Sail Date: June 2007
We flew into Vancouver a day early and were very glad that we did. We had Princess book our flights and that worked out great for us. As soon as we got through Customs, Princess was waiting for us. They took our bags from us and got us a ... Read More
We flew into Vancouver a day early and were very glad that we did. We had Princess book our flights and that worked out great for us. As soon as we got through Customs, Princess was waiting for us. They took our bags from us and got us a cab right away. They loaded everything and we were off to the Sutton Place. Sutton Place was very pretty. The employees were very helpful to us. They had good recommendations for dinner and gave us a good list of places to see. We ate at Milestones and the food was wonderful. The wait staff was excellent. We then walked around Vancouver and found Canada Place. We did some shopping and some window shopping. The next day we got up and met with the Princess reps. We asked if it was ok for us to walk to the Canada Place because we wanted to do some site seeing near Canada Place, even though we had paid for the transfer. They said that was fine and they would still take our luggage. We got to Canada Place around 1130 and only had to wait a few minutes to board the Coral. Once on board, the trip just got better. The Coral is a beautiful ship!! We went right to our room, but it was not ready yet so we decided to explore the ship and eat lunch. Bandit was our waiter and he was excellent!! He was very friendly and polite. Always smiling and willing to answer all of our questions. After lunch in the Horizon Court, which was not bad and the desserts were excellent, we went on exploring the ship. Every Princess employee that we encountered during the entire week, was very courteous, polite, helpful and they always had a smile for us. We then went up to Lido Deck and enjoyed sailaway!! The first full day at sea, Tuesday, was a little choppy. According to what was on Coral TV the waves were about 4 feet. It was not too bad. On this day we ate breakfast in the dining room and that was very nice. We sat with other people and it was nice to meet others around us. My husband and I renewed our vows that night and it was also the first formal night. The renewal of the vows was worth the money!! Princess had everything worked out, went over what would happen during the ceremony and asked if we had anything we wanted to add. Once it came time for us, they escorted us into the Chapel and the ceremony began. We bought the cheaper of the two packages and that was more than enough for us!! The pictures turned out great!! We then went to dinner and the food was excellent. We ate in the Bordeaux because we had anytime dining. We would do the anytime dining again. It worked out the best for us. We could eat once we got back on the ship and never had to rush. We had Bandit as our waiter again. He did an excellent job with his recommendations and made sure we were happy. Everyone looked great all dressed up. On Wednesday, we were in Ketchikan. We went on our own for the Sea Star from Discovery's Deadliest Catch. This was an awesome tour! I think we were on the Sea Star for almost 2 hours mostly because we asked questions and they like to talk!! We highly recommend the short walk to the docks and going on the tour. It was the highlight in Ketchikan for us!! The guys were awesome. They were very informative and even gave us recommendations for Ketchikan. We highly recommend this tour. We then went into Juneau and went whale watching with Orca Enterprises. We had such a wonderful time with Capt. Larry and the rest of the crew. We got too see a baby humpback whale come up within 10 feet of the back of the boat!! That was pretty cool. We ended up seeing a good number of whales, usually a mom and her baby. We also saw some sea lions and eagles. We then went shopping in the various stores. The next day was Skagway and we rented a car from Avis and drove to Emerald Lake. What a beautiful drive. We saw a brown bear on our way to the lake. We stopped at many of the pull overs and took a lot of pictures. Emerald Lake was wonderful and well worth the drive. I think round trip it took us 4 1/2 hours. We then went back to Skagway and looked at some of the sights and shopped around. We did eat at the Red Onion Saloon. The pizza was pretty good. Glacier Bay was gorgeous and the naturalist on board was wonderful. We got to see some calving, which was pretty neat. We saw three whales breach, which was amazing and we did not get to see one our whale watching excursion. This was also our second formal night, which was just as nice as the first one. Then we went to College Fjord which was pretty too, even though the weather was not. It was rainy, cold and even foggy. Still worth standing outside for. Overall, we had a wonderful cruise. The food was wonderful. We ate in the Horizon Court, from the grill and Princess Pizza and in the Bordeaux Dining Room. We ordered Room Service, which was also nice. We did the Balcony Breakfast, which was awesome. There was so much food for the two of us, but well worth it. We did not eat outside, as it was too cold, but it was still very nice. (Thank you Julie). We also ordered some of the chocolate covered strawberries, which were delicious. Princess also made us a small cake for our anniversary, which was excellent. Overall, the food was great. The service was spectacular. We have never been treated so wonderful. I guess the only inconvenience we had were the showers were small, but it did not bother us at all. We really were not in them that long and the shower served it's purpose. On a plus side, the shower pressure was great!! The bed was ok, we did not ask for an egg crate and we still slept good. But nothing beats your own bed. That is it for complaints. We were not hassled to buy anything. We did not go to the Lotus Spa or to any of the shows. We enjoyed being outside much more. It rained some everyday, but we just dressed in layers and were fine. The only thing we may take next time are gloves especially in Glacier Bay and College Fjord, my fingers got cold taking pictures (we will get them posted soon). I think we ended up taking over 400!! Thankfully they are digital. We had a great time and highly recommend this cruise and Princess to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Wow! What can we say about this fantastic trip! We arrived a day early and stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel. Thanks to our travel agent and princess cruise, all travel arrangements were excellent. When we arrived at Vancouver and cleared ... Read More
