Coral Princess Cruise Review by georgiacat: Great Panama Canal trip
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Great Panama Canal trip
This is our third Princess cruise (five total cruises). I had wanted to see the Panama Canal even though my husband had already been through it with the US Navy. He said he did not see much from the engine room and this was much more pleasant. We had a wonderful time. We had balcony cabin C322 which was fine. We like to go out on the balcony to catch the view, check the weather, and sit and relax. Our room steward Ron was great. The shower has the soap and shampoo/conditioner dispensers now.
Food: We prefer the early assigned seating. We had table 41 in the Bordeaux Dining Room. (Yes, this is also the Anytime Dining Room, but our table for 8 was reserved for us each evening.) Our waiter Rinier and assistant waiter Djinn (sorry for the spelling, guys) were great. We enjoyed having dinner with two other great couples.
Most of the evenings we ate in the Bordeaux Dining Room. One day when we were late from our tour, we ate dinner at the Horizon Court. I prefer the dining More room. We ate breakfasts (great) and lunches (okay) in the Horizon Court. We tried the ice cream and the pizza. We purchased the soft drink packages for both of us. Being from the South, we know what good (sweet) iced tea tastes like, and we cannot stand the ship’s tea. (Now the hot tea is good.)
We like educational and informative talks. Thus we go to the port information talks, and even the shopping talks can give you advice that you could possibly use. We enjoy the shows at night, and really enjoy the tours in the different places we visit. So far we have only booked Princess tours. We do walk around town and shop on our own.
We discovered the library’s chairs for reading while on the Alaska cruise. That is the best "secret” spot for watching the view in air conditioning, reading, and napping; it is pretty popular too.
We availed ourselves of the Carnival Corporation stock credit, veterans’ credit, and purchased Future Cruise Credits while on this ship.
Laundry tip: Bring quarters and detergent and dryer sheets from home. They don’t take up much room. It seems the change machine or detergent machines are on the blink, but I am prepared.
Best advice I have not seen on Cruise Critic yet: Print off the floor plan (or 2 copies) of your ship from the Cruise Atlas before you leave home. This helped us greatly to find things even though we had sailed on the Coral Princess previously to Alaska.
Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013
We took 5:30 am Groome Transportation to Atlanta airport.
Had breakfast at airport (breakfast sandwiches).
8:35 am Delta flight 1 ½ hours to Ft. Lauderdale; smooth flight.
Took a taxi to the ship ($20) and waited in the terminal for less than an hour. We were on the ship about 12:10 pm. Went to the room and dropped off our luggage.
We had lunch at the International Café: tuna salad sandwich and shrimp salad for me, chicken salad sandwich for hubby. It was good.
We walked around exploring the ship (printed off floor plans from the Cruise Atlas at home to help find our way around), and got an ice cream cone.
Went to the safety drill and unpacked. Went up on deck to watch the ship sail away.
That night we had supper in the Bordeaux Dining Room (traditional seating 5:15 pm) table for 8. Prime rib was very good.
8:30 pm World series game Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals was on TV, Red Sox vs. Cardinals.
9:45 pm went to the Welcome Aboard Showtime (singing, dancing & comedy with Gary Delena); good.
Returned to room and watched the Red Sox lose. Went to bed. Comfortable bed and good pillows. Hubby got his distilled water for his C-pap machine. (learned about this on CC)
Friday, Oct. 25, At Sea
Breakfast at Horizon Court.
9:00 am Explore Ashore! Talk with Shore excursion manager Luis.
Signed up for 100 internet minutes, plus 10 minutes bonus (1st day). Sent message to family & friends.
Sat on the Lido deck to enjoy the ocean. Hubby swam in the pool. This was our first cruise after retirement, so he could actually swim in the pool. He used the pool almost every day. Before there had been too many kids to really enjoy. This time there were more scooters.
11:00 am talk about tours with the cruise manager.
Lunch at Horizon Court.
1:00 pm Aruba talk with Dr. Dean.
3:00 pm wine tasting party courtesy of AAA travel agent; good.
Formal night in the dining room. Good food (shrimp & lamb).
Took formal picture.
7:45 pm show "Dance”. Good
We found the Promenade Deck and walked all around the ship once, 2,8 times makes a mile, but it was very windy.
Saturday, Oct. 26, At Sea
Breakfast in Horizon Court.
10:00 am shopping on the ship.
10:30 am. Panama Canal talk with Dr. Dean.
Lunch at Horizon Court.
12:45 pm Future Cruise talk.
Walk on Promenade Deck 7; windy and rough, salt spray.
5:15 pm supper in main dining room.
7:45 pm magician Alexander Great.
Sunday, Oct. 27, Aruba
Woke at 6:00 am. Had breakfast at Horizon Court. Watched the ship arrive at Aruba.
Tour: Butterfly Farm, Rock Formations & Shopping ($55 ea, 8:45 " 11:45 am)
We went to the Butterfly Farm, then the Aloe Factory, and the Ayo Rock Formation (Indian drawings on rock); all nice and interesting.
Temperature 84 degrees and slight breeze. Small sprinkle started at the Ayo Rock Formation.
We returned to the ship to leave packages. We walked "downtown” (short walk) in a light drizzle. We stopped for lunch at The Paddock, looks like the black & white spotted cows from Chick-Fil-A advertisements. Hubby had chicken quesadillas and I had shrimp quesadillas; very good. We walked a few blocks, looking, and returned to the ship.
We had dinner in the main dining room.
Saw the show after supper "What a Swell Party.” Had a drink after that and watched a little of the World Series after we found it in the (wedding chapel) Hearts & Minds room, hot and stuffy.
Monday, Oct. 28, At Sea
Breakfast at the Horizon Court.
We went to the Future Cruise talk and the shopping talk for Cartagena.
Bought two T-shirts from the ship store.
Had lunch in the main dining room with another couple. Okay sandwiches.
We attended the Cartagena talk with Dr. Dean.
Dinner in the main dining room.
7:45 pm Synergy show, couple of violins, good.
Checked on the ballgame and early to bed.
Tuesday, Oct. 29, Cartagena, Columbia
Sunny and hot.
Woke at 6 am. Watched the ship come into Cartagena from breakfast at Horizon Court.
Tour: San Pedro Claver Church, Old City & Folkloric Show ($69 ea, 8:00 12:00 pm)
Our bus stopped for a picture opportunity of the old fort; we walked around the old walled city with the guide describing statues and explaining history; we saw a couple of old churches, and saw a Folk Dance performance. Interesting and very beautiful.
We stopped for only 30 minutes of shopping, but I managed to buy some leather gifts from Exotic leathers and coffee from Coffee And. The emeralds were too expensive. We were the last getting back on the bus, but they did wait for us.
The traffic was suicidal. I would not want to drive there. They had motorcycle "taxis” where one person could ride on the back. They were crazy driving.
We had lunch at Horizon Court, back on the ship, did some reading in the library and went to the 2:30 talk on Limon by Dr. Dean.
Wednesday, Oct. 30, Panama Canal
5:00 am wake up. 6 am breakfast at Horizon Court. We spent the morning on the bow of the ship, deck 10, watching the other ships go through the locks. Very interesting. We could see more of what was happening to the other ships than we could actually tell about our own ship. It was very impressive and took about 2 hours to go through the locks (3 chambers) into Gatun Lake.
Partly cloudy, but it cleared. The ship’s videographer was on the same deck with us filming the event.
Tour: Old Panama City, Miraflores Locks & Scenic Drive ($99 ea, 11:00 5:30 pm)
We got on a tour bus about 11 am for a 1 ½ hour ride to Panama City on the Pacific side. We stopped for a restroom break at a Greek café Nikos. The food looked good, but we did not try it. We should have.
We went to old Panama City and walked around for almost 2 hours. The tour guide talked about architecture, buildings, statues, went in an art gallery, and we ended at a local market. Wish I had purchased some of the necklaces and bags that I saw. At the entrance was a man with a snake wrapped around his neck, charging for pictures.
On the way back to the bus, it started raining lightly. We took shelter under the overhangs of buildings. The guide went for the bus. The excellent woman driver (only female driver with the company) negotiated narrow streets with cars parted and a truck on the sidewalk on the other side.
When everyone got on the bus we finally had lunch about 3 pm, sandwich, muffin and water. (Breakfast had been at 6 am. Fortunately hubby and I had a granola bar at the market that I had carried.)
We went to the Miraflores locks and watched a Chinese ship go through the locks. It was warm and very humid.
