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Took a Panama Canal cruise on the Island Princess over Thanksgiving week. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze (used Princess transfers). Despite the small size of the older ship, we were pleasantly surprised with the amount of activities and how much was tucked into small spaces, where there were 4 days at sea on the 10 day cruise. Definitely older ship, but turned out that we felt less crowded than larger ships we had been on with other cruise lines. The only place that was crowded were the shows, sometimes hard to find a seat. However, the shows were very well done (especially the sets). The only one we didn't really care for was a magician who unfortunately was there for 2 nights. The cabin was small and the shower even smaller, but this was expected and our steward, Benedik, was great. I chose cabin E732 because it faced a rear deck (almost like having our own private deck), and great for viewing the locks when transiting the canal. The ship's staff, especially the entertainment staff were great, particularly, Tom, Angela and cruise director, Benny. Food was OK, not great (turkey dinner on Thanksgiving wasn't very good). Best excursion, a must see, was the Veragua Rainforest in Costa Rica. We also enjoyed Panama Canal and Gatun Lake excursion. Did not care for Montego Bay, Jamaica port (but was not expecting to). Princess should choose a different port for their last stop. Also, a bit disappointed with Cartagena tour, although loved seeing the Old City. Overall, the cruise was enjoyable and generally as expected, based on researching, reviews, etc. Definitely a very senior crowd, but that was expected as well.

Nicer than expected Island Princess Panama Canal cruise

Island Princess Cruise Review by jandc46

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Trip Details
Took a Panama Canal cruise on the Island Princess over Thanksgiving week. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze (used Princess transfers). Despite the small size of the older ship, we were pleasantly surprised with the amount of activities and how much was tucked into small spaces, where there were 4 days at sea on the 10 day cruise. Definitely older ship, but turned out that we felt less crowded than larger ships we had been on with other cruise lines. The only place that was crowded were the shows, sometimes hard to find a seat. However, the shows were very well done (especially the sets). The only one we didn't really care for was a magician who unfortunately was there for 2 nights. The cabin was small and the shower even smaller, but this was expected and our steward, Benedik, was great. I chose cabin E732 because it faced a rear deck (almost like having our own private deck), and great for viewing the locks when transiting the canal. The ship's staff, especially the entertainment staff were great, particularly, Tom, Angela and cruise director, Benny. Food was OK, not great (turkey dinner on Thanksgiving wasn't very good). Best excursion, a must see, was the Veragua Rainforest in Costa Rica. We also enjoyed Panama Canal and Gatun Lake excursion. Did not care for Montego Bay, Jamaica port (but was not expecting to). Princess should choose a different port for their last stop. Also, a bit disappointed with Cartagena tour, although loved seeing the Old City. Overall, the cruise was enjoyable and generally as expected, based on researching, reviews, etc. Definitely a very senior crowd, but that was expected as well.
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Cabin Review

Oceanview
Cabin OE
Cabin was small but adequate, and the shower even smaller, but this was expected. Cabin faced a rear deck (almost like having our own private deck), and great for viewing the locks when transiting the canal. Just remember to shut the window curtain at night because others can see in from the deck. Also, don't forget a power strip for the lack of outlets.
Emerald Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • City Tour
    Mostly a walking tour of the Old City, including Las Bovedas, where we were directed to a particular stall for shopping, didn't care for that. Expect to be bombarded everywhere you go by street vendors. We were glad we were on an organized tour here for that reason.
    View All 337 City Tour Reviews
  • Gatun Lake Tour
    We enjoyed this tour, although we did not see too much wildlife from the boat on the lake. We did see a lot more when walking on a trail afterwards, monkeys and sloths. We also saw the Aguas Clara locks from the land. Luckily the ship had docked when we returned from the tour, as there is nothing at this port.
    View All 34 Gatun Lake Tour Reviews
  • Island Tour
    Went to Hell, Turtle Farm and Rum Cake Factory. Nothing special.
    View All 197 Island Tour Reviews
  • Montego Bay
    The tour was OK, cut short as the tour guide said they did not expect such a short time in port for our ship. Saw highlights, went to beach for about 2 hours (it rained, not their fault). Stopped for souvenir shopping for about 30 minutes. I would not recommend going off on your own in Montego Bay. I noticed that our tour guide and bus driver were very vigilant about "guarding" the 15-20 people on the tour as we entered and exited each stop.
    View All 13,945 Montego Bay Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Montego Bay Cruise Port Review
  • Veragua Rainforest
    This was the highlight of our trip, an all day excursion. We first went on boats on the Tortuguero Canals, and saw crocodiles, sloths, various birds, a monkey. Then a bus ride up to Veragua Rainforest. Our guide was fantastic, stopping along the way to actually bring colorful frogs, spider and web, etc. aboard to show us. The rainforest and tram ride were great as was the guide there. Just make sure to bring rain gear, as it does rain there (downpoured for 20 mins.), part of the experience.
    View All 33 Veragua Rainforest Reviews