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733 Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

Wanted to visit Panama and Grand Carman but poor choice of time do to Covid-19. Even so. It was a nice cruise and appreciate the great service we received. Room was outstanding and kept that way the entire trip. Staff and all attendants ... Read More
Wanted to visit Panama and Grand Carman but poor choice of time do to Covid-19. Even so. It was a nice cruise and appreciate the great service we received. Room was outstanding and kept that way the entire trip. Staff and all attendants were always friendly. Even under our serious situation the captain and his staff made this trip an enjoyable one. Never did we feel we were in trouble or under any threat of being endanger. To be truthful most of us on that ship felt safer than what we were returning to. There are not too many things we do in life that we have to experience a trip during some very difficult life threatening times. I applauded the CEO for her choice of shutting down future voyages for 60 days till this terrible virus passes. I wish them the very best. They have put profits aside as they do care about their clients. I say this with all sincerity. Thank you Princess Cruises Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
I choose this cruise because wanted to do the Panama Canal it was our first time with Princess and will be the last time. The food was terrible with no variety with lots of junk food deep fried We like fine dining there were none ... Read More
I choose this cruise because wanted to do the Panama Canal it was our first time with Princess and will be the last time. The food was terrible with no variety with lots of junk food deep fried We like fine dining there were none It’s started at the airport pick up 3 hrs late and 2 hrs to embark cruise we were supposed to leave at 4 pm and left at 8.30 Very disorganized. They left people in line for 2 hr not even offering water or chairs for the elderly Wen we disembark to the island took 1.30 to get back on the cruise in Panama in a tender with a five minute ride they were very disorganized The service on the cruise was very good from the front desk to the restaurant very good service We talk to other people that took Princess many times and will not comeback on Princess simply because of their food is not the same they cut back Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
I chose Norwegian because we cruised Mexico last year and just returned from a Panama Canal cruise. Both cruises have been enjoyable, but recent news, if true will make me think twice about cruising with them again. News is today that they ... Read More
I chose Norwegian because we cruised Mexico last year and just returned from a Panama Canal cruise. Both cruises have been enjoyable, but recent news, if true will make me think twice about cruising with them again. News is today that they are encouraging their sales force to tell people how safe it is on their ships and not to worry about Corona virus. To me, that is just plain stupid with the virus being most anywhere. Cruise ships are a giant Petri dish no matter how well they are cleaned. You have 3 to 5 thousand people living, eating and eliminating in a confined area. No matter how careful you are, you are going to touch something that has been contaminated. Personally, if I were to be considering a cruise right now, I would cancel out, especially if Norwegian messing with the truth in their sales department. That aside, I will say that we enjoyed the trip thru the Panama canal, but wished there had been different ports on the western side as we had just been to three of them last year. Our rooms were kept up very well and they were really encouraging people to wash their hand or use sanitizer all over the ship. One thing that we have found to be going downhill is the food service in the ship buffet. Most all foods served on this trip were barely warm, some were actually cool. This is a dangerous way to serve food in my opinion. The dining room food was excellent and hot. We ate a five of the specialty restaurants on board and found the staff and food EXCELLENT in the Ocean Blue. The food and staff was also very good in the LeBistro restaurant, but were disappointed that they had run out of escargot on the 13th day of our 16 day cruise. They also ran out of food items in the buffet,{Cafe}. When we went to Mexico last year on the Bliss, we really enjoyed the whiskey bar, but on the Joy, it seems like the bar was dark, dingy and unfriendly. I do want to compliment Norwegian on the drink package. The drinks were great and the bar staff, with the exception of the Joy's whiskey bar was great. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
The 14 day journey cruise on the Glory was overall memorable. Embarkation was great as soon as we got to the port and went thru security we were on the ship. We had some great stops, Montego Bay Jamaica, Aruba, Cartagena Columbia, Puerto ... Read More
The 14 day journey cruise on the Glory was overall memorable. Embarkation was great as soon as we got to the port and went thru security we were on the ship. We had some great stops, Montego Bay Jamaica, Aruba, Cartagena Columbia, Puerto Limon Costa Rica, the Panama canal and cozumel. the crew was great. Depending on where your room was on the ship there was a constant movement of the ship. I think the stabilizers are not working properly. Interior spaces were in good condition. The elevators were fast and smooth. The exterior needs some painting but you see the crew working on that. Food was on pair with carnival ships. Entertainment was good. There was plenty of activities to take part in.The cruise director " Lee " was informative but I don't think he will not be on the ship much longer. He's going to one of carnival's newest ship soon. Carnival's excursions are expensive.. independent operators are just as good for less money. Disembarking at the end of the cruise was a disaster because there were so many diamond and platinum members and a large number were getting off at the same time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
It was a nice cruise from a scenery and ports perspective. Entertainment quality was good and was to be expected. Food quality was good and stateroom stewards were excellent. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. The issue my ... Read More
It was a nice cruise from a scenery and ports perspective. Entertainment quality was good and was to be expected. Food quality was good and stateroom stewards were excellent. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. The issue my husband and I had was the crew/staff/officers did not seem very happy and were not intermingling with the passengers as they have on our other Holland Cruises. It was almost as if they looked straight through you and just did their job. We understand that is what they are their to do, but we have been on many cruises where It was very obvious that the crew and officers loved their jobs and loved getting to know their passengers to and share about home once in a while and this was something they enjoyed. If you asked for something, they brought it to you but even the simple things of being visible and the hello’s, how are you, were missing. Being in our 70’s and having been on almost every cruise line, this is something we really look forward to and was really missing on this ship. We thought maybe it was us but after talking with many passengers They all commented that staff was unfriendly or didn’t seem to be happy, so It wasn’t just us that felt that way. Hopefully, that will change as we are booked on her again in the summer. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This cruise experience was truly a mix of positive and negative impressions. Our biggest frustration was that the Joy changed our itinerary without explanation less than a week before taking off. They eliminated a stop in Santa Marta, ... Read More
