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3 San Juan Princess Island Princess Cruise Reviews

This was our second Princess cruise and fifth overall but our first thru the Panama Canal. We flew in a day early on our own arrangements and stayed in Old San Juan at the Sheraton. It was a little pricey but the location was great and ... Read More
This was our second Princess cruise and fifth overall but our first thru the Panama Canal. We flew in a day early on our own arrangements and stayed in Old San Juan at the Sheraton. It was a little pricey but the location was great and you could sit at the restaurant and watch the other ships come in and out. The Island Princess was at the the Pan American docks which require a cab ride but that was no big deal and a flat rate of $15. We left the hotel around 11:30am, arrived at the pier right before noon and they started processing right after we arrived. We were on the ship and in our room before 12:30! We then had lunch on the lido deck which was very relaxed because most people were not on board yet. The rest of the day we just took our time exploring the ship. The ship appeared to be in good shape and we had no issues with our room or anything else that we saw. Our luggage didn't show up to our room until around 8pm. Many people were complaining about how long it took to get their luggage. There weren't many activities that evening as sail away wasn't until 11pm, we waited for the 11:30pm sail away party but gave up at 11:20pm since nobody including the cruise staff showed up. We never did hear if it happened or not. The first day was sea day and very relaxing ending with the first formal night and the Captain's welcome party. The second day was Curacao and we went diving independently with "The Dive Bus". Mark and Suzy were great and I would highly recommend them to anyone. The third day we took the ship's dive excursion on Aruba since the time in port was very short. The fourth day we took the old city walking tour of Cartagena and enjoyed seeing the very picturesque town but did not enjoy all the vendors harassing you to buy something. There is nothing at the pier to see, you had to take a five minute ride to the terminal before you got close to anything and even then there wasn't much. It's not a stop to get walk around the town in. The fifth day was the Canal and if you have not seen it before it is a real interesting adventure. There was a guide who got on board in the morning and talked up thru all the interesting tidbits about the canal. The information was good but his delivery left most people bored. The sixth day was another sea day and our last formal night. We found various things to do including spending money at bingo we would never see again. The seventh day was Puntarena, Costa Rico and we went to the Red Macaw Sanctuary. This was about a 45 min bus ride over at times rough road but the Sanctuary was worth seeing especially when the free Macaws would take flight. There were some shops within walking distance of the pier if you wanted and a small beach. The eight day was San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and we took the volcano tour that went to the active Masaya Volcana, provided lunch and also drove you thru colonial Grenada. This entailed 1.5 - 2 hours each way in the bus on sometimes not so good roads and while I was glad to see those things, I probably would not do it again. This was also a tender port but there were shopping tents set up at the tender pier and town was within walking distance. The ninth day was Puerto Quetzel, Guatemala and we went to animal park where there keep the animals is open areas so you must drive thru in a bus for your own safety. One of the exhibits had a 20 day old giraffe which was very cool to see running around in the open. The roads in Guatemala were very good but it was still and hour bus ride to get to the park. Some excursions had two hour rides depending on where they were going. Outside the pier there really wasn't anything close by but they provided free shuttles if you wanted to go to the shopping area. The tenth day was Huatulco, Mexico a planned resort area and we went to the La Brisas resort to use their facilities and beach. There was also a good shopping area at the end of the pier and a beach as well. If we had known that, I don't know if we would have gone to La Brisas although the facilities there were very nice and only about 10 minutes from the ship. On day 11, we unfortunately can to the end of our cruise in Acapulco. We had a flight after 3:00pm so we took the city highlights and cliff divers tour which finished by dropping us at the airport. The cliff divers were good but somehow after hearing about them all my life, I expected more. This was a special show for the cruise ship passengers so maybe their regular shows are different. We had heard that the Acapulco airport was very chaotic. Well, words do not describe the unorganized chaos that awaited us. The cruise line had brought the luggage to the airport but it was sitting all outside and the tags that Princess used (looped thru a hole in one end of the tag) did not stay on all our bags so finding our missing bags was an adventure but it worked out. Once inside the airport, there were hundreds of people all trying to check in and long lines