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

Island Princess is the perfect ship

Island Princess Cruise Review by Thosewilsons

1 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Oct 2019
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Balcony

At somewhere around 90K gross tons, but only as many passengers as some of the smaller ships, we never felt crowded. It was an itinerary focused on the older crowd and younger cruisers and families should take note that this may not be the right fit for their late night desires in activities. It’s less about high intensity onboard activity than other Cruise lines and more about the destination.

The food at times was outstanding and disappointing at others, but overall it was mostly above the average. Certainly, much better than the Fun Ships.

The entertainment was very good. The comics were actually funny and not offensive or foul mouthed. The musicians, dancers and singers were exceptionally talented and the production shows were outstanding. On this itinerary the star of the show was the Panama Canal and it did not disappoint. What made the canal experience perfect was that it was done in the historic original locks due to the Panamax size of this ship. Other ships can cram three-, four-, five-thousand passengers onboard, but must use the new 2016 locks. A modern beauty, but lacks the historic credentials of its smaller cousin. Better check this out soon, though. It looks as though Princess has opted to use larger ships after this season, likely to push more paying customers through the turnstiles, history be damned. I recommend that you read Pulitzer Award recipient David McCullough’s book, The Path Between the Seas. You will appreciate what you are seeing and paying for so much more.

Thosewilsons's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review


Our cabin was on Caribe Deck 10, starboard side, forward. Caribe is one of those decks that mostly has other cabins above and below, so the noise is usually not an issue. Forward on the ship may not be for everyone because the undulating motion of the ship pushing through the waves may cause seasickness for some. But my wife and I have owned boats and cruised many times before and seem to have our sea legs firmly established. Normally the side of the ship doesn’t matter much, since on itineraries like Alaska, the Captain will spin the ship to give both sides of the ship equal time and views. At the Canal we enter from the Caribbean side from the north (Yes, the canal runs north and south. Look at a map.) the sun rises in the east, that makes the starboard (west facing) the shady side for your balcony in the morning and conversely, the shady side on its return through the canal in the afternoon when the sun is now heading toward the west. You’ll thank me for this information later.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Everglades Tour

This was booked as a transfer from the ship to the airport. Because our flight was in the late afternoon, we had several hours to fill. This was a perfect morning through early afternoon tour. The Everglades have their own beauty and the guide was very knowledgeable regarding the eco plan. Even though it's kind of a whirlwind tour to keep with a schedule to get us back to the airport, it was well worth the price and very enjoyable.

View All 149 Everglades Tour Reviews

The bus driver/guide, "Garfield" was a lot of fun with his narration on the relatively short ride to the Good Hope plantation where many different activities are available. The Martha Brea River Tubing was a nice gentle float that lasted maybe 40 minutes. The tubes were lashed together and the water was cool and refreshing. We floated with the current and the guide keeping the group mostly in the middle of the river while pointing out things of interest. After, there was time to relax by the pool, get a drink at the bar, visit the gift shop all with no pressure as seems to be the Jamaican way. No problem, yeah man.

View All 95 Tubing Reviews
City Tour

This was Nothing but an excuse to deliver us to vendors to peck at us like the vultures they are. Every stop the tour guide would step off of the bus and move aside to allow a gauntlet of hawkers to push worthless items in our faces before our feet could hit the ground. One stop which was a block long building that had once been a series of jail cells, now converted to, you guessed it. A series of shops for our spending pleasure. What she failed to say was that if you would walk past end of the building about 50 feet, there was a public ramp that goes up to the top of the famous wall of the old city where there was fantastic views out to the sea and old guard towers at the corners that were very picturesque. I’m glad I ignored her and spent my 20 minutes at that stop exploring on my own with my wife. The Naval museum was a single room with some static displays and all signage was in Spanish only, which I don’t mind. I am the guest in their country and their language is Spanish. But the acoustics were poor, our guides accent and English was horrible, so it was less than informative. Besides there wasn;t anything in there to sell, so little time was spent there. But they are resourceful if not informative. The next room had a stage and some chairs set up where she sat us down while some dancers came out from a side room and performed for 5 minutes and then passed a hat. The walking tour continued through the streets, which was nice but the pace was quick and stopping for photos was not accommodated. She did find enough time to stop at select street artists and craftsmen to explain to us what value there is in his work and how much we might enjoy owning some of it. The only salvation of the day was when we arrived back to the ship we had to walk through a beautiful area with an aviary, a lovely garden with flamingos, peacocks strutting around and food/drink/restrooms all in a park like setting. All within walking distance of our gangway. I did give this tour two stars because we were able to walk away from our guide a few times while she assisted in a sales effort to see and photograph some things for ourselves. I do NOT recommend this tour.

View All 367 City Tour Reviews
The Tortuguero Canals

This was actually two tours, first a walk in a rain forest and second the canal tour. The hope with both of these tours is to see the wildlife in their natural setting. I don't blame the tour operator for the lack of cooperation by the animals, but I must exact my revenge by taking one star off for my disappointment that the animals took the day off. We did see some monkeys and a few frogs on the walk and some birds on the canal tour. But the elusive sloth remains elusive. If I were to be here in Limon again, I might give this tour a second chance. The guide sure did her best.

View All 82 The Tortuguero Canals Reviews
Amber Cove (Puerto Plata)

The stop seems better suited for families with children of many ages, but is rather uninteresting to us, the over 60 crowd. Once you walk around the grounds and take pictures and selfies with the “Amber Cove” sign and then visit the shops. You notice that there is no beach here. That would require an excursion off the property. I’ve been to other cruise line owned shore stops such as Half Moon Cay. Which was excellent. The mood and feel was so much more inviting at HMC than here. With a boat load of us senior in port the mood was more like an empty water park whose day was in the past. Next time I come here, I’ll likely opt to stay onboard where the poolside food is included.

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