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15 Night Panama Canal & Central America Cruise from Los Angeles

15 Night Panama Canal & Central America Cruise from Los Angeles

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  • Day 1
    Los Angeles
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
    Puerto Vallarta
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
    San Juan del Sur
  • Day 9
    Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera)
  • Day 10
  • Day 11
    Fuerte Amador (Balboa)
  • Day 12
    Panama Canal
  • Day 13
    Cartagena (Colombia)
  • Day 14
  • Day 15
  • Day 16
    Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

Island Princess

Island Princess - Princess Cruises


Comfortable, mid-sized ship; peaceful adults-only sun deck; good variety of food.


Ship generally feels cramped; bathrooms and standard balconies are also small.

Bottom Line

Ideal for those looking for a traditional cruise ship experience with no surprises.

Cruise Reviews

I gave this cruise a rating of terrible because there was no lower rating to choose. Because I worked 42yrs in an industry that did not allow for the number of days away needed this was our first opportunity to go on my husbands dream ... Read More
I gave this cruise a rating of terrible because there was no lower rating to choose. Because I worked 42yrs in an industry that did not allow for the number of days away needed this was our first opportunity to go on my husbands dream trip. The Panama Canal. Originally we were going to choose the 16 day version of this cruise until we found out that all the ports of call on the first half of the trip, from LA to Panama hand been canceled and we did not want to spend 4days at sea. This in mind we & our best friends (10 time cruisers with Princess) changed to the 10 day version Ft Lauderdale to the Panama Canal and back. This change of itinerary should have been an omen but our 2 cruises with Royal Caribbean & 1 cruise with Princess were all so fabulous in every way that we pushed this warning sign aside and booked the trip. This as our 1st vacation in 16yrs! Little did we know what we were in for, but Princess knew! First I will mention the positive factors. Their names are Ismael & Enrico, our waiter & his assistant, Julian our cabin steward, and Anna a wonderful young woman at the customer service desk who were all the best!!! One of the 2 out of 5 scheduled excursions had a wonderful guide through the rain forest of Costa Rica. That’s it. Nothing else on this trip was a positive except the company of our best friends of 30+ years. Never in my life have I felt so robbed, so despondent and so angry all at one time. Where do I begin? We were only allowed to go on 2 of the 5 excursions we booked as we were not allowed to dock at the other 3 countries. My #1 choose of excursions on this trip was riding horses on the beach in Jamaica. I had the chance to do this once before &ziti was the most fabulous experience of my life. To have a second chance, in the meantime I actually learned how to ride had my own tack, rode weekly, was a dream come true. Strike #1! The Panama Canal excursion was my husband’s dream excursion. He waited for this trip his whole life. He is 14yrs my senior and very fit, and at 77 we probably won’t make the trip again. In addition this was our 40th anniversary trip. The food: all 3 cruises we have been on prior to this one the food was the crowning glory of the trip. Exquisite dishes expertly prepared. A wide variety of fresh expertly prepared meals excellent every one. THE FOOD ON THIS CRUISE WAS WORSE THAN DISAPPOINTING IT WAS DOWN RIGHT MEDIOCRE! The meat had poor flavor and bad color as if it was not fresh. The fish was ok off & on depending on the meal. Princess made a point of using 3 pages online to describe their “Chocolate Journeys” and the extraordinary chef they had on board to create them. Well they were very good but they were only offered 4 times on the 10 day cruise. The menu was on the left side the same every night so if you couldn’t find anything on the right side to like you had something to fall back on. What kind of a menu is that??!!! Breakfast was just ok as was lunch. There was no “Captain’s Reception” as in past cruises even though our best friends were 10 time cruisers. The Horizon Buffet which was described in such luscious terms that I couldn’t wait to eat there not only was not good but it was actually leftovers from the dining rooms from the day before that they tried to spiff up or disguise as something else! Leftovers! Bad leftovers! It got to the point where halfway through the cruise the only thing we looked forward to was desert and it too became repetitive. Overall the food was a complete bust to put it mildly. Entertainment: once again the word mediocre comes to mind immediately. There was one trivia evening that lasted about 45 that we really enjoyed. That’s it. My husband would give a few dollars to the casino at the end of night out of boredom. Shopping: The prices in the shops were, on fragrance about $3 cheaper than home, just no tax. The t-shirts for sale to commemorate the trip were very cheap quality. When I got home & compared them to the ones we punched on previous cruises, that are still fit to wear from 16 years ago, were ten times better quality. The main thing my girlfriend & I bought was “gold by the inch”, which I had experience with and knew that they stand behind their product, had a salesperson who did not know what she was doing, could not add even with a calculator & had to have help with almost every transaction. I bought a necklace and bracelet early in the cruise and when I went to take it off that night it broke, not at the clasp but one of the link fell apart! When I went the next day to return it she had to get her manager who was a nasty, rude, crabby man who actually told me that it was my fault that it broke!!! Oh, I forgot to mention that I had a 10% off coupon and a $25 gift card from the cruise line. I checked the next day at the service desk because I did not trust her math and my