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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!

Island Princess - Pacific Coastal

Island Princess Cruise Review by Paula Arends

Trip Details
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!
Paula Arends’s Full Rating Summary
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