9 Acapulco Family Cruise Reviews

On the 30th of April 2011, I stepped foot onboard the pacific dawn. Would I do it again? OF COURSE! It was a fantastic cruise. Of course there were negatives but this in no way ruined the cruise. From the food to the crew to the people on ... Read More
On the 30th of April 2011, I stepped foot onboard the pacific dawn. Would I do it again? OF COURSE! It was a fantastic cruise. Of course there were negatives but this in no way ruined the cruise. From the food to the crew to the people on board it was just excellent. Embarkation was easy, picked up a tag, tagged my bag put on the conveyer belt and off it went. Try to remember to bring a pen as not many are supplied at all! That process took maybe 5 minutes at most! Then go inside where you will be amongst hundreds of other humans, though a little daunting it seemed to run quite smoothly. Collect a Green card and go into the line. Fill out the card while you wait too save you some time. When you get to the front of the line you will go to up to a desk and get checked in. Here you show your passport and your cruise card (Cabin key and how you pay for everything on board). They also take your picture so when it's scanned they know who you are...This is where you set up your credit card to the cruise card. Then you will receive a ticket saying when you will board. When it's called you just go to the customs area and have the green card. After this I went to the cafe too eat before my boarding number was called, the food there was quite good! I had the steak and eggs. Also there is an IGA next too it so you can grab some last minute things...I would grab some potato chips and some small snacks to keep in your cabin. Also you should buy a lanyard for your cruise card or bring one from home. I brought my own as I read about it before. There was a guy on the street selling some for $5 and some stores had them for $6-$8. You can buy them on the boat as well for $8. Don't get one with a plastic sleeve in my opinion as you have to take it out to get in your room and what not. They also have a hole already for the lanyard. I read that they did not have it before, now they do.Customs was a joke compared to an airport. When it's your turn you go through and hand that green card to some guy near the entrance. Then you are asked to wait in line to go through the metal detector and the x-ray for your onboard bags. You walk through and you are good to go! There was no sniffer dog; the bags were barely looked at so you could probably bring anything on board. She glimpsed at the x-ray monitor for less than a second when me and my brother went through.From customs you will walk through to the boat going up some stairs which I tripped on because my brother was in front of me and walking too slow, there will be a photographer to take your picture there against a blue backdrop. I read that photos cost about $20 on board so I decided not to. I regret it now because you get a free 1Gb USB stick which has a little ball with water in it with a cruise ship inside...so it moves! I loved it! Sadly you can only get it for the first two days and you have to buy the Embarkation photo. Then you will just walk up a ramp and get your card scanned to say that you are on board. This is where that picture of you from earlier is used. So make a funny face too try and make them laugh :)Then just find your way to your cabin. I was on deck 8. I went up the lift and looked at a map and figured it out quite easily. This boat is so dam easy to navigate you can't get lost! I got to my cabin and my luggage was there. My brother's was not yet there. Scanned my card and I was in my cabin. It was quite large, bigger than expected. We had a twin cabin that could be a 4 person cabin. It was an obstructed view it had one of the life boats in the way, but you could see 80-90% of everything out of the window. The TV was a little too small in my opinion it was about a 19 inch flat screen. There was a mini fridge but it didn't really keep anything too cold. We cranked up the dial to max and it still was not super fantastic for a cold drink but it kept it colder than room temperature which was good I suppose. We had a look at the TV channels they offered. There were three movie channels which repeated the same movie on the channel it's on over and over for the day. Then a channel which had sitcoms and other TV shows on it. For example how I met your mother, Glee, Cake Boss (which I fell in love with) and late at night they showed discovery channel type things. The other channels were a mix of kids channels, they had cartoons and other type of shows. Some days they would play a kids movie on one of them none stop till the next day. There was also a news channel but it was crap. Something like fox news but more "puffed up" news stories. I was probably the first person on the boat to hear of Bin Laden death. There was ESPN which played all day, don't expect any Australian sports. There was also a channel showing a camera which was on the front of the boat as well as channels with some information about the cruise and what not. The bathroom is very small, I hated the toilet as I am quite large and it was tiny. I clogged it twice. The 2nd time someone had to come fix it. I guess if you do big poops you should flush multiple times. The shower was alright and a decent size for what it was.Then we met our room cleaner Danzil or something like that. He was a young dark skinned guy did not speak to him much. He was telling us about the safety procedures and what not. He shows us the life jackets and what not. We had to go down at 1:30 to have a safety drill. The alarm went off and we went down with our life jackets. We had to line up single file, people who got their earlier got seats, we did not. The just explained what the rings mean and how to put the jacket on. Probably could of just stayed in cabin and they would of never have known no role checks were taken or anything. Then the sail away deck party started, there were some entertainers and drinks going around. You could also buy a plastic cocktail cup to take home for $5. They claimed they did not have any regular cocktail glasses but the next day they happen to appear on the boat. Cocktails were $9.50 and Carona's were about $7.70 and a gin and tonic was $6.50. I recommend everyone try the strawberry daiquiri and pacific island ice tea with red bull. Soft drinks were all $2.00, coke was only 330ml sadly, but you could buy regular 375ml Pepsi for the same price. The Pepsi was from Australia but the coke was imported from some Asian country. Carona's were from Canada. Most drinks are not from Australia thus they had a different taste to what you may expect. We first ate in the buffet, we ate there quite often. It was great food. You would line up sanitize your hands and get a tray with your knife and fork. I recommend grabbing two plates, one for salad and dessert and another for your meat or hot food. Then you go slowly around to the salad then the deserts then the meat/hot food. The salads were fantastic on the first day however the tomatoes were green. This greatly upset me as I love them! This improved after the first day however. The best thing on the salad section was the Caesar salad dressing. It was amazing; it had a strong taste of garlic and is just to die for. Best dressing for salad I have probably ever had! The salad bar contained all kinds of salad from cold Cous Cous to just plain lettuce.Moving on from the salad bar was the desert bar. This normally contained a tart which was filled with cream and some fruit on top often kiwi or rock melon. Then there were 2-3 different types of cakes some were great some just average, never bad however. Jelly was also available here. The jelly had some sort of fruit in it and was just to die for. The jelly was fantastic it was also available every day. Then you had bread rolls, which are baked daily. Though they are rather empty they are crisp on the outside and soft on the side. They were very nice. Sometimes there were other kinds of breads. Butter was provided with the bread as well.Next was the awesome part, the MEAT. I'm a huge meat eater. Too review everything that was there would take me forever. But here are a few things that were available throughout the cruise. Chicken schnitzel, roasted potato with skin on or off, creamy potato bake, beef pot pie, shepherd's pie, fish grilled, seared, fried, steamed etc, roast chicken, roast pork, lamb shanks, lamb skewers and much much more. There was also soup but I never tried it. There was a new soup every day. However people told me it was hit and miss, but it was normally good. This was the same for the fish, the first two days the fish was great other times just rubbish. At the end of the meat line there was a guy cutting fresh pieces of some meat, this could have been roast chicken or roast beef, it changed daily. Often this was fantastic. I only ever came here for lunch and dinner. They were pretty much the same sort of style all the time. I never woke up on time for breakfast; however I was told breakfast was amazing. On the last day I was brought some pancakes from there and they were too die for. I regret not waking up for breakfast now.Now for the dining room option, I only went here twice. Both times for lunch, I had the chicken focaccia as a starter and the rump steak and chips as a main and the apple crumble for desert the first time. The chicken focaccia was alright, a little plain but was nice, the steak was alright perfectly cooked but was a little dry, just not as tasty as it looked, and the sauce was very good. The apple crumble was small and it was nice just not enough of it. The second time I had the Caesar salad as a starter and it was quite a small amount maybe 3 or 4 cos lettuce leaves with some parmesan and crotons as well as the sauce. The sauce makes it worth it! Then I tried the cheese burger and chips, I took one bite of the burger and just stopped. It was horrible did not like it at all, almost a rotten taste. I skipped desert after trying the burger. I tried to come back one night for dinner but I was wearing shorts, they would not allow me in. So I never came back. I was wearing fairly presentable shorts they were quite long and black, very modest shorts, not like swimming shorts. Other things I should mention was that the food was never hot, it was just warm, I don't like that at all, I prefer nice hot food. When you order all three things they will bring all three of them and just replace it when you finish. They hold it over near your table where they stack the dirty plates to return. This is probably why it's not hot. Also the place is quite noisy as the waiters are always around you stacking plates and what not, they do it in little stations around the room and my table was right next to it. This was not a very nice experience. I never went to the Salt Grill as it was $40 per person and I just wasn't up for it. I did however go to the Asian banquet called La Luna which was $20 per person. It was not fantastic it was 7 or 8 courses of food. It was very spicy and I felt a lot of the food was leftovers from the night before in the buffet. Some of it was very nice like the pork belly and prawns; otherwise it's not worth going to. I will note that it was extremely spicy for some of the courses, to an extreme level where you are gasping for air.Then there was the grill, this was a late night food place which cost extra. The steak sandwich was AMAZING for $15 a kilo of chicken wings was $8.50, a kilo of prawns was $28, Chicken kebabs were $11 and there were chips but I am not sure how much they were...they may have been other things as well but they were not listed. The chicken kebab was the only real rip off. It was really just roast chicken shredded and put in a pizza pocket with some salad and tazaki sauce. The wings and prawns can also be purchased in half kilos at half the price. They were very nice. The prawns are completely peeled apart the tail and are cooked.Room service was $3 for delivery and they would get you salads, soups, sandwiches, pies and cakes as well as a few other simple things. All the items ranged from $5-$8 and were all quite tasty, I tried the cheese cake and Caesar salad. My brother tried the potato beef and bacon pie. There is also a complimentary breakfast for $3 which is toast, pastries, hot chocolate, juice and other such simple things. BUT I never got it. I ordered it on the first day but it never came nor did I receive another card to order it again. I just didn't bother was a little upset over it.Entertainment on the cruise was fantastic, motorcity town was fantastic, it was a show with Motown music. It had a lot of singing and dancing and it was pretty much the most memorable Motown songs you know of, so singing along was encouraged. Amazing performance I wish I watched it twice. I am also 18 