Sail Date: November 2006
This being our 4th cruise on Princess and the second on the Coral, we pretty much knew what to expect about the ship itself. We live in Orlando but still decided to arrive the day before so we could be on the ship early. Pre-cruise we ... Read More
This being our 4th cruise on Princess and the second on the Coral, we pretty much knew what to expect about the ship itself. We live in Orlando but still decided to arrive the day before so we could be on the ship early. Pre-cruise we stayed at the Marriott in Coral Springs which is a bout 30 minutes from the port. The hotel has a golf course which is the main draw to this property. Our room package included champagne as well as a buffet breakfast. Might as well get into the swing of things right away with the whole buffet line! The pool area was disappointing, very small. All the rooms face the atrium and there were a couple of times that the noise from the lobby traveled up and could be heard while inside our room. The next morning we arrived at the port around 11am dropped of the luggage, parked the car and were in line by 1130. Embarkation - Could have been a lot better, we were in what we thought was the line to the terminal, only to find it was a special line for a wedding party. Our line was outside and had already started to form. We found that we were at the only terminal that did not have a waiting area and no facilities while waiting. Embarkation was delayed due to a problem with the gangway when the ship arrived, delaying the prior cruise from debarking. Once the doors opened we made it through the check in pretty quickly then in line again for security. There was only one security line, once you got past that, we were put in a holding area until they were ready to allow passengers on board. I have certainly seen much better embarkations and worse. Cabin - We arrived at our cabin, a mini D523 which was a great location. The only downfall was this cabin did not have any cover which we thought would be OK but found out later on in the cruise when we encountered some rain, it would have been nice to have a little cover. Our cabin steward way Rey, very accommodating and took care of getting us feather pillows for the bed. He kept the room very well maintained during the entire trip. Ports - First port was Montego Bay. We did the Taste of Jamaica excursion which included a short duty free shopping stop and a trip to a sugar plantation. It was very warm that day while in port, however when we got to the higher elevation at the sugar plantation it cooled considerably. We were late leaving since one of the ship's excursions was delayed returning to the ship. Next was the Panama Canal. We awoke very early (430am) to see the ships lined up and returned to the room while we entered the canal and the first set of locks. This was quite amazing and it was fun with everyone out on their balconies to experience the canal. We left the ship after entering Gatun Lake, tendered to shore where we left in a bus to another dock and boarded a boat to finish the trip through the canal. Our guide, Arturo, was very knowledgeable and did a great job during the bus ride as well as on the boat. A box lunch was served, consisting of a turkey sandwich, banana muffin and all the water and soft drinks. Beer was sold for $2. The weather was very nice, it was warm but not hot since we had a nice breeze for most of the day. Once we completed the canal crossing we drove back to Cristobal, had some time to visit the shops at the terminal before sailing on to Limon. Limon, even though some say it is not the prettiest part of Costa Rica was a very pleasant day. The weather when we arrived was nice and we spent the morning resting in our cabin and did some laundry. Our excursion was to leave around 1130, my one regret was not getting off the ship in the morning and doing some shopping at the pier. For our excursion we did the Offroad Adventure, and were very happy with our choice. Our guide Eric did a fantastic job with the tour as well as his partner who drove the large modified bus/offroad truck. We drove up to the side of a mountain along the river, took a short hike to learn about the various plants and animals before our snack of fresh fruits(some of the best watermelon and pineapple we've ever had) and beverages. While stopped the rain started but it didn't dampen our experience the least. We continued on through a banana plantation, small village and drive along the coast before returning to the ship. Next port was Grand Cayman which we did not leave the ship for. The ship had to anchor quite a ways from downtown at Spots Cove, due to the weather (very windy). We had already planned on staying on the ship for this port so it really wasn't an inconvenience for us. Our next stop was Cozumel and it didn't disappoint us at all. The ship docked downtown so we spent a little time visiting the shops near the ship before my 12pm excursion. I had one of the best times on the Mexican Cooking Cuisine class held at Playa Mia beach. The entire group really had a good time, and our chef Luis and his assistant did a great job even though we battled strong winds that kept blowing out some of the stations flames. After preparing our meal of sopas, grouper with mango sauce and arroz con leche we ate our creations! While cooking our server kept the beverages coming as well as served us wine with our meal. Once we returned to the pier we had some more time to shop since the captain extended departure time due to late arriving because of high winds. Dining - We prefer Anytime Dining due to not having to worry about getting back from shore in time to dine in the dining room. On a couple of occasions we had dinner in the Horizon Court because we were tired after all day excursions. The food in the Horizon Court is average buffet fare. Breakfast is pretty much the same everyday. There is an omelet station with many choices of fillings. We had two choices of juice each day, orange or cranberry. Lunch each day was at either the buffet, pizza or burger grill. One day there was a very large sushi bar, and not being one that does sushi very often, thought it was pretty good. I purchased the coffee card at the LaPatisserie on my first night since I enjoy a cup of decaf cappuccino with my dessert after dinner. This was a good deal since it also included fresh brewed coffee each morning. We dined in the Bordeaux dining room and was able to get a table for two everynight without a wait except for one night where we waited maybe 10 minutes. The staff in the Bordeax was acceptable and found the food there to be very good, especially the prime rib, and our favorite, the Fettucine Alfredo. On formal nights we dined at the specialty restaurants. The first formal night we dined at the Bayou Cafe/Steakhouse. What it lacked in service, it wasn't terrible, but not what it should have been, the food made up for it. I made my own surf 'n turf by combining the filet with the lobster tail (extra $5, but worth it) entree's. The lobster was an 8 oz tail and was cooked perfectly as was the filet a perfect medium. DH had the huge porterhouse! Second formal night we dined at Sabatini's. I learned from the last time dining here to pace myself and it's ok to not eat everything that is brought to your table! I returned to my room after dinner this time not feeling as miserable as the last time I had dined there. My favorite pasta was the gnocchi and dessert, tiramisu. Service was fine even though it started out kind of slow. I think we waited about 5 minutes before a server came over for our drink order and there were only about 4 other tables seated at the time. Staff-The crew on the Coral is the best of the three princess ships we've sailed on. From the attendants in the restrooms, the room stewards to the casino and pursers staff. This is one of the reasons we continue to return to Princess. Spa/Fitness Center - We purchased the Thermal Suite pass for the entire cruise and used it most days. This is such a nice quiet place to relax and use the sauna, steam rooms and refreshing showers. I used the treadmills almost everyday and never had to wait. Our spa appointments were booked prior to sailing and found that there were some problems with doing this. When we arrived found that one of the appointments was an hour later in their system than what we booked it for. After waiting an hour and 45 minutes, the treatment finally began. When I asked how this could happen was told that the online system doesn't know which therapist it's booking for and sometimes schedules a hairstylist instead of a massage therapist. We didn't really think this was an acceptable reason and even though we received an apology, we cancelled three other appointments. Outside of the Thermal Suite, our spa experience was not what we've experienced in the past and we were disappointed. Debarkation - What a mess! We found out that we would be docking at a different pier than the one that we left from. As a result after claiming luggage and clearing customs and immigration I waited with the luggage while DH took the shuttle over to pick up the car. This process added about 45 minutes to our departure from the pier. Overall we had a very good time on this itinerary. One of the reasons we chose it was for the sea days. We had a good mix of relaxing mixed with visiting ports we had never been to before. We are already looking forward to our next cruise with Princess, we booked two future cruises before we left the ship! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
SHIP: Coral Princess DATE: December 12, 2006 VOYAGE: 6642 10 Day Panama Canal, R/T Ft Lauderdale FLIGHT: I took the red eye out of San Francisco of which had a connecting flight out of Charlotte North Carolina. Both flights were on time ... Read More
SHIP: Coral Princess DATE: December 12, 2006 VOYAGE: 6642 10 Day Panama Canal, R/T Ft Lauderdale FLIGHT: I took the red eye out of San Francisco of which had a connecting flight out of Charlotte North Carolina. Both flights were on time and rather uneventful thankfully! The bus ride to the ship from the airport is a short 15 minute ride. The Princess staff at the airport could have been more friendly, so far I haven't come across any of the staff at the airports to be trained as well as the ships staff. I have heard that Princess contracts out these people and it shows. Most of them need a lot more training in customer service and the art of being friendly and polite! EMBARKATION: Getting on the ship was a breeze; we were in line for only 10 minutes and thought the security line in another 5 minutes. The staff was friendly and very helpful. I would like to see Princess create a better ship board greeting when getting on, because as it is you get your cruise card and go find your cabin by yourself. Perhaps a few of the crew could say "welcome aboard, are you ready for your Panama Canal adventure? We look forward to seeing you throughout this cruise and if there is anything you need just let us know!" I doubt that would cost anything. CABIN: Balcony E731 My cabin was delightful, very clean and well stocked. The cabin was a good size and didn't feel cramped. Everything worked and the balcony was huge! At the stern of the ship the balconies are quite a bit deeper than mid-ship. My cabin steward always kept my cabin sparkling no matter what time of day or night I was there. BUFFET: I ate at Horizon Court for breakfast and lunch everyday. The food was plentiful and any special requests I had were fulfilled. The only recommendation I have is to have better fresher fruit. Most of the staff in the Horizon Court were helpful, although a few were less than friendly. DINNING: I had the late seating in the dinning room at a table of 8. Our waiter and assistant waiter were quite good. I have a few food allergies so I requested a special salad, amongst other things not on the menu of which the head waiter made sure I had every evening, I never went hungry. The food was great although it was better on the Dawn Princess I was on in October. Dinner was a 2 hour affair every night and all my table mates were wonderful. ENTERTAINMENT: I went to most of the evening shows after dinner, mostly comedy, magic and a few dance productions. All were good, some of the comedy was great! STAFF: Most of the staff were very helpful and always said hello and looked busy taking care of something. SHIP: The ship is great and very clean. The indoor pool and Jacuzzi area was great! PORTS: Our ship was on time throughout the entire cruise and the weather was wonderful everyday, lot's of warm sunny days. All shore excursions went as planned and were great. Going into the Panama Canal was wonderful; we had a clear warm day and got lots of great pictures and video. FITNESS: I used the fitness center/spa everyday, the equipment was good and the spa area (sauna/steam room) were great and clean. DISEMBARKATION: Getting off the ship went very smoothly, I had breakfast, packed my toothbrush and waited in the atrium until my color was called. I found my bags easily, went through customs, boarded a bus to the airport and was on my way. This was my 6th Princess cruise and the level of service has been consistent throughout each cruise. I read these CruiseCritic reviews regularly as well as talking with fellow passengers and find that most people have a great experience with Princess. My next cruise will be on the Golden Princess sailing to the Mexican Rivera out of San Francisco and it should be great! If you have any questions please email me (Steve) at Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
We've been back from our cruise for a week now and really it was an awesome cruise. Forgive my spelling errors please :). Embarkation: After a hectic first day (AND I MEAN AWFUL!), we got on the ship without any problems (We ... Read More
We've been back from our cruise for a week now and really it was an awesome cruise. Forgive my spelling errors please :). Embarkation: After a hectic first day (AND I MEAN AWFUL!), we got on the ship without any problems (We didn't have to wait in a separate line for an hour thankfully). The Ship: Ok, seriously, the public rooms were awesome! The atrium really impressed us. The whole ship was still decorated for christmas so it looked like the whole ship was illuminated and going to sail away all glittering. Our favorite public room was definitely the Wheelhouse Bar. The public rooms were really all great. The pool area was sometimes loud but really impressive and a LOT better than Disney's. The Lotus Pool was a real nice quiet place.The atrium was very dramatic in a sense that it made you feel like you were getting the elegant treatment. We went up to Baja Deck to see our mini-suite which was real nice. It felt bigger and it was bigger than our last room. Our deck, which really was amazing, was for 4 people and was extremely panoramic. Our steward was extremely nice and quick (no more than 5 - 15 minutes to get our room ready for evenings). Our favorite public room out of all the rooms is definitely the Wheelhouse Bar. The was a big room that had nice music playing, great decor, views, and we spent every night from about 6 - 7:30 there just talking and laughing as a family. The Princess Theatre was really nice (however it seemed that the theatre was small for the amount of people that wanted to go in). The casino LOOKED nice and it was all open to the public hallways on deck 6. The Universe Lounge was really a great place to see a show or participate in a game show (If you want to participate in the marriage game, don't bring you're kids cause they ask questions about "gardening"). The Card room and Library were really quiet places that you could go just to relax and calm down. However on evenings at sea, the card room was very full. The internet cafes were really nice and welcoming and the news ticker was neat. Going now to deck 14 to the Lido pool. The Lido pool was really spectacular with 3 hot tubs around it, a large pool that could easily accommodate the people that want to go in it, and really great pizza and burgers. The Lotus Pool is where our family put our chairs. They had the roof closed the whole trip and it was way quieter than the Lido pool. The ice-cream bar was really fabulous (except the line ups can clog up on hot sea days) and you can create really neat creations. The gym was nice but smallish for the cruise and could get busy on morning sea days so get there early! The hidden treasure of the ship is at the very back at the Family Pool. It was usually dead and it provided stunning views of the back of the ship. The most panoramic pathway of all the ship is coming from the inside of the Lotus Pool heading back towards the splash pool. The mini-golf on deck 15 was err interesting. There wasn't any child supervision and there was a whole group of kids throwing the golf balls over the side and throwing clubs everywhere. The add onto that, the golf course was in bad shape and they could of put more time into upkeeping it. Entertainment: The welcome show the first night was really neat and it was a great way to get to know the staff and what the ship is all about. We never really went to the large shows except that one. We went to the 2 comedians on board and they were both very good. The entertainment in the lounges were nice except one band. The duo playing in the atrium was the best music on the ship. They played familiar tunes with the piano and steel drums and they filled the whole atrium with warmth. The band on the pool was for the most part good excluding the loudness. Cabin: Our cabin was on Starboard side Deck 11 and we had a Mini-suite. The room seemed and was larger than our previous cruise. The bathroom was large and had a nice shower/bath. There was a lot more wiggle room in this room and we could get around easier. The couch idea was neat how the bottom bunk stretched out like a single hide-a-bed and the top bunk folded down from the roof. We had two TV's which was nice except when two people were watching intriguing shows, it became chaotic. The decor in the room felt older than the last cruise but was still nice. My favorite part of the room was the large mirrors they placed on the walls which gave a sense that it really was a royal treatment. The 4-person deck was a real treat and it really could hold 4 people. On the outside of our door was a glass almost mail-box like thing. This is where we got all the patters (extremely useful. TIP: Use these everyday), shopping guides, notices, etc. Dining: Sorry to say, the dining disappointed us. Back here at home we eat out a lot to real nice places and we were disappointed with the food. To start off, the Horizon Court. Some days, we all found something and it was really good. Some days (particularly breakfast) we just had awful meals. The hashbrowns, all through the cruise, were bland and left a taste of metal pan in your mouth. Usually, the meat was dry and they gelled the cold ham and it came out really disgusting. I found that the only way I could eat one of their bagels was to toast it. To add on to that, the Horizon Court was always WAY to small for the amount of people that wanted to eat there. The views however from the windows (particularly the front if you were lucky) were quite stunning. We had anytime dining so we ate at the Bordeaux Restaurant. We were expecting a more diverse menu and something more unique. Sometimes there were good meals of steak or the occasional pasta. But usually, they were OK dishes like dishes with not a lot of flavor. It seems like they saw an idea and tried to imitate it, but failed. The deserts, were disgusting. The decor included lots of elbow room, nice warm colors flowing throughout the room, and nice carpets. Ok, the only thing that restored our faith in the dining is the specialty restaurants. We went to Sabatini's on New Years Eve and we didn't really know what to expect. It really is quite an extravaganza of antipastos, seafood, pasta, pizza, veal, chicken, everything really. Only thing is, if you bring kids to this Restaurant, they would definitely have to broaden their horizons of what foods they will or will not eat. Neat decor here considering we had our own little corner by the window. It was a nice, airy Restaurant which really italian colors and candle-lit tables. Our favorite Restaurant of the whole cruise was the Bayou Cafe. The ambience really made you feel like you were in the French Quarter, and so did the food. The room itself was mostly blacks and browns usually only lit lights that flickered like candles. Our favorites -> Porterhouse Steak, Chorizo Sausage and Chicken with Jambalaya, and of course the Johnny Cakes in the bread basket. We liked it so much the first time, we went again! Special: My parents renewed their vows on the cruise and really IT WAS WORTH IT! First we got canapes and chocolate dipped strawberries in our room every night. Second, they got souvenir wine glasses and bath robes for them to take home. For the ceremony, they had to pick out music, boutonnieres (sorry my spelling), my mom got a bouquet of orchids and roses, they had to exchange rings, and to top it off the person who organized it was extremely nice and she made everything really easy. Also, on top of the welcome bottle of champagne they got, they got a another bottle of champagne for dinner. Plus, we got breakfast for 4 out on the balcony during the Panama Canal locks day which was truly amazing. Plus, they got 2 free spa treatments. Best of all, was on the last sea day we all got to go on the bridge tour. That was truly fascinating. Spa: According to my mom, the spa was bland compared to Disney. However the 2 massages she did have were very nice. Destinations: Ocho Rios (Dec. 31): Just to tell you off the bat, we hate Jamaica. We went 12 years ago and hated it. And it doesn't disappoint. We went on the Bamboo beach Club beach day excursion. The beach was right in the Ocho Rios Bay. The Beach was real nice, the drinks were good, the service great, but the water was awful. Plus, it kind of took away from the mood with huge razor wire all the way around the beach. After a while we walked to Margaritaville which was really nice. On the walk back it got sunny again and many people asked us for money. We got back on the ship early and enjoyed the rest of the day at the pool. Panama Canal (Jan. 2): This was absolutely fantastic! The front of the ship was too crowded with people so we went down to the Promenade (If you're ship is going through the right locks, go to the port side of the ship, if you're ship is going through the left locks, go to the starboard side of the ship). After our breakfast on deck, we tendered out to the harbour and went on a train tour. We got the Deluxe Car was was really nice. The tour took us all the way to Panama City and Back. Limon (Jan 3): When we arrived, we could;d instantly tell that Limon was quite poor and almost frightening. We went on the Jungle Boat ride in the morning which was nice cause it poured rain and then it stopped so we could see the animals. After, we drove up to the mountains to go on the aerial tram tour. That was really amazing. Grand Cayman (Jan 5): I had been sick the day before because of the rough seas and was still kind of sick. Since we weren't on a tour, we didn't have to wait at all for a tender and just got right on. On the pier, we went on a local tour where us and 2 other couples went around the west side of the island. We saw Hell, the Turtle Farm, Tortuga Rum Cake Factory, and Seven Mile Beach. Since we had only 5 hours, we didn't go the beach but after we went shopping. For lunch we went to Margaritaville (where we all had the best specialty drinks of the cruise) and walked around more. This was our favorite stop. Cozumel (Jan 6): I have a love/hate relationship with Mexico and when we got off, I was impressed. The town was quite nice. We went on the Passion Island Beach excursion which was fantastic. Everything was great. Ft. Lauderdale (Jan 8): Disembarkation went as smoothly as embarkation did and that was nice. We had an awful rest of the day which included an unexpected overnight in Dallas because our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Dallas left late and our flight from Dallas to home left early. Crew: Overall the crew were very nice and they always said "Hi" to you or asked if you needed help. We were surprised how many Canadians there were (including 2 from Vancouver on the Entertainment team). Our steward was especially very good and we gave him a little extra tip. Well thank you for reading and if you are going/planning on going on the Coral Princess, it truly is a great ship. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
