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Island Princess Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,190 Reviews

Great itinerary, mediocre ship

Island Princess Cruise Review by FriscoLady

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Dec 2016
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Balcony

This was our first time on the Island Princess and I think it can best be described as "cozy". While there were many things that I liked about this smaller Princess ship, its lack of space also presented some challenges. The decorations were lovely and the overall "vibe" was one that I really appreciated. However, there was no dedicated "disco", the workout room was almost non-existent and had no windows (which really made it less appealing), and the lack of space in the atrium kept that from being a central meeting space as it is on other ships. There are only two dining rooms; one for traditional dining and one for anytime dining. The lines for anytime dining were unbelievably long on most nights. Whether that was a result of poor planning or lack of space, I do not know. Finally, during one of her recent renovations, the back end of deck 7 was converted to cabin space so those of us who like to walk/jog off those extra souffles and champagne cocktails can no longer run the circumference of the ship. You have to run a "U" shape back and forth.

All of the themed trivia's were music related, which I thought was interesting. My hubby and I won 4 bottles of champagne so we weren't complaining. LOL! We tried the Bayou Steakhouse and we would not go back. It was okay, but not worth the cover charge. The food in the main dining room was better in my opinion. Trust me, I'm from Texas and I know good steak! We are not opposed to paying a cover charge. We routinely dine at the Crown Grill on the ships where it is offered, the Bayou just wasn't very good (and the lobster was hopelessly overcooked, yuck).

That said, the staff and crew were among the friendliest I've encountered. The entertainment was great, and every day at sea is a great day in my book. There wasn't anything that would put me off recommending this cruise to others. If you are going to do a transit, do the full transit. It is worth it! This is a nice little ship, just know what to watch out for.

FriscoLady's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Cabin B2 C527

Extended balcony on Caribe deck (10). Excellent cabin with lots of storage. Very quiet with cabins both above and below and great viewing when transiting the canal!

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


In Huatulco (pronounced, wah tool co), we booked a white water rafting trip through Huatulco Activities. The tour was actually subbed out to Rancho Tangolunda, and everyone from my contact (Claudia) and Huatulco Activities to our guide (Ivan) from Ranch Tangolunda was wonderful!!! We had the entire raft and the entire river to ourselves. We never even saw other people until the very end where we got off our raft, a local family was playing in the water. They offer different tour levels from beginner to expert so everyone can participate. So much fun!! We LOVED this tour!!

Rainforest Tour

This tour should have received a rating of "very good", close "excellent", but it didn't. Our guide was wonderful and truly passionate about the birds, animals, and ecosystem of Coast Rica. He could (and did) name every bird, tree, flower, monkey, etc, that we saw. It was pretty cool. We started off visiting an area with white-faced capuchin monkeys, then to Tarcoles to see wild Macaws and take a river cruise to view crocodiles and migratory birds. OMG, the crocs were amazing!! Afterwards, a traditional Costa Rican lunch was provided at a local hotel. A few more photo stops and our day was nearly complete. So everything sounds perfect, except....

Early in the day we stopped at a little roadside stand to ostensibly get cold drinks/smoothies, use the restroom, whatever. Until I realized that they were charging us about double what they were charging everyone else because we were from a cruise ship. I don't like being taken advantage of and that ticked me off. Strike #1. Fast forward to the end of the day when our final stop was at a gigantic souvenir store. Admittedly I'm not a big shopper, especially for the kitschy type of crap they offer at ports and these types of stores. But as soon as we exited the van someone is slapping stickers on each of us so they can track how much we spend and which tour group we are with. I'm thinking kickbacks? Strike #2. Finally, I did actually see one thing that I planned to buy earlier in the day but our guide persuaded me not to buy it but to wait until we went to the "big store" at the end of the day. Not only did the big store not have anything even close to the item I had been looking at, but it made me start wondering why I was being pushed to shop at this store instead? Strike #3.

Interestingly enough, while at our shopping stop, the owner of Thumbs Up Tours asked me about the tour and what if anything could be done to make it better. After telling him my thoughts, he immediately said "we don't get any money from these sales". Funny, I hadn't even mentioned that suspicion. Guilty conscience?

View All 28 Rainforest Tour Reviews

The "Trike" combines the cultural acceptance of the motorcycle with the bad-assitude of a tricycle. Actually, it's like a Hog with a bench seat in back so up to three people can ride at once. Since this was not our first time to Aruba, this was a fun way to visit about 90% of the island (including all the hot spots). You don't get as much tour guiding as you would with other tours, but that's not what we were looking for so this was perfect! So much fun!! Everyone that saw us wanted to know how I found out about this company. :)

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Segway Tour

This is a wonderful way to see Cartagena! Especially since this was a very short port day for us. We had to be back on board by 2pm so a walking tour was out of the question. This was a fun alternative.

View All 11 Segway Tour Reviews

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