Sail Date: December 2005
Well many have reviewed the coral before so I will just add some opinions about my Dec 14 th cruise relative to other recent Princess and Royal Caribbean Cruises Overall I gave the cruise was an 8 out of 10. 1. cabin steward Vince very ... Read More
Well many have reviewed the coral before so I will just add some opinions about my Dec 14 th cruise relative to other recent Princess and Royal Caribbean Cruises Overall I gave the cruise was an 8 out of 10. 1. cabin steward Vince very good. 2. Food Bordeaux dining room good+ service painfully slow most nights. 3. Food Cafe Bayou excellent service and food. 4. Food Sabatinis excellent service and food. 5. Lotus Spa excellent. 6. Food horizon court good. 7. Food Pizza bar fair ( 2 days excellent rest below average). 8. Casino staff fair (iron curtain personalities)exception Irena and Gabriela - nice personalities and beautiful faces to match. 9. Cruise Director and Assistant director satisfactory. Could certainly use some tips from Princess Directors like Seymour. 10. Entertainment Piano Player nightly in atrium excellent Coral Princess Orchestra very good + Coral Princess Dancers excellent Coral Princess Singers - good Comedian Sarge - Excellent Magician (I did not see) Guy who did impersonations - bad Young Lady who sang opera classical and Phantom tunes named Phillipa excellent + Trumpet player excellent Juggler very good. Kid Center - very good on par with other princess kids centers. Ports of call -- Cozumel - Pretty devastated. Costa Rica - Had tour with Charlie Soto. Nice time lots of poverty. Panama Canal did the full transit tour Panama. Lots of poverty. You get the feeling government is still corrupt as ever given the money they rake in from the canal. Jamaica -- Montego Bay - Nice beaches. Not changed much in 10 years Grand Cayman- Nice beaches. Not changed much in 10 years. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
In general we had a lovely trip on this beautiful Princess Ship. Service and food were the best, and the ship was very clean. We had a stateroom with balcony and we liked it (except the very tiny shower, but falling over was not possible ... Read More
In general we had a lovely trip on this beautiful Princess Ship. Service and food were the best, and the ship was very clean. We had a stateroom with balcony and we liked it (except the very tiny shower, but falling over was not possible so that was an advantage...). Cabin was cleaned 2 times a day. Entertainment needs some comment. The shows and external artists were all very good (we liked the juggler on a moving ship, very entertaining). The entertainment team however didn't manage to keep the party going once it started, but dropped out after an hour to entertain themselves. This was very annoying! The DJ did his best, but our opinion is that an entertainment team should be there and entertain from 5 - 12 in the evening. We took several shore excursions: * 4 WD adventure and Dunns River Falls in Jamaica: lots of fun, nice guide, and the climb of the falls was marvellous. Watch your stuff near Dunns River, our guide did that for us. * Chagres River Cruise and Nature walk in Panama, plus visit to Gatun Locks. The nature walk took 30 minutes with a heard of elephants through the forest. You don't get to see a lot of animals like this. The river cruise was nice, we saw Howler Monkees, Sloth, Toucan, Iguana and some Herons. The Gatun Locks are nice if you didn't get up early to see it on the ship. We went through the emergency doors on Baja Deck front and had a first class view of the locks. We would suggest another excursion. We enjoyed the little ride through Colon as a real harbour city with brothels and gambling on the streets. Not a city you are going to be walking around on your own! * Sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica was nice, they do a good job conserving these animals. The walk and kayak was a ripoff. You don't kayak yourself, and it only took 20 minutes (it was raining, but that didn't bother us). The walk took even shorter. It was not worth the $ 96 per person! If you want to see sloth, go to the park in Limon, they are in the trees there! * Cayman Island island highlights and Stingray Snorkeling. Good tour. We saw Georgetown, Seven Mile Beach, Hell, a rum factory with tasting, a turtle hatchery where you can hold them yourself, and we snorkeled the Stingrays. The photographer is not from Princess, so the pictures are expensive (2 for $30). Take your own camera! * Dolphin Adventure in Puerto Aventuras. Highlight of the cruise. The Cozumel site is badly damaged from hurricane Wilma, so we were taken with the tender to Playa del Carmen. Enjoyed this trip enormously!! We had a very good time on and off this ship. We can recommend this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
I just returned from a 10 day cruise on the Coral Princess. The hightlites of the trip for me were the day trips to Panama Canal and Costa Rica. The first 4 days we had very bad weather and couldn't dock at Grand Cayman, so everyone ... Read More
I just returned from a 10 day cruise on the Coral Princess. The hightlites of the trip for me were the day trips to Panama Canal and Costa Rica. The first 4 days we had very bad weather and couldn't dock at Grand Cayman, so everyone was credited around $13 since the cruise line didn't have to pay port fees. I took the all day tour to Costa Rica's capital of San Jose. Although it was a long trip, the tour guide was great and we saw a lot. The trip to Old Panama City was interesting, but we took buses that were more like boy scout vans and very small and very uncomfortable and VERY bumpy. I will contact the cruise line about that. I traveled alone and loved the cruise. People were very friendly. Since it wasn't during school vacation, there were few kids on board, and a mostly older crowd. The ship has personal choice dining, but I went with the standard late seating. Coming from NY and have high standards, I would say the food was pretty decent. One nice thing that they offer is a lot of fresh vegetables all day and snack items before dinner if you want to relax and have a drink with some nibbles. The entertainment was very good. I didn't go to all the shows, but thought the dancers and singers were very professional. They had a comedian who was quite funny. My cabin steward, Emauel, was very good. He was always looking out for me, and one day when he didn't see me, he called my room to make sure I was okay and didn't need any medical attention. Coral Princess is very concerned about the Norwalk virus, which is a stomach flu. Anyone who had those symptoms was quarantined in their room for 24 hours. At the buffets they have hand sanitizer all over the place and request that all passengers use it. There are still some pretty ignorant people who put their hands in the food without using utensils. What nerve!!!! The crew on the ship were friendly and eager to please. They did a very good job of keeping the ship clean. My only negative comment was that they nickel and dime you to death with extras. They are very pushy with the pictures, and charge extra for every little thing. Someone at my table wanted chocolate milk and that was $1.50 extra. They charge for ice cream at the ice cream bar. However, at 3:30 every day they serve ice cream in the back of the dining room. It was almost like they were hiding it so if you didn't know it was there, you would pay for it at the ice cream bar. One day they advertised the special of the day which was a fruit shake.......then they charged $3.50 for them. If they would serve a little less food, they wouldn't have to charge for these extras. Internet service wasn't great and they charge .35c/minute. AOL service was horrible, but that could be AOL and not the ship's fault. The spa services were a bit pricey, but I thought the massage therapists on the ship were the best I have ever used. I had 4 massages in 10 days and would highly recommend Renalyn and Tiago. They were both excellent. The manicure was extremely pricey, and I didn't think the woman did such a great job. They have a very nice gym, but watch out for the 2 guys who teach Pilates. They both have attitudes as tall as they are. All in all it was an excellent vacation. I met wonderful people and relaxed, which is why I went. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
This was our 4th cruise with Princess and 7th altogether. We have decided to stick with one cruise line to build up loyalty points, and I truly believe amongst the major players like Celebrity, Holland America and Princess, there is not a ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with Princess and 7th altogether. We have decided to stick with one cruise line to build up loyalty points, and I truly believe amongst the major players like Celebrity, Holland America and Princess, there is not a lot of difference between them. Embarkation: Passengers can start boarding after 11 AM. Check in was very quick for us at about 1230. The cab from the airport (FLL) was only $15 (tip included). The Cabin: We had a balcony which was nice. But it's quite small, maybe 4 feet by 10 feet. Just enough for 2 chairs and a square table. The room is well designed but the shower is the smallest one I have ever used on board a ship. The Ship: Beautiful public rooms and very clean. Big ship for 2000 passengers. I love to use the gym and it was almost never busy each day when I went. Service: Excellent as usual for Princess. Very friendly staff. Food: Love the desserts! Sometimes had 2 at at time! Unfortunately put on some weight after the end of the cruise. The main dining room food was good enough. No need to pay extra for specialty restaurants. Anytime dining is a real bonus onboard Princess. Tip- to avoid excessive weight gain, stick to the dining rooms rather than the Horizon Court buffet. Entertainment: we are in our 40's and the shows were geared to people in their 50-60s. IE most of the passengers. Skipped most of the shows. Enjoyed Curtains Up, couple of guest singers and the guest magician. Excursions: 1) Cozumel. Lots of wreckage cause by last year's hurricane. ?Wilma The Chankanaab National Marine Park is still closed. The snorkeling trip by boat for $35 for 3 hours was a bit of a let down. We booked this on the pier. Snorkeled at 2 sites. Not great. Some corals are wrecked by the aforementioned storm. Shopping is good here. Lots of shops. Nice to walk around. 2) Grand Cayman. We did stingray city trip 3 years ago. This is a must see site. This year we cabbed to famous 7 mile beach. Got dropped off at the Public Beach for snorkeling. Better than Cozumel but still not outstanding. The beach here was not bad. But have seen a lot better elsewhere. Can rent chairs and umbrellas here. 3) Limon, CR. It is a disgusting town. You have to do excursions to get anything out of this port. Best to arrange it on the pier- lots cheaper. In AM we did the jungle aerial ride attached to a cable. We flew through the trees just like Tarzan! 12 cables in all. In PM cabbie took us to a jungle boat trip to see wildlife, flora, etc. as well as a banana plantation. All worthwhile and interesting. 4) Panama Canal. Highlight of the trip. Got up at 5 AM in order to secure the best spot up front to see the ship enter the first lock at 6 AM. Wanted to take some great photos which I did. Highly suggest taking a ship excursion. Otherwise you stay on board and double back through the same locks. Our excursion was the best! We did the ocean to ocean trip which took us by boat to traverse the rest of the canal to the Pacific Ocean. Not cheap though- $169/person. Avoid Cristobel where the ship docked. Security guy from the ship told us his mate almost got killed while strolling in the city. It looked like a poor ugly port city. 5) Montego Bay, Jamaica. Again, an ugly large Caribbean city. Skip the downtown shopping district. You will get the best shopping at the Caymans and Cozumel. We took the cab to doctor's beach. Small but lovely. Good snorkeling here also. Very busy spot. Overall nice cruise. I recommend it. The Canal was the best! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
My family and I just got off of the Coral Princess this morning. This was our fourth cruise our first with Princess. We did the 10 day Panama Canal cruise beginning in Fort Lauderdale. Embarkation was a breeze. No lines,walked directly ... Read More
My family and I just got off of the Coral Princess this morning. This was our fourth cruise our first with Princess. We did the 10 day Panama Canal cruise beginning in Fort Lauderdale. Embarkation was a breeze. No lines,walked directly on board and found our stateroom and met our cabin stewardess named Evelyn. All of our luggage arrived shortly thereafter with the exception of mine and that showed up just before going to dinner! I was sweatin that one out! My daughter's brand new suitcase arrived broken. The stand was totally ripped away from the wheels and Princess claimed no responsibility and offered no compensation. 60.00 bucks gone. Our cabin was a balcony cabin and the furnishings were nice. The cabin was very small with just a sitting chair versus a small sofa. The bathroom was ridiculously tiny and the shower was no more than a broom closet. If you were unfortunate enough to drop something in the shower you literally had to get out and pick it up! Not good for those with claustrophobia either. The balcony consisted of 2 chairs and a table and there was no more room. Kind of dirty out there too. The bed was firm and the pillows quite hard. Friends we met asked for feather pillows and got them. Who knew? Evelyn was amazing. The best cabin attendant ever. Always greeted us by name and with a smile and the service was impeccable. Twice daily! The ship itself is pretty. For a ship only 4 years old it does look worn. They keep it very clean. Public areas were well appointed and comfy. The adult only Lotus Pool area was very plain and sparse. Both dining rooms were identical and inviting. The gym is nice with weights, treadmills,and mats. Nice. I did use the Lotus Spa a few times just to take a shower. It was roomy! The food was superb and the personal choice dining ended up to be a lifesaver. Our original tablemates were nice but right away we knew we were not in a level of comfort that we wanted for 10 days. We gave it 3 nights and then decided to switch to personal choice. We requested the same wait person for the rest of our cruise. Her name was Aniko and her assistant was Schukart (forgive my misspelling) from the Philippines. Aniko was from Romania and was the best we have ever had. She was so professional,knowledgeable about each menu and very concerned about our satisfaction each meal. She was a delight. The food overall was wonderful both in the dining rooms and the 24 hour Horizon Court. The grill outside was great because some days ya just feel like havin a burger. They were great. Paying for ice cream stinks! The least they could do was have a soft serve machine that was easily accessible. Each day for 1 hour there was free ice cream in the back of the Horizon Court but it was served to you by a man with a melon ball scooper. Come on Princess! Panama Canal was very interesting and a good experience. We did the bus/train trip through the ship and I highly do NOT recommend it. It is very pricey for what you get. A 90 minute bus ride through Colon seeing nothing but extreme poverty and filth. The bus was freezing cold and a lot of people Napped. The tour guide was well informed and I did learn a lot although not 169.00 worth of knowledge. Maybe 69.00 worth. The train ride promised wildlife sightings. Did not see one- of anything! On board we were given a box lunch and a turkey sandwich. You decide. Then we got on another bus to take us back to the ship, Again- more slums and garbage in Cristobol. Costa Rica was the port we were looking forward to the most. Unfortunately it was pouring rain and all tours were cancelled. On a port day all shops and the casino are closed. No one wanted to zip line during a lightening storm imagine that. It cleared for about 5 min and we ventured our way to the marketplace at the end of the pier. They are very creative with tarps. However even the best tarps leak. We were soaked. Again talk about filth. The wooden crafts were beautiful and the coffee was a good buy. Outside of the marketplace children came up to us begging for a dollar as they were hungry. Heart wrenching and depressing. The other ports were fun. We have been to them before and enjoyed them immensely. Why Grand Cayman is the shortest port I'm not sure. Because its the nicest? The teen center and kid programs were wonderful. Our daughter who is 13 had a blast!The teen center was the most fun I've ever had out of all the cruises I have been on. We did stuff like disco's, Miss Coral Princess, fashion/clothes scavenger hunts, award nominations, board games, and there was unlimited PS2 for all you video game freaks, JUST KIDDING. There's also a free jukebox in the center so we always have music playing. It's a really teen friendly area and I'd like to go back to Princess Cruises. The teen staff there is really outgoing and nice. Except maybe this time he got annoyed at us because some people made up some stuff about him and his girlfriend. That was my daughter's input. The entertainment was so-so. Singers and dancers were ok. Not spectacular. The comedian Sarge should not be missed. He gave 2 shows on 2 different nights and he was hysterically funny! The violinist was very talented but unfortunately very full of herself. This was our first 10 day cruise. It was perfect in length. However we found the people to be a lot older than we are used to. Many older folks with wheelchairs, walkers, and other assistive devices. It was pretty much the geriatric love boat. We met awesome people and will stay lifelong friends. That is priceless. Our previous cruises were on Costa, and Royal Caribbean. Our daughter had the best cruise ever. We had a lot of good times too. We will be returning to Royal Caribbean in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
