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4,670 Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

My boyfriend and I booked this cruise somewhat at the last minute and were really looking forward to an easy getaway (we live close to the port in Miami). We had sailed on the Pearl before (to Alaska) and loved the ship, so we were very ... Read More
My boyfriend and I booked this cruise somewhat at the last minute and were really looking forward to an easy getaway (we live close to the port in Miami). We had sailed on the Pearl before (to Alaska) and loved the ship, so we were very interested in trying out this itinerary. EMBARKATION - we selected a later time frame and arrived to the port late, but we were on board in time for muster about 45 minutes after arriving at the port. CABIN - We had a porthole room in the front of the ship. It was slightly larger than a standard inside cabin and was perfectly fine, especially as we did not spend too much time in the room. The extra light from the porthole (which could be closed for complete darkness) made it feel a bit less claustrophobic. Milos, the room steward, was friendly and did a great job with ice refreshed 2x per day and fun towel animals each evening. DINING - I think the food on NCL is very good and on the Pearl in particular, it is excellent. The buffet got crowded at times, especially on port days, but that is to be expected. The variety and quality here was very high. In addition, we also ate at Indigo, the Summer Palace and the Lotus Garden. The food in the dining rooms was inspired, presented beautifully and was in a perfect-sized portion. Wait staff were all very knowledgeable and friendly. It would have been nice if all of the dining rooms were open until 10pm, not just Indigo. BARS - We had the Ultimate Beverage Package, and especially as this was a New Year's Eve sailing, this benefit was much appreciated! The drinks were inventive and we enjoyed sampling at all of the various locations. Favorite was the Sky High Bar (Kurt and Garry are top notch!), Magnums and Shakers, although we also enjoyed drinks at the Spinnaker, the Sake Bar, Sugarcane, Maltings and the Great Outdoors. The UBP also includes wine by the glass, which was much better than committing to an entire bottle. ENTERTAINMENT - We only saw one show; this is not an area of great interest to us. On 12/31, they televised both of the NCAA college football championship games. We were hoping they would do it on the big screen in the atrium; however, it was only televised in Maltings. It was also disappointing that they didn't televise the New Year's Day college football games. The live music in the atrium and in the common area near Magnum's was also wonderful, as was "Energy Plus" and their performances in the Spinnaker and near the pool. The staff did a great job in creating a festive atmosphere on NYE, and everything was open late for the revelers GYM / SPA - I always purchase the spa pass and it's well worth it! Unlike in some of the newer ships, this one has the sauna and steam segregated by gender, with a hot tub and loungers in the common area. The spa is on the front of the ship and it is beautiful to watch the ship's progress in peace and quiet! The saunas also have glass walls and provide a stunning way to watch the ship sail away from the ports! The gym is large enough with sufficient equipment such that it never felt overly crowded. I only had to wait for a treadmill on one day. PORTS / EXCURSIONS - We typically don't book many excursions through the ship as in most places, it's easy to walk off the ship and find things to do. However, this itinerary contained ports we had never been to before and we didn't have enough time to fully research the non-ship provided options beforehand, so we ended up with many excursions sponsored by the ship. CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA - We booked a city tour through the ship. Cartagena is extremely hot and humid, so having an air conditioned bus to return to was appreciated. The first stop was the fort, only about a 10-15 ride from the port. The guide gave us a little history of Cartagena on the way over, and the we had a guided tour of the fort. We next went into the walled Old City, a UNESCO world heritage site. We stopped at a crafts market that had been a dungeon formerly. We then had a walking tour of the Old City. The architecture has been preserved beautifully and there were many fantastic photo ops. We next stopped at the Inquisition Museum, the Gold Museum and also a church. On the way back to the port, we drove through the "new" part of the city, which is a mix of older mid-size buildings, modern high rises and single family homes, all set along a seafront with a bustling beach. A+ on this one; and if you are the adventurous type, no need to book a tour through the ship here. PANAMA CANAL - Here is where I think NCL failed a bit. The ship passes through the locks before entering Gatun Lake (side note - there is someone on the intercom giving information about the crossing, the engineering, the history, etc, so this is like a free excursion). Once on the lake, passengers on the ship-sponsored tours are tendered off. Everyone else stays on board the ship as it goes back through the locks and then docks at the port of Colon. It was not made clear ahead of time that in order to get off the ship after the first traversal of the locks, you need to book a tour through NCL. At any rate, we had booked a city tour so we were able to exit the ship and we had about a 45 minutes or so bus ride to Panama City. The guide gave us a LOT of information about the Canal, life in Panama, the history of the city, etc. Our first stop was a hokey market that I felt could have been skipped. Next was a drive through the new part of Panama City, which is all high rises and gleaming office towers. It is very similar to the Miami skyline, only much larger. We next went to the Old City, which was similar in architecture to Cartagena, but not as well maintained. We toured the National Cathedral and also had some free time to wander around. People who stayed on the ship got to see a 2nd traversal of the locks (this time with a better view since most other passengers were off the ship) and then could get off at Colon. If I were to do this itinerary again, I would have slept in (we got up at 4:30 AM to get the full impact of the crossing), not booked a tour, stayed on the ship to see the crossing without so many crowds, and then spent some time in Colon. PUERTO LIMON, COSTA RICA - We booked a tour through the ship here as well because we wanted to go to the Tree of Life Wildlife Rescue center and unless you can time your own arrival perfectly with their one daily tour open to the public at 11, you'll miss it. They open for additional tours only for the cruise line. This tour was another great one! We took about a 45 minute ride to the Cahuita National Park, where we had about an hour long hike with a guide. This park is right along the ocean and has tons of wildlife. We saw howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, sloths, snakes, and tons of birds. After the hike, it was off to the wildlife center where we had a tour with Claire. She gave us the background stories of all the animals at the center (they are mostly rescued from people who illegally had them as pets, or found injured in the wild). The animals available varies as they try to return as many as possible to the wild, but we saw monkeys (howler, spider and capuchin), sloths, kikajous, coatis, birds and many others. In addition to the animals, the center is also a botanical garden. This tour was an A+ ROATAN, HONDURAS - Simply stunning!!! We researched ahead of time and opted to go on our own to Little French Key (not an NCL excursion). We exited the port and found "Dave" from LFK. He flagged us down a taxi and about 30 minutes later, we arrived at the dock. The only cost for the ride was a tip for the driver. Once at the dock, we paid for our package ($98 included transportation, 2 drinks, a tour of the zoo, access to kayaks, paddleboards and snorkel equipment, plus a guided snorkel tour), hopped on the ferry and in 5 minutes, were in paradise. The water is so clear here, it is nearly unbelievable! It was a fantastic and relaxing day and I would return here in a heartbeat! BELIZE CITY, BELIZE - I had spent a week in Belize several years back, so I was very excited for this stop; however, Belize really doesn't present her best face via a cruise ship. The ship "docks" about 5 miles out from Belize City, so the tender process is a bit involved and LONG! Belize City is also not very exciting; you need to either get in the water or head to the interior for the caves. My boyfriend was really interested in the caves, so we did a jungle trek and cave tubing excursion booked through the ship. The ride to the excursion was long - over an hour - in a school bus. The actual hiking and cave tubing was great; it was just a long uncomfortable ride to get there. I suggest a snorkeling or water based activity here as it involves less transit COSTA MAYA, MEXICO - We didn't plan anything here and opted to have a half day "at sea", which we sorely regretted once we made it off the boat. Just a short ($3 / 10 minute) taxi ride away is the most idyllic seaside town. You can spend the whole day lounging in a hammock, drinking $1 beers and getting a massage ($20 for an hour). This was a top location for us! I would return here for a few days anytime! DEBARKATION - a disaster, but I don't think that's NCL's fault; the customs area was way understaffed. If you can, opt to carry the luggage off and get off right away to avoid the lines. All in all, this trip was a fantastic way to see areas that are not commonly offered on standard cruise lines. Everything was very high quality and I look forward to another vacation with NCL in the near future! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We have used NCL so many times we are platimum members. This cruise was not so up to par so to speak. We were to receive choclate and strawberries in our rooms upon checkin. Four days later I had to call and ask for them. I was told I ... Read More
We have used NCL so many times we are platimum members. This cruise was not so up to par so to speak. We were to receive choclate and strawberries in our rooms upon checkin. Four days later I had to call and ask for them. I was told I should have let them know sooner. Go figure. We always have robes in our room this time we had one. Had to call and ask for the other. We were also to have a bottle of wine upon checkin and had to call for that twice after four days. We went three days without a bath mat. I had to ask for clean sheets after four days. Come ON! What is the four day routine? Other than the lousy room service the rest was great. We were told upon check in that we had personal concerge service, he finally left a card of introduction the last day of the cruise. I did complain but the response was it had to be my fault for not speaking up sooner than the last day of the cruise. I was not about to speak up during the cruise for fear of retaliation. My balcony, that we paid extra for, was never cleaned one time. It had paint chips and dirty towels out there until I picked them up after several days. This is not an employee problem this is a manger problem. When the cruise line went to automatic room steward payment on your bill instead of allowing you to choose the level of service you got for the tip given this is what you get. Why care, they are paid anyway. Our Steward found out, somehow we did not tell him, that my husband is an attorney. He questioned my husband on what he could do to his employeer because of an on the job injury. We aren't there to give legal advice to our steward. Period! I also complained about that and the response was we must of somehow told him my husband was an attorney. Why would we? He had to have access to our records or snooped through our things. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
I have cruised with Norwegion before, and several other cruise lines, but probably will look for another cruise line next time. When I first got on the boat I had high hopes for a wonderful cruise. My first experience with not ... Read More
I have cruised with Norwegion before, and several other cruise lines, but probably will look for another cruise line next time. When I first got on the boat I had high hopes for a wonderful cruise. My first experience with not so good was the prices of drinks on the boat. Since when is a single drink worth more than $10.00! The food got boring after the first couple of days. But what was worse was trying to find a clean place to sit down. Tables were NEVER clean. When I started looking around at the boat in general, the glass in elevators was dirty, don't push that elevator button with your finger because it was so dirty, and the cloth chairs were stained and dirty. The thing that topped it off was when the toilets plugged up, thank goodness it was only on the last day. No way to flush the toilets!! This doesn't help when people were throwing up because of the rough sea! The people on the boat were friendly and nice, but I didn't feel we had the same service as other cruise lines. They tack on a $13.50 per person gratuity each day for people that take care of you, beside the 18 percent when you order a drink. What ever happened to tipping those that did a great job for you? We went on a Panama Canal trip and the ports were poor. Nothing to do if you didn't book a shore excursion. Don't mean to be a downer but spend your money where you will get more bang for your buck and have a better time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
