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1,134 Princess Island Princess Cruise Reviews

Island Princess Panama Canal March 5-15 Ft. Lauderdale: As we wanted to make own flight arrangements through a travel agent, we flew down on March 4. We always go the day before in case of weather and flight delays. Arrived in Ft. ... Read More
Island Princess Panama Canal March 5-15 Ft. Lauderdale: As we wanted to make own flight arrangements through a travel agent, we flew down on March 4. We always go the day before in case of weather and flight delays. Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale by noon, called the Embassy Suite shuttle and checked into the hotel. Our room was not ready, so walked around enjoying the shopping areas and ate lunch at the South Port Raw Bar on the patio overlooking a marina. It was very close to the Embassy Suites. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a liquor store and purchased a couple bottles of wine and a bottle of champagne to take on board. We got into our room around 3 PM. Requested a high room facing the pier, as many of you suggested. You could at least see the top half of the ships that were in Port Everglades. Then walked to the River Marriott to pick up the Water Bus....again....thanks for the recommendations all you CC. It is a bit of a walk, but less than a mile. We to the Water Bus ($5 for all day) to Las Olas Boulevard where all there are a bunch of restraints, bars, and shopping. We loved the ride, enjoying the million dollar homes. We ate dinner at a delicious Mexican dinner at the Ole Ole and then took the water bus back. March 5: Could see the Island Princess from our room. The Embassy Suites provides a full breakfast. At about 11:15 we asked the bell man to call us a cab, as we had heard the ES no longer provides transportation to the pier. However they were just loading 2 vans and put us on one of those. When we got to the pier it looked like a huge line. However once they opened the doors, all went well and we were checked in and in our room by 12:30. Sat by the pool and explored the ship until muster at 4:15. Luggage arrive about 6 PM. We do late traditional dining. We don't want to bother with reservations, deciding where and when to eat and enjoy having one waiter for the entire cruise. We had a table for 8. One couple never showed up after the first night so must have changed dining arrangements. Enjoyed exchanging stories of our day with the other two couples each evening. Went to the 10:15 show. It was an introduction of cruise staff, dancers and comedian, Kevin Hughes. He was great so went to both of his other shows. March 6: At sea. Champagne Art Auction: fun to go to at least one even if you aren't interested in buying. They tell about the artists and the Princess Art program. You can stay as long or short of time as you desire. First Formal night. We did formal pictures around 6 PM and found no lines. Captains Welcome at 7:30 PM. Free cocktails and hors' douvres. If you like chocolate try the Hazelnut Chocolate SoufflE for dessert! Wen to the show Let's Rock! Very good for ship entertainment. Not sure how they dance with the ship rocking so! March 7: Ocho Rios. Ordered breakfast in room. Used the menu left on bed every night. Yes, you can add items not on there, but be very specific. Delivered promptly during the half hour time slot we requested. Personally can take or leave Ocho Rios. Walked to Margaritaville and layed on the beach. Can use the beach there if you buy a drink. You can rent chairs or umbrellas once you are on the beach. Small beach, but nobody pushing you to buy things. Margarittaville was really hopping by the time we went back to the ship mid-afternoon. Shopped briefly at Island Village. Many afternoons we would go to Horizon Court for cheeses, crackers, cold meat, etc. to have on our balcony with a drink while the ship left port. Drink at Wheelhouse Bar. Not much action here, but a few people dancing to a combo. After dinner we went to the 50's Rock N' Roll Party. Lots of fun!!! The singers and dancers performed in a casual atmosphere. There was dancing and a few contests. March 8: At Sea I sat in the sun. There weren't many chair hogs. You could always find a place at the front of the ship a deck above the pool. There were a lot of decks with chair available if you didn't have a need to be by the pool. Most sea days I got food from Horizon Court and ate by the pool. My husband enjoyed the pizza and hamburgers at the pool grill. He spend some time in the library, which is very quiet. You can listen to music, read, and watch the water. Went to the Wine Tasting for $7.50 each. It was okay, but don't feel a need to go to another. Before dinner had cocktails at Crooner's Martini Bar. It was my favorite because there were windows so you could see the ocean or you could people watch as it is right on the atrium. If you like chocolate martinis you must have the Milky Way martini!! Dinner was French night, so Escargot was a must!! March 9: Panama Canal Up at 5:45 as we didn't want to miss any of the Panama Canal transit. You cannot do the pre-order breakfast (where you hang it on your door the night before) until 7 AM, so we called room service. You can order most things they have available on a daily basis. Delivery was prompt. We watch the transit through the Gatun Locks from our balcony. Left our balcony door open and the Princess Station on our TV turned up loud enough to hear the commentary as we entered the locks. At 9:30 AM they begin to tender those with excursions to the Gatun Yacht Club. If you don't have an excursion scheduled you stay on the ship and anchor in Gatun Lake until the ship is given a time to go back out the same three locks you entered through. We had chosen the Ocean to Ocean. It was an hour and a half bus ride to Gamboa, where we boarded a boat that probably held 200. We sat on the top deck in the front as wanted a clear view. It was a very hot day and it took us a long time to get through the 3 locks into the Pacific. They put two ships or boats in the locks if possible to save water. We had a huge cargo vessel going with us and it took quite a while for it to catch up with us and get into the locks behind us. We are not bothered by the sun or the heat so enjoyed our seats. There were benches in the shade and inside where it was air-conditioned for those that don't do well in the heat. Yes, it was a long day, but we loved every minute of it. Apparently some did not enjoy the excursion as much as we did. We docked on the Pacific side at Flamenco Island and were bused back to the port of Cristobal where we met the Island Princess. Due to the time it took to got through the locks, we were the last group on board before the ship pulled out. Being a ship sponsored tour, being late was not an issue. We loved going through the locks in a smaller boat so you could see more of the locks, travel through the Culebra Cut, and hear more about the Panama Canal. If you are doing this excursion, though consider the time and temperature factors. March 10: Limon We did the Costa Rican Adventure which was an aerial tram through the rain forest, lunch and a boat through the Tortuguero Canal. It left at 6:45 AM and returned to the ship at 6 PM. Again, we enjoyed it and would recommend it. If that is too long for you just do the canal part which can be booked by itself. Enjoyed the tram through the rain forest, but saw no animals and is something you probably only need to do once. Lunch was at an open sided roofed building. It was Costa Rican food...rice and beans, chicken, steak, pantian, veggies, salad and a coconut dessert. It was excellent. The boat trip is definitely a "to do". Saw a lot of monkeys, 3-toed sloths, snake birds, hurons, bats, and crocodiles. March 11: At sea Entered the slot tournament; a first. You just pay $20 and get so many credits or pulls. The 6 that have the most credits after the pulls have a play-off and the high credits from that wins $500. Went to the ventriloquist, who was entertaining. Dinner was called International Night. It was Island Night and there was a big party around the Lido pool, but it was extremely windy all day and evening, so not a lot of fun on deck! March 12: Grand Cayman Leave on early tender (7:30 AM)to do the Catamaran and Snorkel Stingray excursion. Get to Grand Cayman and Princess excursion person announces "due to wind and current that excursion was cancelled at 7:20 AM). There is a snorkel trip to two places at 8:30 AM they will put us on or credit us with the original excursion. We decide to do the 8:30 AM excursion. Then about half an hour later we are the only ones interested so can't do that either. The excursion guy, Kevin says we can go on the same one with a group from Royal Caribbean at 10 AM. Meet at the same spot. Kevin leaves and at 9:30 we see RCI people at a different tender spot. I ask the excursion guru who replaces Kevin and he says "all Princess excursions meet here" and he doesn't know anything about our substituted excursion. He is very short with us and no help! (Not good!) On our own we go to where the RCI people are boarding a snorkeling boat and join them. The man, Kevin originally told us to go with us welcomes us, takes our Princess excursion ticket and we had a great snorkeling excursion with RCI people to the Cheeseburger reef and a shipwreck not far from the tender pier. Thank heavens my husband was aggressive enough to go to the RCI excursion area and find the guy in charge of that particular trip. Ended up to be a GREAT snorkeling adventure, but I feel Princess let us down! Found out later that people who booked independent trips went and it was windy, but just fine! Should have taken the advice of all you CC's who said "book the stingrays on your own". Next time, eh? Shopped a little, then ate lunch at Breezes...overlooking the water and all the ships anchored.....on their outside balcony! Had a wonderful Conch salad! Back to the ship for pool time. Second formal night, reception for returning passengers, pictures and another great meal!! Our waiter brought us a platter of fabulous cookies besides desserts! March 13: Cozumel Room Service for breakfast on our balcony again! Princess Catamaran Excursion to Palancaar and Columbia Reef. Great catamaran ride to excellent snorkeling spots. Super crew. They snorkeled with us and searched out the best fish and turtle sightings for us. They were very safety conscious and made sure everyone had a good excursion. Back to the ship to clean up and back to Cozumel to shop and have a snack at Panchos (overlooking the water and pier). Back for my daily fix at the casino, but actually came out ahead! March 14: Thought I would not dread my last day on board after a 10 day cruise....WRONG! Not ready for a glorious vacation to come to an end. Another very windy day, so no breakfast on balcony. Pool day and time to pack! One last martini at Crooners and time to purchase last minute pictures. One more trip to casino and some time listening to Karaoke. March 15: Routine disembarkation. Thanks CC's for the advice to use a porter. No line. They take you promptly to a taxi. A word of warning.......the Ft. Lauderdale airport is a zoo.....even on Monday! You have to be off the boat so nothing else to do but go to the airport. If you have an afternoon flight with Northwest, you cannot check in until after 12 noon, even if you are first class. However the check-in machines let you check in, so it is a bit confusing when a Northwest agent yells at you, pounds a sign and says he is tearing up your luggage tags. Then you try to check in after noon and the machine you have to use to check in tells you that you have already registered 2 pieces of luggage per person so will be charged $80 for the only 2 you are really trying to check. Of course, heaven forbid if a real person can help you with this matter! It looked like only Northwest had this policy and other airlines were handling the large numbers quickly and with courtesy. The worst part is there is nowhere to store your luggage, so you have to keep it in tow. You are then stuck in the check in area where there are very few seats, no restaurants, no snackbars, no news stands, etc. Ft. Lauderdale airport and most of all Northwest need to deal with this problem. However, we refused to let such trivial matters ruin a fabulous vacation that we would repeat in a heartbeat!!! Once we got checked in, flights went well and we returned to SNOW! General comments: • Room B431: Our first mini-suite....loved the bigger bath and extra space. We were first on the middle bump-out, facing the front of the ship. That balcony is a little smaller than the normal Baja bump-outs. If you have seen pictures of the first balcony on bump-outs, you have awesome views, but if there is any wind you are not protected at all. This made it hard to have night balcony time or balcony time when on the move. Next time I would probably pass on that balcony situation as I like to spend late nights on the balcony, as well as snapshots of us on it before going out! Perfect location though....midship, close to elevators and stairs. • Too much pushing of shots and double drinks • DJ needs to start at 10:30 PM, not midnight • Need less $20 pictures. Either lower the price so you sell more and make more 5 X 7's for $10 • Heard lots complaints on this board about the food. I thought it just fine and ever bit as good as our first 2 Princess cruises. Can't compare to any other lines. Sorry this got so long! Yes we would do this cruise again and no we were not disappointed in Princess! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Ft. Laud Beach. The area is not as nice as the main hotel area where the Sheratons are, but it was good for the price. We walked to the Sheraton in about 15 minutes. Love taking the water taxi to see Millionaire ... Read More
