The Island Princess, a vessel operated by Princess Cruises, was recently named the best mid-size ship at the first annual Cruise Critic Cruisers' Choice Awards.
The awards were handed out by Cruise Critic, a leading online community featuring more than 70,000 reviews and 700,000 members. To determine the winners, the ceremony's organizers evaluated the ratings of passengers on a wide variety of cruise vacations around the world.
"The reviews submitted by our members are an outstanding resource for cruisers and offer a fantastic insight into the different cruise experiences you will find on each ship," said Carolyn Spencer Brown, the editor in chief of Cruise Critic. "With these awards, we’re looking to honor the ships that rank highly with our members by providing exceptional facilities, accommodations, activities and service."
In the mid-size division, which was limited to vessels that carry between 1,200 and 1,999 passengers, the Island Princess placed ahead of the nine other ships cited by Cruise Critic for their service.
The Island Princess was built specifically to cater to those going on cruises in the Panama Canal, as it was designed to fit Panamax specifications (the largest size capable of sailing through the Central American waterway). The ship plies the waters of the canal every winter, and during the summer season, it takes travelers to Alaska.
One of the biggest selling points of the Island Princess is that 90 percent of its staterooms feature views of the ocean, allowing passengers to marvel at the engineering wonders of the Panama Canal or the spectacular glacial scenery of the Alaskan coastline. Moreover, the ship has more than 700 balconies attached to its higher-end rooms, giving those travelers a chance to enjoy the views in private.
The vessel is also one of only two Princess ships to have the Bayou Cafe and Steakhouse. This on-board eatery is a unique dining venue that allows guests to enjoy authentic New Orleans-style food and drinks while they listen to live jazz performances.
While the Island Princess took first place in the mid-size ship category, it was not the only Princess vessel to be honored by Cruise Critic, as the Coral Princess won fourth prize in the same division. This ship is the sister of the Island Princess and offers many similar amenities, traveling the same routes through the Panama Canal and Alaska.