We have just returned from a southbound Alaskan cruise on Coral Princess from Whittier to Vancouver from June 18 -- 25. This was our 12th cruise, and the fourth one with Princess. We live in Vancouver, and have been to Alaska 2 times before, but never been to Glacier Bay. We picked Coral Princess because of its itinerary and timing. Turned out to be a good decision.
The following is a brief review of Coral Princess:
Very easy and efficient. We arrived at the Whittier pier at 3:30 p.m., and was on board in half an hour. I saw many Princess buses arriving later in the day -- must be other passengers arriving from other part of the country. In Vancouver our disembarkation time was 8:25 a.m. We arrived at the designated area at the time indicated, and was told to follow everybody else to leave the ship. Went through customs and picked up our baggage, and was outside Canada Place at 9 a.m. waiting for our ride.
We had an More
inside cabin on the Plaza deck. The size was more than enough for 2 people, with plenty of storage space. The shower was a little small, but you get used to it. I wore ear plugs every night, so I had no idea whether it was noisy or not. Of course it would be nice to have a window and balcony, but I found it was a much better experience to be on the open deck while cruising Glacier Bay because you can absorb scenery on both sides of the ship.
We opted for any time dining. With the exception of first night where we ate at the Provence dining room, we always ate at the Bordeaux dining room for dinner. Normally we went to dinner around 5:45 p.m., and requested a table for two. There was no problem every night, but beware sometimes they have 2 tables adjacent to one another with only a small gap in the middle. Effectively that is a shared table if that is what you want to avoid. We ate all our breakfast and lunch at Horizon Court Buffet. In general the food was good, but not exceptional. No comment on specialty restaurant as we did not go to any.
There were always food at the horizon court, so you would never be hungry. The soft ice cream tasted artificial, but was refreshing. The pizza was ok. My wife said the coffee tasted watery, so you may have to purchase the specialty coffee.
At the Princess Theatre there were 2 production shows, one magic/illusion show, one comedy show, and one hypnotist show. We went to every show with the exception of the last one, but saw the re-run on the following night in another venue. There was no show on the last sea day. There are always seats available inside the theatre, as opposed to the Caribbean Princess when we cruised last Sep that you have to arrive half an hour early to get a decent seat. We also went to the production show "On the Bayou" at Universe Lounge. Not sure why it wasn't held at the Princess Theatre.
These were all typical cruise ship shows. Cannot be compared to Las Vegas, but good enough to keep you entertained.
It has about 10 treadmills, 5-6 elliptical machine, 3 stationery bikes, and weight lifting equipment. All are in good condition. With the exception of the first sea day, the center was never very crowded. We spent more than an hour everyday there (to burn off the calories). I did not gain any weight after the cruise!
I would guess the average passenger age was over 60, with a small number of children. There were also a handful of younger people. I was told the ship was full, but I never felt too crowded.
The TV channels were limited, and I was disappointed I missed the NBA finals. But you are not on a cruise ship to watch TV, no big deal.
There is coin laundry facility: $2 for either washing/drying.
I did check out the secret public aft decks (Emerald/Dolphin/Caribe/Baja) just in case it was raining and windy, but it was not necessary. Couldn't find the public forward decks.
In conclusion it was a enjoyable trip, and I would not hesitate to recommend Coral Princess if your expectation is not too high. In the future I would like to try a bigger and newer ship as I imagine it will have more facility and better entertainment.
See http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1659614 for the trip review and pictures. Less