Coral Princess Cruise Report
Panama Canal (partial) Dec 28, 2013
ARRIVAL – Ft Lauderdale is a zoo, perhaps it was just because it was holiday season or because it was a Saturday Cruise day departure (several boats in port) or maybe this is normal. Shuttle busses ever where with little trailer in tow for the luggage. We got a shuttle from our hotel, (candlewood suites) the scheduled “All Stars Shuttle Service” appeared at the holiday inn express next to us but did not stop at our hotel for some reason even though we book this the night before with the reception desk. 15 minutes later the clerk called and they had another shuttle picking up a group at another hotel and they just stuffed us in there. Ok here the shocker, as we were first on the new shuttle our luggage was on first, when we were dropped off at the terminal we were second to get out and the traffic was too complex for the driver to drop the other people off first. So getting to our stud he was climbing over other peoples luggage and jumping up and down on somebody’s else’s bag… thinking of the four bottles of wine and the bathroom toiletries in our luggage we were speechless. This goes back to be careful what you put into your bags.
DEPARTURE – speaking of wine, we had four bottles one in each of our four checked bottles of luggage, we were prepared to pay the corkage, nope not a notice of it. We enjoyed the bottle of champagne New Years Eve and the others in our room. Ok poured it in our room and took it on deck. We got there on our 10:00 shuttle at 11:30 and was loaded on the ship about 12:10, quick easy and seamless, avoided the first waive of photos.
Wanted to bring in a case of Water and Diet Pepsi but got turned around and never got a chance to purchase it, was planning on putting in my carry on. Could have taped together and checked it.
THE ROOM – Ours was a mini suite, mid aft deck 9th deck D606 and was awesome. Although the buffet was 4 decks up and ½ a km forward, a lap of the ship is under a km or 1/3 mile (more on this later). Metal walls so bring magnets to hold up your notices and such, bathroom hangers to put in the toiletries. Safe was small but sufficient and easy to program great for cash, wallets and passports. Loads of hangers, was surprised as we brought extra but not necessary. An absence of drawers but there were shelves in the closet that worked out fine, bags under the bed and we were off to explore.
DAY 1 THE SHIP – you are accosted the first day with buy a coffee card or a pop card or the ultimate ++ smoothie card, and wine package. We got the silver wine package for 10 bottles AWESOME DEAL, got the Coffee card as I like the good coffee, AWESOME DEAL and spouse got the pop/smoothie card,,, not so much a good deal. With shore days and recovery days she found herself ordering more then she wanted just to get her value and that was a lot of extra calories that she had to pay penance for. First thing first get a bucket of beer and make sure you have a full beverage for the 3:00 mandatory muster meeting. Yep I was the envy of the entire group, didn’t mind it at all.
SCOOTERS VS STROLERS – Tons of silver hair, blue hair and no hair (the last would be me) but being on the younger side of the 50+ crowd. There was an absence of kids this event but it seemed that what once they made their appearance at the pool their parents were nowhere to be found, I get it kids will be kids but without parents there, they became nutbars. If you really choose to bring your kids on a cruise, do not let them run amuck so you can have your “me time”, that is what a Disney Cruise line is for.
THE POOL - I know the chair game and will play along but seriously one couple had a set of chairs in the pool area, the shade and then under MUTS… seriously reserved 6 chairs for two people, this was not an isolated incident. Sea days at the pool is like a collage kegger, save some aggravation book the Sanctuary on Dec 15, peaceful bliss. HOWEVER on a port day the pool deck is awesome, we chose to stay back one day and it was empty and perfect. Until 3:00pm when the parentless kids started to show up… UGH
DINNER/FOOD – the horizon buffet was just the worst choice you could make, the food was intuitional, don’t get me wrong, it was edible, but it was steam tray food made for the masses. The Main Dinning Room, this is where you need to eat breakfast and lunch, food was fresh made to order and very nice. We chose early seating traditional with 8 person table. Our table mates were incredible and very interesting the food was spectacular and we often doubled up on appetizers and deserts, a few people doubled on entrees and shared the extra. There was always something interesting on the menu. The share an intimate evening we also dined at Sabatini;s and the Bayou Café, both a premium price of $20 each and worth it. Service and food was impeccable and worth the extra coin. The late night pizza hit the right spot watching the movies under the stars.
Breakfest room service… AWESOME….
Tried to do the chef’s table but it was a no go as there was not enough interest.
PET PEEVE PRINCESS--- stop jacking up the prices and then don’t put it on because there is not enough interest… SERIOUSLY think that one through… JERKS…
ENTERTAINMENT – Stand up productions shown, well worth attending all of them, enjoyed them immensely. We also hit the bingo, a spousal mandatory function, why I’m not so sure. And I hit the texas hold’em tourney. With only one table this was sold out in a line 15 minutes before signup was open, needless to say we did it only once. The feature of the cruise was MUTS movies under the stars, this was a really cool way to wind down the evening. Football game on the big screen was perfect with a bucket of beer and mucho fans.
Never got to the wheelhouse bar but heard it was nicknamed the “wheelchair bar” not sure appropriate but a little funny.
Had a martini (or two) at Crooners and the choices were fantastic. Had a grey goose dirty with blue cheese stuffed olives…. to die for… was cool listening to the music in the atrium, very classy.
We did an art auction but bailed 10 minutes into it, thank goodness
Wanted to have a cigar in the Churchill Lounge but it was seriously over crowded, seen smokers out on deck 7, could not blame them, ventilation in the little lounge was sub par at best. Or you could have a smoke in early morning but it’s not the same.
EXCURSIONS – we did a private trip in Aruba tried to get on the trikes but that was sold out. Booked Madi’s tour, she was awesome but it’s not a recommend or a repeat. Booded the Princess canal tour to the pacific and that is a MUST DO… there was something about being able to touch the canal locks as we descended to the Pacific Ocean. Booked the Hacienda tour in Costa Rica, as a photographer have never seen so much eye candy, I could have spent days there. The traditional methods of agriculture were shown, bananas, macadamia nuts, coffee, and sugar cane… well worth this sleeper trip.
LOTUS SPA – Booked two appointments there a double close shave and scalp treatment for me and some therapy facial thing for her. Ok for a guy’s point of vie who has not paid more then $20 at a barber, this was pretty cool, the whole hot towel thing, the face paste and scalp message was very relaxing, not sure it was worth the coin but well worth the life experience. Spouse was very satisfied with her treatment, didn’t go into details, don’t need to know. Afterwards we were presented a list of absolutely need to have products, I was recommended the guck for puffy eyes and shaving oil scalp treatment and $550 later, it was all so necessary. After I regained my breath from choking and laughing at the same time I passed on the offer to purchase, Spouse got a $440 sell up which she passed on as well.
DOWNERS- did I mention the Chef’s table or lack there of… Parentless kids, Greedy lounge hoggers at the pool, $12 per person per day auto tips +15% of anything we purchased, then the bill presented to you to offer another gratuity on top of all that. Overselling products at the spa after a treatment, still have a pulled muscle from all the laughing and choking on that one. Way too many photo options at steep prices
UPPERS – Our room steward Nick… awesome job dude, slipped him a $20 for a job well done. The 24 hour international Café, perfect coffee and snacks and free herbal tea for the spouse… Breakfast room service on time, every time, the entire friendly staff,
OVERALL IMPRESSION – very happy to have selected the Princess Cruise Lines, not sure I will hit the 50 cruise mark, would like to do the Alaskan cruise next but that’s a few years out….