I'm a 56yr old Airline Capt, my wife a 51yr old retired Flight Attendant and my 90yr old mother took this cruise. My Mom is an elite member with Princess and this is our second cruise on Princess.
LAX Embarkation- We took EarlyBird shuttle from our Calif home in the Inland Empire and arrived at around 11:30. Mom uses a transport chair for lond distance traveling instead of walking. We went to the Elite check-in and then were directed to the Elite waiting area. Alittle confusion concerning the need for a wheelchair pusher happened, otherwise boarding was a breeze.
Cabins- We had D615 a mini suite and Mom had D629 a partially covered balcony. We like the mini for the bathtub and added space. First time on D deck and having an uncovered balcony. I bought 2 beach umbrellas from Walmart to use for shade on this heat intensive itinerary. Great idea, It turned the balcony table over and with duct tape and 2 bungee cords made a great shade platform!!
The Island is a Panamax ship made for the canal. What it wasn't designed for was the Sanctuary and the Spa. I felt the ship was bastardized to put on these 2 revenue generators. I like an aft facing pool and that was taken by the add on Sanctuary. The Horizon Ct was upfront, which was very nice to look out front while eating. For the itinerarys that this ship sails and the demographics that it attracts I feel It is very handicap unfriendly. Princess should have spent the money to install more automatic doors than to built the Sanctuary. Something to please everyone and not just a few.
This cruise had a lot of sea days that we love. Richard the cruise director had a great program of activities going all the time. I like to work out, read relax, and hit the hot tub in the afternoon. BIGGEST complaint! This ship as well as the Sapphire, which we on in Feb, couldn't get the hottubs to function properly. No bubble action. Was told "elderly pax" don't like the bubbles. Well they work on Holland!!
Dining- We had early dining at 5:45. Would have liked 6:30, but Mom can't stand in line so had to chose a set time. Dinners were good. I like fish and was never dissatisfied. Horizon court was good and had a good variety. The pool buffets were also good along with the Pizza and burgers.
Ports- Cabo, been there , did some shopping and drinking.
San Juan Del Sur Nicuragua- Took the LONG bus ride to Managua. Good history lesson on this country. Had lunch at a lake side restaurant and then rode back to a shopping area atop the lake. Good day, long ride, but very informational.
Puntarenas- Tree top tram ride, nature walk and lunch. Saw a lot of vegetation, and a few birds and monkeys.
Cartagenia- Old town tour and folk dancing. Advice, take earplugs! Still have that damn clarinet blaring in my head. Wanted to shop for Emeralds, but too short of a time. As previously reviewed, the street hawkers are relentless. They don't give up!!
Aruba- Shopping in town and beers.
The Canal- This is why we came. I wanted to see the original canal before the expansion. I read the Path Between The Seas and glad I did. Nova also has a good video by the author of the book. Great narration through the canal was excellent. This ship has blue tinted wind screens up front, which make picture taking difficult. Front of ship was backed prior to the Bridge of the Americas, but people began to drop out fast as the day heated up. Our umbrellas came in very handy as well as our air conditioned room. Another great tip, go aft on the Dolphin deck out the rear doors. No chairs are there, so it doesn't get crowded. Rear facing photo ops were great.
Disembarkation- Couldn't have gone smoother. Took transfers to FLL and were there in plenty of time for a 11;30 flight.
Trip of a lifetime as far as I'm concerened. Never saw a grumpy face on a crew member and they were always help full and cheerful. As I said earlier Mom is 90 and I never felt bad about leaving her alone as there was always a friendly crew member there to help her.