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Ft. Laud Beach. The area is not as nice as the main hotel area where the Sheratons are, but it was good for the price. We walked to the Sheraton in about 15 minutes. Love taking the water taxi to see Millionaire Mile (saw the yacht owned by the owner of Princess) and going to the restaurants. I took bonine the first day, but it made me drowsy, I did fine the rest of the cruise with my sea bands. It was really rough the night before the Panama Canal and the night after, a woman on deck 11 called down in the middle of the night to see if there was something wrong with the ship and the captain made an announcement the next night to advise of rough seas, but I didn't feel a thing on my room on Plaza deck, in the middle, room 602 - outside. The upgrade fairy upgraded me 8 levels. I booked my cruise with Cruises Only, much lower than booking with Princess, plus I got a $50 shipboard credit - you have to ask for it and we received coupon books during the cruise. My friend had booked with Princess, she asked customer service for the coupon books and was told the travel agents were running a promotion, so they would not give her any. I had read that the Coral Princess the week before had the norwalk virus so I was expecting to see the staff wiping down areas etc. but did not notice anything. The Star had hand sanitizers outside of the horizon court restrooms, but not the Island. Watch out when ordering the drinks/mocktails of the day, they will not give you the price advertised unless you demand it, they always try to push the larger size drinks, some of the waiters are pretty pushy, but the service was great. There were plenty of deck chairs everywhere, no need to try to chair hog. Some of the nights you could get to a show at the last minute and get seats other nights be there 15 minutes early, especially the first couple of nights. I didn't think the production shows were as good as the Star, but still worth seeing. The comedians were just ok. The newlywed game was terrible - don't bother. We enjoyed the horse races and the casino. In Ocho Rios we did the catamaran snorkeling trip on the cool jazz through Princess, this is the worse snorkeling I have ever done, hardly any fish and not much for coral, they only go a few yards away from the ship, we really enjoyed sailing though, sat out on the net, had huge waves. Did the Nativeway tour in Grand Cayman to the sandbar. I was really looking forward to getting in with the stingrays and was really scared when I did, they are huge and surround you, I'm glad I did it, but I wouldn't do it again, one man at our table was bitten/hurt by one, had a mark on his arm, but he was fine otherwise. Some of my table mates did the glass dome train excursion at the canal, but didn't like it. Going through the canal, I went to the horizon court at 6:15 and was able to get a good table, one row back. During the voyage go to deck 7 - promenade to be eye level with the locomotives, the best place was in the back, I was on the lido deck, you can see other ships behind you and beside you, it was great. I stayed on the ship and enjoyed the ride back through the locks. I don't get massages, can't see paying hundreds of dollars, but if you want to save some money, they always go on sale the last 3 days, the hot rocks was reduced from $158 to $85 and they had daily specials, so why book the minute you get on. I had looked forward to going to the disco with my friends, but they would not start it till after midnight - so that no one was there, when the show in the Explorers lounge ended, there were still about 30 people there, I asked the dj to play a song, he said he doesn't start till midnight, 10 minutes later the lounge was empty. I went back at 12:30 and there were 2 people sitting at a table. I don't know why Princess doesn't start the disco after the shows when they have people there. It's like Princess is against the partying atmosphere. So if you like to dance, forget it. I loved the cruise though, it's a beautiful ship, but I am 50 and can't wait to try Carnival again, I love the Carnival pool parties and bands (there is no band poolside on Princess, only 1 person singing to recorded music). The mood on Princess is quiet, really quiet and refined, Carnival is for those who want to stay up past 10 and like to dance. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
Just completed the January 15th 2004 - 10-day Panama Canal cruise on the Island Princess. Just brief note about me. I am in my mid-30's and have been fortunate to have taken 18 cruises (this is my 3rd on Princess) thus far on most of ... Read More
Just completed the January 15th 2004 - 10-day Panama Canal cruise on the Island Princess. Just brief note about me. I am in my mid-30's and have been fortunate to have taken 18 cruises (this is my 3rd on Princess) thus far on most of the major lines (I try to take 2 per year). I love to cruise because I think it is the most relaxing type of vacation you can find. You can do as much or as little as you want. Overall Impressions: An excellent trip and Princess continues to be a solid choice for the mass market cruise lines. I would think that Princess should appeal to most people unless you are looking for a very active nightlife (more about that later). Embarkation: Very smooth. I always book my airfare separately. Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale around 10:30 and was at the Pier at 11:15. A line had formed outside the terminal building of early arrivers, but they started processing people about 20 minutes later. As I pre-registered on the Internet, it took just a few minutes to check in and I was on the ship Ship: Overall, I liked the Island very much. I was on the Golden last year and the Island seems similar only a bit smaller. I thought the lobby/atrium was one of the nicer ones I have seen recently. Other public rooms were nice and seemed functional. I don't really concern myself with these things too much so I won't spend much time on it here. Passengers: Not that it really matters to me, but the average age of the passengers on this sailing was likely in the 70's and probably the oldest crowd on any cruise I have been on. It could be a combination of the fact that it was a 10-day trip and that it was mid-January, not a popular vacation time for families. I make note of this only since there was not much activity around the ship past 10 or 11pm. So if your looking for a lot of nightlife, this is probably not the exact itinerary and timing for you. Cabin: I was in category BA on Caribe Deck. It is a standard outside balcony but had an "extended" balcony. The cabin was pretty standard and functional. Same goes for the bathroom. I will note that I had read the comments on the small size of the shower and I must say it is all true. They do seem smaller than usual. I had trouble figuring out how some people I saw on board fit in there. However, it did have awesome water pressure if you turned it all the way up. Having the larger balcony was a plus. It had two reclining chairs and a pretty good size square table. This balcony offered some privacy from above, but not total privacy. Service: I was very happy with the service. Our cabin steward was excellent and very friendly. He did a good job of always being available and efficient, but never being intrusive. Most of the other staff I had contact with were mostly friendly but I am not a high maintenance passenger. Food: As many people have appropriately said on these reviews, food is a subjective thing so I will only give you my opinions. After 18 cruises, I realize that when you are cooking for 2,000+ people, the likelihood that you will have a "gourmet" experience is remote. So here it goes...overall, it is my opinion that Princess has some of the better food of the large cruise lines. Dinner in the dining room was good to very good. I think that the beef dishes were typically not the best I have had (somewhat tough) but the chicken dishes, seafood and pasta's were generally very good. I tend to think that Princess does excellent pasta (a lot of cream sauces). I would typically order the pasta entrEe as a starter in a small portion. This is a way to try the pasta entrEe without having to have it as a main dish. Of course, if your hungry, just order both as an entrEe. As with all cruises I have been on, the waiters are very eager to bring you whatever you want and however much you want. Appetizers and soups were also mostly good but I thought the salads were typically uninspired. As a comparison, dining room food was just a notch below what I had on Celebrity Constellation in May and hands down far superior to the dining room food I had on Explorer of the Sears in November of 2002. Horizon Court: This is where I think Princess is much better than the other large cruise lines including Celebrity. I ate most of my breakfasts and lunches in the Horizon Court. Despite being poorly designed for traffic flow, the Horizon Court has pretty good food for a buffet. There is a nice selection and it doesn't seem like it has been sitting around for a long time as it can sometimes on other lines. Also, the food is always hot. For breakfast, you can go with the standard items but there was also a fresh egg & omelet area where you could pretty much order what you wanted. I am a big milk drinker and one thing I didn't like was that milk was only available at breakfast and at the dinner buffet. I have been on the Grand and Golden and I recall that there were milk dispenser's available 24hrs in the Horizon. Anyway, I took a bunch of milk cartons and stored them in my cabin refrigerator. Room service: Pretty standard here too. Ordered room service for breakfast twice and it was delivered on time and was usually hot. If you don't know...you can pretty much write down whatever you want and they will bring it. It does not need to be listed on the door menu card. A note of caution, be very explicit in what you want.... if you order pancakes, you must specify syrup, or else they won't bring it. Also you can write down whatever time you want. I asked for breakfast 1 hour earlier then was listed as available on the card and the food was delivered at the time I requested. Entertainment: I saw most of the production shows and they were pretty good. While the production shows tend to be similar content across the various cruise lines, the Island Princess singers and dancers were very talented and I enjoyed the shows very much. They also have a long term comedian onboard who does three shows through out the cruise and he was also very enjoyable. Lots of other bands and music on board all of which seemed to be good. Shore Excursions: Cozumel - Took a taxi over to the Chankanaab National Park for some snorkeling / sun. If you're looking for a lazy beach day, this is a good place to go. They have a variety of water sports if that is of interest. It is $10 cab fare each way and $10 entrance fee to the park. Snorkel gear was $6 per person if you head farther down the beach ($10 near the entrance). The snorkeling is ok, but not great. Grand Cayman - Booked the Stingray City and Snorkel tour though an independent operator Native Way, who was recommended on the boards. Native Way didn't show up at the pier as promised. Medical emergency was later cited as the reason. Don't know if I would trust them again. We just did the same trip with people advertising the same trip at the pier. I would recommend going to Stingray City if you have never done it before.... it is a unique experience. Panama Canal - Nice experience if you have not been through it before. We had booked the Ocean-to-Ocean tour, which was going to be the highlight of the trip (you get to go through the canal and locks on the Pacific side in a smaller boat). Unfortunately, this tour got cancelled about a half-hour before it was supposed to depart. This is where Princess really dropped the ball. As they insisted it was beyond there control, they still did not handle the situation very well. There were about 250 very unhappy people who were scheduled to go on this tour and they were none too happy to hear that not only was the tour cancelled, but there were no other options to join another tour. Therefore, we were all stuck on the ship until late in the day when the ship went back through the locks and docked in Colon. To add to our frustration, the tour desk supervisor didn't handle the angry passengers very well. In fact, he became downright hostile as many of the passengers affected were voicing their displeasure to him. Princess obviously refunded everyone the cost of the tour and then a few days later (bowing to persistent complaints and angry passengers) decided to give everyone scheduled on the tour a $100 ship credit. Limon, Costa Rica - Went on the Jungle River Eco-Cruise. 