and it's not remotely my type of music but I enjoyed it. Pirates of the pacific was also quite a good show, it was a lot of pirate music and it was fun as it got the crowd on stage and involved them in what happened. Was quite funny all families will enjoy this. I missed watching so you wanna dance. I did not hear anything about this so I assume it was not as fun. I also missed most of Boogie Shoes, I watched the last two or three songs. I can't say I enjoyed it as much as the others at all. Then there were three comedians on board. These shows were hilarious! One was all ages and two were 18 years and over. They were all quite rude to some level. But the one which was all ages also sang. He sang like frank Sinatra and it was a great show. The other two were extremely funny; you should bring two or three diapers it's that funny. There was also two laser shows and they were amazing, these were held in the atrium over viewable by three decks. Then also in the atrium there was acrobatics by some group from Columbia. When they were supposed to perform the ship was moving too much so it was cancelled and replaced by a laser show. They performed when we were docked at an island. They were just amazing. This is something everyone should see. Just breathe taking. Other entertainment was given to you in newsletters delivered to your cabin daily, these included trivia, jeopardy, cooking demonstrations, ping pong, dance parties and lots more. Most were quite enjoyable. The singing and dancing crew were just amazing, the girls were just gorgeous and everyone had some real talent. Also there is a show called pacific pop star where passengers qualify to be in through karaoke completions this was fun and hilarious. A guy I played poker with won it singing what a wonderful world. Also in the showroom they sometimes showed movies around 10:30pm and sometimes during the day at 1:00pmThe casino was quite small there were two roulette tables which were $1 chips, three or four blackjack tables, an ocean poker table, a three card poker table, a Texas hold em poker table and a crap ton of slot machines. I was mainly playing poker. The table is also electronic and is $1/$2 blinds. The casino also takes a cut of how much you win in the pot. You play with other players on the table not a computer. It was fantastic I could have stayed there the whole cruise. The people I played with were hilarious! The casino does take quite a lot from you however when you play. Tournaments were also organized in the newsletter, it took a minimum of six people to start one but normally you had ten players. Entrance was $30 the entrance fee is the reward for 1st and 2nd place. The casino takes $5 per player in these tournaments. With ten players the rewards are $175 for first place and $75 for second place. I came second in one. It was great fun. Also on one night of the cruise the dealer for blackjack will show BOTH his cards to you before you decided to hit or stay with minimum bet of $5. I did not play however. Bingo is also on board and at the end there was a massive $6,800 price pool for one game. Full tickets are $30 for 5 games. The guy who won the prize pool was a bit of a downer. He wasn't happy or excited at all and he was under 40! The worst thing on the cruise to me was the casino bartenders and waiters. The never came to the poker table to ask what you want to drink they also never cleaned it up until you left. There would be 20 bottles and glasses on the table and not a single one will be taken off. Also when you asked for a Carona with Lemon they would give you with lime. When you ask for a lemon they say there are none left, when someone just got one on their drink. When you complain enough you'll get the lemon.The first place we visited was Noumea this place well just ....sucked! It's a French city and is VERY VERY expensive. Expect it to cost more than Australia! This city is home to the world's largest lagoon. It had some amazing waters. When you get off the boat you will enter the terminal and you will find many local market stalls, don't buy anything! It's expensive and you will find it cheaper in Vila. Here you will also find tour guides. Do not book the Noumea Experience Bus. It is rubbish! You go on a bus and get picked up where ever you want in Noumea but the overload the bus. They say a new bus comes every 20 minutes but when we went we had to wait over 50 minutes for the next one. We request a refund and just went on a small mini bus type thing and it was just as good. Lemon bay is a great place to visit. We had a look around and weren't really impressed. Local's aren't that nice and may just ignore you if you try speaking to them. But what do you expect their French. I got a fruit smoothie from a store it cost me $9 and it had the longest straw I have ever had, it was over 50cm long! Was amazing to me. You will see a lot of pretty girls here as well; my jaw was dropped almost the whole time. Don't bother going to the casino it's about the size of a living room and is just slot machines.The next place was some island, I did not go here, you had to catch a tender boat to get there and I was a bit lazy to go, I also woke up a bit too late to go anyway.Next was Vila! This was a fantastic place. It's so cheap for anything you want! Once you get off the ship you will be hit by a huge amount of heat. It's hot very very hot. Then local taxi drivers will call out to you from a hill trying to get you to go with them. You have two options a bus or a taxi. The taxi's aren't your usual taxi's they are small little cars. They can be anything you could get into a corolla or a swift. They cost you $10 to get into town for how many people you want in there. A bus is anywhere between $1.50 and $3 per person to go. They aren't your normal bus either they are just vans. I heard that normally they wait till they get full before they go. But we just left straight away so maybe it's not the case. We paid $3 each to get to town and when we came back $1.50 each. Also there are no seat belts and no driving laws so expect a fun ride! Spare underwear is recommended. Also before the taxi's there is a huge market, try not to spend too much time here because the same things are found in town and are probably cheaper. You can also get a tour of the island for around $80.When in town you can visit duty free stores and other random stores, there is a lot to see and do. Duty free is fantastic. I got 1.1 liters of Jim bean for $11! Cigarettes are cheap as well if you don't mind rolling your own you can get 250 grams for $21 otherwise a carton is $35 or so. You can also find pirated dvd movies for around $5 each, not really worth it but you may want to bring a few home. Give the kids selling newspapers a dollar or two it'll make them very happy. The people are extremely friendly it has been voted happiest place on earth quite a few times. It's a very nice place. You can find billabong shirts for $10 and bags for $17. Also there are many nice shoes around for $20-$40. You really may want to buy something while here. Also there are fireworks around. They are so hard to resist try to not think about how to smuggle them onboard! If you get lost just as for help and the people will help you! Also I recommend you try kava, a local drink which makes you "happy". When you are going back on board you pass through a metal detector and your things get x-rayed again not much attention on the x-ray is noticed here. All crew members were fantastic apart the casino waiters and bartenders. On the deck it was fantastic they asked if you wanted a drink and gave recommendations and then got it for you. They would also clean your table when things are finished. You felt you were respected and treated well by all members of the boat. Getting of the cruise was like getting on, you go through customs and what not it was easy and quick. They did not even check my carryon luggage at all; you could probably bring some extra bottles of alcohol if you put it in your carry on. No sniffer dogs again and was very quick to get offThe cruise was fantastic I would defiantly go again, however I would like to experience other cruise lines as well to compare them. So though I enjoyed it I will probably not be back for some time as I want to see other ships. It's also very cheap so it's a great escape; there is a lot of kids on board as well. I went the week after the school holidays and still there were many people of all age groups. I hope my review has helped you pick P&O cruises. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Let me start by saying that overall the cruise was very enjoyable. We were due to fly from Gatwick at 8.00am on December 20th but the flight was pushed back until 4.30, so having arrived at Gatwick the night before we didn't bother ... Read More
Let me start by saying that overall the cruise was very enjoyable. We were due to fly from Gatwick at 8.00am on December 20th but the flight was pushed back until 4.30, so having arrived at Gatwick the night before we didn't bother going to the airport until midday. Once checked in we popped up to the Executive lounge to relax until the flight was called. When 4.30 came around, the information board informed us that there would be more information by 5.30pm. When 5.30 came with no new information, we decided to go the information desk where we were informed that nearly all of the P&O passengers had been taken to a hotel for an overnight stay as the plane had been cancelled and would now be departing the next day. Being in the lounge there had been no announcement of this. I must clarify that the plane was cancelled not because of the snow but because of a 'technical issue' with the plane that was due to fly down from Manchester to collect us. After waiting two hours in the main departure lounge for a Thomas Cook representative to lead us out, we were helped by an airport operative who took us to the luggage claim to collect our cases and take us to the Thomas Cook desk in the arrivals hall. Once there, we were met by a very unhelpful chap called 'Mike' and when we informed him of what had happened he simply dismissed us by saying 'the other 300 passengers managed to hear the announcement so I don't get why you didn't'. Very helpful after waiting eight hours in an airport!! It would have been helpful if there had been a P&O representative at the airport to coordinate and ensure that all passengers had left the airport to go to the hotel. We arrived at the hotel around 9pm, but had an alarm call for 4am the next morning with the flight due to leave at 9.15am. Well, we did board the plane at around 9.15...but had to wait another two hours before taking off, so we were on the plane for a total of 17 hours!! Bit of a killer! We missed the day in Acapulco, which was a shame. The cabin (outside with a balcony) was fine, and kept nice and tidy and clean by the attendant. The public area's on the ship were good, clean and well maintained. The food was good throughout the two weeks, and at one point I felt a little sorry for one of the waiters in the plaza grill as one of the other English passengers was having a go at him for taking away the cooked tomatoes five minutes before breakfast was due to finish. The Marco Pierre White restaurant was a good experience with fantastic food, simple but very good. The only gripe about Cafe De Jardin is that it is a little dated. It could do with being a bit more contemporary as the dEcor does not meet the expectation of a MPW restaurant. We also booked the Horizon Grill, which is alfresco dining, for an evening meal. We were all looking forward to this but our table of nine ended in walking out of the restaurant due to the noise of the band directly below the dining area. It was impossible to hold any kind of conversation. With the deck being empty, it mystified us as to why the band were playing in the first place!! Three of us rebooked the Horizon Grill for another night and again it was a bit of disaster, this time is was due to service, with simple orders being mixed up and sent back. Shame really, as the setting is very nice. The Panama canal was excellent, Nicaragua was also good and the Caribbean islands are always good. St Maarten in particular is the place to invest in Cigarettes and alcohol! Overall, the cruise was very good and after a day or two on board we had forgotten about the debacle of getting there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We arrived in Acapulco around 10am, cleared customs, boarded our Princess transfer bus, and were off to the port in about 45 minutes. The ride to the port took about an hour. Upon arrival at the pier around noon, we were happy to see no ... Read More
