Coral Princess Cruise Review by cpalaw: Alaskan takes an Alaskan Cruise from Whittier in May 2011
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Alaskan takes an Alaskan Cruise from Whittier in May 2011
As first time cruisers we had to learn everything from the Internet and asking questions of our booking agent. It took me awhile to get to where I am now and probably still have a lot to learn. I had been to all out ports of call before and have lived and vacationed in the areas so my shore excursions are not the purpose of this review. I would rather pass on my experiences to maybe help others going through this process.
I liked the fact that the Coral Princess only held around 2000 passengers. I was surprised by what I thought was a rather older group and how many people needed some kind of assistance in getting around. The elevators always had a line so we stuck to the stairs. I picked a cabin in midships and was pleased that I did--quick to forward and aft as needed. I agonized which over which cabin category and decided to splurge (in case we never sailed again) and this turned out to be my best move. We ended up on Deck 10, Caribe in a mini-suite, category AA-mid-ship. More What I liked--tub in the bathroom, 2 dozen hangers, a queen size couch that could fold down and a feeling of size. We made full use of our cabin and its deck. Because our cabin was larger the deck was smaller than those around us and only held 2 chairs. Cabin was quiet even though near stairs. Points to note--safe in room is very small-barely could hold my Kindle and not meant for bulky items. Plenty of dresser room, no outlets in bathroom, hairdryer over desk, same with outlets.
We went with anytime dining which means the Bourdeaux dining room. We heard that you can make reservations there after 7:30 p.m. but didn't partake. If you show up and no tables are available they will give you a pager--longest wait was 20 minutes. As there were just the 2 of us you can request a table for 2 or take whatever opens up. Our tables for 2 were so close to the other table for 2 that you end up talking to them. For the most part we had great table-mates but than had a couple that made you want to bolt. An issue--over lunch if they seat you at a large table (i.e. 10 seats) you have to wait until the table is full before you can order--one lunch it took us 15 minutes as savvy cruisers saw the size of the table and asked to be sent elsewhere.
Food and service. Outstanding service no matter where we ate. I guess my expectations on the food were too high. We tried the specialty dining at the Bayou Cafe for a nice steak-fillet for me and a porterhouse for her. Good cut of meat just no flavor. Bread-pudding turned out to be just pudding--no bread. I gained no weight on the trip. We only ate at the Horizon Court for breakfast--typical buffet food and generally crowded. One thing I learned is that they will serve limit quantities of food not offered in the dining rooms. We had reports of plates of sushi being served. If you go be prepared to be bumped and trampled as people go for the food--saw some "mile high" full plates and some that didn't make it back to the table.
Entertainment. It was good and varied. If a show starts at 8:15 p.m. make sure you show up anywhere from 15-20 minutes early for a seat. Late show usually wasn't as bad. Keep moving around until you find something you like. Movies under the stars is a great concept but probably better suited for the warmer climates--anyway too much other stuff to do.
Formal dress. I really agonized over this. In the end I brought a suit. She really wanted to dress up. No they will not throw you out of the dining room if you aren't wearing a tux or suit. A nice shirt or sweater would get you in. Sunday night at sea was the first formal night and people really did dress up nice. The second night--Wednesday out of Juneau--was a little less formal. It did add some fun and I would probably do it again but maybe just a sports coat. Overall, some people dressed as if they had never left their home and others tried to be smart casual and relish what it must have been like in the older days.
Best Bet. Sign up for the Ultimate Ship Tour. They only take around a dozen passengers at the end of the cruise and it does cost $150 but the best money I spent. We had a 4 hour tour that included among other places--the galley, medical facilities, navigation and other parts of the ship off limits to the passengers. I came away with four pictures, a chef's jacket and a bath rob plus lots of snacks in between. If too many people sign up they have a drawing.
Quick thoughts. I did not like all the photographers holding me up for pictures. Pizza and hamburgers filled a hunger but nothing special. Not many gamblers and in fact couldn't get some tables up and going. It was one of the few places you could smoke which kept a lot of folks out. Pools were OK but the hot tubs better--great weather but no real crowds. Easy to find spots to hang out on the deck or just sit and relax. They have some great chairs aft and out of the wind. No one seemed to be paying for the Lotus and its Sanctuary. Wine--We always bought 2 bottles while on shore and never had a problem with security and even paid the corkage fee one night for dinner. Brought our own bottled water as well and saved some bucks--did drink tap water at meals.
Summary. I would cruise again. I would invest in the best cabin I could justify, be pleasantly surprised if the food was really good, stick to smaller ships and hope for great weather. PS. I tell all my family and guests to come up in May for the best chance of good weather. Less
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Cabin review: Coral Princess Mini-Suite with Balcony Caribe Deck C504
C504 Category AA Great cabin next to mid ship stairs-quick access. Right across from crew space--luggage lifts and cabin stewards but not noisy. Cabin has a full tub--high step to get in and out so may not be suitable for certain people--no real safety bar. No outlets in bathroom. Hairdryer over desk in living area--same for outlets. Larger mini suite meant less balcony space--only room for 2 chairs vs. the 4 that others around us had. King-size sofa that converted into queen size bed. Side chair as well. Lots of hangers and dresser space. Roller duffel bags fit under bed so no storage problem. Balcony had glass side aft which gave less privacy but allowed us to watch everyone else and talk as we wanted to those besides and below us.
Port and Shore Excursions
There is a lot to in Juneau but we were only in port from 6:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. We had great weather and I would have certainly recommend all the excursions. The problem is that if the weather is bad it isn't as much fun--I will not get in a small plane or helicopter with marginal weather.