2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We sailed on the Coral Princess 7/8/15 to 7/15/15 northbound from Vancouver to Anchorage. We were in cabin C721, deck 10, starboard side, aft (3rd cabin from the back of the ship), in a mini suite. We are a family of 4, kids ages are 9 ... Read More
We sailed on the Coral Princess 7/8/15 to 7/15/15 northbound from Vancouver to Anchorage. We were in cabin C721, deck 10, starboard side, aft (3rd cabin from the back of the ship), in a mini suite. We are a family of 4, kids ages are 9 and 11. We had pre-pruchased our drink packages so our stickers were already on our key cards when we checked in at Canada place (handy to get a drink as soon as you board the ship). Our bags were taken at drop off, and delivered to our room, and you will go through customs before boarding the ship, buts it quick. I highly recommend purchasing a beverage package. They have several packages from just soda at $5.18/day to All inclusive alcohol, soda and coffee at $56.35/day. We got our kids the soda and more package $8.05/day which includes soda, milkshakes and mocktails and I'm pretty sure they lived on strawberry smoothies. My husband and I got the All-Inclusive package each and it was well worth it. Between a blended coffee in the morning, sodas during the day and a few drinks at night, plus bottled water its just worth it. Plan ahead, purchase ahead online and just include it as part of the cost of the trip. We prepaid our drinks and gratuities so at checkout our only cost was tours and additional gratuities we gave our waiters. The ship is smaller than some other grand class ship (or so we were told) but this being our second cruise, it’s the biggest ship we have been on. There were about 200 guests (or so we heard) that missed boarding due to the United Airlines computer glitch that grounded a lot of flights (plan to arrive a day ahead to be safe) but even once all passengers joined us it never felt crowded and there was always room to sit in any of the lounges, at the pool and in the buffet. The public areas are really big, even at events in the atrium it wasn't bad. There are three smoking areas on the ship, on deck 15 starboard forward (take the stairs up from Pizza), Deck 7 starboard aft (take the last doors out by the Universe lounge, turn left and its just on the left, and the Churchill Lounge on deck 7 in the atrium. If you don’t smoke, these areas are easy to avoid and since passengers are not allowed to smoke on their balconies I never smelled smoke from these areas or anywhere else on the ship. They give you a daily "patter" outside your room each day. This lists all the days activities, port times and glacier viewing times (when applicable). You can also get this for free on your smartphone by connecting to the wifi and going to coral.princess.com. From this app you can set up messaging to friends on the ship, look up times, check your balance etc. You can not access anything else without purchasing an internet package but its great to have this info with you around the ship. There are several bars and lounges on the ship. These is one off the atrium on decks 5, 6 and 7 open from different times, La Patisserie on deck 5 is open early so soda or an early cocktail, Calypso on deck 6 (which features an amazing piano player), Wheelhouse on deck 7 (my favorite, especially when Jacob DeCasper was playing - seriously he is AWESOME). There is the Explorers lounge also on deck 7 (bar opens after dinner) and then there are several outdoor bars on decks 14 and 15 outside. We had anytime dining in the Bourdaeu and we rarely had to wait more than 5 minutes for a table. They will ask you if you want to dine alone or with others. We did both and met some really awesome people. The later you go the longer it seems to take for food to come out, but the food is always good, and remember that you can order an appetizer portion of any main course if you just want to try it. They do offer a pub style lunch in the Bayou Café a couple times and its delish. We put out our card for breakfast every night and received coffee, danish and cereal every morning. If you need butter, creamer etc make sure you note it or they will not bring it! We also ate breakfast in the buffet which was great and in the provance dining room and both are great. Honestly for breakfast I prefer the variety of the buffet to the dining room. The shows are all cruise ship quality, we weren't huge fans of the comedian but he was fine, but we loved the magician and the ventriloquist. The "On the Bayou" show in the Universe Lounge is a cant miss, and the other musical productions are fun too. Although we signed our kids up for he kids club, there seemed to never be other kids in there of heir same age so they mostly stuck together and played on the sports decks. We participated in arts and crafts and game shows / trivial and had a blast. The naturalist Mark and rangers were great info during the glacier days and you don't need to run around the ship to get pics, if you have a balcony just hang out and wait till they turn the ship to your side. If you turn the TV to channel 41 you can hear the naturalist give info as you cruise by. Plan to be in your room (or a good spot outside) for Margerie Glacier as its not to be missed. Also if you are fortunate enough to have a visit from Libby Riddles (first femals to win the Iditarod) plan to be back on ship for it, well worth the time! In Ketchikan we took a cab to Potlatch / Titembite and took the bus back to town. If you time it right you can take the bus both ways for $1 per person. You can book a tour for this but I prefer to go alone to get better pics without all the crowds. In Junaeu we booked a helicopter Ice tour (through Panhandle Excursions) on Costal Helicopters and landed on Herbert Glacier, really amazing and In Skagway we went ziplining on a trou booked through princess. All are great little cities. When you arrive in Whittier you will need to book a transfer to get to Anchorage, we met a lot of people going to trail to Denali for another week, which sounded fun. Ok last but not least, things to bring: Power Strip if you need to charge more than 2 things at a time, dim night light (it stays light till after 11pm but still helpful), hair conditioner, first aid kit (just in case), lanyards (they will punch holes in your key card for you to wear on a lanyard, great for kids). It was really a great time. If you are planning to visit Alaska I can't stress enough to choose a cruise that includes both glacier bay and college fjord, these are both amazing places. This cruise is very diverse from families to couples, large groups and seniors. We mat a lot of awesome people and had a blast! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Us We are working on our bucket list and Alaska was on there. We researched over a long period and were torn between this and some of the “elite-class” cruises as we tend to like a higher end experience. We have only been on one ... Read More
Us We are working on our bucket list and Alaska was on there. We researched over a long period and were torn between this and some of the “elite-class” cruises as we tend to like a higher end experience. We have only been on one other cruise before and it was many years ago. We struggled with this for a while and after many reviews thought we would try a Suite on the Princess Coral room D423. The room was very nice and spacious with a lovely balcony. We arranged for our excursions well and in advance ( 6 months) and took the paid in advanced option for tips and full bar option. Since this was a special Birthday cruise I was trying to arrange some special events including having champagne and a dozen roses in the room before we arrived. I had my first sign of trouble trying to set this up as I was told “all the rooms were open when passengers arrive onboard so you will have to call and they will send it up once you get there” Not the surprise I was hoping for. The website is very limited in allowing you to do anything in advance- they want you to call and deal with them direct or via your agent. Nice- but not very internet friendly. I even to try to log on 2 days after the cruise to review my billing and it is not online. Without getting into the minutia of the trip we were a bit amazed that premium travelers for the most part are not what Princess seems to want. Dining When we called to make dinner reservations – for either of the two select restaurants (read more money $25/pp) -you cannot go to the restaurant for this- they make you call- which you had to wait to do until on board- we were told no tables were available till after 8:30pm for the next several nights. When I mentioned we were in a suite- which I was calling from- magically 7PM opened up on any night. The strange thing was when we dined there- there was plenty of room every night. It appears that even if you were willing to pay a premium, Princess wanted you to go to the main dining hall. We tried the main dining twice and both times felt the food was subpar. Not a good feeling. To their credit, the Maitre d’s at both specialty restaurants were very cordial and attentive. But unfortunately for the entire 7 days the menu did not change. The best meal by far on the ship was the balcony dinner- an additional $100.00. The food was wonderful and service was very good. So we knew that they could make excellent food it just did not show up on except if you were willing to pay a premium for it. Staff and facilities The international staff was for the most part very good. Particular kudos to the staff at the Crooner’s bar- without them we would have not had as much fun. The staff at the spa was ok at best. It is located in the aft of the ship- right next to the children’s play ground. Not a quiet place. Also the way it is set up, people were constantly walking through on the way to elevators making the entire area not a quiet retreat. We had three couples massages the last one with hot stones. The attendants drop the stones at least 4 times on to the tile floor. Needless to say this was not a peaceful massage. Excursions When we got to Juneau at our pick up location for our excursion the XO came over and said it was canceled. When I asked what else was available he offered the lowest cost excursion on the list as the only alternative. When I mentioned what was canceled was the most expensive excursion listed then asked if he had anything comparable he said no- sorry. Fortunately the excursion company was there and they made some special arrangements for us and the 8 other passengers that had been booked. So bravo for Temsco thumbs down for Princess. The trip summary We were please to see all the wonderful sights and the views from the ship were wonderful. The Captain was able to pull us up very close to the calving glaciers and it was spectacular! Would I travel Princess again-maybe- certainly I would not purchase the most expensive cabin on board and certainly I would lower my expectations of a cruise and would certainly remove any idea of it being a premium cruise. It is a shame that with a little bit of extra effort it could have been different. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
My husband and I took a 15 day escorted cruise tour. The land portion was stellar but basically unescorted. Our quite seemed to disappear one we got our room keys. Our disappointed was reflected in his minimum tip. We boarded the ... Read More
My husband and I took a 15 day escorted cruise tour. The land portion was stellar but basically unescorted. Our quite seemed to disappear one we got our room keys. Our disappointed was reflected in his minimum tip. We boarded the Coral Princess in Whittier on June 3, 2015. We left Rainy Whittier into a gale. The first night and sea day were a little rough. This ship goes in for refurbishment in early 2016, but should have gone a few years ago. While spotlessly clean, its age was showing. We had a mini suite on D deck mid-ship and felt little motion in our cabin. The extra room was handy. I've cruised Princess before and the entertainment, food, and some staff didn't meet my expectations. The food was boring and always seemed covered in sauce. Our waiter didn't seem to understand the concept of on the side I planned and arranged all of the shore excursi and they went off without a hitch. I heard horror stories of Princess canceling tours at the last minute or people paying large sums of money for a trip that wasn't as advertised. If you are interested in dog sledding on a glacier do it from Skagway if possible. Juneau and Ketchikan have more than 300 days of rain annually. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our 4th cruise, 3rd on Princess. We have been on the Golden Princes to Alaska, Island Princess through the Panama and up to Vancouver as well as a Miami to Vancouver on the Celebrity Century. We were on board to celebrate our ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise, 3rd on Princess. We have been on the Golden Princes to Alaska, Island Princess through the Panama and up to Vancouver as well as a Miami to Vancouver on the Celebrity Century. We were on board to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary, we had no expectations other than a new experience on land. From the first day we felt a different vibe on board ship that we had never experienced. It is one of those things you know is missing but can't put your finger on. The one thing we had looked forward to was the sail up the inside passage, the ship spent just about two hours in the Vancouver area doing a compass check, taking us through the passage sometime after 1 a.m. Our room Steward was a happy, bubbly person, our dining room staff was excellent after the first night--there had been something going on between our table steward and another steward, after th it was ok. Everywhere else we went though, it was difficult to get a smile out of the other staff. We raatrely saw any of the officers wandering through the ship making contact with passengers as we have on previous cruises. It seemed that there was some underlying issue. The food was not up to the standards that we have previously experienced on a Princess cruise. The entertainment was not as good as we have enjoyed in the past, we only went to two productions in the theater and opted for other venues. Land Excursions - we walked around Ketchikan and took the free bus. Juneau we took a Photo Safari to Mendenhall Glacier, then whale watching, sadly we did not get a spectacular show of whales breeching but we saw many backs and tails and considered ourselves very lucky. Skagway we went on the Yellow Bus tour, it was so much fun, the drivers were very entertaining and informative, then we went to the Soapy Smith 1898 show, which was fun as well. The Glaciers were SPECTACULAR!!! We spent much of the time on our deck and the captain swung the ship broadside for Port then around for starboard so that everyone could see these magnificent wonders of nature. On the way to the glaciers we sailed through peaceful waters filled with sea lions, lots of birds and some of the prettiest country I have ever seen. We had some great weather as well, no real rain until Whittier. Disembarkation for the land tour was reasonably well organized by staff we had never seen before and who were very happy for that early in the morning. Our land portion started off on the train, not the one we were told we would be on, there was no outside observation areas on any of the cars as we were assured there would be. My husband - a photographer was quite put out about that. We arrived at Talkeetna at 2:45 after a 5 hour trip where we could not move around very much. The bus ride to the hotel was interesting thanks to Sandra our bus driver, but once there, our hotel room was not ready until 2 calls and just about 2 hours later - all the other rooms had been done and the cart was outside our room. Bed was uncomfortable did not care for that lodge much. Denali was much better, bed also uncomfortable but the amenities were great. We had the most amazing Natural History tour, our bus driver was the best, he would stop as often and whenever safe if we saw animals, even backing up so that everyone had the best opportunity to take pictures. We saw 11 moose, two grizzlies and some cariboo, when we left the park, the bears had taken down one of the moose calves - we were right there, did not see the gory details but saw the mother take off with her other baby and the bears eating. Life wow. If we ever did this again we would do the Land Portion first and cruise back to Vancouver as flights out of Fairbanks to Canada were non existent for our time frames. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
wow what a great trip. we initially chose the Panama as we had cruised before on the coral and wanted to travel on it again. it was going to the Panama and ending back at los Angeles which worked for us to fly back home to New Zealand.\so ... Read More
