wonderful and relaxing Panama Cruise

Island Princess Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 13

Overall rating:

4.4 out of 5
Island Princess

10 Night Panama Canal With Costa Rica & Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale Roundtrip)

Sail date: February 28, 2019

Ship: Island Princess

Cabin type: Balcony

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

Overall great cruise. Relaxing. Good food. Nice ports. Most excursions were good. Go for a balcony if you can. Lovely to sit on balcony while ship goes thru locks. Order room service that day

Embarkation

5 out of 5
Best embarkation ever. Arrived at 1:30 for a 4 pm sail away. Not only were there no lines, there were almost no people around except for Princess staff, who guided us every step of the way. Total time from dropping off luggage outside to security to registering to walking onto ship - about 20 minutes.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
We ate every dinner in the MDR (anytime dining). Almost everything was excellently prepared every night. Only on the first night did some of the food come out only warm, and a new plate was brought immediately. The remaining nights were close to perfect. Service was good, choices were varied, food prepared well, and plated beautifully. The Buffet was good, had breakfast there, which had plenty of choices. The daily fruit smoothie was delicious. The one area that can use improvement is the coffee. Coffee from buffet was only ok. It is made from a liquid concentrate, and has a slightly different taste. There were a few varieties of tea bags available (reg,green, decaf, earl grey, and a few others). We were so pleased with the MDR that we did not try the specialty restaurants. If we had lunch, it was at grill for a really good hamburger, or at the pizza

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
Island princess does not come with bells and whistles. No special activities like slides or rock climbing. Its a ship to relax on. But we enjoyed the 2 pools ( 1 outside, 1 inside). Neither pool was crowded at any time. At the most crowded time, there were maybe 15 people in the outside pool, which made it very nice to use every day. The inside pool was also very nice. Plenty of towels and lounge chairs available around the ship. No need to grab a lounge at 7 am. Hot tubs were good, rarely crowded.

Entertainment

3 out of 5
The stage shows were all over the place. The ventriloquist was not very good. The magician was ok. The production show was very good. The opera singer was also very good. There were 2 production shows, which were the best. The other nights it was usually a single performer.

Children's Programs

no children. But we did stop into the teen lounge for a look. Large room (no windows, so a little dark). There are games for kids to play. Fooze ball, skeet ball, TV, music, board games, cards, and such.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
5 stars for everyone EXCEPT excursion desk. Negative One star for them (see end for explanation). Our room steward: excellent. He dealt with a few issues quickly. He was always available if we needed something. After eating in the MDR anytime dining for 3 nights, we liked our waiter, Valentino, so much that we chose to request his section for the remainder of the cruise. The wait staff, while obviously busy, found a way to make us feel like we had their full attention. Other ship staff: all were pleasant and helpful whenever we had a need, except for the tour desk. When the main attraction of one ship purchased excursion was cancelled, they gave us the remaining part (tour of grand cayman. Stingray swim cancelled). BUT they only gave us back $20. The swim was the MAIN part of the excursion. Paying $55 for a poor bus tour of almost nothing interesting was improper. Then, the excursion desk was very uninterested in discussing this. Said they would contact headquarters. Then said excursion provider decides on refund amount. SO, Princess was MORE concerned about the excursion provider than their own passengers. The experience really ruined what had been a lovely trip up till then.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
As ships go, Island Princess is small and so easy to get around. Once we learned which elevators went only part way, and which went to every floor, it was easier to walk to the correct elevator to go where we needed to be. The entire ship always seemed clean.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
Room C403 was a decent size with plenty of storage space to keep room uncluttered. Suitcases went under the bed. Closet area, just outside bathroom, was large and had at least 20 hangers, large enough to hold everything. Plenty of shelves, above hanging clothes, and inside a closet that also holds the small room safe, as well as 2 small side tables next to the bed with shelves. Desk also has drawers. Room has a small fridge, big enough to hold 2 bottles of wine, 5 water bottles, and some other random things. Balcony for this room is an extra depth balcony. Room for 2 lounge chairs and a table, and room to spare. Bathroom was ok. Only issue is that shower is very small. Bed was very comfortable. (FYI: Friends room next to us (C405) has 2 extra beds that pull down from the ceiling, and these 2 cabins can have the door between the balconys opened). Climate control worked well. Overall room was very comfortable for the 10 days.