gift card had not been deducted!!! The water in the pool was cloudy and no one was in it. Very few deck chairs to be had. This being our 1st vacation in so many years, I stepped up my five day a week workouts at the gym so would look extra nice in my painstakingly chosen new swimming suits. I never even put one of them on! To sum up this cruise: WE SPENT CLOSE TO $10,000 ON A VERY SPECIAL AND LOG AWAITED AND DESERVED VACATION AND GOT A GIANT DISAPPOINTMENT FOR OUR MONEY!!! We spent $10,000 including $1000 on platinum cancellation insurance, which we should have used after the first excursion stop was canceled! PRINCESS CRUISE LINES OWE US A COMPLETE AND TOTAL REFUND! Even that cannot give us back my husbands dream vacation, our 40th anniversary trip vacation or make up for an experience so bad that we will never forget it. Nothing can make this up to us and I intend to share our experience with social media as well. I believe with all my being that Princess knew what going to happen before we sailed and the cruise should have been canceled.......... Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
My husband and I have traveled extensively. We were excited that this cruise was to take us to multiple ports and did not repeat any that we've visited before. Further, we've cruised with Princess before and felt comfortable ... Read More
My husband and I have traveled extensively. We were excited that this cruise was to take us to multiple ports and did not repeat any that we've visited before. Further, we've cruised with Princess before and felt comfortable with the cruise line. Embarkation was fairly smooth. We got on the ship, found our cabin as expected (although we were disappointed that our view was obstructed), and headed for lunch. Next, we toured the ship and found it as most ships in this class. We are not first class people, so the decor of the ship and layout suits us just fine. Let's pause here to share that the COVID19 virus was starting to grow in intensity in the world (not necessarily the US), and the cruise line did offer a 100% refund of cancellation fees (whatever that meant) if customers wanted to cancel. My husband stayed on the phone for an hour the morning of the cruise, but couldn't get through, so we decided to go on the cruise even though we had some doubts. Day 1 was a day at sea. We had rough seas...not terribly rough, but consistently and decently wavy. My husband and I didn't get sick, but we heard of several passengers who did. We were concerned about the many elderly on board and the possibility of them losing their balance and falling while attempting to walk. The crew kept reminding people to use handrails. Day 2 was to be in Jamaica. However, due to the rough seas, the port wouldn't come out to assist the ship in getting to the port. So, Strike One port. Day 3 was at sea...still rough seas. :( As my husband says, "It's feeling like Groundhog Day (the movie)." We did arrive in Cartagena, Columbia early (approximately 5 p.m.) and allowed to get off the ship. They even arranged for us to have excursions. Of course, you get to pay for them. $$ My husband, desperate to get off the ship, booked a carriage ride around the old city, and a dinner in town. It was an expensive excursion, but we had an enjoyable evening. Day 4 was Cartagena, Columbia Thank Goodness, we get to get off the ship and step on solid ground!! The ship was getting boring. We were happy to go tour and visit. We booked an excursion through the cruise ship; a canoe tour of mangrove tunnesl and a walking tour of the old city. The canoe tour was quiet and peaceful and guides went to great lengths to show us monkeys, sloths, and a variety of birds. The old city stroll didn't allow much time to really shop, but as we had gone to the old city the night before, it wasn't an issue for us (others were disappointed). Day 5 Panama Canal This was a day we looked forward to. We were both excited to see us go through the locks which we did have plenty of time and view of the ship going through 3 locks. This ship narrated and talked us through the history of the locks, what we were seeing and what was happening. Once we got into the lake, we were told we had to be scanned for potential fever by the Panamanian officials before going on excursions (those who had booked them). We all lined up and were scanned for fever, then received all the stickers, etc. for our excursions. A little later, we began boarding our tenders to leave. My husband and I were on the second tender. Once they loaded everyone, we wondered why we were waiting by the ship for a few minutes without leaving. Then, I noticed the first tender coming back toward the ship. At that time, I told my husband, "They are not going to allow us to enter Panama." (due to the virus) Sure enough, a ship official soon boarded the tender and told us the Panamanian government had decided to not allow us to come ashore due to the fear of the virus. (Why did they go to all the trouble of testing all of us for fevers if they were not going to let us come ashore?) Anyway...Strike Two port! Day 6 Puerto Limon, Costa Rica We booked an excursion through the internet to Tortuguero and a banana plantation. We found the group to meet, although we had to walk a decent distance from the ship to them. We boarded the bus and they drove us rain forest, then along the beach to an area that honestly didnt look like it would be safe (felt safe when we got there, though). We got off the bus and into boats they were rowed by locals who tooks us through mangrove growth. Some locals danced for us in traditional clothing before and after our boat ride. Back on the bus, they took us to the banana plantation. They pulled up to the gate (which was closed), and informed us that the plantation was closed to visitors due to a fungus that was endangering the world's population of banana's. The proceeded to tell us about the process of banana growth and process to market while we sat on the bus. Not sure why we had to drive all the way there for them to sit at the gate and tell us the process. They could have