My wife and I were looking forward to this trip and were very disappointed in the quality of experience on the NCL pearl. We have taken 5 cruises in the last 9 years, the last three with Norwegian. I expect to continue to cruise ... Read More
My wife and I were looking forward to this trip and were very disappointed in the quality of experience on the NCL pearl. We have taken 5 cruises in the last 9 years, the last three with Norwegian. I expect to continue to cruise frequently in the future, however, I will never sail with NCL again. Thie lack of basic performance and complete lack of concern for passengers was astonishing. Complaints were not addressed or the staff was unresponsive. Activities appeared to be scheduled to ensure most guests would or could not participate. Individually these items would not be enough for us to not cruise with NCL again, but as a whole, it has made us realize that there is not any value in a NCL cruise and we will go with other lines who consistently went above and beyond to ensure an enjoyable experience and are not trying to nickel and dime their guests. There were a few people who seemed to care about guest experience, but overall the following issues just show that management and leadership appear to be lacking. A few of the issues that I experienced: 1. It took over an hour every time we went to a restaurant just to get food delivered to the table. Over an hour from us completing the order to the food actually arriving was by far the best service we had received. It usually took much longer. Maybe some people like a long meal, but we wound up being late for many of the shows and could not get great seating at the show, unless we started dinner at 5pm. We like the concept of freestyle cruising, but it should not take 2.5 hours for the restaurants. 2. NCL App, NCL Smart boards throughout the ship and the What’s happening today newsletter were not accurate or conflicted. The APP and the Smart boards were not updated and were not inclusive of activities. While scheduled times for activities were not adhered to and locations sometimes were different. No notification of changes was ever made. The app and the interactive screens listed events that did not often occur and did not match the freestyle magazine 3. Activities failed to start on time or just did not occur; no notice was given or posted. 4. NCL recommended Spinnaker Lounge as the best place to watch the passage through the Panama Canal yet the cruise ship failed to play the broadcasted history of the canal into the lounge, so everyone in the lounge missed the entire broadcast. 5. Service on the cruise was minimal and there seemed to be no incentive for anyone to perform their jobs well. I did not see any real desire to make this cruise a quality experience from anyone and since the gratuities were prepaid where was the incentive to go the extra step when they were receiving tips anyway. 6. Was told when we got onboard that the rooms were still being made up but we could put our bags in the room; when we got back, bags had been removed and placed who knows where. It took a while to get the room steward to understand what we were looking for and when we finally got the bags back a few small things were missing and we had to replace at ships elevated prices. 7. NCL damaged two TSA locks; 2 of 3 were broken, since locks are metal this required extremely rough handling or a deliberate attempts to open the locks. 8. “NCL Policy is to not inform shore excursion participants of canceled excursions”. A shore excursion was canceled with plenty of time to notify the participants of it not occurring. Instead NCL had those participants get off the ship, wander down the pier to the meeting location find the 1 person trying to organize a thousand excursion participants onto different venues to get an update and then had to rebook with that same person (which she failed to mention when she told us the excursion was cancelled) if that is your choice or make your way back up to the ship on your own. 9. The family we were traveling with came back to their room to find the safe open, when they clearly remember checking to make sure the door was sealed when they left. 10. When I had an issue with service, the only manager is unavailable, and that manager's Boss is guest relations in Miami which is currently closed. When I finally tracked down the Shore Excursion Manger after 2 days, his response was “The hotel director is my boss I have no Idea why the main guest relations desk would have not informed you of that. But no, I cannot set a meeting for you to talk with my boss, you would have to go the same people who claim he doesn’t exist to set up that meeting”. They knew we were annoyed; they should have contacted us instead of making us jump through hoops to find the right person. a. Guest relations while able to call the 1 individual on the dock, could not call the excursion manger or his Boss, since they claimed he did not have a boss on the ship. No resolution to issue and no real desire to improve in the future. It seemed like the message was “ This is our policy and really you are not that important.” 11. Lack of coordination among or within departments, so failures are not corrected or overcome just accepted as ok. 12. Internet service was slow and seemed to be set up to ensure lag time and wasted minutes, increasing amount spent on Wifi packages, cell phone service also seemed jammed at ports for people who have international service. Had to get off the ship as the phones did not work on balconies. 13. Pool towels were taken for cleaning and not replaced. However if towels were not in our room on the last night, I would be charged for them. So why would housekeeping take them and not replace them? I needed them for an early excursion the next day and I should not need to go up to pool deck to get replacements every day. 14. All in our room had to have the Unlimited Beverage Package, however, staff continually requested that I have both room cards to order 2 drinks at the same time or were charged for the second. 15 dollar limit was not applied to wine bottles or champagne. That should be a direct $30 discount on anything purchased from a room with 2 packages. You could drink a bottle worth of wine glass by glass but had to pay for the bottle without any significant discount and had to pay the gratuity again, even though those were pre-paid. Taxes for beverage package when in Miami, ports where tax would be additional were not identified anywhere, now were we asked to sign for those charges at the bar, an all-inclusive package should be just that, tax should not be subjective to the port, unless it drives cost over the $15 limit. 15. Bingo was ridiculously expensive and no clear instructions about different packages; staff was unclear when asked any questions. Bowling should have been free. It appears NCL was just trying to gouge everyone for everything. 16. Selection of beer was inadequate. You have an Irish pub without any Irish beer? Despite Sam Adams Seasonal craft beer on menu, it was never available in any venue. 17. No announcements in the room, have to open door or turn on TV (which takes a few minutes)- NCL should have a button in room to allow you option of getting announcements in room. 18. People would reserve pool chairs at 7 am and then would not be in those chairs for most of the day. NCL should monitor when people are reserving and not using loungers, very poor consideration for all guests. More reserved chairs than people in them or in the pool area. 19. Photo atrium, pictures were constantly being moved about and were hard to find. Found out on day 9 that we could pull ours and place in a folder until ready to buy- no instructions about that process. 20. Dining areas over crowded with tables, once you got in to your seat you could not get out again, there was no room to move between them. 21. Smoke from casinos could be smelled up on 7 at Fusion restaurant as well as in the Stardust theatre, need doors outside the casino! Highly allergic, it caused a sinus infection that lasted last half of cruise. 22. Chanel 21 only started displaying info on day 10, until then it stayed on the credit card screen, that screen would have been helpful from day 1. 23. Shopping seminars; for her 2nd one, she stated that all in attendance would receive tanzanite earrings. Not true, instead a voucher was given out that entitled the holder to attend another sails pitch at a future port once and required you to try on something else at Diamonds international. If it states something is to be given for attendance why wasn’t it? There was no mention of additional steps or requirements to get the earrings. Poor communications and at best dishonest practices. 24. We brought some extra large Ziploc bags with us for wet items and they were removed from our room. They were nowhere near the trash bin to be mistaken as trash however, the empty beer bottle stayed in my room for 3 days. 25. Last day at sea, the pool and deck area seemed to be roped off so they could set up for the next cruise and things in the room were not refreshed as if the company knew we were getting off in the morning and they did not need to concern themselves with what guests needed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Food; Lotus Garden restaurant food and service great, summer palace, chairs uncomfortable and service got slower with each day. Choices were eh. Indigo same as summer palace, smaller, less crowded, but slow service. Tepanyaki, was good, ... Read More
Food; Lotus Garden restaurant food and service great, summer palace, chairs uncomfortable and service got slower with each day. Choices were eh. Indigo same as summer palace, smaller, less crowded, but slow service. Tepanyaki, was good, but pricey and deserts were so-so. Buffet was not too bad but food is cooked with too much oil. Deserts over all were nothing to write home about. Liked that they have soft serve and “hard serve” ice cream. Entertainment; Liked; guitarist Dennis as well as Avalon ,Oh what a night, comedian, magician Chip, hypnotist Nadeen, Pure variety and Legends in Concert. Ship dancers and singers were very good. They should utilize them more. Did not like Gary Lovini, not my type of show. Not so Newlywed was ok, have seen it much funnier on other cruises. Jeopardy was horrible, some answers given marked as wrong due to hosts limited English. Daily activities on board were a little slim unless you like art auctions and the like. Movies in the stardust versus the atrium would have been better and could have been during the day when at sea, but must be difficult to line up entertainment for 10 days Embarkation took a while, the line for Lattitudes members was as long as the one for non members. Fee for bowling, bowling should have been free Was told when we got onboard that the rooms were still being made up but could put our bags in the room; when we got back, bags had been removed and placed who knows where. It took a while to get the room steward to understand what we were looking for and when we finally got the bags back a few small things were missing and we had to replace Cancelled shore excursions; no call, no notes on ship telling people before they get off and walk all the way down the pier. There was enough staff at the front desks that one of them could have hung a sign at the very least at the gangplank exits, or made an announcement for those still on board. Smoke from casinos could be smelled up on 7 at Fusion restaurant as well as in the Stardust theatre, need doors. Kennedy- Shopping seminars, 2nd one stated all in attendance would receive tanzanite earrings. Not true, you received a voucher to get them at a future port once you tried something else on at Diamonds international I have found with prepaid tips, there is less motivation to go out of the way for the guests. I have cruised with NCL twice before and this was the worst cruise I have taken out of all my cruises. Most likely will not sail with NCL until they straighten out communication and management. Cartagena, Colombia True working port with cargo containers, was neat to watch. Took Exploring magnificent cartagena tour; Beautiful architecture and scenery, and buildings. Would have enjoyed this tour more if there were less vendors trying to push items for sale, extremely pushy at this port. A no gracias worked for each person, but too many people harassing made it less than an enjoyable stop. The “mall” was a bunch of stores like you would see at any port, prices seemed high. Extremely