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1,909 Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

The cruise itself was like many others. And a good time was had by all. I’m writing because of the amazing staff,..... When we were caught up in the coronavirus scare. When it was realised we had to find somewhere else to dock ... Read More
The cruise itself was like many others. And a good time was had by all. I’m writing because of the amazing staff,..... When we were caught up in the coronavirus scare. When it was realised we had to find somewhere else to dock because we could not get back to san francisco, the guest services dept and rest of crew rearranged transport for everybody from san pedro , worked all night to get their approx 2000 passengers safely to their selected destinations. The members of staff were helpful, patient and very professional. We were independent travelers and the situation was scary. even the ancillary staff remained cheerful and courteous despite themselves , being far from home, and facing a very uncertain time ahead. We managed to get back to the uk eventually , but i cannot praise carnival and the crew members of the “ miracle “ enough. So very well done. and thank you adam for keeping our spirits up ! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and for our past experiences on the Emerald Princess. We love the live music and entertainment on the Emerald Princess. Princess Cruises are our favorite. We had a hiccup during embarkation, but ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and for our past experiences on the Emerald Princess. We love the live music and entertainment on the Emerald Princess. Princess Cruises are our favorite. We had a hiccup during embarkation, but that was put aside as the cruise got underway. I enjoyed the ports, but to be honest our best time was had on the ship. A little disappointed we were not allowed to get off in Columbia, but understandable considering the world conditions. The cruise staff was awesome at keeping us safe and healthy. The ship was in a continuous state of disinfection and I loved that the staff in the Worldplace Market began serving the buffet about halfway through the cruise. Extra work for them, but a bonus for us to help keep us healthy. We maintained a healthy ship and with all of the challenges in the cruise world I would not hesitate and look forward to cruising again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
There was a glitch getting on the ship, which caused us to not start off the best, we waited in line outside the ship for hours & were never told why we were not allowed to board, and then once inside, more long lines- we heard it was ... Read More
There was a glitch getting on the ship, which caused us to not start off the best, we waited in line outside the ship for hours & were never told why we were not allowed to board, and then once inside, more long lines- we heard it was a computer problem. Once we were onboard, they gave us temporary room cards, which meant we had to find the room steward every time we wanted to get into our room, finally received our keys at 9:00 that night. But, from then on Princess did not disappoint! Entertainment was good, especially two of the singers and the ventriloquist, Michael was terrific! One of the most entertaining shows was put on by the Master Chef and Maitre D- so funny and two of their staff sang and they were fantastic! Our waiter in the Botticelli dining room was Yulia and her assistant, Daniel and they were EXCELLENT! Always had a smile and went above and beyond to make our dining experience the best! We also tried the specialty restaurants, Crown Grill was excellent and Crave was also very good! Our balcony room was very nice, closet space was plentiful. Our room steward, Savio was really good and anticipated what we needed without even asking. my husband has a C-Pap machine and Savio got us a bottle of distilled water without us ever Mentioning it. Aaron, the Cruise Director was hilarious and his staff were so great, we enjoyed most of the activities. We also enjoyed the Escape Room, which you have to sign up for, there is a small charge-$8.00. In light of all that was going on in the world with the virus, we enjoyed our time on Emerald Princess! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
After sailing to Alaska on Princess with family and friends for our 50th we knew we would sail with Princess again. We've wanted to go through the Panama Canal and one 6 of us found we could during the first two weeks of March we ... Read More
After sailing to Alaska on Princess with family and friends for our 50th we knew we would sail with Princess again. We've wanted to go through the Panama Canal and one 6 of us found we could during the first two weeks of March we jumped at the chance. A computer glitch messed with what we know to be a generally efficient check in. Though, conditions were less than ideal, I applaud the individual who made the decision to move us from standing outside in the sun to an inside seating area that was air conditioned. We thoroughly enjoyed our balcony stateroom and assigned steward, Rommel. Both were superb. We enjoyed eating at the Michelangelo where our server, Sebastion, always brought a smile, cheer, and great food. Eating at DaVinci with our server, Lucio, was also a delight. Shall always remember one of his jokes!! Special treats were eating at Crown and SHARE by Curtis. The food in each location was excellent; however, the portions at the SHARE were simply too large! Never thought I'd say that! The entire cruise staff was wonderful. Even after Princess announced that it would be suspending cruising for 60 days, and with the staff uncertainty of what lay before them, they maintained a professional, courteous, and cheerful presence among us. For sure, for that composure alone, Princess can be proud of how its staff serves the needs of its guests and of the company. Princess, we'll be back, and soon we hope! Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
I’ve always wanted to sail to the Panama Canal. What a great trip this was. Despite the worlds fears of the corona virus our crew selflessly cared for our needs, making sure the trip was a success. Even though we did not get to go ... Read More
I’ve always wanted to sail to the Panama Canal. What a great trip this was. Despite the worlds fears of the corona virus our crew selflessly cared for our needs, making sure the trip was a success. Even though we did not get to go through the old Locke as planned due to the Panamanian government not giving us access until to late we were still able to go through the new lockes and enjoy them from our balcony. Our room steward kept the windows of the balcony so clean our view was spectacular. Princess crew went out of their way to make the cruise exactly what I had hoped for despite extra requirements being added on to them. The sunsets and sunrises were so beautiful. The food so delicious, not one disappointment. The ventriloquist was way to good, singing for his dummies. The sax player was amazing, loved the whole show. Thank you Emerald Princess Captain and crew. Job well done. Looking forward to cruising again with you. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Staff on board were just fabulous. Food was very good. Nightly Shows not so great, but then again there are only about 1200 passengers, so one cannot expect the same as a show where there are 5000 passengers. The Lincoln Center quintet ... Read More
Staff on board were just fabulous. Food was very good. Nightly Shows not so great, but then again there are only about 1200 passengers, so one cannot expect the same as a show where there are 5000 passengers. The Lincoln Center quintet was an absolute treat. All polished professional musicians.And they had different themes -- Classics - movie tunes -- Pops et. I would go again in a heart beat. Holland America shut down 3 days after I disembarked. A Global citizen in passengers come first. The Covid 19 was only getting underway and they immediately ceased operations. Rotterdam has Lani suites on the Promenade deck. They have full length sliding glass doors and it seems that everyone on the ship goes by. The suites have reserved lounge chairs just outside the stateroom. I am not much into excursions but the ports had usual shops close to the docking area. Stateroom staff are absolutely there for the passengers. Friendly, helpful - say hello every day using your name. Dinning room staff were also excellent. Or, it could have been just my table -- but not likely. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We always wanted to transit the Panama Canal, and HL's Eurodam did it. To my wife and I it was all about cruising with close friends of some 60 years. The ship was very nice indeed, the crew was wonderful, and the food great. Plenty ... Read More