We traveled with a large group of friends (18 total), almost all of us had cruised before, most of us had been on Princess for at least one other cruise. We came from all over the country and arrived from three days in advance to the day ... Read More
We traveled with a large group of friends (18 total), almost all of us had cruised before, most of us had been on Princess for at least one other cruise. We came from all over the country and arrived from three days in advance to the day of departure. My wife and I arrived three days early to visit with relatives in the Miami area. We arrived at Port Everglades about 3PM with a scheduled sailing at 5PM, it was a great time to arrive, there were no lines and we were aboard ship within 15-20 minutes from the time we entered the terminal. We used our cell phone to locate our friends who were already aboard ship and joined them on the top deck for a party that was already in process. We had an obstructed view cabin on Emerald Deck (Deck 8)and it worked out great. The cabin had two double beds set up as a queen size, the room had sufficient storage for all of our clothes. The cabin more than met our needs, with the exception of sleeping, we were seldom there. Our cabin steward kept everything in great shape. The Coral Princess is a relatively new ship and was in excellent condition. The upper deck pool areas were very enjoyable. Just forward of mid-ship is an outdoor pool with hot-tubs and plenty of deck chairs. Slightly aft of the outdoor pool is a covered air-conditioned pool area that came in handy on one extremely rainy day. There were always enough deck chairs that we were able to choose between open sunshine or shade. There was enough room to meet with our friends and there was always easy access to food and beverages. The Wait staff was very attentive. They were easy to find when you wanted service and were never pushy. The pool area was a popular meeting area, we could usually find some of our group in the general vicinity. The pools were crowded but always fun, a number of shipboard activities centered around the pool. They were enjoyable whether you were participating or just watching. The average age of passengers aboard this cruise was much older than we had experienced on prior cruises. I don't know if it was because of the length of the cruise (10 days) or destination (Panama Canal), this is just a comment, it didn't impact our ability to enjoy what the ship had to offer in any way. It did make a difference in the energy level, there seemed to be more noise and energy on prior cruises and I missed that part of it. Dining like usual on the Princess line was great. For breakfast we would go to the Bordeaux Dining Room. The smoked Salmon is excellent. For lunch we would go to the Horizon Buffet on Deck 14 or the burger bar on 15. They were both good. As a group we chose the first sitting (6pm) in the Provence Dining Room. This gave us more time to enjoy the evenings shows and other events. We had planned to eat at one of the specialty restaurants (Sabatini's), but the meals and service in the Provence Dining Room more than met expectations and we never went to Sabatini's. Our group was seated at two adjoining tables and we shared one waiter and his helper. Sebastian and Ricky did a great job, they interacted with our group very well and were fun to be around. I found the fish, pork and lamb to consistently be excellent. I had steak one evening which was definitely inferior and never ordered steak again. I did have prime rib and it was fine. Sebastian gave us his picks of the entree every evening and he was consistently correct. The soups were a special treat and well worth trying. I'm not a desert eater, but I am when I travel on Princess ships - make sure you save room for them. The day's and evenings can be as busy as you like; you have a choice of activities to participate in. The daytime dance lessons were excellent. In the evening we always enjoyed shows in both the Princess Theater and Universe Lounge. The smaller lounges had music for dancing or listening after the main theaters closed. It wasn't the least bit difficult to party into the wee hours of the morning. The lounges definitely were not crowded after about 11, this was big change from the Golden Princess which drew a younger crowd. The smaller crowds lowered the energy level in the lounges and I found that disappointing. The shore excursions are what you make of them. In Ocho Rios we had signed up for Dunn's River Falls and the Shaw Botanical Garden, they were both fun. The climb up the falls looks to be strenuous, but it wasn't all that difficult. The Shaw Botanical garden was worth the visit, our guide was very well informed. The Panama Canal was what I was most interested in. We took the full transit by boat through to the Pacific. I'd recommend it to anyone. It is an engineering marvel that should be seen, our tour guide was informative and obviously loved the canal. His commentary lasted 4 hours and held our attention the entire time. Our next stop was Limon Costa Rica, we hit it on a day of torrential rains and all tours were cancelled. The ship's crew did a beautiful job of adjusting to the challenge. Within two hours they had published a list of replacement activities that would be available aboard ship, it turned out to be an enjoyable day. I take my hat off to the entire Princess staff, they did a great job. The Grand Cayman's are beautiful to see. We toured the island and did some shopping, it was quiet day but enjoyable. In Cozumel the damage from last years hurricane is obvious, they are a long way from having fully recovered. We took the snorkel trip to Planacar Reef. It was a beautiful day, the water was clear and the fish were plentiful but even the reef was damaged by the storm. Everyone is working very hard to repair the storm damage but progress is slow. Disembarkation went very smoothly. The ship's crew had published a list of anticipated departure times for your deck. They held very closely to that schedule and we were off the ship as expected, transportation to the airport by cab was easy and inexpensive. The entire 10 days were great, there was some concern that 10 days would be too long; it wasn't. We enjoyed every day of the cruise. Princess does an excellent job, the ship was great, food and entertainment were on par with any fine resort and the crew was well trained and very courteous. Traveling with a group of friends was a major plus, it enhanced the good times. But when traveling with that many people you expect to hear complaints, there weren't any. All of us enjoyed it and will do it again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
This was our first cruise since 1962 and didn't know what to expect. I booked my own flight and hotel in Ft. Lauderdale as I had frequent flyer miles and we got in a day early. Our stateroom was midships and was a balcony room with ... Read More
This was our first cruise since 1962 and didn't know what to expect. I booked my own flight and hotel in Ft. Lauderdale as I had frequent flyer miles and we got in a day early. Our stateroom was midships and was a balcony room with plenty of room. No problems here. The ship it self was great as we walked the stairs a lot no real crowded spots. Food in the Provence dining room as we had 1st seating was sensational, quality and presentation. Activities aboard were excellent, the service from our room steward, 2 waiters was wonderful. no problems whatsoever. The shows were first class especially the Princess dancers, singers and orchestra. The other acts were also very good. The shore excursions even though it costs more were also very good as the guides on different islands really did a good job and we got back to the ship on time. Getting off through customs and to airport went very smoothly. and this really was a great trip and I would not hesitate to go Princess again as everyone who worked on board in any position was courteous and they all did a great job. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
The on-line check in helped with the boarding process, which was flawless and quick. TIP: Put your pink Princess luggage tags on BEFORE you leave your home airport. One of my bags had to be delivered in Jamaica and Im sure the Princess ... Read More
The on-line check in helped with the boarding process, which was flawless and quick. TIP: Put your pink Princess luggage tags on BEFORE you leave your home airport. One of my bags had to be delivered in Jamaica and Im sure the Princess tag would have made the recovery easier for those looking for the bag. It turned up and all was well. We changed our Personal Choice dining to open dining and we were glad. This was my husbands first cruise; my second. On line check in helped speed the check-did because there was so much to do, a set schedule for us wasnt possible. This is an older cruise. We are in our 50s, but the cruise definitely had an older passenger list. At midnight, most everything is closed except for the Casino. The mini-suite we had was great. Cant say enough about the service. Bordeaux dining was great; food was okay. Horizon was great, anytime 24/7 eating and service there was awesome for a buffet. Tipping was taken care of with the $10.00 per day per person charge and eliminated a lot of the who/what to tip questions. The seasoned cruisers that we spoke with found this method more convenient than the envelopes for special people. On the other hand, we did meet some cruisers who still opted for tipping those who provided special service. The only person we tipped was the room service steward when he brought breakfast. All the shows were great. We made them all. Everyone put in 110%. Ocho Rios was awesome. Get off with your bathing suit because you will be climbing the Falls (if you can). We caught a cab from Freddy Taxi Service. Ask for him if you can. He took us all around the island for $80.00 and we gave him a $20 tip. Had a great van; air. Stopped at a jerk center and the Wassi Pottery Factory; roadside vendors and lots of cultural Ya Mahn talk. Back to the restaurants, since thats where you spend most of your time on board. All the raves about Sabatini'ss: just so-so, all 16 courses. And they rushed you through dinner. The Bayou had great service, (Emil was very attentive; Leonardo, the waiter, made the event very pleasant, but the food was just so-so, too. We wouldnt go back to either restaurant again. The cruise directors were a little hokey. They all had show biz backgrounds and they were a little hokey, but lots of energy and everyone had fun at their direction. All the wait staff work very hard and rotate stations. We thought this was a great trip. We put a deposit on our next cruise while on board this trip. Micol was great at the travel desk. The rain forest tour in Costa Rica was great. We did not tour in Cozumel or Grand Cayman. There was too much to do on your own. If you dont have a great time on this trip, it would be your own fault. Take Dramamine with; my husband was sea sick a little and the pills helped. Saw a few men with the patches behind their ears. Have fun! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
My cruise on the Coral Princess was my fifteenth cruise, having previously sailed on Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean ships since 1988. I traveled with 3 other adults, ranging in age from 45 to 81. We stayed in 2 ... Read More
My cruise on the Coral Princess was my fifteenth cruise, having previously sailed on Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean ships since 1988. I traveled with 3 other adults, ranging in age from 45 to 81. We stayed in 2 balcony staterooms on Dolphin deck, slightly forward of the forward elevators. We arranged independent flights to arrive in Fort Lauderdale the day before embarkation. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel, one of the loveliest near Port Everglades, where the tropical-themed lobby and atrium put us in a vacation mood immediately. We enjoyed the buffet breakfast, included with the room fee, there the next morning. We purchased the Hotel's pier transfer ($2.50 per person) to the Port. At about 12:30 pm, the transfer van picked us up and took us to the ship. We were on board by about 1:10 pm and experienced a smooth check-in. The Coral Princess is one of the prettiest ships I've been on, elegant and charming, but not glitsy. There are beautiful paintings throughout, even in the staircases. The first glimpse of the interior when we embarked was the spacious central Atrium, where a gentleman sat playing the white baby grand piano as we entered. Our staterooms were roomy, featured plenty of closet space, and were very clean. We disliked the tiny shower stalls and hard mattresses and pillows. I requested a foam mattress pad and softer pillow and received both within hours of my request. Our balconies were comparable in size to those on other cruise lines. We requested to open the door between them so we could have a larger balcony space to share, since we had neighboring staterooms. We noticed that the covering above the balcony was rusting and needed a paint job soon. Our first day after departing Port Everglades was a relaxing full day at sea. We took a refreshing dip in the adults-only Lotus Pool. This area, adjacent to the Spa and fitness facilities, is beautiful and peaceful. I never saw it crowded. We rested up before dressing up for the first formal night. After a delicious meal in the Provence Dining Room (traditional dining), we headed to the Princess Theater for the Show. We arrived about 20 minutes before the start time and were fortunate to find seats for four. This Theater seats only about 650 people, and there were many people turned away that evening for lack of available seats. They either returned to the later show or missed out altogether. While I'm on this subject, I'll say that the overall entertainment in the Theater was above average, but Princess planned poorly by not having enough seats in the main show lounge (the Princess Theater) on this ship. One evening, I tried to see a performance in the alternate Universe Lounge instead. No luck. I arrived 25 minutes early and found ALL seats taken or being saved already. I have not encountered such a jam on other cruise ships---crowds yes---but not a full house with no seats available. The next day we arrived in Ochos Rios, Jamaica. We chose the Bamboo Bay Beach Club tour offered by Princess. We took a small van to the nearby beach. Personnel at the beach were friendly and engaging. They served us a light Jamaican lunch and beverages and danced for us a few times. The beach was private. We stayed about 3 hours, then walked off to do shopping. We then returned to the beach for our ride back to the ship. This was a relaxing day. After another full day at sea, we then arrived at the Gatun Locks in Panama. We approached the locks at about 5:30 am and watched all the transit activity from our balconies. After going through, we stopped in Gatun Lake. At about 10:00 am, our shore excursion was called, and we went to the designated gathering area in the Theater before boarding the tender to go ashore. This was very well organized by Princess. We chose the Panama Canal Railway journey. This tour, which lasted about 6 hours, was a wonderful surprise. I anticipated an old, rickety train. But the train has been restored, with comfortable seats, wall-to-wall carpeting, and even a decent bathroom. The tour guide was informative about Panama's history, politics, and culture. We enjoyed the stop at the Miraflores Locks Visitor's Center and the scenery along the way. Upon our return to Cristobal, the ship was there waiting for us. We shopped awhile before getting back on the ship. Feeling tired, we decided to eat dinner in the Horizon Court, casual dining. We were glad we did! They provided a Northern European selection that night, with lots of German foods and Polka (oom-pa-pa) music. It was fun! The next day, we docked in Limon. There is not much in Limon itself. We chose the Coffee Plantation with Lunch tour offered by Princess. Because of mostly sunny skies, we saw marvelous scenery throughout this tour, including excellent views of one of Costa Rica's many volcanos. The coffee plantation itself was somewhat interesting but is not fully operational during April, so much of the machinery was not actually running during our visit. That was a bit disappointing. Afterward, we ate a delicious Costa Rican lunch as a lovely Hotel with gorgeous landscaped grounds. We could choose either fish or chicken as a main entree. The ride back to the ship featured another 3 hours of pretty scenery. By the way, this tour took about 45-60 minutes longer than the time in the Shore Excursion booklet. We appreciated another full day at sea to relax before arriving at Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Having been there before, we decided to shop in Georgetown rather than doing any sightseeing. The shops had nice selections, but some were quite expensive in comparison to other Caribbean ports. When we returned to the ship, we freshened up and dressed up for the evening's Captain's Circle Party and formal night. The party was a nice gathering, including music, free cocktails, and a few appetizers. I decided to have my picture taken with the Captain, something I have not grown tired of, even after 15 cruises. To me, that's a tradition. We ate until we we fuller than full in the Provence Dining Room. My table companions ordered the twin lobster tails. I had the pheasant. We were all pleased with the taste and presentation of the food as well as the service. We still like traditional dining on most nights. Our final port stop was Cozumel, where they are still recovering from Hurricanes. It took us over an hour to tender ashore after we received our tender tickets that morning. We shopped ashore, found some good bargains, then returned. We found the tender operation to be quite a chore, and I recommend that Princess stop elsewhere until a new pier is available there. Our final day at sea was relaxing. We shopped on board, swam in the pools, and packed up. Disembarkation went very efficiently, although it was difficult to find a porter for our luggage. We took a taxi independently to the airport. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
