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Kudos to Princess for planning such a wonderful itinerary! This was the first Panama Canal cruise for us and initially we were hesitant about doing a partial crossing, but in the end opted for this sailing because of the RT route from Los Angeles. As California residents we were able to drive to San Pedro to board our ship, which made for an easier overall trip. We were also attracted to the selection of ports that are more unusual. We actually missed two ports, Puerto Chiapas due to a damaged harbor as a result of the recent earthquake and San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua) because of stormy weather attributed to Hurricane Nate - the whole port was closed and ships could not dock. We experienced rough seas and heavy rain leaving Panama and while we were able to dock in Punta Arenas, all shore excursions were cancelled. A few brave passengers attempted independent activities but they confirmed landslides, downed trees, flooding and closed roads. In spite of this, it was an absolutely wonderful cruise! The Island Princess delivers a typical Princess experience characterized by meticulously maintained ships, a crew accustomed to pleasing their guests, and a wide assortment of on-board activities. Food in the dining room was well-prepared, beautifully presented and served. There was some repetition to the menu on this 19-day sailing (Prime rib 3 times), but sufficient variety in the choices. There were also some regional dishes on the menu. Horizon Court, the buffet, is at the front of the ship and includes Cafe Amuleto, an attractive bakery counter and coffee bar for custom coffee drinks. At dinner there were often themed menu items and decor, such as Oktoberfest, Mexican, etc....No Crown Grill but a Bayou Cafe and Sabatini's. The early seating dining choice was over-subscribed and evidently, rather than opt for the late seating, passengers chose Anytime Dining and resulted in many complaints about long lines/waits for tables and slowness of service. The dining room for late seating was never full and we enjoyed outstanding service. Entertainment was excellent! The Princess dancers and singers performed flawlessly and all of the programs were well executed. There was great variety in guest artists. Lounges are well furnished, comfortable and well-suited for the entertainment they host. We were thrilled with our Princess shore excursions. Puerto Vallarta was a substitute stop for Puerto Chiapas and we participated in a tour called Hidden Treasures. It was a splendid day and included a zodiac ride across the bay to Tomatlan where we boarded safari-style 4-wheel drives. We visited a gorgeous botanical garden and the huge assortment of butterflies was as delightful as the profusion of flowers. This was followed by tequila tasting, a visit to a typical Mexican village and woodcarver's studio and the tour ended with a catered lunch at a "finca" off the main road - a beautiful property with rolling lawns and a stream. Lunch included typical Mexican dishes that were freshly prepared. Our second excursion was in Antigua, Guatemala and this itinerary included a visit to the Filadelphia Coffee Estate. We received an in-depth explanation about the entire cycle of producing coffee, toured the property, saw the equipment and packaging. This was followed by a delicious Guatemalan lunch and a walking tour of Antigua. There was no free time on this excursion, which was fine for us, but might not be for someone desiring more flexibility. The highlight of the trip, of course, was the Panama Canal. Prior to arriving in Panama there were two lecturers on board who presented information about the history of the canal, its building, and current day status. During the traverse one of the lecturers was stationed in the Horizon Court and narrated the passage and this was broadcast throughout the ship. We got into the Horizon Court early and were able to secure a table at the front of the ship. This was an excellent vantage point for observing the operation of the locks - not the best for taking pictures. We spent part of the day at The Sanctuary at the stern. They planned a special day there that included lunch, drinks, fruit etc....and this was an uncrowded place to also observe the crossing. On this partial transit the ship overnights in Gatun Lake. What a beautiful evening it was. From our anchorage we were able to observe activity at the Gatun Locks. On day two we retraced our steps through the canal. One of the benefits of the partial transit proved to be the second day and getting to see the canal again. We debated about the value of booking a balcony for this cruise, but in the end decided on an outdoor cabin on Emerald deck, with view partially obstructed due to the lifeboats. While we found that we did not need the balcony for canal viewing, we would not recommend booking a cabin on Emerald deck with a partially obstructed view on this ship (for any cruise). The cabin was very loud with essentially constant creaking and popping while the ship is sailing. On one occasion there was also metal to metal scraping. After two nights of interrupted sleep we reported the condition to Passenger Services and they attributed the noise to normal ship sailing noise. After a 3rd night of loud noise we and our next door cabin passenger complained again. The ship's crew came to check and made some adjustments which seemed to mitigate the volume, however the last 3 nights of the sailing were again loud. It was never determined if the noise was related to the room or the lifeboats. The noise was consistently loud enough to interrupt sleep. Passengers in other accommodations did not seem to have the same loud noises in their cabins. Part of being on vacation is being able to rest and catch up on sleep and the frequency and volume of the noise in the cabin prevented this. We hope that this itinerary becomes a "regular" for Princess. It could not have been more enjoyable....well, I suppose a quieter cabin, sunny weather and hitting all the ports would have made it better, but now we have a legitimate reason for signing up again!

Wonderful....except for our cabin!

Island Princess Cruise Review by Carnemom

Trip Details
Kudos to Princess for planning such a wonderful itinerary! This was the first Panama Canal cruise for us and initially we were hesitant about doing a partial crossing, but in the end opted for this sailing because of the RT route from Los Angeles. As California residents we were able to drive to San Pedro to board our ship, which made for an easier overall trip. We were also attracted to the selection of ports that are more unusual.

