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6 Princess Island Princess Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

We are retired and doing a canal transit was on our list. The ship will be in dry dock soon and needs significant repairs. For us personally, this was not a major factor. Our balcony room, E-711 was fine. Nothing broke. The room is ... Read More
We are retired and doing a canal transit was on our list. The ship will be in dry dock soon and needs significant repairs. For us personally, this was not a major factor. Our balcony room, E-711 was fine. Nothing broke. The room is too small. There was a desk chair and one other chair that did not fit well in any position is the small space available. No way a small sofa would have. Comedians can have a field day on the small shower, but the balcony was of decent size. Our room steward was great. In areas of the ship there were bad odors at times, but not in our area. There were small pipe leak floods in some halls and rooms, but not in our area. Emerald deck has a great public back deck, but no seating. It would be a nice area to sit and watch the sea, visit, or read. Embarkation was very good. The room was available immediately and ready for us at noon. Luggage came efficiently. The ship was not full, so it was rare to feel crowded. The one level theatre only seats about 660 people, so there were often three shows in the evening. The entertainment was very good, The ship is currently rated by passengers as the top Princess ship for entertainment. The central plaza area has a tiny dance floor, but the Explorer Lounge and Wheelhouse bar are public areas are very nice and intensely use. They must be zoos when the ship is full. In terms of decor, colors, and art, this is a very fine ship. The crew and service staff are tops. Our time in Aruba was very short, but we had a great Princess snorkel excursion. Our time in Cartagena was also too short, but we had great private tours there and in Nicaragua arranged through the board pre-cruise discussion here in Cruise Critic We did a good Princess archeological tour with a lot of walking in Huatulco, but were on our own in Costa Rica and in Puerto Vallarta, places we've been multiple times. Cartagena, Nicaragua, and Huatulco were all first time places for us, and we loved all three. The sea days were lovely. Lots of diving birds to entertain us. The first sea day out of Puerto Vallarta gave us great views of Cabo and the Baja Coast. Lots of sail boats, motor crafts, even oared and paddled craft. Lots of dolphins breaching and even jumping out of the water in unison. The buffet, because of the excess of rooms to public space had very tight passage ways between tables to exit the area. It must really be difficult when the ship is full. The central plaza patisserie bar is markedly below average for a snack or dining space, but everywhere the service was wonderful. Don't expect a donut on this ship. We had a set dinner time at a table for 8. We started out with just 4. Nelson, the head waiter was able to find 4 more people to fill out our table. Nelson is the best head waiter I've had on any cruise. We got on well with out tablemates. Overall, the food in the dining rooms and buffert were high average, but I sometimes felt some food was being strictly rationed. I could not get extra spinach, but could get asparagus, green beans and peas. I'm on coumadin and my dosage is based on me eating a certain amount of green vegatables. Several salads I had that contained "tomato" had a single cherry tomato split in half. Just before the end of the cruise they ran out of papaya and banana. I sang a chorus of "Yes! We have no bananas!" with a tablemate that last morning. Callie, the cruise director was wonderful. He was the best cruise director ever. One evening he hosted the shows in drag. It took his feet days to recover from the spike heels, but he looked fabulous. I'm sure some female passengers were envious. Disembarkation were smoothly, very smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
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
The service on there was really good nothing too much trouble but be careful with reception as some of them do not speak good English or understand. The best person to speak with is Bernard who comes from Canada. We have never had such ... Read More