told us this at the port or while we were driving to the boat tour. Plus, we feel we paid for a two part tour, but only received one part. After the banana gate, though, they did drive us by a shopping place (how convenient). It was off by itself and the prices were all in US $). The prices were high and I'm not sure why anyone would purhase there. My husband and I took a quick walk through and then got back on the bus. This tour disappointed us greatly. Day 7 at sea Over the week, we've been watching the news and seeing the pandemic getting out of control. The US is getting very nervous about the virus, more cases are developing there, and the stock market is taking a hit as a result. One Princess ship has been off the coast of California for 2 weeks as they have cases of the virus on board and my husband and I are getting nervous that we could get held off the coast once we get back. Unlike most of the passengers on board, we have jobs to get back too. Today, we booked a flight home from Grand Cayman (our last port) so we will avoid the possibility of quarantine. Day 8 Grand Cayman Guess what?? Grand Cayman is not allowing cruise ships in their port due to the virus, so Strike Three Port! :( Luckily, the flight we booked is fully refundable. Now, we pray we do not get quarantined off the coast when we get back to Florida Day 9 at Sea Day 10 back to Florida Luckily, no one on the ship has shown any signs of the virus and we are able to dock. Disembarkation was super smooth and fast. Thank goodness as we had a 10:40 a.m. flight home. Why did I give the cruise a poor rating: 1. We didnt get to go to 3 ports...wouldn't you know it, the 3 ports that mattered the most to me and my husband. 2. Food...whew...the food is just average, at best! They feel they have to put every steak and pork in a brown gravy (the same brown gravy for all of them). Even though they try to mix up some of the foods at the buffet, we found most of them to not be good/tasty. Keep in mind, we are not gourmet/5-star people. More than one day we went through the buffet and couldn't find anything to eat, other than a salad. We ate more hamburgers and french fries from the Grille than anything for lunches. Thank goodness for the Grille...burgers and fries were very good. 3. Gripes you'll find on nearly all cruises...internet too expensive; excursions too expensive; entertainment just okay; very little music by the pool (loved it when they had Thosh DJ by the pool/need to do that more often) Positives: 1. Trivia...had a blast at all of them (went to nearly every one) 2. Staff...nearly every one we dealt with was kind, accomodating and really tried to instill postive vibes, especially with the difficult cruise we were experiencing (Kudos to Thosh, Ken, and Kristina) 3. Could actually get pool chairs on this cruise...probably because of the age of most of the passengers and/or the cruise wasn't full due to the virus Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
My sister and I chose this cruise because it was stopping at places we had never been to before and we wanted to see the old locks of the Panama Canal. It most definitely will be a cruise we will not forget! I can't believe how much ... Read More
My sister and I chose this cruise because it was stopping at places we had never been to before and we wanted to see the old locks of the Panama Canal. It most definitely will be a cruise we will not forget! I can't believe how much the world changed in the 10 days we were gone! I asked my doctor if it was safe to go and he said yes when I told him the itinerary. Well, everything went well through the airports, but when we got to the cruise terminal, we had to wait and wait to go through the TSA screening of the luggage, etc. Once we were on board, the mini suite was much like mini suites on other Princess ships except the couch was terrible, we put bed pillows on it to sit on (helped some). The weather was terrible the first 2 1/2 days, the ship was rocking terribly and we couldn't go out on deck. It was hard to walk and we really missed using the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is our treat to ourselves when we sail with Princess. After the first day and a half, they started serving us at the Horizon Court and there was nothing on the tables. Princess was very diligent in keeping everything clean and it paid off as at the end of the voyage the captain announced we did not have anyone with the corona virus and only a handful of people with any sickness. We couldn't dock at Jamaica because of the weather but we had a fabulous tour with Josie from Dora the Explorer in Cartagena, best tour every! We lucked out with beautiful weather while at the Panama Canal. Some people were going to go ashore there and went through health screening and some were on boats going ashore only to be turned away by the Panama government. Costa Rico was very welcoming but the tour we wanted was canceled due to not enough people signing up. So we had to find another one. Grand Cayman would not allow us to come ashore there because of this virus scare. So, out of 5 stops, we only got 2. But Princess had no control over the weather nor the governments of the places that turned us away because of the virus scare. All in all, Princess worked very hard to get the dining rooms open, and things for us to do during the unexpected sea days. The crew and the service was great. Some of the crew I have to mention for their fantastic service and personalities. In the Sanctuary - John, Made, Rigan, Kerwin. Mostly in the morning at the Horizon Court was "the Hello Sunshine" girl with her dance moves - Cyrille. And our room stewart Felix. They made our cruise so much more pleasant. I'm so glad we got home with no problems and my sister and I decided to self quarantine for 2 weeks which I'm just starting the 2nd week. We have 2 more cruises booked with Princess. I don't know if the June one will be canceled or not, but we will most definitely cruise again with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
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