DEPARTURE EVE: Overnight in Fort Lauderdale @ the Marriott Courtyard Cruiseport Hotel. Had shuttle from the airport and our driver arrived within 5 - 10 minutes. Nice hotel and within walking distance of Bass Pro Shop and a great seafood ... Read More
DEPARTURE EVE: Overnight in Fort Lauderdale @ the Marriott Courtyard Cruiseport Hotel. Had shuttle from the airport and our driver arrived within 5 - 10 minutes. Nice hotel and within walking distance of Bass Pro Shop and a great seafood restaurant, Islamorada. Clean hotel, nicely decorated and comfortable. Very accustomed, and accommodating, to cruise travellers. EMBARKATION: Arrived at 11:30 and we were in our cabins by 12:00. We are not Elite or Platinum members and were taken in with those that were. Had robes and egg-crate mattress on bed by 12:30. Very smooth. FOOD: Anytime Dining was chosen as we did not want to be dictated by a schedule. The food is good, not great. Pizza is served on the Lido level and it is very tasty but the dining room experience and odd food combinations left us shaking our heads, especially at the buffet. We have only sailed on Princess but overhead many previous RCI passengers comparing the differences. By no means did we go hungry but it was not up to the standards we had when we sailed the Coral in Alaska. SERVICE: Princess excels in service. All staff have had great customer service training and practice it. PORTS: Cozumel - still struggling; have been going there for 15+ years and they truly have taken a hard hit. Tendering was 30 - 40 minutes; no big deal. By all means, go ashore and help out their businesses! Cayman - My husband went to Stingray City and thoroughly enjoyed this. We both went to Hell which,in a nutshell, is 3 T-shirt shops and a post office to mail back a postcard. Not much to write home about but at least I can say I have "been to Hell and back". Purchased rum cakes at Tortuga Rum Cake Factory and back on ship. Tendered here but again, not a big deal. Limon - Private tour to get away from the maddening crowd and it was well worth it. Banana plantation, river boat trip (monkeys, crocs , sloths ), coffee purchases, toured local neighborhoods. Good way to see the true side of Costa Rica. Shopped at the pier; good prices on woodenware. Panama Canal - The highlight of the tour. We stayed on the ship and shot pictures/film. Lounged by the pool until we began our journey back thru the locks. The shopping port at Cristobal is filled with all matters of "stuff"; T-shirts, Embera Baskets, liquors, etc. Jamaica - Nice port; ate at Coconuts-by-the-Bay and had jerk chicken wings; very good! Shopped and truly enjoyed ourselves. SEA DAYS - We were mostly poolside these days but the staff offer a great numbers of activities to suit all ages. Pool was crowded and lounge chairs went quickly. For the most part, the children were well behaved. The Lotus Pool was kept off limits to kids and the Youth Patrol did a good job enforcing this. STATEROOM: We have sailed in Emerald 310 before and like the location of the cabin. Has a small shower, balcony (covered) plenty of cabinet and closet space and is ideally located. DEBARKATION: On the gangway at 8:15 and at the airport by 9:15. It went very, very smooth we arrived home safe and sound! OVERALL: Would recommend the Coral Princess and, on a scale from 1 - 10, would give this trip a 9. The only reason it would not be a 10, again, is the food. Happy Journeys! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
This was our 10th Princess Cruise and in addition to my husband and myself, my sister, a 1st timer joined us. We had the aft portside mini-suite on Dolphin deck and it was a great cabin! Going thru the Panama Canal my husband could touch ... Read More
This was our 10th Princess Cruise and in addition to my husband and myself, my sister, a 1st timer joined us. We had the aft portside mini-suite on Dolphin deck and it was a great cabin! Going thru the Panama Canal my husband could touch the wall of the canal from our balcony. To back up and start from the beginning, we flew in 4/2 and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. This is within walking distance of the water taxi and we went down and rode around after we checked in. Lots of beautiful homes and yachts to see as you cruise around. Passed the evening for us. The next morning we had the basic breakfast and then off to the port. We did a cab on our own and were there in no time. We were early and we knew it but after this I would do it again in a heartbeat! We were directed inside upon arrival and took a seat to wait. Since we are Platinum we were greeted by a gentleman giving out numbers and given a #1 for priority boarding. About 11:30 they called #1 for the first group to go to the counter and prepare to board. I was thrilled because my sister was actually the 1st person on the ship for our sailing. We were in our cabin before 12. Met our cabin steward Emanual, tipped, requested lounge chairs for the balcony, egg crates for the beds and then off to lunch! A quick look around the ship and then back to our balcony for sail away. A nice dinner that evening (Personal Choice) and the welcome aboard show and then off to bed. Day 2 was a sea day and we swam, relaxed and just enjoyed being on the ship. Day 3 Jamaica. We have been there 2 times previously but since as I said my sister is a 1st timer we did a tour. It went to the Walkerswood Jerk factory, Wassi Pottery and Dunn's River Falls. A pretty good tour, as tours in Jamaica go. Day 4 sea day, I relaxed and since I was reading the DaVinci Code I spent some quality time reading and relaxing. Day 5 Panama Canal, full day of canal and then a quick stop at the port for a shopping break. Day 6 we did an Eco Tour in Limon and it was very good. This consisted of a bus ride to the boats in the canals of the rain forest, there we saw sloth and lots of birds. After they served coffee, lemonade and fruit. A couple of locals played music and it was a nice break. From here we did the bus to the train which took us along the coast near a banana plantation. On the way we saw howler monkeys. We were transferred by bus to the plantation and saw the complete processing of bananas. Very interesting! Back to the ship and the little bit of shopping near the pier. Day 7 at sea, just relax, read, swim etc. Day 8 Grand Cayman. We did the Island highlights and sting ray observatory tour. I wanted to swim with the sting ray but am getting past achilles tendon surgery and wasn't sure I should be climbing in and out of a boat. They are amazing creatures! Day 9 Costa Maya. We just took the bus to Mahajual and had lunch and then looked at all the shops. Back to Costa Maya in the afternoon and a look around there. Our first visit there and we liked it. We would probably take a tour next time but by this time my foot was wearing out and we just took it easy. Day 10 at sea, time to pack, BUMMER! All this trip we used the buffet for breakfast and lunch and the dining room for dinner. A couple of days I did room service and had coffee and juice delivered and for the day of the canal I wrote in full breakfast orders for the 3 of us and there was no problem. We did the evening shows each night and found most of them pretty good. Our biggest complaint with entertainment was the lounges and music. We like to swing dance found there was no good music for much of that. In addition they rolled up the sidewalks about 12AM so after the shows there was very little time to even listen to music. Most of the service was very good but I was a bit miffed with the Pursers desk and they never did get that straightened out. The wait staff varied in the quality of service in the dining room. 3 nights they were wonderful and the other 7 just OK. We had different teams each night. One day we were invited to the Captain's Lunch. Our first time for that. We were in the top 40 passengers on this sailing for most days sailed. Lunch was in Sabatini's and a nice time was had by all. Would we sail with Princess again? You bet! Was it our best cruise ever? No, But I did 3 additional bookings on board and that makes 5 that I am going to plan ahead for the next couple of years. We enjoyed the Coral Princess and hope you will too! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
This was our 4th cruise and our 3rd with Princess. Overall, this cruise was wonderful. Our most memorable cruise by far has been Alaska on the Dawn Princess. We flew down to Ft. Lauderdale the night before and stayed at Hampton Inn ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise and our 3rd with Princess. Overall, this cruise was wonderful. Our most memorable cruise by far has been Alaska on the Dawn Princess. We flew down to Ft. Lauderdale the night before and stayed at Hampton Inn Airport North. We never travel on the embarkation day. We can sleep in a little and enjoy the complementary breakfast, take it easy till time to head to the port. We arrived at Port Everglades a little after 11am and had to wait for the embarkation to start. When they opened the lines at about 11:45, we headed for the Caribe Deck Express check in. We were on the boat at noon. Embarkation process was super. However, we're very familiar with the process and had our cruise tickets, passports and credit card ready. Once on board we went straight to our balcony stateroom on deck 10. Those that cruise should become very familiar with the deck layout well in advance. That way you won't need help finding your room We placed our carry on bags in our room and headed for the buffet lunch. After lunch we walked the entire ship to become familiar with its layout. The Coral Princess is a beautiful ship. Very spacious inside and well decorated. This is our favorite ship so far. The stateroom is typical for Princess. Our only complaint would be the size of the shower stall. Everything else is just fine. The public spaces are wonderful. Lots of seating and very comfortable. The Universe Lounge at the back of the ship is fantastic. A great high tech theater for shows, dances, games, etc.. The main public corridors are beautiful and enjoyable just to walk through. We did not attend either of the specialty dining places but they were very beautiful. The Explorer's and Wheelhouse lounges were nice places for music and dancing. Our only complaint with the ship was the bar at the entrance to the Explorer's Lounge. There's smoking at the bar and the you have to walk right by the bar to enter the lounge. The main public corridor also passes right by the bar, and you have to walk through a cloud of smoke to either enter the lounge or pass by the lounge. Poor planning on the designers part. Possibly a heady duty air filter right above the bar would help. On the deck the Lido pool area was great. Usually plenty of lounge chairs. However, it will be busy on sea days. Next door there's the Lotus pool for adults only. Great place to get away from kids, wind or intense heat. There's a retractable ceiling that can be closed during bad weather. Very well decorated and the pool water is heated. Great place to relax and catch some Z's. The Horizon court buffet is toward the front of the ship which is great for looking out the front of the ship while you're eating. We were a little surprised at the cost of a soft drink pass. $39.50 plus 15% gratuity for the 10 night cruise. We passed on the soft drink pass. It was much less on a 7 night cruise. You have to drink a lot of Coke to pay for that. Our suggestion to Princess has been to offer another beverage other than tea and water like Carnival and RC. Something like lemonade or fruit punch. The other suggestion we've made to Princess was to extend either free or discounted soft drink passes to Circle members. That would be a great perk to repeat customers. In Jamaica, we did the Dunn's River Falls and Dolphin's Cover excursion. Climbing up the falls was great. However, once you start you can get off till you're about half way up the falls. Keep that in mind in case you're not sure. Dolphin's cove was a disappointment. We stayed there all of 30 minutes before heading back. The Panama Canal experience was beyond words. A must do cruise! Once in the lake, we got off and did the Panama Railway excursion to the Pacific side. A great trip and I highly recommend it. Costa Rica was a beautiful country. We did the Country side-eco trip. A bus ride through the country, a boat ride on the canal in the rain forest, and a train ride also through the country and a banana plantation. We saw howler monkey's from the train which was a highlight. This too was a great excursion. Wonderful guides on both. Grand Cayman was good too. A more modern place to visit. The water is great for snorkeling. We did not do any excursions in Costa Maya. The water is beautiful there. The activities on board were your usual stuff but fun if you participated. Stay up for the champagne waterfall on the second formal night. Its a lot of fun. The entertainment was very good. One of the highlights was a woman named Clair Gobin (?) from the UK, who played the violin. Absolutely fabulous! A comedian named Sarge was hilarious. The Princess singers and dancers did a wonderful job too. Service on board was wonderful. Our waiter in the Provence dining room at night was terrific. His name was Joseph and he did a great job taking care of us. We got to know a few of the bar stewards and they were all very pleasant and courteous. Disembarkation was easy. We didn't have to hurry and got off the ship within 10 minutes of the published time. Overall, this was a fantastic cruise on a beautiful ship. We had a great time once again on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
Prior to this cruise we have cruised on the Dawn and Golden Princess ships and the HAL Oosterdam. I will hit on the significant high and low lights of this 10-night Panama Canal trip. Embarkation- You could not find an easier port to ... Read More