This was, by far, the most educational cruise we have taken. Ten days that included 5 ports and 5 sea days allowed for much more down time. Using Park and Fly when driving to Fort Lauderdale was less expensive, convenient and very ... Read More
This was, by far, the most educational cruise we have taken. Ten days that included 5 ports and 5 sea days allowed for much more down time. Using Park and Fly when driving to Fort Lauderdale was less expensive, convenient and very efficient. Embarkation was a bit confusing in that they gave out numbers which didn't mean a thing. Not until we asked questions did we find our way to the ship. Our upgrade from mid-ship on the baja deck to aft on the emerald deck was much better than we had ever imagined. Our steward Marek did an excellent job. Meals at the Horizon Court were mediocre but the little packets of salt and pepper in place of salt and pepper shakers drove us nuts. We always had to ask for a sugar free dessert, as there were none on the buffet line. Early seating in the Provence dining room was perfect, as were the meals and service. The hamburger/pizza bar served an excellent hamburger. The ports of Montego Bay, the Cayman Islands and Cozumel provided the usual shopping places but all the ports start to look alike after a while. The exception was a 9-hour excursion through Costa Rica that included a visit to the rainforest, stopping at a plantation and having an authentic Costa Rican lunch. The marvels of passing through the Panama Canal will always be remembered. We missed evening activities on the Lido Deck as it became very quiet after 7:00 p.m. Activities seemed to move to bars, the theaters and the casino. We used the self-service laundromats on two occasions and found them very convenient. Management of the Coral Princess should be commended on their efforts to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. Employees were posted at the entrance to every eating area with squirt bottles of alcohol for your hands. We were hoping for self-service disembarkation as we faced a 10-hour drive home; however, we were told no self-service disembarkation is allowed at Fort Lauderdale. Nevertheless, our color code was called early enough that we had found our luggage and were driving back home by 9:00 a.m. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
My wife and I, along with another couple we often travel with, booked this cruise to see the Canal again and to take a break from the cold weather here at home.  This is cruise number 46 for us and we enjoyed this trip but Princess needs ... Read More
My wife and I, along with another couple we often travel with, booked this cruise to see the Canal again and to take a break from the cold weather here at home.  This is cruise number 46 for us and we enjoyed this trip but Princess needs to take a break on a few things. We felt like we were on a floating " QVC CRUISE "...They have gone over the top on trying to sell.sell,sell you something all the time.The one that was way to much was at dinner when the waiter tried to sell a "Special orange juice glass, to drink your orange juice at home and remember the cruise for $3.95 " Then there are the way over priced cruise pictures.....$19.95 for a 4X6 with a digital boarder..I saw very few people buying and simple business is keep prices lower, sell more and make it up on volume...They must throw away thousands of pictures a week and look at the waste...Then the worst presentation of the week is the personal shopping director on board. She does a show that will crack you up... She throws stuff at the ladies sitting down and then tells you where to shop in only the "ships stores" at port. That means where the ship gets a kick back and pays the ship to pre sell the stuff to the passengers. Out of all our cruise around the world this was the worst for trying to sell you gold by the inch, glasses, cheap watches, and his and her spa treatments, cheap over priced jewelry, and we don't want to even talk about the over priced wine at Dinner !!!!!! We like to cruise and I have learned to accept this lately but it needs a little correction in my view... Over all the food was very good, the staff was polite and friendly, the ship was clean and not worn looking. I will not review the ports because that is a different experience for each persons on taste. . The cruise director was not the best one I have seen, he tends to be full of himself and has no redeeming social value that I could see. We enjoyed the cruise but back to Europe for us on the next one.. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
Overall, this cruise exceeded our expectations. My husband and I have been on 8 other cruises together; this was the first on the Coral Princess and to the Panama Canal. We are Princess Platinum members, so we enjoy the free internet ... Read More
Overall, this cruise exceeded our expectations. My husband and I have been on 8 other cruises together; this was the first on the Coral Princess and to the Panama Canal. We are Princess Platinum members, so we enjoy the free internet privileges. One suggestion on use of the Internet--free to Platinum and above members, 0.50/minute otherwise--is that in order to take advantage of email, you should set up an account easily accessible from the web before you leave home (e.g., yahoo, msn, etc.), and let you family/friends know the address ahead of time. (We have an account through RoadRunner which is not easily accessible via Web, and Outlook is not available from the Internet Cafe computers on the Princess ships). Back to the cruise. Embarkation was difficult from Ft. Lauderdale. We later learned that Customs had established some non-standard limitations the day our cruise was boarded. The Princess personnel could have done a better job of communicating, and when we entered we asked where we go for Priority boarding and were told to stand in line with everybody else; about 40 minutes later we were told to come ahead. The entire boarding procedure took about an hour, so it really wasn't all that bad. The ship itself is pretty outstanding in terms of public rooms and amenities. This was the first ship that I'd been on that had a basketball court. Also enjoyed having a Promenade deck that allows walking around the entire ship, which we've had on some ships before (e.g. Royal Princess) but not all. There were lots of lounges, and the atrium area (covering decks 5-8 in the center of the ship) is gorgeous, especially since it was decorated for Christmas (Dec. 2 boarding), much to our surprise. It has a special set of glass elevators that only go within the atrium area. The shows were quite good. One thing about the social activities that seemed unusual is that they appeared to be geared toward making a very small group of people the winners and center of attention for all events (rock and roll party, island party, ice breakers, and the like). On other cruises we've been on, the social staff went out of their way to make everyone, and especially people that weren't necessarily the "life of the party" feel included and special. The particular people who were the winners of all the contests on this cruise were those who were striving to gain attention. My husband even suspected that they were "professional partiers". This is just an aside; it really didn't detract from our enjoyment of the cruise, and the social staff did some extras like providing streamers for us to throw during some of the events (although the streamers really did get in the way of dancing and could be a safety hazard). There were 4 complementary ballroom dancing lessons--meringue, salsa, waltz, and one other. The attendance was much larger than we have been used to, probably due to the popularity of "Dancing with the Stars". Given the large crowd, the 2 social staffers who conducted the lessons did a good job and people had sufficient space to dance. There were also frequent line dance classes. I joined in one of them, and it was easy to follow and fun (also drew a good-size crowd, but there was enough space). The food in the Horizon Court was probably the best buffet we've experienced on a ship, and we utilized it for a larger percentage of our meals (most breakfasts and lunches) than in the past. They also serve ice cream daily from 3:30-4:30 PM, a non-advertised treat. We had the Anytime dining option, which is in the Bordeaux Dining Room on Deck 5. We enjoyed the flexibility and meeting new people each evening (we were always asked whether we wanted to share or dine privately, and always opted to "share"). The downside was that we felt that the service was not as stellar as that which we've received on other Princess ships when we had fixed dining. We do understand that the wait staff is not able to become as acquainted with the diners when there are different people at their tables every night, and that there is extra work involved in seating arrangements that is not incurred for Fixed Seating. The dining room food--entrees and desserts were fabulous (although there were some loser items--probably best to ask the waiter for their recommendation, which we did not do). In my humble opinion (IMHO), the soups and salads (which are a big deal to me) left much to be desired. Most of the soups were of the froid (cold) variety, and often sweet, which I prefer hot and spicier soups. The salads were pretty skimpy. Of course, one could always find soups and especially salads to their heart's content up in the Horizon Court. There were 3 cases of Norfolk virus that we learned about toward the end of the cruise. Princess takes all the precautions, with personnel dispensing special cleansers to each passenger as they enter any dining venue. The stateroom was virtually identical to the one we had on the Sapphire Princess in '05--basic stateroom with postage stamp balcony. It's still nice to have that balcony, albeit small. The stateroom itself can be configured as a queen bed (upon request) or 2 twins. It has shower and large closet. There aren't many drawers, but instead you have another closet with little shelves to use. Movies are available from your stateroom TV, as well as in the theater. We had the best steward--Nancy, on the Aloha deck. We had a "Scholarship at Sea" program available, which we did not use. My husband and I had just completed a PhotoShop class at home prior to the trip, so figured that the offering in that area would be too basic for us. Pottery was also available for those so inclined. There were a couple of shopping lectures given by the on-board shopping consultant, and one of two gem seminars given by Hubert Gesser, a guest jeweler who is reported to be jeweler of the Queen of Spain. We shared a dinner table with Hubert one evening, and were entertained by the experiences he shared with us. We also had David Rogne on board to give his famous lectures of various explorers in the areas to which we travelled, e.g. Christopher Columbus--Dr. Rogne's style is to assume the persona of his subject, and we had sailed with him previously in South America. As usual, on the last day we submitted our deposit for our next Princess cruise--Princess offers incentives to book your next cruise on board, you can either select the specific cruise and even stateroom, or just sign up (as we do) for a To Be Determined in the future cruise. Princess gives you up to 4 years to take the cruise, and your deposit (only $100 per person) is refundable anytime during that period should you change you mind or be unable to cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2007
Our Embarkation went without a hitch, we actually arrived pretty early and they checked us in early as we had 4 children we were travelling with. When we arrived in our cabin we had treats awaiting us, chocolate covered strawberries, fancy ... Read More
Our Embarkation went without a hitch, we actually arrived pretty early and they checked us in early as we had 4 children we were travelling with. When we arrived in our cabin we had treats awaiting us, chocolate covered strawberries, fancy little sandwiches and champagne. The strawberries were huge and delicious. Kids Activities: our children joined the Pelican Pete children's activities in the children's play area. The children loved it and wanted to be there every day. At night when the children did not want to go to the shows they provided babysitting at a minimal cost and the kids were able to have treats and watch movies. The play area was filled with everything for a child, from video games to karaoke to table top games and so much more for the younger children also. They also had theme days/nights for the kids which our children loved, Mexican night where they had a mexican meal and dressed up, Pirates night which the children loved. We couldn't get our kids away from the play area. The food was wonderful on this ship, we ate a few night at the formal dining, the kids loved getting all dressed up and having a family photo taken. It made them feel very special and the wait staff really fussed over the children. The pool areas were beautiful and lots of lounge chairs to sit on. The spa was really nice and the ladies were wonderful in the spa. The Entertainment was above and beyond, the talent on this ship was the best I have seen on any ship I have been on and for that matter it was Vegas quality. The singers were very good and the dancers were the best I have seen, lots of energy and very professional. The magicians/comedians were also very good, also of Vegas quality. The crew staff were very entertaining and full of energy. They were always there trying to get everyone in the spirit of the day. Our room stewards were very helpful, friendly and couldn't do enough for us. These people are extremely overworked and still manage to always have a smile on their face when you are requesting something of them. We did a few shore excursions which we enjoyed, the best day was the Captain had invited our children onto the bridge and we were able to stay on the bridge going through the Panama Canal, that was such a learning experience for our children. it was amazing to see so high up. Overall this was a wonderful trip, not many other children were on this cruise but that was nice as the children were paid extra special attention and plenty of fuss was made. We will do many more Princess cruises in our future and the Coral stood out for us and made a home run for our family. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2007
This was our first cruise. After hearing the raving reviews from friends and strangers alike my wife and I decided to try a cruise. First let me say that we are independent experienced travellers and the thought of a cruise gave us mixed ... Read More
This was our first cruise. After hearing the raving reviews from friends and strangers alike my wife and I decided to try a cruise. First let me say that we are independent experienced travellers and the thought of a cruise gave us mixed feeling. Anyway we did it book or 10 day Panama Cruise and anxiously awaited the trip, we booked almost a full year in advance so we had a lot of expectations. Well we got to Ft. Lauderdale 5 days early and had plenty of time to relax in the south of Florida, went to Key West etc. The day of embarkation was excellent, we arrived early and had no lineups to deal with and we were in our cabin before noon. This was great! Its was then that it went down hill, you see I had ordered a dozen roses to be in our stateroom when we arrived. Paid 60.00 US for this a week in advance, and guess what? Right, they were not there, nor were the chocolate covered strawberries or the drinks that I had ordered and paid for. The flowers arrived three days into the cruise and the strawberries shortly after that and even then only after several discussions with the front desk. Needless to say the moment was lost. The ship itself was splendid, the cabin was small but nice. I would not even consider a cruise without a balcony though! Thank goodness for the balcony. The staff was very nice, although the stewarts and anyone other than officers and entertainment staff had less then stellar english comprehension. I must say I felt that throughout the cruise I was being nickled and dimed to death. To charge extra for soft drinks and icecream, no really! Why not just make it all inclusive like at the resorts. Thats really the competition. I know some of you will say I don't drink, and I agree however we don't all eat the same amount either. Which brings me to the food, other than the Lobster night (one out of 10), the food was just ok! We go out to eat a fair bit and are used to better. The ship has a "shopping expert", I call it person on the take. Which provides little service to the passengers other than to fill her own and or the cruiselines pockets. Our first port was Jamaica, we had a White water tubing adventure booked, which we were looking forward to. Almost totally spoiled by the disembarkation process, I do not appreciate 1.5 hour lines ups much less in hallways, and stairway. This was absolutely ridiculous. It continued throughout the trip line ups and hurry up and wait. The ship has a "shopping expert", I call it person on the take. Which provides little service to the passengers other than to fill her own and or the cruiselines pockets. I also was not aware that when a ship is in port, that basically the ship is closed. Yes thats right for you people that have not been on a cruise before, you pay full price for a 10 day cruise and if the ship is in port for 5 days, the ships shops, and attractions are CLOSED. Just another cruise line cash grab. You see they want you off the ship so that you can spend money in the shops that they make deals with on shore. That right, those places that they advise you to shop in get charged a fee, 10,000.00 per quarter, in one case for a store owner to be on the ships list. Not only does the store pay the cruise line 10,000.00 but they also pay 5% to the ships "shopping expert?" Needless to say if you think you are getting the best deal in the shop recommended by the line, forget it. The entertainment was nice but other than the first couple of nights we missed out because the entertainment was held before dinner. I like to have a dinner and then go to a show not the other way around. Zero flexibility on a cruise. We like to do our own thing and this is really not possible on a ship. If you like structured vacationing, standing in line, and being ripped off, then cruising is for you. If you are an independent individual with a mind of your own, then cruising is likely not for you. This will likely have been our last cruise, (may do Alaska, as it's likely the best way to see Alaska) but thats it. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2007
It has been several years since we cruised with Princess but have cruised often during that time. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: This process could not have been smoother. There was a bit of a wait to disembark but that is to be expected ... Read More
It has been several years since we cruised with Princess but have cruised often during that time. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: This process could not have been smoother. There was a bit of a wait to disembark but that is to be expected with 1900 people aboard. SHIP: The Coral Princess had a very comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. The decor reminded one of the oceanliners of the past. I found it to be very clean with plenty of public areas as well as deckchairs and sun deck room. The lounges were all well-appointed but the Wheelhouse Lounge lacked good service and need to learn how to make cocktails. This was not a friendly lounge. The wait staff tended to hover over us even after we had ordered drinks. DINING: The food portions were just right although the quality was just okay. There could have been more variety. We had the later seating and enjoyed excellent service from our wait staff. We took breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court and again enjoyed good service but average quality of food. ENTERTAINMENT: Other than two Broadway-type shows, the entertainment was lacking. The comedians for the most part were raunchy but not funny. Since we were onboard for Superbowl Sunday it was nice to see the game on the big screen in one of the theaters. EXCURSIONS: The Costa Rican Rainforest Tram and swimming with Stingrays were excellent. The Highlights of Panama tour was an absolute waste of time and money. The two young girls who were the guides were silly and more interested in their chewing gum than giving us a professional tour. VERY DISAPPOINTING! MISCELLANEOUS: Service by the staff was very good. What was annoying was the constant "hawking" of the Spa. To have announcements made, literature on your bed everynight about the Spa was over the top. Also, having bottled water for sale as you disembarked for excursions was tacky to say the least. Especially when all the excursions we were on (sponsored by Princess) provided bottled water. Too much nickel and diming. Next time we would probably look for a more upscale line. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
This was not our first cruise, but it was our first on the Princess line. We booked through an online travel agency and were pleased with the service and price. We flew down to Ft. Lauderdale the day before embarking. It was a good thing ... Read More
This was not our first cruise, but it was our first on the Princess line. We booked through an online travel agency and were pleased with the service and price. We flew down to Ft. Lauderdale the day before embarking. It was a good thing we did, as a winter storm delayed flights from many airports. The hotel provided a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, and transportation to the Port for a charge of $10 per person. Embarkation was well organized and we waited only a short time to board the ship. Ship personnel were stationed at the elevators to direct you to your cabin. The cabin was attractively decorated and had plenty of room for our belongings. There was sufficient hanging space in the closet area, along with a cabinet that had several shelves and a safe. The bathroom had one of the smallest showers I have ever seen on a cruise, but it was immaculate. Unfortunately, there were two very dirty handprints on the drapes over the patio doors. The veranda had four plastic chairs and a small table. A desk in the main cabin area had four deep drawers and one shallow drawer (and a hairdryer on the wall.) We had everything put away within an hour of boarding. We had signed up for a fixed dining time and were assigned a table for nine. Because many of our table mates took advantage of the "anytime" dining or ate at the specialty restaurants, there were only four nights when the entire group was at the table. Despite never knowing just how many people were going to be at the table on any one night, the dining room waiters were excellent. We usually ate our breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Buffet and, although the traffic pattern left something to be desired, there was always an ample supply and good variety. We also tried the pizza and the hamburgers on the pool deck. Although service was excellent, the food was somewhat of a disappointment. Even in the main dining room, the food was OK, just not extraordinary. We chose this trip for the itinerary and, except for Montego Bay, Jamaica, we were not disappointed. We had booked shore excursions online before we left home, but our first excursion in Jamaica, white water rafting, was cancelled due to low water. We immediately went to the Tour desk to reserve another excursion. On the advice of the tour staff, we signed up for, "Rafting on the Martha Braye". What a mistake! Just getting off the ship in Jamaica was a joke. They had people in line down the halls and up the stairs onto another floor waiting to get off. We finally found our tour guide in the terminal and then waited over 30 minutes before she led us to a bus. The bus was clean but certainly not very new. The roads were terrible and we bumped and jolted for almost an hour before we got to the rafting site, where we received our complimentary glass of "rum punch". The Ladies bathroom at the rafting site had only two stalls and one of the toilets was overflowing onto the floor. After waiting another 20 minutes while vendors tried to sell you something, we were led down to the river. The rafts were made of bamboo poles wired together and had a bench seat for two people. Some of the rafts looked pretty unstable, but once you were sitting down, they were surprisingly comfortable. The "raft captain" poled the raft down the river and stopped at one point to try and sell you decorated gourds. The ride itself was pleasant if you ignored the sales pitches. The ride lasted about 40 minutes and then it was back on the bus for another rough ride back to the ship. We were gone from 10:30 AM until 4PM without any food. We found that there was another tour that included a different raft ride. That tour also included a trip through a banana plantation, and a complimentary lunch and cost only $10.00 more. When we complained about our trip at the Tour desk, the young lady who had recommended it acted like it was our fault. Perhaps Princess should have their Tour Desk staff take some of these excursions to find out what the tours are like! Our second port was Panama, and we elected to stay on board the ship to watch the progress through the locks. The cruise had an informative movie about the Canal available on TV, and also had a guest lecturer who spoke about the history of the Canal. We took lots of pictures! Our next stop was Limon, Costa Rica. Our tour here was to the Aerial Tram Ride in the rain forest. Although it was about an hour ride, the bus was very comfortable and the tour guide was excellent. The trip included a 45 minutes ride through the rain forest, lunch, and a guided tour of the grounds. It was a very good experience and well worth the money. There was a market on the pier where we bought reasonably priced souvenirs and several bags of good coffee. After a day at sea, we arrived at Grand Cayman Island. We did some snorkeling and enjoyed the warm water. Not much to do here unless you like the water. Our last stop was Cozumel, Mexico where we took a tour to a park for more snorkeling. We had been to Cozumel many years ago and the progress here was apparent. Everyone we met was pleasant and the stop was enjoyable. We felt we wanted to return to both Costa Rica and Cozumel. Disembarkation was very smooth. We had purchased transportation to the airport from Princess and waited on the bus for a very long time before it left for the airport, and then the driver had everyone stay on the bus until he had unloaded all the luggage. If you have an early flight for home, take a cab! There were not too many children on this cruise, but some were not the best behaved. They took over the pools by jumping and splashing so that many adults just resigned themselves to not using the pools when the kids were around. One gentleman asked them, in a very nice way, to calm down a little, and the adult with them got nasty. One evening we watched two boys take apart some of the pool furniture and throw it around. Later they climbed up on railings to jump into the pool. Two different Princess staff people walked by while this was going on and neither of them said anything to the boys. The Coral Princess is a beautiful ship and the service was excellent. However, food was not up to our expectations, and we did not appreciate the constant sales pitches. The "flea market" of last season's gift shop merchandise was definitely tacky. Would we book a Princess cruise again? We'd have to think about it. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
