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This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a relative. The cruise was 16d/15n from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal, with stops in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Aruba. The ship was built in 2002 and refitted last year, with extra cabins added at the rear of Deck 7 Promenade. It is one of two built to Panamax size to suit the Canal, although larger ships can be taken when new locks and channels are commissioned later in 2016. Standard of fit out and furnishing was excellent, with much polished and varnished wood, chrome and marble. Maintenance continued throughout the voyage, and at each stop crew were on shore painting out rust and tug marks on the hull. Previous posters complained about the addition of cabins in the 2015 refit, cutting off the stern part of the Promenade Deck. This wasn't a problem for us when walking , as you could either turn around and walk a long U shape, or cross a landing to do full circuits. There were also comments about crowding in public areas, but we only found a problem in the breakfast buffet in Horizon Court at peak time. The answer was to order hot drinks, cereals and fruit from room service, then to have a cooked breakfast when the crowds had subsided. A daily news letter listed activities, talks and shows, with extra information sheets on destinations. There were also regular deliveries and reminders about "enrichment" (shopping) opportunities. It was irritating how Princess constantly tried to squeeze more money out of the passengers, through on-board shopping, wine tastings, photos and DVDs, the casino, and exorbitant behind the scenes tours at $150 each. Although we only saw a few shows they were varied and good quality. The food was varied and of good quality. Our dining option was the late sitting of fixed time, which gave time to relax and have a drink before dinner, especially after shore excursions. Although we three had asked to join a table of eight we were on our own for the first two nights. The Maitre D' then placed two other couples on the table with us after they changed their options. We like to think that he was proactive to ensure compatibility. The dress codes, including formal nights, were generally adhered to and enforced. Most passengers were American, with some Brits, Germans and Canadians, and generally older than us. Although there's a teenagers' area we only saw one young person and one toddler. Previous reviewers said that some staff were rude. Without exception, all staff were friendly, attentive and efficient. The only rude people we met were some passengers, who talked to staff as though they were inferior beings. Some vocabularies don't include "please" and "thank you". Doors to decks had stiff closers for obvious reasons, and when holding them open for passengers some didn't thank or even acknowledge me. It was irritating on shore excursions when passengers had loud conversations when guides were talking. A "sailaway" party was planned for departure, but was cancelled as we sailed away four hours late following a faulty software update on the ship's control systems. There were four sea days before the first stop at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, which gave us time to familiarise ourselves with the ship and to get over jet lag. A shore trip took us to to a coffee plantation and Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Both were worth seeing. At the next stop in Puntarenas we visited a rain forest where a modified ski lift takes passengers above the canopy. Tours started late as another cruise ship was moored at the same pier, and space was limited for coaches to reverse to the ships. The walk around Panama was interesting, when we anchored off Fuerte Amadore and were tendered ashore. At Cartagena and Aruba we decided to do our own thing. The cruise dock at the former is in a commercial port, but there's a shopping centre a short walk along the dock. Check out the emeralds, and haggling can reduce the marked price. Aruba's pier is next to the city, and there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to visit. The short time in port meant that some trips would have been rushed. Due to a late return flight to the UK we booked a disembarkation tour at Fort Lauderdale, cruising the Intercoastal Waterway before transferring to Miami airport. The coach driver and guide were confused about where to drop passengers for Virgin Atlantic, and dropped us at the furthest point. We then had a long trek through the airport with our luggage. It is worth paying to use an airport lounge, with drinks and snacks, as the catering provision in the airport is awful. Our cabin was one of only 8 mini-suites on the ship, with the same area as balcony cabins. There was some shuddering when sailing into heavier seas, and there was noise when docking due to being directly above the bow thrusters. In their wisdom Princess have put all laundromats at the stern, so the round trip from a bow cabin like ours to wash or iron was 500 metres. Given the number of sea days we paid for the all inclusive drinks package, which was value for money. If you tot up specialist coffees, bottled water for the cabin and excursions, cocktails before dinner, glasses of wine with, and liqueurs after it is worth it. Don't order bottled water from room service as you still have to pay for it. My wife lost a crown during the trip and I asked the front desk if treatment could be arranged during one of the stops. They never got back to us. We will definitely cruise again, and probably with Princess around the UK or to the Baltic, so the ships will be different.

FIRST TIME CRUISE; HOOKED

Island Princess Cruise Review by Frank_O

19 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later.

We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a relative. The cruise was 16d/15n from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal, with stops in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Aruba.

The ship was built in 2002 and refitted last year, with extra cabins added at the rear of Deck 7 Promenade. It is one of two built to Panamax size to suit the Canal, although larger ships can be taken when new locks and channels are commissioned later in 2016. Standard of fit out and furnishing was excellent, with much polished and varnished wood, chrome and marble. Maintenance continued throughout the voyage, and at each stop crew were on shore painting out rust and tug marks on the hull.

Previous posters complained about the addition of cabins in the 2015 refit, cutting off the stern part of the Promenade Deck. This wasn't a problem for us when walking , as you could either turn around and walk a long U shape, or cross a landing to do full circuits. There were also comments about crowding in public areas, but we only found a problem in the breakfast buffet in Horizon Court at peak time. The answer was to order hot drinks, cereals and fruit from room service, then to have a cooked breakfast when the crowds had subsided.

A daily news letter listed activities, talks and shows, with extra information sheets on destinations. There were also regular deliveries and reminders about "enrichment" (shopping) opportunities. It was irritating how Princess constantly tried to squeeze more money out of the passengers, through on-board shopping, wine tastings, photos and DVDs, the casino, and exorbitant behind the scenes tours at $150 each.

Although we only saw a few shows they were varied and good quality. The food was varied and of good quality. Our dining option was the late sitting of fixed time, which gave time to relax and have a drink before dinner, especially after shore excursions. Although we three had asked to join a table of eight we were on our own for the first two nights. The Maitre D' then placed two other couples on the table with us after they changed their options. We like to think that he was proactive to ensure compatibility. The dress codes, including formal nights, were generally adhered to and enforced.

Most passengers were American, with some Brits, Germans and Canadians, and generally older than us. Although there's a teenagers' area we only saw one young person and one toddler.

Previous reviewers said that some staff were rude. Without exception, all staff were friendly, attentive and efficient. The only rude people we met were some passengers, who talked to staff as though they were inferior beings. Some vocabularies don't include "please" and "thank you". Doors to decks had stiff closers for obvious reasons, and when holding them open for passengers some didn't thank or even acknowledge me. It was irritating on shore excursions when passengers had loud conversations when guides were talking.

A "sailaway" party was planned for departure, but was cancelled as we sailed away four hours late following a faulty software update on the ship's control systems.

There were four sea days before the first stop at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, which gave us time to familiarise ourselves with the ship and to get over jet lag. A shore trip took us to to a coffee plantation and Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Both were worth seeing.

At the next stop in Puntarenas we visited a rain forest where a modified ski lift takes passengers above the canopy. Tours started late as another cruise ship was moored at the same pier, and space was limited for coaches to reverse to the ships.

The walk around Panama was interesting, when we anchored off Fuerte Amadore and were tendered ashore.

At Cartagena and Aruba we decided to do our own thing. The cruise dock at the former is in a commercial port, but there's a shopping centre a short walk along the dock. Check out the emeralds, and haggling can reduce the marked price. Aruba's pier is next to the city, and there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to visit. The short time in port meant that some trips would have been rushed.

Due to a late return flight to the UK we booked a disembarkation tour at Fort Lauderdale, cruising the Intercoastal Waterway before transferring to Miami airport. The coach driver and guide were confused about where to drop passengers for Virgin Atlantic, and dropped us at the furthest point. We then had a long trek through the airport with our luggage. It is worth paying to use an airport lounge, with drinks and snacks, as the catering provision in the airport is awful.

Our cabin was one of only 8 mini-suites on the ship, with the same area as balcony cabins. There was some shuddering when sailing into heavier seas, and there was noise when docking due to being directly above the bow thrusters. In their wisdom Princess have put all laundromats at the stern, so the round trip from a bow cabin like ours to wash or iron was 500 metres.

Given the number of sea days we paid for the all inclusive drinks package, which was value for money. If you tot up specialist coffees, bottled water for the cabin and excursions, cocktails before dinner, glasses of wine with, and liqueurs after it is worth it. Don't order bottled water from room service as you still have to pay for it.

My wife lost a crown during the trip and I asked the front desk if treatment could be arranged during one of the stops. They never got back to us.

We will definitely cruise again, and probably with Princess around the UK or to the Baltic, so the ships will be different.
Frank_O’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
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Cabin Review

Oceanview Mini-Suite
Cabin MY C204
Our cabin was one of 8 mini-suites on the ship, with the same area as balcony cabins including the balconies. There was some noise and shuddering when sailing into heavier seas, and there was noise when docking due to being directly above the bow thrusters. In their wisdom Princess have put all laundromats at the stern, so the round trip from a bow cabin like ours to wash or iron was 500 metres. The cabin was well furnished and maintained.
Baja Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins