Introduction -This was our first 10-day cruise and our first time to the Panama Canal. Before she was put into service, Coral Princess experienced a number of problems. She had a one-month delay in delivery, a very rough crossing and a ... Read More
Introduction -This was our first 10-day cruise and our first time to the Panama Canal. Before she was put into service, Coral Princess experienced a number of problems. She had a one-month delay in delivery, a very rough crossing and a noticeable roll problem. In spite of these difficulties Coral Princess proved to be one of the very best cruises, of the 17, that we have taken. It was the only cruise, in recent memory, where we didn't encounter any problems. Neither of us was sick or injured and we returned with everything we set out with. By all accounts, it was a glorious cruise on a lovely lady. Ports of Call -Ft. Lauderdale - Nassau - Panama Canal - Limon, Costa Rica - Grand Cayman - Cozumel. Review -Our cruise on Coral Princess was in doubt when Princess cancelled the first two sailings. Suddenly, we were moved up from the forth sailing to the second. We were carefully watching the bridge cam to see if Coral would leave St. Naizare, France. Shortly before Christmas she sailed to Ft. Lauderdale for her maiden voyage on January 3, 2003. We didn't notice any appreciable difference in service or amenities because of the delay. On the contrary, if we hadn't known of the delay and the rush to put her into service, we would have believed that she had been sailing for years. Our ten-day cruise on Coral began a day early when we flew down to Ft. Lauderdale on Delta and stayed at the Sheraton Yankee Clipper Hotel. We had a good flight and a pleasant stay at the hotel but the weather was unseasonably cool. On Monday, January 13th we departed for the pier around noon and boarded the ship. Boarding was a pleasure. Except for a momentary misplacement of our Passports we boarded quickly. We opted not to use the Platinum check in desk (there was only one) but instead, went to the Aloha Deck check in. There were fewer people in that line. After pausing for a welcome aboard photo and a photo for our boarding card we entered through Deck 5, the lower level of the Centrum. We then took the lift to Deck 12 and found our cabin A623 - a standard outside cabin with a private balcony. We were upgraded to category BB from the best available outside cabin with balcony. Although small, the cabin was pleasant enough. Because the ship is new, everything was sparkling clean. Oddly, there were not a lot of wardrobe aids. Except for shelves and clothes rack there were no dressing hooks or belt or tie racks. The wardrobe was not very well thought out. In our cabin we found a letter from Fleet Medical Director, Dr. Grant Tarling regarding the recent outbreak of Norwalk Like Virus (NLV) aboard other passenger ships. The letter goes on to explain that Princess meets vessel sanitation standards and explains simple ways to help prevent the spread of disease. The letter also went on to say that if any passenger experiences symptoms that they should report to the medical center and that there would be no charge for treatment. To our knowledge, there were no reports of NLV onboard our sailing. The safe was too small. The knobs on the drawers were flimsy. One broke off but was quickly fixed the next day. The balcony was small measuring 4.5 ft. by 9 ft. It was the most private of balconies. The balconies below us were visible from above. Some of them were the mini suite balconies. They didn't afford any privacy. As for the mini suites, they were not much larger than our standard outside cabin and in our opinion, were not worth the extra cost. They had a small couch and two TVs, each side by side facing opposite directions. Shortly after we arrived in our cabin our cabin steward came by and introduced himself. He was 36-year-old Dodo from Bangkok. We mentioned that we were Platinum Club members and would like to have the use of bathrobes, which he promptly brought. Dodo would turn out to be one of the best cabin attendants that we have every had. He was courteous and always happy to provide us with the very best of service. A word about the beds. They were marginally comfortable with a 4-inch foam mattress on a rip rap of nylon springs. The one drawback was that they were too narrow. They would not have configured well as a double bed. The pillows were wonderful. The cabin was especially well lit. A good deal of thought went into the lighting design and switching. The temperature of the cabin was comfortable and easily controlled. Everything in the cabin worked except the telephones wakeup call feature. When we missed a wakeup call we found that the system was not working and had to make arrangements for a wake up call from the purser. We set out to the Horizon Court for a light lunch and made a point to do a mini tour of the public areas while working our way to lunch. There is nothing about the Coral Princess that made us want to say, "Whoa". The ship is lovely but there is nothing distinctive about it, unless you count the two jet engines on the funnel which were placed there as a purely decorative feature to tout that the ship is propelled by gas turbine engines. If you didn't know what ship you were on, you wouldn't know that you were on the Coral. The interior design is a big yawn - boring and uninspiring. The absence of artwork was all too evident. The most boring of the public areas? The pool deck. The Horizon Court served a typical buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ate several breakfasts and most lunches there. The food was good but the variety was lacking. The most noticeable of drawbacks was its size. The serving area was small and always crowded. The flow of pedestrian traffic resulted in clogged aisles. Bob's favorite was the hot soups and deserts and Hellen's favorite was the sushi, severed on only two days. Outside the Horizon Court on pool deck, deck 14, was the pool bar. Next to the bar was Princess Pizza. In all of our encounters with shipboard pizza this was without a doubt the very best pizza that we have had. It was made fresh, hand tossed, topped with the familiar toppings, baked and served hot. This was truly a wonderful spot and should please pizza lovers. Following lunch we thought that we should check on our dining room seating. We wanted to meet with the maitre d', Generoso Mazzone, to make sure that we were seated at a round table of eight or more on the main, fixed seating. We met with the waiter assistant who told us that the maitre d' would be available at 5:30 in the Provence Dinning Room. We met with him and found that we were indeed seated at a large round table right in the middle of the dinning room. We opted out of Personal Choice dinning in favor of fixed seating. Personal Choice dinners ate in the Bordeaux dinning room one deck below us. We were seated at table 158.Our table mates were two couples from Oregon traveling together and a couple from Manchester, England. All were older that us. We had a very pleasant time with them and enjoyed their company. Our waiter Remus was from Romania. He was a pleasant enough fellow but his service missed the mark. When we returned to our cabin all of our bags were waiting for us. We hastily unpacked. It was a cool day in Ft. Lauderdale so we decided not to go to pool deck for a swim. After we unpacked, we prepared for the lifeboat drill at 4:30. Our lifeboat station was the Explorer Lounge. Shortly after, we sailed from Port Everglades on our way to ten glorious days on Coral Princess. Our first day was a port call at Nassau. We took a taxi to Atlantis and toured the "Dig", a fanciful interpretation of the Lost City of Atlantis legend. We had never been to Atlantis so we wanted to see for ourselves just what everyone was talking about. It's a beautiful piece of property and we are glad that we went. Our $25 apiece to tour the Dig would have been better spent elsewhere. It was not that interesting and certainly not worth the price. We would recommend a land-based taxi over the water taxi. It's a dollar more per person each way than the water taxi but it's quicker, less crowded, no noxious fumes and drops off at the hotel entrance. It was a cool day with on and off showers. Had it been better, we would have headed for the beach but instead we went back to the ship. Back on board we sought out Princess Links for a game of golf. Well, putt-putt golf. Located on Sun Deck (15) this tiny little space offers nine holes of miniature golf. It was fun and we enjoyed our game. We promised each other to return again but we never did. Following Nassau we had Wednesday and Thursday at sea while making our way to our second port of call - the Panama Canal. We used the day to lounge about the pool and start working on our tans. Coral Princess has a new program called Scholarship@Sea. It boasts the only onboard pottery kiln. Candace Resnick demonstrated the use of the pottery wheel and taught a fellow passenger the art of pot making. There was a fee to cover the cost of materials. Wednesday night was the first formal night and Captain Philip Pickford's welcome aboard cocktail party. Captain Pickford did not attend the receiving line but did say a few words about the ship and the future of Princess Cruises midway through the party. The party was very well done. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and came away feeling that we were indeed welcome guests. Following dinner we went to the Princess Theater to see "Da Beat", the first of three production shows. Introduced by Cruise Director, Paul O'Loughlin, the show was nonstop high-energy singing and dancing. Good but not great. We would later enjoy the production show "Dance" much more. The third show, "Tribute, Tribute, Tribute", premiered Wednesday, January 22nd in the Universe Lounge. It was the best of all. Following "Da Beat" we were then rip roaringly entertained by funnyman Bill Acosta in the Universe Lounge. We don't remember laughing so hard. All of the shows were backed by the Princess Orchestra under the direction of Gordon Hough. They were perhaps the finest shipboard orchestra that we have every heard. By Thursday (a day at sea) we were well on our way to improving our tans. Hellen used the morning to attend the Brain Waves Quiz; the culinary demonstration and the skin care clinic. Bob spent the better part of the day at poolside. We watched as Patricio Balquiedra turned a block ice into a noble bald eagle. At 2:00 the pool games began. Hellen volunteered to be one of three judges. She was given a gold medal, a pen that lights up and a travel clock. She had a fun time judging the contestants. Jay Johnson of the TV show "Soap" performed in the Princess Theater. We had seen Mr. Johnson before on another cruise. Much of his show was what we had already seen. Following his show we went to the Universe Lounge to see Comedian Rick Starr. That evening we left a wake up call on the auto phone for 5:30 in order to be out on deck early enough to watch as we entered the Panama Canal. We also ordered coffee. The room service menu didn't allow for service before 7:30 AM but we penciled in 5:30 and sure enough, our coffee arrived on time unlike our wake up call, which never arrived. After checking with customer services we were told the system was not working. As we awoke Friday morning we first went out onto our deck to see if we were near the canal. As it were, two pilot boats were along side. We hastily finished our coffee, dressed and went up on deck to stake out our spot to view our entry into the canal. We feared that we might be too late for a good vantage point but we weren't. We entered the locks of the canal around 6:30. A member of the Panama Canal Commission could be heard over the loudspeaker giving a narrative of the canal and our position in it. After about an hour, we retreated to the Horizon Court for breakfast and by way of a window seat continued to observe our passage through the locks. We were booked on the Grand Tour of Panama. By now, Coral Princess was in Gatun Lake. The weather was warm and sunny. We disembarked Coral by way of tender and arrived at a nearby pier where we boarded a bus for the observation platform adjacent to the canal. We were treated to a fascinating narrative about the canal as we watched the container ship, Yong Tai from Hong Kong pass through the canal. After this stop, we boarded our bus for a brief trip to The Hotel of the Americas, our jumping off point to our boat ride on Gatun Lake to the Embera Indian fishing village. This reenactment of Embera life gave us insight into their culture and way of life. It was especially enjoyable for us. It was one of the highlights of our cruise. Coral Princess was christened at 12:30 this afternoon by the president of Panama, Her Excellency Mireya Moscoso. We knew that by taking the tour we would miss the Christening but was pleasantly surprised when we returned back to the ship. As we boarded, we noticed a large crowd gathered at the bottom of the gangway. We inquired and discovered that they were waiting for President Moscoso to disembark. We went on board and stationed ourselves at the bottom of the stairs that let up to the Centrum decks. Shortly, Madam President made her way down the stairs and right past our position. Hellen said to her, "hello Madame President", at which she replied, "Enjoy your cruise". Before dinner that evening we stopped by the Internet Cafe on Deck 8 to check our e-mail. The cafe proved to be a very useful tool to get e-mail out to family and friends. The service was reliable and reasonably fast. There was always a seat at one of the dozen or so terminals. The cost was $.50 a minute. An advantage of being Captain's Circle Platinum Club members meant that we were able to use the cafe free of charge. Each day our charges for the service were deducted from our shipboard account. Following dinner we went to the theater to catch Kenny James, a Star Search grand champion. He was entertaining and talented. Following the show we took up our favorite spot in the Crooner's Lounge and were happily entertained by resident crooner, Jere Ring. Sitting down with Jere was a nightly ritual. No one would ever accuse Jere of being bashful. He was a hoot. It was here that we got to meet and know Rita and Mel. Jere looks a lot like Dennis Quaid. When we saw Jere the next morning in the lift I asked him if anyone ever mentioned that Dennis Quaid bears a striking resemblance to him. He was caught off guard. He laughed at my observation and the way I phrased the question. At dinner that evening we learned that our Costa Rican Adventure tour had been cancelled. The aerial tram was out of service. We hastily beat a path to the shore excursion desk and booked a 7:15 tour to Tortuguero Canal known as the Amazon of Costa Rica. It was a fascinating trip down the canal. As our boat made its way down the river we discovered howler monkeys, sloths, birds of all sorts and a crocodile. It was an exciting tour. We were blessed to get the first tour as we were told that by the time the river gets saturated with boats, much of the wildlife retreats into the jungle. Coral sailed at 6:30 that evening but before leaving, we shopped in the market on the pier in Limon. We learned that Limon is Spanish for lemon. It was something about a group of men gathering at the lemon tree for midday drinking. The town that grew up around the tree was called Limon. A word about the food and service in the Provence Dining Room. We found the food to be excellently prepared. It was tasty, served hot and we were offered a good variety of choices. If you love fish, you will love the menu on the Coral Princess. In addition to the nightly selections, sirloin steak, broiled salmon, chicken breast and fettuccini may be ordered anytime. The deserts were outstanding but the choice limited to three. At least three ice creams were on the menu. New York style cheesecake, Princess Dream, ice cream sundaes, sugar free deserts and fruit could be ordered anytime. Executive Chef Michele Cossoli from Lago D'lseo, Italy has done a marvelous job with the food on Coral Princess. Except for the beef, we could find nothing wrong with the taste or presentation. Michele's specialty, cold water lobster (Maine lobster). The service at our table was not up to par. Our waiter, Remus from Romania, was friendly enough but had trouble remembering everyone's order. He mixed them up more than once. Wine and water glasses sat empty a good deal of the time and on most nights, we were the last to leave the dinning room. Another fault of our waiter was that he sometimes would let his assistant present the entrEes. We've never had this happen before. It's always been the waiter who serves the dinner. The dinning room captain, who served our section, was nearly invisible. It's been our experience that the captain makes his presence known early on and then assists with such chores as removing the shell from the shrimp or lobster. Our waiter was tasked with this job. We also learned that punishment for being late for work or for not performing up to standard meant banishment to the Horizon Court for the breakfast meal. We saw our waiter there more often than we cared to. One night, we opted to go to the alternative restaurant - Sabatini's. It was nice but we were plied with too much food. The dinner was leisurely enough (2 and 1/2 hours) but we had hoped that we could escape the hubbub of the dinning room. Unfortunately, we just exchange one set of hubbub for another. The only two choices were the entree and the desert. Bob had the lobster and Hellen the capon. All of the other courses came to the table on cue - each waiter responsible for their own course. Oddly, there didn't seem to be a lot of traditional Italian dishes. At $15 each we felt that we got good value for our dollar but would only recommend Sabatini's with caution. The food was nice but not great. It was nothing out of the ordinary. We had heard that the better of the alternative restaurants was the Bayou Cafe. We didn't go but talked with folks who did. Go for lunch, drinks are included. Following dinner we made our way to the Universe Lounge for the comedy of Steven Scott. He was good but not great. After the show it was island night deck party. We were so tired from the day's activities that we passed on the limbo and conga line. Sunday was a day at sea. We were heading for Grand Cayman. The weather was poor - cloudy and cool so following Mass I used the time to video tape the ship and shoot some digital pictures. Hellen went to Kitty Bartholomew's mosaic class. Ms. Bartholomew is known for her show on Home & Garden TV. Hellen is a fan and enjoyed the presentation and a chance to pose for a picture with Ms. Bartholomew. As Captain's Circle members with Platinum Club status we were invited by Captain Pickford to a special luncheon held in our honor. We arrived a few minutes after 12:30 in the Provence Dinning Room and were greeted by Nicky, the Captain's Circle hostess. We were seated with two couples and Richard from the purser's department. One couple was from England and was on their 34th Princess cruise. The other couple, he a golfer and she a scuba diver were on their 6th Princess cruise. All in all about 30 Platinum Club members were in attendance. We were given cocktails before lunch. The luncheon of Potpourri of Seafood Cinderella, Medallions of Fresh North Sea Halibut and a Princess Fantasy Delight were masterfully prepared by Chef Cozzoli. A ship's photographer took a group picture of our table and following lunch, we were presented with the picture, signed by the captain, chef and other members of the ship's crew. It was a very nice surprise and a treasured memento. Because the weather was bad, we retreated to the comfort of the Lotus Pool. This pool has a retractable roof and the pool area is air-conditioned. The roof was closed due to the poor weather. Both pools on Coral are fresh water but only the Lotus Pool is heated. One of the hot tubs in the Lotus Pool area had an annoying way of "stinging" the legs with scalding hot water. Midway through the cruise we noticed that the jets for this pool had been shut off. Captain Pickford had his wife and three children on board. Their two boys, roughly ages 8 and 10 were frequent visitors to the Lotus Pool. This day was no exception as the two redheaded lads were having a swim with their father and mother. Knowing that the captain wished to spend some personal time with his family we and others didn't make a point to notice the captain thereby affording him the privacy that they were seeking. A major problem with Coral Princess is its propensity to roll, that is rock from side to side. This is most evident in the Lotus Pool. The sea was rough this day and deck attendants had their hands full trying to contain the water that was splashing out of the pool. The squeegees and water vacs were constantly trying to dry up the water. A section of the floor in front of the bar was closed off due to the excessive water on the deck. So bad was this problem that water was overflowing the deck and running down the side of the ship to the decks below. This is a major problem. Hellen became ill from the ship's movement. She went to dinner but ate only crackers, apples and ginger tea. The chef was kind enough to mince some ginger that Hellen put in her tea. It saved the day. The show in the Princess Theater that evening was the second production show, "Dance". Starring Laurie Miller, Doug Crawford, Deneice Tame, and Scott Chamberlain "Dance" featured the aerial artistry of Anna & Rick. The Princess Dancers were outstanding. We really enjoyed this show very much. After the show we went to the Crooner's Bar but found that Jere was no longer entertaining there. He had left the ship on Saturday. It wasn't the same without him. Grand Cayman had received 30 inches of rain the day before we arrived. As a consequence, we were unable to anchor in South West Sound. The sea conditions were not favorable for tendering so Coral made her way to the leeward side of the island. We weren't sure if we would be able to tender from there. I had a scuba excursion booked and Hellen was going in to Georgetown for some shopping. I went to the Princess Theater, the staging area for shore excursions, and waited to be called. While I was waiting it was announced that my excursion had been cancelled due to bad weather. I returned to the cabin. We then decided to take the tender to shore and see if we could arrange for an island tour. Once ashore, we hooked up with Mr. Shirley Delbert and his ten-passenger van. For $20 each he took us on the grand tour. We had been to Grand Cayman many times in the past but we have always missed the Turtle Farm, the rum cake factory and Hell. Not this time. We had a nice tour and it helped to salvage the day. We ran into an old friend - Royal Caribbean's Nordic Empress. We sailed her in 1991. Coral sailed for Cozumel at 3:00 so we were back on board early. It was formal night and the repeat passenger's cocktail party - The Captain's Circle. Captain Pickford was absent from the party but Staff Captain Alan Wilson represented the captain. It was a nicely done affair. Plenty to drink and good company. It has been our experience that Princess takes good care of its repeat passengers and this night was no exception. It was especially nice when Hellen's name was called as one of the three door prize winners - a bottle of Champagne. We brought the bottle to the dinner table and our waiter served it to our table mates. We went to the Universe Lounge to see Ed Alonzo of the TV show "Saved by the Bell". He was performing a comedic magic show. Not funny and his magic was uninspired. He grossed out the audience when he sliced his arm with a knife. After the show, we went to the Explorer's Lounge for a nightcap and then to bed. The weather in Cozumel was beautiful - warm and sunny. When we were approaching San Miguel we noticed that the ship wasn't headed for the International Pier or the Puerta Mayo Pier but rather it was headed in a downtown direction. It turned out that we were berthed at Punta Langosta Pier. This is a new pier for us, not having visited Cozumel in over two years. It was very conveniently located with the Punta Langosta Mall across the street. We had booked the Swim With The Dolphin excursion at Chankanaab Park. In a word - wonderful. We had so much fun swimming with Triton and Titan, two male dolphins. This was the highlight of our cruise. Following the dolphin swim Hellen stayed on at Chankanaab while I took a taxi back to the ship's pier for a scuba excursion. I arrived early. Three other divers showed up for the tour and soon we were in taxis headed for the Sand Dollar dive shop just off of the Palancar Reef. The last time I was in Cozumel I dove with this operator from the same boat - Roman Holiday. The dive was great. A two-tank dive to the Columbia and Santa Rosa reefs. It doesn't get much better than that. After the dive I returned to the ship and made it just in time to shower and dress for dinner. Following dinner we went to see the comic Marty Allen of the Allen and Rossi comedy team that I grew up with. I remember them from the Ed Sullivan show. Marty was now performing with his wife, Karon Kate Blackwell a song stylist and pianist. She was terrific. Marty's act was stuck in a time warp - circa 1960 but he was still funny. Wednesday was our last day of the cruise before disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday. It was a day at sea so we made the most of it. In the morning I made a walk-a-round with my cameras and Hellen began packing. After lunch we spent the afternoon poolside trying to get the last of the sun and polish off our tans. We watched the pool games and listened to Sugar Cane, the pool band. At 4:00 we made our way down to our cabin and finished packing. We spent the evening at dinner taking pictures of our table mates, exchanging addresses and enjoying that last of our delicious meals in the Provence Dinning Room. After dinner we went to the Universe Lounge for the show "Tribute, Tribute, Tribute". We were the first passengers to see this show. The producer and choreographer were in attendance and following the performance, were called to the stage by Cruise Director, Paul O'Loughlin to take the audience's applause. It was a wonderful show and the staging was magnificent. After the show we went back to our cabin to finish packing and to put our bags out in the hall. Well, it finally arrived, our disembarkation day. We were sad to leave. It was such a wonderful cruise. We had a great time. It was one of our very best. We had an early flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Boston so we got our breakfast early in the Horizon Court. We had red tickets for early disembarkation. Rather than wait in the Platinum Club lounge in the aft of the ship we opted to spend the waiting moments in the dinning room. We had coffee while we waited. We were the first called, around 8:45. We went to the baggage claim area in the terminal, collected our bags and made our way out onto the street and took a taxi to the airport. $10 cab fare plus tip. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our flight to Boston. We checked in at the e-ticket kiosk and were told that our bags were headed for the inspectors. When we got home we found that one of our bags was opened for inspection. On our flight down, we didn't lock our bags but secured them with plastic ties used to bundle wire. Summary -Our Cruise aboard the brand new Coral Princess was probably one of the best cruises we've had. There is nothing about Coral that catches the eye or the imagination but the service and helpful staff more than make up for any shortcomings in the ship's stale design and ordinary decor. We were royally entertained by the ship's bands and production team. The shows were great. We met some nice people and that made our enjoyment of the cruise more delightful than it otherwise would have been. The Panama Canal was special because it was a new port call for us and it was the occasion of the ship's Christening. We will always have the memory of being onboard when Coral was christened. Costa Rica was new too us as well. It's a beautiful country with a marvelous eco-system of rain forest and rivers. The weather could have been better but it wasn't. Nassau and Grand Cayman were cold, cloudy and rainy but that didn't detract from our enjoyment of the other fine days we had. We would happily recommend the Coral Princess. We would go again if we could. What impressed us the most was that even though she was delivered late by the shipbuilder, everything was in place and worked well. There was a genuine cohesiveness about the crew that made it appear that they had been serving aboard Coral for a lot longer than they had. Except for the excessive roll, there is really nothing bad that we can say about Coral Princess. We enjoyed our cruise and if you choose to sail Coral Princess we hope that you will enjoy her as much as we did. Bon Voyage! Our Photos - http://photos.yahoo.com/bc/bob_hersey/lst?.dir=/Coral+Princess&.view=t- Rankings -The Good, the Bad and the Ugly The Good - Platinum Club benefits, friendly staff, excellent cabin steward, delicious pizza and ports of call. The Bad - excessive roll, pool deck ambiance, dining room waiter and narrow beds. The Ugly - There really wasn't much to describe as ugly on Coral Princess. An all time first for us. Overall Rating - * * * * theherseys@attbi.com April 2003 Read Less
Here's a brief review of the good and not-so-good on our 10 day cruise to Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama Canal and Aruba...roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, March 4-14, 2003. The ship was great and new. The public areas are very ... Read More
Here's a brief review of the good and not-so-good on our 10 day cruise to Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama Canal and Aruba...roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, March 4-14, 2003. The ship was great and new. The public areas are very comfortable and nicely decorated. The outdoor pool is only for swimmers...7 feet deep all the way. There's another pool, smaller and can be covered, about 6 feet deep. The cabin, outside with balcony, was comfortable and well serviced. Room service is always available, with tips covered in the general 15% charge. We heard no noise from adjoining cabins. Temp. control was good and individually adjustable. We had "Personal Choice" dining, which was frequently cumbersome, since we wanted to sit with another couple alone all the time, which took some time and a little aggravation to achieve. Next time we'll go for the fixed seating. The food was exceptionally good and lots of choices. The price to use the internet was outrageous at $ 0.50 per minute. Generally speaking, we felt extra charges are overdone, for the Courses offered, beauty treatments and even the afternoon ice cream is now for extra charge. When the sea was moderately rough, I felt woozy and took some Dramamine, first time I ever needed that on any of our 5 cruises. I read from other reviews that the stabilizers on this ship don't work well. I don't know. I asked the captain about the 2 jet engine casings mounted on the stack. They are purely decoration, the single GE LM 2500 Marine Industrial jet engine is lower in the stack. For security there are no tours of the Bridge any more. We took several excursions: The first in Jamaica/Ocho Rios was led by an excellent guide, a Princess tour to Paradise Park, a "fireman "on the way, the Dunn's River Falls, which we watched from the side, and general tour of the vicinity, with shopping stop. Next in Limon/Costa Rica "Jungle River Eco tour " offered a boat ride through the rainforest, which was OK but got boring after a while. Then a bus ride back to the ship through numerous banana plantations.. The next morning early up to not miss the entrance to the Panama Canal. After the first set of locks, in Gantun Lake, we disembarked via a tender for an excellent excursion, which lasted all the rest of the day. This Princess trip was not listed on the choices presented at home before we left but was offered on the ship, for $ 124 per person. After a 2 hour bus ride through the Canal Zone, we ended up at the Chagres River, where we got on a smaller ship which proceeded through all the rest of the locks behind and around a giant Panmax Hyunda car carrier. This was the highlight of our cruise, especially after reading McCollough's book on the History of the Panama Canal. From outside Panama City, the Pacific Ocean southern end of the Canal, we bussed back to the ship, which was waiting for us, about an hour late. Next stop was Aruba, much changed from 20 years ago. We signed up for a 2 hour guided mini-bus tour at the end of the dock, for $ 10 apiece, which was very interesting. First to the eastern shore/Natural Bridge, then back through the desert to the luxurious beach hotel area, with a lot of time left for downtown exploring and shopping. Overall a great experience and very enjoyable trip. July 2003 Read Less
Booking: We booked this cruise in the spring of 2002 with our local travel agent and selected the mini-suite because we liked the balcony and size of the cabin, which was similar to what we had on the Rotterdam a few years ago. We were ... Read More