Please excuse my spelling errors as I might make a few. I am a teenager and I went on this cruise with my mom, dad, and younger brother. This was both mine and my brothers third princess cruise and my parents have gone on quite a few ... Read More
Please excuse my spelling errors as I might make a few. I am a teenager and I went on this cruise with my mom, dad, and younger brother. This was both mine and my brothers third princess cruise and my parents have gone on quite a few princess cruises. This cruise was very nice and I really enjoyed it. I cannot say that it was better than my other two cruises as I have forgotten a lot of the details. Embarkation was really quick and easy. The only time we had to wait was at the airport for the bus. I think that the princess cruise reps there could have been a bit more friendly. At the terminal, we waited in a short line and we were able to get right onto the ship. Everything seemed pretty organized. We were greeted by employees that were available to help us to our rooms if we needed it. At the terminal, our luggage was taken so we didn't have to worry about carrying it onto the ship. It was then delivered to our room for us a couple hours later. We had a mini-suite with a balcony mid-ship. Having the balcony was really nice and I would recommend it. We were able to fit all of us on the balcony nicely. The only issue we had with the room was that it was a bit narrower then we had expected. It was the smallest mini-suite we have ever had on a princess cruise. There was a closet and some shelves; however, the shelves did not supply us with enough space for all of our clothes. The only other issue we had with the room was that there was no pull down bed from the ceiling for the fourth person, so a cot was put in our room which blocked access from one end of the room to the other (as I said the room was very narrow). I recommend double checking before embarking to make sure that the room has everything that you request. There were many activities on the cruise. During the day at the lotus pool there were often activities like trivia. There was also ceramics, line dancing,bingo, and many more activities to do during the day. Both pools were very nice but it was hard to get seating at the outdoor pool. The Lotus pool had a retractable roof that was kept closed throughout the trip. This pool was a bit quieter and very nice. The kids center was very good. We went on this cruise over Feb. break so I expected there to be more kids than there were. I was a bit surprised when I was boarding the ship and saw many older people. In total there were about 80 kids, 35 being teenagers. I was a bit hesitant to go to the teen center because on my last cruise (7day Caribbean cruise) there was an overwhelming amount of kids and the kids center there was not very organized. At the teen center, there were activities planned throughout the day until 1am with breaks for lunch and dinner. However, the schedule was very flexible and we could pretty much do whatever we wanted. My brother, who is ten, went to the kids center and really enjoyed it. He said they were a bit more strict but he was able to leave when ever he wanted. About 16 teens would come during the day and night to the teen center and we all became really friendly. It was really nice coming there at night if I didn't want to go to a show with my family. Being with a small group of people over the span of 10 days really allowed all of us to get to know eachother and often during the day we would all hang out together. If you are traveling with kids I really recommend getting involved in the kid program, I had a very positive experience. However, keep in mind that there are usually less kids on 10 day cruises and there will be even less kids not during a vacation (the cruise after mine only had one teenager and ten younger children). We had anytime dining, so we ate in the Bordeaux dining room. The food was just alright. We also ate at the Bordeaux for breakfast. Again, the food was just alright but there were a few more options for breakfast. If you don't like what's on the menu, the waiters can get you anything you request. The portions in the dining room were not that big and very controlled. We often ate lunch at the horizon court, as it was close to the pool. Again, the food is just alright, but it is a bit harder control food portions. The buffet is open all day and night. Also, at the pool, there is a pizza bar and grill which were both very good. At the entrance of every public eating room there is hand sanitizer. There is also a soda promotion and cappuccino card which my brother and my mom benefited from. At night there were many things that could be done. I went to a few of the comedian shows in the beginning of the cruise but then stopped going. I found that the comedian's jokes were geared toward the older crowd and I didn't really understand. At night, there are other things to do besides shows. There is karaoke, the casino, and movies playing. We were on our cruise during the Academy Awards and one of the lounges had it on so people could watch it. While sometimes it was cloudy, our excursions were relatively good. Our first stop was Montego Bay, Jamaica. To disembark the ship here was disorderly. There was a line to disembark going up one or two floors and it was very confusing. The line was something that we had never experienced before and we never experienced again on our ship. In Jamaica we went river tubing. Sometimes the water level is too low to do this excursion and others like it, so it is a good idea to check when the dry season is. The terminal there was very confusing. The buses were clean but looked old and driving there was a bit scary as the roads are very windy and bumpy. Our next stop was Panama. Having a balcony was really nice. We were able to watch the ship go through the locks right from our room. Going back through the locks we went to the front of the boat. It wasn't that crowded there. We then docked in Cristobal. Here we got off the ship and went to the terminal where there are a few shops. The next stop was Costa Rica. This was one of our favorite places. We went on the Jungle River Tour. There was a cute little shop there to buy souvenirs. The fruit there is really good and so fresh. After that, we stopped at a banana plantation. Our next port was Grand Cayman. Here, we went snorkeling and to sting ray city. The snorkeling was excellent. I can't say too much about sting ray city as I was too freaked out to go in the water with them, but my parents really enjoyed it. Our last stop was Cozumel. In Cozumel we went shopping. It was annoying because we arrived at Cozumel on a Sunday and some of the shops were closed. The shops are all walking distance away from the ship. Cozumel really surprised us because my dad said the last time he was there it wasn't very exciting. The Gym and Spa were really nice. I went to the gym almost every morning on sea days and I never had to wait in line. The spa was also nice, but sometimes they seemed a bit unorganized. The internet cafe is really nice if it is ever needed. There is also a basket ball court and giant chess/checkers on the top deck. Everyday the princess patter is delivered to every room. I recommend looking at them because they have a lot of useful information in them. Disembarkation was also a really smooth process. We were the first group off the ship and we got our bags and we were through customs fairly quickly. Because the cruise ended after feb. break, the airport wasn't as crowded. Overall, we had a very good time. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
PCENTRAL AMERICA/PANAMA CANAL 2/7-2/17/07 We chose this cruise for two reasons: the itinerary and the price. Of the four of us, three had never been through the Canal before. I had found an excellent price online in March, 2006 so we ... Read More
PCENTRAL AMERICA/PANAMA CANAL 2/7-2/17/07 We chose this cruise for two reasons: the itinerary and the price. Of the four of us, three had never been through the Canal before. I had found an excellent price online in March, 2006 so we booked 2 balcony cabins amidships on the Aloha Deck. This was our first time on Princess. Our companion couple was my cousin and her husband who have been cruising since the 70's. It was their first time on Princess also. Coming from Chicago in February, Karl & I had planned on flying down a day early to meet Sharon & Al in Fort Lauderdale. They were planning on wintering in Florida so they had started their drive down a week previous. We had booked Spirit airlines and their prices were good but the flight times were not. Our flight left Chicago O'Hare @ 6 AM necessitating a limo pickup at 4 AM. It was minus 6 degrees when we left the house and believe me--our jaws were flapping about this inconvenient time. This turned out better than we could have ever hoped for. Turns out we just missed the beginning of a major snowstorm that delayed flights all day. While we were in Florida sunshine, Chicago was digging out from about a foot of snow. Doing some research online, we had decided upon the Holiday Inn Express on SR 84 for our one night pre-cruise stay. We had booked this hotel about 8 months in advance. Because it was Super Bowel week, hotel rooms were at a premium and considered ourselves lucky to get this location. The hotel turned out to be an excellent choice and our timing couldn't have been better. The free shuttle from the airport pulled into the parking lot just as our cousins were getting out of their car. The hotel looked to be newly refurbished and painted. The beds were very comfortable and the room was clean with all the amenities you could want, including a coffee maker and hair dryer. Also included in the price was breakfast the next morning. We did some shopping at the mall across the street for liquor to carry on board, the allowed 2 bottles of wine and some vodka which we put in our checked luggage for late evening drinks on the balcony. Al was smart and even had some Rose's Lime for gimlets. We weren't smart enough to buy a couple of limes. It was a nice day to do a drive by the port to familiarize ourselves with the layout and then we went to a cute vertical mall by the beach for a little last minute shopping and to soak up the atmosphere. I had heard about the water taxi ride in Fort Lauderdale. It takes you by the millionaires' mansions and lets you gawk at all the fabulous yachts. After a little misdirection by the bartender, we did find the "stop" and waited a half hour for it to come by. A word to the wise; try this during warmer weather or in the middle of the day. The sun is starting to go down by 4 PM and the ride in an open boat without windows got mighty chilly. This cost us $18/pp for seniors (over 65). Karl & I fudged a bit on our ages for that one. By the time we got back to our starting place, we had had plenty of fresh air and were thinking about dinner and bed. Our alarm had gone off @ 3 AM-Chicago time that morning and we were starting to feel it. It was so nice having the use of a vehicle to get around. The hotel was on a very busy street and you could walk to several restaurants but with a car we could go anywhere. Passing by an Outback, it got our vote for dinner and we were able to get right in. We were surprised it was so busy for a Tuesday evening but the waitress said that a lot of people had come down for the Super Bowl the previous weekend and had stayed for the whole week. Check out time the next morning was 11 AM and we really didn't want to go to the port to stand around for a few hours so we elected to find a movie theater to kill a couple of hours. Here again, having the car was so nice. Got to the port around 2 o'clock and dropped our bags with the porters. Al went to park the car at the very spacious garage and we just walked in to check in for the start of our vacation. The charge for the garage was $12/day. There were no lines for check in so we waltzed up to the sign for Aloha deck, handed over the boarding passes we had printed up at home, swiped the credit card, received our room cards, through security and off we went to board the ship. There were people directing you to the elevators and someone on the elevator to direct you to your room. As I said, we were in the middle of the ship just off the elevator lobby. There was a privacy wall between the rooms and the lobby so as to cut down on noise. We never heard any real noise in the hall unless someone was yelling outside our door and that only happened once. The room was lovely. I was surprised at how spacious it seemed. There was a very large, open closet with lots of hangers and a cupboard which contained the safe and shelves for our clothes. There were drawers in the nightstands and in the desk. The hairdryer was next to the desk which was pretty convenient. I did find the dryer to be woefully under heated. I have very fine, thin hair and at home it takes about 30 seconds to dry my hair. There was a lot of air blowing, it just wasn't very warm. The bathroom was very small with a small shower. Not as small as RCCL, but close. (No pun intended) After 6 cruises with Celebrity, we were making a lot of comparisons. The bathrooms on Celebrity were bigger with showers that were more rectangular in shape and height adjustable shower heads. Celebrity also had dispensers on the walls in the shower with shampoo and conditioner. Princess had all the bath amenities in cardboard containers on the vanity. Celebrity had robes in the room. We had to ask for them on Princess. There was bottled water to purchase in the room and an ice bucket in the small fridge but no pitcher of ice water changed twice daily like on Celebrity. We had 3 sets of towels in the bathroom on Celebrity but only 2 sets on Princess. The trash baskets had plastic liners on X but not on Princess which made you hesitate to throw anything messy in the container. But these were comparisons we made among ourselves since our last cruise had been on Celebrity to Hawaii. Our cabin steward, Anthony was very efficient and took care of any special requests. There were no announcements on CP as well as X. If you wanted to know what was going on, you looked in the daily paper, the Princess Patter. The freshwater pools were great with plenty of deck chairs. Only one day did we have to go searching for a place to stretch out in the shade. We liked the unlimited pool towels on X. These towels were placed in your room doubled as your beach towels. Beach towels were separate on X and were bigger and thicker. The ship had a 4 deck center atrium from deck 5-8 with 4 glass elevators. This was a lovely area with the shops (deck 6) and passenger services (deck 5), the library, internet cafe & card room (deck 8) and a couple of bars (deck 7). It was done in brass and chrome with twinkling lights and metal sculptures. It was a very attractive part of a very attractive ship. The art work was very nautical and consisted of several old portraits of dead English aristocrats in the halls on the way to the Princess Theater. But it had a downside too. Because the two restaurants were stacked on top of one another, this made it difficult to walk from one end of the ship to another without having to go up or down a deck. I think we were more than halfway through the cruise before we finally figured out to walk out of the restaurant, walk up one deck and go forward to the theater. For some reason, we never could get our bearings and constantly had to use the map to acclimate ourselves. I thought the food on Celebrity was more upscale. I was surprised to see plain white rice served with some of our entrees. This was not something you would ever see on Celebrity. I wonder if this is a new development since Carnival bought them. It seemed to cheapen the meal. We liked that the alternative selections were printed on the menu and you did have your option of white rice, French fries or baked potato with your choice. On Celebrity you have to depend upon your waiter to mention them to you and he usually only does it once at the beginning of the cruise. The salmon in butter sauce was excellent and we all had more than one shrimp cocktail. Sharon & I LOVED the dessert soufflEs. Even if I was stuffed, I managed to choke down a few tastes of those. Had to try the Princess Love Boat Dream after reading about it and it was almost too pretty to eat. The service is more formal on X. If my DH chose not to order an appetizer or soup, they brought his salad out while we were eating the other items. On X, he would be served the same course with everyone else. The bus boy acted as your wine steward, no sommelier making suggestions. The wine list on X is much more extensive. Our itinerary was 10 days with 4 sea days: Sea Day, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Sea Day, Panama Canal, Limon, Sea Day, Montego Bay, Sea Day, and Fort Lauderdale. We were glad to be cruising with our cousins as they are active cruisers who like to get out and do something at every port besides shop. Booking excursions online prior to leaving was very easy and they were billed to our room account once we were on board. Leaving Florida was smooth sailing and the seas stayed that way for our entire trip. The temperature gradually warmed up as we steamed south so by the time we reached Cozumel, it was in the low 80's. On this part of the experience, Princess really shines. The shore excursions were many and varied, with some unusual choices. You could be as active or sedentary as you liked. Celebrity's excursions are rather humdrum with more of an emphasis on shopping. Coming back from shore excursions on Celebrity though, there would a tent set up on the dock for X where you can get cold water and/or fruit punch and a cold cloth for your fevered brow when you are coming back from excursions. Nothing like that on Princess. In Cozumel we had booked the snorkel/lunch excursion so we had to be ready to be off the ship by 8 AM. Princess had the early departees meet in the Princess Theater and we were separated into groups by the signs on the walls. Very efficient and easy as pie since we were docked at the pier and could just walk off the ship. Met our group at the end of the pier and then walked back to the ship as our excursion boat was parked right there. Sharon and Al had boarded the boat early to allow Sharon to get off her feet as her back was bothering her. The rest of us stood transfixed as the Costa Mediterraneana was backing up to berth right where our little excursion boat was parked. It looked like a Mexican standoff as the excursion captain was not making any move to get out of the way. In a move worthy of David and Goliath, the Costa ship stopped several feet short of the end of the dock (although it looked a lot closer) and dropped its lines. Only then did the rest of us get on board. The ride to the other end of Cozumel Island took about an hour and included soft drinks and water (no beer until after snorkeling) and instructions on the use of the snorkel equipment. We dropped anchor over a reef and either jumped in or used the "chicken stairs" (my choice). There weren't too many fish but what we saw were very interesting. A new development since the last time I went snorkeling is that someone takes your underwater picture and then they sell them to you for $5 back on board. It's unbelievable how they try to get every dime out of the tourists by any method. One of the group got stung by a jelly fish and his arm was not pretty. There were a lot of jokes about the best way to treat it, all of them involving various mild acid solutions, i.e. vinegar. Those of us who had opted for the lunch portion of the excursion were dropped at a great beach area with loungers in the sun and a huge tent with lots of tables and chairs. The lunch consisted of salad, fish, chicken fajitas and assorted relishes. There was also fresh fruit for dessert. Our wristbands also entitled us to free drinks at 2 designated bars so after our soft drinks with lunch, Karl & Al wandered over and got us a couple of pina coladas while they tried the Mexican beer. There were some vendors selling trinkets and also a nice fresh water pool. We were glad to get out of the sun and to use the clean restrooms. Several of the people had been brought there by bus or taxi off our ship and the other ships in port just for the beach. This was the only time we had rain the whole trip and it was just a brief shower. It wasn't until much later in the cruise that I was kicking myself for not shopping in Cozumel for some vanilla to take home. It is dirt cheap there and a great take-home gift for friends and family. The next day we were in Grand Cayman and had booked the tour to swim with the stingrays. We tendered in and were met by our tour guide who got us on a bus. There were about 10 of us. The driver took us on a short ride to where the catamaran was docked. He gave us a brief history of the island while we traveled and pointed out different landmarks and how much of the island had been damaged by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Arriving at the boat, we had to shed our shoes before boarding. It was about 40 minutes to the sandbar where the rays awaited us. I got a great picture of them swimming towards us while we docked. The crew stated that we were lucky to be the only boat there at that time and have the stingrays all to ourselves. Contrary to all the bad press they have received since Steve Irwin's death, the stingray is actually a very benign creature