wow what a great trip. we initially chose the Panama as we had cruised before on the coral and wanted to travel on it again. it was going to the Panama and ending back at los Angeles which worked for us to fly back home to New Zealand.\so we started to plan. I have to say I find princess online booking service fantastic and \I book directly with them . the office in Australia have such helpful staff:). we book all our excursions through princess and were not disappointed. some spent quite a while on the bus, but they are air conditioned and a great way to see the real country for an over view. we spent a couple of days in fort Lauderdale at an excellent hotel with breakfast included. it was just around the corner from the port. we took a walk the day before to see how far it was. but their is a guard so you cant just walk on. we decide to take the hotel shuttle and booked it for the next day. that worked out fine and was not too expensive. the shuttle driver was great and told us all about the ship with a few tips. as we are not priority boarding members the boarding did take a long time. we had bought a little trolley that we took water and soft drinks on board. so had plenty to drink while we waited. once we boarded and got our cruise cards. we were away to explore the ship again and do the lotus spa tour. we had pre booked a couple of massages and manicures. so nice to have treats to look forward to. I think we also booked for the Dailey lotus spa which you can use every day and they have specials on the first day. it was great on the 7 day cruise we did t \Alaska but we didn't use it every day on this one. you have use of hot beds and saunas. its very peaceful. by the time we got back our bags were there. we unpacked stowed the bags under the bed and then headed either for the muster drill or the sail away. cant remember which came first. probably te muster drill. which is well run and does not take to much time. depending on where your room is on the back of the door is your muster station. ours was the wheelhouse. a little tip when you come out of any of the lifts the carpet is two different colours . red and blue one for starboard and one for \port. \I didn't see it for quite some time . but husband pointed it out. \I though that was pretty cool as \I always turned the wrong way when I used the lift. our room was a mini suite and we used our balcony all the time. this was how we got to meet our lovely neighbours Doug and Emily. we would have 4pm nibbles and drinks and chat over the balcony, we had booked for the wine tastings ( a must) and went with our neighbour. so nice to have like minded people to chat to. the cabin was everything we had expected nice and roomy. fridge etc just like in the picture. shower over the bath . we put clothes pins on the edge of the shower curtain to stop it clinging to you. our service man was very efficient. Princess don't do the towel animals, but I had a couple of monkeys that I had bought to take home. and each night I would find them in a different position around the room. was really a lot of fun. all our excursions were great and I was glad I had pre booked them all. we loved the sea days, where we relaxed . and were ready for the excursion days . we took little camel backs and filled them with ice and water from our bottled water we took on board. this was great. we had anytime dinning which was great we found 6 to a table good as you could have a conversation. we did a table of 4 once with another couple that was also really good. \love the formal nights .we dressed up and had our pictures taken. even bought some of them. we travelled to ARUBA- Island highlights and beach- a small island . lovely to see CARTAGENA- Colonial sightseeing tour on you own. we had a guide to start off with which was excellent and then we teamed up with another from the tour and went walking around the city. bought some fantastic coffee PANAMA CANAL- absolutely amazed. we had no idea how interesting this day would be. we started with a balcony breakfast and listen to Bill all day . he was really great as he had lived there when his father was building the canal. must listen to his port talks they are well worth it. PUNTERENAS COSTA RICA - Rivers of Joy. FANTASTIC this was quite a trek on the bus. but really interesting tour guide we even stopped to see howler monkeys on our return. we loved the hot springs . in natural habitat . we walked up to the 3 pools then settled in one. we were all by ourselves as the others had gone back to sit by the pool. the best part. sitting in the bush in a hot spring by yourself. awesome. SAN JUAN DEL SUR- Granada,Masaya market and volcano. rEally interesting. but not my favourite tour. we did like the volcano however. CARBO SAN LUCA we chose A RESORT BREAK as we thought it was time to relax before we ended the cruise. a great choice. we got to sit on the beach with others in a roped off area that the touts could not cross and there were many walking up and down the beach. don't accept the first price offered is all I can say. I bought some nice jewellery. we had a lovely swim in the ocean and had a view of the two ships anchored in the bay . while we sipped pina coladas and drank corona. brilliant. LOS ANGELES - port of san Pedro took a while for us to disembark, but we were sitting in the wheelhouse bar again so no bother. In summary totally recommend the Coral Princess. loved the international café where we had breakfast most mornings. get a coffee card, have a balcony breakfast. use the anytime dinning. get dressed up on formal nights, if you get a chance book a deluxe balcony dinner . fantastic. We booked ours for the panama canal day. yes we paid extra for it , but I saved and it was well worth it. HAVE A FANTASTIC TRIP Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We sailed in December, 2014, on our honeymoon. We took an 11 day cruise on the Coral Princess through the Panama Canal with stops in Aruba, Cartagena (Colombia), Limón (Costa Rica) and Ohio Rios (Jamaica). Our first impression of the ... Read More
We sailed in December, 2014, on our honeymoon. We took an 11 day cruise on the Coral Princess through the Panama Canal with stops in Aruba, Cartagena (Colombia), Limón (Costa Rica) and Ohio Rios (Jamaica). Our first impression of the Coral Princess was that it is a smaller ship (we'd previously cruised on the Royal Caribbean Allure). That being said, the Coral Princess is a well kept. The ship is classy, with an Art Deco meets the seas motif, gold, and marble as far as the eye can see. We chose cabin E201. One of the largest cabins on the ship (just below the mini suites). Cabin E201 comes with a 3 by 4ft window (est.), two desk areas, 1.5 by 4ft (est.), with seating, a mini fridge, and ample closet space. The only complaint my husband and I had regarding the cabin, was the bedding. The mattresses and bedding could use an update. The mattress was a little too firm and uneven. The pillows were either too thin or too thick. Be warned, there is an extreme shortage of nightlife on the Coral Princess. If I had to guess, I'd say that this is due to a shortage of the partying type of crowd. From what we've read and our experience thus far, Princess attracts a rather distinguished crowd of vacationers. You'll notice the entertainment is geared towards a more mature and easygoing crowd as well. Just a side note, our cruise was a partial transit through the Panama Canal and I'd previously cruised to Alaska on the Sapphire Princess. Based on our previous cruises, the older demographic could be due to the more educational destinations and not typical of Princess cruise lines as a whole. The food is really very enjoyable on the Coral Princess. This goes for the vegetarian cuisine as well. We've sailed Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian. Princess has some of the best food we've ever tasted. The Coral Princess offers a wide selection of vegetarian dishes, which includes their in-room dining selection. Speaking of in-room dining, be careful what you leave on the in-dining room trays. My husband left his retainer on the tray, our room attendant removed it, and it was never to be seen again. We chose anytime dining. Regarding the dining room atmosphere, we had few complaints. For the most part, the staff on Coral Princess are very friendly and accommodating. Aside from the over selling of alcoholic beverages. Our only major complaint, with dining, had to do with our distaste for the lighting in the 5th floor dining room. The lighting was far too bright, as if we were being interrogated every evening. Upon further examination, it would appear that the tables and spotlight lighting are not aligned properly, creating a less then desirable effect. On an interesting side note regarding the Panama Canal, currently the Coral Princess is the largest of the ships permitted to pass through the Panama Canal. That being said, a new canal is in the process of being constructed. The new canal will allow much larger ships to pass through Panama. According to our tour guide, the fee for the Coral Princess to pass through the Panama Canal was approximately 350 thousand USD. It took about an hour for the Coral Princess to pass through the Gatun Locks. An amazing sight to see. The Panama Canal is one astonishing engineering feat. We couldn't have asked for a better honeymoon and we'll definitely be sailing with Princess again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2014
This will be long I will give our experience in order of cruise, ports of call, and landtour. I will start with the embarkation at Canada Place, Vancouver: We stayed in Vancouver for two nights before the cruise at the Renaissance ... Read More
This will be long I will give our experience in order of cruise, ports of call, and landtour. I will start with the embarkation at Canada Place, Vancouver: We stayed in Vancouver for two nights before the cruise at the Renaissance Harbourside Hotel, the Hotel was very nice and the weather cooperated enough that we used the windows and Juliet balcony every evening, our room faced the harbor and we enjoyed the sites and sounds (cruise ship horns!) of the harbor. We try to make our Embarkation Port a part of our vacation every cruise, we do not fly in and get on the ship the same day but like to enjoy the port city as tourist. Vancouver did not disappoint, this is a lovely city with very friendly locals who made us feel right at home. Vancouver is a very clean, walkable safe city, when we ask for help with directions the Canadians were very helpful and very sweet. We visited Queen Elizabeth Park and Stanley Park along with private city tours that were very informative. I actually loved Vancouver and would visit again. I also would stay in the same Hotel again. Port of Vancouver. Princess embarkation is a well oiled machine. Yes, you will stand in line but the line moves efficiently through the building; step by step you move quickly. Princess gets five stars for embarkation. We immediately were allowed into our rooms. We had a choice of three different venues for eating. 1. Horizon Court Buffet, 2. One MDR selection 3. International Cafe. We chose the Horizon Court Buffet. The buffet was crowded but they handled the crowds and had enough staff. The ship was clean and efficient however we quickly realized the itinerary would be the memorable part of this trip. The ship was fine, and we never felt crowded or like we were in a big crowd. Our stateroom was fine, except the bed needed to be replaced about 5 years ago. It had the body impressions with hard spots at the hips. I do not mean stiff spots I mean hard like hip on cardboard or something. -1 for my half of the lumpy bed. Our ports were Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Ketchikan: We did a walking tour with Joe Williams, a Tlingit Indian and past Mayor of Ketchikan. He was informative and fun. Ketchikan looks just like the pictures and we really enjoyed our day there. We decided after walking through Ketchikan with Joe we would catch the lumberjack show. It was a little corny but loads of fun. The bleachers around the area were heated which made sitting on bleachers tolerable on a dreary COLD Alaska day. Juneau: Juneau was beautiful! We pre-booked through Princess the Taku River Salmon Feast and 5 Glacier Viewing. Can you say WOW!! Outstanding and worth every $$$ we spent on the fare. Skagway: Skagway is known for the White Pass Railroad so off we went on the scenic Railroad trip. This place is beyond beautiful and we enjoyed our time on the train. I stayed on the platform outside trying to capture the beautiful Pass and Summit with my camera. After three back to back ports we enjoyed being mystified by the majestic beauty of Glacier Bay National Park. I can not do it justice with my words. You must see it to appreciate it - awe inspiring. Now to the rest of the story. The mean age of the passengers was in my estimate 65-70 years old, therefore everything (music, trivia, live shows) is geared toward their taste. We are early 50s and felt like the young crowd on the ship 85% of the time. Therefore entertainment gets a 2. It was severely lacking. The eateries were efficient but the food was just good. Nothing made me think WoW !! There is plenty of it and nothing was bad but nothing was excellent either. We loved our room steward and our wait staff in MDR but also encountered some less than helpful staff in other areas. There seemed to be a morale problem in the bar staff and crew members at the service desk. Landtour: Disembarkation was as smooth as boarding the ship. We had to separate our bags with tags: Meet Me in Anchorage and Meet Me Tonight. All the bags were moved for us at every stop. I was impressed with that. Very efficient and helpful. The glass dome train ride is very scenic and nice. It is nine hours long and we were definitely ready to get off asap when it stopped. The food was OK on the train but very pricey, as was anything in Denali or McKinley. They know you are captive and you will pay for it. Denali Princess Lodge: The lodge and facilities were nice but our room was under the stairs, so absolutely no view and the room was small. The room is like a Holiday Inn Express only in beautiful setting with more facilities. It was very clean. Mt McKinley Lodge: The rooms are much larger but ours was dirty, We got into it 1.5 hours after check in time and was told to sit and wait in the lodge while it was being cleaned, the management staff had an attitude. I mentioned it was dirty and she cut me off - we had 1/2 used toiletries in our bathroom from previous guest and the dust was in the room was thick. (Total disappointment) All the literature mentions Talkeetna but that is an extra fee per person and another 2 hour round trip to get there so we hung out at the lodge and watched for the Great McKinley to show and yes she did show in all her snow covered glory! Everything you do in the lodges has a fee attached. Every single thing, you get nothing complimentary - just realize that before you get there. We knew it but expected some Princess treats of some sort (there are NON Princess guest there also). We did not know Talkeetna was an extra fee or 2 hours more on a bus to get there. In 24 hours we had spent 9 hours on a train and 7 hours or so on a bus so we skipped it! Anchorage was our final leg in the journey. We spent 2 nights in Captain Cook which is a fine Anchorage hotel. There is plenty around Anchorage to do. We ate at the Glacier Brewhouse and Humpys in Anchorage. Both places are good. Brewhouse is a tad bit upscale, Humpies is Cheers- Alaska. We had a great time and were awed by the natural beauty of Alaska. I think it was a good value even though some areas were not great. We attributed part of that to being early in the season and staff trying to learn as they go. We did not let that slow down the fun; we just think they need to improve. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We arrived one day early, and spent the night at a hotel that had a shuttle to the port terminal. Most hotels provide shuttles (may be a small charge). However, in future, I'd plan to arrive (from Ottawa, Canada) on the day of the ... Read More