Booking: We booked this cruise in the spring of 2002 with our local travel agent and selected the mini-suite because we liked the balcony and size of the cabin, which was similar to what we had on the Rotterdam a few years ago. We were confirmed in that cabin in a few days and did not change or allow an upgrade. We completed the online registration on Princess.com web site as soon as we had our booking ID and we also booked all of our excursions online prior to sailing. We had also registered our credit card for onboard purchases. Our tickets and "express check-in" designation arrived about one month prior to sailing. Travel to ship and embarkation: We chose to handle our own air and hotel since we were sailing from and returning to Fort Lauderdale. The price Princess wanted for the air and a night in the hotel prior to sailing was about two to three times what we could book ourselves. We got round trip air on US Airways direct from Philadelphia to Ft. Lauderdale for $194.00 apiece, booked about 6 months prior to the cruise. We used some frequent flyer miles to upgrade to first class, so it was an effortless flight for us. We also had our TA book a room at the Marriott Harbor Beach resort for one night at a rate of $239. Princess wanted over $300 apiece for us to stay in the same hotel for one night. We flew to Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, February 1 and arrived around 4:00 P.M. We had our luggage in a matter of minutes and took a taxi from the airport to the Marriott and were in our room around 4:45 P.M. The cab cost us $10. We had dinner in the hotel and after walking on the beach awhile, we were in bed early. In the morning we had breakfast in the hotel and then gathered our suitcases and got a taxi to Port Everglades. We arrived there around 11:30 and turned our 4 bags over to the waiting porter. There was no line for checking in and there were deck designations over the counter where about six representatives were waiting. We handed in our tickets and signed one document and were given our room cards. These cards had our names, our room number and listed our dining as personal choice. We headed up the escalator into a waiting area where about 100 other people were already waiting. At about 12:00 noon they began allowing us on board and after the stop for the photo, we were on the gangway. Our picture was captured as we entered the ship and swiped the cruise card, and there were agents at the elevators escorting people to the appropriate floors. We were taken to deck 9 (Dolphin) where another representative pointed us in the direction of the room on the port side, but did not escort us any further. Cabin: Our cabin was a mini-suite and was over 300 square feet in size. It was larger than the one we had in the Rotterdam in 2000. The bathroom entrance on the right as you enter the cabin is also the entrance to the closet. It is sort of a 'walk in' affair with a closet at one end, with open shelves from floor to ceiling. The safe is in this closet, and we found it adequate to hold our passports, some cash and travelers checks. There is a shelf along the top of the closet. The closet is probably about 6 feet long. The bathroom in the mini-suite has a full size tub with shower. The countertop where the sink is was about 4 feet in length. There are glass shelves (3) above the counter, and a mirror is behind the counter for the full length. There are also two glass shelves in the corner of the bathtub. Under the sink/counter, there is a shelf that runs the full length. The beds were placed in the king arrangement as we had asked, and there are night stands with lamps on either side of the bed. There are two Televisions, one that is viewable from the bed and one from the sitting area. Next to the bed there is a desk with four drawers on either side. There is a hair dryer in the wall next to the desk and there are two electrical outlets on the desk top. There is a full mirror on the wall behind the desk. Across from this desk is a counter with shelves and a small refrigerator is behind a door. Inside we found a bucket of ice already waiting. There are glasses on the shelves as well and there are more shelves above this cabinet. In the seating area there was a full size sofa that could be opened for an additional bed. There was also an upholstered chair and a coffee table. The balcony doors opened to a balcony that had a round table suitable for eating and two chairs that were adjustable. Our housekeeper was Edwin and he showed up just a few minutes after we arrived. We asked for robes and he promised to get them immediately. He also told us how to request a bowl of fruit and showed us how to use the phone, thermostat, television, and breakfast order form. The TV showed CNN, CNBC, ESPN, TNT, and had several Coral stations showing the web cam, the bridge report, and information on the Princess station that covered port talks, and other information. The Ship: We saw no luggage yet, so we took off to explore the ship and make spa appointments. I knew from experience that often spa appointments are fully booked on the first day, so I headed there first. It took us awhile to figure out how to get into the spa. It is in the aft of the ship and we took a mid-ship elevator, so it was confusing. We did not find anyone at the main desk when we did find the spa, but after wandering around I ran into someone who worked there and she agreed to find the appointment book and make appointments for me. So, I got the first appointments of the cruise, and scheduled a massage, manicure and pedicure all for the next day, our first sea day. Then we kept exploring. On the same deck as the spa we found the Horizon Court, the buffet. This buffet advertises that it is open 24 hours a day. It was already busy with folks who were eating lunch. We took some fruit and coffee and kept exploring. There are two pools on this deck: the Lido pool is outside the buffet and has glass walls along the sides, but an open air top. There is another deck running around the sides of the pool, and you just walk up stairs at the end of the pool to reach this area. On the main area of the pool there is a bar and the pizzeria. On the next level up, there is the Princess grill that serves hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, etc. There were hundreds of lounge chairs with blue and while striped pads on the chairs. From this deck you can also walk up to the sun deck and there is a small "splash" pool there. It's just a tiny pool that is only about 8 inches deep. There are lounge chairs up there as well, and it's the only place you can look out over the bow of the ship. Heading toward the aft past the lido pool, you come to the Spa Pool. This pool has a retractable cover, and also has a lower and upper seating area around it. Both of these pools also have several hot tubs on the sides, if one prefers the warmer water. All pools have fresh water only. Past the spa pool is the spa and the fitness center. Further past the fitness center there is a children's area and the Pelican pool. We kept exploring. Below the Lido deck there are four decks that house only staterooms (Aloha, Baha, Caribe, and Dolphin). The Emerald deck has about half of the deck for staterooms, but there is also a library, card room and the internet cafe there. This is the top deck that also has a view of the atrium. The atrium runs from deck 5 to 8 and there is also a glass elevator running between these floors only. The atrium was beautiful with winding staircases and little lights along the entrances to rooms and lounges. The lights changed colors, and it was all very beautiful. The wood used throughout the ship made it appear very warm and the carpet was all coral and turquoise colors. Continuing down from deck 8 we saw there were two large boutiques, as well as one that only sold fine jewelry (Facets). There were several very unique lounges: Churchill's is a cigar bar. This lounge is completely closed in by frosted glass walls and doors and I can honestly say I never smelled any cigar smoke coming from there. There is Crooners which specializes in martinis. There is La Patisserie that specializes in coffee drinks of all types. They also serve cookies and pastries free of charge throughout the day. There are two large lounges: Explorers lounge and the Wheelhouse Lounge. Explorers had leather furniture and murals on the walls showing big game and African grassland. The Wheelhouse also houses a sort of maritime museum with items from ships past and the P&O history. There are beautiful wood furnishings in this lounge, as well as beautiful mermaid statuary. There was also the casino, which is made to look like London, complete with wax figures of the Grenadier guards outside, and double decker bus replicas inside. Two huge theaters were also in the public areas, the Princess Theater and the Universe Lounge. The theater was simply theater seating with a large stage at the front. But it was huge, and could seat about 800 I'm sure. The Universe lounge was truly unique. There are three stages and they rotate. They also have several screens that can be used on these stages. There are cameras that can be used overhead, and show demonstrations. This lounge was filled with small sofas and upholstered chairs and tables, and there are additional seats on a second level around the edges of the theater. This theater also has a bar. Two dining rooms are also in the public areas, one on the 5th floor and one on the 6th. The Provance dining room is used mostly for folks who had been assigned traditional early or late seating. The Bordeaux dining room is for those who selected personal choice dining. The 7th floor is the Promenade deck and we saw there was a teak deck and additional lounge chairs here. This is a nice walking area, but the life boats also hang overhead around the whole deck. After this tour and a little snack, we decided to head back to our room again, and when we arrived back there, around 2:00, three of our four suitcases had already been delivered. We spent the remainder of the afternoon getting unpacked. Shortly after we started putting things in drawers the fourth bag also arrived, so we were fully unpacked prior to dinner. Personal Choice Dining: We like to sit alone when we cruise. Or, I should say, my husband likes to sit alone. He considers himself an introvert, and doesn't want to be rude and ask to change tables if he doesn't like someone, so he prefers that we just sit alone. So, we thought Personal Choice would be good for us, as we would not be forced into a specific time and could try different waiters too. The first night we showed up around 7:00 for dinner and there were a couple people already in a short line. We asked for a table for two when we got to the front of the line about five minutes later. The head waiter, or whoever he was, told us he was not sure one would be available very soon, but said he would check. When we asked, we were immediately escorted to a table for two. Total wait time, 7 minutes. The waiters were not memorable that night. The next night was the first formal night and the captains welcome aboard cocktail party. We did not go to the party, but when we arrived at the dining room at 6:45 we saw that everyone else had just come from there and were now in line for dinner. There were around 10 people in line. We waited about 10-15 minutes and when we got to the front of the line it was just like the night before. At first we were told we would have to wait if we wanted a table for two. We said ok, and within a few seconds we were escorted to one. We did not remember those waiters either. On the third day, I called early in the afternoon about a reservation for 7:00. I was told the earliest reservation I could get was 8:00. We decided to just go wait at 7:00, and we did. That night we had almost no wait and we ate at table 10 where our waiter was Fernando Ruiz and the assistant was Makko. They were a wonderful team. Both were from Mexico and were just delightful. They were friendly, funny, and service was excellent. We decided to ask for them again the next night and we liked them that night too. So, on the 5th day we asked for a reservation for table 10 in their section. We were told that table was already reserved at 6:00 each evening and we could not have it until 8:00. So, we took that reservation. However, the maitre'd told us that if it was ready early, we could have it early. So, every night after that we showed up between 7:15 and 7:30 and it was always ready. In fact, Fernando told us that many nights the other people did not even show up so it was empty until we showed up at 7:30. I wonder how many other tables were reserved but then the passengers didn't come, and the dining staff still held the tables open for them, causing others to have to wait longer? Food: We enjoyed the food on the cruise. I would not say that it was spectacular, other than maybe the soufflEs they had for dessert. My husband ate beef about 8 of the 10 nights and he enjoyed it always. I had lobster that was very good, and also had grilled chicken, shrimp cocktail several times, and pasta on a few occasions. We also ate most lunches and breakfast in the dining room. We did not find the Horizon Court worked well for us. We found that the food was good, probably as good as in the dining room. But, the people crowding the serving areas and serving themselves were not always courteous to others. They were sometimes just slow, sometimes sloppy, and sometimes just rude in bumping into others and not even excusing themselves. I also found it difficult to balance a plate full of food and a drink while circling the dining room for five minutes or more looking for a table. Also, the Horizon Court seemed to always have the air conditioning running on frigid. The few times we did get a snack from there, we usually took it outside near the pool where it was warmer. We often went there in the afternoon or evening for a snack or cup of coffee. It was very convenient for that and was not crowded at all other than at the main meal times. On one occasion we left really early for an excursion in Costa Rica and we ate breakfast there. Because it was 6:30 AM it was not crowded at all and the food was good. The variety was vast there. They usually had everything the dining room served, and then some. There were lots of fresh fruit and salad selections, as well as many hot and cold desserts. There were plenty of sugar-free desserts as well, I noticed, but I never found any sugar free yogurt, which is what I prefer for breakfast. We ate one lunch at the Grill on the Lido deck and I had a hamburger and Larry had a beef hotdog. Both were excellent. We also ate Pizza one day and it was great pizza as well. We often got cappuccino or latte from the La Patisserie bar. It was really good, although you could also get these free of charge in the dining room after dinner. On several occasions we had room service for breakfast. There is an order form to hang on the door when you go to bed at night. It has "continental breakfast" type items such as cereal, yogurt, breads, Danish, fruit, coffee, juice. On the message boards I had been checking I heard you could write it other items and they would bring them. On all days we ordered room service I wrote in Fried Egg and bacon and they always delivered it all. The room service food always arrived at the time we specified and it was always hot. We could not have asked for more. It was especially great to eat on our balcony while transiting the Panama Canal! Tours: We booked all of our excursions online at the Princess Web site. We considered booking some independently, but we haven't had good experiences doing that so stuck with Princess. When we got on the ship, our tickets for all excursions were in our cabin already, so we never had to visit the tour desk. However, we also had a letter in our mailbox stating that our first port call was changed from Ocho Rios Jamaica to Montego Bay. Our excursions had been cancelled, and we were given a credit for them. We also had a list of excursions we could book in Montego Bay. The destinations and prices of these excursions were listed, but there was no description anywhere or what they included. We had wanted to go to Dunn's River Falls, but the price for that from Montego Bay was significantly higher and it did not seem to include a Plantation tour. We could not find anyone who could tell us about these tours. When we went by the tour desk it was crowded or not open. We decided to just take a cab into town that day. Later when I had my spa appointment I noticed that nail technician (Simone) was from Jamaica. So, I asked her about Montego Bay. She told me there is nothing to do there, and that to go from there to Ocho Rios was about a two hour trip one way. So that explained why the price went up and did not include a Plantation tour. When we were called for our tours, we were asked to gather in the Princess theater at the time designated on our tickets. This worked fairly well. We were sent to places in the theater where a member of the tour office held a sign designating our tour number. We would wait there until called to head out for the gangway or tenders and then we would meet up with the tour guide and get on buses. The tour office handled this very well until we hit Cozumel. For some reason, the tickets for Cozumel excursions had us meeting our tour on the pier, rather than in the Princess Theater. We were going to Tulum that day and we knew it would be one of the first tours out as we had to take a ferry to the mainland. We were to meet the ferry on the pier at 9:20 AM. The ship was scheduled to dock in Cozumel at 9:00. So around 9:00 we headed for the gangway area on deck 5, even though we had not yet heard an announcement that the ship had been cleared. When we got near the deck and lobby where the gangway was we saw hundreds of others also waiting there. It seems that everyone going on a tour was told to meet on the pier. Even though some were not going on tour till 10:00 or later, they were all waiting to go down the gangway and perhaps do a little shopping first. There were also many who were not going on tours at all but just wanted to go out and shop. Plus we began noticing that there were many from the crew who were obviously not in uniform and had the day off and were also waiting to leave the ship. By the time the gangway was opened, around 9:30, it was a mad house in this hallway, stairwell, and foyer. The elevator doors could not even be opened as so many people were jammed up against them. We were afraid some of the elderly were going to be trampled. It took us about 15 minutes after the gangway opened before we could get to the pier. They only had one person checking people off the ship. We asked a member of the tour staff why they had done it this way, rather than use the theater which had worked well in all other days. She told us there would not have been a problem if the ship had not been late docking. I'm not sure I buy that answer. Excursions: We had some wonderful excursions on this cruise. In Jamaica, we had our only bad experience. The nail technician was right in telling me there is nothing in Montego Bay. We did take a taxi to "town" for about $3 apiece each way. The port "expert" on the ship, Elizabeth, did a port talk the day before and told us that there are 80,000 people in Montego Bay and 79,000 of them are taxi drivers. She was close. These taxis are actually 12 person vans in most cases. And they don't like to take trips unless they are full. So we had to sit at the terminal building until they got 12 of us to go to town before leaving. It's only a few miles to "town" which is really sort of a strip of small stores on two floors in a severely congested area. The shops sell coffee, jewelry and t-shirts predominantly. The shop employees loiter in the doorways and on the sidewalks and follow the tourists down the streets begging you to come to their shops. There are a few residents who are willing to pose with baskets of fruit on their head in hopes you will pay them to take their pictures. The whole thing was very sad. After walking the length of the twenty or so shops, we had enough and decided to return to the ship. There were hundreds of taxi drivers soliciting us to take us on a tour or back to a ship. We saw one van with already about 6 people in it, so we joined them. We still had to wait another 15 minutes or so until the driver solicited another 5 or 6 before he finally started out down the narrow streets and returned us to the dock. In Panama the most thrilling part of the tour is going through the locks themselves. In our case we were up at 6:00 AM to be ready. But, we did not really enter the first lock until around 7:30 AM. We were finishing our breakfast on the balcony while we were watching the process. Lots of others were also on their balconies. In fact, they offered us a $25 Panama Canal breakfast that included champagne, but we opted for the regular stuff. While we were in the locks, some ships photographers were down on the lock itself and they took pictures of all of us on our balconies. Those were interesting pictures, and of course we took the bait and bought them later! We really enjoyed seeing the canal process from all areas of the ship though, so we wandered up on to the top decks to see from there, and also went to one of the lower lounges on the 5th floor where we could actually see the inside walls of the lock when we first entered it, and then watch the wall ship away as the ship rose when the water entered underneath us. That was really neat to watch from that perspective. When we completed the Gatun locks we sailed into Gatun Lake. We dropped anchor there and those of us on excursions were taken off the ship on tenders. We met up with out tour guides there and got onto buses. Our tour was the train trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific on the Panama Canal Railroad. We had booked the Deluxe Executive Dome car. We rode about 15 minutes on a bus to the Train Station at Colon and we boarded the restored train car. It had booths with tables in between and each booth would seat two people on each side. There were booths on both sides of the aisle. The side windows and the ceilings were one continual piece of curved glass. The upholstery had obviously been restored recently. It was very pretty. Our tour guide was Marty, a man in his late 50's with no Spanish accent that was noticeable. In fact, we thought he was American, but he did say he was from Panama. He told us later that he'd gone to Prep School in Minnesota for many years as a young man, and he'd also worked for Braniff Airlines in Miami for about 20 years before retiring back to Panama a few years ago. He was very knowledgeable about Panama, the people and culture, and the canal and its history. He kept us entertained and informed. The train headed toward the Pacific Ocean side of Panama and paralleled the canal as it went. We saw the lake formed when the dam had been built to create the canal waters. We saw wildlife and old military bases that the Americans had used prior to turning the Canal Zone over to the Panamanians on December 31, 1999. The train stopped in Mira Flores and we again boarded buses. These buses took us to the Mira Flores locks. There we were able to climb about 20 steps to a small observation platform where we were able to look down on to the lock. A ship was going through this lock while we were there so it was quite interesting. We also entered a small museum there and were shown a short film on the canal. We had another few minutes to walk around this observation area where one of the "mule" locomotives is on display. Then we were back on the bus. We then drove on to the Pacific Ocean near Panama City. We could see the Bridge of the Americas that crosses the canal and the skyline of Panama City, which looks like any modern city with skyscrapers. When we returned to the train, we went back to our domed car and there were box lunches for each of us. We had a sandwich, chips, banana and we were offered coffee or lemonade to drink. When we returned to Colon, we again boarded buses and were taken back to the ship where it was docked in Cristobal. At the pier there was a small group of shops in a mall area where many Panamanians and some of the native Embrea Indians were set up selling crafts. There were also Panamanian dancers performing there. After shopping a few minutes we went back on the ship. In Costa Rica our excursion left around 7:00 AM for a long bus ride to the Rainforest. The bus ride was made interesting by Gloriana our tour guide. She is a Marine Biologist by education, and also has a master's degree in wildlife management. She is very proud of her country and shared a vast amount of information with us. Costa Rica is a beautiful, lush country that grows a great deal of fruit and flowers for export to the rest of the world. We passed many fields growing bananas, coffee, chocolate and ornamental flowers. She had our bus driver stop and buy a bunch of "finger bananas" to share with us. They were much sweeter than regular bananas we were all used to. When we got to the rain forest we divided into groups of 5 and boarded the gondolas of the aerial tram. These tram cars go through the tree tops on cables. Many times we were over 45 feet off the ground. The trip is about an hour and a half in length, and we saw many types of trees, flowers, birds, butterflies, snakes, and insects. At the end of the tour we only had a couple of minutes to look in their gift shop and we were off on the buses again. We stopped at a place where we ate a catered lunch under a canopy. The food included some tough beef steak, chicken, fish (all grilled), rice, plantains, squash, and some coconut flan for dessert. There was also Costa Rican coffee, which was quite strong in my opinion. We were there less than an hour and then back on the bus for about a 90 minute ride to some canals and rivers close to Limon. We boarded a long boat with a canopy top that held all 45 of us in low seats. We cruised along the canals and rivers for about two hours. We saw much more wild life here, like crocodiles, egrets, monkeys, iguanas, sloths, and many other birds and butterflies. It was a great trip. Upon returning to the dock, we were only about 30 minutes from the pier where the ship was. We had about an hour to visit the craft area near the terminal and we shopped for some Panamanian wood items, and some clay vases and pots. This was our favorite excursion. In Grand Cayman we were only in port about six hours and it was a Sunday. We did the 100 foot submarine dive and that was interesting, but very short. Then we took the trip to the sandbar on a catamaran where we snorkeled and swam with the stingrays. That was great fun as we had never done that before. It should be done by everyone at least once. However, I will remark that although the water is shallow there, I was not prepared for how strong the waves are, and as a fairly light person, I was continually knocked over by waves. Other small women also commented that they were surprised how hard it was to keep on your feet. I was not so concerned with falling down, but they warn you not to step on the stingrays and I was afraid I was going to do just that. But it was a great experience. In Cozumel we rode the ferry to the mainland and took another one hour bus ride to Tulum to see the Mayan ruins there. It was fascinating, but we really only had about an hour by the time we got there. It was over 90 degrees that day, and not a cloud in the sky. It was also quite humid. I cannot imagine being there in the summer. We really enjoyed seeing the Caribbean from the cliff that the temple is built on. Our guide, Enrique, was very knowledgeable of the history and showed us all of the features of the ruins. After the trip back on the bus, and again on the ferry, we also walked around Cozumel for about an hour and bought some T-shirts for our grandchildren. Here's another town where the shop employees will accost you on the street begging you into their store. I'm just not into that type of scene, so we did not stay long in town but returned to the ship about 90 minutes prior to sailing time. Miscellaneous: As a new ship we had been somewhat fearful that things might not operate well on the Coral, especially since it had been delayed at the ship yard and two cruises were cancelled. However, there was very little evidence to us that things were not at 100%. One thing we noticed is that if you are in your cabin there is no way to hear the announcements over the PA system. We asked about this, and supposedly we should be able to hear them on one of the TV channels if you want to, but that was not yet operational. Some early cruisers had said that the air conditioning or water temperature were faulty. We did not notice that at all, although some public rooms were too cool for me. We did not notice any problems with stabilization and in fact even when the seas were a little rough, the ship seemed to ride fine to me. We did feel vibration in the Universe Lounge one night, but never in our cabin or other public areas. Every morning the cruise director and assistant conducted a "morning show" that was broadcast on the Princess channel. It mostly consisted of them reading through the Princess Patter and outlining what was going on for the day. Sometimes another member of the staff was shown visiting an area of the ship, such as the spa or casino, and once he interviewed the Captain. It was something to listen to while getting dressed in the morning, but it was not important information that wasn't already covered elsewhere. The "port expert" Elizabeth provided talks prior to each port call, but these were primarily advertisements for stores that Princess endorses. We had never experienced such blatant selling on any other cruise line. She actually had products displayed from the shops and went on for an hour about them. We had gone to many port talks on the Rotterdam when we cruised in the Mediterranean and there the expert spoke only about the countries and cities we were going to visit, the culture of the people, and he often mentioned the types of products that might be a good buy in that country, but there was never any showing of goods or suggestion that we should use a specific shop. After the first talk, we tuned her out and didn't go to any of her presentations. The new Universe Lounge is truly a state of the arts multi-media center. We attended shows there that were excellent, and we also attended two food preparation presentations by the Executive Chef and Maitre'D. The cameras they have there show the food preparation projected onto large screens from above the work surface. There is a complete kitchen on the stage with a working stove, refrigerator, and it was excellent. I felt like I was watching "Emeril" on the Food Network. We also went on a Galley tour at the end of the last culinary presentation. The kitchen is spotless and enormous. The kitchen on the 5th deck provides food for both dining rooms, with an escalator for use by the waiters who are serving in the 6th floor dining room. My husband attended several photography classes that were offered as part of the Scholarship at Sea program and he found them to be very informative for him. They were presented by photographers from the ship and also by a computer expert. There were other classes on navigation, communications, and computer applications, as well as daily programs on pottery making. There is a working kiln on the ship and an expert on board to assist those interested. We did not participate in these so I cannot comment. There were fees associated with these classes. Disembarkation: We had booked an 11:30 flight out of Ft. Lauderdale and during the first week on the ship we were asked to complete a form outlining our plans since we did not book transfers or flights with Princess. Because of our early flight we were then issued Red 1 tickets for disembarkation, which was scheduled to be the first group off the ship. It was planned for 8:00 AM, but we did not actually get cleared by customs and start disembarking until about 8:45 AM. We were waiting in the hallway near the gangway when they started calling folks so we were about the 10th and 11th people off the ship, literally. We barely stopped at immigration and arrived in the luggage room where about ten porters were waiting for us to arrive. We quickly found our 4 bags because of the hints we had picked up on the internet message board to put yellow duct tape on our luggage. The porter had our four bags on the cart in less than five minutes and we did not really stop at customs at all. We were out the door and into the first taxi waiting and heading down the road before 9:00 AM. It's just about 15 minutes to the airport, so we were there before 9:30 and had plenty of time to drink coffee and moan about having to fly home to the snow! Summary: All in all this was a great cruise. We were tentative about trying Princess because we really loved HAL's Rotterdam. I would have to say that most things about Princess are comparable. Where I think HAL has the edge is that the service is more personal and the staff are more friendly and cordial overall. On the Coral our waiters were wonderful, once we found them. But some of the others we encountered were just "ok." Never rude but not overly friendly either. Our housekeeper was just great, too, but others often did not even speak when you passed them in the hallway. We also found that tour office, purser, and other staff were "ok" but nothing special. I think having the person with the white gloves escort you to your cabin when you first arrive on a HAL ship just set the tone for the whole cruise, and on Princess we had someone (who was not even smiling) just point and say "go down the hall that way and it's on the right." Also, we like the size of the HAL ship better. The Rotterdam was made to hold about 1,000 passengers, and there were 1,900 on Coral. That in itself means more crowded conditions. We stood though one show on the Coral, and I can't see doing that ever again. However, the mini-suite was considerably larger on the Coral, and we really enjoyed that extra space. The closet was also bigger, so if the suite is important, then Princess gets the edge. The food was comparable, as were the tours. The shows were much better on Princess, both in variety and the quality of the performances from the on board staff. I hope this is helpful to those who might be considering cruising of the Coral. It's a beautiful ship and well worth the cost we spent for the ten days in the sun! glasslin@erols.com April 2003 Read Less
Cruise December 14 to December 24, 2005 Embarkation Went smoothly and quickly. We boarded at noon and found no crowd as the cruise information implied by saying its smoother after 2:00 p.m. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and ... Read More
