Princess Cruises-Panama Canal Cruise-ReviewPrincess Cruises - Panama Canal / Reviewed by Shelley
Rating: 5 Stars
Traveled on: 01/20/2004
Reviewed on: 11/05/2005
Review: Our group of 4 adults travelled on the Island Princes - 10 Day - Panama Canal cruise in January 2004. It was amazing. It was my fourth cruise and it was by far the best. Our cabin steward and dining staff were OUTSTANDING. The food was delicious. The rooms were very spacious. My only complaint about the cruise line was the onboard entertainment. The poolside band was one of the worst I have ever heard. They tried too hard to play modern tunes. We are in the tropics, play reggae, calypso, mariachi, etc. One evening we attempted to listen to the lounge band and they were just as bad. Thankfully, the evening shows were fabulous. Excellent comedian, singers, musicians, dancers, they were amazing and VERY talented.
In regards to ports of call, if the cruise takes you to Ocho Rios, either stay on the ship or take a ship guided tour. We decided to venture out on our own and were hassled the minute we left the ship until the minute we got back on. It made for a very long and stressful day. Everywhere you turned someone was trying to sell you "ganja". I was looking at a shirt in a women's clothing store. There was a man lurking in the shadows offering to sell me "ganja". (I am about as far from looking like someone who does drugs as your imagination can picture.)
Grand Cayman was beautiful and the locals were unbelievably courteous. You are safe getting off the ship and exploring on your own. Much less expensive. Wander into the shopping district and try the different flavored rum cakes and the kiosks. The chocolate is excellent. I would recommend buying the smaller cakes rather than a large cake. Also, this is the best place to buy your duty-free alcohol. If you are looking for excellent snorkelling do not listen to anyone that suggests cemetary reef. I suggest doing research before leaving on vacation.
We went thru the Canal at a very early hour of the morning. Make sure you set your alarm, you do not want to miss the experience. Regarding the Gatun Lake stop make sure you book a ship guided tour because the ship does not dock. You basically hang out in the lake until you go back thru the locks to San Cristobal. We did not know this and hung out all day which is fine it was a beautiful day. I suggest that when you get to San Cristobal get off the ship and check out the souvenir warehouse at port. Great deals. Local entertainment. Get your picture taken with a "witch doctor".
Costa Rica was our favorite stop. We got off and toured the market. Make sure you check out the puzzle boxes, I am wishing I bought more. (There were Inukshuks, maple leafs, sea shells, dophins, etc.) The ship is right there so we returned our purchases. Then we went back thru the market into the what looks like a bus stop. There is a little tour company that offers fair deals. Our guide was Jose and he was PHENOMENAL. We started at a small chiquita banana plantation he took us to a national eco park, he bought him and I chicken empanadas from a roadside vendor, then he turned the taxi wheel over to my boyfriend so he could eat. We stopped for corn at a roadside stand, he fed us sugar cane from someone's front yard and he fed us fresh coconut from the roadside. It is a day we will talk about for years to come.
We are currently making plans for our second of many Princess cruise holidays.
Princess Cruises-Panama Canal Cruises