We arrived in Acapulco around 10am, cleared customs, boarded our Princess transfer bus, and were off to the port in about 45 minutes. The ride to the port took about an hour. Upon arrival at the pier around noon, we were happy to see no lines anywhere! We walked right up to the counter to check in and then right onto the ship with no wait. If you use the Princess transfer from the airport, your luggage is taken at the airport and the next time you see it is in your cabin; I liked that. Quickest embarkation we've ever experienced. We did get back off the ship after lunch to check out Acapulco a bit, and picked up a bottle of local wine and some champagne. We had a mini suite on the Dolphin deck which was very nice; carpet looked new and most things were in good shape. Nice large balcony (though uncovered) with 4 chairs and a table. Later in the day when we saw our room steward we asked for our glass of champagne (which was delivered promptly) and for robes (not impressed with the robes that showed up the next day). Two in our group who stayed in the mini suite farther aft had older carpet than the 3 cabins the rest of us had on Dolphin deck mid-ship section. Different design on the carpet, and theirs had some stains too. Their tiles in the bathroom weren't in good shape either. Note that if you're over 6'3" your hair will clean the ceiling over the bathtub! Checked out the food in the buffet which, for the first time ever for me, was forward and not aft! Took some adjusting to this location change. Picked up a soda card which with gratuity comes to about $48 for 10 days. Very nice large pools on the Lido deck; one is outside and one is enclosed in an air conditioned area. There are ping pong tables and a ceramics class area up some stairs near the enclosed pool. The ceramics class looked like a lot of fun and people really made some beautiful art. One wading pool top deck but didn't visit it after walking by on my self-guided ship tour. The atrium area is beautiful and has live music in the evenings. On decks 5, 6 and 7 there are various bars to choose from, some large like the Wheelhouse, though I found it too dark. In other places there are little nooks to sit on a couch with a book or people-watch. Deck 7 Promenade outside is always a favorite place to walk or sit on a lounger. I looked at all eight of our cruise cards to check the dining table; six of our party of eight were together at the same table and we two were at a different table even though our reservations were supposed to be linked according to our TA. Spent 45 mins waiting for the maitre de; he moved us to the Bordeaux room at a nice round table by a window beginning the second night. First night was open seating so we went to Provence room and had Alvin as our fantastic waiter. In the Bordeaux for the rest of the cruise we had Juan Carlos and Ivan who were fabulous. All the food was very good from start to finish. I haven't had such fork-tender lobster tails in a long time. We all found things we liked and ate in the DR most nights. We ate at the buffet for brkfst and lunch, and we always found a nice assortment of food there too. Omelet and waffle station at breakfast. Ice cream farther aft on the Lido was just ok, soft serve only or milkshakes, but it varied in taste depending on how they mixed it that day. Station closed daily at 6 which is ridiculous. Pizza was as excellent as I remembered on a Princess cruise, though that station closes at 7pm—way too early. The Bayou restaurant dinner was enjoyed by 2 in our group, and also offers an English lunch a couple days which was enjoyed as well. Check the Patter for exact dates of the lunch offering. At the two formal nights there were very few tuxedos, and I'd guess that probably just over half of men had suits on or at least a jacket. The rest had a dress or polo shirt. That's the best I can do with estimating formal. . . I didn't pay a whole lot of attention as it's not too important to me. My adorable nephew needed a crib and the first one brought to their cabin was old, rickety and missing a bar! No kid should sleep in something like that. So they told their room steward that crib was unacceptable, and next appeared a very nice, new-looking pack n play which my nephew slept in just fine. Entertainment. We didn't attend many shows. The first we attended was the second night in the theater and the music and dancing was very good. The back 2/3 seats were pretty full and the front 1/3 mostly empty—unlike other cruises where you have to get there early to be in the front! Funny. We also went to the Adrian Zmed show in the Universe Lounge which was very good. We sat in the front row on the side. He chose a lady from the front center to dance a slow song for a minute or two. I think he should do a meet and greet or photo opp for passengers. He performed two nights, which seems to be what most shows do on this ship, so if you miss the first night you can go the second. Caught the end of the Newlywed game which is always amusing. The comedian/singer who was from NJ and performed in the Universe Lounge was very funny too. The evening entertainment in the atrium was very nice. We participated in a few organized games which was fun, and won a gold Princess medal at one of them. There were enrichment classes available. The digital photography one looked interesting but I think we napped instead. We skipped the captain's cocktail party. I liked that the tv had varying shows on various days. Classic movies like An Affair To Remember, episodes of The Love Boat, to the loop of the Panama Canal video being replayed. Up In The Air, The Blind Side, and some other recent films played certain days too, Inside the Actors Studio repeated with maybe 3 actors' episodes. I love the bow camera channel to see ahead of the ship and the nav channel showing exactly where the ship is at that moment. Laundry room on Dolphin had 5 washers and dryers and it was $1 per wash and dry. Also 2 irons. Be aware there is no cold cycle, so even though the machine readout says cold, the water is hot. I found this out by opening the machine as the water had started going in to my dark clothes and burned my hand! Changed setting to "colors" which was not as hot, but surely not even cool. Evenings are less crowded with others doing laundry than during the day. Spa. One in our group had a massage and facial at the spa, and she enjoyed all the treatments. She said the girls were not pushy with selling their products either. Ports: In Huatulco we walked to the beach by the ship and were able to use chairs and umbrellas at a local restaurant and bought drinks from them. $2 beer. The water was very nice and the view of the ship was spectacular. You could rent wave runners here or go for a ride on the banana raft. We did not stop in Guatemala as there was a transit strike. We had a private tour booked with Turansa Tours there, and they refuse to give us a full refund; they said they will refund half our payment as they claim they incurred costs that day. Obviously their decision will impact our using this company in the future, as the skipped port was due to an issue in their country, and they would not have been able to drive us anywhere as roads were being blocked everywhere according to the news. Not a smart business move on their part. Nicaragua we did the ship's Masaya Volcano tour which was very good. Comfy bus and excellent tour guide, Gerald. When I discussed this tour with others, I learned our guy gave lots more information than some of the other guides. The active volcano was really cool to see, but it was very hot there. The tendering was of course a nightmare. The water was rough in the afternoon and one tender of the four apparently wasn't working, so 3 tenders had to take hundreds of people who stood for hours in the sun back to the ship. There is a market at the pier with some trinkets and stuff. Local beer too under a nice thatched roof, which is where we hung out hoping the tender line would shorten. But more buses came and unloaded people and the line grew way too long. There had to be hundreds of people in line by this point. How the ship left on time is beyond me. Costa Rica we had a private tour with Odyssey Tours. We walked to the end of the pier and met up with our guide who informed me they would split the 12 signed up people into two groups for comfort instead of squishing us into one vehicle. Thank you! Got to see monkeys, eat fresh mangoes, see crocodiles on a river ride, swim at the beach, spot a scarlet macaw (beautiful!), find the sloth hiding in the tree, and stop for coffee at a grocery store. Great tour and I highly recommend Odyssey. We also met some fun people on this tour. Entering the Panama Canal. We arrived at the Bridge of the Americas while it was still dark but it was daylight as we entered the Miraflores locks. We were in the Horizon Court at a table at the front for the first few hours. Get there early to get one. We stayed there until lunchtime, then wandered around to view at different points on the ship. For the last locks for us, Gatun, we hung out on the Promenade deck. I think the bow of the ship should also be open for guest on journeys like this one. Amazing to watch the locks work. It takes a long time to go through each but it was wonderful! Hang out on your balcony or deck 7 and get your photo taken as you go through the locks. I think the coolest photos in the Gallery were taken on aft decks with the lock behind you. One person in our group was back there and his photo came out great with a tall-masted sailboat behind him entering the lock. After going through the canal we stopped in Cristobal at what appears to be a large warehouse with vendors selling their wares. There is a nice bar at the waterside end of the pier that's outside. Good $4.50 margaritas! Horrendous line getting off the ship (entire length of ship and then some) and equally long getting back on. If I do this again, I will wait 30 minutes after docking so there's no line to get off the ship. There is no way to avoid the long line getting back on. In Jamaica we did another ship-sponsored tour which was Mystic Mountain, Bobsled, and Dunns River Falls. We went to DRF to use the beach which has eroded since our last time there in 2005 or so. Was still nice clear and warm water, so we enjoyed swimming for an hour. Then we headed to Mystic Mountain. Chair lift ride was cool and waterslide at the top was awesome. Nice pool and great views. We had a snack at the restaurant and then did the bobsled. And then again; it was so much fun. Would go there again in a second! I liked the cold towels awaiting us upon arrival back at each port. One morning at 5am my brother who was with his family on the starboard side woke up to the foul stench of waste. Turns out the waste was transferred incorrectly to a ballast near the fresh air intake. Lasted a little while and was gone. Yuck! Half of us did express walk-off and we were off the ship by 7:35am, at the airport and checked in by 8:10am. Some of our group who did not do express walk-off arrived at the airport gate by about 8:45. Plenty of time to make our 11:05 flight. There are a lot of taxis waiting at the port when you exit; note that the van rides to the airport cost more than a taxi to the airport. A few things we did not like: bed linens and a towel had holes (I couldn't believe my eyes!) and robes were too old; the long and slow tender lines were annoying. Be aware of the photo promotion giveaways; you have to ask to receive them (I got a couple cute photo magnets but only because I asked for them per a sign by the photos I bought). It appears my dad needs to call Princess to get what look like soda charges removed; he had the drink card so there should be no $2.30 charges at bars. I missed MUTS on this ship. Pizza and ice cream stations need to be open later than 6 or 7pm. The survey handed out at the end of the cruise was for input on the ports only; there was no survey for the service/food/ship, etc. No receipts seem to be given out for drinks anymore. And there was no seafood buffet in Horizon Court on sailaway. Ship was very nice and we had great weather except for 2 brief showers one day. I thought the ship handled very well even in the two short spouts of rough seas we encountered. This was the smallest ship we've ever sailed, yet it did not disappoint us! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Ahhhhh the Island Princess. What a great time, what a great ship. The itinerary for this Panama Canal saiing was incredible, all countries I had yet to visit and all countries with amazing food! First, my disclaimer. I am a 45 yr old ... Read More