Cruise December 14 to December 24, 2005 Embarkation Went smoothly and quickly. We boarded at noon and found no crowd as the cruise information implied by saying its smoother after 2:00 p.m. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and overnighted there at a motel that provided transportation to the pier. Others who drove to the cruise parked at hotels/motels that they stayed at overnight where parking for the duration of the cruise was either at a nominal charge or no charge. For those who drove to the ship and parked in the garage, there was the inconvenience of leaving from Pier 2 and returning at Pier 21. Baggage delivery was terribly slow. Didnt get our bags until at least 6:30 p.m. -- we were at dinner in our jeans (hooray!). Others were not pleased also. Food We elected Anytime Dining in that we wanted the flexibility it affords. Generally, the breakfast and lunch food was good. Portions at breakfast, lunch, and dinner were adequate. At dinner, the Beef Wellington, lobster, baked clams (appetizer), and scallops were quite good, but my steak was tough and neither mine nor my wifes were cooked as we liked them, and the baked potato was not cooked. Service varied from meal to meal with the last breakfast being totally inefficient. The waiter didnt seem to be able to take more than one customers order at a time. Bayou Cafe: fillets not cooked appropriately, but nice size. Service was terrible. It wasnt crowded, but we had to continuously ask waiter for water. Others reported that they did not have the same problems (perhaps different staff on duty). Sabatinis: Absolutely excellent in all ways  food and service (well worth the extra $20/person). Horizon Court: Food below par at all meals, but was plentiful and many choices (many more choices than in dining room). Pizza bar is excellent and there is no extra charge. Paying extra for ice cream at the Ice Cream Bar is ridiculous. Free ice cream in the Horizon Court in mid-afternoon was available, but the scooper could have been used to scoop melons. Be careful of very slippery floor very early in the morning. Soft drink card for $39.50 is pricey. To this they added 15% for a gratuity (another indicator of the cheap attitude felt by even those who had cruised with Princess many, many times --- i.e., ever since it was acquired by Carnival -- another was our cabin steward saying that he is allotted only a certain number of chocolates for pillows). Formal Nights We were pleasantly surprised that there was a loosening of the requirements that men had to wear tuxedos, suits, or sport jackets in that I dont believe in playing dress up when on vacation. A pair of slacks for men and a shirt with a collar works for men and slacks and a blouse or a dress works for women. The crew, wait staff, etc. didnt give a hoot, but we did get some disparaging stares from snooty passengers. Too bad. Our money is a green as theirs. Amenities There are several antimicrobial liquid dispensers at the Horizon Court buffet. Would be a good idea to have it at all dining areas and when reboarding the ship. Bring you own laundry bag if youre planning on doing laundry. Laundry facilities good. Costs $1.00 for detergent, $1.00 for a wash, $1.00 for a dry. Bring quarters in that coin change machine might not work or be out of quarters. Be aware that slot machine tokens might be in the coins the change machines make. Theyll work in the laundry equipment, but are useless off the ship. Surprisingly, the cost for dry cleaning is not any more than youd pay in many cities (e.g., I had a pair of short dry cleaned and the price was $3.25). Would have been nice to have instructions printed on the laundry bag as to what to do with the clothes (i.e., turn it in where, give to cabin steward, or. . .). Too many attempts by photographers to take pictures that then are a rip off. If they say 8-1/2 by 11 pictures, theyre giving you the paper size. The picture is considerably smaller with maps and other material covering much of the page. Communication and Disabilities Communication is not a strong feature on the Coral Princess. In fact, its pretty bad. Incorrect information in the onboard publications (someone should help the writers with appropriate capitalization of words), including signage throughout the ship being less than adequate, information on the onboard TV not being accurate (insurance on purchases that applied to earlier cruises was broadcast throughout one day, but no one seemed to have a clue about it), and the requirement that you must carry picture ID when leaving the ship (not once were we asked for this, especially since the electronic system now in use has your picture displayed each time your boarding card is scanned). Also, would be a nice feature if the ship announced the weather forecast in addition to the condition of the seas. Ship was very accommodating to persons with motor disabilities (many wheel chairs, canes, walkers). Cabin Our cabin was on the Aloha Deck (Deck 12) and we had a balcony. Cabin was good sized with a very large closet and adequate drawer space. Bathroom was typical and shower size was OK (unless you weight 350 lbs  we dont). Two electric outlets next to each other on the desk and one in bathroom. Bring a power strip if you need more. Balcony adequate for two (two chairs and a table). Facial tissue: cheap brand and like sandpaper. There was no clock, but the wakeup call did work. Bring your own clock. The one on your cell phone wont work (duh!). The only problem we had with the cabin (it was amidships) is that it was below an area where they must have kept livestock in that there were hoof beats late into the night. A complaint to the pursers desk was ignored. Others said the same about the noise. Also ignored was our request to visit the bridge and we did not receive any notification one way of the other that was supposed to be forthcoming in writing. Ignored requests and complaints relates to the communication problem noted above. Written complaint about the Tulum tour (see below) did result in a letter of apology and a refund of a third of the price. Crew The strong point was that the young men and women from many countries who worked in numerous capacities (wait staff, clerks, maintenance, etc.) were delightful and most helpful. It was surprising to find that the maintenance department dispatched a worker to replace a flickering light with 10 minutes of the call. Cabin steward did his job. Entertainment We went to three shows (productions) and the magician (he did the traditional Transformation and also walking through a mirror). The production numbers had good themes and staging, but absolutely the wrong choice of music for the productions. Cast was generally good, except for one singer who screamed and was often off key. Piano player/singer in the atrium lounge was fun, good, and entertaining. Tours Montego Bay  Return to ship by 3:30 p.m.; ship scheduled to leave at 4:00 p.m. Actually left at 4:45 p.m. Should have provided later time before leaving to allow more time for tours. Impression was that Montego Bay is not the safest of places. Tulum  Knees in your chest buses. Box lunch horrible, including an apple that wasnt washed and chips with cayenne pepper. We didnt eat them at all. Our guide knowledgeable. Tulum itself was magnificent. Downside was on the return when there was a long wait to board the tender and no place to sit. Were sure that the idea is for you to be shopping along 5th Avenue. If there is time, we are told that two blocks away the prices are much more reasonable. Grand Cayman  enjoyed the half submarine and the turtle farm. Guide had worked at the turtle farm in the past and was most informative. Limon  same bus problem as Tulum. The poverty is striking. Makes one appreciate what one has. Buses on Panama Canal tour quite adequate. Promotional material in error in that its a 90 minute bus ride both to and from the tour boat. Promotional material gave the impression of a quick transfer to the tour boat from the Coral Princess, but instead it was a 90 minute bus ride (did get to see some of the countryside). Tour of the Canal was a fantastic experience. Overall Beautiful ship. Many friendly passengers. Crew excellent. Tours enjoyable (although the busses were uncomfortable at times and the tours through Princess were overpriced in some cases). Our goal was to experience the Panama Canal, to get a snapshot of some of the Caribbean, and to relax. The cruise lived up to those expectations and we enjoyed the experience. Read Less
We sailed on the Coral Princess on January 23-February 2, 2003. Starting out in choppy water the ship had difficulty settling down to a smooth ride. Whether this was because of the unusual weather we were having, the route taken or ... Read More
We sailed on the Coral Princess on January 23-February 2, 2003. Starting out in choppy water the ship had difficulty settling down to a smooth ride. Whether this was because of the unusual weather we were having, the route taken or stabilization problems was never explained. The first day at sea was the worst but passenger complaints persisted throughout the cruise. The ship is beautifully appointed. Cabins are large, comfortable and well designed with plenty of storage space and room to move around. The lounges are spacious and beautifully furnished. There was plenty to do without ever leaving the ship and this was good because the ports of call and side trips were generally unremarkable. The Canal itself was the big attraction: one of the greatest feats of engineering in the history of the world. We took the trip to relax in sunny warm air and it worked. We enjoyed the ship, the decks, the lounges, the shows, the food, the classes, and the lovely verandas which grace the vast majority of the rooms. Even though the ship was filled to capacity it never seemed crowded. The Spa was outstanding and offered a myriad of services with discounts for at sea days and in port days as well. The boutiques were standard and there now exists a sort of sidewalk sale atmosphere with daily specials featuring local crafts, jewelry, t-shirts, gemstones, and more jewelry. Prices were reasonable, particularly by cruise ship standards. The food was outstanding. With two dining rooms and a twenty-four hour buffet as well as two specialty, extra cost restaurants, a pizzeria, a patisserie, a grill and two bars no taste was left unfulfilled. The twenty-four hour buffet has replaced the midnight buffet and it is a wonderful feature; particularly, for those who like their midnight snack at 10:30. Personal choice dining was a great favorite and if the passenger comments we heard were any indicator, should replace assigned seating in the future. The entertainment featured a cadre of excellent singers and dancers who performed at the highest level. The comedians were routine cruise ship fare with the traditional emphasis on potty humor and cruiser's foibles. The specialty musicians were outstanding. The Scholars at Sea program provides lectures and demonstrations on a wide variety of topics including cameras, computers, ports of call and world affairs. I imagine that each cruise differs so it will become a matter of the luck of the draw. The staff was superb, well trained, professional and attentive. Service was everything it should be on a first class cruise ship. Should be a great ship on which to do the Alaska trip where the ports of call have far more to offer. Princess could improve on their communications about daily schedules with a grid timetable rather than the listing they currently use. A cruise long grid would allow for even better planning. While it had nothing to do with Princess it must be noted that the Ft. Lauderdale airport was totally incompetent to handle the influx of cruise travelers on disembarkation. Long inefficient lines were the order of the day and left some passengers scrambling to make their AM flights. Passengers take care. ccholmes@ameritech.net May 2003 Read Less
The Positives The Cabin Our Caribe 408, port side deck 10, balcony room was nice -- well appointed, and very clean. The closet space seemed a tad larger than on previous ships. Loads of hangers available. Our balcony was at least ... Read More
The Positives The Cabin Our Caribe 408, port side deck 10, balcony room was nice -- well appointed, and very clean. The closet space seemed a tad larger than on previous ships. Loads of hangers available. Our balcony was at least twice as large than any other we have had, which was great! On our deck the balcony offered some privacy close to the door but no privacy out by the railing. The deck below ours (#9) had no privacy at all. Although it was the same size as ours, it had no overhang. This was not a problem; I am just mentioning it since this question seems to come up frequently. The chairs on our deck could change position into a semi-lounger (just the back moved). This was nice. There was a nice big table on our balcony as well. The bathroom was the same size as always -- small but serviceable. The shower was amazingly strong and wonderful.(Small things like this make me happy.) The food Overall the food in the dining room was very good and plentiful. We did the traditional dining, large table, 2nd seating (8:15). We were quite pleased with this arrangement, as well as our tablemates. We were always among the last table left in the dining room -- laughing and having a great time. Our waitresses (Mariana and Caterina from Romania) were the only girl-girl team on the ship, and we enjoyed their service tremendously -- it was flawless. Our headwaiter Riccardo was kind enough to make our table a special pasta dish one night when he found out it was my favorite. We love pasta! The wine selection was pretty good. The waitresses now handle the wine, instead of a separate sommelier. An average bottle will cost you between $22 and $35. There are much better bottles available as well. We did not try any of the alternative dining places, so I cannot comment on them. (Mostly because we really enjoyed our tablemates and did not want to dine elsewhere, although there was nothing on either menu that really interested me.) The pizza on pool deck was addictive! It was so good that I craved it almost every day. No wonder I gained 7 pounds in 10 days! My husband also had nothing but positive comments on the cheeseburgers at the grill. The tours We don't take organized tours, so I am unable to comment on them. We used to take the tours, but never really enjoy them as much as striking out on our own. I am not one for going to the movies while on a cruise ship, but I must admit to being tempted by some good films (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Road to Perdition, About a Boy, Insomnia, Bourne Identity, Spiderman). The musical shows were very typical cruise-type offerings. Some shows were terrific while others were not quite as terrific, but everything was entertaining. I won't go into details here since everybody has different tastes in music (especially my husband and I!), but go expecting to be well entertained. The Cruise Director (Paul O'Laughlin) was very good, and his sidekick deputy cruise director (James) was also quite entertaining. Their morning show on the Princess TV was pretty funny at times, although Paul should really stop whistling on the air! James had lots of energy and seems more visible throughout the ship than Paul. One of the other assistant cruise directors, Martin, was especially fun and full of energy as well. There were 3 karaoke nights, which for some of you may be a positive point, and for others a negative point. :-) To each their own. There was also a passenger talent show on the last day, for those of you interested. Greg Bonham was on the ship -- typical Vegas-style singing and trumpet playing. Not my cup of tea, but the crowd (mostly in their 60s on this ship) seemed to love him. Billy Vader was also on the ship. He's a comedian that we've sailed with before. He was funny when he didn't sing (which unfortunately was not enough of the time). It's not that he doesn't have a good voice; I just prefer talking funny to singing funny. I must admit however that Billy was a lot funnier than David Brenner was on the Grand a few years ago. Billy is a happy sort that is very visible on the ship and always has time to chat with passengers. He's been doing this a long time and seems to actually enjoy it. The piano player in Crooners was very entertaining. He could play a wide variety of music, and his voice seemed to expertly mimic whatever performer he was singing. The library was beautiful -- and chock full of brand new books. There were special comfortable "listening" chairs available, where you could sit and listen to CDs (on headphones). The card room was much larger than on other ships, and very nice. There were loads of board games for borrowing, and plenty of cards. On this particular voyage, it seems as though there were quite a few bridge players and bridge-related activities. This is not something we are into, but it seemed to make a lot of people happy. The ports My favorite two ports of call on this trip were Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Grand Cayman has beautiful (free) beaches, inexpensive taxis, and expensive shopping (similar to U.S. prices, if not a bit higher, for items such as t-shirts and hats, and less expensive than U.S. prices for jewelry and watches -- no tax). Eat on the ship; good food is hard to come by here. Cozumel has beautiful beaches and inexpensive shopping, as well as wonderful Mexican food at Pancho's Backyard (we ate at the one by 8th Street, not the new one at the pier). The Fat Tuesday's bar near the pier has one portion of the bar where there are swings for seats -- what fun! We saw a lot of crewmembers here, since it was very close to the ship (5 minute walk). Beers are $3. The new pier is gorgeous, but because it's so gorgeous, it doesn't feel like Cozumel! (Plus prices were higher here than in town.) Luckily, the downtown area has not changed much -- I hope it doesn't! We've been here 3 or 4 times previously and we always enjoy ourselves. We had a nice day in Costa Rica (Limon). The people there are so polite and friendly, and the city is not one big tourist trap. No hassles, inexpensive shopping, lots of sunshine. We took the time to really go out and walk around the city, and did not just stay in the tent shopping area right next to the pier, although you could probably have a nice time doing so. The Public Market is really their public market -- butchers, fruit sellers, etc. don't go there if you are expecting something like Nassau's Straw Market, but DO go there if you want to see how the locals shop. The Panama Canal passage was very nice, as anticipated. We've done this itinerary before, so we knew what to expect. I heard from a lot of people that the top decks were very crowded -- with people camping out spaces there and in the Horizon Court as early as 6 a.m. even though we were not going through for an hour or more. (One of my tablemates said that there was no place to sit and eat breakfast because all of the chairs had been moved from the tables into rows by the windows). We could see quite a bit of the process from our balcony, but ended up going to the aft deck for a much better view, where there were only a handful of people. We ordered champagne from room service and had it delivered there. (It was the first time I've ever had champagne that early in the morning, but what the heck -- I was on vacation!) General comments The artwork throughout the ship (especially on the stairway walls) is very, very nice. I enjoyed it tremendously. The atrium is a work of art -- gorgeous. The Princess Theatre and Universe Theatres are very comfortable and excellent entertainment spaces. Great lighting and sound. The temperature on the ship was perfect for me. I am usually cold, but on this ship I was comfortable most of the time, and did not need a sweater at all. My husband was too warm occasionally, but not enough to complain about it. The spa is gorgeous. My husband and I had several treatments there. I enjoyed my pedicure ($55) with Simone -- it was very relaxing and nice to have done on my first day so I had pretty toes for the rest of the trip. (Note that there are not many colors to choose from, so if you want a certain color polish, bring it with you.) I also enjoyed my Aromaflex massage ($79 special on port days) with Carol Anne -- 25 minutes spent on neck and back, and 25 minutes spent on feet. She made it seem like two relaxing hours instead of one. My husband absolutely loved the reflexology ($99) with Reggie, as well as the hot stone therapy massage ($159) also with Reggie. (One note -- if you think the stones are too hot, SAY something! My husband got quite a burn on his shoulder.) At these sessions, there were no sales pitches whatsoever, which was great. The gym was very nice (not that I spent a whole lot of time there). It's nice that the machines all overlook the water. There were quite a few classes offered on the other side of the gym -- step, yoga, Pilate's, etc. The photographers on this ship seemed to take more time with you and often took several shots instead of just one, as well as single shots instead of just couples. This gave you more pictures to choose from, which was great. There were two nights that black and white photographs were taken (our favorites). It was also great fun when the photographers got off the ship during the canal passage and took shots of those out on the decks and balconies. There were plenty of deck chairs alongside both of the pools. We never had a problem getting two chairs together in the shade. Note that no "saving" of chairs is permitted on this ship. If a towel is on a chair for more than 30 minutes or so unattended, a deck attendant will remove the towel, thereby opening the spot for another passenger. I think this is a fair policy. The pools were clean and beautiful. The pool areas were very nice -- the chairs all have comfortable thick cushions on them -- perfect for napping! We are late 30's/early 40's. There were probably fewer than a dozen children younger than 16 on the ship. The average age on this ship was probably 65. You will note this is a positive to us, as we get along well with an older crowd. (They make very quiet next-door neighbors!) If this is not a positive to you, keep in mind the following cruise axiom: "the longer the cruise, the older the cruisers." 7-day cruises will have a younger crowd than a 10-day or longer cruise. The Not as Positives Smoking This was the smokiest ship we have ever been on. We had a balcony room but most of the time we could not enjoy it for more than a few minutes as somebody nearby would light up. The halls and elevator areas almost always smelled of smoke. I could not spend more than a few minutes in any of the bars or casino because of the smoke. Even sitting poolside was problematic at times because smoking is allowed everywhere on deck. I am not allergic to smoke or anything, I just strongly dislike the smell of smoke and hate that it gets in my hair and clothes. (Luckily I brought a bottle of Febreeze with me.) I heard a lot of comments on this topic (without my bringing the topic up I am not a complainer, especially when on vacation). There is only one bar that is totally non-smoking, and that is the Patisserie. Unfortunately it is not really protected because it is right next to the atrium, where smoking is allowed. Plus, there is no music or entertainment here other than what goes on in the adjacent atrium. The Crooners piano bar has a large non-smoking section, but again, it's right next to the atrium, plus half of it permits smoking so you couldn't really escape it. In my opinion, Princess really needs to do something about this to satisfy both non-smokers and smokers. I would suggest making one side of the ship smoking and one side non-smoking. (Open-air decks and cabins included.) I would also suggest no smoking in the common areas, such as the hallways, atrium, and elevator waiting areas. Statistics show that less than 30% of adults smoke these days; I think Princess should take this into consideration. I would also suggest signs on the balconies as well as notices in the cabins regarding throwing cigarettes or cigars off the ship. I saw this happen twice. One of my tablemates was on the aft deck, just looking at the sunset with his wife when a lit cigar got thrown off a nearby balcony and landed on his bare shoulder. This is obviously a safety issue that all cruise ships need to address. Because of this issue, we are actually going to look into Carnival's non-smoking ship for our next cruise. We are huge Princess fans (Platinum Captain's Circle members, having sailed with them for six cruises), but the smoking was just too much this time. The Cabin Blow dryers are a bit weak. Bring your own if you need a strong airflow. The bed pillows were very hard and uncomfortable. If you don't like hard pillows, I would seriously consider bringing your own. My husband thought the mattresses were uncomfortable as well. The self-set wake-up call system on the digital telephone was not working for our cruise. Wake-up calls were available through the passenger services desk, but I did hear from more than one person that this was not very reliable. Bring your own alarm clock, especially if you will be taking any morning tours. I wish somebody would invent drawers on a ship that don't have to be slammed to shut. It's the only noise you could hear from the cabins on either side drawers shutting. Unfortunately, the way the drawers are designed (so they don't slide open during rough seas), you need to shut them with some force, which causes noise. The Food My husband, who is a non-seafood eater, noticed that there seems to be fewer non-seafood choices on the lunch and dinner menus. He ended up ordering the "always available" menu selections (cheeseburgers, fettuccini, steak) several times on this trip. The Lobster Thermadore was tasteless (unless you count salt). Normally I love this dish, but it was one of the few things I ate on the ship that I did not like at all. Due to fire regulations, there is no cooking tableside (such as pasta dishes or bananas flambE), and no basked Alaska presentation (and therefore no swinging napkins!). Just a note for those of you considering personal choice dining I noticed quite a few people milling about the atrium waiting for their restaurant buzzer to light up. I overheard that there was sometimes a 30-minute or so wait. This can be avoided by making a standing reservation with the maitre d. The ice cream on the pool deck was expensive. Stick to the free ice cream offered at lunch and dinner in the dining rooms. The Horizon Court, while very pretty, offered just typical buffet food, nothing special. I seem to recall that the buffets on the Grand and Sea offered more. For example, if you like Salmon on your bagel in the morning, it was only available on one or two mornings. The service here could be spotty as well (no motivating factors, such as tips). It's ridiculous what Princess charges for soda/pop ($1.95/can). It would be much better for the environment (not to mention passenger's pocketbooks) if they installed soda/pop fountains and gave it away for free. Soda/pop at a fountain costs only pennies a glass to make, and Princess would certainly get high marks from passengers for making this change. Note that if you are a big soda drinker, or have children who are, you can get a soda stamp on your card for $27.50, which gives you all the soda you care to drink for the duration of the cruise. The Tours We don't take organized tours, so I am unable to comment on them. We used to take the tours, but never really enjoy them as much as striking out on our own. The Entertainment It's probably because I have taken 8 cruises, but it seems to me that ship comedians and the cruise directors really need to come up with some new material. There's just too much of the same old small bathroom, toilet flushing, my room is on z-deck, etc. type of humor. Also, they all seem to spend the first ten minutes of their set asking where people are from, who's from Canada? Who's from the U.S., etc. The Universe Lounge does have some obstructed views. Get there early if you want a good seat. The Ports We were in Cozumel on a Sunday, and we were the only ship in town. Despite it being Mardi Gras time, the newly constructed Carlos and Charlie's (a few blocks south of where it used to be) seemed deserted and boring compared to previous trips here. We didn't stick around. Stay on the ship in Jamaica unless you are taking a Princess tour. Aggressive taxi drivers make this a not-fun port. Duns River Falls is worth seeing at least once, but it's not very clean, and the tour guides are also aggressive when it comes to demanding tips and herding you to shopping areas. Be sure to bring shoes you can wear in the water if you plan on climbing the falls. In Costa Rica, skip the park near the pier. It's not very clean or interesting. General Comments This ship did not seem as stable as any of the others we have traveled on. You could really "feel the sea," especially when you were all the way forward or aft (like in the Princess Theatre and Universe Lounge). Our cabin was mid-ship, but we could feel the motion of the ocean all night. It didn't really bother us too much, but there were a few people who seemed to react negatively to this. Bring Bonine or Dramamine, and you should be fine. On previous trips, we have bought quite a few pieces of art at the art auctions. (And we've been very, very happy with what we've bought.) On this particular trip, even though we went to all four of the previews, we did not see anything that we really wanted to bid on. Since art is subjective, don't take this comment too seriously. The shops did not seem to offer as much merchandise as those on the Grand Princess. The fine jewelry shop was located right next to the Casino, and in fact had a door opening into the casino. While this might be a successful marketing ploy, I could not spend more than a few minutes at a time in there because it was too smoky. (No matter what time of the day.) The wine tasting was held in one of the dining rooms, and I was quite surprised to see almost every table filled! It was $5 for the tasting, but if you pre-ordered a bottle of wine for your dinner table following the tasting, you would get $5 off that bottle. I usually enjoy these, but I have to admit that I did not learn anything, and was not that fond of the wines chosen for us. (Asti Spumanti? Do people still drink that?) I was not happy my facial ($129) as the therapist spent way too much time telling me what was wrong with my skin and what I needed to buy in order to correct it. If I had bought all of the products she "prescribed" for me, I would have spent more than $500 and no, I am not joking. My tablemate's "prescription" would have cost over $700 and personally, I think she had much nicer skin than me! The facial itself would have been quite enjoyable had it not been for the sales pitch. If I was at home, and visiting a local spa that I would be getting regular care at, then I would welcome this approach. However, while I am on vacation, I just want to enjoy the pampering. I really don't think Princess should charge $10/class for yoga and Pilate's. It's not that the classes were not good; it's just that it seems so greedy. It seems especially greedy when the teacher hands you an invoice/receipt at the end of class that all but requests a tip. The same teachers teach the step and other classes why are these classes worth more? The formal photos and black and whites were only shown as 8x10s. You could get 5X7's printed, but they would cost the same, so you felt like you were getting ripped off if you did so. And how many 8x10s of yourself do you really need? KARexx@aol.com June 2003 Read Less
We sailed the Coral Princess/Panama Canal voyage March 4th-March 14th, 2003. Ports of call: Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Limon, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, and Aruba. The Coral Princess was at its full capacity for this cruise. We arrived ... Read More
We sailed the Coral Princess/Panama Canal voyage March 4th-March 14th, 2003. Ports of call: Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Limon, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, and Aruba. The Coral Princess was at its full capacity for this cruise. We arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport, on flights that I arranged on my own, along with my brother & sister-in-law on March 3rd. We were booked at the Westin, Cypress Creek, through Princess along with transfers. After claiming our luggage, the transfer from airport to hotel with Princess motor coach went smoothly. We made our own arrangements for the morning by taxi to go to the pier around 10:30. It was well worth the $30 cab ride for the 4 of us to be at the pier ahead of the Princess buses. Check in was done by deck. We were on the Baja deck, and there were 4 attendants doing the processing for our deck. We went through security and waited until about 11:45 to board. The first time they swiped our cruise card upon entering the ship, they also took our picture for security. What a beautiful ship! We found our cabins right away. My brother had an inside; C507 and we had a balcony on the "bump-out" B501. This was the first time my husband and I had a balcony cabin and we loved it. There was a lot of closet space to hang clothes in an open area and shelves in a floor to ceiling closet with doors. This closet also contained the safe; which requires a 4-digit code of your selection to open and close. The safe was ample space to put wallets, jewelry, and camera. The bathroom was nice with shelves in vanity for toiletries. We used the shampoo, conditioner, hand & body lotion, and soap that was provided and wouldn't have had to pack those items. The shower was a bit small, but it wasn't bad. We requested the use of 2 Princess robes and the extra foam mattress pads for the bed as soon as we met our room steward, Gabrielle. The foam pads made our bed very comfortable. Putting 2 twin beds together made our double bed and they separated easily when made up as a double bed. On our August cruise on the Star Princess my husband is bringing a long strap with ratchet to go around the whole outside edge to hold the mattresses together. We had a nice sized vanity with a chair and an extra-upholstered chair. There was a hair blow dryer next to the vanity mounted on the exterior wall. There were only 2 additional outlets located there. If you want more outlets or need to plug in something with a short cord, I would suggest bringing an extra 6'-8' extension cord. There are no clocks of any sort in the room, which I knew in advance so I brought an alarm clock. We had a comfortable deck with 2 chairs and a table about 3' X 3'. The table took up more space than we liked and next time I will ask that it be removed and just a small table large enough to hold a room service tray will be all we need. Being on the "bump-out" we had a wonderful view of everything either side of us. I can see where cabins on either side of the bump out would have an obstructed view in the direction of the "bump-out". The refrigerator, a nice plus, was compact but large enough for anything we wanted to keep cold. New/fresh ice appeared in it every day. We purchased the Coke sticker right away for $27.50 each for the 10-day cruise and an extra $2.50 for the Coke cup, which works well for hot beverages as well as cold. We had Personal Choice "PC" dining. We all really like the flexibility of being able to plan our evening meal around the other activities of the day and ship; rather than having an assigned time in Traditional Dining where you have to plan your activities around the mealtime. The downside of PC dining is reservations are accepted. If you reserved a table whether for that night or the whole cruise, you had 15 minutes before the table was released if you didn't show up. That made it more difficult for those who just came to the PC dining room without a reservation. Example: we came to the dining room and asked if we could have a particular table that was open. We were told it was reserved in 10 minutes so we selected another table. Watching that first table, 4 people were seated about the time we were having our main entrEe. Come to find out the reservation didn't show up and these 4 were the first to come along after the reservation expired. In our opinion, PC dining should be a "first come, first served" basis. If you would rather have a specific time to eat, Traditional dining would be a better choice I would think. The food was good everywhere on the ship. The buffet had fresh fruit and vegetables and many of the same foods were served in the dining room. Room service was good and also prompt. Most mornings we enjoyed room service ordering from the door hanger they place in your cabin every evening. The menu listed is mostly continental style food, but anything I wrote on it, they delivered on time and hot. We also requested 1/2 & 1/2 for our coffee through room service as the buffet only serves the individual small NON-dairy creamers. The coffee is made from a liquid concentrate and I would have much preferred fresh brewed, but the only place that serves fresh brewed was at LaPatisserie bar. The presentation of food in the dining room was very nice. We thought the pizza was very good at the pizza counter open 11-6 every afternoon. We never tried anything at the hamburger/hot dog grill. We tried the Bayou Cafe with it's $10 extra chg per person and although is wasn't very crowded, our service was slow and we weren't particularly impressed with the food. There was no reason to ever go hungry in any of the Cruise-included food. The ship itself had many nice public spaces and smaller areas for private, cozy sittings. The Promenade deck was usually quiet and few people. On the back of Decks 10 & 8 (Caribe and Emerald) we discovered a small but very nice deck with lounge chairs. We used the Laundromat once, $1 to wash $1 to dry and $1 for soap. Well worth the cost. I could have packed half of the clothes I did. We tried the soft serve ice cream in the Haagen Daas bar but thought that $2.65 for a small cone was a lot to charge. When you consider some of the expensive desserts in the buffet, you would think that a simple soft serve machine would be free in the buffet. TOURS: All of our tours were booked through Princess. Ocho Rios: Dunns Falls & kayaking - We really enjoyed this! I had seen lots of pictures of the falls and people climbing it, but it truly was a beautiful adventure I'll never forget. We were hoping to purchase some JaBluM brand coffee while in Jamaica, but we didn't go into town after our tour and there weren't any little shops by the ship with the exception of liquor being sold from a trailer. Limon: Costa Rican Adventure - this included an hour and half motorbus ride to the aerial tram ride in the rain forest. The tram was a little more than an hour with time to stop in the gift shop, which is where we bought our Costa Rican coffee. We then went to an open-air restaurant and enjoyed a traditional Costa Rican lunch. Then on to a boat ride through some of the canals before a bus ride back to the ship. We really enjoyed the tram and the lunch, but for us, we could have passed on the boat ride. It is true that you saw more animals and birds, but I still like the rain forest better. Listening to others back on the ship and the bus back, many enjoyed the boat ride better than the aerial tram. It definitely is a personal choice. I'm not sorry we did both, but we like the rain forest tram better. Panama: We started the day up on the Sun Deck so we could see straight ahead at the locks. Once we actually got to the locks, we went back to our cabin and stood on our balcony and watched the remainder of the transition. Once in Gantun Lake, we tendered to a waiting bus not far from the dock. We did the Deluxe Train ride in the domed train. It went from the Atlantic to the Pacific where we saw the Mira Flores locks and a short movie about the canal. It was well worth the extra money to get the domed car, but if you think you want it, book early. Ours was filled 2 weeks or so before we left home. Marty, our guide gave us some very interesting info about Panama and the history of the country and canal. Aruba: Catamaran, snorkel and beach tour. Neither my husband nor I had snorkeled before. After about 45 min on the catamaran, they set anchor and the guide explained how to use the equipment and then showed us how to get down the ladder. In hindsight, it would have been easier for a first timer to learn by starting from the beach, which is what we wrongly assumed they would do. It was cloudy, so what we saw underwater was a bit drab in color, but fun. We then proceeded to an open dining area where lunch was served and we had an hour to sit or walk on the beach. Then back to the ship in the catamaran. We wouldn't choose this tour again. We really enjoyed the 4 major production shows. They were excellent!! 3 out of the 4 were held in the Princess Theater and one in the Universe Lounge; truly a state of the art venue. We also enjoyed the 50's & 60's night as well as Vince and Hip Pocket band. The Karaoke was fun to watch also. There was a lot that we didn't do on the ship, but there are only so many hours in a day and we wanted some relaxation time also. You could be as busy as you wanted to be or not. Disembarkment: We had a flight before noon, so we were assigned Red2 tags for our luggage. For us it went OK, but for my brother who had a later flight, he said finding the luggage in the same room where we checked in at the beginning of the cruise was very chaotic. It took him an hour just to get his luggage and get to the INS agent. Overall we had a great time and enjoyed this cruise vacation. It is a beautiful ship and the 10 days we spent on it flew by! We are looking forward to August 9, 2003 when my entire family of 3 generations, 21 people/ages 13-76, sails to Alaska on the Star Princess. thekoehlers@centurytel.net June 2003 Read Less
