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6 Princess Island Princess Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

This was out first cruise. We were a family of 4 with two balcony rooms side by side on the Aloha deck. This was great for us as we were just below the pool deck, teen club and Horizons food court. The cabins were in good condition and ... Read More
This was out first cruise. We were a family of 4 with two balcony rooms side by side on the Aloha deck. This was great for us as we were just below the pool deck, teen club and Horizons food court. The cabins were in good condition and we had an excellent cabin steward. We choose anytime dinning and had no problems getting seated. We would go early most nights but did go late a couple of times. Plan on spending at least 2-3 hours for dinner, service was a little slow. Sabitinis would be open for lunch some days serving pizza. I would recommend this. The shows that we went to were good. We went to 2 comedy shows and 2 shows featuring the ships performers. There was also a The Voice competition that was entertaining. There was things going on everyday on the boat, just pay attention to the planner they leave you everyday. We did get one moving in under the stars. During sea days we would spend it on the pool deck. I liked the splash deck at the front of the boat. Less people but a little more wind. The service at the pool / Lido deck is questionable. You would have to flag a waiter down to get something. I would just go up to the bar most times, much faster and the bartender also have better personalities. The children had a good time at the teen lounge. It was a great place for them to meet the other teens on the boat. We had a good time at the ports. We only did shore excursions in Limõn and Ocho Rios. In Limōn we did went to the canal and rain forest. Seen a bunch of wildlife. Great tour. Ocho Rios we did Mystic Mountain, the bobsled ride and Dunn River Falls. I think it would have been better if it wasn't so crowded. The Regal Princess was diverted to the island and was there the same day as us. In Aruba we went to Palm beach an relaxed. Took the city bus. In Columbia we got a taxi for the day. $100 for the day. The driver would get out and walk with us telling us about the city. Well worth it. He didn't speak good english, but the children speak Spanish and would translate for us. We just stayed on the boat in Panama. Going through the canal is a pretty cool deal. You receive a certificate for a partial Panama Canal transfer. Getting on and off the boat at all location was a breeze. Overall we had a great time. Not having been on another cruise we have nothing to compare it to, but can't complain. I would do another cruise on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a relative. The cruise was 16d/15n from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal, with stops in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Aruba. The ship was built in 2002 and refitted last year, with extra cabins added at the rear of Deck 7 Promenade. It is one of two built to Panamax size to suit the Canal, although larger ships can be taken when new locks and channels are commissioned later in 2016. Standard of fit out and furnishing was excellent, with much polished and varnished wood, chrome and marble. Maintenance continued throughout the voyage, and at each stop crew were on shore painting out rust and tug marks on the hull. Previous posters complained about the addition of cabins in the 2015 refit, cutting off the stern part of the Promenade Deck. This wasn't a problem for us when walking , as you could either turn around and walk a long U shape, or cross a landing to do full circuits. There were also comments about crowding in public areas, but we only found a problem in the breakfast buffet in Horizon Court at peak time. The answer was to order hot drinks, cereals and fruit from room service, then to have a cooked breakfast when the crowds had subsided. A daily news letter listed activities, talks and shows, with extra information sheets on destinations. There were also regular deliveries and reminders about "enrichment" (shopping) opportunities. It was irritating how Princess constantly tried to squeeze more money out of the passengers, through on-board shopping, wine tastings, photos and DVDs, the casino, and exorbitant behind the scenes tours at $150 each. Although we only saw a few shows they were varied and good quality. The food was varied and of good quality. Our dining option was the late sitting of fixed time, which gave time to relax and have a drink before dinner, especially after shore excursions. Although we three had asked to join a table of eight we were on our own for the first two nights. The Maitre D' then placed two other couples on the table with us after they changed their options. We like to think that he was proactive to ensure compatibility. The dress codes, including formal nights, were generally adhered to and enforced. Most passengers were American, with some Brits, Germans and Canadians, and generally older than us. Although there's a teenagers' area we only saw one young person and one toddler. Previous reviewers said that some staff were rude. Without exception, all staff were friendly, attentive and efficient. The only rude people we met were some passengers, who talked to staff as though they were inferior beings. Some vocabularies don't include "please" and "thank you". Doors to decks had stiff closers for obvious reasons, and when holding them open for passengers some didn't thank or even acknowledge me. It was irritating on shore excursions when passengers had loud conversations when guides were talking. A "sailaway" party was planned for departure, but