Coral Princess Feb 21-March 7, 2013
This was my first experience on a 14 day cruise and I wasn't really sure if this would be too much time. The full transit Panama Canal itinerary included 7 sea days plus the canal transit day. There was a full three sea days in a row at the beginning of the cruise. It turned out just right for me and my husband. I really had the chance to unwind and enjoy the ships many activities before the hustle bustle of stopping at a port. My home life is very busy with a full time job, assisting in the care of my elderly parents, and helping my children with the 4 grandchildren as often as possible. A complete break from my everyday life for two solid weeks was wonderful.
My DH and I have been on the Island previously and it was our favorite ship. The size, layout and space per passenger seemed perfect to us. Now our favorite ship is the updated Coral. We loved the additional of the International Cafe and spent many hours there enjoying the pastries, small sandwiches and coffee. We purchased a single coffee card and used it for specialty coffees, brewed coffee and my evening chamomile tea. When we entered the remodeled Horizon Court for the first timed we were wowed. It is so much brighter and less crowded feeling. The food court is now larger, going around the back where a dance floor used to be. There you can discover muffins, waffles and pastries in morning and desserts in the evening. The desserts are now cut and placed on a small plate instead of a large cake sitting out where the passengers cut it themselves. The result is so much more appetizing.
We began our journey in Detroit and flew to Long Beach the day prior to the cruise. We quickly found our baggage and called the Holiday Inn Long Beach airport for a pickup. We were picked up promptly and after checking in we walked across the street to Spires, a decent mom and pop restaurant. That afternoon we visited the fitness room and in the evening went to the hotel's lounge for appetizers and drinks. This worked well for us and I believe we would most likely select this hotel again when cruising from San Pedro.
The next morning we again went to Spires for breakfast. At 10:30 a.m. we asked the hotel to call us a taxi. The taxi had a flat fee of $45 for the ride to the port. Check in was very quick. We spent about 45 minutes in the Platinum lounge and were on the ship shortly after noon. We dropped off our carry on's and went to the dining room for lunch. Only about a dozen people were there. We had a fabulous lunch of beef tenderloin.
Heading back to our room we met our wonderful room steward, Alvin. All of my elite perks were in the room as expected. I found the schedule for the nightly platinum lounge, an invitation to the wine tasting, a basket of upgraded bathroom amenities and the mini-bar set up. The only thing missing was a form to request the formal night canapes, but this appeared the next morning in our room. I requested two wine glasses from Alvin and called room service to ask that the sodas in the mini-fridge be swapped out for diet cokes. Both requests were promptly handled. That evening and each night of the cruise I left a bag of dirty laundry on the bed which was returned to me the following evening. In the price area of the form I simply wrote "elite". That evening my DH and I both went to the internet cafe to sign up for our free internet service. I love my perks!
Here is my commentary on our cruise, arranged by subject:
Staff: We thought CD Susan Rawlings and her staff were wonderful. We were especially impressed with the friendliness and energy of DJ Light (Jake) who was just about everywhere and Miko, the Zumba instructor.
Room: We had an inside room B429. The mid-ship location was very nice and I would definitely be happy to book this room again.
Food: We began each day early at the Horizon Court, usually selecting a yummy yogurt parfait, an egg and some fruit. For lunch we switched between the buffet, dining room and international cafe. We only dined in the dining room for dinner twice (two of the three formal nights) because although we love the food there it just takes longer than we want to spend sitting for a meal. We usually ate dinner at the buffet, but twice opted for the grill instead. We did have a wonderful time and meal at the 2nd formal night dinner with our new friends Alice, CJ, Donna and Harry.
Daytime: I began each morning of the sea days with my favorite activity; Zumba class with the funny and highly energetic Miko. The rest of the day was filled with swimming, soaking in the hot tub, reading, walks on the promenade, lectures, casino lessons and more. We loved the charming casino host, Alina, who gave the gaming lessons.
Evening Entertainment: Twice we went to Movies Under the Stars seeing "The Hunger Games" and "Total Recall". Loved the complimentary popcorn and blankets! We spent many hours listening and dancing to the Opus band in the Explorer's Lounge and at the Ultimate Deck Party. Opus was the most entertaining party band I have seen yet on a cruise. Other evening fun for us included the 50's party, Country Western party, and many other fine comedy and musical performances. We loved vocalist Bobby Brooks Wilson and went to both of his shows.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: We took the ship's El Arco Cruise and Playa Medano. The cruise was exciting because in addition to seeing the expected El Arco and sea lions we also saw 3 whales. The excursion included a delicious Mexican lunch at a nice restaurant right on the beach. After lunch we had about 45 minutes to lounge on the beach.
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua: We went on the ship's Masaya and Mombacho Volcanoes, Vistas and Lunch tour. We enjoyed each of the many stops and the satisfying local lunch of meat, rice, beans, salad and fresh fruit. The local guide did a wonderful job of telling us about her native country.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica: A tram ride from the ship to the end of the pier and we were at the Paseo de los Turistas, a street with open air markets and cafe's. We purchased some Costa Rican coffee and a few trinkets. We stopped at a bar/restaurant for some local beer and a tasty plate of chicken, beans, rice and plantains.
Cartagena, Columbia: The ship's Spanish Galleon Harbor Cruise excursion was informative and entertaining. This was a slow cruise around the bay with a commentator discussing the history of the area. We got a good view of the old and new areas as well as the fortress. The tour also featured Columbian dancers that were great.
Aruba: The ship is docked right in a lively area with many shops, casinos and restaurants. We were looking for a Caribbean menu and settled on Iguana Joe's. The mahi-mahi and jerk chicken were tasty. We picked up a few t-shirts for the grandkids and headed back to the Coral.
The end: 14 days had come and gone. We signed up for the self-help disembarkation option and exited the ship at 7:30. Despite a fairly long line at customs we were cleared and at the airport by 9:30 to catch our 11:15 a.m. flight home.
We can't wait to book our next cruise!