Island Princess Panama Canal November 9, 2011: Island Princess Cruise Review by janeway

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Island Princess Panama Canal November 9, 2011

Sail Date: November 2011
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
For the most part it was a nice, relaxing cruise. Our cabin steward, Norman, was very good and very friendly. We were not happy with our cabin on the Aloha deck---the balconies all have a low metal overhang above them which amplified sounds on other balconies. Also, sitting on the balcony was not very pleasant due to the loud band on the Lido deck above us. I had requested a wheelchair for embarkation due to limited mobility. There were none available when we arrived outside the terminal, nor were there any inside. When we decided to go ahead and board the ship, no one gave us directions to our cabin, and one person we asked seemed to not speak English and just smiled at us. My biggest disappointment was "Anytime Dining". Having sailed on Princess twice before, we usually waited no more than 10 minutes for a table. This time, on formal night our wait was 90 minutes, totally unacceptable. We found that if you did not arrive before 5:30 and stand in line or make a reservation, More you were not going to get seated before 7:30 or longer. I don't know how you can call this "Anytime Dining". If I wanted to stick to a timed seating, I would have signed up for traditional dining, where I understand the tables were not full. They could have sent some of us over there for seating. And, the hostess who was handing out the pagers couldn't give you any estimate of the wait, and was actually rude when we inquired. We got in the habit of going to the early shows, then eating a late dinner. Might as well have done traditional dining, because the shows are arranged around those times anyway.

We only took one Princess excursion, the Atlantis Submarine in Aruba. Otherwise, we went on private tours arranged thru folks met on the boards on Cruise Critic. They were much more personalized and less expensive. Some people won't take private tours because they're afraid they'll miss the ship. However, these folks are dependent on cruise ships and they had us back to the ship in plenty of time.

We asked for twin bed configuration, but when we arrived it was in the queen configuration. We just let it go that way because it simply wasn't that big a deal.

We celebrated our wedding anniversary on the cruise, and our steward hung balloons in our cabin and wished us happy anniversary. We also had a special dessert for dinner, which we shared with our table mates. We always asked to share a table, and dined with some very fascinating people.

We took advantage of their new program of taking your luggage from your cabin and we didn't see it again until we arrived home. It was well worth the $20 we paid for the service. We took the Princess transfer to the airport which was a mistake. The bus let us off approximately 1-2 city blocks from our terminal. Again, with my limited mobility this made it difficult. Fortunately, we didn't have to wrestle with the luggage. However, next time we will take a taxi to the airport!!

We were very disappointed to find that the photographer who was on land while we went thru the canal seems to have taken NO pictures of those of us on the Aloha deck balconies. You can tell the Aloha deck balconies from others due to the low overhang over the balconies. We were looking forward to showing that picture to our grandchildren. The pictures taken were placed in several boxes and one must search thru hundreds of pictures just to find that there were no pictures of several of us on the Aloha deck balconies. Another Princess snafu?? Less

Published 12/25/11

Cabin review: BBA339 Balcony

A339 on Aloha deck. The balcony is covered by an overhang, so anything said on neighboring balconies was amplified as it bounced off this low metal overhang. Sitting on balcony was not always pleasant due to the loud rock band on the Lido deck above us, especially on party nights. I will not book on the Aloha deck again.

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Port and Shore Excursions

The ferry to get there was open and the ride was rough.

We took a private tour booked thru Cruise Critic with Dora de Explorer. She was very pleasant and knowledgeable. Because of a bad knee, I have difficulty walking even moderate distances. While the rest of our small group walked thru old town and the fort, the van drove me thru old town in air conditioned comfort. The cost was much less than Princess exursions.

We did not take an excursion. We got off the ship just to look around and also find a place to purchase a hat. We were accosted frequently by people trying to see wares or beg money for "charity". We did not take any excursions at the Panama Canal.

Rainforest Tour

I had contacted Eduardo before the cruise to check on the amount of walking. He assured me there was minimal walking. Guess what? There was a LOT of walking. However, the tour itself was very nice, and the canal trip particularly good. We had an excellent guide who was very knowledgable and could spot wildlife where we had trouble even seeing it after he pointed out. He stopped the boat frequently for us to take pictures, etc.

We did not get off the ship here, having been there before when we found what they really wanted was to get you into the jewelry stores and other tourist traps.

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