We always wanted to transit the Panama Canal, and HL's Eurodam did it. To my wife and I it was all about cruising with close friends of some 60 years. The ship was very nice indeed, the crew was wonderful, and the food great. Plenty of "private" spaces on the ship to read, and have a drink. For me the photography classes by Justin James were truly the best, made the cruise even more enjoyable, and I am a better photographer because of him. Even went out after we got back to Texas and bought a new camera. Along with the canal passage we particularly enjoyed the food. Service in the main dining room was outstanding, and the steaks served there were some of the best I have eaten. Having lived in Holland Indonesian Rijsttafel was remembered as a special treat, and when I mentioned to our waiter he arranged a special dinner for us and our friends. The variety of international food served in the Lido Market were also outstanding. We will book HL again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Chose because we wanted to navigate the canal early in the year when the weather is perfect..Could have been any cruise line! Negative points are embarking and disembarking both very long lines and close to 2 hours. New NCL terminal ... Read More
Chose because we wanted to navigate the canal early in the year when the weather is perfect..Could have been any cruise line! Negative points are embarking and disembarking both very long lines and close to 2 hours. New NCL terminal though looks nearly ready in Miami though. Had a mini suite because not much more expensive than standard balcony. First experience when we walked into our room and bathroom was WOW . Bathroom was as good as in any decent hotel with double sinks and large double length walk in shower. Also had a coffee maker which we made use of. Decent selection of films etc on the tv. Although only 3 years old ship had just had a multi million conversion from its original Chinese/Japanese market so everything new and clean. Food excellent especially the selection in the buffet where I was spoilt for choice. Had the 5 speciality meal/drink package at £100 each an absolute bargain. Can reccomend the filet mignon steaks I had 3 of them! Big Beatles fan so I can say the resident tribute act were absolutely fantastic. Watched them twice in the on-board Cavern and twice in the theatre with everybody singing along.. Almost a hidden charge why do most cruise lines add the 15% daily service charge?? Surely it should be included the the cruise price and then I could add a more personal gratuity if applicable e.g. to the cabin steward. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We selected a 12 night cruise to see the Panama Canal. We got to visit some cool places in addition, and have lunches in local bistros. We're not into sailing or snorkeling, but would rather walk/tour around to get the individual ... Read More
We selected a 12 night cruise to see the Panama Canal. We got to visit some cool places in addition, and have lunches in local bistros. We're not into sailing or snorkeling, but would rather walk/tour around to get the individual flavor of each place. We kind of enjoyed the relaxation of two sea days both starting and ending the cruise. There were the ABC's-Aruba, Bonair & Curacao. We chose the basic 'see the island' excursions to experience the particular flavor of each- aloe vera factory, salt harvesting, flora/fauna, climbing outcrops, caves, and ... seeing deserts for a large part of them! Because of scheduling changes, we only had time for a great lunch in only one, Curacao- an outdoor table in a charming bistro sheltered by trees. ..and riding the wild pontoon bridge as it opened! We ventured into the 'Old City' of Cartagena, Columbia, a large cluster of shops, restaurants and chapels surrounded by a centuries-old stone wall. Great for shopping and photos, but lousy with street vendors who continually swarmed you like mosquitoes. One even sat down at our bistro table and tried to sell us dominos! There was a nature garden/zoo a short walk from our dock, to provide further photo ops. The Panama two day stop provided various excursions to experience the country- we chose the bus/walking tour of New/Old Panama City, experiencing the third world flavor (like a torn-down 12 foot high wall separating the rich section from the poor) and actually seeing the Pacific. The port city itself, Colon, was NOT recommended as a tourist exploration site. The canal itself was kind of overwhelming- waking before dawn to a full moon on the water, seeing the array of waiting ships, riding our 1100' cruise ship through three locks, rising up 85', turning around in Lake Gatin, then back out to the Caribbean sea. 7 hours experience in all. Final stop was Puerta Limon, Costa Rica- taking a canal/jungle cruise with animal spotting, then a train ride through banana plantations. They had a huge cluster of shops for last minute shopping next to the docking area. AS TO THE CRUISE, my wife and I differ. I am of the opinion that 3800 passengers is JUST TOO DAMN MANY. The ship was beautiful, with room for ALL kind of diversions- almost a dozen restaurants, huge theater, 60 foot water slides, and two story race car track. The normal pool area was replaced by a floor, to accommodate billions of beach chairs, and two smallish pools, the size of a large room. There was an activity going every minute of the day, and choice of 8 music acts (besides the theater 'Footloose' musical, Circe du Soleil clone, and other performers). It was refreshing to be surrounded by 95% shipmates as old as us; definitely friendly and courteous interactions through out. BUT EVERYTHING WAS A WAIT- elevators, bars, restaurant food service, concierge service, etc. Wifi wasn't bad, depending on time of day. It JUST BUGS me. Even walking to our room I felt like we were walking the gauntlet. I felt bad for the EXTREMELY HARDWORKING staff to be the target of occasional impatient outcries. Also annoying was the fact that we had to correct 4 misbilled items on our room check over the 12 days, each entailing another wait in lines.. A MAJOR PROBLEM WAS a change in scheduling when the JOY arrived to pick us up- it was late, a terminal had to be reassigned, luggage moved for some, and they were playing catch up to process. The actual boarding was 2-3 hours late and all 3800 folk were packed into the boarding area trying to hear the PA system announcements. Again, the staff did do a great job trying to get us registered. A final strangeness was new procedures put in place to combat spread of virus's (The Joy apparently had two norovirus outbreaks in December). For the first 3 days, all access to buffet food was made by staff, and menus were paper, not books. I guess there was a 'quarantine' period delay in place. Don't let my annoyances cloud the fact that we had a SPLENDID time, both onship and off. The food in the specialty restaurants seemed a step above normally good, and even the middle tier sitdowns were 4/5 stars. Entertainment was great, and where else can you walk from a brew pub to a whiskey bar to a mojito bar while traversing the sea? And once again, thanks to the hardworking staff, who made this excursion great. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
For our 17th cruise, we wanted to experience the Panama Canal. We had taken NCL in Sept. to New England and in October around the Western Mediterranean. This 3rd Norwegian cruise was a charm. We are a couple in our 60's recently ... Read More
