Great cruise to see the Panama Canal!: Island Princess Cruise Review by chatty_cathy

Island Princess 5
Member Since 2010
93 Forum Posts

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Great cruise to see the Panama Canal!

Sail Date: October 2012
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We arrived by plane the day before our cruise. We stayed at the Hilton near the airport. It was nice, but wasn't anything close to walk to such as restaurants.

This was our first time as a Platinum status on Princess, so when we arrived at the port we had priority embarktation. We were on the ship quickly and in our mini-suite on the Caribe deck before noon.

The room was located towards the front of the ship and was very nice and spacious. Loads of storage space for our 10 day cruise.

Since we were on the ship so fast, we were one of the first ones up to the Horizen Court for lunch buffet. We spent some time after lunch looking the ship over. It is an easy ship to find your way around. Although the cabin hallways zigzag quite a bit. Our luggage arrived at our rooms by 3, so we had plenty of time to put our things away and change before supper.

We did anytime dining and got there around 5:30 and was seated next to the window for a table for 2. Francis More and John were are servers and we loved them and our table right off! After we ate, we asked the Mat-re-d if we could have that table every night and he was very obliging. It was perfect, the food was great and our servers were friendly and knew each night what we liked, such as iced tea and my husband likes ground pepper on everything. We didn't have to ask, they always had it ready for us!!

Loved that we didn't have to smell cigarette smoke everywhere. They have a designated room for smokers and some areas outside for them.

The theater is smaller than most, so the first night we stood at the back and watched the last part of the welcome show. Most nights, they have 2 or 3 different times for the shows there. The Universal Lounge at the other end of the ship was really nice and they had something going on there several times a night also. The very best show to me was On the Bayou in the Universal!! We had seen the singer and dancer shows on other Princess ships, so we only went to one of them. I do like that they had different types of comedians, 3 in fact, and each did 2 different shows during the cruise. Princess has guest lectures on all their cruises and this was really great on this cruise. William Fall did lectures on each of our ports of call. He had been born at Panama and really gave you a good picture of how life was for him there. Also, when we were going through the Canal, he was up with the Captain telling us facts about what was going on and pointing out interesting things, like salt water crocodiles!!!

Due to Hurricane Sandy they reversed our itinerary and we went to Grand Cayman first, but it was too windy so we didn't get to get off the ship. Also, there was violence in Colon, so no one got to get off in the Canal. I appreciate the fact that we were kept safe and didn't mind missing these things.

We went several mornings to the Fitness Center. It is small, but only the first day was busy. I wished that they had more things on their TVs to watch while we were exercising. There is also a great walking area around the outside of the Promenade deck on deck 7.

We love the sun and so on sea days, were up by the pool on the Lido deck. We never had any trouble finding seats out there. The band didn't play much on sea days by the pool and I missed having the music.

They had different buffets set up around the Lido deck on sea days and that was a nice variety. One day, they did make your own pizza and my husband loved that!! We also went to the English Pub Lunch on sea days and had the Fish and Chips and Trifle dessert...very nice!

The staff were all very friendly on the ship. Another thing that I really appreciated was that JJ, the cruise director, only made announcements a couple of times a day instead of bugging you constantly, that was very nice!! The cruise director staff were very friendly and everywhere!!

We had Halloween on the ship and the ship was decorated that day including a ton of carved pumpkins in the atrium. They had a big Halloween party and competitions for the folks who dressed up. It was a lot of fun!!

Debarkation was great!! We went to the Platinum lounge with our luggage for self check-out and at 7:20 we were leaving the ship, through security very fast, and arrived at the airport at 8:10!!

I would love to go on this ship again. It is a mid-size ship, but we really enjoyed it a lot!! Less

Published 11/08/12

Cabin review: MEC212 Mini-Suite with Balcony

We had a mini-suite on the Cari-be Deck, room 212. It was located towards the front of the ship. Loved the location! There was hardly ever anyone down our hallway and it was so quiet. There was tons of storage for a 10 day cruise in the room. It had a tub which I enjoyed!! It has 2 flat screen TVs in it. There were outlets at the desk and extra ones that were accessible behind the TVs. The balcony was a rally good size and we really enjoyed setting out there and seeing the views.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Catamaran Tour

The staff on the catamaran were very friendly. It was about a 45 minute ride to the snorkel site and back. They gave us they typical rum punch on the way back. The catamaran ride was the best part of this excursion.


We were a little disappointed in the snorkeling. We had 25 minutes at 2 different sites. The first a reef and the second a sunken ship. We felt we could have had more snorkeling time if we had just gone to the beach and seen just as many fish.

City Tour

We also booked this tour online for $85pp. Marelvy Pena-Hall, our tour guide, was there right as we exited the ship to take 4 of us in a van around the city. We went first to El Poppa for a tour of the old convent with awesome views of the city. We also went to a fort and then for some shopping. We left our van and walked through the old city seeing several old churches and lots of architectural buildings. You really got a feel for what it was like to live there. Then, we headed to the new city and drove through it's streets. Marelvy was extremely knowledgeable and passionate to share with you about her city. Nice tour!

City Tour

We booked this tour ourselves online before we cruised. It was $55 pp and Jonathon, our tour guide picked us up right in front of the pier and took us in a van to a roadside fruit market where you could try a variety of local fruits. Then, to a banana plantation where we saw the process of the planting all the way to boxing the bananas for export. Afterwards, we took a boat through the canal and saw many different birds, howler monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and lizards. From there a nice local lunch at a restaurant on the beach, then a short tour of the city and back to the boat.

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