The following review is a joint effort between mother (mid-60s) and daughter (late 30s). We are Platinum Princess cruisers and have sailed on many generations of her ships including the old Star, Crown, Regal, Sun class and Grand class in ... Read More
The following review is a joint effort between mother (mid-60s) and daughter (late 30s). We are Platinum Princess cruisers and have sailed on many generations of her ships including the old Star, Crown, Regal, Sun class and Grand class in many regions-Med, transatlantic, Hawaii, Alaska, and the Caribbean, and Panama Canal transits. We took advantage of onboard booking while on the Golden Med/ transatlantic in August/September, 2002. Our vacation began on March 1, 2003, when we arrived in Fort Lauderdale and checked into the Hyatt Pier 66 hotel. Our executive suite was on the 12th floor and the balcony overlooked Port Everglades affording us a wonderful, 180 plus degree view of not only the port, but the Atlantic Ocean and the city of Fort Lauderdale. This was our second stay at the Pier 66; we have also been guests of the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort. We rented a car which we used for exploring the area, shopping, and going to restaurants for dinner. The Itinerary Panama Canal 10-day: March 4 - March 14, 2003 Ports of Call: Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Limon, Costa Rica; partial transit Panama Canal; Aruba, NA The Captain was Philip Pickford. The Cruise Director was Paul O'Loughlin. Embarkation Our choice of transportation to Port Everglades was taxi at a cost of under $10. We arrived at the pier in approximately ten minutes and proceeded to the Platinum check-in area where there was no line at all. We later learned that there were only 80 Platinum members on this cruise. The security line moved slowly because the waiting room had not yet begun boarding. The line began moving after about ten minutes and we were aboard and in our stateroom: Dolphin 405-starboard mini-suite within minutes. After a thorough tour of the ship, we enjoyed lunch in the Horizon Court (see "Ship" section for more discussion of the Horizon Court). The skies were clear and sunny-perfect for a dip in the pool!! When we got to our cabin to change into our swimwear, our cabin steward was there. Rico had been the steward for the port side suites on the Crown on our Hawaii cruise (we had a starboard suite) and we knew immediately we were in good hands. Rico has been with Princess a number of years and throughout the cruise, Rico did a superior job!! Our luggage had not yet arrived and Rico explained that the Coral has a smaller sorting area and delivery takes a bit longer. He offered to look into it for us and expedited our luggage delivery. When we returned from the pool later that afternoon, we had our waffle robes, extra towels, extra water, and luggage. The Passengers Based on our observation, the average age of the passengers was between 65 and 70. Half of the passengers were first-time Princess cruisers and many were first-time cruisers. We thought the representation of first time cruisers was unusually high. The ship also had onboard seven corporate and/or travel groups. These groups never infringed upon the other passengers in any way. There also seemed to be a high percentage of people from Florida. The Sail Away Sail away was promptly at 5:00 p.m. The Coral was the last ship in port to leave her pier. We were on our balcony for sail away and were able to hear the music on our balcony speaker and also on TV Channel 31. Princess chose to play "Celebrate", "Somewhere Beyond the Sea", and "Time to Say Goodbye"--great selections! Andrea Bocelli and Sara Brightman's "Time to Say Goodbye" duo was also played on the Golden Princess for our sail away and hearing it again on the Coral brought back beautiful memories of our Venice, Italy, departure. Rico had provided us with chilled champagne glasses and we toasted the beginning our cruise!! The Ship The Staterooms Our mini-suite was perfectly located mid ship on Dolphin deck on the starboard side of the ship. The dEcor was mainly aqua and an unfortunate choice of harvest gold for the sofa. Mom thought the room was narrower and the balcony not as wide or as long as those on the Grand class ships. Daughter still isn't too sure that the room is any different in size, but agrees that the balcony is smaller. There was a four-foot, round resin table and two adjustable chairs on the balcony which worked out well for our needs. The smaller balconies were furnished with square tables. The sofa seems to be longer on the Coral. Unfortunately, the beds seemed narrower and were not comfortable. The bed pillows were pure torture-hard as rock; Rico came to the rescue with a feather pillow. That is right, "a" feather pillow-that was the only one he could find. The bathroom had what seemed to be a much longer and possibly deeper tub than on the Grand and Golden; great for soaking! Princess has updated the soap (larger with a new fragrance) and the shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion containers have a plastic coating on them now which makes it easier to twist off the little tops. Perhaps it is my imagination, but the fragrance seems improved on these items, also. One quick note: the ceilings in the tub area (mini suites) are low; beware those of you who are 6 feet tall or taller. We had read comments from other cruisers about the noise of water running, but in our opinion, the noise was coming from an exhaust fan in the bathroom which runs continuously. The telephone had buttons for room service, weather, time, etc. Unfortunately, the wake-up call feature did not work for us but Mom was always up before the sun so that was not a problem. The televisions are equipped with the jacks on the front for video cameras. A daily television programming schedule was on our coffee table. We enjoyed the variety of choices: music channels, movies, and the Princess channels. We had the chance to see one of the nearby suites and agreed that they are the same as the mini-suites on the Sun Class ships. They do have a nice wet bar and a whirlpool tub. The balcony is small. We will not elaborate on covered and uncovered balconies. There are advantages and disadvantages to having one or the other. Our balcony was uncovered but I did not feel as exposed on the Coral as I did on the Golden. And remember, if you have a covered balcony, those below can turn around and see you! The staterooms directly next to the small bump-out sections definitely have a viewing difficulty. The covered balconies also appeared to be smaller-not as deep. Not many people used their balconies on this cruise. The Lido Pool Parents and non-swimmers need to be aware this pool is deep-at least seven feet at one end and approximately five and a half feet at the other end. Signage was still being posted while we were on the ship. There did not seem to be as many chairs with full sun exposure around the pool as there are on other Princess ships and those that were in the sun were taken very quickly (I saw the towels being placed on these chairs as early as 7 a.m.). Some days we were able to sit near the pool and on others, we chose to sit one deck up which we found to be breezier and much quieter. Pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs, and beverages were all available on the Lido deck. The pool service attendants did a wonderful job making certain you had your beverages. The band which played at the pool during our cruise was "Sugar Cane". They have played on several of our other Princess cruises, and we think they just get better and better! The Lotus Pool The Lotus pool is also located on the Lido deck between the Horizon Court and the Lido Pool. The area around the pool and hot tubs is absolutely beautiful. Wonderful greenery is scattered among the heavily green padded chaise lounges and tables and chairs. The upper level is as appealing as the lower pool area. The retractable roof was open each time we walked through allowing some sun to shine into the area. Older couples and those seeking shade and quiet seemed to be the prominent patrons of the Lotus pool. When the Coral cruises Alaska or has rainy days at sea, this pool will see a lot of use!! Also, the ice cream bar is located there. The Splash Pool The Splash pool is located in the bow of the ship on the Sports deck. We checked this pool out one sunny day as an alternative but decided to go back to the Lido pool because the water in the shallow pool was too hot and there did not seem to be any beverage service available. The Horizon Court is located directly below via a stairway but swimwear should not be worn into the buffet area. It is possible that there are waiters at this pool, but none were there when we were there. The Pelican Pool There were about eight adults using the Pelican pool located aft on Aloha deck, but this pool seems to be part of the children's area and the pool itself is quite small.. The Atrium Located in the center of the ship and encompassing that area on decks 5, 6, 7 & 8 is the Atrium. We stood in the center of the Atrium on Plaza deck (deck 5) our feet on top of blue marble and looked up. We felt as if we were on the bottom of the sea viewing the coral (the amazing lighted structure between the glass elevators) and watching the waves (the ceilings on the various decks have small lights which constantly change from white to aqua to sapphire blue). Not everyone will imagine the Atrium to be what we thought it was designed to represent, but all will certainly agree that it is the most beautiful Atrium on any of the Princess ships. The Patisserie is also on Plaza deck and offers comfortable sofa, table and chair seating, bar seats, the best coffee on the ship and tasty pastries!! Non-smokers: Take your coffee up to the Promenade deck to Crooners smoking section. One deck up is the Fiesta Deck where the atrium shops: Meredian Bay and Calypso Bay are located. The Facets jewel shop is around the corner and across from the Casino-so much for your casino winnings!! On the next deck, Promenade Deck, you can sit at Crooner's Bar (the martini bar and any other drink you may choose) with a Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin/Sammy Davis/Rat Pack theme. The smoking section is located portside and is furnished with wonderful light-colored sofas and chairs. (We were appalled to see folks there during the daytime sitting on the chairs and propping their feet on the white sofas while others were curled up on sofas and sleeping!) The non-smoking area is adjacent to the bar and there is also a piano there. We were sorry that the piano player did not play more of the Sinatra tunes. He seemed to be favoring 70s ballads. Churchill's Lounge is across the atrium on the same deck. This is the enclosed cigar smoking lounge where one can also order a drink. The cigar odors do not filter out of this room. One deck up is the Emerald deck which houses the very large card room, a well planned library and the internet cafe. The internet cafe was never busy and we felt that the computer speed was just fine. During the daytime there was always a Princess representative on duty to assist those who needed his/her help. The Emerald deck was always very quiet and conducive to reading, computer work, etc. Dining Rooms & Alternative Restaurants Our dining schedule was late, traditional in the Provence Dining Room, Fiesta Deck 6, table 184-a quiet corner table in the back of the dining room-perfect!! We had a table for six and our tablemates were a Cruise Critic member and his wife and a great couple from Florida. The food was standard Princess fare and good quality; our waitress steered us in the right direction every evening. One thing we have learned is to take the waiter's/waitress' menu suggestion seriously! As always, the service was excellent. Heading towards the aft of the ship on the Promedade deck is Sabatini's Italian Restaurant. The Sabatini's on the Coral Princess has a magnificent dEcor and impeccable service. We dined there at a table for two and completed all of the courses in less than one hour and forty-five minutes! We certainly recommend this restaurant. As you pass Sabatini's walking aft toward the Universe Lounge, you will be amazed to find yourself on a sidewalk in New Orleans!! Well, almost............brick walls, gaslights, small tables by the windows (smoking okay) and the entrance to the Bayou Cafe. One side is a cocktail lounge, the other is the dining room. Our dinner there was fantastic and again, excellent service! Highly recommended. Don't forget to put your Mardi Gras beads on-the necklaces are on each table. The Horizon Court The Horizon Court seems to be lacking in seating. The tables in the bow are large, round tables usually seating eight and are widely spaced. The breakfast buffet was okay however we prefer to either eat in the dining room or order room service. Many of our passengers raved about the food and others felt it was not very good.........a toss up. We chose to order the special Panama Canal breakfast which arrived on a three-tiered cart and consisted of champagne, pastries, crabcakes, etc., etc., smoked salmon, etc., fresh fruit, etc. This was so delicious and such a treat!! Our server placed a crisp white tablecloth on our balcony table, popped the champagne cork and left us to enjoy the great food and the beginning of the partial transit of the canal. All for only $25 (the champagne was Veuve Cliquot. Princess will be offering a Glacier Bay breakfast in Alaska and we recommend giving it a try!! As we said before, we used room service rather consistently for our breakfasts. On sea days, we usually had breakfast in the main dining room. The Spa We visited the spa the day we boarded and thought it to be a beautiful place! With any of the spa services (not beauty salon), one may indulge in the steam rooms, tropical rainforest showers, etc. There are four or more themed showers; a beautiful, marble area of the spa. We had pedicures our first, full day and enjoyed the back massage chairs and complete pedicures we received. We are not certain if other Princess ships have added the full pedi/spas but this was a first for us. The Theaters & Entertainment The Universe Lounge Go early and get a seat on the lower level! If you have only the balcony seats to choose from you will find that many of the sofas and chairs have absolutely no view of the stages whatsoever. The Princess Theater There are plenty of seats in this theater, however, mom had a problem watching a live show because her view was blocked by the woman sitting in front of her. Mom was just told by her daughter that daughter had absolutely no problem seeing the stage!! Luck of the draw I suppose. Entertainment During our cruise the Wheelhouse Lounge featured The Laura Farrow Trio and The Don Sauro Trio from 5:30 p.m. till late. Campbell Simpson played the piano in the Bayou Cafe from 6:00 p.m. till 8:00 p.m. followed by the Perry Phillips Trio till midnight. Charlie Sleeth was at the piano in Crooners Lounge from 8:00 p.m. till midnight. The Explorer's Lounge was busy every evening with Karaoke, Newlywed & Not So Newlywed games, Music Quiz, comedy and magic of Doug Anderson, D.J. Josh, Tex Mex Country Hoe Down, 70s Night, and music by Hip Pocket. The Princess Musicians played in the Atrium. We did not attend all of these shows and hope we haven't forgotten to mention anyone! The brand new show, "Curtain Up-A Salute to Broadway" was excellent as were "Da Beat", "Tribute", and "Dance." We also enjoyed "Pub Night". The Casino The London theme of the casino will either appeal to you or you will think it is overdone. On our cruise the casino was never too crowded during the afternoons when we were there. Have no idea what the patronage was in the evenings. There was a large variety of slot machines, blackjack tables, a craps table, and we are not sure if there was a roulette table or not. The slot machines we played were very kind to us: yes, we left as winners!! The dollar slot machines were literally sitting unoccupied whenever we were in the casino. We think the casino is smaller than those on the Grand Class and Sun Class ships but that could be due to the layout used. Overall Cruise Experience With regard to the Coral Princess, our waitress said it best, "She is like a spoiled child". The ship is new and there are wrinkles to be ironed out, however, her spectacular beauty outweighs the very few negatives. And, remember, those negatives are solely related to her newness. In some areas she is quite bold, in others very demure. There is a quiet place for everyone or a festive spot if that is what you want. Read your Princess Patter (the ship's evening newsletter) daily and decide what you would like to participate in or choose to do nothing at all. There is something for everyone on this ship. We had wonderful weather and experienced a few moderate seas as we cruised in the southern Caribbean-the tradewinds were a'blowing. Our stateroom groaned quite a bit at times but we think that she will settle and then not be quite as noisy. The art gallery holds and displays all of the art work to be auctioned during the cruise. NO artwork clutters the corridors of the ship!!!! We found this to be a refreshing change from the other Princess ships. Formal nights were not at all what we usually experience on a Princess cruise. The Captain's Welcome party was well attended and a large majority of the passengers were dressed in their formal attire. However, at the Captain's Circle Party, we saw at least six or seven men meet the captain wearing t-shirts and sandals!! Also, some of the men were wearing sport coats with no neckties................to us, that was totally disrespectful. Those who took the time to dress appropriately were dazzling and in the majority. We chose the ship rather than the itinerary-both were terrific; however, we really prefer the full transit of the canal. Disembarkation Platinum members sat in the Universe Lounge being served coffee, juice, and pastries along with the USA Today newspaper. There was a television show being shown on the three movie screens also. This was a very pleasant place to wait for our color and number to be called. We were called 15 minutes later than the published time of 8:45 a.m. We found our luggage within minutes but then spent at least half an hour in a ten- person wide line with others merging in ahead of us, behind us, and at times it seemed on top of us! The porters were also trying to push their carts through this wall of people. There was only one customs line for hundreds of people to pass through and everyone wanted to be the first one in line!! This was horrible and probably a very unsafe situation!! Eventually another customs line was formed and we were soon outside. Whew!!! We immediately hailed a cab and were at the airport shortly thereafter. Our flight was at 1:00 p.m. allowing us time to have a quick bite for lunch before proceeding to our gate. The plane departed twenty minutes late however we arrived in Chicago on time. We are proud and happy to say we cruised on the Coral Princess and hope our review may help you in making your choice to sail on her also. Our Coral Princess cruise met all of our expectations and we will sail on her again. If you want to cruise on a new ship or are planning a cruise on the Coral, you won't be disappointed!! Thank you for reading our review of the Coral Princess and bon voyage to all of you future cruisers!HOLTCA@aol.comJuly 2003 Read Less
We cruised on the Coral Princess on Jan. 3, 2003, and sorry to say that I will think twice about cruising with Princess again. This was our 6th cruise on 3 different cruise lines. The check-in was a fiasco. No one seemed to know what they ... Read More
We cruised on the Coral Princess on Jan. 3, 2003, and sorry to say that I will think twice about cruising with Princess again. This was our 6th cruise on 3 different cruise lines. The check-in was a fiasco. No one seemed to know what they were doing. The cold water faucet in the entire ship had warm water. When we booked the cruise in Oct. the Princess agent promised that if we did not get the requested cabin that we would be upgraded to a mini-suite. Twice they confirmed these arrangements. In Dec. they assigned us to another cabin but not a mini-suite. Their response was "No one said that to us." This was a lie. I could not believe that a 900' ship could rock and roll so much in "Slight to 4' seas". We were often awakened by very sharp shakes as if the ship hit speed bumps. I served aboard a Navy Aircraft Carrier of 900' in gale winds and the ship never rocked and rolled or had sudden shakes. We walked by one fire door amidships and heard creaking sounds coming from the deck area which didn't set too well. The heat/ac control in the cabin could not be turned off the AC. We were forced to wear a sweater or jacket. It took 3 or 4 days before the coffee dispensers had coffee. The public address system could not be heard inside our cabin. On the flip side the ship was beautiful. The waiters and room steward did an excellent job. The dinning room food was excellent. ewnelson@email.msn.com April 2003 Read Less
Sail Date: July 2003
This is my review of our 7/7 land tour #22 and southbound coral cruise 7/12. We are 50 year olds, this was our 6th cruise, 3rd on Princess. This is only my opinion, hope you enjoy. I am doing a day by day review, (land first then the ... Read More
This is my review of our 7/7 land tour #22 and southbound coral cruise 7/12. We are 50 year olds, this was our 6th cruise, 3rd on Princess. This is only my opinion, hope you enjoy. I am doing a day by day review, (land first then the cruise). Day 1- 7/7. Flight- Northwest NY to Minn.- Minn. to Fairbanks. The flight left on time landed at 1:45PM local time, connection left at 2:30PM, ran across the terminal about 8 miles (felt like it). Had just enough time to grab food from Burger King and take it on board. Plane left on time. Can't believe there was no movie on a 5 hour flight. Arrived Fairbanks on time. Met the Princess person and was given information envelope with room keys, etc. Took the bus to the Princess Riverside Lodge. All luggage was delivered to the room, we went to eat at Trackers grill, very good then to sleep. (Note: It never got dark. We knew about midnight sun and all, but it says sunset at 12:30 am and sunrise at 3:40am. But it NEVER got dark. The sun goes just below the horizon and the sky still is bright, like just at dusk. Strange. Day 2- 7/8. Woke up early (very), took a walk and a few pictures. Beautiful day, sunny going to be in the 80s. We ate in the Edgewater restaurant for breakfast, (OK). Off to the riverboat Discovery. It's a nice trip quiet and calm with beautiful scenery. Had a look at Mt. McKinley from 200 miles away. Saw dog sled exhibit from Susan Butcher, the dogs are real funny. Bus back to the hotel for lunch. Now off to the Gold Mine, to pay for the trip. LOL. Well back from the gold mine, I will have to go back to work after all. They said we had $24 worth of gold, they sell jewelry to put it in if you want, had a good time. Stopped at the Alaska pipeline, amazing. Then went through downtown Fairbanks. Time to shower and eat. We went to Pikes Landing for dinner, just down the road from the hotel. Sat on the deck overlooking the river. The food was very good, nice and relaxing. Went back to the room repacked all luggage, sent 2 bags direct to the ship, others to Princess Mt. McKinley Lodge. Had to have luggage outside room by 5:30 am. Time to sleep again. Day 3- 7/9. Woke up early, (beginning to see a pattern here). Bus leaves at 7:15am to the Midnight Sun Train. Again expecting a beautiful day. We are on the train now, it left right on time. There is a tour operator on the train to book for next lodge. We then went to the dinning car for breakfast, it was very good. Great looking train cars. Not really much to see, lots of trees, trees and then some more trees. Towards the end of the ride (last hour or so) the view gets better with high mountains, a river, got some nice shots. Finally arrived at Denali Princess Lodge, we had about 45 minutes to eat lunch (we ate Lynx Pizza, so-so). Then we boarded school bus for the Denali tour. Great scenery, go to a zoo if you want to see animals. We saw 1 caribou at about 100 yards, 1 snow hare. Back to Denali lodge to pick up our coach to Mt. McKinley lodge. Nice looking lodge with large deck, great room. Ate at Grizzly's Bar, on deck, good food. You could just see the mountain, hopefully better tomorrow. Bedtime. Day 4-7/10. Woke up to cloudy sky and drizzle. Had a good breakfast at the lodge, waiting to see if the summit flight tour would be cancelled or not. Not cancelled yet so we took the bus to Talkeetna (1 hour plus). Went to K2 Aviation and were told it was cancelled. Walked around downtown Talkeetna, not much to see. Waiting for the bus back to lodge. There was a large female moose on the side of the road. Cloudy all day with no view of the mountain. Just hung out for the rest of the day. Getting ready for dinner with another couple we met (nice people). We ate at the Mountain View restaurant, wonderful food and company. Very strange, 10:30pm and still light. Day 5- 7/11. Woke up to rain. We have the Jeep Safari booked for today, so quick breakfast and pack bags again. They had to be outside the door before we go on the tour. The Jeep tour was great, lots of fun. Now bus to the train again, Midnight Sun to Anchorage. No problems, got to the hotel about 8:00pm and went to our room at the Hilton. Took a stroll around the area, pretty with lots of flowers and gift shops. Sleep time. Day 6- 7/12. Woke up early, had to have luggage out by 8:00am. Went downstairs for breakfast, very good but expensive (what else is new). The bus to Seward is very nice, pretty views with a few stops for pictures. (Tip- sit on the right side of the bus, you see the water most of the way). Can't wait to unpack on the ship and leave it for a week. We arrived about 1:00pm, picked up cruise card and was onboard in 15 minutes. Eating in 10 minutes. lol. Tip. If you go off the ship again in Seward, be sure to take cruise card and picture ID to get back on , you have to go through security again. That's it for the land portion of this, if you have any questions about lodges, tours or whatever ask away. Thanks for reading this, the cruise is next Mark This is part 2, life on the ship, Coral Princess 7 night southbound Alaska. Day 1 Seward. We went to the horizon buffet to grab lunch. The food was very good, it was nice to eat and not get a bill after (like on the land). We did laundry as we planned. The bags we sent from Fairbanks came first, unpacked them, then, headed into town for some soda. The rest of our bags were delivered, so now we were free. Went exploring the ship, it's very nice looking and clean. The first night onboard everyone has to eat 1st or 2nd seating dinner (no PC). They give you a ticket as to which seating to go to. They handed my wife one for early seating, she asked for late seating. It took them a while but finally got the right one for us. The reason for no PC dinning is Safety Drill (muster) is at 8:15pm. By the time we finished the drill and returned life vest to the room, it was after 9:00pm. We went to eat, I was mad that the ship sailed while we were still eating. After we finished we went up on deck, WOW. We enter College Fjord at 6:30am, so off to bed we go. Day 2 College Fjord. Woke up very early (5:00am), it's a beautiful sunny day. It feels cold, of course I'm in my underwear on the balcony, lol. Waiting for 6:00am room service. Food came right on time, a quick cup of coffee and bagel and off the see the show. What a show it is. It was quite cold, so I put on several layers and off we went. Sailed up College Fjord, just amazing. The Glaciers are coming down from the mountains to the water. (Tip- Get the highest magnification binoculars you can. With my zoom lens on my camera, the ice looks like a carpet but with the binoculars you can see the rows of ice). After a while the ship turns around and goes out the same way it went in, so you don't have to be there at 6:30 if you don't want to see everything twice. Saw a few otters from a bit of a distance. Going to get a real breakfast now. Spent some time in the sun looking for wildlife, saw a whale but again far away. Went to bingo (lost), went to the casino for a while (lost) see a pattern here (lol). Later today we sailed into a fog bank and the temp. dropped and was cloudy the rest of the day. We made dinner plans with the couple we met on the train. Very nice English couple now living in Orlando Fl. Tonight is the first formal night, Captain cocktail party at 7:45pm then dinner. After dinner we went to the show Dance. Typical cruise show, good music, dancing and costume changes. Went back to the casino, won a little of my money back. Sleep. Day 3 Glacier Bay. Slept in today, 9:00am. Buffet breakfast, as we are starting to sail into Glacier Bay. It is very cold out, gray, cloudy low 50s and windy. We got dressed, I was wearing long sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt, waterproof jacket with fleece lining, hat and gloves. We got 2 lounge chairs right in the front of the ship up on deck 15 and watched as we sailed into the bay. After a while my wife went and got 2 blankets (the ship had these on deck 14 at the pool, which you sign out then return, free). We viewed a few glaciers as we sailed up the tar inlet, now the sun started to break thru the clouds. As the sun got stronger, the layers started coming off. The temperature must have risen 20 degrees at least. Anyway back to the glaciers. At the end of the tar inlet is the Margerie Glacier. This is the one you see in all the TV and ads, very high, with white and blue ice. Just as we approached it a piece broke off (calved) but we were still pretty far away. The ship stops right there nice and close. There were 2 small calving, not much but better then nothing. After a while the ship turns so the other side balcony's can view it. My Balcony was on this side so I ran to my room to watch it. All the balcony's on this side were full (hope the ship doesn't roll over, ha ha). Just as the ship started to leave we said it's now or never. And as if on cue we heard a crack and a large piece fell right in front of us, awesome. This is what everyone came here for. I had called room service as soon as I got to the room, ordered 2 hot