This cruise experience was truly a mix of positive and negative impressions. Our biggest frustration was that the Joy changed our itinerary without explanation less than a week before taking off. They eliminated a stop in Santa Marta, where we had planned to meet family members. We don't think it is fair to offer no explanation for changes of this magnitude. This is a newer ship that is spotlessly clean and beautifully decorated. There is a lovely Observation Deck and lounge on the 15th floor, with lots of nice seating and quiet space. There are a few nice places to sit outside along the 8th deck as well. Unfortunately, the ship pipes in music CONSTANTLY along the deck, as well as in the Garden Cafe (buffet). This can be very annoying, especially early in the morning when it is nice to have quiet time and also when you are seeking a quiet space to just listen to the waves, read a book, or enjoy the moonlight.Our stateroom was spacious and comfortable, with lots of storage and a large bathroom. Instead of having a private deck, we opted for a larger family room because we were originally planning to take our adult daughter who is handicapped. I'm glad we ended up not taking her . . . the elevators were very slow and extremely crowded. I would strongly recommend that the Joy consider having a handicapped only elevator and more handicapped accessibility features for the comfort of these guests. Another disappointing space is the Atrium. This area, which includes the guest services desk is being used as their main gathering space and it is SO loud and crowded! They set up folding chairs every day to accommodate the crowds. Unfortunately, there is no larger central dance hall space on the ship to handle large group events. There is also only one pool area with two fairly small saltwater pools and a kid's pool to accommodate over 4000 guests. So much space was used to provide a relatively unused race track, mini-golf course, and laser tag area. Remember, the vast majority of guests are over 60. There were other spaces for kids.Honestly, small hotels offer more pool space and bigger hot tubs than this huge cruise ship. The class system is alive and well on the Joy, giving lots of special privileges and choice spaces for those who can afford it. One of the biggest slaps to the average passenger is that all the reserved seats for the Social Club Comedy room were used up by Haven guests, so everyone else needed to wait in line for up to an hour if they wanted to see the shows. Again, the room is packed full with folding chairs to accommodate guests. In general, all the bars and clubs with live entertainment were much too small. Another solution would be to offer more entertainment with a more equitable distribution so everyone would have opportunities to to see them. The Beatles group was terrific, but again,the lines to get in the Cavern were sometimes over an hour long. Advance reservations to see Footloose and Elements in the theater are an absolute MUST because they are only shown on a couple nights. Most of the other entertainment was just okay, as was the food. We had both good and bad meals, with most being just average. The ship does not have ANY water filling stations, so in order to refill a water bottle, you need to go all the way to the cafeteria on 15th floor and fill it from water glasses. They would like you to buy bottled water, which is extremely wasteful and bad for the environment. We also had a mix of impressions of the Shore Excursions. In general, they were very expensive for what you receive in return. Norwegian Cruise lines should be ashamed for including and promoting the exploitation of human beings in Colon, Columbia. People are not to be gawked at as exhibitions, as the Embera people were on many of their sponsored Shore Excursions. Even if the Embera people volunteered to do this, it is reminiscent of the days when the US staged American Indian pageants, pretending that our native American people still lived as they did hundreds of years ago. The whole staged show is an inappropriate lie to the public in order to sell products, who seemed to eat it up as truth. it would be interesting to find out where most of the money for the products goes. If it truly goes to the tribes and if the products are truly made by the tribes that would be nice, but they could still be honest with the public about their current way of life and all it entails. The staff on this ship was EXTREMELY friendly and did an excellent job, from cleaning to waiting tables. We were very happy with that part of our trip and hope these people are paid well. Our itinerary to the Panama Canal, ABC islands, Columbia, and Costa Rica was wonderful, although we really would have liked to have had our day in Santa Marta, as well as have a morning time slot in Cartagena, instead of the hot afternoon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Warm weather cruise in both the Pacific and Atlantic. Staff was ...as usual, outstanding. The ship was set to be refurbished at the end of this cruise. It needed it. Really could have been discounted because of the needed repairs. ... Read More
Warm weather cruise in both the Pacific and Atlantic. Staff was ...as usual, outstanding. The ship was set to be refurbished at the end of this cruise. It needed it. Really could have been discounted because of the needed repairs. Carnival has really fallen off in quality since we started with them nearly 35 years ago. Food quality and entertainment need upgraded. It would have been good to have had an expert on board or a movie prior to going through the canal to tell the story of the canal. The company needs to cater more to the group on the ship...only say two families with children as most folks were at least 55. Having the comedy start at 11 was past many bed times. Hate the game show entertainment...cheap. Wish the frequent cruiser program crossed with the sister company lines. Making everyone wait for the emergency drill at the start of the cruise while trying to roundup a few is wrong. Freeze their cruise card and then they have to attend later or assess a fee. Do not like the excursions for shopping when the only places allowed to shop are specific and no time to shop on your own. Love to have more big screen movies and in room movies. Get Fox News and ESPN in the rooms. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
On the good side, the staff or crew was very friendly and courteous. Food was good as well as entertainment. On the bad: 1) the wait to board the cruise was ridiculous 2) once in our room, hours later, we found a dirty bathroom ... Read More
On the good side, the staff or crew was very friendly and courteous. Food was good as well as entertainment. On the bad: 1) the wait to board the cruise was ridiculous 2) once in our room, hours later, we found a dirty bathroom and carpeting, beds not put together. We complained. 3) went to wait until the room was cleaned, beds put together, carpet vacuumed and were told the room was sanitizer but carpet would be shampooed when at the next port. It never was. 4) there was a second set of bunkbeds folded against the wall, right under the left and right side of our bed, every time we got up from the bed we bumped our heads until we got used to them, except at night when waking to go to the bathroom. 5) when we complained We were told we would be moved, never happened. 6) the entire ship was very cold but guess that's to prevent viruses. However, that should be told in advance for those who packed to go to warm climates! 7) tours where expensive as where salon services and photos. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This was our 3rd cruise with NCL, 15th in total. We choose this cruise for the itinerary. I must say, being European and living in a mediëval city our expectations are high. You can not surprise us with a 19th century church. So ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with NCL, 15th in total. We choose this cruise for the itinerary. I must say, being European and living in a mediëval city our expectations are high. You can not surprise us with a 19th century church. So history/culture and nature are the things we want to see. (CC why no history/culture in "Which of the following apply to your review?") We booked a balcony on deck 10 fwd., inclusive ultimate beverage package and 50 $ shore excursion credit. Boarding was ok and fast. But... no welcome drink. We immediately thought "economizing"...... Ship. The ship was very nice, even for its age! We prefer the smaller ships with no hi tech or roller coasters.... The "art collection" on board: no comments…. Cabin. The cabin was ok, right seize, clean and in a very good condition. Large safe for pc and cameras, even a coffee machine!. Small tv though. The bathroom has a door that closes off the toilet. Waste of space! I am 1,90m (6ft3) and needed that door open for "n°2". Dining. The MDR looked great: art deco style, must say the best of all the cruises we did before. Service was always excellent. (sometimes a bit to fast for us, but that's personal) The MDR menu was between mediocre and good. No more escargots, prime rib or lobster for the farewell. ("economizing"). Compared to other cruise lines we did, choice for breakfast was not as good. No mushrooms. But the icing on the cake we found out the 2nd week: there was smoked salmon for breakfast, but....it is hidden away. You had to ask for it were the bread stand was. Pleas NCL, better give nothing than hiding it away. You are not dealing with children but with passengers! We had an issue that there was only regular butter, no diet butter (a first in 15 cruises too). This was communicated to the F&B manager. What he (and the maitre D at the MDR) did for us was unbelievable. They know what customer service is. People at the office in Miami have to thank and learn a lesson from people like them. The last night my steak (ordered medium rare) was well done. For the first time on all the cruises we did I send it back. It came back.....well done. "Nobody does dining like Norwegian": luckily not..others are better. "Freestyle cruising": sometimes it was "no style cruising". We like it that there are no formal nights...but please in the main restaurant for dinner don't go in shorts.... Service. Was excellent. Everybody did their utter best. Just the "cruise director"....was a joke. Never saw her around. A cruise director should walk around the ship and be seen!!!! Entertainment and activities. We did not attend a show, nor activities. We just went to the presentation of het Panama Canal. Theatre