Overall this was a great cruise. This was our first time on the Island Princess and found it was very easy to get orientated. It's a nice size. I love the design of the cabins on Princess. I like the open closets with plenty of storage space all at eye level. There are no doors blocking entry into the bathroom or to get to the outside door. We had a balcony cabin and really did enjoy it during the Panama Canal transit.
I would say this cruise is definitely a destination itinerary. It's a great way to see some unusual places with ease and comfort. The two days at sea at the start are quite nice; it's a good time to explore the ship and not feel rushed.
We chose the "anytime" dining. We've done this twice now and I'm not sure I would do it again on a 10 day cruise. On the plus side of "anytime dining" we were on board the night of the Super Bowl so there was no need to eat a meal that night as there were snacks galore during the game viewed under the stars. They also had an Oktoberfest evening in the buffet that was very good - lots of German food and desserts. It sounded good so we went to that and I'm glad I did. The last evening lobster was served. My husband ordered two lobsters and was told that he could order the second when he had finished the first. So - we sat there eating the last of our meal alone as he asked for another lobster. The others left without dessert because dessert wasn't served until all of us were finished eating. They had places to go and events to attend.
We did a Princess excursion at every port. The one tour that we felt was not up to par was the Cruise on Gatun Lake and the Gatun Locks at the Panama Canal. The bus was in very poor condition; we had to sit at the back and the engine roared so loudly that we couldn't hear the tour guide - having the speaker ripped out right above us didn't help at all either. There was an entire seat missing and the vent on the ceiling rattled during the ride. Kudos to our guide; he came back and repeated everything for us. The lake cruise was pleasant but there was not a lot of wildlife and bird sightings. All the rest of the excursions were very pleasant.
Our cabin attendant was German and he was excellent. He anticipated our needs and was very easy to find when we needed something.
My biggest complaint on this ship would be the hard mattresses. I don't understand why they are hard like that. I never had an evening when I looked forward to crawling into bed. The sheets were quite ordinary compared to other cruise lines bed linens.
To me the food was very good in the buffet and the dining rooms; the quality remained consistent throughout the entire voyage. We had a breakfast and a lunch in the Bordeaux Dining Room. We didn't try either of the two specialty dining rooms.
The big event is the passage through the canal of course. We got up at 5 AM to snag a table near the front windows in the Horizon Court. Just about the time it was starting to get light we entered the locks. One thing we discovered was that the ship anchors in the Gatun Lake and then we are tendered ashore for excursions. The end of the tour excursion is at Colon, because the ship has left Lake Gatun and docked in Colon for the rest of the day. Dr. Thomas Ryan is an on board narrator during this event. He also had daily talks in the Theater about the places we were visiting. He had contests to keep our attention and prizes of money, books, shirts, etc. There were very few children on this Panama Canal cruise in January. Many of the guests were definitely 55+. I think this was a bucket list journey for many also. Embarkation was perfect. A big plus and a terrific way to end the cruise.