We arrived one day early, and spent the night at a hotel that had a shuttle to the port terminal. Most hotels provide shuttles (may be a small charge). However, in future, I'd plan to arrive (from Ottawa, Canada) on the day of the cruise. It's only a short ride from the airport to the port terminal. Embarkation was fast and efficient. We arrived about noon, and were in our room in under one hour. Bags arrived in early afternoon, and had lunch around one. Passengers who boarded later said there was no lineups and came through as quickly as we did. Entertainment was okay, not great. There's music at the different lounges and in the atrium usually from five or six until... A great three piece string orchestra, as well as a great pianist. The other performers (3 different groups) were okay, but tended to lean too much toward 'crooners' and 50s and 60s music - often too low keyed. There was the typical comedy, variety, music and illusionist shows. Good, entertaining, worth taking in, ...but, again, not great. Food: Lots of variety at the buffet; and a great omelette station that wasn't usually busy. The dining room always had something with the appetizers or main course that would appeal. A couple of times I order something that didn't really satisfy. The staff are very accommodating, and brought something else. Ports: Ocho Rios: Did the raft ride on Martha Braie River. Slow moving river, and enjoyed: One word: relaxing. Unfortunately, it's a 90 minute ride from ship...chance to see some of the country side. Lemon: Take time to shop in the dock area. No hassle from people as you browse, and there's quite a variety. We did the banana plant and rainforest train ride...worth doing. Cartegenia, Colombia: Wow! What can I say...you think peddlers hassle you on some of the island, well, the experience here is unbelievable. The guide dropped us in front of a "good" emerald store. The peddlers in the area were such that after five minutes, I just got back on the bus to wait. But, in spite of the peddler experience, it's worth doing the old city excursion because there is so much history, and some of the older structures (fortress, cathedral) are amazing. Panama: Don't bother an excursion if you've taken this cruise to see the locks. There's lots to see from the ship; you have a front row seat to the action, and it's an amazing show!!! Panama: Don't bother an excursion if you've taken this cruise to see the locks. There's lots to see from the ship; you have a front row seat to the action, and it's an amazing show!!! Aruba: Absolutely beautiful island. There's no need to do an excursion unless you want to snorkel. It's safe to walk, and there's lots to see within walking distance. A few final notes...Hats off to all staff. Some say that automatic gratuities has caused the quality of service to decline. Not so on this cruise. Cabin steward and dining room staff were absolutely phenomenal in taking care of our needs and providing help whenever needed. We found all the staff to be very friendly as we moved about the ship. The ship shows some signs of wear around certain areas and some of the furniture in the stateroom We had a balcony, and found it's worth it when you're in the Caribbean. Finally, the big question....would we sail Princess again? Probably would, but given all the options out there, we'll most likely try another cruise line just so we can compare.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
This was our second Panama Cruise on the Coral Princess. We loved the ship 7 years ago, but it is even more beautiful now. The updates done in 2009 were perfect. We love the convenient layout of this ship. Having the restaurants, theaters ... Read More
This was our second Panama Cruise on the Coral Princess. We loved the ship 7 years ago, but it is even more beautiful now. The updates done in 2009 were perfect. We love the convenient layout of this ship. Having the restaurants, theaters and other public spaces on two main decks makes learning your way around very easy. The Lotus pool is a quieter, more adult atmosphere where relaxing and reading can be enjoyed between dips. Our only complaint was that this trip this enclosed pool was a little too warm and stuffy. It was really too hot to enjoy the upper level since there is no natural breeze for the outside. Unlike larger ships, we did not have to wait and wait for elevators, and there was enough theatre seating that we never felt like we had to rush and get to a show 45 minutes early. As cruisers in our 60's we were just about average age...maybe even on the young side. This was pretty much expected given the itinerary and the fact we were on an 11 day cruise during the school year. We had just minor complaints...in a mini suite with a bathtub, we found the shampoo and shower jel fixed to the wall at a height unreachable from relaxing in the tub. We also found it irritating that although only guests in formal attire are supposed to be admitted to the dining rooms on formal nights...we were disappointed to see so many folks in casual attire...even jeans. No one was turned away. OK if you don't want to dress up...just go to the Horizon Court buffet for dinner.. Or go to a more casual cruise line. We had great service in the restaurant, at the buffet and in the various bars and theaters. Poolside service was very attentive as well. Now we are looking forward to our third Coral Princess cruise-next year to Alaska.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our fourth Princess Cruise in three years, and 14th cruise overall. For this experience, we were somewhat disappointed. Our mini suite was a good sized, but the furnishings were in need of replacing. For example, the sofa was ... Read More
This was our fourth Princess Cruise in three years, and 14th cruise overall. For this experience, we were somewhat disappointed. Our mini suite was a good sized, but the furnishings were in need of replacing. For example, the sofa was dirty and cushions fairly beat up. Our room steward (Ramon), while seemingly pleasant, provided basic cleaning but nothing special. On embarkation day, I asked for robes, which he delivered that evening. Upon our arrival, the chairs and the hand railing on our balcony were filthy, and called Ramon's attention to it. He nicely explained that embarkation day was a difficult turnover day to get everthing done, but he would tend to it. However, the next day after he cleaned but never touched the railing or the chairs, I cleaned them all myself. But on day 4 of our cruise, Ramon entered our locked cabin while we were inside with the "do not disturb" sign in the door (ugh) and said he was there to clean the balcony. In fact, on a couple of occasions Ramon walked unannounced into our cabin while we were there when our "do not disturb" sign was on our door. Separately, mid cruise during an at-sea day, my husband lost his on board cruise ID card which you use for all purchases. He went to the customer service desk, and they issued him a new card. When he questioned what if someone found his old card, the attendant told him it would not work because the actual card had been deactivated in their computer system. My husband then questioned about the services on board where crew members simply jot down your folio number, rather than swipe the card. The crew member curtly stated that no one on board does that, and that all crew swipes through the card reader. At that point the crew member got an attitude as if my husband was bothering them. For the next few days, my husband and I chuckled with each other about how many times we both used our ship ID card when each crew member just jotted down our folio number without swiping it. Additionally, we daily checked our on board account. On the last night of our cruise, a CHARGE (not ours) for Sabatini's (specialty dining) for $25 showed up on my husband's account, Apparently whomever snagged my husband's lost card decided to use it and have a special dinner "on us"; and yes PRINCESS CRUISE LINES it was charged to us by your crew jotting down the folio number and not swiping the card as we had feared. Luckily, my husband caught it and promptly went to the customer service desk and disputed the charge, which they credited back to us. Perhaps your processes need to be revisited????? For me, itt's not that passengers have issues while on board (that's assumed), it's how the cruise line deals with the customers that is our complaint. And the customer service desk crew on board the Coral Princess FAILED both on process and tone, to the point that we will select a different cruise line for our next cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2012
I'm a newlywed with 15 cruises under my belt. My husband has now gone on 7. We are 59 and 64 respectively. We are frugal, adventurous and silly. We love adventure, good food and wine. And trivia. We live to laugh and this cruise ... Read More
I'm a newlywed with 15 cruises under my belt. My husband has now gone on 7. We are 59 and 64 respectively. We are frugal, adventurous and silly. We love adventure, good food and wine. And trivia. We live to laugh and this cruise filled the bill on all accounts.. Here are the highlights Embarkation-- booked the W hotel via Hotwire for two nights prior to sailing. It is a fabulous, luxury on-the-beach property minutes from the port. We grabbed a cab at 11 and glad we did. Traffic to the port is horrendous ( there were 8 ships I port!). I was determined to be among the first on-board in order to book The Sanctuary, the Chef's Dinner and the Ultimate Ship's Tour. Slight deadly due to immigration but on board by 130. The port is nothing special but all were efficient and courteous. Our cabin-- we got upgraded to a starboard balcony E723. We had one cabin steward, Renato, and he was terrific. Quiet, efficient and responsive. The cabin was perfect with one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in. There is a huge closet with REAL wooden hangers. Oodles of space for storage. Two bed stands with drawers. Excellent light for nighttime reading. Comfortable chairs on a very private balcony. And two chairs in the cabin as well. Booking the extras--I immediately bought a soda card, a wine package, and ran to The Sanctuary to book 2 chairs in the aft, adults-only section of the ship for the duration of the cruise. The Santuary is pricey at $210 each and worth every single penny. I like shade and our lounge chairs were shaded 80 per cent of the time. I also booked cruise-long access to the Thermal Suite which includes sauna and steam room and heated mosaic beds. $128 and again, worth every penny. I never took a shower in my room--always went to the large, roomy spa shower. And booked The Chefs Dinner ($95 extra per person and again worth every penny--I could write a whole review of this meal alone) and The Ultimate Ships Tour ($150 each, and you guessed it, worth every penny as it included photos and amazing access to every corner of the ship) The Food--we chose late dining and were blessed with interesting dinner mates at our table for 8. the food is varied and damn good. I had extra anchovies on my Caesar salad every night. The fish and seafood were particularly good as were the pork dishes. I found the steaks a little tough, but tasty. In addition to the Chef's dinner we ate at The Bayou one night. Well worth the $20 extra charge though we had to send sausage back as it was jndercooked). We generally had breakfast in our room and lunch at the buffet. (A lunch menu is also available at the Sanctuary) Three formal nights. Service was understated and excellent. There was a miscount on our wine package--elegantly managed personally by Andre the sommelier. My only disappointments were no eggs Benedict on breakfast menu, no bagels on room service menu. The Entertainment--the production shows were excellent. the Bayou show was stunning. Gavin the cruise director and his team were top-notch. The comedians were a little tame for my taste but Scott Wylie is a master of the one-liner. Steve Cauotte was the exception--brilliant comedian. The mentalist was annoying and the magician Gaetano, was good but his act felt like a time warp from the 70s. Karaoke was a blast, the classical music concert provided by the atrium's trio, Elegy, was an unexpected delight. I also got recruited for the Princess Choir which was a joy. The shows were well timed to maximize attendance. Both theatres are beautifully appointed with good acoustics. And there was always somewhere to dance. The Wheelhouse was a great space for that but the band was a little dull. My only complaint? A real piano bar where we could have group sing-alongs would be so great (though BOTH pianist/singers were great). The spa--I am used to free steam and sauna rooms on Carnival but bit the bullet and as noted above paid for access $128 for the duration of the cruise). A cozy space with deliciously hot, hot steam rooms. The gym is free. My biggest disappointment? Coed facilities. I hate wearing a bathing suit in sauna/steam rooms. Had one massage on special and it was a great relaxer before the last formal night. But there's nothing like leaving a sandy beach and heading straight for the nice, big steamy spa showers. I hate sand in my room! The Ports--overall, great ports but too little time in each Aruba--we met up with some other CCers and took a cab to Ahashi Beach (the rocky part before the big park) . We got there before the crowds arrived on boats from cruise excursions and experienced swimming in an aquarium load of fish and coral. $20 each way or 1/4 the price of an organized tour with twice as many fish. Cartagena--we opted to share a cab to the old city and walk around on our own. Went to the History Museum (all the Inquisition stuff is deliberately exploitative and gruesome--i wouldn't take children) and the contemporary art Museum store. And just wandered the streets and back alleys. I got a gorgeous silver and emerald bracelet at a good price I think:) The Canal--this is the reason to take this cruise. A full 9 hours of informed fascination. Bill Keene does a nice job of narrating throughout. The trick is to view from multiple vantage points throughout the day. It may be worth buying spots at the Sanctuary for just that day (think it is $60 but includes champagne and other goodies). You can see it all from there. Don't miss the lectures beforehand either. Really deepened the experience Fuerte Amador-- as my grandmother grew up in the Zone, we wanted a special experience and hired a private guide for the day. Mario,from myfriendmario.com was perfect. He picked us up just outside the port and tailored our day to us. We visited some neighborhoods, went to the Panama Canal headquarters, did a walking tour of the old town and went to a great Italian place, Moxaco, for lunch. We also went to the trans ocean museum which had a special exhibition on Gaugin. Mario's parents were Chinese railroad builders and he knows so much about the city and its history. $120 for six hours of his time. And, you guessed it, worth every penny. Our only complaint? Poor coordination and communication regarding the tenders into the port. We waited almost an hour. Even folks with ship tours were delayed and complaining. Puntarenas--with other CCers we went with the 6 in 1 tour with Odyssey tours. Juan was our Guide and he was informative and flexible. Perfect day. There were 10 of us. We saw monkeys and macaws, visited Villa lapas, a lovely beach and had lunch in Jaco Beach along with stops at a couple of good gift shops. Some other points-- Five days at sea was a fine end to the cruise (tho I wish they'd add Cabo as a port on the return). We were lucky to have great weather throughout which always puts a good spin on things. Oh, and my cruise bill? after taking advantage of nearly every amenity and upsell the ship had to offer, fate smiled on me. A $2000 jackpot on Deuces Wild and a net gain on blackjack whittled it down to a few hundred dollars. We found the deals for jewelry on-board hard to resist. There was a Swarovski Crystal box under the Christmas tree for me with a beautiful twin-banded bracelet. Disembarkation--We got off in San Pedro via self-assist after a full breakfast. Grabbed a cab to rent a car and headed up the Pacific Coast Highway home. Cabs were pricier than expected (45-50 to airports) This was our first Princess cruise. And not our last. We are already booked on Pacific Princess for next December's transatlantic cruise. And I just booked the repositioning cruise in Sept. from Vancouver to San Francisco. Please feel free to email me at margotknight11@yahoo.com if you have any questions! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
The Coral Princess is not a huge ship, which is fine by me. However, there was so little to do that we found ourselves sleeping more than any cruise ever before! My husband and I are 29, and some of the youngest aboard. Again, this is ... Read More
The Coral Princess is not a huge ship, which is fine by me. However, there was so little to do that we found ourselves sleeping more than any cruise ever before! My husband and I are 29, and some of the youngest aboard. Again, this is fine. We get along very well with an older crowd - better, in fact. It was the lack of activities and places to go that was disappointing. During the sea days, there were lectures and seminars that did not pertain to us; "Fear of outliving your money" - things like that. Last year we went on a 14 night Hawaii cruise on the Golden Princess, and that ship was great! The Coral had NO shopping. The perfume and makeup selections were pitiful. (saved me money, though). The duty free liquor was abysmal. (First time my husband did not buy a fine liqueur onboard - there were none!) The casino was very shabby. We like to play craps, and this is the first cruise we've ever taken where craps is not open in the day on sea days, and the casino was this tiny. While the dealers were nice, as soon as midnight hit, they couldn't wait to get out of there and made it well known. A bit uncomfortable. Our cabin steward was nice enough, but little touches that we've experienced on other cruises just weren't there. No towel animals (not that I really care, actually, just noticed it). VERY slow to refresh the room. We were gone one day from 7am until 2pm and it still wasn't refreshed. We brought on champagne and must have asked for champagne flutes 3-4 times at least, but he never left any in the room unlike our last cruise. The food on Princess is better that, say, Carnival. But it was not as good as it was on our Hawaiian cruise. There were the same selections most of the time, and not many specialty stations. On the last Princess cruise, there were specialty stations every day along with chocolate buffets and 24hr snacks in the horizon court. Not here. Overall, we had a great time (vacation is what you make it!) but were not a fan of the ship. We could cover it top to bottom in 20 minutes. Never slept out of boredom so much on vacation before. Also, very few decent shows. BUT - Panama Canal was excellent. Worth the boring ship in the end! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
