1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Island Princess
This was our fourth cruise and our third with Princess.  We cruised RCCL in May to Bermuda.  We are 53 and 62 and believe that vacations are for relaxing, learning about other cultures, and meeting other people.  We are not connoisseurs but just enjoy being served and not having to cook the food that we are eating.  Overall, this was a marvelous cruise with a few glitches that bothered us but certainly didn't ruin our trip for us.  The best part of our cruise:  the wonderful people we met from Cruise Critic!We left the day before and stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn in Plantation. Very nice hotel with a free shuttle from the airport and also to the Port Everglades. The hotel allowed us to check in early and were happy to assist us in any and all requests for information about the area. There is a mall across the street and a Target about a 10 minute walk away. Quite a few restaurants are within a 10-15 minute walk including Red Lobster, Applebees, Olive Garden and other local spots. There is a Crown Liquor store about 1 mile from the hotel and is a welcome walk after a big dinner. The pool area is small but lovely, surrounded by palm trees and other tropical plants. We were able to sign up for their first shuttle which is at 11 AM and it took about 20 minutes to get to the cruiseport. We made stops to drop off others before we got to the Island Princess but each stop took less than 5 minutes. EMBARKATION Princess truly excels in embarkation. We arrived at the terminal at about 11:30 am and we were in our room by 11:50! The longest we had to wait was in the security line when we entered the terminal. After dropping off our carry-on's, we spent some time exploring the ship. We've been on the Grand and Caribbean Princess and the dEcor on the Island was very similar. To our untrained eye, the Island looked to be in very good condition. Next we headed to the Horizon buffet for lunch. Designed by a blind man seems to be the only way to describe the buffet area. The area seems to be much smaller than on the Grand or Caribbean and the placement of food islands in the middle just makes for confusion and and jam-ups in the flow of people through the area. The food was OK, but certainly not as good as what we had on our welcome buffet on RCCL. By the time we finished lunch and returned to our room our luggage was outside our door. We were unpacked and ready to start our cruise by 2 PM! This was the quickest we had ever received our luggage. Our Cruise Critic group had set up a meet & greet with Princess, and they reserved a section of Deck 15 for our get together including tables and chairs and our own servers. This was a nice effort on Princess's part especially during sailaway when they are so busy. DINING We utilize Anytime Dining as we hate to be tied to a particular time and table. We did notice that there were times when there were lines of people waiting for tables. As we tended to eat around 8 PM most nights with individuals we met on CC, we never had to wait very long for a table for 6, 8 or even 10. Only one night, when we wanted to eat around 7:15 did we have to wait over 40 minutes for a table. The food was good, not great, but again, if I don't have to shop for it, prepare it and serve it, it works for me! The service, however, seemed to be lacking in the dining room. Most servers just seemed to be going through the motions without any pride or joy in their job and were less than personable. And forget about after a small breakout of Norovirus and having to wait to be served rolls, butter and all those things that are usually on the table. One morning our coffee and eggs got cold waiting to have milk poured, sugar delivered and our eggs salted and peppered. It was annoying to have to continually remind both waiters and assistant waiters that we need more rolls/butter or remind them to bring syrup when you order pancakes. Geez, even IHOP knows how to do that. The buffet was better for breakfast than for lunch, but once the Norovirus broke out and no one could serve themselves, it become a logjam with all the waiters trying to serve everyone. We found that the best bet for lunch was at the grill - very good burgers, hot dogs and bratwurst - or the pizza on Deck 14. Great pizza with a nice crispy crust...delicious! The Bayou Cafe was excellent with well-prepared filet mignons and delicious lobster. It was worth the extra cost of $15. Several of our group did Sabatini's and while they said it was good with lots of food, it was remarked that better Italian food can be found elsewhere. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on the ship was varied and good. We enjoyed the productions of Piano Man and Tribute and heard that the crew talent show was outstanding. The magician/comic, Scott Alexander was good and the comedy of Fred Klett had everyone roaring; Billy Vader, the other comic, wasn't good or funny, forgetting his act right in the middle. Some in our group took advantage of ballroom dancing lessons, line dancing, trivia and special presentations. Everyone was happy with the quality of these activities. We made our normal deposit in the casino and here again there were issues with service as my husband complained that no one ever came around to ask if you wanted something to drink. He had to search out a server while playing. PORTS: ARUBA: Since we had only a short window of time here, a group of 12 of us took two vans to Eagle Beach across from the Amsterdam Manor. The charge was $3 per person one way. The beach was beautiful and empty (especially at 8 AM). The water was much cooler than we expected but refreshing. Very little wave activity. Lounges were available for $6 each and we were all able to secure palapas to sit under if we wanted some shade. There were restrooms available for use at the Amsterdam Manor and had we been there longer, we could have taken advantage of the bar and grill right on the beach which opens at 11 AM. We took the local bus back to the ship at a cost of only $1.30. Shopping area was quite crowded with a mix of high-end shops and locals selling their wares. CARTAGENA: For goodness sakes, get off the ship and see this beautiful city. Our group of 20 arranged a tour with Lee Miles. We had Doris as our guide and she was wonderful, sharing with us her love and knowledge of Cartagena. A large mini-bus was big enough to accommodate our group of 20. We were the first group at La Popa Monastery and had time to take pictures in its beautiful courtyard before it became over run with others from the cruise excursions. We then rode through the city to the San Felipe Fortress and climbed all the way to the top where Doris explained the rich history of the Fort and shared many secrets about its construction. After that we visited Las Bovedas for some souvenirs and headed to the old city to begin a one hour walk through the beautiful streets. We toured the Palace of the Inquisition and walked through Bolivar Square. Did we encounter locals trying to sell us stuff? Yes, everywhere, but a firm 'No Thank you' worked every time. At no time did we ever feel unsafe. We ended our tour at Pierino Gallo Center where Lee Miles has his emerald store. While you pay for your tour there, there is no expectation or pressure to buy any jewelry at all. There is a great little store there, "Coffee And..." where you can buy some good Colombian coffee and other souvenirs. Doris allowed more than enough time at each venue and we never felt rushed. PANAMA CANAL: The reason for our trip. The trip from the Caribbean Sea through the Gatun locks was amazing. When they say get up early to see it all, they mean it. We didn't wake until 6:30 AM and missed entering the first lock! Be sure to view the trip through from both sides and the front and back of the ship, totally different perspectives give you a much better understanding of what is happening. It took over 2.5 hours to get through the locks and into Gatun Lake. Here is where we ran into one of our glitches. We were scheduled for the Panama by Boat excursion which would take us all the way through the canal to the Pacific Ocean by ferry and then back to the ship by bus. This was the first of 20 excursions to tender off the ship and was cancelled 10 minutes before we were to leave. Princess's explanation was that there was too much traffic throughout the canal and we would arrive back in Cristobal too late. We accepted that and asked to be put on another excursion. We were told by a member of the shore excursion staff that we were stuck on the ship; they could not accommodate us on any other excursion. When pressed about trying to do something for us, we were rudely told to get out of the way. While we understood the traffic explanation we were very upset being treated the way we were and not being able to see what we had traveled so far for. Our outrage took us to passenger services where they did what they could and offered us the opportunity to put in writing our complaints. These were addressed by the tour office and onboard credit was issued to all who had booked the excursion. I am sure this tour has been cancelled in the past and believe that Princess should have some type of alternative plan as one cannot just walk off the ship and grab a taxi to learn about the local culture. So, we stayed on the ship for 6 hours as it went back through the locks and got off to shop at the market on the pier in Cristobal. LIMON, COSTA RICA. Here we had prebooked an excursion with J.J. He met us at the pier exactly as he had said with a large luxury passenger bus for 18 of us. He has a vast knowledge of Costa Rica and you can tell he loves his country. Our first stop was a local fruit stand on the side of the road where we sampled locally grown organic bananas, star apples, oranges, and the sweetest, juiciest pineapple any of us every tasted. We then headed off to a DelMonte Banana Plantation where J.J. gave us a full explanation of the growing, harvesting and packaging of the bananas. Who knew so much was involved in the production of this tasty produce! It was then off for a one hour tour of the Torteguero Canal by boat. We didn't see a lot of wildlife, some herons and other birds and some sloths up in the trees but it was beautiful. J.J. stopped and picked some flowers for us to see up close and also stopped at a friend's to show off his pet...a small crocodile that we had an opportunity to