Ahhhhh the Island Princess. What a great time, what a great ship. The itinerary for this Panama Canal saiing was incredible, all countries I had yet to visit and all countries with amazing food! First, my disclaimer. I am a 45 yr old married woman who travels with mom. I live full-time in Hawaii, on the island of Maui. When I travel I do not go to beaches or do any ocean sports as I live on the best beaches in the world. So sorry, folks, no beach reviews from these ports. Although, Huatalco and Jamaica had the most inviting waters. We chose embarkation in Acapulco because we love to visit Acapulco. I had six airports and four flights in two days to get there from Maui. My mother had it easier going from SFO. We flew through Mexico City and it was not a problem, Mexico City airport is easy to navigate and pleasant to sit around in. Acapulco airport, on the other hand, is a little bit mixed up and on what I call "island time". If you're luggage does not show up in the customs arrival area, simply go to domestic, it's sitting there. Apparently happens all the time. We stayed at the Grand Acapulco, which was quite nice and QUIET. Embarkation process was no problem. We arrived early, 11 am, and had to wait an hour, but I used the internet right there in the terminal and ended up meeting my Cruise Critic friends there as well. So the trip was off to a good start. We found our ocean view obstructed cabin with no problem. We met our room steward right away and I made sure I got my egg crate mattress pad. Mom did not want one, but I am a side sleeper and needed the extra cushion. Make sure you get on this right away, as the ship does not have many and the steward will try to talk you out of it. Our cabin was small, but had an incredible amount of storage space and drawers. The picture window was blocked by a life boat, however, natural light streamed into the room and you could look out and see where you were. We enjoyed our room. However, I have to admit, more than once on this cruise I wished I had sprung for the balcony. If you have the budget, please get a balcony, the weather is amazing and warrants a sit outside. I had read many reviews of Island Princess before this trip. I was worried about quite a few things and thankfully none of them ever happened: There was no cigarette smoke anywhere I was, the Cruise Director, Frank, was everywhere and having a good time, my cabin was awesome, the staff were awesome, the food in the Dining Room far exceeded my foodie expectations, the buffet not so much, people loved the entertainment and there was plenty of it. The ship felt large and roomy and honestly, aside from formal night there was never anybody around. The ship felt empty more than it seemed full. This cruise itinerary attracts a large retired population, there were no children on the ship, there were very few under 40. People eat early and go to bed early. I met up with a group from the Cruise Critic roll call and did almost all of my shore excursions with them and we hired private tour operators from Cruise Critic. I only took one ship excursion and it felt like I was being "herded" from place to place. I was extremely happy with my private tour operators. You can email me personally if you want their contact information. The food on the ship exceeded my expectations in the dining room only. The buffet was not good. I am a coffee drinker and I bought the coffee card, which gave me access to espresso drinks and freshly brewed coffee from the bars. The only place you will find freshly brewed coffee is at the bars, the buffet and the dining room use a syrup mixed with water and it is putrid. If you really need your coffee, I highly recommend either bringing your own and a small coffee maker, or the Starbucks VIA, which I had, and VIA is better than the espresso drinks they make. The Panama Canal crossing was awesome. I recommend getting up early and heading to the top of the ship, or to the Baja or Caribe decks all the way forward and watching the approach INTO the canal. Then I took a nap and got back up for the first locks. Then a nap. Then the second locks and the Gaillard Cut, nap and then finally the last locks and sail to Carribean Sea. It is best to move around the ship constantly, unless you have a balcony, of course. The entertainment on the ship was abundant. I played bingo and trivia and had a lot of fun. For me, the best entertainer of all was Martin Kaye, a piano guy in the Crooners Bar each and every night from 9-12 pm. Unfortunately, Martin was on his last cruise and has moved on to the Grand Princess. I am not a fan of the production shows, but they were enjoyed by most everyone I talked to. I did not lay out by the pool at all, but everytime I cruised through there, it seemed to be roomy with chairs open. I preferred the Lotus Pool, which was quieter and covered from the sun. I visited the spa twice, once for a ladies spa night, which was fun and once for a massage. I am a massage therapist and hard to please. I will just say that after my first massage I cancelled my second massage appt. Massage therapist was not skilled and I don't like to be sold products after I just got a massage. The exotic ports on this itinerary were awesome. You absolutely MUST purchase shore excursions. From the ship or privately, but you have to. There is nothing to do in any of the ports aside from Hualtulco, San Juan Del Sur and Jamaica. In every port, we had lunch and all the food was incredible and no one got sick. It's all good. These days there is good sanitation and whatnot most everywhere in the world and especially where the Island Princess takes you. Eat and Enjoy! Internet. If you absolutely need to be on the internet, it is possible, but you better start saving your money. It is expensive. Very expensive. If you wait until the last day, they have better deals. You can expect to spend at least $100 for about an hour of time and everything goes through satellite so it is really slow. There are internet cafes in some ports, but I was so busy having fun I rarely found the time to make it there. This ship is very very nice. The staff is nice. The food is great. The itinerary is exceptional. Please note, that in 2011 the Island Princess will no longer go to Guatemala, which is an amazing port, so go now! Much aloha, Laura K lauraloha@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Introduction: We are a family of four, from Texas. This cruise was a gift to us from my in-laws, avid cruisers with 11 Princess cruises under their belt, 21 cruises in all. We were seven altogether. To cut to the chase, this was a ... Read More
Introduction: We are a family of four, from Texas. This cruise was a gift to us from my in-laws, avid cruisers with 11 Princess cruises under their belt, 21 cruises in all. We were seven altogether. To cut to the chase, this was a wonderful cruise, great food, great service, great excursions. Everyone on Princess went out of their way to make our trip memorable. I enjoyed each and every minute of it. December 19, 2009 Precruise We were met by representatives from Princess at the airport who took our bags and we climbed aboard the bus. The airport was farther from the hotel than I imagined from looking at Google Earth. Traffic was slow and uphill, so we were glad to leave the driving to someone else. As we arrived in front of the Grand Hotel, the driver had to make a U-turn on a busy street to drive up the hotel driveway. We left the bus and followed our Princess rep toward the back of the lobby and were greeted by waiters with glasses of something cold and tropical (pineapple and coconut? and non-alcoholic. We sat for an orientation and were advised that we could take an excursion that evening to see the Cliff Divers or wait for a bus tour of the city with cliff divers the next morning. We opted for the next day, got our room keys and went upstairs. We had three rooms on the 18th floor. The view from the balcony was nice -- the beach, the pool. We went to the beach in front of the hotel. It was a cloudy day, so the water was not sparkling blue as you would imagine. After a quick swim, we dressed for dinner. We decided on the downstairs restaurant -- pretty similar to any Mexican food restaurant at home. Not organized as we are used to, but not too dissimilar. We went to buy some wine to take on board, and perhaps some tequila, but I couldn't remember the brands I had heard recommended. Wine was surprisingly more expensive than the same brands at home, and the selection was much less than our regular grocery store. We got some Acapulco t-shirts and magnets and stood for a long time in line to check out. When we checked out with our credit card, we did not understand why we got pesos back and we did not understand the receipt. It looked like we were charged a lot more and got cash back? (Our credit card online showed the correct amount, so still don't understand why we got pesos back.) Warning: our card got frozen by this transaction by the credit card company and our ship charges were denied. We had to call the bank and straighten it out, so it's a good thing to let your credit card company know you'll be charging in a foreign country. Dec. 20, 2009 Acapulco My daughter and I woke up early and sat on the balcony in the pre-dawn darkness. We could hear birds and traffic below. As the sky began to lighten, we could see the Island Princess in the distance. When the rest of the family got up, we had breakfast in the hotel dining room. They gave us a basket with a variety of rolls, pastries and bread -- all excellent, especially the chocolate filled. There was an adult buffet and a smaller version children's buffet with both American and Mexican breakfast foods, as well as a menu. My daughter had the children's buffet and she went back several times for the fresh-squeezed papaya juice. I had a plate of tropical fruit, coffee and bread. We put our suitcases outside of our doors, checked out of the hotel and loaded onto the bus for our city tour. Our guide was 63-year-old Andres, who pointed out all of the homes of celebrities and movie stars. We drove to Los Flamingos Hotel that was owned at one time by Johnny Weismiller and John Wayne. We got out and walked around the paths and stairs, enjoying the spectacular view. Next stop was near the cliff divers to the P&P Jewelry Store for a free drink (beer, margarita, soft drink) and a chance to buy silver or gold jewelry. I realize the sales people work on commission but I do not like to be followed around the store. My husband and daughters were conspiring to buy me something, so I made myself scarce and went outside to take photos of the vendors. They were selling t-shirts, tablecloths, jewelry and other souvenirs. The group then walked to the Mirador Hotel to watch the Cliff Divers. It was very hot as we waited for the show to begin. After the show, we reboarded the bus and went straight to the cruise terminal. Check-in and embarkation was incredibly quick. In fact, my in-laws are 'preferred' and we were able to check in before them. As we stepped aboard and into the atrium, it was shimmering with white lights and garland. We were quickly whisked to the person selling the Ultimate Kid Package (unlimited soda, hot chocolate and mocktails) and the soda card. Everyone but me got the UKP sticker -- I'm not that big of a soda drinker and I'd rather have a real cocktail. Our mini-suite was B218, and we went to look out the balcony. Our room steward, Benedict, immediately welcomed us and offered us a glass of champagne but we were starving and opted to go to the buffet right away. (Benedict was a great room steward -- always seemed to slip in and get our room ready when we were out.) We had a 2 for 1 coupon for the coffee card and purchased two of those on our way to the Horizon Court. Paul found the Princess Pizza near the pool. Back at our room, we unpacked and decorated our door. I went to the Explorer Lounge for the Roll Call Meet and Greet. -------------------- Dinner that night at the Bordeaux Dining Room. We had opted for Anytime Dining as we had several excursions that might have run into the early dinner we were initially assigned. We ran out of time for dessert because of the muster drill and sail away party. We also had to register for the Shockwaves program for our daughters, so we went back later for coffee and dessert. We were glad we had purchased the coffee card as we had latte, cappucino or mocha every morning and every night. December 21, 2009 Huatulco Breakfast in the Horizon Court -- made to order omelets -- as we pulled into Huatulco. We opted not to have an excursion, instead the girls swam in the ocean and when they tired of that they built sandcastles and buried each other in the sand. I was approached by a young woman named Adelaide, who offered me a table, chairs and a beach umbrella. I asked if there was a drink or food minimum and she said no, so I sat down, ordered a Modelo and enjoyed the breeze while watching the girls. Many vendors brought by textiles, jewelry and carvings, none of which I bought, but they were not aggressive and I enjoyed watching them. We went back to the ship for a quick lunch, then found a taxi van to take all of us to the little town of La Cruecita. The town is very clean and has many modern buildings. The square looks like a typical village with a gazebo