9 Acapulco to Panama Canal & Central America Princess Coral Princess Cruise Reviews

24 April-Acapulco EmbarkationWe spent 2 nights in Acapulco prior to the cruise, there were no problems whatsoever and we felt no threats or danger. We stuck to the touristy things-cliff divers, Papagayo Park, the Zocalo (where we ate ... Read More
24 April-Acapulco EmbarkationWe spent 2 nights in Acapulco prior to the cruise, there were no problems whatsoever and we felt no threats or danger. We stuck to the touristy things-cliff divers, Papagayo Park, the Zocalo (where we ate breakfast with normal Mexican people in a cafe) and some markets. We also did the Walmart run to stock up on soft drinks-Dr Pepper, sunscreen and bug spray. We got to the cruise terminal around 3pm, very easy embarkation; the whole thing took about 15 minutes. I was surprised to see our cabin had been changed from the originally booked B221 to B322 and was worried as I had done no research on this cabin. We followed the crew's directions to our new cabin and were VERY happily surprised and shocked to see a BALCONY!!! We had been given a huge 17 category upgrade from JJ to BC! I took the initial photos with the cabin in pristine condition, then we dropped the backpacks and ran upstairs to check out the buffet. After stuffing ourselves silly, we went off to explore the ship a bit, then back to the cabin to unpack. Our room steward came by to introduce himself, nice guy from the Philippines who was happy to learn we had just been there last year in Palawan. We went up to the pool for a while, then back down to get ready for muster which was 7:30pm, half an hour before sail away. Then we were up on the deck for sail away as we watched the lights of Acapulco fade away. Time for more food so back to the buffet, and then we finished up the night with the Welcome Aboard show hosted by cruise director, Billy Hygate.25 April-HuatulcoHad to get up fairly early for breakfast then meet in the Princess Theatre for our shore excursion-Eco-walk and Bird-Watching. This was a small tour, only 10 people, two of whom were very keen birders and had been to Central America before and knew most of the species. The guide was excellent and he found a lot of interesting birds for us. Of course my favourites were the Orange-chinned parakeets but we saw lots of very pretty birds like trogons, flycatchers, a motmot and the local Crested Blue Jay who was gorgeous. We only had a short stop here so after the tour, we had a chance for some quick shopping to get rid of our leftover pesos, and then back on board. We ate at the buffet again, and then saw the production show "Dance" which was pretty good. Then we went to Explorers Lounge to play the Majority Rules game which was loads of fun and definitely "adults only"!26 April-At SeaOur first sea day was very relaxing and gave us more time to appreciate the ship. We had breakfast in the dining room for a change and the Eggs Florentine was delicious.Then we went to the port talk given by a fellow Aussie-Adam. He only spoke briefly about San Juan del Sur and Puntarenas and spent more time talking about Ocho Rios and the shopping there. He had "Savvy Shopper" packages on offer which give you a nice portfolio and a coupon book but we passed knowing we wouldn't have enough time for shopping (or money). We both went up to the pool for a while; I was more interested in relaxing in the Jacuzzi after the long walk yesterday. We had pizza and hotdogs for lunch by the pool-both of which were really good. Ina went back to the pool and I went to a port lecture by Dr Thomas Ryan called "Mayas, Lords of the Jungle" which was pretty interesting. He had a quiz afterwards and I won a huge 650 page book called "The Path Between the Seas" by knowing one of the answers.This was our first formal night and while we didn't have real formal wear, we did our best for the Captain's Welcome Aboard party and Champagne Waterfall. We didn't do any of the photos opps, just seemed a bit contrived with a waiter helping people slosh champagne all over the place so I concentrated on getting as many free glasses as I could before they stopped serving free champagne. We opted for the buffet as many people were in tuxes and business suits tonight. There were servers at the buffets and I assumed this was because of formal night because the servers were in formal uniforms. The production show was "Motor City" which was a nice medley of Motown hits and cool costumes.27 April-San Juan Del Sur, NicaraguaWe had to get up early for breakfast and there were still servers at the buffet, we weren't allowed to serve ourselves much to my annoyance. I found out some people had gotten Montezuma's Revenge in Mexico and the ship staff won't allow anyone to serve themselves at the buffet. They won't even let you put your own condiments on the hotdogs and burgers on deck 15 either. We met in the Princess Theatre for the tour-Masaya Market, Masaya Volcano and Granada City Tour. This time there were two large buses full, we got one of the Princess camera crews so hopefully we will be on the DVD. The market was awesome-lots of bird souvenirs and I went nuts over feather paintings and other artworks. The stop was way too short; we only got through half the market before we were rushed back to the bus. We did the most shopping though we saw some people with hammocks and other goodies. The stop at the volcano was a brief peek into the cauldron and a viewpoint at the top of the stairs which we decided to view from the bottom. The lunch stop at La Filete was OK but basic food. The final stop was at Granada which is a beautiful colonial city with lots of old buildings and churches. I managed to catch a free wifi signal near the museum and download emails. There was a dance performance in the zocalo with nice costumes. On the way back to the ship, we had time so made a stop on Lake Nicaragua to see the volcano. Closer to the ship, I spotted about 10 monkeys in trees and shouted out but the guide wouldn't stop. I also saw a motmot (national bird of Nicaragua) but once again, they didn't stop. There was a small market near the ship, then we had to get the tender back to the ship. By dinnertime, I was annoyed to see servers at the buffet again; I was hoping they would let us choose our own food. I tend to be a gutsier traveller and neither of us are the sort who get sick so I wasn't the least bit worried unless the sickness screwed up other aspects of the cruise like ports of call. Other people seemed to be happy with the overkill of germ prevention. The evening's entertainment was a magician called Gaetano and his assistant Heidi who managed to change in and out of her skimpy outfits very rapidly. We crashed out early knowing tomorrow would be an early day.28 April-Puntarenas, Costa RicaUgh-still more buffet-serving paranoia! Are they ever going to let us serve ourselves? We finished quickly, then managed to get down to the docks and were allowed off 15 minutes early. Our guide, Alvaro from Odyssey Tours hadn't arrived yet but he showed up before 7am and handed us to his birding guide-Nestor who studies biology and knows birds very well. We headed off to Carara National Park to see the scarlet macaws, this is one of the rare places in the world where they are common and can be easily found. The trails were muddy because the first rain of the season had been the previous night and we were struggling to stay on our feet. Ina was the first to fall flat on his back-not hurt but got all muddy. I later fell on my side because I was protecting my camera. We spent about an hour watching the scarlet macaws come and go, then headed back to one of the main trails near the park entrance. There weren't many birds on this side but the leaf-cutter ants were really interesting. From Carara, we went to the town of Tarcoles but decided to pass on the crocodile show, head straight for lunch at a typical Costa Rican lady's home and then shopping at Molas and Cafe which had a nice selection and accepted credit cards (I was in trouble, LOL). The final stop was the El Manantial Sanctuary also called Lapa Sanctuary to see Costa Rican birds up close flying free. On the way, we saw a beautiful motmot (national bird of Nicaragua) and 2 trogons nesting. The sanctuary was really nice, most of the macaws were free to come and go as they pleased but chose to hang around for the free food. All the birds here had been recovered from smugglers or private collections. There were also some non-Costa Rican birds like Hyacinth Macaws, cockatoos and eclectus. Nestor dropped us back at the end of the market near the ship where I quickly bought some more parrot art and we made it back on the ship in time. Back on the ship, we had to really rush eating and get back to the Adrian Zmed concert which was a really great show in the Universe Lounge. After the show, we did a quick casino run to get cash on