We took a Panama Canal cruise to celebrate our 25th anniversary with 2 other couples. We had been on Princess before in Alaska and were happy enough with it. I was disappointed this trip on the Island Princess.
The food at dinner ranged from merely good to mediocre, with the exception of surf & turf night. Our waitstaff was good, very friendly, but slow. They seemed to be stretched too thin and not properly staffed. We originally were assigned "Anytime Dining". Due to one in our group being diabetic, we were able to get a reserved table, as long as we got there before 6:00. That was fine; we're used to eating at the early seating. Somehow one night, our reserved table got "grabbed" by Anytime Diners who just took it over. The staff had already gotten us another table by the time we got there (early), but we didn't have our same waiters, which was somewhat disappointing. I talked to several Anytime Diners who were SERIOUSLY mad, which is putting it mildly. I was told more than once that they had waited for over an hour the previous evening, which in my mind, is unacceptable. It's a good thing there weren't many children on the ship, or it would have been chaos. But there were a lot of elderly people, who couldn't or shouldn't have to stand in line for an hour plus.
The wait staff on the Lido Deck in the Horizon Court at breakfast seemed surly. I paid close attention one morning at breakfast and didn't see one attendant even SMILE at either passengers or co-workers. We were rarely asked if we needed anything, more coffee, etc. and had to flag down someone to get us what we needed. They serve juice in glasses the size of shot glasses and act put out if you ask for another. Milk and lemonade are hidden somewhere in the galley behind closed doors and were doled out sparingly.
I was told one night by room service that the only time you can get orange juice is at breakfast. They said they use some kind of a mix and they don't make anymore until the next morning's breakfast. Room service did deliver quickly though, and was very handy for continental breakfast and their version of an Egg McMuffin on a couple of our very early port arrivals.
The only Princess excursion we took was the ferry through the rest of the Canal that the ship didn't go through. It was great and very informative. We used Trip Advisor to find other, local, tours and attractions at a much lower price.
The bartenders were very friendly, as was the front desk crew. Our cabin steward, Christian, was a sweetheart and very responsive to our needs and requests.
All in all, it was a very good trip, but disappointing in some ways. It was obvious Princess is cutting back in many areas, especially food. We had one lovely dinner in the Bayou Cafe & Steakhouse, which was of the quality I've come to expect on cruises even when we're not paying the $20 per person surcharge. I've had better food and service on 2 previous Carnival Cruises, not to mention Royal Caribbean and Celebrity.
I'm very glad we went on this cruise, it was overall very enjoyable and I can now cross the Panama Canal off my "Bucket List".