For our 17th cruise, we wanted to experience the Panama Canal. We had taken NCL in Sept. to New England and in October around the Western Mediterranean. This 3rd Norwegian cruise was a charm. We are a couple in our 60's recently retired and it's time to travel while we're still able to do so. While working and limited to 7 days off, we did the East, West, and South Caribbean total 10 times over 17 years. This time we went to the Panama Canal area. ABC isles, Cartagena, Colon, Panama Canal, and Limon. from Miami. 12 days on the Norwegian Joy 020220 - 021420. Our Embarkation was terrible as we had to wait outside for 2 hours in hot weather as we were in a Carnival terminal (why?) and all passports were checked slowly for recent travel to China in lieu of the new Corona virus concerns (that's good that we were checked). The ship was very nice. Clean, recently updated, and very comfortable but for a very small pool on Deck 16. Most of that area is empty for lounging. The pool takes up less than 5% of the open deck area. It made for easy seating to view the Superbowl on departure day. Even though out of Miami where the Superbowl was, we had a Latin America TV feed with commercials for soccer and Cricket. The same 3 commercials all game, at every time out. Our cabin was inside (as we like it dark) and had a large shower and bathroom comparatively but little storage space (36" closet with 4 shelves on the inside. So I put my underwear and socks above the bed and n my night table. So what? We're only in the cabin to sleep, and when we've previously had a balcony we didn't use it at all. The food offerings were very tasty buy sparse. We ate breakfasts in the buffet when we had early excursions so we'd get out quickly, but opted for the dining rooms on days at sea or late port arrivals so we could have our favorite smoked salmon not offered at the buffet. For lunch we ate at the buffet only because there was a greater variety offered that the dining rooms. For supper, we ate only 4 of 12 nights in the dining rooms because we didn't like the menu options offered. On our previous cruises in Sept. and Oct. 2019 on NCL we had shrimp cocktail offered each night as an appetizer option as well as salmon. These options were missing, but I found them on the Haven (luxury suites with their own dining room above deck 16) every night instead. That's NCL trying to get us to pay big bucks for a small food option now considered premium. Boo! But nobody was going away hungry, ever. Also, the many main dish selections in the buffet at lunch and dinner had dwindled from many to several, and we found salad selections mixed with hot foods, kinda doubling up on the facings of the same thing. Lunch meats were ham, salami or (salty) turkey. Salads were fresh and fine, fruits were apples, oranges, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple. only a handful of different hot offerings were given each day at lunch and dinner along with daily pizza, pasta, hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage, grilled chicken and french fries. White rice was everywhere. Onion soup was on every dinner menu buffet and dining rooms and only 1 other 'cream of'' soup: 2 soups daily. The India chef had a 'Taste Of India' section that was rarely visited by anyone and with dishes I never heard of before. I didn't go there at all. That should be fixed by rotating other country offerings nightly. But in general, all of the other food tasted excellent. Nightly entertainment was very good, with 3 shows (1 for fee - Wine Lovers) and broadway class performances of 'Footloose' and 'Elements' (same show we saw in the Western Mediterranean in October on the N. Epic (Now THAT was a ship with a lousy cabin setup). Other nightly entertainment offerings were a Beatles cover band twice in the theater and 4 times at the Cavern bar (excellent), 4 different comedians in the Social Club, and 2 singers (one was a duet 1st time including the cruise director DanDan who was a surprise tenor with a wonderful voice). Service in the buffet was excellent, and the dining room was hit or miss as we had only one bad experience. But I'd still give service 5 stars. I don't want to dwell on the ABC islands as many other folks have been there and we've been to Aruba and Curacao thrice before, but our Bonaire experience (first visit) was a bad tour vehicle with limited vision, no loudspeaker, and 2-1/2 hours until a bathroom stop and it was given by a tour operator Voyager Bonaire Tours. My mom said if you don't have something nice to say about someone, don't say anything. 'Nuf said. Shore excursions by NCL were very good but expensive. In the ABC islands, we opted for the excursion tents for tours to give the money to the locals. These tents are right outside the ship entrance. Except for Bonaire, Aruba and Curacao were very good and for $20 or $25 pp, you get an equivalent $79-$99 NCL tour. I don't want to dwell on the ABC islands here as many other folks have been there and we've been to Aruba and Curacao twice. But the Cartagena, Colon, and Limon ports had no such tents and also high crime rates in the first two. So we opted to stay safe and use NCL cruises to be safe and it was the right thing to do. We took NCL's "Exploring Magnificent Cartagena" as our tour. As soon as we got off the tour bus at every stop we were hounded by sidewalk vendors with jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, coin collection cards, you name it! Dozens, no hundreds of vendors suffocating us no matter which way we turned. It was worse than I could ever imagine. I sat down with my wife at an outdoors area for a drink and Columbian coffee (a must) and were besieged constantly by at least 20 of them in 15 minutes. We were safe but under duress. "No thank you". No thank you. No. No thank you. You run out of no thank you's all day long and at every stop. It was suffocating and left a bad taste of the city. The NCL tour there was very good, visiting the large fort "Castille San Felipe de Barajas" outside only (enough), then on to "Palacio De La Museo Historico de Cartagena" which showed the torture history of previous eras, and a cultural exposition "Exposicion Derivas" which featured a native dance troupe. Next day in Colon (as far as I'm concerned pronounce it both ways) we took the NCL tour "Former Canal Zone History and Miraflores Locks" and for $79 pp it was a bargain. We made a stop at a Latin 7-11 with 2 policemen standing guard with automatic weapons in front. Very clean but unsettling. We stopped next at the Goethals monument for a nice photo. After a total 1 hour drive, we arrived at the Pacific side of the canal.Then we went to the Miraflores canal locks. There was an IMAX theater (we didn't get tickets) and saw a 12 minute film. We then went up to a grandstand looking over the locks and watched as the locks opened and closed and a 5000 car carrying ship went through, guided by electronic 'mules'. It was a wonderful experience. When we left, we drove back to the ship, Just outside the ship is the slums, with partially demolished but standing buildings that look line WWII photos of bombed out streets. We were warned in advance not to visit as even near the ports people can be mugged in broad daylight without any repercussions. The next day was the Panama Canal transit. It started at 5 AM and we went through 3 locks, turned around and went back through the same by 2:30 PM. It was sort of Deja Vu as we witnessed it up close on the Pacific side the day before at Miraflores. It's still an engineering marvel not to be missed. The next day was our last port of call, Puerta Limon (Limon) Costa Rica. This is a nature area with rainforests. A Biologists dream come true. Again no port cruise tents here. We signed up for NCL's tour "Caribbean Train, Eco Cruise and Countryside" ($79pp). We were bused offroad first to an old rickety wooden 3 car train for a 50 minute ride through the rainforest. Take the seats on the left side as the right has the ocean most of the way. I loved it. Like traveling in the '30s. We got off and were taken by bus past a very large banana plantation for miles. We arrived at 'EcoJungle Natural Tours'a ' for a short river cruise past sloths, lizards, and birds. It was fun and enjoyable. It was also not full of bugs so I was told that the repellent I used was not needed. We went back for complimentary pineapple and tea and took the bus back to the ship. We had 2 days at sea to return to Miami. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Good price, with free daily lectures. Wanted to try HAL again after many years and many cruises on RCL and Princess. Service and crew where very happy, friendly and efficient. Food was tasty great with lots of choices in Lido every ... Read More
Good price, with free daily lectures. Wanted to try HAL again after many years and many cruises on RCL and Princess. Service and crew where very happy, friendly and efficient. Food was tasty great with lots of choices in Lido every meal! Never ate in dining room. Won money in casino so that was great! Microsoft lectures where amazing from actual Microsoft employee and learned lots about many MS tools and apps. Photo shop provided "free photography lectures" from an actual National Geographic photographer -"Justin James" and learned many tips on improving my pictures! Really enjoyed all of the destinations especially Aruba because of the TukTuk Tour we took from a Expedia vendor. Wish HAL had large central public malls like RCL on some of their newer ships. Always enjoy sitting in a cafe and watch the people walk by. Eurodam just has a great VIB and loved this cruise. Would definitely go again. Highly recommend the Sting Ray swim excursion in Half Moon Cay. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Our first Carnival cruise that my TA set up for us almost 2 years ago. We had the Grand Suite, which was more than we ever imagined! The service was excellent and always courteous. The foods and entertainment especially Polaris I could ... Read More
