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Sail Date: December 2018
We really wanted to cruise the panama canal but didn't have the time to do sea to ocean so the 10 day Princess cruise just suited us perfectly. Everything went perfectly well with the embarkation and disembarkation, Princess has ... Read More
We really wanted to cruise the panama canal but didn't have the time to do sea to ocean so the 10 day Princess cruise just suited us perfectly. Everything went perfectly well with the embarkation and disembarkation, Princess has it down to a science. the Island Princess, even though it was refurbished in 2017 is rather dated looking. We had a mini suite and the sofa needed replacement cushions! The accommodations were really good and we were glad we made the decision to get a mini suite considering it was our home for 10 days. The evening entertaining was great fun, just some great games and laughs in the Explorer Lounge. The service on the ship was overall really good. We did each in each of the specialty restaurants once each and they were all very good. Glad we did that, it was a nice change and quite reasonable for what you got. You can't go out for dinner to any restaurant for what they charge. We did our shore excursions through Princess directly and they too were very well orchestrated. Very well organized and quite enjoyable. We did Dunn's River Falls (and walked the path immediately beside the falls rather than climb the falls), we did the hop on hop off bus tour/walking tour in cartagena which was also very good. It gets very hot very early there so we did our excursion at 7:30 and were back on the ship by noon. We did not get off the ship in Panama or Colon. Did the coffee and banana plantation/city tour which we also quite enjoyed in Costa Rica. In Grand Cayman, we just got off the ship and walked around on our own as this was our third time there. One downside to the ship is that their fitness room in the the "dungeon". No windows!!!!! I was shocked but still used the treadmills. the equipment was fine, the location was so not expected. I thought it would be in a room that we could see the ocean from! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
As an enjoyable & relaxing getaway, I would give this cruise no less than 4 stars. On the other hand, for the cruise line that is most associated with the popular 1970s and early 1980s TV show, "The Love Boat," I was ... Read More
As an enjoyable & relaxing getaway, I would give this cruise no less than 4 stars. On the other hand, for the cruise line that is most associated with the popular 1970s and early 1980s TV show, "The Love Boat," I was very disappointed at the lack of organized social activities for single (heterosexual) men & women age 40 and older. I loved my stateroom though! Best experiences: 1) My steward, Liezl Castro, was EXCELLENT!!! Her customer service was outstanding! 2) The helicopter ride at The Grand Cayman Islands was thoroughly enjoyable 3) Ochos Rios, Jamaica was very fun ... particularly the Dune Buggy ride 4) Viewing the Panama Canal up close was worth the price of the cruise itself! Not-so-enjoyable experiences: 1) The swaying of the ship on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 (I experienced motion sickness for the 1st time) 2) The total lack of organized social activities for the single (heterosexual) men & women. I had high expectations for some "Love Boat" related events, but ended up feeling severely disappointed 3) Some of the street merchants in Cartagena, Colombia were overly aggressive and persistent, generally annoying, and even rude if you refused to purchase any of the products they were offering for sale 4) Photos were sometimes highly over-priced Overall, I would give the cruise a thumbs up Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
NCL Jade was a great ship, staff were very friendly especially in the O'Sheehans restaurant. We had a handicap oceanview on deck 8, cabin 8602 which was listed as obstructed view. Except for a view of the top of a lifeboat, the view ... Read More
NCL Jade was a great ship, staff were very friendly especially in the O'Sheehans restaurant. We had a handicap oceanview on deck 8, cabin 8602 which was listed as obstructed view. Except for a view of the top of a lifeboat, the view was not that obstructed. My only down comment was in regards to the handicap room was where they sent us for lifeboat drill. Instead of directing us to O'Sheehans down the walk way from the cabin we were sent to deck 6 dining room, where only 1 of 4 elevators would go to that level. Needless to say we never went to that restaurant for dinner. We had the drink package, 4 specialty dinner package, and setup unlimited wifi. We visited the Moderno (brazilian steakhouse), where the best food was the sirlion steak & pineapple. Cagney's - wow great steaks (on our next cruise we