in the square and a church on one side. The church is beautifully painted inside with a large Virgin of Guadalupe on the ceiling above the center aisle and dark sky and stars above the far aisles. We bought some magnets, Christmas ornaments and t-shirts from a shop on the square. Our taxi came back for us on time, but in the meantime, other drivers had bargained for our business, and we were able to bring the price down. Back on ship, the sea was starting to get rough, the roughest we experienced on the voyage. I went to meet others from the roll call while my husband laid down and tried to feel less motion. I picked up my youngest daughter from the Shockwaves program where she had been coloring a Shockwaves t-shirt. She enjoyed the program, although there was too much other stuff going on for her to want to attend it all the time. We all got dressed for dinner, the first formal night. )While most people looked nice tonight and every night, it was not the huge deal I had read about here on CC. Smart casual was more casual than smart, and no one seemed to mind or be any the worse for it. Definitely not worth stressing over or buying new clothes.) My husband could not eat due to motion sickness and left the table. Both girls felt queasy and took my advice to nibble on crusty rolls and felt better almost immediately, enough to both order a half order of fettuccine. The girls and I left before dessert as we wanted to go to the Champagne Waterfall and then to see Wayne Hoffman, the mentalist and illusionist. I gave him my ring as part of his show and he linked it to two others. His show was great. After the show, we stopped by to see if my husband was feeling any better and wanted to go have dessert with us. He got up and dressed again and we went to the MDR for dessert and coffee. By this time, he was feeling sufficiently hungry that he spied some steak another diner was eating and ordered dinner. You have to love anytime dining! Tuesday, December 22, 2009 Guatemala Breakfast at HC, watching the coastline of Guatemala get closer and closer. At 9:15 met in the Explorer Lounge for excursion to Filadefia Coffee Plantation and Antigua. This was the first of four Princess excursions. The passengers exited the ship on a gangplank, through a "welcome tent" and past vendors with many beautiful items for sale. We were taken to three buses going to Filadelphia, about 1.5 hours away. Our guide was a fairly young man with a good grasp of English and easy to understand. He gave a good talk as we went through the countryside and was available for any questions. When we reached the plantation, the local guide boarded the bus. We stopped first for a quick bathroom break, then reboarded to go to the fields. She explained the coffee grows on lower bushes but is shaded by higher trees. She explained the different layers of the coffee beans, grafting and growing, then harvesting. We reboarded the bus and went back to the processing area to see how the beans are sorted first by washing them, then drying in the sun, hand sorting and finally roasting and packaging. We had lunch on the grounds under a very large tent, such as one would use for a wedding reception outdoors. A mariachi band played and we got our meal: chicken or beef, refried beans, rice, tortillas, chips and guacamole. Dessert was a luscious and light coffee mouse. We had orangeade to drink, and you could purchase a soft drink or beer. Outside of our tent, a male and female mascaradas -- giant puppets -- danced. After lunch, we went to Antigua. Our guide warned us the vendors would be very aggressive and they were - the most aggressive of any on our excursions in Latin American countries. They mobbed the bus as we got off, and it was impossible to hear our guide point out the different things in the plaza as the vendors moved into the crowd and tried to engage everyone to buy their goods. It was sad to see young children hawking goods -- I hope they are normally in school, only here because it is Christmas break. Our guide took us to a jade store/factory/museum and then to a market contained inside a building. Inside the stalls were like mazes. The shop keepers were friendly and had many beautiful items to sell. We returned to the ship in time for dinner -- my appetizer was pineapple and pistachios; mango soup and chicken breast from the "left side" of the menu -- the side that is always available. My husband had the chiappino (sp?), which he pronounced excellent. We went to the Adrian Zmed show at the Universal Lounge. Zmed was a co-star with William Shatner on TJ Hooker, also some guest starring roles such as the Love Boat. They played clips of his career and he good-naturedly made fun of himself now that he's a little older, less hair and a little more out of breath. During one of the numbers, a cast member pulled my 12-year-old daughter onto the floor with a hula hoop. At first she didn't know what to do and then went into action and hula hooped better than anyone to a big round of applause. Wednesday, December 23, 2009 Nicaragua I was awake early because of a cold and unable to sleep much. I went to the HC for coffee and sat on the Lido Deck watching the crew get the area ready for the day. We had breakfast and an early lunch at the HC so we could leave for our excursion to the Masaya Volcano National Park. We took tenders to San Juan del Sur. There were some vendors and dancers, as well as three firemen standing at attention for donations. Very dedicated, those firemen. Our local guide spoke excellent English and was easy to understand. He talked non-stop for 1.5 hours as we drove to the volcano. I looked out the window at the homes and countryside as I listened to him. He told us about the civil wars in the 80s between the Contra and the Sandinistas and related his own personal story that he had been drafted at age 17 by the Sandinistas. At that time, he was in high school and spoke English, having learned it in parochial school at age 12. His parents did not want him to be in the army, but reasoned that his knowledge of English and his education made him a valuable asset. But the Sandinistas wanted him to be "re-educated" and sent him to work in the morgue. Roberto was very passionate about his country and stressed that much has changed since the 80s. He said the country is trying to recover economically and to bring tourism to the country. It was a long 1.5 hour ride to the park -- the only national park in Nicaragua -- I enjoyed looking out the windows so it did not seem as long. If you have children, bring their DS or ipod, or a coloring book. The volcano itself is a large crater with sulfuric smoke. If you are asthmatic, I would not recommend this excursion. Frankly, there is not much to do here -- we peered over the edge, and climbed the stairs for a better look, but that's really it. The bathroom facility is primitive, more like an outhouse. Our guides gave us a snack of a bottle of water, an apple, croissant filled with some type of meat and a bag of corn snacks. We got on the bus and drove a short distance to Catarina, a village with a small market and a nice overview of the two large lakes. We had a beer at the restaurant and used the bathroom. The bathrooms were clean but one lacked toilet paper or a toilet seat. The vendors in the market were not aggressive at all. They had wood carvings, shoes, pottery and other items for safe. These bells were my favorite thing -- I would have purchased them if I thought I could get them home in one piece and not tip the scales on my suitcase. At the crest of the hill, there was a community nativity scene. I liked the fact that the baby had not yet arrived in the manager. We were only here a short time as we had to race back to the ship. On the way back, it became dark and we could see that almost all of the homes had a string or two of Christmas lights, a Christmas tree and a color television set, even though the homes were relatively poor. As it was, we were late to the tenders -- but so were about 1,000 others. The firemen were still there, and other vendors hoping for last minute sales. Back on board, we got in line for dinner outside the Bordeaux. It was the first time we had to wait at all for a table, but then, even the "first seating" diners did, too, as many people came back late from their excursion. We were escorted to a table and our waiter was a young Filipino man named Alvin. He addressed my oldest daugher by name -- he had been in an adjoining section the night before when we had dessert and overheard us calling her by name. He was very friendly to the girls, as was his supervisor, Nelson. They both did magic tricks. The girls loved all the attention and from then on, nothing would do but to be at Alvin's table. December 24, 2009 Costa Rica Again, I awoke too early and went to the HC for coffee and sat on the Lido Deck in the pool area. It was 5 a.m. and a dad brought his two teen-aged sons to swim laps! That's dedication. I moved to the Promenade and watched the crew swapping the decks and wiping the railings. The crew takes an amazing amount of care of the ship. One time we came across an entire group of young men on their knees on the stairs, scrubbing the carpet and getting into the corners of each step. I moved to the Crooner's Lounge and listened to the piped-in music, reflecting how lucky I was to be here. I got up, peered over the rail at the 5th deck of the Atrium and was delighted to see a huge display of gingerbread houses and Santas. I went back to the room and everyone got up and dressed for breakfast in the HC as we had to leave by 7:40 for our excursion to the Original Canopy Adventure zipline. It was already hot and humid. Our guide on the bus was already drenched in sweat. We had a small bus to take us to Mahogany Park for ziplining, about 45 minutes away. The guide told us that Costa Rica was pretty prosperous, due in part to investments in technology and call centers. There is a large middle class, a democratic republic with a balanced social program. The homes we passed seemed to bear him out, as they were small to medium sized, but well maintained with beautiful yards and gardens. Education was free and mandatory with government subsidies for families who couldn't afford to send their children to school. Tourism was also an important industry. As will all the tours we have taken, we felt very welcomed and valuable to the host countries. Our guide stressed that the ziplining was very safe, although not as exciting as some others, but it was safety first. Sounded good to me, as I am not a fan of heights. At Mahogany Park, we first used the rest room -- I mention this because it was very clean (smelled of Lysol!) and there were flush toilets, unlike the day before. We were outfitted with helmets, gloves and harnesses and walked a few minutes down the trail to the first tree we would climb via a metal staircase. The zipline guide explained how to sit, how to hold on to the strap, and how to brake with your hand behind your head. We could see the group ahead of us zipping along the first segment, not far off the ground. So far, so good. The first of seven segments was not too bad, but we landed on a very narrow metal platform, and I had to tippy toe and then pull down the line so the guide could release my pulley. There were plenty of guides, all about 20 years old, and we were tethered at all times by a safety line, but it was a little disconcerting if you are not a fan of heights. We made our way around the tree to the next zipline segment. We were filmed the entire time by the park still photographer and videographer. By the third segment, our 9-year-old was hysterical. The tree was very high up -- about 60 feet -- and the chasm seemed very great. We had to make our way around the tree again to zip off. She was screaming uncontrollably and I wasn't doing too well myself. (BTW, there were other children on the tour and none of them had any problems.) There was no way down except to zip down. At the end of the zipline, we got a bottle of cold water, much needed, took off our equipment, and walked 15 minutes to the base where we had the chance to buy the video of our experience (we did). Having survived once, I think I could do it again... The video does not look at high as it did in real life! Back on the ship, we had lunch and I took the girls to the pool to cool off. There were plenty of chairs available, and the pool was not crowded. After the pool, the girls wanted to play shuffleboard, so we went to the back of the ship where the shuffleboard was. They played a bit and then played checkers using the giant chess set since they don't know how to play chess. Dinner time at the Bordeaux. We were not able to get Alvin as his section was full. The waiter we did get seemed a bit preoccupied, I'm glad we had not been assigned to him for the entire cruise. I had the tropical fruit soup (really, it's a