Fantastric trip. The Panama Canal is amazing: Island Princess Cruise Review by Insanityx4

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Fantastric trip. The Panama Canal is amazing

Sail Date: March 2013
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We took the 14 day Panama Canal transit from Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles.
Embarkation went smoothly, however our luggage was the last to be loaded onto the ship and did not arrive in our cabin until after the ship sailed at 5:00pm.
We brought a case of wine and it was delivered with our luggage, no problem.
I understand this will change soon however with a $15 corkage fee charged for all bottles after the first one per person allowed. We did pay corkage for most of the bottles as they were consumed in the Dining Room.
We had "anytime dining" which was a joke as we tried making reservations every morning at 8:00 am and could only get 6:00pm or 7:45pm. There were usually long lines for those without reservations.
The food was good but spotty. Some meals were fantastic, others were not so great. The service was always excellent. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in the Horizon Court and the MDR for dinner.
We did the "Chef's Table" one night and it was well More worth the $95 PP charge. The food was excellent, the wait staff were amazing (I think at our table of 10 we each had our own waiter). The wine was good and they poured freely. We started with champagne and hors d'ovres in the kitchen and moved into the dining room with a lovely flower arrangement and special place settings. The chef was with us most of the evening and our flaming entree consisted of lobster, scallops, lamb rib chop, and beef tenderloin. Everyone in the dining was watching the extravaganza. We all received an autographed cookbook and a group photo.
The highlight of the trip was Bill Fall, the port lecturer and a historian on the Canal. He grew up in Panama and had many pictures and stories of the area. He was very knowledgeable on all of the ports we visited. By the end of the trip there was standing room only for his lectures in the Princess Theater.
The entertainment was good, not great, but still entertaining.
We had a mini suite which was surprisingly spacious and had a shower and tub. The closet was very large. We brought 25 hangers with us and were glad we did. The had a lot of hangers but we brought a lot of clothes.
We did not do an excursion in Aruba, just walked around and picked up a few things and some beer. We were only there for a few hours.
We did Dora's private tour in Cartagena and it was excellent. She really knows and loves her city. She picked the 11 of us promptly in a nice air-conditioned Merceded mini-van.
I took the Eco-jungle cruise in Costa Rica which was a real disappointment, We didn't see much wildlife and would not consider the area tropical. My husband did the zip line and said it certainly wasn't what it was played up to be. Again, no rainforest.
I took the Granada city tour in Nicaragua which was OK but not great. The highlight of the tour was the oxcart pilgrimage to Rivas which only happens once a year before Easter. We stopped the bus to take pictures. There were hundreds of them.
My husband took the 4 wheel drive trip to the volcanoes and enjoyed it.
Both the tour guides in Costa Rica and Nicaragua were excellent and spoke excellent English.
Cabo San Lucas was a short stay so we just wondered around the city and had lunch. We had been there several times before but it has really changed in the last few years.
The Panama Canal transit was amazing. I took about 9 hours and we got tons of pictures of the area, the locks, the mules, etc.
Debarkation was organized and we had plenty of time to make our flight.
All in all we had a wonderful trip and loved the Island Princess. Less

Published 04/05/13

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