Prior to this cruise we have cruised on the Dawn and Golden Princess ships and the HAL Oosterdam. I will hit on the significant high and low lights of this 10-night Panama Canal trip. Embarkation- You could not find an easier port to sail from being less than 10 minutes from the Hollywood Airport. The embarkation process was very organized and swift. Itinerary- This cruise is listed as a Panama Canal trip and travels over 3,000 nautical miles. The ironic part is that only about one of those is actually in the Panama Canal. You enter Gatun Lake, through the Gatun Locks (which is an engineering marvel) anchor and then turn around and come back out. That is the extent of what you see of the Panama Canal. It was OK but I would not do it again. In addition the cruise line is charged a $245K toll which I am sure is reflected in the cost of the cruise. Cabin- We again traveled with our 16 and 11 year old sons and opted as we always do for a mini-suite and were in cabin #C716 which is aft on the Caribe deck port side. This is the second time we opted for this location and would be the last. We had the same location on the Golden Princess and had no problem yet on this trip the room had constant vibration and engine noise. I thought I was in one of those cheesy motel room beds that you put quarters in to vibrate. On the plus side was the larger balcony which is partially covered. The mini-suites provide adequate room for four, if you stay organized, but make sure you opt for the egg crate mattress cover for the pull out sofa. We did not receive the advertised champagne but did get the robes in the room. Our cabin steward was just OK. The location was nice as we had a rear open deck that was never crowded and good for the Canal passage viewing. Food- On my first two Princess cruises we were really wowed by the food in the dining rooms and the Lido buffet. The third cruise was on HAL and after that one we said we could not wait to get back to Princess. After this one we can't wait to get back to our next planned HAL cruise next July. We opted for the anytime dining and met with the maitre d' the first night and arranged for the same table and waiter every night at the same time. This is the best way to ensure you get the best level of service. While a couple of nights the food was very good on most nights again it was just OK and did not wow us. Either from a selection or quality standpoint. Our waiter though was a bright spot and was excellent. The Lido buffet food was also disappointing and was a big step down from the HAL buffet. We did not opt for any of the alternative restaurants as we have previously dined in Sabatini's on the Golden and that does go over the top and is worth doing it at least once. Ports- Our ports of call were Ocho Rios, Panama (Tender), Costa Rica, Grand Cayman (Tender), and Costa Maya. Ocho Rios is horrible and they clearly are not geared up to handle the influx of people going a shore. We did not dock at the main pier but rather the alternate "industrial" pier and the area to meet your excursions was a circus. It was not an enjoyable event and from what we saw of the island you can keep it. In Panama my son and I went fishing for Peacock Bass which was a good time. Costa Rica has good shopping and was OK. Grand Cayman was the home run. Do not visit this port without swimming with the sting rays and the money on this island is evident. The green turtle farm is also very interesting. Costa Maya was an alternate port for us to Cozumel. It is only about three years old and has adequate amenities although the shopping is not that good from a price standpoint. We visited the 1/2 day Mayan Ruin tour which was very good. Ship board entertainment- The entertainment was just OK with the best being the stand up comedian Sarge. The musicals were OK but nothing over the top. The casino is adequate and was never really crowded. Disembarkment- The disembarkment was again organized and smooth. It looked like everybody was off the ship by about 10:00 AM. All in all this cruise again was just OK. In all aspects it is not one I would do again but I would probably give Princess a second chance, at some point on another ship, hoping that some of the low points are inherent to just the Coral. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
First Alaskan cruise after two Caribbean trips. TERRIFIC! In so many respects. We went almost 1800 miles, and I'd say at least 90% of the way we were passing snow capped mts., often on both sides. The ride was incredibly smooth, not ... Read More
First Alaskan cruise after two Caribbean trips. TERRIFIC! In so many respects. We went almost 1800 miles, and I'd say at least 90% of the way we were passing snow capped mts., often on both sides. The ride was incredibly smooth, not surprising with the "inner" channels predominant. Even the windier days with choppier waters had us with a VERY smooth ride - NO rocking. This ship rides so smooth. It is also one of the prettiest ships I've seen, so nice with the wood, marble and brick effects. The shops were fair, but we shop offship mainly anyway. The embarkation was quick, though they really needed better signs to direct traffic. We were on by 12:30 and were eating lunch immediately. FOOD: Quite good. The 24 hour buffet was terrific, sometimes with choices like Mahi-Mahi, Grouper, a big bowl of peeled shrimp, beef, chicken and more, all at one time! The pastries were a little weak for my style (I like the sugary ones like doughnuts). But the fruits and veggies seemed quite fresh. My wife just oozed over the cantaloupes. So, the 24-hour buffet gets high marks. The formal dining room was good, and the portions were larger than the last two cruise lines we've been on. The beef was variable, but the rest was quite good. More "anytime" dishes always meant they have something we like. At least the dining room wasn't over the engines like on the Celebrity Century. Never got to the Lido grille because everything else was so good, but people raved about the pizza. SHOWS: Quite good. This ship has TWO auditoriums in a sense, though one is more informal, but still large. That means many show choices. ROOM: Mini-suite, because, it was only about $50 more than a regular balcony. This ship has almost all balconies anyway. B431 is the perfect room, because the balcony rail bends around to the front allowing a view FORWARD! (It is on the end of the section).It really was a dream. The mini-suite (1st one we ever had) has the most reasonable price that can be imagined, esp. compared to other lines. EXCURSIONS: Ketchikan - Took float plane to a lodge for meal and then back. WONDERFUL. There are longer flights possible. Shopping was almost the best of all ports there to me, though Skagway wasn't bad, it seemed that there were just almost all jewelry stores out there. Did Salmon Bake and Mendenhall Glacier at Juneau - very nice. Train to White Pass at Skagway. A long but scenic ride. Since it was May, the snow was incredible up at the top. Very deep. They even had an avalanche the week or so before and they had to stop the runs until it was cleared. SERVICE: Room steward - okay, not remarkable. Dining waitress - outstanding. I guess it just depends on who you get. Did NOT constantly have people selling drink or taking pictures. Not bad. TRIP TO ANCHORAGE - You have to get a ride from Whittier to Anchorage, a significant trip. Princess will bus you there for about $55, but I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't rather take the Comedy Tour bus by Alaskan Leopard - for about the same amount or less, and get a tour of Portage Glacier, Portage Lake, an animal reserve, and more, in a quite small but nice vehicle (water and snacks included). The video show and humor was great. I am glad we discovered this alternate transportation. FINAL: The weather was strangely good - fair and mild with little rain (mainly overnight or early on). Temps were in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s the farther we went. Take your binoculars. If you're looking for the big Carnival "festive" atmosphere don't do this, but if you want and wonderful, scenic ride with an older group of travelers, then this is it. I could hardly take in all the constant beauty during the trip. I imagine a bit of this would be weather dependent, though. We had incredible visibilities - 50 mile views at times. Princess did well. The ship never seemed crowded, and even the buffet never had long lines. I'm trying to think of complaints, but they must be so small, I can't remember them now. Well, I think they should've had more chocolate, but that's just me. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
Cruise Review Coral Princess May 3, 2006  May 18, 2006 Ports of Call: Port Everglades; Aruba; Panama Canal, Port Amador; ; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Huatulco; Acapulco; Cabo San Lucas; San Francisco. Eight sea days. Total distance at sea: ... Read More
Cruise Review Coral Princess May 3, 2006  May 18, 2006 Ports of Call: Port Everglades; Aruba; Panama Canal, Port Amador; ; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Huatulco; Acapulco; Cabo San Lucas; San Francisco. Eight sea days. Total distance at sea: 5,037 Nautical Miles. Cruise Experiences: This was our 18th cruise with Princess (168 days total) and our 46th cruise overall. This was our first time aboard the Coral Princess. Our last Princess sailing was in January of 2005 aboard the Diamond Princess. The Coral Princess is a largest ship capable of a Panama Canal transit. Checking in at 91,627 gross tons and with a passenger capacity of about 1970 and a crew of 900. In command was Captain Georgio Pomata. The Coral was built by in 2002 and is beginning to show her age in some areas. Embarking/Disembarking: Check in was great for us as Captains Club Elite Members (16+ cruises). We arrived at the cruise terminal in Ft. Lauderdale at about 1:30 PM and there was no one at the Elite Member counter, so we literally walked directly on board after giving the desk our credit card imprint and picking up our room card/key. Disembarking was the best we have experienced in all of our cruises. We were off the ship at 8:30 AM and at the Oakland airport by 9:15 AM. Prior to disembarking we cleared U.S. Customs and had breakfast in the dining room. Stateroom: We had a stateroom with balcony, B514 on the Baja Deck. The room was almost identical the rooms we had aboard the Grand and Golden Princesses. Quite large as cruise ship staterooms go. I really enjoyed the little detailing that was evident in the room. Some of the extra touches included crown molding, a wood trimmed archway between the closet, bathroom area and the bedroom area. I would rate the stateroom as excellent to outstanding. We used the queen bed configuration and there was ample room on both sides of the bed to navigate. Stateroom did include a refrigerator which in our case was stocked at no charge because of Captains Club Status. Bathroom was typical of cruise ships. Shower was the smallest we have experienced aboard a cruise ship! Dont really know how some of the larger folks aboard were even able to use it. I experienced no change in water temp. Supplied amenities were excellent (Lotus Spa soap, shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, etc.) I really dont know if these were upgraded in any way because of our CC status. Restaurants and Food: There are two dining rooms aboard the Coral: The Provence on Deck 6 and The Bordeaux on Deck #5, both are located midship. Breakfast and lunch were served in the Bordeaux Dining Room (open seating) and in the Horizon Court Buffet (Deck #14 midship). The quality and variety of the food was excellent throughout the cruise. We ate most all of our dinners in the Provence with the exception of a couple of evenings following long shore excursions, when we ate in the Horizon Court. All of our breakfasts and lunches were in the Horizon Court. Selections were all great; we particularly enjoyed the cooked to order egg station, which had been missing on the Diamond. I am not fond of the large oval plastic plates used in place of a tray and smaller dishes. Missed the china used on Celebrity. The coffee all over this ship was outstanding except for the Horizon Court where it was made from syrup. Entertainment: There were the usual mix of musical revues and guest entertainers spread throughout the ship in various lounges and of course in the theater. They also had the usual audience participation show (newly wed game, Deal or No Deal, etc.). Their show times and locations were quite a challenge to figure out and made it a job to plan your evenings entertainment. I felt the Coral Princess Singers and Dancers did an outstanding job. This troupe was somewhat larger (in number) than we have seen on other ships. The only problem with the entertainment was that every show, lecture and presentation was packed to standing room only regardless of venue. In order to get a seat for anything you had to arrive at least a half hour prior to the start, and if you wanted a good seat it was more like a full hour. Cruise Director Gavin Chandler did a creditable job, but I would not rate him as exceptional. Paolo Noonis and the Coral Princess Orchestra were outstanding. For an after-show drink and dancing, I would recommend the Wheelhouse Bar. A great, comfortable lounge with fantastic furnishings, not quite as spectacular as the Wheelhouse aboard the Diamond however. The dance floor is exceptional and the music was above average. The Princess Casino was the very well laid out with a British theme. And, since I live in Las Vegas Ive seen a lot of casinos! There was actually room to walk around in this casino. They did not cram in all that they could as they do in most shipboard casinos. We did not spend any time in the Casino, but when we passed through it never seemed over crowded. Other: The pool areas were great, especially the indoor pool. The exercise room in the Lotus Spas looked great although I must confess we did not use it.. The ship featured a so called Internet Cafe which IMHO is somewhat of a joke. About a dozen computers placed in two corner areas of the Atrium on Deck #8. No privacy whatsoever and at any given moment about 5 or 6 of the units would be out of service. Connections were very, very slow and unreliable. At $.35 per minute it took about 10 minutes to get your email server open. It was free for us because of our CC status and Im sure glad I did not have to pay for it!! This setup is a real bummer. The gift shops were well stocked and stayed open most nights past 10 PM. The photographers were around the ship but never intrusive. Announcements over the ships intercom were kept at a minimum. Ports of Call: Aruba We were in port in Aruba on Saturday, May 6th from 8:00 AM till 5:00 PM. Ship tied up right downtown, so shopping was within easy walking distance. We window shopped for a couple of hours and returned to the ship for lunch and a relaxing afternoon on board. Panama Canal and Port Amador The canal transit was fantastic and a must do for every cruiser!! Our full transit took all day Monday, May 8th. Our evening stop at Port Amador was a joke. Dont even bother with this port. We tendered in, walked through their Mall, and walked directly back to the tender pier and returned to the ship. Heard a number of complaints aboard about the two shore excursions offered here. Puntarenas We were docked here from 7:00 AM until 6:00 PM on Wednesday, May 10th. During the morning we walked down the pier to an informal shopping area along the beach. Lots of very nice handicrafts and Costa Rican items. A very enjoyable experience and, yes we did purchase some things to bring back with us. During the afternoon we did a bus trip to Sarchi about an hour and a half inland. Visited a factory where hand painted Ox Carts are made. A truly amazing place. We purchased a very small ox cart which is now on our bar. Almost purchased a much larger one for our screened porch to use as a serving cart, but simply ran out of time. Huatulco We docked at the new pier in Huatulco from Noon till 6:00 PM on Friday, May 12th. This is a new port being created by the Mexican Government and reminded us very much of Costa Maya. Prime attractions here are the many unspoiled beaches. Acapulco Docked from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM on Saturday, May 13th. We did an all day tour which was privately arranged by a fellow passenger we met on the internet. We had six passengers in our van with our driver/tour guide. A fantastic day for a great price (when compared with what the ship offered.) Cabo San Lucas As most cruiser know this is a tender port. We did however, have a full day here rather that the typical half day on most of the other cruises we have been on. Just wandered around town shopping and enjoying the sights of a port we have been to many, many times. Overall: I would rate this Coral Princess an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. The overall experience was excellent. I have deducted for the small shower, the internet cafe, and some little items needing attention like the railing of the balconies. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
This was our 16th cruise for my wife and I. We are mid 50s and usually have adult family members with us. Most of our cruises have been with RCCL but sometimes we try other lines. This was our second Princess cruise. The Good: Off and ... Read More
This was our 16th cruise for my wife and I. We are mid 50s and usually have adult family members with us. Most of our cruises have been with RCCL but sometimes we try other lines. This was our second Princess cruise. The Good: Off and on the ship was the best we have ever experienced. Our mini suite was beautiful. The public rooms...bars, lounges, etc. were very impressive but no outside viability. Overall service was good and friendly. Food in dining room was decent...not great but pretty typical. The ship was clean and in good repair. People at the pursers desk were friendly and solved our problems. The Bad: The Horizon Court buffet is stuck in the '70s...poor selection, taste...the desserts were few and far between...the soups were horrible ...the lay out was cramped with people on top of each other...and not enough staff. They have a lot of work to do here to catch up with RCCL or Celebrity The dining rooms are one story layouts that again are a throw back to much older ships...Can't believe a ship of this age doesn't have a multi level adds so much to the room. Sabbatinis Specialty -- A seafood restaurant that calls itself Italian.Lots of seafood on all the menus. There is no place on this ship to view the scenery...very closed in except for the the Horizon Court....the ship needs much more glass. Summary: Certainly not our best cruise experience...will probably not try Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
