Island Princess Cruise Review by fille_canadienne: Escape Completely!
Overall Member Rating
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
This cruise exceeded our expectations in every way, we had a great time!
The embarkation process was extremely efficient, even though the line seemed pretty long it only took us 15-20 minutes to check in and get to our cabin. We had an oceanview mini-suite which was very spacious with a sitting area, large closet, lots of storage and a large (for a cruise ship) bathroom with a tub. Our steward was Nestor, he was wonderful, very pleasant and helpful. He greeted us with a glass of champagne. Every night he made us different birds and animals out of towels, it was a very nice touch :) We were very lucky to have him as our steward
The first two days of the cruise were supposed to be at sea so we decided to book The Sanctuary to enjoy some quiet time. Unfortunately we were told that you can not book it in advance unless you check in really early on embarkation day (way before 12:30) Otherwise it's first come - first serve. The next day my husband got up at 6:30 and booked More us two chairs at the Sanctuary, we couldn't get two chairs together but the manager was very accommodating and they moved the chairs around to put us next to each other. It was very quiet and peaceful, the loungers were very comfy.
The food on the ship was fantastic, we opted for traditional dining at 8pm which worked out perfect as they have an early show for those dining late. Our servers were Lyubov from Ukraine and Krisztina from Hungary, they were amazing, always smiling, ready to help. We couldn't be happier.
Entertainment was pretty good as well, our favourites were "On the Bayou" - I am a big fan of musicals and this one was very professionally done, I thoroughly enjoyed it. We also really liked the magician Lorenzo Clark, he was awesome, and the stand-up comedian Billy Wader, he put on a great show, I would highly recommend them both! We also went to see "The Piano Man", honestly I did not really like it, it was more like a cabaret show - there was nothing wrong with singing or dancing and I could see how this kind of show would be popular with an older crowd. I guess it's just a matter of personal taste.
Just a few words on the ports of calls:
Aruba - we decided not to take an organized tour, it was a very short stop so we just walked around. The island is very well taken care of, clean and beautiful, I would definitely come back for a lazy beach vacation.
Cartagena, Colombia - we took a Princess tour called The Highlights of Cartagena. Our guide was Angel Duran, he was amazing, very knowledgeable, and funny. We walked through the Old City which was absolutely beautiful (and very safe), visited San Felipe's Fortress, Las Bovedas dungeons, The Museum of Inquisition and San Pedro Claver Cathedral. In the end they took us to Pierrino Gallo shopping mall, I wasn't overly interested in buying anything so we went to the courtyard on the second floor - there was a gentleman with a pet sloth there, I got to hold the sloth and had my picture taken, it was an amazing experience, such a cuddly and gentle animal!
Colon, Panama - we got up at 5am to watch our ship go through the locks of the canal, it was very interesting. They had a lecturer on the ship who narrated the whole process. Once we completed the transit we parked in the Gatun Lake. Only those who booked their tours with Princess were allowed to disembark there and get ashore by tenders. We booked a cruise of the lake where we saw monkeys and sloths and then they took us to the observation deck above the Gatun Locks where we could watch our ship go through the locks again. The only part I did not like is the fact that in the end of the tour they took us to the port of Colon where we had to wait for our ship to come back from the lake. The town of Colon itself was very dirty and ran down, there was nothing to do there really except to sit around and wait for the ship to come.
Limon, Costa Rica - we took a tour to Veragua Rainforest Park, it was so beautiful, we took an aerial tram above the rainforest, took a leisurely stroll, went to the froggery and a butterfly farm, you name it! It was a great learning experience, the park was only built in 2008 and everything was in a wonderful shape. We had lunch at the cafeteria (it was included in the tour) and the fruit was just to die for, so sweet and ripe, nothing like we buy back home! I highly recommend taking this tour.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica - we wanted to avoid crowds so we booked River Tubing, it was raining that day so it was perfect since you get wet anyway :) You don't have to be overly fit to take that tour, the river was pretty calm except for one rapid in the end, every other person flipped over (including me :) but I guess that's what makes it fun! There were five guides with our group so the watch everyone carefully and grab you right away, nothing to be scared of!
The disembarkation was just as efficient, they distribute luggage tags the day before depending on what time you want to get off the ship. According to the colour of their luggage tags people disembark in groups so it was also very fast.
This was our first cruise with Princess and I would definitely cruise with them again! Less
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