unless it feels threatened. They swam all around us looking for the squid we held in our fists for them to suck up. It felt like a big vacuum cleaner taking it out of my hand. They let you pet them and the guides held them for us to "kiss" and they took pictures of us doing it. They put all of your pictures on a disc for only $55. Sharon & Al did buy it but Karl & I decided against it since I was taking pictures of my own. After we got back to the dock, we wandered around downtown Georgetown for an hour or so checking out the souvenirs and didn't see anything we couldn't live without. Our next day was a sea day and we took advantage of the pool, finding chairs in the shade to relax. We had decided to try Sabatini's, the specialty restaurant that night for dinner. After reading so much about it, I was really psyched up for the tremendous meal we were going to receive. People had raved over the 16 courses and how great everything was. We were all very disappointed. Certain items were good, like the pizza and the salad, but after eating in Celebrity's specialty dining room, it did not measure up. We were asked if we wanted caviar which was on the potato pancake and when we declined, they just skipped that course. Everyone else raved about the minestrone soup. I had the cioppino (fish soup) and while the broth was excellent, the seafood was so chewy it was inedible. I can't even remember what I had as an entree. And yet a year later, I can still recall my dinner in the Normandie dining room on the Summit. What a difference between food that is cooked to order and dishing up the same meal day after day. Some other differences we noticed was that hot cocoa was free on Celebrity whereas you pay for it as a specialty drink on Princess. Of course it is served in a tall glass with whipped cream and sprinkles on top. You also had to pay for ice cream when you finally found the counter by the Spa pool. I had read somewhere that it was free at certain times in the buffet but we never found it. Karl liked the dispensers for the hot beverages which came out very hot. This made for a nice cup of tea. The cups were also bigger than on Celebrity which offers a barely 4 ounce cup. Princess had a decent sized cup for coffee or tea. Celebrity does have nice trays with cloth placemats in the buffet and waiters to carry it for you instead of just large platters that you have to juggle with your drink. They also have a sandwich station all during lunch but Princess only had it from 3-4 PM in the buffet. I didn't see it as a food option in the Princess Patter. Maybe it was only for those coming back from a late shore excursion. We had early seating so never would have used it anyway. The pizza on the Coral Princess was very good with an excellent crust. I do have to hand it to Princess for the continuous buffet even if I don't see the need for it to be 24 hours. Celebrity would shut down breakfast an hour before lunch where on Princess they would close one side of the buffet to get ready for lunch and continue serving breakfast on the alternate side until lunch was up and running. We never tried the buffet for dinner as we really liked the dining room experience for that meal. We also never made it to any midnight buffet or even the island deck party or the champagne fountain they had for Valentine's Day. The production shows were terrific on Coral Princess and except for the "banjo guy" most of the entertainment was very good. But the theater only had a capacity of 600 on a ship with 1980 passengers. The sightlines were excellent but this was not set up as a "show lounge" like the Universe Lounge. If you were not sitting on the aisle, you could forget about that after-dinner drink as the theater was stadium seating and the poor drink servers would have to crawl over several people to serve you. Because we had early seating and the age demographic of this cruise was leaning into the high 80's we found ourselves racing to the theater if we wanted to get 4 seats together. This was a 1/2 hour before the show time. We finally decided to hit the casino after dinner and go to the late show which was definitely less attended. Say what you will about X having an older demographic, it all depends on time of year and length of the cruise. I think I was the only passenger who was still gainfully employed besides the crew. The next stop was the main reason for the cruise, the Panama Canal! We had been informed by the cruise director that we would be entering the Gatun Locks about 6:30 AM. Like everyone else who had a balcony, we ordered room service breakfast for the first serving of 7:30. Those poor guys and gals were really humping all those trays to us lazy people sitting on our verandas. We kept the TV turned up loud so we could hear the commentary on what was happening. A word to the wise; as it is very close to the Equator, Panama is pretty warm, even at 7AM in February. We had a port cabin and had the sun rising right in our faces. After a few cups of hot tea, I thought I was going to have heat stroke. I went inside to cool off and my face was as red as those Valentine balloons. I took a shower to cool off and watched the rest of our progress on TV with the bridge cam. The process was very interesting as the captain only used the side jets to maneuver the sip into the lock. Then the "mules" or railroad engines took over by dragging the ship in by the front and back docking ropes. Once the lock is closed and the water rushes in and the ship rises 23 feet to the level of Gatun Lake. All the traffic on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides is incoming from daylight to noon. The ships that are traversing the rest of the isthmus continue on to the other 2 sets of locks (going west) and the ones going east come to the Gatun locks. After noon, the ships start going in the outgoing direction as we did after they took off all the passengers by tenders who wanted to take tours. We remained on board to enjoy the mostly empty pool and have our choice of deck chairs. We docked at Cristobal and the souvenir hunters got off to check out the local wares at the pier. We were warned not to leave the area as it was not safe. There were several young native boys and girls dressed in lovely costumes posing to take pictures and I think there was no charge. There was a group of older women doing a tribal dance to drums performed by the men. Here was a real cultural clash. The men were barely clothed in loincloths and the women were bare breasted. There was nothing salacious in it, just a surprise to see it. The only other ship docked there was a Fred. Olson liner and I have to say that the Coral Princess put it to shame. I managed to get away with only spending a few dollars on a couple of Christmas ornaments to add to my vacation collection. Panama is known for its straw work and we saw some magnificent bowls and of course Panama hats. Knowing the limitations of my luggage, I restrained myself from buying a lot of "stuff". Our next port was Limon, Costa Rica. We really liked the way this itinerary was broken up with the sea days. It gave you a nice break from the hectic pace of the ports. Limon was the first port where we had booked our own tour online with Charlie Soto's OkeyDokey Tours. We decided on the "A" tour for $49/pp. We were met at the end of the dock by a representative holding a sign with our names on it. Charlie himself stopped by to introduce himself, shake hands with each of us and thank us for booking with him. Our tour was to include a trip to the a farm to see the local flora and fauna, a Del Monte banana plantation, a boat ride down the canal to look at the rain forest, a stop at the beach and some shopping. Our van was just for the 4 of us, our driver Reynaldo and our guide Ed. Reynaldo only knew a few words in English but Ed was a university student on semester break who spoke excellent English. The van was spotless and came with a cooler stocked with beer, water and Coke. He started out giving us a history and geography lesson of Costa Rica which we were glad to hear since we were all pretty ignorant about the country. A neutral country since 1954 (like Switzerland and Sweden); Costa Rica has no standing armed forces. They put their GNP into health care and education for its citizens. Its primary export is bananas. Our first stop was on the side of the road to look at the howler monkeys who resisted all our calls and showed their disdain of us by voiding their bladders from the tops of the trees. Good thing we were a safe distance away! We then went to a private farm to try some fresh mango, local bananas and some other fruit fresh from the trees. While we were there, Reynaldo spotted a baby sloth on the ground and gave it to Karl to hold so we could all touch and pet it. First time we had ever seen a sloth, much less hold one. Reynaldo and Ed then took us on a walking tour of the farm to look at the different vegetation. Reynaldo cut some sugar cane for us to chew and this was a first time experience also. This was an easy walk on flat ground and mostly even surfaces, which was a concern for us since Sharon has back issues. But she did fine through this and the whole cruise. There were bathroom facilities w/flush toilets at this farm also. Next stop on this tour was the Del Monte banana plantation. We got a real lesson in third world economics here. We saw how the bananas grow very rapidly on stalks and how they are harvested green and placed on a conveyer that goes from the field to the processing area. Here all the work is done by hand to cut the large bunches down to a manageable size. They are washed several times and put on another conveyer where someone's job is to put the sticker on each bunch and then they are hand bagged and loaded into crates for shipment. We asked Ed how the Costa Ricans liked this job and he said that Costa Ricans would not take these jobs as they were too low paying! The people doing all this work were imported from Nicaragua and were "guest workers" who lived on the plantation. My cousins who had both worked in a factory environment all their lives were commenting about how all of the work done could be mechanized. I guess it was cheaper to hire the help than bring in the machines. These people worked 12 hrs a day, six days a week and were happy to have the jobs! The housing was nothing to write home about either. We decided that even in our rooms on the cruise ship, we still had a lifestyle that was 1000% better than most of the people in that country. Wave that Red, White and Blue because no one has it better than we do! The rest of the tour was taken up with a boat ride which was actually pretty boring. There were some kids with turtles to look at and not much else. How many times can you look at the same type of bird? Then we went to a very nice beach but we were not dressed for swimming. We did not want to sample the local cuisine or buy any of the souvenirs there. What we really wanted to do is to go to a local supermarket and purchase some 1820 coffee which I had read about on the cruise sites. They did this for us and Sharon and I found exactly what we were looking for. They use the metric system so 500 grams of coffee is about 1 lb, 2 ounces and cost about $2.62 each package. We loaded up to bring this home for our kids since they are too big for t-shirts. Reynaldo then took us to an overlook to take a picture of the bay and our ship and then we were back to the dock. I think we were gone a total of 5 hours. No problems whatsoever but if we were to ever go to Limon again, I don't think we would even bother to get off the boat unless there was some great snorkeling there. It was after we got back that the incident with the Carnival passengers occurred. Our third sea day was Valentine’s Day and our second formal night. Karl & Al had decided to wear a tux for formal nights as they had for our cruise the previous year to Hawaii. There had been 3 formal nights on that 14 day cruise and quite a few of the passengers had elected to go “black tie”. There were not many who did that on this cruise. Karl likes to rent the tux so as to cut down on the amount of clothing he has to bring. We did like the Princess dress code of Smart Casual most nights. Since Celebrity has an “informal” night, it requires the men to bring a sport jacket. It was very nice having Valentine’s Day as a formal night. Our dear spouses purchased corsages for us and they were waiting at our places when we went in for dinner. Princess had set up a display of large heart cakes in the atrium on deck 5 at the base of the glass elevators and had a large heart made of red, pink and white balloons that stretched the height of all 4 decks! There was some form of decorating in all the public rooms. It was all nicely done and made a lovely acknowledgement of the day. In Montego Bay, we had reserved a van and driver with Barrett’s Adventures. They offered several tours but we were not interested in tubing or climbing Dunn’s River Falls or to take the all day drive to get to Ochos Rios. Chester was our driver and he was more than willing to give us a tour of his home town. We booked Barrett's Adventures because of all the recommendations on the cruise site. We decided to just to see Rose Hall (this was our 3rd time in Jamaica and none of us had never seen it) and wherever our whim took us. Our choice was the 6 hour private tour for $35/pp. There were 4 of us. We were late getting into the receiving building because we had to tender in instead of docking. (Freedom of the Seas took that spot. What a huge ship!) Chester was waiting just were they said he would be holding a paper with our names on it. He was courteous, informative and the van was spotless. My cousin asked that he show us Montego Bay since Al had only been to the Sandals resorts there and had not ever seen the town. Chester showed us the real Montego Bay where rich, middle class and poor lived. We never felt threatened or unsafe. People waved at us all the time. We saw the oldest church in Montego Bay and new housing under construction. The road construction for a new road between MoBay and Ochos Rios is very slow going. We estimated that it would probably take 5 years to complete as there were very few road graders and truckers doing the work. Not like we are used to seeing in the States. Before we got to Rose Hall, we stopped at the Ritz Carleton White Witch golf resort for a bathroom break. This place was absolutely gorgeous! We really had to admire the manicured grounds and the view of the sea. I’m sure it costs a bundle to golf there. Rose Hall was beautiful but with a creepy history. They say Annie Palmer’s ghost still walks even if her tomb is in the garden. They had a newspaper in the gift shop for free which showed the stages of reconstruction and I am sorry I did not pick one up. They also had several “ghostly” photos which people had sent which purported to show faces in the mirrors and other apparitions. The former dungeon is now the gift shop with an adjacent bar and restaurant. It was educational and interesting. After Rose Hall Chester asked if we would like to stop for an authentic Jamaican "jerk" lunch. We all kind of hemmed and hawed as we were not sure if it would be to our liking, but Al jumped and said sure, why not. I thought Sharon was going to kill him. We stopped at a place called Scotchies and it had a dirt floor and a food counter. Sharon and Al had the chicken and pork 1/4 lb each, yams and breadfruit and something I can't remember the name of but was like a doughnut. We had the 1/4 lb pork and the other stuff too. It was delicious. Karl bought Chester's lunch and we all ate together. It was spicy but not too hot. I was thinking I was going to have to take a Zantac when I got back to the ship but I was fine. He also took us to a place called Strawberry’s for some shopping but it was very high pressure and the prices were not cheap. We bought some Jamaican coffee there. You would probably be better served going to a supermarket if possible. We also stopped at the Taj Mahal shopping mall for a short time but then headed back to the ship. You had to show your cruise card to get back into the port. There was lots of security with locked gates and armed guards. Chester told us that you had to be smart in MoBay and not go into the bad areas, which he obviously avoided. We bid Chester goodbye and thanked him for our lovely day. We felt we had gotten our money's worth and seen some of the real Jamaica. Getting through security to get back to the dock was a mess with very long lines and only 2 people manning the scanners and actually frisking you before they let you through the door. There were shuttle vans waiting to take you over to the dock where our tender was but after sitting all day, it felt good to walk a bit. We actually were on the last tender to the ship. Glad to be “home” and back on board. The last sea day was real low key. We played bingo for the last time and did not win the big prize. The gambling on this ship was a big contrast to our previous cruise where I had won $1400 playing 3-card poker and split the big bingo prize the last day. Here I reverted back to my normal losing pattern in the casino. I finally switched to playing Blackjack and started winning some small amounts but too little, too late. They had the usually “tournaments” for slots, Blackjack and 3-card poker. They might have had one for Texas Hold’em also but I wasn’t paying attention. Sharon and I did some last minute shopping in the boutique shops buying identical shirts to wear to the next family outing, but other than that we didn’t see anything that really floated out boat. Dinner was “American” night and there were crab legs on the menu which were outstanding. It was the first time in 8 cruises that I had seen those on the menu. Not even in Alaska. We had done the automatic tips on our account so there was nothing to be done for that except to say good bye to our waiter and busboy. On Celebrity they gave you a little card to hand to your waiter and busboy indicating that you had added the tips to your account. Here I guess they had to wait to find out if we stiffed them or not. The last day, we had breakfast and cleared out of our rooms with our carry-ons and waited in the place of your choice for your number to be called. Since we were leaving on deck 6, we waited in the lounge adjacent to the casino and had a table and four comfortable chairs to relax in before our color was called. We had no early plane to catch so we could care less when we finally disembarked. A big surprise when we walked off the ship as Fort Lauderdale was a chilly 55 degrees. Al and Karl had to catch a shuttle to the other end of the port to get the car since we were only one of several ships docked there on a Saturday. It was interesting seeing people arriving so early to get on the ship when we were not the last ones off. They were going to have a long wait. Sharon & Al dropped us at the airport and continued back to Fort Myers to continue their vacation while we settled in for a long wait for our flight home. All in all it was a very nice cruise. Princess did a nice job with the shore excursions and the rooms. The ship was lovely and comfortable, except for the theater which was too small. We would definitely consider Princess again if the price and the itinerary were to our liking. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
Since all aspects of cruising is based on personal preference, and everyone has varying expectations, you should take every review with a grain of salt. Overall, we enjoy Princess cruises for the value, knowing that there are no luxury ... Read More
Since all aspects of cruising is based on personal preference, and everyone has varying expectations, you should take every review with a grain of salt. Overall, we enjoy Princess cruises for the value, knowing that there are no luxury accommodations, gourmet meals or well-known entertainers. But, there is the enjoyment of being on vacation, doing as much or as little as you wish, getting a flavor of different countries/islands and enjoying the travel to each new port while the captain and his bridge crew are responsible for getting us there safely, meeting and enjoying the company of fellow passengers and enjoying all the onboard activities - the Princess Patter was a guide to planning our daily activities. Our vacations have not always been on cruise ships, and there will always be aspects of travel that will be unpalatable, but none so horrible as to keep us from cruising again. Even the incessant barrage of sales tactics can be easily ignored or politely refused. Ship The ship was beautiful and had an impressive atrium. It was a nice size ship and well maintained. We stayed in D206 (Forward, Dolphin Deck, port sides). The room was adequate for us. We had plenty of space for our belongings. Room safe was useful. The bathroom was very small. The shower, with humor, is tolerable - don't drop the soap! The balcony was fully covered and had a "partially obstructed view." There was a partial wall which blocked half of the balcony. But, it still allowed us to stand and view the trip through the Canal. It also afforded some shade from the sun. We saw a beautiful Valentines Day display in the atrium and outside the Horizon Court. They took hygiene seriously and were constantly pushing the use of hand sanitizer and telling us to frequently wash our hands, use our cabin bathroom whenever convenient, etc. Thankfully, there were no outbreaks of Noro viruses. I'd like to sail the Coral again to enjoy the things we missed. Entertainment/Onboard Activities We attended a comedy magic show in the Universal Lounge (Greg Moreland) and two comedians in the Princess Theater which were very funny (Billy Vader & Scott Wyler). I enjoyed Dr. Lawrence Hall's lecture "The Incredible Mayans." We attended two cooking demonstrations by onboard chefs in the Universal Lounge. The second was more of a comedy show. The "chef" demonstrated his skill rolling out dough with a wine bottle. We took a tour through the galley. We would have enjoyed it more if smaller groups were taken through at a more leisurely pace—but, at least we got a peek of what goes on behind those shiny revolving doors! I watched a movie in the cabin one evening I wasn't feeling well (no it wasn't the Noro virus or sea sickness). We attended a wine tasting (about $10 per person) which was held in the Bordeaux dining room. I thought it was very nicely done, but a bit rushed. We enjoyed Greg Watson, the piano entertainer in Crooners Lounge. If you meet Philip bartending in Crooners, ask him about his first day as a cruise ship employee. He had us in stitches! We watched a martini-making demonstration and the Mr. was a participant in the festivities! We tried our luck in the casino. The Mr. broke even and I left my deposit. I'm not a big gambler so it wasn't much of a loss. We enjoyed the pool & spas. Also enjoyable were our gatherings on the Lido deck with fellow passengers to shoot the breeze, have a cocktail or two and share a few laughs. Dining The Bordeaux dining room was very spacious and the seating at even the largest tables was comfortable. Service was better some nights than others. The food was good with a decent variety each night. It was our first time with "anytime" dining. We like the concept and enjoyed meeting new people every night. We experienced long waiting lines on three occasions, but once we got inside the door and said we'd like to be seated at any open table, we were seated immediately. The staff sporadically checked diner's cards to ensure they were "anytime" diners. We never made reservations. We thought it defeated the purpose of the concept. Reservations are allowed, which some passengers used to their full advantage at the expense of other "anytime" diners. We heard a group made multiple reservations at various time intervals for the same night under each of their cabin numbers, but only used the reservation at the time that was most convenient for them. I did mention this in the end-of-cruise questionnaire and hope Princess finds a way to eliminate multiple reservations and only accept diners who have signed up for "anytime" dining. But, until they work the "kinks" out of "anytime" dining, we will use the late Traditional seating for our next cruise. We usually had breakfast in the Horizon. Lunch either in the Horizon, the grill or pizza, dinner in the Bordeaux dining room or the Bayou (one night). The first formal night we had dinner in the Bayou with our delightful dinner companions from the first night of the cruise. The ambiance was nice and the meal was decent. Ports We only did shore excursions in two ports. The