The cruise started off with a quick non-stop flight from RDU into FLL. Our bags arrived at the luggage carousel quickly and after an easy taxi ride, we arrived at the port. Check in was the quickest we've ever had -â€" EMBARKATION GETS 10 OUT OF 10! We were onboard around noon, found our room and dropped on the carry-ons and headed for lunch on the Lido deck.
This cruise started off great and continued to be a wonderful cruise. We love Coral and Island Princess. They're such a nice size -â€" about 1,000 less passengers than the larger ships and almost all the same amenities. One thing they don't have that I miss is the International Cafe. Perhaps, it will be added during the next dry dock :D
As far as the cruise goes, the Panama Canal is al ways an awesome experience. It's amazing to think this structure was built so long ago with so little technology and is still 100% functioning. You could see the construction for the new super canal that will accommodate today's larger ships to be completed in the next few years.
The ports were mostly interesting and the weather was great, maybe a little too hot. The one port I think they could skip is Cartagena and one they could add more port time in is Aruba.
Some of the things that deserve high praise on this cruise:
Food - The wonderful dining room staff in the Bordeaux Dining Room. We had terrific waiters: Dexter and Ferdinand. The food in the dining room and specialty restaurants was very good. I think Princess does the best job with dining room food than any other line. We ate at both specialty restaurants: Bayou Cafe and Steakhouse and Sabatini's and they were excellent. The soft serve on the Lido deck was also excellent. The pizza not so much.
Entertainment -â€" Some of the production shows were amazing. Due to the theater arrangements on Coral, they are able to do more elaborate shows than some other ships. The first show, "Dance" was spectacular. The singers and dancers were some of the best we've seen on cruises. Another big plus in the area of entertainment was dancing music on board. The Wheelhouse group -â€" Nexus -â€" was one of the best we've ever heard on a cruise ship. The Wheelhouse dance floor on Coral is also a good size so that makes the dancing much more enjoyable. The hidden treasure of this cruise was the group in the Bayou Cafe -â€" Perry Phillips Trio. They were GREAT! Part of the Bayou Cafe is set up as a bar/lounge and anyone can stop by for a drink or dance to this wonderful group. The floor was good size -â€" particularly when there weren't many dancers. I don't think many people realized you don't have to eat there to dance there. We also had the orchestra play a couple of times -â€" way to few times if you ask me. They were very good with "big band" style music -â€" which we love -â€" and we would have loved for them play more.