This was a quick cruise with 1 port - Amber Cove. The Island Princess was a beautiful ship, decorated everywhere for Christmas and the crew was fantastic everywhere we turned.
The ship was in wonderful condition...the only imperfection I noticed was in our stateroom where they had obviously changed out artwork on a wall for a wall mounted large flatscreen TV....you can still see where the old artwork was attached to the wall. I much prefer the large TV to the artwork, so I'll take it!
The lotus pool was absolutely beautiful, one of the prettiest spots on board, although on a Caribbean itinerary I wasn't really looking for an indoor pool. Still, it was beautiful, and would be a fantastic option in inclement weather.
The main pool / MUTS (Movies under the Stars) was a nice large open area with a nice pool, a few hot tubs, plenty of drinks flowing and activities galore. I noticed the crew opted not to put any chairs on the upper level around the pool once we were at sea. I have to think this was perhaps due to the relatively high winds we experienced; 20-25mph sustained the first 2 nights. The loungers may have actually posed a risk of blowing out to sea or down onto someone's balcony. My wife and I did joke that it was really "Movies in the Wind" on this cruise. Nothing anyone can do about that, but we couldn't make it through a movie up there, at least not late at night when the temps also dropped off. Not having upper level chairs would have made it difficult to find a spot as well.
I probably prefer the Lido layout on the Grand Class ships with a separate MUTS area/pool and a separate Music/Stage pool. This layout on the Island combined the stage and the MUTS in order to leave room for the indoor pool. Goes back to the fact that this indoor pool would work better on a different itinerary, so not a real complaint, just observation.
Buffet was standard. I always struggle to find much to eat at Buffets other than breakfast so that's really the only meals we ate there and they were good. I like that they have a premium coffee service station in the buffet area. Very convenient. Slightly confusing was that on the first morning I was able to get fresh brewed coffee with my beverage package, but when attempting it the next day I was told they could only do specialty drinks and not brewed coffee...i.e. I would either need to grab the standard buffet coffee or go down to deck 5 mid-ship to get the fresh brewed. I literally just got it 24 hours earlier in that location. Oh well. This was the only real damper in service that we experienced.
Ate in MDR twice; both meals were very good. Small sample size with just the two meals, but I always hold my breath for MDR based on past experience and both times were very good.
Had to skip the British Pub lunch this sailing simply due to logistical issues, but they offered it on the first sea day in the Bayou Cafe and having had it twice before on other ships I highly recommend it; a pretty standard feature on princess at this point, I'm sure it was delicious.
Pizza & the Grill up on the Lido were excellent as always. For me, pizza and the grill are pound for pound the best food on board. Between the taste, the convenience/availability, and the price it's just tough to beat. Don't get me wrong, the filet from downstairs will taste better than the bratwurst, but there's just something really nice about being able to snag that bratwurst at a moment's notice in whatever I'm wearing at the time and not having to pay anything out of pocket. Both are open until 11.
Bayou Cafe (Embarkation night): Great little restaurant with a Cajun flare. I had some spicy shrimp on a stick as an appetizer and a massive t-bone for dinner. Both were excellent, left 100% satisfied.
Sabbatini's: Italian Fare and while I am not usually much of a pasta lover, there were plenty of other options available. Had an absolutely fantastic cut of veal on the bone that was probably the highlight of the trip from a food perspective.
Both premium options delivered.
All the usual fare was available on board from trivia to game shows and silly games in the piazza. Entertaining as always. There were two excellent theater shows - On the Bayou, and The Secret Silk. It was clearly the same cast in both shows and they were excellent all the way through. These two shows always run on the 10 day Panama Canal cruises that the Island Princess usually runs, I felt quite fortunate to get both on our little 4-day getaway. Heck of a treat.
Amber Cove was a nice little port, albeit a bit commercial immediately off the ship. The views of the island from the ship as we made our approach at sunrise and sailed away in the late afternoon were just breathtaking. We elected to do an excursion titled La Casa En La Playa and had a great time. It's basically a mini beach club. Home cooked (excellent!!!) food, all drinks included, beautiful beach front with plenty of loungers. Limited enrollment in the excursion so it's not too crowded. Priced a little higher than other beach getaways but you definitely get what you pay for. Great way to spend a few hours on the beach, which was all this Pittsburgh based couple was looking for in December. Quite a treat.
Standard mini suite for Princess. Our favorite class of cabin. Compared to the grand class that we've been on before, the most noticeable difference was that the TV's were larger, and were wall-mounted flat screens. On other ships they've been smaller and mounted up on a floor to ceiling tv-stand/storage/mini-fridge section. I much preferred the TV's wall-mounted as this yielded extra storage space as well as a couple additional outlets.
The bathroom is spacious with a standard tub/shower combo and lots of counter space.
There is a ton of space to hang clothing and a very solidly sized floor to ceiling closet with a ton of shelving space. There's not a ton of drawer space other than a couple small drawers in the nightstands on each side of the bed, which is probably just the right amount of space for someone's socks & underwear for 7 or 10 day cruise. Much more than that and you might have to start to get creative with the abundant shelf space.
The balcony is large, spacious, and COVERED. While not all are, there are lots of covered balconies on this ship, including mini suites. This is a noticeable difference from grand class ships we've sailed in the past as well.
Bedding was extremely comfortable.
Beautiful Port, albeit a little commercial. No hassles though, lots of swimming pools immediately available, while beach time will require an excursion.
Not much to say, our standard embarkation port. Went as smoothly as it always does.