hot and humid. Surprised to see so many high rises. Panama Canal, Stayed on the boat for this stop. Got up early to watch from Spinnaker, was able to sit right in front of window on the floor for an awesome experience, only issue was broadcast was not in lounge like on the decks or over the TV. On way back thru watched off of balcony, saw the cable snap for the mule which took out lights on mule. Luckily no one was injured. Got off in Colon, police presence visible. Loved the grocery store to get some supplies at very reasonable prices and walkable from the pier along with shops. Had souveniers for sale on boat, cheaper in port. taxis were pushy here. Costa Rica; Train bus and boat. Hot on train and boat, slow moving train. Saw howler monkeys, a sloth and iguanas and a crocodile. Way too much time on the bus, seemed like a lot of driving. Stopped at a banana plantation, interesting to see the banana flower. Tour guide ok, bu info seemed a little lacking. There was a buffet with fruit and coffee and the boat part with some shopping, but it was not much. There was nice shopping within walking distance of the boat, good prices. Roatan; Nice port, short walk from gangway. Loved this island, could zipline right at pier, but it was pricey. Nice shops, not pushy. Dolphin encounter and snorkel. This was the best excursion. Did the encounter in Margarita years ago and this was so much better. Dolphins were interactive with snorkelers after a little bit of time to get used to the strangers. Whole encounter not in a pool and dolphins have freedom to leave the enclosure where the encounter occurs. The resort held at was incredible, plan to return. Pictures a little pricey, Can take pictures on own except during snorkel. Belize; Went up early to get tender tickets, started giving out at 7:50, was able to get on first tender and make private tour booked outside NCL. Was picked up by Abner with VIV tours, after a brief issue with the port regarding some recent changes for tour companies we were on our way to Cavetubing. This tour was outstanding. Some walking thru the forest to get to the tubing spot with the guide pointing out numerous plants and trees of interest. Cavetubing was a close second to the Dolphin tour, after about two hours at the caves we headed out to Altun Ha, it was quiet when we got there and had the park to ourselves for the most part. Abner walked us around explaining different things at a nice pace. After about 45 minutes there we headed back to the boat with almost an hour to shop before the last tender. Tender ride was hot and felt really long. Belize was interesting a mix of open nothing land to lush plants. Costa Maya; tour was cancelled due to waves and poor visibility, did not find out until we walked down two long piers. Zero guidance on how to book something else, the four of us rented a golf cart for 4 hours and went to Mahahual. Had lunch at Maya Bar, Diego was our attentive waiter, they took our picture and put it on two shot glasses for us. Beautiful spot to sit and eat or get a massage. The island was pretty barren outside of this area and not much to see, but had a great time anyway and was very glad the excursion was cancelled. Vendors very pushy here, many wanted tips just for asking you to eat at their places. Annoying, but prices got magically much cheaper after you walked away. Lots of shops at the pier as well as well as a beautiful pool with swim up bar. Shops too pushy here as well. Small beach with chairs right at the end of the pier as well. There is a tram to take up back and forth on half of the pier. It is longer than the other stops. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
After hearing many good comments about a cruise, me and my husband decide to go for the first on a cruise, the Norwegian Pearl. The ship is beautiful, outside and inside, big enough for the amount of people travelling on it. The ... Read More
After hearing many good comments about a cruise, me and my husband decide to go for the first on a cruise, the Norwegian Pearl. The ship is beautiful, outside and inside, big enough for the amount of people travelling on it. The statement rooms are well shared and good isolated, perfect beds and covers, twice a day service, clean towels, etc. The interior of the ship were wonderful, clean, coloured, various bars and restaurants, shows, musicals, good and less good bands and people playing around, including in the swimming pool area, action and books space, internet and many others activities. They were also very organised at the entrance and exit of the ship, considering the amount of people being part of if. Of course I had, unfortunately to say there negative critics about it. First af all, the Norwegian Cruise monopolise the excursions at the Panama Canal, not letting any other kind of private excursions taking care of it. The excursions they organised were interesting but in very precaire and poor conditions.. the boat belonging to it was very small, having a very small area with air condition inside, the food was very poor and little, letting people hungry in those 8 hours passing the Panama Canal. What a pity! The second serious problem was the 'missing drinking water' that people had to pay ($$$$) inside the ship or carry their own water, like us. I took 14 liters water in our luggage. I made me having the impression I was camping somewhere. The third and worst problem was the FOOD. I wrote them a medical form 2 months before getting on the ship, presenting my diet intolerances. Even though I had to pre-order even single day my meals. I could have 2 properly meals, during my 11 days onboard, and I was 8 days sick. Fortunately I had my medicines to control my health situation, that was not according with my exceptions. Actually they don't give a damn about your diets or healthy needs, they didn't even have 'becel' and 'milk without fat' at the breakfast, anywhere ! These are basic products in any hotels. The Chef cook for special diet food didn't not even know what a 'wagyu meat' is... It was very disappointing and I don't recommend people with diet problems going on a Norwegian Cruise Line. The last negative critic is about stopping in BELIZE. There is nothing to see there, no beaches and everything there is fake; they rip you off in every place! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
I had been through the canal six times on the USS Boston (three tours of duty in VN) and wanted my wife to see the canal. We watched from the lounge and it proved to be a wonder for all the folks that were in with us. We ate most of ... Read More
I had been through the canal six times on the USS Boston (three tours of duty in VN) and wanted my wife to see the canal. We watched from the lounge and it proved to be a wonder for all the folks that were in with us. We ate most of our meals in the buffet and the food was outstanding. We did not go into Colon because there just wasn't anything that tickled our fancy. The timing was really a question and I called the Norwegian folks to find out about it and truthfully they lady I talked to did not have a clue. T found out about the timing by asking the question on Cruise Critic. The answer is - if you have signed up for an excursion you get off the ship via tender in Gatun Lake and go into Colon, before she turns around. We contacted Dora the Explorer via the internet to arrange for a tour in Cartagena. Dora is great BUT if you do not want to walk throughout the entire city, this is not for you. Dora tried to be as accommodating as possible but my wife and a couple of others were really exhausted by the end. Did not go into Costa Rica or Belize for no other reason that we were tired and enjoyed the pool for the day. In Honduras we went on the B.O.S.S and had a great time. The excursion is riding a scooter under the water while your head is in a "bubble" of air. We really enjoy this and this is our third time on this excursion. Then a bad thing happened on my way out of the excursion office - - a street vendor got in my face, I slipped on the last step and broke my leg. A rep from customer service was on the excursion with us and when we got back to the ship she arranged for a wheelchair to get me aboard and down to "sick bay". I have to say that the staff at the "sick bay" was absolutely the best. I was treated at no cost to me and I was told that this was because I had booked the excursion thru Norwegian. Needless to say we had to forfeit our deposit to the Caribbean Fly Fishing School in Costa Maya. The last three days were a total waste. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
It's the first time we haven't driven down to Florida from Ont. Ca. We flew using the services of HAL, on A/C, we had checked out the air fares before we booked the flight, and the fares were cheaper than what was quoted with ... Read More
It's the first time we haven't driven down to Florida from Ont. Ca. We flew using the services of HAL, on A/C, we had checked out the air fares before we booked the flight, and the fares were cheaper than what was quoted with A/C, by a few $. We always arrive the day ahead, especially this time in case of snow, and if the flight was cancelled, needn't have worried, no snow. we booked the hotel our selves, not with the HAL., and took the hotel shuttle to the port. We have been on HAL before, September 1994, one of the last ships to Alaska, at that time I had slipped a disc, 10 days before, the Dr allowed me two travel if I rested and did my exsercises. HAL at that time were excellent, with me needs. We had wanted to cruise the Panama Canal, for my husband's 80th, and we had checked out other cruise lines, and HAL had the best itenery to suit us. We weren't disappointed. Yes, it's an older ship, and may need some repairs, what ship doesn't, but maintanence was being done and keeped in check. One review I had read, stated it was rusty, yes it had some rust, but remember it's salt water, and when it rains, salt is in the rain, and metal doesn't like salt water. Stair carpets were being replaced, no problems, they have to be done some time, and they weren't all done at the same time. I did hear the second day out, that the aft balcony cabins had problems with the plumbing, on some decks, but I don't know for how long. Also some of the ladies toilets did get plugged and maintenance was onto it. BUT THIS HAS HAPPENED ON OTHER SHIPS TOO. We had booked a guarantee in side, and when we received our cabin number, main deck 1031, right under the bars and casino, we were worried about the noise level, (we go to bed early most nights) we needn't have been, didn't hear a thing, heard more of people walking down the hall. Was disappointed that the walls weren't metal, couldn't hang my hooks on them. My over the door shoes rack, only just made it, a bit tight. Lots of storage, could put the cases under the bed. The cabin was very spacious, had a 1/2 moon shaped sofa, with table and the usual dressing table. Plenty of room in the bathroom too, was a shower only, which is fine with us. Did appreciate the handle bars in the shower, plus all the amenities. Wasn't keen on the "Half Noon Cay", must say RCL's much better by far, but my husband did enjoy the swimming there the first week, the weather and water around 80f. The second week the weather was bad, cold and rainy, which should have been a warning to my husband, he caught a very bad head cold. Bad for him, great for me, as I got to do things I wanted to do. First two days, I would take his meals down to him, he eventually did wander up for meals and sitting on deck three, promenade, for the next 4 or 5 days. As I said, I got to do a lot of trivia games, and things that I liked to do. Met a lot of cruisers that way. EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATION:- was a breeze, even when we had to disembark in F.L. to continue on to our second portion of the cruise. DINING:- we had booked first sitting, and asked for 6-8 size table, was placed on a table for 4, the other couple didn't show. The waiter had two other tables of 8, making our service slow, no fault of his, very nice waiters, so tried "any time dining" for a couple of times, then we ended up in the Lido restaurant for all meals, suited us better, food the same, especially while my husband was sick. THE ENTERTAINMENT:- was very good. In the Adagio lounge the first week was "Dmytro and Eugenia" Who were EXCELLENT. When they preformed on the Vista stage, with "The Band" (asked for by many guests, and HAL put on as a special event) you couldn't have asked for a better concert. They were missed the second week. "The Band", in the Ocean Bar, were good, they're not too sure about the tempo for Ballroon dancing, and the tunes were too long at times, but was still enjoyable. The floor needed to be bigger. BB King was loved by all. Nice dance floor and bigger, they need to switch floors for ballroom dancing, even if every over day or so. The Zuiderdam Singers and Dancers were good especially the second week. FITNESS CENTER:- Rich and Matt very pleasant, Rich gave us a exercise to continue with when we got home. SHORE EXCURSIONS:- Only did two. One in Cartagena on my own, as hubby sick, went with the ship, well worth it, just a two hour walk about on my own, got my coffees for presents, the other one on disembarkation, did the "land and Water" tour ending up at the airport. was good, was raining, passed the time away. PUBLIC ROOMS AND CREW:- All the crew were great and helpful, always a smile on their faces, nothing was too much trouble, even in the Lido at 10.30pm, when I had forgotten my milk for Meds. Cruise direct Rick, and Show host Andy, and Alice were great, The public rooms were always clean. I would do my "walking at 5.30-6.00am, on the inside on the promenade deck, there was always cleaners cleaning. DIGITAL :- We took a few work shops for "Windows 10" DECORE:- with it being a New Years Eve cruise, every where was decorated for the season, and looked lovely and festive, the only thing was, I left it too late to take photos, not thinking they would take them down, so don't have any memories of them. THE CANAL:- it was all that we expected, they did open up all decks, so we could see going through. Must do it again when they open up the new canal. OVER ALL:- Would we go on HAL again?, yes we would, Would we recommended HAL to other cruisers? Yes we would. Thank you HAL for a great cruise. 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Sail Date December 2015