was full, people sitting on the stairs. Normal: this is THE highlight and for many people the reason for the cruise. The explanation was given by "Darlene"....I should rather say the reading of the slides that were presented was done by Darlene. But the best was yet to come: at the end of the presentation she asked…..if there was a nautical lawyer or engineer in the audience to answer questions……????!!!!!???? This presentation had to be given by the captain or at least the staff captain since this is a nautical matter. Speaking of the captain....On this 3 week cruise, we saw him (passing by the martini bar) the one but last day of the cruise. Staff captain, 1st and other officers???Never seen! This was also a first in 15 cruises. Better work on a cargo ship! The only exception was the F&B Manager who was every night in the restaurants! Ports and shore excursions. Santa Barbara was a beautiful stop. Tendering went smooth. Rodeo Drive & Los Angeles tour was a disappointment. Not much to see there. Our guide did not even show us the "foot prints of famous movie stars" as mentioned in the tour description! (we found out they are in front of the Chinese Theatre, but to late...) Puerto Vallarta City sights: Nothing to see but a nice church. The description of the excursions is always so exaggerated. I'd wish they write a more honest description. Than you know what to expect. We always try to do an excursion without shopping. We can do that at home...Here we had a 40 minute stop in a silvershop. This was NOT mentioned in the tour description. Puerto Quetzal:Easy Antiqua: ok, but...40 minute Jade shop and 15 min photostop….. Corinto: Colonial City of Leon was ok Puntaresas: Pacific Train, Boat & Costa Rica traditions: started with the obvious shop (Costa Rica traditions were the guys playing music….) The "delicious buffet of seasonal fruits": a plate with a piece of banana, mango & pineapple. The "ride in a historical train through rural countryside and tropical fields"....what a joke! A ride in the slums would be a much better description. Luckily the boat trip was very good. Bonaire: Best of Bonaire: why did the ship stopped there anyway? Nothing to see. There were more flamingos printed on my polo....Tour was waste of money, and ship departed at midday, so no more time to walk around... Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
The Panama Canal transit was something I rely wanted to do and as a bonus this cruise sailed from San Francisco. We booked with a 2 night stay there before we sailed and that was well worth it. Embarkation was quick and the luggage was ... Read More
The Panama Canal transit was something I rely wanted to do and as a bonus this cruise sailed from San Francisco. We booked with a 2 night stay there before we sailed and that was well worth it. Embarkation was quick and the luggage was soon delivered to the cabin. It is probably the smallest cabin we have had compared to other cruise companies though we look on it as just somewhere to sleep. There was a surprising amount of storage for a small space. The ports of call were frequent and an interesting mix of sights. We mostly booked excursions through the ship and they were reasonably priced. The organisation of getting cruisers out on excursions was shambolic. Daytime entertainment seemed to be aimed at selling you something on the whole. Craft sessions (origami) were timed just as you got back from an excursion with no time to eat and were not available on sea days. The evening shows were excellent. Praise must go to the ships dance company and it was a pity they only did a once a week show. We dine mainly in the buffet and it was good that we could also go to the "Irish" pub and the Asian restaurant to ring the changes. The main dining rooms only offered the same menu and this didn't seem to change throughout the 3 weeks. The buffet had a good and varied choice with themed evenings on occasion. Disembarkation was not well organised. Timed colour bands for luggage had been issued but the allocated times were ignored. We ended the cruise in New York and having had a slow and disorganised exit from the ship we then had a long wait to go through immigration. This involved a queue outside in 0 degree temperatures for 30 minutes or more then still more queuing in a cold and drafty shed that took about 1 hour. We would be reluctant to go with NCL again unless they were sailing somewhere different to other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We had done the Panama Canal cruise a couple of years ago from New Orleans to Seattle, this time we opted for San Francisco to New York. The canal itself is still fascinating, but most of the other ports leave much to be desired. We had ... Read More
We had done the Panama Canal cruise a couple of years ago from New Orleans to Seattle, this time we opted for San Francisco to New York. The canal itself is still fascinating, but most of the other ports leave much to be desired. We had done several of the excursions before and the don't seem to ever change. We were actually more interested in three seeks of warmth and that was the best part. We had been on the Norwegian Pearl the last time so the ship was no surprise. What id surprise us was the deterioration of the service level on the ship. We're beginning to think that Norwegian has become the Motel Six of the cruise lines. The CONSTANT nickel and diming of the passengers is horrendous. Buy bottled water for $5 a liter, that works out to $40 a gallon for water bottled about half an hour from our house. Drinks have become outrageously overpriced. The "specialty" restaurants are really more like an Applebee's or Olive Garden, except not as good. We ate twice at La Cuchina , the first time was ok, even thought the service was casual at best. The second time I had the special "veal parmesan' which was a frozen sort of veal patty with some sort of cheese over it, a huge serving of tasteless ground meat, overcooked and dry. Service was better the second time. Our experience at Cagney's was horrible. We both have mobility issues and were walked, in the nearly empty restaurant to the absolute farthest table from the door behind the kitchen/serving area. Our order was wrong TWICE, my wife's filet was tiny and overdone. My prime rib was also overcooked and COLD. The baked potato was also cold and the sides were not what we ordered and had to be sent back. The service was surly an sarcastic. We did enjoy Le Bistro, if there were to be a next time, which is extremely unlikely, that would be the only place we would frequent. Moderno was fine, good service and we liked the salad bar, but herself did not enjoy the meat offerings. I did. The Garden Café is now officially a Jr. HIgh cafeteria, overcooked food of dubious quality. The best thing there is the bread. I did enjoy breakfast on the Great Outdoors, nowhere else. The cabin was standard balcony fare, nothing special. Where do they get those sofas that are impossibly uncomfortable. The only comfortable place to sit was on the balcony. Our steward was great. Entertainment was really third rate; a juggler, a magician, some entertainer whose claim to fame was that he was once on the David Letterman show! Anyone remember when David Letterman was on TV, how about Gary Moore or Arthur Godfrey? I did happen by the "Learn Origami" event; there were SIX participants. Upon checking the mini bar in the stateroom, I compared what was supposed to be there on the list and found more than half missing. Knowing there are often problems people try to correct on the last morning, I decided to try beforehand. The guest services person calmly told me that all things in plastic bottles had been removed, no notice, no updated inventory list, no correction. Just poor management. It is interesting to note that the "drinks package" encourages people to drink more than they should. wine with breakfast, really? We are not big drinkers and the package was one of the options, seems like a good deal until you read the fine print. The "service charge" would be much, much more than we would ever pay for buying drinks individually. The ports on the west coast are nearly all container ports. Long walks to anything other than gantries and trucks. Our best stop was in Guatamala where the locals have made a small park with vendors and entertainment. In Santa Marta, Colombia, the gantry, taller than the ship was within four feet of the ship. I did learn a lot about how container ports work. Our worst experience was with disembarkation. We needed assistance and were told where to go and wait for help. When we arrived at our appointed time, there were about forty others needing assistance. There were TWO people to help, we were place of the list and when the announcement came that ALL GUESTS should be shore, there were still about twenty waiting, the help had disappeared. We managed to hobble our way off the ship and for the first time, we were the very LAST people ashore, the next cruise passengers were boarding. This was our tenth and last cruise on Norwegian. The line is focused on getting every possible dime from it's "guests" . The constant selling of useless dodads, and overpriced, low quality jewelry is mind boggling. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
My husband and I chose this cruise because of the itinerary. Although we have cruised about 20 times (about 6 with NCL - we are latitudes silver because two of our cruises were from the 80's before they had a loyalty program), there ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise because of the itinerary. Although we have cruised about 20 times (about 6 with NCL - we are latitudes silver because two of our cruises were from the 80's before they had a loyalty program), there were numerous ports on this cruise we had not seen before. And it's a great time of year to get out of the winter for three weeks. We got a good deal on the original fare. It included 5 nights in specialty restaurants, the premium beverage package, $50.00 per port shore excursion credit, airfare and 250 minutes of internet. We up graded to premium economy air - the next category balcony stateroom and unlimited internet. We also added a thermal spa package which we found saves money by eliminating the need for a massage (you can work out all the kinks in the spa). I learned a silver latitudes rating gets you a free bottle of water and a discount on photos and some gift shop items. (But not the video of the Panama Canal) We did not spend any extra time in San Francisco, transferring directly to the ship from baggage claim at the airport. As recommended, we didn't fasten our ship luggage tags onto our luggage because we didn't want them torn off during air travel. But none of the people in the transfer process had a stapler to attach them later. Eventually we got one from another passenger. The bus driver was telling us we would have to transport our own bags because we didn't have the tags on them (a little stressful but oh well - we got it fixed and they took our bags). We arrived early and were on the ship before the huge crowds arrived. Our cabin seemed really tight/small. I don't think it was so much the square footage, as the way it was arranged. It really was as though one of us could be up in the cabin at a time. There was an ottoman type puff to sit at and a very uncomfortable loveseat sized sofa. No good place to sit at all. The TV had the typical BBC, FOX, MSNBC news networks. To stream a movie was a charge (this was free on other cruises we have been on). There was a TV series channel (with some old sit-coms) and a movie channel with commercials and no control over when the movie or show started. There was ample storage for our clothes. We are not big on attending a lot of ship entertainment. What we did go to was fine. Some of the musicians who played the lounges were good and some were not. We though Harry O was funny and the other comedian was ok. There was a magician who we enjoyed and that was about all we went to. We were very disappointed with the dining. We tend to use the main dining room and found the food there very disappointing - most meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) were mediocre at best. There were just a few nights in the main dining room where we found our meal really good. (We don't enjoy buffet style and scrounging for tables with your hands full of food. We would rather take our time and have our dinner served.) We also had trouble getting wine on our beverage package. I would order a Pino Noir and one night I would get it and then next night they would be out of it - and offer me a Chianti. It happened with Pino Grigio as well - there one night and the next they want to bring me a Chardonnay instead because they were out of Pino Grigio. Or they would offer to up sell me a wine that cost a few dollars more than my drink package would pay. I found that whole issue very maddening, We opted most night to share a table with others. It's a nice way to get to know others and we did meet some great people. The specialty restaurants were very good. We ate at Cagney's steakhouse twice, the Italian place once, the Brazilian Steak House once and the Hibachi Grill another time. In each of these places we had good food and service. It's the way I remembered the food being done in the main dining room in other cruises we have taken. We also ate at O"Sheehans a couple times and the Orchid Garden Chinese restaurant a couple of times. They both had limited menus but pretty good food. And we did eat at the buffet a few times too. Most of the food there was fine, it's always just so crazy to try and find a seat. The ship itself was a little worn. The chairs in the theatre were not good - they slanted forward and were very uncomfortable. The booths in the buffet and the lounges also had very broken down cushions and you felt like you needed a booster seat. I loved the mojitos at the Sugar Cane We really enjoyed our stop in Santa Barbara. We did zip lining in Costa Rica and that was an excellent time. Our tour in Cartagena, Columbia was fantastic as was the our tour through Antigua and the Santa Domingo Museum in Guatemala . The day through the Panama Canal was so interesting and fantastic. We enjoyed some of that day from the balcony in our stateroom, some from the Spinnaker Lounge and some from the Thermal Spa. We also enjoyed the ABC islands but didn't take any of the ships tours there - we booked our own tours and taxis and it was fine. In Santa Marta, Columbia, we booked an expensive beach tour through the shore excursions which was a big disappointment. When we returned, we complained at the shore excursion desk and they refunded 20% which helped quite a lot. (The tour wasn't worthless, it just wasn't worth what was charged). We were glad they took care of that for us. The thermal spa was nice - loved the way the lockers worked and I loved the view from the sauna - the tile lounger beds were nice as was the hot tub spa itself. The only thing I wanted was some lotion (they didn't provide any lotion anywhere in the ship). With few exceptions, the service on this ship was very good. Some times the service in the dining room was quite slow. I don't know why - was the food slow from the kitchen or the wait staff assigned too many tables. Other times it was excellent. Our cabin steward was really good. We used the gym a couple of times and the facilities there were nice too. I had trouble uploading photos to Facebook, which I really wanted to do on the internet package and rarely were we able to stream anything. BUT I was able to make internet phone calls with my cell phone connected to the internet in airplane mode. So I was able to stay in close contact with my family which was really important to me. Disembarking was TERRIBLE. We were given purple luggage tags and told we would disembark at 0930 even though the ship wasn't to get in until 10 am (how does that work??others had assignment times even earlier). We waited for hours in the public area of the ship for our color to be called - customs lines were very long...then it was a mad dash to the buses that were to transfer us to the airport. The first bus was full so we were directed to a second one, which filled up quickly leaving a lot of people standing there being told they weren't sure when the next bus would arrive. The whole thing was chaos and very stressful. This is on NCL's transfers purchased upfront. Much of this could have been prevented with better organization and communication with the passengers. We had a good time and I'm glad we went. We saw amazing sights, did some great tours and met some fun people, but in the future, I will be looking at another cruise line (most recently we have cruised Holland American, Viking and Carnival and they all had more luxury than this NCL cruise). It was kind of the Spirit Airlines of the cruising world. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
PART I : PORTS OF CALL We wanted to leave the cold northeast for the month. This itinerary seemed to fit the bill. We’re Platinum level members. This was our eighth cruise with NCL. We chose to fly from NYC where we live to SF in ... Read More
PART I : PORTS OF CALL We wanted to leave the cold northeast for the month. This itinerary seemed to fit the bill. We’re Platinum level members. This was our eighth cruise with NCL. We chose to fly from NYC where we live to SF in order to get the air travel over at the beginning. The air was included in the cost of the cruise, so I guess you can’t complain too much about “free”. However the flight arrangements required us to get up at 2am. We had to change flights at O’hare in Chicago. After boarding there the plane sat on the runway for and hour and a half because of delays in SF. Once we arrived in SF we waited another hour and a half for the courtesy buses to the ship to show up. By the time we got to the ship it was now 4:30 pm. We managed to keep our eyes open for the muster drill, grabbed a burger and fell asleep exhausted by 5:30 ( 8:30 pm NY Time). The second day, the port of call is Santa Barbara which is a lovely small town. Tendering to the dock is required here. There are a number of decent restaurants in the area. I highly recommend the Clearwater Grill which is on the main road through town. There are street vendors and local artists in kiosks along the waterfront park. One highlight is the rollerblade/skateboarding playground where humans 50 years younger than the ship passengers practice their moves and skills. I loved watching these kids - so very Californian. It was raining in LA almost all day on the third day. The ship docks in the commercial pier in Long Beach. Since we’ve been here numerous times we simply stayed on board. The fourth day was at sea. Day five was Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The yachts in the marina indicate that it’s a rich person’s playground. The views are stunning. We went on the one hour “Land’s End Boat Tour” which goes around the world famous rock formations; then did a little tourist shopping before tendering back to the ship. There’s a Senor Frog’s here for those who like that particular ambience. We had our first bad experience on day six in Puerto Vallarta, Mx. The good news is there is a cruise ship dock here so no need to tender ashore. There were two other huge ships there that day. The other nice thing is that there is a Walmart superstore walking distance from the ship ( approx. 1/2 mile) so you can get things you forgot to pack at a reasonable price. However don’t get six packs of soda, beer or water. You will not be allowed to bring these or other food items back on board. The tour we chose was atrocious - “Discover Puerto Vallarta” should have been titled, Discover Stores who have paid Us to Take you to them”. The guide was indifferent at best, a little hostile at worst, was a little annoyed when I asked where the nearest bathroom was (another twenty minutes). We had a perfunctory look at this popular church. The bathroom ( for which you needed 50 pesos coins to operate) was adjacent and there was no toilet paper and the sink was broken. The guide grudgingly managed to come up with the pesos for me. ( I was threatening to just go pee in the street). The group spent SEVEN minutes at the church, because the next stop was a street filled with merchants selling the usual crapola, and a tequila tasting shop. We spent 40 minutes there. Then onto a jewelry store where the bus dropped us for 35 minutes while disappearing somewhere. The choice was to be constantly hustled by the salespeople in the store (where it was air conditioned) or stand in the street where it was humid and in the mid eighties. At this point many of us were ready to simply go back to the ship. But there was the “old town” to see. The old town didn’t look much different than the rest of the town. Here the “guide” dropped us off and said “you can look around and there are some restaurants, we’ll meet back here in an hour and a half”. My wife and I took a cab back to the ship, went straight to the excursion desk and complained about this farce of a tour. We were reimbursed for the full price as well as the cab fare. Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo on day 7 is a beautiful looking harbor surrounded by mountains, This is another tendering port. We chose to just enjoy the lido deck, poolside. Day 9 was Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. We took the “Antigua on Your Own” tour. This is a mountain town which requires a bus ride of about an hour or so depending on the traffic. Along the way you pass several volcanos, one of which was actively smoking. That one sight alone was worth the entire day. Antigua’s streets (not to be confused with the Caribbean island of the same name) are all cobblestone; the sidewalks are broken up, so wear sturdy shoes and look down while walking. We saw a few people trip and fall. A walking (hiking) stick also comes in handy. Prepare to be assaulted (in a nice way) by four feet tall Mayan women selling all sorts of things you have no earthly use for. They will take no for an answer after about the fifth or sixth no. Sometimes. A nice highlight here is the Jade Museum. There are also a couple of Spanish colonial style churches to see if you enjoy doing the church tours. The tenth day was Corinto, Nicaragua. A bunch of local people rushed to the dock to see our ship arrive. There were three bands playing and young women and little girls dressed in native costumes dancing to the music. They were all very sweet. It’s anybody’s guess why the ship even bothers to stop here. This was Super Bowl Sunday. The Europeans on board were totally befuddled as to why we Americans were making such a big deal over it. A lot of San Franciscans brought along team jerseys, hats and even war paint. Oh well, you lost guys. Good game though. I was rooting for JayLo or Shakira to have one of those wardrobe malfunctions. Go Blue! The Aerial Tram and Rainforest Adventure in Costa Rica was excellent. The bus guide was excellent, the naturalists at the preserve were highly knowledgeable and friendly, the included lunch was delicious, and the aerial tram was a fascinating ride through the canopy. Those on the zip line appeared to be having a huge thrill as well. Day 13 for us and many others was the highlight of the cruise: traversing the Panama Canal. It takes around 13 hours to go about 40 miles through three sets of locks and the Gatun lake from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic side. People lined up on the bow before dawn broke. Day 14 was Cartagena, Columbia. We’d been there two years ago. Cartagena is worth seeing once. We stayed on the ship. Next day was Santa Marta Columbia where you get to see the deplorable slums that 70% of the population must live in. This is what happens when a countries wealth is drained by drug cartels and totally corrupt politicians. The white skyline of Cartagena and its similar but lesser one at this stop are empty facades for the very few well connected. These are not my words they were those of our tour guide. Here we did the Ecological Expedition, which was basically traipsing through a park along a dirt path and then a rocky stream bed to a pond at the bottom of a waterfall ( and do not think Ocho Rios which many expected). We did spend 45 minutes in the water which was very refreshing; while being entertained by a local little 10 year old girl who wanted everyone to watch her jump off the nine foot cliff into the pool. Our guide kept calling this place “paradise”, and after seeing the slums of Santa Marta, we could understand why. Last three stops were the Dutch ABC’s. Aruba: Shopping and hooking up with the free WiFi at the Starbucks inside the big hotel off the pier. Bonaire: less shopping and using the free WiFi at the illy coffee shop off the pier. Curaçao - The Ostrich Farm - totally fun experience. Totally dumb birds. Favorite souvenir: genuine ostrich egg. $15 unpainted. Also free WiFi at the Starbucks off the pier. The ship leaves Bonaire at 1pm on a Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are at sea and you get to port on Manahattan’s west side piers at 10 am. If you like spending a lot of consecutive days at sea this is for you. In retrospect I would have gotten off at Curaçao and taken a plane back to Kennedy airport (you can opt to do that.) PART II: THE SHIP The Gem is a nice ship. It’s not the nicest we’ve ever been on but it’s perfectly ok. Our balcony had some noticeable rust and peeling paint, but that happens rapidly in the salt air and water. Crew is constantly working to minimize these things and prevent deterioration, The Men in White are a constant if unobtrusive presence keeping up with maintenance. The Stardust lounge where the main shows take place is huge. Bigger than on NCLs larger ships, holding around 1,200 people. As Platinum members we were able to take the backstage tour which was fascinating. It is amazing how the dance troupe is able to do such fast costume changes in such confined spaces on a moving vessel. The beds in the cabin were extremely comfortable. The TV is on the small side and half the channels are devoted to ship info or advertising. News choices are BBC, Fox, MSNBC and CNBC. One channel has some strange TV show choices, another has interesting and offbeat documentaries. One channel has feature films. There are two sports channels. I personally would have liked one channel which played nothing but Law and Order and SVU - but then no one would go to see the juggler, the hypnotist or the magician in the Stardust on the off evenings when the dance troupe or the guest singers were not appearing. PART III: DINING The main dining room is huge and the wood tones are warm and welcoming, and not garish as you find on a different unnamed competitor line. If you prefer a smaller general dining venue there is the Magenta. We personally liked the larger venue. If you don’t mind not being served, and simply want to fuel up in the least time possible there is always the cafeteria on deck 12. Service in the dining rooms takes about an hour. We spent twelve nights in one of the several specialty restaurants. Our favorite is La Bistrô (French), followed by Cagney’s (Steaks), LaCucina (Italian), and lastly Moderno (Brazilian meats on skewers). We personally don’t care for the Brazilian concept, but lots of people do like that, and their salad bar is exceptional. O’Sheehan’s is great for a quick hot snack. The chicken wings are excellent, the hotdogs and burgers are better than what’s upstairs on deck 12, and the spinach-artichoke dip comes out warm and savory with taco chips. The food is free here. We did not do the Benihana style Japanese restaurant (C’mon NCL, that’s sooo yesterday - replace Teppanyaki with a Spanish Tapas bar or a Vietnamese dumpling house), or the sushi bar. On the Breakaway the sushi bar had afternoon hours. On the gem it’s only open at dinner hours. PART IV: ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES NCL is justifiably proud of its entertainment. We have found the dance and singing troupes (10 dancers, 4 singers) to always be broadway level ability. These 20 and 30 somethings work REALLY hard. The three shows they put on on this cruise were all outstanding. Each show is 45 minutes of nonstop singing and dancing with multiple costume changes. The guest singer on this cruise (Nicola Ward) has tremendous range, connects with the audience and does several styles ranging from pop to jazz to classical. The band are consummate pros, and often perform at the deck 6 bar venues when not in the Stardust. Keyboard, drums, base guitar, and sax are the quartet. A trombone is sometimes added for the quintet. There is a solo pianist performing almost nightly as well as a solo guitarist. The cruise director and her assistants lead those who are interested in the usual old time ship style passenger summer camp activities. Hey, if that’s your thing go for it. There is also daily trivia contests which a few passengers take very seriously. They form teams, and gawd help you if you sit in one of “their” chairs in the Atrium or the Spinaker. PART V: SERVICE The cabin stewards were fast efficient and after two days knew your bio rhythms. The restaurant staff are courteous to a fault. “Do you have any food allergies, or dietary restrictions?” - No Mommy. I have only one nit pick which I will address at length in a separate post. It is the use of the phrase “ Washee, washee !!” I find this use of the long discredited Pidgin English insulting. At best it is infantile, at worst it is RACIST. (“ No tickie, no washee !!”). Of all the lines we’ve been on, ONLY NCL trains its employees to use this phrase. The mostly Philipino young women who are told to say this don’t even realize in the 20s and 30s of the last century it was done in cinema to caricature and insult Chinese immigrants who had trouble with their English pronunciation. Naturally these folks spoke English better than the condescending White folks spoke Mandarin or Cantonese. So NCL, it would be much better to have your employees say perhaps, “kindly use the disinfectant before entering the restaurant. Thank you.” Thank you for reading my review if you’ve gotten this far. Dr.Bill Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was our 14th time on Princess and 4th on Caribbean Princess. We took the cruise because we hadn't been to the Panama Canal for several years. Everything met our expectations, except for the implementation of the new Medallion ... Read More
This was our 14th time on Princess and 4th on Caribbean Princess. We took the cruise because we hadn't been to the Panama Canal for several years. Everything met our expectations, except for the implementation of the new Medallion Class Technology. Before saying what was wrong with the implementation, I must say it is great technoloy if the users are able to understand how to use it. It was the fastest boarding we've ever had on a cruise. It's neat to be able to find your friends around the ship, buy stuff with the tap on the phone, see what's going on around the ship at a particular time, and have the cabin door unlock as you approach. That said, the implementation suffered on several levels. First, there were serious problems with the smart phone apps. We couldn't download the Ocean app once on the ship. (While sitting in the theater at 1:45 PM on Boarding day listening to the Cruise Director tell us how wonderful the technology was, most of us with iPhones were still trying to download that app. We all had the same error message, "Can't connect to iTunes store". I don't remember a thing the cruise director said. I do remember thinking, "Does he know what a fool this technology is making him appear to be!") I finally figured out a solution which involved uninstalling the Medallion Class app I'd loaded before coming onboard and then reinstalling it by downloading it from the system on the ship. Then I was able to download the Medallion app and get things set up. It was well after dinner before I was able to get that done; because thousands of my fellow travelers were also trying to download apps. No cruise line has a big enough pipe to support that simultaneous Internet demand. My guess about how that could have happened is that a new update to the Medallion Class and Ocean apps had been developed before we left for the cruise. I'm guessing Apple hadn't cleared that app for the iTunes store because of bugs, but Princess had pushed the apps to the ship. The new Ocean app certainly wouldn't handshake with the old Medallion Class app. As to what the bugs that kept Apple from putting it up might be, an obvious one is that geographic location wasn't displayed on any of the photos we took both on ship and on shore excursions. My phone didn't start displaying that photo information again until I'd uninstalled the apps after the cruise. One other technical bug is that the whole system seems to have been designed for 24/7 Internet access from the Medallion system through purchase of 24 hour or cruise long Internet packages. It seems that somebody finally realized that the frequent travelers have free Internet minutes. The solution to that was access through a screen on a web browser that is separate from the apps. It was really easy to run out your free minutes by mistake the way it's set up. That happened to my wife. We gripped, and the minutes were restored. The second problem is marketing gobbledygook. When you finally get the Ocean app installed, there are six or seven parts all called "Ocean" something. I still can't remember what each individual one is called. (While the designers are probably too young to understand "Age Related Memory Loss", the guests certainly aren't. I'm surprised Princess hasn't changed the title of the person in charge of the ship to "Ocean Captain"). The company did mess with another bridge position. "Navigator" is the jargon term for "help desk employee". The physical location of the help desk is "Ocean Front". (Great oxymoron. It has nothing to do with the ocean the ship sails on and is located at the back of the ship.) Yet another terminology problem is that the Internet is called "MedallionNet". That wouldn't be so bad were the Wifi system on the ship not also called "MedallionNet". That renaming of common terms was a contributing factor to my wife losing her 250 free minutes of Internet. It happened when whe wanted to go from Internet on the browser screen to the Wifi system. She might have hit the "Medallion Net" button in the center of the screen instead of closing the browser and going to the app. One last note is that in deploying a system that requires hand held devices, Princess seems to have forgotten they need to be recharged. There is still just a single two plug outlet in a stateroom. The cost of adding another outlet plus a couple USB ports would have been no more than a rounding error in the cost of the new hardware that's been installed throughout the ship. (Didn't bother us. Thanks to something I read on Cruise Critic five or six years ago, I always back a small power strip when leaving for a cruise.) A note not related to IT is that the theater is too small. It takes three shows for all the passengers to fit. On our three prior cruises on Caribbean Princess, they did three shows a night. Now they've gone to two. We had 5 PM traditional dining - the earliest sit down dining offered. We got to the theater at 6:45 PM and couldn't get seats together for two people for the 7:15 show two times. When we were able to get in, the shows were good - worth waiting in line for. Some comments about dining. I have Celiac Disease and thus must eat gluten free. In the evening, I take advantage of formal dining where I have the same waiters every night. They learn about the food allergy the first night and then accommodate me the rest of the cruise. (It doesn't work that way in anytime dining. New waiters every night.) On this cruise, in 5 PM traditional dining, our waiter Richard Rodriguez did an outstanding job meeting my need. I was able to pre-order for the next night, he would have things specially made gluten free for me, and he generally kept me out of trouble. That all happened while providing excellent service. I can only give a mixed review about dining at breakfast and lunch in the buffet. There is plenty of food that's gluten free. With the exception of a couple of desserts at lunch, none of it was labeled gluten free. On the first day, kitchen staff persons were available at lunch to show us what was gluten free in some areas of the buffet. I remember the man that gave me the tour showed me lots of things. All I remember out of that is, "the soups are always gluten free". The other stuff was intermixed among non gluten free items, and then there's the fact that the fare on the buffet changes every day. I played safe. What I had was good, but I'm sure I missed a lot of great stuff; because it isn't labeled. One last comment - my "Platinum" benefits as a frequent cruiser on Princess aren't worth much in light of Celiac Disease and the new technology. The three main benefits have long been 1) expedited checkin, 2) Special receptions at 5 PM, and 3) Free Internet minutes. As I noted above, everybody blows through checkin at the pier with the new technology. I need to eat at traditional dining because of Celiac, and since I'm not a night owl, I don't want to sit down to dinner at 7:30 PM. That leaves me in 5 PM traditonal dining when all the platinum activities happen. Finally, the cruise line is obviously moving towards Internet packages and wishes the free minutes thing would go away. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We've been on Princess before and had wonderful experiences. And this cruise was on many ways no different. It would have been at least 4 stars but for the dreaded Medallion and its app's. The medallion gets you on and off ship, ... Read More
We've been on Princess before and had wonderful experiences. And this cruise was on many ways no different. It would have been at least 4 stars but for the dreaded Medallion and its app's. The medallion gets you on and off ship, pays shipboard Bill's, and opens cabin doors. It works. But it is also supposed to work with the Ocean Compass app which is supposed to locate friends, order drinks etc etc. That doesnt work. At one point on a sea day it indicated that I was off ship? Where? No clue. Sometimes it simply doesnt load making it totally worthless. As a person who is pretty tech savvy, I suspect that it wasnt tested properly or under sufficiently rigorous conditions or maybe it just plain doesnt work. In any event, I would warn folks to not rely on it for any serious communication. Part of the problem is also that the folks at the Medallion desk are not IT people. They are dancers. Probably very good dancers but dancers nonetheless. There should be at least an IT person on the desk supervising the dancers. Somehow, the cruise didn't gel. Most staff were personable and appropriate. But others were uncaring and rude. The general sense I had was that everyone was new, had never been on a ship before and didnt want to be on this one. There some serious safety issues in the spa area. Drinks were served in glass around the pool and steam rooms. I have never been at a pool were drinks or food were served in glass. The shore excursions were generally good. The one poor trip was to the White House. Supposed to be a beach excursion with lunch. Problem is there is no beach in the expected sense. There was an open deck over the water from which you had to climb down a ladder to enter the rocky water. Not an easy task. The pool area was nice except the pool needed a good scrubbing. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This is our 7th cruise.We had a signature suite. Other cruises have been 14 day transatlantic on Celeberity, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. This ranks last on our ratings. Pros: Crew all very friendly, pleasant, helpful and seem to be very ... Read More
This is our 7th cruise.We had a signature suite. Other cruises have been 14 day transatlantic on Celeberity, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. This ranks last on our ratings. Pros: Crew all very friendly, pleasant, helpful and seem to be very happy. Food was very good at first. Canned music was subtle and unobtrusive.Cons: Too many to list but here are the main ones. Ship is very tired and not well maintained.It needs to be retired. The total design of ship is archaic and not very comfortable. Reportably had been refurbished in 2018, but doesn't look like it. Main theater too small to accommodate most of passengers. Dinning room is unattractive and impossible to get seated on their "AnyTime" plan unless you want to eat after 8 or wait 30 minutes plus to be seated. Food was very good at beginning of cruise but has deteriated, however, we have always found something to our liking. Entertainment is very lacking, acts are very mediocre. Only one dance music venue playing only jazz and blues. No dance classes. Enrichment classes very few and far between. Not many on board activities. Several of the ports we stopped at were industrial ports far from the cities, obviously to save port fees. We will not return nor recommend to our friends unless they are looking for just relaxing, reading, and paying big bucks to go on excursions. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We wanted a cruise where we didn’t have airfare to contend with. We can drive from Phoenix to San Diego, leave our car in a hotel that stores it for free, and take the free shuttle from the Best Western Yacht Harbor ($137 a night) to the ... Read More
We wanted a cruise where we didn’t have airfare to contend with. We can drive from Phoenix to San Diego, leave our car in a hotel that stores it for free, and take the free shuttle from the Best Western Yacht Harbor ($137 a night) to the cruise port. Perfect. This was only seven days but it only cost $1249 so we were very happy with that part of it. We love absolutely everything about this ship except the air-conditioning unit in our room. The food was really good, both in the dining room and the Lido deck, public spaces were lovely, staff were phenomenal, and the ports were typical but fine. But they couldn’t get our room warm. When we’d step from the hallway into our room we immediately needed to wrap up in a blanket. In fact they had so much trouble with the heating/air conditioning (they were there every day working on it) they gave us a $200 credit, which was nice but it didn’t solve the problem. I tend to get cold easier than my husband but he was bothered by it too. But if a cooler room doesn’t bother you, you’d be fine with the ship —honestly we loved everything else about it. Oh and 5 stars ⭐️ for their phenomenal organization getting on and off in San Diego. They made it so quick and simple. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
The cabins were clean ... and service was good ... staff were happy and helpful ... loved the observation deck on 15 ... BUT the food although plentiful was mediocre and lack variety ... often the blandness was masked by over salting ... ... Read More
The cabins were clean ... and service was good ... staff were happy and helpful ... loved the observation deck on 15 ... BUT the food although plentiful was mediocre and lack variety ... often the blandness was masked by over salting ... my biggest disappointment on this cruise line was that served restaurant breakfast end at 9:30 am ... so I was left to elbow my way thru the buffet resulting in a cold breakfast by the time I got to a table ... my cruise ship morning routine on other cruise lines consists of morning exercise, a shower and then a sit down breakfast after 10 am ... this routine in my definition of cruising so I will not be cruising on NCL again ... PS ... loved the spa ... went every seaday ... was very happy when the water cooler was moved to the waiting area ... Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Great route through the Panama Canal, very friendly staff and good service. On and off boarding went hours, even in the haven class. Beware of medical center. Good treatment, my wife was treated for a cold. 15 minutes consultation ... Read More
Great route through the Panama Canal, very friendly staff and good service. On and off boarding went hours, even in the haven class. Beware of medical center. Good treatment, my wife was treated for a cold. 15 minutes consultation and 3 medicines cost $1000, one medication costing 50$ in the US was sold for $200 on board. we weren‘t informed about charge until on our bill, then nothing could be changed and nobody was able to look in to this. Ship had many people ill and had to take additional precaution against viruses, ship seems to be too big to handle flow of people and contamination under passengers and crew. Crew is well trained and does its outmost to give a good experience. Food was very good, especially in the speciality restaurants that cost extra. All department laid a big effort on up selling and cross selling, it is all about additional revenues Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We wanted a warm getaway in winter and Panama canal transit sounded great. Lots was available to do on the ship, but nearly every activity required extra $$$. In addition, there were several issues that either no crew working directly ... Read More