Wow! What can we say about this fantastic trip! We arrived a day early and stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel. Thanks to our travel agent and princess cruise, all travel arrangements were excellent. When we arrived at Vancouver and cleared customs, we were met by the princess cruise line agents and they immediately found a cab us. When we arrived at our hotel, we were once again met by agents of princess and they were very helpful in giving us ideas on places to visit and restaurants. The staff a Four Seasons were very courteous and made our stay comfortable. We spent the afternoon doing our own walking tour and enjoyed dinner at Earl's. We would highly recommend Earl's. It was a beautiful day in Vancouver with many families and couples out for the day. We walked to Stanley Park and enjoyed the many shops and beautiful harbor. The next morning we met with the princess reps and decided, after talking with them, that we would spend the day site seeing and walk to our ship. The reps had already completed all of the necessary paperwork and had our blue card available which gave us immediate access to the ship, no waiting in line! What a wonderful way to begin the cruise! We cannot say enough good things about princess cruise lines. Once we were aboard the ship, our room was ready, our luggage was there, and our room steward, Benjamin, was standing by the door! He was at our beck and call, gave us his pager number. Since this was our 44th anniversary, we chose a mini-suite with balcony. This was an excellent decision. We had lots of room, big shower, full size tub, plenty of closet space, couch, chair, desk, and two tv's and comfortable bed. When we return to Alaska again, we definitely will go with a mini-suite. The Coral Princess is a beautiful ship. The service was outstanding, food excellent, and the entertainment fantastic. We chose anytime dining at the Bordeaux and had great service. Chris made sure that the table we had each day no matter if it was for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, was always perfect. We chose to have most of our dining in the Bordeaux, but we also enjoyed the Patisserie, Princess Pizzeria, the Horizon Court, the grill, and Sabatini's Italian Cuisine. We found the Princess Theater and the Universe Lounge to offer outstanding entertainment. We did take time to tour the entire ship and I can truthfully say that we did not miss one thing. We enjoyed all three ports very much, in Ketchikan we spent the day on our own, visited Saxman Native Village, saw eagles, visited Creek Street shops, and enjoyed the beautiful, quaint town. At Juneau we took the Best of Juneau Tour. It was excellent with whale watching, Mendenhall Glacier, and Salmon Bake, and the Red Dog Saloon. We did see numerous whales and sea lions and had beautiful, fantastic weather. In Skagway, we took the Best of Skagway, which included White Pass Railroad, Liarsville panning for gold, Red Onion Saloon and enjoyed another Salmon Bake. We took all tours through Princess and they were first class all the way--great transportation, fantastic tour guides, tour group was small, which made it possible for great siteseeing and being able to talk with the tour guide--well worth the money. The weather was beautiful, sunny most of the time with a little rain in Juneau. I guess by this time you realize that we had the trip of our dreams, and we are looking forward to sailing with Princess again. We have sailed with NCL and RCL. This was by far the best. *Forgot to say we saw a brown bear in Glacier Bay--our Captain loves bears and he was always on the look-out for wildlife. He did everything possible to make our trip enjoyable. He did succeed. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
My DH, 2 DS ( ages 9 and 8) and myself recently returned from our first cruise. I have to admit that it was fabulous! We sailed the Coral Princess from Vancouver to Alaska and it met or exceeded our expectations in every way. We booked our ... Read More
My DH, 2 DS ( ages 9 and 8) and myself recently returned from our first cruise. I have to admit that it was fabulous! We sailed the Coral Princess from Vancouver to Alaska and it met or exceeded our expectations in every way. We booked our hotels and the cruise through a travel agent whom was recommended to use as a large percentage of her business is Princess cruises. As for our air travel, we did our own research and booked that on our own. Given that this was our first cruise, we took our TA's advise and arrived in Vancouver early. We actually arrived 2 days early, on June 16, which, was my younger son's 8th birthday. Our flight on Alaskan Air from SFO to Vancouver was uneventful (the best kind) and we made it through customs in about 15 minutes. We then got a cab from the airport to take us to our hotel, the Marriott Pinnacle in downtown Vancouver. The hotel was very nice and we enjoyed our stay there alot. As we were checking in, my 8 year old asked the woman checking us in if she knew what was special about today. When she had no clue, my DS told her that it was his birthday. She then asked us if we would be in our room for a while, which we told her that we needed to go for dinner, so she offered to have a piece of cake sent up for his birthday at 7:30 giving us enough time to go for a quick bite. We thought that was very nice. Well, about 7:40, room service shows up with: 2 bottles of water, 2 chocolate chip cookies, 2 brownies, 2 gelatin type candies and 4 chocolate covered strawberries! It really made my son's day! We were really appreciative of there gesture. This was pretty much the attitude for the duration. My DH is allergic to feathers, and Marriott uses feather pillows and duvets. When called, they were at our room in a couple minutes changing everything for him. The Marriott was also a bit on the pricey side, but it also included full buffet breakfast. At first we were told for only my DH and myself, BUT the maitre'd checked for us and told us that the kids were free as well. OK, Saturday, our full day in Vancouver. We first walked down to Canada Place as we wanted to show the kids a cruise ship as they were not sure what to expect. We then spent the day in Stanley Park. If you ever have the opportunity to go there, it is definitely worth the time--make sure you see the totem poles. Unfortunately, after 5 hours of walking, we were a bit too tired to do the aquarium. Monday, we checked out of our hotel and made our way to Canada Place. My first impression of the Coral was "wow" it was much prettier than the ship we saw the day before. Boarding did not take more than 20 minutes from the time we got in line to go through security until we were on the ship. We found our mini-suite easily and met our steward, Ramon. Ramon was very helpful and already had the 2 twins converted to a queen for us. He also added the egg crate to our bed. We then went up to the Horizon for lunch, which was good. Afterwards, the 4 of us walked around a got our bearings. My DH kept annoying me because I told him we set sail at 4:30, and when it didn't happen, he kept asking me when. (I told him to go ask the captain). We then went for an early dinner as we had anytime dining, which I really enjoyed, especially with the kids! Tuesday, the ride was a bit rough. My poor 8 year old was a bit green until I have him some Dramamine then he was fine. My 9 yo did not have any issues. Tuesday the kids started going to the funzone and absolutely loved it!!! They asked to go all the time. On the last day of the cruise they even got a visit from the captain. The funzone was not just a place to play video games, but they had a lot of activities for the as well, including a junior ranger program and dinner with their friends one evening. Throughout the cruise, we ended up eating most of our lunches and all of our dinners in the dining room, but only 1 breakfast in the dining room. We really liked the Horizon court for breakfast, especially the made to order omelettes. As for the dining room food, it was good, some food was better than others. I think that the children's menu could have included something like mac and cheese or cold sandwiches, but this is more because a little more variety on a 7 day cruise would have been nice. As for entertainment, the comedian was ok. My DH and I spent some time in the casino and played bingo one afternoon. I really enjoyed the country night. We even took the kids swimming in the lotus pool, which was very nice. Ports. Well, Ketchikan it rained most of the day. We didn't have any organized tour scheduled so we hired a cab for 2 hours and he took us to the rainforest and Totem Bight State Park. The