other port days we spent relaxing in the lounge chairs which are scarce when all passengers are on board. We enjoyed the swimming pool and spa and enjoyed time with other passengers we met on deck. Cozumel, Mexico - Our shore excursion was a Mexican cuisine cooking and tasting. We took a short bus trip to Playa Mia, where we were paired up with a nice couple, Chuck & Diane. An entertaining young chef guided us through our edible creations, as we sipped our margarita. During the cooking class, a heavy rainstorm passed through, but we stayed dry as we were under their new pavilion. We enjoyed eating our culinary delights with a glass of wine. We were also impressed that cleanliness and hygiene were stressed before starting the cooking class. They had a portable sink where everyone washed their hands before the class began. The portable cooking stations were immaculately clean. They also had a buffet and beach bar which was available to us during our stay. We brought our swimsuits and towels and had a bit of time to enjoy the beach before we had to catch the bus back to the ship. We really enjoyed the day! Grand Cayman-We booked the "Island Highlights & Stingray City" shore excursion. We were disappointed that the Stingray City portion of the excursion was cancelled. But, they credited our account for one-half the cost of the shore excursion. We got conflicting stories from the Princess excursion staff why it was cancelled. It was beyond our control and didn't spoil our day on the island. We boarded a bus and rode around the island as the bus driver pointed out various places and a bit of the island history. We stopped briefly at 7-mile beach. Next we stopped in "Hell" which had a gift shop with the proprietor behind the cash register dressed as a devil. In the back of the property is black coral in jagged shapes. It looked like rock formations that would be found in hell. A popular picture opportunity was standing next to a wooden statue of the devil. You can send mail from "Hell" which will bear the postmark from "Hell." The bus driver explained there was major damage from Hurricane Ivan. The side of the building in "Hell" indicated how high the water became from the flooding. Our bus driver said that he is thankful to be alive because he spent a night hanging onto a tree. Next was a stop at the Tortuga Rum Factory store which was very crowded. We relaxed on the back porch while the crowd thinned and then sampled some rum and rum cake. Yes, I bought some delicious rum cake! Our last stop was the turtle farm. Our bus driver gave us a nice tour around the turtle farm explaining the history, purpose, and improvements being made to the facilities. Everyone was able to hold a turtle. Our guide said that if they start flapping their flippers to just rub under their chin and they will settle down. It worked! Another nice day, and an island we hope to enjoy again in the future. Maybe next time we'll take a cab to 7-mile beach. Panama Canal Transit This is the main reason we chose this itinerary. We were up early and enjoyed the transit through the locks into Gatun Lake from our balcony. We watched our transit from Gatun Lake back to the sea from the Horizon court. We were fortunate to share a table with one of our previous dinner companions. We had a great view and kept cool while we indulged in some excellent desserts. I did get a few good pictures of the canal from one of the side staircases, without the blue windshields blocking the view. We enjoyed the history & marvel of the canal. This trip was another travel wish of ours fulfilled! Embarkation/Disembarkation Embarkation was a breeze until we were halfway up the gangway. There was some sort of snafu where folks with blue cards weren't being accepted by the scanner. We were asked to move back down the gangway. Not too long of a wait before we were told to proceed up for boarding. Disembarkation is a bit slower, but part of the cruise experience. After we located our bags in the sea of baggage---shame on us, only one of our bags had a special identifying "dohickey"---, we had a porter take our bags to our waiting bus. A few dollars for the porter services is well worth it! Princess Air We opted for the convenience of having someone else take care of the reservations. The trip down was fine. The return trip was a bit convoluted: bus from the ship to Miami Airport, Miami to Orlando on American, switch to Delta in Orlando to Atlanta, Atlanta to Myrtle Beach. Our flight out of Miami was delayed two hours and 15 minutes, causing us to miss our connection in Orlando. We were booked on another airline through Charlotte and touched down in Myrtle Beach sometime after 11:30 p.m.. We put in a claim for our missing luggage and received it two days later. But, we are counting our blessings that the luggage wasn't lost on the flight to Florida. We think we'll take our chances making our own flight arrangements next time, especially since Spirit now flies nonstop from Myrtle Beach to Ft. Lauderdale. Conclusion We love cruising and are doing it all over again on the Emerald Princess next Valentine's Day! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
We stayed in Fort Lauderdale the night before the cruise, at the Holiday Inn across from the beach on A1A - What a terrible mistake that was. Dirty old place that should be torn down. We took a taxi to the port about 12:30PM on Feb 17th ... Read More
We stayed in Fort Lauderdale the night before the cruise, at the Holiday Inn across from the beach on A1A - What a terrible mistake that was. Dirty old place that should be torn down. We took a taxi to the port about 12:30PM on Feb 17th for embarkation. They had recommended to board about 2:00PM, but we were anxious to get out of the hotel, so took a chance. Checking in was easy, but being some of the first people they hadn't quite fully staffed the check-in desks - so a little confusion for a very short time. We were on board within 30 minutes and to our cabin which was a mini-suite on Dolphin deck. It was a spacious comfortable room with tons of shelves are places for clothes. My only complaint about the room was the balcony that was open in full sight of all the decks above. We had previously been in a regular balcony room on the Caribe deck which was half again bigger in size and very private with a roof covering. So - never the Dolphin deck again This was our 5th Princess cruise, so we were very comfortable with facilities, dining etc. The Horizon court is excellent most of the time. We had set dining time for dinner and except for the first night the food was pretty good to excellent. We took only one Princess cruise tour in Costa Rica for white water rafting. The rafting was great for an hour or so, but the tour was about 6 or 7 hours long because of the bus trip and stopping for lunch. I wouldn't do that again. Our friends had booked a private tour through Okeydocky tours on the internet and were extremely pleased. It had a variety of activities including the zip line and cost about half what it would have booking a similar tour on board. We did the swimming with Sting Rays in Cayman. My wife freaked out when they swam by - It didn't thrill me much either. Not sure why we did that now? The Panama Cannel was fascinating to see. Over all, another great cruise. We have booked next February on the Emerald Princess already! Princess is really good. They almost never say - no can't be done. Our room steward was OK - just average. We have had better, but OK. We did take in some entertainment. One comedian was hilarious and could be in Vegas, - another was not great. There was a huge musical production that just seemed too ambitious for the talent of the staff - but it is all free!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
We have just returned from a wonderful cruise to the Panama Canal. My husband and I traveled with our daughter and her husband on the Coral Princess. Since we wished to meet some family in Florida, we booked our own airfare and hotel for ... Read More
We have just returned from a wonderful cruise to the Panama Canal. My husband and I traveled with our daughter and her husband on the Coral Princess. Since we wished to meet some family in Florida, we booked our own airfare and hotel for two nights prior to embarkation. We booked direct flights with USAirways from Pittsburgh, arriving in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, Feb. 25th. We stayed at the lovely Atlantic Hotel on Fort Lauderdale Blvd. It is one of the luxury Sheraton offerings, and it was very luxurious. We enjoyed the pool area and bar, especially the bartender, a friendly English lady. We did eat breakfast at the restaurant, which was very good, but very pricey. Our first night we ventured to the Rustic Inn Crabhouse, located on Ravenswood Rd. We had a ball!! It is very rustic, and every diner receives a mallet with their crab dinner. Whenever someone is celebrating a special event, like birthdays and anniversaries, the entire restaurant joins in by pounding their mallets on the wooden tables. Great fun. Great food. Try their famous garlic crab. Although the hotel was beautiful, I would try a different location if going early, again. The beach was right across the street, but everything else was an expensive taxi ride away. We arrived at Port Everglades, Pier Two about 12:30pm and proceeded onboard with no wait and no difficulties. Everyone of the Princess reps were very friendly and helpful. Once on board we stopped to purchase a soda drink card, just one per couple is needed, and preceded to our cabin. We both booked mini-suites for two reasons. First of all, we like the seating area offered in the mini-suite and larger balcony, but also prefer the tub/shower to allow more bathing room. The rooms were well-designed, but could use a little upgrading on upholstery and carpeting. Ours was stained in several places, but otherwise, the room was spotless. The balcony had a table, two regular chairs, and two reclining chairs. We had our steward open the door between the balconies. We had also requested to have the egg-crate mattress pads for the beds, which were in queen formation, two weeks previously. If you wait until you are onboard, you may not get one. Our steward, Jamie, also provided us with robes and slippers. For the first time, we had chosen the anytime dining, which we really liked. We usually went to dinner about 7-7:30, and rarely waited more than a few minutes, just time enough for a cocktail nearby. The first night we were seated at table #30. Our head waiter was Marian, and the assistant waiter was Ruel. They were wonderful!! We ended up requesting them each evening, in fact they were looking for us and did their best to hold our table each night. The food in the dining room was very good. The selections provided a great deal of choices, and Marian was always able to customize any of the offerings to please picky eaters, like my husband. We did try Sabatini's one night and were very disappointed. We're not gourmet eaters, but we do enjoy good food. None of us enjoyed any of the meal, including the dessert! The waiters were efficient, but not friendly and did not add to the dining experience. I love lobster and shrimp, but whatever they had used as a seasoning stopped me from eating any of it. It was the only meal which we came away hungry. We usually had a continental breakfast preordered for our room each day, but a couple of days we called room service to order a more substantial breakfast, which was excellent. For lunch we usually had pizza or something from the grill by the pool. The pizza was ok, but not as good as what I have had on other Princess cruises. We occasionally went to the Horizon Court for the buffet, which was good, but crowded. The one thing that did surprise me was the average age of the passengers. My husband and I are in our mid-50’s, and we were the teenagers. We only saw 3 children on the entire cruise. The advantage to older average age was that they did go to bed earlier than most did on other cruises. We pretty much had the bars and casinos to ourselves by 11:00pm. We did find a great bar where we seemed to migrate often during the afternoon and evening. It was the Crooners Bar which boasted a very talented piano/singer every evening. We sat at the small bar and were very entertained by Phillip, the bartender. He loved to show us card tricks and other puzzles to our delight. We always had a lot of fun while enjoying our cocktails with him. Several other passengers felt the same, and we became a familiar group. We also enjoyed the casino, and unfortunately for our pockets, they enjoyed us, too. All of the dealers and servers were very friendly and seemed to know what you wanted before you even asked. They offered a variety of slot, blackjack, etc. tournaments which were very popular. Our first day was a sea, which was a nice way to start off the cruise—very relaxing. The second day we were to be in Cozumel, but unfortunately we couldn’t tender in because of extreme swells. The ship didn’t feel rough, but it was dangerously rough on the tenders. The captain reluctantly aborted, so we had a second day at sea. Again, the third day was at sea, as was scheduled, so when we finally were able to get off in Grand Cayman, everyone was happy. We booked the Pirate Adventure in Grand Cayman. They took you aboard the Jolly Roger for some fun and a little rum punch. Although it was fun, it was not nearly as much fun as the Jolly Roger my daughter and son-in-law experienced in Barbados. After that 2 hour trip, we took a taxi down seven mile beach and enjoyed the water and sunshine. The next stop provided our favorite tour. In Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, we booked the Jungle River Eco Adventure. It was wonderful. Our tour guide had her masters in eco-tourism and was fascinating. We traveled by bus to the Tortuga Canals which are a natural waterway through the rain forest. She made sure that we saw all the wildlife possible and taught us about their habits and life styles. Very interesting! She told us that we were smart to have booked the morning tour since the afternoon is very hot and humid and the animals tend to hide away in the heat. After the canal ride, the served us tons of beautiful fresh fruit and beverages, entertained us with a live calypso band, and provided a small shop for souvenir shopping. Next, we were off to the banana plantation. Although being Sunday, the workers were not working; our guide still was able to give us a very informative tour. The next day was the Panama Canal, and we were not disappointed. We entered the canal before daybreak which was interesting to see with all the lights. We could hear the howler monkeys in the trees as we squeezed into the first lock. Having a balcony was very nice. We toasted the canal with champagne as we watched all the activity. Once through the locks, we anchored in Gatun Lake where the passengers taking tours got off into tenders. We stayed onboard and napped, but were up and ready for the return through the locks. To get a different view we went to the Promenade Deck for a closer look, and again, we were not disappointed. The entire day the ship played a variety of documentaries about the Canal that were very helpful. Once out of the canal, we docked in Cristobal to wait for the passengers returning from tours. We were able to get off on the dock and visit the shops. It was basically a flea market, not worth the trip. Our next day was at sea as we traveled to Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We were never bored with so much to do onboard. We had become interested in the bingo games along with the pools and casino. In Ocho Rios we took the cruise tour to the local beach club, which was very well run. We had comfortable lounge chairs either in or out of the sun, a hostess to bring us drinks and tapas, music and entertainment. The only downside of the beach was the water. Although it was clear, it unfortunately had a lot of trash in it. We didn’t go out of the beach club complex which was surrounded by barbed wire fencing. Others who did venture out on their own told us how much they were hassled to buy drugs. After Jamaica, we had one final day at sea before arriving back at Fort Lauderdale. Disembarkation went smoothly and even ahead of schedule. We had purchased transfers to the airport, and again, very efficient. We had to wait several hours at the airport due to our late flight, but had no problems. Overall, we all enjoyed the trip. I’m sure my daughter and son-in-law will probably not take another Panama Canal trip due to the age of the passengers, but my husband and I would probably return. I think the next time we would want to travel all the way through the canal and up the west coast of Central America. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2007
We traveled to Ft. Lauderdale the previous day and stayed at a Marriott. We chose to take an early shuttle to the ship. Embarkation was quick and very easy. Once on board we went directly to our stateroom and met our steward. He was very ... Read More
We traveled to Ft. Lauderdale the previous day and stayed at a Marriott. We chose to take an early shuttle to the ship. Embarkation was quick and very easy. Once on board we went directly to our stateroom and met our steward. He was very nice and couldn't do enough for us. In addition, he was very quick to tidy up the room in the morning and prepare the room in the evening. The cabin had plenty of room for our things except for the unbelievable size of the shower. I don't think a two-year old would fit easily. We had to line the bathroom floor with towels just so we didn't slip and fall when getting out of the shower. They should be ashamed of themselves for actually allowing their guests to use that kind of facility. We toured the ship and had lunch in the Horizon Buffet. Very nice selection and food was tasty. We chose anytime dining. It was both good and not so good. Food was good, but we were not always able to be seated right away. Some nights we had to wait 30 plus minutes. Initially it was difficult to find our way around the ship and I think it took us nearly the 10 days to really feel comfortable. Entertainment was just okay for a cruise ship, but we did not care. Spent most nights in the casino, which was bigger than some other ships we have been on. We chose this particular cruise because of the Panama Canal. Going through the locks into Gatun Lake was spectacular! We had a champagne breakfast on our balcony while going through the locks and returning we sat topside in the front of the ship. The whole experience was well worth it. We had visited most of the islands that the ship was scheduled to stop at, though we did get off the ship briefly to do a little shopping, but returned to the ship early each time to enjoy the quietness while most everyone else was off touring. We found everyone from our steward to the waiters and others extremely nice and most accommodating. This was our third Princess cruise and we will definitely do another. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
Coral Princess, April 18 to 28, 2007; Cabin B355, AnyTime Dining. 2nd Princess cruise Overall the trip was great, just short of being perfect.   The five ports of call were all below expectation otherwise it would have been perfect. ... Read More
Coral Princess, April 18 to 28, 2007; Cabin B355, AnyTime Dining. 2nd Princess cruise Overall the trip was great, just short of being perfect.   The five ports of call were all below expectation otherwise it would have been perfect. Since we had been to Cozumel and Grand Cayman previously and after reading up on the good spots on various site on the Internet, we decided to go snorkeling on our own.  In future, we will go back to doing a tour in a protected area.   In Cozumel, we went to Chankanaab Park which was very nice but the hurricane of a few years ago ruined the water system for their lagoon which would have been ideal for snorkeling (peaceful and a lot of captive fish).  There is a huge beautiful sandy beach with cabanas and chairs, a snorkel and scuba rental shop and lockers and a restaurant but the entry into the water (except for the kiddie area) is a concrete breakwater with concrete and rock steps into the water and a metal hand railings. We had 4-5 foot waves pushing us into the rock where we tried to snorkel.  Cathy was flipped completely over once while getting in. I am not that good a swimmer even with the inflatable vest so I only ventured in once.  On her second time, Cathy did see a lot of fish when two scuba divers went by feeding the fish. In Grand Cayman we walked to some of the snorkeling areas close to downtown after turning left off of the tenders, but the beaches were not very sandy.  We found a public beach, just after the gas station on the east (land) side of the road and a cemetery on the west (ocean) side that had a sign on the road and a narrow pathway to it, which was nice and sandy. This was NOT Seven Mile Beach. As we swam, we saw one sea urchin then about 100. I stepped on a couple of sea urchins, painful for a minute but no poison.  I had seen them but I stopped swimming and stood up in 4 feet of water. There were no warning signs on the beach. So we cut short our visit to get back to the boat to have Cathy extract the spikes (which is hard to do since they break up). We never did get to see any of the reefs or other good areas mentioned on the websites.   We arrived at the entrance to the Panama Canal around 6 am. I stayed mainly on Baja deck, at the viewing area at the front or the rear. You couldn't see the side walls from the front but you could a little from the back. Also, the Sun Princess was in the locks beside us, but one lock behind, so you were able to see how close they were to the walls. And there was a freighter two locks behind us in our locks so we could watch the tug boat line it up properly. Beware when on the front of Baja deck. I think someone squeegeed the water from the Lido deck, two above, and this huge torrent of water came down upon us without any warning. At these two vantage points, I never really got the sense of awe at being moved up 26 feet.   We tendered off of the Coral to the former Gatun Yacht Club (a very short hop) and then drove 90 miles to Gamboa. It was like driving from 8 oclock to 6 oclock on a clock. We went east, then north (I think close to Colon) then west (on the road to Panama City) then south and then east again. The Panama Canal boat ride (Ocean to Ocean) was ok but the ever present diesel fumes for three hours were unpleasant.  We had to wait in Gamboa for about 20 minutes before getting onto the Fantasy of the Sea (it held 300 people, we had about 200, 5 buses) and it was air conditioned for 1/2 of the second level.  The top deck (the 3rd) was 1/2 covered. Most of the bottom deck was closed in and there were washrooms at the front and rear. Apparently there are four or five different boats. We were very disappointed in not being able to get any information about the boat from Princess before we left. Considering the potential heat, we wanted assurances that it was covered and air conditioned and had washrooms. It rained just a little so the temperature was closer to 80 than 90 which was good but it was humid. There wasn't a lot to see since even in the Gaillard Cut, the banks are cut back so much (due to the mud slides).  We passed through the first lock (Pedro Miguel) with three sailboats (tied together), a catamaran and a yacht.  Then at Miraflores, 2 other boats our size joined us and the diesel smell was really bad.  We continued on under the huge Millennium Bridge and then the Bridge of the Americas, into the Pacific and the breakwater area. We went as far into the Pacific as possible. We had a very good view of the skyline of the city of Panama. Then we had a 90 minute bus ride back to Colon/Cristobel, which had a dock with a large building, housing some permanent shops at the front and a flea market at the rear.  The bus rides were good so as to see the country side and how the people live. Unfortunately, the amount of garbage in the countryside and small towns (just thrown anywhere) during the bus ride back was terrible to see.   The rainforest in Costa Rica was good (huge green ferns and plants) but the tram went into the forest for 1 km at 10 feet above ground and then came back the same path at 50 feet above ground, so you saw the same things again.   Although the lush green was wonderful, we would have liked to have seen some other colors.  There had been no significant rainfall in 22 days, so some things were starting to wilt.  We then did a 40 minute walk through the jungle on a concrete walkway.  