We actually missed two ports, Puerto Chiapas due to a damaged harbor as a result of the recent earthquake and San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua) because of stormy weather attributed to Hurricane Nate - the whole port was closed and ships could not dock. We experienced rough seas and heavy rain leaving Panama and while we were able to dock in Punta Arenas, all shore excursions were cancelled. A few brave passengers attempted independent activities but they confirmed landslides, downed trees, flooding and closed roads. In spite of this, it was an absolutely wonderful cruise!

The Island Princess delivers a typical Princess experience characterized by meticulously maintained ships, a crew accustomed to pleasing their guests, and a wide assortment of on-board activities. Food in the dining room was well-prepared, beautifully presented and served. There was some repetition to the menu on this 19-day sailing (Prime rib 3 times), but sufficient variety in the choices. There were also some regional dishes on the menu.

Horizon Court, the buffet, is at the front of the ship and includes Cafe Amuleto, an attractive bakery counter and coffee bar for custom coffee drinks. At dinner there were often themed menu items and decor, such as Oktoberfest, Mexican, etc....No Crown Grill but a Bayou Cafe and Sabatini's.

The early seating dining choice was over-subscribed and evidently, rather than opt for the late seating, passengers chose Anytime Dining and resulted in many complaints about long lines/waits for tables and slowness of service. The dining room for late seating was never full and we enjoyed outstanding service.

Entertainment was excellent! The Princess dancers and singers performed flawlessly and all of the programs were well executed. There was great variety in guest artists. Lounges are well furnished, comfortable and well-suited for the entertainment they host.

We were thrilled with our Princess shore excursions. Puerto Vallarta was a substitute stop for Puerto Chiapas and we participated in a tour called Hidden Treasures. It was a splendid day and included a zodiac ride across the bay to Tomatlan where we boarded safari-style 4-wheel drives. We visited a gorgeous botanical garden and the huge assortment of butterflies was as delightful as the profusion of flowers. This was followed by tequila tasting, a visit to a typical Mexican village and woodcarver's studio and the tour ended with a catered lunch at a "finca" off the main road - a beautiful property with rolling lawns and a stream. Lunch included typical Mexican dishes that were freshly prepared.

Our second excursion was in Antigua, Guatemala and this itinerary included a visit to the Filadelphia Coffee Estate. We received an in-depth explanation about the entire cycle of producing coffee, toured the property, saw the equipment and packaging. This was followed by a delicious Guatemalan lunch and a walking tour of Antigua. There was no free time on this excursion, which was fine for us, but might not be for someone desiring more flexibility.

The highlight of the trip, of course, was the Panama Canal. Prior to arriving in Panama there were two lecturers on board who presented information about the history of the canal, its building, and current day status. During the traverse one of the lecturers was stationed in the Horizon Court and narrated the passage and this was broadcast throughout the ship. We got into the Horizon Court early and were able to secure a table at the front of the ship. This was an excellent vantage point for observing the operation of the locks - not the best for taking pictures. We spent part of the day at The Sanctuary at the stern. They planned a special day there that included lunch, drinks, fruit etc....and this was an uncrowded place to also observe the crossing. On this partial transit the ship overnights in Gatun Lake. What a beautiful evening it was. From our anchorage we were able to observe activity at the Gatun Locks. On day two we retraced our steps through the canal. One of the benefits of the partial transit proved to be the second day and getting to see the canal again.

We debated about the value of booking a balcony for this cruise, but in the end decided on an outdoor cabin on Emerald deck, with view partially obstructed due to the lifeboats. While we found that we did not need the balcony for canal viewing, we would not recommend booking a cabin on Emerald deck with a partially obstructed view on this ship (for any cruise). The cabin was very loud with essentially constant creaking and popping while the ship is sailing. On one occasion there was also metal to metal scraping. After two nights of interrupted sleep we reported the condition to Passenger Services and they attributed the noise to normal ship sailing noise. After a 3rd night of loud noise we and our next door cabin passenger complained again. The ship's crew came to check and made some adjustments which seemed to mitigate the volume, however the last 3 nights of the sailing were again loud. It was never determined if the noise was related to the room or the lifeboats. The noise was consistently loud enough to interrupt sleep. Passengers in other accommodations did not seem to have the same loud noises in their cabins. Part of being on vacation is being able to rest and catch up on sleep and the frequency and volume of the noise in the cabin prevented this.

We hope that this itinerary becomes a "regular" for Princess. It could not have been more enjoyable....well, I suppose a quieter cabin, sunny weather and hitting all the ports would have made it better, but now we have a legitimate reason for signing up again!
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Cabin Review

Oceanview (obstructed view)
Cabin OV E312
The cabin was clean and well-appointed, but excessively noisy. The noise was frequent and loud enough to keep us from getting to sleep easily and to wake us up when asleep. We know that the people in the neighboring cabin, #314 had a similar experience and also complained. This was easily our 50th cruise on a variety of cruise lines...and we have never experienced such noise in a cabin.
Emerald Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews