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Princess Cruises: Island Princess

  • Princess Cruises

Island Princess Review

Insider Take

Overview

One of the Vista-class Princess ships, barely small enough for Panama Canal, good quality.

Onboard Experience

Coral Princess and Island Princess, both launched in 2003 (Coral first), were the only two ships Princess built after 2000 that are small enough to get through the Panama Canal (with 24 inches on each side to spare!). Smaller than the fleet's biggest ships, yet bigger than the mid-sized Sun Princess class that dominated the 90s, these sisters in many ways represent the best of both worlds. The public rooms are the same as on the Grand-class megaships, but Island and Coral passengers feel they have much more elbow room; though a fifth larger than Princess's Sun-class ships, they carry only 20 more passengers apiece based on double occupancy.

By all appearances, Princess caught sight of the upside-down design of the Carnival Spirit-class ships presented in 2000 and couldn't resist adopting the concept of putting all the public rooms on the lower decks and the cabin decks higher up; affording the ability to add a balcony (75% of all cabins) to almost every outside stateroom (83% of all cabins), in fact. The result is a ship with beautifully appointed and spacious cabins and a hive of adjacent public rooms that are easy to navigate and offer exemplary passenger flow.

"[email protected]" classes are held in the high-tech Universe Lounge, a two-story venue that at night, unlike any other classroom you've ever been cooped up in, becomes a show lounge or cabaret! You can learn everything from how to assemble a Web site to how to paint pottery (these are the only ships at sea with real kilns). Of course, a range of culinary classes will teach you how to cook a wide range of exotic dishes.

Decor

As with most Princess ships, the atrium is the focal point with light woods and brass railings surrounding walls of glass. Due to a more generous space to passenger ratio, public rooms and restaurants are more spacious than their counterparts on other Princess ships. In the cabins, upholstery and walls are invariably in restful earth tones and off-whites, with butterscotch wood trim.

Public Rooms

You'll find no scarcity of invitingly intimate lounges, many with live music. Crooners, a martini bar, evokes the heyday of the Rat Pack, while the cozy cigar lounge Churchill's evokes an English country manor. The clubby, nautical-themed Wheelhouse Bar is filled with original oil paintings. If you find yourself longing for contemporary decor, you'll find it, along with cappuccino and pastries, at Le Patisserie, which offers free-for-the-taking cookies and sweets.

In the bow, the Princess Theater, a classic sloping one-level space. offers a good view from every comfortable theater-style seat; put your drink - or notebook - on the little flip-up table. When the ceiling lights are left on during lectures, please note, it can get infernally hot in the back rows, so sit in the front!

The ship's Internet cafe, card room and library do brisk business during days at sea; indeed, you're sometimes lucky to find a place to sit! Because there are entrances from both the atrium and the midships elevators/stair tower, the rooms are often used as passageways, not exactly ideal for a library!

The Captain can marry you quite legally in the wedding chapel. The Universe Lounge presents floor shows at night, while cabaret rules the Africa-themed Explorer's Lounge. The bright, kid-scaled Fun Zone and Pelican's Playhouse children's center and smallish Off Limits teen center may be found at the stern on Deck 12.

Cuisine

Predictably, the main restaurants and Lido cafeteria serve Continental ship cuisine - fettuccine Alfredo, broiled lobster tail, Beef Wellington, that sort of thing - unlikely either to offend or amaze most diners. If you ask the kitchen for something less bland, it will happily oblige, or try the Bayou Cafe's spicy shrimp gumbo. barbecued alligator ribs appetizers, "mud-bug" bisque soup, fried catfish, grilled jumbo prawns, and chicken and chorizo jambalaya in a subdued, woody ambience, with faux brick walls and lantern lighting. Sabatini's, which warms your palate up with more than a dozen quite substantial antipasti before it brings out your main course, will test even the most energetic gourmand's capacity. Allow three hours for this "event dining" experience. The Lotus Spa menu offers such innovative options as chilled yogurt and tamarind soup sprinkled with grated lemon rind, filet of baby turbot with a fennel pernod sauce, and a tropical fruit smoothie flavored with lime.

Cabins

As is true of all Princess vessels, the 33 cabin categories on offer are misleading; the range of choice is closer to 10. Princess puts virtually identical quarters into different categories based on location. If you love balconies, though, this is the ship for you.

Island Princess has the largest number of balconies in the fleet. Eight-five percent of the cabins are outside, and 85% of those have private verandas. Refining the Princess vision of gigantic ships with an intimate feel, their tiered design eschews the too-familiar "wall of balconies" look, achieving a clean, flowing profile.