everywhere. They are very strict about when you can check in before your flight so there is no way to space this out. I think this is because the airport is so small and there is not enough room for people to be there too far ahead of their flights. All baggage was hand checked before you could check in and this took a long time. From start to finish it took us over an hour from getting our bags to getting to the gate but others told us it took them over two hours. the boarding process is also chaotic if your plane needs to be unloaded and unloaded from the tarmac with buses. All in all we felt lucky to escape from there. A slightly bad ending to a good trip but overall a very highly enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We are a couple with 4 older kids (17 - 25)and this was our 3rd family cruise, 8th cruise overall for us. This was our 3rd cruise with Princess. Flights We were extremely disappointed with Princess air having 1 tight connection flying to ... Read More
We are a couple with 4 older kids (17 - 25)and this was our 3rd family cruise, 8th cruise overall for us. This was our 3rd cruise with Princess. Flights We were extremely disappointed with Princess air having 1 tight connection flying to San Juan from Toronto and arriving without some luggage. Our flights home involved 2 connections and 17 hours of travel time. Ridiculous! We will never fly Princess air again. The Ship The Island Princess is a beautiful ship and well kept. Our Balcony cabin was smaller than some other lines but quite adequate. Our children shared 2 interior cabins across the hall. Cabin attendants were good. Food We found the food in the Horizon Buffet to be very mediocre. Hence we made every attempt to eat in the main dining rooms. The service and food here was very good. Shore Excursions Aruba - We walked ashore and found many offering tours as you left the port. We arranged for a 4 hour tour in a small minibus for all 6 or us for $20 each that was excellent. Cartagena, Columbia - We went on a City tour with Princess that was very good. Our initial concerns with regards to safety were in my opinion ill-founded. The Old City is beautiful. I wouldn't recommend going with the Princess tour though - too slow; too many people; poor value. Find a tour company online; Puntarenas, Costa Rica - I arranged for a tour with okeydokeytours. It was a fabulous day. We went to see monkeys, zip-lining, to see Crocodile Man and shopping. The tour guide was excellent and we all loved it. It was $89 each but included the admission prices. The zip lining company offered a 'beginners' experience and it was a little slow for me. Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua - We took a Princess tour of Granada and the Islets boat cruise. The poverty was an eye-opening experience for all of us and a great opportunity to discuss politics and economics with the children. Granada is nothing special. Guatemala - We unfortunately had to miss this port because of hurricane force winds and flooding. We had pre-booked with Turansa tours who insisted on charging us for the missed tour in spite of flooding conditions and downed electrical wires that would have made any tour unsafe. A lesson to us and a warning to you! Huatulco, Mexico - A beautiful port. We walked ashore and rented seadoo's on the beach right beside the port. Then in the afternoon we had arranged for a catamaran tour with Princess. It was a great day. Panama Canal - It was very interesting however after the first lock it became a bit boring. We kept coming back to it all day long but it was impossible to spend hour after hour watching the progress. Acapulco - We left the ship and found a tour guide at the pier to took all 6 of us on a 5 hour tour and to the airport for $30 each. The tour was great. The guide spoke perfect English; we went at our own pace, spending extra time in some spots but going quickly through others. Excellent! A couple of things really bugged me about this cruise. The attendants pushing the drinks were very much in your face. Many times your conversation would be interrupted as they ask you if you would like something. The explanation regarding the decision to bypass Guatemala was inadequate. The ship was in the port almost at the pier when it just took off. The captains explanation minutes later was difficult to understand and had many onboard very upset. All in all far from my favorite cruise but good in many respects. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Eleven days on The Island Princess, from San Juan to Acapulco, via the Panama Canal. It was a lovely cruise, with many interesting ports, as other reviewers will no doubt tell you. The Canal more than lived up to our expectations: it was ... Read More
