Island Princess has the highest percentage of cabins with private balconies in the entire Princess fleet -- a real advantage for viewing glaciers up close when you're in Alaska or transiting through the locks of the Panama Canal.
It's no small accomplishment, really. Eighty-three percent of outside cabins have balconies -- compared with an industry standard that's closer to 60 percent. And when we're traveling with friends and family, as we often do, it's our practice to unlock the door between adjoining cabins for companionable oceanview visiting and room-hopping.
Staterooms come in six configurations, ranging from an inside cabin of 156 square ft. to a 470-square-ft. suite. There are 20 wheelchair-accessible cabins. Most cabins are also designed to accommodate third and fourth berths, which make them family friendly. Standard inside, outside and balcony cabin bathrooms are shower-only.
Our choice: a mini-suite with balcony at roughly 300 square ft. Does size matter? Consider this: Even with 13 of us in the cabin for a pre-dinner happy hour, it still felt roomy. The mini-suite has a queen-size bed (that can be converted to two twins), a sofa and matching chair, huge closet, a safe, and a bar with nicely rounded corners that contains a mini-fridge as well as two TV's. The bathroom is also terrific, featuring a tub with shower. Upgraded bathroom amenities at the mini-suite level include Lotus Spa shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion. Our mini-suite balcony had four comfortable chairs and a table.
Other special in-room amenities in the mini-suites include luxury mattresses, satin pinstripe bed linens and fluffy European-style duvets. At embarkation, there's also a glass of champagne waiting and a luggage protector on the bed. As in the regular cabins, stewards provide turn-down service and a daily bucket of ice.
The suites take service to an even higher level with luxurious towels and bathrobes, a daily delivery of deluxe canapes, Complimentary services include Internet access, dry cleaning, laundry and shoe polishing -- even a leather wallet is provided for the passenger's cruise card. Suite passengers are also treated to expedited embarkation, preferred Anytime Dining reservations and personal shore excursion reservations.
Editor's note: There are coin-operated washing machines and dryers onboard, along with ironing boards. This takes some of the stress out of the packing challenge.
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