was cancelled as we sailed away four hours late following a faulty software update on the ship's control systems. There were four sea days before the first stop at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, which gave us time to familiarise ourselves with the ship and to get over jet lag. A shore trip took us to to a coffee plantation and Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Both were worth seeing. At the next stop in Puntarenas we visited a rain forest where a modified ski lift takes passengers above the canopy. Tours started late as another cruise ship was moored at the same pier, and space was limited for coaches to reverse to the ships. The walk around Panama was interesting, when we anchored off Fuerte Amadore and were tendered ashore. At Cartagena and Aruba we decided to do our own thing. The cruise dock at the former is in a commercial port, but there's a shopping centre a short walk along the dock. Check out the emeralds, and haggling can reduce the marked price. Aruba's pier is next to the city, and there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to visit. The short time in port meant that some trips would have been rushed. Due to a late return flight to the UK we booked a disembarkation tour at Fort Lauderdale, cruising the Intercoastal Waterway before transferring to Miami airport. The coach driver and guide were confused about where to drop passengers for Virgin Atlantic, and dropped us at the furthest point. We then had a long trek through the airport with our luggage. It is worth paying to use an airport lounge, with drinks and snacks, as the catering provision in the airport is awful. Our cabin was one of only 8 mini-suites on the ship, with the same area as balcony cabins. There was some shuddering when sailing into heavier seas, and there was noise when docking due to being directly above the bow thrusters. In their wisdom Princess have put all laundromats at the stern, so the round trip from a bow cabin like ours to wash or iron was 500 metres. Given the number of sea days we paid for the all inclusive drinks package, which was value for money. If you tot up specialist coffees, bottled water for the cabin and excursions, cocktails before dinner, glasses of wine with, and liqueurs after it is worth it. Don't order bottled water from room service as you still have to pay for it. My wife lost a crown during the trip and I asked the front desk if treatment could be arranged during one of the stops. They never got back to us. We will definitely cruise again, and probably with Princess around the UK or to the Baltic, so the ships will be different. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was our 1st cruise and overall it was very enjoyable. The voyage began in Fort Lauderdale, took us thru the Panama Canal and ended in Los Angeles. Our room was very comfortable with lots of storage. The food and the service were ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise and overall it was very enjoyable. The voyage began in Fort Lauderdale, took us thru the Panama Canal and ended in Los Angeles. Our room was very comfortable with lots of storage. The food and the service were very good. The shows were entertaining and things were very well organized when it came to getting us on and off the ship. Watching movies under the stars was fun. The staff were very professional and attentive. The aspects we least enjoyed: - the constant vibration in our room from the ship's engines (Deck 11, room B737) - the extras we had to pay (soda, bottled water, juice, classes in the gym, cover charge for specialty dining rooms). We felt "nickeled and dimed". - two nights of rough seas (very uncomfortable and unsettling) - the passengers were generally older than we are, so not too many onboard activities appealed to us (e.g. bingo, playing cards, art auctions) - the daily sales pitches (ship's newspaper and announcements) to buy their jewelry and art. - wait lines for "any time dining" - crowds at the bars for "happy hour", service was slow (drinks were excellent) - crowds at the theatre (had to line up early to get in, 30-40 minutes) - not being able to walk the skip's outdoor decks for exercise purposes. The addition of over 100 rooms in 2015 means common spaces have been reduced and the upper decks are chopped up so you can't walk uninterrupted from one end of the ship to the other. - broken equipment in the gym and no staff to report issues to. - small shower, stained shower curtains that stick to you as you turn around in the shower Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
It never ceases to amaze me what global complainers we've become. And some of the occasional flack I've seen aimed at the Island Princess makes me wonder whether I've been on the same ship. Cards on the table! My wife and ... Read More
It never ceases to amaze me what global complainers we've become. And some of the occasional flack I've seen aimed at the Island Princess makes me wonder whether I've been on the same ship. Cards on the table! My wife and myself have never cruised before and, indeed, she had reservations because she can be a poor traveller at times. But by the time we arrived at Fort Lauderdale she was an evangelistic convert. She loved it. We both did. And my own broad anti-social streak had even given way to an uncharacteristic tendency to actually speak to people ... even voluntarily start conversations over dinner ... and, holy moly, acknowledge people I'd come to know on first name terms as though I'd bumped into old friends in the village. Interesting people. First rate food. Excellent service. Quality showtime entertainment. Even 'Cruise Critic' warnings about the shortage of stateroom hanging space turned out, in reality, to give