Island Princess Cruise Review by mezza: Great cruise, above expectations
Overall Member Rating
Great cruise, above expectations
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
I chose this cruise merely to take us back to LA rather than flying. Coming from Australia we began our 6 week trip with a train tour from Toronto to Quebec city and then embarked another cruise line (rhymes with gal) for a 15 day New England cruise, which finished in Fort Lauderdale. I really looked forward to this cruise but was somewhat disappointed with it. On the other hand, I had no expectations for this cruise. As an Elite member, I always feel 'at home' on Princess and this time I was not disappointed. Apart from a few hiccups, it was excellent.
Embarkation was easy, around 12.15 pm, quick lunch in the Lido then the wait for the luggage. It seems never a good idea to embark early as luggage gets stuck on the bottom of the pile. We waited and waited with me pacing the corridor wondering why it was taking so long. When I heard the captain announce that we will shortly be casting off the lines, I went into panic mode! Assurances by the cabin steward that the luggage More would definitely have been loaded, did not relive my stress. with 30+ cruises, I always received our luggage before leaving port! well, they finally arrived, just prior to dinner so that we could change but It was not a good start.
The cabin (C410) was a great size. The cabin is square-ish with a huge balcony. It was the best cabin we have been in. The worst aspect is the miniature shower recess with a handle on the wall that sticks into your back when showering. As a 'normal' sized person, I hate to think how larger built people managed to shower! Other than that everything was great. We sat on the balcony the whole of the Panama Canal as it was our 2nd transit.
Anytime Dining was interesting - sometimes easy, sometimes extremely challenging. We started to queue around 6.15 - 6.30 pm but soon realised that we would never get a seat for the shows so had to consider being flexible - sometimes taking the early show and late dinner or 5.30 pm dinner and the 8 pm show. For the most part this worked with a bit of queueing, except for the night we had to wait for over an hour with a buzzer, with a lot of other very exasperated diners! Goodness knows what happened - I did hear several explanations-, but regardless of reasons, I thing the Island P needs to abandon traditional dining and just go for Anytime, as it seems that not all Traditional diners adhere to their time schedules.
As a frequent cruiser, one gets to know the menu pretty well but the Island P seems to have v good chefs as the food was better than other younger ships. As a gluten free diet person, I was taken care of very well and I really appreciate that Princess acknowledges and makes available appertising food. We visited Sabatinis for dinner and pizza lunches and as usual the food and service was excellent
The Entertainment was excellent. We had seen 3 out of the 4 production shows but still went to them as I love productions. The dancers and singers were gorgeous, one of the best we have seen. The "On the Bayou" show in the lounge was wonderful-great music and costumes, so too the "pub night" held in the explorers Lounge - again great music and humour. The Individual entertainers were of a v high standard. The singing ventriloquist was amazing and hope we see him again another ship. For a 15 night cruise, I think the entertainment was exceptional and it would seem that the very experienced Cruise Director, Richard Joseph, has some sway in obtaining very good entertainment! The only one downer was that exiting the Theatre each night was frustratingly slow if you had seats near the stage as we did.There are no side exits only 2 stairs on each side that empty from back to forward rows Each night. It meant long queues outside the Bordeaux dining room or no available seats in the 2 lounges for post show events.
Enjoyed all the ports - maybe we chose the right ones as I did hear rumbles of disappointment with some. Would have liked more ports as our previous PC cruise was 21 days long and did more C America ports, BUT what we saw were good so we were happy.
As I said before, this was a 'transfer' cruise for us but I received much more. Perhaps coming after a disappointing one, it seemed so much better but that would not do justice to the great food, service and entertainment that we got on The Island P. An older ship with some problems - air conditioning was set to meat freezer level!- but it excelled itself in other ways and would not hesitate to go on her again Less
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