2-3 hour cruise in the rain forest. It was interesting and the guides were excellent. Ocho-Rios - Was booked on the Yacht sailing trip to Dunns River Falls. This tour was cancelled early on in the cruise (no reason given). Decided just to cab over to Dunns, which was just as well ($11 cab each way and $10 per person to enter the falls). Other Comments: Cutbacks continue to be noticed on all the ships as cruise prices continue to be very reasonable. I have been cruising many years and prices are lower now than they were several years ago. That being said, I am of the opinion that I would rather pay an extra $50 or $100 for the cruise then be nickel-and-dimed for things that used to be included in the cost of the cruise. Some things I noticed on the Island were that juices are only available at breakfast time. If you want any type of juice at any time other than breakfast, it will cost you. Same thing goes for hot chocolate. I sometimes like hot chocolate after dinner but there is now a $1.50 charge. This seems pretty petty, but it did really bother me. All the cruise lines are doing this extra charging, but it varies on what items they have decided to start charging for. Any way you cut it, it's not a good trend. I never had any problem getting lounge chairs. I don't know if it was due to the age of the passengers or that there seemed to be lounge chairs everywhere. I pretty much had my pick of chairs anywhere on the ship. Overall, Princess continues to be a great choice in the large cruise line segment. They have good food, nice ships and friendly staff. The Island Princess is comfortable and I have no problem recommending this ship or line. If I can answer any other questions let me know at drew7096@aol.com. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
Just completed the January 15th 2004 - 10-day Panama Canal cruise on the Island Princess. Just brief note about me. I am in my mid-30's and have been fortunate to have taken 18 cruises (this is my 3rd on Princess) thus far on most of ... Read More
Just completed the January 15th 2004 - 10-day Panama Canal cruise on the Island Princess. Just brief note about me. I am in my mid-30's and have been fortunate to have taken 18 cruises (this is my 3rd on Princess) thus far on most of the major lines (I try to take 2 per year). I love to cruise because I think it is the most relaxing type of vacation you can find. You can do as much or as little as you want. Overall Impressions: An excellent trip and Princess continues to be a solid choice for the mass market cruise lines. I would think that Princess should appeal to most people unless you are looking for a very active nightlife (more about that later). Embarkation: Very smooth. I always book my airfare separately. Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale around 10:30 and was at the Pier at 11:15. A line had formed outside the terminal building of early arrivers, but they started processing people about 20 minutes later. As I pre-registered on the Internet, it took just a few minutes to check in and I was on the ship Ship: Overall, I liked the Island very much. I was on the Golden last year and the Island seems similar only a bit smaller. I thought the lobby/atrium was one of the nicer ones I have seen recently. Other public rooms were nice and seemed functional. I don't really concern myself with these things too much so I won't spend much time on it here. Passengers: Not that it really matters to me, but the average age of the passengers on this sailing was likely in the 70's and probably the oldest crowd on any cruise I have been on. It could be a combination of the fact that it was a 10-day trip and that it was mid-January, not a popular vacation time for families. I make note of this only since there was not much activity around the ship past 10 or 11pm. So if your looking for a lot of nightlife, this is probably not the exact itinerary and timing for you. Cabin: I was in category BA on Caribe Deck. It is a standard outside balcony but had an "extended" balcony. The cabin was pretty standard and functional. Same goes for the bathroom. I will note that I had read the comments on the small size of the shower and I must say it is all true. They do seem smaller than usual. I had trouble figuring out how some people I saw on board fit in there. However, it did have awesome water pressure if you turned it all the way up. Having the larger balcony was a plus. It had two reclining chairs and a pretty good size square table. This balcony offered some privacy from above, but not total privacy. Service: I was very happy with the service. Our cabin steward was excellent and very friendly. He did a good job of always being available and efficient, but never being intrusive. Most of the other staff I had contact with were mostly friendly but I am not a high maintenance passenger. Food: As many people have appropriately said on these reviews, food is a subjective thing so I will only give you my opinions. After 18 cruises, I realize that when you are cooking for 2,000+ people, the likelihood that you will have a "gourmet" experience is remote. So here it goes...overall, it is my opinion that Princess has some of the better food of the large cruise lines. Dinner in the dining room was good to very good. I think that the beef dishes were typically not the best I have had (somewhat tough) but the chicken dishes, seafood and pasta's were generally very good. I tend to think that Princess does excellent pasta (a lot of cream sauces). I would typically order the pasta entrEe as a starter in a small portion. This is a way to try the pasta entrEe without having to have it as a main dish. Of course, if your hungry, just order both as an entrEe. As with all cruises I have been on, the waiters are very eager to bring you whatever you want and however much you want. Appetizers and soups were also mostly good but I thought the salads were typically uninspired. As a comparison, dining room food was just a notch below what I had on Celebrity Constellation in May and hands down far superior to the dining room food I had on Explorer of the Sears in November of 2002. Horizon Court: This is where I think Princess is much better than the other large cruise lines including Celebrity. I ate most of my breakfasts and lunches in the Horizon Court. Despite being poorly designed for traffic flow, the Horizon Court has pretty good food for a buffet. There is a nice selection and it doesn't seem like it has been sitting around for a long time as it can sometimes on other lines. Also, the food is always hot. For breakfast, you can go with the standard items but there was also a fresh egg & omelet area where you could pretty much order what you wanted. I am a big milk drinker and one thing I didn't like was that milk was only available at breakfast and at the dinner buffet. I have been on the Grand and Golden and I recall that there were milk dispenser's available 24hrs in the Horizon. Anyway, I took a bunch of milk cartons and stored them in my cabin refrigerator. Room service: Pretty standard here too. Ordered room service for breakfast twice and it was delivered on time and was usually hot. If you don't know...you can pretty much write down whatever you want and they will bring it. It does not need to be listed on the door menu card. A note of caution, be very explicit in what you want.... if you order pancakes, you must specify syrup, or else they wont bring it. Also you can write down whatever time you want. I asked for breakfast 1 hour earlier then was listed as available on the card and the food was delivered at the time I requested. Entertainment: I saw most of the production shows and they were pretty good. While the production shows tend to be similar content across the various cruise lines, the Island Princess singers and dancers were very talented and I enjoyed the shows very much. They also have a long term comedian onboard who does three shows through out the cruise and he was also very enjoyable. Lots of other bands and music on board all of which seemed to be good. Shore Excursions: Cozumel - Took a taxi over to the Chankanaab National Park for some snorkeling / sun. If you're looking for a lazy beach day, this is a good place to go. They have a variety of water sports if that is of interest. It is $10 cab fare each way and $10 entrance fee to the park. Snorkel gear was $6 per person if you head farther down the beach ($10 near the entrance). The snorkeling is ok, but not great. Grand Cayman - Booked the Stingray City and Snorkel tour though an independent operator Native Way, who was recommended on the boards. Native Way didn't show up at the pier as promised. Medical emergency was later cited as the reason. Don't know if I would trust them again. We just did the same trip with people advertising the same trip at the pier. I would recommend going to Stingray City if you have never done it before.... it is a unique experience. Panama Canal - Nice experience if you have not been through it before. We had booked the Ocean-to-Ocean tour, which was going to be the highlight of the trip (you get to go through the canal and locks on the Pacific side in a smaller boat). Unfortunately, this tour got cancelled about a half-hour before it was supposed to depart. This is where Princess really dropped the ball. As they insisted it was beyond there control, they still did not handle the situation very well. There were about 250 very unhappy people who were scheduled to go on this tour and they were none too happy to hear that not only was the tour cancelled, but there were no other options to join another tour. Therefore, we were all stuck on the ship until late in the day when the ship went back through the locks and docked in Colon. To add to our frustration, the tour desk supervisor didn't handle the angry passengers very well. In fact, he became downright hostile as many of the passengers affected were voicing their displeasure to him. Princess obviously refunded everyone the cost of the tour and then a few days later (bowing to persistent complaints and angry passengers) decided to give everyone scheduled on the tour a $100 ship credit. Limon, Costa Rica - Went on the Jungle River Eco-Cruise. 2-3 hour cruise in the rain forest. It was interesting and the guides were excellent. Ocho-Rios - Was booked on the Yacht sailing trip to Dunns River Falls. This tour was cancelled early on in the cruise (no reason given). Decided just to cab over to Dunns, which was just as well ($11 cab each way and $10 per person to enter the falls). Other Comments: Cutbacks continue to be noticed on all the ships as cruise prices continue to be very reasonable. I have been cruising many years and prices are lower now than they were several years ago. That being said, I am of the opinion that I would rather pay an extra $50 or $100 for the cruise then be nickel-and-dimed for things that used to be included in the cost of the cruise. Some things I noticed on the Island were that juices are only available at breakfast time. If you want any type of juice at any time other than breakfast, it will cost you. Same thing goes for hot chocolate. I sometimes like hot chocolate after dinner but there is now a $1.50 charge. This seems pretty petty, but it did really bother me. All the cruise lines are doing this extra charging, but it varies on what items they have decided to start charging for. Any way you cut it, it's not a good trend. I never had any problem getting lounge chairs. I don't know if it was due to the age of the passengers or that there seemed to be lounge chairs everywhere. I pretty much had my pick of chairs anywhere on the ship. Overall, Princess continues to be a great choice in the large cruise line segment. They have good food, nice ships and friendly staff. The Island Princess is comfortable and I have no problem recommending this ship or line. If I can answer any other questions let me know at drew7096@aol.com. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
