One more item off the Bucket List

Island Princess Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 5

Overall rating:

4.8 out of 5
Island Princess

15 Night Panama Canal - Ocean To Ocean (Ft. Lauderdale To Los Angeles)

Sail date: April 09, 2019

Ship: Island Princess

Cabin type: Oceanview

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review summary

Loved the first two weeks of our cruise, everything I had dreamed of; however, in the 3rd week the schedule for most of the entertainment changed on the ship and because we were on the late dining schedule of 7.30, we would miss a lot. We loved the ports of Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Astoria, but the closer we got to Canada, the colder it got, so you needed different clothing for the 3rd week, esp. when you were in Victoria and Vancouver. Overall, it was a fantastic cruise.

Embarkation

5 out of 5
Princess Cruise line are extremely efficient and organized when it comes to embarkation and disembarkation.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
Used the main dining room 95% of the time. Food was great, my food steward would give me the menu a day in advance so I could get whatever I wanted without onions, as I hate onions. Found the buffet too noisy and busy, only went there when I had a tour booked and needed to eat early. They had a good variety, but their breakfast was not the best. I did not avail of the specialty restaurants, there was enough variety in the main dining rooms, so why spend the extra money.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
I used the pools and hot tubs, which were very clean, lots of towels available. I used the gym, which was top notch. 9 hole golf was okay, but nothing to brag about.

Entertainment

5 out of 5
Production shows were fantastic, and guest singers, comedians, ventriloquist, musicians were all great. Princess Orchestra were amazing.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Can’t say enough about the food stewards (we had two), they were amazing. Our room steward was great, the minute we left the room he had it cleaned. Very accommodating when we asked for extra hangers, tissues, etc. Our room was cleaned twice a day to perfection. No complaints.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
Very big on cleanliness. There were hand sanitizers everywhere and sinks outside the buffet area to wash hands before entering. There was always someone on guard to make sure people washed their hands. Ship is small which is what I like, only thing I would have liked to have on the ship was an international cafe, but due to the fact that it was a smaller ship,, that was missing.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Our cabin location was not the greatest. We had a large window view but partially obstructed and it was the last room on the 9th floor. I think we were close to the engines because we had this very annoying noise coming from the wall behind the headboard. We had a very long walk to get to the main areas of the ship, so if you don’t like to walk, this is not the area for you. Room was a good size, immaculately clean and bed was super comfortable; however, pillows like big marshmallows, I personally found then too soft. Bathroom a reasonable size, shower had lots of pressure, and very clean.

Ship tip

Don’t book on the huge ships. When you take a smaller ship like the Island Princess, there is more of a personal touch, you really get to know your room and food stewards and other people on the ship. You are never rushed or waiting in line to get into dining or entertainment.

Ports of call

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

5 out of 5
We stayed in Fort Lauderdale two nights before we boarded the ship. We always stay at the Best Western, which is close to the port, beach and boardwalk. Lots to do and see in Fort Lauderdale, the trolly will bring you all through the city for only $1, so it’s easy to hop on and off wherever your want to go. I did not do a tour here.

Cartagena, Colombia

5 out of 5
Did the Canoe Tour of Mangrove Tunnels and Old City Stroll, which was amazing. Tour Guide was very knowledgeable and easy to understand. It was extremely hot, so you need to dress accordingly. Sunglasses,long bib hat and sunscreen a must. Everyone concerned about fly bites but we had no issues with that, even though we were in the mangroves. Even though it is not guaranteed, we seen lots of wildlife while on our tour (ie. monkeys, mawkaws, 3 toed sloths, hundreds of different birds, and a mother crockadile with her babies. Book a ship tour, definitely would not go out on my own in this place. Bring tip money, there are stops along the way whereby people perform for you and expect a tip, and also for your tour guide.

Panama Canal Transit

5 out of 5
This was just amazing! We stayed top side for most of the day. There was an expert on board who explained every step of it while it was happening, which was very informative. Also, the same man gave a presentation in the theatre the day before on what to expect. Get up early to get your favorite spot on the ship to view, it is crowded on that day.

Fuerte Amador, Panama

5 out of 5
We did the Gatun Lake Cruise & Locks tour. Thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

5 out of 5
This port is gorgeous. It’s like a tropical paradise. There is a small animal santuary right in the port that you can visit for free which is beautiful, lots of birds and local wildlife there. Most people do not swim on the beach, we were told the sewage system is not the best in this port so we avoided swimming. We did the Scenic Train Ride and River Cruise tour. The train is very rustic, as they want you to experience the way it was 100 years ago, lol. The river cruise was similar to the one we did in Colombia, as it also went through mangroves. We seen some wildlife, but not as much as in previous tours. I was surprised by how much garbage is strewn around in Costa Rica. Would highly recommend a tour from the ship, would not go out on my own in this place.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

5 out of 5
We took the Granada, Lake Nicaragua, Las Isletas cruise and lunch tour. Our tour guide was amazing and so funny, he really made the tour so enjoyable. This tour is a little pricey, but if you pre-book it before you leave, you get cheaper. This tour was great, we seen lots of local wildlife, we had a lovely lunch at a very modern and clean restaurant, would highly recommend this tour as everything is far away from the port and I would not go walking around on my own here. It was extremely hot, so dress appropriately, and bring sunglasses and long bib hat and sunscren.

Huatulco, Mexico

5 out of 5
This port definitely a surprise, didn’t expect it to be so lovely. It is a beach resort, no need to take a tour, just bring bathing suit, towel and sunscreen and chill out on the beach. Lots of chairs and umbrellas available. Shops along the port.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

5 out of 5
Nice port, lots of shops along the port; however, vendors very persistent. It was raining when we got there so our beach day was a bust! Did not do a tour.

San Pedro (Los Angeles), California

5 out of 5
I booked a tour, can’t remember the name but we went to Venice first (muscle beach), then onto Santa Monica pier. I would recommend booking a tour for the simple reason that traffic in Los Angeles is crazy - you could be late and miss your ship. We enjoyed the tour, tour guide was very knowledgeable and there was lots to see in Venice. Santa Monica pier was gorgeous.

Disembarkation

5 out of 5
We stayed on for another week after Los Angeles, so our disembarkatation was different than the norm. We had to wait into the Princess Theatre until Customs was ready for us. Then we were escorted out to a special area, had our passports stamped and escorted back to the ship. No issues.
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