rainforest was ok, nice views, but the kids especially liked the totems. There was a tour guide with a group, and she invited us to join her in the clan house to hear her talk. We thought that was very nice. We also got to see some bald eagles and a deer. When we got back to town, we were looking for a totem pole for my 9 yo, which we eventually found one to his liking. The next day was Juneau. We walked around all morning, it is an interesting town, and headed back to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we went on a whale watching excursion (ship sponsored). My 9yo was a little bored as he wanted more action. My DH, 8 yo and myself really enjoyed it. We even had one juvenile whale perform for us for about 20 minutes. During this trip, we also saw bears and sealions. The naturalist was very knowledgeable and very approachable. The next day we were in Skagway. Again, we walked around the town before returning to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we took a helicopter/glacier walkabout tour. This was absolutely amazing! The 4 of us absolutely loved this. The only thing that could have been better on this was our pilot was fairly new there and he set us down in an area which did not give us a lot of walking space, other than that, it was fantastic. The next 2 days, we went through Glacier Bay and College Fjords. We were lucky enough to see a calving glacier twice. Unfortunately, apparently there were some prime whale viewing which my DH and I missed as the ocean put us right to sleep. I guess we had too much fun! Once we disembarked in Whittier, we took the Princess bus to Anchorage. I think that the customer service there was not as knowledgeable as it could have been. However, if I went outside to where Princess reps were unloading passengers, they were much more helpful. That night we stayed at the Voyager hotel. It definitely was not the Marriott, but it was clean and a large room. We did not have a car, so we walked to the visitor center and caught a shuttle to the ulu factory. From there we walked to a mushing show. If you are in Anchorage, especially with kids, this is well worth the trip! It is put on by a family whose grandfather helped develop the first Iditorod and most of the family is competing to this day. After the show, you were able to go back and pet and hold baby musher pups. The next day, we returned to California and I am so ready to go again! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
We took a June 4, 2007 northbound Alaskan cruise on the Coral Princess, visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and College Fjords. Embarkation was nicely done, with no waits when we boarded at about 1 pm for a 4 pm sail-away. ... Read More
We took a June 4, 2007 northbound Alaskan cruise on the Coral Princess, visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and College Fjords. Embarkation was nicely done, with no waits when we boarded at about 1 pm for a 4 pm sail-away. However, the ship was held up until 7 pm because a busload of 30+ people was late arriving. No problem; we met our Roll Call cruisemates at the Lido Bar and had a great time. The full day of cruising is a wonderful way to leisurely see the ship and decide what types of activities, if any, to join. My husband really enjoyed the photoshop elements classes; the instructor was quite good, he said. Formal night was not really very formal. Most men wore business suites and the women black cocktail dresses or other nice dresses. Frankly, we didn't think the Princess food was very good, so it didn't match the "formal" theme. The staff on the Princess were always cheerful and helpful. Well trained! Our minisuite on the Caribe deck was spacious, clean and comfortable (except for the bed). We loved our balcony and spent a fair amount of time out there, as the weather was quite nice. Ports were basically tourist shops, one after another. Ketchikan and Skagway are cute little towns, though. We enjoyed our flightseeing of Misty Fjords in Ketchikan (with Michelle of Island Wings), and the helicopter flight and dogsledding on Denver Glacier in Skagway. Princess did a remarkable job in Glacier Bay. The narration by the park ranger was outstanding and the captain is excellent at maneuvering the ship. College Fjords had more glaciers to see. We lucked out with weather. Some people were actually in the outdoor swimming pool in Glacier Bay. Food in the dining room (anytime dining) was only poor to fair. Seafood was generally overcooked and dry. The Beef Wellington was pretty good, however. The pizza on the Lido Deck is excellent. The string quartet was quite good, as was the singer in the Crooner's bar. Comedians were also good. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
Intro First, a little background info. My wife and I have sailed on Celebrity, HAL, RCCL, NCL, and Carnival. This would be my ninth cruise and my wife's eighth and our first on Princess. The Coral did not disappoint. Alaska was pretty ... Read More
Intro First, a little background info. My wife and I have sailed on Celebrity, HAL, RCCL, NCL, and Carnival. This would be my ninth cruise and my wife's eighth and our first on Princess. The Coral did not disappoint. Alaska was pretty spectacular, too. Overall, we would rate Princess tied for second with RCCL and HAL. Princess fans do not take this the wrong way. It was a great cruise. I would not hesitate to sail Princess again. We really had a great time. Here is the review of our June 11-18, 2007 cruise of Alaska aboard the Coral Princess: Flight to: We had a direct flight from Cincinnati to Anchorage. Since 9/11, flying has become a monumental hassle. Going through security, the TSA inspected our bags for liquids. The TSA found that the liquids were not in a quart size bag and proceeded to 'shop' through our stuff and took out one tube of toothpaste (we had three), shaving cream, eye drops, and a stick of deodorant. The guy was nice enough. He let us keep 90% of the stuff we had. We had nice talk about Alaska since he just got back a couple weeks prior but what he took and what he let us take made no sense. Anyway, the flight was on time which is a blessing in this day and age. We packed really light and had only carry-on bags which made getting out of the airport and into a taxi very easy and quick. Anchorage We checked into the Extended Stay Deluxe on 8th street. We stayed here for two nights and, thanks to CC, got it for $36/nt! We thought, for sure, it would be a fleabag but it was really quite nice. The service was great. The room had a kitchenette and was clean and comfortable. The first night we got a pizza, ate half, and put the rest in the fridge for dinner the next night. We went to bed and got up at 3am and took a walking tour of downtown Anchorage. Believe it or not, there were quite a few people out walking around at that time of day. We walked the coastal trail and then headed back for a delicious continental breakfast at 530am. The Extended Stay had those make-it-yourself waffle makers of which we took full advantage. Yummy! At 640am, we met Talkeetna Aero at Merrell Field for our flight to Denali. The Extended Stay has a shuttle but did not have a driver so they paid for the taxi over to Merrell Field. What service! Talkeetna Aero Talkeetna Aero Taxi arrived at Merrell Field where four others, my wife and I met them for our flight to Denali. At 7am, on a crystal clear Sunday morning(June 10), we took off. Denali, the mountain, was out in all her glory. Even the pilots were impressed with the visibility. We felt very fortunate, indeed. We landed in Talkeetna where we changed pilots and took off for Denali NP. On