10 Day Panama Canal Itinerary Island Princess D608 Traditional Dining Late Seating 1/25/04 to 2/4/04 Nassau, Panama, Costa Rica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel Charles and Judy Crain - 46 and 48, engineer and homemaker, respectively. Mexican ... Read More
10 Day Panama Canal Itinerary Island Princess D608 Traditional Dining Late Seating 1/25/04 to 2/4/04 Nassau, Panama, Costa Rica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel Charles and Judy Crain - 46 and 48, engineer and homemaker, respectively. Mexican Riviera (Sea Princess) - 1/2002 Alaska (Ocean Princess) - 6/2001 Summary: Best cruise to date, but the first to Alaska will always be special. Food, fun, excursions, activities, and itinerary were all great. We picked this cruise because of the length (10 days), seeing the Panama Canal, trying a Caribbean cruise for the first time and the price. The price was the major driver for picking this cruise, the personnel will keep us coming back. In summary, highly recommended. If you can get onto the Island Princess before she goes to Alaska, try this itinerary. Top 10 Best List: 1: Princess Personnel (The Good) - Like our Alaska cruise, this one was filled with notable Princess personnel that made the cruise exceptional. Of note was Jessy, our cabin steward who was almost perfect (no one is perfect), friendly, helpful, cheery and always there when we needed him. He kept the cabin immaculate and did such a good job we tipped him in addition to the normal tips. Rick, the shore and shopping advisor, checked on and kept tabs on all the people shopping on shore to ensure everything was going all right. Our table mates from Colorado were amazed that he kept checking in on them during their shopping. His shopping tips, especially the puzzle boxes in Costa Rica, were right on. Last, but certainly not least, was Samantha, one of the ass't cruise directors. She was one cute, bubbly ball of energy and our line dance instructor. Please, do not feed her any caffeine, she has enough energy to power the ship in an emergency. Constantly smiling, friendly, outgoing, helpful, she represents the best of Princess's most important resource, the personnel. Now, its important to note that all of the other people we ran into, our wait staff, Susan, Trevor and Josh, the other asst cruise staff, the buffet cooks, TK in the Explorer Lounge, were wonderful as well. But we had more contact with Rick, Sam and Jessy and were able to notice their above and beyond contribution to a wonderful cruise. All cruise lines have to realize that without great personnel, you can never have a great cruise and with lousy personnel you will have a lousy cruise. Everything, we liked on this cruise is directly attributable to a specific person or persons doing an outstanding job. Without those people, you just have a motel that moves with a Denny's out front. 2: Cruise Price/Value - For the price paid, this cruise was incredible. 10 day, mini-suite, beautiful ship, great food, the overall value or "bang for the buck" was sensational. None of the "worst" list detracted from the experience. We spoke to many other veteran cruisers and their unanimous opinion was that this was one of the best cruises. One couple was on their 27th cruise spread out among all of the major cruise lines and this was in the top five. 3: Food - As near to perfect as you can expect on a cruise ship. Consistently good quality with some surprise exceptional taste treats sprinkled in -lobster at dinner, kiwi tartett in the lunch buffet, eggplant appetizer on Italian night, incredible prime rib and a lot of others. Based on our previous two cruises we expected differences between the buffet, the dining room, the grill and the alternatives, but in this case the quality was well above average everywhere. 4: Mini-suite Layout - We are now spoiled. The mini-suite with its extra length and couch was just the right size. All of the "stuff" that ends up on the bed and just migrates to the desk, table and chair in a regular room now has a place on the couch. Full bathtub, huge closet and a larger balcony -however, our balcony was not covered which caused some issues (see negatives). But all in all, well worth the extra money on a 10 day trip. 5: Activities and Entertainment - From Kevin Huges (comic) to the shows (Panama [Pub] Night) to the production shows and activities (Cowboy night), there was too much to do it all. We missed a lot of stuff going on and were never bored. 6: Ship Cleanliness - The Island Princess was in immaculate condition. Every restroom, every public area was spotless. Dining rooms were exceptionally clean. (The only exception was the Lotus Pool which had rust spots where the coating was not applied properly.) 7: Ship Layout - The Island Princess layout reminded us of an upgraded Sun class. The separate Lotus Pool area with its swim current and 2 meter depth made it the exercise pool of choice. Three main ship's elevator wells plus the normal atrium elevators made navigation easy. It almost appears that they added an additional deck by lowering slightly the ceiling of all of the other decks. The designers also used mirrors a lot to add a sense of openness to spaces. The gym was full of modern workout equipment including Precor ellipticals and a full set of circuit training weight machines. 8: Sabbatini's - An experience all in itself. You choose your soup and your main course. Everything else on the menu is provided to you to taste. Don't even try and eat it all. Skip lunch for this one. Well worth the $20 extra per person. Service is exquisite. The wait staff love to talk to you. Let them explain the history of the dishes and the wines. 9: Discover SCUBA Cozumel: In Alaska it was glacier trekking, in the Caribbean its SCUBA. No certification required. A 20 minute orientation, checkout in shallow water and then 30 minutes down to 25 feet examining fish, coral, rays, eels and other divers. We might just get certified now. 10: Stingray Sandbar Catamaran Grand Caymen: An un-crowded (22 of us) trip on a catamaran out to the Stingray Sandbar to dance with, touch and feed the stingrays. One stingray is over 30 years old and is blind in both eyes due to cataracts, but she sure can dance and find the squid ok. Princess really does a good job of finding great companies for their excursions. This was no exception. The personnel were friendly, knowledgeable and really cared about the rays. The trip out and back aboard the catamaran was a real treat as well. For value added the crew does a video of the excursion, in and out of the water. You can buy the DVD for $60 and it will be mailed to your house. The VHS is cheaper. Great for those who don't want to take their $600 digital video camera into the salt water. Top 7 Worst List (Just Could Not Come Up With Ten and some of these are real nits): 1: Sell/Sell/Sell - All of the cruise lines are reducing prices to attract guests. To make up the difference they are selling everything in sight during the cruise. During the cooking demonstration, they will push a cookbook, during lunch in the horizon court, they will walk by with the same cookbook for sale. The photographers are everywhere taking pictures. 5x7 photos are overlaid with stock maps or information on an 8x10 format and sold as an 8x10. 8x10's are up to $20 each. Some of this is not bad - the personalized trip specific video is a great idea, but they need more than one video camera. Unobtrusive photographers on special occasions are welcomed, but some of them get pushed out of shape when you refuse a picture. The Lotus Spa's prices on products are outrageous. No you don't have to buy and we recommend you don't - at all. Pocket the money, call the Mary Kay lady and save a literal fortune. For example, the minimum for Judy's skin care products that she "must" have, was over $300 for three items. That's just insane. 2: Bar Staff Tips - Sales vs. Service; This is a corollary to #1 above. Princess adds 15% to each drink tab that the server him or herself gets directly. This creates a feeding frenzy of drink waiters and waitresses that put sales above service. People who want water will only get bottled water. People who want coffee, or coke (with the coke sticker) or tea that are free with no tip will be ignored or lied to as in, " we don't have any coffee or tea" or " we're not allowed to do that". There were a few waiters that did put service above sales and brought water or coke promptly. I truly believe that if a drink waiter would walk around with a tray of free water glasses, he or she just might even score more drink orders with the good will generated. Princess needs to do something about this situation. I would even suggest going as far as paying the wait staff to deliver the free drinks by accounting for them and giving them $0.25 for each glass given out. 3: Princess Personnel (The Bad): The sell/sell/sell probably contributed to this as well, but on one occasion we actually saw a waitress leave a restroom without washing her hands, and went right on serving drinks - touching napkins, glasses, straws. Not good. Room service was bad as well. Out of 5 different room services orders, all were screwed up somehow. Three were delivered to the wrong room, one had a canned coke instead of a "free" glass of coke (sell/sell/sell again?) and one was incomplete. 4: Deck Washing/Balcony Cover - As regular as clockwork between 0200 and 0300, the upper deck would be hosed off, right onto our balcony table and chairs, 4 stories below. The dolphin centerline balconies protrude out and anything washed off the top deck would land on our balcony. We liked to sleep with the door open and the first few nights we though it was rain. Found out later it wasn't. This was a bad design choice. The uncovered balcony removes some privacy and does not provide any shade or rain cover. Things from the top deck that are dropped or blow/roll off inevitably end up on the Dolphin deck balconies. The Sun class balconies are covered and we did prefer that. 5: Coffee Outside the Horizon Court - On the Sun class ships there is coffee service on both sides of the grill on deck 15. In the Coral class, there is not. This means that for a cup of coffee you have to fight the lines in the Horizon Court. They did add coffee service at the entrance to the buffet line, but when its busy, it's a challenge to reach it. 6: Bayou Cafe - A big disappointment. The food was good, the service was good, but it wasn't Cajun. In fact when I asked for recommendations, none of the recommendations were the "New Orleans" style courses. The recommended dished were normal, typical Nuevo French or European cuisine. After Sabbatini's this was a downer. We did go against the recommendations and order the "New Orleans" style - the best of which was the gator ribs, but everything else, while good, was not as good as what we were getting in the dining room. 7: Universal Lounge Layout - Unlike the Sun class, the Universal Lounge is not tiered, but sloped. This sloping is inadequate and frequently allows taller people in the front to completely block the view of people behind them. In the upper deck, a great design idea and makes for a spectacular view from above, the second row of seats has their view almost totally blocked. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