will here more than once). La Cucina - italian, was just so so. Teppanyaki - can't go wrong here, always good. It was great the ship had an Adults pool - though the occasional parent took their kid there. As with any cruise people are very rude about getting out there early and marking chairs, then not returning for 1/2 the day. Even though all cruises make reference to being able to remove towels after 1/2 hour, most people do not. Bingo is overpriced, and deal or No Deal is fun but kind of dull, and suggestion of you matching cases not very likely. Most I saw anyone match after 4 games was 4. Harvest Caye - caught a Beach Villa on early booking of tour for $350 which was a steal (once onboard it goes for $599). Best tour we did. Bad comment for Harvest Caye was the shops - my partner got caught purchasing a chess set for ($150), which store owner proclaimed was their best price, then saw same in Costa Maya for only $40. Buyer beware on this stop. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose this cruise for the itinerary, specifically a chance to experience the Panama Canal. I was not disappointed. There was a thorough explanation of the workings of the canal as we went through. The other ports were fine, the ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the itinerary, specifically a chance to experience the Panama Canal. I was not disappointed. There was a thorough explanation of the workings of the canal as we went through. The other ports were fine, the Gumbalimba Preserve in Honduras was another highlight for me. The ship was clean and though reportedly recently refurbished, it was somewhat dated. The cabin was small, but adequate. This was my first NCL cruise and I was told by some who had cruised with them before that the Jade was not a good representative of the line as a whole. I am taking the word for it and purchased a Next Cruise package. First the Positives. I prefer to sail on a ship the size of the Jade. Even though it was completely booked, there were no long waits for the elevators or the restaurants as there are on some of the larger ships. All staff and crew I encountered were thoroughly efficient and polite. I found the service excellent in all the restaurants and enjoyed the food. I had the specialty dining package and enjoyed all of the specialty restaurants. I also enjoyed the buffet. I purchased a Thermal Suite pass and it was well worth the money. It was peaceful and quiet and a good way to escape the crowd at the pool, especially on days at sea. There was an extensive list of activities that I enjoyed, a special shout-out to Vincent the Cruise Director who brought a lot of fun and energy to the cruise. I especially liked the dance lessons. Neutral The Two Oceans by Railway excursion was pleasant, but I don't think it was worth the price. You spend more time on the bus getting to and from the train than on the train itself. Also there really was not a lot to see from the train. The negatives I have previously cruised on Royal Caribbean during the holidays and in comparison, the meager Christmas and New Year's decorations on the Jade were totally underwhelming. Likewise, I found the entertainment disappointing. The juggler was excellent but the other entertainers on the ship were amateurish. Dee Jay Cee Jay, however, is a fabulous DJ and lots of fun. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. I loved the itinerary, but wish we would have chosen other staterooms on a different deck. Overall the ship needs overhauled. Quite disappointed in the ... Read More
We chose this cruise to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. I loved the itinerary, but wish we would have chosen other staterooms on a different deck. Overall the ship needs overhauled. Quite disappointed in the photography....same 2 backgrounds offered for the first three nights of the cruise. One of those was a white background and it was offered another 2 nights. How many photos with a white background do people need/want?!? The entertainment was ok, the best part was trivia with Hammertime. Trivia with Yris was lame for those not from Mexico -- really all her trivias had bonus questions for Mexicans. There was not as much offered as I would have expected on such a long cruise. NYE was something I was looking forward to on the ship, and I was disappointed. I went to the deck party, but instead of the Princess band hyping us up for the New Year, they played slower songs. Certainly not the hopping party I expected. There were too many children with not enough to do, the playing around in the elevators and running up and down the halls was disruptive and impacted our enjoyment. Do not take your children on a cruise of this length with so few port days without planning something for them to do, Princess will not do it for you. For notes on my cabin, please see that section. It alone has me questioning any future cruises with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose this cruise due to the fact that it ended in Los Angeles, started in the USA (in this case I took a transfer from Miami airport to Fort Lauderdale but did not hang out in Florida). It was a good choice for me economically and for ... Read More
