Panama Canal is an engineering marvel, however Cartagena, Columbia is a waste of a port stop!!!

Island Princess Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Reviews: 5
Helpful Votes: 121

Overall rating:

3.7 out of 5
Verified Review
Island Princess

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

Sail date: November 26, 2019

Ship: Island Princess

Cabin number: F726

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review summary

We were disappointed with the food quality on Island Princess both in the regular dining room, Horizon Court and especially the speciality restaurants. The service on Island Princess was amazing. Although we enjoyed going to the Panama Canal, we thought Cartagena, Columbia was a very disappointing port. We will discourage anyone considering this particular itinerary. Due to the disappointing food quality, we may consider switching over to the Norwegian cruise line for any future cruises. . We are pretty sure we are done with cruising the Caribbean. We will fly to St. Thomas or St. Maarten to stay at a resort.


5 out of 5
The embarkation process was one of the fastest we have experienced.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
We have been on many Princess cruise ships and the food on this particular ship was just average. Lacking of flavor, desserts were not sweet enough and the steaks were average. We were especially disappointed with the speciality restaurants. We paid a generous upgrade and the food was bland. We are use to the steaks being aged and full of flavor. I ordered the lobster trio and I was served a boiled mushy lobster to dip in a mini bowl of flavorless lobster bisque. My husband ordered steaks from the Bayou Cafe as well as Sabatini's.....He was sadly disappointed that the steaks were not aged and had no flavor. The food servers in both specialty restaurants(Andrew), main dining room(Vijay and Christina) provided exceptional service. We were also pleased with servers in the Horizon Court.

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
Why would you offer spinning classes at 8PM? We usually have dinner early and attend the early show in the Princess Theater....I would have to miss the show in order to do a spin class. Day at Sea: There was a large crowd of people out at the pool area and the deck above the pool very early (9:00-9:30) and the piped in music was boring, then you play a boring concert with Tony Benton and Lady Gaga from 10 until a 11 or so. You could have sold a lot more drinks from the bar if you had played "party/dance music"!!! We are in the Caribbean, not Alaska!!


5 out of 5
We loved all of the stage shows, comedians, magicians and the Elton John Tribute. The singers and dancers were amazing. Loved all of the design sets and costumes.

Children's Programs

It was just my husband and I, no children.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
We were in F726 and Elmer Grande was one the best cabin stewards we have ever had. Andrew in Bayou Cafe and in the Horizon Court was personable and did an excellent job. We had a great server in Sabatini's, but I can't remember his name. He was from Thailand and wore some funky glasses. Vijay and his assistant, Christina made an excellent team and provided us with awesome service.

Ship Quality

4 out of 5
It was average compared to some of the other newer ships that we have been on. We would prefer Crown Grill over the Bayou Cafe. I know it would be difficult to have the windows cleaner while going through the Panama Canal, but it would make it so much better to see it from the ship especially in the Horizon Court and from our own room.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
The pillows were old and flat. The towels were old and dingy. The bed was comfortable.

Ship tip

Do not pay extra for the speciality restaurants, it is not worth the surcharge. Do not get off the ship in Cartagena....a waste of a port. The street vendors get in your personal space, traffic is horrendous and dangerous. You have to be careful where you walk; huge holes in the sidewalk and streets only covered with cardboard or stuffed with trash.

Ports of call

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

5 out of 5
No excursion. It's a an easy port to get in and out of.

George Town, Grand Cayman

4 out of 5
We have been to Grand Cayman many times. We did the Dolphin Discovery excursion. I was under the impression that we would be swimming with the dolphins, but the typical bait and switch occurred at the beginning of the excursion. I had to pay $70 extra to actual swim with the dolphins which also included pictures, a picture frame, 1 drink(extra for alcohol) and 1 photo. My husband also did the excursion, but did not want to pay the extra $70.

Cartagena, Colombia

1 out of 5
We have been on over 35 cruises and this was by far the worst port I have ever been to. Street vendors will get in your personal space(FACE) trying to sell you junk! I must have said No thank you at least 250 times. The traffic is horrendous and dangerous; the locals do not follow the laws down there. You have to be very careful where you are walking, holes in the sidewalk and street only covered by cardboard filled with trash. We did the Hop On Hop Off Bus excursion offered by Cruisesonly. We were on the bus with many of our fellow cruises who had bought the excursion through the cruise ship. Buses get caught in the traffic back up and it delays the bus getting to the stops on time. For some reason when we were getting close to the Castle of San Luis, the tour guide did not make an announcement that the bus was making a stop at the Castle. the bus stopped several times in front of the castle, but that was because of traffic. Many of us wanted to get off, but the bus stopped at another bus stop and it was too far away to walk back to the castle, plus it was too dangerous to walk due to the traffic. At the 2nd stop after the castle 4 passengers got very upset that the castle stop announcement was not made and they also had entrance tickets for the castle. There was no time to take the entire loop back to the castle and the tour guide told them to call a taxi!!! We did not want to make the loop back to the castle because we wouldn't have time to buy the entrance tickets or to be able to tour the castle and get back to our cruise ship on time. Plus, when we were at stop #2 waiting to get on the next bus, we were accosted by so many street vendors. It was irritating. When we finally got off at stop #14 and had to wait for the next bus to take us back to the cruise ship, were again accosted by more street vendors. There was a nice walled-off, tented area with fans for the passengers to sit and wait for the next bus, but the street vendors were still harassing us. As were boarding the buses, they surrounded the passengers and the bus. The vendors were throwing their goods up to the top level which was an open deck. The vendors were screaming for money and if the passenger didn't want the goods, they would throw them back to the vendor. It was ridiculous. We will never go back to Cartagena, Columbia.

Panama Canal (Cruise Into Canal)

5 out of 5
We did the Fort San Lorenzo and New Locks Excursion. I can not remember our tour guide or driver, but they were excellent. The bus ride to the Fort was a little long and the roads were very bumpy, but Fort San Lorenzo was interesting. We truly enjoyed seeing the Monarch butterflies, Howler monkeys and 2 toed sloth. It was a thrill being able to see a huge ship going into the new locks. I wish there was more time and shopping options on this excursion. The gift shop at the new locks did not have a lot to offer.

Cristobal, Panama

1 out of 5
We only returned to this Port to get back on the ship.

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

3 out of 5
We did a beach and shopping excursion to Puerto Veijo. It was a long ride to the beach, but our tour guide, Marvin provided with a great deal of information about Costa Rica. The beach was average. The bar could have served more drinks if they actually had a server come out to actual beach where the patrons were. The vendor offered a fruit snack, but many of us would not eat it because it was covered with bees. We then went into the Puerto Veijo city to grab lunch and do some shopping. We would have preferred less time at the beach and more time to have lunch and shop. It would have been nice if the shop keepers had proper change. We would have bought more stuff, but they could not provide us with change. The shopping at the actual port of Limón was fantastic. The vendors are very humble and do not pester the shoppers. We bought quite a bit of souvenirs from that Port.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

3 out of 5
We did the Rose Hall and Beach excursion. This was our 2nd choice for an excursion. We wanted to do the beach excursion, but it was sold out I found the Rose Hall tour interesting and enjoyed it. My husband found it boring. The Hip Strip is a joke....overpriced cheap souvenirs. We would have preferred to skip Hip Strip and Margaritaville. We would have preferred to spend more time at Doctor's Cove Beach Resort. The catamaran ride back to the ship was so much fun!!


5 out of 5
We got off the boat right at 7:30AM. We did self assist!
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