dogs and french fries. So I ate lunch watching the glacier as we sailed away. My wife and I went up to the hot tub for a while, (very nice). Went to dinner, and the show, comedian Sarge (he was pretty funny). Hit the casino again (broke even) and now time to sleep. Day 4 Skagway. Had room service breakfast, we had the Yukon bus and White Pass Train tour. Today is a mix of sun and clouds, we started up the mountains and it was very foggy for a while. There is some very nice scenery, large drop off the side of the road, lots of lakes and mountains. We go to Carcross (could have skipped this) for lunch, which is 2 little pieces of chicken, bread and coleslaw. There are some live animals in pens and 2 plastic dall sheep in the mountain behind everything (tacky). Back on the bus after lunch and then down to the train. Right at the train depot we saw a large bear in the grass at the end of the parking lot. We were about 100 feet away or less, got some good pictures. We thought it was a grizzly but the train conductor said it was a cinnamon black bear. Took the train back to Skagway, great views on the train. Did a little shopping and back to the ship for FOOD, I was as hungry as a bear, Lol. Just relaxed on the balcony for a while looking for whales. Time for dinner and the show, (Curtain Up) enjoyable like the other one. Stopped at the casino (lost) and bed. Day 5 Juneau. Woke up and called the tour desk to check about helicopter dogsled tour, (foggy out). They said go to the pier and see, we did and they cancelled it (S#+T). We were able to get on the 11:30am whale watching tour so we did it. My wife went to get a manicure while we killed time. I went to the tour desk and switched our Ketchikan tour as we had booked a boat tour there. (didn't want to do same thing). Had late breakfast and off to the whales, I hope. Well we did see whales, actually 6 humpbacks were doing what is called bubble feeding, very cool. We saw a few harbor seals and eagles. So it wasn't a waste of time, (still would have rather been yelling mush mush, lol. Going to dinner soon and the comedian Scott Wyler, he was very funny. Went to the casino and made another deposit. Bed time. Day 6 Ketchikan. We had changed our tour yesterday from boat cruise to a seaplane to Misty Fjord and cruise. I like to do different kinds of things on these trips, and had never been in a small plane. The plane ride was really fun beautiful area, we landed on the water and transferred to the boat. It was OK, we saw lots of working fishing boats. Returned to the ship, tonight is the captain's club cocktail party. So were getting ready for dinner early also the 2nd formal night. Had the usual lobster tails tonight. Off to the show Tribute, very good music (Beatles, Beach Boys etc.) After the show I'm planning on going to the casino to get all my money back, didn't happen. See ya. Day 7 At Sea. Had a very sunny and warm day. Slept in late 9:00am. Also turned the clocks ahead 1 hour during the night. Had the casino tournaments today (slot and blackjack, I know I will get my money back now, lol) didn't win. We ate lunch and sat by the pool for a while. Went to the BIG BINGO game, $2000 prize (by now you know what's going to happen) right I didn't win. HAHA. We also packed all our bags during the slow time this afternoon so we wouldn't have to rush tonight. There was a pre-dinner comedy show with both comedians, a riot. We had dinner a kind of sad time, as you know it's all over. One last time to see my money, waved goodbye and back to room to sleep. We also put all of the luggage outside our door at 8:00pm. Day 8 Disembarking. Woke up early had breakfast in the Horizon Court, packed our carry on bags and said goodbye to our friends, and waited to leave the ship. We had a 10:30 am flight to Toronto on Air Canada. We had to get all of our bags and go to customs, they sent us the wrong way out and had to go back to find a bus to airport. The bus didn't leave till almost 9:00 am, the airport is about a half hour away from the dock. Getting short on time. Arrived at 9:30, got bags from the bus, got a cart and into the airport we go (a mad house). People everywhere. They tell you to use a machine to get your boarding pass, but the machine said see attendant. Wait no another line, finally there and the person is typing like I am now. (thought, she was writing a book). Checked bags, went to another machine to pay leaving tax $10 PP (?), now to security line. Of course they had to open all carry on bags, look at camera binoculars etc. At last we get to the gate and they are already boarding the plane. But this is the way to fly, a nice new big plane with a movie and free headsets. Landed on time in Toronto and this place is nuts too. Because this is an international flight, we had to get all our luggage (another cart), go to US customs, long line and go to security again. Re check luggage in and go to gate. Of course they stopped my wife and went through her carry on and purse. They wouldn't let her take the can of bug spray on board. (a gift to the inspector) and off we go. Arrived on time and our son was there to take us home. Day 9 Laundry HA HA. Hate this part of vacation. General Information and Opinions : I now know why Northwest is called northworst by people on these boards. The land tour is exhausting. Beautiful land and a great way to see much of it, glad we booked it with Princess for our first visit. If I go back I will do my own thing. Princess does an amazing job of moving you and your luggage all over the place and on schedule. The cruise was great, the ship is beautiful, I like this size ( I have been on smaller, Dawn and larger, Grand). All the entertainment on the ship was very enjoyable, good music and dancing, the comedians were very good too. The food was good in the dinning room and Horizon Court. Breakfast has the same food everyday, lunch buffet was very good. Pizza was OK, hot dogs had a funny taste to me, burgers were all overcooked for my taste. Dinner was a little to fancy for my taste (as are most cruises). But they always had steak or chicken available. I was very disappointed in the animal viewing, I know it is very hit or miss but I kept missing. Weather is unpredictable, the two tours we really wanted to do were both cancelled due to weather so keep an open mind and be flexible. All the Princess staff, bus/tour guides, hotel staff, cruise crew etc. were top notch and very friendly. We will cruise with Princess again, and again. Overall we had a wonderful trip, met many nice people and you can't believe the land of Alaska. If anyone has any questions about specific things, just respond to this and I will try to answer them as best as I can. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I know it was long but I felt that I couldn't get enough information before I went. Thanks and happy cruising Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
CORAL PRINCESS PANAMA CANAL October 30 - November 9, 2003 By Mary & Vincent Finelli This cruise began in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with a crescent moon and culminated in the Florida Straits with a total Lunar Eclipse. ... Read More
CORAL PRINCESS PANAMA CANAL October 30 - November 9, 2003 By Mary & Vincent Finelli This cruise began in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with a crescent moon and culminated in the Florida Straits with a total Lunar Eclipse. What happened in between is the substance of this review. There was nothing average about these ten days. From the first glimpse of the Coral Princess in port with her "gas turbine/diesel enviro engines installed above decks in the funnel, it is obvious that this ship is something different. When arriving in port our son Marcello asked, "are you sailing or flying?" This is an impressive, unique silhouette: polished steel structures, resembling jet engines, and steel stacks, perched atop a 15 deck tall ship! This ship, built in Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France, is 964 ft. long, her beam is a Panamax 106 ft, her height is 204 ft. and with a draft of 27 ft, her maximum speed is 24 knots. There are 987 cabins including 20 wheel chair accessible (sq. footage between 217 - 374); 89% of all cabins are ocean view and 83% of these have balconies. Passenger capacity is 1,970 and the crew numbers 900. She is still in her inaugural year having been launched December 2002. Registry, of course, is Hamilton, Bermuda. Since Princess is the union of two venerable lines: England's P&O (Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company) founded in 1840, and Italy's Sitmar Line established in 1913, her crews reflects these beginnings even today. When P&O purchased Sitmar in 1988, a new line emerged --- Princess. The Coral Princess' Captain Giorgio Pomata joined Sitmar in 1978, and has continued to serve on many Princess ships as Captain. Crew members and customs reflect the Princess' origins. The serving of High Tea in the Bordeaux Dining Room every afternoon at 3:30 pm accompanied by the Delphinus Strings contributes to her very English atmosphere. The continental manners of the top Italian crew members, like Passenger Services Director Carlo Gunetti, from whom a formal greeting is customary (Ladies .."a kiss on the hand is quite continental"), and Maitre d' Generoso Mazzone, who overseas the ship's dining venues like a virtuoso conductor, generate an atmosphere of elegance and efficiency. Whilst the very British Cruise Director Trevor Bradford handles the passenger activities with great aplomb. EMBARKATION Security was evident at Port Everglades when we arrived at 11:30 am. Embarkation started at noon. There were crew members on the dock to assist with the wheel chair and the pre entered data sheets helped to expedite the processing. The on board credit/cabin key card is a handy system. We were in our cabin within 30 minutes --- which is quite excellent. The expansive "Welcome On Board" Buffet was appetizing; however, we tend to avoid buffets, so we ate on Lido Deck 14 at the Princess Pizza (very crispy, thin and excellent). During embarkation, personnel were stationed at all elevators providing directions and a welcoming atmosphere. Our luggage was in our room by 1:30 pm. Very efficient! SHIP'S PUBLIC AREAS Passengers enter the ship on deck 5, into the Princess Plaza. The "Under the Seas " theme juxtaposes the Coral Princess' motto "Over the Seas." There are murals of crustaceans, black and white whales, and coral formations, as well as bubbling cylindrical glass fountains. A cascade of stainless steel flows down four flights from Deck 8, while an impressionistic stainless steel boat acts as a net for marine shapes and both are illuminated with changing colors. Each separate level of this four deck atrium affords areas for cocktails bars, coffee bars and entertainment. Plaza Deck 5 forward is the Bordeaux dining Room. This walnut wood paneled room has several very nice paintings, square walnut columns with brass trim and a ceiling with white twinkling lights over head. The Fili D'Oro linens used in the dining rooms are a nice touch. Midship is the Passenger Service Desk, Tour Desk and the Patisserie Coffee Shop, serving specialty coffees, teas and pastries. Then, there is a series of mostly outside staterooms and just a few inside cabins. Fiesta Deck 6 forward is the Provence Dining Room. Toward midship are the onboard shops and the entrance to the Princess Casino flanked by two red coated, beaver hatted, tall Buckingham Palace Guards. The Casino has carpeting depicting Beefeaters, Big Ben, among other London scenes. Among red painted telephone booths, passengers play Hyde Park Poker, Buckingham Palace Blackjack and other charmingly named games of chance. Going toward aft is the expansive Explorers' Lounge. It is off a wonderful corridor with windows to the sea and mosaic green, tan and white pillars forming a six arch arcade in front of the lounge. The carpeting depicts African animals, and the walls display several murals with exotic scenes (Asian, Turkish, Egyptian, Ethiopian, etc.). All the way aft on Deck 6 is the Universe Lounge with its wide, wide, revolving and elevating stage, which is a fitting place for on board extravaganzas. However, the brass rails on its upper level obstruct the view of performers. These are soon to be replaced with glass. Look for the interestingly lighted two deck bar in the rear. Promenade Deck 7 forward is the Princess Theatre. This simple, open room has a perfect view of the stage from every seat. Its walls are covered in gold and maroon suede. Go early or you may not get a seat. Walk toward midship to see the Wheelhouse Bar, a beautiful dark walnut paneled room with a huge brass and copper light as a centerpiece. The tables are drop leaf with brass fittings, brass wall sconces and dark green and brown leather furniture complete the decor. The carpeting is blue depicting continents, oceans and sailing ships. The walls hold many ship memorabilia and paintings of ships like the 1950 "Chusan" of P&O. The Wheelhouse corridor entrance is flanked by two wooden ship's figureheads: One a female in a black sarong and the other a naval officer with gold epaulettes. These evoke images of the South Seas. Mid ship is the Crooner's Lounge with pictures of the "Rat Pack" (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. etc...). Here you may purchase a martini in a Sinatra souvenir glass. There is also the Churchill Lounge where cigars and spirits can be enjoyed. Mid ship, on the port side is a beautiful wedding Chapel where couples may be married in international waters by the Captain. Going toward aft is Sabatini's, the upscale Italian restaurant, which in this class ships is larger and more elegant than the "Sabatini's Trattoria" of the Grand class ships. Then, there also is the Bayou Cafe with its brick walls, New Orleans Jazz and Cajun cuisine. All the way aft, on this deck, is the balcony of the Universe Lounge. Outside is the wrap around Promenade with lounge chairs for reading or watching the waves. Emerald Deck 8 has the Library, the Card Room and the Internet Cafe with world stock trade information, all of which are clustered around the central elevators. Then, both forward and aft are staterooms, some categories with balcony and some with obstructed view. Dolphin Deck 9, Caribe Deck 10, and Baja Deck 11 are all staterooms and suites, mostly with balconies and some inside cabins. Aloha Deck 12 is mostly staterooms with balcony and a few inside cabins, except for aft, where are located the Pelican Children's Pool & Playhouse (ages 2-7 yrs), the Fun Zone (ages 8-12 yrs) and the Off Limits Teen Center (ages 13 -17 yrs). As you can see the young people have their own well supervised facilities. Lido Deck 14 forward has the Horizon Court (24 hr) Buffet Restaurant seating 386, which is quite crowded at peak times. Outdoors are the Princess Pizza, Lido Bar, Lido Swimming Pool, three whirlpools, and the Haagen Daz ice cream bar. Towards aft is the Solarium Lotus Pool area with its retractable dome and a swim-against-the-current pool and two small whirlpools. Excellent before 9:30 am, when you may have it all to your self. The decor is relaxing: a statue of a young Buddha overlooks the pool and there is a white gazebo on the end. Aft is the Lotus Spa and the Fitness Center. Sun Deck 15 has a Princess Link mini golf course and the Golf Simulator with some of the world's most renown courses featured. It also holds the Outdoor Grill serving hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, etc.... Sports Deck 16 has a Splash Pool, a Center Court for sports with space for spectator seating, Shuffle Board and the Deck Chess Set. FOOD & SERVICE Passenger Services Director Carlo Gunetti has this ship running like a precise time piece: The service is fast and friendly. For instance, a screw broke on Vincent's wheelchair during boarding and Ronan Amaral, Jr. Asst. Purser, supplied us with a temporary wheelchair while he had Vincent's fixed over night. He was very helpful, and we appreciate his thoughtfulness. Throughout the ship we always received courteous and prompt service with a smile! The "Anytime Dining Program" means that there is more to do for the Maitre d' Generoso and the Head Waiters, since there is no longer a fixed time and table for many cruisers: thus, reservations and seating is an ongoing activity. We happen to recognize Head Waiter Pasquale Marino from previous cruises, but on the Coral he was magnificent. Generoso and his staff pleasantly greeted the passengers at the dining room door and outdid themselves in accommodating everyone's request in the best possible way. Moreover, the Maitre d' himself went from table to table assuring that everything was perfect. At Table #20 for two, we enjoyed some of the finest meals. At lunch, our waiter, Elisa Dumitrescu was always cordial and efficient as was the asst. waiter Sandor Lorincz. Every evening our waiters Gerardo De Leon and his Asst. Larry Gutierez were top notch. We know this wonderful service is mainly due to the instructions of Generoso and Pasquale. We surely received special attention. They helped us in selections from the kitchen and their recommendations were always excellent. Thank you for the many great delicacies. Bravi! The International Menu offers splendid choices; there is a lot of reading. We thoroughly enjoyed this Gastronomic Tour. Executive Chef Michael Borns, his Sous Chef Giuseppe and the Pastry Chef Cosimo (Sicily) did three "Culinary Demonstrations," two of which we attended. Princess Lines has three Corporate Executive Chefs, and seventeen Executive Chefs, thirteen of which are Italian, including our old friend Antonio Cereda. The gustatory delights we sampled were outstanding and here are some of our recommendations: SAILAWAY DINNER: Shrimp Cocktail; Cream of Porcini Mushroom Soup; Watercress and lettuce salad, and Nebraska Prime Rib. CAPTAIN'S WELCOME DINNER: Crab Quiche with jalapeno chili salsa; Capon broth, tortellini with minced chives; Mixed salad with arugula; Lobster Thermidor or Royal Pheasant with shallots and Parisienne potatoes. PRINCESS DINNER: Cold water Lobster & Crayfish Cocktail with sun dried tomatoes; Chilled Cream of Zucchini with William pear and blue poppy seeds; Endive salad with mushrooms and shallots; Roast Buffalo slowly cooked in Napa Valley Red Wine sauce with potato pancake and baby vegetables. FRENCH DINNER: Pate de fois de Strassbourg; Escargot Bourguignon (cooked in Bourdeaux wine); French onion soup; Mixed garden greens and radicchio with vinaigrette; Caneton Roti a` l'Orange (Roast duckling glazed with Orange Curacao sauce). ITALIAN DINNER: Prosciutto di Parma with melon; Eggplant Parmigiana; Pasta e fagioli; Salad of baby spinach, crispy bacon, pine nuts and Pecorino cheese; Pappardelle al Sugo di Lepre (Flat egg noodles with rabbit sauce). INTERNATIONAL DINNER: Baby leeks with smoked salmon in Champagne sauce; Won Ton soup; Salad of lettuce, tomato, avocado and red onion; Penne pasta with calamari; Surf & Turf of Filet Mignon and Jumbo grilled shrimp. CHEF'S DINNER: Green asparagus spears in warm tarragon butter sauce under puff pastry; Lobster bisque with Cognac; Salad of field greens, cherry tomatoes and shredded carrot; King crab legs or Rack of Lamb Dijonaisse with Brussels sprouts and garlic mashed potatoes and mint jelly. These menus do not list the "piece de resistance" DESSERT. There is such a variety, that we will only name a few of our favorites: * Swan puffs on a heart shaped lake of melted chocolate. * All of the SoufflEs, vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, hazelnut and their accompanying sauces. * Almond mousse with custard -- ooh la la! * Sorbets, sherbets and ice creams are all made on board and are delicious. * Pecan pie, apple pie, and pear tart --- do not miss them. * Dark chocolate mousse, heart shaped with Lady Godiva liqueur, Tiramisu and NY cheesecake are served every day. * Many fruits, international cheeses and delicate petit fours are served daily. The dining room staff are beautifully dressed every night: Nile green dinner jackets, Red, White & Blue cummerbunds with stars and matching ties. The Maitre d' Generoso looks spiffy in his pin stripe trousers and black cut away. Head waiter Pasquale was sharp in the white tuxedo with shawl lapels. What more can we say? As Executive Chef Borns said, "Food is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate." The English Rose dinnerware was the palette for the plating of excellent culinary masterpieces. We also dined in Sabatini's whose decorations were refined and lovely. The long parade of antipasti made the main course seem anticlimactic; however, we still managed to enjoy the veal chop and the fritto misto frutti di mare (mixed seafood, langostino, shrimp, scallops etc., etc...). This made for a very enjoyable evening, overlooking the sea with wonderful background music. CABIN Our Stateroom # C627, wheelchair accessible, has a double wide door and when entering on the left there is a triple armoire with two closets, and a third with shelves, and a personal safe. Next, there is a TV, and a desk/mirrored vanity with hair dryer, and two chairs. When entering on the right there is a huge bathroom with 5x5 ft. shower and many safety rails in the proper places. The triple mirror is nice, but the shelves are small. There is a queen bed, two four drawer night stands and an end table. The far wall is glass with the ramp and door to the double balcony. There was a large table and two chairs to which our terrific Steward Henry Sebastian added a chaise for Vincent. Henry was excellent in every way. Accommodations Supervisor Dorota Bak (Poland) visited us just to check if we needed anything. She was very courteous and we appreciated it. Thank you. ENTERTAINMENT The Coral Princess has many venues similar to the larger Grand class ships, but it is smaller and carries fewer passengers. The Princess Theatre Production shows were nicely staged, (but could use a sound check, since the decibel rate was too high at times). We preferred the Universe Lounge, where the Premier Season of "Tribute" was performed on the extra wide stage, while making good use of its rotation and elevation capabilities. The show was dedicated to music legends such as the following: the Beatles ("Hey Jude"), the Beach Boys ("California Girl"), The Rat Pack (Frank, Dean and Sammy were all highlighted), and finally Cher's "Believe" was saluted. The singers were terrific and the Princess dancers were energetic. The same cast performed "Da Beat" a Jazz/Swing piece. Most shows were staged twice to give cruisers a chance to see them. We especially enjoyed Tony Cherry, a singing impersonator, who did a memorable Tom Jones and other imitations. The "Princess Patter" lists all daily activities, plus has a column from the Ship's Navigator which is informative both historically and geographically. It also gives the current ship's position. Other activities were Trivia, at which we each won 5 gold medals and 6 silver for Mary and 7 silver for Vincent. There is also line dancing, Bingo, horse races, and daily movies (i.e. "Bruce Almighty," "Alex and Emma," "Plots with a View,"), etc. The Princess Scholarship Program is new and offers the following classes: Pottery, Digital Photography, Building Wealth Investing, and the Princess Grapevine wine tasting. All of the above is under the stewardship of the affable Cruise Director Trevor Bradford, and he is up to the task. Princess also has a Captain's Circle Program which has many benefits for repeat cruisers. On board Host Nicola Fisher was helpful and explained many of the perks: a Quarterly, preferential pricing, stand by, platinum check in, on board events etc. It pays to return to Princess. We expect to return soon, since we have booked on board three future cruises! PORTS OF CALL Oct. 30, 2003 Port Everglades, Ft Lauderdale, Florida, Depart 5:00 pm Oct. 31, 2003 At Sea Nov. 1, 2003 Cozumel, Mexico -- Arrive: 6:59 am Depart: 4:26 pm Some of the available shore excursions: Tulum Mayan Ruins, 7 hrs, $94; New Waves Scuba Diving, 2.5 hrs, $75, for beginners. Nov. 2, 2003 Grand Cayman -- Arrive: 10:00 am Depart: 6:36 pm Island Highlights & Stingray Sandbar Snorkeling, 4.5 hrs, $64; Atlantis Submarine Odyssey, 1.5 hrs, $86. Nov. 3, 2003 At Sea Nov. 4, 2003 Limon, Costa Rica -- Arrive: 6:27 am Depart: 6:56 pm The Jungle Train, 3.5 hrs, $49, a ride through the lush rain forest; River Rafting, 7.5 hrs, $99. Nov. 5, 2003 Panama Canal -- Arrive: 5:46 am Depart: 7:26 pm One hour and 42 minutes to traverse the Gatun Locks; Cruising in Gatun Lake (the world's largest man made lake), There was a a perfect rainbow off starboard side, which we saw from our balcony as we ate breakfast; We arrived at Colon's Cristobal Cruise Terminal at 4:06 pm, but were not allowed into the city because of political demonstrations. There is great shopping on the pier (coffee, T-shirts, Panama hats, etc...) Nov. 6, 2003 At Sea Nov. 7, 2003 Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- Arrive: 12 noon Depart: 4:18 pm Prospect Plantation & Dunn's River Falls, 4 hrs, $62; River Tubing Safari, 3.5 hrs, $69. Nov. 8, 2003 At Sea Nov. 9, 2003 Port Everglades -- Debarkation: 9:00 am SUGGESTIONS 1. During the Welcome Aboard Buffet, at the Horizon Court some crew should direct the passengers to the various food stations thus minimizing the long line formed at the first station near the entrance. This long line occurs mainly on the first day, when new passengers are unaware of the several food stations which can be accessed independently. 2. At the Princess Theater the last row of seats and the area behind it should be reserved for people with wheelchair and those with limited mobility as well as the persons accompanying them. The reserved area should be supervised by a theater attendant before the beginning of shows. CONCLUSION Princess remains one of our favorite cruise lines. We are now Platinum Members of the Captain Circle, the Princess "Frequent Floaters" Club. We have already booked with Princess three future cruises; however, before we'll be back on a Princess ship, we must complete the next three cruises in the near future: The Southern Caribbean on the new Serenade of the Seas, Dec. 6 - 13, 2003; the Western Caribbean on the new Costa Mediterranea, Jan. 11 - 18, 2004; and the W. Caribbean again on the new Mariner of the Seas, Feb. 22 - 29, 2004. As you may have noticed we love cruising and we especially favor new ships, which we can first explore and write about. We plan to write reviews of our next cruises, so look for them at the appropriate time. We wish you Great Holidays and Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
Just got back from an amazing adventure. We sailed from Ft Lauderdale round trip, passing through partial Panama Canal. Our stops were Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, Panama and Jamaica. We were at first very sad that Colombia was ... Read More
Just got back from an amazing adventure. We sailed from Ft Lauderdale round trip, passing through partial Panama Canal. Our stops were Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, Panama and Jamaica. We were at first very sad that Colombia was cancelled because we have done Jamaica several times. But hey, better safety first. We loved our ship. It turned out most of the people were quite old, but we were there to enjoy each other so we didn't really care the age of the other passengers. They were all very nice and we were mostly just with each other. The ship has almost all balconies, our first. The room was a little larger than I remembered my other cabins on Princess. I loved the configuration and found room for everything. We ordered coffee each morning and sat on our balcony and "watched the waves go by". It was so peaceful. The food was as good as we remembered. I do not like seafood so it is more of a challenge for me to find something. I ended up eating a lot of beef. But everything was cooked perfect and my husband, who adores seafood, seemed to think he was in food heaven. He tried several new dishes and enjoyed each one of them. And the desserts. Don't get me started! I think we had souffle five nights!! We did think we were in heaven on the dessert issue. They are always amazed and how good they all are on every single night. We had great waiters that added to the enjoyment of dining. We chose to do shore excursions in Grand Cayman, Costa Rica and Panama. Anyone who loves to snorkel or just wanting to try needs to do it here. We snorkeled practically in front of the ship. But it was wonderful and I think better than Hawaii. In Limon we went on a Jungle Train. It was fun and informative. We wanted to do the Aerial Tram in the Rainforest but worried about the time. The only shopping is in front of the ship so go ahead and do a long excursion. Next time we will be in the trees. In Panama we watched a ship go through the locks and then took a boat around part of Gatun Lake and saw many kinds of monkeys. It was fun, but again, next time we will get a little braver and go on a larger excursion. Spend the money, you may never get back. The shopping for Panama and Limon was just in front of the ship but lots of great deals and fun to buy. We bought a little bit of everything. Did walk in to town in Limon to mail postcards but the shopping wasn't any better than by the ship. In Jamaica we went in, thinking of a little shopping and then back to the ship. Well, I ended up getting a surprise from my husband. He bought me a diamond and a ring to have it set into. What a surprise that was. Guess everything happens for a reason and there was a reason for us to return to Jamaica. Told you it was a romantic cruise!! I can't wait to return to visit the Panama cruise and this ship. Coral Princess was wonderful. It had all the other "usuals" for a ship, the bingo, games and gambling but we didn't make it to any of them. They had the Wheelhouse Bar hopping with excitement every night that looked fun, but by the time we ate and raced to all the entertainment, we just didn't have the energy. But whatever you are looking for, I am sure you would find it here. Coral Princess is a 5 star ship for me. Let me know if you have any questions. Jan Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
We have been on over 12 cruises over the years. 6 with Princess. Overall the cruise was nice. We had problem with check in and had to wait for 3 hours to board because of a virus on the previous cruise. That was fine and nobody on the ... Read More
We have been on over 12 cruises over the years. 6 with Princess. Overall the cruise was nice. We had problem with check in and had to wait for 3 hours to board because of a virus on the previous cruise. That was fine and nobody on the cruise got sick. We had our children with us and when we booked our trip, we were told there were no rooms available for 4 people so they said we had to book two rooms. We booked a mini suite for ourselves and they assured us the kids room would be assigned nearby. Our room was the very front of the ship on deck 11. Their room was the very back room on deck 8. To say the least we were not happy. My wife talked to the front desk and they first suggested we all share the same room. This after we were told we could not do that when we booked the trip. She explained we can not have our children that far away from us. They ended up giving us the mini suite next door, and I will say I was pleased with the way it ended up. When we booked the cruise, we asked for a mini suite. They informed us there were none left with decks, but the mini suites had floor to ceiling windows. We felt that would be fine. We had a standard outside window and was not as advertised. The mini suites were roomy, but nothing special. None of the amenities we have come to expect with a mini suite. The cruise was very nice and we enjoyed great service for dining staff and our room steward. Our largest disappointment was the end of the cruise. We had a noon flight and when we got our bag tags, we would be the third group off the ship. I went to the desk 2 times the day prior to departure and asked if we could get on an earlier group. They assured me we would have no problem at all getting to our flight. We arrived in port. We were required to go though customs at 6:45 am. I stood in a long line until 8:30 am when they finally showed up. There we no chairs for the elderly. No beverages offered. It was frustrating for all. After we completed that, we went to wait for our group to be called. Usually, they cannot wait to get you off the ship, but we were still on board at 10:00 am. They said they were having some difficulties, no official explanation, just rumors and different information from different staff members. Again, I went to the desk to see if we could get off with an earlier group. They again said we would have no problem making our flight. They finally let the first group go. Then there was a delay of about a half hour. Again, no explanation. We knew it would go quickly once they started calling groups. We could not have been more wrong. The next group they called were the people booked for local tours. They were originally scheduled near the end. They called the next group at about 11:00 am. We were still 2 groups away. We were finely able to get tags so we could leave the ship. When we got to the baggage claim, it was organized and our bags were easy to find. Then the nightmare began. Once outside, there was a mass of people waiting for transportation. We were instructed to stand in line for a taxi which were in short supply. We waited patiently, got near the front at which time the sheriff came and said what was the front is now the back of the line. I finally had to hold up a $ 20.00 bribe to get a taxi as all organization was gone and it was a free for all. We got to the airport and missed our flight by 7 minutes. We ended up stranded for 4 hours waiting on standby, and not getting on. We then spent $ 200.00 for a hotel. Food etc. We ended up spending about an additional $ 500.00. We also lost a vacation day from work and our children missed another day of school. We bought the insurance, but we were informed it only covered getting to the cruise, not home. Princess was absolutely NO HELP. In summation, loyalty means nothing to Princess. They spend a fortune to get us there in the form of advertising. Once they let you off board, they could care less. They do a good job of getting people on board and directing traffic on board. Could they not take the next step and provide organization for the trip home? It's like getting a date, enjoying all they can and being dropped off in the country once they get what they want. My wife and I are in sales. It takes a lot to get a new customer. You would think they would want to retain as many customers as possible. A good experience is shared with few. Bad shared with many. Out of 6 cruises with Princess, 4 were very good. 2 left us feeling upset. We take one or two cruises per year. We even picked out our next cruise with Princess prior to leaving the ship. We may sale with Princess again, but it will have to be the best deal going. There are many many lines out there other then princess and sister lines. We have tried to be loyal customers, but no more. We will no longer let them redirect their problems as ours. We spent over $12000.00 with them for this trip and have referred many new cruiser in their direction. No more. Saintjon Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Embarkation: The process of getting on the Coral Princess was very quick and efficient. We arrived at Port Everglades at around 11:20am and we actually were on board at 11:50am ! Upon arrival at Port Everglades, my guess is that there ... Read More