Standard outside cabins are 160 sq. ft., standard balcony cabins 217-248 sq. ft. The mini-suites, much more spacious for not a lot more money, offer 280 to 302 sq. ft., but the privacy of the balconies of those on Dolphin Deck is severely compromised; they can be observed from the balconies of the three decks above. The largest cabins measure 470 sq. ft. Suite occupants should expect neither butler service nor amenities beyond such standard one as TV/radio, hair dryers, mini refrigerators, bathrobes, and personal safes, daily deliveries of ice, and evening turndown service. Closet and drawer space is at a real premium; pack light! The shower stalls in standard cabins are pretty cramped.

Premium suites and minisuites amenities include complimentary laundry and shoe shine, a selection of pillows, daily in-room canapes and high tea, and free Internet access.

A self-service launderette ($1.75 washers, $1 soap, $1.50 dryers) is located on each stateroom deck.

Fitness/Spa

The Steiners-operated Lotus Spa offers not only massages and hair and beauty treatments (for which be sure to book as you board), but also seminars on everything from abs enhancement and metabolism to aging and detoxifying. There are also Tahitian scalp massages, a mud room for couples, "gentle touch" teeth whitening, and a cellulite reduction program, popular in Europe, called ionithermie algae detox. The gym, though smallish, has all the weight training, running, and aerobic equipment anyone could reasonably demand.

There are a basketball/volleyball court and a computerized golf simulator, as well as a nine-hole miniature-golf course up on the top deck, which you access via a windowless wooden door that makes it look permanently closed. It's not; just go on in.

Best For People Who Want

A modern, right-sized ship with elegant surroundings; plenty to do on board but not so big that you feel like you missed something.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

Extensive children's program, an ultra-lively late-night scene.

Restaurants

Princess's "Personal Choices" flexible dining program, whereby passengers can opt either for traditional two-seating dining, or dine when and with whom they please, is nowhere better implemented than on these ships. In the Bayou Cafe, you can enjoy zingy New Orleans-style cuisine to a jazz trio's accompaniment for $10 per person, including a cocktail. Sabatini's offers alternative diners a gigantic multi-course Italian feast for $15. The always-open Horizon Court dishes up standard cafeteria fare during breakfast and lunch; but at night gets swanky, offering its patrons items from the ship's main restaurant. During the day, the circular layout of food stations and the lack of clear paths between them occasionally results in mild chaos.

The Provence and Bordeaux dining rooms are nearly indistinguishable, but for one distinction. Provence is dedicated to traditional fixed-seating dining (6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.) and Bordeaux offers Anytime Personal Choice dining; anytime the whim strikes you between 5:30 and 10 p.m.

Service

The extremely international staff is unfailingly chipper and professional. Flatteringly, the waiters seem to take particular delight in remembering diners' personal preferences.

Tipping

Regardless of which dining plan you choose, you'll be charged $10 per person per day for dining and stateroom personnel, even if you're a child. Consult the purser, at the reception desk, about raising or lowering this amount. All beverage tabs automatically include 15-percent gratuity. Tip the spa, casino, and other staff as you deem fit.

Entertainment

With a dozen or so venues for nightlife, you're virtually assured of finding something that floats your boat, to coin a phrase. There's no faulting the lavishness of the production shows, which feature extravagant special effects. The performers in the cabaret are a talented bunch.

Attire

A typical cruise includes two formal evenings. The other evenings are "smart casual", meaning sweaters, skirts and blouses, and slacks and collared shirts. Shorts and jeans are considered too casual.




Ship Overview

Launched in 2003, Island Princess is one of just two cruise ships in the Princess fleet that was specially built to sail through the Panama Canal, giving the vessel, along with her sister ship Coral Princess, access to more worldwide destinations than some of their fleetmates. Renovations have added many of the cruise line’s most popular signature elements, including Movies Under the Stars and The Sanctuary.

All the Personal Choice features attributed to the larger Grand-class ships were incorporated into the design of the slightly smaller Coral Class ships. The four-story atrium is similar to that on Sun Princess, but public rooms are mainly spread fore and aft on two lower decks.

Princess Cruises may be best known for introducing cruise travel to millions of viewers, when its flagship became the setting for The Love Boat television series in 1977. Since that heady time of small-screen stardom, the Princess fleet has grown both in the number and size of ships. Although most are large in scale, Princess vessels manage to create the illusion of intimacy through the use of color and decor in understated yet lovely public rooms graced by multimillion-dollar art collections.

Princess has also become more flexible; Personal Choice Cruising offers alternatives for open seating dining (when you wish and with whom you please) and entertainment options as diverse as those found in resorts ashore.