touch. J.J. then took us to Playa Bonita for a swim (beautiful warm water with some great waves) and an authentic Costa Rican lunch (casada with chicken) with good local beer. We finished with a visit to a local supermarket where we picked some good Costa Rican coffee at a great price as well as vanilla and banana vinegar. (J.J. has some great recipes that he shared with us!) Again, we were never rushed and what was originally thought to be a 4-hour tour lasted 6 hours. OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA. We had originally scheduled a private catamaran to the Falls and then snorkeling. It was scheduled for 9 AM. However, in checking my email on the ship it was discovered that the time was switched to 12:30 PM and as we had to be back on the ship at 3:30 PM, we knew we would be too rushed and cancelled. So that left us with a last-minute decision as to what to do. Along with another couple we chose the Chukka River Tubing excursion through the ship, and we were happy we did. It was a somewhat cool, overcast day as we left for our trip up into the mountains of Jamaica. As we glimpsed the river and its rapids through the trees on the way up, we knew we were in for some good tubing and the trip down did not disappoint. The rain, which began as we started our trip down the river, just added to the ambiance and beauty of the White River Valley. And those rapids were so much fun. The three guides on the river were extremely helpful and friendly. THE SHIP. The Island Princess is a beautiful ship that, other than the buffet, is beautifully thought out. It never, ever felt crowded. And while the average age on the ship was older, probably mid-sixties, there were a few young couples and children and teens. We never had a problem finding a lounge chair in the shade or the sun and were blessed with beautiful weather everyday except in Ocho Rios. DISEMBARKATION. As with embarkation, it was a breeze. We were off the ship by 9 AM and at the airport via taxi by 9:45 AM. This was a wonderful trip shared with some amazing people who we are now fortunate enough to call our friends. Given the opportunity we would definitely sail this itinerary again but would most likely choose to go all the way through the canal on the ship. We will also sail on Princess again, but after speaking with others, we will probably try Celebrity to experience a better quality of service.

Ten Glorious Days on the Island Princess

Island Princess Cruise Review by pklein9747

Trip Details
This was our fourth cruise and our third with Princess.  We cruised RCCL in May to Bermuda.  We are 53 and 62 and believe that vacations are for relaxing, learning about other cultures, and meeting other people.  We are not connoisseurs but just enjoy being served and not having to cook the food that we are eating.  Overall, this was a marvelous cruise with a few glitches that bothered us but certainly didn't ruin our trip for us.  The best part of our cruise:  the wonderful people we met from Cruise Critic!We left the day before and stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn in Plantation. Very nice hotel with a free shuttle from the airport and also to the Port Everglades. The hotel allowed us to check in early and were happy to assist us in any and all requests for information about the area. There is a mall across the street and a Target about a 10 minute walk away. Quite a few restaurants are within a 10-15 minute walk including Red Lobster, Applebees, Olive Garden and other local spots. There is a Crown Liquor store about 1 mile from the hotel and is a welcome walk after a big dinner. The pool area is small but lovely, surrounded by palm trees and other tropical plants. We were able to sign up for their first shuttle which is at 11 AM and it took about 20 minutes to get to the cruiseport. We made stops to drop off others before we got to the Island Princess but each stop took less than 5 minutes.
EMBARKATION Princess truly excels in embarkation. We arrived at the terminal at about 11:30 am and we were in our room by 11:50! The longest we had to wait was in the security line when we entered the terminal. After dropping off our carry-on's, we spent some time exploring the ship. We've been on the Grand and Caribbean Princess and the dEcor on the Island was very similar. To our untrained eye, the Island looked to be in very good condition.
Next we headed to the Horizon buffet for lunch. Designed by a blind man seems to be the only way to describe the buffet area. The area seems to be much smaller than on the Grand or Caribbean and the placement of food islands in the middle just makes for confusion and and jam-ups in the flow of people through the area. The food was OK, but certainly not as good as what we had on our welcome buffet on RCCL.
By the time we finished lunch and returned to our room our luggage was outside our door. We were unpacked and ready to start our cruise by 2 PM! This was the quickest we had ever received our luggage.
Our Cruise Critic group had set up a meet & greet with Princess, and they reserved a section of Deck 15 for our get together including tables and chairs and our own servers. This was a nice effort on Princess's part especially during sailaway when they are so busy.