Lunch was a good buffet in a covered open-air restaurant behind the air-conditioned gift shop. On the return bus trip, the driver detoured to a park in the city (Limon) and we looked out of the bus at some howler monkeys.  This was great!!! Luckily we then went through the city of Limon to get to the boat, so we saw the city. It was oppressively hot on the dock at 5 pm but the bus and the rainforest were cool. I thought the souvenirs for sale at the dock were interesting.   Ocho Rios was good in the morning (Coyaba Gardens and Annandale House - they even gave us a light lunch, which was not on the tour details) but the tour made us stop at three shopping areas in the heat so that took its toll on us.  We got back at 2:30 instead of 1:30.  The excursion note says shopping at the end of the tour.  All of the souvenirs were the same.  The back roads near Ocho Rios were quite bumpy so it was quite a ride and then up to Murphy Hill was unpaved and quite rutty. I enjoyed the bus ride through the small villages and Fern Gully. I was at the very back of the small bus so I had the whole back window to use to take pictures. Luckily, for the whole trip, the temperature was around the mid 80's (rather than mid 90's), so no heat exhaustion, other than in Ocho Rios and the few minutes on the dock at Limon CR.   The Coral Princess is a wonderful boat and the 4 sea days were great.  We were on the Grand Princess in 2001 on a 7 day cruise, with only 2 sea days. The extra 2 sea days are great. The formal nights were the first sea day (Thursday) and the third sea day (Wed). The Grand Princess is 12 feet wider at 118 feet and 13 feet shorter and 2 decks taller and did roughly the same cruise (without Costa Rica and Panama) but on the Coral, we felt more rocking. The reported sea conditions were usually fairly calm at 1.5 to 4.5 feet. We also felt more vibration, even in the dining room at the front of the ship - the engines are in the rear, but maybe the desalination plant is in the front. When embarking, we got to the Port at 11:15 and got through the security check in 2 minutes; by 11:30 there was a bit of a lineup at the security check. At 11:30, they started calling the groups (1 for elite, 2 for platinum, 3 for gold) and with so few people in the waiting room, we were at the check-in area by 11:40 and in our room before 12:00. We had been introduced to a lot of fellow travelers on Cruise Critic so we met after embarkment at 3 pm in Crooners. This was a great way to meet a great bunch of people and to connect with a few fellow Canadians. Disembarkment was a little behind schedule due to customs but we were off the boat at 9:10 rather than 8:40 as per the schedule given to us the night before and there was a separate lineup for non-Americans which was very short so we went through fairly quickly.  All of the customs work was on shore whereas on previous cruises it was done on the boat.  We had possession of our passports for the whole cruise and we were able to keep our Princess ID cards as souvenirs. If you had a flight before noon, I think that your departure time was around 8:00. The cab to Miami airport was $74.50 on the meter.   We didn't buy it, but the soda card was $40 plus 15% gratuity for the 10 days.  At Cozumel, we talked to people from the RC Rhapsody of the Seas and their card was $48 for 7 days.  We went to a Publix the night before we left and bought bottled water and ginger ale.  I was shocked when I had to pay $1.50 per glass for tomato juice in the Bordeaux dining room.    The airport security won't let you bring anything more than 3.4 oz or 100 ML of ANY liquid.  They took away a 5 oz bottle of water from the lady in front of us and all three of our .5L water bottle in our carry-on luggage.   On the 4 sea days, as a rookie, I took bridge lessons from 10 to 11:30 am and played from 2-4 pm. They have two categories, duplicate and social but both groups can earn points and they give out 12 prizes after the 4th sea day. I won a reversible Princess tote bag (retailing for $20). If you are a rookie like me and want to play Texas Hold'em, try the first night, when the blinds are only $2 and $4. I played the second night when they were $3 and $6. There is only one table, on the other side of the Casino bar, in the hallway leading to the photo shop, and it doesn't start until 8 pm. I heard a crewmember say that they would be adding more and/or moving the table in the future, since it is so popular. There are penny, nickel, dime, quarter and dollar slot machines. Cathy paid $105 for the Thermal Spa (no massages, a dry and wet sauna, a steam room, a eucalyptus room and one with heated tile chairs and large showers). It was a great way for her to relax and to use a full size shower. Cathy enjoyed the Lotus pool, quiet and relaxing; the roof was covered the whole cruise. As with our previous cruise on the Grand Princess, the swim-against-the-current machine was not working. The Lido pool was quite active, both in terms on the number of people and the special activities.   We watched Dream Girls in the theatre and The Devil Wears Prada on the TV in our room - other movies were Casino Royal, Little Miss Sunshine. We saw the first two shows, both good. We took a tour of the galley (kitchen) but it lasted only 3 minutes and really all that you saw was miles of stainless steel, with a few fryers going and the lunch appetizers stacked in the holding area.   The ship was full but it never really felt crowded. We had AnyTime dining so we ate in the Bordeaux (5th deck) dining room 8 of the 10 nights. The one night when we were tired and wanted to eat alone, we had to wait 10 minutes for a table and the other 7 times we joined into other groups and were seated immediately. The food was great, lobster on the second formal night and then Alaska King Crab Legs the next night (since we ate late that night, they brought me seconds without asking, when they brought the first plate).  There were usually five entries specific for that night’s theme plus 3 appetizers and 3 soups. In addition, there were very good ALWAYS AVAILABLE appetizers (Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail and fettuccine alfredo) and entrées (Sirloin steak, beef tournedos, broiled herb marinated skinless chicken, grilled lemon scented salmon as well as baked potato and French Fries). We were able to get a copy of a menu as a souvenir. One night Cathy was not impressed with the entrees so she asked for and got the fettuccine alfredo as an entrée (it was WWWONDERFUL) as well as some chicken from one of the entrées. On the two days when we had a very late lunch we had a light dinner late in the Horizon Court; some of the food decorations were simply amazing. The pizza and cheeseburgers on the Lido deck were quick and good as was the free ice cream (unadvertised) at 3:30 every day in the far front of the Horizon Court. We were thinking of going but we never made it to Bayou or Sabatini’s. We had room service breakfast twice, the first time was great but the second time was on entry into Gatun Locks in Panama. On this day, I would suggest that you run up to the Horizon Court and get a quick self-serve breakfast at 6:30. If you order room service, it ties you down to waiting in the room – we said 7-7:30 which is the earliest option and it arrived at 7:30 (that is probably their busiest day). The room service breakfast menu that you put on your door the night before says “continental breakfast” but both days we wrote on (and received) “scrambled eggs for two”. We bought the 8 by 10 photos ($20 for one or $30 for both) taken at our table on the formal night.  I asked how much for a reprint and they said $20.  The originals are too expensive and the reprint price is ridiculous. I did buy the Reflection DVD (highlights) of our voyage for $30 (we were not it in but we did recognize some of our newly-made friends) plus two other generic DVDs, Cruising the Panama and Colors of the Caribbean (combined $25), both about 20 minutes long which I feel were worth the money. At around 6 am on the 3rd sea day (after leaving Panama) there was an announcement over the intercom (which plays in the hallways and channel 38 if you have the TV on and on that channel). It woke us up but since I couldn’t make out what the captain was saying, I called the purser, who said that we had stopped in response to a distress call from another boat and that we had rescued 3 people. That brief announcement was the ONLY official comment from the ship. There was no mention of it in the daily Patter, in the end of cruise CRUISE LOG and in any other manner that I am aware of. Obviously rumors abounded but it seems that a sailboat broke its mast and we sent out a rescue vessel (one is hung on both side at the front of the deck 7) to get them. They were not allowed to bring on anything with them and the sailboat was abandoned. I realize the security concerns but I was not pleased that there was no explanation of what happened. Our cabin was Baja 355 on Starboard (the port side has the red in the carpet, I remembered this by saying that port is a red wine) which was halfway between the fore and the mid elevators. We had the emergency fire doors in the hall just outside our door. We heard running water through pipes all of the time. The maintenance man who came to check our Air Conditioning (it was working ok, it just wasn’t as cold as we liked it on the days when our patio door got the full sun all afternoon, even with the drapes closed) said that he thought that it might be the drainage from the pool which was two floors above us. We did hear of a couple on Aloha deck mention the noise above them in the middle of the night as the crew rearranged the deck chairs on Lido deck. We chose this part of the ship to be close to the centre to reduce the rocking. The only downside was that it took us a few days to realize that the fore elevators/stairs only go to the 7th deck. If they went to 5 or 6 they would be in the kitchens. We walked the Promenade Deck (number 7) on the middle 5 nights (3 laps is a mile) but the wind can be quite gusty in areas, with the resulting change in pressure on your face and ears. It was never crowded when we walked after dinner. On the TV, they show a map of our cruise but we really liked the map of the Caribbean hanging outside of the Horizon Court. Using a map from the UK Hydrographic Office (which showed the ocean depths) they plotted out our course and this helped to explain why we didn’t take a straight line route from Caymans to Limon (we had to go east to avoid a very shallow area off the coast of Nicaragua). The map was auctioned off on the last sea day but we didn’t attend. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
This was cruise number two for my wife and I and our best friends. If we weren't hooked on cruising after our first sailing, we're definitely hooked now. We can only compare it to our initial cruise on the Costa Classica. Our ... Read More
This was cruise number two for my wife and I and our best friends. If we weren't hooked on cruising after our first sailing, we're definitely hooked now. We can only compare it to our initial cruise on the Costa Classica. Our itinerary this time took us return from Ft Lauderdale directly to the Panama Canal; Colon (Cristobal), Panama; Limon, Costa Rica; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico, This was 10 days of absolute pleasure followed by 4 days of relaxing in Ft Lauderdale to round out the two weeks. We flew from Toronto to Ft Lauderdale, one day in advance of our cruise and stayed at the Hyatt Pier 66. Our room in this hotel was a little dirty and noisy and definitely not worth the price we were charged. I complained (which I rarely do) but it didn't make any difference, as there were no other rooms. We returned to this hotel after our cruise and it did not fair much better but the room was cleaner. Keep in mind I expect a lot for $350.00 US per night but I also understand that "reasonable rates in Ft Lauderdale" is an oxymoron. Now for the cruise. Embarkation was quick and efficient. There were gates for each deck level and this really sped things up. If your traveling from Canada with non-Canadian citizens or landed immigrants, you must surrender your temporary visitors visa until you leave the ship. Upon entry to the ship a quick photo was taken for which you'll pay later of course. (Who can resist) We were greeted by staff and directed to the elevator. I had expected to see the main atrium / lobby but that is not where we entered. After finding our way to our cabins D415 and D417 on the Dolphin level, we immediately checked out our mini-suite. It was a nice size with a double bed, sofa, chair and coffee table. A mini bar, desk area and two televisions rounded out our needs for the next 10 days. The washroom was large with a tub and shower and the storage closet was plenty. A foam eggshell mattress cover was already installed, but if you don't get this I suggest you ask for one. The balcony was much larger than we expected and was quickly opened up to join our friends next door. We used these balconies every day for morning coffee, and afternoon cocktails, and they were well worth the upgrade. D415 had an open view above and D417 was partially covered by the balcony above. This combination was excellent for giving us sun or shade whenever we wanted it. After the mini-suite inspection we set off to tour the ship to find out where everything was. We found the Coral to be beautiful. The Princess Plaza is a 4-story atrium with splendid spiral staircases, flanked with palm trees. The glass elevators with sparkling lights zoom up and down the atrium from the Plaza to Emerald level. Most of these levels are filled with bars, lounges and shops. Forward, off the atrium are the restaurants. The Provence Dining Room is on the Fiesta level where the first and second seating's take place. Down one level on the Plaza is the Bordeaux Dining Room where we ate. This is an "anytime" dining and proved to be excellent. We did not reserve a table although it is possible. We just showed up and usually got a table for 4 right away. On a couple of occasions we sat at larger tables and met different people each time. The service was good but some of the waiters were better than others. Our second formal night was lobster night and I've never eaten so much delicious lobster at one time. I'm not sure if it was our timing or if they do that for everyone, but after our plates were delivered to us, a second platter of lobster tails was placed on our table. After that we were asked if we wanted more. "Who ever heard of all you can eat lobster tails". The following night it was the same only with King Crab. We also tried out the two specialty restaurants, The Bayou Cafe and Sabatini's, located on the Promenade Deck. The food at the Bayou Cafe was outstanding, however, the constant vibration under my feet was annoying. Sabatini's was also good, however, it was way too much food for us. For a $15.00 surcharge, you should definitely do the Bayou Cafe. The rest of our meals (breakfast and lunch) were eaten at the Horizon Court Buffet on the Lido deck. The selection was excellent and there were frequent changes so as not to get bored. The Horizon is on the very front of the ship so it is pleasant to watch the sun come up as you eat breakfast. It is a little bouncy though so if motion bothers you, head for the back. Up one more level, off the center pool you can hit the burger grill or pizza stand for the best pizza I have had in a long time. The ports on the cruise were very nice but if I did it over again I may select different activities. We like to go to the beach and do a little shopping so that is what we aim for at most ports. Of course Panama is all about the canal and the locks. We reach Panama after two days at sea. This was a fascinating day that began at 5:00 am with room service. The ship arrives very early and almost in the dark. It's a slow trek into the canal and very quiet and peaceful. As daylight appears you realize you are being escorted into the entrance of the first Gatun Lock. The journey through the locks is just over an hour, and by the time we reached Gatun Lake the temperature was very hot. Here you can depart for Panama City or many other excursions. We chose to stay on the ship and go back through the locks a second time on our way to Cristobal Panama. We were greeted by the native Embera Indians singing and dancing dockside. Shopping for native crafts and art was available dockside as well. The next port was Limon, Costa Rica were we took a canal boat ride through the Costa Rican rainforest. Here we saw a lot of wildlife including Sloth, birds, lizards, and even bats. The bus ride back was also entertaining as our bus driver and tour guide stopped each time they saw something of interest. Later we arrived at a Banana plantation where we saw the entire process including picking, washing and packaging. It was a very enjoyable tour and I highly recommend it. After another day at sea, we finally reached Ocho Rios Jamaica, and for us this was a beach day. We walked to the beach from the dock and enjoyed the sun. If you take the tour with lunch, the food and service is never ending. There was some musical entertainment on the beach and massages were available at a fraction of the cost of the ship. The water was warm but watch for the jellyfish. We also did a little shopping about a block from the pier. Next it was on to Grand Cayman and another beach day. 7-Mile Beach was very nice, but the wind was real strong that day. There wasn't very much shade and the drinks that came with our package were all gone before we each got one. A $5.00 taxi ride to the beach would have been a smarter move considering this package cost around $30.00 per person. The sand and water were beautiful. The next port was Cozumel and we also took a beach day and expected to do some shopping. The chairs we were given were molded fiberglass and stuck in the sand. This is not good if you want to roll over and lay on your stomach. They were crazy and not worth paying for. The beer was included though and this softened the blow. (Beer or wine solves most problems. lol) In conclusion we had a very memorable trip. From the nightly chocolates on our bed to the platters deserts on the buffet, we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our Princess Cruise. This cruise will be a tough one to beat. The ship, the staff, the food and the adventure itself all exceeded our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
Cruise Review Coral Princess April 8-18, 2007 This cruise was the 6th one for me. We are a group of 12 and all of them have cruised before. I have cruised with 3 of them several times.... One of them has cruised about 13 times. ... Read More
Cruise Review Coral Princess April 8-18, 2007 This cruise was the 6th one for me. We are a group of 12 and all of them have cruised before. I have cruised with 3 of them several times.... One of them has cruised about 13 times. We've cruised with Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL. So it's an experienced group. We chose this cruise for a couple of reasons. First off, part of the group was a family of 4 (1 girl 12 y/o & 1 boy 7y/o) and their daughter was studying the Panama Canal in school. Also, the group had all wanted to cruise the Panama Canal at some point, whether it was a round trip (as we did) or a transition from the East coast to West coast or vice versa. We booked this cruise about 1 year ahead of time. We all made our own flight arrangements. We did not use Princess air. Too many restrictions and too expensive. We all arrived on Saturday, April 7, the day before the cruise and stayed at the Ramada Inn Ft. Lauderdale. Very nice hotel. They have a center area where the pool is and it's landscaped like a tropical paradise. They also have a Tiki bar during the day. They don't have elevators so take that into consideration if any of your party is disabled. One of our group members had a stroke several years ago and requires a wheelchair for distances. Luckily, we were on the ground floor. Had we not been, I would of requested it as I was the first to arrive. The Ramada does have shuttle buses from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the pier. They also have a restaurant on the premises and it has great food.... On April 8th we boarded the shuttle bus @ 11:30 a.m. for the approx. 15 min drive to the pier to board our ship. Embarkation was pretty easy. Our only hold up was the line we chose for our deck. There were 2 passengers that had a problem due to the computer not having all the correct info. It held up the line for about 30min. They should have taken them out of the line and not held everyone up. We finally got into a 2nd line and got through our processing. We had our sign/sail card and off to board the ship.... We were embarking by about 12:30-12:45 p.m. Went right to our room and dropped stuff off to go eat. We had 2 sea days which were thoroughly enjoyed poolside. FYI, the pool on the Coral Princess is a deep one. Never experienced this before. It goes from 5'2" to 7'2". It was great but surprising. It is also fresh water and I love that. On our 2nd sea day we had rough seas and the pool became a wave pool..... Literally! It would go down/over on the water from 3"-4-5".... It was wild. Very warm and had a great time. Our first port was the Panama Canal crossing. I had scoped out what I thought would be a great spot after being on the Caribbean Princess and finding a private area that most people don't know about. Luckily the Coral Princess had the same spot. I knew I wanted to be in the front going through the first time. I did not want to be up on the decks with a 1000 other folks fighting for space and trying to see through the glass panels. I found my spot, told my group and planned to be up early to get that spot saved. Which I did. All 12 of us were out there along with maybe 10 others but mostly all by ourselves. My plan It was awesome. They have these little train engines (several of them) that hook up to the ship to help guide it through the Canal. It's mainly to keep it straight as there is about 5-6" each side to not scrape. Ship is under their own power but does need to be guided. You have 3 locks for the Gatun Locks. You go in, the water fills and you go through. We all did feel the rise and descent going the other way.. It's quite fun. On the way back through, we got our prime spot in the aft of the ship and watched a cargo ship coming through behind us. It was awesome. We even had room service delivered to our aft spot. It was great. After coming back through, we docked in Cristobol. You can disembark for some shopping. And those that did excursions, getting off in the Gatun Lake to do Panama Canal excursions, boarded back on here. They have a warehouse there for vendors. Some cute things. Two things to beware of regarding this port. One is that it is VERY HOT in Panama. Make sure you have water, a hat and sunscreen. Second, if you go to the warehouse for shopping, there are some local, native vendors that are almost naked. Mainly the women are topless but the guys aren't wearing very much either. So if you have kids, be aware. So off to Costa Rica. The next day we arrived in Limon, Costa Rica. My dad had told me that if we did any excursion, do the San Jose one. But everyone on the boards disagreed with that. Plus it was very early in the a.m. and very far away. So our group decided to do the Eco/Countryside tour. It included a tour of a Banana Plantation (very interesting), a river tour (very cool) and saw a sloth, birds, a gecko and a native kid was in a boat shoreside holding a small crocodile or alligator. Not sure which it was. Then we did a ride on a train over the countryside. There is alot of impoverished folks in that area but they seemed friendly and happy to see us. Then back to the ship... We had a sea day between Limon and our next port. Spent it poolside as usual..... The next port was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I loved this port. Loved the area and the people were very nice. Our group did many different things here. I did the Chukka Cove Horseback Ride/Swim along the beach... Absolutely loved it. I have had horses/ridden for over 30 years but recently had a scare that almost made me cancel this excursion. Glad I didn't. We did about a 30-40 minute ride along the beach and trails. Then got to this cove area where they took off the saddles, put on bareback pads and we rode the horses in the ocean for about 10-15 minutes. I loved it.... I stressed a little wondering how we would not float off the horses