We are a family of three, 40's with a teenage son. This was our sixth cruise. We have previously sailed on Princess, Holland America, and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Our Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess from LA to FLL 03/09/09 ... Read More
We are a family of three, 40's with a teenage son. This was our sixth cruise. We have previously sailed on Princess, Holland America, and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Our Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess from LA to FLL 03/09/09 was fantastic! We were fortunate to have great weather and calm seas the entire trip. Having CCL (Carnival Cruise Line) shares we were able to take advantage of the On Board Credit of $250 for a 14 day cruise with Princess. The OBC was easily obtained after the final payment was made.
We flew into LAX the day before and stayed at the Crown Plaza LA Harbor. It is a great location, with enough things to do and plenty of restaurants within walking distance. Crown Plaza's free shuttle took us to the Cruise Terminal the morning of our cruise. The embarkation was very organized and fast, once the previous passengers were all disembarked. Once on board, we made our way to the buffet for lunch, being some of the first on board it wasn't busy at all. After lunch and a little walk to get acquainted with the ship, we made our way to our balcony mini-suite state room C727. This was a wonderful room. We were the last aft balcony on the starboard side. This room could sleep four. There was a bed that came down from the ceiling and the sofa could be made into a bed. There was lots of room for the 3 of us. Our balcony had 4 chairs and a table. The balcony was exposed on 3 sides. We unpacked our luggage, (there was tons of storage and closet areas) and met our room steward. Alvin introduced himself to us and asked if we would like some champagne. Wonderful! After getting our room setup we were off to purchase our Couples Thermo Suite passes for DW and myself, a discount and limited capacity first day only. DS purchased his internet minutes, extra 40 minutes if purchased first day then registered with teen program. The teen room was extremely well equipped.
We chose anytime dining as it works best for us. We had our dinners in the Bordeaux dining room usually when it opened at 5:30pm. A table for 4 was always available for us. After a few evenings of trying different tables and waiters, the maitre'ds knew our preferences. We took advantage of Princesses bring your own wine policy. Some nights we arrived for dinner with a glass of wine, or a bottle of wine without a problem. On a few occasions we purchased a bottle from their reasonable selection. Celebrating a wedding anniversary on this cruise, we enjoyed anniversary balloons, heart shaped towel animals, and acknowledgement from the staff close to us.
We were up early every morning and in the gym using the very adequate weight machines and free weights. Then a few miles around the promenade deck and off to the Thermo Suite for a steam sauna. Breakfasts were either on the balcony with room service or something quick from the Horizon Court buffet and taken out to the pool area.
Huatulco - We taxied to La Entrega beach and snorkeled with our own equipment. There is a nice reef with numerous fish. We rented a Jet-Ski for half an hour. We sampled a few Cervezas, fresh homemade tortillas and guacamole, and local mescal. Ah heaven! Wish we could have stayed longer. Guatemala - What an experience! We booked Princesses "Antigua on your own" bus ride to Antigua. Armed with my own map of all the sites to see, we negotiated a tour with a driver of a three wheeled Baja taxi called a Tuk-Tuks, for an hour. What fun! Photo opportunities galore! Great restaurants are also to be found for lunch, as we discovered. After lunch we negotiated a ride with a horse and carriage operator, who showed us some hotel restaurant establishments.
Nicaragua - We booked a private tour with Va Pues tours to climb Cerro Negro Volcano, have lunch, and tour the city of Leon. With all the volcanoes in Nicaragua, I think it's a must. The climb was over an hour. The descent took minutes. It was one of our most wonderful and amazing tours! Fantastic tour guides and tour, I can't say enough. As a side bar, we were talking to some gentlemen outside the gates of the pier, who are offering tours. There are many things to do and the prices are good, if you are the active type. Would love to go back! Do not be afraid of the country. The people are marvelous. Costa Rica - We took a tour through Princess "Corobochi River Float w/ Lunch". Level 1-2 rapids. We saw monkeys, crocodiles, various birds, iguanas and other animals that our guide was very quick to point out and was also very knowledgeable.
Panama Canal - All day site seeing and you don't have to leave the ship. I read "The Path between the Seas' before the cruise. This gave me a great appreciation as to what was involved in building the canal.
Cartegena - due to Gas Turbine problems on board, this port was missed. Princess gave every passenger $100.00 OBC. Good for Princess, as this has happed before to us, (other cruise lines) and the refunds haven't been as good.
Aruba - Due to missing time in Cartegena, Princess gave us more time in Aruba. Yahoo! We booked a catamaran sail & snorkel with lunch through Princess. We snorkeled overtop of the sunken German tanker, "Antilles". This was a rush! We did some snorkeling near a beach, and then had lunch at Pelican Pier.
There were many shows every evening, catering to various tastes. We attended a few comedy shows, the galley tour, wine tasting, also participated in numerous sports, pool and stage entertainment. It was all enjoyable.
Disembarkation was the easiest we've experienced. We chose express disembarkation and carried our own bags off. We had a quick breakfast and we were amongst the first off and through customs in less than half an hour. A short $12.00 taxi to the FLL airport and we were on our way.
Summary - The dinners in the Bordeaux dining room were excellent. The waiters were "excelente". Our favorite table was #30 with waiters Juan Carlos and Ricardo. The room service breakfasts were on time and adequate. Room stewards were friendly and attentive. We stayed away from the buffet as much as possible. (do not enjoy the atmosphere) We also avoid all the aggressive sales techniques on board,
and the usual tourist shops in port. We enjoyed the more out of the way
ports, and had our best cruise as of yet. Read Less