Our first Carnival cruise that my TA set up for us almost 2 years ago. We had the Grand Suite, which was more than we ever imagined! The service was excellent and always courteous. The foods and entertainment especially Polaris I could listen for hours was beautiful! Chef's Table was outstanding and totally worth it. Veterans appreciation and Veterans Tea gatherings was a nice touch too. Loved my balcony as we went through the partial transit of the Panama Canal, I watched it on the tv screen and from my balcony. My husband went up to Deck 8, so we bought the cd of this amazing experience. We would do this again and Carnival with two ports Limon Costa Rica and Grand Cayman were beautiful. Excellent service and Excellent everything! So glad I got the Grand Suite too, got spoiled! The embarkment and debarkment was nice and smooth too. This was an Excellent experience! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I have always wanted to see the Panama Canal and it did not disappoint .My girls and my Grand daughter decided to to an all girl Cruise. The Crew was all amazing. My Stateroom Steward Aris was the best. As was the people he worked with ... Read More
I have always wanted to see the Panama Canal and it did not disappoint .My girls and my Grand daughter decided to to an all girl Cruise. The Crew was all amazing. My Stateroom Steward Aris was the best. As was the people he worked with always with a smile and a greeting. The ship was clean and well laid out. The entertainment was the best the singers and dancers were the best and when you seen them off stage they were were all very nice.The comedians were so funny my stomach hurt from laughing. The shore excursions were well managed and everyone took real good care of us!! I played Bingo with David, Oscar, Jose and DJ they were all GREAT! My next cruise will be on Carnival again. I have now done 3 Carnival Cruises and I will not go on any other line as I have not had the good feeling from other lines that I did from Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We chose this cruise because of the great price. Our cabin was D1842 on the lowest passenger deck and we were very happy with it. This is not a cruise for younger folks. There were two children on board and I had to wonder if they were ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the great price. Our cabin was D1842 on the lowest passenger deck and we were very happy with it. This is not a cruise for younger folks. There were two children on board and I had to wonder if they were bored to death. The room stewards were excellent, as were the bar waiters and all the staff in the Lido buffet. Unfortunately we had poor service in the MDR despite going there when they said they were less busy. One night after waiting 20 minutes for the waiter to take our order we gave up and left, never to return. The food in the Lido was excellent and varied. We loved having eggs benedict cooked to order for breakfast. We loved the Crow's Nest lounge up top, despite the noisy daily trivia. The art work was great. As it happens I love oriental art so I really appreciated the lifesize terracota warriors and horse and ancient Chinese artifacts. We enjoyed the Ocean Bar. There were always places to sit around the ship but the daytime music in all the lounges except the library annoyed us. The Explorations Cafe offered custom coffees and also served as the library, board game room, and internet cafe. This was the largest library I've seen at sea in years. It was a popular room but there was always a chair available. We appreciated the wraparound promenade deck for our daily walks. The art gallery and auction were, blessedly, low key. There were several recent, good movies in the Wajang Theater but it was hard to understand why there was just this smallish drop down screen instead of a real movie screen. If you sat at the sides of the theater it was hard to see the screen. It was nice to have a real movie theater onboard, though. The Billboard lounge features two grand pianos and two musicians playing and singing. A different decade of songs was featured each night. We thought the male singer was good but the female was not professional quality in our opinion and we also couldn't see the appeal of the place but it was very popular. Aside from the great price what we really like about this ship was the relaxed, uncrowded atmosphere. The passenger to space ratio is average so we're not sure how this happens but we never experienced lines or crowding, even at the elevators which always arrived promptly. The entertainment was good for the most part though we miss the production shows they no longer have. There was a German instrumentalist who played the marimba, sax, trumpet, drums, and pan pipes. He did a dueling drums thing with the ship's drummer that was fantastic. He did "Stairway to Heaven" on the pan pipes that was hauntingly beautiful. He was so good we went back to the second show to see him again. There were always seats available in the show room - no need to show up a half hour ahead for a seat like was the case on Princess. There were two cornhole tournaments we enjoyed and lots of trivia games. They had many performances of classical music in the Lincoln Stage that were very good, provided by a young, enthusiastic quintet. The port lectures and talks on Mexican history and culture were excellent. The passenger service desk and shore excursion desk staff were both efficient and courteous. Embarkation and disembarkation were efficient and painless. The hot dogs and hamburgers were made to order so they gave you a little buzzer for when your order was ready but when we used this a crew member passing by grabbed the buzzer, got, and delivered the order to where we were! Impressive and the hot dog was the best I've had on a ship. The main pool has a cover so it can function in any weather and this was a popular area. It also had two ping pong tables made of real, beautiful woods and unlike on many ships they were in a protected area so you could play without the wind ruining your shots. The pool behind the Lido buffet was also popular and there were nice tables and chairs out there that were a bit protected from wind and sun. One of our favorite things was the towel animals the room stewards left on our bed each night. And on one of the last days the crew decorated the entire pool area with towel animals. It was a great display much appreciated by many of us. This is a ship for us older folks who don't need non-stop entertainment and activities and like to spend time watching the ocean or reading or enjoying walks on deck. This is an older ship without the modern bells and whistles but it was perfect for us. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We sailed January 20th on a 10 day southern Caribbean cruise with stops in Costa Rico,Colon.Panama,Cartagena, Aruba, Curacao but missed Costa Rico due to medical emergency.This was one of my most enjoyable trips getting to experience the ... Read More
We sailed January 20th on a 10 day southern Caribbean cruise with stops in Costa Rico,Colon.Panama,Cartagena, Aruba, Curacao but missed Costa Rico due to medical emergency.This was one of my most enjoyable trips getting to experience the Panama Canal locks, carriage ride through old Cartagena, quiet shopping day plus lunch at Lucy’s in Aruba then relaxing day in Curacao. We stayed in a balcony cabin room 7058 and found it quite small with two people separated beds. The refrigerator was not able to open door and space to balcony tight. When we sail on Serenade next time will be junior suite. We found the dining room staff and food to be very good. If we needed something not on menu they tried to accommodate our request. The excursions we did were: Panama 8 hr. On ferry through locks to Panama City. In Cartagena the carriage ride through old town. We experienced a lot of street vendors each time our carriage stopped that was annoying. Our son found a nice market plus animal area with monkeys, sloth and birds in our port near ship.Aruba and Curacao were waking leisurely through shops. In Curacao I found best Cuban coffee (cubita dark roast ) on the walk back to ship in store across from ship. A fun trip if you would like to do an different Caribbean cruise and hope to return to visit Puerto Rico. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