Lovely chapels or the wide-open decks are romantic settings for weddings at sea with the captain officiating.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • The pizzeria serves some of the best pizza at sea
  • Cabins that sleep third and fourth passengers are numerous
  • The Fine Art Gallery is a dedicated area, so displays don't clutter other public spaces

Cons

  • The library and card room often become noisy passageways
  • There are only 16 suites on each ship
  • Engine pods on the funnel give the ships a futuristic space-age appearance but are mainly decorative
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 900
  • Entered Service 2003
  • Gross Tons 92,000
  • Length 964
  • Number of Cabins 987
  • Passenger Capacity 1,970
  • Width 106 feet
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Mar 1, 2017

Review of Island Princess

Terry Knight Age: 66 Occupation:Retired RN Number of Cruises: 5 Cruise Line: Princess Ship: Island Princess Sailing Date: 2016-08-20 Itinerary: Alaska We sailed from Vancouver with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway sailed Glacier Bay College Fjord and disembarked in Whittier, for our land tour. For the land portion we spent 2 days in McKinley, 2 days at Denali and 2 days at Fairbanks Lodges. We chose Princess for our Alaskan cruise and land tour

because of positive reviews of Princess for Alaska. Although the weather was in the 50's most of the trip and frequently rainy , we enjoyed our trip, especially the land tour. The ship seemed clean and the staff were friendly and courteous. BUT-We noticed a sewer odor as soon as we boarded the ship. It was bad in our bathroom, seemed to get better and then worse at times, and we got wafts of the odor at times throughout the ship during our cruise. We stayed on the Dolphin deck forward. Food is far superior in dining room than Horizon Court. (Don't miss the Creme Brulee.) We found the food in Horizon Court to look good but had no flavor. Even the desserts were blah. We did not dine in any of the specialty restaurants with additional cost. We had a balcony room which I highly recommend. If you are going Northbound, choose a room on the starboard side if you have a balcony. You will see of the towns and land as you are sailing. Bring a fabric steamer since there are no irons in the rooms. The laundry facilities are all at the rear of the ship. I enjoyed having the park rangers and the naturalist on the ship, nature and wildlife programs greatly enhanced the experience. I enjoyed the shows in the princess theater, but I think the music for dancing was a bit sedate and they need to kick it up a notch. Did not do any shopping to speak of on the ship. The excursions were all very good that we chose, except we had 2 that involved flying cancelled due to bad weather. We were able to make up for it by taking a last minute glacier landing flight out of Talkeetna on the land tour. Bring a good camera with a sports mode and a good set of binoculars. Overbook excursions, since some might be cancelled if it rains.They do not let you know of cancellations until the last minute and you might not have time to book something else you would choose. We were told by friends that had done Alaska cruises that they were more casual, and we wished we had brought some dressy clothes. We definitely felt under dressed in the evenings. We packed more for the land tour, but there were many on the cruise who only did the cruise. My husband did not bring a suit coat, or dress shirt tie (at least bring a button down shirt and tie) and we were not allowed in to the 2 formal nights in the dining room where the food is much better. Princess does a great job in getting you from place to place and informing you of where to be when. Every bus, shuttle and train has drivers who narrate during the ride pointing out points of interest, local history and their personal stories of why he came to Alaska. We learned so much and gained such an appreciation of the land and its people. We stayed at the Princess McKinley Lodge-(our favorite because of the beautiful view of Mt Denali, walking trails and setting) Princess Denali Lodge-some trails closed due to "wildlife activity", and the Princess Fairbanks Lodge. The Fairbanks lodge is more like a regular chain motel. We loved all our excursions and were the most pleasantly surprised at our last stop in Fairbanks by the included excursion Riverboat Discovery Cruise and Gold Dredge. A very enjoyable day and included so much information about the history of the area. Don't skip it!

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  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Aug 12, 2016

Alaska

We sailed from Vancouver with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway sailed Glacier Bay College Fjord and disembarked in Whittier, for our land tour. For the land portion we spent 2 days in McKinley, 2 days at Denali and 2 days at Fairbanks Lodges. We chose Princess for our Alaskan cruise and land tour because of positive reviews of Princess for Alaska. Although the weather was in the 50's most of the trip and frequently rainy , we enjoyed our