The service on there was really good nothing too much trouble but be careful with reception as some of them do not speak good English or understand. The best person to speak with is Bernard who comes from Canada. We have never had such friendly helpful staff. The food is always cold so do not except too much, the deserts in the Horizon is really good for choice and the staff up there are the best always asking if you would like coffee or tea , Water nothing was too much for them to do for you. The free ice cream on the Lido deck is free and really good. The biggest problem was the shaking of the cabin at the AFT deck lido deck 14 on island princess shaking these are new cabins even though they were clean and nobody could look down on you and were not noisy the shaking is like being on one of those fitness shaking machines all the time. The shows were very short and some of the acts were terrible. The Films on Deck at night were good with free popcorn and cookies. The Burger bar is very good very hot food and fresh. Room Service which is free try the steak sandwich in the afternoon what a treat. The cabin Staff were so good always cleaning and perfect. Always sun lounger’s room in the pool space for all as there are 2 main pools and a splash pool on top deck forward. Be careful with the photographs can be very persistent. One of the best things is Any dinning you can go for dinner between 5:30 and 10 o'clock and sit a a different table every night. When shopping on board we found that staff very unhelpful and always looking at their watches rather than helping you. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
The impetus for this cruise was in part to celebrate my 50th birthday. Nothing like a 15 day cruise to help you forget how old one is getting. Although, considering the average age onboard was 71, according to our Cruise Director, most ... Read More
The impetus for this cruise was in part to celebrate my 50th birthday. Nothing like a 15 day cruise to help you forget how old one is getting. Although, considering the average age onboard was 71, according to our Cruise Director, most other passengers considered me to be just a baby. Prior to our departure, we stayed two days at the Double Tree San Pedro. We chose this property due to its close proximity to the Port of Los Angeles and the free shuttle service to the pier on the day of embarkation. The hotel was a rate of $160.00 per night and the hotel overall was a decent moderate property. Friendly staff and just one restaurant which I would say was mediocre at best. It was definitely location that mattered most in choice of this property. The hotel was definitely showings signs of age, but was by no means intolerable. Had one very strange customer service issue for which they called our room the night before checkout and had the audacity to ask if we could vacate the room before 900am or they would like us to move to another room that evening. I was completely outraged at such a request and I told them quite bluntly that I had no intent of vacating that room by 900am, nor were we going to move. After explaining my upset to the front desk the following morning, they took 50% percent off my room rate for the last night of the stay. It was most appreciated in terms of good will. Once arriving I must say I was completely surprised at the size of the Island Princess as I knew this ship had been built to Panamax size, I somehow thought the ship would have to be smaller in order to fit through the canal, but in fact, the ship was still quite large. Embarkation ran very smoothly and efficiently. We had a short wait of maybe 45 minutes after we checked in the waiting area, but we were onboard by 1230pm. Activities were your typical fair of bingos, game shows, trivia, pool games, and such. I most enjoyed the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire Game" where it was the men against the women. Had a really wonderful meet and mingle from our Cruise Critic role call. We had also organized a slot pull and cabin crawl which I thoroughly enjoyed. The entertainment overall was excellent, although their was certainly some entertainers I enjoyed more than others. Although, more unique to this 15 day sailing for me, was that often, the entertainers were brought onboard for a longer length of time and would perform twice with two different shows, but the same brand of entertainment. There were jugglers, pianists, trumpeters, vocalists, a mentalist, and a ventriloquist. The highlights were the mentalist, Brent Webb who in a word was simply amazing. He was extremely unique from any other entertainment I had ever seen on other cruises. You can find is site at http://www.brentwebb.net/. The other entertainer that I just loved was Michael Paul Ziegfeld. He was a comedian/ventriloquist and he was absolutely charming. I spoke with him after one of his shows and I had asked him, if he was related to Flo Ziegfeld, from the Ziegfeld Follies fame. Turned out that Flo Ziegfeld was in fact the father of his mother who had adopted him. You can find more information about him at http://michaelpaulziegfeld.com/. We had chosen anytime dining which for the most part worked out just fine. Although, you didn't need reservations, we found it to be quite helpful as your wait for a table was almost nothing as there was a significantly much shorter queue. The worst issue we ran into was the very first night of the cruise, we had met up with two other couples and showed up without reservations and needed a table for six. After