Completely met our expectations...: Island Princess Cruise Review by PattiDSask

Island Princess 4
Member Since 2012

Overall Member Rating

Completely met our expectations...

Sail Date: January 2012
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Travelled on Princess to the Panama Canal. Excellent cruise -- destination ports included Aruba, Cartagena, Canal, Limon Costa Rica, and Ocho Rios Jamaica. While not experienced cruisers, we have found that there are two types of people on cruise ships -- those who go to cruise and those who use the cruise to get to unique destinations. We tend to fall into the latter category and therefore don't participate in many of the cruise amenities and services. Probably something to keep in mind for those reading this review.

Island Princess is a nice, well-laid out smaller ship. Because it is small -- on many of the main services decks, public hallways tend to be only on the starboard side of the ship. But, despite the ship's small size, it felt like there were lots of options for places to go and things to do. Two dining rooms, a buffet dining room, and two upscale restaurants, plus several bars and two theatres meant lots to explore.

I found the boarding and More disembarkation process with Princess to be outstanding. The organization of the luggage in particular at disembarkation was quite remarkable. Things were so easy to find the process was very quick. The same level of organization and order occurred for excursions. I was very impressed.

The food on the Island Princess was really amazing -- we chose traditional dining and while the menu there was very good the quality of the food was quite outstanding. The buffet was good quality for breakfast although we found the crowds a bit much so we tended to opt for breakfast in the Bordeaux, where table service could be found. We ate once at each of the upscale restaurants and both were excellent. The service at Sabatini's was particularly notable -- great fun. The great service at Sabatini's aside, we found that the restaurant service in general on the Island Princess didn't match the quality of the food. We chose traditional dining because we liked the experience of getting to know our wait staff over the course of a cruise and that didn't happen for us on this cruise.

The crowd on this cruise tended toward a bit older so I think that some found the night life to be a bit stodgy (but being a bit older myself, I didn't notice!).

Small quibbles --
- couldn't even get a soft drink without pulling out your cruise card... we felt a bit nickeled and dimed
- the photographers were everywhere! You couldn't turn around without someone from Princess wanting to take a picture of you. There must be a return on it, but we found it occasionally annoying.

All in all, we really enjoyed our vacation and would recommend the Island Princess and the Panama Canal.
All in all, we really enjoyed our cruise. Less

Published 02/09/12

Cabin review: BEA714 Balcony

Our stateroom was on the A deck port side and aft. As others have noted, the shower was exceptionally small (on the other hand, when the sea was rough, you didn't have to worry about falling over!). But our balcony was well-appreciated and much used. The steward service was excellent. We were completely satisfied with our experience in our state room. One small note -- perhaps because we were towards the stern and under the big top engines of the ship, there was an annoying and constant vibration in the bed. My brain in half sleep frequently translated the meaning of the vibrations as heart palpitations and I often woke up feeling jittery and anxious -- needless to say, I didn't sleep all that well. But given the beauty of the environment, it was something I was happy to overlook. The ship was full so the options for room changes were nil and I was not prepared to trade my balcony!

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Port and Shore Excursions

Good tour with an ethical provider (no fish feeding, no alcohol until all the swimming was done, etc.). Downside, three snorkelling excursions all in the same place at the same time -- snorkelling with 150 other people is not my idea of fun. With all the churn and suntan lotion, the visibility was pretty murky. On the other hand, a bad day snorkelling is still better than most other days.

Took a bus and walking tour of the old city.... beautiful, educational, and well worth it. Great, knowledgeable guide. Downside, be prepared for the street hawkers -- they are plentiful and aggressive. Walk away at least three times before accepting a price if you choose to buy something from them (this goes for the stores in Las Bovedas as well).

We took the ferry trip through the Panama Canal. Excellent guides, really great information and wonderful tour. Highly recommend. No downside.

Spent part of a day at the all-inclusive resort The Jewel at Dunn's River Falls. Beautiful resort, golden sandy beach. But resort guests don't wear wrist bands and day visitors do -- we noticed a distinct difference in the level of service for day visitors. Also, the promotions indicated there would be snorkelling available through the resort. Snorkelling is purchased separately next door. The beach there is too sandy for good snorkelling -- we were somewhat disappointed.

Took an excursion to the Veragua Rain Forest. Beautiful and well done. Tram ride was short, but wonderful. Butterfly museum was excellent. Be sure to take a stroll through Limon. It is a lovely little town.

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