My husband and I are in our late 40's. We have two sons, 18 and 15. We have cruised 3 times with two separate cabins. First was Carnival "Victory", eastern Caribbean (March break 2002), then RC "Voyager of the ... Read More
My husband and I are in our late 40's. We have two sons, 18 and 15. We have cruised 3 times with two separate cabins. First was Carnival "Victory", eastern Caribbean (March break 2002), then RC "Voyager of the Seas", western Caribbean (March break 2003). This last cruise over the Christmas Holidays was to be our first 10-day cruise with balconies side by side. Embarkation: Driving from Ottawa, Canada to Ft Lauderdale in two days went well alternating between 3 drivers. (took 3 days on the way back) The weather cooperated and there was no weekend road construction. We had a full day to rest and go shopping at "Sawgrass Mills" outlet mall before boarding on Tuesday. The hotel we stayed at offered FREE parking while cruising. The cost of taking a shuttle to and back from the port was still half the price of parking at the port itself. We arrived at the Princess terminal around 11:15, joined the line, when who should come up right behind us? The one person I corresponded with from the Cruise Critic's postings! We had arranged to get the 2 families together to benefit from a group discount for an excursion in Mexico. We were on the ship within 45 minutes. This was the fastest we had ever boarded. We went to our rooms, then to the front desk to have new keys made and finally to the Maitre D' desk asking to be changed to an early sitting in the dining room (were 27th on the waiting list). Cabins: First thing we did was check out the rooms and drop off the carry-on luggage. We were in D-216 and D-218. Cruise lines always put one person under 21 with an adult per room. Our cabin steward, Andy, greeted us and directed the boys to the room with the beds already separated and us parents to the one with the beds placed together. He also opened the balcony panel between the two rooms. It makes quite a difference. We left the patio doors unlocked to access each other's rooms until the keys (shipboard credit cards) were re-issued accordingly. These were the biggest and nicest rooms we have had cruising. The layout is the most functional. There was no love seat where you tend to pile up things. The closet and shelving unit, plus the drawers could easily accommodate 4. The washroom was your typical excruciatingly tight quarters with the smallest shower we ever had on any line. I am 5'8'', 136lbs and kept on bumping my elbows on the grab bar. We did spend more time in our cabins to relax because of the nice view and natural light. From now on I will always check the price of balconies first, with a window second, and will resort to an inside cabin only if I have to. Food: Always ate breakfast at the Horizon Court. By day 10, we had enough of seeing the same old selection. When you are planning a day in port, you do end up having to eat the same substantial meal of eggs, French toast, bacon, sausage, hash brown over and over. At sea, I was always looking forward to the buffet lunch in the Horizon. The selection varied enough to keep me going back for seconds. The fruits and salads are plentiful. For our dinner we were assigned the second seating in the traditional dining room. With two teenagers, it was impossible to have them survive till 8pm. We just went to the Bordeaux dining room at 5:45 and asked to sit at any table available. We had a very nice dinner with two retired couples. We usually prefer being just the 4 of us since that is about the only time we get to spend with our boys to talk about the days events and plan our excursions for the following days or when to meet up for certain shows. Fortunately that evening, we received a note at our door saying we were re-assigned to the Provence dining room at 6pm and had our own table. The food was good but rarely exceptional. (Carnival has the best). We returned 2 soups and one main course. In any case, since I am the only cook in this household...I greatly appreciated NOT having to cook and clean up! My advice to anyone is to ask for suggestions from your waiter/waitress. They are in a good position to know what is best. They have served the menu before and remember the reactions and comments of passengers. After asking for suggestions, my appreciation for the food went from acceptable to good and sometimes very good. On two occasions we had lunch or a snack at The Grill. Sometimes it does feel good to have a juicy hamburger or hot dog. There were wieners and sauerkraut with good fries. Had to purchase pop cards since there were no juices available at lunch or dinner (without an extra fee). The ice cream bar isn't worth it the additional price. Pools: Wow! 4 pools! And plenty of hot tubs. I prefer this set-up with 2 descent-sized pools, one exterior and one covered. The Lotus pool being in the prettiest setting I have seen. There is plenty of quiet space to lounge in the sun at different levels also. The small pool aft, was always empty. Was it because it was next to the kid's zone? The setting is absolutely gorgeous. Parents felt secure taking their youngest one to the splash pool on deck 16 and having plenty of room to lounge while keeping an eye out on the little ones. Entertainment: We participated and enjoyed the Scholar Ships @ Sea program. Complementary courses and lectures are given in different lounges and theaters. Some come at additional cost and are limited in enrollment. Check the list and register at the pursers' desk on day one. I attended culinary, graphology, digital photography courses. My husband went for computer & self-enhancement sessions. My older son took part in two Web design courses. Stage shows are geared towards an older clientele. Comedian Willy Tyler with Lester was good to see because I used to watch him on the Ed Sullivan show with my parents as a child. Kevin Hughes reached out to all ages in the audience. He was the best. We looked forward to going to all his shows; the teens would get together and go see him too. By the reaction of the crowd, he was the most entertaining on board. Production and cabaret shows were also good. The crowd always sets the mood for a successful karaoke. On this cruise it didn't work out. Very few participated and sometimes just one person sang. I didn't give any donations to the casino but my husband tried his luck...and lost. He is an avid golfer and participated in most of the golf challenges. He won the longest drive contest! We enjoyed the Island night deck party and watched pool games. My men caught Terminator 3 and S.W.A.T on the big screen. Neil is the cruise director. He is pleasant and a good MC but did not contribute much entertainment material. For kids: I warned my kids that this cruise was geared more to people from middle age to seniors...they still wanted to come. I was hoping other parents had the same idea as us to pull their teens out of school one week early. This is exactly what happened and we met a very nice family from Toronto with two boys the same ages as ours. There were perhaps 50 children on board with about 20 in the 15-17 age group. There were very few around the 18-21 bracket. Staff told us we were a much younger crowd on board because it covered X-mas compared to the previous weeks and that they were expecting 300 kids in the following week for the New Year day cruise. My youngest hung out at the"Off Limits" center. There are separate rooms dedicated to different age groups. He played free video games to his hearts content. As he stated if you participate you will have fun. Councilors supervise game areas and fun activities. He won a karaoke prize. Won a medal in the golf simulator. Went to the disco every night. Attended a teen dinner at reserved tables in the main dining room. My eldest played ping-pong, cards in the card room, attended shows with us or with some friends, viewed movies in the theater or on TV in his room. Gym: The smallest facilities we have seen on a ship but had all the expected equipment. It was my first time not using the gym. My husband went 4 times. Holiday specials: The atrium is full of garlands where some of the Staff sung carols. Xmas trees are by the elevators at each level and set up for portraits on formal nights. Holiday music is played throughout the ship, all the time. Some people decorate their cabin doors. Staff wears Santa hats. There is a special Xmas menu. We attended midnight mass in the Princess Theater. There are catholic, protestant and Chanukah services. Old Nick visits the children in person on the morning of the 25th. Each child received a Teddy Bear with a "Princess" scarf from Santa or from a councilor in the kid's zone. Ports: Be aware that the ship sets its clock according to the local time zones. Take that into consideration when booking your own excursions. We took all of our tours independently. Jamaica: Second visit. Booked thru Peat Taylor again (oneiltay@cwjamaica.com). My youngest was sea sick when we arrived in Ocho Rios and stayed on board all day. Peat was very accommodating; he accepted to change our itinerary and discounted the fare accordingly. First we visited Prospect Plantation. We returned to the ship for lunch on our balconies and to check in on our son. When Peat picked us up at 1:30 we went shopping instead of river tubing. Panama Canal: Stayed on board for the transit in and out of the lake. Got up at 5:30am. We were one of the first ships to enter the locks at 6am while it was still dark. The sun rose as we were going thru Gatun locks. Once on the lake we went for breakfast and returned to bed. Woke the boys up for an early lunch and headed outside to view the locks at noon. Moved around the ship to get different perspectives. Not many people knew of or ventured to the front balconies of the ship on levels 10-11. We were on 10 to enter the gates. On the way out we shifted from the sides of the Promenade deck (the aft is closed off because the cables are in use to guide the ship thru the locks) to the back balconies on level 8 (more on 9-10-11) to get a real close-up view of the canal gates, walls, towing mules and the container ship behind us. In Colon, we stayed at the pier and shopped for souvenirs. Limon: (Central time) Had no plans. Walked to the tour tent at the end of the pier as suggested by "Cruise critic" message boards and negotiated an excursion. It was raining quite hard at times (our ponchos came in handy). We headed out at 10am and returned at 4:30pm. For $45/person our cab driver took us to the entrance of a resort to view the bay and see an iguana in a tree; a villa's botanical garden where he pointed out the local vegetation and gave me a pretty flower that lasted the trip in my cabin; arranged a jungle river boat cruise; brought us to the "Chiquita" banana plantation and explained the whole process; then off to Cahuita National Park where we purchased something to drink, watched the locals surf and then walked part of the path lining the ocean in the jungle; on the way back he stopped by the road. Once to point out a group of black monkeys at the top of the trees, then to cut down a cocoa pod and cut it open with a machete to see the seeds inside, another time to have a baby monkey prance on our shoulders. Lastly, we stopped at a restaurant at the highest point in town just to take in the view from its terrace. Grand Cayman: The waters were very turbulent. It took longer than usual to board the tender. Once on land we walked a few blocks and took a collective mini-van. We asked to be dropped off at Governor's beach along the 7-mile beach. Then went back to town to shop a bit. There were 8 ships in port and that created a massive traffic jam. You must be on board by 2:30. Taxis can refuse to take you to the beach if it is after noon because of the congestion on the way back to the docks. Reserve early excursions on your own or thru the ship if you want to go later in the morning. Playa del Carmen: Met with our friends from the Cruise Critics' board and took the same tender. Took a collectivo taxi (passenger van) $2.50/person+10%tip to Hidden Worlds (www.HiddenWorlds.com) 