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

We were very happy with our Panama Canal Cruise on Island Princess!!

Island Princess Cruise Review by DavidB5

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2017
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony

We chose this cruise because it fit within our budget and timing. We have sailed Princess before and we have been satisfied with the experience. Embarkation in Los Angeles went smoothly. From the time we were dropped at the pier by the shuttle, we were on the ship in under 30 minutes, although part of this may have been because we were able to go through the Club Class line which speeded things up. We wanted to get on the ship as quickly as possible to secure one of the 4 cabanas available in The Sanctuary on Canal Day. I suggest to anyone that the price is well worth the extra comfort on Canal Day and you should get this arranged as soon as you embark.

Speaking of The Sanctuary, the staff went overboard providing us breakfast, lunch, and tea, along with cold water, cold towels and more, all day long. For those without a cabana there were umbrellas for the sun. The great thing about the Sanctuary is that in just a few steps you can see both sides of the ship as well as the stern, so you miss nothing of the journey through the canal.

Dining: This was the first cruise of this ship with "Club Class" and it seemed to go smoothly for the most part. As I mentioned, embarkation was easier. Certainly having the separate section in the dining room was far more convenient and enjoyable than lining up for a table when anytime dining was opened, although that seemed to work itself out as the cruise went on. The wait staff in our section of the Bordeaux Dining Room was outstanding. Our waiter Milan and his assistant Mark (a great singer too we later found out) were attentive without being overbearing. After the first couple of nights they knew our names and our drinks or wine choices.They also were knowledgeable about the menu choices and offered their suggestions when asked. We only availed ourselves of the specialty dining once, and that was for one of three "Crab Shack" nights. For this, a portion of the Horizon Court was screened off and set up for crab dining. The crab was very good, although the service was a bit shaky and uneven. We were told that the wait staff was a group of buffet stewards, basically learning their craft. We didn't try any of the other alternative dining choices, but the folks that we spoke to seemed to think the food and the service was acceptable. The main buffet, Horizon Court, was well fairly well laid out and the food for the occasional breakfast or lunch was good, with lots of choices and plenty of fruit, although much of that wasn't fresh but rather canned.

Entertainment: I'm not sure why some folks feel the need to be critical of ship entertainment. No, it isn't Las Vegas (which is where I live) but it is often fun and the singers and dancers really work hard to put on shows that are fun to watch. The music was first class, and the singing and dancing fairly good. The only real critique is that the Princess Theatre fills up really fast, and often if you weren't there 30 minutes or more early you didn't get a seat. A couple of the comedians were a bit flat as well. They had a singer early in the cruise with a magnificent soprano voice that I'm sure could be heard on shore! The alternate entertainment venues, Wheelhouse Bar and Explorer's Lounge, are used extensively for alternative entertainment. Sight lines can be a bit blocked, but the sound is just fine. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Simone, the Cruise Director. She seems to be everywhere at all times, going full speed all the time, and each time with a different hairdo. Not to be missed are the "jokes from her Dad" which she uses to close each night's show.

Public Spaces: I'd read that this ship would feel jammed on sea days, due to the extra cabins added during the last refit and that the ship felt chopped up. My wife and I did not find this at all. Indeed, often as we strolled we came upon areas completely empty and quiet. There always seemed to be open lounges by the pool as well. Other than on disembarkation day, the elevators were a breeze and we never waited more than a couple of minutes. Our favorite spots were Crooner's Bar on deck 7 and Calypso Cove on deck 6. From either we could listen to the varied offerings in the Atrium as well as people watch. The only truly disappointing area is the gym, which is placed, clearly as an afterthought, in the stern on deck 6, with nothing to look at but blank walls. While clean, it is quite small, and filled up fast in the mornings. Having been in gyms at sea with lots of space and wonderful views, this one was a great disappointment.

Activities: As with any ship, you can be as busy as you choose to be, with games or raffles, or shopping, or art auctions enough to please anyone. The cruise director's team works hard to provide an endless supply of activities for those who choose to participate. One night a group of 8 of us teamed up to participate in a 50's and 60's "name that tune" competition that was really a hoot. Our cruise was almost exclusively an older crowd, so I cannot comment on any activities for young people. Humberto gave a presentation about each of the ports we were to visit that were well-paced and informative, and on almost every day there was a lecture about some facet of life in Central America. These seemed to be well received as well.

DavidB5's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin M1 D515

This was a nice cabin in a very convenient location, not far from the mid-ship elevators. Praveen, the cabint steward was outstanding, always looking for ways to be helpful and going out of his way to get us anything we needed. There was plenty of storage (we couldn't even use it all). There were plenty of hangars too. The bathroom was spacious enough for us. Like some other reviews, we found the shower curtain a little clingy, but everything worked just as it should.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


The government has done a lot to create interest in the area, and the infrastructure is impressive. As more of the Copalita Archaeological site is explored this should become a much more interesting spot to stop.

Train ride

Train ride wasn't much, but the river trip was unforgettable, especially getting up close to the crocs in the river

View All 40 Train ride Reviews

This was a great, small group tour, with only 15 of us in a very up close and personal tour of the city.

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Aloe Balm Facility

A fascinating little stop, a great bonus we thought to the excursion we chose.

View All 31 Aloe Balm Facility Reviews
Ayo Rock Formations

Not enough time to climb around and see more. Kind of an afterthought tacked onto other stops.

View All 31 Ayo Rock Formations Reviews
Butterfly Farm

Main reason we picked this tour. Butterflies are amazing creatures.

View All 29 Butterfly Farm Reviews

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