We are two retired teachers in our early 60's. We choose this cruise as my daughter was able to house sit for us at this time. Otherwise we would have done it a few weeks later. That being said: The ship itself was very nice. ... Read More
We are two retired teachers in our early 60's. We choose this cruise as my daughter was able to house sit for us at this time. Otherwise we would have done it a few weeks later. That being said: The ship itself was very nice. (We have been on several cruises-- lately it is usually on Celebrity and Princess) The crew was very indifferent for the most part- However the staff at Bayou Grille were unusually nice. The food was unusually good, including the buffet. I should say though that if you are just a party of two, I would not on this ship do the anytime dining. Very few tables for two at both dining rooms. If we were to do this ship again, we would book the late traditional dining. I was very disappointed with the Lotus indoor pool. Years ago we were on the Sapphire for an Alaska cruise and the highlight was being in the hot tub while going through Glacier Bay. The Lotus pool was for ADULTS ONLY. Well on the Coral, it is not an adults only indoor pool. When we were trying to relax in this area, a man was bouncing a baby in diapers and a couple of kids were running all over the place. I complained to management, and they said on the Coral it isn't adults only. Well, I was considering booking this ship for an Alaska cruise. Instead, my business will go to Celebrity, which has a few hours for families in their indoor pool, the rest of the time a strict 16 and over policy, which I can live with. Entertainment- very funny comedian- and the usual singers and production show- ok. Ports: Carthenia (we stayed on ship- weather too hot for me, unfortunately. Aruba- too short a day, but we were able to do an ok snorkel at the water park. We did the stingray , snorkel and beach excursion which was very nice in Grand Cayman- (did this once before) We loved the Panama Canal day- watched every thing from the ship- We didn't do the ferry excursion as the day is just too long for me, but we saw plenty from comfortable air conditioned ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
First the good: We started our trip by staying at Hampton Inn in Ft. Lauderdale the night before. Hotel was full of cruisers, coming and going. They provide a shuttle to the port. Our minisuite was comfortable and clean. It had a ... Read More
First the good: We started our trip by staying at Hampton Inn in Ft. Lauderdale the night before. Hotel was full of cruisers, coming and going. They provide a shuttle to the port. Our minisuite was comfortable and clean. It had a tub and shower. We never take time to use the tub, and wonder how many people actually do. Would prefer another closet in the space it takes. We enjoyed Sabatinis, and The Bayou. The food and service was very good. Also enjoyed meeting new people in the dining room on Anytime plan. We also liked cocktails and staff at the Crooner's Lounge. Big congrats to the Captain and his crew for the handling the man overboard situation that occurred while we were on the cruise. They saved 2 capsized fisherman who were asea for 3 days. Unfortunately, a third man lost his life before they were found. We got lucky with the weather gods, and in 10 days it never rained. It was hot and humid, but that was to be expected. Although the seas were rough the whole journey. Did use the patch, and it was needed. The entertainment was good. The excursions, so so. Ports of call were interesting and what was expected. Recommend booking before starting the trip, as some we wanted were sold out. No Norovirus on our cruise. Yay! We did not take the liquor package. While we do enjoy several drinks a day, we priced out our costs before time, and by throwing in the amount of hours we would not be on the ship, we felt it not worth the price. We came out ahead. Disembarkation for us went smoothly. Right off the ship to customs area. We do have the govt. issued Global Pass and this did enable us to walk right through customs. Otherwise, The waiting lines were long. Now for the not so good: The ship was tired looking. But worst of all it had an odor permeating through. On arrival to the ship, there was a distinct smell of sanitizer (a good thing)! As the days went on,a sewer like odor starting wafting through the halls and some lounge areas. I woke up one night to an overwhelming smell in our cabin so strong it was making me ill. I had to cover my nose to get back to sleep. There were water logged areas of hallways with fans running 24 hrs. This is an indication there is a problem. Bothersome part is I read about being a problem on this ship on prior cruises. Hopefully they will fix this while it is in drydock this month. We like the way the gratuities for the steward and wait staff are automatically put on the room bill. Seems a really fair way to do it so all can participate in the tips. Embarkation (at 12:00) on the Coral Princess took longer than other cruises we have taken. But, Our minisuite was ready and lunch was available. We went directly to the spa to make massage appointments for the sea days. The treatments were very good, but pricey. I chose not to rebook, as I find the sales pitches at the end of massage undo the relaxation I have just paid for. We went to visit the sanctuary area as we read it would be a quiet place to enjoy the scenery and read a book, relax and get away from the masses. We reserved time from 1-4 on the sea days. This too was pricey, but we felt it worth the price of serenity. Not so! There were 2 couples (4 lounge chairs) next to us who were loudly talking about their family dramas, laughing, and playing cards the whole time. We did complain to the mgr. but nothing was done. Terribly disappointed that they were not asked to take their party elswhere. The whole deck area was annoyed. So Rude! Gave 3 rating marginally. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Bucket list cruise to see the Panama Canal. Food was quite good on board. There were plumbing issues on board. Shower never did get very hot, but managable. What spoiled our cruise was the enclosed pool area. Management allowed ... Read More
Bucket list cruise to see the Panama Canal. Food was quite good on board. There were plumbing issues on board. Shower never did get very hot, but managable. What spoiled our cruise was the enclosed pool area. Management allowed children to run around unsupervised in what used to be a 16 year and older area. One man was throwing his diapered baby around in the pool. We politely complained to deaf ears. Dining room wasn't good for a 2 person table for any time dining. Long waits and very poor location choice. If we were to ever sail again on Coral, we would only do late seating to avoid the wait. For the most part, we did enjoy the cruise and the ports. This ship is great for families. Not so much for persons in their 60's if wanting to use indoor pool. Entertainment was ok. Trivia was fun, as was Pop Choir. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Princess is our favorite cruise line, and the Coral had some things going for it. The ship is in good shape and very clean, although it "creaks" a lot in some of the staterooms and the stateroom shower is laughably small. The ... Read More
Princess is our favorite cruise line, and the Coral had some things going for it. The ship is in good shape and very clean, although it "creaks" a lot in some of the staterooms and the stateroom shower is laughably small. The food and service were excellent, both in the MDR and the Lido. The crew was consistently professional and pleasant. But there are a few areas in which this cruise really fell short. The glaring scheduling conflicts that occurred almost everyday were inexcusable and easily avoidable. (i.e. The art history lecture at the same time as the art auction; The Panama Canal culture presentation at the same time as the Panama Canal history lecture; the Galley tour at the same time as the backstage tour.) There were two guest lecturers aboard, one as the Panama Canal guide and one as an art historian. Both were poor, and the Panama Canal guide was impossible to hear and understand on the deck. The production shows were good, but there were only three on a 10 day cruise (as opposed to 4 on a 7 day cruise on other cruise lines). The other entertainers were mediocre at best. The Cruise Director was non-descript, and communication on the ship was lacking and/or confusing. We did three excursions: Our Arubu snorkeling had a chaotic start, so bad that Shore Ex automatically refunded 15% on the excursion if you chose to continue. (Once we got going we had a nice time and the catamaran was great.) The Cartegena Canoes through the Mangroves and City Walk was absolutely terrible. In all of our travels, we've rarely come across such a poor guide. On the other hand, the Embera Indian excursion on our Panama Canal day was fabulous! We enjoy Princess, but they really do need to kick up the energy a bit and do a better job with activities and entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Been on Azamara several times. The brand is in the luxury market and priced accordingly and, in this light, I think it has slipped from its original standards. The staff are still very good and attentive but the food quality has just lost ... Read More
Been on Azamara several times. The brand is in the luxury market and priced accordingly and, in this light, I think it has slipped from its original standards. The staff are still very good and attentive but the food quality has just lost its edge compared to other lines like Regent and some of the menus used in Discoveries were worn which is not a good look. As well, the major entertainment is virtually the same as previous cruises which is good for first time cruisers on the line but not so for repeat guest. Activities still standard and little things like having staff with poor English conducting trivia just doesn't fit the brand and never saw much of the Activity manager. I noticed a deck lamp remained unfixed for three nights and one would think at least one of the officers would have noticed and had it attended to and again one would expect better on a luxury cruise. The Panama Canal transit was very good and having an ongoing commentary excellent. The Port stop of Aruba was a Sunday so nothing happening really. The Azamara Evening was well coordinated in Columbia and enjoyable as was the deck party for New Year. The port stops in Costa Rica were disappointing but I don't hold the line responsible rather the local authorities who were frustrating to deal with despite the best efforts of the ship management. In summary the Journey is undergoing a refit and hopefully the brand can get back to its previous high standards and reinvent the experience and perhaps the Captain and Cruise Director can get some new lines for their jokes please. So for the price paid I can only say it was an average experience for this market. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We love to cruise with Silversea, so far I only cruised on Silver Spirit, my partner has been on Whisper before. As soon as we embark is like being back home. Loved the ship, maybe just a bit 2 small for me & missed some of the ... Read More