smoothie!) and fettuccine with a mocha and cherries jubilee for dessert. After a long day and full meal, we were sleepy and decided to call it a day. Christmas Day at Sea I woke up early and went to the balcony to see the first light. There, arching from the sea beside the ship, was the most beautiful and most vivid rainbow I've ever seen. Breakfast at HC and then met the family in the Wheelhouse to open presents. We were not the only ones with this idea -- the other large, extended family was very organized and had planned out their Christmas morning with stockings hung up, hot chocolate ordered and pastries delivered! We overheard them reading scripture and singing Christmas carols. Nice! We just drew up some chairs for the seven of us. Grandma and Grandpa spoiled everyone as usual, more than I anticipated as they already spoiled us by giving us the cruise as a Christmas gift! After opening gifts, we went to the Atrium, which was awash in red balloons and streamers in addition to the Christmas decorations already in place. There were tables set up for decorating cookies, tattoos, coloring, making buttons. And of course, Santa arrived down the elevator and was enthroned on the landing with the Youth program direct assisting him in giving out a package to every child that contained a Princess teddy bear. For lunch, we went to the Bayou Cafe for British Pub Lunch. I had the cottage pie, others in our group had fish and chips or bangers and mash. Food was good and hot! More swimming, shuffleboard and checkers in the afternoon. Unfortunately, we were not at Alvin's station as we could not make reservations on Christmas.We went to the comedy show with Billy Vader. We left after a few minutes because it was not appropriate for kids (and not labeled as such anywhere). December 26, 2009 The Panama Canal I was more excited about the Panama Canal than a kid getting up to check for Santa's arrival. My husbnad and I walked forward on the Caribe deck, there were only a couple of others out there as we approached Panama City and the Bridge of the Americas. We saw the pilot's ship and as it began to get lighter, got the girls out of bed to witness the Mira Flores locks. They were somewhat interested but it is a long process to go through each lock. We walked around the ship to see the locks at different perspectives and then had breakfast in the HC where we could hear the commentary. We sat on the deck chairs on the promenade as we cruised slowly through the channel. It was incredibly quiet and peaceful. We watched as the channel opened up into Gatun Lake and then the last locks appeared. We went back to the front of the ship to watch as we went through the locks. There was a green container ship beside us and we waved to the crew as they watched from their ship. We also noticed a road in front of the last lock that cars and buses were passing over and we wondered how that would work. When the gates opened the bridge swung to the side as well. Very interesting! We docked at Colon and there was a huge line to disembark. It moved very quickly and we wandered around the handicrafts and souvenirs. There were tribal people selling their wares, clad in loincloths and tattoos. We had a tropical smoothie blended for us at one of the stalls. After dinner, the girls and I went to see "Do You Wanna Dance" show featuring the Princess singers and dancers in a variety of dance styles and songs. We enjoyed it very much December 27, 2009 Sea Day We had breakfast at the Bordeaux with many waiters at our beck and call, and it was quiet and elegant as compared with the rushed breakfast in the HC. Alvin and Nelson fussed over the girls, bringing them pots of hot chocolate. After breakfast, we carted our laundry to the self-service laundromat on the Baja deck. We were able to use four washers at once and got our laundry done in record time. We enjoyed chatting with the other people who were doing laundry as well. Our daughters went with their grandfather to play Monopoly in the game room and my husband and I had a chance to visit with his mom until it was time to go to the youth program Talent Show in the Universal Lounge. My youngest daughter's part was in the Air Guitar number. The kids all had fun -- some hip hop dancing, some karaoke, some singing -- and everyone got a nice Princess Cruises medal at the end. My husband and I and my in-laws attended the Captain's Circle reception. Waiters carried around trays of drinks -- I had some champagne -- and my father-in-law remarked it was the best Captain's Circle reception they had attended (my inlaw's have 11 Princess cruises). From there, off to dinner. I had roasted tomato soup and lobster and prawns. Alvin expertly freed the lobster from the shell, then did some magic tricks with cups and croutons. He and Nelson kept the girls supplied with hot chocolate and banana-chocolate milkshake for my brother-in-law. Entertainment tonight was Motor City with the dancers and singers.My 12 year old was surprised to find out she knew about 80% of the Motown Sound. It was well done, even better than the night before. December 28, 2009 Jamaica I woke up with a terrible headache -- combination of sinus and migraine -- but got up and went to the HC for early breakfast. We were leaving by 7:20 for Dunn River Falls and Mystic Mountain Chairlift. Instead of meeting in one of the ship lounges, we all spilled out onto the pier and were greeted by an army of Jamaican women in white blouses and blue skirts (and incredibly, some in high heels!) We finally all got sorted out and boarded our bus. Our guide was Shanae, our driver was Dudley and our bus was Number 24. We had to repeat that several times. It was 1.75 hours to Ochos Rios, and we were supposed to be back by 1:30 p.m. Shanae pointed out the various golf courses and resorts, then sang the Jamaican national anthem and recited the national pledge. She is obviously very proud of her country. We arrived at Dunn River Falls and quickly took off shorts and tops and put on water shoes. Shanae gave us the usual warnings about not getting sidetracked by vendors and gave us a few Jamaican phrases. At the falls, we were handed over to two guides named Paul and Lopez who walked down to the beach, took charge of anyone's camera, and told us to hold hands up the falls. Some places were deep, or had hidden pitfalls, some places the water rushed forcefully. Rachel got scared at one point, but got over that and didn't want to leave to use the stairs. She was thrilled to make it to the top. I fell at one point in one of the aforementioned pitfalls and scraped by shin but no big deal. The guides took video and wanted $40 for it (hint -- don't do it -- buy the Princess video instead). Take some bills in your swim trunks to tip your guide or they will follow you to the bus! A few moments later, we drove to Mystic Mountain and ascended on the chairlift which accommodates 4 people. I had read reviews saying too noisy with the road below but I thought that was an extremely minor thing. We were very high up over the tree tops with a spectacular view of the bay. (And yet, I said to myself, what am I doing here? I get scared on ferris wheels!) At the top, we had lunch, which was included in our tour, jerk chicken, fries, macaroni salad and a soft drink. Unfortunately, we were running way behind, so we scarfed down the food, took a quick look through the window and jumped on the chairlift going down. I actually loved the going down part -- much closer to the ground and much cooler. We were late getting back (and very glad the tour was booked through Princess, so no worries) -- almost an hour late. It's just too much to do in the time allotted. The tour dispatcher was in constant communication with Shanae and sent a police escort to get us through the afternoon traffic. This didn't do much for my headache, but I'm glad I went on the tour. Dave took the girls for a while and I laid down after taking two Excedrin Migraine tabs. Felt better and had dinner. I had goat cheese souffle and pork tenderloin with a cocoa rub, which I have to say was my least favorite -- I should have had the lamb, which Dave said was excellent. Dessert was a raspberry mouse and a hazlenut mouse with cake between. (Too much headache meds, I'm a little fuzzy on the specifics.) After dinner, we went to the ventriloquist show while the girls played more Monopoly with Grandpa. Sorry to say, I found him not to be entertaining at all and we left. I was sound asleep by 8:30. December 29, 2009 At Sea It's my Birthday! All seven of us went to breakfast in the MDR to enjoy the fabulous service of Alvin and Nelson. We asked Alvin how he manages to wait tables for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He said he goes to bed about 12 or 1, and sleep a few hours before getting up for breakfast service. Takes a nap before lunch, and one afterwards. He was looking resplendent in his white coat with gold and blue braided epaulets; Nelson was wearing a blue jacket designating him as a supervisor. At 9, I scurried off to the Lotus Spa for my massage, my birthday gift from Dave and Norene. I was still feeling the effects of the headache as well as the migraine meds, but after the massage with Grace, I felt 100 percent better. She recommended I have a massage at least once a month at home since I was showing signs of very tense muscles (imagine that, since I had been off of work and off the computer for 10 days!). I then rushed over to the Princess Theater, where I caught the last of the "Hilarious Cooking Show" staring the dining room maitre d's and chef's. Unfortunately I missed most of it, but saw Jorge of the Horizon Court sing a wonderful rendition of "My Way." The show concluded with everyone singing "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and those words were never truer! The family said it was a great show. At the conclusion, the entire audience (and it was SRO) filed out and went to tour the galley. I saw Nelson standing at the back of the theater, and he walked arm in arm with Rachel as they toured the galley. We again had pub food at the Bayou Cafe and the girls again went to play Monopoly with Dave in the card room. There were many families in there -- the sedate bridge players must have been scared off. Paul and I packed up our suitcases and found we needed to buy another bag at the giftshop to accommodate all the new t-shirts, magnets and Christmas presents. We finished up and sat in the Pastriesse (sp?) for a drink before Paul headed for a nap and I played Scrabble with the girls. The card room was completely filled, so we took our game to the Crooner's Lounge, as did a couple of others. Dinner was the American theme. The waiters had on red, white and blue vests. Stephanie pointed out Alvin's bowtie was not lined up with his vest, so they helped him right it. December 30, 2009 We had one last breakfast with Alvin and Nelson (they were like part of the family by now), arriving before the doors of the dining room opened at 6:30. We said our goodbyes, not only to the waiters and our cabin steward, but to Dave, Norene and Brian as they would head to Miami and then to California while we went back to Texas. Disembarkation, Customs and Immigration were incredibly fast -- we were in and out in 15 minutes! Fort Lauderdale Airport, not so much, but we had a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We are a family of four (my husband and I in our early forties and our two boys ages 13 and 10). This was our 7th cruise (all on Princess). GETTING TO ACAPULCO: We are from the Seattle area, and have learned to not travel the day of ... Read More
