Coral Princess Cruise Review by ronandannette: Coral Princess Northbound Pacific Coastal May 9 - 14
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Coral Princess Northbound Pacific Coastal May 9 - 14
First time Princess cruiser; started off on the right foot by receiving an 8-category upgrade to a balcony after having purchased a very inexpensive guarantee. (Also, our on-line TA booking came with a bonus shore excursion credit which we used to purchase a private limo transfer from LAX to San Pedro - very nice!). Value for the Price: 4/5
Embarkation on Wednesday was unbelievably quick and hassle-free. Including travel time we were no more than 35 minutes from airport luggage carousel to gangway. (Mind you, this was 12:30 p.m. - peak boarding time.) This part of the process couldn't have gone better. Excellent luck with everything from our transfer arrangements to the curbside porters. Embarking onto Deck 7 rather than the Atrium though, lacked a certain WOW factor, and I was disappointed for my sister, who is a first time cruiser (who fortunately didn't know what she was missing!). Travel & Embarkation: 5/5
Our cabin was ready when we boarded, which I understand is More the standard for Princess. Our BE balcony was located way too far aft for my preference, and actually we under-utilized the balcony due to the weather and having so much else to do. Even so, never look a gift-balcony in the mouth (or something like that...). The cabin itself was very spacious, but dated in decor and somewhat ill-kept with stained and worn furniture. Storage was strangely lacking other than the large, open closet (one cabinet with shelves and only bed-side table drawers). The beds were INCREDIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE - I slept poorly and rose early as laying there too long was actually painful. Our cabin steward was perfunctory - not a super job, but adequate. Robes from our Personalizer requests were delivered the second day. Accommodations: 2.5/5
The ship is clearly not new or particularly modern in decor, but is very tasteful and not garish in any way. Clean and tidy, with everything one could ask (children's facilities, bars & lounges, a very impressive library, showroom, shopping, giant movie screen, golfing, spa, salon & casino). We took advantage of almost everything on offer, including the Sanctuary and the Lotus Thermal Suite. (These facilities were completely under-subscribed on this trip and by the end of the second day aggressive "salesmen" were roving the ship trying to get people to sign up. While we really enjoyed both of them, I must say I am a little resentful of having to pay for what used to be included in yester-year cruising). A FEW WORDS TO SMOKERS: There are outside smoking areas along the starboard side of the walking track on Deck 7 and in the open space on Deck 15 forward. There is no smoking at all allowed at the tables or loungers around the pool on the Lido or that I noticed in the Casino, although I was not in there much. There is an indoor facility (Churchill's Cigar Lounge) that is so oppressive and horrible it was more like free smoking-cessation therapy! I did not notice any conflict whatsoever between passengers over smoking on the Coral Princess. Public Spaces: 5/5
Dining was uniformly disappointing, perhaps the worst food I've ever been served on a cruise in every venue. (I had fully intended to enhance this review with "Food Porn", but honestly, there was nothing worth photographing.) Main dining menu selections were not tempting, presentation was not creative and taste and temperature were unsatisfactory. Our table request was not accommodated and we were seated at an 8-top. Two of the other couples had been on the ship since Ft. Lauderdale and had developed a real rapport with the wait staff. We actually felt a little ignored (by the wait staff, not our tablemates), which was a weird experience although I suppose we could have complained if it was that big a deal. Service in Horizon Court was better, but buffet choices were unappealing and deteriorated quickly under intense heat lamps. Cold selections of meats, cheeses, fruit and salad were better, but really, how can you mess those up? In desperation we ate at one of the specialty restaurants (the Bayou Cajun Steakhouse). It was way better, but only as good as main dining should have been - nowhere near as outstanding as the high-end restaurants I've been to on other ships. Dining: 1/5
Service was efficient, polite and professional, but rarely personable. Just O.K. in every way, but O.K. is good enough isn't it? We wanted for nothing, and if we had we were more than capable of seeking out assistance. I'm beginning to believe that we've all developed a mythology around cruise ship crew. They are there to do their jobs, and for the most part are very adequate at it. Few genuinely desire to "be friends", but then again, why would they? (FYI for anyone that's wondering - yes, we did leave our auto-tips in place, which I consider part of the cruise fare. Almost nobody warranted additional cash tips except the sweet staff in the Sanctuary). Service: 3/5
Activities and Entertainment provided by Princess blew me away!! Incredible array of opportunities on the roster each day - I consistently had to miss something in favour of something else. Never before have I been confronted with this happy dilemma! Two shows each evening (one on the main stage and one in a cabaret setting) and each performer was GOOD, really good! Any of you who have seen Steve Moris over the years will understand the caliber of the talent. I do regret that "On the Bayou" was not performed as it was highly recommended, and weather conditions precluded watching an evening movie outdoors. I think in hindsight I would trade better entertainment for better food again anytime. Entertainment & Activities: 5++/5
Itinerary was lovely, we had unbelievable luck with the weather in San Francisco, Victoria and Vancouver, although the winds on board were FIERCE and the seas rough while underway. Ship sponsored excursions were limited as this trip was the first of the season for each port. We toured independently in San Francisco (google GoCar dot com - you won't be sorry!!) and took Princess excursions in Victoria & Vancouver (Butchart Gardens & City Tour/Canyon Walk respectively). Both were very good quality and we were satisfied. I highly recommend taking an excursion on disembarkation day - it allows you to be escorted off the ship past the other 2000 people waiting in line! Ports of Call: 5/5
All in all, we had a wonderful vacation and I'm very pleased with the experience I was able to offer my DSis, who was a cruise newbie. I still have not found my elusive "Absolute Favorite Cruiseline". More and more I'm convinced that I never will, as the offerings of each of them are quite diverse and really serve different, equally worthy purposes. I will confidently recommend Princess when appropriate and look forward to sailing Princess again myself when the circumstances are right. Please feel free to ask any specific questions! Less
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