We love to cruise with Silversea, so far I only cruised on Silver Spirit, my partner has been on Whisper before. As soon as we embark is like being back home. Loved the ship, maybe just a bit 2 small for me & missed some of the extras available on the Spirit. Amazing suite good size, always clean by super friendly staff. The pool area very relaxing. The restaurant staff were amazing, we were just a bit disappointed with the cuisine & chef of the main restaurant the menu choices didn't vary much, veal & salmon were nearly always on the menu. The the staff in the restaraunt always looked after us, good wine selection & also to mention that Silversea doesn't force to seat with other people, every night we got a table for 2 but we previously also booked every evening. The speciality restaurant were very good, Le Champagne bring outstanding. The entertainment was not good, the shows were very disappointing. The only show were enjoyed was the show by the Cruise Director Vicky, apart from being an amazing Cruise Director she truly is a stunning performer, her 1 woman show was raw full of emotion & one of the highlights of our cruise. The artist on the bar was also very good. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Our kids have decided they don't want materialistic items for Christmas so what do we do now....we take a cruise and make memories!! The ship is smaller which is one of the positives for us, we like being recognized and not just a ... Read More
Our kids have decided they don't want materialistic items for Christmas so what do we do now....we take a cruise and make memories!! The ship is smaller which is one of the positives for us, we like being recognized and not just a face in the crowd. This was a perfect ship for that. We had 4 people in an oceanview room and it was just a tad tight. We chose to leave the trundle bed down and put it under the bunk bed which gave all of us the perfect amount of sleeping room. This did cause us to not have a lot of floor space, but who needs that when you are barely in your room. We always enjoy the entertainment and activities...just sad that we can't alway make it to everything. The service is was fantastic, workers are always willing to help and get whatever you need. We like to tip the bar staff early on and appears we never wait for a drink. Yes, there is already an amount added in but a little more generosity goes a long way. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Recently returned form a 10 day cruise on the Zuiderdam to Aruba, Curacao, Panama Canal and Costa Rica. Some of my favorite places to visit. Our first cruise on the Zuiderdam. We had sailed on the Maasdam a couple months before so being ... Read More
Recently returned form a 10 day cruise on the Zuiderdam to Aruba, Curacao, Panama Canal and Costa Rica. Some of my favorite places to visit. Our first cruise on the Zuiderdam. We had sailed on the Maasdam a couple months before so being they are similar ships, Zuiderdam a bit bigger, we knew what it was like. We parked in one of the nearby lots from which they transported us to the terminal. Went very smoothly. As did the return when we got back. Had a very nice balcony room on deck 10 with a very good room steward. And our dining room experience was excellent. We reserved the same table every night because of our waiter, Victor, and every night was perfect. By the last couple nights he knew ahead of time what we were going to order. The ship was laid out nicely and since we had a midship room we never had to walk very far. I did the spa experience for the cruise and really enjoyed the heated pool and thermal room. Did that twice a day. Holland America has nice spa areas. We enjoyed our island stops. Aruba we just toured on our own. Mainly the casino by the port. Curacao is still a beautiful port to sail into. And it was good to see the bridge across the entrance back working. Panama we just stayed on the ship and enjoyed the area. Costa Rica we did the white water rafting tour. We've done that for the past 20 years and never get tired of it. Beautiful country. All in all an excellent cruise we will do again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
My husband and I are both in our 30's. We love to travel! At the Christmas holidays, we always take a trip. This was our first time taking a Christmas cruise, and we had a blast! We plan to make it a tradition. Getting There: ... Read More
My husband and I are both in our 30's. We love to travel! At the Christmas holidays, we always take a trip. This was our first time taking a Christmas cruise, and we had a blast! We plan to make it a tradition. Getting There: Since air travel can be iffy, we prefer to arrive at least one day before our ship sets sail. For this trip, we arrived two days before our cruise, and it was a lucky thing we did. Our flight was cancelled due to technical issues. We were rebooked on a new flight, which included a layover in Jacksonville. Instead of reaching Miami by lunchtime, we did not arrive until the late afternoon. We were thankful we had budgeted the extra time. Miami Beach: We stayed at the Stiles Hotel. It was clean and only a couple blocks from South Beach. Ocean Drive was not quite as I had imagined it. The art deco buildings are cool, but several restaurants had a frat party atmosphere at night. (Perhaps this was due to college students being on break?) Highlights for us were walking along South Beach, exploring the Botanical Garden, and seeing the Holocaust Memorial. We ate breakfast at News Cafe both days. It's absolutely delicious! We had lunch at a hole-in-the-wall Cuban spot called Las Olas Cafe. Another winner. Embarkation: We took an Uber from our hotel to the cruise terminal. The check-in line moved quickly. We each brought a bottle of wine in our carry-on bags. We were charged a $15 corkage fee for each bottle before even stepping on the ship. I wish NCL would change their policy to match other cruise lines (i.e. Celebrity, Carnival, HAL), which only charge corkage if you consume the wine outside of your stateroom. After checking in, we waited in a holding area for about 30 minutes until our group was called. In the waiting area, there were plenty of seats and space. Once we were on the ship, we headed to the dining room and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. Ship: Since this was a holiday cruise, the ship was decorated for Christmas. There were amazing gingerbread houses displayed in many public areas. As we got closer and closer to December 25th, more decorations were added. I loved it! It gave the ship a homey feel. Our favorite areas to hang out were the Bliss Lounge, Card Room, Spinnaker Lounge, and on deck. My husband loved visiting the Bridge viewing room and watching the crew at work. Cabin: We love being out and about on the ship, so we booked an inside cabin. There was plenty of space for both of us. It was always kept clean and tidy. It was quiet at night. We loved the towel animals. No complaints. Dining: We ate almost every meal in one of the main dining rooms. Breakfast and lunch were in the Summer Palace, and we went to Indigo for dinner. We preferred Indigo because it is more intimate and modern. The breakfast menu offered a good selection, but the lunch menu lacked variety. Dinner was usually good. We took a liking to one of the waitresses, and we were able to request her each evening, which added to the dining experience. We ate lunch at the buffet one time. The food was fine, but the layout was not conducive for the number of people. We also tried O'Sheehan's but preferred the dining room. We never tried any of the specialty restaurants. Why spend extra when you've already paid for good food? Entertainment: We took little interest in the nightly shows. After we heard passengers raving about the Four Seasons show, we went to see one of the cast perform a one man show. We left early because it seemed geared more towards an older crowd. However, we did enjoy the hypnotism show and the magic show. At the end of his show, magician Chip Romero told passengers he would be on board for the next few days. If we saw him, we should request to see a trick. One evening, we did just that. Chip was amazing!! He showed us a few coin tricks, and my husband and I both got to be apart of them. At one point, I literally felt a coin drop into my closed hand!! Our minds were blown! This experience was definitely a trip highlight. Activities: We spent five days at sea, so we explored many of the activities. In the Bliss Lounge, there was bowling and air hockey, which both cost a small fee. In the evenings, karaoke was housed there. We went a few times and sang a couple songs. Since there were a lot of families on the ship, karaoke would sometimes be dominated by kids. This issue would resolve itself as it got later at night. We played shuffle board, attended trivia, and played cards. We love to go dancing, and we were usually able to find a good dance spot in the evenings. One afternoon, my husband competed in a Family Feud style game against the crew. On the last night, we participated in the Perfect Couple Game Show. We didn't win, but we had a blast! If you don't mind completing foolish tasks with your partner in front of a crowd, then go for it. My husband and I still laugh about it. There were also some special holiday activities. On Christmas Eve, the staff and crew gathered in the atrium, and we sang Christmas carols. On Christmas Day, The atrium was fully decorated, and we got to visit Santa and his elves. The staff went out of their way to make Christmas special. Service: The staff and crew work very hard! They do a great job, and it shows. We were able to chat with many of them. We witnessed one very rude passenger who was a jerk to anyone in a uniform. It's unfortunate that anyone feels that entitled. My husband and I are big on showing respect, and we were always polite and courteous to the staff because they deserve it. Shore Excursions: With this cruise, NCL was running their Free at Sea promotion. We chose the discounted shore excursions, and we wish we had not. Since we went with this option, we only used NCL sponsored excursions. Each of them was a disappointment. However, we spoke with the shore excursions desk and were able to get partial refunds on a few of them. Oranjestad, Aruba: When we first arrived, we explored the port area by foot. We picked up wine at a local grocery, and they took American dollars. We had a delicious lunch at an Indian restaurant. That afternoon, we went on the Sea and See Island tour. It started at the California Lighthouse. NCL had neglected to mention it was under renovation and covered in scaffolding. What a bust! The next stop was at a semi submarine to see the Antilla Shipwreck. It was difficult to see, but the boat ride was nice. We then visited a natural land bridge and some beautiful rock formations. These were much better! I wish the lighthouse had been nixed and we'd spent more time at these two stops. Cartagena, Colombia: During our trip, I was having issues with one of my knees, so it hurt to climb lots of stairs. Our original excursion was a tour of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, but my knee issues caused us to change our plans. In retrospect, we should have kept our original excursion. We took the Scenic Cartagena tour, which was a waste of time. There were two stops. One was a photo op at Castillo San Felipe de Barajas and the other was for shopping. We had wanted to see the old city section of Cartagena, but we only got brief glimpses from the bus. By the time we were finally able to escape the tour, there was no time left to explore. It's doubtful we'll ever be back in Cartagena, so this was a real missed opportunity. Panama Canal: This is the reason we chose this cruise. Going through the first lock aboard the ship was amazing!! We got up before sunrise to see everything. The captain narrated throughout the entire experience. Even though I witnessed it, I still can't quite believe we were able to pass through the lock! The ship only did a couple locks and then came back out the same side it entered. We took the Panama Canal by Ferry excursion. I'm a little bit torn on this one. Going through the locks and reaching the Pacific was amazing! However, the ferry was crowded and hot, and there were many hours spent waiting to pass through the locks. Overall, it was an uncomfortable experience. I would recommend taking a repositioning cruise and going through all of the canal on the cruise ship. That would be a much more pleasant experience. Puerto Limon, Costa Rica: Our excursion here was called Rainforest Walk, Canal Cruise, and Banana Plantation. At the banana plantation, we were not allowed off the bus because they were spraying the fields. So basically, we saw some bananas growing and then turned around. Lame! The canal cruise was okay. We spotted a few animals. It was mostly nice to kick up a breeze on the water. The rain forest walk was not deep into the forest. It was a little trail right next the canal dock. Overall Experience: My husband and I both enjoyed this cruise. (In fact, we booked another NCL cruise for next Christmas.) We loved our time on the ship and were able to fully relax. Concerning the excursions, we learned our lesson. We will try to plan our own land adventures next time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Room 14510 Dec, 2015 Room: The Haven, as always, is an awesome part of the ship, pricey yes, but worth it if you want to splurge. We did the two bedroom villa, which is configured with a small “child’s bedroom” (couch that ... Read More
Room 14510 Dec, 2015 Room: The Haven, as always, is an awesome part of the ship, pricey yes, but worth it if you want to splurge. We did the two bedroom villa, which is configured with a small “child’s bedroom” (couch that converts to full size bed, plus a pull down bunk on the side of the wall. My daughter slept in the bunk and had the couch available for lounging. TV is under the bunk, so you can’t watch TV from that bed. Bathroom was roomy with shower and sink. Living room had another couch that looks like it converts to a Queen bed, plus coffee table and two chairs for lounging plus TV. Dining table had four chairs. Coffee shelf has a fantastic coffee maker (Lavazza) and was very well stocked daily with espresso, coffee, tea pods. Small fridge as well, we were able to put a couple bottles of wine in there. Ice stocked twice daily. Master bed has amazing comfortable bed (King size), along with plenty of closet space, good mirrors, double sinks and a gorgeous tub / shower overlooking the ocean. There is a solid door that closes between the master bedroom and the living room. There is a heavy curtain in between the master bedroom and the master bath. There are small safes in the master closet. TV in the master bedroom and one over the master bathtub. The balcony has two chairs and a small table, cannot be seen from other balconies. This room is over a shuffleboard court; which was not too intrusive as usually only can be played during the day. Above this room is a sundeck, so you can hear footsteps occasionally, but was not too bothersome. Every now and then we can hear our neighbors opening and closing closets, but otherwise was quiet. Snacks are brought into the room around 2p each day; we have had everything from fruit & cheese, chocolate covered strawberries, sandwiches and potato chips and small truffles. If you tell your butler what you like, they will bring it- as long as you eat what is on the plate, they’ll bring it again. A fruit bowl is stocked often for your table in your room. The courtyard is smaller than the Haven Megaships, but was roomy enough for the Haven rooms. We did have a family that insisted on saving chairs all day (even while they were out to meals), so any extra seating was limited. Staff did not address the issue, so complaint on that front. The pool is small, and there are two hot tubs. VERY quiet here and it’s nice. Towels well stocked and staff made sure you had water, etc. A light breakfast was on the counter here in the morning as well (Croissants/fruit, coffee). And was replaced with Gummy bears, cookies, etc., in the afternoon. Iced tea, ice water, etc available. You can take breakfast & lunch out here by the pool and there were several tables set aside for that purpose as well There is also a side room off the pool with a stair stepper and treadmill; we used this a couple times; would have been nice to have a fan in there as it got pretty hot. For those who have been on the NCL megaships (Epic, Getaway, Breakaway, etc.); there is no dedicated ‘bar’ for the Haven; Moderno is used as the Haven breakfast/lunch private restaurant, and is same menu every single day. The concierge uses the entrance area to Moderno as his ‘office’ and is the meeting spot for the embarkation/ port early access. There is a special seating area for Haven guests in the Stardust theater (upstairs to the side), that was pretty empty. Unlike the megaships, you don’t get early access but it’s not really needed. You can have room service delivered, no upcharge (like rest of ship, apparently now costs $8). If you have the ultimate dining package, your butler will deliver a meal from any of those restaurants as well for no additional charge. Ship Note the Haven differences above re: what is and isn’t on the ship. There is an OSheehans, however, it is just a restaurant; there are no darts, pool tables, skeeball, etc. The motif isn’t an Irish bar like the larger ships (bit of a disappointment). Also, we liked to sit at the bar “row” that overlooked the atrium when they were play moves, trivia, etc., and you can get drink service, but boy, it was difficult to get a snack. The bartenders could “not take food orders”, so you really had to work to get and order of cheesesticks or wings. The atrium is very small and during our 10 days cruise, we never once had the ability to get an actual seat here, thus ended up at OSheehans one floor up. “Dennis” was a musician who played in a variety of venues, and we followed him during the evenings for good listening music. “Jim” was also a musician and we watched one of his shows, he tended to cater to the 70+ crowd with his music choices (Think “My Way” as an example), but did many sing along type tunes. Stardust theater seemed the right size for this passenger capacity; and this ship offers two of the “same” shows each night at 7:15 and 9;15p. Each night the show is different and is pretty good; think comedians, variety shows, hypnosis and one night was an excellent music show called ‘Swing’. The Legends show was also very good (Elvis, Tina Turner and Michael Jackson impersonators). Note there is NO Headliners comedy club, Howl at the Moon, etc., so you tend to go to Bliss or Spinnaker to try to find good music. We found most of the music being played before 10p was extremely geared to the 65+ set, nothing for dancing until later in the night. Bliss was pretty much karaoke until late if you like that sort of thing, and we found Spinnaker music was quite slow and mellow. The only night we felt had current up beat dancing music was the White Hot party out by the pool. Main pool area was always packed, no water slides or anything like that, just two pools and a variety of hot tubs. Bar area and the “Great outdoor” grill, always seemed busy. Nice poolside music, although they could go a little longer playtime. There is a golf driving net (our trip was extremely windy though), plus a basketball court, jogging track (1/2 ship length, so you’re basically running in circles). Fitness center was near the spa and was great- I did Yoga and Abs class; and my husband was always able to find a treadmill- although later in the cruise was better. Good weights areas and a variety of machine; well monitored if you needed help. We were told children under 16 were not allowed, however, towards the end of the cruise, I noticed kids in the stretching class (my daughter, 13, really wanted to come to yoga with me). The yoga instructor was great- and did a nice job modifying when we had rough seas. We did not use the spa. There is a walking ‘track’ all the way around the ship on 7, you’re not allowed to jog, but you can fast walk around. There is a casino- very smoky, did not spend time here. The shipping area, Tradewinds, is basically 3 stores- very small and has one jewelry area; one clothing and one necessities shop. It’s all duty free, so there was perfume, liquor and the normal duty free offerings. Only open when at sea. Kids club on 12th floor; Our daughter attended the teen Entourage area- “Vanilla” was the host of the program and posted her hours. It’s basically a “we’re open an hour or two” so the kids can stop in , get connected to their friends, then go hang out; then they would open long hours in the evening for something a little more themed. My daughter enjoyed getting to know Vanilla and enjoyed spending time at the club. They had a dress up dinner on one of the last evenings of the cruise and had a nice turnout – daughter was happy. The kids liked to hang out in Bliss after hours and participate in Karaoke. Dining Specialty restaurants on this ship: Moderno (Brazilian steakhouse), Cagneys (Steak), La Cucina (Italian), Le Bistro (French), Lotus Garden (Sushi), Teppanyaki. Same menu as other ships. Sushi is super slow when the restaurant is busy, so bring your patience. We had the Ultimate dining package, so did not dine (for dinner) in any of the regular venues (Summer Palace or Indigo). Very happy with the food except for Moderno (tough steak and dry chicken that night for some reason). Everything else was fantastic. We would get snacks from Garden Café from time to time (pretzels, cheese, fruit). Our teenager went at odd times to get pasta, etc. and said It was good food, just chaotic experience. Additional bar areas included Magnums/Maltings whiskey bar (they have popcorn here too, along with beer nuts)- and you can listen to a variety of music in the evenings at this venue- again, all appeared to be for the 65+ set. Moderno has a separate bar so you can pop in here as it’s one floor down from Haven as well. O’Sheehans (reviewed above). There is a ‘patio’ off the back end of the Garden Café called Topsiders grill- was a great spot to catch a class of wine and enjoy a sunset view (same food Garden Café). Fill your plate and head out back if the weather is nice. They had a Bierfest one afternoon and it was fantastic (and authentic) german food and beer. Nice touch. Bliss lounge was open most of the day for all sorts of events (like arts/crafts, napkin folding, lectures, etc.) bowling alley is here as well (four lanes). Karaoke by night. Sugar Cane – Mojito bar- did not visit Sake bar by Lotus Garden- did not visit Sky High- is a bar overlooking the pool- good drinks, could only sit here a day or two due to wind Spinnaker- another evening lounge and event spot for ship happenings (Lectures, etc.) Excursions Our best excursion was one we booked ourselves, Segue tour in Cartegena- fantastic, small group of 10 folks and was perfect overview of the old city. “Segway Cartegena” is the name of the business, look them up on Tripadvisor and book from there. The port here is truly nice, with a bird aviary (Pink Flamingos & Macaws!) and a nice path/gardens to relax and have coffee if you wish. We did two ship sponsored excursions; one in Puerto Limon Costa Rica (visited a wildlife rescue center and a national forest) two hours of bus time; Port here is TERRIBLE, and zero time for a Costa Rica lunch. The Cahuita national park is gorgeous and we had about an hour to hike. It is along a beautiful beach, and we saw monkeys (came right down to the trail), gorgeous flowers and the ocean. We then took the bus over to the wildlife Refuge center and Patricia gave us a guided tour of her business. She takes care of injured and abused animals to prepare them for re-entry into the wild. It was a very interesting tour that allows you to get up close to wildlife (sloths, monkeys, turtles, etc.) She shared the stories behind them all. The tour ended with a large plate of fruit and then hour ride back to ship. My only suggestion on this one would be to shorten both the park and refuge center by 15 mins, and allow for a lunch break in Cahuita. The restaurants all looked quaint and interesting and we were starving by the time we got back to ship (2:30p) with no lunch. Second excursion was in Panama- you were only able to exit the ship if you had a Norwegian sponsored excursion since the ship was headed to Colon (100 miles away) for pick up. We went to the Empresa Indian village. The bus ride was about an hour; and then you got into canoes for a 15 min ride to the ‘camp’. There were 150 people on this excursion, so it’s not as intimate as the description on the site. There is a ‘show’ where the residents (26 families we were told) dress in their tribe wear, they educate the group on their history, arts & crafts; then they feed you lunch of a lightly breaded piece of fish and fried plantains. You are three free to walk about the small village and buy arts & crafts. This camp is in a national park, so this is their way of bringing in income. They do a tribal dance and then you head back in the canoes- to the bus and port in Colon. The tribe had tables setup at the port as well, so if you don’t make a purchase at the camp, you’ll see the wares again at the port. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
I have just returned home from a great cruise on-board the Island Princess. Having never sailed with Princess before (have done RCCL and Disney), I didn't know what to expect but can say that a fabulous time was had by all. I will try ... Read More