Had a restroom break and small gift shop. We returned to the ship docked at Colon, Panama about 5:30 pm. The town had square blocks with lots of traffic but no stop signs or traffic lights; whoever got there first went ahead. If you hesitated, you were lost.
Looked through a gift shop on shore. I bought a basket on the way to the ship from the Embera Indians ($20).
We had supper at Horizon Court; read in the library; early to bed.
Thursday, Oct. 31, Limon, Costa Rica
We had scheduled an afternoon tour after anticipating that we would be tired from the long day at Panama Canal. We were so glad that we had.
Tour: Rainforest Walk, Canal Cruise & Banana Plantation ($59 ea, 1:00 5:00 pm)
We toured a banana plantation; took a canal boat ride (saw lots of birds and monkeys in trees). We walked through a rainforest and went to an animal sanctuary. We saw sloths, toucans, monkeys. We had fruit for refreshment and were back at the ship by 5 pm.
No rain, warm, high humidity.
We showered and had a drink before dinner in the main dining room at a large table for 10. It was Italian night and the other couples were very entertaining. Because we were late getting to dinner, we did not have our regular table.
We did not do any Halloween partying.
Friday, Nov. 1, At Sea
10:45 am went to shopping talk for Grand Cayman.
Hubby went swimming, pizza for lunch.
3:30 Grand Cayman talk with Dr. Dean.
Formal Night; back in main dining room for dinner; lobster and giant prawns (shrimp); great.
Saw the show "On the Bayou” for the second showing. Long lines of people backed up. Not so many lined up for the third performance. Specialty drinks were $3.99.
Saturday, Nov. 2, Grand Cayman
Woke at 7 am. Breakfast at Horizon Court. We caught the tender at 9 am.
Tour: Turtle Farm, Hell, Tortuga Rum Cake & Scenic Drive ($49 ea, 9:30 12:00 pm)
Since the Cayman Islands were a British protectorate, they drive on the left side of the road. Their traffic circles, roundabouts, go clockwise. Our guide said the way they drive, the left side of the road is the "right”, and the right side is the "suicide”.
We took a bus tour to the Turtle Farm (very interesting), Rum Cake factory (crowded, bought rum cakes), and went to see Hell. They sure make the most of an ugly scenic spot. Took pictures. Took the bus back to the dock.
We walked to the shopping district and had lunch (salads and diet Cokes) at Margaritaville. It was good to rest, and a very popular spot to eat, not cheap.
We went shopping to the Del Sol (bag), Cariloha bamboo store (shirts), and Guy Harvey store (shirts & purse). We walked back to the ship. We had walked so much that I had 3 blisters on the side of my heel.
We took showers and went for ice cream on the ship. It looked like it might rain, but didn’t.
Dinner in the main dining room.
8:30 pm show Motor City. 9:15 travel trivia interesting.
Sunday, Nov. 3, At Sea
10 am shopping on the ship.
Read in the library.
Lunch at the Bayou café. They had British pub lunch. Hubby had Bangers and Mash (sausages & mashed potatoes). I had fish and chips; I was not impressed with their fries. They had good fried fish, especially at the Horizon Court lunches.
Hubby went for a swim. The waves were up to 2 feet in the pool. Water went over the retaining wall. The ship was a little rocky that day.
Packed for the trip home.
Last dinner in the main dining room. There was Baked Alaska. We enjoyed the other couples company.
Monday, Nov. 4, going home
We had selected the E-Z luggage choice where our checked bags are picked up outside of our cabin the night before and we pick them up in the Atlanta airport. $20 per bag plus baggage fees for Delta, but it sure was nice not lugging the large suitcases. We had enough luggage to carry around. Had to buy a duffle bag to get everything home.
Woke at 5 am, breakfast at 6 am in Horizon Court.
Reported to Wheelhouse Bar at 6:30 am to disembark. Princess representative said we did not have to leave that early, but there was no line at customs and later there would be. I did not think long to go ahead. Walked straight through customs, got taxi ($20 including tip) to airport, were through security and waiting in airport by 7:15 am for flight that was scheduled to leave at 12:45 pm for Atlanta. Plane was late, but we left shortly after 1 pm. Got to Atlanta by 2:20 pm. Must have had a tail wind. Less
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