First, EMBARKMENT went quickly and very smoothly. We did not have to wait to get through to the terminal. Once in the terminal we waited approximately 20 minutes before we were quietly and without rush boarded onto the ship. We found our cabins quickly and easily. My husband and I explored the ship and were able to find our way around the ship with great ease.
CABIN: We reserved a cabin with a balcony. It has been commented by other Coral Princess cruisers that the shower is extremely small. Yes, it's small but quite servicable. The bathroom is quite roomy, the closet/changing area is wonderfully large, the bedroom is fine and the balcony is the highlight. The cabin service was impeccable. Carman kept our room spotlessly clean. We always had clean towels no matter when we used our towels, freshly cleaned room and she is a quiet, sweet woman. The ship itself was always being cleaned, painted and varnished. A superb ship that offered clean chaise lounges, immaculate decks and almost-invisible, efficient ship's personnel.
DINING: We chose the Personal Choice Dining which allowed us freedom to eat whenever and wherever we wanted. Breakfast: We always ate breakfast up in the Horizon Court Buffet. Anything you could think of to eat for breakfast was there. The food was always presented in a clean tasteful fashion and the personnel working there were always friendly and smiling. If we happen to choose a table that didn't have silverware wrapped in a linen napkin, it would appear at our elbow as we sat down. The servers would ask us what we'd like for drink and were always quick to help in any other way. The tables were always kept clean and inviting. Lunch: We only snack at home, so we tried keeping with this habit on our cruise - VERY hard to do with all the gorgeously appealing dishes presented to us in the Horizon. They always offered fresh fruit, cheeses, premade sandwiches (which were different every day) and the best - fresh breads and sliced cold meats and cheeses. There were other dishes offered, hot and cold. We were unsuccessful in keeping with just fruits and cheeses for lunch! Dinner: Although the Bayou Cafe Steakhouse - $15 cover charge and Sabatini's Trattoria - $20 cover charge are offered, we were more than pleased with the meals offered in the Bordeaux Dining Room. We met a wonderful couple not only in the hotel the night before boarding the Coral Princess, but we met in the Bordeaux Dining Room. We ended up finding a table that was extremely pleasing and service that was perfect. We enjoyed our dinners on board the ship with each dinner usually lasting at least 2 hours. Every evening the left side of the menu would have alternative dining choices which pretty much remained the same and would offer four courses with two to four choices per course. Each evening the menu on the right would change with a variety of choices for each course. Dessert was on its own menu and offered only after we thoroughly enjoyed our first three courses. The two dress codes: "Smart Casual" - Basically no short-shorts, cut-off jeans, bathing suits. "Formal" for the men varied from tuxedos to slacks, sports jacket and tie. Ladies: Go for it! If you want fancy, wear it. If you prefer less "formal" wearing a nice skirt/blouse or dress and anything but sneakers for footwear.
THE PRINCESS PATTER: Whoever takes the trouble to publish this little daily newsletter should be commended. This is the cruise ship's publication that is found on our beds every evening. It's the perfect little newsletter that lets us, the passengers, know exactly what's going on the next day. Everything that is happening on the ship was in the daily publication. I was wondering why there wasn't any recognition to the people who put this valuable material together.
ROOM SERVICE: Perfect with every detail.
TOUR DESK: I wish we had used them instead of planning our shore excursions in advance.
ENTERTAINMENT: Much better than some professional performances found here in Kansas City! We were delighted with our many choices. The Coral Princess Dancers were absolutely fabulous. We're still trying to figure out how they kept their balance while the stage was rocking and rolling. Al Katz was absolutely fabulously funny. Larry Dunsmore was a delight. He is an average vocalist but great on the piano and can joke with passing passengers to the delight of his audience. He played in the Atrium so his field of comic scenery was ever-changing. There was always something for everyone on this cruise.
Some of ports are not included on the "Ports Review" list, so I have included them below:
HAUTULCO, MEXICO: All water excursions were cancelled - for good reason. We unexpectedly ran into the Tehauntepecanos. These are winds that can increase in strength without warning. The winds got to 90 mph with surf from 5-7 feet high! We spent 1 1/2 days in rough waters. The port itself was a delight. The beaches, even with high winds, were gorgeous.
Finally got to PUNTARENAS, COSTA RICA: Well worth the stop. We did the Original Canopy Tour at Mahogany Park. The description on www.princess.com is absolutely correct except they don't tell you how absolutely exciting, fun and safe this tour is. A definite must. We did not see many birds, but the actually Native experience was worth every minute.
PUERTO AMADOR, PANAMA: Authentic Embera Indian Village. What a wonderful experience. Going in their dug-out canoes and being greeted by a young group playing their native instruments (flutes and drums). After being greeted we walked up into their village where we were permitted to go into their lodgings and wander the village. We were given American bread with cold cuts and cheese before we sat around their central meeting building and were explained the various plants and animals and their function with the Embera people. A very interesting, educational and wonderful tour.
PANAMA CANAL: What's to say about this day of ever changing scenery. What an engineering marvel. On our way to Colombia the Captain came on the loudspeaker and announced that by Maritime Law, we were requested (and required) to assist in a rescue mission. A Tuna vessel had sunk and 18 crew members needed to be rescued. There is two suggestions I would like to see Princess Cruise line do. First, keep their website up-to-date. A lot of the excursions they had listed when we signed up for the cruise were either unavailable or non-existant. We do realize that companies come and go but some of the excursions we wanted to take were still listed even a week before our cruise was to leave Los Angeles. Also another point of interest that would have been helpful is to be informed whether there were local merchants within walking distance of the ship. Of course if we knew this, there are some excursions we would not have taken.
DISEMBARKMENT: Easy! Fill out some paperwork the night before we dock. Wake up and have a nice last breakfast in the Horizon Court then disembark at our leisure. Although we were assigned times for disembarkment we found that people got off the ship according to their plans. Some people had planes to catch so they left early. Some passengers relaxed on their balcony and watched the dock workers unload and start reloading the ship. Once we got off the ship, getting around the Immigration and getting to our hotel was easy. I would recommend cruising with Princess to anyone.