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David

Age: 40

Occupation:Engineer

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Island Princess

Sailing Date: 2011-11-29

Itinerary: Panama Canal

This was my first cruise with Princess. Overall, a fantastic experience! The ship and crew are both top notch. Despite being nearly a decade old ship, it is well kept by its friendly staff. Embarkation was a breeze, luggage arrived nearly the same time as we located our stateroom. Our cabin steward was friendly and helpful. This ship is the perfect size. Plenty of places to go and things to do without seeming like you are forever wandering around a labyrinth of a ship. Panama Canal day was the highlight. Worth it to wake up early & enjoy the Panamanian sunrise while entering the locks. (There's a secret buried in another Cruise Review about the Island Princess. It will make your early morning rise all the more special if you find it.)

I have to agree with the other reviews, food was just ok. Although a blessing in disguise as I did not gain any lbs during this 10 day cruise, it was a disappointment to not have warm rolls or flavorful fish in the main dining room. We did not venture into the "upscale" restaurants. The all you can eat pizza was mostly overcooked (dare I say, burnt) and the grille above it was again, just ok.

Stateroom was a mini-suite with a balcony. Good space and the 2 TV's were a nice feature. No built in DVD player (included) was a disappointment, but not a deal breaker. Bathroom was surprisingly spacious and well designed with lots of shelves and places to hang things. Main bed was comfortable and cozy. Pillows... not so much. Might want to bring your own if you can. Fold away bed was uncomfortable and mattress was very thin. Anyone who weighs more than 60 lbs will not like it.

We didn't partake in a lot of the activities on board, but they seem plentiful and most people we spoke with enjoyed them. Your daily planner will be chock full of things to do... or not to do. That's the beauty of cruising.

Don't miss:

Aruba is a nice relaxing place with beautiful beaches. DePalm Island is clean and gorgeous. We were the only boat in town, so about 50 of us that had the run of the whole place. If there 3 more ships & 250 more people there, I don't think I would not have had as much fun.

Panama: If your itinerary is like mine (not a thru crossing), make sure you take an excursion in a smaller boat to the MiraFlores (Pacific) side. Touching the lock walls & getting a guided tour from a local is the way to go for a full Panama experience. That's why you are on this cruise, right? Do it up right!

Costa Rica is a lush, tropical locale. Venture to the rainforest and take the aerial tram or zipline. (Take your dramamine for the bus ride. The roads are awful.)

Grand Cayman: I recommend finding your own tour to see the stingrays or for snorkeling. The locals are happy to cut out the cruise ship cost and give you a better experience for going that extra mile. All the tour companies are in walking distance of the port area & they will get you back to your ship in plenty of time.

Miss: Columbia. 'Nuff said. Take a spa day on the ship. Your money will be better spent.

A few items that I did not touch on above:

Kid Stuff: Not many kids on this cruise (10 total), but the kids club was friendly and well stocked. Lots of crafts and other fun stuff you will not have room to pack. Again, the warm, friendly staff thru-out the ship knew my child by name about day 3, so that was a nice, welcoming feel.

Tipping: This was my first experience with auto-tipping, ($12 per day per person). At first, I didn't think I would like it, but for me, it was more comfortable overall just tipping those persons that truly went that extra mile for you, knowing that others are still getting something extra.

Dining in the formal dining room: This was very pleasant. Although the food could have been better, it was a nice, (relatively) quiet meal. We were never interrupted with some kind of "show" by the wait staff or a blatant plug for money (see Tipping above) by the maitre d'. The staff were warm and friendly & attentive without being "in your face".

Dining in the buffet: It could be tough to find a table if you go a peak times. Staff are quick to find you a table and carry your plate for you (especially if the seas are rough). The buffet is on the bow of the ship, so if you are prone to sea sickness, I recommend taking your food out to the pool area for a less rocky meal. There were plenty of tables and areas to eat at outside in the fresh air.

Other things: Pictures: Yes, there will be pictures taken & sometimes the photographers are in your way. Smile and move on... You are on vacation! (You don't have to buy them, so relax.)

Work out area: Free to use all equipment which was modern and well kept.

Lotus Spa: Very nice offerings, but not the best prices. (Surprised?) As with most cruises, check back frequently as specials arise daily.

Shows: Get there early, cause they fill up quick. Quality & variety are very good.

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