I will start by saying that we were really looking for a cruise to Europe but with flights so expensive to basically everywhere is Europe this summer when Princess dropped their prices to Alaska a few weeks ago, we decided to give it a ... Read More
I will start by saying that we were really looking for a cruise to Europe but with flights so expensive to basically everywhere is Europe this summer when Princess dropped their prices to Alaska a few weeks ago, we decided to give it a try. Neither of us had ever been to Alaska and yes, we both wanted to go but we were planning to wait a few years. However since we really wanted to go on a cruise...off we went. We flew into Anchorage Saturday night, embarkation was Monday. We stayed at the Embassy Suites in mid-town. Very nice hotel, close to a few places to eat and a grocery store with a liquor store if you want to carry on a couple of bottles of wine with you. They offered a free shuttle which we took advantage of to pick us up at the airport and to take us downtown. Breakfast was really good but the lines to eat were a bit crazy. Between all the people who acted like they have never eaten breakfast in a hotel before and only one person cooking omelets it was at best slow. Ultimately I think I would stay downtown if we did it again. Close to the market, restaurants, activities, etc. Embarkation went smooth. We opted to buy transfers from Alaska Cruise Transfer. Went smooth, they picked us up when they said, had some narration on the ride over, Whittier tunnel was neat to see and all at half the price of the cruise ship transfer. We walked on the ship just after 3pm and everything was ready. Our bags showed up very soon after we got to our cabin. Cabin A306. Small but worked. To be fair we usually choose at least a mini suite as we like the space they provide. It was quiet had a covered balcony, was close to forward stairs and elevators. Very small shower but great water pressure. Cabin had enough storage and the refrig kept things pretty cool. Beds were horrible in our opinion. Hard...very hard. Oh yes, not one single towel animal either. We opted for the Horizon court the first night for supper, other than that we only ate breakfast at the buffet two other days and that was it for the buffet. Not that it was bad, we just didn't eat there much. We went to the welcome aboard show the first night, in fact we basically went to all of the shows that were offered. Sarge the comedian, the illusionist, the hypnotist, and production show Motor City. Yep we went, but basically thought they were all very unimaginative. After looking at scenery all day and having basically nothing else happening on the ship we went for lack of something better. In fact it was very strange. I don't know if it was the type of crowds that generally go on this cruise or what, but there was not a lot of activities to choose from. Stuart the cruise director did not seem to be engaged in the passengers at all. Hubbard Glacier did not get visited due to weather and too much ice. Glacier Bay was nice and we saw a few glaciers, whales, dolphins, birds. Basically everything you were supposed to see. Commentary from park ranger was fine. Skagway was an okay stop. We chose to ride the train which was a very nice ride with a lot scenery but looking back at 119 dollars each it was pretty high priced. I would recommend finding something to do that takes you out of town as there isn't much there and you can pretty much see walk it quick. Would also be a good day to see it and then head back to the ship for a massage. We enjoyed Juneau. We bought through the cruise ship the Taku River Lodge and flightseeing excursion. Fly in a float plane, see several glaciers from above, land on the Taku river, eat fresh grilled salmon, experience a historical lodge, fly back to Juneau. If you are wanting to see some whales this is a good stop to sign up for some whale watching as well. Ketchikan was our only really rainy day. Other days had a little bit of drizzle at times but also times when it was sunny (Hubbard Glacier day it was very thick fog). We walked around town a bit, did a little shopping, had lunch, bought some canned salmon, a t-shirt, etc. then back to the ship. You can easily walk to the salmon ladder and fish hatchery if you don't want to buy an excursion. The meals were good, they still had lobster tails one night in the main dining room. Most were the size of a jumbo prawn. We ate at the Bayou Steakhouse one night. Very good and a nice change from the main dining room. 5 extra dollars over the cover charge for a lobster tail but you got a great lobster tail for the money. Yes as other people said, they were always trying to take your picture. We didn't buy any but thought it was fun to let them take them and look at them later. I always have though if they would lover the price they would just about sell all the pictures they take. As it seems they must throw a lot of them away. Pub lunch occurred twice during the cruise and we went both times. Fish and Chips were very good. It was a great lunch that I don't think a lot of people knew about because it wasn't busy at all. We signed up for the ultimate ship tour. We enjoyed this very much. Three hours of going everywhere on the ship you can't normally enter. Bridge, Galley, Engineering, Laundry, etc. If you are interested in the "How" then this is a good tour. If you only care that things just get done and don't care about how it gets to that point, I wouldn't sign up for this. Disembarkation went very smooth. They do a great job and has to be one of the best we have experienced. Conclusion, this was our 9th cruise and 2nd with Princess (first on the Crown) and I would rank this toward the top of the bottom third (we are in our mid 30's). For Princess the Crown is still keeping them in the running with us for future cruises. We still have had much better experiences with RCI. We did get a relaxing vacation. I however was also in the mood for a great cruise ship experience and what we really got was a great tour of Alaska instead. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
Embarkation was pretty seamless. We had about 400 people on our train, so we were all in line to get through security and embark on the ship. We were the second to last train to embark, but the only line we really had to wait in was to ... Read More
Embarkation was pretty seamless. We had about 400 people on our train, so we were all in line to get through security and embark on the ship. We were the second to last train to embark, but the only line we really had to wait in was to get through security. Once we got on the ship, the crew had it down to a science, getting pictures taken for cruise card, getting embarkation pictures, and herding everyone to the appropriate elevators. The funniest thing was that there was a crewmember manning the elevator to help us get to the right decks. We were all crammed in there and another couple got on and the woman went to press the button for their deck and the crewmember snarkily replied "Please do not touch my buttons!" I wondered if this was her job every day and she was just protective of her turf, but of course, I never saw another elevator attendant again! I had to laugh that she was taking her job so seriously. Stateroom We were on the Caribe Deck in a Oceanside Balcony. We were starboard in the last room of the foreward bumpout. The room was what we expected and we enjoyed the balcony very much. Although, being the last room on the foreward bumpout, we could pretty much look back and see every balcony behind us. No one could see into our room, but we could see others on their balconies. However, during the glacier days, everyone was nice and it was fun to join into different conversations. Although, I sometimes felt like by us standing at the railing of our balcony, we were blocking the view for the people not on the bumpout. Our room steward, Nelson, was super nice and was easy to track down. We did have problems with our room key, but he was able to open the door with no problem. There were no towel animals each night, but I was prepared for that from CC. We did get chocolate on our pillows every evening, so I was pleasantly surprised since I had read on CC that some cruisers did not get them. Dining We were scheduled for the 5:30 dinner seating in the Main Dining Room (MDR). I really don't like eating dinner really late, but still wanted to sit with the same tablemates each night. Since this was an Alaska cruise, we missed a lot of scenery by going to dinner each night so early. When we do it again, we will either pick Anytime dining or the later sitting. The food was good, but not always spectacular. I tried not to get the items that were offered every day, but sometimes nothing else on the menu appealed to me. The desserts were all delicious, but not very big portions. The other issue we had with the MDR was that it seemed that they had overbooked our table with an extra couple. Fortunately, not all 10 people showed up each night, so there were no confrontations, but it was most awkward for us each night wondering what would transpire. The Horizon Court is where we had breakfast every morning. We tried to get there before 8 and it did seem to be less crowded then, even on port days. I did partake on the dessert buffet the one afternoon and it was amazing! The pizza bar and ice cream bar were good for quick meals/snacks, but sometimes had long lines, so we had to plan out those stops carefully. General Ship Comments The MUTS was awesome, but some of the listed movies were not played and I missed a couple of movies that I wanted to see, since it was not listed accurately in the daily Patter. For the most part, it was not crowded, but that also meant that there were no attendants around. I did not see the cookie/milk cart until the last day of the cruise. I was able to bundle up and enjoy this perk when others did not want to brave the chilly weather. I did use the pool and hot tub outside, but just on the last day of the cruise. We only went to see the comedian for the evening entertainment. I believe it was Mike Wilson. He replaced Sarge on the ship, who I only heard rave reviews about. Mike was funny, but it was short and a lot of his jokes did not make it to the older generation for some reason. I did utilize the laundromat on the ship on the first full day and then another day. I brought the Purell 3 in 1 sheets and was very glad that I had read that tip on CC. They were very convenient and much better than using the soap machine on the ship. We also got up to the "hidden" viewing deck on the Caribe deck, but by the time we had gotten up there to see the Hubbard glacier, there were already a lot of people up there. Since I am short and there was no one willing to let me get some pictures, we decided to go back to our balcony. We did get up there at other points during the cruise and there was hardly anyone there at all. I missed the walking deck completely until the last day on the ship. On our previous cruise, it was up top, so I never thought that it would be on one of the lower decks. I wish I would have found that deck earlier! The fitness center was nice, but there were a few treadmills that were broken down the entire trip and were not marked as broken. I got in there early and it seemed to fill up fast throughout the week. As soon as I would get off a machine, someone was taking it without me even having time to wipe it down. Yakutat Bay and Glacier Bay National Park These two days on the ship have merged together at this point. We saw all the major glaciers and, according to the naturalist on board, were able to get the closest to the Hubbard Glacier that the Coral Princess had ever gotten to it in its history in Alaska! These two days were one of the big highlights of our trip, but it was hard to know where the best place on the ship to be was. I was kind of surprised that they had opened the ceiling over the indoor pool for the Glacier Bay day, since there was no good enclosed place to easily view both sides of the ship and it was chilly. I was prepared for this, but I still could not get warm up there and we ended up moving around the ship a lot. Disembarkation After previously having trouble with another cruise line, disembarkation, and missing our flight home, I was very apprehensive about the whole process. I considered self-disembarking, but I knew we would not be able to handle all of our luggage on our own. However, all of my worries were for naught. We got off the ship easily, found our luggage, and got on the bus. They tried to fill our bus with just domestic flights, but ended up with some International flights, so we had to make an extra stop at the airport. The bus driver was jokingly rude at the beginning, which I thought was going to make it a long ride to the airport, but it turns out that he was a really good tour guide through Vancouver. He definitely planted the seed for us to want to come back and spend more time in Vancouver! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
If you plan to drive in Alaska on your own, I strongly recommend getting the Milepost. It provides info on lodging, food, fuel, and items of interest for all of the major Alaskan roads. Also, reviews of the lodging and tours in the land ... Read More
If you plan to drive in Alaska on your own, I strongly recommend getting the Milepost. It provides info on lodging, food, fuel, and items of interest for all of the major Alaskan roads. Also, reviews of the lodging and tours in the land portion of the trip can be found in the Review section of Tripadvisor. I especially want to thank all of folks that post in the Alaska section of the Tripadvisor forum. Without the forum, I would have had a very difficult task to determine an itinerary (special thanks to Manitoba Maple for the itinerary suggestions) and decide on attractions, restaurants, and lodging. The search engine on works great and helped me locate past posts that provided a wealth of information and answered my questions. I also wanted to thank the posters at Cruisecritic. I wanted to especially thank Budget Queen for her suggestions on the Denali summit flightseeing tour and using the shuttle bus in Denali NP. I also wanted to thank Cruising Goddess for her Alaska website. Her packing list was invaluable to developing our Alaskan wardrobe. We loved the convertible pants! The posters at Cruisecritic also provided good info on Alaska, as well as, helping with cruise and cabin selection. I fall in the category of a severe planner and try to tie down as many loose ends as possible, so the information on both sites is a valuable resource. Day 1- Travel day We landed in Anchorage in late afternoon. We pickup our rental car from Alamo. It was a Nissan Altima which is considered full size. We were able to stow our three pieces of luggage and the two day packs in the trunk. (Following advice on the TA forum, we booked a rental car through Alamo about a year earlier for eight days for a total cost of $366.) It was raining when we left the airport, but that ended quickly. The sun came out, and we got our first views of the mountains surrounding Anchorage. After a full day of flying, we had enough energy to shop for groceries, deet, the Milepost, and sundries at the Wal-Mart on Dimond Blvd and get sandwiches from the nearby Subway. We headed to our lodging at the Girdwood Guest House. It was still a sunny day, and the heavily snow-covered mountains along the Turnagain Arm were an unexpected surprise. Pat and Judy at GGH were great hosts. They told us there was more snow on the mountains this late in the year due to the heavy and prolonged winter and spring snow falls. We were able to sleep well because our bedroom at GGH has no windows. Day 2-Girdwood to Homer Day 2 starts with our first wildlife sighting. While fixing breakfast, my wife spotted a black bear across the street. He was about 20 feet away. He moved away before we could get to a camera. We did the Glacier Dog sledding tour with Seavey Iditarod/Alpine Air. Alpine Air runs the airport location and operates the helicopters, and Seavey runs the dog camp. The day was overcast, but no rain, so we were good to fly. They fitted us with fleece gloves and waterproof jackets and pants in addition to the glacier boots. Since I saw glacier dog sledding on an RCL commercial in the early 2000's, I had always wanted to do this tour, and I was not disappointed. They land you onto Punchbowl glacier. During the helicopter trip, we saw blue ice pools. While we were on the glacier, I noticed all the footsteps made in the ice reflect a slight blue tint. The dogs are only 30 to 40 lbs, but they are incredibly strong. I did not realize how eager they are to pull the sled, and they will do it with or without a musher aboard. We got to hold the 8 week old puppies who were so cute. The view of the surrounding mountains around the glacier was spectacular (sorry if I overuse this word in my report, but this vacation was incredible). I got to ride in the co-pilot seat on the way back. Because of my height and weight, this was an unexpected thrill. The scenery in the mountain valleys was beautiful. We wish the helicopter ride could have been longer than 10 minutes each way. After the helicopter trip, we decided that the Alyeska tram would be a letdown, so it was on to Homer. We made several photo stops along the Turnagain Arm and Portage area. We took several minutes