We had heard that June was the driest and sunniest month in Alaska, and were not disappointed as the temperatures reached into the 60s with sun every day except one. That made our cruise spectacular! We, my husband and I, aged 63 and 64, ... Read More
We had heard that June was the driest and sunniest month in Alaska, and were not disappointed as the temperatures reached into the 60s with sun every day except one. That made our cruise spectacular! We, my husband and I, aged 63 and 64, are veteran cruisers who have never been to Alaska. We have sailed with Princess before so knew what to expect ship-wise. The Coral Princess is beautiful and our service couldn't have been better. The following comments are minor compared to the overall quality and enjoyment of our cruise experience. First-seating dining was full so we were assigned second seating. Immediately upon boarding the ship, we signed up for anytime dining, meaning the Bordeaux dining room between 5:30 and 10:30pm. For us, this was good because we like eating early and had no trouble getting seated around 5:30pm. However, you would be wise to make reservations if you want to dine between 6:00 and 9:00pm. You may request the same table each night or you may dine at different tables. We enjoyed meeting different dining companions. The food in the dining room was very good. We found the Horizon Court buffet lacking in selections that we liked, but we usually chose this venue for breakfast and a light lunch. At a buffet, one can always find something! The grill served tasty hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries. Ports of call--next time we will wait and book our shore excursions at the dock. The enjoyment of many excursions depends upon the weather. In every port, there are several companies that will take you on any tour and usually for less cost than booking on the cruise ship. In Ketchikan, we took the cruise ship tour to Saxman Native Village. It was informative but not a "must-see" excursion. We wished we had gone to the Lumberjack Show--sounded like more fun. Shopping is good and inexpensive here! In Juneau, we booked ahead of time on the internet a whale-watching tour through Orca Enterprises. We did see whales, but they were quite far away--the scenery on the boat ride was magnificent. We took a town shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier ($6.00 each way) and had a wonderful time hiking out to the glacier on a 66 degree day. It was fun to watch the local kids swimming in the glacier runoff (probably about 50 degrees). Shop for souvenirs here in Juneau, too. In Skagway, we booked the Best of Skagway tour through the cruiseline. For us, this was the ultimate Alaska experience, with the White Pass & Yukon Railroad trip a number 10 in the magnificent scenery department. Don't miss it! Liarsville gold camp was fun, with a wonderful salmon/chicken bake served outdoors in a beautiful setting. Days at sea during the cruising of Glacier Bay and College Fjord were interesting, especially with the 60 degree weather in Glacier Bay. Being able to view the glaciers under blue skies and sunny weather in a deck chair with a cool drink made for a fabulous day. Shipboard entertainment---We felt the nights we had visited ports didn't offer much in the way of quality entertainment. Much of the entertainment was game-show based and involved the cruise passengers entertaining the audience. For our money, we'd rather see professional entertainment and production numbers. The production numbers we did see were very good. The one-man Greg Burnham show from Las Vegas was astounding. We felt that cruising on the Coral Princess was a great way to see Alaska, and we would definitely go again, and recommend the same trip to others. We had wonderful service and encountered no problems whatsoever. We always choose to leave our own gratuities by asking at the service desk not to include our gratuities in our bill, supplying us with gratuity envelopes instead. We take pleasure in giving more to those who have provided beyond the normal service. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
Off to the Frozen Tundra  It all started as a surprise 20th anniversary trip. Before you knew it, we (Steve & Ruth) were planning the anniversary trip for Andrea & Steve. It sounded like fun, so we decided to join in. After all, ... Read More
Off to the Frozen Tundra  It all started as a surprise 20th anniversary trip. Before you knew it, we (Steve & Ruth) were planning the anniversary trip for Andrea & Steve. It sounded like fun, so we decided to join in. After all, it was an all adults trip to Alaska, and Steve K. didnt mind. We were joined by mom (Irene) and her friend. We spent countless hours investigating excursions, tours, weather and shopping. Before you knew it, July was here, and we left the 95+ heat wave of Philly, for our adventure to the 49th state. Our plans included 3 days on land at Denali National Park, a night in Anchorage, a 7 day cruise on the Coral Princess, and a night in Vancouver. First Class Flight, Second Class Food  It all started with the flight from Philly to Anchorage using American West (now owned by US Airways). For years, weve heard about how great it is to fly First Class  you get a menu & real dishes & sundae bar & your own bathroom. We anxiously anticipated this amazing experience. It cost $200 and 10,000 miles to upgrade (per person) for the two - 10 hour flights (roundtrip). It turns out, first class isnt such a big deal after all. Yes, the seats are roomier, and you get personalized attention from the flight attendant. However, the food reminded us of the food they served in Coach many years ago. First, theres the food selection. There are 12 seats in First Class, and they have exactly 12 meals  6 of each type. The first 6 people get a choice of meals  omelets or cereal, for example. If the first 6 people choose the omelets, then the last 6 get the cereal. Thats right, a box of Crispix cereal and milk. This is first class?!? You didnt even get a choice of boxed cereals. They alternated where they started to take orders  from the back traveling west and from the front traveling east. Somehow, we only managed to get a choice on one of the 3 flights. We traveled on Airbus 319 and 320. There were no electricity ports at our seats, and no movie choices. We watched the same flip down screens as everyone else. The Anchorage airport was small and efficient. Note  we landed at the older terminal. We wandered around for a while before we realized that we had to walk or take a shuttle to get to the car rental counter at the newer terminal. It was about a 10-minute walk (felt great after the 10 hour flight!), and we even beat the shuttle passengers. A word to the wise  make sure you have enough time between connecting flights. After some schedule changes by US Airways, we had less than 40 minutes between flights (stopover in Las Vegas). Our take-off from Philly was delayed (due to birds on the runway  clean up required!). We arrived in Vegas with about 5 minutes to spare  just enough time to board the next flight. On the return flight, we left Vancouver on time, and had about a one-hour layover in Phoenix. Driving to Denali  What do you want to do after a 10 hour, multi stop plane flight? Thats right! Go for a 4.5 hour drive. We rented a mini-van from Avis and began the drive on the one road up Alaska. We made a pit stop at a great Wal-Mart in Wasilla (about 45 min out of Anch), allowing us to stock up on snacks and souvenirs. Once you pass Wasilla, though, you enter a long empty stretch. Still, the drive also had some great scenery. We saw a bear about 100 feet from the highway, and almost ran over a porcupine (we stopped in time). We arrived at the Perch Resort at about 10:00 pm. Of course, this was actually 3:00 am to us. Adding to the confusion was the fact that it was still daylight (overcast, but daylight) out. The sun set, sort of, around 10:55 pm that night, but it never really got dark in Denali. Even in the wee hours, it was always a weird sort of twilight. Cabin and Closet both Begin With "C" - We stayed at the Perch Resorts. Although it was close to Denali, and reasonably priced option for the area, I cannot really recommend it. The cabins are extremely small  3 full sized beds (one in a loft), and a small bathroom (the shower was smaller than the cruise ship shower!). There was no place to put our luggage, or to unpack our things. We had 3 people in the room  we used one bed to store luggage, and lived out of the luggage for 3 nights. The shower was tiny (smaller than the one on the cruise ship), and the water was either scalding hot or freezing cold. The included breakfast was ok if you like carbs  French toast, biscuits, and pancakes. No protein on the menu (not even cereal and milk!). If I were going back, I would look for a place in Healy, and pay a little more for a more comfortable stay. Denali National Park - This national park is 6 million acres. We spent two full days here  hiking the trails near the entrance and taking the shuttle bus 85 miles into the park to Wonder Lake. Some of the highlights included: a ranger led hike to Horseshoe Lake, driving 15 miles into the park and hiking around the rather calm and poorly named Savage River, and visiting the sled dog kennels within the park. We browsed the visitor center, which has life sized replicas of the Alaskan wildlife. We were also lucky enough to see great real wildlife  from the moose right next to the parking lot to the snowshoe hare next to the car, to the arctic ground squirrels scampering around Savage River, to the moose and her calf crossing the road. The weather in Denali was fabulous. Warn and dry for all three days. What to do if a bear crosses your path  RUUUUNNNN!!!!!! Just kidding. Our first morning hike would bring us the first of many lectures on what to do if you encounter a bear. We got the moose and wolf lectures here as well, but we had the bear lectures at least 5 times over the course of the trip. The information, which includes things like never run, gather together and make yourself look bigger, and speak calmly, would come in handy later in the trip. Telling you this now is a literary element is known as foreshadowing. Who said you cant get an education from a trip report? Is that brown fuzzy splotch really a far, far away animal?  On our 2nd full day at Denali, we opted to take the park shuttle to Wonder Lake. Since Denali is so big, there are no guarantees of seeing animals. We actually got pretty lucky in seeing quite a variety up close and personal. Of course, youre in a 6 million acre park, so close is relative. The bus pulled up right alongside a caribou standing around in the grass. Later, we saw a lone female alpha wolf roaming the wild. The best, however, was watching a mama bear forage for food in a beaver dam for her cub. We have to admit, it did get tiring trying to spot wildlife off in the distance through the binoculars. We did see some stunning scenery which can never quite be captured by a camera. We also got lucky and saw the elusive Denali/Mt McKinley Mountain, which is shrouded in clouds 75% of the time. Overall, this part of the trip definitely falls into the "experience" category. Were really glad we did it, but I'm not sure we'd do it again. Id still recommend that any first time traveler make the trip, though. Honey, I Have a Great Idea - It should be mentioned that it is ill-advised to bring small children on this trip. Yes, it is free for kids. However, most kids (especially those under 2 yrs old) get bored sitting on a bus for 11 hours (yes, we had breaks every hour or two, but most of the time was spent sitting on the bus). One family brought a small child, and she cried every time they put her in the car seat (there is a rule about children on the bus and car seats). She spent much of the day crying, much to the annoyance of the other passengers on the tour. Definition of Captive Audience  When youre deep into the Alaskan north, it costs extra money to ship food and supplies up there. That makes meals in the Denali area are quite expensive. Perch Pizza, for example, starts at $20 for a plain pie. The bagged lunch was $12 for a turkey sandwich, apple, bottle of water and a cookie. We were very glad we bought some protein bars and other snacks at Wal-Mart. On the 2nd day, we went into Healy, and ordered lunch from Subs. Even with the cost of a cooler and a bag of ice, it was a bargain compared to Perch prices. Welcome to Alaska  When driving back to Anchorage, well, let me just say that there is a speed trap zone between mile 70 and 80 on Parks highway. The officer was very polite, though, and welcomed us to Alaska (along with a speeding ticket). Arctic Fox Inn  We stayed at this lovely bed & breakfast for our one night in Anchorage. What a difference! Here, we had a full apartment with 2 bedrooms, and a full kitchen. Judy, the onsite manager, was very welcoming and helpful. The B&B was very clean, and is highly recommended. Although a little further off the beaten path, it is within walking distance of downtown Anchorage. We spent the evening visiting souvenir shops (there are lots of those!). We had lunch at Humpys, which was a very nice, although quite smoky. We elected to eat outside on the patio, which was much better for those of us disturbed by the cigarette smoke inside. If the weather permits it, we recommend it. We had dinner at the Snow Goose, as recommended by Judy, and thought it was very good. We could have easily stayed in Anchorage another night or two. Arriving in Style  If you have a group (we were now six) that needs to make the 90 minute trip from Anchorage to Whittier, there isnt a better way to go than by stretch limo. We booked Alaskan Splendor limos ($320 total). They were perfect  right on time and everything they said theyd be. They included a stop at the Big Game reserve. The animals might have been more intriguing if we didnt have torrential downpours, but it was still nice to get close up views of bear, moose, and other wildlife. It wouldnt be our last. The trip wound up costing us about the same as a bus or train would have cost the six of us, but was far nicer. Isnt Alaska a Rainforest? - We had almost no rain in Denali. The weather was great the whole way . . . until the cruise. The rain began as we started our drive to Whittier, almost as if Alaska remembered it was supposed to rain on tourists. We had rain for the first 3 days of our cruise, but Whittier was by far the worst of the downpours. However, we had purchased a whole set of gear to prepare. The rain didnt interfere with our trip at all, and it cleared up for most of our excursions. Go Here to Check In. No, I Mean There. No, Here. - The Princess / Whittier check in process was laughable. Although everyone was very nice, no one seemed to know where to go or what to do. One person told us we could check-in and carry our bags onto the ship. Another told us that our bags wouldnt fit on the x-ray machine, so wed have to wait until 1 PM when the longshoremen arrived to check our bags. The scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz gave more clear directions (maybe you should go this way? Or maybe that way?). We wandered around the terminal trying to figure out where to go and what to do. Finally, one of the agents said, the tour bus is arriving now; you should get in line to check in. That was the best recommendation we had all day! We checked in  now what? We returned to the front of the terminal to wait to check in our bags. After 15 minutes, we noticed that everyone else that arrived with us seemed to be gone. No one else was waiting with their bags. Hmmmm&. Finally, we decided to try the boarding line. Voila! Our bags DID fit on the x-ray machine, and we were allowed to board. Although we had to drag our luggage onto the ship ourselves, it was much nicer than waiting in the terminal for hours, and we had all of our luggage with us  no waiting for them to deliver it to our stateroom hours later. We were on the ship in our cabins by about 12:40. For future reference in Whittier: Put your luggage on a cart and get in line at the cruise check in, even if they arent open yet. As long as you dont mind carrying your own bags, proceed to the security x-ray after you receive your cruise card. The Cruise - The ship is long and skinny in order to fit into the Panama Canal. That means that it isn't hard to find your way around, but it can take a little time to get from one end of the ship to the other. The ships itinerary was: Mon Depart Whittier, Alaska 9:30 PM Tues College Fjord, Alaska (Scenic Cruising) 6:00 AM - 9:00 AM Wed Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska (Scenic Cruising) 10:30 AM - 8:30 PM Thurs Skagway, Alaska 5:30 AM - 8:15 PM Fri Juneau, Alaska 6:30 AM - 4:00 PM Sat Ketchikan, Alaska 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM Sun At Sea (Last day at the buffet  eat your moneys worth) Mon Vancouver, British Columbia 7:30 AM Overall, we liked the layout of the Coral. It wasnt hard to find anything. We didnt have problems getting around. There was rarely any place that got too crowded to move around. The Solarium pool always had space. The bars were plentiful, and the informal food