the way, we got even more great views of the mountain and tons of photographs. On the shuttle from the airport to the NP, we were given our tickets for bus tour to Fish Creek. After our tour of the NP, Talkeetna Aero picked us up and we were flown over the summit of The Great One. It was absolutely spectacular. Words can not do it justice so I won't even try but it is must-do experience. I will say that Denali, the mountain, tends to be on the shy side but on this day she was feeling pretty good, obviously. Denali NP We took the 8-hour trip (4 hours one way) to Fish Creek. Again, the day was stunning in its beauty. However, according to our bus driver, the animals prefer to stay hidden on sunny days. Elton, our driver, was supremely excellent, informative, and funny. We saw a willow ptarmigan (state bird of Alaska), ravens, caribou, sheep, snowshoe hares. On our return, our bus would not start at the final rest stop so we had to jump onto another bus. Fortunately, it was on this bus that we saw the wildlife highlight of the day...a wolf walking down the road with the head of a moose calf in his jaws. Either he scavenged off a grizzly kill or his pack took it down. I bet mama moose was not too happy. Unfortunately, I missed the shot. This trip gave me a new appreciation for wildlife photographers. We got back to Anchorage around 830pm. We warmed up the pizza and went to bed. Whittier After a delicious waffle breakfast, we checked out of the Extended Stay and were picked up by the Alaskan Leopard Comedy Tour bus. Digging around their website, I found that we could buy just a transfer from Anchorage to Whittier for $26/pp. It was a great deal. The driver picked us up at 7am, filled up with gas and headed for Whittier. We were the only passengers on the bus so we had a great conversation with the driver. The driver was the brother of the owner, Trapper Tom, and is a retired director in the Anchorage Public schools. His wife is a retired Air Force pilot. We had to wait about 10 minutes for the tunnel to open. Once we got through the tunnel and parked, we walked over to Alaska Sea Kayak where we had reservations for a three- hour kayak tour of Prince William Sound. Tammy was our own private guide since we had booked independently. There was another tour that was taking this excursion but it was ship sponsored. It was a good sized crowd with two guides. We checked out a few inlets, coves, waterfalls and kittiwake rookery where thousands of these black footed seagulls hatch their young. Up to this point, it had been an incredible vacation and we hadn't even gotten on the ship yet. We finished our kayaking trip around 130pm. We grabbed our bags and walked over to the ship. Embarkation Simply the best embarkation we ever experienced. I think it helped we were the only two getting on the ship when we walked into port facility. It was great. We were on the ship in less that 10 minutes. Princess crew were stationed on each floor and in the elevator to assist passengers in finding their cabin. We met our room steward, Twatchna, who was consistently excellent throughout our cruise. He was a very sweet man who introduced us to our cabin. He did a great job. Cabin We were in C304, a port side balcony. Compared to the cabin we had on the Celebrity Century in April, this room was palatial. We liked the light colors and mirrors that really made it seem roomy. It had plenty of storage space, too. We liked how the closets were open with REGULAR hangars. A true luxury. The safe uses a four digit code rather than a magnetized key card which we liked. I know a lot of people dislike the beds but I found them quite comfortable. Our two beds were pushed together so seamlessly, I thought they were a double bed. Our only complaint about the cabin was the size of the shower and shower curtain. The shower was the smallest we have encountered and I don't know how anyone with any size could feel comfortable in it. My wife and I are both average size and we thought it was small. Second, it is so small and the shower curtain so inadequate that it was impossible not to get water on the floor. Another complaint was the balcony glass was so dirty, it was difficult to see through. We washed it which improved the visibility a bunch. The chairs were very comfortable. They were so comfortable that we brought them inside to sit on while we looked out. Ship We loved the ship. However, for whatever reason, I never got my bearings. I was constantly going the wrong way. On some parts of the ship, it was difficult to get from one end to the other. Food The food was ok. It has been said on these boards numerous times that food is subjective so take this for what its worth. We ate in the Horizon Court every morning for breakfast. We got up around 430am every day. One thing we liked about Princess is that they started the continental breakfast portion at 4am. We stuck with the cereal, fruit and pastries which were quite good. On a couple of occasions, we needed a second breakfast which consisted of French toast or oatmeal which were fine tasting. The traffic flow of the Horizon Court is terrible. Do you stand in line or can you go from station to station? It was the worst set up on any ship we have sailed. The lunches in the Horizon Court could be great to not so great. The sushi was phenomenal. The desserts were very yummy, too. Thank the lord for the pizza station because on some days that is all that was available. In the Bordeaux Room, it was also hit and miss. The bread, appetizers, and cold soups were good. The yogurt-based cold soup was the best we ever tasted. The ice cream and coffee were excellent, as well. The prime rib was good, too. The steak was like shoe leather, however. In fact, I have tasted shoe leather that was better than the steak they served. Just about everything on the German night menu was awful. Food Service We ate in the dining room three nights and the Horizon Court the rest of the cruise. We did this for a couple of reasons. One, we thought the service in the Bordeaux Room was terrible. Again, this is one couples opinion but the service left us cold. We felt the dining room staff had an attitude problem which was reflected in their behavior toward the guests. With the exception of Lourdes and her assistant, the service in the dining was, at best, condescending. In the Horizon Court, some of the workers seemed like they would rather have teeth pulled than look one more passenger. In my experience, attitude tends to start from the top. I bet that behind the scenes, the supervisors are the ones with an attitude problem. Entertainment Cruise ship level talent. In other words, not very good. The comedian was telling McDonalds coffee jokes and everybody on Holland America is old. Hilarious. Fortunately, we found plenty of entertainment watching for wildlife. That is what Alaska is all about, anyway. Ports Overall, the weather was absolutely fantastic. It really made for a great cruise. College Fjord - an rainy, foggy, dreary day. The only bad weather day we had. Could not see a whole lot. The only disappointment on the cruise. Glacier Bay - this day was as good as College Fjord was bad. If you are reading this and haven't sailed yet, take this advice. Don't wait until your in Glacier Bay to get outside to look for wildlife. Get out early. The most action we had was in Icy Strait as we were entering the National Park. Whales, eagles, seals, otters. It was beautiful, too. Skagway We got off the boat about 545am and hiked up to the Lower Dewey Lake trail. The initial 500ft elevation rise was the hardest part of the hike. The path is well marked and the west side is well maintained. The