Panama Canal 11 Day cruise on the Coral Princess
This cruise was the first of a back to back to back adventure. We arrived fairly late (about 1:30 pm) and most of the passengers were already onboard. I thought with a late arrival, we would breeze through, but not the case. We purchased transfers from the airport to port and it took quite a while to get the remaining passengers organized and on the the shuttle. Once in the terminal things moved along okay but not great. We are elite on Princess and we usually speed through this process. We finally got onboard in time to drop off our carry-ons, pick up our life preservers and head to the muster. Happily, things improved from that point :)
The Coral Princess is just a nice mid-size ship. It feels very spacious, never crowded. You can move around the ship without being in a crowd, find a deck chair around the pool if you desire, and get a seat in the theater without too much fuss. There's also that wonderful covered, heated pool on Lido Deck. We swam just about every day.
The ship is in very good condition, having gone through a dry dock recently. The day after Thanksgiving, while docked in Aruba, a “decorating” team came onboard and transformed the ship into a Christmas/Winter wonderland. It was very pretty. From that point on, we had canned Christmas music mixed in with the other music.
The new Horizon Court is fantastic. It's been completely renovated and modernized. It feels very spacious and light and airy. Lots of selection with food and the food was very good. We had early assigned seating in the Provence Dining Room. Our waiter, Randy, and assistant waiter, Darwin, were very good. Head Waiter, Feliciano, was great. Food and service were very good. The new International Cafe is a nice addition, but it is small and located next to the Casino. The Lido Pizza, Grill, and Ice Cream were all good. The “Make Your Own Pizza” day was a hit.
As far as entertainment, the best production number was “On the Bayou” - it was great! Ventriloquist Michael Minor, was very good. The music onboard was good but not great. The band in Wheelhouse, Rhapsody, was VERY talented BUT they tended to do floor shows rather than play music for dancing. The lead singer would frequently stand in the middle of the dance floor and sing a 15 minute song (Mr. Bojangles, for instance). The band in Explorer's play mostly Reggae, so it was a little hard dancing there. The Bayou Cafe, which usually has a resident trio, was empty most nights. Occasionally a pianist, the string group, or the jazz part of the orchestra played there. A negative was little/limited NFL coverage and my husband really enjoys watching it on the big screen and/or in the room.
The ports were very nice on this cruise as was the actual canal experience. We've been through the canal several times but it's still fascinating. Princess has a historian/naturalist onboard who provided lots of information about the canal and the area.
It was a great cruise and we really love Coral and Island Princess.