our cruise cards to pay for shopping and tours without paying a cash advance fee. We would each take a $100 draw, play a few rounds on the slot machines and then cash in. Most cases, we came out a couple dollars ahead.29 April-At Sea/Royal WeddingI set my alarm for 4:30 am and was up to the MUTS screen to watch the royal wedding in time to see the royal family arrive and the actual wedding. Catherine Middleton was of course a stunning bride and it's pretty special to have the memory of watching the wedding from the top deck of a cruise ship off the coast of Panama. After the balcony kiss, I went to the dining room for breakfast; Ina has eaten long ago and was lounging around the pool. The Eggs Benedict were good and I shared the table with a couple others who had gotten up for the wedding. I made a quick casino run, and then noticed several adults sitting around doing arts and crafts with posters and construction paper near the casino. I decided to make a "From Panama With Love" poster featuring a scarlet macaw for tomorrow. I had to grab a quick pizza, and then rush back down for the port lecture on Panama by Dr Thomas Ryan. By this time, I was pretty tired but decided to stay awake until after the show because of the early Panama day. There weren't any production shows but there was a celebration of the 100th ship to join the Carnival Corporation, a humongous cake and free champagne, so I managed to drink 4 glasses as Ina doesn't like champagne. Ready to crash, I set the alarm and passed out. Ina watched a movie.30 April-Panama Canal/ColonWe were up before dawn as the ship headed towards the canal. Dr Ryan began his narration around 6am and unfortunately told everyone about the "secret" deck at the front of Baja and Caribe decks so it started to get crowded. We stayed up front through Miraflores locks, and then ran back to the balcony when the ship photographers appeared on our side of the ship. Our balcony was on the port side and we got to see all the passing ships up close. We stayed on the balcony for most of the crossing as we were getting good views of passing ships and the land though no parrots were seen, just sea birds. We got to see a few cruise ships passing-Sea Princess, Amsterdam and Regency Seven Seas. It got hot as we approached Gatun locks so we went back up front for a while to see how the locks work which was really interesting. We docked in Colon half an hour late and it was a madhouse to get off the ship with lines doubled up to the casino and back, then a madhouse in the few souvenir shops available. I did manage to find a few nice molas at prices similar to the shop in Costa Rica. The only way to get a better price is to get away from the touristy places. I got online to check emails from the coffee shop-free with purchase of drink, and then boarded the ship just in time for sail away. Because we were late, we almost forgot the production show in Universe Lounge-Tribute but saw half the show. We had some buffet food before turning in for the night.1 May-At SeaFinally a day we didn't have to get up early! We lazed around the pool and Jacuzzi all morning, and then I went to the port lecture called "Pirates of the Caribbean" after lunch. We did another casino run without much luck this time but lost about $2 between us. Other than the port lecture, there wasn't much of interest going on; a couple of ballroom classes, trivia, a cooking demo might have attracted others. The production show "What a Swell Party" was really good with a roaring 20's theme and nice costumes. We watched the 3rd heat of the karaoke competition which was amusing but one guy was really good. Next was the Newlywed Game which was hilarious and got VERY personal and adult!! Once we got back to the room, I put on CNN and saw the fantastic news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by US Navy Seals which totally made our day!2 May-Ocho RiosAfter the usual buffet breakfast, we were disappointed to see rain over the island of Jamaica-not good for bird watching. We docked on time and got off the ship very easily, no long lines. Wendy Lee, our birding guide picked us up and took us to a great place for yellow-billed parrots where we had good views and spent an hour watching them frolic while trying to keep my camera dry. Some olive throated parakeets showed up briefly but disappeared when the rain started up again. Fern Gully was closed due to maintenance and it was too rainy to go into the hills with the camera gear so we went to Wendy's sanctuary and saw some native parrots she had rescued up close until we got rained out again. It was only a 6 hour cruise stop so we had to head back to town as I wanted to see Enchanted Gardens again. It's changed since 2008, Clarence doesn't work there anymore but the new aviary guide-Damien also really loves birds and has a nice rapport with them. We did save the admission as we didn't book a full tour, the manager just let us go to the aviary for free and we tipped Damian $10 for a half hour visit. My little Jamaican parakeet-Tiki whom I had named last time we were there was doing great and loves to sit on peoples' heads! After r the tour, Wendy dropped us at Island Village where I managed to get online and check emails for free at Bluemont cafe (with purchase) make sure our pet parrots were doing fine with the bird sitter, then do a bit of shopping. We finished off the day with a visit to Margaritaville to have some jerked pork and buy more t-shirts with parrots on them. Of course when we boarded the ship, the weather was beautiful!Back on the ship, we grabbed some pizza, and then took a break to see a movie-Social Network and relax a bit. The entertainment was really fun, they had adults (most over 50) batting balloons around like little kids and acting silly, then the crew put on a talent show that featured Indian dancing, several singers, tap dancing, hip-hop and a surprise performance by cruise director Billy Hygate of "If I Were a Rich Man" that was worthy of any theatre on the West End or Broadway.3 May-At SeaLast sea day and a chance to sleep in and eat breakfast in the dining room for a change-more Eggs Benedict. Then we began the horrendous duty of packing, went down to see the last lecture by Dr Ryan about Fidel Castro. I managed to win a CD of his book by answering a question right. We picked up the cruise DVDs and went back to finish packing. Lunch was a yummy Italian buffet with expanded pastry bar and we stuffed ourselves silly again. Not much to do in the afternoon, just an arts and crafts class and I made one last casino run with a small win. We spent the afternoon at the pool and hot tub, and then rested a bit before going to the dining room for dinner-just couldn't resist Baked Alaska. The show was a couple doing piano and banjo tunes, then we caught the finals of Princess Pop Star. 4 May-Disembarkation Fort LauderdaleOne last chance to stuff ourselves at a breakfast buffet and then we carried our own stuff off the ship. No dramas, we went with the assigned group, smooth entry into the USA and we were off to get the rental car. The shuttle was a regular bus that let us out at the airport where we had to get our rental car. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Room #C204 AF (mini suite, no balcony) CategoryEmbarkation: We flew from Tijuana (we live in San Diego) to Acapulco on Volaris Air. This was a nice experience (great price, too!) even though practically none of the employees spoke ... Read More
Room #C204 AF (mini suite, no balcony) CategoryEmbarkation: We flew from Tijuana (we live in San Diego) to Acapulco on Volaris Air. This was a nice experience (great price, too!) even though practically none of the employees spoke English. The airplane was clean and the seats were comfortable (leather). We took the red eye flight from Tijuana to ACA; landed at 6:30 AM and had a tour / airport pick up scheduled with Rudy (www.tourbyvan.com). What a GREAT choice!! Rudy had Roger waiting for us at the airport, with our names on a sign, right on time. Roger was smiling and patient with us, even though it was so early in the morning and he had worked late the night before. He took us to Super Wal-Mart to stock up on bottled water and additional supplies before meeting up w/ the rest of our group for the tour.If you are in Acapulco, you simply MUST book Rudy and his company, for a tour. This is the best way to spend a day!Embarkation: We arrived at the ACA terminal around 3:30 PM. There were no lines, at all, and we were greeted with a cold towel. We were literally on the ship in under 7 minutes flat! Also, our bags were waiting for us as soon as we arrived at our cabin. This is the 1st time my luggage has arrived at the cabin before I did! Nice touch, Princess! We also brought on a box of wine (Black Box is the brand and it is quite yummy!) and Princess didn't even blink an eye. I LOVE that Princess is not