After a cancelled Germany trip for Christmas and the postponement of another trip in January to next year, I was desperate to leave the US, so I searched for cruises that left out of the US but went to other countries. I booked this cruise with Princess because they waived the single supplement (!!!) and it went to five countries I've never been to before: Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, Panama, Colombia and Costa Rica. Unfortunately, Colombia got cancelled due to the country changing their COVID protocols at the last minute, but they did not shorten the cruise. We just got an extra sea day to relax.
I have to say that cruising right now is the SAFEST thing you can do. Princess told us well in advance about their vaccination and testing requirements, so I was completely prepared (they even linked to an online store to buy home tests that showed up in 2 days!). I really appreciated that all guests and crew had to be vaccinated. You can't find 100% vaccination rates anywhere else!!
Their app was excellent to help set everything up in advance, and I booked all my excursions through their website before I left. Between the app, website and Medallion we got for everything on board, from opening our cabin door to buying drinks, everything was smooth and effortless.
I had an inside cabin that was just perfect. The bed and pillows were oh so comfortable, it was nice and dark in there, and there were plenty of areas to store my things.
I took a day trip to Mystic Mountain in Jamaica, which is a rainforest mountain with activities such as a bobsled, chairlift, roller coaster and zipline. It was a really fun day doing all of these activities, and the employees at the park were fun and funny! The bus driver and tour guide were really fun and helpful and the entire day was perfectly organized.
After disembarking, I took an excursion to the Everglades Holiday Park and took an airboat ride through the Everglades. It was a lot of fun and we saw lots of wildlife. Next, we were treated to an alligator show in which a crazy man wrestled an alligator and put its jaws below his chin! Lastly, we went to Flamingo Gardens, a vast natural park with a wide variety of tree and bird species. It was delightful to walk around and take in all of the nature. Our tour guide was really funny and helpful, and she did an amazing job of keeping us on schedule so that people could get to the airport for their flights on time!
In Grand Turk, I did an excursion that first included a bus tour around the island. We stopped along the way to view the lighthouse, a flock of flamingos and other sights. Then, we were given a lunch on a private beach where we got to sit and swim for a couple of hours. Our tour guide was great and very informative, the day was perfect and the tour was well organized.
In Limon, my tour consisted of first going to the Veragua National Park, where we saw species being conserved, listened to a presentation, saw a gorgeous waterfall and rode an aerial tram through the rainforest. We then had a delicious traditional Costa Rican meal, drove to the canal, and had a nice boat ride down the canal to watch wildlife. We spotted a sloth, a lizard, some monkeys and lots of birds! Our tour guide was great, keeping us on schedule and ensuring that we saw lots of wildlife on the boat ride.
The Canal was the highlight of the cruise. In the morning, we had a clear view of going into the locks from the front of the ship, and the lecturer on board got onto the public announcements system to give us a play-by-play of what was happening. Then, I took an excursion that took us to the Canal's visitor center, then on a boat ride in Gatun Lake, ending at an Indian village. There the native tribe told us about their customs and crafts, they sang and danced for us, and we got to buy handicrafts. Our tour guides were really nice and friendly, had excellent English skills, translated for the Indians very well, and overall ensured that the day was organized and extremely fun.