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

Great holiday getaway

Island Princess Cruise Review by dbits

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Dec 2017
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Oceanview Mini-Suite


Captain Tuco made the trip. He was very personable and very visible. Stopped to talk to passengers and crew alike. Made sure things were running smoothly, taking pictures of things needing attention or speaking directly to the responsible crew member if on site. Fully participated in special holiday events, playing off Callie the cruise host. By the of the cruise many were emulating his “bye,bye” ending of his noon navigation reports

Exit doors to the deck were very heavy and problematic for one if carrying meal or drink; handicapped persons really struggled getting them open and going through the door unless some stopped to help.

Christmas theme well done, as well as the New Year’s celebration. Great background for formal nights, introduction of the officers, and other events.

Laundry room uses tokens, had problem with empty dispensers, took front desk a while to locate the appropriate deck steward. Best day to do laundry is mid-day in port.

Churchill Lounge was supposed to be an elegant cigar lounge, but it became the defacto indoor smoking area. Every time the door was opened in the atrium, the smell of smoke was very evident. Disconcerting to those of us across the width of the ship, even when seated at the far side of the Crooners bar.

Evidence of the recent dry-dock refurbishment was very clear in the public areas, with new carpeting and upholstery. Next the cabins need some work, as there are definitely worn.


Most meals were under-seasoned, and bland, vegetables over-cooked and meat tough; but we did have some great meals. DH favorite meal oysters Bienville and filet steak in the Bayou Café. My favorite Cutis Stone’s Seafood Stew in a delightful creamy sauce; had it three times and it never disappointed. In general meals in the Dining Room were good, but there were a few missteps in either the naming or preparation of the ingredients which led to questionable results. Service depended on which table you sat, as it was a result of who was assigned to your table. In this case Valentino was the most conscientious, and went out of his way to please us, even placing two entrée meats on one plate if DH couldn’t make up his mind as to which to order.

The buffet was well a buffet. International flavor at each meal, Mexican buffet was the best; The soups served every meal including congee for breakfast, were consistently excellent, though they never included the promised meatballs. Interestingly rather than the ubiquitous sanitary gel dispensers on other cruise lines, Island Princess had three actual hand-washing sinks on each side, and an employee posted to be sure you washed your hands. But of course so people sneeze, then use the provided utensils to get their food, hence spreading cold and flu germs. And when one gets it, it generally means two because of shared cabins.

If all else failed the Grill was a welcome respite, though the location on Deck 15 without elevators, made it tricky to take the food elsewhere. Best were the fries, and the BBQ pulled pork.

Bar Service .

Problem ran ship ran out of limes on day seven, and didn't get replenished until the last port call two days before departure. And then they were of a sweet variety which didn't work well in some drinks.

We used the Crooners Bar as our gathering point, and enjoyed the new friends we met. Still amazes us that by the second day, they not only remembered our names and favorite drink, but our folio numbers as well. Mark took his responsibility for the bar very seriously and ran it with an iron hand. Victor was the equalizer, always cheerful, full of stories, even when things got tense during happy hour. At sea Happy hours were available at the very large Wheelhouse bar, and Crooners. Because they had a very small work surface and only three servers, it became very hectic; particularly at bar where the two bartenders both were working as well as the bar-backs. Soji and Bonifacio were very helpful to both the bartenders and customers. Priya was delightful and gracious in her manner.


Careful do not follow GPS or AAA routing which takes you down I-710 smack into the industrial port area; multiple “make a legal U-turn” before we started seeing roads named on the Princess provided directions.

No parking lot shuttle service visible. Disabled husband had to walk a long distance to get to the terminal and was in extreme pain. Wheelchair assistance had been requested in advance and Tony went out of his way to assist him, even carrying our luggage. But it was a long wait for shipboard transfer via wheelchair


Productions shows were very good, Encore in particular. Unable to produce one show because the stage was broken. Other entertainers very inconsistent, comedians in particular. Callie was a great host, never obtrusive, gave us just enough information over the intercom, without constant patter. And his jokes were great every evening.

Certainly could have used a greater variety of at-sea days activities, constant repeat of bean bag, ring toss etc. were a bit much But you it is needed when you see over 50 people participating every day.


Best ever disembarkation in 16 cruises. Only issue was the staff at the door was asking questions, not looking at the "required" colored tabs from the luggage tags. But very timely departure, no delays, and thankfully the shuttle was right across the street. Still in shock from the total cost at $18.00/day

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

Oceanview Mini-Suite
Cabin MY B203

Loved the two new large flat screen TV's for once didn't have to crane our necks upward to see the TV. Great new beds and pillows, though would have preferred a menu providing less fluffiness. Furnishings stained, and scarred. Plenty of room in the main area but bathroom very small. Had to hang an over-the door shoe organizer in the closet to corral our OTC remedies, first aid items and medications. Have learned to carry those with us as the ship's store or Medical are very expensive. Eg $4.19 for FOUR cold capsules.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


boat ride along the coast-line. I know, bit strange we were on another ship, but it was nice to get close to the numerous bays. Then went on a short bus ride for pictures; don’t understand why they spent 20 mins looking a large hotels? As usual there is always one couple that consistently is the last on the bus. Self-same couple insisted that the tour was already running late, a stop had to be made at the church. By the time they came back to the bus it was 15 mins before ship’s departure when we arrived at the dock. Not enough golf carts to take back those requiring assistance, so we were literally the last on the boat; Officer reassured us that [because we are on a hip's excursion] they knew we hadn’t returned and were waiting for us.

Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

As we aren’t interested in historical buildings or visiting a volcano, I visite a nice little shopping area where local craftsman sell their wares. Enjoyed looking at the brightly colored fabrics and bought a few souvenirs. The vendors were very friendly, and helpful. One even located the item I wanted in another shop. Did not use the available restaurant or bar.

After five days without getting off the ship, we were ready for another excursion. We had stopped in same area of Costa Rica before, and taken a van tour of the local area, so tried something different this time.

We got on another boat to take a ride up and down a river. Highlight was getting a picture of the crocodile that swam up to the boat.

The rest of the crocodiles we saw were submerged just under the surface of the water, so that part was a bust. But did see some other interesting animals and birds, a great scenery. Only downside the “special treat” of a 45 min ride on a farm tractor, pulling a cart. Apparently there were too many busses at the next stop – for bathroom break and fresh fruit and souvenir shopping; so they held back our bus. Road very bumpy, complained to the Excursion Desk, and they were able to negotiate a 20% refund for the pain and suffering we endured because of a fused back and my fused neck.

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Where we were docked it was a long walk to the head of the pier to catch the tour busses or go into town I walked to the town took some pictures, and stopped at some tents set up at the end of the pier to buy a brightly colored plate. Town appeared to be very poor, narrow alleyways so stayed away from shops. Beach/hotel area a good four-five miles away requiring bus, taxi or excursion.

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