I chose this cruise due to the fact that it ended in Los Angeles, started in the USA (in this case I took a transfer from Miami airport to Fort Lauderdale but did not hang out in Florida). It was a good choice for me economically and for relaxation purposes. Both embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. I knew it would be a calmer cruise with few ports. For this vacation, that is what I wanted. The service staff were very nice and did a good job, I loved the production cast shows, and the magician Trigg Watson. They played movies under the stars, in a theater, and in the rooms, that were fairly recent like withing that year (it was great the selection).I really enjoyed the anytime dinner option, along with tea time everyday. I also had personal pizzas made at Alfredo's a few times and that was very nice. The shore excursions I went on were eco tours with crocodile sightings being a highlight in both Costa Rica and Hualteco and I enjoyed both immensely. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
A cruise to the Panama Canal had been something my husband & I had planned for some time. When friends asked us to join them on this December cruise, it was the perfect opportunity to go. We had a lovely cruise. However, most of the ... Read More
A cruise to the Panama Canal had been something my husband & I had planned for some time. When friends asked us to join them on this December cruise, it was the perfect opportunity to go. We had a lovely cruise. However, most of the ship’s recent changes (the removal of the International Café, some specialty restaurants & the awkward relocation of other public areas) during its refurbishment were not well-planned. The small, windowless fitness center is crowded, & not at all inviting. The addition of 121 cabins reduces many public areas, & cuts off walking a full circuit of the Promenade deck. All of the staff on Island Princess are hard-working, courteous, & did their best to please us. How they can accomplish it all, in their limited time, is amazing. Our cabin steward, Benedik, was the best! He addressed all of our cabin concerns (a shower door didn’t close properly, causing water to leak into the bedroom, a loose shower shelf, & broken hair dryer housing) quickly, & efficiently. Our cabin was comfort-able, but needs to be updated. Storage space in our suite was very generous, w/ lots of hangers. Embarkation: This went smoothly, & we boarded about 11:30. Lunch in the Bordeaux Dining Room (12-1:30) was a relaxing way to begin our cruise, instead of the busy Horizon Ct. On embarkation night, only, passengers in suites & elite guests can dine at the specialty restaurants without paying the $29. Anytime Dining does NOT accept dinner reservations on embarkation day, but does after that. Princess Theater: The 50 min. shows were at 6 p.m. & 8 p.m. Anytime Dining allowed us to dine before or afterward, depending on whether or not we planned to attend a show, or how late our excursion lasted. The larger shows (“The Secret Silk”, “On the Bayou”, “Encore”, & one other) were excellent, & alternated nights w/a comedian or singer. As mentioned, by others, get there at least 30 min. early to get a seat. It can also be very chilly during the evening performances, so bring a sweater or jacket. Sabatini’s: Serves wonderful dinners & breakfasts, only, to suite & elite guests. Our best meal was the Ultimate Balcony Dinner prepared by Room Service. It’s an exceptional experience & value. The lobster & filet were cooked to perfection. Served by the hard-working Room Service staff, Alwynn & Namadan, both of whom were outstanding servers: courteous, & efficient. We dined indoors, because of windy weather. Bordeaux Dining Room: Meals were just average. Ordering steak & lobster were an additional charge, (an unwelcome upcharge from their main menu), & not always the best choice. My lobster was overcooked, & some of the entrees were not hot when they arrived at the table. On past Princess cruises, there were more upscale menu items offered without this extra charge. Head waiter, Adrian, was helpful w/ seating the four of us, in the Bordeaux, when we were not using the Club Dining section of the room. Waiters continually circulated the room trying to sell “extra” drink offerings. Club Dining: a lovely, no-wait section of the dining room, for those in suites or certain mini-suites. Menu choices appeared to be about the same as in the regular section. We dined there only once, but not having to wait in line for seating is a definite plus. Horizon Court: Well-designed