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jacketwatch Mar 11th, 2009 05:21 AM

Full transit Panama canal cruise
We began our cruise, 7th. overall and 4th with Princess, with a two day precruise stay in Acapulco. We chose this cruise as we had heard it was one of the great cruises to take, ala the Med, Baltic Sea and Tahiti, just to name a few. Our hotel was the former Hyatt Regency which as of Jan. 1 2009 became the Grand Hotel and Convention center Aca. We had stayed here in 1986 and loved it, the price was good so we chose to stay here again. Overall for a precruise hotel it was fine but sadly she needs some work. Tiles in the lobby were full of blisters, a new coat of paint here and there would go a long way and the AC barely worked. If we kept it running constantly at full blast and kept the curtains closed then it was just OK in the room and we did have it looked at BTW. Otherwise it was clean and the service was good as was the only meals we had here, the full breakfast. To use the fitness center expect a $5.00 per day fee. Acapulco is great for the variety of restaurants and we tried two of them. The first night was El Ovido which overlooks the ocean and as it was a nice night we dined outside. Overall we were quite pleased and would go again w/o hesitation.

The next night we had a reservation for Baikal which has even better reviews. We arrived at 1845 for a 1900 reservation made by the concierge to find the door padlocked. I knocked on the door, made alot of noise but no one answered so we went to another place and again had a nice meal but was disappointed that we could not sample Baikal. Well we went past it on the way back and it was open! Go figure.

Princess tells you to be there at 1300 for embarkation. Well actually you can begin at 1145. We arrived around 1100 and after first being denied entry we persisted and found a Princess ground rep who let us wait in an AC building with shops and restaurants so I had a Modelo Especial cerveza (aah!)and cooled off. At 1145 hordes of guys with baggage carts came in and we were on the ship about 15 mins later. Thats about as easy as it gets. Later we saw tons of folks in long lines, many of whom had taken a Princess excursion preboarding and it was pretty warm outside too and their embarkation time was much slower. Gee, the AC in the cabin is great. Turn it down. LOL!

Lets go over the ship now. First of all the public areas are very clean. The overall appearance is quite good really. Our cabin. A404, balcony was OK. The AC was very good but as we had three in the room space seemed a bit cramped. The shower was tiny and people of large size would find it difficulty to fit in I think. Our steward, Emmanuel from the Philippines was outstanding. He was efficient, always very polite, personable and willing to go the extra mile to please us. The overall service was outstanding. Princess seems to get this message across very well to its employees IMHO. Although I must say if you are nice to them then it comes back to you and we always try to be nice to them as we know how hard they work. Their shifts are long and they are away from home for a long time.

We had fixed first seating in the the Provence dining room and three in our part of five had requested Indian food and here again Princess delivers. We had that every night and were pleased with the overall quality and variety. I give them high marks for their efforts to meet this special request. Our regular menu selections were very good and I give high marks to our head waiter Ana Maria from Romania and her asst. Roland from Hungary. She is a lively, lovely gal who you just take to right away. Pietro, the restaurant manager from Italy was great as well. These three made our dining experience that much more pleasing. We had lunch in the horizon ct. usually and it was good, not great. I do think the variety was an improvement over the AOS which we took last May though overall the AOS is a nicer ship IMHO. Princess pizza is very good.

The performing group on this ship was one of the best, most talented group I have ever seen on any ship. However for the 1st time I saw that shows were being repeated on back to back nights thus eliminating the need for other "headlining" performers and thus cutting costs. Well you have to do something in todays economic world I suppose. As usual one can as busy or as quiet as you want. That is there are plenty of activities to keep you busy throughout the day. My one criticism is the timing for the 1st seating. It began and 1730 and the shows started 2015. I think the seating should begin at 1800 to lessen the gap as one had about 1hr. 15 min. or more to wait for the show after dinner.

Disembarkation was a little weird but OK. That is we purchased the Princess transfers to FLL. We had to be on the Provence at 0745 and arrived there only to see a seemingly endless line of people leaving. This was our group! We literally were the last ones in line and had to wait about 10-15 for everyone else to file out. So much for being on time but I suppose I should have learned that In Acapulco. Anyway we were on the bus in about 45 mins. only to wait another 20 mins. or so for other buses to get to the airport and let them matriculate so we could avoid congestion. We had plenty of time anyway and had our boarding passes in hand around 15 mins. after arrival.

Overall we liked this cruise for the canal itself. Its an amazing feat on engineering and I suggest to listen the the lecture on board before going through it. You will be astounded. The ports on the Pac. side are OK but don't expect the So. Caribbean. They just don't have that infrastructure. For example Guatemala in the only port I've ever seem where private excursions are more than what the ship offers. A ride to Antigua privately was literally double the ships cost. Also there is not any bar that has a TV so for our 27 yr. old son, well its not the So. Caribbean :S- . Anyway his bar bill was about half. LOL! Also don't expect a younger crowd. Most people seemed to be retirees. Thats fine. I hope to be one in a few yrs. but then again know what to expect.
I'll go into details about the ports on another thread. Any questions please just ask and you may want to see my pics which are posted here as well. Larry. :-)

Percy Mar 11th, 2009 06:43 PM


You boareded in Acapulco ,what were your ports and did you disembark back at Acapulco.?

Wow ...why so costly in Guatemala ?

Eschew Mar 11th, 2009 08:16 PM

They repeated some shows too last November on the Ruby.
There seems to be a lot of ABBA and music from the 60's and the 70's.

What were the shows on the Osland Princess?

jacketwatch Mar 12th, 2009 04:42 AM

Percy: We disembarked in FLL and our ports were Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, a brief stop in Cristobal, then Ocho Rios. Why so costly? Good question. Maybe they do not have much knowledge about tourists as this port as well as Nicaragua just doesn't have much tourist infrastructure.
Eschew: The shows were production type stuff and IIRC the repeats were Motor city and Piano man. I must say this Princess group was very talented. They had two comedians as well. I'll post full ports reviews asap but gotta go to work now. :D

Dayenu Mar 12th, 2009 03:54 PM

I hate it when the job interferes with Fodor's time :)) Sorry Larry I promise some day I will read every word!

jacketwatch Mar 12th, 2009 11:53 PM

:D :D . I promise I'll post it B4 the WE is over. :-)

Dayenu Mar 16th, 2009 07:32 PM

Now I am reading. We went to Alaska with Princess, and really liked this cruise line. I wonder too, why they ask to check-in later, but open the gates early. Not to overcrowd the lunch buffet? :))

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