at each stop just to admire the incredible views of these snow and ice covered mountains. Along the drive to Cooper Landing, we noticed the beautiful green colored water in the streams. The scenery after Cooper Landing to Soldotna is not as spectacular since it is mostly trees, but we were rewarded with great pastries at The Moose is Loose bakery in Soldotna. After Soldotna, the scenery improved. We had views of the Cooke Inlet. Along the Sterling Highway between Ninilchik and Anchor Point, we made several stops to admire the mountains across the Cook Inlet. I read reviews talking about an impressive view as you enter Homer; they were right. That view of the town, the bay, and the mountains was awesome. We stayed in the Compass Rose Quarters at the Alaska Beach House. Doug and Sue were great hosts and provided good information. The cottage is a stand-alone building which has a balcony overlooking Kachemak Bay. There was an amazing view of the ice-covered mountains across the bay. Upon our arrival, there was a bald eagle perched in a nearby tree. Apparently, there was a bird turf battle for the tree. The eagle was being strafed by 3 crows. I expected the eagle to strike back, but I guess it figured it wouldn't be worth the effort with so many surrounding trees. It flew off and yielded the tree to my least favorite birds. We spent the evening admiring the view from our balcony and the comfortable recliners inside the cottage. Even with overcast skies, the views of the mountains are so striking. Day 3 - Homer Originally, we planned to go to Seldovia on the Kachemak Bay ferry since this would only take about half a day. This would have still allowed about a half day to explore Homer. However, the ferry company changed the schedule, and we would have spent an entire day in Seldovia. We wanted to see Homer as well, so we opted to spend the day in Homer and were rewarded for that decision. The day started out overcast with a low cloud deck. We decided to start with a visit to the Island and Oceans museum. This museum has pretty cool exhibits on the people, history, geography and fishing of the area. While in the museum, blue skies and the sun appeared. We walked the museum trail through Beluga Slough to Bishop's beach. The view from the beach was gorgeous. The beach consists of a dark grey colored sand from the granite mountains which I had never seen. There were posted alerts about a moose being spotted near the trail, but we did see any moose. We then decided to drive along East End Road. We found out that buildings and trees block the view across the bay. To view the beautiful scenery, you need to travel on the interconnecting Old East End Road and the small public gravel roads. We couldn't get enough of staring at the scenery on both sides of the bay. At the end of the paved portion of East End Road, a young woman in a colorful long Russian dress and bonnet was caring for her two children in the front yard of their house. We turned around and headed back to Homer. Since we're fans of the Deadliest Catch, we had to go to the Time Bandit store. We found out the Time Bandit was in port at the Spit, so we rushed to go there. We found the TB. In real life, the ship looks small. I know it is only 109 feet long, but on TV it appears to be larger. It really takes a special kind of courage to take a ship this size into the Bering Sea during winter. We went to the Land's End which has a lounge that has an outdoor area with nice views of the mountains. We ended the day by driving to Skyline Drive. This required driving on East and West Hill Roads. These roads had some turns with steep drop offs that were sort of challenging to this flatlander. On Skyline Drive, there is a pullout that provides a fantastic view of Homer, the Spit, and Kachemak bay especially on this sunny day. Day 4- Homer to Girdwood It was a cold, overcast day, but I wished we could have stayed another day in Homer. I really recommend spending two full days in Homer. We really enjoyed the views from balcony. During our stay at the cottage, we had numerous eagles fly over us. On our way out of Homer, a moose cow and calf were grazing about 20 to 30 feet off the highway. The moose is an unusual looking animal. It looks like it has parts from other animals and was obviously the product of a design by committee. Even though it was overcast and occasionally rainy over the Kenai peninsula, it was sunny across the Cook Inlet, and we were treated to outstanding views of Mts. Redoubt and Iliamna. At one pullout, there were roadside signs describing the volcanoes. Mt Redoubt last erupted in 2009, but it was quiet today. We also saw eagles. While driving down the gravel road to the Russian Orthodox church in Ninilchik, a moose cow crossed the road. The moose walked to our right side, and we saw that the calf had preceded her. We watched them feed on the trees. We proceeded to the church. The inside of the church was closed for the day, but it was a treat to see the outside of the little church. We stopped to see the Princess Wilderness Lodge at Cooper Landing. That area has great scenery especially with the green colored streams. Though it was raining, there were quite a people fishing in the river. We arrived at Girdwood where we again stayed at the Girdwood Guest House. Soon after we arrived, the bear we saw on Day 2 came back to tell us hello. We ate at the Silvertip Grill. I had the reindeer lasagna which was delicious. They also had great beer from an Alaskan microbrewery. The grill is frequented mostly by locals, and they made us feel at home. Girdwood is a cool little town. We were again able to take refuge from the white nights in our totally dark bedroom. Day 5 - Homer to Matanuska It was overcast, windy, and cold as we toured the Turnagain Arm area toward Anchorage. The weather did not detract from the spectacular scenery along the arm. We stopped at Windy Point (it earned its name that day), Bird Point, Beluga Point (did not see any whales), and Potter Marsh. We saw lots of birds at Potter March. We even saw Canadian geese with gosling. Some birds like the songbird were at the railings of the boardwalk, but for most, it helps to have binoculars. During our travels along the Turnagain Arm, we did not try to view the bore tides since they were predicted to be very low height or non-occurring. Due to the low cloud deck, we scrubbed going to Independence Pass and Hatcher Mine, and we opted for the Musk Ox Farm. This is a good side tour especially if you have children. The tour guide was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The musk ox which is actually a goat looks like a throwback to the Wooly Mammoth days. They even let the children feed wild dandelions to the young musk ox. We continued our drive on the Glenn Highway. I found out the hard way that the road to Matanuska was in the mountains (probably foothills, but to this flatlander they seemed like mountains). We got a good view of the Matanuska glacier. At 26 miles long, it is impressive. We stayed at the Majestic Valley lodge and ate at the restaurant at the Sheep Mountain lodge which had good food. Day 6 - Matanuska to Talkeetna It started out as a foggy morning, but the clouds began to lift. It was a sunny day as we did our 3 hour walk on the Matanuska Glacier with MICA tours which we booked the previous day. I really enjoyed the glacier walk, and hopefully I will be able to do at least another one in the future . We got to see the deep crevices and holes in the glacier. We saw the small greenish blue kettle ponds. The snow-capped, surrounding mountains and glacier were absolutely gorgeous. The trip was harder on my wife who has a bad knee. We mistakenly thought that glaciers were relatively flat with some gradual changes in elevation. Wrong, silly flatlanders. There is a somewhat steep change in elevation. We wished we brought her knee brace (which she has not had to wear in over ten years). It would have also helped if she had a hiking pole. The MICA guides were absolutely fantastic about assisting her. We felt bad that we held back the two much younger people in our tour. Needless to say, this was her first and last glacier walk. We drove to Talkeetna. On this sunny day, the scenery along the Glenn Highway was beautiful. Mountains are on both sides of the Matanuska river with the road cut into one of the mountain (yeah I know, foothills). We spent a lot of time stopping and viewing the scenery. After Glenn Highway, the drive from Wasilla to Talkeetna is a bit of a letdown. To quote a line I previously read on Tripadvisor, it was trees, trees, and more trees. When we got to Talkeetna, we spotted Denali (McKinley) from a pullout on the Talkeetna Spur road. The mountain was in a full view! We tried to get a summit flightseeing tour for that evening, but were not successful. We stayed in the downstairs lodge room at the Susitna River Lodging which has a good view of the adjacent Susitna River. From the lodge grounds, you can see some of the Alaskan Range, but not Denali. Later that evening, a couple of large raft tours on the river passed by the lodge. We really enjoyed our short stay at the lodge and at Talkeetna. We ate at Twisted Creek; great service and beer (brewed onsite) and good food. On this Alaskan trip, I verified that halibut is not my favorite fish, but I like how it is prepared at Twisted Creek. Day 7 - Talkeetna to Healy It was an overcast day at Talkeetna, but the skies were clearing over the Alaskan Range. We booked a mid-morning summit flightseeing tour with K2 Aviation. There were some low clouds on the west side of Denali, but were able to get full views of the mountain on the east, south, and north sides. The skies continued to clear as the flight progressed, and we got beautiful views of Denali, Foraker, Hunter, and the surrounding areas. This area had gotten a fresh dusting of snow the previous night. As with other areas of central Alaska, the mountains had much more snow than usual due to the heavy winter and spring snow falls. On a clear day, I highly recommend this tour. It was exhilarating. I was also fortunate to sit in the co-pilot's seat. Ed was our pilot who provided great narration. We did a final drive around Talkeetna (such a cool little town), and it was on to Healy. The scenery improved as the Alaskan Range began to poke above the trees. We also had a black bear cross the highway about 50 to 100 feet in front of us. I was getting sleepy during the drive, so my wife took over the driving. While I was napping, she said she saw a bull moose on the side of the road (I snooze, I lose). We stopped at the Wilderness Access Center in Denali National Park to pick up our prepaid tickets for the 6:15AM shuttle to Wonder Lake. We also watched the short film which was about the early history of the park and construction of the park road. We then headed to our lodging at the Denali Lakeview Inn which is on the shores of Lake Otto. We stayed in the Alaska Room which has large vertical windows providing spectacular views of the mountains and lake. We also had a shared balcony with two other units. We ate at the nearby Black Diamond Grill. The food was very good. I had an Alaskan King Crab leg and salmon. The beer was from the Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage. We went back to the inn and stared at the scenery from the comfort of the wrap around couch. The white nights are tough on sleeping, but great for viewing scenery. Day 8 - Denali NP We woke up at 5AM to another sunny day! We drove to the WAC and boarded the shuttle bus. The seats on the bus were surprisingly comfortable, and there was an overhead storage rack with ample room for our day packs. Our shuttle bus driver was Wendy who was fantastic. She gave a great commentary on the history, wildlife, and geology, and geography of the park. She also had fantastic vision at detecting wildlife. Because of Wendy, we saw moose, brown bears and cubs, loons, willow ptarmigan (Alaska state bird), dall sheep, and caribou. She stopped for all wildlife sightings. For some of the bears and caribou, Wendy stopped the bus and waited patiently. She said the animals would get nearer to the bus, and she was right. The caribou crossed the road in front of us, and the bears approached close enough that they could be easily seen without binoculars. We also saw a red fox walking along the road. At the Eielson VC, we ate the sack lunches that were prepared by the folks at the Lakeview inn. The lunches were good and must have smelled good because it interested a ground squirrel who we thought was going to leap onto the bench. I told him know "no" repeatedly, and he kept faking a leap. Apparently, the back and forth between the squirrel and I must have been entertaining enough to draw a crowd snapping photos. Eventually, he got bored and left. He must have put the word out on me to his other squirrel buddies because they scurried when they saw me. From the park entrance to one of the stops, we got full views of Denali! By the time, we got to Eielson, some clouds were at the base of the mountain, but you could still see about 80 to 90% of the mountain. We rode the bus to Wonder Lake, but could only see the top of the mountain at that point; we did see the red fox during this trip. The bus ahead of us saw a wolf pack, but we did not. The mosquitoes at Wonder Lake were numerous but not swarming, but we were glad we had head nets and Deet. 100% deet works great at repelling mosquitoes, but it takes quite a few hand washes with lots of soap to later get rid of the smell. We considered ourselves lucky to get a great bus driver/tour guide, plenty of wildlife sightings, numerous Denali sightings, and a sunny day. We ate at the 49th State Brewery in Healy. The food was OK, but the beer was good. They only brew one beer, a golden ale. The other draft beers are from breweries in Alaska and Washington. Day 9 - Healy to Anchorage It was a fairly uneventful trip to Anchorage. The day started out overcast, but became sunny by afternoon. We did see the top of Denali at a road side pullout. We stayed at the Ship Creek Comfort Inn. We chose this location because it was within walking distance from the train station. We had reserved tickets to Whittier on the Alaskan Railroad for our cruise tomorrow. The inn borders the Tony Knowles trail and Ship Creek. At the creek, there were a lot of people fishing for salmon. We stayed a while, but no one hooked a fish while we were there. Our room was on the creek side of the building, so it was not directly facing the train tracks. We heard, but were not bothered or awakened by train whistles during the night. Day 10 - Anchorage to Whittier Comfort Inn had a great breakfast which we needed since we wound up having a full day. We checked our bags except our daypacks with the railroad employees at the large white tent that is adjacent to the railroad terminal. They had a special section for Princess Cruise luggage. We were told that the bags would be checked all the way to our stateroom on the ship. We then got our ticket from the counter inside the building. We were told that boarding would begin about 20 minutes prior to departure, so we were able to go back to our room at the Comfort Inn for about an hour. The train has very comfortable seats with a lot of legroom. There was ample space in the overhead storage rack for our day packs. We had another sunny day. This afforded great views of the Turnagain Arm and Portage Glacier. After we came out of the second tunnel, we saw Whittier, the Coral Princess, and sunny skies! When we departed the train, I immediately called Major Marine and was told they had about 100 available seats for the 4-1/2 hour tour to Blackstone Bay. We did not opt for the salmon and prime rib buffet. We were still full from breakfast and knew we would eat on the ship that evening. We got an assigned table to ourselves on the first level. We spent most of our time on the open decks on the first and second level. The views of the snow capped mountains and waterfalls were spectacular on this sunny day. The tour has a Park ranger on board who provided great commentary. We saw otters and harbor seals in the bay. We stayed at the Blackstone and Beloit glaciers for about 20 to 30 minutes each. We were within 1/4 mile of each glacier. There was quite a bit of cracking and some large chunks of ice fall from the glacier. I don't know if they would count as calving. One piece seemed small, but sound like a gunshot when it hit the water. We saw quite a few waterfalls, and stopped close to a large one for pictures. We enjoyed the boat ride to and from Whittier. This was a great tour especially with the great weather. We returned to Whittier and boarded the Coral Princess. On our past Caribbean cruises, we had booked inside cabins. For this cruise, we splurged and booked a mini suite, and we are glad we did. When we opened the door, great views and our luggage were awaiting us! We loved this stateroom. We spent a lot of time on this cruise looking at scenery from the balcony or the full size sofa in the stateroom. Day 11 - Hubbard Glacier It was an overcast day with a very low cloud deck when we got to Yakutat Bay. The onboard Princess naturalist said not worry. She said there was a 90% chance of seeing the glacier, and she was correct. We were only able to get within 8 miles of the glacier because of the floating ice. The glacier is the largest in the world and it was impressive. En route to the