choices were pretty good (burger grill, pizza, 24 hour buffet). The gym was above par for a cruse ship, and gave us a great view of Alaska while working out. Overall, we feel that the Coral was a fine choice for our cruise. The True Purpose of Cruising  Destinations? Excursions? Relaxation? Adventure? Pools and hot tubs? HA! All wrong. As many know, the true purpose of cruising is to eat. Eat often, and eat a lot. After all, you paid for it. Cruises revolve around the meals. This ship was no different. The breakfast buffet was disappointing, but the sit-down breakfast was very good. Lunch was decent at the buffet. We never made it to a sit-down lunch, since we were always busy on excursions or activities. The average buffet was balanced out by the best pizza weve had on a cruise ship. The chefs kept cooking them all day. We wished it was open a little later, but we were happy to have it (pizza hours were from noon to 6:00 pm). Dinner was good to excellent. The meat eaters in the group tried out the Creole style Bayou cafe one evening ($15 pp). We were glad we tried it, but didnt feel the need to go back. Knowing we werent going back, the three of us made sure that we wouldnt miss anything. This created such lines as: Bring us one of every dessert, or We want one of every appetizer, except we want two gator ribs. That was a fun night.. One more word on the seating issues at the buffet. I suppose that in the Caribbean, many people will sit outside. When it is 60 degrees and raining, everyone wants to sit inside. We often had difficulty finding open tables around lunch time. One lunch saw about 30 cruisers doing what looked like a zombie buffet shuffle, wandering back and forth past full tables holding full trays of food. We wound up outside in a covered corner out of the wind, since that was the only place we could find a seat. There isnt anything the Coral can do about this, and it wasnt that big of a deal, but be prepared if you go to the buffet during normal lunch hours. Should iced tea ever really be refilled? (Anytime Dining)  We love the flexibility of anytime dining, and we needed it with the different port times. We had some issues, though. The service was mixed. Sometimes, it would be great. Other times, it was below average. The second day, it took us 30 minutes after ordering to get appetizers. The service was never really bad, but weve had better service not only on Royal with traditional seating, but on NCL with freestyle dining. We were a group of 6 adults, so it wasnt a very big group. The biggest issue seemed to be refilling iced tea and water. Glasses would be empty for long periods of time. Sometimes, a waiter would take an empty iced tea glass, and then never return it. We wondered if the service was lacking since we didnt order wine (wine is ordered from your waiter  no sommelier). We think it was a staffing shortage. Any waiter we had always seemed to be running his rear off, but would take a long time to serve us. We can assume only that he had too many tables. Do You Have Reservations? Yes, but Were Eating Here Anyway - Ha, Ha. With anytime dining, you could make reservations before 6 PM or after 8:30 PM  not really anytime dining, is it? If you arrived between 6:30  7:30 pm, it was impossible to get a table. They gave some people pagers, and told others to just come back in half an hour. Ive experienced freestyle dining on NCL ships, and was always able to make a reservation for any time. Princess really needs to do a better job of scheduling anytime dining. If you have trouble calling the direct reservations line (which rarely worked for us), try calling the pursers desk  they always managed to get through. Sure, Well Take Your Money  We only had one gambler in our group. She spent some $$ on the slot machines and the roulette wheel, but didnt win anything. Of course, a few of us were really excited when we found out that the ship had a Texas hold 'em table. We talked to a dealer, and found out that the house take: 10% rake (10% of each pot, up to $5 per pot), and the stakes (2-4 1st night, 3-6 rest of cruise). If youve ever been to Vegas, you know that the rake is usually used to create bonus prizes for exceptional hands (i.e. $500 for 4 of a kind). On the ship, there was no such bonus. Alas, we decided it favored the house too much, and wasnt worth it to play. We did see a full table on a few nights. Drink Up and Itll Cost You - All right, we expect alcohol to cost a bit on a cruise, and we certainly dont mind buying a few drinks (see the martinis, below). However, Princess seems to work extra hard to part you from your cash. Hot drinks are pushed everywhere, since youre in Alaska. Okay, fair enough. How about a fresh squeezed orange juice station at breakfast, charging $2.00 for a glass of OJ? Thats just obnoxious. If you are in the sit down breakfast, you get your choice of juices: orange, pineapple, cranberry, grapefruit, and tomato. Up at the breakfast buffet, anything by cranberry or OJ concentrate will cost you. Excuse me? You charge money for the same canned/boxed juice that is free 4 decks down? Im all for making money, but this is getting really petty. How long before a burger is free, but the bun costs $1.00? (If it happens, I want credit for the prediction). Coffee, Ambrosia of the Gods  As is typical for a cruise ship, the coffee is made from syrup, and is truly awful. Even the coffee at La Patisserie is made from syrup, and is very bitter. Princess offers a coffee card ($24 for 15 coffee drinks) similar to the soda card. This is simply a business card with 15 spots for punching. Since coffee drinks are $2 EA, you save $6 if you buy the card (and drink 15 coffee drinks). Since I usually only drink one coffee per day, I choose not to buy the coffee card. By the end of the week, I bought 4 coffee drinks on the ship (yummy cappuccinos!). On port days, I was able to leave the ship and purchase from a local coffee shop. In Skagway, the local shop serves Starbucks! Unless you drink several cappuccino/espressos each day, the coffee card is not a bargain. The Martini Bar - A special mention has to go out to the Crooners martini bar staff. They had lots of top shelf martini choices, and they served a large martini for $8.50 each. Ruth was very happy with the 20 or so chocolate variations. We didnt come close to sampling all of the choices, but we enjoyed the ones we did try. Ruth and Andrea even entered a Martini shaker shake-off during the week (Andrea won). This contest is where we found out that they cant give out alcohol samples in Alaska (which is why we got there early and chose the front row), but Andrea did win a very nice martini glass. We Are NOT the Target Audience  We quickly learned that this cruise was not geared to our generation (mid 30s). The aerobics schedule was filled with low-impact classes. The activities were low key (golf, bingo). As a family, we have enjoyed the scavenger hunts on past ships. There was none on the schedule, because they had trouble getting participants in the past. We requested it from Shawn of the cruise staff, and he managed to get it added to the schedule for the last day at sea. On another night, we attempted the Broadway tribute show, but left early after hearing tunes from older shows we didnt recognize. (and we're B-Way fans. We even won the B-Way trivia contest). We chose to skip the other shows that week. The disco was empty most of the time. The bars were mostly empty as well. The clincher for the target audience was a family feud game (you know, 100 people surveyed  guess the top answers). One category was Top Cartoon Characters. Mickey Mouse? SpongeBob? Nope. A survey of passengers listed Tom & Jerry as the number one most popular cartoon character. Come on. Tom & Jerry! They were dated when we were kids 30 yrs ago! Clearly, this cruise was geared to an older audience. On the bright side, the ship was pretty empty late at night, and late seating dinner meant there was no wait for tables. This is just what we noticed, and YMMV. Bikinis and glaciers. All the cool kids are doing it.  The first two days were spent sailing through various glacial areas  College Fjord (CF) and Glacier Bay (GB). We sailed through CF early on the first morning. By 10 am, we were on our way to GB. The tour of GB, on the other hand, lasted all day (10  6). While sailing in GB, there were very few scheduled activities, as directed by the park rangers. GB is a National Park and several park rangers boarded the ship and described the glaciers we saw. Each day, we put on all our layers, made a cup of tea (in the insulated mugs we brought along), and went out to the front of deck 10 for the hidden viewing area. Okay, other people were there on occasion, but for the most part we had it all to ourselves. We were right under the bridge, and the onboard naturalist lecturing over the PA system would make references to the intrepid souls braving the rain. Heh. Were intrepid. The glaciers were simply stunning. We saw some calving (pieces of glacier breaking off), but no big chunks during our viewing. We did see a sea lion or two, mainly way off in the distance. Ruth even managed a few glacier bikini pictures before heading to the hot tub for some much needed warmth. No Dogsleds Today (Skagway) - Raining and overcast weather canceled all helicopter tours, including our scheduled tour for a dogsled ride on a glacier. Fortunately, we had a backup plan, as the dogsled tour is one of the most commonly canceled tours in Alaska (or so we read before we left). We made our way to the National Park office, where we picked up tickets for the 11 am ranger led tour of Skagway. It lasted about an hour, and we saw quite a bit of the small town. We heard tales of the infamous Soapy Smith, and visited an exact reproduction of the Mascot Saloon. The tour lasted about an hour or so and we recommend it. Be sure you pick up tickets early, as tours fill up quickly. We returned to the ship for lunch, and made our way back into Skagway for one of the ranger-recommended hikes. Hiking can be fun. Rock climbing disguised as hiking, not so much fun - We used the ranger literature and took a self guided hike to Lower Dewey Lake. This was a very nice, moderate hike (at least, for the first half). Trails were marked with big arrows so you knew you were staying on the right path. We took some pictures at the lake and continued to the end of it. From there, we chose to follow what the info suggested was a "rougher path" back along the other side of the lake, rather than turn around. Halfway back, we're in a forest with almost no path, and then encounter stretches of huge sloped rock walls that had us climbing 40 feet across at a time. Eventually, the trail ends, and we have to make our own way -- through the bush, cross a river on a thin 2 ft wide plank of wood, and finally get back to main path. "Rougher path", eh? Well, it was an interesting adventure, but not exactly a fun one. I should explain that we are both in good shape but are not the outdoorsy type  we do not go camping or hiking in the woods. Our suggestion - do the hike, if you're in good shape, but turn around at the end of the lake. Even the first part of this trail included hills with 60+ degree slopes, so it can be a real workout. What's that big bright orangey ball in the sky? (Juneau) - Yes, it's the sun! Today was our hectic double-tour day. Internet research led us to reservations for a helicopter ride to a glacier and a one-hour guided trek on the glacier with NorthStar Trekking. We met the Northstar van in a lot just a short walk from where the ship was docked. We arrived at the Northstar office and suited up for our trek. This included pants, boots, jacket and a waist belt with a granola bar, tissues and a bottle of water. We left all of our other stuff in the office, and went outside for our safety briefing. We met our pilot and our guide, and were on our way for an amazing ride. With a group of 5, we had the helicopter to ourselves (plus the pilot and the guide). After a 20-minute flight, we landed on Mendenhall glacier. The pilot left, and we made our way to the Northstar tent for a short briefing and to get the rest of our gear (crampons and walking poles). Once he put the crampons (spikes) on our boots, we were able to walk normally on the ice. He showed us the different features of the glacier, and we had plenty of time to walk around. We even filled a few water bottles with the wonderfully cold, refreshing glacier water. It was absolutely stunning and we wished we could stay longer (they offered 2 and 4 hour options as well), but we took the shorter one in order to get back for our 2nd tour. I cant say enough good things about Northstar  they were very professional and accommodating  always on time picking us up and dropping us off. Everyone was friendly, and treated us extremely well. This is not simply a pilots choice helicopter landing  it is much more, and well worth the money. My hump, my hump, my hump (Apologies to the Black Eyed Peas) - Northstar returned us to town, and we made our way across the street to Orca Enterprises for Capt Larrys Whale Watching Tour. Many, many people on the Cruise Critic boards recommend this tour  as usual, they were right. We were driven to the boat dock (approx. 30 minutes away), where we met Capt Larry and Shawn the naturalist. There were about 25 people on our boat  not too many considering the size of the boat. We were very happy that there was enough space for everyone to have a great view. There is comfortable seating inside with lots of windows. When the boat stops, they allow you to climb up top (by ladder) or stand out back on deck for better viewing. We saw other boats in the same areas with people standing 5-6 deep at the railing (probably 100 people on board). Shawn, the guide, was a great personality. He was informative and funny, and obviously loved what he did. The staff served salmon snacks midway and took great care of everyone. Since it was feeding season, Shawn warned us that we wouldnt see any whales breeching. We saw about 10 humpback, but none very close. We saw some humps in the water from far away, saw some blow from the spouts, and then the tail as they dove. Then, we waited 4 to 8 minutes for them to surface again. There were no Orca. There was no breeching (jumping out of the water). And none got close enough for great viewing. Capt Larry also took us past a buoy where sea lions sun themselves. Capt Larry and his staff were very friendly and answered all of our questions. Although we wished we could see more of the whale, we understood that this is real life, not Sea World. Save the best for Last  Anan Creek bear watching (Ketchikan) - Our last port day was in Ketchikan. Although we were delayed leaving the ship, we had no problems meeting up with the Southeast Aviation representatives in the welcome center tour office. A van arrived quickly to take us to the airfield. I finally met Jim Kosmos, manager of Southeast Aviation, and of the nicest tour operators Ive dealt with! He gave us another bear briefing, and reminded us that we couldnt take any scented items with us  we left our bags in the office. We grabbed our cameras, and off we went for a 45 minute sea plane flight to Anan. Although we were only scheduled to stay at Anan for 1.5 hours, Jim offered to let us stay longer. Even though it cut into our Ketchikan shopping time, we eagerly agreed. We were *really* glad we did! Anan (pronounced Anne-Anne) Creek (in the Tongass Nat'l forest) is simply amazing. Upon landing, we met with a park ranger that explained that wed be walking on our own along the 1 mile trail to the viewing area. He also gave us yet another bear lecture (still foreshadowing), and we began our journey. The Key To Good Training is Repetition - The walk was easy, and gave us glimpses of the many bald eagles we'd be seeing all day. These were the first eagles we'd seen all week, so we spent some time taking pics. As we neared the platform, it finally happened: we turned a corner, and a bear was on the path, walking directly towards us. We had enough training sessions to know just how to handle this. Mom was in the lead, and reacted in perfect accordance with all of our training. She screamed Bear! Bear! and started backpedaling at full speed, which is exactly what each ranger warned us NOT to do. Of course, sometimes instinct just takes over. A few of us stopped her, and proceeded to follow the ranger instructions. We spoke loudly (Hey bear), and stayed close together to look like a bigger animal. After a minute or two, the bear made its way into the woods. We watched for a minute, and then continued on the path to the bear platform. It was really an exciting encounter, and it drove home the fact that we were in their world, as opposed to seeing bears at the zoo. Salmon for Lunch - From the platform, we watched as a large black bear snagged a salmon from the water and tore into it. This was a particular bear, and he ate just a little, and threw the remainder back in the water. The ranger explained that when food is plentiful, as it is now, the bears can be picky. This bear preferred brains and egg sacs (highest protein content)  thats all he ate. The leftovers made the eagles and ravens quite happy. The entire time on the platform was spent being fascinated by the