DINING
We utilize Anytime Dining as we hate to be tied to a particular time and table. We did notice that there were times when there were lines of people waiting for tables. As we tended to eat around 8 PM most nights with individuals we met on CC, we never had to wait very long for a table for 6, 8 or even 10. Only one night, when we wanted to eat around 7:15 did we have to wait over 40 minutes for a table.
The food was good, not great, but again, if I don't have to shop for it, prepare it and serve it, it works for me! The service, however, seemed to be lacking in the dining room. Most servers just seemed to be going through the motions without any pride or joy in their job and were less than personable. And forget about after a small breakout of Norovirus and having to wait to be served rolls, butter and all those things that are usually on the table. One morning our coffee and eggs got cold waiting to have milk poured, sugar delivered and our eggs salted and peppered. It was annoying to have to continually remind both waiters and assistant waiters that we need more rolls/butter or remind them to bring syrup when you order pancakes. Geez, even IHOP knows how to do that. The buffet was better for breakfast than for lunch, but once the Norovirus broke out and no one could serve themselves, it become a logjam with all the waiters trying to serve everyone. We found that the best bet for lunch was at the grill - very good burgers, hot dogs and bratwurst - or the pizza on Deck 14. Great pizza with a nice crispy crust...delicious!
The Bayou Cafe was excellent with well-prepared filet mignons and delicious lobster. It was worth the extra cost of $15. Several of our group did Sabatini's and while they said it was good with lots of food, it was remarked that better Italian food can be found elsewhere.
ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on the ship was varied and good. We enjoyed the productions of Piano Man and Tribute and heard that the crew talent show was outstanding. The magician/comic, Scott Alexander was good and the comedy of Fred Klett had everyone roaring; Billy Vader, the other comic, wasn't good or funny, forgetting his act right in the middle. Some in our group took advantage of ballroom dancing lessons, line dancing, trivia and special presentations. Everyone was happy with the quality of these activities. We made our normal deposit in the casino and here again there were issues with service as my husband complained that no one ever came around to ask if you wanted something to drink. He had to search out a server while playing.
PORTS: ARUBA: Since we had only a short window of time here, a group of 12 of us took two vans to Eagle Beach across from the Amsterdam Manor. The charge was $3 per person one way. The beach was beautiful and empty (especially at 8 AM). The water was much cooler than we expected but refreshing. Very little wave activity. Lounges were available for $6 each and we were all able to secure palapas to sit under if we wanted some shade. There were restrooms available for use at the Amsterdam Manor and had we been there longer, we could have taken advantage of the bar and grill right on the beach which opens at 11 AM. We took the local bus back to the ship at a cost of only $1.30. Shopping area was quite crowded with a mix of high-end shops and locals selling their wares.
CARTAGENA: For goodness sakes, get off the ship and see this beautiful city. Our group of 20 arranged a tour with Lee Miles. We had Doris as our guide and she was wonderful, sharing with us her love and knowledge of Cartagena. A large mini-bus was big enough to accommodate our group of 20. We were the first group at La Popa Monastery and had time to take pictures in its beautiful courtyard before it became over run with others from the cruise excursions. We then rode through the city to the San Felipe Fortress and climbed all the way to the top where Doris explained the rich history of the Fort and shared many secrets about its construction. After that we visited Las Bovedas for some souvenirs and headed to the old city to begin a one hour walk through the beautiful streets. We toured the Palace of the Inquisition and walked through Bolivar Square. Did we encounter locals trying to sell us stuff? Yes, everywhere, but a firm 'No Thank you' worked every time. At no time did we ever feel unsafe. We ended our tour at Pierino Gallo Center where Lee Miles has his emerald store. While you pay for your tour there, there is no expectation or pressure to buy any jewelry at all. There is a great little store there, "Coffee And..." where you can buy some good Colombian coffee and other souvenirs. Doris allowed more than enough time at each venue and we never felt rushed.
PANAMA CANAL: The reason for our trip. The trip from the Caribbean Sea through the Gatun locks was amazing. When they say get up early to see it all, they mean it. We didn't wake until 6:30 AM and missed entering the first lock! Be sure to view the trip through from both sides and the front and back of the ship, totally different perspectives give you a much better understanding of what is happening. It took over 2.5 hours to get through the locks and into Gatun Lake.