glacier, we did see the tail of a humpback whale. Day 12- Glacier Bay National Park A sunny day in Glacier Bay! We viewed Reid, Lamplugh, and Margerie glaciers. In addition to the onboard naturalist, we had Park rangers on board to provide commentary and respond to questions. One of the rangers told me that there was more snow on the mountains than in past years. We were about a mile from Margerie glacier. We saw quite a bit of ice fall from the glacier. We saw an eagle floating on an iceberg close to the ship. Day 13- Skagway It was a sunny day in Skagway! Not all was perfect, I started with a head cold. We went on the Emerald Lake-Carcross tour with Dyea Dave. We also had reservations for the WP&YR train from Fraser Meadows to Skagway. Shelby was our tour guide. Our experience with her was the opposite of Wendy with the Wonder Lake shuttle. The tour seemed rushed, and compared to other tours, we got minimal informative narration. That day, she seemed to view herself more a bus driver than tour guide. I had read great review about Dyea Dave, but it seems if you don't get Dave then the quality of your tour may be luck of the draw. With that said, the scenery to Carcross is pretty. We saw a group of vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Most on our bus saw a bear. We saw a lake that was so still that it mirrored the surrounding land. When we encountered that lake, I thought it was part of the land. We also saw Emerald Lake which gets its color and name from the algae growing in it. We visited the Carcross Desert which is the world's smallest desert. Carcross is a quaint, tiny town, and the water around Carcross also appeared to have an emerald color. The train ride from Fraser to Skagway was great. The allure of the train is not so much the scenery which is pretty, but that the tracks are cut into the side of a mountain. One thing we would have done differently was to not bring both daypacks on the Skagway bus trip. We typically carried the small camera, water, some snacks, and the rain jackets and rain packs in the day packs. Since we had room, we probably included other stuff that I can't recall now. The small bus used by Dyea Dave did not have an overhead storage rack. (I had previously asked them if it was OK to bring day packs which they said would be OK, but neglected to ask if there was storage for the packs.) There is very little room under the seats for day packs. (This was also true of the shuttle bus used by Orca Enterprises.). The smaller day pack was able to be put on the floor and shoved a little under the seats in from of us. We had to carry the 20 inch long day pack on our lap for the duration of the bus ride. For the Orca trip, we learned our lesson and crammed the above items into the smaller day pack. That worked well for the shuttle bus ride and most importantly, the boat trip. On the WP&YP train ride, there are overhead storage racks. Looking back, the only bus or boat trip where we needed 2 day packs was on the 11 hour Wonder Lake shuttle bus where we also had to carry lunches, snacks, and additional water. Another thing that surprised me was that there was more leg room between the seats on the old passenger cars on the train than there was on the small bus. Even with the limited legroom, I would still use one of the tour companies to travel to Emerald Lake and back to Fraser since the bus does stop for photo ops along the way. Day 14- Juneau Another sunny day! We did the whale watching tour with Orca Enterprises. The entire experience was great. The driver who drove us to and from the docks provided a lot of information on the sights we saw on the way. On the boat, Jeff was the tour guide, and Josh was the captain. They were great. Jeff gave an informative talk about the humpback whale especially their feeding habits and behavior. Josh was adept at finding whales. We saw plenty of backs and tails. Josh also told us to watch the eagles. He pointed out how one would scoop the fish out the water, and another eagle would try to steal it. The fish was usually the winner because it would fall back into the water during the aerial scuffle. It was fascinating to watch the eagle acrobatics. We had about 15 passengers on the boat, so everyone got ample time to go up on the upper deck for whale watching. You can only be up on the upper deck when the boat is stopped, and they limit 6 passengers at a time. We got to see Mendenhall glacier from the boat. We were a bit tired from our travels and decided not to visit the glacier. Since it was a sunny, cloudless day, we took the tram up to Mt. Roberts. We had great views of the surrounding area from the top. We saw an interesting short movie about the Tlingit people. There are quite a few walking trails and one that goes down the mountain. There were still mounds of snow on the mountain. The tram was a good alternative to the glacier. Day 15 - Ketchikan This was a sunny day in normally rainy Ketchikan. We were scheduled for the Misty Fjords/Glacier flightseeing tour with Family Air. Gretchen picked us up on the street in front of our cruise ship. We chose Family Air because they were the only company that would do the glacier tour without having at least four people booked. I guess this is because Dave's plane is a Cessna bush plane and normally seats four. The other companies used a slightly larger DeHavilland and seat six. Dave is the owner and the pilot. He told us that the great weather had some drawbacks. On an earlier flight, there was quite a bit of turbulence. He said that the glacier portion may be too rough, but it would be our choice whether to proceed. This was our first flight on a seaplane, and I really enjoyed the experience of taking off and intentionally landing on water. As we had seen elsewhere in Alaska, there was more snow on the mountains than normal. We enjoyed flying through the fjords. Dave is very personable and gave a good description of the area. There was quite a bit of turbulence. We heard other pilots saying they were turning back because their passengers were getting queasy. The turbulence prevented us from landing in the lake and getting off the plane onto land. We did land in the water near a boat owned by a friend of Dave's. They had just caught a 50 lb fish. We were able to stand on the pontoons which was still a cool experience. Because of the turbulence, we decided not to proceed with the glacier tour. After the flight, Gretchen dropped us off at the Creek Street area at our request. She directed us to the salmon ladder, but said it might be too early to view salmon. She was right. The salmon ladder is pretty neat to see, and it would be great to visit it in July and August during the salmon runs. We walked down Married Man's trail which is what men used to sneak down to the brothels on Creek St. It is a scenic walk down the trail. We took the funicular from Creek St up to the Cape Fox Lodge. Going up the hill gave us a nice view of the area. We had lunch at the Heen Kahidi Dining Room which has nice views of the dock area. We enjoyed the open face sandwiches. I had the Bear lunch which consisted of salmon and cream cheese on flat bread and a yogurt topped with raspberries. My wife had chicken, green onions, and havarti cheese on flat bread. Just outside of the inn was a collection of totem poles. After enjoying the view from atop the hill, we took the funicular back to Creek St. Ordinarily, you would pay the attendant $2.00 pp at the lower level. For this trip, there was no one there. I had read that this does occur frequently during the summer, and you just operate the funicular yourself by pressing the up/down button. We walked along Creek Street to Steadman's bridge. Creek St now contains shops and restaurants. The buildings are on the water and supported by pilings. There are informative signs on the buildings that were brothels. At Dolly's house, a young woman in 20's garb appeared at the door and gave us a funny double entendre sales pitch for the tour. She had a lot of enthusiasm. At this point, it was late afternoon, and I was getting tired from the head cold. We passed on the tour, but in hindsight, wished we had taken the tour. Days 16 and 17 - Sea Day and Vancouver It was an overcast day and visibility was limited. The sea day allowed us the opportunity to crash. We slept most of the day. We disembarked in Vancouver, we took the City HIghlights/Stanley Park tour through Princess. This was the only tour we booked through Princess since it included a transfer to the Vancouver airport. The tour guide was very good. The bus was very comfortable with overhead storage for the day packs. We had a 3:14 PM flight, so this tour was a great alternative to sitting in the airport. The tour included a 20 minute stop at Stanley Park. They have a very impressive display of totem poles. From the park, there is a scenic view of downtown Vancouver and a final view of the cruise ship. Thankfully, the trip home was uneventful. Misc. Lessons Learned and Conclusion: Food: Someone in a recent trip report stated that they found the fish to be overcooked. With exception to the Twisted Creek restaurant in Talkeetna, I would agree. I did enjoy items such as the reindeer lasagna at Silvertip Grill. This is something that I cannot get back home. Customer Service: I had read posts in Tripadvisor that gave the impression that personnel at the lodging and restaurants might be apathetic regarding the patrons. We were fortunate. All of the hospitality personnel that we encountered were very friendly and accommodating. Sleep: I wish I had worn the sleep masks at home well before the trip to get used it. During the trip, it made it a challenge to get used to sleeping in near daylight conditions with a mask. Energy: I was surprised how taxing this trip could be at times. Even though I'm nearly 58 years old, I had a lot of energy during our trip last year to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. Quite a few times during the land portion of the trip, I found myself tired around 6 or 7PM at night. Conclusion: This trip had been my dream vacation for a while, and it met my expectations which were high. We enjoyed our stays at the various accommodations and would do so again. With exception of Dyea Dave, all of our excursions were a lot of fun. Hopefully, my first trip to Alaska will not be my last. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We arrived in LA a few days ahead of our cruise; however, the night before the cruise we stayed at the Doubletree Hotel in San Pedro. Older hotel but very nice with an excellent location by private boat docks. Staff was very helpful and ... Read More
We arrived in LA a few days ahead of our cruise; however, the night before the cruise we stayed at the Doubletree Hotel in San Pedro. Older hotel but very nice with an excellent location by private boat docks. Staff was very helpful and friendly. We used a car service to get to the hotel, DK's Livery Service, which was excellent. Along with our luggage, we also brought on to the ship 2 cases of water, upon which I taped the Princess luggage tags. It worked out great! We had a cabin with a balcony, which measured about 6' deep x 9' long, deck 8, aft and port. Our balcony was also very private as no one could see down on us or into it. As to bedding, I really appreciate that Princess has gotten away from the old fashioned bedspreads and have gone to the white coverlets which are cleaned regularly. Our cabin door faced the elevator area; however, it was very quiet as most people walked forward to use the elevator! We loved being in this area as the stairs/elevator went right up to the spa/work out area! And from there very easy to walk forward to the open deck area where we watched movies under the stars as well as football games and documentaries! I really love that Princess has gone mostly non-smoking! We thought the staff was very pleasant and attended to people very quickly. Our cabin steward, Glynn, and our wait staff for evening meal, Israel & Edgar, were outstanding! We are a couple who enjoys the whole dining experience, and those two men did it very well. We are happy we did excursions in 3 ports and then did not in Aruba as we wanted to just discover it ourselves and walk around more of the area. All 3 of our excursions were excellent with excellent guides! We were very pleased! We did take in some of the entertainment at night and were pleased with it - a comedian, hypnotist, juggler/comedian, and a ventriloquist! The Internet area is well attended and located in a great spot on the ship. I enjoyed coffee and yogurt most every morning on the balcony of our cabin delivered by room service, whom always had a smile and a good morning using my name. Very personable! We loved the many days of cruising, which allowed us to slow down and relax; unlike the cruises that stop every day! We spent a lot of time enjoying the ocean while sitting on the deck lounge chairs on the Promenade Deck! We liked the very clean work out and spa area! And we really enjoyed the movies, documentaries, and concerts shown on the large TV in the open air! As we went through the Panama Canal, we stood on deck 10 forward from about 5:45 a.m. until about 9:30 a.m. as we were through the first 3 lochs by then. We then went to our cabin for our champagne breakfast on our balcony! Highly recommend it! (As well as the chocolate covered strawberries!)We then sat on our balcony for awhile as we slowly cruised through the canal. Later in the afternoon we then went aft on our own deck (8) where we stood watching our progress through the lochs from the rear! Deck 10 forward, and deck 8 aft, each have large balconies to stand and look out and they are almost private as so many people just don't know about them or just don't check the ship's deck plan map to locate them! We loved it as there wasn't a crush of people! All in all - we will most definitely book another cruise with Princess! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
Previously we had had to cancel on a Panama Canal cruise and, even when we were stood at the rail watching the ropes loose off at LA cruise port we didn't dare to believe that we were actually doing it! For months we had been ... Read More
Previously we had had to cancel on a Panama Canal cruise and, even when we were stood at the rail watching the ropes loose off at LA cruise port we didn't dare to believe that we were actually doing it! For months we had been participating in the Cruise Critic Roll Call for our cruise and were looking forward to meeting up. That was to prove a critical part of the success of this cruise, but so many other elements went in to making this cruise so good. We got a head start with a great embarkation, not only did we breeze through the quayside formalities, but our luggage was with us almost immediately. We met up with our Cabin Steward and he took us through the main features of our cabin. Through the cruise he was quite excellent, keeping everything in order in a so efficient but so unobtrusive manner. Of course, they nearly all seem to do such a good job that it's often hard to differentiate, but he was one of our best without doubt. As for the cabin itself, it did the job. The hanging space was excellent, drawer space about sufficient and the desk proved a helpful store for day to day items. We also appreciated the fridge and made good use of it. Incidentally, it was good to see a more relaxed attitude to bringing wine on board in limited amounts. We had more than usual sea days and the balcony did an excellent job as an impromptu art studio! Our steward very quickly changed our feather down pillows and duvets for polyester to counter allergies, but he probably couldn't have done much about the rock hard bed which took a bit of getting used to. Equally, he couldn't do anything about the miniscule shower. that was left for us to overcome and you can make out your own solution:) We selected Anytime Dining which worked extremely well on sea days. Unfortunately, on embarkation and shore days problems seemed to arise. Essentially, people who had opted for early traditional seating did not get to their restaurant in time and found themselves shut out. On seeking alternative they were directed to Anytime Dining where they effectively flooded the restaurant and caused huge queues into the Anytime Dining Room on several evenings. It's a moot point as to who should take responsibility for this situation. Should it be the passengers for staying out on tours that returned late in the afternoon? Don't think so. Should it be the cruise line for not arranging earlier return times so that everybody gets where they should? And curtail the day of the rest? For me the real question was why weren't the people who missed early sitting directed to Horizon Court? It certainly shouldn't be the Anytime Diners who should pick up the problem. We recognise the problems of electing early seating and have the sense to book in at a time that allows us to enjoy all that the cruise offers when we wish. As to the dining experience it was very good. I don't recall a single evening disappointment and recall several excellent meals. We took breakfast and lunch in Horizon Court. Early rising meant that we were usually ahead of the crowds at breakfast and enjoyed quite relaxed starts to our days. At lunchtime we were able to enjoy the wide range of salad options, but why do you test my character with those lovely desserts? Returning to the evening