Eleven days on The Island Princess, from San Juan to Acapulco, via the Panama Canal. It was a lovely cruise, with many interesting ports, as other reviewers will no doubt tell you. The Canal more than lived up to our expectations: it was an amazing highlight! Our obstructed-view cabin was comfortable, the food was good quality and well-prepared (if a little "dumbed down" flavour-wise), and the onboard service - all of it, without exception - was wonderful. The only flaw in Princess service was Princess Air's arrangements at Acapulco. We stood - yes, STOOD with our suitcases - in line waiting for Delta check in for three and a half hours. The very pleasant Delta rep informed us that the scheduled flight had to go first, and we were "only" a charter (yes, that was his word). It was hot. I felt even sorrier for the elderly people in line than I did for myself, with my two recently-replaced knees. Delta was checking three flights in that day with only four agents, and all checked luggage was being hand searched. Did someone say "zoo"? I place the blame squarely on Princess for contracting to a charter carrier that could not do the job. Princess would not accept bad food from a supplier, but somehow this treatment of Princess guests was acceptable. It must have been OK with Princess, because the word from people in the know at the airport (and we had plenty of time to chat 'em up) was that this is a common occurrence. A word of advice: do not cruise in and fly out of Acapulco. Flying in may be better, but this was by far the worst airline check in I have ever experienced in my many years of worldwide travel. And I blame Princess. A Cruise within a Cruise The rest of my review will be about what I am calling our "Cruise within a Cruise". On the second evening, both my husband and I suddenly came down with a gastrointestinal problem - most likely norovirus. According to CDC, incubation for norovirus is 24 to 48 hours, but can be as short as 12. So we may have got it on the ship, or we may have carried it on as a stowaway. It doesn't really matter, we had it. Put it this way: thank goodness the bathrooms on Island Princess are teensy - we could use the toilet and the sink at the same time. You don't want more details than that, trust me. A welcome letter asked us to report any such ailment immediately, and we complied. We were visited by staff nurse Kenny within minutes. He was supportive, kind and good humored, but also very firm. If we were seen out of our cabin, we'd be put off the ship. Not that we wanted to go anywhere, although at one point "overboard" sounded good to me! (What's that old saw? "For the first hour you're afraid you're going to die. After that, you're afraid you're not going to die.") Thank goodness nurse Kenny did his angel-of-mercy thing and drugged us with generous amounts of medications that stopped the symptoms, and also put us to sleep for almost 24 hours. There was no charge for any of this. Service during our quarantine was nothing short of amazing. I cannot say enough good things about the kindness and the efficiency of the staff assigned to us. The mess, and it was a dreadful mess, was cleaned up and sanitized by specially-trained cabin attendants in masks and full hazmat suits. OK, there is something funny about that, but we weren't in a mood to be amused. They came several times a day and wiped and sanitized and sprayed and cleaned and changed linens while we lay semi-conscious in our beds. And at the end of the day they left us with … yes, chocolates. Wouldn't have to do without those, would we? And the large amounts of hold-your-nose laundry? All taken away in special bags to a special laundry and returned clean and pressed. No charge for this either. The room service menu we received was specially designed for gastric victims such as the likes of us. I think it was called "Light and Healthy", but "Bland and Boring" would be a better moniker. But it was very suitable for the situation: broths, jello, poached fish and chicken, boiled vegetables, rice, crackers, tea. In this case, bland and boring was just what the doctor ordered. And the most amazing part of all was that it was delivered almost before I put the phone down. In a flash! I guess they don't want desperate sick people wandering off to the Horizon Court in search of saltines. By the end of the second day, we were feeling much better and we asked the medic whether it would be OK to walk on the wild side and order something off the regular room service menu. When I did, the person taking my order put up a bit of resistance until I assured him that the nurse had said we could give it a try. Still, pretty good that he was double-checking. It was not fun. Our "Cruise Within a Cruise" was a big disappointment because we missed two ports (and a good friend on one of the islands) that we had really wanted to visit. On the other hand, we were back in circulation and in fine form for Canal day, which had been the point of the trip in the first place. After we were sprung from quarantine, we were asked not to go to the buffet for a day or so. Banned from Horizon Court? No problem. The dining room service was so calm and lovely, we chose to eat there most of the time. When we did return, we noticed that the hand sanitizer squirt squad had been reinforced. One note to self: throughout the "adventure" we were wishing, oh how we were wishing, that we had coughed the cash up for a balcony. That would have made our time in jail much more pleasant. Our unfortunate experience showed Princess at its very caring and its very organized best. Too bad the same could not be said of the contractor they chose for us at Acapulco airport. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Island Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.6
Family 4.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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