for improved flow. Improvements include hand washing stations, a glove-wearing staff member to hand you a plate upon entering, & nightly “theme” food, which was quite good. After a past experience w/ norovirus (on a different cruise line), I was hesitant to use the buffet. However, using the My Shield hand sanitizer I purchased from Amazon made us feel more secure. (http://www.stopthestomachflu.com/Home/what-do-hand-washing-and-hand-sanitizers-really-do/my-shield-hand-sanitizer ) Internet service is slow & expensive. Early mornings or late nights were often the only time we could connect to their satellite service. The Internet Café staff is not as competent as on other cruises, & several questions went unanswered, that had to do w/ phone settings to make calls while on board, using our phone plans, set up in advance. The free Princess@Sea app. for communicating w/ other passengers was handy (when it worked), but was a bit more complicated to set up than advertised on the website. Tips: The best view of the Panama Canal transit is from Deck 11, (just below the bridge) ALL the way to the front of the ship, & thru the normally closed doors to the outer deck. The doors are open to passengers on this day, only, & offered the best views of all of the action. Coffee Card: The card is not separate, but loaded onto your cruise card. As that was not explained, we had to ask several staff members before we understood how it worked. We purchased two, but really only needed one for both of us. As it was, we didn’t even finish half of what was offered, & are unable to have it carry over to a future cruise. Bottled water: We purchased 2 cases from Princess before sailing, & they were delivered to our cabin. It was less expensive than purchasing it individually, on board, & came in handy for shore excursions. Elite Lounge: (for suite & elite passengers) – Held each evening in the Explorer’s Lounge, deck 6, at the very back of the lounge, nightly between 5-7. Lovely complimentary appetizers & discounted drinks are offered. After our initial visit, we brought our traveling companions w/ us. Sanitation: I also purchased Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide Wipes (odorless & more effective than the ones at a market) from Amazon, to wipe down our cabin’s touchable surfaces. We also carried a small My Shield foam hand sanitizers w/ us, & used it a lot. Once you’ve experienced norovirus, you never want a reoccurrence. Bar gratuities: 15% is automatically added to your cruise account, so you don’t need to add tips during individual purchases. Lotus Spa: There are many services available. I had a facial. And while it was good, it was not as thorough as others I’ve had. Products advertised on the Princess website are not the same as what the spa offers. Princess needs to update its website. Formal Nights: Both were on sea days. The first was on the 1st sea day. The last was held on the 3rd sea day, as most passengers were packing on the 4th. The Captain’s Champagne Reception was fun, as wasbeing one of the several passengers who got to pour additional champagne, over the tower of glasses. There was a line to do it, but it was worth it! Photos are taken, & it’s videotaped. Photos: All photos & “packages” are expensive, but fun to have. The photographers who take photos, when passengers disembark at ports, only stay there for 3 hrs., after docking. So if you get off later than that, you may miss them. Mai was the photo manager on board, & corrected a few charges for us that were incorrectly calculated. Lectures: Bill Fall’s port lectures were fabulous. He’s very experienced & used to live in Panama. His commentaries, as we entered the canal, were also wonderful. Don’t miss him. Cruising: Gale force winds between Jamaica & Cartagena & Limon & Grand Cayman resulted in the closing of the Promenade deck, two rocky crossings, & the cancelation of one of the shows: for the safety of the performers & the passengers. Otherwise, it was fairly smooth sailing. Medical Center: very good. In spite of our attempt to stay healthy, my husband contracted a chest cold, (not flu), & the Center treated him quickly & efficiently. Do pack as many OTC meds as you think you’ll need. We stored all of our toiletries in an inexpensive over-the-door shoe organizer, in the bathroom. It saved counter space, & no one touched our things while cleaning. Also, if you need to cancel (or miss) a Princess sponsored tour, because of medical reasons, ask the Med. Center to stamp your tour voucher, before you leave them. Then take it to the shore excursions desk & ask them to void the tour charge. Pre-Cruise Inoculations: We chose to get Hepatitis A & Typhoid Fever shots. We also used Sunsect, a combo sunscreen/insect repellant used by our U.S. troops. We had no issues w/mosquitoes, but it pays to be safe. Excursions: Except for Cartagena, ours were sponsored