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

Island Princess - Panama Canal

Island Princess Cruise Review by CAFoerst

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Sep 2019
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony

I have sailed with Princess many, many times and am at the highest level on loyalty classification. I have been spoiled by my last sailings on the Royal and Regal for my last three times. We chose the Panama Canal transit since we haven't done that recently and was going to stop in ports that we have been before. I knew that the Island Princess is much smaller that Royal or Regal, but was looking forward anyway to a smaller ship experience.

First disappointment - at dinner on the first night I showed my coffee card which I had from my last cruise in 2018. The jr waiter said they didn't accept them anymore. What? I thought maybe she misunderstood. Until the next day when I went down to the La Patissere and the waiter there explained that these cards were discontinued in August of this year. I spoke to numerous people on board and friends at home who knew nothing about this issue. You would think this would be communicated via email to people with high loyalty status. Of course they were pushing a beverage package that contained coffee, soda, beer with a significant fee per day. No - not interested.

Second disappointment - the air conditioning on this ship needs to be re-evaluated. The dining room was FREEZING. You had to bring a jacket or a sweater (who packs a sweater on a Panama Canal transit). The Explorer Lounge was FREEZING. Our cabin was a little warm - spoke to our Room Steward who said it was fixed - but it wasn't. As long as the ship was moving it was bearable. Once the ship docked - it was extremely warm. Don't know why they include duvets in the cabin - never used it and folded it down every night.

Third disappointment - The casino was HOT - I mean extremely HOT - the only comfortable areas were by the doors or the walkway. The casino had an odd configuration - which makes me think that it was modified in some way - whoever planned that - didn't take into consideration the AC vents. At night, it was unbearable. I once brought a fan which I had picked up at a Mexican port so that I could use it at the casino.

Fourth disappointment - We were told that the seas were rough due to a tropical storm in the Pacific. We had an stop in Nicaragua - which was cancelled due to the swells. The next port was Punarenos, Costa Rica. We arrived at the Wheelhouse Bar at 9:15 for our excursion. When we got there I heard a man complaining that he's been waiting 2 hours for his excursion. No - not Princess, I thought. While we waiting 1 1/2 hours for our excursion, one accouncement was made explaining problems with the tenders due to the high swells. If this was the case - why have people assembly in a public space - when they could relax - have leisurely breakfast in the Horizon Court or even relax in your cabin - instead of having everyone amass in the Wheelhouse. After our excursion we were dropped at a location for the tender - the line was huge! Again no one communicating to us what the issue was. It was very hot and humid and I felt badly for the elderly who were waiting on line. At the end of the line when you were getting on the tenders - they offered you cold water and a cold face cloth. This should have been passed out to everyone on the line who I heard waiting up to 2 hours for a tender.

Fifth disappointment - While the cruise director was always visible, pleasant and seemed to be involved in everything - I think she might have been overextended. On the Royal and Regal - we saw the Cruise Director on the Wake show and maybe on other time during the day. She was on at the end of the shows explaining what was going on the ship that night. She also was the host of whatever was going on in the Explorers Lounge after the show. She was always late. Not a big deal since you're on vacation, but after I noticed this - we realized she was always late for any activity. On sea days this became an issue if you planned on another activity after the one she was hosting. Again - she was very pleasant, but definitely over-extended.

Also we missed the International Cafe on this ship and hope that during the next retrofit - they make this an item to consider.

Now the good points - the food was exceptional - both in the dining rooms, the Bayou Cafe and of course Sabatinis.

CAFoerst's Full Rating Summary
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