35 minutes south of Playa del Carmen for and incredible journey snorkeling or diving in "cenotes" (underground caves and rivers). The tour was $35/person for snorkelers. That was the highlight and most memorable excursion of our trip. Then caught another collectivo back to Playa and shopped in town before boarding at 5pm. In need of improvement: *Netting over the basketball court should be higher to allow better ball arc. *Most ship photographers need to be more attentive to details. *It would be nice to have an on/off switch to hear public announcements in our cabins instead of running out into the hallways to know what's going on. *It took 3 days before we had our key issue straighten out. The first 2 people I spoke to at the purser's desk refused to issue extra keys for security reasons. They didn't care that I couldn't get into my children's room. On the 3rd morning I approached a different person to report I had security issues of my own and insisted it was time to make up extra keys. Within 1 minute, I had them. *It was rude of comedian/juggler Rick Novell to say: "ok, I see I'm not on a Carnival cruise" when the audience didn't respond with laughter or applause...he wasn't that good or funny anyway. *It feels cramped in the main dining room because of very low lighting combined with low ceilings. *Need more personnel in the dining rooms to allow for a more relaxed and personalized service. Overall: Cruise Critic's reviews always helped me so much in choosing ships ands itineraries. This was no exception. We were truly satisfied with this beautiful brand new ship with its luxurious dEcor. We are happy to record the Panama Canal in our travel logs. Our cabin steward was outstanding. He ran to make ginger tea for Stefan when he was sea sick. Told us about the great view from the front balconies. He was attentive to all our cabin needs and even got my kids out of bed when they slept in much too late!!!! Back home you can still hear me calling...Andy, where are you? We also met great people on board and will exchange photos through emails. We have only been back for two weeks...and are already looking forward to go cruising again as soon as possible. Truly hooked on cruising. CDNcruisers Glenn, Louise, Yvan & Stefan Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
This was our first cruise with Princess and we were not disappointed. We had an air, hotel, transfer and cruise package from Vancouver. The Marriot in Ft Lauderdale was a beautiful hotel and the transfer to the ship seamless. Embarkation ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess and we were not disappointed. We had an air, hotel, transfer and cruise package from Vancouver. The Marriot in Ft Lauderdale was a beautiful hotel and the transfer to the ship seamless. Embarkation probably took no more that 15 minutes even though 5 busses of us arrived from the Marriot. Our balcony room was midships on the bumpout, on the twelfth deck near the elevators. It was a beautiful, bright and spotlessly clean cabin. Of course, the Island is only 6 months old. Our favourite occupation was breakfast from room service on our balcony. We soon learned that if you ordered room service between 8:30 and 9 that you got it at 8:25 and that you could write whatever you liked on the menu and it was brought to you. We had open seating and usually ate between 6 and 7. We never waited for a table even when we went with a group of 6 and wanted to be seated together. The food was mixed from great to mediocre but the service was usually very good. We did not eat in the alternate restaurants but did use the buffet on formal nights which we did not participate in. The buffet was fine - a good place to go for a late night dessert! We enjoyed the shows although disliked the magician who was on our cruise. I participated in basketball shootouts and we played shuffleboard and I won trivia twice. There was a very dedicated group of trivia players on board. If you have a disability this appears to be a great ship. There were many disabled on board. Some nights outside the dining room there was a parking lot of scooters. Several passengers told us that Princess accommodates disabled passengers very well. This was an older group of passengers - the majority were 65+. We are in our early 50's. Costa Rica and Panama were very enjoyable as was Grand Cayman. I could have lived without Freeport. Ochos Rios was fine but unexciting. We had four days of Tropical Storm Isidore on this sailing. Because we are not prone to seasickness and our cabin was midships, this did not bother us but for people who like lying around the pool and sunning it would have put a damper on their cruise. A word about smoking. This was not at all a problem. Either there were few smokers on the ship or because it is such a new ship it is not yet saturated with smoke. Our cabin was fresh smelling and we rarely came across smoking on the ship - a plus for me who has a low smoke tolerance. Embarkation was not quite as quick as desembarkation but was still not too bad. There was some confusion about what terminals busses were stopping at at the airport and some were close to missing their flights. All in all a great cruise on a great ship. I would repeat it in a minute. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
Our Cruise Background My wife and I are in our mid 30's/early 40's. This was our 8th cruise and our 4th cruise on Princess. We've also sailed twice on Royal Caribbean and twice on Celebrity. This 10-day sailing marked the ... Read More
Our Cruise Background My wife and I are in our mid 30's/early 40's. This was our 8th cruise and our 4th cruise on Princess. We've also sailed twice on Royal Caribbean and twice on Celebrity. This 10-day sailing marked the 1st time that we sailed for longer than 7 nights. All of our previous cruises have been on various Caribbean itineraries. Embarkation Process We flew down the night before the trip (booked our own air) and stayed at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport Hilton. This is the hotel we always stay at when we cruise out of Port Everglades. It's a nice hotel and it's very convenient...just 5 minutes from the Airport and 10 minutes from the Port. We took a shuttle to the port the morning of the cruise at about 11:30. Since we are Captain's Circle Gold members, we went into the Gold Club line but since the line next to us was moving faster we were directed to the faster line. The terminal was obviously very crowded but considering how many people are boarding the ship, the Embarkation process went smoothly for the most part and we were on the ship by 12:30 or so. Our Cabin We booked a category AB mini-suite (D505). This was a roomy cabin, with an uncovered balcony. Some folks don't like the idea of an uncovered balcony, which can be viewed from the cabins above but we enjoy it. Since there is no cover, you have a clear view of the sky and the stars at night. The cabin itself was nice but nothing fancy. It had light blue carpet with bleached wood furnishings. There was plenty of closet and drawer space. Amenities included two TV's (not sure why you need two TV's), a fridge, a vanity, a safe and a good size bathroom with a tub/shower combo. The tub/shower was nice because it had more room than a standard cruise ship shower. If you are over 6 feet tall, showering might be a bit awkward because showerhead is only about 5 feet off of the tub floor and the ceiling itself was no more than 6' high in the shower. The only issue we had with this cabin is that it was located directly across from one of the ship's service elevators and this area was sometimes noisy. The service elevator's location is not shown in the diagram of the ship so we had no idea this was the case when we booked the cabin. The noise was not really anything to complain about, but we were awakened briefly on a few mornings due to the noise made when the staff worked there. Overall Impression of the Ship The ship is beautiful. All of the lounges and public areas are nicely decorated and unique from one another. The atrium is much larger than the atriums on the Grand Class ships and we liked this. Because the ship is only four months old there was no wear and tear to be seen. Public areas are clean and shiny. We usually learn our way around a ship pretty quickly but the layout of this one confused us a bit. We never seemed to be going in the right direction. That was our problem though! Lounges/Theater Venues There are so many lounges to choose from. Our favorite lounge was Crooners Martini Bar, which is located in the atrium on deck 7. Here they serve dozens of different types of martinis as well as any other type of beverage you can think of. If that's not your style there is a coffee bar a few levels down, a lounge in the front section of the Bayou Cafe, the Wheelhouse (which has a rich nautical theme) as well as many others. The large Princess Theater is used for the Broadway type shows as well as for some of the comedians and other performances. The Universe Lounge is a beautiful, multi-purpose venue that was used for demonstrations and a number of performances and lectures. Food Experience Of course food is very subjective to everyone's own opinion. Please keep that in mind when you read the information to follow. As I mentioned earlier, this was our 4th Princess cruise. We opted for traditional dining, second seating. Our overall impression of the food in the dining room on this ship was that it was not nearly as tasty as the food we have experienced in the past with Princess. Nothing was ever bad, but nothing was ever outstanding either. Only one or two of our entrees stood out as being very good. There was always plenty to choose from and the meals were always hot. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd have to give the dining room entrees a rating of a 6. As always, if you don't like something, the waiters are happy to replace your meal with another choice. Bread, appetizers, deserts and the like were almost always better than the entrees themselves. Also, some of the little "special touches" Princess used to provide are now missing. Not a big deal, but two examples of this are that the waiters no longer put the dressing on your salad for you. Your salad comes with the dressing of choice already on it unless you request it to be on the side. Also, none of the deserts or meals get prepared tableside as they have been in the past. Some of the pastas and deserts used to be made before your eyes. Not any more. We just missed these special touches that enhanced the dining experience. The bottom line though is this...as passengers, we're not doing any cooking, cleaning or shopping for food so how can anyone really complain about the meals?? The Horizon Court Buffet food was at about the same level as we had experienced in the past. Taste ranged from OK to very good, depending on what you selected. We encountered a few instances of stale bread and cereal. Other Food items such as pizza, burgers and hot dogs by the pool were excellent. The ship offers two alternative restaurants...Sabatini's, which serves Italian food and the Bayou Cafe, which serves New Orleans-style dishes. These two venues have nominal cover charges. The Bayou Cafe's cover charge used to include a drink with your meal but it no longer does. Since we had experienced Sabitini's on our last trip, we opted not to try it again. Our meal in the Bayou cafe was excellent. The only issue here is that there is TOO MUCH wonderful food served! The Bayou's food was by far the best meal we had all week. The atmosphere in this restaurant is great and included jazz musicians and piano music to enjoy while you dine. We highly recommend this meal option. I should also point out that on no occasion did we ever see that either Sabatini's or the Bayou Cafe were fully booked. There were always empty tables (sometimes quite a few) when we glanced in at mealtime. Not sure why this was the case. Staff Without a doubt, the current staff on this ship is about as friendly as we have ever experienced on a ship. This applies to the bartenders, the room stewards and everyone on the cruise staff throughout the ship. The Cruise Director is Alistair Greener. By coincidence, Alistair has been the cruise director on all four of our Princess cruises. He is hysterical and goes out of his way to keep you happy and busy. Hopefully we'll have him as our CD for a 5th time at some point in the future! Shows/Entertainment We are personally not big fans of the Broadway style shows so we did not attend any of these and therefore cannot comment on them. The comedians ranged from merely OK, to very good, depending on your tastes. By far the most enjoyable show was the "Pub Night" show that was presented by the staff on the next to last night of the voyage. Lounge entertainment ranged from Excellent in the Bayou Cafe to good/fairly good in the other lounges. Itinerary The itinerary was made up of four sea days and the following ports of call detailed below. These are our opinions of the islands themselves, not of any shore excursions offered. For the most part the residents of these islands were very friendly. - Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Typical Caribbean Island...In our opinion, nothing too fancy here if you don't take a shore excursion. Good for souvenir shopping. - Panama Canal: An AWSOME experience. If you have the chance to see this engineering marvel, take the opportunity. It is absolutely amazing. The ship docks in Colon after the canal transit and when our tour bus drove through the downtown area after our excursion, the city didn't look very safe to us. The machine gun yielding police officers in the streets were a bit intimidating. - Limon, Costa Rica: In our opinion, this was a wasted stop. Good day to stay on the ship. - Grand Cayman: By far, one of the nicest Caribbean Islands. Very well maintained, very clean and very nice shopping. You do not get hounded here like you do in many of the other Caribbean ports of call. Fellow Passengers Being that this was a 10-night voyage, we fully expected a slightly older crowd on this sailing compared to our previous 7-night cruises. We were shocked at just how sharply the average passenger age jumped though. I'd say that approximately 10% of the passengers were under the age of 45. Perhaps another 20% of the passengers were in the 45 to 65 age bracket. The vast majority of the passengers on this voyage were into their 60's 70's and 80's. This is not a bad thing....we have fun with almost everyone, but we are just a bit more accustomed to having more people on a cruise in our age bracket. Hopefully when we are older, we will still be able to have just as much fun as these folks were on this trip. Overall Positives - A great staff that will go out of their way to make your vacation special - A beautiful ship - Well organized shore excursions - Never busy laundry rooms (which we utilized for the 10-day trip to minimize some packing space) Some Negatives (not complaints, but little annoyances....just because nothing can be perfect!) - Upper level seating in the Universe Lounge is awkward due to a glass barrier that surrounds the upper deck right at eye level. This makes seating in this area awkward and annoying because the glass interferes with your view of the stage below. It bothered us to the point that we made an effort not sit up there. - The Lotus Pool area has a retractable glass roof. When closed the area is nicely air-conditioned and enjoyable if you want to escape the heat of the lido pool area. But, every day shortly after lunch the roof was opened up and the area became just as warm as the lido pool. I would have been nice for the roof to have been kept closed so that at least one of the pool areas was kept cool. - A pad to keep our mattresses together was not available and the queen setup we requested magically separated into two twins during the night several times as we slept. This got a bit annoying. Overall this was a great trip on a great ship with excellent tablemates. Please feel free to e-mail us if you have any questions or want more detailed info. We love to share our cruise experiences. Our e-mail address is sascol@att.net Read Less
Sail Date October 2003
Island Princess Inaugural Cruise Review July 12-19, 2003 Let me preface this review with a little history of how we ended up on this cruise. We sailed on Disney Magic-April 2001 and RCL Voyager-April 2003. Right before we left on our ... Read More
Island Princess Inaugural Cruise Review July 12-19, 2003 Let me preface this review with a little history of how we ended up on this cruise. We sailed on Disney Magic-April 2001 and RCL Voyager-April 2003. Right before we left on our Voyager Cruise we found out that we could go on an Alaskan Cruise for FREE on The Builders Club Grand Destination Trip. The Builders Club is like a frequent flyer program for home builders and remodelers that rewards them with Club Points for doing business with an exclusive group of suppliers. My husband is a Homebuilder and we had accumulated enough points for the 4 of us. Myself, Husband, Daughter (age:18) and Son (age:16) to not only go on the cruise for free, but get two cabins. Needless to say, it didn't take much for us to decide that we were cruising once again! Day 1 We left Ohio a day early so we could spend sometime in Vancouver. We arrived in Vancouver at 10:30 am PST. I reserved 2 rooms through Priceline.com at the Westin Bayshore Hotel for $75.00 USD each. The rooms normally run around $250. We chose to take a limo from the airport to the hotel because we had so much luggage. I think the pre-set cost was $42 Canadian. Our driver was excellent. He gave us a mini tour and history of Vancouver and drove us through some of the old neighborhoods. It is a beautiful city. Our rooms weren't ready when we arrived so we checked our luggage and set out to explore. It's a great walking city. The architecture is amazing, lots of great shopping, ate lunch at a place called O'Douls (excellent), and then headed back to the hotel to get our rooms. The beds at the Westin were unbelievable. They call them "Heavenly Beds" and they're not kidding. We forced ourselves to get off the beds and headed back out. We rented bikes around the corner and headed to Stanley Park. We stopped at the Aquarium for about an hour and them road around the park for another hour. It's hard to believe your in the middle of a big city when your in the park. After the bike ride, we headed over to Canada Place for our first look at the Island Princess. My family is still teasing me over my excitement at seeing her. She was beautiful. Stylish, polished, sleek and classy! We checked out the boarding area and found out that Immigration opened at Noon and that Princess reps would probably be there at 11:30am. We walked back through the Harbor area to our hotel and hit the Heavenly Beds. Day 2 We headed for Canada Place about 10:45am. I think it's about a $5 USD cab ride. The cabs drive right into the parking garage and the Princess employees take your luggage right from there. We then proceeded into the waiting area (we were one of the first ones there) and met some of the other people from Builders Club. At around 11:30am they opened the gate and we took off for the check in. Check-in is divided up by deck name and deck name with express check-in. We went to the Dolphin Express Check-in booth and had to change our VISA card (my other one was lost about a month ago). We had a trainee at our booth but she did a good job, gave us our cards and got us finished up fast. We then moved onto to another area with chairs in a winding line up. At about 12:10pm Immigration opened up. We waited probably 5 minutes in line and off we went to board the ship. We actually sign up for pedicures on our way onto the ship. Then, they stopped us for the customary family boarding photo. We stepped off the gangway and we were directed to the Welcoming Area. This is where they take your photo for their security. (They check your picture everytime you swipe your card to return to the ship.) The embarkation went very smoothly. There were Princess personnel directing us all along the way. We went right to our rooms, D227 and D229, on Deck 9, forward and starboard side. We had two rooms next to each other and the other 24 people from our Ohio Builder's Club group were also on our deck. There were also 240 Builder's Club members from Minnesota on our cruise. There are name tags on the cabin "mailbox" next to the door. The rooms are nice. You enter into a hall. One side is a full length mirror and the other side is a large closet area with a storage cabinet and safe and the bathroom is off of that area. The bathroom is typical cruise size. You can shave your legs while sitting on the toilet seat and brush your teeth at the same time. The shower controls are tricky. You need to push on the side piece to make it go past the trickle stage and same thing for the hot water. I wish I could explain it better. Once you master the knobs, it's a very powerful shower. I thought I was going through the wall the first time I turned it to full power. The sleeping area is adequate. The bed is by the wall with a small aisle for walking, there is a desk area, two nightstands, a refrig. cabinet, two chairs and a small table. I always overpack and there was plenty of storage and hangers for everything to be unpacked. The luggage fit under the bed. The balcony has two chairs and a table. We had the steward remove the panel between our balconies and it made it feel even bigger. If we weren't in our room sleeping, we spent most of the time on our balcony. Our steward was Victor and he did an excellent job. He had a great personality. Our whole group really liked him. After checking out the room we headed out to explore the ship. We found it pretty easy to find our way around. They have maps and signs posted in every hall where you get off the elevators/stairs. We found all of the lounges, the kids area, the pools, basketball, shuffle board, the golf simulator and putt-putt (we even played a quick game of putt-putt), the restaurants (we checked out our table in the Provence dining room), the spa and exercise areas, the library, internet and card rooms, bought 2 drink cards for my husband and son and then hit the Horizon Court buffet. Needless to say, everything looks new! I'm not sure how to describe the dEcor. It mirrored the outside of the ship, classy, stylish and comfortable. We went back to our rooms and our luggage had arrived so we unpacked and got ready for the Muster Drill. After that we went for our pedicures and had a great view of the sail away. We went around in circles for about an hour and they performed some calibration tests on the ship and then we headed out to sea. Builder's Club hosted a cocktail party for us before our second seating dinner. We were given name tags to wear the whole cruise so that we could recognize others in our large group. It made for a fun time because it opened up a lot of conversations with other people on board. Dinner was scheduled for 8:00pm but we usually didn't get in until 8:15pm. Some people got impatient waiting to get in, but it didn't bother us. Food The dinners were all excellent, with a wide variety of dishes to choose from on the menu. If you didn't like what they were offering on the specials, you could always get chicken, strip steak, ceasar salad, fettucini alfredo, etc. Our waiter was Sylvia from Hungary and our Asst. Waiter was Josepi from Italy. Sylvia was very professional and personable. We think she was training Josepi because he didn't make a move unless she told him too. He was shy and quiet but did a good job. Sylvia never steered us wrong with her suggestions and did a great job of keeping the teenagers happy with their selections. I thought that this was the best food I've had on a cruise, my kids didn't agree. This food was a little too fancy for them but they tried some dishes they normally wouldn't have because Sylvia assured them she would bring them something else if they didn't like it. Although my son was thrilled because they had crab legs on Wed. and lobster on Thursday. The appetizers and soups (especially the cold soups) were so good, the salads and dressing selections were great and the entrees were excellent. Desserts were unbelievable. I had soufflE 3 nights, crème brulee one night and assorted other goodies. I had 2 desserts on the nights I couldn't decide. It's okay, because I rarely used the elevator. (At least that what I tell myself as I'm eating the 2nd dessert). We didn't try any of the other restaurants because we like to eat dinner with our kids every night. Plus we had all of our Ohio group sitting in the same area, which made for a lot of fun. We ate breakfast in the Horizon Court everyday. They could use a little improvement here. They need a bigger selection. They did not offer any specialties, like omelets made to order or waffles. Other ships we've been on have had these items on their buffet. They might offer them in the dining room. They did have excellent french toast. My husband's only complaint on the whole cruise was that it was extremely hard to get juice. There was no place for us to get it ourselves and they had one cart going around the entire dining room serving juice. There were many stewards clearing tables but they couldn't get your juice. Oh well. The pool areas offered pizza and burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and french fries. The fries were really good. Sometimes we'd just stop and grab a plate of them. Some people in our group liked the pizza and some didn't. There is an extra charge for the ice cream, even the soft serve. We did have ice cream bars one time, but that was it. There was a seafood buffet (A Taste of Alaska) the day we went through Glacier Bay. It was up by the pool. I don't eat seafood but everyone else thought it was unbelievable. Entertainment There were a ton of things to do at night. Besides the casino, there were the variety shows, the comedians, the lounge acts, karaoke, dancing, the not so newlywed, name that tune, etc. We had a hard time deciding what to attend. The Variety Shows The regular entertainers need a little more practice. They lip sync because they are dancing and it was very obvious. The shows did not "Wow" us. They were just okay. It hard to beat Disney when it comes to production numbers. The Comedians We saw Steven Scott, Jim MacDonald (very original and funny) and Sarge. They were all very good. The best show on board was Alexander. He's billed as America's Funniest Hypnotist. What a great show. We were in tears from laughing so hard. My son took part the first night. My husband and I tried the next night. It didn't effect my husband at all, I went out for a little bit but I woke up from the trance and couldn't go back to sleep. I'm glad I got to go back to the audience because it was hilarious. Definitely go to this show. My daughter and I spent a lot of time in the Crooner's Lounge listening to Eric Stone. We really enjoyed his Frank Sinatra and Broadway Show tunes. He also does a Name that Tune game that was a lot of fun. The Karaoke in the Explorer lounge was also fun. We had a few karaoke performers in our group, including my daughter so we hung out there quite a bit. We also took part in most of the Team Trivia games that went on everyday. We had a competition going with another group. We rec'd key chains, back packs and travel mugs for our winnings. It's a nice way to get to know other people. We also spent time in the card room, which got quite crowded. We won a shuffleboard tournament. We played putt-putt and played 9-holes on the golf simulator. The casino was a big hit for some of our group. We had a few winners and a few losers. I played the slots twice but lost my $20. My husband and his cohorts were into playing a game called 3-card. My husband won big one night and came out $100 ahead for the entire cruise. Another friend hit $1000 on the slots. My son went to "Off-Limits" the teen club. They seem to have quite a few activities going on every night. He enjoyed it, and he says it was better than RCL's program. My daughter hung out with us most of the time. There were only 22 other 18-20 year olds on board and they must have all been with their parents because we never noticed any groups going by. She was allowed in the lounges and dances with us (just no drinking) so it wasn't a problem. We also spent some time in the Pottery Studio being creative. We had a really good time together. It was nice because she's leaving for college in one month and I enjoyed spending some time with her. Ports I booked all of our excursions independently. I like the smaller groups and personalized service you receive. I rely heavily on Cruise Critic's message boards for help in choosing which excursions and operators to use. Since the cruise was free, I probably spent more than I normally would on excursions. I booked most of our excursions for afternoon so we wouldn't have to rush in the mornings. We like to stay out late and enjoy the entertainment. Ketchikan We chose to go fishing with Captain Ken. I booked at the end of April. There were 6 of us on board with him. We met him right off the gangway at 7:15am and his boat is a very short walk to a very steep gangway down to the dock. It was low tide so the floating dock was very far down. We really enjoyed this trip and our fishing experience. He's extremely knowledgeable about the area and about fishing. We caught and released about 30 salmon: King, Coho, Pink and the other kind that's not Sockeye. We were out until 1:15pm. We did a quick walk through town and bought my husband a pair of Levis (he forgot to pack his jeans, he lives in jeans and he forgot them, it was pretty funny!) Back onboard by 2:00pm for sail away at 2:30pm. Juneau We spent the morning exploring the town. DO NOT take the trolley tour. It is a rip off. They told us they had a historian on board so we thought why not? Wrong. For $12.50 apiece, besides the all day use pass, I expected to learn something that I hadn't read in the Princess Patter. The tour lasted maybe 15 minutes. We walked back to the ship to drop off our bags. When we went to use the trolley again, we sat for 10-15 minutes while the driver talked to friend. We finally got off and walked back into town. It was frustrating. I did find a local artist that makes jewelry from fossilized walrus ivory and embeds Alaskan Jade in it. I bought a pendant and some earrings. A lot of the stores have the same merchandise, so I like to find the local artists whenever we travel. We also visited the Harley store here so everyone could get their T-shirts. My husband and son went on a fly-in fly fishing trip with Butch from Alaska Fly'n Fish Charters. They said it was amazing. My son wanted to just keep flying and forget the fishing. But they did catch 150 trout and salmon. They said the minute your line hit the water you had a fish. They saw two brown bear from the air, and lots of eagles. They said it was one of their top ten adventures. My daughter and I went helicopter/glacier trekking with North Star. This is the most professional tour company that I have ever dealt with, from the moment they pick you up until they drop you off. The staff is very well trained, friendly and knowledgeable. We were picked up outside the Red Dog Saloon. Which by the way has a great bar-b-que beef sandwich! They were kind enough to drop my husband and son off at the airport on the way to their offices. We got there and signed in and got dressed (they supply everything) and had a lesson in helicopter safety. Then off we went into the wild blue yonder. The blue I'm referring to is in the glaciers. I'm not sure if breathtaking is a good enough adjective for the sights we saw, but it will have to do. After a brief tour of the area we landed on the glacier. We were met by our guide, Jimmy, who then prepared us for our trek. It felt like we were on another world. We got lucky because we were the only two on the tour. Jimmy took us for a quick lesson in going up, down and sideways on the ice. We were wearing crampons, they are spikes that fit around your boots. We felt pretty confident we started to hike. We went up, down, through an ice cave, we repelled down a wall, and we drank glacier water. We explored all over the glacier. We did get to do a lot more because it was just the two of us. We got back to base and waited for the helicopter to take us back for another exciting ride. I really don't have any words to describe this experience. If you have a chance to do this excursion, it's a must! Skagway- We really liked Skagway. It's a neat town. This is where we found the Alaska t-shirts and sweatshirts that we liked. The store is called "T-shirts to Go" and they had a nice variety. We decided to go on another helicopter tour of the glaciers here so that my husband and son could get a good look at the glaciers. We chose to go with Temsco and the Pilot's choice excursion. We landed on two glacier areas and got out and walked around about 15-20 minutes at each stop. We also flew for about 1 hour touring the glaciers from the area. Our pilot was excellent. He taught us so much about the area, the glaciers, the mountains...we were hoping for a trivia game on the cruise about glaciers because we know we would have won! Once again, a great excursion with a great guide. Glacier Bay and College Fiord These are not just lazy days on board. The sightseeing is fascinating. This is why you want balcony and why you need to pack binoculars. We saw whales, porpoises, seals, baby harbor seals, and otters. So bundle up(cuz it gets chilly)and be ready to be amazed! There are blankets available by the outside deck chairs. This was some of the most unbelievable scenery I have ever seen. Glacier Bay was a little foggy in the morning but it lifted and our day in College Fiord was sunny and cool. Order a hot chocolate (remember it's European style so you'll want to add cream and sugar to it) and sit on your balcony and enjoy. Or head to the outside decks ( I think it was deck 7 forward that was kind of protected and had heat blowing out ) and be ready to run from one side to the other when you hear that someone spotted a whale. This is nature at its best! Disembarkation We were given our Red 5 tags and put our bags out before heading down to dinner at 8pm. According to the Patter, Red 5 meant we would be called around 7:45am for our bus to Anchorage. We went to breakfast at 7am and then headed down to the Explorer lounge to wait. They called Red 5 at about 7:50am. Make sure you wait in a public area. There are no announcements in the room. One of the single males in our group stayed in his room waiting to be called and ended up missing our bus. He did catch up with us later. We walked off the ship and onto the bus. The drive to Anchorage is like another tour. We had an informative bus driver who even stopped for a quick break and wildflower hike. We got to Anchorage by 11:00am. We were taken right to the Egan Center and our luggage went directly to the airport (our flight was at 7:25pm). We stored our carry-ons at the Egan Center and went in search of lunch. We ended up at a local bar/restaurant called "Humpy's". They had great burgers and great service. Then we walked around for awhile. Some of us decided to kill time by going to the movies. We went to see Pirates of the Caribbean. The fact that none of us fell asleep should attest to the excitement and entertainment of the movie. The others in our group went to a local farm market that had crafters, too. They said it was really nice. We got back to Egan Center and took the 4:30pm bus to the airport. We got to the airport and someone from Princess got on board and told us where to find our luggage. We found our luggage and then waited forever to check in at Northwest. This was a very disorganized ticket counter. Also, watch your baggage weight. Their limit is 50 lbs. and they did charge some of us $25 per bag for being overweight. Now one person in our group had a 65lb and a 70 lb bag and they were not charged by their ticket agent. My bag was 62 lbs and I was charged. In my defense, we flew out Air Canada and their limit was 70 lbs per bag. I forgot to check on Northwest before we left. Overall The Island Princess is beautiful. It was easy to get around the ship. The staircase down to dinner is perfect for pictures. There are windows everywhere so you always have a great view of the sights. She was very smooth riding. I only needed to take Bonine on our last night out. In fact, I was passing out Bonine to everyone. I heard many people remarking about the friendliness, politeness and professionalism of the entire Crew and Staff. They were outstanding! We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were on an Inaugural Cruise because everything ran so smoothly. Well, I think that just about covers it. This is my first ever review so let me know if I missed anything. I'm still working on how to get copies of the patter scanned and downloaded. I'll be glad to answer any questions for you. bbyost@alltel.netAugust 2003 Read Less
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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