back.. But the bareback pads have breast collars that keep them on.... It was tons of fun... They do have people there that take photos of you while you ride in the ocean. The cost is 6 photos for $20.. They have a computer there so you can view/pick the photos and then they put them on CD for you.... It was cool. My horses name was Volcano..... And he did well...... Next port was Grand Cayman. Again, our group went in different directions. I'm the only diver of the group and chose the 2 tank dive for adv. divers through Princess. I had tried to do Stingray City in Dec. on another cruise but it had been canceled. This dive did a dive of the North Wall first and then included a dive at Stingray City. The dive shop Princess used was Resort Sports who is associated Spanish Bay Resort. They took us by van to the dock. We did the first dive and it was great. But the Stingray City dive was the highlight. You get to feed the Stingrays and just watch them. They are so graceful.. And very large..... You do have to be careful if feeding as they are like dogs that got the first taste and want to come back for more. They didn't believe I didn't have more and ended with 2 hickies from these creatures. One is a golf ball size bruise/hicky.... They have very strong suction. Then back to the ship... It was a short port day leaving at 3pm so once back at the dock, I shopped a little then back on the ship. Then next port was Cozumel. I was supposed to dive this port too. I had booked privately with Scuba with Alison but had to cancel. I had bad allergies and should not have dived in Grand Cayman but thought I was fine. I wasn't. More detail in the review of Grand Cayman that I'll put in the Scuba Section. Not only was Alison ok with the cancel but gave me advice on what happened. Also, the Noreaster that came through the U.S. affected Cozumel as well. The day I was in G.C. the harbor master canceled all boats from diving in Cozumel. And the next day, the day I was in Cozumel, they did the same. So I couldn't have done dives anyways. So our entire group went off to Nacchi Cocum for a beach day. It's a private excursion that is along the beach. The day started out cool but then got nice & hot. They have a pool, hot tub and provide lunch as well. The pool however, was ridiculously cold. I couldn't use it. The hot tub was warm but warmed up more as the sun came out. They have lounge chairs, some shade areas. FYI, the give you alot of food for lunch. The appetizers alone filled almost all of us up. They also have wave runners & snorkel equipment avail. The ocean was cold to the first toe touch but quickly warmed up.... So off to snorkel I go.. Found some little reefs with lot's of fish.... Very cool. We were there from about 11:30 to 5 p.m. We got back to the ship and did some shopping in a little mall area. The next day was a sea day.... And our last sea day...... Spent poolside of course.. And packing..... Then we arrived back to Ft. Lauderdale. We all had flights after 1 p.m. so none of us were in a hurry to leave the ship. We got up at 9 a.m. and then had breakfast relaxing until they made us leave. We found a van right outside the port and off to the airport we went. Ports- I liked all the ports. My least favorite was Costa Rica. Though our excursion was great, the way people live there is depressing. Costa Rica needs to upgrade some areas if they want cruise ships to come back. My favorite ports were Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Ship- I do love the ship. It's really nice. Staff very friendly. One of my roommates had to use the medical facilities and said they were great. The Dr. was wonderful. Our waiters, Tomas and Nicky were awesome. Remember, one of our group was in a wheelchair. I have to say, Princess was wonderful about that. Between our waiters helping to seat her, to their room steward looking out for her. No one made her feel inferior that I saw. Very accommodating on the excursions too. Amazing. I do have issues with our room steward and our room. It was a mini suite w/balcony. FYI, I was in D616 but the balcony was not covered. Some are, some aren't. We were open to the world above. The first day, the hinge on the closet door was almost off. Finally fixed on day 6. I had asked online for bathrobes for all 3 of us. Didn't get them until day 7 or 8. The couch bed had a horrible mattress. Our roommate had to get an eggcrate mattress as she could feel the bar under the mattress. We got those quickly but the room steward felt very put out by having to remove them daily to make the couch as the couch would not fold up with them on. Did he really think we wouldn't want to use the couch for visitors? Then after Panama, we had a bunch of bugs in our room. In the afternoon we killed 3-4 flying mosquito type bugs. But that night, they were all over the couch bed. Our roommate refused to sleep in the bed. We killed them and got her a roll away type bed. The next day they fumigated and bugs were all gone. When we told the steward, he asked if we had the balcony open. Well duh!! Did they think we would pay extra for a balcony and not use it??? I did not hear of anyone else having a bug problem. So that was weird. Excursions- I liked all of them. The only complaint I had is that when I questioned the excursion desk about the Jamaican excursion and belongings, she obviously had not been on it or knew anything about it to guide me. FYI, on the horseback riding excursion, you can bring a bag. But wear shorts with pockets or a small fanny pack that you can put your money or valuable in. They will bring your bag to you at the cove so you can dry off or change clothes after the swim and then take it back to the stables where you will ride back too. Food- At first, to me, it was not very good at all. It got better after Panama. We kept joking that they must have put the Chef overboard at Panama and got a new one. It was just weird, fancy stuff that wasn't that appealing. I kept going to the "always available" section for steak or salmon. And the deserts were odd too..... I just didn't care for it. I thought the food on the Carnival Valor in Dec. was far superior.... As did 2 members of our group that were on the Dec. cruise as well. Buffet was good.. Big variety. But they don't know Mexican food. They need education there. There was always pizza available and the hamburgers and such. I loved their chicken breast sandwich on the grill. Very good. The ice cream you have to pay for. Ridiculous I say. But each day from 3-4pm or 3-5pm they have ice cream for free in the Horizon Buffet. Spa- I used it on the last sea day for a massage. I still feel they are very pricey but the massage I had which was a deep tissue massage, was one of the best ever. Ask for Juan P. from Mexico. He was excellent. Still tried to sell me stuff but not a hard sale and when he saw I wasn't interested, he backed off. Gym- Never used it. Wanted to but never did. Entertainment- Didn't like the comedian. Can't remember his name. Saw 3 shows. The first, the beach scene one was horrible. Couldn't tell you the story line and didn't care for much of the music. And to me, Jason Chow is not a good singer. Didn't like him at all. The next 2 shows were very good to me inspite of Jason still singing. They have 4 lead singers. The other 3 are good. Enjoyed the last 2 shows. Photos- What can you say about this. I would like to run the photo dept. of all cruiselines. They are way too expensive. There is not enough variety. They have a fairly large photo area and obviously do all their own printing. Yet they continue to offer only 8X10's of formal night. All photos taken should be available in a variety of sizes. Some of us who do scrapbooks or photo albums, don't want 8X10 sizes. The staff was nice, accommodating. They are able to download your memory cards to CD's. And you can print your own photos there too. Overall I really enjoyed the cruise as it takes more than these little issues to ruin a vacation for me. I would do it again in a heartbeat. You get a wide variety of ports and things to do. Very enjoyable. Any questions, feel free to ask....... Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
This was our 3rd cruise with Princess: Mexico, Alaska, and Panama Canal. DH and I were originally booked on the 3/25 Panama Cruise from San Juan to Los Angeles. We had to change our plans and Princess gave us full credit for an April ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with Princess: Mexico, Alaska, and Panama Canal. DH and I were originally booked on the 3/25 Panama Cruise from San Juan to Los Angeles. We had to change our plans and Princess gave us full credit for an April cruise (we were only due 50% refund). DH and I have always enjoyed Princess but this cruise was a mixed bag of very good and very bad. We used Marriott Hotel points to book two "free" nights at the 17th Street Marriott. This was the grubbiest Marriott we have ever stayed at. Avoid it. The Coral Princess was a very comfortable ship to spend time on. It was easy to get around and find our way. Stateroom D422 is the Galapagos Suite (VS). All I can say is "WOW"! This was our first suite and it is definitely the way to go. The room steward was attentive and unobtrusive. We had priority embarking and disembarking at all ports, fresh flowers, daily fresh fruit, no charge for laundry/dry cleaning, corsages for formal night, daily canapes, daily tea, spa use, free one time bar set up and lots of other goodies throughout the cruise. We had the room steward move 2 deck chairs onto our balcony and there was still a lot of room. Our suite was on the best side to view the Panama Canal, too. Dinner fixed 2nd seating was awful! We requested a table for 2 and ended up next to a busing counter. It was loud and smelly with piles of dirty dishes. We requested another table and was told by the head waiter/supervisor he would have to check with the maitre de (whom we never saw). We only ate there twice and found other ways to spend our dinnertime. Balcony Dining is worth the little extra cost. It was tasty and the service was the best. Very romantic. We put on some music and danced under the stars. Sabatini's was a good alternative to the dining room. We ate there twice and enjoyed picking and choosing from the parade of 20+ dishes the waiters kept bringing to the table. The Bayou Cafe was excellent the first night we ate there but not as good the second night. We think it had to be a different chef working. We had the buffet one night. It was as expected; lots of choices and buffet quality. We had late lunches of hamburgers and pizza two nights and just had fruit for evening snacks. Which worked out fine for us. The lounges each had a different character: While I like the smell of cigars coming from the smoking lounge my dh didn't care for it at all. The Crooner's martini bar was right next to it and the smoke kept us from enjoying our pre-dinner drink there. We enjoyed the live music in the lounge of the Bayou Cafe during dinner. Never did see anyone on the dance floor there. The Wheelhouse Lounge was our favorite spot. The female singer was not very good but the music was wonderful for social dancing. We attend the art auctions in the Explorers Lounge and even won 4 lithographs. The casino was big and a lot of folks were enjoying it. We skipped it this trip. The Adult Only Pool area was great! The pools was lots of fun when the waves got rolling. Reading a book on the cushioned deck chairs was quiet and relaxing. The Spa was lovely but I think the prices were too high for their services. Shore Excursions have always been good on Princess. We enjoyed the Pirate Encounter, Beach Party, Eco Train & Boat Ride. Overall, this was a good trip. The suite was wonderful. However, the dining room was an issue and we wouldn't do fixed seating again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
This was our first cruise on Princess, our second cruise in a year. It would seem the bug bit us hard! We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale four days before the sailing date to take the opportunity to visit a friend and see some of the sights in ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Princess, our second cruise in a year. It would seem the bug bit us hard! We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale four days before the sailing date to take the opportunity to visit a friend and see some of the sights in southern Florida, something we did not have the opportunity to do on our last trip to the area. We stayed at the Hampton Inn on State Road 84 about ten minutes from downtown. It is a wonderful hotel; clean, comfortable, and a staff like none we had experienced before at any hotel. The hotel provides free light breakfast, but because it had no dining room, the staff would shuttle us to list of restaurants close to the hotel for dinner. One restaurant, within easy walking distance, is the Thai 84, a tiny restaurant in a strip mall with an exceptional menu, service and Chef. We also had fun eating at a diner down the road that had excellent food. Embarkation Smooth, efficient and well organized. Arrived at the pier at 11:20 and were in our mini-suite by 11:50 and at the Horizon Court by noon. Baggage was delivered by the time we had finished lunch and everything was tucked away before 2:00 pm. Exploring the Coral After the luggage was stored away and we met our Room Steward we were off to explore the ship. The public rooms and spaces on the Coral are nothing short of stunning. The extensive use of rich dark wood, brass, glass and warm colored carpet give Coral a feel of the old classical ocean liners. This sense is enhanced by displays of magnificent paintings of old ships that are everywhere on the ship. The same use of wood gave the dining rooms the same sense of elegance as the rest of the ship. One of the most comfortable areas on Coral is the Lotus Pool at the back of the Lido deck. This area is for adults only and the wood deck chairs, the use of huge statue of Buddha and the use of more wood and green fabric along with the quietness of the space makes in a little spot of paradise on the this ship. The rest of Coral is not a lot different than every other cruise ship. There is the casino to take your money, shops and a very high-end jewelry store, as well as lounges of all types. The theater spaces are pretty standard. Mini-suite Our suite is centrally located on the ship. A good choice for a number of reasons; it provided easy and relatively quick access to any part of the ship, provide a smooth ride when things got marginally rough, (this happened only once and the waves were only running a max. height of 8ft.). The bed was comfortable and bedding very nice with a choice of pillows based upon one's personal firmness preferences. The bathroom was a standard cruise ship size. It has a nice tub and shower, but could benefit greatly from a glass tub enclosure rather than the flimsy fabric shower curtain that has seen better days and usually wound up plastered against my back; a nasty cold feeling for sure. There is plenty of room for storage of toilet articles and medications. Nothing fancy, but pleasant enough. The couch was comfortable, the room clean, but the carpet showed wear around the balcony door, certainly nothing to deter one form enjoying this mini-suite. What we did not like about this cabin is that it is about 1/3 smaller in size than what we had on Carnival Triumph, yet cost more. Food. Cruise ship food is always very personal and subjective. Likes and dislikes will vary from person to person, so this is only how we found the food on the Coral, others may have a completely different opinion, and equally correct one. We had anytime dining and liked it very much. We never had more than a few moments wait for a table, and we did not make reservations. We always got the table for two that we enjoyed. As one would expect quality of service varied from waiter to waiter, although one waiter we had twice was exceptional. The food in the dining room was disappointing. It was certainly not of the caliber we had been expecting. It is fair to say that it was hotel banquet quality but certainly nothing more. The food was presented without imagination or flare and was never more than just warm. The exception was the second formal night when lobster was served. It was well prepared and very tasty. The Horizon Court was a different matter all together. It was consistently good buffet food with interesting dishes served hot. The dishes were original, not just left-overs from last night's dinner and were served piping hot. The lines moved efficiently because of the layout of the buffet lines with 'hot stations' on one side and 'cold stations on the other, with two 'islands' between the lines. The layout is essentially two complete restaurants, one on each side of the ship with seating arranged around the outside. The seating provides tremendous views of the sea and ports of call. The Horizon Court is an excellent restaurant for breakfast, lunch and as a sound alternative to the dining rooms for dinner. There are two 'specialty' restaurants on Coral, one excellent and the other an unmitigated disaster. Sabatini's was absolutely outstanding in all respects. The food was exciting and exceptionally well prepared. The service was impeccable. There are numerous courses, but, if one is cautious in the amount taken at each course one can make it to the end without requiring wheels to return to one's cabin! The seafood pasta course is truly to die for and the cannelloni is running a very close second. The only weakness at Sabatini's, and if it were not an Italian restaurant would not bear mentioning, is the poor bread offering. Good bread is essential to good Italian food. On the other side, literally because both Sabatini's and the Bayou restaurant operate out of the same kitchen, is the exact opposite of its neighbor. Service was exceptional only in the sense that I have had better service at fast food drive through on land. The server refused to listen to the diner's requests, and as a result ruined the dinner experience for at least one of those dining with us. For another the evening was dragged to new heights of mediocrity when the arrogant server placed his plate before him with, "Here's your dead cow!" and walked away. The food was atrocious. One almost felt the need go to the kitchen to tell the Chef that there is in fact a Cajun Cuisine and that throwing handfuls of cayenne pepper at food does not make it Cajun. The Porterhouse steak was large and served hanging off the end of the plate something I find particularly disgusting. It was cut thin and poorly butchered, leaving a large junk of gristle and fat to be the first bite. It appears that Princess has attempted to combine the Cajun restaurant concept with its very popular Sterling Steakhouse concept that is found on other ships, but not Coral. It is an interesting idea, but one that falls far short of meeting the height of either restaurant when offered on their own. The Bayou restaurant on Coral should be avoided at all costs in my opinion. But, I heard others on the same cruise comment very favorably about this restaurant, so I guess you take your chances! But we would never go back. Room service was always quick and efficient. They invariably said that the order would take 15 - 20 minutes to deliver, but it was rarely longer than 5 minutes from the time of the call. We ordered the Balcony Breakfast for the morning we went through the Panama Canal; unfortunately there was a deluge of water that the locals euphemistically refer to as "rain" so we had to eat in the cabin. For $28, the half bottle of champagne and interesting menu, made it a great breakfast buy. Had we been able to eat it on the deck it would have been a wonderful experience. Entertainment We did not attend any of he production shows, so others will have to give their opinions on those. We did take in the documentary films shown in the Universal Lounge on the construction of the Panama Canal. These made the actually trip through the Gatun Locks that much more interesting and exciting. The ship also provided a lecture on what is happening with the Panama Canal today and for the immediate future. The woman presenting the lecture was from the Marketing Dept. of the Panama Canal Authority and, not to be unkind, was a waste of time. She was clearly not a public speaker and it showed. Her presentation was boring at its height! We saw two culinary demonstrations during the ten days. The second was hilarious as the Maitre d' Hotel challenged the Coral's Chef to a cook off. If the Maitre d' Hotel ever decides to start a career in comedy he would have no trouble being a success. Together these truly talented men in their chosen professions made a culinary demonstration into entertaining show. A 'not to be missed' event! In all three "live" presentations the ship's technical crew demonstrated their complete inability and incompetence to operate the basic production equipment. Even microphone levels for these people presented an enormous operational challenge, not to mention the two video projectors. Ports Of Call This was a 10 day five stop itinerary. Cozumel : We took a Princess excursion that provided a Mexican cooking lesson at a beach resort about 20 minutes from the pier. This was a great time, with an exciting and entertaining young Chef teaching basic cookery with a Mexican flare. Well worth the time and money. Grand Cayman: We had planned to go to Boatswain's Beach but having seen the turtle farm before and hearing that the admission price had gone to $50 a head we decided to scrap that idea. We went ashore, had lunch at Senor Frogs and walked around shopping for a couple of hours. Not the best stop for shopping bargains. Costa Rica: My loving wife went zip lining through the jungle of a Princess excursion, while I let Oscar Brown tour me and four others from our Cruise Critic group around the country side for the morning. This was a great excursion that included stops at the home of one of Oscars friends to take pictures of sloths, monkeys, birds and other wild life; then on to a banana plantation to watch the harvesting, grading and packaging of bananas. We took a small flat-bottomed boat down the canal and saw more wild life. The photography opportunities are abundant and it is simply impossible not to get some good pictures. In the afternoon we did some shopping for coffee and locally made wood products. Costa Rican coffee at $5US a pound made for a long slog through the heat back to the ship!! Panama Canal/Cristobal Going through this canal is one of the truly exciting travel opportunities available and makes this Coral cruise a bargain!! I cannot tell you how fascinating going through that canal is, especially if one takes the time to learn a little about the construction of the canal at the turn of the century. The ship went through the Gatun Locks and into Gatun Lake where it dropped anchor and let those with excursions off on the tenders. Once they were all away the Coral returned back though the Gatun Locks and docked at Cristobal, Panama, the countries major port. There is a large port building on the pier that has been converted to a market. One simply walks off the gangway and into this very large shopping mall. The 'mall' is divided into two sections. One section, closest to where the returning tour buses stop is an air conditioned space lined on four sides with one shop after another. We found no really good bargains in any of these stores. At the end of this section of the building is a door out to an area referred to on Princess' shopping map as the "flea market"! This is the place to purchase handcrafts and art from the local Indians. These people make some of the finest woven baskets, paintings and wood products in Central America. There are great bargains to be had in this part of the market. Make sure you bring cash because the Indians do not take credit cards. Also Princess' shopping guru, a most annoying woman, never mentions that the local Indian women selling art in the market often do not wear clothing to cover their upper torso. As a result their breast are uncovered except for the intricate tattoos covering their upper bodies. Just a note for those who may be traveling with children or have personal 'thing' about public nudity even in the context of hundreds of years of cultural tradition. The Cristobal pier market capped what was the best day of the entire cruise! Ocho Rios, Jamaica We traveled at night from Panama towards Jamaica. In the middle of the night we were awoken by the P.A. system in the hall and looking out the window it was clear that we were making only steering speed in 7-8 ft waves. There were no alarm bells ringing so I went back to bed. We learned in the morning that the Coral bridge watch had seen a distress flare and launched a rescue boat. The boat returned to Coral with three new passengers that had been taken from a sailboat that had its mast break off three days earlier. We docked at what is referred to as the James Bond Pier, but is really just a spare pier left over from an abandoned bauxite bulk loading facility. It is a long walk into town, especially in the heat and along the side of a busy highway that has no sidewalks. We did not get off the ship in Ocho Rios having had the delightful experience of the locals swarming us to sell anything and everything, but mostly drugs, on our first visit to Jamaica a year ago. In spite of what others say, a firm "no" does not back these people off. It is a real shame because Jamaica is a beautiful island, but having to shop in gated and guarded malls is not my idea of paradise in the Caribbean! Debarkation Getting off the Coral was as easy, if not easier, than getting on. Under a relatively new Princess program, if you can carry your own bags of the ship, unassisted by ship or shore crew then you get off first. We were off at just after 7:00 in the morning. Overall Observations This was a wonderful cruise on a beautiful ship. The itinerary was excellent and there was nothing that would cause us not to take another Princess cruise based on a different itinerary. In saying that however, there is nothing that would compel us to return to Princess based upon food, cabin and service, or price. Our comparison of our Carnival Triumph cruise and the Princess Coral cruise came out pretty much a saw-off. On a per diem basis the cost of the Triumph was only about $10 a day cheaper...but the Triumph mini-suite (Cat 11) was larger than what we experienced on Coral. The food was an even split...the service marginally better on Coral...the itinerary and length of cruise on Coral was better than Triumph...a big deciding factor for us. The public spaces were much more genteel than Triumph...but again that is a matter of personal taste. So now we have two cruise lines to choose from because in our opinion both offer a great cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