only wildlife we saw was a huge porcupine. We came around a corner and it was sipping some water from the lake. We had never seen a porcupine in the wild. It didn't look anything like we had imagined. It was huge and did not move all that fast. Of course, when you have quills a foot long, speed isn't necessary. We were the most surprised by the size of this rascal. Barbara Bennett, the naturalist onboard, said that she might have been pregnant. While it meandered away, it looked over its shoulder then tried to climb a tree. It had a heckuva time. If you want to hike this trail, take this advice: Don't hike the east side of the lake. It's not that maintained, it's not very scenic, and it's not very fun. Stop at the bridge and turn around and come back the way you came. It will be the same distance (3.6 miles) and you will get the same perspective. We got back to town around ten minutes after 8am. We had reserved a car at Avis. When we got there, I found that I didn't have my driver's license so we had to take a not-fun walk back to the ship to get my wife's license. We got on the road about 930am. I would highly recommend renting a car. For $76 plus $20 for gas, we were able to drive to Emerald Lake and back. For Alaska, that is a cheap day and it's incredibly scenic. I have more great photos from this stretch than any other does. We followed Murray's guide the entire way. We stopped at Carcross and had a fish sandwich and fries (total for one sandwich, fries, drink $11)at the gas station before finishing the final leg to Emerald Lake. On the way back, we stopped at the museum ($7.95pp) and checked our the displays and the sled dogs. We had a great conversation with this woman who works with the dogs. She was originally from LA but moved up north about 30 years ago. She lived 20 years without electricity. Now she teaches art and works with the sled dogs. A very cool woman who chose an alternative lifestyle and has never regretted it. My hero. After filling up, we returned the car, checked out a few touristy shop. The town had some decent art, I have to say. We boarded the ship, ate dinner, played ping-pong, swam in the lotus pool and soaked in the Jacuzzi. It was heavenly. Juneau This is a port that we could have used a few more hours. We got off the ship 615am and walked around the city, taking in all the history and seeing the sights. Around 8am, we checked in with Captain Larry and Orca Enterprise. Captain Larry gets all the accolades, which is well-deserved, but his staff that works behind the scenes deserve a lot of credit. From the people working the email and phones, to the front desk, to the drivers, they run a tight ship. For my wife, this was the first time with Captain Larry. For me, the second. The first time, my sister and I had the most amazing time. We had a whale lunge feed about 10 feet from the boat. It was spectacular. I really did not think Captain Larry could top that first trip especially when Captain Sean, who was riding along on this trip, said that on sunny days, the food the whales eat go deeper so we might not see any animals. Juneau was warm and sunny. Fortunately, Captain Larry knows things mere mortals do not. We got out of Auke Bay and on the other side of Admiralty Island and caught up with a pod of orcas who seemed to delight in having their picture taken. Then Captain Larry caught up to a mother humpback with baby. The baby was flapping his tail in the water while mama rolled on her back exposing her huge fins. It was great. On the way back in, we found some stellar sea lions hanging out. Overall, a great whale watching expedition. Afterwards, Orca Enterprises dropped us off at Mendenhall Glacier. We could catch a ride back with them in an hour or take a shuttle. My wife and I thought we would probably need more time so we figured on taking the shuttle. Unfortunately, the shuttle never arrived. We checked out the visitor center and hiked out to the waterfall and checked out a couple of other trails on the beautiful day we had thinking we would have plenty of time to get back. We had to beg Donna, a bus driver for Princess, to let us on her bus so we could get back. She was super laid back and said it was not a problem. Thank God. We tipped her and got back but just in time. Ketchikan Another beautiful day. It was so warm coming into port, that it was too hot to sit directly in the sun. I actually moved into the shade of the balcony wall for comfort. Once docked, we grabbed a map and took the walking tour. Halfway through the walk, I took the pant legs off and went with just shorts. The last time I was in Ketchikan, it was warm and sunny...this is in one of the rainiest cities in the US. Amazing. Anyway, we got back on board about noon, had lunch and then got back off and met up with Island Wings at the rain gauge. Shona was early but so was everybody with reservation so we all piled in the van and set off for the plane. Misty Fjords was really Sunny Fjords on this day. We had reserved a flight and hike with another couple but they had to cancel so it was just the guide, Terry, my wife and I. Michelle landed on this glacial lake, we all got out, took some photos. Michelle and the rest left while we went for a hike. This was another place that is so beautiful it defies description. The highlight was spotting a black bear about 20 feet from where we were standing. It was just an incredible creature. The sun sparkling off his coat. We were near a waterfall so he couldn't hear us. He started heading our way so we had to yell at him. Obviously, he spoke English because he turned around on the log he was walking on and scampered off in to the woods after stopping and looking over his shoulder at us. It was quite exciting to see this huge beast move so gracefully and stealthily through the forest. A couple of hours later, Michelle picked us up and we returned to Ketchikan. We walked onto the ship at 530pm. The ship left port at 548pm. That was cutting it a little close but it was worth it. Debarkation and Vancouver Since we packed so light, we chose to do express debarkation where you carry off all your baggage. It was as easy as embarkation. The express passengers leave out a different gangway than the passengers with tickets which caused some confusion. Anyway, we walked off, breezed through customs and left the Coral Princess behind; a great ship and a great cruise. We lucked into a great Hotwire deal for the Pan Pacific which is the hotel attached to Canada Place cruise ship terminal. We got to stay at this five star property for $119/nt. On this vacation, Hotwire really saved us some money. We walked out of the cruise ship terminal, found the elevators, took the elevator up to the lobby, and checked in. The time it took to debark and check in was no more than 15 minutes. Time: approx 750am. The price of the hotel was even better because we didn't have to pay for a taxi. No rooms were ready which we had anticipated so we dropped our bags, grabbed a map from the concierge, hit the ATM for some Canadian funds and went for a walk. We walked a couple of blocks over to Gastown. A homeless guy offered to take our picture by the steamclock. At the time, we didn't know he was homeless. After he took the photo, he asked for few bucks. Joseph, the homeless dude, was obviously well educated. He also gave us great directions for a walking tour making sure we avoided the bad parts of town. For five bucks, we got our picture taken and advice. I told him not to drink it. He said he wasn't going to, he was going to smoke it! At least he was honest. His walking tour was great, I must say. After Gastown, we went over to Chinatown and checked out