meal, we found the Wine Card excellent value. The 7 bottle gold card suited our needs perfectly and allowed us scope to enjoy wines which we probably wouldn't have tried otherwise. This would be one of my BEST DEALS ON THE CRUISE tips! If you do take this option it's well worth visiting one of the 4 wine tasting sessions on board as you will be introduced to a number of wines easily afforded within the card. Our cruise coincided with Hallowe'en, which doesn't mean a great deal to me as I was always a Bonfire Night boy (USA Google Guy Fawkes - you'll get it!) However, the cruise staff really went for it. The Galley Staff had carved pumpkins and the ship seemed to have them everywhere! The restaurant staff went to town on the costumes, our meal being served by a waiter with a stake (no not steak) through his heart! It never fails to amaze how so many people seem so few on a cruise ship but with the wide range of activities to keep us busy it's no surprise. We didn't make much use of the Theatre entertainment. Partly this was a matter of timing as we just felt the late show was too late. However, it was also because so much of the entertainment seemed so lame. Sorry USA we don't do hypnotists and magicians - bit 50s kid shows really. We weren't that enthralled with the idea of a juggler but I have to say that we found Randy Cabral very entertaining.People seemed very taken by the "On The Bayou" show which we missed and will look for on our next cruise. We spent a fair bit of time in the Wheelhouse Bar where the resident band performed a good selection of dance music each evening. BY contrast we spent a lot of time in the Fitness and Spa area. A great table tennis group formed over the 14 days including some crew members who thoroughly enjoyed themselves and kept the group in swing. By the end of the cruise there were several firm new friendships with promises of photos to send on. The gym is extremely well equipped and Ryan and Stacey were usually around to offer help or encouragement. The second BEST DEAL ON THE CRUISE tip has to be the Lotus Spa room. We'd come across it first on an Alaska cruise when those warm stone beds and aromatic steam rooms were such a pick me up, but it worked just as well in the sub tropics! Whilst I didn't attend any of the art auctions I took the opportunity to look in regularly and was impressed by the range of work on show. If art is your thing it's worth catching a lift as high up the ship[ as you can and walk down as far as you can go viewing the art on each landing. Don't expect everything to p[lease you, but there's a lot of good stuff on these walls. Another activity i missed but which drew a lot of praise from fellow cruisers were the range of talks about the Panama Canal and the Central American region. Cruise photographers can come in for criticism but I was really impressed by the team on board Coral. You never felt pressured to pose disembarking, eating or whatever, and when you elected to have a photo taken around the Atrium you were always treated with care and courtesy. And here's another BEST DEAL ON THE CRUISE. We all know how we can get stung for photos but after we'd gone through the canal the staff were selling off shore and aerial photos of the Coral passing through. A ten photo collection cost just $29.95! One word of warning, don't expect these shots to be your cruise, even Princess can't afford a helicopter for photographers every 14 days! Of course, to become fully involved in the ship you need to get about easily. This is a ship where the lifts work very speedily! Small point but it all adds up. Of course, the highlight of the cruise had to be the passage through the canal, and Coral Princess made sure that it lived up to its billing. We had a superb commentary with plenty of good advice of areas being approached. That way you could listen to the commentary in your stateroom and rush up on deck as you approached a point of interest on the opposite bow. Of course, early in the day the rails were pretty full but within the hour crowds had thinned and you could pick your vantage point easily at most times. Sometimes the sunbeds did get in the way and maybe they could have been put aside on the passage day, but it wasn't a big problem. It was great fun passing through the locks, passing huge ocean going container ships and cruising alongside the site of the extension work to the canal. However, for me the highlight of the cruise was the view across the causeway to Panama City at dawn, a wonderful surprise! If you cruise FL to LA you'll never know! I've listed most of our excursions in the sections below but the drop down menu does not offer San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, so I'll incorporate it here. many people were critical of Nicaragua and I found that a shame. Any country as ravaged by civil war as Nicaragua has been in quite recent times is bound to measure short against our experience. It's up to us to look past that. I thoroughly enjoyed our tour from the ship. We visited the Masaya area and Granada. The walk through the streets of Granada was accompanied by hordes of children seeking to sell souvenirs, but they responded well to polite refusal. There are some attractive colonial style buildings in the town centre and it could develop into a very attractive venue with continued support. The pre-Colombian art collection in the San Fransisco Convent is very impressive and well worth a visit. The experience in Masaya market was much the same and most of the stalls were selling quite ordinary souvenir fare though we did find an excellent glass gallery, some very good leather work and attractive and distinct pottery. However, where this trip really sealed the deal for me was at the top of the Masaya volcano. Looking down into that crater was something I just hadn't anticipated. I'm not going to try to sell it to you except to say that of all the wonderful things I saw and did on this cruise. This is the one that will travel with me always. And finally. As I mentioned earlier, prior to this cruise we had participated in the online ramblings of the Cruise Critic Roll Call. These resulted in some fantastic activities. We had two Meet and Greet sessions, a rambling cabin crawl with a poker crawl thrown in and two fantastic excursions organised within the group. We went knowing no one and returned with a whole new bunch of friends. We just kept bumping into one another around ship. It helped really make a memorable trip[ for us and we take this opportunity to thank you all and look forward to meeting up with you some time here or there. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
This cruise was selected in order to witness the construction being undertaken for the new canal locks and channels. We booked the cruise in two segments, a two day cruise from Vancouver to San Fransisco in an inside cabin, B727, then the ... Read More
This cruise was selected in order to witness the construction being undertaken for the new canal locks and channels. We booked the cruise in two segments, a two day cruise from Vancouver to San Fransisco in an inside cabin, B727, then the 15 day segment onward to Fort Lauderdale in cabin B735 a balcony cabin across the corridor. Our logic was that we expected cool temperatures out of Vancouver and didn't expect to use the balcony. This proved to be a wise decision and we got a cruise credit toward our Elite status. The original plan was to arrive in Vancouver two days prior to sailing. The threat of an Air Canada strike the day before our flight caused us to re-book for two days earlier giving us 4 days in Vancouver. We chose to stay at the Quality Inn in Richmond near the airport. This was a reasonably priced, clean and comfortable hotel close to everything. The gorgeous Minoru park behind the hotel, the Foggy Dew pub across the street and numerous other restaurants and malls made this a delightful area to spend the time. We went by bus, a twenty minute ride, to Steveson, a fishing port nearby. This port offers a number of outstanding fish restaurants harbour-side. On boarding day the hotel shuttle took us to the Canada line train station which we used for the trip to the Canada Place dock. We walked with our luggage from the train to the reception area, about 2 blocks. Arriving about 11:30 we were in our cabin by noon. We were greeted by Petra our exceptional cabin Stewart for the 17 days. She anticipated all our needs and made our move to the next cabin effortless. We had done the 15 day cruise aboard the Coral 3 years before so we were familiar with the ship. The major change was the conversion of the rear adult only pool to the Sanctuary area. This was a disappointment because we had really enjoyed this area in the past. I believe all the ships should have an adult only area. The ship is very well maintained and generally spotless. The crew without exception carried on the Princess style of acknowledging everyone and being engaging. We encountered heavy seas from Vancouver to San Francisco which slowed our progress and delayed our arrival by 3 hours. Because of anticipated heavy swells we did not stop in Cabo because the Captain believed that tendering would be too dangerous. This meant that we spent 6 1/2 glorious sea days getting to Puntaranous. Many passengers and crew were anxious to set foot on land but we thoroughly enjoyed of sea time. Missing Cabo meant that we were not able to exchange our entertainment crew. Nevertheless we enjoyed the comedians and in particular the ventriloquist. We had seen two of the production shows before and did not attend. We did see the first showing of a new and outstanding show called "Bayou" in the Universe lounge. With few exceptions we would begin our evening activities by visiting the Elite/Platinum lounge in a corner Explorers lounge (5 to 7PM). There the chef, Christian, prepared everything that was presented often making each item to individual order. Whenever he was not serving he made sure he visited each table to speak with each guest. During the trip he learned that he had lost his home and that of his mother's due to a cyclone in Manila. Despite this personal tragedy he maintained his composure and continued to serve his guests as if nothing was troubling him. Each night this lounge offered a drink special at $3.99. This was a delightful way of trying drinks I would not normally indulge in. We wait staff consisted of Lerraine, Marcel and Venod. These servers very personable and made the lounge a special place. After the lounge closed we would either remain there to listen to Passion, a group from St. Lucia, or go to another venue for music until our usual dinner at 8:00 PM. Although we had Anytime Dining in the Bordeaux dining room we soon established a standing reservation for table 29. This is a table for 2 by a starboard window in an isolated and quiet corner. Its other important attraction is that it is staffed by Vaughn and Miguel an outstanding wait team. Vaughn always impressed us with his menu explanations and wine appreciations. He was friendly and funny and really encouraged Miguel to interact and improve his skills. A great team. We made use of a new feature, apparently introduced on this cruise, called a wine card, similar to the coffee card. It was offered as either a 7, 10, or 12 bottle card in two colors. The Gold allowed you to have any bottle up to $30 and the other color (Platinum?) allowed up to a $40 bottle. We bought the 12 bottle Gold card for $240 plus 15% thus saving the approximate cost of 2 bottles. I hope they introduce this on all ships. We took a city tour of Puerto Amador. After tendering ashore we boarded a minibus (19 pax) and had a delightful guide. Saw the old and new cities and considered this to be a worthwhile tour. We took a taxi with another couple into Cartagena, clock-tower gate. We were hassled approaching the taxi loading area and offered a taxi for $50. We declined. At the taxi boarding area there was a sign stating the fee for 4 passengers was $15 or $20 depending on the destination. We had hoped to wonder around the old town on our own but we found the aggressive vendors and hangers on coupled with the temperature too much to bear and retreated back to the ship. Will not try this again in Cartagena. In Aruba we took a Catamaran trip offered by the ship (Red Sail tours)and it was outstanding. We had good winds so we had great sailing to and from the two snorkel/swimming sites. The rum punch and music on the return sail were wonderful. As stated earlier the primary purpose of this particular cruise was to witness the new construction being undertaken on the canal. This did not disappoint. Much of the work is being done adjacent to the present canal. Extensive dredging, earth-moving and lock building are easily seen. We were fortunate that we had dry mostly sunny weather for the passage. It was all I anticipated. We made the most of the small, mostly unknown and unused balcony at the stern of Baja deck. On days other than the passage we often had this balcony to ourselves and it was only two cabins removed from ours. There is a similar, slightly narrower, balcony directly below on Carib. Disembarkation went very smoothly at Fort Lauderdale. We had Red 3 tags for a scheduled disembarkation at 8:10. We were off within 5 minutes of that time, and through US immigration promptly. We took a cab to the airport for $15 including tip, the ship wanted $19 each, and were at the Air Canada counter by 8:45. Except for security the flights home were uneventful. This cruise was everything we had hoped for. We had a great ship and crew, good entertainment and outstanding dining and mostly super weather. We've completed 12 cruises with Princess and hope to be Elite for our 28 day South Seas adventure in October 2012. Dennis & Louise Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
We booked a 10 day cruise tour through Princess. We flew into Anchorage 2 days ealier to see Anchorage on our own. We loved having a rental car and some time to let our bodies adjust from the time change, before meeting up with our tour ... Read More
We booked a 10 day cruise tour through Princess. We flew into Anchorage 2 days ealier to see Anchorage on our own. We loved having a rental car and some time to let our bodies adjust from the time change, before meeting up with our tour group. We met at the Anchorage airport, and took a bus to McKinley Wilderness Lodge. We were there 2 days,and went flight seeing and visited a dog musher camp. Then we went to Denali Princess Lodge. (very nice) We took the Natural History Tour in Denali, and went to the dinner theater. Then we took the Denali Express railway from Denali to Whittier, where we boarded the Coral Princess. We loved coming into Whittier on the train! The domed train was a wonderful way to spend the day in Alaska! So our land tour was the highlight of our trip! The Coral Princess is pretty, but very hard to navigate. Because of the centrium, you have to learn which elevators take you to the level you are trying to go to. We were on Dolphin Deck 9. Coming to our stateroom, the hall smelt like a nursing home. (urine smell in the carpet) That was not a great first impression! But our mini-suite was very nice and spacious. But be aware that if you get a mini suite on the Dolphin level, your balcony is not covered. It was raining on our embarkation day, so we couldn't get out and enjoy our balcony like others could. Our furniture was wet-and we didn't want to stand out in the rain. I wish the balcony had been covered, as they were on other decks. We signed up for traditional dining-which I though was at 6:00 pm and had requested a table for 2 by the window. We were given a table in the middle of the room and our assigned time was 5:30. We thought that was too early. So we met some couples on our land tour-and went to anytime dining with them. But the Coral Princess is very inflexible about the dining rooms. Traditional seating only in one and anytime dining in the other. We liked the freestyle with NCL better. The food was not as good as NCL or Royal Caribbean. But the service was great on Princess. The front desk was very rude. Someone had entered an incorrect number and our credit card was denied. We kept getting letters in our stateroom, telling us our credit card had been denied. It took us 4 days to get that straightened out-and my husband was the one who discovered that the cruise line had entered the wrong number. They were very indifferent about the fact that they were the cause of the credit card problem. But once the correct number was entered- there were no more problems with our credit card!The entertainment was good. We enjoyed the comedian and the singers and dancers were great! It was too cool to use the pool or hot tub, but the pool deck was very pretty. We got a drink card for $9 a day, and it was well worth the money. I loved the virgin pina coladas and their hot chocolate! We loved the pizza and soft serve ice cream on the pool deck! We often took snacks back to our room. We enjoyed the enclosed area on level 15. That was a good place to enjoy the scenery in the rain and wind. We chose Sept. because of the price, but I wished we had gone in May-for about the same price. I heard there is more snow in May and the weather is better. We had a lot of rain and wind. In fact, when we were out in the Pacific we were in 80-100 mph winds (hurricane force wind). Half of the ship, including me- were sea sick. But when the ship got back in protective waters and the waves calmed down, everyone felt better. Alaska is beautiful! If you haven't been you need to go. June, July, and Aug. are the most crowded and most expensive months. If we ever go again, I would like to go in May. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2010