sights. We saw perhaps 20 different bears that day  both brown and black. We saw them feeding, fighting, and teaching cubs. We cannot recommend this excursion highly enough. Notes: Anan Creek is in a National Park, and only 60 visitors are permitted each day. Make sure you make reservations WELL in advance, as these go very quickly. Time to Head Home - Debarkation in Vancouver was very smooth. The last morning, we were able to eat a sit-down breakfast and hang out in our rooms for most of the time. After that, we breezed through customs, picked up our luggage and were on a taxi to The Westin Bayshore Resort and Marina. We booked 3 rooms using Hotwire - got a great deal of $104 per night (before HW fees). Since we did not have a car, we wanted something close to restaurants and the airport. The Westin did not disappoint! It only took 10 minutes by taxi from the Canada Place cruise terminal ($6) Unfortunately, the rooms were not ready when we arrived around 10 am. It was understandable since it was way before check-in. The only complaint we had is that the clerk didnt even check for availability. He just said no, check is at 3. Nothing is available now. We were skeptical since he didnt even check the computer. Anyway, we checked our bags with the Bellman and explored the city. Stanley Park is right there at the Westin, and is a beautiful park. We walked about 1.5 KM, and then hopped on the free shuttle through the rest of the park. We returned to the hotel around 1, and our rooms were still not ready. We left 1 member of our group resting in the lobby (not feeling well), and walked to Robson Street and Gastown. Both were interesting for window shopping and last-minute souvenir shopping. We returned to the Westin at 3:30. Finally, our rooms were ready. We had 3 rooms next to each other on the 8th floor of the North Tower (801, 802, 803). Not a good view (overlooked the roof of another building), but the rooms were spacious and comfortable. The beds were VERY comfortable, and we were very happy to have nice robes in the room. We looked at the pools (one indoor and one outdoor) and the gym. Both looked very nice, but we were too tired to use them. We arranged with the bellman to have van taxis at 5:15 the next morning (our flight was at 7:30 am). The taxis showed up at 5:10, and we were at the airport by 5:40 am ($30). We highly recommend the hotel  it was within walking distance to lots of nice places, and is a beautiful (albeit expensive) hotel. Note: It was not necessary to exchange US dollars for Canadian dollars. Taxis accepted US dollars, as did every shop we visited. Change was not available in US dollars. Thats a Wrap  We all enjoyed our trip to Alaska. Princess treated us just fine, but it is a distant 3rd in our cruise preferences, behind RCCL and NCL. We were used to Caribbean trips, so Alaska was very different for us, but we consider it an amazing experience. We wont be going back every year, but a trip that combined wildlife, hiking, helicopters and glaciers was a great adventure that we wont soon forget. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
We (husband, 18 year old son and I) just returned from our journey on the Coral Princess, traveling from Vancouver to Whittier. Weve been on two other cruises: RCCLs Enchantment to the Western Caribbean and Celebritys Galaxy to the ... Read More
We (husband, 18 year old son and I) just returned from our journey on the Coral Princess, traveling from Vancouver to Whittier. Weve been on two other cruises: RCCLs Enchantment to the Western Caribbean and Celebritys Galaxy to the Southern Caribbean. We arrived a day early in Vancouver, a gorgeous city. This gave us time to walk around town, bike around Stanley Park and sit by the pool at the Westin Bayshore. The Westin is a lovely hotel that is convenient to the port area and Stanley Park. Paying only $60 + $15 taxes through Priceline, you couldnt beat it! Embarkation went smooth as silk. We did get there early, so Im not sure if it goes as smoothly when more people inundate the lines. The Coral is a beautiful ship. I love the lines of the ship much more than Celebritys ships. The dEcor is softer than the Celebritys ship wed been on& but similar to the Enchantment (from what I recall). We had a minisuite with a balcony on the Aloha deck (A429) which was WONDERFUL! The balcony on that deck is smaller than those on some others, but it is on the bump out portion, and ours was on the end, so we had a spectacular vantage point which I preferred to a larger balcony. The cabin itself was fantastic! Wed only had regular cabins before, and having the sitting area with the couch was the best! The shower in the tub was great too& so much more room than in an ordinary shower! Entertainment on the ship was fine. In the Caribbean, you have much more of a party atmosphere by the pool, etc., but this was Alaska, and I didnt expect that. There were PLENTY of things going on at all times, however. If you cant find something to do, youre probably just a putz! The crew, as so many have reported, is extremely friendly and accommodating. The Naturalist, Barbara Bennett is a sheer delight, as she is bubbling over with information and the need and desire to share it with all who want to know! We loved her!! The Food is just okay. We opted for the anytime dining and ate in the Bordeaux dining room several times. We found the service to be a little slow, and the food so-so. I know a lot of people that cruise think that the food on these large ships is like gourmet fine-dining, but I disagree. I think it more like a chain restaurant that just serves more unique fare. I believe when some people hear that escargot or caviar or goose liver pate is on a menu, they just assume it is fine-dining. WRONG! It does not mean it is of great quality, or put together as a chef in a little fine-dining bistro would do. It kind of reminded me of PRETEND FINE-DINING. It is put together for the masses- more akin to a nice bar-mitzvah or wedding for 2000 people. For instance: my husband ordered their international cheese platter w/ crackers for an appetizer and the crackers, which were very ordinary, were still in their plastic wrapper. Another example was my Seafood Turnover with Lobster Sauce  it had no discernable seafood in it other than a few tiny bay (not sea) scallops& and there was certainly no lobster in the sauce! One other tacky thing was that the waiter gave a sales pitch to buy a gift set of wine  and later that same meal, tried selling us a liquor in a cheesy special shot glass. You dont find that in a fine-dining restaurant. But thats okay, we still enjoyed  lovely, interesting people to talk with, some fun new things to try. The food choices in the Horizon Court were far better (yes, of course, it is a buffet), and at least there, you had the chance to view the food before taking it. We actually preferred dining in there anyway as it was less pretentious and we loved the light airy atmosphere with the great view! The only downfall was that we usually overate in there because we just wanted to try a little of this, and a little of that. As Id first said, the food on Princess was just so-so. There were some okay things, but some very yummy things too! PORTS: Ketchikan: We were lucky enough to have Michelle from Island Wings secure permits for us to go to Anan to view bears! This was the highlight of my trip! I was quite fearful of going in a 6-passenger float plane, but my fears evaporated the second I sat in the plane  mostly because of Michelles stellar reputation. The flight was more relaxing than a massage, and the views  so spectacularly awe-inspiring!& (Misty Fjords is supposed to be even more dramatic  It must be UNBELIEVABLE ). The Bear watching was spectacular too& our guide, Matt, was sweet and very knowledgeable& This was unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience!!! Juneau: Went with Captain Larry from Orca Enterprises to watch whales. This was as great as everyone says. Informative, exciting and we saw bubble feeding! 2 whales went under our boat -- it was a must do! After the whale watching, we got the bus to Mendenhall which was beautiful and really neat to see! Skagway: We rented a car from Avis (great service, great price, great vehicle) and drove just a bit past Emerald Lake. It was also awe-inspiring, to say the least!!! Caribou Crossing is a hokey cheesy little place to stop and go to the bathroom& its so cheesy its almost quaint. Glacier Bay and College Fjord  what can I say  Theres been so much discussion about which glaciers are the best, the most beautiful, the most active& how can anyone compare? Theyre all so beautiful, the water color to rival the Caribbeans (I never thought Id see water as beautiful as the water in St. John, but Id found it here)! We loved Marjorie in Glacier Bay; Harvard, Smith & Bryn Mawr  in College Fjord. Marjorie and Harvard calved a lot! I dont know if others at other times calve more& but who cares  our experience at those was fantastic  I dont know if more calving would have made us more excited than we already were! Thats pretty much all I have to say. Our journey on the Coral Princess was a trip of a lifetime. We all had experiences and memories which we will keep with us forever  we would not have changed a thing!! Next trip for us however,& back to St. John for the WARM BALMY WEATHER & Alaska is a bit cold for me. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
This was our first cruise (in celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary), so I cannot compare this to other cruises. All I can say is that we must have lucked out  the cruise was spectacular from start to finish. We flew from the east ... Read More
This was our first cruise (in celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary), so I cannot compare this to other cruises. All I can say is that we must have lucked out  the cruise was spectacular from start to finish. We flew from the east coast (Providence, RI) to Vancouver the day before the cruise left. we stayed at the Listel Hotel on Robson St. If I could do it over again, I would spend 2 or 3 days in Vancouver before the cruise. Vancouver is a wonderful city and we did not have enough time to enjoy it. We did manage to go for a beautiful jog around Stanley Park on the morning of our embarkation. Embarkation went smooth as silk. I was worried about this, having read many horror stories about long waits. We literally walked on without any long waits and were in our cabin by 11:30am. We were eating in the Horizon Cafe by noon. The Horizon Cafe is a story in itself  this is the buffet restaurant that runs basically 24/7. I think they might shut down for a couple of hours (3am to 5am) to clean and re-stock. Cabin - Our cabin was what we expected. We had a balcony cabin on the starboard side of the ship (Aloha 627). I highly recommend a balcony cabin for an Alaskan cruise  so much to see. The starboard side was particularly attractive on the northbound cruise. The location of the cabin was perfect for us. Even though the cabin was near the Kids Center, noise was never an issue. We were one deck below the exercise room and spa, both of which we used frequently. Our cabin steward Pramote, (from Thailand) was pleasant and very accommodating. Dining  We chose the standard assigned seating option. I realize that there are advantages to both the anytime dining and the assigned seating. However, we thoroughly enjoyed the 8:00pm seating. It provided a little structure to our day and it was a pleasure having the same two waiters every night. They were both great and by mid-week they knew what we liked to drink and would have it on the table right after we sat down. Also, we were fortunate that the two other couples that we dined with were great company. There were so many dining options that the dining room was never full during the second seating - very easy for the wait staff to give you their full attention. The food was excellent. The menu varied every night, yet there were always 4 or 5 standard items that you get any evening. The king crab legs they served on Alaskan night were incredible. We always ate breakfast in the Horizon Cafe. It was amazing  this buffet had everything you could ask for and more. My wife and I particularly liked the "cooked to order" egg station. Because we were so stuffed from breakfast, we only ate lunch twice, but the options were plentiful in a variety of restaurants. What we did do every day was go to the Horizon Cafe around 5pm to get munchies to bring back to the cabin. They always had assorted cheeses, crackers, cooked shrimp, and cut vegetables out at that time  this made for a great cocktail hour with a bottle of wine on the balcony while cruising past snow-capped mountains. On the last night we opted for Sabbatinis  the Italian themed restaurant with a $20 surcharge  very unique experience, definitely worth the extra $20 if you enjoy seafood. When you take into consideration that the kitchen staff is preparing 8000 meals per day, the quality was terrific. Excursions  You can spend a ton of money or nothing on excursions. Any excursions that you book through the cruise ship tend to be more expensive. Make your life easier  book all excursions before you leave home. If you are willing to do a little internet surfing, you can probably get more bang for your buck by booking independently. We did a little of everything. In Ketchikan, we opted for the rain forest wildlife canopy zip line trip. It was more of a thrill adventure than a wildlife experience and quite pricey ($155pp booked through Princess). If you are not bothered by heights, it is definitely a good adrenalin rush with great views. Don't miss walking down Creek Street. In Juneau, we booked a whale watch/Mendenhall Glacier trip with Orca Enterprises (Captain Larry). This was a good move. It was cheaper, smaller, and more personal than the cruise line offerings for the same. If you get to the Mendenhall visitor center, it is definitely worth the small hike to the waterfall located to the right of the glacier. TIP: Juneau has the best shopping by far - great stores with lots of options. You will find that the prices go down the further away you get from the docks  be patient! The Red Dog Saloon is also a must for a beer or two. Skagway has more jewelry stores than you can shake a stick at. In Skagway, we rented a car for $80 and drove through White Pass into the Yukon - almost the same route the railroad excursion takes. We went a little further than Carcross to Emerald Lake  a beautiful lake that gets its name from the colored reflection of the calcium carbonate within. The scenery was awesome along the way and we could stop whenever we wanted on the numerous lookouts along the road. Glacier Bay and College Fjord  just sit back with your camera, a good drink and watch and listen. The scenery here is the best on the cruise, regardless of the weather. If you have never seen an actively calving glacier, it is a sight to behold. We had a great naturalist on board who frequently spoke over the public address system about the glaciers, the environment, and the history of the area - very relaxing and informative. Entertainment  Remember, you are on a cruise ship in the Gulf of Alaska, not mid-town Manhattan. Do not expect award winning Broadway revues and you will be satisfied. Of the seven nights, we went to 4 or 5 the shows right after dinner. The variety was good; the energy level and enthusiasm of the entertainers was higher than what I was expecting, so I was quite pleased. Lounges  Plenty of them and never very crowded. I will say that Crooners Lounge has the most incredible martini options. I highly recommend this watering hole before or after dinner. We opted to go to the Wheelhouse Bar with another couple before dinner on the second formal night - nice spot with good dancing and music. We are not gamblers or big late night partiers, so I cannot comment on the casino or late night life. Miscellaneous: " There were 1900 passengers on the ship and not once did I feel a sense of being in a crowd. " The ship is big with lots of options  see the Princess Patter every day for a schedule of events. " If you are into working out, try the spinning classes (only $10)  a good way to burn off all those extra calories from the dining areas. " We also did a couples massage in the Lotus Spa once  talk about being pampered!! " They do a lot of picture taking, but there is no pressure to buy. In fact, during his show, the comedian made a joke about seeing a passenger taking a picture of their formal picture - so they would not have to buy it. " The chocolate dessert buffet at the last lunch was incredible - a do not miss event. " Money saver - they let us bring 1 bottle of wine pp on the ship from the ports of call. " Tips are automatically added to your account, but we gave our waiters and cabin steward a little extra because we felt they deserved it. Disembarkation  Was a piece of cake for us. We had independent travel plans from Whittier, so we could leave the ship whenever we pleased  no waiting for our "color" to be called. Thank you Princess  it was superb! . Read Less
Sail Date: August 2006
After much anticipation, my DH and I just completed our Alaskan cruise on the Coral. This is our 3rd Princess cruise, and our favorite ship so far. Previous ships include Sapphire and Dawn. The Coral is a perfect size with just enough ... Read More