as strict on alcohol/wine as all the other major main lines are... This is a BIG plus in my book!Room: We had a mini-suite, category AE, no balcony. Nice size, overall. We were in C204, which is all the way forward. Having only stayed mid-ship and AFT, I wasn't sure how this would be in regard to feeling lots of movement. That was a non-issue. Also, it was nice having the 'secret door' right outside our cabin to enjoy the large deck since our cabin did not have a balcony. There was decent storage and the bathroom was OK in size. I must comment that if Princess does NOT get the smoking issue under control, I fear that many of us will not cruise with them again. Our cabin was filled with the stench of what smelled like old cigarette smoke. Since there was no balcony door to open, we had no choice but to request that the walls be scrubbed down, the drapes drycleaned and the carpets steam cleaned. That helped, but since our next door neighbors were smoking, the smell was always lingering. This was a common complaint throughout the ship. Princess -- if you are reading this, take note of how your competitors handle this issue. Smokers have a choice of to smoke or not to smoke, non-smokers don't have a choice on whether they breathe or not! The casino was VERY smoky, which was GREAT, since it kept me out of there (Princess -- are you taking note of lost revenue here??!!). Hallways smelled smoky, too. I must also comment on Princess' movie choice, Black Swan. Truly, this was NOT appropriate for a group/mixed company setting. For those of you who have not viewed this film, just know that it is barely one step above pornography! How embarrassing to be with a group of new friends, taking in a movie, where it is so uncomfortable, you wish could just disappear! Princess -- shame on you!! If you insist on showing such a naughty/explicit film, please, have the courtesy to edit it (like the airlines do) before subjecting your passengers to it in a group setting. I am NOT a prude, at all, but this made all of our group very uncomfortable and we all walked out (as did lots of other passengers, shaking their heads on the way out of the theater). The MUTS selection was very slim (but at least those movies weren't pornographic!), and I know that Princess could do much better with their selection. Perhaps they should take a note from HAL's screening rooms? Dining: We had early seating at 5:30 PM. Princess -- I really enjoyed that dinner is at 5:30 PM instead of 6:00. That gives us extra time to make the earlier shows. Thanks!! The menu was OK... I, of course, enjoyed the fettuccini alfredo (had grilled chicken added) and it was good (heavy, but good). I must comment that Princess' dessert selection is quite awful when compared to Celebrity or HAL. The ice cream consistently tastes like a science experiment (picture heavy, day old cream with very little sweetness to it and touch of freezer burn!). When I ordered the Volcano dessert, all I can say is YUCK! That was nothing but a giant bowl of whipped cream/chocolate sauce, banana (this was the ONLY place we found bananas on our trip!...the boat was out of bananas the entire time!) and the tiniest scoop of chocolate ice cream you have ever seen. Truly awful tasting, unless you love whipped cream swimming in chocolate sauce and no ice cream. I am not sure why the Volcano has such a following on Cruise Critic... Maybe I just had a bad one? I guess that Princess did us a favor by not having great desserts since we did not gain any weight on this journey!Service in all areas was superb! Waiters are very nice and prompt. Pursers desk attendants are always kind and helpful. You are constantly greeted with a big smile and a "good morning/afternoon/evening" by all crew members. The singers/dancers did an EXCELLENT job! I definitely think they had better performances that the Celebrity Solstice performers. I thoroughly enjoyed each "Broadway" style show. Also, we enjoyed the production shows that were in the Universe Lounge. The stage has different 'elevator levels' that really adds to the feel of the show. Also, getting to sit so close to the performers was great!Disembarkation: On the last night, we put our bags outside our cabin door by 9:30 PM and they were never picked up! They sat in the hall, all night, unsecure. Then, on disembarkation day, we had the 'pleasure' of hauling off 6 bags with no help! Nice touch, Princess! I know that our cabin steward knew the bags were there, since he reached across the bags to pick up an extra gratuity that we gave him! Also, I must comment on how pathetic it is that Princess did not make Panama City a port of call, for Panama on this cruise. Instead, we docked in Colon, Panama. We were told, constantly and consistently, to NOT leave the razor wire area for fear that we would be mugged/robbed or worse! Huh? Why on Earth would Princess pass up an amazing city (picture New York City meets Chicago skyline!!) like Panama City, for a dump and unsafe place like Colon? The Panama Canal is definitely a cruise/experience that everyone should see. It is no wonder to me, that this is the 8th Wonder Of The World. Truly, an experience that I will treasure for a long time!Our boat also came down, with some sort of gastro Virus. There were so many passengers that were ill and quarantined. It was so odd to not be able to have any salt/pepper shakers on the tables, no touching of anything in the buffet line (coffee cups, stir sticks, nothing!), but even with all the sickness, you would still see people coughing/sneezing and not covering the mouths, yet, the Princess reps said nothing. When we asked them why they were forcing hand sanitizer on us, as often as possible (which we were thankful they did), but did not tell people to cover their mouths when coughing/sneezing, they answered that they would get in trouble if they said something like that. Wow... Perhaps our politically correct society has finally gone too far? We are currently booked in the Grand Suite on Sapphire for Sept. 2012/Alaska, and I am really going to have to give this some thought whether or not to cancel. If Princess does not get their smoking policy more in line with Celebrity, as well as improve the quality of their food (especially desserts!!), then I will probably jump ship and go with a slightly smaller suite and know that I will have more of an "A" experience.All in all, this was a "B+" cruise... Not an "A", but with a major improvement in the smoking policy and raising the quality of the food, Princess could easily slip into the "A" category.I really want to emphasize, that what Princess really brings to the party, is their amazing and friendly staff! We truly, truly loved the big smiles and warm, welcoming ways of all the staff that we interacted with. I know that those nice folks work about 80 hours a week and I am always amazed how they keep smiling and always bust their chops to take good care of us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Ship's Description Coral was built as a Panamax ship; therefore it's narrower than most new ships and long. There are 2,000 passengers therefore the sq. ft of space per passenger is extremely large. The ship is also designed ... Read More
Ship's Description Coral was built as a Panamax ship; therefore it's narrower than most new ships and long. There are 2,000 passengers therefore the sq. ft of space per passenger is extremely large. The ship is also designed so the passengers can view the Panama Canal and Alaska views from many different points. The Horizon Court is at the front with large windowed view. There are also multiple terraces for viewing, two forward on 10th and 11th floor, same on aft on both of these floors. Also the Promenade Deck is open all around and so most of the Lido. The Sun Deck is also great for viewing. The Atrium is open to the 8th floor where you have the Library, internet cafe and very large game room. The Crooners and Patisserie are very large with many areas for seating. The photo gallery is at the aft and restaurants more center and forward so you don' have to always passing the photo studio. The theaters are beautiful; the Universal Lounge is on two levels with a movable stage. The Princess theater is very large and beautifully appointed. All lounges, bars, restaurants are beautifully designed. Restaurants and food We ate breakfast and lunch at Horizon except for a few other occasions. Horizon food for breakfast is great, many choices and also an omelet bar. Lunch has plenty of choices, salads, sandwiches, hot entrees, desserts, all very tasty. We had the reserved late seating for dinner at the Provence dining room. The foods mostly was great, especially fish and seafood. The waiter brought out whatever you wanted and any extra without any problem. I don't recall one mediocre meal, all delicious. The wine list is extensive and prices are reasonable. Our waiter and