I recently sailed on the Coral Princess, out of Ft Lauderdale, through the Panama Canal, and on to Los Angeles, sail date 10-11-11.
Itinerary was main reason for booking Princess, ship went into Panama, and Aruba, two destinations I had not experienced before. Canal was on my 'bucket list'.. That being said, I need to impress on everyone, CHOOSE YOUR TRAVEL AGENT WISELY!!!!!! I used a 'friend', who advised me, when booking, to make it a 'final' booking, in other words, if ship didn't fill as expected, and price went DOWN, WE WOULD NOT GET A FEFUND OF FARE PAID, OVER AND ABOVE NEW FARE. Well, I talked to 30-40 people, conservatively, who not only got some HUGE refunds, but got 'upgraded'... beyond any of their wildest expectations.
This would not have been such an issue, but, the ship is what I would classify as a sailing 'Howard Johnsons'... dating myself, but truly the room steward, the staff in general, and some of the entertainment, were all that I can say anything positive about.
The cabin, (a balcony) had a shower that 90% of the passengers would not fit into. There was no 'shower gel', 'shower cap', or 'kleenex' in the room. Steward explained, only 'mini suites', and up, get such things. I attempted to purchase some 'Spa' Gel, 'Elemis' but, lo, they were out of it!!! Bear in mind that HAL provides all you need of that high end 'gel'... to inside cabins... everyone! I usually travel alone, and have had my share of remote cabins, should I supply my own toilet paper, should I cruise Princess again, alone in an inside cabin????
The food was really not very good. I went to the Dining room only 3 times, in the 14 day cruise, because nothing looked very good. Any seafood was dry(frozen too long), and tasteless. Meat, not high quality, steak, not tasting like 'steak' waiters very attentive, and caring, but could not make food better than what kitchen prepared. No l'escargot, French onion soup, creme brulee on the 'LEFT MENU', traditionally the daily offerings. Wow, the Buffet, at least there was visual choice, the things that I actually liked, the breakfast 'rice', the grits, and pastries, (were what put the 9 lbs. on my backside.) Scrambled eggs, out of a carton, were strange, but I got used to them, the bacon was delicious!!! Real eggs were available, but long waits, (not worth it.) No smoked salmon, with onion, capers, and a real bagel, not there. Bagels were 'white bread' in a round shape.
Sounds like I'm being a picky jerk, but bear in mind we paid top dollar for this trip!!!
Also, there was a fee, or charge for nearly everything. I was really affronted at every turn, with 'extra' charges, for everything. My trip into the 'Old City'... in Cartegena, Columbia was easy, because, you realized these people really needed the $$$$.... Princess, not so much, I had to even 'beg' for ice, and water in my cabin, What???????? And did I mention, another first. "anytime" dining, up to a 45 minute wait, with an 'Olive Garden' style vibrator?
Normally I eat a 'good' diet on-board, salmon, chicken etc., that are cooked in a moist, and tasty way, then sauced or gravied well, not so on this ship.
Just saying, if the quality, means anything to you, heed my advice, and decide what is right for you!!!!!