waiting 45 minutes, and yes, I checked with the hostess more than once, upon the last time I checked with the hostess, she had given our table of six to another group. Well, I must say I was livid at that point and I can simply say that the Maitre' D stepped in and got us a table for six and very short order. We did eat at the Horizon Court (buffet restaurant) for all our breakfasts and lunches and quite a few dinners. I must say, for a cruise this long, one can tire over the 90-120 minute long dinners, at least we felt that way. We never really had too much difficulty finding a place to sit and everyone of our fellow passengers were very friendly. The ports we stopped at during the cruise were Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Puntarenas, Cost Rica; Fuerte Amador, Panama; Cartagena, Columbia; and Oranjestad, Aruba. Of course, the highlight of the trip was our 10 hour transit through the Panama Canal. Overall, we had quite nice weather considering how hot and humid Central America is. We certainly had all the humidity, but the temperatures were mild overall, so it was pretty bearable. One very nice Princess service was upon returning to the ship, they offered a cool damp wash cloth and cold water. Disembarkation went quite smoothly as well, probably waited a little longer than we should have before tag color was called, but once called, we were off the ship very quickly. This cruise ended in Port Everglades, which I just love as this port is extremely close to the airport. We obtained a porter who helped with us with our 4 pieces and got us a taxi once we were through customs. I have to say, getting a porter is well worth whatever you tip him/her. I usually tip $2.00 per bag, more generous than some I suppose, I really appreciate their assistance. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was my eighth cruise, fifth on Princess, and first through the Panama Canal...and it was a pleasure.As is the case with other experienced Princess cruisers, the Island quickly became my favorite. It seemed just the right size, with an ... Read More
This was my eighth cruise, fifth on Princess, and first through the Panama Canal...and it was a pleasure.As is the case with other experienced Princess cruisers, the Island quickly became my favorite. It seemed just the right size, with an easy-to-navigate layout, an appealing version of standard Princess dEcor, and plenty of nice little touches. One favorite was the covered Lotus pool, done up in a pleasant Asian theme, with soothing New Age music constantly in the background. The Wheelhouse Bar had an especially fascinating mini-museum of maritime artifacts. There was a dedicated "art" room, which meant few "masterpieces" were clogging the other public areas. On this cruise, Movies Under the Stars was usually showing nature footage accompanied by good music during the day, making the main pool area pleasant to hang around. And the passenger-to-space ratio was better than average for a ship of the Island's size. Sometimes it seemed we had the whole ship to ourselves, and perhaps because a lot of the pax were elderly and/or disabled, there was almost always plenty of room in the hot tubs, pools, and on the loungers.Several downsides: the gym was pretty small, but adequate; several decks in the aft, including he aft pool, were occupied by the upcharge Sanctuary; no International Cafe; and one of the entertainment venues, the Universe Lounge, had the worst sightlines of any theater or club I've ever been to. The food was the standard Princess menu, though the main dining room cuisine seemed better prepared than usual. There were lots of very-good-to-excellent dishes, very few outright disappointments. We pretty much avoided the buffet except for the occasional pre-port breakfast. Pizza, especially the daily specials, was yummy. And dinner at Sabatini's was a lovely excuse to gorge on seventeen courses of good food.Perhaps the very best thing shipboard, though, was the crew. The Cruise Director, Rich Joseph, was outstanding: friendly, personable, accessible. He even ran some trivia games. And the rest of the entertainment staff followed suit, especially Bernie, the much-loved Chilean woman who got me hooked on Zumba. Partway through the cruise we switched from late traditional to anytime dining, and no waiter particularly stands out, but most of them were both efficient and obliging. When we asked the headwaiter for a special order of escargots sometime during the cruise, the very next night he presented each of us with not one, but two servings. Our cabin steward, Debbie, was great too. Even the purser's staff was notably friendly. Kudos to Princess for the quality of the Island's staff. Entertainment was the usual Princessy mix. The Adrian Zmed show was surprisingly entertaining, the other production shows, some of which we'd seen before, were what they were. The musical acts tended toward middlebrow seniors' tastes - how many