by Princess. Bathroom breaks were conveniently spaced on all tours. Complimentary Princess totes were handy for onshore purchases or to carry water. DO check excursion vouchers for tour time changes, (from the guides) from what you may have booked. Jamaica: We took the excursion to Good Hope Great House, which included a lovely Jamaican lunch. If not taking a tour, it’s safer to stay within the gated area of the cruise port. Cartagena: Daniel Grey, from Tours by Locals was a fabulous guide. We customized our tour, saw all we requested, & skipped the visits to the emerald shops. Our stop for lunch at La Mulata, in the Walled City (a local & reasonably priced restaurant), was perfect. They served great food & used filtered water. Finally, a quick stop at the port’s free mini zoo, on the pier, completed our perfect day. Panama: “Rainforest, Gatun Lakes & Locks Tour”: Only Princess tours could disembark & be tendered to the tour pick up. Panama Port Authority determines when passengers can disembark. Our tour didn’t leave until 11:30. Our stop at the Agua Clara Visitors’ Center would have been more appealing IF their restaurant had been opened, (Christmas Day) & we were not relegated to a long line where chips & sodas were all that was left. The hike near the resort was short & uneventful. The boat ride on Gatun Lake was pleasant, but we saw only one sloth. Limon: the 7.5 hr. Veragua Rainforest & Research Center, & Tortuguera Canal excursion was excellent! Our weather was perfect, & we saw sloths, monkeys, crocodiles, & egrets along the way. We descended the rainforest in a gondola, hiked to a waterfall, & enjoyed a local buffet lunch at the Center. On the Tortuguera Canal, we saw crocodiles, monkeys & sloths. It was well-organized, & one of our best tours. Grand Cayman: We were tendered to Royal Watler pier. Our tour, Highlights, “Hell”, & the Seven Fathoms Rum Distillery was great. The Seven Fathoms Rum Distillery is actually processed 42 ft. below the ocean, (7 fathoms) & 11 miles from shore. A stop to buy Tortuga rum cakes was also included. Check tour times. Afterward, we had a great lunch at the Cayman Cabana, located near the pier & the tenders. Currency: We took foreign currency for all port stops except Panama, whose currency’s value is the same as the U.S. Store prices were in U.S. $. We paid using their own currency, which seemed to confuse & surprise a few shop owners, who were anxious for U.S. $. We didn’t use credit cards, as we felt it risky. Weather: Check the temperatures of the ports, before you leave. It can be very hot & humid. Bring a hat to wear if you’re out on the deck during the Canal transit, or for the shore excursions. Disembarkation: This went very smoothly, & IF you have a Global Entry card, you’ll be able to use the short line exclusively for those who have it. Three months ago, I requested that Princess distribute copies of the Embarkation Day Princess Patter, to passengers waiting in the lounge to board. They didn’t. But hopefully, they’ll begin to do that as a service to their passengers, in the future. It would be helpful in planning that first day’s activities. It would also be nice if Princess reinstated their embarkation day “treasure hunt”. It gave passengers a chance to become acquainted w/all of the public areas. While a lovely ship, I would not cruise on the Island Princess again. If given a choice I’d take the Coral Princess, which has not been refitted w/ 121 additional cabins, & has more restaurants & public spaces. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
1. Food - Poor selection and sometimes cold in the main dining room. Throughout the ship, the food was mostly standard fare. We ate one night at the Sabatini and we were not impressed. The food selection was limited in the main dining ... Read More
1. Food - Poor selection and sometimes cold in the main dining room. Throughout the ship, the food was mostly standard fare. We ate one night at the Sabatini and we were not impressed. The food selection was limited in the main dining room but it did improve towards the end of the cruise. Their coffee is wonderful and I wish I knew what they used! On the other hand, the Horizon Court Bar charges to warm up milk with their Espresso Machine Steamer and that is ridiculous!!! I also thought there was a bit of penny pinching and charging for standard items like water. I understand charging for alcohol and specialty items but not for water! The Chocolate ice cream cones weren’t very good. The Piña Coladas were great. 