We are a family of four (my husband and I in our early forties and our two boys ages 13 and 10). This was our 7th cruise (all on Princess). GETTING TO ACAPULCO: We are from the Seattle area, and have learned to not travel the day of embarking on a cruise, for several reasons. 1. Giving us (and the airlines) a few extra days to get us "there" takes a ton of stress off. (We have learned this the hard way) and 2. Getting to our destination early allows us to unwind and get acclimated to the weather and time change (plus it lets us start our vacation a little bit early). So we flew Continental to Acapulco. We loved Acapulco. We stayed at the Grand Mayan resort for 3 nights, and it was incredible. The Grand Mayan was a 10 minute drive from the airport. It was an awesome resort, a family friendly place with a great lazy river, aqua park for kids, the longest pool we have ever seen, great public facilities, and our two bedroom room was spacious (we all loved the soaking pool on our balcony). There was a terrific beach right out front. We had a good pre-Christmas experience there. The only con to the resort is because it is in the "newer" part of Acapulco, it meant it was a 40 minute drive to the older Acapulco/cruise ship terminal area. We found ourselves taking taxis every day, but well worth it. While in Acapulco we saw the cliff divers, Fort San Diego, the artisans markets, the Flamingo hotel, Hardrock Cafe, etc. All in all we had a great time. EMBARKATION: The day of embarking went fairly smoothly. We got to the terminal early and had no delays, and were on the ship by 1:00pm. THINGS WE LOVED ON/ABOUT THE SHIP: The location of the Horizon Court is awesome (at the front of the ship with great views). We always like the burger bar and pizza. We liked that the gym was open 24 hours. We loved the way they decorated for Christmas. We thought they did a great job celebrating Christmas for the kids (crafts, cookies to decorate and a visit from Santa). Our boys liked the Ultimate Drink Card, and we used the coffee card daily. We thought most of the crew was upbeat (except for a few pushy servers pushing those drinks). We thought the entertainment was average (The piano man was incredible and very entertaining, we saw a few productions shows, a comedian, and a mentalist who was so so.) Room service was ok (sometimes it took a while and occasionally the order would be incomplete). We loved that the day we went through the canal they had an ongoing informational blurb over the intercom system spouting great and interesting facts about the history of the canal and the procedures to transit the canal. We loved that. We loved that there was always great and uncrowded views going thru the canal (check out the secret passages to the front of the ship on deck 10 and the secret passages on the back of the ships on decks 9 and 10). Tea time is always fun. WE absolutely loved the putt putt golf course on the top. THINGS WE DID NOT LIKE: We thought the Island was beginning to show wear and tear (for example: the carpets were stained, the fabric seats in the Horizon court were soiled, some rust on our balcony, the couch in the cigar lounged had been feebly repaired.). We missed Skywalkers, we missed MUTS, we missed the International Cafe. We thought the cigar lounge was a "smoker's closet" - gross, small and smelly. We thought the Cruise Director (Frank) was a bit phony. We thought the food had dropped significantly in quality and selection (for example: no escargot and no crab, instead alot of veal, lamb and meatloaf - yep, meatloaf on a cruise ship...hmmm). And late at night there was minimal variety and quantity in the Horizon Court. We had a difficult time deciphering Princess' rules (as to what rules were being enforced and which ones most people could and did ignore.)...for example: if babies/toddlers were NOT potty trained they were allowed in the splash pool only - that rule was never enforced by pool staff. Which was gross considering that children (of all ages - as well as us parents if we so chose to hang out with our kids were limited to using only one pool (I'll expand on that below). Not allowed to wear shorts in the dining room for dinner? - sure you were, we saw several people in shorts that were never turned away. Children were not allowed in the first three rows of the Princess Theater - every time we saw a show in the theater there would be several children in the first three rows and even when they were climbing over the seats and being a huge distraction, they were never asked to leave or move. In fact we never even saw Teen Security on the entire ship. So if Princess is going to state rules then why not enforce them. OK, here's my biggest complaint about this cruise. We booked a mini suite for 4 people, we got a mini suite meant for three people. It was a huge inconvenience. Picture this. We could go from our balcony to our front door without ever touching the ground. Our one son slept on a (less than twin size) pullout couch, our other son slept on a crummy, dirty, flimsy roll a way bed (that we had to roll out in the morning ourselves), that went cross-ways from the pull out bed to our bed. We complained the first night to two people at the Passenger Services Desk and their reply was "we are sailing at full capacity, and really how much time do you plan on spending in your cabin?" We were told they would get back with us the next day - they didn't. Four days later we complained, we were told someone would get a hold of us - no one did. I think Princess' attitude is: once on board we, the passengers are stuck so why make anything better for us. In this case we asked for our situation to be rectified (and we were shut down). I have since written a letter to Princess and am awaiting their reply. THIS PART APPLIES TO PARENTS TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN: On the Christmas cruise there were 500 children on board. If you ask me I think Princess "corralled" the children. For example: The back pool is in the adult/pay Sanctuary (off limits to kids and non-paying adults), the Lotus spa/indoor pool was adult only, so besides the splash pool it left children (families) to use the outdoor pool, and during pool games the kids had no pool. That meant if you child had gotten a bit too much sun, oh well, they could not use the indoor pool (that by the way was filled at 1/4 capacity). The kids were scrutinized poolside and reprimanded if they dare jump (feet first) into the pool, definitely not allowed. Kids clubs: When our boys were younger I think Princess did a great job with that 4-7 y/o group. But...the 8-12 y/o are put on auto pilot in front of PS2's and WII's. And my 10 year old son did not have a good time making a grass skirt for tropical island night. My 13 y/o was in the 13 to 17 teen club, and I think there is a big difference between 13 and 17. That group primarily focuses in a social setting (chatting, hanging out, dancing). There were few if any organized activities. So our kids hung out with us most of the time (which was fine with us). What we tell our kids on cruises, is: They have the right to enjoy themselves just like everyone else, regardless of age, but that they do not have the right to negatively impact any other persons right to enjoy themselves. MISC: There was quite a wide range of age groups. So to any grumpy adults out there that might be reading this, it's not always a kid that pushes the wrong button on an elevator, sometimes it's an adult that changes their mind mid-destination or accidentally pushes the up button when they wanted to go down, so please don't always blame the kids. And to kids out there. Don't scare people by running up or down the stairs taking 4 at a time. Our reflexes are slower and you look like a freight train coming at us. If you asked an older couple they would probably say that the children were running a muck. But if you ask me (from a parent's stand point) I think kids were not appropriately entertained and that they were being punished for being a kid and that they were corralled. It was almost like the ship was too small for kids. TRICKS: It always surprises me to meet people on a cruise that stare cross eyed at me when I order a bowl of strawberries with a side of whip cream for dessert at dinner. They say "can you do that?". Well if you take nothing away from this review, please remember this. Ask away. You might not get everything, but you won't get much if you don't ask. For example: Being in a mini suite we get a glass of champagne upon arrival - we ask for the bottle (and get it), no matter what cabin your in - ask for robes, ask for egg crate on the bed, ask to have your sitting chair of coffee table removed if you need the room, ask for strawberries for dessert or lox for breakfast. I think we are cruising at a time when even the cruise lines are cutting back trying to save money, but it never hurts to ask. We booked this cruise to experience the Panama Canal and that was amazing, awesome and something I think our entire family will always remember. Oh, did I mention that from our balcony, we were all able to touch the canal wall! Those are our favorite pictures. We realize that with any vacation rarely does it go perfectly, so you do the best you can with what you got at the time and we try to make every vacation a wonderful experience. OK, moving on...DISEMBARKING: My husband walked off the ship early, shared a taxi to the airport, picked up a rental car and came back for the three of us and our luggage an hour later. It worked out perfectly. As for us three disembarking...that was quick and easy as well. From there we drove to Tampa and did Busch Gardens for 2 days, then drove to Orlando and did Universal Parks for 2 days. In Orlando, we stayed at a Universal Property, The Portofino Bay, which is an absolute wonderful and amazing property. The best part is that if you stay at a Universal property, your room card gets you head of the line privileges, which saved us hours of standing in lines waiting to go on rides. On Jan 3rd our flight was cancelled so Delta put us up at a hotel and we arrived home Jan 4th in the evening. They boys were up early and back to school the next day. Oh, it's such a harsh transition from vacation to reality! Happy travels to all. HUATULCO, Mexico: Huatulco is a small coastal Mexican town. We got off the ship, took a $4 taxi ride into town and just wandered around taking pictures and picking up some souvenirs (vanilla, ceramics, pottery, t shirts and coffee). It was a relaxing day for us. There is a nice beach right by the cruise dock, and there is also some shopping close by the dock. We did know people that went snorkeling close by and seemed to have a good time. PUERTO QUETZAL, Guatemala: In Puerto Questzel we did a Princess "Antigua on Your Own" tour. We usually do not do ship tours, however I had read that there could be some safety/security issues in this area and also it seemed like most prominent areas of interest involved a lengthy drive. So we boarded a bus to Antigua. We had around six hours on our own there. We had a great time. That is a very picturesque town when the drive there showed only 3rd world poverty. This was by far the best shopping. Items to buy were: jade (although I did not think was so cheap, but did a have quite a selection), textiles (I bought a beautiful leather with a woven fabric panel for $140 dollars, there were also table runners, place mats, pouches, purses, bags, cigars, coffee, wood carvings). We had a very nice day, and because we were high in elevation it was cool and comfortable. We were late leaving Antigua and it was 1 1/2 hour drive, but the ship did wait for us. A fun day, but long. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Overall, we really like Princess. The Coral Princess is beautiful and very clean. The ship was sold out, but it never felt crowded. We did the anytime dining and never had to wait. There were 7 of us in our group. One night we might have ... Read More
Overall, we really like Princess. The Coral Princess is beautiful and very clean. The ship was sold out, but it never felt crowded. We did the anytime dining and never had to wait. There were 7 of us in our group. One night we might have had to wait for a table, but the head waiter called the other dining room and personally took us up on the elevator. They were very accommodating. On this cruise we ate at both the specialty Italian restaurant and at the Bayou Steak house (first night/last night). We have done the Italian restaurant on other cruises. I think there are 18 courses. It is very good, but we all liked the steak house better. The steaks were wonderful and perfectly cooked. In general, the food is very good, but not great. The service and selection in the dining room and the buffet are very good. We don't do cruises for the food. We did Alaska first, the Italy-Greek Isles-Turkey trip second and now the Panama Canal. For us it is about the destinations and not the food. That being said, there is plenty of it and it is good. We had coffee delivered every morning and really enjoyed that luxury. We also went to the buffet every afternoon and got happy hour snacks and took them back to our cabin. we had 3 cabins that the balconies opened up...it allowed us to all meet each day and talk about our activities with snacks and wine. One day I called and complained that they did not have anything appropriate like crackers and cheese, olives, veggies etc. The person in the customer service area had the head of Horizon Court kitchen call me. He said that if I did not find what I wanted just ask and they would make up an antipasta plate for me. The next day I did just that and sure enough they brought everything I could want. Craig Siddall in Crooners Bar is Great!!! Make sure you go by to hear him!! We went every night. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This is our seventh cruise and our third one with the kids in tow. There were six in our party, my wife, myself and our four children - ranging in age from 11 to 18. We left London and flew the eleven and a half hour flight to Mexico ... Read More