his assistant were extremely accommodating, polite and very efficient, their aim was to please. Cabins We had an outside cabin, no balcony. I thought the cabin was a bit small; maybe an extra two feet on either side would have been better. We travel heavy so could have used more drawer and counter space. Plenty of closed and shelf space near the bathroom area. Bathroom is small but sufficient. Ports Embarkation - Acapulco - we didn't spend any time there, just took the bus from the airport to the ship, embarkation was very quick since we came in late. Huatulco (pronounced wah-TOOL-co), Mexico We didn't take an excursion, walked around this quaint little village. Very nice area around the port and we also walked into the center of this small town. Some artisans are selling jewelry, and also interesting bamboo made mugs, bowls, etc. Enjoyed walking around this village. Juan del Sur, Nicaragua We took the Princess excursion to the Masayan market, the volcano nearby and the city of Granada. A bus ride to the market. I enjoyed this market, easy to shop and look without too much of a hassle. We bought some beautiful wooden bowls and wooden hot plates. We walked around the outside area of this market and this town was quaint. We were lucky to be able to see the bottom of the volcano since it was a clear day. You can stand on top and look right inside the volcano, steam coming out with sulfa smell. Had lunch at a local restaurant, buffet of simple local food. Disappointed with Granada, very dirty and needs tons of work, children are sent out to beg and also some very poor women begging and following. I couldn't wait to get out of there. A long bus ride back lucky that roads were good. Didn't have time to walk around the small village Puntarenas, Costa Rica Took the excursion to Cloud Forest with the train. This was a very long bus ride and once near the mountain, the road was not paved and going up and down winding mountain road. The forest was beautiful and the scenery gorgeous, we didn't see much wildlife. The train was a small narrow train, about 4 cars that goes inside the forest. We had lunch at the visitors building and also later stopped at a large gift shop. Didn't walk around the port, didn't look like much was there. Panama Canal We got up around 5 am and took our spot on the balcony on deck 10 forward; we stayed there till 9:30. We had a nice clear sunny day, but it got very hot later on the day. To watch the canal's operation was very exciting and at time unbelievable that this was constructed over a 100 years ago. It took the ship to complete the canal almost the whole day. We went to deck 10 aft to see the Gatun locks in operation. Stopped at Colon port for a few hours, we didn't like to shop there, many people pushing and most shops had tons to junk. Couple of good duty free shops, so if you want liquor or perfume this may be a good spot. Ochos Rios Jamaica Didn't do an excursion, walked around the port and went to Margarittavile for lunch. I bought some nice glass beaded necklaces but thought that most of the shopkeepers were too aggressive Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Background: We are two couples ranging for mid-30s to early-50s and travel together quite often (8 cruises in the last 5 years). On our first cruise, our best friends and travel companions became engaged on the balcony of the Caribbean ... Read More
Background: We are two couples ranging for mid-30s to early-50s and travel together quite often (8 cruises in the last 5 years). On our first cruise, our best friends and travel companions became engaged on the balcony of the Caribbean Princess. Now on the Coral, our gift for their five year anniversary is a renewal of vows package on this cruise. We live in New England so we headed out a day early to Acapulco. Aeromexico to Mexico City the 6 hour lay-over, thanks for going out of business Mexicana and screwing up our connecting flight, then a one hour flight to Acapulco. Arranging air fare from New England to Acapulco was not the easiest and we had our reservations when it came to Aeromexico - should not have worried, the flights were easy and good, even provided free meals and alcohol!! Haven't seen that since PanAm. Anyway we arrived at Acapulco Airport at 8:10pm, simple to get through, get luggage and get out. We had prearranged for a driver to pick us up and take us to the Crown Plaza through Rosie' tours. Off we went through police and machine gun laden streets. I state this for a reason, none of us were thrilled to be reading all the news about the drug wars and figured we would be the tourist section and be there less than 24 hours. That being said, although initially disturbing to see, you quickly realize that presence is what is keeping things at bay. The Crown Plaza is okay for one or two night pre-cruise stay, more I would not do. It was simply okay, but at $75 a room, okay is just fine. Acapulco: Rosie herself from Rosie's tours picked us up at the hotel for a tour at 9:30am. I know there is a lot about Rosie on these Boards but I will tell you she was fabulous!! Her narration and knowledge was wonderful. She also seems to know everyone. She took us to the Cross and Chapel of Peace (highest point in Acapulco), the Diego wall, Los Flamingos Hotel (Old Hollywood), some look out points and the Cliff Divers. Then she took us to the ship all by 1:30pm. $50pp - well worth it and a wonderful tour guide. It made our day and never once did we feel nervous in Acapulco. To put it in perspective, I have felt far less safe in a variety of Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, Grenada, Antigua, etc. Emabarkation and ship: Easiest I have ever done, a total of 10 minutes and we were on the Coral. It was our first time on this class of ship, we thought it carried an elegance and flow missing from the newer ships in the fleet. Now we know what everyone is always talking about with the Coral and the Island Princess. The common rooms, bars, lounges are all well maintained and were never crowded even for more popular events. I attribute this to the passenger to space ratio - what a difference it makes. The staff and crew were all wonderful with the exception of Melanie the assistant cruise director. A very unhappy mean spirited young lady who pleasured in put downs of passengers (the line is not than fine between being cruel and being funny). I hesitate to mention the food because it is such a hot topic, but we had a great experience with the food. We had one or two dishes that were not so hot, such as the coq au vin and the mussels on the last night, but everything else was fabulous. On the issue of the escargot - although we had anytime dining we hooked up with a serving team rather early in the cruise (Felix on Ronald) and ended up with a standing reservation with them. All we had to do was ask Felix about the escargot and we had four appetizers the next night. Additionally, we were going to celebrate the Renewal of Vows for our friends at the Bayou Cafe on Italian night so were going to miss our favorite appetizer of eggplant parmesan - no fear, Felix arranged for the four of us to have it the following day. Lesson here: be nice and make friends with waiters! We tried the pub lunch in the Bayou Cafe. Excellent and well attended. Choices were fish and chips, cottage pie, ploughman's lunch and bangers and mash. Dessert was bread and butter pudding - the only thing not very good. Nice English beer choices. This is a great alternative to the dining room or the buffet. Huatulco. Very beautiful and unspoiled landscape. We backed into the port which is really a large cove with a series of small coves inside (still amazes me how they back these ships up like they are at the grocery store parking). We did not have anything organized of planned. Where the ship docks is a small town, same touristy merchandise you will find all over Mexico and the Caribbean. However, where the ship docks is a beautiful cove and beach lines with bars and restaurants, water sports and small boats. If you are beach oriented people, no need to go anywhere except right off the ship. San Juan Del Sur: Beautiful day in Nicaragua. First, Nicaragua is stunning. Driving through, it has the poverty we have all become accustomed to in Central America and the Caribbean, but at the same time it is more modernized with actual highways and such. We took a ship sponsored tour, the Amayo Hacienda. About a 30 minute drive from the tender port, a beautiful old working plantation on the shores of Lake Nicaragua with terrific views of the two volcanoes. The tour is actually run by Grey Line Tours, but the family that owns the 600 acre property was the host. Everyone including the tour operators and the family members could not have been more friendly and accommodating. They offered boat rides on the river, horseback riding, walking the grounds, bird watching and