After much anticipation, my DH and I just completed our Alaskan cruise on the Coral. This is our 3rd Princess cruise, and our favorite ship so far. Previous ships include Sapphire and Dawn. The Coral is a perfect size with just enough people. We never felt crowded except for a few mornings at the Horizon Court Buffet. The ship is nicely laid out, with plenty of areas to spread out. Because it was an Alaskan trip, I think the crowd was slightly older, so evenings were very quiet. Embarkation from Vancouver was smooth as silk. We arrived at the dock at 12:10 and were in cabin by 12:35 with kids in the pool by 12:36. No long lines or jams at the entryways. Our cabin was on the 12th floor, balcony (90% of Coral Staterooms have a balcony). It was standard. We had our 2 kids with us so we had a quad room. We aren't in the room a lot, so the size is adequate. Not many drawers, but closet holds a lot, and baggage storage under bed was adequate. My robe made it to the cabin that afternoon, and the egg crate mattress was on my bed that night as well. Our steward was fabulous. Kept our room tidy, which is quite a chore with 4 people. Our kids attended the Kids Zone. We have a 6 and 8 year old so they were in different areas. This Kids Zone was not as organized as the one on Sapphire, but had a nicer space. I felt the kids spent too much time in front of video games. But they did get outside to see whales and glaciers, and even the older ones played basketball and shuffleboard outside. Most important, the kids loved it and begged to go to it. Makes for a great vacation for mom and dad. Upon embarkation, the first thing I noticed was how incredibly flat the water was. This continued the entire way up the Alaskan coast, until we exited the inside passage. Then we hit a little chop. The second thing I noticed was the naturalist on board speaking over the overhead speaker. Our naturalist, Barbara Bennett, was phenomenal. She really made the trip. She was so very knowledgeable, with history, geology, oceanography. It was like a miniature course on Alaska. We attended two of her talks. They were really great, and even the kids enjoyed. Additionally, she would stand on the bridge and help us spot wildlife. While the cruise offered classes and lectures about Alaska from the naturalist, they also had other people such as a story teller, the first female winner of the Iditorod (Libby Riddles), and National Park Service Rangers in Glacier Bay, speaking at various various times. I didn't attend all but heard very good things about them. Shopping is not that important to me on a ship. The boutique was nice, and stocked with a nice selection of Alaska trinkets and clothing, albeit overpriced. The public rooms are very nice. I love the Wheelhouse Bar. All the leather and dark wood are very inviting. (plus a perfect place for hide and seek, per my kids). Crooners is nice, and Churchills, the cigar bar, was great if you needed a smoke. The Universe Lounge was beautiful and very well appointed. I repeat that the layout of the ship is excellent, with much thought put into avoiding that crowded feeling you could get on a ship with 2000 people. The food on this cruise was wonderful. We chose anytime dining since we had kids. The Horizon Court does a nice job with a great selection of everything for each meal. The service tends to be lacking in the Horizon court though, for beverages, etc. For dinner, we ate in the Bordeaux Dining room. The first night, the Maitre d' put us at this very quite table over in a corner. We were not at a window, but very close, and the privacy made up for it. At the end of dinner that night, we reserved that table for the remainder of the cruise, so we got to have the same waiter each night as well. Marvin was great. Very attentive. The food in the Bordeaux was excellent most of the time. We traveled with another couple, and one of them is a vegetarian. The selections for her got a little slim, and were very reliant on pasta. The made an effort to accommodate her, but could have been a little more creative. We also ate one evening at Sabatini's. The food was excellent and abundant. Worth the extra $20 per person. The pools and hot tubs are excellent. The lotus pool was perfect for Alaska, as it is covered. The overhead speaker is hard to understand, but still provides perfect place to view glaciers and wildlife, while in your bathing suit. The family pool at the back of the ship is very nice for younger kids, and a perfect place for Marco Polo. Because there are more older people on the cruise, I found that the hot tubs were seldom crowded. I also enjoyed an excellent massage although I hate how much Princess pushes the products. I continue to think the photos are overpriced, but the fact that cocktails are reasonably priced makes up for it as I tend to want more cocktails than photographs. The entertainment was fine. We didn't go to any of the big shows, but saw the comedian and magician. Again, the night life is pretty quiet. The casino was nice, roomy, and not smoky, with many slot machines, including 1 cent and 2 cent slots. The gym is excellent. We were up there a few times. It overlooks the bow of the ship and is well appointed. Additionally, they had a nice selection of class offerings, such as yoga, pilates, and spinning. I hate that they charge extra for these classes though. One negative I have regarding the fitness center is "seminars" they offer on "Detoxing" and "Weight loss", etc.. Having attended 2 of these, they are glorified sales pitches. I was very mad to have wasted my time being sold spa services and products. Our shore excursions were quite varied and with mixed results. In Ketichikan, we took the kids to the Lumberjack show. It was very touristy, but also very fun. We all enjoyed it. In Juneau, we went to the Mendenhall Glacier - a must see for all. The tram ride is overpriced and nothing great. The highlight of the trip was a float plane trip I made to the Taku Lodge. It was amazing. I can't say enough about that experience. We flew over 5 or 6 glaciers, landed on a river, enjoyed a salmon feast and some hiking around a beautiful lodge. Skagway meant the Mushers Camp with the kids and the White Pass Railroad. Both were fine, although overpriced and nothing great. I would not do them again. Glacier Bay and College Fjord were spectacular. The ship got very close to the glacier at both places. We love the Coral and Alaska. We are looking into a Panama Canal trip on Coral. It is a lovely ship, with an excellent, if not overly friendly staff. Debarkation was unbelievable. Last cruise, it took us 2 hours to get off ship and get a cab. In Whittier, we took the elevator from our room to the 5th floor. And 30 seconds later, we were off the ship. Amazing. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2006
Embarkation in Whittier was smooth and easy. We boarded early, around 1230pm and had a late lunch onboard. Sailing was slightly delayed that evening while awaiting 600 delayed passengers. Nice that they were waited! Our balcony cabin ... Read More
Embarkation in Whittier was smooth and easy. We boarded early, around 1230pm and had a late lunch onboard. Sailing was slightly delayed that evening while awaiting 600 delayed passengers. Nice that they were waited! Our balcony cabin was mid-ship and perfectly located on deck 9. Our travelling companions were 3 cabins away and we met in the hall often to go places. All rooms onboard were beautifully and tastefully decorated. We did work out twice and enjoyed the fitness machines and fitness center. The two pools were beautiful, but it was much too cold for us to swim, even in the one pool that was almost indoors. Our waiters, Darwin and John, were absolutely wonderful and funny! We had late seating in the Provence dining room and loved the wonderful service and menu. Some things were pretty ordinary, but others were outstanding, particularly the lobster tails. We ate most breakfast and lunch meals in Horizon Court at the buffet and in spite of overeating, it was great food and a beautiful view. We saw a couple of shows and enjoyed them. The Discover Shopping Guide, Jen, was particularly helpful. The casino was our speed, too, with lower limits aplenty. Our room steward did a wonderful job, too. We had a champagne brunch which was supposed to be on the balcony, but it was rainy and cold most days, so we had ours in our cabin. Our travel agent set this up ahead of time to help us celebrate our anniversary and we loved it. In Skagway we simply walked and shopped and took loads of pictures. Such a quaint town! In Juneau, in spite of the heavy rain, we took the bus tour to Mendenhal Glacier and the Salmon Bake and had a great time. In Ketchikan I took a bus tour including the totem village, while my husband did the Harley motorcycle tour. This was our first dry day and the motorcycle tour was the absolute hit with the dry weather. Shopping was added on here, too, and enjoyed greatly. In spite of spending too much on shopping, it was fun to visit all the shops we could. Our days at sea were beautiful, even with rain and cold in College Fjiord and Glacier Bay. The last day was sunny and absolutely beautiful. We spent an extra day in Vancouver, at the Westin Bayshore, which is where we stayed 29 years earlier on our honeymoon. It was lovely, again, and the weather was in the 80's. We couldn't have ended our cruise any better! Prior to this 7 days we spent 6 days in Fairbanks, Denali, and Anchorage. We had wonderful adventures, but did miss McKinley due to a landslide that washed out the roads and railroad tracks. Princess took good care of us, but we missed two days of our tours and are disappointed. Mother Nature cannot be guaranteed, can she? The tours in Fairbanks were good and we even got to see some wildlife, in spite of the rain. This was a 13 day trip of a lifetime, our first cruise, and it has convinced us that we will cruise again. Maybe even, some day, we might return to try to see Mt. McKinley. I would recommend earlier in the summer to try to do this. The clouds would probably have covered it if we'd gotten there, anyway. We loved every minute! Princess does it right!! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
Our first cruise on Princess, overall this was a good experience. Our cabin was comfortable, and the views from our oceanview double balcony spectacular. Our steward from Poland could not have been better. He was a gracious and ... Read More
Our first cruise on Princess, overall this was a good experience. Our cabin was comfortable, and the views from our oceanview double balcony spectacular. Our steward from Poland could not have been better. He was a gracious and attentive. However, the bed was rock hard, and our requested egg shell cushioned it somewhat. Shower was claustrophobic, I wonder how obese passengers get in and out. The shore excursions were very good, in each off the three ports, Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. I'm glad I consulted Cruise guide books this cruise. Entertainment at the Princess Theater was good, although the size of the theater sometime meant we sat too far from the stage. The overall relaxed atmosphere of the cruise, carefully timed public address announcements were just right. Unlike our previous Mexican Rivera cruise on another cruiseline, we didn't feel like we were in a military bootcamp. We selected anytime dining, however, found the food and service unsatisfactory. The Bayou Cafe's food and service was good, but not spectacular, not worth $15 a piece surcharge. However, the Horizon Court, Lido Deck Buffet was excellent, and that's where we ate the rest of the cruise. Same selection as dining room, only you can see what you're getting, and chose amounts and options. Personnel at the buffet were gracious and efficient. Great view while dining, along with an excellent naturalist, and lots of whales to see. Getting on and off the ship very efficient and organized. We'll be back again to Coral Princess, but not in the anytime dining room. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2006
My husband and I were on our third cruise, first with Princess. He is 66, I am 60. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the day before departure. We made our own hotel reservations online, and opted for the Ramada, less than 2 miles from the Cruise ... Read More
My husband and I were on our third cruise, first with Princess. He is 66, I am 60. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the day before departure. We made our own hotel reservations online, and opted for the Ramada, less than 2 miles from the Cruise port. Ramada picked us up at the airport and delivered us to the ship the next morning. $89.00/night, including full American breakfast. They have a pool, nice restaurant/night club, and Tiki bar. Others on the cruise chose the Plantation motel, some paying as little as $69/night, with the same amenities, but no breakfast. We were pleasantly surprised at how easy the embarkation process was for the Coral Princess. We waited in a large hangar-type building with chairs until our group was called. Our luggage had been taken directly from the Ramada van to our suite. We had a mini-suite which had a bathtub/shower combo, so if you don't like stepping in and out of a tub, even with safety bars, you don't want this type suite. I guess the only difference with the suite is a larger closet (it's not walk-in though as claimed) with plenty of hangars. The balconies are very small. Two TVs were nice. I read an online review by a professional cruiser who swore the Coral Princess had the best crew around. I did not find that to be the case, although I have no major complaints. Our cabin steward, Alfie, was a Filipino who was nearing the end of his contract prior to six months at home, and he was pleasant, but appeared tired. Most of the staff in the regular dining room were Romanians. I didn't care for our main server, a Romanian woman. It has been my experience that the main servers get the job because they are usually a combination of charming, witty, funny, etc. She was none of those and would interrupt lively dinner conversations to simply ask if everything was OK (yes it was, except for her interruptions). There are only 3 maitre'd for the entire restaurant and we were fortunate to have Jose, a Brazilian, and he was everything you could hope for it that position. I am not a strong walker, so I looked for non-strenuous activities. There were lots of trivia type games daily, and I played then regularly. I cannot speak highly enough about the Entertainment staff, headed up by Scott and the DJ Leon. My favorites were Rebecca and Liam from the UK and my husband flipped for Veronica from Mexico. With notable exceptions, you are much better off simply getting off the ship and making your own excursion reservations. But you must sign up early for the train ride at the canal, as that books up. Try not to buy anything onboard, as the prices were wildly out of line for local merchandise you could bargain for onshore. We opted for the early seating in the main dining room at a table for 8. We enjoyed the 3 other couples and often found ourselves the last table to empty because we were so engrossed in conversation. The food was simply wonderful. The entertainment was hit and miss but there were first-run movies daily in the Universe Lounge. We liked the Coral Princess as well as the Celebrity Infinity, which was the only other ship we had sailed on. I would recommend it without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
Just got back ystdy Dec 2/06. Pretty good time and quite good value. My first cruise and my wife's second. I absolutely hated the tourist traps at each shore location, particularly Grand Cayman. Is this really the way to purchase ... Read More
Just got back ystdy Dec 2/06. Pretty good time and quite good value. My first cruise and my wife's second. I absolutely hated the tourist traps at each shore location, particularly Grand Cayman. Is this really the way to purchase diamonds - on a cruise? We had quite a bit of rain (GC, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, Ocho Rios). The ship staff were very good. We had the late seating and the staff were very accommodating. I really enjoyed the wine selection. The Horizon buffet was quite good. Often hard to get a coffee though. I don't know about the special coffees but the coffee on board is generally not that good. The pizza was awesome on the Lido deck. The bartender on the Lido deck bar was great. Took a fully body massage, a lime and ginger treatment, and a seaweed wrap - mostly adventuring and trying out. I have had many massages. I was fairly disappointed, especially at the prices charged. The organization lacked a little also. I was disappointed that I could not use the steam rooms without purchasing a package. The fitness room was very good and easy to access equipment. My biggest complaint was the age of the passengers. My wife and I are both 52 and we felt overwhelmed by the other passengers. One benefit was that there were few children. 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

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