more rail room than we've experienced in most hotels. OK, we can all whinge about something. Not being able to bring alcohol on board from the stops on route ... the daily tipping charge (then having to tip again for bar drinks) which I eventually came round to understanding ... the very occasional shortcomings that you're bound to experience in any service sector of this kind. But come on. Get real. The standard of food was amazing - especially at this volume. We had planned to have two or three 'speciality restaurant' meals during the cruise - but why bother when the standard in our Bordeaux Room was so consistently high. The evening entertainment really was exceptional The staff really was first class. And, bear in mind, much of my work is in a service industry so, believe me, I'm not easily impressed. But neither do I see the point of picking fault just because you have the power and the opportunity! Personally I think it's a mistake to lose the Universe Lounge but, hey, I'll get over it. I had a gripe over one of the ship's excursions - but nothing that a few minutes deep breathing didn't cure. Island Princess - you gave us two one hell of a holiday. (Even the captain, who we never saw.) We were pretty sure we'd enjoy the trip but we never thought we'd enjoy it as much as we did. Thank you ... big style! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I was nervous about it all, having never cruised before, but within two hours we were completely comfortable and having a great time. Short excursions were messed up: scammed in Puerto Amador, foiled by demonstrations in Puntarenas, wholly ... Read More
I was nervous about it all, having never cruised before, but within two hours we were completely comfortable and having a great time. Short excursions were messed up: scammed in Puerto Amador, foiled by demonstrations in Puntarenas, wholly disappointed in Aruba, double-crossed in Cartagena. Princess' Puerto Chiapas excursion, on the other hand, was five-star. Lots of colds and coughing on this cruise, one person medevac'd at Cabo (with pneumonia according to scuttlebutt). Entertainment would have been a five, except for singer Sophie Selbie, who was shrill and whose material (Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Carpenters) was not to our tastes. Production shows were excellent, especially "Motor City". Had anytime dining which was okay after the first few nights (45 minute waits). Took Ultimate Ship's Tour which was amazing and totally worth the money. Loved the minisuite. We came home on Friday and by the following Monday, I'd booked our next Princess cruise. I guess that says it all! Ship highlights: Lotus Pool area, although hot tubs there were not especially hot. Sun and Sports Decks at night make for great exploring. Lots of time in the Explorers Lounge for trivia and karaoke. Liked that the Fitness Room had views. Splurged on the Thermal Suite one sea day and thought it was marvelous. Really liked the wraparound Promenade Deck, especially in the tropics when the wind was warm and you could go walk out there any time, day or night. Cruise highlights: Panama Canal, despite boring, droning commentary (and I'd read the McCullough book). Just being in the isthmus was a thrill for me. Beautiful robins-egg blue water. Loved the narrow sections in particular. Otherwise, it was all good. Yes, a cruise is a floating assisted-living facility, but what's wrong with that for two weeks? Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We celebrated our 30th anniversary by taking our first cruise and it was with Princess. After reading all the reviews and getting as prepared as we could, we went on this adventure with an open mind...just wanting to enjoy the experience. ... Read More
We celebrated our 30th anniversary by taking our first cruise and it was with Princess. After reading all the reviews and getting as prepared as we could, we went on this adventure with an open mind...just wanting to enjoy the experience. The Island Princess did not disappoint! It was the most relaxing, exciting and awesome experience we could have had. We thought everything was excellent! We discovered when we got there, that we had been upgraded to a mini-suite which was wonderful. Our room steward, Nestor was excellent...the waiters(Dajan and Rodney) were awesome, we chose anytime dining and made reservations when we wanted to dine, it was a great choice as we met and dined with wonderful new friends, Marc and Sue. The bar tenders (especially in the wheelhouse bar, Herman and Felix)were super...we took in a couple of Princess excursions and they were great. We did the ultimate ship tour, absolutely worth every penny!! We really enjoyed the tour. Of course the Panama Canal was wonderful and we were only a few doors down from the "secret" door on deck 10 so were there bright and early. All of the entertainment staff, assistant cruise directors and the cruise director...the wake show, the photographers, we could go on and on...all was just terrific. We found the food excellent, we were never disappointed, if there was something we didn't like, there was no problem changing it. We tried all kinds of different food. We also tried both specialty restaurants and enjoyed both but missed our regular waiters. The staff is what makes the cruise, all the amenities were wonderful and we took full advantage of them all, the ship was awesome but we were treated like royalty and that made the difference for us. We liked it so much we put a deposit on another cruise..... for all the newbies...don't worry, go have fun, enjoy and relax! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Island Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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