the public garden. Absolutely beautiful. We went back to Gastown and took a picture of Gassy Jack. We wanted to go up to the observation deck but it was not worth $19 bucks. Instead we walked over to the Vancouver Art Gallery and lucked into a GREAT exhibit ($19.95/pp). The exhibit is called From Monet to Dali. A truly comprehensive art history from impressionism to surrealism. Truly awesome. Rent the audio guides, it is worth the five bucks. We grabbed lunch at a deli and then headed down to the seawall and followed it over to Stanley Park. We rented bikes and rode all over the park for three hours. Part of the seawall is closed due to a terrible storm last fall. We detoured through the park. The size of the trees are amazing. Since it is a temperate rainforest, there is moss and lichen all over. It looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. That same storm toppled some monstrous cedar trees that are hundreds of years old. It really is a special place. We rode the bikes over to the Burrard Bridge. Joseph, our homeless travel guide, told us we could ride the bikes to Granville Island since it really isn't an island. We didn't have time so we turned back at the bridge. After dropping off the bikes (two bikes for 3 hours = $28), we strolled up Robson street, window shopped and had some delicious fruiti de bosco gelato. Yummmmy! We got back to the hotel about 430pm and checked into our city view room. The room was huge, especially compared to our cruise cabin. After marveling at the room, we checked out the rest of the hotel and watched the Coral Princess leave the port. Later, we crossed the road and had dinner at the food court and had a gourmet McDonald's hamburger. We walked off dinner by taking one last look around Gastown. We had a 6am flight so we had to get up 3am. Taxi's were waiting when we came out of the hotel. We got to the airport, through US customs and security by 5am. The plane was on time. For the first time in a long time, we had on-time flights for our outbound and inbound flights. Amazing! Conclusion This was one of our best vacations ever. The flights, embarkation, excursions all went off without a hitch. Was it perfect? No, but it was pretty close. We would definitely sail Princess again. We would also like to visit Alaska when the salmon are running and the bears are feasting. Someday. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
I awoke to the most annoying buzzing that just would not go away. Once I comprehended the reason for the buzzing at 3:30 a.m., I remembered that I was supposed to be getting up to head for Alaska...I fairly flew out of bed. ... Read More
I awoke to the most annoying buzzing that just would not go away. Once I comprehended the reason for the buzzing at 3:30 a.m., I remembered that I was supposed to be getting up to head for Alaska...I fairly flew out of bed. Well...actually, I stumbled and nearly went flying across the room. Nevertheless, it worked because I was able to get everyone up and ready to head to the Atlanta Airport on time. Our group consisted of me and my husband, our two teenaged sons (Sean and Patrick), and my parents (Alyce and David). We had an international flight to Vancouver to meet the Coral Princess and I was a might bit nervous. "Why were you nervous?" you might ask. The reason for my unease was the fact that we were flying (and a long way at that) on sailing day. I don't like to do that because of the risk involved. I was happy that I had insured to the hilt but I did NOT want to miss that ship. Delta had changed our flight schedules several times since I had booked the flights and at one point had only allowed us a 20 minute layover in Salt Lake City. Now, I know that airport is much smaller than the one in Atlanta that keeps changing names but still....20 minutes? That seemed ridiculously short to me although Delta told me that it met their requirements. Since it did not meet my requirements, I had insisted that they do something so they put us on an early bird flight out of Atlanta to give us a bigger layover in Salt Lake. That helped but I was still nervous. I kept hearing the negative voices in my head telling me that we were going to have mechanical problems or a huge storm somewhere and get grounded. It did end up working out though and we got to Vancouver in plenty of time. We had elected to participate in the US Direct program there and it worked really well. Once off the plane, we were following the green signs when I noticed a woman frantically waving at us. I'm southern so I smiled and waved back. Turns out that she really wanted our attention. They were "herding" - and I mean that in the nicest possible way - everyone going to the Coral Princess that day (only ship in port) into a holding room. They checked our credentials and crossed us off their list then had us wait for someone to come get us. After a few minutes - just long enough to go the potty really - they came and told us that we would have to stay together as a group and follow these guys "down". We heard and we followed. They took us down a service elevator through a "behind the scenes" area to get to the greeting area. I was tempted to whip out my camera and take pictures of the secure area but was afraid to get my camera confiscated before I ever got to the ship! The next step was a very short line to speak to a customs agent. She just checked our passports and then we were met by Princess representatives. The ladies handed us forms regarding possible Norwalk infections or other sicknesses and then sat down and continued talking among themselves. I was not real impressed with the "meet and greet" process this time. We filled out the forms then they put us on buses to take us to the airport. Our driver was Dan and he was wonderful. He gave us the nickel tour of Vancouver as we traversed the town. My husband and I had been through Vancouver before when cruising but really hadn't seen much. We enjoyed the commentary...including the corny jokes. When we got to the ship other Princess reps boarded and were much more personable than the ones at the airport. They then sent us through security and we began the embarkation process which was perfect. We did not have to wait in line at all and the representative was very helpful and polite. We walked right onto the ship after the expected embarkation picture. Tell me, does anybody look decent in these photos? I always look like I've been rode hard and put up wet. Of course, after 2 long flights and being up before the rooster finished dreaming, I felt like it as well. After hustling our bustles onto the ship, we promptly found our rooms. DH and I in A516 and my parents next door in A518. Both these rooms are Cat. BB Balconies on the port side and a little aft of midship. I know what you're thinking....what did she do with the boys? We had reserved them a category F outside obstructed guarantee - sure enough, that's what they had. The upgrade fairy had not visited them as we hoped. They had a nicely located room though - E318. That's on the 8th deck, port side, not far from the atrium. They were happy with it so we were all set. We met our stewards - I requested my mattress pad and we got the balcony divider open - and then we did what everyone is required to do immediately upon boarding a ship ...went in search of lunch. The buffet was crowded and I hate when it's that way but nothing is going to stand in the way of my lunch. We did manage to find a window table for 6 and ate an OK lunch. I am not a fan of the buffet but it was the standard. Not overly wonderful or terribly bad - just OK. We then took part in the ubiquitous muster drill and I have to