Embarkation: The process of getting on the Coral Princess was very quick and efficient. We arrived at Port Everglades at around 11:20am and we actually were on board at 11:50am ! Upon arrival at Port Everglades, my guess is that there were 200 to 300 people waiting to get inside the building. When the doors opened, everyone got inside and since there are 2 desks per deck, with 2 lines per desk, it went fairly well. When the lady behind the desk saw our golden Captain Circle cards, she said to us "Welcome back to Princess." I thought it was a gentle thing to say... After the security check, we went to the waiting room on the second floor. We then were able to board the ship (with the usual "welcome aboard" picture taken by the ships photo crew). Since I am the kind of person who thoroughly studies deck plans before going on cruise, I didn't need help to find our cabin (C427). But, for those who can easily get lost, there were many crew members all around the ship ready to help. Public rooms: Lets go from bottom (Plaza deck 5) to top (Sports deck 16). Plaza deck 5: When you enter the ship, you are in the Princess Plaza. It is a beautiful place with an open view of decks 5, 6, 7 and 8. There are 2 panoramic elevators. You will find there: the passengers services desk, the tour desk, the future cruises sales desk, la patisserie and the Captain Circle desk. There is also the Bordeaux dining room for those who have chosen the "personal choice dining" option. The first thing that I remember when I entered the place was its cleanliness. Everything shines. And under the stairs going to the upper decks, there are changing color lights. Very fascinating to look at... Compared with the atrium of the Sun class ships (Sun Princess and Dawn Princess), the atrium of the Coral (and Island) is a bit smaller. Therefore, when there are some special offers from the boutiques on deck 6 (with many tables out of the boutiques), there is not much space to move around, especially when you are there at the time when people are going out of the dining room or out of a show from the Princess theater or the Universe lounge. Fiesta deck 6: From bow to stern: you will find the lower section of the Princess Theater; the Provence dining room (for those with fixed seated dinner option); the 2 boutiques (Calypso cove and Meridian bay) in mid-ship around the plaza atrium; the Princess casino with the adjacent boutique "Facets"; the photo gallery and photo boutique; the Explorers lounge; the lower level of Universe lounge. The two dining rooms (Bordeaux and Provence) are almost identical to those on the Sun and Dawn Princess (I can't compare with those from the Grand class ships since we had never cruised on those before). If you plan to see a show in the Universe lounge, go to the lower level. In the upper level (on deck 7), the view is obstructed by the rails. I heard that Princess is planning to replace these rails with some kind of glass in the near future... Universe lounge is a great place with the three revolving stages. The shows there were magical and the sound system provides surround effects... Promenade deck 7: From bow to stern: there is the Princess theater; the Wheelhouse bar; the crooner's bar and Churchill lounge in the atrium part of the ship; the wedding chapel; the Princess fine art gallery; Sabattini's restaurant; the Bayou cafe; and finally, the upper level of the Universe lounge, and, of course, the wrap around promenade (1 mile = 2 7/8 tours). Comparing with the Sun class ships, I can say that the Princess theater est almost identical in size while the Wheelhouse bar is a bit bigger. At the back of the Wheelhouse bar (between the bar and the atrium), there is a little maritime museum showing many artifacts from P&O... It is quite interesting to see. Churchill lounge is the place of choice for those cigar smokers. And even with people inside, there is no smell outside the lounge. Now, about Sabattini. I highly recommend that restaurant ! You won't regret it. There is only one thing to know about Sabattini: when you plan to go there, don't eat two days prior to going there !!! Why ? Because you will have plenty of food and you will feel like you have to roll out of the restaurant... There is so much food there and it is so good, you won't believe it ! It took us 3 hours to eat our dinner. The 20$ cover charge per person is not exaggerated. At the Bayou cafe, you won't eat as much as in Sabattini, but it is absolute heaven ! Try the gator ribs ! Emerald deck 8: There is the internet cafe; the library and the card room. The charge for using internet is 0.35$ per minute, and it's free if you are a Platinum Captain Circle member. The internet speed is fairly slow, and sometimes, the satellite link cuts. On our cruise, it happened once and the internet cafe was closed for almost the entire day. You can not download things from internet since there is only a screen, a keyboard and a mouse. No pc's, no diskette drive or cd drive, no hard drive... There is a printer and if you would like to print something, remember that it is 1.00$ per page. The library and the card room are quiet places. Dolphin deck 9; Caribe deck 10; Baja deck 11: these are stateroom deck and there is no public area. Aloha deck 12: There is the fun zone and the Pelican playhouse. This area is for children and youngsters. Lido deck 14: From bow to stern: There is the Horizon court (identical to the Sun class ships); the lido bar; the lido pool and 3 spas; the Lotus pool and 2 spas; the Lotus bar; the Lotus spa; the gym. This is the place where people go on sea days (specially if it is a hot sunny day !). The Lotus pool area can be covered. This is the "swim against the current" pool. This feature is not always "on" since you can find a button at the end of the pool to activate it. On the ten days we where on the Coral, we had no problems finding empty chairs. So, you do not have to be up early to "reserve" a chair... The Horizon court is a buffet style restaurant. You won't find "high class" food there, but it is ok. Really nothing to complain about. Sun deck 15: Chairs, chairs and chairs ! Just over the Lido pool, there is the Grill with burgers, hot dogs, and, of course, a bar. Between the Lido pool and the Lotus pool, you will find the golf simulator and Princess Links 9 hole miniputt. Sports deck 16: Just over the Horizon court, there is the Splash pool with chairs. If you look at the web cam from the Coral Princess on the Princess web site, this is what you see. Further back, there is the Center court (for tennis and basketball), a giant chess game and two shuffle board. Expect the place to be very windy when the ship is at sea... Stateroom (C427): We had an oceanview double with balcony stateroom (cat. BD) on the Caribe deck 10. Since we were in the mid-ship section, where the cabins are "pushed" out, we didn't have the problem of being overlooked by the people in staterooms above us. The cabin is average in size. Since we are not the kind of people who stay in their cabin the entire cruise, we didn't care about the size of it. We go there to change and to sleep. That's it ! There is enough space for all your belongings. Shore Excursions: On this cruise, our ports of call were: Nassau, Panama canal (Colon), Limon, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. In Nassau, we had an excursion into the city and on Paradise Island. The city tour was quite interesting with a visit to the fortifications. Paradise Island was very fast. We went there, took a few pictures of Atlantis Hotel and out we go ! All in all, I rate this tour as below expectation. Not recommend. In Panama canal, we had chosen the "Gatun locks & eco cruise" tour (tour A1). This was great. In the eco cruise part, you are on Gatun lake and the guide goes around the little islands found there. We saw alligators, turtles, monkeys... It was very interesting. For the "Gatun locks" part, you have to climb some stairs to go to the 3rd lock level. We had the chance to be there just as the Coral Princess passed through the locks. Very impressive ! In Limon, we had chosen the "Pineapple plantation: taste of tropics" tour (tour Q1). Unbelievable ! This was THE BEST tour we had. After that tour, you know all about pineapples ... and bananas ... Highly recommend it. The stop at Grand Cayman was cancelled because of dangerous conditions in the harbor. In Cozumel, we had chosen "Cozumel sail & snorkel" tour (tour S1). It was our second time in Cozumel and it was the second time we took this tour. Snorkeling with all those colorful fish is awesome ! If you like fun, this is the tour to choose ! Dining: We were on the traditional first sitting option. Our waiter (Ricardo, from Mexico) and our junior waiter (Frankie, from Italy) were great. Especially Frankie. Ricardo was, at first, a bit shy and we didn't know why... Finally, he told us that it was his first cruise as a waiter (he was junior waiter for 11 years with Princess). Frankie gave us very good advice on wine selection (Italian, of course !!!) and we are sure that he should get a promotion to be a waiter very soon. By comparing with previous cruises we had with Princess, we found that the waiters (not only Ricardo, but others too), were pushing us to finish our meal as soon as possible. We talked with other passengers and they felt the same way. On previous cruises, we felt that we could stay there for as long as we wanted... Not anymore. I don't know if Princess wants everyone to go with the "personal choice" dinner option... but for us, we are thinking seriously about it. On the other hand, the food was as great as it was. Of course, no two person have the same feeling about food, but for me, it was fabulous. All in all, I rate our dining experience on the Coral as average because of the waiters pushing us. Entertainment: We generally go to the Broadway style shows. So, there were quite a few of them on this cruise and we enjoyed each and every one of them. As I said earlier, the sound systems of both the Princess Theater and the Universe lounge can produce surround sounds. There were some new Princess Cruises Productions Shows and we recommend them ! They are not to be missed ! Of course, there is many more entertainment all around the ship during the day. In fact, there is so much to do that you have to make choices and you won't be able to do everything... There is one complaint I would like to tell you about: the music on the lido deck near the Lido pool is so loud that you can't hardly talk to each other. When the musicians were there (Sugar Cane: great Trinidad en Tobago duo), it's not as bad. But when they take a break, go somewhere else or you will end your cruise being deaf ! The cruise director, Richard Joseph, is quite a guy. If you're on a cruise ship where he is the CD, go see his "Ships - where are they now" lecture. It is really interesting. And he is very accessible. You can talk to him and he likes to talk with passengers. On previous cruises, I liked the other CD but I never had the chance to talk with them as much as I did with Richard. The best CD ever ! Fitness & Recreation: I didn't use these facilities but my wife did. She said it was very good. It seems there was enough equipment. Value for price: We find this cruise to be an excellent value for the price paid. Overall cruise: Excellent ! The best cruise we ever had so far. We highly recommend it ! Don't hesitate to ask questions. We will try to help everyone who plans to cruise the Panama Canal with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
First I would like to say thank-you Princess Cruise Line for restoring my faith back in your company. I was on the Island Princess back in October of 2003 (you can read the review on this web site) and out of 18 cruise's I finally ... Read More
First I would like to say thank-you Princess Cruise Line for restoring my faith back in your company. I was on the Island Princess back in October of 2003 (you can read the review on this web site) and out of 18 cruise's I finally decided to write my 1st review. With out going into too much detail about that cruise I was approached by upper Management in an email with regards to this review, they wanted to speak with me about my time on the Island Princess. Approximately a week later I received a call from Princess Management and to my surprise we talk over half an hour regarding all of my sister and mine concerns regarding the food and service on the Island. Also at that time I mentioned that I was thinking about canceling our trip on the Coral and the one on the Tahitian Princess. After our conversation I was asked not to cancel this trip but let Princess redeem itself when I was to set sail on the Coral Princess. So here is my review of the Coral Princess, please keep in mind that this is my husband's personal opinion and mine, my sister her husband could not be with us on this trip. ARRIVAL - We flew in the day before and had a beautiful time at the Hyatt Pier 66, we took the Water Taxi around the Intercostals and spent some time shopping on Las Olas Blvd (a fabulous place to shop), then we had an excellent meal at the Pier 66 Restaurant. Day of embarkation we left the hotel around 12:00 PM and were in line to register by 12:15 PM. We waited in line about ½ hour then were given our keys to our Suite (D702) and told to get in line for the usual Security Check. The line had grown and was not moving when we found out that the boarding was not going to start until 1:00 PM because they were "still cleaning the ship". I notice that a lot of people had a piece of paper in their hands when I asked the person behind us what it was she told me it was regarding the outbreak of the Norwalk Virus on the cruise that just arrived. After another half and hour some one else came out to say we would be boarding around 2:00 PM, we actually started the boarding process around 2:15 PM which was fine with us I was much more comfortable with fact that Princess was doing such a through job to insure our cruise would be an wonderful experience instead of being sick and lock in your cabin. Once on board we proceed up to deck 9 (Dolphin Deck) to off load the carry on bags and out to the Lido Bar to have a cocktail. The ship is beautiful just as its sister ship the Island Princess, full of beautiful art and gracious lines. It was very easy for us to navigate around the ship seeing that we just did this same trip, the only problem I had was I kept going to our old cabin because it was on the other side on the Island (D703). I finally figured it out about 5 days into the cruise. Our cabin was excellent along with our cabin stewardess Lilliana; this lady was top notch one of the best in the industry. Anything we wanted she was right there with her smiling face; she always complimented us and kept our room perfect. We had a lot of room and the layout was easy to move around in, the whirlpool bath was fantastic, I used it quiet a few times. The deck is a wonderful size great for being able to sit back and watch the world go by on one of the 2 lounge chairs, we also had a table and 2 regular chairs where we were able to have breakfast everyday. FOOD—The food was excellent!!! We decided to have traditional dining on second sitting and have decided that for us this is the only way we will have our meals. We like the structure of having the same waiter and assistant waiter, ours was excellent by the second night they new just what we liked and always bought more. We had a table of 8 and we all enjoyed each other's company. The Hotel Maitre'd Francois found us every night including the night we ate a Sabatini's and twice at the Bayou. Francois made sure that we were happy with every thing, if there was anything extra we needed he was there providing it. That brings me to one night in the Bayou, my husband likes his steak rare (I mean blue) and his steak came out Medium Rare when he mention it to the waiter the waiter took it back in a matter of 8 minutes he was served with a perfect (blue) steak. The manager that night went in and cooked it himself, now that is SERVICE.... I wanted to make sure that we were not the only ones treated this special so I started watching how the staff was interacting with the other passengers on board and making sure the other passenger were receiving the same treatment. I also spoke with several people over the next 9 days and they too all were having a wonderful time and could not say enough about the food and service they were receiving on board. The food in the Lido for lunch was not bad, there was a lot to offer and it was always warm and tasty, but I have to say my favorite is the pizza along with an Ice Cold Beer sitting by the pool and having fun watching the pool games.... SERVICE—The service was top notch, everyone had a smile on their face and always went out of their way to say either good morning, afternoon or evening. Sometimes they just wanted to hear about your day. With all the stress that they had to be under because of the last cruise having over 130 people sick with the Norwalk virus they were fabulous, as if nothing ever happened. EXCURSIONS - We played golf in Jamaica and Grand Cayman, we loved Jamaica we had a wonderful caddy that really help out my game. When we returned back to the ship we were approached by a few people that were on this excursion with us that were not happy with the way things were handled. I am not sure what actually happened but I was told that the tour company took them off the course early and they were not allow to finish their round. Later that night I received a letter in my mailbox with an apology from the Tour Desk and they stated that they were looking into it. The next day we received another letter stating we were getting back 40% of our money because of what had happen. We then played in Grand Cayman the Manger at the golf course treated everyone pretty bad when we had arrived, I guess there was some confusion as to when we were actually to be there ready to tee off. We received another letter of apology from the Tour Desk and they were checking into the problem we never heard what actually happened but we still had a wonderful time. In Cozumel we swam with the Dolphins, I can't say enough about this excursion. It was one of the best excursions I have ever been on and I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone. I know it is expensive but it is well worth the experience, to able to hold on to their fins and let them pull you around the lagoon there is just no words to explain the excitement. All I can say is "JUST DO IT". In Limon we did our own thing. We went Zip Lining at Almonds and Corals and they are really great people. The owner is Aurora very genuine, sweet and hard worker, her son Dani and Raffel picked us up at the dock around 8:30 AM and whisked us to Almonds and Corals. Along the way Dani and Raffel gave us so much information about their country, rainforest, animals and all the activities to do in costa Rica. After we were done with the Zip line, which took about 1 ½ hour to do, they had juice and fresh fruit waiting for us. After that Dani took us sightseeing and show us beautiful butterflies, sloths, toucans and monkeys. We were back at the ship 2 hours before we had to be. This was another excursion that is something not to be missed the only problem is that you have to do it on your own. We actually had 2 other couples that ended up joining us and one gentleman was 76 years old and he had a ball.... ENTERTAINMENT—We only went to a few of the shows, I still think the entertainment on any cruise ship can use some brushing up on. The Island Party was excellent; it was especially nice seeing James the Deputy Cruise Director again. James was on the Island the same time we were and I know someday in my travels we will run into him again but this time he will be the CD on board, funny, energetic and a very down to earth person. This cruise was fantastic, I want to send out a special thanks to Mr. Caluori, Adam Gorst, Francois and the entire staff for making this cruise one of our best. My sister and her husband are still having their reserves but I think once they get back from our future cruise to Tahiti in November they will have to agree that Princess Cruise Line is "where I belong"..... If any one has any questions please do not hesitate to email me. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
The following review is an account of our cruise January 12, 2004 on the Coral Princess sailing from Ft. Lauderdale Florida for 10 days in and out of the Panama Canal. My wife and I are Platinum members of the Princess Cruises repeaters ... Read More
The following review is an account of our cruise January 12, 2004 on the Coral Princess sailing from Ft. Lauderdale Florida for 10 days in and out of the Panama Canal. My wife and I are Platinum members of the Princess Cruises repeaters program, as we have sailed on Princess seven times including this sailing. There were some good things and some bad things of which we shall attempt to point out and hopefully give you future cruisers something to think about, look forward to and avoid in your future travels. This was sailing number 33 for us. Embarkation Our trip started January 12, 2004. The embarkation process was very swift and pleasant. Our travel to the ship was by Cruise Connection Bus from Ft. Myers Fl. We boarded the bus at 8:00 am and arrived at Port Everglades at around 10:15. The building was not open for check in until about 11:00 am, so we waited outside in line for about an hour and a half. Once we got inside, it was very smooth. Lines moved fast and before you know it we were aboard. We were assigned cabin # A312 a verandah cabin located on Aloha deck. We had signed up for PERSONAL CHOICE dinning, as we had excellent experience on the Grand Princess, just a few months before. In fact this was the third sailing in which we taken PERSONAL CHOICE dinning. In reviewing the information in the cabin, we found a precautionary health advisory regarding Norwalk Virus. Our luggage came rather quickly and we were able to get unpacked and settled early in the day. So we then proceeded to the Horizon Room for lunch. The next thing on the agenda was the safety boat drill. We were assembled in one of the show rooms with life jacket in hand. The entire exercise took only a short time. Sail Away That evening we went to a bar before dinner to have a drink. As we entered the dinning room, we were greeted by on of the staff. We requested a table for two. We were seated in a most uncomfortable table that had another table for two only 6 inches between them. The people at that table were looking for privacy, as were we. But we found none that evening. We did find a most attractive ship, well appointed and very elegant. Day Two. Nassau The day started of good, We had breakfast in the Horizon Court. While waiting for the ship to be cleared, we did a little more exploring. We found ourselves in the forward enclosed pool area. A really beautiful space on the ship. I also noticed a bar selling $3.00 Bloody Mary drinks. After about 15 minutes a young waiter stopped and asked if we wanted a drink. I said yes, we would like two of the $3.00 Bloody Mary drinks. He then asked what kind of vodka we wanted in them. I assumed we had a choice so I said we would take Stoli or Absolute. After a 30 minute wait, he returned with the drinks and I signed the ticket without looking. While drinking the drinks I reviewed the ticket and noticed they wee much higher about $6.00 each. I then went over to the bar tender, ticket in hand and asked her to explain, as there was a misunderstanding. She did explain that when you order a "called liquor" in a drink, it is much higher. I explained what had happened and what I had ordered, and she advised to come to her in the future. That evening we went to the Bayou Restaurant, one of the select extra cost dinning rooms. The meal was OK, until the dessert came. The waiter brought my wife's dessert and told me it would be a minute before mine came out. After a 30-minute wait and after my wife had finished her dessert, and we did not see one waiter person, we left the restaurant, rather disappointed. We had paid $10.00 extra each for the dinner, plus $10.00 each for the day's tips. All in all, not a great experience. Day Three and Four at Sea. Days at sea were very pleasant, for the most part. We did experience two run ins with the Dinning Room Staff in our table selections for dinners. The second night a young fellow seated us next to the kitchen door, no doubt to retaliate for our complaining about the seating situation the night before. Again on one evening we went to the Martini Bar and requested two vodka martinis on the rocks made with absolute vodka. We got two gin martinis on the rocks made with bar gin, but charged extra for the called liquor. The second evening we went to the Explorers Lounge to watch passenger Jeopardy show. We again ordered two drinks and mine was ok, but my wife's drink was again not what she had ordered. At that point, we gave up. It did seem the problem was a staff of waiters that were inexperienced and had a problem with the English language. Day Five. Panama Canal What an experience, We would recommend to everyone who has not seen it to do so. Additionally, we took a tour to Panama City. It was without a doubt, one of the most informative tours we have taken. This did make the trip worthwhile. It is a true marvel. One that each person should experience. The people are very friendly and the guides are really caring and informative. Well worth the money. When we returned to our cabin, again there was a new warning about Norwalk Virus from the Ship's Doctor. Day Six, Limon Costa Rica We had booked an early morning tour through and around the city of Limon. We had an early breakfast in the Horizon Court and made our way to the mustering area for the tour. We boarded a large bus, which ended up only half full. Our guide was a local female, who was not fluent in English. The bus pulled out and truly there is not much to see in this port. We stopped along the roadside to look at bananas with plastic bags covering them. And to look for monkeys in the trees at another location along side the road. Then all HELL broke loose. My poor wife had contracted the Norwalk Virus and lost everything from breakfast and likely dinner from the night before. We received little aid from the tour guide, and had to pay for a cab to return to the ship. The ship did send an ambulance to meet us in route back to the ship. The medical staff was very accommodating and provided us with medication and a list of do's and don'ts regarding the virus. The rest of that day we spent in our room. Food and drink were not issues. Day Seven, at Sea. We spent day seven in our cabin and again, no interest in food. Surprisingly, we never heard from anyone in the Medical Office after our initial encounter. Day Eight, Grand Cayman We were again pretty much confined to our cabin. Our ship stopped in the harbor, but were called off. The Captain reported over the public address system, as the ship was sailing off, that the seas in the Harbor were too rough to unload passengers. I found that interesting, as at least one more ship was there that did not sail away. Others reported that there were three ships in the harbor. Day Nine, Cozumel Finally, we were able to eat again and did take a cab downtown to do some shopping and get some air. Cozumel is a neat island and one of the best for anyone on a Western Caribbean Cruise. That evening at dinner, we were fortunate enough to meet some really nice passengers from New Jersey. We did end up in the dining room and as luck would have it, we were seated at one of the 6-inch separated tables and they at the other. A most fortunate peace of luck for us. Day Ten, at Sea. We were instructed by the Medical Department not to eat in the Horizon Court on Lido Deck, as that environment is conducive to the Norwalk Virus. The ship had the wait staff getting the food for you. All you did was walk around carrying your tray. The first day out they had positioned a device at the entrance and stationed an employee there to instruct all who entered to wave there hand under this bowl and a spray of some type disinfectant would drop. This you were to rub your hands together, and it would eliminate the virus from you hands. It probably worked well, but it was a bit too late to help most passengers who contracted the virus. In any event, the last day on board was a most pleasant one for us, although we were both quite wore out from the previous several days and the virus. Day Eleven, Ft. Lauderdale Our arrival at Port Everglades was welcome; we had really had enough at that point. The debarkation was smooth as usual with Princess Cruises. We were off the ship by 9:30am. We waited for over an hour before the Bus came and loaded us for the return trip to Ft. Myers. We finally arrived home in the afternoon. Conclusion The illness was just one of the many things that we experienced on this trip. I failed to mention that we had taken a seven-day cruise on the Grand Princess in September of 2003. That trip was altered by an approaching Hurricane. We had purchased the trip to go Eastern Caribbean and at the last minute the itinerary was switched to Western. This cruise was sold with the first port being Cartagena Columbia and it was dropped because of a restaurant bombing. I had called the Captains Circle Club just after I found out Cartagena had been dropped and spoke with a young lady who advised me that if I had a problem I should write a letter to Customer Services. I called my travel agent and she suggested and provided a telephone number for me to call. I did call and spoke with a nice young man. I explained that we had suffered disappointment when the Grand had to be re routed to the western Caribbean and now this one was already changing a port. He was very asymptotic and told me that all he could do was get us a cabin change and that we should expect to see the change come across the internet in about 7 to 10 days. We told him that would really be nice as we really enjoyed Princess Cruises and it would relieve some of the disappointment. We did not get the change in cabins. We did however, decide that we were not going to let that ruin our trip. It seemed to us that everything that could go wrong went wrong. From the Bar service, to the alternate dinning experience, to the Personal Dinning aggravation, and then topped off by the Virus and missing three days of our vacation. When we arrived home, I wrote a letter to Princess Cruises Customer Services Department explaining our concerns. It took one month to get a reply, and the Customer Services Representative said in the letter that they regret to learn of our illness and that it was an unfortunate situation caused by a very common illness currently prevalent in many areas and beyond the control of Princess Cruises and while they sympathize with our unfortunate experience, they find no negligence on the part of Princess Cruises and cannot offer compensation. We were flabbergasted. We had NOT expressed a desire for any compensation, and rather we were upset and disappointed do to the dropping of Ports of Call. The fiasco in Personal Choose Dinning, the dessert situation in the Bayou alternative dinning room. The Bar Waiter Service that screwed up so many drinks and now the total lack of customer service when you have a problem or complaint. We also told him that we would likely not take Princess Cruises again, if a sincere apology were not forth coming. We also sent a letter to the CEO of Princess Cruises, to date, no apology has not come nor even an acknowledgement of receipt of our latest letter has surfaced. It has been almost 6 weeks. We can say that we enjoyed the first five cruises on Princess Cruises. And as long as things are good on board and you do not have a problem they do a very good job. But God forbid you have a complaint or problem, they will not deal with it. We are still waiting to hear from them. Likely, we will be a lot older and a lot grayer before we do. Also, They will be a lot older and grayer before we go on their lines again. It is a real shame that one or two representatives of an organization can totally turn a formerly great product into such a distasteful experience. We have very fond memories of our past accounts with Princess Cruises. It takes years to build a reputation and moments to destroy it. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
Photos http://community.webshots.com/album/104034426eQjXll Our Background: We are a married couple, ages 32 and 30. We consider ourselves pretty experienced travelers having vacationed throughout Mexico (Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ... Read More