My travel bucket list had long included the Panama Canal, both for its continuing commercial importance but also because of its historic engineering importance. It was the chance to see the canal that directed me to this trip. We ... Read More
My travel bucket list had long included the Panama Canal, both for its continuing commercial importance but also because of its historic engineering importance. It was the chance to see the canal that directed me to this trip. We traversed the Canal at night, a pattern that I thought might be a disappointment; it was quite the opposite as the canal is well lighted and one can see the operations of the locks even in the middle of the night. A return trip by bus from the Caribbean side to the Pacific and Panama City gave us a view of the canal in daylight. Costa Rica was an added and special bonus and seeing the flora and fauna of the Pacific rain forests was everything that I could have anticipated. Particularly interesting were the special excursions to a gold mining operation, a sugar processing farm, and a marvelous botanical garden. For the "active" traveler, there were many options including kayaking, snorkeling and more. Taking the trip on a ship (National Geographic Quest) that provided the best small ship accommodations that I have experienced and reasonable accommodations for the solo traveler made this even more special. The meals on board had a variety of selections and even though the chef needs to do a better job of cooking the meats, the food was generally quite good and nutritious. While not, perhaps, my most memorable cruise, this will be high on the list of fond memories for this retiree. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We sailed on the Holland-America Oosterdam’s 18-day Panama Canal cruise (January 15-February 5, 2020) from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. My wife and I are in our 70’s, and we are four-star HAL Mariners. We had temperatures that were ... Read More
We sailed on the Holland-America Oosterdam’s 18-day Panama Canal cruise (January 15-February 5, 2020) from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. My wife and I are in our 70’s, and we are four-star HAL Mariners. We had temperatures that were mostly in the 70’s and 80’s and lots and lots of sunshine. (There was very little rain during these 18 days.) We packed sunscreen and some 30% Deet insect repellent (we did not experience much in the way of mosquitoes, but some of the tours advised using insect repellent). Dining: Before we sailed I noticed that there were some negative reviews about the Oosterdam posted on Cruise Critic. Our experience, however, was mostly positive and often extremely positive. For example, we’ve been on seven HAL cruises, and the food on this one was the best we’ve had. We ate dinner in the Main Dining Room each night except for one night at the Pinnacle Grill (very good), one at the Canaletto (extremely good – in fact, we enjoyed it more than the Pinnacle), and one night when we ordered dinner through Room Service off the Main Dining Room menu. (Since we did not eat at the Lido buffet, I can’t comment on that.) We did take advantage of the Main Dining Room’s Club Orange. It can get you into the Main Dining Room faster (priority seating), though not necessarily faster service once you’re seated. On our cruise it included an additional entrée each meal that was not included on the regular menu. One of our wine stewards (Joey) was especially good. I liked his recommendations. An added bonus was that he made some origami for us. (It was a side talent of his!) The Main Dining Room menus each night included a good mix of well-prepared popular dishes (steak, salmon) and some adventuresome gourmet food with an emphasis on dishes that reflected the ports we were visiting. The soups were outstanding. They were made with flavorful stocks, free of grease, well-seasoned with interesting combinations of ingredients. One negative was that during the first week of the cruise, getting seated in the Dining Room seemed hectic and somewhat disorganized. One night, in fact, they were totally confused as to which table we were being assigned to. As the cruise continued, things got better. I suspect that the staff were aware of the problem and taking steps to fix it. In addition, while always friendly, the serving staff seemed more pressured and harried than on previous cruises. I know that other reviews have found them to be understaffed, and I am inclined to agree. Talks: Edgar Jiménez, HAL’s Mexican Cultural Ambassador, was outstanding. His lectures covered a great deal of Mexican history, culture, geography, and geology and lots of information about the Mexican ports we visited (Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Huatulco, and Puerto Chiapas). He was enjoyable, entertaining, and a gifted teacher/lecturer. Much less successful, I think, were the talks given by the ship’s cruise director. His presentation on the Panama Canal was particularly disappointing. He admitted that he had never been to the Canal before and was using a PowerPoint and script that had been prepared for him in HAL’s corporate offices in Seattle. I was surprised that a Panama Canal cruise did not bring onboard speakers who were knowledgeable about the history and engineering of the Canal. Transiting the Canal was, of course, the highlight of the cruise. Some of us were up as early as 5:30 a.m., though it wasn’t until 6:30 a.m. that we could start witnessing anything. It takes most of the day to transit the Canal, and throughout the journey the TVs in the rooms and the loudspeakers on the decks broadcast commentary at key points in the transit. I re-read David McCullough’s The Path Between the Seas while I was on this cruise, and I am glad I did. It added a lot to my appreciation of what we were seeing. Entertainment: The Lincoln Center Stage quintet (string quartet plus pianist) was outstanding! They played to mostly packed houses. I liked that they discussed the music they were about to play and why it meant so much to them. We saw a few Mainstage performances. The comedian, Tim, was funny. I liked the dancers, too. The most unforgettable was the live music they provided to accompany a screening of the BBC Planet Earth II video. The nature photography was spellbinding, and the music was the perfect accompaniment to it. We didn’t spend too much time at the piano bar, but the two guys who performed there and their audience seemed to be enjoying themselves. The Internet and HAL’s Navigator App: Our package included Premium Internet Service, and it was mostly great. This was our first experience with loading HAL’s Navigator App on our phone and iPad. The app still needs some work, I believe, but it was helpful, especially since you could access shipboard events from it. I liked that it let me see the day’s dinner menus, though, curiously, it did not include the desserts. (You could see the desserts if you accessed the menu from the room’s TV, however.) In addition, it wasn’t always able to pull up my account, though, again, I could see it on our TV. I hope that future enhancements include being able to pull up such useful information as which location they are disembarking the ship from when we are in port. Since it is not always easy to hear announcements from the captain or cruise director (the Oosterdam’s sound system could use an update!), it would also be helpful to post these announcements to the app (or at least allow you to replay them from the app. The Casino: The big plus was that there was no smoking allowed in the casino, which passengers often traverse in order to get to the Mainstage on Deck 2. I do very little gambling, but on previous cruises I might play blackjack for one or two nights on an 18-day cruise. I didn’t play at all on this cruise because their blackjack table paid only 6 for 5 for a blackjack, instead of the usual 3 for 2 and let dealers hit soft 17’s. Worse yet, the lowest minimum bet was $6. When I asked the bit boss what they paid for a blackjack on a $6 bet, he answered $7. Of course, no serious gambler would ever play blackjack on a cruise ship and I expect the house to have an edge, but this seemed so downright greedy and excessive that I decided not to play. Smoking: Smoking was prohibited in the staterooms and balconies and public areas and was allowed only on one small section of the ship – outside by the Seaview Pool Bar on Deck 9. So this was a great cruise for non-smokers, and a lousy one for heavy smokers. A few other notes: We booked our pre-cruise hotel through HAL and came three nights before to enjoy San Diego. The hotel was the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, and, frankly, it was a disappointment. While the staff were friendly, our room was a bit dismal. It overlooked a parking lot in the Main Tower. Something was out of whack with there HVAC system, which meant that the public rooms were uncomfortably cold, and so, too, was our room. It was not a hotel I’d return to. We heard very few complaints from other passengers onboard except for complaints about the time it took to get seated in the Main Dining Room. I noticed that later in the cruise the Maître D’ staff and chefs were going from table-to-table to ask passengers what they thought. They seemed genuinely interested in listening, and I respect that a lot. We appreciated the fact that HAL cruises do not bombard you with lots of intrusive announcements over the ship’s PA system. Like all HAL cruises this was a great choice for an older crowd who want a relaxing experience and like to read, listen to music, play card games, have good conversations with fellow passengers, and eat well. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was our 8th NCL cruise but our first on a large ship. My wife and I were a bit concerned about the size, but were pleasantly surprised to discover that large doesn't necessarily mean crowded and congested. Although there are a ... Read More
This was our 8th NCL cruise but our first on a large ship. My wife and I were a bit concerned about the size, but were pleasantly surprised to discover that large doesn't necessarily mean crowded and congested. Although there are a couple of areas that can get a bit busy at times, particularly the front elevator banks and the Atrium, you could always find a quiet spot to relax and unwind. My wife and I chose this cruise because we hadn't cruised the Mexican Riviera yet and were intrigued by the idea of cruising from coast-to-coast through the Canal. We also thought it would be a good way to escape the cold confines of South Dakota for a couple of weeks. This turned out to be an even better outcome than we could have expected. Due to the unexpected nature of winter weather in the Midwest, we decided to fly out of Omaha, Nebraska, the day before the cruise. This turned out to be a wise decision as the area we departed from experienced a major snow storm the following day. After an uneventful flight from Omaha through Salt Lake City to LA, we arrived just before noon and hired a Lyft driver to drive us to a hotel near the port. The next morning we took another Lyft the remaining 5-10 minutes to the pier. We arrived early around 9:30, so were only the second couple in line waiting to go through Security. As we waited in the covered area outside the Security building, the line behind us began to grow and gradually expanded beyond the covered area. After about an hour, we were finally able to enter the security area and proceed from there to the check-in counters. The check-in counters are arranged by the deck your cabin is on and, being the first-in-line for Deck 10, we were able to walk right up to the counter and were checked-in in about 5 minutes. We quickly found a seat near the embarkation gangway to begin our wait for the boarding call. Evidently, the embarkation must have been delayed longer than expected, because the terminal area finally filled to it's max capacity and they had to shut down the check-in counters. It wasn't too much longer after this, however, that they did start the embarkation process and things seemed to get back on track. As other reviewers have already noted, the Joy is in like-new condition. The pool deck is a little odd in its pool layout due to the retrofit from the China market. However, this does allow for a larger area for the deck loungers, so there never seemed to be a problem finding an open deck chair or lounger. Our Mini-Suite on Deck 10 was just a few doors down from the landing with the forward stairs and elevator banks. This turned out to be an ideal location as it was just 3 decks down to the Theater and a few steps through the elevator banks to The Local. These forward elevator areas do tend to get a bit congested at times, but we found out a little patience and pre-planning can help mitigate some of the frustration you may encounter. We ate in all of the main dining areas (Savor, Taste, Manhattan, Local and Buffet) and found them all to be good to excellent. The food was generally hot and flavorful and we didn't encounter any excessive delays in service. The staff was always friendly and often asked if we had a show or other event we needed to get to. We also ate in several of the specialty restaurants; Q, Cagney's, Ocean Blue and Teppenyaki (twice). They were all excellent and the service was impeccable. This was also our first time participating in a Cruise Critic Roll Call. Although we didn't participate in all the events the group set up, we did attend the sail-away get together in Spice H20 and the M&M the next day at sea which was held in the District Brew House. We were particularly impressed with the effort that NCL made to make this event thoroughly enjoyable. We were met at the door with specially prepared fruit smoothies and the Cruise Director, Dan Dan, and several of the ship's officers were there to greet and welcome us to the cruise. This is also the first cruise that I can remember seeing the ship's officers, including the Captain, out and about the ship mingling with and conversing with the passengers on a regular basis. This added a nice personal touch to the cruise that truly makes you feel at home and a part of the Norwegian family. On the entertainment side of things, there are so many things to do it's hard to fit them all in, even on a 16 day cruise. We made reservations for Footloose and Elements in advance of the cruise as recommended, and both were exceptionally well done. We also saw the comedians (at The Social and Theater), the ventriloquist (Phil Hughes), the hypnotist (Doug MacCraw), the magician (PC Lai), the Beatles tribute band, and the comedian juggler (Dan Bennet). They were all very good, especially Dan Bennet, who we had seen on a previous NCL cruise and thoroughly enjoyed his show. His rapid-fire wit and commentary will have you struggling to keep up with his non-stop narration and juggling prowess. The performers in the Atrium every day and evening were very good, but the volume was often louder that we would have liked. We did not visit the Arcade, Galaxy Pavilion or the Casino, but did try the Speedway; which was fun but a bit on the expensive side at $15 per person. We used our $50 per cabin credit for most of our port excursions through NCL. The only exception was a 10 in 1 Ultimate Puntarenas Highlights & Lunch in Costa Rica with Thumbs Up tours. This is an exceptional experience with up-close encounters with Capuchin monkeys, Scarlet Macaws, crocodiles and a scenic hilltop lunch. It's also inexpensive with very knowledgeable and personable tour guides. The weather was fantastic throughout the cruise with sunny skies and smooth sailing conditions. Although the sun could get quite intense during the middle of the day, there always seemed to be a cooling breeze and it was always pleasant in the shade. The day we cruised through the Canal was partly cloudy to mostly sunny, so that helped to keep the heat and humidity in check for the most part. The only thing that kept this cruise from being completely perfect was the sickness that started to permeate the ship toward the end of the cruise. There was evidently enough respiratory and intestinal issues going through the ship, along with the Corona Virus news, that the crew started taking precautionary steps to make sure everyone stayed as healthy as possible. Consequently, all condiments and place settings were removed from the tables in the Buffet, and all the food and drinks in the Buffet area were served by staff wearing rubber gloves. We did notice that there were several guests that had persistent coughs and talked to some that had been quarantined on the ship for a period of time due to illness. On a large ship with nearly 4000 passengers, it would be expected that there would be some illness in a population that large but, the previous Norovirus incident on the Joy and the current Corona Virus scare, had the NCL staff taking no chances (to their credit). All-in-all, this cruise exceeded our expectations and we would like to thank NCL for making this a truly enjoyable experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
My wife and I have multiple things to celebrate (35th anniversary, both healthy after medical scares, etc...) and decided that a two week cruise through the Panama Canal was just the ticket. We enjoyed everything about the cruise. Both ... Read More
My wife and I have multiple things to celebrate (35th anniversary, both healthy after medical scares, etc...) and decided that a two week cruise through the Panama Canal was just the ticket. We enjoyed everything about the cruise. Both embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and the staff was very friendly and helpful. Our last 2 cruises were on RCL and the staff on those ships treated us like we were annoying if we asked for anything. On this trip on the Emerald, the staff treated us wonderfully, from the front desk to our steward, the dining room, and bar staff. We spent a lot of time at the back of the ship by Terrace Pool. The bartender and staff learned our names and called them out whenever we walked out onto the deck! We splurged more than normal on this cruise and had a mini-suite. We loved the extra room and spent quite a bit of time on the balcony. The only minor complaint would be that the couch in our room seemed quite old and uncomfortable. It should be replaced. The food was pretty good. I found it to be more of a variety than other cruises I've been on, but still got to be repeated too much on a 15 day cruise. But, we did not go hungry! We had some wonderful excursions, and the trip through the canal was awesome! The commentary offered was really great. We also met some really nice people from all over the world. All-in-all, we had a great 15 days! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We wanted to experience the Panama Canal and go somewhere warm in January so we booked this cruise and had a fabulous time. We arrived in sunny Fort Lauderdale and stayed at the Marriott North for a couple of days Pre-Cruise. It is a ... Read More
We wanted to experience the Panama Canal and go somewhere warm in January so we booked this cruise and had a fabulous time. We arrived in sunny Fort Lauderdale and stayed at the Marriott North for a couple of days Pre-Cruise. It is a nice Marriott and a good price since it isn’t on the beach. We took Uber to the port and it was very easy. We arrived at 11:30 and we were boarding soon after. The embarkation couldn’t have gone smoother. We are Platinum next cruise and will speed things along even faster. We had lunch in the DaVinci dining room and they announced the staterooms were open before 1:00 which was a nice surprise. This was our third trip on the Emerald and she didn’t disappoint. We have had some fun cruises on the Emerald and the ship isn’t brand new anymore but still very pretty and in good shape. We always seem to have a good crew on this ship and the staff seems happy and eager to please. We had a wonderful stateroom steward, probably one of the best we have ever had. He was friendly and anticipated our every need. We had traditional early seating at 5:15 which was a little early but the late seating is too late for us. My husband is on a very low sodium diet and the head waiter gave him the menu every night for the next night so he could Pre order and they prepared his meals low sodium. We ate in the dining room all but two nights and really enjoyed our waiter and assistant. We thought the food was good in the dining room. I always am amazed that people complain on these reviews about the food. If I don’t have to shop for it, cook it or clean up after then it is great for me. We certainly found something on the menu to eat every night and didn’t come home lighter! The buffet was good as were the hamburgers by the pool. We had escargot, lobster, beef tenderloin, steak, lots of shrimp and scallops and enjoyed every bite. The entertainment was enjoyable. The new Rock Opera which debuted on the Emerald this sailing (it is also on the Sky I believe) was absolutely superb! The singers and dancers on this cruise were tremendous. We had some other really good guest performers that were very talented and some good magicians and comedians. The Princess theater was packed every show and for the 7:30 show you had to arrive at least 30 minutes early to get a seat. I really think it would help if Princess would add a third showtime or repeat the shows because every passenger seemed to want to go to the theater every night. I noticed lots of people brought books to read while waiting. We also had Medallion Net Wifi and we were able to text, email and call if we wanted. It is really a game changer if you need WiFi. Most of the basketball games that my husband NEEDED to see were on a ESPN channel in the stateroom but one that wasn’t on ESPN he was able to keep up with it online. I however went to the theater since I don’t require basketball at sea. We had a balcony booked but this cruise was over sold so they offered us an amazing deal to give up our balcony and move to an inside cabin. Well that was ok but the inside they moved us to had two more berths that fold down from the wall. These extra beds just stuck out from the wall and made the room seem so much smaller and we both cracked our head on them a couple of times. That was a bummer. Fortunately we were aft Riviera deck so it was a quick escape to the terrace pool and bar and outside seating which helped us to not kill each other in that cabin for 15 days. We really enjoyed the ports since they were all new to us. We did a couple of private excursions (in Cartagena and Nicaragua) and a great Princess excursion to the Starbucks Hacienda Coffee Plantation in Costa Rica. We had an awesome guide and a delicious lunch. It was a small group of 10 in a van which made it so nice. It was well worth the money. Starbucks gave us the VIP treatment too. We were on our own in Huatulco which was ok. There isn’t much at the port (some restaurants and shopping) so I would book a tour if I went back. Puerto Vallarta was beautiful and we took a taxi (7.00 each way for the taxi not per person but you need exact change and we tipped a couple of dollars) to the Malecon boardwalk and it was fine with lots of shopping and restaurants and walking along the ocean and downtown. The day of the Panama Canal crossing was an all day event and was fantastic. We were up at 6:00 am with the other 3000 spectators but there were plenty of places to watch the crossing. The most popular spot was Lido deck all the way forward where they opened the unmarked doors to the very front of the ship. They even served mimosas up there which was festive. We went through the new locks and it was a marvel. There was a commentator that talked us through the Canal and he was very interesting. He did a number of port lectures as well which we didn’t attend but watched them in our stateroom later. His name is Bill Fall and he was very knowledgeable and interesting. The first two sea days were really bouncy. I think we were having high winds so I don’t think it was normal. When we arrived in Cartagena it was calm and stayed very calm until we left Puerto Vallarta and headed toward LA. The seas were not quite as calm and the temperature dropped to the 60’s for the two days back to Los Angeles. Disembarkation was also very organized and we were off by 8:30 then took an Uber to LAX and were there in plenty of time for a 12:10 flight. We enjoyed this cruise very much. We found the majority of the staff and crew to be very friendly and efficient. We went to a Meet and Greet with our roll call and enjoyed meeting the Captain and several other officers that attended and spoke. They were warm and approachable. The Captain was really delightful and we saw him often around the ship. He seemed to enjoy talking to passengers and answering questions. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
As Platinum travelers on NCL and having cruised multiple times with other cruise lines all around the world, my wife and I selected this NCL cruise as we have never cruised through the Panama Canal and wanted to do so on a newer and larger ... Read More
