Island Princess Cruise to Panama well worth the trip BUT???: Island Princess Cruise Review by Globepro

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Island Princess Cruise to Panama well worth the trip BUT???

Sail Date: January 2012
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Having just come off of the Island Princess 10 day cruise, out of FLL to Panama etc. here is feedback from a retired Cruise & Vacation Specialist on my 5th Princess Cruise, and my 17th cruise overall.

Before I begin with problems encountered on this cruise I must share that the staff on the Island Princess are all FABULOUS!!! Also we have never traveled with a friendlier group of fellow passengers. Most people were more than ready and willing with a friendly smile and took an interest in each other on the ship. That in itself made this cruise experience quite special and memorable. Also we thoroughly enjoyed the new show On The Bayou by the ships Performers and it is indeed EXCELLENT. We had seen Piano Man show before and it is quite good too.

Up until now I'd have to say Princess cruise line was my favorite cruise line to date having cruised on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity and MSC in the past.
I just loved the itinerary on this cruise, along with the More layout of the ship. I have sailed on it's sister ship the Coral Princess in the past too. However it is necessary to share that the Island Princess has areas that need attention. Particularly the cabins..

It is not a huge deal on an individual cabin basis but to outfit the whole ship with new beds(we are talking hard beds on the Island Princess when Royal Caribbean & Carnival all have such comfy beds). Sorry to share that the sheet on the bed we had actually had a hole in it. The comforter was threadbare in spots which is rather appalling...we were on a Princess cruise after all.. The lack of top sheet on the bed and just the hot comforter was not nice either.

Our Cabin Steward Benedict is so pleasant and very good at his job, and took care of us fabulously well!!!

We were in Central America for most of the cruise and the temperature was hot with 100% humidity which was indeed expected, however our cabin was so warm and other people complained of their cabin being very warm too. The ACC just couldn't seem to keep up at night, which made for uncomfortable sleeping on that hard bed which didn't help either.

The food although the first night was not up to what we had remembered on other Princess trips the fact that the food overall was very good and presentation as usual was good we have no problems with that. The anytime dining room was pleasant as were the servers always friendly and helpful too. We had anytime dining in the Bordeaux Dining room but booked a table for 2 number #24 with Nicholai every nite, as it is a lovely part of the dining room in a quiet corner beside a window where the table next is close enough to meet other guests each nite and (as we shared it was such a friendly cruise) it was a nice place to get to know fellow passengers too.

We have to wonder why?? Since Carnival owns Princess too why aren't the beds on this Princess Ship at least as comfortable as the beds on Carnival Ships?? We were just on the Carnival Miracle in Nov. and the bed, bedding and cabin were all superior to the cabin on Island Princess and on the Carnival we were in an Ocean View because that is all they had available when we booked..

Also we wonder why when the "signature desert" on the Carnival Ships is the Molten Lava Cake why they don't have it on the Princess Ships. (they could just change the name) The Molten Lava Cake is so poplar on the Carnival ship and the desert I ordered was similar but didn't come anywhere near to that 'special desert" on carnival. Some of the Princess cruisers would never deem to go on a Carnival ship but some of their features are indeed superior to what Princess offer and I'd never had thought even 5 years ago that I'd ever feel this way. Less

Published 01/30/12

Cabin review: BEA722 Balcony

A722 Port side, last cabin/balcony before it goes to the back of the ship. No privacy; Looking down on other balconies. Guests walking outside on deck 14 can look over railing right down onto this balcony. First time in a cabin this far back and although I'd been told the bow was the roughest part of the ship which I have been in before the stern is a close second for being rocky. If the seas are the slightest bit rough it is felt in this part of the ship too. In the shade heading south and full sun on balcony heading north. Small balcony just room for two chairs and tiny table but still had a few pleasant moments when out to sea on our sea days.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Only a 4 hr.stop in Aruba, we had been here 3 times before so we just walked down to the shops. The indoor mall is worth a visit and Senor Frogs is good for a drink to fill in your visit.
Read 1286 Aruba Reviews

We did the Princess Fortress, Harbor Cruise & Shopping Tour. The Fortress is indeed fascinating and although it says it is a medium fitness level requirement it is not for anyone with any walking difficulties at all. Some of the many seniors on our tour had major difficulty as the steep incline and steps in the hot humid temps is not good for anyone and yet it is indeed worth seeing. The Harbor Tour is interesting too and we did enjoy seeing the beaches, and layout of the tourist area from the water. The shopping was limited to a tiny mall with a Emerald/jewelry shop and another shop with leather, coffee & tobacco products which is fine for us but if you are a "true" shopper you would probably be disappointed by this part of the tour. Overall we enjoyed the tour and the tour guide Dario, was excellent a.k.a. Killer...

Tendered here once inside the first lock at Gatun Lake, which was a quick and easy tender. Met at shore by the Tour Guides Mario & Alex who took us to our bus for a 1.5 hr. bus ride through Panama to a part of Gatun Lake Resort where we boarded a boat for a 2 hr. boat ride in Gatun Lake where we saw crocodiles, Iguanas, sloths, White Faced Monkey and Howler Monkeys too.. This part of the tour was indeed fascinating and so interesting. Alex took our part of the tour as we split into two boats. Upon return to Resort we started back on the bus and were given a sandwich and muffin and water for our bus trip to Puerto Limon where we were dropped off inside the fenced shopping area right beside the ship where our Island Princess was waiting for us after it had returned back thro the lock system while we were on our tour on Gatun Lake.. It is a 5 hr. tour and after getting up at 6:00 in order to be awake while the ship goes thro the locks it is a very enjoyable and informative day

We docked at the small dock in Ocho Rios which is pathetically small and chaos reigned while everyone tried to get to find their tour and the buses tried to navigate out of the tiny parking area. Have docked here before (on Celebrity) only at the bigger dock across the harbour this was awful and why Princess didn't get to dock there is really disappointing and another snafu in this cruise. We took the Adult Only Resort Break Tour, which takes you on a short 10 min bus trip the Jewel Resort. Nice place great pools and the food and drinks we good and easily accessible. Problem on this stop is the limited time in port. Arrived at resort around 11:00 and were picked up and taken back at 2:30 for a 3:30 sail away. Between Ocho Rios and early morn on the next day we had sailed approx. 450 Kmiles with only approx. 270 kmiles to FLL. Which meant to us that we could have had another 2 or 3 hours in Jamaica without it affecting our sea time to get back to FLL as the Capt. kept the ship to a slow speed all of our last day at sea, although he did seem to be at full throttle on our second last nite at sea.

Great tour with Mario who is very interesting and enthusiastic about his country of Costa Rica. We were met at the port and taken on a 2 hr drive through the port city into the Mountains to the Hacienda tour plantation. We passed banana plantations and then arrived at the Hacienda after a fabulous tour up into the mountains with gorgeous views all the way up and Mario had the driver stop a few times to point out plants, sights etc. The Hacienda/Resort was/is so gorgeous and we were shown many orchids, macadamia harvest and the process to selling along with sugar cane process to sugar and then coffee harvest methods too. ALong with a good lunch served on a gorgeous outdoor verandah. Lots to see and learn on this tour with the trip back down the mt into the port making it a full 8.5 hr. tour.

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