Photos http://community.webshots.com/album/104034426eQjXll Our Background: We are a married couple, ages 32 and 30. We consider ourselves pretty experienced travelers having vacationed throughout Mexico (Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Playa del Carmen), Europe (Paris and London) and throughout the U.S. in our 3+ years of marriage. Our only other cruise experience was an Eastern Caribbean itinerary on the Golden Princess in February 2003. We were pretty devoted land-based vacationers until we were introduced to cruising and especially Princess' version of cruising! Some of the things we love about cruising include visiting new ports of call, the convenience and options tied to dining and being treated very, very well by all members of the ship's company. Itinerary: Saturday, February 21: Fort Lauderdale, Florida Sunday, February 22: Sea Day Monday, February 23: Montego Bay, Jamaica Tuesday, February 24: Sea Day Wednesday, February 25: Panama Canal Thursday, February 26: Limon, Costa Rica Friday, February 27: Sea Day Saturday, February 28: Grand Cayman Sunday, February 29: Cozumel, Mexico Monday, March 1: Sea Day Tuesday, March 2: Fort Lauderdale, Florida Embarkation - Ft. Lauderdale We booked the Renaissance on 17th Street in Ft. Lauderdale through Priceline. I probably bid a little too early to secure a room but did get what I thought was a good price ($95) for one night. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and arrived to the hotel after midnight on Saturday, February 21. On our previous trips into Ft. Lauderdale (this was our third time) the time it took to get our luggage seemed excessive. This time, our luggage came out quickly. The cab ride was inexpensive ($10). The Renaissance was fantastic! We had previously stayed at the Pier 66 (Lanai rooms) and at the Embassy Suites on 17th Street. Although nothing can top the Pier 66 (and we paid rack rate there), the Renaissance was just a bit classier than the Embassy. It was bright and clean and the desk staff was exceptionally friendly, especially considering the hour! We were given a room with two queen beds, which was fine considering we were only going to be there for about 10 hours. The room was comfortable and had a view looking east. When we woke the next morning we could see the Grand Princess at her berth (Pier 2). We grabbed breakfast in the touristy part of Ft. Lauderdale. We ate at a great restaurant called The Deck right along Seabreeze Boulevard (A1A). We had an outdoor table that overlooked the Boulevard and the beach. We arrived at the pier at about 12:30 PM and were fairly quickly through the check-in procedures and security screening. We could tell pretty quickly that the average passenger age aboard this particular cruise was going to be older. We spotted more than a few wheelchairs and walkers in the cruise terminal. We were in our stateroom no later than 1:00 PM. Our bags were quickly delivered on this cruise - we had both our checked bags before 3:00 PM. We did put some of our embarkation essentials (swimsuits, shorts, toiletries, etc.) in our carry on bags so we could have them immediately upon arriving to our stateroom. Stateroom We had booked a mini-suite on the Dolphin Deck (Deck 9). We were given D512 (category AB) and found it to be wonderful. We had previously sailed on the Golden Princess in a mini-suite and had an exact duplicate of our stateroom, except reversed! We knew what to expect and were pleased with the size of the closet and shelf space, the size of the bathroom and the additional seating area (with sleeper sofa) by the balcony door. Our beds were pushed together in a queen configuration. The beds were hard, which was fine. However, what I missed most during the cruise were my natural feather pillows. The pillows we had simply did not "mush". They certainly didn't spoil our cruise, however. A couple of things we brought that made our stateroom even more comfortable were: -An inexpensive shoe organizer that hangs over a door; kept the limited counter space in the bathroom neat and free from clutter -A power strip for additional outlets. After reviewing Cruise Critic, I could not determine whether one needed a 3-prong adapter or not (a device that turns a 3-prong plug into a 2-prong plug). I brought one along but was pleased to find that the outlets in the stateroom were standard U.S. 3-prong types. The power strip offered additional outlets for such things as a laptop computer and battery charger used for my digital camera. -A corkscrew -Our own supply of wine and beer. I know the issue of "smuggling" booze aboard a Princess ship is a topic of heated debate on the message boards. Here's my take: I'm simply not going to order a glass of wine or a bottle of beer from room service to enjoy on my balcony. It's simply not going to happen. However, when I am in the public areas of the ship, I order from the bars. We averaged 2 to 3 drinks per person per person from the ships' bars during the entire cruise so I don't feel Princess lost any significant revenue because we had our own stash in the stateroom. And, we did not bring or try to bring hard liquor aboard, either in Ft. Lauderdale or from any port. Our stateroom steward, Sonny, was exceptionally polite and efficient. Our room was always tidy when we came back to it and Sonny made sure that we had clean wine glasses each evening (we had to initially ask for the glasses at the beginning of the cruise). Sonny did a great job for us and earned an additional tip from us at the end of the cruise. We do enjoy spending time in our stateroom, sometimes to simply watch a movie that we may have missed. The television selection aboard was limited: CNN, CNNfn during the week and CNN Headline News on weekends shared the same channel, TNT, ESPN (the international version) and the usual Princess television channels. The movies shown during our cruise on TV included: "Bruce Almighty", "School of Rock", "Whale Rider", "Lost in Translation", "S.W.A.T.", "In America" and many more. Because we were at sea on Sunday night (Academy Awards night), they did lock onto the satellite feed and showed the event on the channel reserved for TNT. The feed was not 100% however and portions of the show were missed during "blips". They also had movies throughout the cruise in one of the public lounges. Some of those titles included: "Seabiscuit", "Master and Commander" and "Radio". Our balcony was fully exposed to those above us but this did not bother us. We rarely saw others on their balconies except for the Panama Canal transit and upon entering or leaving a particular port. We had two plastic (heavy duty) chairs on our balcony and a good-sized round table. We felt the Coral handled very well, even in rough seas. The roughest seas we had on our 10-day cruise were classified as "Rough" (7.5 - 12 feet) with near gale winds. We never felt the Coral pitching or rolling. There were times either in the Princess Theater (far forward) or the Universe Lounge (far aft) where we felt swaying, but nothing too dramatic. If anything, I would say we felt the Coral shudder under heavy seas and nothing too severe. Yes, there is some creaking, popping and groaning in the stateroom during active seas but it's only enough to let you know you're sailing! The Coral's Public Spaces -Princess Theater: A nice venue on Deck 7 forward. There are only two entrances/exits to the theater at the top and back. This was a change from what we had on the Golden with exits at the back on a higher deck and exits at the front on a lower deck. The reason this was significant is because due to the advanced age of many of the cruisers, it wasn't necessarily fun to be seated at the front of the theater. Exiting seemed to take just a little longer getting everyone up the steps and out of the exits on Deck 7. A word of advice: most people appeared to use the starboard entrance to the theater, as the port entrance was less open due to the Wheelhouse Bar. Therefore, it appeared throughout the cruise that seats on the left side of the theater were more plentiful as people were not using that entrance. The left aisle was also clearer of passengers. -Universe Lounge: A very nice venue on Decks 6 & 7 aft. On the Golden, this would have been the Vista Lounge, a pretty standard lounge. However, on the Island class vessels, the Universe Lounge has two tiers and plenty of good sight lines. The theatrical technology in the Universe Lounge allowed for some pretty spectacular shows throughout the cruise, including a singing and dance revue called "Tribute". The Universe Lounge used intimate sofas and chairs that made up the seating area. -Explorer's Lounge: Deck 6. We only used this lounge for the art auctions that were held primarily on sea days. Apparently they used the lounge for a disco at night although we were never there to witness it. -Wheelhouse Bar: Deck 7 forward. This was one of the spaces on the Coral that really surprised me. I was expected the Golden version of the Wheelhouse, which was an intimate space but certainly not grand. However, the Coral's Wheelhouse was large and very clubby. It was paneled in darker woods and held a variety of nautical memorabilia, especially from the P&O line. Even the hallways leading to the Wheelhouse were memorable in that they carried out the theme. If you are a cruise fanatic and enjoy history, stop into the bar and review the display cases and walls. There is a somewhat hidden niche just off to the side from the Atrium entrance where vintage cruise posters, postcards and even menus from past cruisers can be reviewed. The Wheelhouse Bar was also a good place to look for drink specials throughout the cruise. There were frequent 2-for-1's on margaritas, daiquiris, etc. -Princess Casino: Deck 6. We're not gamblers but even we enjoyed people watching in the casino. The casino has a London-theme and faithfully carries out the theme in using the Queen's Guards to watch the starboard entrance, a colorful carpet with London themes throughout and phone booths and double-decker busses to house slot machines. The casino was much more open feeling than the one on the Golden and was far less smoky than what we experienced on the other ship. -Crooner's Bar: Deck 7. The bar wrapped around the atrium and was styled with Rat Pack images and themes. It was a very nice bar to congregate in before a dinner or during the evening for live piano music. Crooner's also had frequent drink specials during the cruise, including $3 martinis from their "Bond Collection". This was a menu of traditional and more contemporary martinis that were delicious. Service was excellent at Crooners. -Princess Fine Arts Gallery: Deck 7 aft. We really enjoyed the art experience aboard the Coral. The Art Gallery itself is an intimate space with works from all eras and artists. The collection did change from day to day although major pieces remained in place. We enjoyed talking with Michael, the Coral's Art Director, and picking up bits of knowledge about the pieces aboard. We would frequently attend the art auctions (mainly held on sea days) and would definitely recommend previewing the art beforehand (approximately 1 hour before an auction a wide selection of art was displayed in the Explorer's Lounge and made available to be requested for auction). We ended up purchasing two pieces of art during the cruise (Jean Vollet's "Soleil Sur La Seine" Zamy Steynovitz's "Musical Bouquet in Paris"). Both were signed lithographs that we felt were quality pieces and a good value. The art auctions were also a great way to drink on Princess! A champagne auction was held during the 1st sea day as well during the last auction on the 4th sea day. -Bordeaux Dining Room (Personal Choice Dining Room): Deck 5 forward. We had selected Personal Choice Dining during our cruise and were not disappointed. Although we had wait staff that were wonderful and whom we'd like to have gotten to know better, our dining times varied extensively throughout the cruise. For us, it just didn't pay to have a reserved time or table. We got the sense during the cruise that people were eating earlier. We would often catch one of the earlier shows and then eat later. We were always immediately shown to a table and never had to use the pagers. The dining room itself reminded us a lot of what we saw on the Golden. One of the changes, however, was how tables for two were arranged. On the Golden, the tables for two were completely separated from other tables. A lot of tables for two on the Coral were actually placed in close proximity to other tables for two. We actually liked this a lot. There was enough space between the tables to suggest intimacy but they were close enough that conversation with neighbors was natural. We met some great couples dining this way throughout the week. Just a recap of some of the menu items we had during the week: -Appetizers: Spring rolls, shrimp cocktail, crab quiche, smoked supreme of duck, escargot, prosciutto with melon, baked eggplant parmigiana, Turkish lamb and eggplant turnover, baked clams casino, asparagus with puff pastry, avocado boat with mixed seafood salad, Vol-au-Vent (creamed chicken and sweetbreads in puff pastry) -Soups: Pina Colada splashed with rum (chilled), lentil soup, yogurt and tamarind (chilled), fish gumbo, pumpkin and turnip puree, vichyssoise choid (chilled leek and potato), papaya and kiwi (chilled), capon broth with vegetables, pasta and fagioli red bean soup, Won Ton, tropical fresh fruit cream (chilled), lentil puree with garlic, apricot (chilled), lobster bisque, asparagus puree, pumpkin puree (chilled) -Entrees: SautEed filet of Zander (white fish), prime rib, medallion of beef tenderloin, salmon filet with dill sauce, scallops and shitaki mushrooms, pasta with salmon strips, roast duckling with orange and curacao sauce, glaze, roast center cut of pork loin, sea bass, shrimp flambEed in brandy and served with a spicy tomato sauce, veal chop with sautEed mushrooms, Thai snapper fillet, filet mignon and grilled jumbo shrimp, twin lobster tails, Beef Wellington, lamb chops, linguine with poached clams, Mediterranean sea scallops -Deserts: Profiteroles with mixed berries, Mohr im Hemd (baked chocolate pudding with glaze), apple tart, chocolate hazelnut soufflE, croquembouche, almond soufflE stuffed in baked peaches, Austrian chocolate cake with apricot layers, Princess Love Boat Dream, chocolate gateau with cherries, New York style cheesecake and a variety of ice creams in unique and complementary flavors (cinnamon, strawberry daiquiri, champagne, etc.). We simply don't have a specific review for each and every dish we had aboard the Coral. In short, everything we ate was fabulous! Perhaps it's because we were not shopping, preparing, serving and cleaning up what we ate but everything was marvelous. In the days since we've returned we've come to the conclusion that the individual dishes that may not have tasted absolutely superb to us had less to do with the preparation and more to do with our own taste buds! "Special Nights": Formal Night 1 (sea day 1), French Night (sea day 2), Italian Night (Costa Rica), International Night (sea day 3), and Formal Night 2 (Grand Cayman) -Horizon Court: Deck 14 forward. We liked having the Horizon Court at the front of the Coral instead of at the back as we had on the Golden. This was truly a different dining experience. There are slanted windows in the Court at the very front of the ship allowing one to see forward from up high. This was especially popular during the Panama Canal transit. The Horizon Court also had a dedicated bar with bar stools and a stage for performances by a pianist or guitarist during different times of the day. We ate many of our breakfasts and lunches at the Horizon Court. Sometimes the offerings were better than at other times. There were lunches when the pickings were very slim and we resorted to using the Grill or Princess Pizza for the main part of our meal. However, some standards that always worked for us were the selection of fresh fruits and cookies! Breakfasts were always good: enormous steam trays full of bacon and sausage daily, fresh egg selections (including Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine regularly) and plenty of breads. I was actually somewhat disappointed in some of the bread and rolls on the Coral. I know it's difficult to maintain freshness in a buffet setting, but often the bread was hard. Not stale by any means, but not fresh tasting or in texture, either. Because the average age of this cruise was higher, there were difficulties in navigating the buffet. I was always looking over my shoulder or to my side to make sure I wasn't running anybody down. We also noticed that the Horizon Court was exceptionally busy between about noon and 1:15 PM. There were times when we simply could not find a table to sit. However, the longer you waited to eat lunch, the better it got! Finally: the coffee. I will agree with others who have said the coffee is not all that great but I did not find it completely offensive either. It comes straight from a concentrate (in a bottle that looks a lot like a motor oil container!). However, the coffee had a mild taste to it and wasn't as acidic as a lot of fresh-brewed options are. -Fitness Center: Deck 14 aft. We like the Coral's gym! We managed to get up to the facility on 6 occasions during a 10-day cruise. I believe the Coral had more weight machines to work more parts of one's body than what we had on the Golden. They were also arranged much better so that there wasn't a traffic issue between the weights and the aerobic equipment. There were plenty of treadmills in addition to six low-impact aerobic machines and several more stationary bikes and stair-steppers. The gym never got entirely full or crowded. There were mornings when we spent more time on the weights waiting for an aerobic machine to open up but it wasn't excessive. Gym towels were available daily. -Lido Pool: Deck 15 midship. We like the pools aboard Princess ships! We enjoy the fact that they are freshwater and deep! The pools aboard the Coral were no different. The Lido Pool tended to be the center of activity on Deck 14 for such things as wacky pool games, ice carving demonstrations, music by steel drum band Sugar Cane on most days and the Island Night party. We found that we could always find a lounger in the sun and we did not really see evidence of chair hogging or saving. Drink service was always available but wasn't intrusive. The one thing we noticed on this cruise was that the pool water temperature was brisk at times. I'm guessing that due to rough seas at some points during the cruise, the staff may have emptied the pools during the evening and then refilled them during the mornings. -Lotus Pool: This was a very serene pool and also offering a place to be by the pool but remain out of the sun. We did notice the retractable roof in the closed position one evening and the pool deck nicely air conditioned, probably due to steamy conditions outside! -Pelican's Pool: We never swam or even lounged around the aft pool. It is a smaller pool and does not have a deck ringing the pool (you have to go up one level to get to loungers). The deck above also has the ping pong tables. -Alternative Restaurants: we never dined at Sabatini's or The Bayou Cafe. They appeared to be empty on most nights with plenty of tables available. We did like how each venue was distinctively decorated, however. -Internet Center: Deck 8, midship. The Internet Center wrapped around the Atrium on Deck 8. We used it twice while onboard. We found the connection to be extremely slow but this may have been due to the ship's position. -Library/Card Room: Deck 8, midship. Both of these venues were beautiful and cozy. Both had large windows for viewing the ship's progress at sea or during a port visit. The library had a pretty extensive collection and using the facilities was easy. Entertainment -"Dance"/"Da Beat"/"Up Curtain"/"Tribute". I don't mean to shortchange any of the full dance and singing shows by lumping them together, but in short, they were all fabulous! The shows (either performed in the Princess Theater or Universe Lounge) were unbelievable! The use of the theater technology aboard is simply impressive. Set refreshes and props were delivered in amazing ways, the lighting and audio were flawless and the feel was close to Broadway. The dancers and singers aboard this cruise were wonderful. They were exceptionally talented and energetic. We probably enjoyed "Dance" the best out of all the shows during our cruise but each one is simply not to be missed. -Billy Vader. Vader did a brief routine during the Welcome Aboard show but also did his own 1-hour act later in the week. He also MC'd the final show of the cruise. He is not to be missed. He is extremely funny and does a variety of stand up material, singing and impressions. He was a riot. -Duncan Tuck. Duncan performed only one evening in the Universe Lounge. He is a guitarist/vocalist who does what he calls 'singing comedy'. He was very talented. -Dan Horn. Dan is a ventriloquist who we had previously seen on the Golden. He used a variety of puppets. At times his routine seemed to stall but he more than made up for it when he brought up a passenger for a very funny scene. The Ports of Call -Montego Bay, Jamaica: After a full sea day we arrived to Montego Bay. We had nothing formally scheduled for the port so decided to take a shuttle bus ($3 per person each way) to the main shopping area. We were dropped off at some jewelry shops that did not appeal to us. I could see the city center just a few blocks away and headed in that direction. A local calling himself Steve approached us on the street. Steve would not leave our side for the next hour. He would point out some of the main sites in downtown Montego Bay and led us to an outdoor craft market that was big but off the beaten path. The market was made up of dozens of individual stalls, each selling the same thing! If you're looking for a wooden carving of Bob Marley's face (in a variety of sizes) this is your place! Each vendor would attempt to lure us into their stalls although they were very kind about it. Steve, of course, expected a tip at the end of about an hour and I gave him $5, although he was looking for more and suggested as much. We caught another shuttle bus from downtown back to the Coral. On the way back we let off some passengers at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville on Gloucester Avenue. It appeared to be a nice place and perhaps a better way to spend the day in Montego Bay! We were not all that impressed with what we saw in Montego Bay. Perhaps an organized excursion to Dunn's River Falls would have suited us better. -Panama Canal: after another full sea day, we arrived at the Panama Canal on the Wednesday of our cruise. I awoke at about 6:00 AM and found that we were already in the 7-mile channel that leads to the Gatun Locks. I caught the sunrise over a very surreal and primeval-looking plain. There was a haze covering the plain and I could hear the sounds of birds calling to each other. It was far-less industrial than I thought and very, very quiet as the Coral made slow speed toward the locks. As we approached the Gatun Locks, we began moving around the ship for better vantage points. The doors leading to bow observation decks were open on Decks 10 and 11. We were surprised at how few people were actually on these decks that morning! Do not be intimidated by the "authorized personnel only" signs on Panama Canal morning - boldly use the doors at the front of each deck for a great vantage point! We had great views forward of the lock operations and all the activity laid out below us. We actually went up to breakfast (Horizon Court) during the transit between lock chamber 1 and 2. The forward-looking windows in the Horizon Court were jammed with people but otherwise the crowds were tolerable. We had a guide on the bridge that was giving information over the ship's loudspeakers. We could just make out his narration while on our stateroom balcony but found that the audio was also being played on channel 35 in our stateroom. We simply cranked up the TV's volume and kept the balcony door open so we could listen to the narration. We were through the locks and anchored in Gatun Lake by about 9:30 AM. At that point, the excursions in Panama began to organize in the Princess Theater. That day's Princess Patter had listed approximate times for tours to meet at the Theater (based on actually Canal transit information relayed to the Coral the day before). The staff were making announcements for various tour groups to come into the Princess Theater so entire excursion groups could be tendered ashore together. We actually could not hear these announcements in our stateroom so loitered around the Princess Theater even though all prior notices had suggested not doing just that. Once our entire tour group was assembled, we were led down to the tender deck and took one of the survival craft to shore - it was a very short tender ride from ship to shore! We actually used the piers at the Gatun Yacht Club to disembark the tenders and to organize into the various tour busses. We booked the Panama Canal Railroad tour. I had pre-reserved the Deluxe Car (dome observation car - $156 pp) very early on using the Cruise Personalizer feature on the Princess website. I would highly recommend pre-reserving this tour sooner than later as we talked to many people who wanted the Deluxe car but got closed out. Once we got ashore, everyone with deluxe accommodations was bussed together, separated from those who had booked the Executive Car (standard) excursion. One of the nice perks in booking the Deluxe car was that we were given preferential boarding on and off the train. Our group was the first to board the train in the morning and when we returned to Colon later that afternoon, we were the first group allowed to exit the train and re-board our bus for the short trip back to Cristobal. Our tour guide Maria was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. As we bussed to the train depot at Colon, she made an effort to point out the biodiversity of Panama, even stopping the bus at one point to let us look at iguanas lounging on rocks in the sun. The dome car was beautiful! Nothing I had read prior to booking the excursion did the dome car justice. Upon entering, there was a lower lounge portion with a bar and club-style seating. A short flight of stairs led to the observation portion of the car. Seating was in booths along both sides. They were tight accommodations. Even though it was a bright and sunny day, the air conditioning did a good job keeping the car cool. However, it was always cooler in the lounge portion downstairs by the bar. We had 3 girls in the deluxe car serving as bar tenders and waitresses. We were offered complimentary coffee or could purchase sodas & juice ($1) or beer ($2). There were also snacks available for purchase. The local Panamanian beer was excellent (even at 11:00 AM)! The train tour along the canal took just about 50 minutes. Along the way, we paralleled Gatun Lake (and could see the Coral still at anchor), marshes (where you occasionally saw turtles resting on logs), rainforest and plains. The train moves away from the Canal at the Culebra Cut so you don't really see much of that portion of the Canal, which was unfortunate. However, we did get to see the Pedro Miguel locks in passing and did catch glimpses of several ships making the entire transit through the Canal during the train ride. Once we got to Panama City the tour took a slight turn for the worse. We were loaded into tour busses (fully air conditioned and comfortable) and taken to the Panama Canal administration building and the monument to Goethals (the chief engineer during the American effort). This was okay as was our next stop to view the Bridge of the Americas at a park on the Pacific side. However, we were next taken to a nice-looking but practically vacant shopping mall for 45-minutes. The only retail store in operation was a large duty-free store that was nice...except it had much of the same merchandise you could buy on the Coral for the same price!! 45-minutes was simply too long to be there. We got some nice pictures of Panama City, but otherwise this stop was a joke. Once we re-boarded our bus, we were next taken to a large craft market for another 45-minute stop. This was actually a little better than being dropped at a shopping mall but each vendor tended to have the same items. And, the market was un-air conditioned. At this point, many in our tour group decided to stay on the busses or find a spot in the shade near the market. You could sense that at this point in the day most on this excursion were either tired, hungry or both. Mercifully, the busses next took us back to the Panama City train depot where we were able to relax in the dome car. The depot actually has a nice selection of Panama Canal Rail Road merchandise, including high-quality t-shirts. In short, the highlight of the day was the train ride. However, the round-trip train ride made up only about 1 hour and 40 minutes of the 6+ hours we were away from the Coral. We felt the cost was excessive given that we were taken to shopping venues while ashore in Panama and did not get to see the Canal in operation up close as I had previously thought. I was glad that I had booked an excursion for Panama thus allowing me to step foot ashore. However, this particular excursion was a disappointment. I have since written a letter to Princess expressing my disappointment in this particular tour in the hopes that 1) it could be tweaked to have more focus on the Canal or 2) that the literature describing the tour is updated so folks are fully aware of what they're getting. Maybe one could simply lobby to stay aboard the train and ride it back and forth across Panama couple of times?!?! :) -Limon, Costa Rica. We woke up the following day to the smell of smoke in our stateroom. I had no idea what was going on until I went to the balcony. Apparently, small fires around the port were used to burn either garbage and/or vegetation. Mercifully, the winds shifted a short time later and the smoke was directed inland. We had no formal tours scheduled for Costa Rica so stayed close to the ship. There was a craft market set up at the end of the pier and we ventured there in the late morning. There was a nice selection of goods, including beautiful hand-carved bowls made from exotic woods. We picked up a salad bowl carved from rosewood for about $60. Otherwise, our general thought about Costa Rica: hot! We literally dripped just walking around the pier and craft market and enjoyed most of day by the Lotus Pool. We did hear from folks who took organized excursions into the heart of the country. More than one couple said the Rainforest Aerial Tram was one of the best things they ever did! I heard that the guides were phenomenal and the sights unbelievable! I now know a return trip to Costa Rica is in order to experience the rainforest! -Grand Cayman. We scheduled to anchor just offshore Georgetown but were diverted to Spott's Bay due to rough seas. I woke up that morning and tried to make the map of Georgetown I had received the night before match up with the view from my stateroom! It simply didn't work! Despite our detour, the tendering operations were extremely efficient. We were told that tender tickets were required for this port. Passengers were supposed to go down to Explorer's Lounge on that morning to get tender tickets. However, we were up and moving by 8:30 AM and were told there was no need for tickets to tender at that point. I believe as more and more people wanted to go ashore, the tender tickets were required. Even though we were diverted to an alternative anchorage, there were plenty of vehicles waiting for us ashore to take us into Georgetown. We got on a shuttle bus for $4/pp and took about a 20-minute ride into Georgetown. The seas at the Georgetown tender piers were unbelievably rough and we considered ourselves very fortunate to even be on the island! I had actually scheduled a Stingray City snorkel tour with Soto's Cruises (http://sotoscruises.com/index.shtml) prior to departure. I had contacted them via e-mail several months before our visit and reserved two spots. They had asked for a credit card to hold the reservation only used the card as a security deposit if you failed to show up or cancel the tour without enough advanced notice. We were given clear instructions on how to meet up with Soto's representatives once ashore Grand Cayman. We waited about 30 minutes at the appropriate spot (right in the downtown shopping area). We never did make contact with Soto's while on the island and wondered if perhaps all boating excursions were cancelled due to the rough seas. I e-mailed my contact at Soto's after returning and confirmed that my credit card was not going to be charged but I never did get an explanation of why I never made contact while ashore. We spent the rest of the day exploring the main shopping area in Georgetown. We found Georgetown to be very pleasant! It is apparent that there is money on Grand Cayman and I think it shows in how the public areas are kept up and how you are treated. We bought various souvenirs at several stores and even strolled into Kirk Jewelers to look around. According to my wife, Kirk Jewelers had an excellent selection of David Yurman jewelry (I wouldn't know David Yurman from David Schwimmer). We were on the way out the door when we spotted a good display of gemstone (Lapis) globes in the store's window. We have always loved globes and even considered buying them aboard the Princess Boutiques. The clerk assisting us could not have been nicer. We were actually dressed pretty scruffily (assuming that our day was going to be spent snorkeling) yet we never felt put down upon. We were made to feel important and walked away thinking that Kirk Jewelers was a class operation. We got what we considered a good deal and the clerk assisted us in safely packing our globes for transport home. We had a light meal while in Georgetown at Breezes by the Bay. This beautiful restaurant had a 2nd floor deck overlooking the port in Georgetown and main shopping district. We had delicious conch fritters along with a great mudslide and a rum punch! Prices at Breezes were a little high but we know part of what we were paying for was the view. We very much enjoyed our stay in Georgetown and on Grand Cayman. Our only regret was not snorkeling with the stingrays and having to weigh anchor so early (3:00 PM) for an arrival in Cozumel the next day. -Cozumel: We were securely berthed in Puerta Maya, Cozumel by 9:00 AM the next morning. We had previously been on Cozumel two years prior and were impressed with the changes to Puerta Maya. The port now boasts an entire shopping district and would satisfy most shoppers! We wanted to explore the main shopping district, just 3 miles (and $6 per taxi) away. As occurred two years ago, we simply were not that impressed with the main shopping venue. Even though it was a Sunday morning, vendors were already persistent in getting us into their stores to see their "almost free" wares. Plus, there was nothing unique in the main shopping district. We had already decided to take one of the ferry lines on Cozumel across the 12-mile stretch of water to Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula. We had previously visited Playa two years earlier and fell in love with the town. We caught the 11:00 AM ferry from Cozumel to Playa. We used UltraMar, which boasts a sleek-looking and very modern ferry. We were completely enclosed and enjoyed the stability of a catamaran hull. The ferry ride was extremely short (25 to Playa and 30 minutes on our return). The ferry docks on the south end of Fifth Avenue in Playa. The area surrounding the ferry dock hosts a collection of pretty typical Mexican souvenir shops and vendors. However, as you walk further north along Fifth Avenue, the shopping and the restaurants get a little more upscale. We enjoyed window shopping along Fifth Avenue and killed some time before our main reason for being in Playa was fulfilled: lunch at La Parilla. La Parilla is an open-air restaurant on Fifth Avenue (kitty corner from a TGIFridays!). We grew to love the food and atmosphere two years ago and this year was no different. La Parilla has some potent margaritas and delicious food. We're especially drawn to their use of cactus in some of their dishes, which is delicious. On this particular day we had steak and cactus fajitas, fresh guacamole and plenty of refreshments! We enjoyed people watching on the streets of Playa and just soaking in the atmosphere. We took the ferry back to Cozumel and wandered the shopping area at Puerta Maya. We had more beers at the Crazy Pelican, an open-air bar set up right off the pier. Disembarkation - Ft. Lauderdale Disembarkation is always sad but Princess handles it as well as anyone. We were initially given rose-colored luggage tags, which were meant for passengers who had Princess transfers. We went down to the Passenger Services desk and switched our tags for the standard tags designed for Dolphin Deck passengers: Aqua. We were told our disembarkation would be around 9:10 AM and it actually happened at 9:25 AM. We had a 12:00 PM flight and were not terribly worried about making our flight as we knew the airport was very close to Port Everglades. We cleared immigration very quickly and then had to retrieve our bags. We had neon luggage straps put around our two checked bags but, unfortunately, one was missing when we went to look for our bags. The bag with the luggage strap was easy to spot. However, I really had to search the Dolphin section for the other bag. Once all bags were collected, then you had to be cleared through Customs. The line for Customs was unbelievably long! It snaked throughout the terminal building. However, at the Customs table itself I noticed that porters were passed right through. Therefore, I hailed a porter and had our bags loaded up on his dolly. We were out of the terminal building and to a taxi in no time! This was well worth the money! We definitely enjoyed this 10-day cruise. Our last cruise aboard the Golden was 5-days and simply felt too short. This was just the right length. Princess continues to impress us with her beautiful ships, warm and welcoming staff, fantastic entertainment and delicious food. While on board the Coral, we met with the Future Cruise Specialist, Jayne, and put down deposits for a future (yet named) cruise. We've decided that Princess is truly where we belong! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
