Fortunate to Get to Enjoy This Wonderful Cruise: Island Princess Cruise Review by writedesign

Island Princess 5
Member Since 2009
57 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Fortunate to Get to Enjoy This Wonderful Cruise

Sail Date: October 2012
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: San Francisco
Super cruise. Ship clean, lots of activities, and rarely appears crowded. Was expecting an older crowd but found it largely 'my age.' That's scary. No smoking policy works great for me.
Food: As always, wait staff attentive tho overworked. The food was excellent. Appetizers varied from chicken wings to escargot. Dinner varied from comfort food to frog legs. Hand sanitizer use required in buffet. Buffet service good, seating often crowded and requires doubling up. It was easy to make reservations for anytime dining, and I didn't ever see too long a line for those w/o reservations.
Entertainment: We attend all the shows we can. The production numbers were reruns and not a good as larger ships, but excellent. The comedians were exceptional. 'Arni G' was the evening lounge player and he was so terrific, wish I could spend more time. Our favorite is the Crew Show. This was scheduled badly, 10pm the last night, in the Universe Lounge. It is true that there are More many seats in this lounge (esp balcony) that you can't see the stage.
The naturalist, William Fall, was often a sell-out crowd. No nonsense, no book to sell ... just knowledgeable.
Rooms: Ample room, lots storage. Shower is tight. If you drop the soap, shower is over. Beds are hard. Compare them to lying on a sleeping bag on a carpeted floor. Our balcony was particularly large-- loved it. We were traveling with another couple and kept the door between balconies propped open and made for quality time w smuggled liquor. Princess is liberal on bringing liquor aboard and I appreciate. Husband brought his favorite beer and I brought a bottle booze. Note: I'm a fan of the Emerald Deck. Usually lowest priced, quick access to public areas. But I've suspected the best tables are saved for the best rooms (not Emerald) and here's an example: We showed up at our reserved time. The Maitre D apologized for a need to wait, hurried away and scanned the starboard side, came back, apologized again, scanned the port side, apologized, said follow me, and personally escorted us to a table. Except table wasn't set up yet. The waiter had to rush to get it ready. He pointed to a perfectly set up table next to the window. The Maitre D said 'No, I haven't decided what to do with that table yet.' Within 5 minutes, he had decided and was seating another party, with a better room number I'm sure.
Merchandising: I'm retired marketing so can't help this. The drink of the day runs $7.95, which made me think they were all pricey. In reality, beer is $4.50; a long island ice tea was $5.50+ tip. Not bad. Formal photos are $24.99 ea. They should have buy 4 get 1 free. Candid pics are $19.99 ea. A day is coming when you enter your key to see pics rather than printing all those pics. Such good photography!! I've never had a problem with Princess upselling. A No to wine or water or spa is simple enough-- they've almost cut back too much, esp w hard to research shore excursions. I-net painfully slow-- Just logging onto email took about 5 minutes. Oh, library needs books on countries we are visiting, esp birds & wildlife.
Ports: Cabo -- too hot, humid, town wasn't open for season yet, merchants aggressive. Puntarenas - My favorite, took the exceptional Sky Walk-Pura Vida Garden tour. Great guide, good food, saw lots of critters. Fuerte Amador: Went to Gamboa Rainforest Tram and found is lacking compared to Costa Rica. Did have great view of canal, even Embera Village, and nice fill visit to orchid, butterfly, aquarium. Port terminal had small mall great for picking up souvenirs. Canal was very interesting. Secret back deck was never crowded. I heard the upper decks were but when I went there later, not bad. Cartagena: Terminal has pricey store w no USD prices, but a great mini-zoo of iguanas, flamingo, toucan, macaws, monkeys, many wild roaming. We (2 couples) negotiated a taxi to Old Town, hotbed of history & culture. They like round trips and this proved an adventure. We had good driver 'Freddy' who took us there, gave us a private tour, drove us back. Merchants are aggressive, there was poverty and beggers and attractive ladies (let's leave it at that). Freddy wanted $15, but we paid $20 each way. Aruba - Clean, walkable, no outward poverty. Iguanas running all over. Ft. Lauderdale: If you have down time before airport, or you're staying at local hotel, I recommend a trip to Sawgrass for an airboat ride. They pick you up, store luggage, come back to take you to destination. We privately arranged thru KSA and it solved a lot of problems plus lots of fun. Less

Published 10/23/12

Cabin review: BEE701 Balcony

Our cabin was great, close to elevator. Could feel the hum of ship engine, tho not distracting. Could not hear the lounge below. The balcony was especially roomy (4 chairs + table), shaded, private, adjoined friend's balcony.

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Port and Shore Excursions

My friends liked this town best.
Read 1289 Aruba Reviews

Sweaty, full sun, no particular shade or place to sit. Small facilities-- cafes, small shops, street vendors from a booth to a spot in dirt with goods hanging on cyclone fence. Half were not open, lots of remodeling and construction. Lots of Policia, heavily armed. We were told Cabo was perfectly safe, as long as you stay in 'safe zone,' about 4 blocks of pier area. One member wore a Hawaiian shirt featuring marlins and vendors assumed he wanted to go marlin fishing and were especially aggressive. Don't stop at 'No, gracious.' Husband was getting a cold and we stopped in Pharmacia for cough pills. A dollar store looking place wanted $10 USD for a ceramic trinket. Junk. Town was rather empty and it was so miserably hot we came back early.

This town was a real adventure. Crazy drivers. The reason there's no lanes is because no one would pay them any attention. We got a great cab driver who showed us Old Town. At one point a van/bus behind him didn't think he was going fast enough in a traffic jam, so the bus driver got out and came up and pounded on his window, cursing in Espanol.

Rainforest Tour

Guide Minor greeted us. Van was new, clean, Toyota diesel. Seated about 18; 2 seats on driver's side, aisle, 1 seat on passenger side. About 1 1/2 hr drive to Rain Forest. Good 2 lane roadways. Drive wasn't always best parts of town. Homeless looking people, skinny mangy cur dogs in poor shape. Odd contrast of abandoned block buildings/homes, construction. Hike was downhill, across multiple suspension bridges. Really nice. Wasn't afraid of heights in least. Hiking was moderate, some steep or slippery, loose rolling rocks, or easy stone steps. Minor was great guide, explained all the fauna. Flowers and critters look lovely, but so many bugs and poisonous things that it made you keep hands to yourself. Bus was waiting at bottom of hike. Drove us to Pura Vida Gardens for buffet lunch. Private reserve run by US couple. Have terrace w picnic tables and chairs. Several groups converge for the lunch. Buffet set up in trays includes pasta salad, plantain, steamed local veggies, rice, boneless chicken in sauce, fish (tilapia?) in sauce. Beverages of local coffee, mango juice, raspberry/papaya juice, or water. I dished up very conservative. Food was so good wish I'd dished more. Wandered grounds for photos, including pet toucan in tree, till guide gathered us for a walk, 1st downhill around a creek, then uphill to lookout of waterfall. Drove back to 1st bathroom stop but walked beyond the entrance, thru cantina to garden terrace area with small river, foot bridge, to courtyard surrounded by buildings including working church, another cantina serving ice tea and fresh fruit. Lots of leaf cutter ants carrying not only green pieces, but colorful pink flower petals. At the bridge, a large Jesus Christ lizard was on a rock. Driver Eric climbed down on rocks to shoo him into river. Guess he didn't want to walk on water; he ran over rocks into crevice w lightening speed. On the drive home, driver pulled over for some howler monkeys in the trees along hiway. Guide got out and whooped to them and they whooped back. That was frightening. Best tour ever!

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Member Since 2009
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