trip, especially the land tour. The ship seemed clean and the staff were friendly and courteous. BUT-We noticed a sewer odor as soon as we boarded the ship. It was bad in our bathroom, seemed to get better and then worse at times, and we got wafts of the odor at times throughout the ship during our cruise. We stayed on the Dolphin deck forward. Food is far superior in dining room than Horizon Court. (Don't miss the Creme Brulee.) We found the food in Horizon Court to look good but had no flavor. Even the desserts were blah. We did not dine in any of the specialty restaurants with additional cost. We had a balcony room which I highly recommend. If you are going Northbound, choose a room on the starboard side if you have a balcony. You will see of the towns and land as you are sailing. Bring a fabric steamer since there are no irons in the rooms. The laundry facilities are all at the rear of the ship. I enjoyed having the park rangers and the naturalist on the ship, nature and wildlife programs greatly enhanced the experience. I enjoyed the shows in the princess theater, but I think the music for dancing was a bit sedate and they need to kick it up a notch. Did not do any shopping to speak of on the ship. The excursions were all very good that we chose, except we had 2 that involved flying cancelled due to bad weather. We were able to make up for it by taking a last minute glacier landing flight out of Talkeetna on the land tour. Bring a good camera with a sports mode and a good set of binoculars. Overbook excursions, since some might be cancelled if it rains.They do not let you know of cancellations until the last minute and you might not have time to book something else you would choose. We were told by friends that had done Alaska cruises that they were more casual, and we wished we had brought some dressy clothes. We definitely felt under dressed in the evenings. We packed more for the land tour, but there were many on the cruise who only did the cruise. My husband did not bring a suit coat, or dress shirt tie (at least bring a button down shirt and tie) and we were not allowed in to the 2 formal nights in the dining room where the food is much better. Princess does a great job in getting you from place to place and informing you of where to be when. Every bus, shuttle and train has drivers who narrate during the ride pointing out points of interest, local history and their personal stories of why he came to Alaska. We learned so much and gained such an appreciation of the land and its people. We stayed at the Princess McKinley Lodge-(our favorite because of the beautiful view of Mt Denali, walking trails and setting) Princess Denali Lodge-some trails closed due to "wildlife activity", and the Princess Fairbanks Lodge. The Fairbanks lodge is more like a regular chain motel. We loved all our excursions and were the most pleasantly surprised at our last stop in Fairbanks by the included excursion Riverboat Discovery Cruise and Gold Dredge. A very enjoyable day and included so much information about the history of the area. Don't skip it!

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  • New

Feb 19, 2016

The prettiest of the Princess Fleet I've sailed on

I sailed with Island Princess from Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles and very much enjoyed my first time aboard her. I was most impressed with the decor: lovely paintings, screens, pools in the atrium, etc. Like less passengers. My room steward and diningroom waiters were the best I've had in ages. Would love to sail again on this very pleasant, comfortable ship.

  • New

Jul 26, 2013

ALASKA

I picked Princess due to the repetition and cruise destination. I enjoyed the cruise portion of my trip. I thought most of the employees were extremely confident and professional. Our steward was enormously accommodating always inquiring if there was anything we needed, etc. The dining room menu selections were goo the food average. The accommodations were what I expected, small but adequate for two petite women. All was going well UNTIL we left

the ship for the three day land segment. Princess scheduled us to arrive at McKinley and Denali Lodges knowing that we would arrive too late to do or plan any excursions? Actually you could have skipped McKinley, nothing there. I waited for years to see Denali. Thanks to their arrangements we arrived in Denali after 4 PM with the last excursion leaving at 3 PM. I cannot even describe how distressed and depressed we were. The only reason Princess would schedule anyone to these lodges is that people would spend more money in the restaurants and gift shops Thank you Princess Cruises for ruining what could have been an exceptional vacation. Menu selections looked good and most of the food was fine but a little bland. Small but fine cabin for two petite people. Clean. Really did not participate in many activities. Be very careful of the land segment -- Princess does not schedule well for this. Took four excursions, two were nice. The Whale dinner sightseeing cruise was a waste of money. The food was horrible and the boat so so.

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  • New

Jul 1, 2013

Alaska

This was our second cruise. We cruised to Alaska on June 2, 2013. We were a bit disappointed with ths cruise only because of the workers bugging you and trying to sell things. Our first breakfast the waiters were bugging us and were very persistant. It continued with our evening meals and so on. Like trying to get you to buy Sanctuary bookings for the glacierts the next day, wine testing and so on. We told them we were not interested but they

ever gave up. That was the only real complaint but comparing this cruise to our cruise we took last year, a Norweigan Hawaii cruise June 2, 2012 for our 40th anniversary I'd have to say this didn't happen on Norweigan. Also this cruise we had three full days of cruising which I didn't like. Our last year cruise to Hawaii we cruised at night and were docked in the morning. Just had to say this, hopefully this stops. Good and plenty of food. Cabin was very good and kept clean. Average activities. The shows were great. All in all glad I went but wouldn't go back. This was three days of cruising. Too much on the water. Weather was cold and dreary.

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