We are thinking of doing the Panama Canal Cruise on the Island Princess. If you have done this one, what do you recommend as far as shore excursions, room recommmendations. Is a balcony room needed, or will an interior suffice? Thanks!
You don't mention which itinerary you are considering, but I've done the "Exotic Panama Canal" on Island Princess and could suggest some excursions if you are doing any of the same ports.
As for cabins, an interior will always suffice--there are plenty of good viewing areas on deck and in the Horizon Court; but if there was ever a cruise that cried out for a balcony, THIS IS IT! Any balcony is good; we chose a mini-suite on Baja Deck (B206) for the larger balcony and the proximity to Horizon Court. We pretty much camped out on the balcony all day going through the Canal, making numerous trips to the Horizon Court for snacks and drinks (room service is of course available, but we like to pick and choose).
If you don't want a mini, the catagory BA cabins on Carib Deck have balconies almost as large. But there are really no bad balcony cabins (we'll, maybe a couple aft that have somewhat obstructed views).
Okay, great. These are the excursions we took and we enjoyed each very much. Just so you know, my wife and I are in our mid-60s and in excellent health, but we are not inclined towards zip lines and 4X4 adventures :-) however some of these require considerable walking.
Acapulco - "City Highlights and Cliff Divers;" This gives you just a taste and it's short enough that you will have time to explore on your own too. Just don't wander away from the tourist areas in Acapulco.
Huatulco - "Huatulco by Land & Sea;" a very enjoyable large catamaran ride along the coast viewing the several beautiful bays followed by a guided bus tour of the surrounding area.
Puerto Quetzal - "Filadelfia Coffee Estate & Colonial Antigua with Lunch;" one of the highlights of the cruise. Yes, a coffee buying opportunity, but one of the most interesting tours, and probably the best lunch of the trip.
San Juan del Sur - "Colonial Granada and Isletas Boat Ride with Lunch;" a long bus ride from the port, but well worth it. The views of the volcanoes from Lake Nicaragua were stunning.
Puntarenas - We've been there twice. The "Scenic Drive to San Jose with Lunch" is beautiful, if a bit long. This last time we took the "Tropical Train Ride & Mangrove Nature Cruise;" just like the Jungle Cruise at Disnayland, but everything is real!
Colon - Have not been to Colon.
Ocho Rios - "Dunn's River Falls Viewing & Coyaba Gardens;" we didn't think we were up to climbing the Falls, but it is certainly something to see. The Gardens were beautiful-another highlight of the trip. Just a tip: when leaving the Falls don't make eye contact with the vendors or show any interest in anything; they are extremely aggressive and will not leave you alone if they get your attention.
So, hope this helps a little. Have fun planning your cruise.
We went to the Panama Canal on the Coral Princess and went to some of the same ports. For Acapulco, we went in a taxi around the city (terrible traffic and I'm from Los Angeles) and ended up at the restaurant/hotel near the cliff diving. Saw it up close and even had some delicious food (guacamole was superb). In Huatulco, we went on the lazy river raft trip. We were there on New Year's Day and were surprised to see so many families in the river, cooling down and relaxing.
The rafts hold 5-7 and it truly was a lazy river. Enough rapids to make it fun and we jumped into the water at one point which was a highlight. In Puntarenas we went to the Canopy Top Tram ride. Was a bit disappointing. Loved seeing the rain forest, but it was a long drive for what the tram ride offered and it was expensive.
we booked through the ship. cannot remember exactly how long the drive was, but it was over an hour, maybe closer to 1 1/2.
i had found a place to book online that offered 2 "adventures" including zip line, horseback riding and tram and it was less than what we paid for the ship's excursion. However, we stayed with our ship booking and did not book that one. If you do a search online, you will find it. I believe the rain forest they went to was a different on than the ship's excursion. We were a group of 10 and they offered to pick us up from the ship in a van and return us to the ship too. The tour we went on was expensive (over $100 per person) and not worth the money. Lunch was included but it was nothing special.
There are several places in this world that seasoned travelers regard as "must-sees," the Holy Grails of the travel set. For some it may be the pyramid at Giza, the temple of Angkor Wat or the South Pole. Some lists may include the Great Wall or the Great Barrier Reef. But one sight that makes virtually every serious traveler's list of "things to see before I die," is the Panama Canal cruise. When the Panama Canal opened its locks in 1914, this miracle of man's engineering saved ships nearly 8,000 miles of Atlantic to Pacific travel time. The 50-mile long, man made river also gave guests a merry means of vacationing in both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans. Eastbound and westbound voyages trace the routes of pirates and hopscotch the resort ports of the Pacific coast. The best of two worlds are joined in one great adventure.