We wanted a warm getaway in winter and Panama canal transit sounded great. Lots was available to do on the ship, but nearly every activity required extra $$$. In addition, there were several issues that either no crew working directly with passengers had info about, OR they had been instructed to say nothing to passengers. It started with the Norwegian-provided transportation from LAX airport to cruise ship. About 200 or more folks were in the baggage claim waiting for the shuttle for more than 2 hours, without even a seat for some of the older folks who can't tolerate standing for that long. The ship reps who lined us up couldn't -or wouldn't?- tell us what was the delay. It was all aboard time before shuttle got to ship. Then about 3 days before the end of cruise all the condiments were removed from tables and you could no longer self-serve food and beverage at the buffet (instead, stand in line and tell them what you want on your plate... and get all jammed up). Again no one could-or would- explain why beyond 'it's to keep you safe'. The rumors and suppositions about the issue were probably worse than reality. Finally debarking was all jumbled. We were to leave on a 'tour' that transferred us to MIA at 9, but were barely getting off the ship by 9, at which time we stood for 45 minutes in the skyway/walkway watching all the luggage passengers set outside their rooms for collection the night before being transferred to the cruise terminal so we could pick it up. Once more no one was able, or maybe no one was authorized, to disclose what was the reason luggage hadn't been transferred when we first docked. Not communication issues, but other negatives: There were only 2 small pools for the majority of the approx. 3500 guests to use (altho the small number of Haven guests had a 3rd pool to themselves). The atrium was open to the internet cafe, guest services, shore excursions and cruise next areas making all the sounds run together so that it was difficult to think or hear responses to your questions. Positives: Entertainment was better than the other NCL cruise I took, and there were 3 large main dining rooms in addition to the buffet, so it wasn't too difficult to get a table for 2-4 during open hours. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We chose this cruise because we had cruised Princess to Alaska and had a very enjoyable experience. This cruise was slightly different. Our cabin steward was MIA for the 1st 2 days, apparently he was ill, but there was no one we could ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had cruised Princess to Alaska and had a very enjoyable experience. This cruise was slightly different. Our cabin steward was MIA for the 1st 2 days, apparently he was ill, but there was no one we could directly contact with issues. This was a 10 day cruise, 4 of which were at sea. Additionally, because of bad weather, we were unable to dock in one of our scheduled ports, making it 5 days at sea. The ship seemed crowded. Guests spent a lot of time inside because of the weather. Many people don't remove their used towels from the chairs and it leaves others wandering around wondering what is available. The deck crews should be on top of that more. The spa was okay. I had a facial and my husband and I had a couples massage. The massage was much better than the facial. The fitness center was a disappointment. While it is large and there are several treadmills, they are not available until 9:00 AM. Very disappointing. The entertainment was good, but when it is in a small venue, it is crowded and hard to get a seat. Back to back activities in these small venues creates a problem because people don't leave between activities. The food was good, our server, Victoria was wonderful. As a suite guest we were able to have breakfast in Sabatini's in the morning. The staff there was also great. Room service was average. Excursions: Cayman Island - we took a coast to coast bus tour. It was okay, didn't care for our driver and her uppity attitude. Cartagena - toured the old city and the San Felipe Fortress. It gets hot, make sure your tour is in the morning. Good tour guide, crappy bus, many many peddlers in the streets! Panama - canal locks were amazing. Domed car train ride not worth the money. Jamaica - toured the Rose Hall Great House - it was fine, finished with a short shopping trip to shops. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Food in restaurant was very disappointing (eg. 1 got a seafood entree that only had 1shrimp,4 mussels, 0 scallops and one bite of Sea Bass. All served on a bunch of scallop shells in a broth. It shouldn’t even have been sent up from the ... Read More
Food in restaurant was very disappointing (eg. 1 got a seafood entree that only had 1shrimp,4 mussels, 0 scallops and one bite of Sea Bass. All served on a bunch of scallop shells in a broth. It shouldn’t even have been sent up from the kitchen or served ) (eg.2. Got served a bowl of broth with a piece of fish dropped in it. This was supposed to be a “chowder”. Inedible!) (eg. 3 requested rye toast in restaurant for breakfast and got 2 pieces of warm, untoasted, brown bread). Enough said re restaurant fare. We ended up just eating at the World Fresh Market. ie buffet. This buffet food was very good! The production shows were disappointing. The performers were very talented but the shows were not exactly toe tappers or sing alongs. Most of the staff were friendly especially in the all night International Cafe. When we could not go into Limon Costa Rica ,due to bad weather , the company was very fast at refunding our prepaid excursion costs. Alcoholic drink costs were atrocious so we only indulged once. We ordered 2 glasses of wine on the formal dinner night that ended up costing us almost 30 dollars Canadian. We enjoyed the ports and the people. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We have done several Caribbean cruises but had never visited the Panama Canal or Costa Rica. Princess is supposed to be a premium brand of Carnival but we were disappointed with the level of service in the dining rooms and the quality of ... Read More
We have done several Caribbean cruises but had never visited the Panama Canal or Costa Rica. Princess is supposed to be a premium brand of Carnival but we were disappointed with the level of service in the dining rooms and the quality of food overall. Wait staff were not fluent in English and we had difficulty conversing with them. The ship was built in 2004 and it looked tired, even though it had recently been refreshed. We prevously cruised on Celebrity Summit and Infinity which are comparable in age and we found them to be much better overall. We had difficulty conversing with staff in the restaurants because their English was very poor. We expected Princess to be on a par with Celebrity but this was not the case. The dining staff on Celebrity were easier to understand and there were 3 people assigned to each table while there were 2 on Princess. Each Celebrity table had a wine sommalier to help with wine selection. They poured drinks at the table from a bottle shortly after you arrived while Princess staff (not sommalier) had to get each drink from the back, increasing wait times considerably. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We loved this itinerary and we were excited to sail on Princess because it has a nice reputation. We loved the Medallion class and the technology and convenience that the ocean medallion offers passengers. The idea is that it will ... Read More
We loved this itinerary and we were excited to sail on Princess because it has a nice reputation. We loved the Medallion class and the technology and convenience that the ocean medallion offers passengers. The idea is that it will personalize the service for passengers in the future. However, I think that Princess still has a very long ways to go before they do that. In fact, I feel that the personalization of the service has diminished since we last sailed on Princess 10 years ago. We liked the excursions offered by Princess and we loved how streamlined the excursions were with the cruise. The biggest disappointment for me was the food - as well as the state of the staterooms (old carpet, old furnishings). The food in the main dining room was very poor. The grill and pizza was even worse, with non-fresh vegetables, non fresh bread, etc. One night, I orderdered the featured mussels with toast. The mussels tasted very fish, the broth had hardly any flavor, and the toast was literally amazingly stale. Like it had to have been just out for days. I liked the food better on NCL and Carnival - and that's disappointing considering the premium price. I was also not impressed with the entertainment. It's hard to get great entertainment each night on a 10-day cruise - I get it. But the 'singer comedy act' that they had was just so amateur. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I am a veteran of cruising, and have been on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Viking and Carnival numerous times. For the extra money paid for an Oceania cruise, I really expected more. I wanted the Panama Canal, full transit itinerary, and ... Read More
I am a veteran of cruising, and have been on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Viking and Carnival numerous times. For the extra money paid for an Oceania cruise, I really expected more. I wanted the Panama Canal, full transit itinerary, and when we booked, Oceania was the only one going all the way through. I must say, the crew and service was fantastic. Because the gratuity was included, I did not expect that, but they were wonderful! However, the food was very disappointing for that class of cruise line. And the price of buying just one occasional bottle of wine was much higher than we see at other cruise lines. They seemed to really push their drink packages. Food and drink on the other cruise lines is certainly better. I might rate Oceania above Carnival, but Celebrity and Royal Caribbean are just as good, and for a much lower cost. Sorry, but for the cost of an Oceania cruise, we will never use them again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020

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