: Walked from ship to a gorgeous beach closer than Eagle but perhaps just as nice. Relaxed on the beach for several hours and walked back. Very clean, safe, and relaxing. Didn't make it very far into town as we wanted to get back on board for the evening.
We're looking forward to our next Princess cruise on one of our new favorite ships!