cow milking (yes we milked a cow). The family prepared and served lunch in a traditional style. It was a very nice excursion. I would recommend it but if what the tour people said is true, the family only opens their home to this excursion 3-4 times per year. They said the next one will be in March. PS - there is nothing to do in San Juan Del Sur right off the tender port that would take more than 5 minutes. Nothing. Puntarenas, Costa Rica: We did not like any of the ship sponsored shore excursions and only found one private that we liked but he wanted full payment up front with no cancellation fees. Needless to say no excursion was booked. If you are stopping at this port and wish to get off the ship, you have two options, book an organized tour or shop for 15 minutes at the end of the pier with the native craft folks. That is all. I had the impression there was more of a town from reading others reviews. Do not let them fool you, there is nothing to do. We did the end of the pier shopping in the morning. To be perfectly fair, the people could not have been nicer, their wares were nice and very well priced, we bought wood trivets that we had seen in Honduras for more than double what we paid here. Panama Canal: What a day! We began our approach to the Miraflores locks at about 7:00am and were through them by 8:00am. For some reason, Later to learn was fog, we stayed still for well over an hour before continuing on the journey. The Western side is the reason they call is the great ditch, the water is brown. Traveling through the Cut and down into Gutan Lake was beautiful. We began our approach to the Gutan Lock a little before 4:00pm and we out by 5:15pm. The Gutan locks are amazing. As we are the last two cabins aft on Emerald, from our balconies, we would be under the tops of the locks during the descent. We could, and did, reach out and touch the walls of the locks. It is an experience that everyone going through the locks should have. I took many people's suggestion and moved around the ship to get different perspectives. And by the way, as I did not know this, someone from the staff narrates over the PA system during the transit, not annoyingly or overly so, just right. We were supposed to stop in Colon for a 4 hour call from 5-9pm. Due to the delay getting through the canal, the fog, and the wildest thunder and lightening storm I have seen in years, we did not call in Colon. We were not planning on doing anything, so we did not care. Jamaica: We stopped here once before but stopped at Montego Bay rather than Ochos Rios. Big mistake. Montego Bay is awful, this was not bad. There is plenty of shopping and bars right off the pier. We chose to go to Mystic Mountain. We did this through the ship as the Sky Explorer chair lift. You can do what you want once on top such as Bobsledding, infinity pool, water slide and ziplining. All of the other excursions included another stop such as Dunn's river falls which we were not interested in. If you are afraid of heights, as I am, you will white knuckle yourself to the top, it takes 15-20 minutes. I did much to the amusement of my companions. The rest of them did the bobsled which they loved, not me, I sought out alcohol. The ride down was not as bad as going up. There are shuttle buses back to shopping and the pier. I will say a much better experience in Ochos Rios than before. Renewal of Vows: If you are thinking about this package, it really is worth the money. As I previously mentioned this was a gift for our travel companions, on day two we all met with the "planner" and met her again last night at 6:15pm at Crooners, she takes you to the chapel, the bride gets a beautiful orchid bouquet, the groom an orchid boutonniere. They have a photographer present, music etc. The ceremony is brief but very well done. Chatting with the captain, after with the signing of the certificate. The package include a bottle of champagne (which they delivered to the Bayou Cafe after the ceremony), a framed picture from the ceremony, the certificate, flowers, champagne, and they even leave a copy of the "ceremony speech from the captain" in your room along with a box of Godiva chocolates. Our planner even found us a bartender to take a video of the ceremony with our camera (for their two girls at home who will be dying to see this). Bayou cafe. After the ceremony, our planner had arranged for us to go to the Bayou Cafe. This is another thing that Princess could repeat. Having been to Sabatinis many times and the Crown Grill a couple of times, this was by far the best alternative restaurant we have been to. The steaks were perfect, the appetizers were unique and tasty, do not miss the baked oysters and the sausage and grits. Service was wonderful. All in all, a terrific night. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Overall, we really like Princess. The Coral Princess is beautiful and very clean. The ship was sold out, but it never felt crowded. We did the anytime dining and never had to wait. There were 7 of us in our group. One night we might have ... Read More
Overall, we really like Princess. The Coral Princess is beautiful and very clean. The ship was sold out, but it never felt crowded. We did the anytime dining and never had to wait. There were 7 of us in our group. One night we might have had to wait for a table, but the head waiter called the other dining room and personally took us up on the elevator. They were very accommodating. On this cruise we ate at both the specialty Italian restaurant and at the Bayou Steak house (first night/last night). We have done the Italian restaurant on other cruises. I think there are 18 courses. It is very good, but we all liked the steak house better. The steaks were wonderful and perfectly cooked. In general, the food is very good, but not great. The service and selection in the dining room and the buffet are very good. We don't do cruises for the food. We did Alaska first, the Italy-Greek Isles-Turkey trip second and now the Panama Canal. For us it is about the destinations and not the food. That being said, there is plenty of it and it is good. We had coffee delivered every morning and really enjoyed that luxury. We also went to the buffet every afternoon and got happy hour snacks and took them back to our cabin. we had 3 cabins that the balconies opened up...it allowed us to all meet each day and talk about our activities with snacks and wine. One day I called and complained that they did not have anything appropriate like crackers and cheese, olives, veggies etc. The person in the customer service area had the head of Horizon Court kitchen call me. He said that if I did not find what I wanted just ask and they would make up an antipasta plate for me. The next day I did just that and sure enough they brought everything I could want. Craig Siddall in Crooners Bar is Great!!! Make sure you go by to hear him!! We went every night. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This is our seventh cruise and our third one with the kids in tow. There were six in our party, my wife, myself and our four children - ranging in age from 11 to 18. We left London and flew the eleven and a half hour flight to Mexico ... Read More
This is our seventh cruise and our third one with the kids in tow. There were six in our party, my wife, myself and our four children - ranging in age from 11 to 18. We left London and flew the eleven and a half hour flight to Mexico City and then, after three long hours, got a connection to Acapulco. So it was a very long day travelling (20 hours door to door). We traveled Business Class which always helps on such lengthy journeys. We stayed in The Grand Hotel in Acapulco for one night, which is perfectly okay for a night, and we boarded the ship at about 2pm. Embarkation took about 15 minutes from arrival to getting aboard. I checked in online before we left, which definitely speeds up the process. Our staterooms were ready and very clean and the luggage arrived within the hour. We had two connecting (by balcony) mini-suites (D522 and D524), which are on the port side and reasonably central. The room steward, Henry, was a real gem - top bloke! First impressions of the Coral were that it was far bigger than I expected. We went on the Crown last year and I told the kids to expect a much smaller ship. In fact, it felt pretty much the same size as the Crown (it's slightly longer in fact) - and because it's a big ship, with 30% less passengers, it felt very uncrowded. This was a real pleasant surprise. In fact, my wife and I have decided that when we book future cruises we're going to look carefully at the size/passenger ratio. The public rooms were very well kept and the service throughout was impeccable - which we've almost always have found to be case with Princess. We ate in the Bordeaux dining room on the 'anytime' option. Only on one occasion did we have to wait