As Platinum travelers on NCL and having cruised multiple times with other cruise lines all around the world, my wife and I selected this NCL cruise as we have never cruised through the Panama Canal and wanted to do so on a newer and larger boat. After reading numerous reviews regarding this cruise aboard the NCL Joy we were very concerned about all of the negativity, and therefore had low expectations. However, we were so pleasantly surprised and are now happy to write this rebuttal review regarding this particular cruise and this ship. The boat is absolutely pristine and clean with the most friendly, outgoing crew that we have ever encountered! You cannot pass by any of the 1700 crew members with receiving a warm and friendly greeting! This boat has something for everyone from Racing cars to water slides, to golf, to laser tag! The entertainment venues are the most varied and numerous we've ever encountered from numerous comedians, to numerous quality singers, hypnotists, aerialists, ventriloquists, tribute bands such as a wonderful Beatles Review, a full Broadway Production in "Footloose" as well as an original production of "Elements". Every evening we had several entertainment venues to keep us busy and involved. the boats itinerary was perfect with a mix of interesting ports mixed with some sea days. The Panama Canal crossing was truly spectacular with this boat due to the numerous viewing opportunities such as the opening of the front bow to the air-conditioned Observatory Deck, to The Front Cafe and the "Waterfront" areas with their cafes and sofas that all combined to offer different viewpoints along with a running commentary from a local historian from the Bridge. We were given explanatory pamphlets as well as a colorful certificate for framing. NCL went above & beyond to insure that the experience could be enjoyed by all! Frankly, as one who looks to these reviews for an objective perspective, I'm writing to say that, in the case of the NCL Joy, these negative reviews could not be any more off point! Anyone seeking a Panama Canal Crossing on a new ship should strongly consider this cruise as a great value for the money that offers numerous entertainment, eating, and activity options. My wife and I would happily repeat this cruise again! No complaints! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was a very successful vacation. Aft cabin on 8th floor was perfect for going thru the Panama Canal. The guide narrating the cruise was a welcome surprise...he did a great job. We also liked the (30 minute) educational classes they ... Read More
This was a very successful vacation. Aft cabin on 8th floor was perfect for going thru the Panama Canal. The guide narrating the cruise was a welcome surprise...he did a great job. We also liked the (30 minute) educational classes they offered and attended almost all of them. Microsoft classes. Photo-coach classes. Port to table cooking demonstrations by chef about local foods. Presentations by the cruise director about the regions, and animals, and history. Fascinating topics. Also, the Lincoln Center Stage offered classical music performances and talks about performers. Such a treat! Our biggest complaint is that we don't like to dress up for dinner on the 2 gala nights, and eating in the Lido buffet can be challenging if ya want to just sit and have dinner as a couple. Would prefer HAL to come up with a dining service option for the "under dressed"...lol. One other thing we don't like is the high pressure "spa and fitness" people. They are too aggressive and materialistic...so we stayed away. However, we will definitely return to HAL!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Discovery 2 Panama Canal Experience Jan 2020 First the Bad. We booked early through Sunwing (Toronto), paid full price. When we boarded the ship, our assigned cabin was quite small. We are pensioners, Sunwing requested our age. There ... Read More
Discovery 2 Panama Canal Experience Jan 2020 First the Bad. We booked early through Sunwing (Toronto), paid full price. When we boarded the ship, our assigned cabin was quite small. We are pensioners, Sunwing requested our age. There was a queen bed in the corner, 1 night table sideways at head (drawer could not be opened), access to the bed was only from foot or on right side. Access at right side, about 12 inches opening to 18 inches. We went to reception, they had a look at the cabin and asked us to return after all passengers had boarded. When we returned, they did have an inside cabin for us with the queen bed in the middle, night tables each side and access on both sides. A big thumbs up to Stiven at Customer Service, a very upfront and professional Marella employee. Booking from Canada we could not pre book a cabin or anything else. Sunwing need to ensure that elderly passengers are in a suitable cabin and/or have the option of booking a suitable cabin. If we were in our 40’s we would not have complained. Sunwing are hard to deal with, we requested a call back from a supervisor re our booking and were never called back. If you book with Sunwing cover all of your bases before they get your credit card info! Next the Good! Third time on Discovery 2, another excellent cruise. It's a friendly ship. There was some obvious updating in Islands and the new Quid and Anchor Lounge. Food was very good. Third time on board but first time for the fish & chips at the Snack Shack – excellent! Entertainment, excellent as usual, amazing talent. Even though we had seen most of the shows the year before they were still quite enjoyable - must have been as most nights we went twice. We are still laughing at the comedian’s (Peter Piper) jokes – “How Much?”! Costa Rica, Port Limon – did the canal and train excursion and enjoyed it. Guide (Ivan) was excellent. Panama, Colon - We chose this cruise primarily for the trip through the locks on the Panama Canal into Lake Gatun. Up at 4:30am, coffee was on. Quite interesting and well worth it. We stayed on board for the day and enjoyed the return trip back through the canal. Columbia, Cartagena – Just took a cab into town and wandered around. Quite an interesting place. Port Royal Jamaica – Well what can I say, first ship to dock since Captain Henry Morgan! Interesting swing out pier/walkway that attaches magnetically to the ship. This is new tourist destination facility, first day it was open. People were very friendly, we walked through the town to the old fort, quite interesting. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Totally satisfied with the entire cruise experience! All the Princess Cruise people were so helpful, bent over backwards to help you. Food was excellent, service was excellent! Saw some reviews that the Caribbean Princess was dated. I ... Read More
Totally satisfied with the entire cruise experience! All the Princess Cruise people were so helpful, bent over backwards to help you. Food was excellent, service was excellent! Saw some reviews that the Caribbean Princess was dated. I did not, enjoyed the art, especially deck 6 entry to the theater. Do go at least 30 minutes prior to the events. I would highly recommend the Caribbean Princess, and would sail on it again. Also purchase the shore excursions well in advance they sell out very fast. The Princess cruise excursions were very good. It’s worth any extra costs to book thru them for the security of knowing they will wait for you. We did Panama canal partial crossing, It was sufficient. They went thru 1st 3 locks to Gatoon Lake. They dropped off Princess excursions to buses for all Princess passengers. Did the Old Panama city Pacific side tour with 1 hour stop at original canal Lock. Ship was going thru being pulled by 4 engines. Fascinating, definitely best shore excursion ever. Highly recommend!!!!!! One other note, If you do a tour you only see half the transit thru The new locks, for me it was fine Seeing the original canal lock and Pacific side on the excursion. Trip of a lifetime! Highly recommend! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I have never been on a cruise before and I came in with little to no expectations and a positive attitude. At first I was overwhelmed with amount of action going on and the small rooms, food etc. But after the initial first day, which was ... Read More
I have never been on a cruise before and I came in with little to no expectations and a positive attitude. At first I was overwhelmed with amount of action going on and the small rooms, food etc. But after the initial first day, which was stressful because of flying and nothing with the Princess cruise line, everything worked out. Sure, we did not go on one of our port stops due to weather, but safety was the priorty and I understood that. Also, the staff was INCREDIBLE!! Everyone was so personal, kind and nice! Spoiled me rotten from such great service. Entertainment was great and the whole time I was enjoying, having a blast and was always satisfied with everything. And if at any point I had any issues, they were quickly resolved. The game shows and entertainment was too notch, they have things for kids, teens and in betweens. And obviously adults and older adults as well. We watched a movie outside and ate ice cream, I mean what could be better? So all in all, the best vacation of my life. I would totally reccomend. For a lot of people who complain on these forums, these people are natural complainers so I would take it with a grain of salt. I had an awesome time and would 100000 percent reccommend. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020

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