I have just returned home from a great cruise on-board the Island Princess. Having never sailed with Princess before (have done RCCL and Disney), I didn't know what to expect but can say that a fabulous time was had by all. I will try and categorise with headings below for those areas relevant to us. Activities - we didn't really partake in any of the day time activities on-board but could see and hear them around the ship. They were presented in a non offensive way and if you didn't want to be in the entertainment areas, there was plenty of other spaces to move too. I do think that the passenger talent show needs a little more work as it seemed to be 'thrown together' . The theatre is in my opinion to big of a room for it to take place. Service All of the crew members that we met were professionally outstanding and nothing was too much trouble for them. They had long days in HOT weather - especially the Lido deck bar team but always greeted and remembered our names Entertainment The entertainment on board was very varied! As above, the daytime activities were none offensive and the cruise staff all worked hard to ensure that a good time was had by all. At night we were treated to Production shows performed by the cast on board. There were also guest entertainers that varied in show genre and quality. Jean Boutchier - was a magician with an element of comedy. I found his show to be full of old school innuendos that in the end become tiresome. So much so that when he became part of the variety Christmas Show - no one wanted to volunteer to help him. The BEST show of the entire cruise was performed by Tracey Shield - An Evening With Celine Dion (Celine Dion Tribute Show). This has to be ONE of, if not THE best show that I have seen on-board a cruise ship and if this girls diary isn't full then it should be! As a Celine fan I was initially a bit sceptical but the way she emulated Celine is phenomenal. Not only does she look like her, command the band like Celine does but her vocals were flawless! I saw both shows and both received house standing ovations. Its a shame that her second show wasn't promoted for the final evening as I know there were a few other passengers who were keen to see her again. I must also mention Chris Riggins (Vocal Tenor) and Stephen Kane (Pianist/Vocalist). Both of whom performed exceptional shows. Both full of energy and shows that have to captivated from curtain up. We saw a couple of the productions shows and by far 'On The Bayou' was the best of the bunch. Special recognition must go to Leigh - Cara, Jake (who we also spotted doing other duties around the ship) and Alan. They really stood out from the others in the cast - not to take anything away from everyone else as they all worked just as hard but it was difficult to not just watch the energy and passion these three put into their performances. The theatre orchestra were awesome and very much complimented each other. The other musicians around the ship were also great. The Christmas activities (caral singing and Christmas Day in the Atrium) were great and there was something for everyone. The bringing in of New Year was held in the atrium with music performed by the theatre orchestra and the resident band 'Exite' making one 'superband'. A balloon drop and Auld Lang Syne on the stroke of midnight really added to the evening atmosphere. Dining We decided that we didn't want to use the dining room much, only doing so on Christmas Day and New Years Eve. On both occasions- service was quick, food was great. We also used Horizon Court Buffet and Lido Deck snack bar quite a lot as it allowed us to be more flexible on how we spent our days. We chose to dine at Crab Shack and Bayou Cafe and were very happy with paying the $25 cover charge for these speciality restaurants. The most enjoyable experience of the two was Bayou. I felt TOO much (if there is such a thing) food put in front of you in the Crab Shack that it was quiet overwhelming. Another dining highlight, was of course, the British Pub lunch. This was offered on a couple of the sea days. The menu consisted of the classic 'fish n chips' and 'bangers n mash' to name a couple. Really tasty dishes. Summary Overall a great cruise - we did miss San Juan del Sur as it was too choppy to allow the tender boats to run but that was OK. The ship also went into RED LEVEL with Norovirus. This is the highest level but the ship dealt with it effectively and quickly to eradicate it. The crew could be seen more and more sanitising public areas, more sanitising stations were put around the ship and the Captain was very good at keeping everyone informed. This was quite refreshing as most cruise lines (I see there reasons why) like to keep it hush hush! Thanks Princess Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
After reading that the recent remodel had ruined the Island Princess, our perception was that was not the case. We didn't feel the ship was crowded at all. We did go into the exercise room and all the criticism of it being too small ... Read More
After reading that the recent remodel had ruined the Island Princess, our perception was that was not the case. We didn't feel the ship was crowded at all. We did go into the exercise room and all the criticism of it being too small and stuffy were valid. The casino was very small, an so cramped that wheelchair users would not be able to go far. We also miss the International Cafe, a staple on other Princess ships, though we dont use it much anyway. We noticed two things that really surprised us: 1. Captain Tim Stringer is probably the most communicative captain we have ever encountered. He was frequently (but not too often) on the public address system telling us the status of ports and other information we needed to know. It was comforting to get information and felt that if there were a true emergency he, unlike other captains, would be forthcoming and honest. 2. This was the first Princess cruise we have not had to ask to be moved to a different table in the traditional dining room. Wheelchair access is not the best on most Princess ships, but the Island Princess had no steps or lips in the Provence Dining room and we even got to a table where we would not have to ask people to move in order to get out of the room, like we have had to do on our previous 10 cruises (not just a Princess problem). We found the food to be typical Princess fare. We had a credit for dinner at Sabatinis, a choice in which we were very disappointed. Both the service and food were not that great. It was interesting to note that my wife had the lobster prepared 3 ways and, if it were not for the credit, we would have been charged $25 for her dinner but the same dish was offered a few days later in the main dining rooms. So the lesson is why go to Sabatini's when you can get the same meal with better service in the traditional dining room. We attended one lecture by Marina Oborotova about the Panama Canal. She told us nothing new that was not covered by David McCullough's book. We decided not to even attend the other lectures about the Canal that she was speaking about. However, Chris Roberts did a narration during the day of the Panama Canal and he was interesting and engaging. You could hear his commentary from any of the open decks, in the Horizon Court (buffet), Deck 14 forward, or on the bridge cam channel. I also attended the ultimate ship tour and I was pleased. The description of the tour is not accurate but it was still a very informative and pleasant tour. We were disappointed in the cruise staff for cancelling our train/boat ride in Costa Rica and didn't bother telling us about it until about 30 minutes after they told the rest of the participants. Since wheelchair users were not allowed in the Princess Theater, we had to wait in the hallway and there was no communication with us until much later. Fortunately for us we found a cab driver with limited English that took us to a monkey reserve and around the city. Our stop at San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua was cancelled due to high winds that prevented us from anchoring. While disappointing we were pleased that the Captain kept us informed and felt that he sincerely regretted having to cancel the port. We were also saddened at the thought of all the lost revenue the locals would have as a result of the poor weather. Our other ports included Cabo San Lucas, Puntarenas, Cartagena, and Grand Cayman. All went off without much problem. Cartagena was fascinating, especially the massive stone fort in the city. We took a bus ride to the Dolphin show/Hell/Rum Cake Factory and was disappointed. Each stop was only about 20 minutes, hell was overrated, and the rum cake factory was more a store than a factory. This is not a tour we would recommend. Embarkation for wheelchair users was one of the quickest we have ever experienced. This was after flying to Los Angeles a day early and staying at the LAX Marriott. We took the free hotel shuttle back to the airport to catch the Princess shuttle. While they assured us they had reserved an accessible bus, they didn't and instead put us in a cab that took us to the port, for which they paid. We thought that since this was our first cruise as Platinum members, we might experience the quick embarkation they receive, but found the wheelchair version just as efficient. It was nice to have our soda sticker already on the card without having to find or wait for that elsewhere. I was old at a bar that the traditional tumbler was no longer issued, but I later received a plastic cup with a nice reusable straw and screw-on lid, even though it was not delivered to the room until about 3 days into the cruise. Disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale was very efficient. We had scheduled an excursion, the Intercostal waterways and airport drop-off. We found the excursion was very informative, especially the boat ride through all the swanky and fancy homes and yachts of the rich and famous. The tour guide was pretty disorganized though but it was a good tour overall. This was also a cruise over the Christmas and New Year's holiday. The ship was decorated and even made sure Santa was able to land on the ship so the kids (not a lot on this cruise) were able to visit with him. It was certainly a cruise of a lifetime, with the opportunity to transit the Panama Canal, a historical treasure and modern marvel. It was interesting to see the new locks and look forward to transiting them some day as well. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We arrived with high expectations as loyal princess cruisers. Boarding was quick and efficient and cabin was ready but we were greeted by a foul stench in the corridor. Attended muster as we ALWAYS do and was scanned in, later that ... Read More
We arrived with high expectations as loyal princess cruisers. Boarding was quick and efficient and cabin was ready but we were greeted by a foul stench in the corridor. Attended muster as we ALWAYS do and was scanned in, later that evening we received a letter 'telling us off' for missing muster. Went to reception to be told don't worry the scanners don't always work! not impressed. Card left on bed to collect gifts that I had pre-ordered, these were due to arrive Christmas day as a surprise not just waiting on the bed on arrival day.Went to shop to collect gifts to be told they were out of stock so pick something out instead, when I asked what value I was told an approx amount that was incorrect (considerably less than had been prepaid). Why didn't they send a card saying it was out of stock instead of raising expectations and the dashing them. Anytime dining, you had to queue around the atrium just to get a pager so gave up first two nights and ate in self-service, where you didn't even get offered water. Had to serve myself. On third day demanded to see Maitre D who said it was a problem since they added the extra cabins, he then resolved the situation by giving us a table at the same time every night with a fantastic waiter. I am a smoker and whilst I understand that it is an unpleasant habit the smoking areas are totally unsuitable. Deck 15 outside no shade, rarely cleaned, no bar staff come near or by. Churchill lounge, very poor ventilation, not enough room for quantity of smokers, staff hate coming in to clean ashtrays, no bar service. Since the refit there is no smoking on the promenade deck, my favorite place to sit, so I had to either use lift to deck 15 or go in the stinky room. Didn't stop at Nicaragua due to weather, not a problem, better to be safe than sorry. Cancelled trip in Costa Rica, not told until 1.30pm when it was too late to arrange an alternative, found out that morning trips had been told at 7.30am, why didnt they tell the afternoon trips at the same time. Lost the chance of seeing crocodiles which was one of the reasons for the cruise. Panama canal, brilliant day but again very poor bar service, the promenade deck was full of passengers but bar staff from crooners or any other bar didnt attempt to help, so we had to go into the bars for service. Cabin steward excellent. Stentch in corridor came and went through the cruise. Code red novovirus well handled by the staff. We washed and used gel so didnt fall victim. Food very good, self service excellent layout but less than expected service from drinks stewards. A good rest and lovely stops, Panama canal was all we hoped for and more. This cruise was let down by poor bar service, lack of cleanliness on open decks and excessive queuing for the anytime dining. All of these points were raised at the time but were not addressed by princess. Would I use Princess again ..possibly. Would I book Island Princess again..NEVER Oh and still waiting for the credit on my onboard account to be refunded to my card 2 weeks after disembarkation. Was told on phone that it could take a further 2 weeks. I didn't make then wait for payment and prepaid everything and the refunds are due to 2 trips being cancelled by princess.....far from impressed, not the consumate host and I definately didn't come back renewed!!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