2. Service - In general, it was very good but dinner service was slow at times during the first few days. It greatly improved as the days progressed and our waiters really tried their best to speed up the serving of our food. In my opinion, the waiters in the main dining are understaffed. We did complain one time to the Supervisor about the food arriving late and cold. He came back the next day to see how things were going but that was it. Overall, the waiters on our table (#161) were very attentive. There was a table next to us that knew one of the Supervisors and they were extremely demanding of the waiter’s attention so that may have played a part in that table getting quicker service. Crew was friendly and attentive. One of our breakfast waiters, Nelson, was wonderful. 3. Room - Was clean and pretty standard (A324 - Deck 12). The pillows are very soft and although they provided us with 4 pillows, I think they should have two that are a bit firmer. There was only one chair in the cabin so one of us had to either sit on the bed or lay down. I would have liked an extra chair. Next time, we’ll book a stateroom with a sofa! Dennis, our cabin steward was ok. He kept the room clean, provided us with extra towels. He didn’t clean the balcony glass doors until we were in the last port (Grand Cayman) and we couldn’t really look out unless we opened the door since there was so much salt water on the glass. The room was a bit hot at times. There were some tiny holes in the blackout curtain liner. Being on the 12th floor, there was some noise coming from upstairs with equipment or stuff rolling around during the day. 4. Ship - In general, a ship this size was ok. There were few, if any, lines or waiting. Sitting for meals was quick and tables were always available. Embarkation for us was a breeze since we didn’t show up until about 1:30-2:00 p.m. so zero lines. Disembarking was well organized and fairly quick. The ship did not feel overcrowded. Wish they had BIGGER stabilizers! Princess has an onboard website that you can log on to see your bill, check out the daily events and send messages to other passengers. There is no charge for this. I would love for them to add a “ding” or a “red dot” or some indication when a message has been received!!! Every time either of us sent a message (I’m in the Library; I’m back in the Cabin; etc), we wouldn’t see it until much later when it was irrelevant! We’re even thinking of taking walkie-talkies with us on our next cruise!!! The Sanctuary was too expensive at $40 per person per day. I refuse to pay this much money for a lounge chair and some quiet. The staff at Guest Services were terrific. The Future Cruise Director was a bit offputting. It seemed everyone was holding a bottle of Purell and hand washing was greatly encouraged. This was great and Princess is really trying to keep their passengers healthy. Casino is small, the Boutiques limited but that was ok for us. We did not use the Spa, nor Room Service. 5. Entertainment - The Production Shows were TERRIFIC!!! Mr. John Loney, Cruise Director is a ball of energy and extremely efficient at what he does. He was everywhere!!! We weren’t able to catch other shows since they conflicted with our dinner and/or other events we wanted to attend. This was probably one of the best parts of this cruise. 6. Shore Excursions - Falmouth, Jamaica was uneventful. Cartagena, Colombia was too short and would have loved to explore it more, especially overnight. The street vendors just ruined the experience since they’re so “in your face”. They just don’t go away even when told “NO” repeatedly. We speak Spanish so language was no problem. We were planning to stay longer onshore since there was time but decided to just go back to the ship. Also, the tour guide was ok but just took us to a few sights and then to the jewelry stores that he was obviously getting a commission. The Panama Canal crossing was great and we also took an excursion to the Pacific Ocean. At Limon, Costa Rica we just went ashore to walk around and although there isn’t much to see, it was nice to not get bombarded with street vendors. We were pretty much left alone to wander around, have some coffee and be in an area that hasn’t been totally affected by tourism. Grand Cayman - we just stayed onboard since we’ve been there before. Overall, this was a very good cruise! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
To call it "Bucket-List: cruise would elevate it to something it never was really intended to be. We were looking for a Christmas getaway that was warm and yet included sights never scene. So we chose the 10-day Panama Canal cruise. ... Read More
