Island Princess Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Contributor Level: Captain

7+ cruises


Helpful Votes

5 out of 5

Another bucket list checkmark - Panama Canal (Part deux)

Sail Date: February 18, 2016

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Suite

This cruise represents the second half of our Panama Canal adventure. I reviewed the first leg separately and we enjoyed the return just as much because of the wonderful customer-focused attitude of the crew members coupled with an interesting itinerary. My husband and I traveled together on this trip. 

Cruise Photos

Cabin / Stateroom
We stayed in the same cabin for both legs of our B2B cruises. Caribe 218 is a mini-suite. Ample room and a full-sized sofa. Tub required a bit of manuevering because the ceiling is a bit lower. The shower curtain tended to be short and so water dripped onto floor, making it slippery - just be careful. Overall, we loved it.
Embarkation and Disembarkation
Embarkation - We were in-transit passengers but still experienced difficulty at the San Pedro terminal.
Disembarkation - Due to Customs issues, the debark process was painfully slow. Can't blame the cruise line for that. However, the Platinum Lounge where we were waiting was overcrowded and hot as Hades.
Ship Quality
Ship is older but it was clean as a whistle. The decor reflects an earlier time but it is relatively neutral and comfortable.
Destinations and Excursions
The highlight of the cruise was the Panama Canal. We went for that reason alone.
Still nothing special about Aruba and we were only in port for a few hours. We LOVED Guatemala - lovely people and really enjoyed the El Barrital Coffee Plantation tour.
Costa Rica was good but Macaw Sanctuary was a bit of a disappointment as it was not particularly well-narrated visit.
Onboard Activities
Predictable but well-done. Cruise director, Rich was so professional.
Children's Programs
Predictable comedy routines and magic acts.
The Souvenir Trio (Ukrainian group) was great - a passenger favorite. Guitarist Josh Wheeler was very pleasant. Xcite dance band was fabulous.
Service and Staff
Exceptional. Excellent professional crew. Even the behind-the-scenes crew members welcomed us if we passed by while they were working. Simply amazing.
Food and Dining
We cannot say enough positive things for the quality and variety of food offerings in all venues. Normal Love Chocolate Journey was abulous (if you love chocolate). The Bayou is touted as a "steakhouse" but the menu was so Louisiana Cajun-focused that I had to wonder why. Not enough steak options. Recommend Sabatini's over The Bayou.
San Pedro (Los Angeles), California
There is plenty to do in the LA area before or after your cruise but the immediate cruise port area is a major industrial port so plan to head to LA or Long Beach for some fun.
Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
It can be hot and humid but excursions that head into the hills are nice - breezy and cooler.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Fuerte Amador, Panama
Panama Canal Transit
Cartagena, Colombia
Oranjestad, Aruba
Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida


The concept of Anytime Dining is great, but execution needs some fine-tuning. Make a reservation for a set dining time once you get on the ship. Yep, that flies in the face of "anytime" dining but if you dine at a popular time, not having a reserved table leaves you sitting with a beeper waiting.

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