admit that I was very envious of the older gentleman who was asleep right outside the window on the promenade deck through the whole muster. I almost "outed" him by telling the crew member nearby about him but decided that someone should be enjoying their time. After muster we went out on deck for sail away, taking pictures of Vancouver like crazy. We were finally THERE!! I'm glad we don't use film anymore - I would be at the bank getting a loan to get it all processed. After sail away, we "hung out" on our adjoining balconies and enjoyed the ride. We were very tired but there was no way I was missing dinner so we rested a little in the cabin - OK, napped a little, so what? Then we went to dinner for the second seating traditional. Our waiters were Arnel and Art. They were both very personable and very efficient though I have to confess that it was often hard for my southern ears to understand Arnel's accent. After all, we southerners don't have accents so it's hard to understand other people when they have one. After figuring out what to choose from the normal Princess offerings (I don't believe the menus have changed on the Coral, they seemed normal to us) we set about the important task of "chowing down". Oh! I almost forgot...did I mention our window? No? I can't believe I forgot. We had one of the best tables ever. It was a 6 seater, which suited us since we already brought our own group, and it was right up next to a huge picture window! Throughout the cruise, as we enjoyed dinner, we also enjoyed the scenery going by...including the wildlife. It was great. We ate all of our dinners in the Provence Dining room and a few breakfasts in the Bordeaux dining room. The rest of the time we were either off the ship or joined my parents in the buffet. They were not big fans of the dining room and did not eat there every night. I did find out something really cool though. Did you know that if you decide that you don't want anything on the dinner menu and just tell them that all you want is some fried shrimp that your waiter will run on down to the galley and coerce someone into frying you up a plate of shrimp? I didn't know that either but when my Mom insisted that the only thing she wanted was some fried shrimp, buddy, they stepped up to the plate and got it for her...and fast as well. That earned our waiters an extra tip and a "You made the difference" card! As for the other dining options, we enjoyed the pizzeria and grill but did not dine in the specialty restaurants. We perused the menus and decided we could live without it. The first full day out was a "sea" day. We had scheduled a little "meet and greet" on the cruise critic roll call and so a few of us met at Crooners in the afternoon and shared a few stories. It was nice to meet others. We didn't meet again though because we were all busy seeing amazing sights. That night was the first formal night. We saw people dressed up and down - mostly up. In fact, on the "smart casual" nights, I still saw some women running around in what I would have considered to be formal wear. I did not see shorts in the dining room that night but I did on other nights. I also saw jeans on the casual nights. I noticed that their sign no longer lists jeans as being disallowed in the dining room. We enjoyed the day on deck and on our balconies. I would not go to Alaska without a balcony. I wish we had been able to score a starboard side balcony but we had to change our dates and not as much was available. We had a great time on the port side as well. Day 3 found us in Ketchikan. We were scheduled for flight seeing in Misty Fiords and were dismayed to see the normally expected rain coming down. We were picked up on time from the visitor's center by the van from the floatplane company and taken to the office. Everyone was nice. Reports from other pilots were coming back that the weather was clear in the Fiords so we had high hopes and loaded up in the plane. Take off was a GAS! I have flown in small planes many times but never a float plane. We took off past the cruise ships and got a great view of the lovely Coral Princess just below. It was exhilarating. Our plane was a vintage De Havilland Beaver and it was wonderful. According to our pilot, they are the best bush planes ever made. We flew as far as we could before the fog closed in on us and our pilot (I believe his name was Kevin) said that it would not be safe to continue - not to mention that we wouldn't be able to see a thing. We agreed that we should turn back…it's always good to trust your pilot. So - here we go again back to the pretty ships. Landing was as fun as taking off. AND, you're not going to believe this, the company was so great…even though we did get a short little flight, they did not charge us at all. Nope, not one red penny. That was more than fair. I can't say enough about their professionalism. I am not sure I can mention their name without someone asking me specifically. We did have one teensy problem….the 4th of July parade was about to start and the road was blocked off so our van driver had to try to take us back to the ship by the "back" way. She managed it very well with us only having to walk a few blocks. We did have time in Ketchikan to wander through a few shops and let go of a little money. It was rainy but fun. They have a great tourist trap/hardware store right at the docks. The prices were very nice and they had EVERYTHING! Once we got back on board, we watched the parade from the ship. Everybody who lives in Ketchikan must be in the parade apparently because it lasted forever. Day 4 we made Juneau. Rain again…but not so bad. The temps hovered around 50 everyday of the cruise. My parents got off the ship early to shop and go up the Mt. Roberts Tram but the rest of us thought it would be too foggy to see much. The view was not so bad, though, according to my Dad. We had a 2pm whale watching excursion that we scheduled independently so we had time to eat lunch before heading out. I have to say that this was the very first time we have been picked up by a cab driver and his dog! The van sent to get us came complete with some sort of yapping small "terrier" type of dog (no offence to terriers) who barked at us when we tried to board. He had his dinner by way of a bowl of macaroni and cheese on the floor! Once our driver found the correct dock at which to drop us we met our first mate, Chris, and had a great time sailing Auke Bay. We saw eagles, whales, sea lions, lighthouses (I requested and the Captain complied), and glaciers. It was great. Our boat was a very nice all aluminum craft called the CanCan that just held us and the crew - Case and Chris. We were treated to wonderful personal service and delicious snacks along with a fun cruise. Ask if you need more info on this excursion. On the way back to the ship the cab driver (different one this time and without a dog) agreed to drop by Mendenhall for a moment and let us take a few pictures. The last time we were in Alaska, DH and I had done the helicopter glacier landing so we weren't interested in doing that again. On Day 5 we woke up in Skagway. My parents and children were scheduled for the White Pass Railroad around noonish and DH and I had reserved a car to drive into the Yukon. We were armed with Murray's guide, the milepost book, and the camera. While they walked about the town we headed for the hills. It was a great drive. We started out at the Gold Rush Cemetery and then headed out to Whitehorse. The views were great and we saw one black bear right beside the road. Once I got turned around to go back he walked across the road and after a few moments, he disappeared into the brush. We