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Home > Member Reviews > kitkat343's Port Reviews of Aruba, Cartagena (Colombia), Colon (Cristobal), Ocho Rios

kitkat343's Port Reviews of Aruba, Cartagena (Colombia), Colon (Cristobal), Ocho Rios
Coral Princess cruise in January 2013
Member Name: kitkat343
Cruise Date: January 2013
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Member Review: kitkat343's Coral Princess Review
Aruba
Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
People interested in shopping in Aruba should note that the stores are not open on Sundays, and do not open until 10 am (except for the ones recommended by the ship at the shopping talk). In Aruba, it is very easy to find a cab driver to give you a tour of the highlights of the island, which include the Casibari rock formation and magnificent beaches. My mother and aunt greatly enjoyed the shopping, and my two year old son greatly enjoyed Philips Animal Garden, where you can have a very nice experience feeding lots of animals. After Aruba's zoo closed, the high profile animals found homes in Venezuelan zoos, and Phillip took in all the rest of the animals. He has created a wonderful home for them, and you can get lots of nice pictures with the animals.

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Cartagena (Colombia)
Port Rating: 5+ out of 5+
In Cartagena, we loved seeing the spectacular old city, and had an excellent private tour with Dora De Zubiria (dora@cartagenatour.com). Dora is a highly knowledgeable and experienced guide, and we greatly enjoyed her lovely tour of the old city. Please bring water and sunscreen since Cartagena is very warm and humid and there is a great deal of walking since cars are not allowed in the Old City. We also had a very nice lunch at the Club de Pesca (the Mariscos a la cartagenera allows you to sample a variety of excellent seafood). Please note that the service at Club de Pesca is very leisurely, so you should allocate enough time to return to the port (it is a short cab ride from the pier).
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Colon (Cristobal)
Gatun Lake Tour Rating: 1.0 out of 5+
The Princess Gatun lake cruise that we took was not very good, since there was very little wildlife (two monkeys and one sloth) and no other ships on Gatun lake. Wildlife and ship traffic are not guaranteed and on another day people might have more luck seeing interesting things on this tour but overall we were disappointed that our only Princess tour was the most disorganized tour we took on this cruise, and we would not want to utilize cruise tours in the future.


Gatun Locks Rating: 1.0 out of 5+
In Panama, the Coral Princess docks at Gatun Lake and only allows passengers who have signed up for a Princess tour to leave the boat, as per Panama Canal Authority regulations. The boat returns back through the locks and then docks in Colon, where passengers on Princess cruise tours are able to reboard. We signed up for a short tour Gatun Lakes Cruise and Locks so we would be able to give our son a nap before he got overtired. Unfortunately, we were not informed until the day before Panama when it was too late to switch tours that there would be a substantial gap between when our tour ends, and when we would be allowed to reboard the ship. We were told at the end of the tour that we would be allowed back on the ship in an hour when it docked. The ship arrived on time one hour later, but no one was allowed to board for another hour, and the Panamanian authorities would not tell us when we would be allowed to board. That led to two very long hours standing outside of an elevator at the port in Colon with a screaming toddler who needed to nap. If we had known about this gap ahead of time, we would have either chosen a longer tour with the Embera Indians or simply disembarked in Colon and taken a cab from Colon to the nearby Gatun locks (although if you are planning this, please check the operating hours at Gatun locks, since I don't know what time they close, and the docking time for the Princess boats at Colon can vary based upon canal traffic). People without children who take short Princess tours in Panama are not likely to experience significant problems with the delay in reboarding the ship, since there is a very affordable supermarket and several restaurants with free wifi in the Port of Colon.

The Princess Gatun lake cruise that we took was not very good, since there was very little wildlife (two monkeys and one sloth) and no other ships on Gatun lake. Wildlife and ship traffic are not guaranteed and on another day people might have more luck seeing interesting things on this tour but overall we were disappointed that our only Princess tour was the most disorganized tour we took on this cruise, and we would not want to utilize cruise tours in the future.

Travelers with disabilities or those with small children should note that there are approximately 150 steps to climb to reach the viewing platform at Gatun. There is a platform on ground level for visitors with disabilities, but you can't really see much from there. Parents can, however, take turns with one supervising children on the downstairs platform, and the other climbing the stairs to watch the locks in action. People with disabilities may prefer taking a Princess cruise tour that brings you directly to Miraflores locks, which has a restaurant, a museum explaining the history of building the Panama Canal, and an elevator. Miraflores was chosen to be the visitor center because it is located closest to Panama City, but Gatun generally has more ship traffic so you have more of an opportunity to see the locks in action at Gatun. Princess passengers who want to travel to Miraflores should book this tour prior to departure to ensure that it isn't sold out, since passengers will be unable to travel to Miraflores independently. You can also cancel tours on the boat (I believe they require 24 hours notice for a full refund) so please consider booking a Princess tour if you think you might want to travel to Miraflores.


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Ocho Rios
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
In Jamaica, we visited Dolphin Cove, which is an excellent stop for people with children or those who love animals. There are various swim with dolphin programs, and a dolphin touch programs for nonswimmers, pregnant women and children. The Princess tours do not allow children under the age of 8 to participate in dolphin touch programs, so if you want your children to participate in this excursion you would need to book it directly through the Dolphin Cove (and please don't tell them you are arriving on a cruise ship since previous trip advisor reviewers were refused booking when they told Dolphin cove they were traveling to Jamaica on a cruise). The Dolphin Cove has a lovely touch tank, where your child can hold starfish, and you can feed love birds by hand and get your photograph taken with lots of parrots on you. There is also an opportunity to take pictures with either sharks or stingrays. Please note the time of the shark show, since

this show is very bad and the performers in this are also the same people who help you pose with stingrays and sharks. You should visit the other attractions during the shark show, and for the 15 minutes prior to the shark show since the trainers are preparing for the show and can't help you touch the animals. Dolphin's Cove is also located right next to the spectacular Dunn's River Falls, which my family greatly enjoyed visiting. Lunch was excellent jerk chicken at Scotchie's. Richard Brooks at excursionochorios@gmail.com provided us with an excellent tour of Jamaica. He guided my family through Dunn's river falls, and helped my mother pick out an authentic Jamaican meal at Scotchies.

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