What a great way to see the Panama Canal!: Island Princess Cruise Review by leftfldr

Island Princess 4
Member Since 2011

Overall Member Rating

What a great way to see the Panama Canal!

Sail Date: November 2011
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
This was my first cruise with Princess. Overall, a fantastic experience! The ship and crew are both top notch. Despite being nearly a decade old ship, it is well kept by its friendly staff. Embarkation was a breeze, luggage arrived nearly the same time as we located our stateroom. Our cabin steward was friendly and helpful. This ship is the perfect size. Plenty of places to go and things to do without seeming like you are forever wandering around a labyrinth of a ship. Panama Canal day was the highlight. Worth it to wake up early & enjoy the Panamanian sunrise while entering the locks. (There's a secret buried in another review on this site about the Island Princess. It will make your early morning rise all the more special if you find it.)

I have to agree with the other reviews, food was just ok. Although a blessing in disguise as I did not gain any lbs during this 10 day cruise, it was a disappointment to not have warm rolls or flavorful fish in the main dining More room. We did not venture into the "upscale" restaurants. The all you can eat pizza was mostly overcooked (dare I say, burnt) and the grille above it was again, just ok.

Stateroom was a mini-suite with a balcony. Good space and the 2 TV's were a nice feature. No built in DVD player (included) was a disappointment, but not a deal breaker. Bathroom was surprisingly spacious and well designed with lots of shelves and places to hang things. Main bed was comfortable and cozy. Pillows... not so much. Might want to bring your own if you can. Fold away bed was uncomfortable and mattress was very thin. Anyone who weighs more than 60 lbs will not like it.Kid Stuff: Not many kids on this cruise (10 total), but the kids club was friendly and well stocked. Lots of crafts and other fun stuff you will not have room to pack. Again, the warm, friendly staff thru-out the ship knew my child by name about day 3, so that was a nice, welcoming feel.

Tipping: This was my first experience with auto-tipping, ($12 per day per person). At first, I didn't think I would like it, but for me, it was more comfortable overall just tipping those persons that truly went that extra mile for you, knowing that others are still getting something extra.

Dining in the formal dining room: This was very pleasant. Although the food could have been better, it was a nice, (relatively) quiet meal. We were never interrupted with some kind of "show" by the wait staff or a blatant plug for money (see Tipping above) by the maitre d'. The staff were warm and friendly & attentive without being "in your face".

Dining in the buffet: It could be tough to find a table if you go a peak times. Staff are quick to try to find you a table and to carry your plate for you (especially if the seas are rough). The buffet is on the bow of the ship, so if you are prone to sea sickness, as some in my party were, I recommend taking your food out to the pool area for a more stable meal. There were plenty of tables and areas to eat at outside in the fresh air.

Other things:
Pictures: Yes, there will be pictures taken & sometimes the photographers are in your way. Smile and move on... You are on vacation! (You don't have to buy them, so relax.)

Work out area: Free to use all equipment which was modern and well kept.

Lotus Spa: Very nice offerings, but not the best prices. (Surprised?) As with most cruises, check back frequently as specials arise daily. Less

Published 12/03/11

Cabin review: MAD507

D-507 was our cabin. Great location for those of us who are prone to sea-sickness. It did get rocky the last few days, so being in the middle of the ship helped a lot.

Port and Shore Excursions

Aruba is a nice relaxing place with beautiful beaches. DePalm Island is clean and gorgeous. We were the only boat in town, so about 50 of us that had the run of the whole place. If there 3 more ships & 250 more people there, I don't think I would not have had as much fun.

A 90 minute city tour listening to the guide tell us how safe Columbia is and that the steel bars on every window & door are "decorative". 'Nuff said. Take a spa day on the ship. Your money will be better spent.

If your itinerary is like mine (not a thru crossing), make sure you take an excursion in a smaller boat to the MiraFlores (Pacific) side. Touching the lock walls & getting a guided tour from a local is the way to go for a full Panama experience. It's a long day, but that's why you are on this cruise, right?? Experience all you can!

I recommend finding your own independent tour to see the stingrays or for snorkeling. The locals are happy to cut out the cruise ship cost and give you a better experience for going that extra mile. All the tour companies are in walking distance of the port area & they will get you back to your ship in plenty of time. This trip, I had a large party, so to simplify things, I stayed with the cruise line booking to keep everyone's blood pressure down.

Definitely a highlight. The crystal clear water & friendly boat staff are quick to educate & show you the ray's. Standing in the middle of the ocean 4 ft deep is an experience of its own, but add these beautiful creatures & tropical fish, its an awesome adventure. Bring that water camera for sure.

Turtle farm was neat. Lots of turtles of all ages. You get to handle them and roam around freely for a brief period.

Costa Rica is a lush, tropical locale. I was overruled and we went on a city tour which included the Dole banana packing plant. Fun for the kids, but as an engineer, I had to laugh at the "safety precautions" we were expected to adhere to & the employees seemingly do not. Let's just say I'm glad banana's have an outer skin & leave it at that. I recommend a venture to the rainforest and take the aerial tram or zipline. Everyone I spoke to had great times. (Take your Dramamine for the long bus ride. Most of the roads are awful.)

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