After cruising various times on the Sun, Emerald, Grand, Crown, Ruby, Royal Princess and also the Eurodam with Holland America I was expecting more than what we got on our cruise on the Island Princess! I won't bore you with the full ... Read More
After cruising various times on the Sun, Emerald, Grand, Crown, Ruby, Royal Princess and also the Eurodam with Holland America I was expecting more than what we got on our cruise on the Island Princess! I won't bore you with the full details but If I were you I would only go on this boat out of holiday season and without children, I'd be hard to pushed to set foot on this boat again. My mum and dad have been on the Coral which they preferred - as at the moment they don't seem to have crammed all the additional cabins on the back of the boat yet! Embarkation - fast and easy no issues. Cabin - Minisuite nice size, good layout but needed new carpet. Was apparently marked for replacement but hadn't been done. Cabin not the usual 'pristine clean' of other Princess boats. Provence Dining Room - First night in the dining room, we were travelling in a group of 6, we requested a table for 6! Only to find the party had been split, 4 were allocated to a table for 8 and myself and my son had been allocated on a table for 10!? Placed on temporary table for 1 night then 2 night we were allocated a table for 6. Service was slow, food was average and not always warm, meals too fussy and fancy, if we wanted a drink we had to order in anticipation. Must be the extra passengers onboard following the addition of all those extra cabins and guessing no additional staff? The dining room layout itself is very nice and comfortable. Desserts a let down only 2 Norman Love deserts out of 15 nights. The Buffet - breakfast selection was very good and the fresh made to order omelettes are a must, the buffet layout was very nice, fresh and inviting, we ended up eating here breakfast, lunch and a handful of evenings due to the selection and atmosphere, staff warm, friendly and very polite. Kids club - the indoor prison box, my son now too old for Princess Pelicans was looking forward to his first experience of shockwaves, but was highly disappointed as there was no outdoor space, no windows and limited space, so he only went a few times, I believe this again is down to the addition of the extra cabins at the back of the ship? Such a shame. The Atrium - seemed very compact and with the amount of people on the boat sometimes felt a little cramped, although may be ok when you go 'off Peak'. The photo Gallery - like with all other ships was overpriced, if they made the photo's cheaper I would probably buy more, the photo's themselves were very well done. Note - buy your photos before the last night of the cruise otherwise you'll probably be queuing like I was for over 15 minutes. Entertainment - I can't comment too much on the entertainment as we did go to see any shows or bands etc. There was a 'Cosmic Band' on a few evenings in The Explorers Lounge, the female vocals were good, but the male singer destroyed the Elvis and Beatles songs to the point it was painful to listen! :( NOROVIRUS - yep we came down this with, luckily we didn't get anything as we are sticklers for hand washing and hand sanitisation unlike some of the other passengers we saw eating whilst they were choosing their food in the buffet and not sanitising their hands as they walked in etc, we noticed the 2nd day when they took the salt and Pepper shakers off the tables in the Buffet, but there was no announcement made till a couple of days later when they obviously must have hit the 'level' for reporting to other passengers plus the ship being a ghost ship when we went out for evening meal and the removal of the cocktail menus from tables and bars, main toilet doors in public areas were held open, which indicated how bad things were. Passengers were quarantined and you saw an increase in cleaning and sanitisation of various areas, including a cabin sanitisation whilst docked in Cartegena, and an early dis-embarkation by 10am at Port Everglades. The LOTUS POOL, as per other reviews part way through the cruise (first week no issues) we were told children couldn't use this indoor pool between the hours of 6am till 6pm. Mixed messages, apparently not all staff on the Princess were made aware of this fact as we asked 3 of them and none of them knew of any 'Adult Only' restriction. The sign next to the pool said children under 16 are allowed in the pool as long as they are supervised by an Adult. (I have taken pictures of these) Passenger Services said it was due to children 'Divebombing' in the pool that captain had changed the ruling (later found out it was a group of 'Teens' and not children). Comments card completed, Hotel Manager replied and said it is always designated as an 'Adults only' pool. Which one it is Princess?? When the over 18 pool games are taking place in the outdoor pool I am not sure where children are supposed to go in 90% humidity and 30oC heat? Disembarkation - requested time of 09.00 to 09.30, 4 of our group were allocated 7.20am and 2 others were allocated 09.40. After taking out time to go to Passenger Services we managed to get a group time of 09.20. We couldn't get in the designated Platinum Lounge (Wheelhouse Bar) as it was full, so it wasn't clear to hear any announcements in regards to which colour was disembarking as we had to sit outside the Wheelhouse Bar. Disembarking off the boat itself was easy though, no queues etc but once we hit the terminal and picked up our luggage we were faced with a huge wait in the customs line. Passengers we had previously seen walking round the boat unaided were now in wheelchairs, given priority and taken to the front of the customs queue and they just flew through. Surely this shouldn't be allowed unless they were actually wheelchair bound during the cruise and required assistance? Port & Shore Excursions Cabo San Lucas - a nice tender ride to port, a lovely area to walk around, but you do get pestered but the locals to do a tour like with other places. Next time I would consider doing the Dolphin Swim here as it is literally located right on the dock, we tried to book in independently only to find they were fully booked for that day :( San Juan Del Sur - cancelled due to sea conditions we were unable to tender in Puntarenas - you really need to book a tour here if you want to get off the boat as there is nothing other than a few local crafty type stalls or a black sand dirty beach. We had a tour booked with got cancelled due to Princess deeming it unsafe due to a boating incident the previous day, refund received but no alternatives offered as they advised all other tours were fully booked! Very disappointing my son was very much looking forward to the train and boat ride. Transit of the Panama Canal - Amazing! What an experience, highly recommended. But lots of rude people on the boat pushed their sun bed right up the glass on the 15&16th decks so it was a struggle for other people to actually view and take pictures of the locks etc, the sun beds should have been moved right back so more people could get to experience the Panama Canal. No Deck Attendants around to clear the space. Cartagena - lovely 2 hour experience on a tour booked for a Spanish Galleon, less than 24 hours we were advised of a time change for our tour from 12.30 to 09.30! But worked out ok due to the temperature. The port shopping area here is nice, we got chance to feed the monkeys, see flamingoes, black swans, peacocks and macaw parrots as well as cheeky toucans who tried to nibble on your clothing in the mini enclosed avary. Grand Cayman - we did the Dolphin and Turtle encounter, very rushed could have done with more time at the turtle farm, the Dolphin Encounter was just a photo welling opportunity for the company, group of 16, 1 dolphin and over $200 for the photo pack for a family of 4, could do with more time actually interacting with the dolphin rather than "look at the camera"! All in all would have been a nice cruise if we'd been on a different ship! Sorry Princess big fail for the Island Princess. I'd recommend trying another cruise line or go on the coral if it's not been revamped if you want to experience a Full Panama Transit. We're off on the Ruby in March for a cruise to Hawaii, having been on the Ruby before I'm looking forward to that cruise and will follow up with a review to see if it still matches up with previous experiences. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
I need to start by saying that my husband was sick a majority of this cruise, so my opinion will be a little tainted. We got flu shots prior to trip, but he still got Type A Flu. After he got "well" he must have gotten a touch of ... Read More
I need to start by saying that my husband was sick a majority of this cruise, so my opinion will be a little tainted. We got flu shots prior to trip, but he still got Type A Flu. After he got "well" he must have gotten a touch of the Norovirus that hit the ship. We didn't partake of a lot. I took the bait and let the ship assign my mini-suite; wrong! We had Caribe 205; right up front. 2 nights the seas were so rough and we felt it big time. Also, everything was a hike. The cabin was nice. The service on the ship was great. I have taken Holland America and the people on this ship were much nicer. I never asked a question that I didn't find someone eager to help (except in the gift shop). The captain was available and personable. He even officiated at the Christmas non-denominational service and I loved it. The food was good, not great. We only ate in the restaurant 4 or 5 times and my husband never liked his food. The Horizon Court was much better. We didn't try the specialty places except the Pub Lunch. It was good, not great. As a newby, I guess I need to try more. My problem was how much everything cost. You can't bring alcohol but the prices are so high. The coffee is awful unless you buy a coffee card and get their brewed coffee on the 5th floor. You can't even get brewed coffee in the restaurant! It is great to have room service coffee if it wouldn't have tasted like dirt. We met a lot of people who go Princess a lot. I can see lots of good reason to cruise the same line so you can get the perks without paying more. The more you cruise, the more you get. As a newby, you get nothing extra. I would probably go on Princess again, but I will probably try some other lines before I get too "loyal." Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We enjoyed our cruise but found the Island princess very different from other princess ships. They had a big remodel in May of 2015 and the Youth Center was moved to the interior of the back of the ship. It is basically one long narrow ... Read More
We enjoyed our cruise but found the Island princess very different from other princess ships. They had a big remodel in May of 2015 and the Youth Center was moved to the interior of the back of the ship. It is basically one long narrow room divided by an airwall with 3-7 yr old on one side and 8-11 yr olds on the other. While they did have 2 ski ball machines (I can't imagine having one of the balcony cabins surrounding the Fun zone) an air hockey table and a fooseball table there wasn't much else there to entice the children to stay. There are no windows and it's like being in the bowels of the ship. My children were initially thrilled to have so many sea days and were looking forward to spending time in the fun zone, but after spending a couple of hours there they refused to go back. Another problem we ran into is that part way through the cruise they announced that children were not allowed at the indoor pool between the hours of 6am-6pm. This left only the one main outdoor pool under movies under the stars for the kids to use. This is also the pool that all the organized activities (such as pool volleyball) were held in. As a result we ended up with a cruise with 8 sea days with no where for my children to go and spend time. While I understand that princess doesn't specifically cater to or appeal to this age group we have cruised many many times in the past with princess and my children have very much enjoyed the programs and facilities. If you have cruised princess before you may want to rethink choosing the island princess for a family cruise. The fitness facilities were also moved to and interior area on deck 6 and there were not many machines or space for fitness classes. It was almost always completely packed with people waiting to use machines. A huge change from most ships with tons of machines lined up in front of large windows overlooking the bridge out to sea at the front of the ship. They also closed off the aft part of the promenade deck an built balcony cabins there so you cannot walk around the back of the ship. There is a very small deck off of deck 8 at the back, but no chairs or loungers. The buffet was new and very well organized cutting down on traffic and possible contamination. That was nice. We enjoyed our trip through the panama canal but would definitely choose a different ship for future voyages Read Less
Sail Date December 2015

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