performances of "I've Got the World on a String" do I want to hear on a cruise? And I could do without performers telling us that Good Popular Music ceased to be around the time of Vic Damone, or regaling us with endless tales of their wonderful families. But a couple of the comedians (Scott Wyler, Duncan Tuck) were genuinely funny, and I got put under by the hypnotist, and that was fun, too.Embarkation went smoothly. First port was a too-short morning in Aruba. No tme for scuba, but we took a cheap local bus to Catalina Bay to do some very good snorkeling in the same spot frequented by tourist boats. In Cartagena we took a taxi up to the fort, then walked through increasing heat to the old town, where we did a sweaty but fun walking tour and went to the disappointing, overpriced Inquisition Museum and entertaining, free Gold Museum. Our passage through the Canal was delayed, a good thing as we entered the first locks when it was already daylight. The transit was fascinating, the commentary good, the onboard crowds always manageable. The day in Panama City commenced with a hike up Cerro Ancon for some good views and birdwatching, then a walk to the old town for some enjoyable sightseeing and lunch at the Cafe Coca Cola. In Puntarenas, we did an excellent zipline excursion with the highly recommended Odyssey Tours, which included a delicious lunch and trips to see scarlet macaws and crocodiles. And in Cabo, we tried parasailing for the first time - great! - and then did an enjoyable snorkeling cruise with EcoCat...lots of fishies.Summing up, I'd have to happily say that Princess did it again. For cruisers like us, who like our thrills (see above for ziplining and parasailing) but can do without an onboard ice rink, a giant mall through the middle of the ship, bellyflop contests, and the like, the comfortable elegance of Princess hits the sweet spot. At the end of this cruise we reached platinum status and though I'm tempted to go back and try Celebrity or Holland again, it's the "if it ain't broke..." deal. No cruise is totally enjoyable, but this came pretty close. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
A little bit of background info. Myself (Andrew) and my partner (Brad) have cruised once before with Princess last year on the Caribbean Princess. We are in our mid 20's and have traveled extensively throughout the US, Mexico, Canada ... Read More
A little bit of background info. Myself (Andrew) and my partner (Brad) have cruised once before with Princess last year on the Caribbean Princess. We are in our mid 20's and have traveled extensively throughout the US, Mexico, Canada and Europe. We both work in the service industry (myself in customer relations and Brad in restaurant management & events planning) so service is important to us. While neither one of us are critical or arrogant, we do expect a certain "effort" out of people but no more then we would expect out of ourselves. This covers a broad spectrum of areas. Pre Cruise: Just like last year, we dropped our doggie off at the Pet Hotel and headed to Fort Lauderdale the night before to stay at the Hyatt Pier 66 again. This time, however, was a completely different experience (read my CB review to see what I mean). We called ahead of time to the hotel and got a really nice girl who looked up our previous reservation and found our room number from our last room which offered a great view. She said that particular room was booked but she would hold a different room with the exact same view on another floor. Once we arrived around 2pm (2 hours before the listed check in time) we were given a key to our room right away and it was EXACTLY WHAT WE HAD THE LAST TIME making the start of our vacation off to a great one. There was no switching rooms 2 million times like the last trip. The view was fantastic and so was the weather. We put our stuff down and sat on the balcony for a half hour just watching the ships in port (Ruby Princess, Celebrity Solstice & Carnival Miracle) then changed and headed down to the pool. That night we watched the Carnival ship leave port and ordered very expensive (overpriced) room service while enjoying the balcony views and Fort Lauderdale breezes. Day 1 - Embarkation: We awoke to see RCI Enchantment OTS and the Island Princess in port. After enjoying coffee and breakfast on the balcony and reading the paper we headed over to Park n Fly to drop the car off. Everything went off without a hitch and the shuttle had us at Pier 21 right about 11:15. Unlike our last embarkation "experience" there was ZERO line and we went from being outside with the Porters to in our cabin in under 15 minutes. Yes, 15 minutes. We were in our cabins unloading our carry on by 11:30. This was a wonderful surprise compared to our last cruise. We had cabin E736 which was all the way aft. And while the IP doesn't have any true aft cabins this was as close as it comes with a semi wrap-around balcony to enjoy a partial