Well I am Benjamin. I'm 24 from Montreal, Canada. Its was my first cruise with Princess but did three others with Carnival, the differences are pretty big. The Coral Princess his a awesome ship really nice and new with a lot of pool ... Read More
Well I am Benjamin. I'm 24 from Montreal, Canada. Its was my first cruise with Princess but did three others with Carnival, the differences are pretty big. The Coral Princess his a awesome ship really nice and new with a lot of pool and hot tubs to relax and they are open 24 hours. That's amazing and you can dive in those pools cause they are more than 7 feet depth for 2 of them. For the kids center really nice but there was no kids to play in cause this cruise, this we have to say more mature old people but nice and really enjoying for lot of them but if you want to go party at night that's not the boat to go on 10 days cruise cause longer so its people who have time to travel compared to 7 days cruise. People were up until 1:30am. There wasn't any activity after, just the casino, if you like to play, actually the casino was really nice the nicest a sea so far and I didn't lose this time. For morning persons excellent there his all those morning activities free and paying ones and of course always every day at see those seminars about different stuff you can learn about, its really cool and funny most of time. For those who love good food you're on the right boat. Yes was amazing and you can choose the time you want to go diner between certain hours, and different country specialities every day. The tours and all the stops especially when you pass in Panama Canal it's really impressive those big gates. Limon, Costa Rica this a amazing stop, people are really nice like Cozumel friendly. If you want to shop Limon and Cozumel really nice and Panama Canal Colon is really nice to shop when open.  Now I have to talk about the crew and staff. I have to say they are amazing everyone seem to love what there doing and they really have a good relationship between each other that seems to reflect on their work the best crew I saw. Ok ladies especially if you have to go fixed your hair or a cut the best hair stylist in the world his on that ship his name Nathan Woodley -- that guy knows what is doing and done it for a long time is gonna make you laugh so bad, if you can have a appointment cause hes really busy all the time. And don't forget all the ladies working in the spa amazing too, you will really feel comfortable. For the show and entertainment they are really in to it and make all people dance and have a good time. I remember Sarah really entertaining. The passenger desk service was amazing really fast and serviable. So i really have to say that was an amazing time i had with the crew and passenger even with the big age differences but I totally recommend that cruise to anyone. Have a good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Our family, a group of 7, took the May 22nd cruise north from Vancouver to Whittier and then continued on the extended tour to Copper River and Denali Parks. Our cruise on the Coral Princess was wonderful from beginning to end with only ... Read More
Our family, a group of 7, took the May 22nd cruise north from Vancouver to Whittier and then continued on the extended tour to Copper River and Denali Parks. Our cruise on the Coral Princess was wonderful from beginning to end with only a few rough spots to note. The ship itself is lovely and run well. The staff is friendly and helpful. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the food was on the ship since I had heard it was just average. I don't think I had anything that wasn't really good and we had trouble limiting ourselves in the Horizon Court buffet area to just one serving since you could keep going back if you wanted. We had Personal Choice dining and had no trouble getting seated in the formal dining areas. The balconies on the ship were nice and the stewards opened the doors between our rooms so we could visit and talk between our balconies. We spent a lot of time just watching the scenery and looking for animals (we saw quite a few too). We took scheduled tours through Princess in each of the ports and all were professionally run. Our helicopter tour to Mendenhall Glacier was cancelled in Juneau due to weather but we went to the tour desk on the ship and they were able to book us for a glacier helicopter trip the next day in Skagway. I highly recommend the tours. My only complaint about the ship itself was the design of the Horizon Court Buffet. The traffic patterns were poorly planned and when it was even a little crowded people were crossing each other back and forth to get to food. My other big complaint was with the embarkation in Vancouver. Princess sped us through their processing but the US Govt Customs people had us lined up for over an hour with only two agents checking passports for the huge crowd of people boarding. Despite this, which was out of Princess' control, I'd highly recommend the Coral Princess and this awesome trip through the glaciers and Alaska's towns. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Stateroom - Emerald Deck 310. Spacious, plenty of storage, 6 dozen wooden hangers, shelves in bathroom, nightstands, refrigerator. I would recommend bringing a power strip as electrical outlets are limited. The balcony was nice sized and ... Read More
Stateroom - Emerald Deck 310. Spacious, plenty of storage, 6 dozen wooden hangers, shelves in bathroom, nightstands, refrigerator. I would recommend bringing a power strip as electrical outlets are limited. The balcony was nice sized and covered. We were port side with the life boats to the side of us and our balcony was a little larger than others. Beds were soft and pillows ( 6 ) were good. No complaints about the accommodations. The Ship - Clean, good lighting, easy directional signs and once you learn port from starboard it is easy to find your way around. The Horizon Buffet was well stocked and the food good. We chose Personal Choice dining and found the portions to be large, tasty, appealing in presentation and the wait-staff attentive. Room service catered to our every whim. My only suggestion would be to have ice cream available at all times. We did purchase the soda cards ( 22.50 each) and unless you are a soda-holic, save your money and purchase drinks at port and store in your refrigerator. Activities - Something for everyone and the on-board narrator which broadcast over the TV channel was great. As you sailed, she would point out areas of interest, spot whales, ect. We would recommend this ship and the Southbound Voyage of the Glaciers and plan to take this trip again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
This is my first review but I know when I was shopping for a cruise I wanted more information than was available at the time. So I'm making an attempt to add my views for what they're worth. My husband and I are both in our 50s ... Read More
This is my first review but I know when I was shopping for a cruise I wanted more information than was available at the time. So I'm making an attempt to add my views for what they're worth. My husband and I are both in our 50s and took our first cruise of Alaska on 5/15/04 on the Coral Princess. Prior to this we had cruised in the Caribbean and the west coast of Mexico. We chose the southbound cruise out of Whittier. Because of time constraints we were not able to take a land tour prior to the cruise. Most of the other passengers were our age with a good representation of younger and older people. Our trip was very last minute. We didn't make our reservations until March when we found a very good price for a balcony on the Baja deck. About 2 weeks before we left we received notification from our Travel Agent that we had been upgraded to a mini-suite (C211) on Caribe. I was a little concerned about this because it is very far forward but the location of our cabin turned out to be fine. It was under the Horizon Court and the pool and above the Princess Lounge. The seas were so smooth that there was no concern about seasickness and my Dramamine was not needed. We took Northwest from Newark to Anchorage via Minneapolis and returned to Newark from Vancouver via Chicago on United. Princess arranged our flights and we used their transfer service between airports and docks. The motor coach from Anchorage to Whittier took approximately 3 hours. The trip itself is not 3 hours long but there is a one-way tunnel just outside of Whittier and traffic alternates between vehicles going to and from Whittier so this required a 40-minute wait. Embarkation was very smooth and we were on the ship approximately 15 minutes after we arrived at the dock. We also had a transfer from the dock to Vancouver Airport for our return trip. We were among the first off the ship at Vancouver as our flight was very early. Disembarkation went very smoothly and our luggage was brought directly to the airport. For later flights passengers were matched up with their luggage right at the dock. The bus driver was very informative about the city and Vancouver looks like a very nice place and worth a return visit. There is a US$8 charge at the airport to pay for their modernization. You can take care of this with a credit card at one of the vending machines before checking in. I liked the size and feel of the Coral Princess. It's not so overwhelming that you feel lost yet it was never crowded. There are many cozy spots around the ship. We particularly liked the Wheelhouse Lounge and the pool and hot tub area outside the Lotus Spa. We chose traditional dining at the late seating. The food was good but not exceptional. Most of our breakfasts and lunches were taken in the Horizon Court, which was pretty good for a buffet. The pizza at the pool is very good. There is also an outdoor grill for hamburgers and grilled chicken sandwiches. Despite the horror stories I've read about the coffee, it wasn't nearly that bad. It's not gourmet coffee, but certainly not the worst I've had. The staff is very efficient and friendly. We found the automatic tipping very easy. You don't need to bother about personally tipping your wait staff or cabin steward. The added 15% gratuity to bar and room service bills is also much better. Even though we read that alcohol could not be brought on the ship, we were able to bring a bottle of vodka on at Whittier in our carry on bag. The security staff x-raying our bags was not interested in our vodka. We were a little put off our dining room waiter offering to sell apertif glasses and cookbooks after dinner on two different occasions. He also had to promote a wine-tasting event. I don't think Princess should require this of its waiters. Our mini-suite was a good size with a refrigerator, 2 televisions and a covered balcony with a small table and 2 chairs. Because we had wonderful weather, we were able to use the balcony every day and could listen to the naturalist on the television describe what we were seeing. Most of the cruising days we were on deck as the viewing is better there, but we also took advantage of the balcony. Princess has their own naturalist on board for the entire cruise and she was excellent. She also gave presentations during the week about whales, native artifacts, etc. We saw a show with comedian Stu on Sunday. He was just okay. Monday we attended a very good magic/comedy show with Jeff . A performer not to be missed is Duncan . He is a singer and comedian and just wonderful. Another great act is Jim, a wonderful comedian. Duncan and Jim later in the week combined for another show and again they were both great. As you may have suspected, we're not too big on the usual cruise production shows. We did see "Tribute" in the Universe Lounge, which was pretty amateurish. A better show was "Curtain Up" in the Princess Theater. Except for rain in Whittier and Vancouver, our cruise was blessed with wonderful weather. Every day was sunny and in the mid to high 60s. I'm sure this had an effect on how much we enjoyed Alaska. Of course we were prepared for cold and rainy weather and didn't need all the clothes we brought. We had been keeping a watch on the temperatures the week before and threw in a few warm-weather articles at the last minute. There were people in the outdoor pool but we restricted ourselves to the hot tubs. There are 2 indoor hot tubs and 3 outdoor hot tubs. The 2 formal nights were not quite as stuffy as we had feared. My husband packed a dark suit and I brought 2 dressy dresses. But perhaps because an Alaskan cruise is pretty informal, there were quite a few men in sports jackets and not many at all in tuxes. I would definitely prefer if Princess offered an alternate dining room for people who do not wish to dress up. The first day we cruised College Fjord and the next day Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the cruise. The scenery is spectacular and we saw 5 whales on the way into the park. Two were quite close to the ship. We also saw sea otters and harbor seals. Some people spotted bears on the shore but I didn't see them. We also saw a young bald eagle. This was the only eagle we saw the whole week. Rangers from the National Park Service boarded the ship for the day and their commentary was excellent. We waited patiently for the Marjorie Glacier to calf and were rewarded just before the ship pulled away. Tuesday morning we docked in Skagway. We had arranged with Princess to take the White Pass & Yukon Railway. The train pulls right onto the dock. We sat on the left because we had read that these were the best viewing seats. The commentary was good, if a bit hokey. You are invited to purchase videos, books and hats but there isn't high pressure. The train passes the Canadian border but you do not get off. The engine is switched to the other end of the train and you return to Skagway by the same route. At the top you switch with the people on the other side of the train so that everyone gets to view the scenery. However since most of the commentary is on the way up, you're better off sitting on the left leaving Skagway. We took the 8:20 am train and returned to the dock just before noon. After lunch on the ship, we walked into town. We went to the National Park Service office and took a free 45-minute walk around town. This is an excellent way to learn about the history of the gold rush. On Wednesday we were in Juneau and had arranged for a helicopter trip to Mendenhall Glacier which included a dog sled ride. We arranged this on our own with Coastal Helicopters. They met us at the dock and were very professional throughout. I would recommend them and this trip. We were interested in dog sledding but did not want to do this unless it was on snow. The dogs and their handlers camp right on the glacier and your 2-mile ride is on a snow-covered portion of the glacier. You are able to get a feeling of driving the team because you stand on a sled at the back with the real driver on another sled controlling the dogs. It was a wonderful experience and by booking directly we saved money. Our last Alaskan city was Ketchikan. We didn't have any tours scheduled here. We had to tender into the city so we waited until late morning to avoid those with scheduled excursions. We walked around Creek Street, took the funicular and the Married Man's Trail. There are free Walk Tour maps available all over town. We visited the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center but this was kind of a disappointment. We should have made the trip out to Totem Bight State Park. Friday was spent cruising the Inside Passage, which is beautiful. We had a great time and would definitely recommend the Coral Princess and Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2004
We sailed on the Coral Princess to Alaska this summer on the July 31 cruise from Vancouver to Whittier. This was the first cruise for 7 of the 10 people in our party. The ship was a lot of fun for all of us and we ranged in age from 7 to ... Read More
We sailed on the Coral Princess to Alaska this summer on the July 31 cruise from Vancouver to Whittier. This was the first cruise for 7 of the 10 people in our party. The ship was a lot of fun for all of us and we ranged in age from 7 to 69. Both embarkation and debarkation were very easy for all of us. If we were to go to Alaska again, I would do different shore excursions than some of the ones we picked on this trip. Different folks in our party did different excursions in each port and most of us agreed that in the future we would not use the ship excursions, but look for the local ones instead. Alaska is an amazing trip and we highly recommend it. The Coral Princess was perfect for our group. We ate at both the Bayou and at Sabatinis, both were very good, but don't eat for a day or two before going to Sabatinis! The regular dining room was good food, we didn't have too many amazing meals there but it was very good. We also preferred the dining room for breakfast to the buffet. We found the crew to be very friendly and very willing to accommodate us, that's not always easy when you have to deal with 10 loud people! The service we received was very good. 6 of us had the same cabin steward, Homer, and he was very good to all of us, but did need to be reminded about a few requests more than once. My husband and I have already booked another cruise to the Caribbean next spring, this time we will try Celebrity's Summit to try something a little different. We debated between another Coral Princess cruise and the Summit one pretty heavily before deciding that we liked the one day longer on the Summit more. I would not hesitate to go with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
Coral southbound Whittier to Vancouver 8/7/04. First the coffee, while not the best, is drinkable. The ship is wonderful, just the right size, never crowded. Staff was superb, even though tipping is automatic. Entertainment was ok. The ... Read More
Coral southbound Whittier to Vancouver 8/7/04. First the coffee, while not the best, is drinkable. The ship is wonderful, just the right size, never crowded. Staff was superb, even though tipping is automatic. Entertainment was ok. The ship had a nice mix of older and younger folks and several families. We had no problem with the food in Horizon Court or the dining room. Crab legs and lobster tails were great, as was the escargots we enjoyed one night. Wish they would charge us more upfront and not charge for espresso and cappuccino. The pizza was fantastic--as good as we get in New York. We passed on Sabatini's but ate at the Bayou restaurant and our party of four was not impressed--we have some great Cajun restaurants on Long Island and this did not make the grade. Personal Choice dining was great and we never had a long wait for a table. In summary, a great ship, great crew and a great cruise. Our shore excursions were all arranged through Princess and could not have been better--highlight was the helicopter/dogsled excursion in Skagway. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2004
The Coral Princess is small compared to the large mega ships. STATEROOM:The mini suites are narrow and have no amenities compared ot minis on RCCL, Costa, Cunard, etc. The cabins are very narrow including the bathroom and closet ... Read More
The Coral Princess is small compared to the large mega ships. STATEROOM:The mini suites are narrow and have no amenities compared ot minis on RCCL, Costa, Cunard, etc. The cabins are very narrow including the bathroom and closet space, drawer space is pretty sparse. The cabin was not what we expected as far as size, decor, and overall appearance and utilitarian aspects. with the  two of us in the cabin, it was a tight fit. Luggage was stored, which we always do, but this would have been unbearable without it out of the cabin. So, cabin is nothing to get excited about. suites are not as large as on other ships but better than the mini. Separate tub and shower, walk in closet, wet bar is small and square footage was not the same value as on other ships but better for the longer voyages such as our 14 day. FOOD: The food is OK. BUFFET:The buffet is terrible and I mean awful -- dried out meats, small in size, no specialty items such as Chinese station, Mexican, or any other special item stuff, soup, salad and entree and basics nothing great. Buffet on Horizon Court is one that you visit once and never again. No ice carvings, tray to table services and it is very small and uncomfortable. Plus the food stunk in the buffet, so pass on the buffet. DINNING ROOM: Our service was excellent A+ The service made the dining room. We had Viorica from Romania serving us and she is without a doubt one of the  best ever. Request her if at all possible. The dining room food starts out bad but much better as time went on. The chef was German so we missed the Italian chefs. The food is OK to good, nothing too great. The dining room had a distinct odor as well, like mold. Could never in the 14 days put my finger on the smell, but it was present and my 80 year old grandmother could smell it, so it was there like it needed to be aired out. The linens and tableware are just "OK". the tables are missing the candle and the dining room is missing the ice sculptures and decor we used to see on Princess, but again the staff in the dining areas made up for the food and the lace of ambiance etc. No theme night except one with Italian food but no Mexican or Port of Call themed foods as you see on RCCL, Celebrity, Costa or Cunard, so it is just what it is. Overall the dining room lunch was a daily adventure when not in port because of the buffet's poor quality and was a "C"  for average. ALTERNATIVE DINNING: We frequented at lunch and dinner the Bayou Cafe. Service is great, $10 per head surcharge and a lot of fun. No one was in there but the salon staff and our table of 5 both nights we dined there and the food is good -- not to be compared to Oceanliners the Celebrity Constellation but good and different to see a Cajun change to jazz things up a bit. But nothing spectacular. ITALIAN ALTERNATIVE: Was mismanaged a bit as our reservation was made in the early AM and our table was not ready upon arrival. On the Coral, you may only book your alternative dining the same day so it is different from other lines we have sailed. The food was good in this restaurant but you can see I forgot the name so it was not excellent but good. SALON: Hair coloring, massage, and nails are all great. Good staff and lots of fun. Similar to most ships. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: We sailed through customs on our way out and  had no problems embarking, so fantastic A+. SHOWS: No shows except for a few music groups. The large production groups were canceled and we found out as a member of the cruise staff dined with us each night with their family so we had the inside scoop - the performers were  not "ready" so the performances were canceled. Entertainment was terrible really, as the only ting going on was the DJ with less than a handful of passengers. Island Night was awful with no steel band or island buffet or anything similar to other experiences on Princess, but we were told that they were budgeting and it it was noticeable, especially in the areas of food and beverage. Shows get a C- and themed parties C-. CAPTAINS PARTIES: We are Captain Circle members and the cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were plentiful but not much seating, so we bribed the attendants for chairs for those older passengers in our party. Great service though once again made up for the lack of seating in the public areas as the staff did their best to pull it together. Champagne waterfall was pretty bad as no place to stand except crowded in a huge mess and in formals. This is not the way to go and the champagne was terrible. But again the staff made up for the problems, etc. CASINO: We are Las Vegas types and the casino was great. Won money and they did not close it when we did great!! Not really big but Craps, Roulette, Black Jack, Poker and plenty of slots all paying here and there so lots of fun. AIR CONDITIONING: There is a huge problem with the air conditioning in the cabins and in the public areas. Crews attempted to fix it several times but to no avail, so bring your fans as if sailing through the Canal It gets hot and when trying to dress for formal night in the mini suite it is cramped and hot so it is uncomfortable. Overall, the staff is great, however we will not sail Princess as it is not the same line as yesterday.. it is not as exclusive as it once was and after 18 cruises all with Princess, RCCL, Costa, Cunard and Celebrity there are too many other ships to sail. But we had a great time.. I would definitely book early if going Princess or on a special as not to spend tons of money for this cruise is not worth it. Happy sailing!!! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2004
This was, technically, our 4th, and actually our 3rd, cruise, so far all with Princess. It was hands down our favorite so far, with the others being Alaska on the Sea Princess and Honolulu-Tahiti-Honolulu (back to back) on the Dawn being 2 ... Read More
This was, technically, our 4th, and actually our 3rd, cruise, so far all with Princess. It was hands down our favorite so far, with the others being Alaska on the Sea Princess and Honolulu-Tahiti-Honolulu (back to back) on the Dawn being 2 & 3. Embarkation was a breeze. We stayed over at the Hilton arranged through Princess, having flown in the day before from Hawaii. We went to the hotel gym, had coffee and joined up with the waiting group for transport in time to make the last bus to the port. The lines were pretty moderate by that time and we were about 45 minutes from arrival to on board. Our luggage arrived on board about mid-afternoon, but we heard of other folks who didn't get theirs until quite late, and one couple whose luggage never did catch up with them until we arrived in Aruba, the last stop before Ft. Lauderdale. Disembarking was also relatively easy, and, for a change, it seemed like everyone had actually done their customs thing when we were ready to leave, so it was just a matter of finding luggage and getting transport to our rental car, neither of which was much of a hassle. Ft. Lauderdale is a pretty easy port facility to get around in and they seem to have their act together so things went smoothly. We had a balcony cabin on Aloha Deck, which afforded about the only balconies with even a touch of privacy. All the others were quite visible from the decks above them. Ours was the top deck with balconies, so we had views of everyone else, but were less exposed than most. Service was generally okay, although we are of the opinion that the automatic tipping is having a bad effect on service levels, particularly in the personal choice dining room. Our wait staff service varied from excellent to surly and rude. One evening the waiter was so impolite that 3 of the 4 couples actively complained to the dining room captain, and the other one complained to the purser. We like personal choice dining, but will be more active about selecting a "good" table with a nice wait staff on on our next cruise (not until October, sigh...) and we plan to make use of the comment cards on the table to track and tip on an individual basis rather than allowing the automatic tip to be added. The Princess sponsored shore excursions were outstanding, and we did see, first hand, why it pays to book through your ship rather than independently. Two busloads of folks on a "rainforest" excursion in Costa Rica were unable to get back to the ship due to torrential rains that washed out the usual road and bridge and they had to take a much longer road back. All the rest of us had gathered for the usual drink for sailaway and the time came and went and we didn't move. Finally, about two hours late, the two buses arrived and were greeted at the gangway by ships' crew and hustled on board. The Coral Princess had the best entertainment we have seen on board so far. The Princess singers and dancers were young, talented, and enthusiastic and the shows were fabulous. The individual entertainers were also good, although the comics don't as a rule impress me much and the juggler/magician types leave me totally cold. The singers were very good as were the pianists and string quartet who entertained in the atrium and all the live entertainers in the bars. The lecturers were okay, both having books to push, and did more of that than providing any real insights, but the historian who boarded in Panama and spent the day providing commentary over the speakers was very good. The in cabin television also had several different documentaries about the canal which ran for a couple of days prior to our arrival, so we were well educated on the Canal before we started our journey through. It was amazing, start to finish, and, while very low tech, very impressive. We did snorkel tours in both Cabo and Aruba, and enjoyed both very much. Cartagena was eliminated as a stop due to concerns about security and safety, and we had extra time at the end of the Canal for a "shopping stop" and an extra half day in Aruba which we spent on our own looking through the numerous jewelry stores. Aruba is charming and a place we will likely go back to for a longer visit someday. Costa Rica was very impressive - scenic, historically complex, and socially and politically very interesting and advanced. The guide on our bus tour to the capital was very informative and clearly proud and happy to share information about his country with all of us. The Coral Princess is really quite lovely, and we found the facilities a cut above the "Sun" Class ships we had been on before. The show rooms and theater were state of the art, well designed, and the show room had entries on two levels, cutting down on the after show traffic jams. The only complaint I had was the very low temperature of the air conditioning, particularly in the Princess Theater. I've finally learned that no matter where you are cruising to, it is smart to pack a sweater to wear in the theater and public rooms. The alternative dining in both the Italian and the New Orleans dining venues was priced higher than the brochure or online listings, at $20 per person, and, perhaps because of that, were virtually deserted during our cruise. We passed by both on a regular basis and, other than a few people in the bar area of the New Orleans venue, which had good jazz/blues live entertainment, we rarely saw more than 5 or 6 tables out of probably 20 or 25 occupied. Those few people we spoke with who DID try them were favorably impressed with the food quality, and particularly the quantity in the Italian venue, but weren't all that enthusiastic, so we stuck with the dining rooms for the most part. Our balcony cabin was comparatively spacious, with ample closet and shelf space. In fact, they could easily have made more room for the bath (which was tiny, as usual) and we could have done fine with about half the closet space provided. The library was well positioned, and well used, frequently without any empty chairs. Likewise, the card/game room seemed to be very well used. The internet cafe stayed busy on a consistent basis. All of these are grouped close together, and much more visible than on the Sun class ships, which may account for the heavier traffic. The various training classes on all kinds of software were also well attended and well received by the passengers I spoke with who had taken them. Deck areas were well designed, but we missed the stern hot tub for sailaways. The stern pool was designated as a children's pool, but as we had very few children on board, it was used by adults as well, but it didn't take the place of the stern hot tubs with a view, sad to say. The Lotus pool and deck area afforded a place to tan under glass and with air conditioning, which was welcome as we approached the equator. It was also the spot where the resident potter set up shop and taught wheel based pot throwing. Very individualized half hour sessions were around $20 and if you liked the results, you could have your object d'art fired and keep it forever. It was great fun to learn, and I hope it is going to be a feature on other ships. Princess has gotten chintzy with their prizes for the trivia contests - our first experience in Alaska we got coffee cups, pens, nice key chains, and other fun stuff. On our last two cruises, including this one, they only offer bags and backpacks, both pretty cheesy. I still enjoy the trivia contests but now just for the challenge. Most of the time, I don't even play "officially" any more, having given as many people as I can the backpacks and bags... The art auctions, sometimes downright obtrusive before, seemed much more contained and discrete on the Coral than on other cruises. I think it has to do with the space design, as much as anything. The art folks have their own space, which is enclosed, rather than in an alcove type of open area in a walkway. It isn't my thing, but folks do seem to enjoy the auctions. The gym was well equipped, and was better run than we have experienced before. There were always ample towels, the equipment sign up sheets (for the treadmill) were there every morning for the next day, no matter how early we got there, and there were people around to help with the machines, provide instruction and support and they didn't seem to be annoyed if you weren't buying something or signing up for a paid class. This was a MAJOR improvement. Overall, it was our best cruise ever. We will be doing another back to back in October, 2004 on the Star Princess - Western and Eastern Caribbean. Read Less
Coral Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

Find a Coral Princess Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise