We took this cruise because of its itinerary and because we wanted to become Elite with Princess before our March, 2014 31 day "Around the Horn" cruise on Golden Princess. We are experienced cruisers and are also Elite with Celebrity Cruise Lines.
We like to cruise out of LA because we can drive to the port or, in this case, to the airport. We parked our vehicle at LAX and met Princess representatives at Delta arrivals for our bus ride to the ship. Or transition was very smooth and professional and we were able to walk right to the check-in counter and were on the ship in five minutes.
We were quickly shown to our cabin and greeted by our steward--who was fantastic.
The ship met all of our expectations and then some. There were never any lines or too many passengers crowded into one place. Seating was always available for show and in lounges. This ship is perfectly sized in our opinion.
Dining is always important and we had early seating. We may not do early seating next time because it is just a bit early if you've been ashore on a tour, etc.. The food was good but it seems that this is an area where all cruise lines are cutting back some. We used the International Café for morning coffee and purchased a coffee card--a very good deal if you like specialty coffees and, the coffee at the Café is the best on the ship. The staff at the Café was amazingly good. A pastry here was usually adequate but sometimes we went to the Horizon Court for breakfast. Their selections were also adequate and there was always abundant fruit, juice, etc. and the service very friendly and almost instantaneous. We rarely ate lunch other than an occasional slice of pizza or a hamburger or hot dog from the grill. The soft-serve ice cream was also good. Dinner time was delightful with our table mates and the great service. As I mentioned, I think the evening dining experience as far as food goes is not what it once was. That being said, they've tried to push their specialty dining rooms, The Bayou and Sabatini's. These two restaurants have large dining areas taking up a lot of space but, from what we saw, few diners. The $20 a person extra charge brings you what I believe is the same meal you used to get in the regular dining room. We did not use these specialty restaurants and we heard mixed reviews about them from other passengers.
On longer cruises we always look forward to the Scholarship at Sea presentations. This is the area that Princess really let us down. There were two presenters. There was a male and female who were astronomers, and they were very good. The other presenter who seemed to be on every day was a complete zero. He was supposed to lecture on the Mayans, Aztecs and other Latin American history and historical figures. We are former teachers and could not stand the way he murdered the English language. He also could not pronounce Spanish words and gave out a lot of personal opinion as fact. As an example, he said the Mayans had extraterrestrial help building their monuments and that the Mayans tried to save the people of Atlantis. He also was the narrator during the Canal transit and gave preposterous information--too much to list here. (An example, he pointed out an alligator on the bank of the canal and said it weighed 4,800 pounds.) We were very disappointed that Princess would have a "lecturer" of such poor quality on their ship.
Back to the positive. The entertainment was varied and excellent. They have two venues for shows on the Coral and they are both good places to see a show. The production shows were amazing and the individual entertainers were excellent. The lounge performers were first rate as were the other bands and groups that played throughout the ship. Good stuff.
Disembarkation was smooth but a little prolonged. Because of our level with Princess we were able to take our time getting out of our cabin and we had a special lounge to wait for our group to leave. They had coffee and juices and pastries for us there as well. We had taken, through Princess, an extra night in Ft. Lauderdale at the Embassy Suites so as not to be rushed as far as the airport goes. Princess handled the transportation to the hotel and gave us a cab voucher for the next day's trip to the airport. The cab voucher was nice as it enabled us to go to the airport when we wanted rather than take a bus with a lot of other people who weren't necessarily on our schedule.
With the exception of the one lecturer, the trip was a huge success and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
We highly recommend Princess and the Coral Princess.