for a table - which is pretty good given there are six of us. Oddly, I noticed it seemed to be the 'couples' that had to wait more often than families. Thought the entertainment was 'okay' but not outstanding. We particularly liked the pianist and violinist who played in the atrium and they also did a 'classical' show in the Universe Lounge one evening - they are truly talented. The two younger kids (11 and 13) absolutely loved the kids clubs - it was impossible to keep them away - they've both got lots more friends now. Emails were waiting for them by the time we got home! As for the cruise itinerary, as follows: Because there are six of us we find it infinitely more preferable do our own thing (in the main), so we do a bit of research in advance. For example, it's generally cheaper to hire a taxi for the day than it is to pay for six excursions - generally speaking we reckon it's about one third the cost, plus you have more independence. Guatemala: Google Earth revealed an interesting place called 'Iztapa' (not featured on any cruise excursion), which has a beach where all the locals go. It is about five miles from the port. Interestingly, the first cabbie quoted me $160 (one way) to which I said a few words which I won't repeat in this review. The next cabbie, witnessing this, immediately quoted me $30 return. Guess which one I used? We had a great day on the beach (which is then reached by a five minute boat trip from Iztapa.) The kids loved the huge Pacific waves! Nicaragua: Didn't do much here - just went for a wander off the boat, down some back streets, bought a few bits and bobs and then returned to the ship. It was one hot day and we were glad to be back in an air-conditioned ship. Costa Rica: This is the only place we did a Princess excursion because it looked interesting. We went rafting through (slightly) white water and rain forest, where we saw lots of wildlife (monkeys, birds, bats, lizards, etc..) I was somewhat surprised to also see 'crocodiles' - as an inflatable raft seemed like minimal protection to me! However, the organizers really knew their stuff and we felt very safe in their care. An excellent trip which I would wholeheartedly recommend. Panama Canal Transit: 'Awesome' is the only word I can describe this. The scale of the thing is mind blowing in all respects. Each one (of six) is 1000 feet long and 110 feet wide - there was only about a six inch gap each side of the ship! Out of curiosity on one descent I went into the dining room and if felt like a submarine!!! Lots of things appealed to me, including: The close proximity to other huge ships; The scenery - especially through the lake; The sight of the locks from all angles - and it's worth noting that on deck ten, right at the front, there is a door which says 'keep out crew only'. Well don't keep out because you're allowed there. I reckon it's the best place on the ship for viewing the Canal. Cristobal: What a waste of time that was! We were allowed off the ship, but just onto the pier for two hours. For some reason the Panama stop was canceled so people were keen to get off. So we all queued up for half an hour, trudged off the ship and on to the pier, looked through piles of souvenirs (mainly tat) and then waltzed back on the ship. But do you know what, it didn't matter to me because I was still on a high after the Panama Canal transit. Jamaica: Again, we did our own thing. We hopped on a taxi to Dunns River Falls (a five minute Taxi ride from the port) and then paid to go there ($15 per person). The whole day cost us about $100 for six of us - I reckon it would have been nearer $400 had we have gone on an excursion, plus we could come and go as we liked. Great fun it was, climbing up the falls - it was more ferocious and longer than I expected! Then we chilled out on the beach for a few hours. A very nice day it was! On the sea days, and there were quite a few of these, we did loads of different things - kids clubs, trivia, cream teas, swimming, and more. We were never bored. Fort Lauderdale: Disembarkation took a long time. I presume it was because we didn't have a plane to catch so we were low priority. We assembled in the appropriate place at 8:30am (as requested) but weren't clear of customs until about 11:30am. So three hours hanging around was a bit of a pain. We stayed in Fort Lauderdale for three days at the Pelican Beach Grand Hotel. I can highly recommend it because it's right on the beach (unlike most other hotels) and the service was pretty good. It was a bit pricey, but worth it in my view. Overall, a most excellent holiday. We have already booked our next cruise with Princess (August 2009 - Norway and Iceland), who manage to get it just right for our family. No real gripes, other than a couple of stops didn't happen (Panama and one in Mexico), but I tend to be quite pragmatic about such things. As such, four and a half stars out of five from me. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Flew to Acapulco and stayed at the Crown Plaza for two nights. Attended the Salsa Festival and didn't even know it was taking place there at that time, but had a blast....which I had a dance partner because I would have dance all ... Read More
Flew to Acapulco and stayed at the Crown Plaza for two nights. Attended the Salsa Festival and didn't even know it was taking place there at that time, but had a blast....which I had a dance partner because I would have dance all night long. Went to Vista Linda (I think that was the name of the restaurant) for dinner and the view, the service, and the food were awesome. Went to a timeshare presentation with the Mayan Resorts and because I love what they had to offer and the price I bought one. Love to travel to Mexico and the destinations are great. Boarded the Coral Princess and the check-in is a piece of cake if you have all the documents filled out correctly and get there early. Don't worry, if you get in the ship early you wont be bored. The buffet is open and you can start doing a recon of the ship before it gets crowded. I really Don't wont to spoiled your vacation because its kind of like a movie. If I tell you the whole plot, then why would you go to see it? But, the truth is I was very impressed with the entire Coral Princess experience. All the way from embarkation to disembarkation. Ten days is perfect and then back to reality. Don't get me wrong....all cruise lines are great, and I would go to any of them depending if it fits my budget, timeline and itinerary. From all the ports we visited I enjoyed Ocho Rios and Puntanegras the most. Puerto Quetzal and Puerto Corinto were all right. Did not get a chance to visit Huatulco because the ship canceled the stop at that port prior to embarkation. Many countries if not all Central America are a third world country still and it really gives you a reality check on how lucky and fortunate we really are as Americans of having what we have, living where we live and sharing the common interests that we do. Seriously....experience other cultures and you will see what I am talking about. It really goes deep in the heart. Entertainment: Awesome shows and great entertainment. Don't miss any of the shows even if you have to go to the last show after dinner. Do the back stage tour when offered. Say hello to Ger (Argentina), Andy, Sammy (India), among others. Awesome guys! Uh, can't remember the gal name and the cruise Director. Dinning: Ate at the Bordeaux in open sitting. If you want to seat with the same passengers every night, get the assign table for dinner. I rather meet different people all the time. Say hello to Jorge {Head waiter}(Portugal), Rocio (Mexico), Luis Miguel {Junior waiter} (Mexico), {Head waiter} (Italy)...oh my gosh, cant recall his name. They are on the 5th floor. Awesome crew. The entire crew is fabulous. Enjoy your trip. Cant wait to go back. Waiting for the ship to go to another destination I have not been. They know me by Dee. Happy new year! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Basically it was a GREAT trip; we enjoyed all the ports and the shore excursions. The day long excursion through the Panama Canal was truly amazing and well worth the expense. As for the on-board experience...that part was pretty mediocre. ... Read More
