We arrived a day early and stayed at the Embassy Suites. It had a great location,
good breakfast and free cocktail hour. We were able to walk to stores to buy
suntan lotion, wine and other things we didn't bring with us on our flight. It was a $17.00 cab fare including tip from airport. we took the hotels van to the port. it was 7.00 per person. we left about 10:40 am. and were in the "preferred"
waiting area by ll:00
(we made platinum as it was our 6th cruise with princess)
They opened the check in once the coast guard cleared the ship, which was 12:30.
No wait, and we were in our mini-suite in 5 minutes. it was large, with a bathtub. our only disappointment was that our balcony was uncovered, so there was no escaping the sun or the eyes from balconies above.
After depositing our valuables in the safe, we made our way to the Sanctuary to book a cabana for the week. This was the best decision of our trip. we loved the
quietness, pampering, and shade this provided us. We were provided with "orange
water or cucumber water, frozen washcloths to keep us cool, and spa menu to order from. There is a small pool, which many times was empty. this area overlooks the
back of the ship and offers beautiful views.
The next stop was to book the thermal spa, which had 4 stone beds and sauna and steam rooms. this was just ok and we really didn't use it much. i then went to the fitness ctr and signed up for spin classes (not really necessary as only 5 people signed up) I enjoyed the spin classes ($50 for 5). they also had free zumba classes which also very good. we then went to book the speciality restaurant and booked the bayou and sabatini's. we ended up cancelling the bayou but did eat at sabatini's. it was by far the worse meal of the cruise.
it took 2 hours, service was awful and so was the food. other people who ate there that night said the same thing.
We then went to horizon court for lunch. It was always crowded, hard to find a seat and the food was mediocre. many times we ended up with pizza or things from the grill. we did have anytime dining. we only had a problem on one formal night. we arrived at 6:20 and didn't get "beeped" on our beeper till 7:20. otherwise it wasn't a problem and the food was pretty good. we enjoyed sitting at tables and meeting new people.
entertainment- unfortunately, princess repeats many of it shows we had seen on previous cruises (piano man) and we were in no rush to see it again. they did have a new show called the Bayou, which was excellent. Go early to get a seat.
We also saw the hypnotist in the Universe theater, which I liked, a magician,
and the comic billy vader who at times was very funny and at times not so much.
We also saw 2 movies on board, captain american, and larry crown. one we saw at
MUTS and they served popcorn and one in the universe theater.
ARUBA- We were off the ship early, as u don't have alot of time in this port.
cabs were outside and we paid $13.00 (for taxi, not p.person) and went to the Amsterdam Manor beach. it was beautiful and empty so early in the a.m. we rented lounge chairs. $10 pp and stayed till 10:45. had them call a taxi, which came quickly. went back to the boat but stopped lst and went to an internet cafe . it was $2.00 for l5 min. we didn't need to do this as platinum members get 125 internet min. each. the speed was too bad.
What a disappointment. we did an excursion with Dora that was put together with
other cruise critic people. we didn't pick the itinerary. we started off at La popa which is a monastery on the top of a hill. the road there had been flooded out for a couple of days and had been closed due to damage. as we got off the
the bus we were swarmed by vendors. we then got a chance to see the beautiful view. did i mention that it was hot, hot, hot! humid, humid, humid! we got a tour of the church and its history. it was interesting and the old altar and intricate ceiling were very nice. very few tours went here and i'm glad we did.
before boarding our bus we took a picture holding a sloth, they are amazing animals, and I bought a hat. we then did a photostop at the san felipe fortress
and again we were swarmed by vendors. we drove around the walled area and stopped at the "dungeons" for shopping. my husband bought an emerald in matrix.
all the emeralds were very expensive. some of the stores had a/c, but it was hot. we then did a 25 minute walk stopping at a few churches. we then made some
more shopping stops. this tour was too much time shopping. my impression of cartegna was that there is a lot of poverty, too many pesky vendors, very hot,
and crazy and dangerous drivers.
PANAMA CANAL - We were up around 5:30-6:00 and torrential rains started as we entered the canal. one the rain stopped we went to the 10th floor "secret door "
in the front of thip to see the locks. it was neat and interesting. once thru the 1st set of locks, we went to breakfast in the dining room (7:30 it opened)
it was cool being in the dining room and looking out the window and just seeing the wall of the canal. the boat is lifted up so slowly u don't even feel it. we then boarded tenders and then about an 1 hr 15 min bus ride for our small ferry
transit to the pacific. the ride was interesting as a guide pointed out things about the region (like you can get Mcdonalds delivered to your house) our bus guide dede was great.it was interesting being in small ferry and having a large cargo ship pass by. on the 2nd floor was a lunch buffet, which had great muffins. the other locks were not as interesting as the lst. when we reached the
pacific, and saw the pretty skyscrapers of panama city. the bus then took us back to colon to meet up with our boat (1 hr 15) we arriced in colon about 4:00
and did a little shopping. we went back to the boat went to watch a football game on Muts, while in the hot tub!
COSTA RICO, LIMON- Did the ships tour tortugo canal/rainforest. we boarded a bus for a 45 minute ride. our Guide Javier was funny and informative. we boarded a boat and was like the Jungle cruise at disney. we saw some beautiful birds and some squirel monkees. we then had some refreshments and some amateurish dancing from 2 girls. this was followed by a 25 min walk thru the rainforest. unfortunately we hadn't sprayed ourselves with bug spray and were bitten a few times. we then drove to the del monte banana planation, which was just ok because we were there during the siesta, so not much was happening. other tours seemed to really like this.
MONTEGO BAY- We got on bus for $5 pp and went to dr. cave beach. it was pretty
the water delightful. we rented chairs, umbrella and snorkellling gear. no one really bothered us there, we took a cab back to port for $10.00
all in all great cruise, and we had very nice weather (although hot in cartegna)