This is our seventh cruise and our third one with the kids in tow. There were six in our party, my wife, myself and our four children - ranging in age from 11 to 18. We left London and flew the eleven and a half hour flight to Mexico City and then, after three long hours, got a connection to Acapulco. So it was a very long day travelling (20 hours door to door). We traveled Business Class which always helps on such lengthy journeys. We stayed in The Grand Hotel in Acapulco for one night, which is perfectly okay for a night, and we boarded the ship at about 2pm. Embarkation took about 15 minutes from arrival to getting aboard. I checked in online before we left, which definitely speeds up the process. Our staterooms were ready and very clean and the luggage arrived within the hour. We had two connecting (by balcony) mini-suites (D522 and D524), which are on the port side and reasonably central. The room steward, Henry, was a real gem - top bloke! First impressions of the Coral were that it was far bigger than I expected. We went on the Crown last year and I told the kids to expect a much smaller ship. In fact, it felt pretty much the same size as the Crown (it's slightly longer in fact) - and because it's a big ship, with 30% less passengers, it felt very uncrowded. This was a real pleasant surprise. In fact, my wife and I have decided that when we book future cruises we're going to look carefully at the size/passenger ratio. The public rooms were very well kept and the service throughout was impeccable - which we've almost always have found to be case with Princess. We ate in the Bordeaux dining room on the 'anytime' option. Only on one occasion did we have to wait for a table - which is pretty good given there are six of us. Oddly, I noticed it seemed to be the 'couples' that had to wait more often than families. Thought the entertainment was 'okay' but not outstanding. We particularly liked the pianist and violinist who played in the atrium and they also did a 'classical' show in the Universe Lounge one evening - they are truly talented. The two younger kids (11 and 13) absolutely loved the kids clubs - it was impossible to keep them away - they've both got lots more friends now. Emails were waiting for them by the time we got home! As for the cruise itinerary, as follows: Because there are six of us we find it infinitely more preferable do our own thing (in the main), so we do a bit of research in advance. For example, it's generally cheaper to hire a taxi for the day than it is to pay for six excursions - generally speaking we reckon it's about one third the cost, plus you have more independence. Guatemala: Google Earth revealed an interesting place called 'Iztapa' (not featured on any cruise excursion), which has a beach where all the locals go. It is about five miles from the port. Interestingly, the first cabbie quoted me $160 (one way) to which I said a few words which I won't repeat in this review. The next cabbie, witnessing this, immediately quoted me $30 return. Guess which one I used? We had a great day on the beach (which is then reached by a five minute boat trip from Iztapa.) The kids loved the huge Pacific waves! Nicaragua: Didn't do much here - just went for a wander off the boat, down some back streets, bought a few bits and bobs and then returned to the ship. It was one hot day and we were glad to be back in an air-conditioned ship. Costa Rica: This is the only place we did a Princess excursion because it looked interesting. We went rafting through (slightly) white water and rain forest, where we saw lots of wildlife (monkeys, birds, bats, lizards, etc..) I was somewhat surprised to also see 'crocodiles' - as an inflatable raft seemed like minimal protection to me! However, the organizers really knew their stuff and we felt very safe in their care. An excellent trip which I would wholeheartedly recommend. Panama Canal Transit: 'Awesome' is the only word I can describe this. The scale of the thing is mind blowing in all respects. Each one (of six) is 1000 feet long and 110 feet wide - there was only about a six inch gap each side of the ship! Out of curiosity on one descent I went into the dining room and if felt like a submarine!!! Lots of things appealed to me, including: The close proximity to other huge ships; The scenery - especially through the lake; The sight of the locks from all angles - and it's worth noting that on deck ten, right at the front, there is a door which says 'keep out crew only'. Well don't keep out because you're allowed there. I reckon it's the best place on the ship for viewing the Canal. Cristobal: What a waste of time that was! We were allowed off the ship, but just onto the pier for two hours. For some reason the Panama stop was canceled so people were keen to get off. So we all queued up for half an hour, trudged off the ship and on to the pier, looked through piles of souvenirs (mainly tat) and then waltzed back on the ship. But do you know what, it didn't matter to me because I was still on a high after the Panama Canal transit. Jamaica: Again, we did our own thing. We hopped on a taxi to Dunns River Falls (a five minute Taxi ride from the port) and then paid to go there ($15 per person). The whole day cost us about $100 for six of us - I reckon it would have been nearer $400 had we have gone on an excursion, plus we could come and go as we liked. Great fun it was, climbing up the falls - it was more ferocious and longer than I expected! Then we chilled out on the beach for a few hours. A very nice day it was! On the sea days, and there were quite a few of these, we did loads of different things - kids clubs, trivia, cream teas, swimming, and more. We were never bored. Fort Lauderdale: Disembarkation took a long time. I presume it was because we didn't have a plane to catch so we were low priority. We assembled in the appropriate place at 8:30am (as requested) but weren't clear of customs until about 11:30am. So three hours hanging around was a bit of a pain. We stayed in Fort Lauderdale for three days at the Pelican Beach Grand Hotel. I can highly recommend it because it's right on the beach (unlike most other hotels) and the service was pretty good. It was a bit pricey, but worth it in my view. Overall, a most excellent holiday. We have already booked our next cruise with Princess (August 2009 - Norway and Iceland), who manage to get it just right for our family. No real gripes, other than a couple of stops didn't happen (Panama and one in Mexico), but I tend to be quite pragmatic about such things. As such, four and a half stars out of five from me. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We began our cruise, 7th. overall and 4th with Princess, with a two day precruise stay in Acapulco. We chose this cruise as we had heard it was one of the great cruises to take, ala the Med, Baltic Sea and Tahiti, just to name a few. Our ... Read More
We began our cruise, 7th. overall and 4th with Princess, with a two day precruise stay in Acapulco. We chose this cruise as we had heard it was one of the great cruises to take, ala the Med, Baltic Sea and Tahiti, just to name a few. Our hotel was the former Hyatt Regency which as of Jan. 1 2009 became the Grand Hotel and Convention center Aca. We had stayed here in 1986 and loved it, the price was good so we chose to stay here again. Overall for a precruise hotel it was fine but sadly she needs some work. Tiles in the lobby were full of blisters, a new coat of paint here and there would go a long way and the AC barely worked. If we kept it running constantly at full blast and kept the curtains closed then it was just OK in the room and we did have it looked at BTW. Otherwise it was clean and the service was good as was the only meals we had here, the full breakfast. To use the fitness center expect a $5.00 per day fee. Acapulco is great for the variety of restaurants and we tried two of them. The first night was El Ovido which overlooks the ocean and as it was a nice night we dined outside. Overall we were quite pleased and would go again w/o hesitation. The next night we had a reservation for Baikal which has even better reviews. We arrived at 1845 for a 1900 reservation made by the concierge to find the door padlocked. I knocked on the door, made alot of noise but no one answered so we went to another place and again had a nice meal but was disappointed that we could not sample Baikal. Well we went past it on the way back and it was open! Go figure. Princess tells you to be there at 1300 for embarkation. Well actually you can begin at 1145. We arrived around 1100 and after first being denied entry we persisted and found a Princess ground rep who let us wait in an AC building with shops and restaurants so I had a Modelo Especial cerveza (aah!)and cooled off. At 1145 hordes of guys with baggage carts came in and we were on the ship about 15 mins later. Thats about as easy as it gets. Later we saw tons of folks in long lines, many of whom had taken a Princess excursion preboarding and it was pretty warm outside too. Gee, the AC in the cabin is great. Turn it down. LOL! Lets go over the ship now. First of all the public areas are very clean. The overall appearance is quite good really. Our cabin. A404, balcony was OK. The AC was very good but as we had three in the room space seemed a bit cramped. The shower was tiny and people of large size would find it difficulty to fit in I think. Our steward, Emmanuel from the Philippines was outstanding. He was efficient, always very polite, personable and willing to go the extra mile to please us. The overall service was outstanding. Princess seems to get this message across very well to its employees IMHO. Although I must say if you are nice to them then it comes back to you and we always try to be nice to them as we know how hard they work. Their shifts are long and they are away from home for a long time. We had fixed first seating in the the Provence dining room and three in out part of five had requested Indian food and here again Princess delivers. We had that every night and were pleased with the overall quality and variety. I give them high marks for their efforts to meet this special request. Our regular menu selections were very good and I give high marks to our head waiter Ana Maria from Romania and her asst. Roland from Hungary. She is a lively, lovely gal who you just take to right away. Pietro, the restaurant manager from Italy was great as well. These three made our dining experience that much more pleasing. We had lunch in the horizon ct. usually and it was good, not great. I do think the variety was an improvement over the AOS which we took last May though overall the AOS is a nicer ship IMHO. Princess pizza is very good. The performing group on this ship was one of the best, most talented group I have ever seen on any ship. However for the 1st time I saw that shows were being repeated on back to back nights thus eliminating the need for other "headlining" performers and thus cutting costs. Well you have to do something in todays economic world I suppose. As usual one can as busy or as quiet as you want. That is there are plenty of activities to keep you busy throughout the day. My one criticism is the timing for the 1st seating. It began and 1730 and the shows started 2015. I think the seating should begin at 1800 to lessen the gap as one had about 1hr. 15 min. or more to wait for the show after dinner. Disembarkation was a little weird but OK. That is we purchased the Princess transfers to FLL. We had to be on the Provence at 0745 and arrived there only to see a seemingly endless line of people leaving. This was our group! We literally were the last ones in line and had to wait about 10-15 for everyone else to file out. So much for being on time but I suppose I should have learned that In Acapulco. Anyway we were on the bus in about 45 mins. only to wait another 20 mins. or so for other buses to get to the airport and let them matriculate so we could avoid congestion. We had plenty of time anyway and had our boarding passes in hand around 15 mins. after arrival. Overall we liked this cruise for the canal itself. Its an amazing feat on engineering and I suggest to listen the the lecture on board before going through it. You will be astounded. The ports on the Pac. side are OK but don't expect the So. Caribbean. They just don't have that infrastructure. For example Guatemala in the only port I've ever seem where private excursions are more than what the ship offers. A ride to Antigua privately was literally double the hips cost. Also there is not any bar that has a TV so for our 27 yr. old son, well its not the So. Caribbean. Anyway his bar bill was about half. LOL! Also don't expect a younger crowd. Most people seemed to be retirees. Thats fine. I hope to be one in a few yrs. but then again know what to expect. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009

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