Basically it was a GREAT trip; we enjoyed all the ports and the shore excursions. The day long excursion through the Panama Canal was truly amazing and well worth the expense. As for the on-board experience...that part was pretty mediocre. Princess's attention to detail appeared to be virtually non-existent. We'd highly recommend the adventure to anyone...but we'd also recommend NOT booking the trip on the Princess Cruise lines. 1. Princess notified us the day after we could cancel the cruise without paying a penalty that they were canceling the advertised stop in Huatulco. I called Princess and asked why and they said it was for "operational" reasons. I asked what that meant, specifically, and the guy on the phone said he wasn't sure. I emailed Princess, via our travel agent, to inquire as to the reasoning and suggested that if we weren't going to stop in Huatulco, that perhaps the ship could stay an extra day in Acapulco. Princess never responded to the email - obviously, they really care. 2. My wife and I like to watch the docking process when we get into port, so, about a week before we were to leave, I contacted Princess to see if we could switch from the Starboard side of the ship to the Port side - the side that's normally closest to the shore when the ship docs. I was pleased that we could, indeed, get our room switched. I wasn't happy that the Princess wouldn't let me (the guy that paid for it) implement the room switch...I had to contact our travel agent. Only they could switch rooms. As it turned out, it was a bad move. Unlike our earlier cruise, Princess docked on the starboard side 5 of the 7 dockings we made (why do they call it "port"?). The only port we got to watch the docking procedure was in Guatemala. 3. Princess flew us in a day early to assure we would make our early morning flight to Acapulco. According to Princess Cruises' instructions, their representatives would meet us in the Atlanta airport baggage claim area and collect our checked luggage and then escort us to the hotel. Contrary to what they'd promised, there was no one from Princess there to greet us or the 20 other couples who were also waiting). After about a half hour, we called 1-800-PRINCESS and asked where our escorts were. We were told they'd be there in 10 minutes. We waited another half hour before calling again and were told they were on their way. After another half hour before we gave up and walked the block and a half (dragging ALL our luggage) to the shuttle service area. When we got to the hotel and entered the lobby, there was a table set up with the Princess logo on it and a couple of cruise reps there to greet us. When I went up to one of the reps, I said we were disappointed that they didn't meet us at the airport as promised. Instead of apologizing, the Princess rep began his response with, "You think YOU'VE had a bad day...." and went on to explain that they'd had a rough day too. It apparently escaped him that he was getting paid and I was the one who was paying. It's rare to get customer service at that level...thank God. 4. When we got on the ship, the glass patio door separating our cabin from the deck was tough to open, so I contacted the desk to see if they could get somebody to oil it...they finally got to it the next day. 5. As part of the cruise sign up process on their website, we indicated we wanted a couple of complimentary terrycloth robes in the cabin when we arrived....they never did get delivered. 6. For supper the first day on board, we went, as directed, to the dining room on deck 6 only to be told that the card they gave us when we boarded had a typo and we were really to be at the dining room on deck 5. Generally, the food was mediocre at best, not what we'd come to expect on a cruise. 7. I checked out the on-board casino and tried to plug some quarters in the video poker machines. They wouldn't take the quarters, so I asked an attendant why. It was then I was advised that it was a "cashless" casino. In other words, you charged money on your "Sea Pass" for a separate gaming card and then put that card in the gaming machines instead of cash. For me, it's fun to handle the chips and money. A couple of days later they had a $25 buy in "Texas hold-em" tourney. Unlike most other hold-em tourneys, there was no dealer. You sat at a table in front of a video monitor. You didn't get "cards" or chips...it was like playing at home on the computer - which I can do at home...on my computer. Their cashless policy kept me from spending anything in their casino. 8. Guests were supposed to be able to check the weather forecast by punching the "weather" button on the phone. The recording said they update the weather four times a day - they don't. Often the weather forecast on the phone was more than a day old. 9. The ship's daily newspaper "Patter" advised that, in Costa Rica, there'd be a shuttle to take us to the shopping area at the end of the pier (which was about a third of a mile long). Only after we got off the ship, were we told that there was no shuttle and that the tour bus would leave from next to the ship. So if we wanted to shop before the tour (our only option) we'd have to walk to the end of the pier and back. Given the temperature and the anticipated long walks on the tour itself and the limited time before the tour bus left...we weren't able to shop in Costa Rica. 10. Upon boarding, they cautioned us to not throw anything off the balcony in respect for the folks on balconies below (the sea breeze blows it back onto a lower balcony). Still the cabin steward on the floor above us swabbed the their balcony which resulted in us getting a shower. Don't you think they would have checked to see if there was anyone below? 11. The second time we ate in the main dining room, I asked our waiter for my bottle of wine we'd ordered with our first meal and didn't finish. They came back to me several times asking where I was when I originally ordered it. Eventually they found it - just in time for desert. 12. We arrived at the Panama Canal before sunrise and didn't wait to begin our trans-Panamanian journey before it was light enough to take photos. We passed under the Bridge of the Americas (the first notable icon on the Pacific side), a docked U.S. warship (I think it was a cutter) and a huge dredging craft...that I couldn't take photos of because it was too dark - I was disappointed the captain didn't wait until it was light to begin the trip through the canal. 13. The Princess promotional material indicates there's a battery recycling container, a laundry bag and a music system in each cabin - there wasn't. 14. More often than not you missed most of the captain's or cruise director's announcements because you couldn't turn on the TV fast enough and get to the right channel quick enough to catch what they were saying. 15. The "fuel charge" when we booked the cruise seven months earlier was slated to be $140...based on the crude oil price of $126/barrel at that time. When we boarded the ship, crude oil was down to about $45/barrel and still, there was no deduct for the reduced fuel charge. As I said, individually, none of the above was of great concern when it happened and if only a couple of mishaps occurred, it wouldn't have even been mentioned. But, taken as a whole, the Princess Cruise experience was kinda like a Chinese water torture, it seemed like a day couldn't go by without some irksome screw up. In the answer book in the cabin, said Princess's goal was to be the "consummate host" and provide "lasting memories" - indeed, that was true...we won't forget. Again, the trip was fantastic. But, if you go, I'd strongly suggest you consider a cruise line other than Princess Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Our Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess departed 11/29/08 from Acapulco. It was a great cruise and we were lucky to have perfect weather for most of the trip. After reading tips and suggestions on the Cruise Critics boards, I was ... Read More
Our Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess departed 11/29/08 from Acapulco. It was a great cruise and we were lucky to have perfect weather for most of the trip. After reading tips and suggestions on the Cruise Critics boards, I was able to take advantage of the shareholder credit offered by Princess Cruises (Carnival Cruise Line shares). I happened to already own the required 100 shares and we received a $100 on board credit! I also received some on board credit as a birthday gift, so we started off in good shape! We flew to Acapulco and took a taxi to the ship. I think the taxi was cheaper than the Princess transfer. There was a great deal of traffic and it took almost 1 ½ hours to get to the port. Embarkation was extremely easy and we were in our room within minutes. Once in the room, I called to see if we could make reservations for a chef's table (that I had read about on cruise critics). There was no chef table available on this ship. Oh well. After we were settled, we went out on deck and watched the sunset and took some great photos of Acapulco. We were on the deck for almost every sunset (with drinks in hand). It is such a beautiful time of day and I wonder why so few people are on deck at this time. We like to see the sunset and eat dinner late. We would sometimes get a slice of pizza as a snack at this time. The pizza was always very tasty and there was a different pizza each day. The only annoying thing about being on the top deck at this time is that the deck hands start