We set out for a once in a lifetime opportunity that I must, must, must do again. We are a forty-something couple, married 22 years. Three couples we are friendly with (ranging in age from 42 - 62) booked a cruise-tour with Princess and we ... Read More
We set out for a once in a lifetime opportunity that I must, must, must do again. We are a forty-something couple, married 22 years. Three couples we are friendly with (ranging in age from 42 - 62) booked a cruise-tour with Princess and we decided to join them to celebrate our anniversary. The land-tour portion was sold out, so we settled (!) for a mini-suite with balcony and managed to get the land portion covered on our own for about the same cost they were paying for balcony staterooms. Passengers included all ages. Some young couples had stroller-bound infants and other young kids. I believe I saw around a dozen kids in all. There were some new college grads along with their parents and plenty of seniors. There were a fair number of passengers with disabilities and the ship seemed quite navigable by all. It did not seem crowded at any point. Embarkation: This hinged on disaster. There was absolutely no signage and it was quite confusing to determine where to check our luggage. We took the advice to arrive after 1PM for faster boarding. A broken elevator and three ships boarding simultaneously made for an extremely crowded terminal full of cranky people. We got there around 1PM and were on-board at about 4PM. The sequence of events was get in line, pre-check-in, find out that luggage needs to go outside into an unmarked van, go back and get in another line that snakes throughout the terminal, show passport & boarding pass to go thru security with X-Ray. Next came customs. Then came a health form -- but also a chance to sit down. Then finally check-in, collect keys, and get on-board. Smile -- Princess will take the first of about a million photos that you can later purchase. Cabin: We had a mini-suite in the middle of Baja deck close to stairs and elevators. We had Starboard side for a North Bound Inside Passage cruise, so we got to see the sunrise from our room every day. Our room was in the bump out portion which made for great views from the balcony. Our door was directly across from the service elevator, but there was only a little noise on the last evening when they were taking luggage down. We were (at that time) getting ready to go to dinner so it was not a bother. I appreciated the full-sized bathtub and the sofa in the mini-suite, but will try to get a room lower on the ship for my next cruise. They appeared to have bigger balconies, and we did spend a lot of time out there. Our cabin steward was wonderful, bringing us Champagne and balloons. He saw that we had brought our own wine aboard and brought extra wine glasses, and kept us nicely supplied with everything we could want. Dining (and drinking): We had anytime dining, which meant the Bordeaux dining room. But we only ate there on formal nights. On those nights, the food was OK. Not spectacular, or especially generous. We celebrated our anniversary on the first formal night and were given a lovely chocolate cake. We ate in Bayou Cafe one evening where portions were larger and the desserts were truly extraordinary. Several in our group had beef throughout the week, and the consensus is that the ship's grill or broiler does not get hot enough to do a good job searing the meat. The rest of our meals were in Horizon Court or Pizza/Grill type fare. The seafood buffet on the Lido Deck while in Glacier Bay was the finest meal of the cruise week. Hubby bought the soda package which was worthwhile for him. We attended the first wine-tasting even which seemed worth the price and wound up ordering some of those wines to enjoy with meals throughout the cruise. I'd read somewhere that the cruise ship coffee left a lot to be desired so I brought along my own coffeemaker. I enjoyed my in-room Starbucks, but it was not necessary. The ship's coffee was fine. I did, however, have my own travel mug which will come with me again. We ordered room service for about half of our breakfasts Entertainment: We saw the comedian (Billy Vader) twice. We caught Movies under the Stars a few times, it was fun. They provided warm blankets and I had my hot mug of coffee. We saw the hypnotist's show which was very good and listened to many of the musicians. No events or nightclubs were ever crowded. Activities: We aren't gamblers, but our friends made great use of the casino and bingo. They were winners. We attended one of the wine tastings and the Art auction. The art was nice, but I do more research before making that kind of a purchase. Maybe next time. After the first Art Auction, we were invited to a Champagne Art reception where canapes were served. It was a nice gesture, but I'm glad I never ordered (and paid for) canapes to be delivered to our room. There was an opportunity to do pottery and if I'd known enough in advance to make time for it, I'd have taken advantage of this. Again, maybe next time. We attended the Naturalist's last presentation. She was terrific and we highly recommend everything she does. Highlight of the Cruise: Sight-seeing from the ship. The first and last at-sea day were full of a lot of sight seeing and looking for wildlife. We saw humpbacks, orcas, eagles, sea lions and bears all from our balcony. A pair of binoculars for each passenger is a must. The day in Glacier Bay was split between viewing from our balcony, viewing from Decks 14 & 15, and viewing from my perch in the pedicure chair in the spa. Things I wish I'd known: There is a push to get you to shop, buy drinks, book the next cruise, buy photographs, buy, buy, buy, buy. We got better at dodging this as the week went on. Next time, I'll be better prepared for it, but I include it here because I wish I'd known it was coming, planned my budget more carefully and been able to focus on what I really wanted. The next thing I wish I knew is that Laundry rooms are on each floor. At only $1 per load to wash and $1 to dry, we could have brought half as many clothes. Alaska isn't all that cold in May, so some of the heavy layers were never needed. Post Cruise Land Tour: We tried to cover the land portion of the tour that our friends were getting with Princess by doing it on our own. We booked thru an Alaskan tour provider closely approximated their experience. Instead of a train from the ship to Denali, we took a bus from Whittier and had a leisurely ride to Anchorage. We visited the Alaska Heritage Museum and had lunch at their restaurant then took another bus to Talkeetna where we spent one night. The next day, we took a jet boat tour and did some more flight-seeing, flying around Mt. McKinley. Spectacular. The views from Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge are breathtaking. Later that day, we took a bus to Denali and stayed one night at McKinley Chalet. The first day in Denali, we did the Tundra Wilderness Tour seeing dozens of wild animals. Our next night was in the Denali Bluffs. We ate at the Grande Denali and had the finest meal of our entire trip. The next morning, we went White Water Rafting and saw a fox. We then boarded the noon Alaska Railroad train to Anchorage. After an overnight in Anchorage, we had plenty of time to walk around town before catching our afternoon flight home. Alaska is so beautiful, it warrants a return trip. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
We were met at the L.A. airport by Princess and taken to the ship. They took our luggage and we didn't see it until we entered our beautiful mini suite after checking in. We were taken by bus to the port where everything was well ... Read More
We were met at the L.A. airport by Princess and taken to the ship. They took our luggage and we didn't see it until we entered our beautiful mini suite after checking in. We were taken by bus to the port where everything was well organized for boarding. We dropped off some items in our cabin and went to have a bite in the Horizon Court. Overall the food was very good with the exception of some items that needed to be heated up. We are the kind of people who when we order hot soup, we want it hot. The staff on the ship were most accomodating also with the exception of a head waiter who seemed to make faces and grumble when we asked for a table for two each day. Sometimes you just need to be together without the general conversation of strangers. We certainly are not snobbish and did meet some wonderful people through Cruise Critic. We sat with them for the three formal nights and sat with one particular couple for many of the other nights. We did have dinner at Sabatini's one night and one night at the Bayou cafe. I would say after looking back on these extra charge restaurants, that the main dining room had the best food in comparison. We chose the anytime dining option and were most pleased with that arrangement. The ship is most accomodating with reservations and without reservations for dinner. We arranged for several private tours with some couples from Cruise Critic and they all turned out to be terrific. Rosie's in Acapulco is the best. (www.acapulcorosiestours.com) Rosie met us at the pier and we were two groups in two airconditioned vans. She provided us with cold drinks and water and ice cold towels (when needed) to keep cool. We took a tour of several interesting places with her and it also included the Cliff Divers. Her tour was very reasonable and we highly recommend her. We took a tour in Costa Rica with Odessey Tours (Alvaro) He was right there to meet us and highly knowledgeable about his wonderful country. Took a tour of Manuel Antonio Park. In Panama we hired Anne of the Embera Village. This tour is not to be missed although getting there was a bit difficult since we sat on a dug out canoe for one and half hours each way plus a van to get to the landing. It was worth it when we met the wonderful amazing people of this village who are so gentle, sweet and giving of themselves. We didn't take a tour in Cabo or Huatulco. Aruba was a walk-around but if you like snorkelling, it's the place to enjoy that. (I believe Huatulco and Cabo are also great places for that too.) The sailing through the Panama Canal was an experience. We started early in the a.m.and it took an entire day to get through from the Pacific side to the Atlantic side. There were some comments from a man over the intercom at various points of the day. We had a wonderful time and would definitely take the trip again. We arrived back in Fort Lauderdale at the end of our cruise and since we live in West Palm Beach, it was easy getting home from there. (Had a card service pick us up) Princess really outdid themselves with this one.! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We just returned from this great cruise. The Panama Canal was the focus for our trip, and that is why we selected this Princess cruise. We had not sailed on Princess in a while and I had read many comments related to the food and areas for ... Read More
We just returned from this great cruise. The Panama Canal was the focus for our trip, and that is why we selected this Princess cruise. We had not sailed on Princess in a while and I had read many comments related to the food and areas for improvement. Our expectations were more than exceeded. We live in the Northeast so we flew into LA two days before the cruise and stayed a the Doubletree Hotel in San Pedro, very nice, right on the marina, and they had a shuttle that took us to the ferry for Catalina Island as well as to the pier the day of the cruise. Boarding was smooth, we arrived early so we had to wait until almost noon to board , but then it was smooth and quick and we were in our room. Luggage was delivered within 2 hours. The mini suite was nicely laid out , the balcony had a table and 4 chairs. The only complaint I had on this cruise was with the bed, it was very uncomfortable, after I complained they changed the mattress , which helped but it was still not great. We had assigned seating , first sitting ( a first for us) , nice table mates, great service and the food was just fine, there is an alternate menu that you can choose from each night if you wanted to, plenty of choices and we enjoyed all our meals there. We did not plan to do to the dining room on the formal nights, but since we enjoyed our dinners so much, we did attend the last 2 formal nights, my husband wore a sport coat ( no tie ) and that was fine. The Horizon Court, with the buffet, is the same as it is on most ships, although it is a little congested when you first walk in. We are coffee drinkers and I felt that the coffee in the Horizon court was weak, but the coffee in the dining room and room service was better. Speaking of room service, they were exceptionally fast and efficient, we routinely ordered room service in the morning and in the evening for coffee and cookies. We did eat in each of the specialty restaurants, they were good, but we felt that the specialty restaurants on HAL and RCC were better My husband did the Ultimate Ship Tour and thoroughly enjoyed it, a small group of 9 people and they had a 3 ½ hour tour, very impressive, expensive, but he thought it was well worth it. He was amazed at how clean everything was everywhere he went. We spent more time in the casinos then seeing any of the shows so I cannot comment on those. We did look at the Sanctuary , but chose not to use it. We swam in the indoor pool and relaxed on our balcony or on the pool deck. Ports Cabo San Lucas- tender port- very congested waiting for the tenders, due to other ships in port. We just walked about the marina, very crowded area, we were originally going to take a water taxi to the beach- it was just too crowded in the area. Acapulco, since we had been there before as well, we decided to stay on the ship, very relaxing Huatulco- I had read the comments on CC re the nice beach right at the pier and that is where we went- we paid $ 5.00 and had lounge chairs and a beach umbrella, beach was great we just walked back to the ship. Puntarenas- we do not normally do ship tours, but we decided to do the Pacific aerial tram, the tram tour was not worth the money, there were 8 passengers and a guide, the guide was very good, we did not see great views, nor animals or birds , all we saw were trees. They had a buffet lunch that was okay and then there was also a 40 minute walk to see reptiles- we did not do that. It was very hot, there were a number of cruise ships in port, so it was very crowded, long time standing in lines, shuffling along. Puerto Amador- here we also did a ship tour but this one was worth every penny. We did the Panama Canal by boat tour. They took us by bus to the ferry that would take us through the Pacific side of the locks. The ferry was old but it had plenty of seats, both in the shade and in the sun, they supplied cold drinks the whole time and a very nice buffet. Excellent narrator pointing out lots of interesting information. It was great to experience the locks with a small boat and then the ship the next day. Our cabin was on Caribe deck forward , starboard side, so we had a great view of all the goings on. We did go to the front and the back of the ship to see it from a different angle , but we spent most of the time on our balcony. Seeing the mules in operation and the whole process is really inspiring. Cartagena. We took a taxi into the old city, we shared with another couple and it was $30.00 total. The taxi driver was offering to stay with us and take us on a tour for $60.00, we were not interested but we did see a number of these taxi drivers , with their blue shirts, walking with people in the city. As stated many times on CC, there were lots of people trying to sell you stuff , especially when you first entered the area, but once you said no, they would go on their way, the problem was there was so many of them. Lots of shops in the old city and it was getting quite warm .We had no problem getting a taxi back- this time for $ 10.00 Aruba- again 4 ships in port, when you get of , it is a little bit of a walk to the end of the pier- we were the 4th ship there. On the way back there was a shuttle to take you to the ship. We planned to take a taxi to eagle beach, but we did not see any- again very crowded, lots of stores- so we took the bus ( bus terminal right near the pier) Bus fare was $1.30 pp each way. We saw the sign for Eagle Beach, but we did not see any beach chairs, so we stayed on the bus and got off at the Hyatt. Great little beach, they charged us $10.00 for the use of the umbrella and 2 lounge chairs and 4 towels. The return bus stop was right outside the hotel. Fort Lauderdale, we chose early walk off and were off the ship around 0730, plenty of time to catch our flight home Overall a great cruise and great experience, time for relaxing and enjoying the warm weather and seeing the wonderful Panama Canal. Read Less
Coral Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
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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