wake view. It was also a much bigger balcony and was the only aft cabin that is covered (along with E737 on the starboard side). We then met Norman, our fantastic and amazing cabin steward. He knew our names after the 1st day and always made sure we had extra ice and even brought us clean wine glasses unlike our last cabin steward who told us she can't provide any and we would have to call room service and clean them ourselves. At 3pm we had our CC meet & greet at Crooners and about 25 people showed up which I'm told is a lot. We met many wonderful people and it was really nice seeing some familiar faces throughout the rest of the cruise. The rest of the day was spent exploring the ship I have to mention that our Captain was Roger Bilton and he was an absolutely class act. During our muster drill he made a wonderful speech over the PA system about being courteous to other passengers by being quite in the halls and keeping TV volumes down and not flushing down "objects" in the toilet. I found this to be a wonderful and classy touch and felt an honest concern for all passengers on board.. After the sun had set and we were on our journey, Brad and I changed into our swimsuits and headed to the Lotus Spa Pool to enjoy the hot tub all to ourselves. Around 8pm we decided we wanted dinner. I thought they had the seafood buffet on the IP but I was wrong. I guess that only consists on ships with the Cafe Caribe. So we showered and changed and headed to the anytime dinning room which had about a 15 minute wait. I found this a bit odd since it was so late but didn't mind waiting. We sat in the middle part of the Bordeaux Dining Room right under an air vent which made it a freezing experience. "Luckily" our service was extremely rushed so we were out of there in under an hour. We decided we were not going to ask to be seated with that team again. We headed back to our cabin and enjoyed cocktails and the wake from our balcony and went to sleep shortly after midnight. I'd like to add that we had a new mattress (I checked) and had an egg crate and while it was firm we slept better this trip then we did the last cruise. Movement was also considerably less in this cabin as opposed to our last cabin on the Lido Deck. Day 2 - Sea Day: We awoke to cloudy skies. The Hurricane (Paloma?) was headed towards Cuba and we were sailing along the coast of Cuba so it was mostly a miserable day. We spent the day exploring the ship and people watching. During the middle of the day I noticed that we had stopped moving. The Captain came on and announced that a generator had gone out but all would be fixed and fine. And it was. However being at a dead stop in the middle of the Caribbean Sea is quite an interesting experience. One observation was that I found this ship to be difficult to navigate unlike the CB. I always had trouble finding my way around and I felt a huge design flaw was that in order to get to the atrium from our cabin you either had to walk forward and cross through the card room or library or go up or down a flight in order to avoid those 2 rooms. I still can't figure out why it was designed in such a bizarre way. Also because were were so far aft it was a LONG walk to the buffet. I researched the deck plans and knew this was going to be the case but it was a whole other situation actually walking there twice a day (sometimes more). At least I burned off all the calories walking to and from. Tonight was a formal night so we dusted off the suits and headed to the Captains Welcome Party. We didn't like anything on the tray so we went to the coffee bar and ordered some Scotch expecting to pay and the bartender (who we saw every morning for coffee) told us it was on the Captain. Again, another very elegant and classy gesture. The Captain then gave a great speech about the weather and how we were avoiding the hurricane. We also noticed just how beautiful the atrium is on this ship. It really is a site not to be missed at night when all the multi colored light are lit up all over giving it a romantic appeal. The water feature under the stairs is a beautiful touch also. We then headed for the Bordeaux dining room. This time there was no wait and we were seated with a new team, Waiter Dennis from the Philippines and Assistant Waiter Jennifer from Peru that worked together very well. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and then headed to the show for the evening, "Piano man." We saw this on our last cruise and enjoyed it even more on this cruise. It is a tribute to Billy Joel, Elton John, Neil Sedaka, Barry Manilow and Liberace. Overall we felt the singing and dancing on this cruise to be far superior to our last cruise. Day 3 - Sea Day: Unlike the day before, it was beautiful weather today. Brad went to the gym and said it was better than the CB. We then headed out to the outdoor pool around 11am and it was cut throat to get 2 lounge chairs. We found this to be a big downfall on this cruise. The CB had plenty of pools to spread the people out and even more places that had lounge chairs set up. This was not the case on the IP and became a huge hassle. Obviously it's not possible but we felt the IP needed another pool to help absorb the masses. After searching and searching we found a pile of lounge chairs stacked up which we unstacked and set up a spot all while the deck attendants stood around and socialized with eachother. Again, another negative. As the day went on some of the elderly asked them for chairs at which point they caught a clue and put some more out so others could lay out. The highlight of the day came when a group of older single women were chain smoking and drinking near us. After one too many the ring leader stood up and announced to those sitting around us that she, "Doesn't need sex anymore and thanks God every morning." Classy! We had a dinner scheduled at the Bayou Steakhouse with 3 other people from Cruise Critic so we headed over there at 8pm. Our dinner can only be described as a show. The service went from bad to worse and then to mediocre and the restaurant wasn't even half full. We asked for wine and cocktails before we ordered dinner and from the time it took to order and for it to be delivered was, no exaggeration, 20 minutes. At one point we had 3 people waiting on us and each was from a different country (Romania, Thailand and Mexico) which made for a seriously hysterical lack of communication. After 3 hours had passed and an additional 30 minutes for us to get our receipt for our meal we left with the feeling that while everyone who waited on us had good intentions, the way the meal was executed and lack of communication was the downfall. We have no desire to ever eat there again and I think the others we dined with felt the same. Once back in the cabin "Sex and the City" was on so we watched most of that movie and fell asleep to the rockin' & rollin' of the seas. Day 4 - Aruba: I awoke around 6:30 to watch us pull into the Port of Aruba and enjoy the sunrise. We were off the ship around 8am and walked around. What we found turned out to be a surprise. I never thought I would enjoy an island so much. There were so many things to do and the shopping and the people was just wonderful. They are also building great lofts right next to the pier. I'd love to find out more information but I couldn't find any signs or websites about the lofts. We spent the late morning shopping and sightseeing in this picturesque town. I bought some cologne and Cuban Cigars and Brad bought some Fendi suitcase thingy and some aloe along with some stupid tourist stuff to bring home to friends and family. We were back on board around 11am to enjoy the beautiful sun and give ourselves even more of a sunburn. We went to the "Motor City" show in the Princess Theater at 7pm and, again, it was wonderful. It was a throwback to the Motown days and the singing and dancing were just wonderful. The highlight was the duet of "Endless Love" while 2 dancers did a beautiful interruptive dance. This was just breathless and this show (specifically this act) became our favorite of the cruise. The evening concluded with dinner in the Bordeaux dining room with another team of 2 right near Dennis and Jennifer. While this team was good, Dennis and Jennifer were the best so we asked Dennis if we could sit in his section for the rest of the cruise. He politely agreed so we made a standing reservation for 8:15 for the rest of the cruise for their section. We enjoyed a Cuban and some wine on the balcony and went to bed. Day 5 - Colombia: We have never been to Colombia before and don't know much about it so we were excited. However, the night before we found out that our tour we booked (Playa Blanca by Boat) was cancelled due to lack of participation. We were bummed but rebooked for the Spanish Galleon Cruise which was 49PP. What a great value!! When we arrived at the ship that had dancing and a band and an absolutely great and knowledgeable guide. It was about 2 hours long and it went all through around the coast of Cartegena. A nice bonus was that they also served chips and beer/soda/water if you wanted one. This was never mentioned by the tour desk or in the paperwork so it was a nice surprise. It was beautiful weather and the atmosphere onboard the ship was great so we definitely felt we got our moneys worth. At the end of the tour he was offering another bus tour of 15PP which would go to the Old City for 2 hours of site seeing. We didn't participate but we did stop back at the port shops to buy some alcohol, coffee and some souvenirs. This is obviously not a Princess problem but the workers at the Colombian tourist store were some of the rudest people I've ever met. And it was a shame since Colombia turned out to be such a beautiful place (with million dollar condos. Who knew?). We were back on board by 12:30 and spent the rest of the day mulling around and enjoying the pool