Here is where we ran into one of our glitches. We were scheduled for the Panama by Boat excursion which would take us all the way through the canal to the Pacific Ocean by ferry and then back to the ship by bus. This was the first of 20 excursions to tender off the ship and was cancelled 10 minutes before we were to leave. Princess's explanation was that there was too much traffic throughout the canal and we would arrive back in Cristobal too late. We accepted that and asked to be put on another excursion. We were told by a member of the shore excursion staff that we were stuck on the ship; they could not accommodate us on any other excursion. When pressed about trying to do something for us, we were rudely told to get out of the way. While we understood the traffic explanation we were very upset being treated the way we were and not being able to see what we had traveled so far for. Our outrage took us to passenger services where they did what they could and offered us the opportunity to put in writing our complaints. These were addressed by the tour office and onboard credit was issued to all who had booked the excursion. I am sure this tour has been cancelled in the past and believe that Princess should have some type of alternative plan as one cannot just walk off the ship and grab a taxi to learn about the local culture. So, we stayed on the ship for 6 hours as it went back through the locks and got off to shop at the market on the pier in Cristobal.
LIMON, COSTA RICA. Here we had prebooked an excursion with J.J. He met us at the pier exactly as he had said with a large luxury passenger bus for 18 of us. He has a vast knowledge of Costa Rica and you can tell he loves his country. Our first stop was a local fruit stand on the side of the road where we sampled locally grown organic bananas, star apples, oranges, and the sweetest, juiciest pineapple any of us every tasted. We then headed off to a DelMonte Banana Plantation where J.J. gave us a full explanation of the growing, harvesting and packaging of the bananas. Who knew so much was involved in the production of this tasty produce! It was then off for a one hour tour of the Torteguero Canal by boat. We didn't see a lot of wildlife, some herons and other birds and some sloths up in the trees but it was beautiful. J.J. stopped and picked some flowers for us to see up close and also stopped at a friend's to show off his pet...a small crocodile that we had an opportunity to touch. J.J. then took us to Playa Bonita for a swim (beautiful warm water with some great waves) and an authentic Costa Rican lunch (casada with chicken) with good local beer. We finished with a visit to a local supermarket where we picked some good Costa Rican coffee at a great price as well as vanilla and banana vinegar. (J.J. has some great recipes that he shared with us!) Again, we were never rushed and what was originally thought to be a 4-hour tour lasted 6 hours.
OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA. We had originally scheduled a private catamaran to the Falls and then snorkeling. It was scheduled for 9 AM. However, in checking my email on the ship it was discovered that the time was switched to 12:30 PM and as we had to be back on the ship at 3:30 PM, we knew we would be too rushed and cancelled. So that left us with a last-minute decision as to what to do. Along with another couple we chose the Chukka River Tubing excursion through the ship, and we were happy we did. It was a somewhat cool, overcast day as we left for our trip up into the mountains of Jamaica. As we glimpsed the river and its rapids through the trees on the way up, we knew we were in for some good tubing and the trip down did not disappoint. The rain, which began as we started our trip down the river, just added to the ambiance and beauty of the White River Valley. And those rapids were so much fun. The three guides on the river were extremely helpful and friendly.
THE SHIP. The Island Princess is a beautiful ship that, other than the buffet, is beautifully thought out. It never, ever felt crowded. And while the average age on the ship was older, probably mid-sixties, there were a few young couples and children and teens. We never had a problem finding a lounge chair in the shade or the sun and were blessed with beautiful weather everyday except in Ocho Rios.
DISEMBARKATION. As with embarkation, it was a breeze. We were off the ship by 9 AM and at the airport via taxi by 9:45 AM.
This was a wonderful trip shared with some amazing people who we are now fortunate enough to call our friends. Given the opportunity we would definitely sail this itinerary again but would most likely choose to go all the way through the canal on the ship. We will also sail on Princess again, but after speaking with others, we will probably try Celebrity to experience a better quality of service.
pklein9747’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Rates
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Island Princess price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BA C531
Typical cabin with queen bed. Sufficient storage and closet space for all clothes, and storage of luggage under bed. Bathroom shower is exceptionally small but is typical of all Princess rooms that are not minisuites or suites. Balcony on Caribe deck is twice as large as on other decks; easily fits four chairs and a table large enough to eat breakfast on. The balcony is half covered and half open to the decks above. Great midship location, close to midship stairs and elevators.
Baja Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins