Travelled on Princess to the Panama Canal. Excellent cruise -- destination ports included Aruba, Cartagena, Canal, Limon Costa Rica, and Ocho Rios Jamaica. While not experienced cruisers, we have found that there are two types of people on cruise ships -- those who go to cruise and those who use the cruise to get to unique destinations. We tend to fall into the latter category and therefore don't participate in many of the cruise amenities and services. Probably something to keep in mind for those reading this review.
Island Princess is a nice, well-laid out smaller ship. Because it is small -- on many of the main services decks, public hallways tend to be only on the starboard side of the ship. But, despite the ship's small size, it felt like there were lots of options for places to go and things to do. Two dining rooms, a buffet dining room, and two upscale restaurants, plus several bars and two theatres meant lots to explore.
I found the boarding and disembarkation process with Princess to be outstanding. The organization of the luggage in particular at disembarkation was quite remarkable. Things were so easy to find the process was very quick. The same level of organization and order occurred for excursions. I was very impressed.
The food on the Island Princess was really amazing -- we chose traditional dining and while the menu there was very good the quality of the food was quite outstanding. The buffet was good quality for breakfast although we found the crowds a bit much so we tended to opt for breakfast in the Bordeaux, where table service could be found. We ate once at each of the upscale restaurants and both were excellent. The service at Sabatini's was particularly notable -- great fun. The great service at Sabatini's aside, we found that the restaurant service in general on the Island Princess didn't match the quality of the food. We chose traditional dining because we liked the experience of getting to know our wait staff over the course of a cruise and that didn't happen for us on this cruise.
The crowd on this cruise tended toward a bit older so I think that some found the night life to be a bit stodgy (but being a bit older myself, I didn't notice!).
Small quibbles --
- couldn't even get a soft drink without pulling out your cruise card... we felt a bit nickeled and dimed
- the photographers were everywhere! You couldn't turn around without someone from Princess wanting to take a picture of you. There must be a return on it, but we found it occasionally annoying.
All in all, we really enjoyed our vacation and would recommend the Island Princess and the Panama Canal.
All in all, we really enjoyed our cruise.