To call it "Bucket-List: cruise would elevate it to something it never was really intended to be. We were looking for a Christmas getaway that was warm and yet included sights never scene. So we chose the 10-day Panama Canal cruise. We chose the Island Princess ship because there's no gimmicks, no flashy anything. It is stately and has order to it. No one will accuse it of being a party ship or rave about the late-night entertainment or all the kids' activities. It's a mid-sized "Love Boat" filled with mostly boomers—some rich that popped for all their kids and grands to join them for Christmas break. The staterooms are plain and adequate with ample storage. There's a choice of restaurants but not such a vast selection as to cause confusion. You can count the choices on one hand. Ports of call included Jamaica, Columbia (ask for Pepsi products and not "Coke"), Costa Rica, Grand Cayman, and the highlighted Panama Canal. It's a partial transit, that is, the ship goes through three locks into the huge Lake Gatum. Then it eventually turns around and goes back through the same set of locks. Sound boring? It's not. It's really fascinating and it takes nearly all day to accomplish this turnabout. Typical excursions are offered at each port of call. Those staying on-board have an okay (not great) choice of activities on board from Trivia to gingerbread house making. The food quality is fair and the buffet has a different theme every evening. I didn't hear anyone saying they just had to get the recipe for this or that anything. The nightly entertainment need not be booked in advance as is the case on some ships (I dislike that). The theater is spacious enough. The musical/dance productions got better as the cruise progressed and never a repeat. A magician or comedian would alternate shows on nights when the dancers needed a break. The theater would also host an occasional movie, but most movies were "under the stars" on the Lido deck which seems to be the norm these days. A couple of the sailing-only days were rough. The trade winds on the Caribbean can be a little testy during late December but, for the most part, the rainy season of central American and hurricane season is over. No worries there, but still pack the Dramamine. The best surprise is no surprise. Princess Line's consistency in delivering a quality product at a decent value with no surprises is commendable.. In my humble opinion, Princess Line's Panama Canal locks cruise on Christmas Day with the ship all decorated and Christmas carols (carols...and not just songs) playing is a good route to go for those seeking a different kind of Christmas vacay. . Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
My husband and I enjoy cruising during holidays, when we can -- Christmas, New Years, Easter. This was a Christmas cruise. We chose it mostly for Cartagena and Panama Canal. Cartagena was a vision as Island Princess entered the harbor. The ... Read More
My husband and I enjoy cruising during holidays, when we can -- Christmas, New Years, Easter. This was a Christmas cruise. We chose it mostly for Cartagena and Panama Canal. Cartagena was a vision as Island Princess entered the harbor. The city is designed so that the sun lights up the white skyscrapers like torches at sunrise. It's breathtaking! This was our second cruise to go through the Panama Canal but there are plenty of excursions and this time we took a tour of the old city and Miraflores locks. The tour was great, mostly because of Rosablanca, ("White Rose") our tour guide. We only took three excursions on this 10-day cruise. Cartagena Old City (a UNESCO World Heritage site), Trolly Tour in Grand Cayman and Panama mentioned above. Cartagena has some over-assertive street vendors. With plenty of sea days and a couple of great lecturers -- Bill Fall and Marina Oborotova -- this turned out to be a relaxing cruise. Played trivia and Bingo with Robbie (best Bingo caller in the fleet, I think!). We didn't win. We were always in the dining room at 5 sharp so we could make the 6 pm show. Robert and Jelana always competent in the dining room and brought smiles with their conversations. (Table 75 anytime dining). Horizon Court offered up a great variety of chow and desserts. They also had gingerbread houses and decorations and they baked four humongous cakes (enough for 1,000 perhaps?) strawberry, blueberry, chocolate decorated like a christmas tree, and German chocolate -- spectacular effort! Dining room food was a medley that could be graded A (NY strip steak, lamb roast, prime rib), A- (lobster tails with no butter, but on a pile of sticky rice/arugula) and one F (bad red snapper). Balcony cabin was good with a full length closet. On the last morning, the room steward wanted to come in and strip the beds when we went to breakfast. This was ten minutes before six a.m. -- my suitcase was on the bed, open, waiting for a few last minute additions to be thrown in. That thing weighs 40 pounds. That was inconvenient! We had some heavy seas and the captain and crew handled the steering as well as possible to alleviate pitching and yawing. They had the stabilizers out when called for. I slept like the dead, but you might want to pack your dramamine, just in case. One of the best production shows ever, on any cruise ship -- their new New Orleans show. I've seen Encore three times, it never gets old. The Secret Silk show is magical. Read Less

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