Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Island Princess
Sailing Date: February 4th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean / Panama Canal
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Ft. Laud Beach. The area is not as nice as the main hotel area where the Sheratons are, but it was good for the price. We walked to the Sheraton in about 15 minutes. Love taking the water taxi to see Millionaire Mile (saw the yacht owned by the owner of Princess) and going to the restaurants. I took bonine the first day, but it made me drowsy, I did fine the rest of the cruise with my sea bands. It was really rough the night before the panama canal and the night after, a woman on deck 11 called down in the middle of the night to see if there was something wrong with the ship and the captain made an announcement the next night to advise of rough seas, but I didn't feel a thing on my room on Plaza deck, in the middle, room 602 - outside. The upgrade fairy upgraded me 8 levels.
I booked my cruise with cruises only, much lower than booking with princess, plus I got a $50 shipboard credit - you have to ask for it and we received coupon books during the cruise. My friend had booked with princess, she asked customer service for the coupon books and was told the travel agents were running a promotion, so they would not give her any.
I had read that the Coral Princess the week before had the norwark virus so I was expecting to see the staff wiping down areas etc. but did not notice anything. The Star had hand sanitizers outside of the horizon court restrooms, but not the Island.
Watch out when ordering the drinks/mocktails of the day, they will not give you the price advertised unless you demand it, they always try to push the larger size drinks, some of the waiters are pretty pushy, but the service was great. There were plenty of deck chairs everywhere, no need to try to chair hog. Some of the nights you could get to a show at the last minute and get seats other nights be there 15 minutes early, especially the first couple of nights. I didn't think the production shows were as good as the Star, but still worth seeing. The comedians were just ok. The newlywed game was terrible - don't bother. We enjoyed the horse races and the casino.
In Ocho Rios we did the catamaran snorkeling trip on the cool jazz through Princess, this is the worse snorkeling I have ever done, hardly any fish and not much for coral, they only go a few yards away from the ship, we really enjoyed sailing though, sat out on the net, had huge waves.
Did the "nativeway" tour in Grand Cayman to the sandbar. I was really looking forward to getting in with the stingrays and was really scared when I did, they are huge and surround you, I'm glad I did it, but I wouldn't do it again, one man at our table was bitten/hurt by one, had a mark on his arm, but he was fine otherwise. Some of my table mates did the glass dome train excursion at the canal, but didn't like it.
Going through the canal, I went to the horizon court at 6:15 and was able to get a good table, one row back. During the voyage go to deck 7 - promenade to be eye level with the locomotives, the best place was in the back, I was on the lido deck, you can see other ships behind you and beside you, it was great. I stayed on the ship and enjoyed the ride back through the locks.
I don't get massages, can't see paying hundreds of dollars, but if you want to save some money, they always go on sale the last 3 days, the hot rocks was reduced from $158 to $85 and they had daily specials, so why book the minute you get on.
I had looked forward to going to the disco with my friends, but they would not start it till after midnight - so that no one was there, when the show in the explorers lounge ended, there were still about 30 people there, I asked the dj to play a song, he said he doesn't start till midnight, 10 minutes later the lounge was empty. I went back at 12:30 and there were 2 people sitting at a table. I don't know why princess doesn't start the disco after the shows when they have people there. It's like Princess is against the partying atmosphere. So if you like to dance, forget it.
I loved the cruise though, it's a beautiful ship, but I am 50 and can't wait to try Carnival again, I love the Carnival pool parties and bands (there is no band poolside on Princess, only 1 person singing to recorded music). The mood on Princess is quiet, really quiet and refined, Carnival is for those who want to stay up past 10 and like to dance.