The Panama Canal is a Cruise of a Lifetime: Island Princess Cruise Review by katefur

Island Princess 5
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The Panama Canal is a Cruise of a Lifetime

Sail Date: February 2013
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
My Husband and I have just come from a Panama Canal Cruise on the Island Princess. What a treat! For a very long time, seeing the Panama Canal has been a dream of mine. However, a 10 day cruise was out of the question until this year. Although we did not travel completely through the Canal, it was enough to get the experience. What also enhanced the experience were the TV shows and presentations on the history of the Panama Canal. those are a must if you want to get the most out of this cruise.

I really enjoyed the set up of this cruise. There were two days at sea, several ports, the Canal, another port, sea day, port and a final day at sea. On other cruises, the port days have been back to back without much time to enjoy the ship. The days at sea were just enough and at the right time to relax and enjoy cruising. The choice of ports were also good. Besides the Canal, I especially enjoyed Aruba, Cartagena and Costa Rica. The locals selling wares in Jamaica were a little More overpowering.

The Island Princess is a mid-sized ship and, since our previous cruise had been on one of Norweigan's larger ships, it took a little while to adjust. However, I can't say enough about the mini suite with a balcony! The cabin was spacious with a full size bathroom including a bathtub, two TVs, plenty of storage room and a great balcony.

Some of our favorites about the Island Princess were the breakfast room service, the Lotus Spa and the Movies Under the Stars. It was a true pleasure to have breakfast on the balcony. On the first cruise day we paid to use the Lotus Spa tranquility room for the entire trip. The steam, sauna and eucalyptus rooms were great but the heated tiled loungers were wonderful, especially after a day of sightseeing. At night, Princess turned the chairs in the pool area into movie loungers and showed first rate movies on a very large screen. I loved snuggling up in a warm throw (provided by Princess) sipping a beverage, eating popcorn and watching a good movie with waves splashing in the pool and the cool ocean breeze blowing across my face.

The buffet choices and foods were very good. However, I wasn't as impressed with the formal dining arrangements. We had signed up for "anytime dining" because I didn't want to eat early or late. I probably wouldn't do that again on Princess. Because the wait for the dining room was lengthy, we ate most evening meals at the buffet instead of the fine dining room. We did eat in the speciality restaurant, Sabatini's, which was excellent except for the $25 per person cover charge. That combined with a bottle of wine made the cost over $100.

All in all, we had a wonderful time with a lot of memories. Less

Published 02/28/13

Cabin review: MBD616 Mini-Suite with Balcony

Great balcony but not as quiet as I had anticipated. Would have preferred a cabin on a higher floor with not as many cabins above and beside. Spacious bathroom with an over sized bathtub. Plenty of counter space and shelves for cosmetics. I like the under sink shelf. Ample hangers in the full size closet. I appreciated the fact that they could be removed and not secured on the hanging bar. The bed was very comfortable. Although I knew that it was two beds put together, there wasn't any separation or middle insert that you could feel to draw your attention.

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Port and Shore Excursions

I walked around the streets of Aruba nearest the port. The people were friendly but not pushy.
Read 1288 Aruba Reviews

This was our favorite port. The shops closest to the port were really nice with quality jewelry and other merchandise at reasonable prices. At the suggestion of one of the sales people, we contracted with a local guide to take us around the Old City. He was great! We went to the monastary with its panaramic views of the city, into the Old City and other places. I feel like we got a local view of the history of the city tailored just for the two of us.

City Tour

Cartagena was our favorite port. The was a shopping area close to the port which had quality merchandise at reasonable prices. If we hadn't wanted to see the city, we could have bought fine jewelry and souvenirs there. At the suggestion of a sales clerk, we contracted with a local guide to see the city. He was excellent, giving us a history and insight into the city that only a native can do. We saw the La Popa Monastery with its panoramic views of the city, Old City with its unique architecture, the city park with fountains and statues and museums. Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed Cartagena and would like to return.

Dunn's River Falls

Dunn's River Falls is a beautiful place. We did not hike the falls but went to the beach instead. There are about 75-100 steps to get down to the base of the falls and the beach. Although we left bags, etc. in lockers I didn't feel 100% safe leaving our camera, and clothing on a table while we swam. To exit the falls area, you are required to go through a market of locals selling things. This was very unpleasant because the sellers were in your face, putting beads around your neck, saying they are free and then asking for money. Prices were exorbitantly high and the value of items poor. If there was a way not to go through this area, I would certainly recommend doing so.

Shark Encounter

The shark encounter was at Dolphin Cove. Four locals in a pirate theme handling nuyrse sharks for about 15 minutes. Other than that it was pretty commercial.

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