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Island Princess Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,190 Reviews

We demand a 100% refund! Worst cruise possible! Princess knew before we sailed!!

Island Princess Cruise Review by Victoria Riddle

17 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Mar 2020
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America
  • Cabin Type: Balcony

I gave this cruise a rating of terrible because there was no lower rating to choose.

Because I worked 42yrs in an industry that did not allow for the number of days away needed this was our first opportunity to go on my husbands dream trip. The Panama Canal. Originally we were going to choose the 16 day version of this cruise until we found out that all the ports of call on the first half of the trip, from LA to Panama hand been canceled and we did not want to spend 4days at sea. This in mind we & our best friends (10 time cruisers with Princess) changed to the 10 day version Ft Lauderdale to the Panama Canal and back. This change of itinerary should have been an omen but our 2 cruises with Royal Caribbean & 1 cruise with Princess were all so fabulous in every way that we pushed this warning sign aside and booked the trip. This as our 1st vacation in 16yrs! Little did we know what we were in for, but Princess knew!

First I will mention the positive factors. Their names are Ismael & Enrico, our waiter & his assistant, Julian our cabin steward, and Anna a wonderful young woman at the customer service desk who were all the best!!!

One of the 2 out of 5 scheduled excursions had a wonderful guide through the rain forest of Costa Rica. That’s it. Nothing else on this trip was a positive except the company of our best friends of 30+ years.

Never in my life have I felt so robbed, so despondent and so angry all at one time.

Where do I begin?

We were only allowed to go on 2 of the 5 excursions we booked as we were not allowed to dock at the other 3 countries. My #1 choose of excursions on this trip was riding horses on the beach in Jamaica. I had the chance to do this once before &ziti was the most fabulous experience of my life. To have a second chance, in the meantime I actually learned how to ride had my own tack, rode weekly, was a dream come true. Strike #1!

The Panama Canal excursion was my husband’s dream excursion. He waited for this trip his whole life. He is 14yrs my senior and very fit, and at 77 we probably won’t make the trip again. In addition this was our 40th anniversary trip.

The food: all 3 cruises we have been on prior to this one the food was the crowning glory of the trip. Exquisite dishes expertly prepared. A wide variety of fresh expertly prepared meals excellent every one. THE FOOD ON THIS CRUISE WAS WORSE THAN DISAPPOINTING IT WAS DOWN RIGHT MEDIOCRE! The meat had poor flavor and bad color as if it was not fresh. The fish was ok off & on depending on the meal. Princess made a point of using 3 pages online to describe their “Chocolate Journeys” and the extraordinary chef they had on board to create them. Well they were very good but they were only offered 4 times on the 10 day cruise. The menu was on the left side the same every night so if you couldn’t find anything on the right side to like you had something to fall back on. What kind of a menu is that??!!! Breakfast was just ok as was lunch. There was no “Captain’s Reception” as in past cruises even though our best friends were 10 time cruisers. The Horizon Buffet which was described in such luscious terms that I couldn’t wait to eat there not only was not good but it was actually leftovers from the dining rooms from the day before that they tried to spiff up or disguise as something else! Leftovers! Bad leftovers! It got to the point where halfway through the cruise the only thing we looked forward to was desert and it too became repetitive. Overall the food was a complete bust to put it mildly.

Entertainment: once again the word mediocre comes to mind immediately. There was one trivia evening that lasted about 45 that we really enjoyed. That’s it. My husband would give a few dollars to the casino at the end of night out of boredom.

Shopping: The prices in the shops were, on fragrance about $3 cheaper than home, just no tax. The t-shirts for sale to commemorate the trip were very cheap quality. When I got home & compared them to the ones we punched on previous cruises, that are still fit to wear from 16 years ago, were ten times better quality. The main thing my girlfriend & I bought was “gold by the inch”, which I had experience with and knew that they stand behind their product, had a salesperson who did not know what she was doing, could not add even with a calculator & had to have help with almost every transaction. I bought a necklace and bracelet early in the cruise and when I went to take it off that night it broke, not at the clasp but one of the link fell apart! When I went the next day to return it she had to get her manager who was a nasty, rude, crabby man who actually told me that it was my fault that it broke!!! Oh, I forgot to mention that I had a 10% off coupon and a $25 gift card from the cruise line. I checked the next day at the service desk because I did not trust her math and my gift card had not been deducted!!!

The water in the pool was cloudy and no one was in it. Very few deck chairs to be had. This being our 1st vacation in so many years, I stepped up my five day a week workouts at the gym so would look extra nice in my painstakingly chosen new swimming suits. I never even put one of them on!


We spent $10,000 including $1000 on platinum cancellation insurance, which we should have used after the first excursion stop was canceled!

PRINCESS CRUISE LINES OWE US A COMPLETE AND TOTAL REFUND! Even that cannot give us back my husbands dream vacation, our 40th anniversary trip vacation or make up for an experience so bad that we will never forget it.

Nothing can make this up to us and I intend to share our experience with social media as well. I believe with all my being that Princess knew what going to happen before we sailed and the cruise should have been canceled..........

Victoria Riddle's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
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Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review


Nice cabin with a balcony that had no table and chairs to sit at and almost no privacy due to it’s design. After having one on our last cruise we said we would never cruise without one again but this one was a waste of money.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Horseback Riding

Our 1st excursion the one most important to me, horseback riding on the beach in Jamaica was canceled, we never docked.

View All 37 Horseback Riding Reviews
Horse Carriage Tour

Ok but not great! We were promised time to shop &we got all of 20 minutes in one shop they led us to.

View All 46 Horse Carriage Tour Reviews
Panama Canal Tour

Never docked! Got some decent pictures but this excursion was the whole reason for the trip and we never docked, even after they herded us into several lounges while the Panamanian government authorities in protective clothing took each & every one of our temperatures and did not find one fever. They then loaded us onto a tender and took us to shore only to have some men in police type uniforms refused to let us step into their country.

View All 108 Panama Canal Tour Reviews
Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

Nothing here but an expensive hotel with $32 required valet parking, no choice.

Grand Cayman (Georgetown)

My best friend and I had plans to re-visit a shop we had been to on a previous cruise to purchase black coral jewelry. We did research to make sure it was still there.

We were not allowed to dock!

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Victoria Riddle
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