since it finally wasn't crowded. I have to point out the band at sailaway. I don't remember their name but they had a distinct Caribbean Sound...............until they decided to sing some Michael Buble' songs. Lets just say you haven't heard his song "Home" until you've heard it sung with a Caribbean accent. Very interesting. We saw the 7:00pm show of "Adrian Zmed in Concert" with the IP singers and dancers. He's been in a couple of TV shows and "Grease 2." While we thought the show was good, it was a bit self-indulgent. Dinner was again wonderful with Dennis and Jennifer who renamed herself as the "plate girl" since she also works in the buffet handing out plates. A bit of a distraction was this elderly couple and the husband who insisted on wearing this tacky blue hat IN THE DINING ROOM almost every night of the cruise (including Formal Nights). I'll give him the benefit of the doubt thinking the hat is either for religious or medical reasons even though I saw him around the ship without it on. Also there was an elderly gentleman who used a motorized scooter but instead of politely saying excuse me or even using the built-in horn if someone was in his way he would shout, "BEEP BEEP BEEP." This was never funny and became more and more obnoxious as the cruise went on. Especially when he would do it for fun while leaving the dining room at night. Others would laugh, we just glared and shook our heads. Day 6 - Panama Canal: Yes! The highlight of our trip. We were up around 7am to enjoy the sights. The IP was told to go into the Right lane and we were on the Port side of the ship so we had a great view of the other locks and the ship going through it. There was also a narrator on board who offered quite a bit of good advice for newbee's like us. This was a wonderful experience of a lifetime and we'd love to do a full transit in the future. The sun was rising and shining in our balcony which made for a very hot transit so we kept alternation between the balcony and the cabin to watch it on TV. Once we anchored in Gatun Lake we stayed on the ship since we didn't have an excursion booked as we wanted to see us go back through the locks. There was some kind of "hold up" but we finally made our way back through the locks and I got some great pictures. There are 2 pics of Brad and I touching the Canal wall which was just an amazing feeling. After docking in Cristobal we got off the ship and walked around their little market area and bought a beautiful set of Espresso mugs made of solid, polished wood. Dinner was wonderful then we headed off to the Universe Lounge to see "Tribute" with the IP singers and dancers. It featured music from all different generations and had a great version of "Vogue" by Madonna too. Another observation was how under utilized this lounge was. Every night in the Wheelhouse Bar there wasn't a place to sit. It was just wall-to-wall packed. Maybe Princess would consider moving their functions from the Wheelhouse to Universal Lounge since it's much bigger. Day 7 - Costa Rica: Since no excursion was planned we slept in. Once off the ship we just walked around the little market area and bought a couple bags of coffee. Costa Rica was very tropical and humid but picturesque as well. Walking back to the ship a worker on the ship sprayed a few of us with a hose while cleaning the Promenade Deck. This was just an accident but still a bit of a nuisance since we now covered in water. I politely told passenger services of the problem just so they could let the worker know to be more careful. Since we were sick of the buffet (I'll get to that later) we went to the Dining room for lunch which turned out to be a pleasant surprise. We had never done this before and were surprised at the quality of the food and service that was provided. The rest of the day was spent sunning on deck and enjoying dinner. We didn't go to the show which was a comedy act. Day 8 - sea day: Another sea day....which we very much enjoy. I think we would be happy with a 10 day cruise with nothing by sea days. We spent it wandering the ship and tanning and reading at both the indoor and outdoor pools. Two books I read on the cruise that were exceptionally good was David Sedaris' new one, "When you are Engulfed in Flames" and John Robinson's (Brother of Augusten Burroughs), "Look me in the Eyes: My Life with Aspergers Syndrome." I highly recommend both! Brad didn't pack any so we went to the library to rent some. However, there is rarely anyone working in there to allow you to check out a book. We found that annoying. The lunch buffet today was "Italian Trattoria" from 11:30-2 which we were both very excited about. However this was a complete let down. The extent of Italian consisted of a Pasta Dish and veal dish everything else was standard buffet food (mashed potatoes, some beef thing, sauteed veggies, salad bar, etc. There was NO lasagna, NO meatballs, NO Chicken Parm, NO stuffed shells and NO Italian