Ship tip

Bring magnetic hooks to hang your ids and small things on the walls. If you are eating at anytime dining, go just before the show ends, or go about 30 minutes after the show ends. This way you have no lines. If you go right when the show ends, then everyone gets on line at the same time, and you can spend 30 min waiting. By paying attention to this, we never spent more than 10 minutes waiting for a table. And if the room is full, they give you a beeper so you can walk around, listen to the band playing, till a table is ready.

Ports of call

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

4 out of 5
Nice city. But may be a long wait on the cab line if you dont call for one.

Falmouth, Jamaica Did not visit port

Just got off ship and stayed in port area. Not much to do there, shops all seem the same. Grabbed a drink at Margaritaville, which was very good, dipped feet into their pool, grabbed an ice cream at one of the port shops, then went back to ship to have lunch and relax by the pool. Was 100 degrees out that day, so hanging at pool was a good choice.

Cartagena, Colombia

5 out of 5
Took the new coffee tasting and food excursion. Left ship, walked down dock to board a small boat. They split the group into 2, half of us were on lower level for coffee tasting, half on top deck for food tasting, then we switched. Coffee tasting was ok. Young lady gave us a talk on coffee growing. She fresh brewed 2 types of columbian coffee, which we tasted. Then we had the food tasting, which was much better. They made fresh cerviche on freshly made plantain cups and offered cold pina coladas (with or without rum). This part of the excursion was very very good. During this time, the boat sailed around Cartagena for 1 1/2 hours, giving us a unique view of the city. After the tasting, we disembarked and took a walking tour of the old city for about 2 hours, which included a stop at La Cathedral. We stopped at one emerald shop and while I don't usually like to stop at shops, this one had bathrooms, wifi, and a/c, which was appreciated as it was another clear and warm day. Empanadas and fresh fruit cups were waiting for us back on the boat, which we enjoyed for the 30 min ride back to the port. Overall, the excursion was very worth the price, and gave us a bit of everything (boat ride, food, walking tour)

Panama Canal (Cruise Into Canal)

5 out of 5
Very interesting passage thru locks. You have plenty of time to watch the transit from different locations (Room balcony, front of dining room, decks (front and back)), so you dont have to get up ultra early to secure a spot. Each location gave a different perspective. We passed under the Atlantic bridge at 7 am and were positioned in front of the first lock by 8:45. By 10 we were in Gatun Lake. Took the Gamboa Rainforest tour. Took tender to shore and boarded a bus for an hour tour of the countryside. Arrived at Gamboa Rainforest Resort and toured for 3 hours, including taking a tram thru the tree tops. A snack of small sandwiches and a water were waiting for us at the bus. I suggest you bring along small snacks and water for daytime. Tour and guide were very good and was worth its cost. **On a side note, about 100 passengers took a ship excursion thru the locks in a small boat, and got stuck on the other side because of some issue with the locks. Since it was a ship excursion, the Princess waited for their return, which wasn't until about 8:30pm, before leaving port.

Cristobal, Panama Did not visit port

Ship docked in Colon, not Cristobal. Nothing in Colon. At all. Dont bother getting off ship if you did not take an excursion in Panama. There is no place to walk to and nothing to see.

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

4 out of 5
Took a 4 hour tour of Costa Rica, which included a bus tour around Limon, a walking tour in the rainforest, and a boat ride thru the Tortuguero Canals. Tour was interesting, had fresh fruit cups waiting for us after we exited the boat. Not expensive.

George Town, Grand Cayman

1 out of 5
Excursion to stingray city was cancelled. Was given a poor bus ride around one part of island instead. Tip: if the exciting part of your excursion is cancelled, cancel yhe remaining part of tour. Do NOT take a bus ride around island. You will be very disappointed and out too much money for what you receive. Port area has lots of expensive touristy stores (as expected). Not too interesting. I was not impressed.

Disembarkation

5 out of 5
Picked last disembarkation time. Had a leisurely breakfast then relaxed on the top deck until called for disembarkation. Most of ship were already off so luggage was easy to find. Went on Global Entry line (FLL finally uses it) which was completely empty. Went thru in one minute (really!!). Also, if you are handicapped (cane, wheelchair,...) look for disabilities line. It is also mostly empty. The only issue after leaving building was waiting for a taxi. We waited on a line for almost 45 minutes. Very few cabs came around. Call for a car service if you can.

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