stacking all of the deck chairs. I wish they would wait a bit. The first day was a sea day. We start every sea day with coffee from La Patisserie. The first day we buy a coffee card which gives you a bit of a discount on the fancy coffee drinks. There are also some complementary pastries and mini muffins available at La Patisserie. We ate lunch at the grill (great knockwurst) and then visited the spa that afternoon. I had to get a pedicure and manicure for the trip - and it was formal night! We made our spa reservations online prior to the cruise. We rented a tux for my husband while on the ship - which was very easy and fit perfectly. Formal night was fun and we met our dinner tablemates. Our tablemates were great and so were our waiters. The next day (and every day that we were going on a shore excursion) we had room service continental breakfast. We ordered via the door tag the night before. It was always on time and exactly what we ordered. I always tipped the server. We arrived in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala and went on the "Antigua on your own" shore excursion. The bus ride took 1 ½ hours each way and there was plenty to look at along the way. Once we arrived in Antigua, the bus stopped outside of a jade store / museum / factory. There you can use the restrooms and get free bottled water (and learn a little bit about jade). Outside there were lots of women trying to sell textiles and men trying to sell flutes. This was at times annoying, but other times amusing when they come up with funny sales pitches. We had a good tour book so we walked around on our own, but if you want you can hire a guide for a small amount. There were several guides at the jade store and then later in the Central Park there were very nice guides in official uniforms. We almost hired one, but then decided not to. The benefit of hiring a guide is that they will tell you facts about buildings that you may not have in your guide books. Also, they can recommend cafes and shops. The map that you get on the bus is not as good as ones you can find in guide books. In Antigua we ate lunch at Cafe Condesa. It is across the Central Park on 5th Ave. You have to go through a book store next door to the Cafe Condesa Express to get to the cafe. It has a nice courtyard and the quiche (yes, quiche) is a specialty and is the best quiche we have ever had! Get there about 11:30 am for a good seat. The next day was Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua. We went on the San Antonio Rum Distillery shore excursion. It took about 45 minutes to get to the distillery. The weather was hot and clear - tolerable in the shade. Our guide provided good information about Nicaragua's history while we were on the bus. We passed through a few towns and passed the market near the distillery. Our guide also gave us the tour of the rum distillery. It was interesting, but it is obvious that we were among the first few groups to tour the facility. They said that they are working on putting together a better tour with more informational signage, etc. After we toured the distillery they took us to a "social club" where we could buy rum to take home. It is illegal to sell the rum at the distillery, so we had to go off site to buy the rum. From the street in front of the "social club" we had an excellent view of the nearby active volcano. There was smoke coming out of it. We took several photos and then an oxcart passed by and that made a great photo! After we returned to the ship I went to the craft market by the pier. It was small and most of the booths had identical items. There were lots of Cuban cigars available as well as handicrafts and coffee. I did find a couple of booths that appeared to have unique hand made items. One was a wood artist and I bought some things from him. I was glad that the vendors were not aggressive and just let us shop. There were several guys that try to sell bike cart rides as you step off the pier area, but the market is only a block or so away from the pier so you don't really need a ride. This port is not really set up for tourists - there is no tourist greeting area. This port is primarily an industrial port that happens to get a couple of cruise ships a month. At least you can see a "real" town versus a tourist town. That night we went to Sabatini's for dinner. It was very good and very filling. The next day we were in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We took the Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls excursion. It was raining quite a bit in the mountains. We saw the huge waterfalls, butterfly area and hummingbirds. We also saw wild monkeys! And we had a great lunch. We did not see the volcano since the road was closed by a tree that had fallen due to the heavy rain. Instead we saw a metal church that was very pretty in Sarchi and we did some shopping. We arrived back to the ship early. Princess gave us a 25% refund on this excursion since we did not go to the volcano. This was a very nice unexpected surprise. If you go on this excursion you will need a rain poncho. Of course they sell them at the waterfalls in case you need one. We had a sea day next. We ate lunch at the buffet - I loved the salad bar. We played bingo. I wonder if anyone ever wins the big jackpot prior to the final day. The next day was Panama Canal day! I woke up to sounds of tugboats and conversation at about 5:30 am. I knew that we were supposed to go under the Bridge of Americas at that time, so I looked outside and saw that we had just passed under the bridge. My husband and I went to the back of the ship to see the bridge and the sunrise! It was beautiful to see the sunrise and we could see Panama City skyscrapers peeking out above the hills. Thanks to the Cruise Critic boards I knew that there were "secret" decks at the back of the ship. On our floor (Dolphin) there is a small public deck at the back and we were the only ones out there! In addition to Dolphin, there are also small public decks on the back of the ship on Baja, Caribe and Emerald. As we approached the first set of locks (Miraflores Locks) we decided to go to the front of the ship topside. I knew it would be packed with people and it was. We decided to see if there were "secret" decks at the front of the ship. I had read on Cruise Critic that there were public decks at front on Baja and Caribe. Sure enough we went out on Caribe and there was a deck at front and a perfect view of the locks. After going through the next set of locks (Pedro Miguel Locks) we went back to our room for our champagne breakfast! We had the breakfast on our balcony. It was great and we finished just before the direct sun forced us back into our room. We were on the port side so we did not have direct sun until the ship had passed the first two pacific side locks. During the middle part of the canal we passed another cruise ship going the opposite direction and we both blew our horns and waved like crazy! It was fun. For the Gatun locks we went up front and then to the back again. The view from the back of the ship was great since there were ships on the side of and behind us. We then docked in Cristobal, Panama for shopping. They had some interesting items and performers at the market and they had cheap Panamanian beer! The next day was a sea day (which you need to recover from the prior Panama Canal day). We played bingo and used the internet. It was a formal night and we went to the Captain's Circle party. A cruise critic member received the award for taking the most Princess Cruises (49 cruises)! After dinner we went to the casino and played in the black jack tournament. We arrived in Ocho Rios, Jamaica the next day. We went on a private tour with Peat Taylor, Jr. to Dunn's Falls and then tubing down White River. It was great fun and we were all by ourselves (with a guide) on the river! We ate lunch at The Ruins restaurant. This is a large restaurant with a river and falls that go through the courtyard in the middle of the restaurant. They serve buffet style. There is also a path behind the falls that is worth exploring. The site used to be a plantation. Our last day was a sea day. We participated in "On Deck for the Cure" 5K walk around the promenade deck that benefits the Komen foundation. We also went to the spa. Before and after dinner we went to the Crooner's piano bar. We liked the martinis and the variety of olives! We also enjoyed the piano player in the evening. During the week we went to some of the shows. Our favorite was the comedian Kevin Hughes. The crew talent show was fun also. We disembarked in Ft. Lauderdale and took a taxi to the Riverside hotel (very nice) for one night. Then we flew home the next day. It was a very good trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Coral Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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