deserts. Standard Italian food. This was a huge disappointment as was the breakfast buffet. Every morning the breakfast buffet consisted of the EXACT SAME THING. The only difference was the scrambled eggs with [insert misc. food item here]. We saw eggs with shrimp, crab meat, asparagus, cheese and other assorted items. Everything else was the same every single morning. And one morning we arrived around 9:45 and there was no bacon. We asked one of the cooks and he said they were out! What?? Looking back we found this to be the biggest downfall of the cruise. The CB always had a great selection morning, noon and night and was constantly changing. Unfortunately, the IP lacked this. Tonight was another formal night which we enjoyed and then went to a show in the Theater called "Do You Wanna Dance." It basically had less singing and more dancing and was good but not great. It was nice to enjoy evening entertainment after a wonderful dinner though. The Champagne waterfall was this evening at 11:30 which we didn't attend. After the show let out around 11 we walked back to the atrium and watched them finish setting up but we were tired and sunburnt so we went back to the cabin. Day 9 - Jamaica: We had both been here before and don't particularly like it so we stayed on the ship and tanned and read. Another observation is that while the bartenders made great drinks on this ship (I sucked down enough Bloody Mary's) they NEVER said Thank you. Maybe it's a culture thing or they just don't care but everything Brad or myself would thank them they would just walk away and move on to another customer. We noted this on our comment card at the end of the cruise. We also went to pick up our pictures today and ended up spending 53 dollars on 3 4x6's. This is an absolutely absurd price but people are obviously willing to pay it so they charge what they want. There was 2 different charges for the 4x6 because one original print was a smaller size (5x8) and the other 2 were bigger (8x10). We were told that we are charged for the higher print cost regardless of the size we ordered. Again, What?? Overall we found the photographers to be nice on the cruise. The only exception was when we were going through the canal and they were on the ground screaming at the balconies, "You in the [insert color] shirt, give us a big smile!!!" That was a bit obnoxious. There wasn't any shows tonight so we enjoyed dinner and walking the promenade deck with our evening coffee and headed back to the cabin for wine on the balcony. Day 10 - Sea day: Since this was the last day we spent it packing up our cabin and enjoying the casino. We had already gotten a print out of our bill and reviewed it for accuracy the day before and we bought FCC's the 1st day of our cruise so we had a relatively stress-free day. We were sure to fill out the "You Made A Difference" cards for our steward, waiter, junior waiter and coffee bar friend and allocated extra tips accordingly. Another observation we found is that the ship is severely lacking trash cans. I can't remember the number of times we had our empty coffee cups to throw out and there wasn't a trash can in site. The only time we ever saw them was outside on the pool decks. We felt bad but we weren't going to wander around the ship looking for a trash can so if we would sometimes just leave them on an open table or at the bar and let someone else throw them out. Dinner was, as usual, exceptional and we said our goodbyes and headed to our cabin to enjoy the final hours on our balcony. Disembarkation: We chose the walk off option just like last time and reported to the Universe Lounge at 7:15 to "standing room only." Not a big deal. This disembarkation process went a lot smoother than the last one though. We were off the ship at 7:30 and through customs and back at the parking lot by 8am. There was no waiting in long, wrap-around lines in the lobby. Overall a good cruise. Not a great one like our last. They say your first cruise will always be the most memorable and now I know that's true. The overall ship design and little nuances here and there created a some problems that we never noticed/never had on our last cruise. Was it enough to ruin our cruise? Of course not. But it was enough to give us a bit of more-rounded view of Princess. Looking at the laundry I need to finish and the dishes that need to get put away I can't help but think that a vacation is a vacation. Right? We are already booked for a 10 day Southern Caribbean cruise on the Ruby next November and we can't wait. But from now on I think we'll just stick to the bigger ships which attract a bit of a younger crowd and more variety. ******* And there you have our review and our opinions. Here is the link to our pictures. http://flickr.com/photos/21511869@N0...7609238874335/ Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
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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