It's almost 11pm in Florida, and I'm still on Alaska time from our wonderful cruise on the Coral. We arrive in Anchorage for our 5/28 departure a few days early. Rented a car and headed for the Mt. McKinley Princess. Set up like ... Read More
It's almost 11pm in Florida, and I'm still on Alaska time from our wonderful cruise on the Coral. We arrive in Anchorage for our 5/28 departure a few days early. Rented a car and headed for the Mt. McKinley Princess. Set up like a college campus it was a beautiful relaxing stop. We took the Three River Jet Boat excursion through Princess. The owner was our guide. He had been in Alaska homesteading since the mid 70's. Since he had trapped and lived "off the grid" for years, his insight into the history and culture of Alaska was fascinating. On Monday we packed up the rental and headed for the Anchorage airport for our shuttle to Whittier. We purchased the Princess transfer and I have no regrets since they handled all our luggage, and it was easy and painless. OK I over packed. The tunnel to Whittier was interesting, since the last time I was through it, you had to load on the a flat bed railroad car. Times have changed. embarkation took a total of 15 minutes, dock to room. He did all the paperwork ahead of time. It was a breeze. Cabin Our room was on the Dolphin Deck Forward Port D210. We were the third balcony from the front of the ship. Spending the extra money for a balcony was well worth it. My Fabreware coffee pot and insulated mugs made the time we spend on the balcony cozy, with a warm cup of cocoa, tea or coffee. Our room steward was helpful but forgetful. We requested our beds in the twin formation with egg crate mattress pad. Of course they were made as a queen without egg crate pad. The layout was corrected but I gave up on the pad, after asking for it twice. No robes, although they were asked for also. Time for my biggest criticism......ready........the pillows were TERRIBLE...flat as pancakes, hard as rocks. I asked for another pillow, it was just as bad. This is my only criticism about the boat. Food How many ways can you say YUM, YUM, YUM. We did anytime dining, found a waiter we really liked and asked for him each night. We waited once for about 10 minutes, that was it. Lobster, King crab, steak, prime rib.......I could eat like this anytime. We did the dining room each night, and alternated the buffet, room service, pizza, special buffets on deck, and the grill for breakfast and lunch. Warning....the third day from Glacier Bay to Skagway was quite rough seas (15-18 ft. waves)It is the only time you are in open ocean. Thank you for the bonine suggestion. Never felt a thing. It was a great day to hang out in the hot tub in the Lotus Pool. This seemed to be the steadiest part of the ship. The ship naturalist was very informative during our cruise of College Glaciers. We stayed on our balcony and listed to him over the TV. Once we entered Glacier Bay National Park, ranger came on board. They were really not as good as the naturalist. Seemed more interested in selling things on table in Horizon Court, and finding our where everyone was from. The TV was almost silent the day they were on board. Disappointed in the narrative, not in the view. Saw whales numerous times during the cruise, also sea lions, dolphins and a bear. (off in the distance) Ports of Call I post much more information on these in the Alaska Thread. In Skagway we rented a car from Avis and drove to Emerald Lake. It was spectacular. Got the best picture of the trip there. Should of eaten at the Koolseen Indian Place in Carcross. Held out for the great food at the Spirit Lake Lodge (it was bad, $16 for ham or turkey sandwich, cup of watery soup, pie and can of soda) Eat at Koolseen Indian Coop. In Juneau we did the Taku Lodge and Float Plane trip. It was spectacular and another highlight of the trip. Bears came into the camp as soon as the salmon came off. The gift shop these was tasteful and reasonable in price, They packed everything in bubble wrap. In Ketchikan we did the Midnight Sun Charter. Three of us on the boat caught salmon, but it was early in the season, so we settled for halibut, sole and a few varieties I can't remember. On board, we enjoyed the horse racing and bingo. Won nothing but fun. We played a little in the casino, but was disappointed NO live poker only poker pro tables. I guess it saved me some money. We bought one of the formal pictures, and got an album. (2 pictures. 1 album = $40) The comedian was funny, we only attended the early shows. Not bar people so did not spend much time there. My friend smokes and loved the Churchill Smoking Room. Spend a lot of time there with his new smoking buddies. Debarking the ship was easy, very organized. We took the Princess shuttle to Seattle. Some people on the boat were not too good at getting places on time. Princess was very good at holding the ship for these late comers. We left Whittier an hour late, Skagway and Ketchikan we waited for a final few groups to stroll back. Well they did NOT wait when we left. Seven people did not make the Vancouver to Seattle buses. Their luggage did, they did not. Princess did not wait for them to wander on down to the buses. When we arrived in Seattle there was extra luggage on the buses, that was collected by Princess. YEA. This cruise was a 'truly once in a lifetime experience',and the Coral is a great ship. In Skagway there were three other ships, but in Juneau and Ketchikan we were the only ship in that day. Hat's off to the crew of the Coral, you made everything so special...... Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
We embarked from Vancouver on May 21 for our Alaskan Cruise. We were checked in in a matter of minutes and in our mini-suite. First impression of the ship was awe-struck. It was simply beautiful. The Coral Princess is a very up-scale ship ... Read More
We embarked from Vancouver on May 21 for our Alaskan Cruise. We were checked in in a matter of minutes and in our mini-suite. First impression of the ship was awe-struck. It was simply beautiful. The Coral Princess is a very up-scale ship and the decor was gorgeous. My husband and I walked around and became familiar with where everything was before heading to the Horizon Court for a lunch buffet. I wish I could say something really positive about the Horizon Court but for us it was below standard in quality. The only meals that we somewhat enjoyed there were breakfast and after several mornings we ended up in the main dining room for breakfast and it was delicious. I will get back to the dining experiences a little later. We booked a mini-suite on the ninth floor. Our cabin was perfect for us. We had a balcony and as the cruise progressed we realized that a balcony stateroom was the only way to travel on an Alaskan cruise. The scenery was breathtaking everyday. But our only complaint was that we were at the very back of the ship so therefore we had to walk "forever" after getting off the elevator to get to the main features of the ship. In doing another cruise we will make sure we get our room towards the middle of the ship. Our cabin steward was very nice but not very talkative. We had a hard time understanding him sometimes but he was very attentive and brought us anything we requested. The entertainment on the ship was first class on the nights that the Coral Princess Singers/Dancers performed. The only problem was that they only put on 3 or 4 performances. They were simply fantastic. The other nights featured comedians/magicians and etc and for us were somewhat boring. We wish they had booked some other types of entertainment such as famous groups that other ships do, but they only had one performance with one original Drifter and the Theater was so crowded we didn't get a seat. They have a nice casino on board if that is your cup of tea. We enjoyed that and actually won some money so that was nice. We stopped in the ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and had excursions in each of those ports. Our favorite excursion was the Yukon Experience in Skagway. It was 7 hours long but worth it. The scenery was gorgeous and we were treated to a very nice meal. We had a great tour guide who made the trip even better. Our excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau was okay but we were disappointed in that we didn't get to be closer to it and had to admire it from afar. We did the Totem Pole Excursion in Ketchikan and it was so boring. I don't recommend that to anyone. The scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord was fantastic but it was so cold that we froze out on the decks while trying to film everything. The weather was cold the entire trip but especially those two places where it was in the 40s. Pack plenty of warm clothing!!! We had hoped on this cruise we would get to witness plenty of wildlife but we were disappointed that all we saw was some sea otters, a few whales in the distance that we could barely see, and a small black bear on our way to the Yukon. Other than that, we didn't witness much of anything. My husband was very disappointed because this was what he was most interested in for this cruise. Back to the food.....Well we had an early booking in the Provence Dining Room that started at 6:00. We were seated at a table with 5 other couples and I guess we were fortunate because we enjoyed visiting with all of them. We had all ages at our table and everyone was gracious, funny and entertaining. We elected to forego the formal nights on this cruise, mainly because we just didn't want to pack formal wear. The food in the dining room was considerably better than the Horizon Court Buffet but still it lacked seasoning, and the portions were so small. My husband usually left every night still hungry and that should never happen. We had a very sweet waiter who was very attentive. Our only other cruise was with Royal Caribbean and to us, the food was like day and night compared to this cruise. The bread was already on our tables and was cold. Also another complaint and word of advice if you are seating at a large table is that most of the time you have to wait until everyone shows up for the waiter to take your orders then you have to wait until everyone is finished to be served desert. Sadly we had two really slow eaters at our table so that was kind of irritating as the week went along. Our favorite night was the last night. We were celebrating our anniversary on this cruise so the head waiter came to our table and brought us a special cake and sang to us. We also had another couple at our table celebrating their anniversary along with newlyweds so they both got cakes. We took alot of pictures and this was a fun night. Breakfast in the main dining room was so much better than the buffet. I strongly recommend this to anyone and in fact I would never recommend the Horizon Court to anyone. Disembarkation was very smooth and overall this cruise was wonderful. But my husband and I agree that Royal Caribbean is our choice of cruise lines. Princess Ships are beautiful but food is very important and in our opinion the food was below standards. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
Hello: We sailed the Coral Princess's first season voyage to Alaska this year. I have planned this trip for a year. I loved some things about this trip and there are many things that will make it hard for me to book Princess lines ... Read More
Hello: We sailed the Coral Princess's first season voyage to Alaska this year. I have planned this trip for a year. I loved some things about this trip and there are many things that will make it hard for me to book Princess lines again. The embarking process was smooth out our Vancouver --- very quick but found it interesting that no one had a map to give up of the ship! This is odd other cruise lines will give you maps of the ship at the embarking process. Also we had to fill out a Norovirus survey and they did not have enough pens or pencils at the table....Why was this necessary at the beginning of the process holding up people in lines? Got inside the ship and found the elevator upstairs to our floor. Staff directed our way to our cabin rudely! When we came back to these same elevators we were told to go to the back and front and find elevators to take upstairs to the Horizon Court. When I asked how far back I was told by a English gal to keep walking either direction and I will find elevators. This should have been my tip off to get off the ship NOW. She also proceeded to inform us that we should have known these elevators that took us up to our floor are not to be used except by staff on embarking day. Now, we finally get to the Horizon Court and the food was mediocre at best. Things were stale and across the board of unusual. Not sure why they think that some of there desserts being offered are any good. Would suggest they expand there salad bar offerings. Waited for our luggage to arrive and it finally did just as we are leaving for our traditional dining time of 5:45 that the Patter printed on the first day to be 6 PM not 5:45. The head waiter went to every table and apologized for the error and told us to be here at 5;45 PM from now on. Our waiter was from the Philippines and his English was not very good. He constantly spent his time trying to sell us on bottled water and alcohol which we did not want. Our tablemates where older than us by quite a bit. The food was again mediocre and needed seasoning. Since most the majority of the cruisers seemed to be in the 70, 80's I assume Princess is afraid of seasoning food items. Our waiter keep forgetting what we ordered and took it upon himself to bring us other things that he assumed we wanted. Iced tea glasses to be refilled we had to order again iced tea. The bread needs to be warm when it arrives to the table! Cold is not appropriate for what this cruise costs. Our room was nice and clean and our room stewart Christina was GREAT. Very kind and very attentive. The room was very small compared to our RCCL NOS balcony stateroom. I found a too large closet that had space that could have been added to the bathrooms that are ridiculous and one of the main reasons that I did not like this cruise. The toilet seat kept coming apart and we had maintenance attempt to fix but did not fix. The shower is utterly crazy. I am a 6ft gal and my husband and I find this to be one crazy design flaw in this ship. How about a comfortable chair in the rooms Princess! Since you cannot get a couch in a balcony stateroom addition of a comfortable chair would be a great addition. Now for the beds in the room-----TOO SHORT for me and my husband. Our feet hung over the end of the bed. I asked for an egg crate mattress and feather pillows and faxed in my request to Princess as instructed. Never received! The beds and pillows are very uncomfortable! The food throughout the cruise was not great just average. Nothing memorable to say the least. The desserts were uninspiring for a ship that has a culinary program with the highlight of its culinary program to be a tour of the kitchen and how to garnish. At the end of the cruise they had a dessert event up in the Horizon and all the desserts looked attractive but they all tasted pretty much the same. I was very disappointed with the breakfast items in the main dining room the French toast is dry and the bacon greasy. You cannot get custom omelets. Princess work on your menus and listen to your guests for feedback. Entertainment on the ship was rather so so. The first comedian was good and the juggling act was good. THe magician/comedian was horrible. As for the Princess dancers they were fine but not as good as some other cruise lines. I think they need new material as they really only appeal to the elderly cruisers. Princess please get activities for younger cruisers who are not into bingo and bridge. Also get more talent support for middle age cruisers then you will get more middle age cruisers in the 30's, 40's, 50's and early 60's range. How about getting better tv channels and tv's with something better than Princess ad's and Cruise Directors talking about total nonsense. I have never experienced such rude treatment by fellow cruisers as I had on this trip. THe older cruisers have the nerve to cut in line and say things to us like you are younger as if this was a comment that could excuse their RUDE behavior. THis same behavior followed us throughout our land tour which I will never do again with Princess. NOW, the scenery and the wildlife were fantastic. I booked fishing expeditions in Ketchikan and in Juneau with whale watching too! The worst experience I had was disembarking from the Coral Princess in Juneau and have Coral princess workers push me over as a group of 6 engineering men flew by me to get to their phone booths at the bottom. This scared me pretty bad and left my husband sputtering mad. My excursions were fantastic that I booked myself---I was not disappointed at all! Well worth the money I spent. I researched the firms I used via CruiseCritic and on my own. Even called references! In Skagway I took the train and bus trip for White Pass and Yukon Trail via a hot tip I found on CruiseCritic and this trip was with six people total and we loved our day traveling. We loved the Glacier area and College Fjord so much. We even witnessed hundreds of sea otters with many of their mommies carrying their babies through the area. What a site and what great photos I have gotten. We saw brown, black and grizzly bears on this trip. We saw whales, sea lions too! And the best was the eagle that landed near me so I have a most excellent photo of our American Eagle to display at my work since I work in government. The cruise tour out of Whittier was something else. I was shocked to see that their where about only 4 young couples on the tour that we encountered. We all commented about the large amount of seniors on this trip. Many of which had problems with the train steps and the bus steps. The Princess Lodges need help with more updated bedding, better food choices and maybe consider all inclusive food in the price of these cruise tours. More time in Denali and expand that gosh darn Wilderness History Tour that to the longer trip into Denali Park. Fairbanks excursion on the Riverboat trip was excellent and enjoyed seeing Susan Butcher's dogs! Did not like the hidden gift shop approach to these excursions. Also,leaving Fairbanks and being told be be out of our room at 6:15 for departure to the airport for our 9 AM flight with the Princess Shuttle being 50 minutes late and staff that was rude at the Fairbanks Princess Lodge Outfitters section was inexcusable! Our luggage was damaged by Princess and we discovered this when we had our bags checked by the TSA staff at the airport. So, Princess so much for safe keeping of our bags! Overall: Not happy with Princess and probably will not book again with Princess until the staff issues are addressed and the type of customer that books with Princess is somewhat younger. The food for what the price of this Alaskan cruise costs is very disappointing. Why not more Alaskan based in food products and why not enhance your culinary program by offering cooking instructions for Alaskan seafood! I would have paid for that offering! Okay, Princess enough with your computer training classes! Coral Princess May 21, 2007 Cruise Tour 5 day leaving from Fairbanks. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
This was my 6th Alaska cruise and NO ONE can spoil this cruise. This time it was a family reunion of adults ranging in age from 40 to 85. I used an internet agency that I explicitly trust to book the cruise. We flew to Whittier because it ... Read More
This was my 6th Alaska cruise and NO ONE can spoil this cruise. This time it was a family reunion of adults ranging in age from 40 to 85. I used an internet agency that I explicitly trust to book the cruise. We flew to Whittier because it is easier to get the long flight over first. I used Princess to book the flights and that was a mistake. My traveling party had 2 disabled and we were split up all over the plane, none close to the front. EMBARKATION: We were the last onboard and there were no wheelchairs for the disabled (includes me). The 6 cabins were not in a row as booked and confirmed. Got an excuse 4 days later that made no sense but Passenger Services onboard tried and that matters. CABINS: The cabins are very small compared to other lines. No seating area or table to enjoy your morning coffee. The shower was built for an 80 lb. pygmy. You couldn't even turn around in the bathroom. AWFUL!! Lots of space wasted on a huge closet area that experienced travelers would never use. The balcony was wonderful as usual. NEVER cruise Alaska without a balcony stateroom. You will miss the splendor of Alaska. Our cabin steward did the minimum. I had to ask her to vacuum! Ice didn't appear as I asked and my soda order was not submitted as asked. No extra tip here!! Princess needs to get with the rest of the industry and upgrade their beds and pillows. FOOD: The food in the dining room is excellent. We had a head waiter since Princess stuffed 12 people at a table for 10. Nicolu was superior as you would expect. He didn't even push the cookbook and I had to ask since I collect them. The buffet was mediocre at best. The food was hot but a small variety. There were more raw fruits and veggies than hot food. You had to PAY FOR ice cream. Also, plain coffee and tea everywhere but with a meal. Omelets not as ordered, awful french toast, just overall the worst food at sea. Many of the food serving crew did NOT speak English. I asked one young man in his language and he said a few words but not a lot. ACTIVITIES: Superb selection for all ages. I was sorry the naturalist was not on board for the entire trip as on Carnival and HA. I missed her pointing out wildlife, high points on shore and history. The scenery and shore excursions are MAGNIFICENT! DISEMBARKATION: The Canadians do a great job in Vancouver. We used a new program for some US airlines where your airline boarding passes are given to you onboard and your bags checked from the ship to home. WHAT A HUGE HELP!!! Customs clearance is a breeze. Like I said, You Can't Mess Up an Alaska cruise even thought Princess tried very hard to do so. I will never book on Princess again. 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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