were thinking of lunching in Carcross but the whole place was covered over by tour busses. We couldn't enjoy it for the crowds. We couldn't even get the ice cream. We headed on to Whitehorse and drove all over trying to decide where to eat for lunch. After we decided, and ate, we figured we had seen the place so we headed back. It was a wonderful suggestion to rent a car in Skagway so I am very thankful for the advice on this board. Even though we had been before, we had not done anything other than the railroad. My parents and sons enjoyed the railroad very much though and I highly recommend it if you've never done it. By Day 6, we were into Glacier Bay. Of course it was really beautiful and we saw a lot of scenery and wildlife. Marjorie Glacier (I think) calved a few times while we were there but it was not the spectacular calving that we have seen before. Still, it was great. That night was our second formal night and I was really looking forward to Baked Alaska all day. It did not disappoint! I believe that night was when I decided to put one of your suggestions into action. There was a thread about pranks while on cruises and I got the idea to get the yellow, police line tape and put it on my parents' door. Although my Dad laughed, my mother, however, was not amused. I was amused so it was all worth it. Our best whale watching was around Icy Strait where we saw many, many whales. At one point, they seemed to be everywhere! I just stood there watching with and without binoculars and didn’t bother with the camera anymore. I was just enjoying the show. There were also porpoise in the water there as well and one pair sailed (no better word for it) right in front of our bow. They were so graceful. We were also looking for bear on the shore and our Captain spotted a brown bear (Grizzly to those of us in the lower 48) right out on a little peninsula. I wished I had the good binoculars that time but I was in Horizon Court chowing down again and only had the cheap ones with me. On the last day, we did Prince William Sound and College Fjord. I thought it was the best day for glacier viewing if that is your passion. I spent most of the day on the balcony since we were going to see both sides while coming and going. Then we crawled to Whittier and docked there around midnight. Now, for my evaluation of the normal things: The service all over the ship was excellent and the crew was friendly and helpful. Yes, the beds were hard and the pillows flat and of course the shower was designed for small children. The closet area is huge for a cruise ship and the balcony only had room for a few chairs and a very small round table. They remembered to “celebrate” my graduate school graduation in the dining room and DH received balloons by the door and cake at dinner for his birthday, which occurred aboard ship. And yes, they sang to us. The purser’s office was helpful, the photography was OK and they did want to take pictures all of the time. The only time I got ticked off was as a result of the photography dept. I have the habit that many cruisers have of gathering our pictures together each day and saving them all in one place until the last day of the cruise so I can then compare them and decide which ones I want to buy. I usually buy a few. This time, I asked a photo shop representative if the pictures I had gathered up would be safe if I put them at the end of the rows at the bottom and she told me that would be fine. The next time I went back the pictures were gone and we found that the staff had gathered up all the old pictures and dumped them into boxes that held several hundred pictures each. We were then expected to go through all those pictures in the boxes in order to try to find ours. This may be happening on other cruises but I’ve never noticed it before. It has certainly never happened to me before. I was a little upset by this procedure. OK, I was thoroughly put out by it and almost “hoppin’ mad”. I did go through them and pull out pictures but I grumbled and complained about it. Maybe it wasn’t my finest hour. I wasn’t really impressed by the singing and dancing shows – they weren’t bad but they weren’t great either. However, a few of the comedians were very funny. There was a good juggler and a good magician as well. We didn’t do any of the other onboard activities since we were too busy looking for wildlife. We even missed the Glacier Bay Barbecue on lido deck but I heard it was good. The Coral is beautiful and very well laid out. We never had to wait long for an elevator and most of the time she did not feel crowded. There were a few times when everyone was either on deck or in the Horizon Court that made it crowded but most of the time people were fairly well spread out. I believe this has a lot to do with the amount of balconies. We did not see or hear of anyone being sick and saw no indication of a Norwalk outbreak. There were hand sanitizer stations but most people did not use them. Overall, a wonderful cruise. After a speedy disembarkation – and early as well – we boarded the train to Anchorage and picked up an RV that we had rented. We then spent 6 days driving around Alaska. It was wonderful. We went down to Seward for a few days then up to Denali. We took the shuttle in Denali to Fish Creek and got to see a Grizzly fairly close along with Caribou, golden eagles, snowshoe hares, a wolf, a hoary marmot, and a Gyr Falcon. We camped in Riley CG inside Denali. It was very nice. My only regret is that we NEVER saw a moose and Mt. McKinley never came “out”. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2007
Stats - we are in our early 50's, traveling with friends of the same age. Based on the info from the message boards, DH and I took one Bonine daily and never had a problem with either drowsiness or seasickness. Our friends didn't ... Read More
Stats - we are in our early 50's, traveling with friends of the same age. Based on the info from the message boards, DH and I took one Bonine daily and never had a problem with either drowsiness or seasickness. Our friends didn't take anything, but had no problems either. It was smooth sailing with warmer days transitioning to cooler, rainier days as we moved north. But as everyone told us, even a rainy day is wonderful on a cruise. The Trip: We flew to Vancouver the day ahead and stayed in the Sutton Place. The hotel itself and rooms were lovely, bathrooms just fabulous and staff very attentive. Friends had their room changed because they were two doors down from the elevators, which were very noisy. Boarded in Vancouver July 16, 2007. Arrived at 11 AM, and checked in without any lines. Waited briefly in seating area (an opportunity to review the Destination Alaska brochures), and then around 11:30-ish boarded and found our cabins (C406 and C408). Cabin: Had midship port-side Caribe balcony cabin and our steward, Rodrigo, had already opened the balcony between our and our friends' cabin. TA had re-sent egg-crate request for both our cabins about 2 weeks prior to sailing, but apparently only our friends' request had been noted. We gave Rodrigo a sticky requesting the egg-crate for our cabin, robes, extra pillows, wine and champagne flutes, and everything was available when needed (the egg-crate by evening, wine-glasses by sailaway with the champagne nicely chilled by then). Note: we remembered the corkscrew but forgot bottle-stoppers. It's ok for regular wine where you can reuse the cork or use the BC screw-top wine (the Mission Hills was yummy), but we were "forced" to drink all the champagne since we couldn't "cap" the bottle... ahhhh such sacrifice! The lager balcony was spacious and worked out very well. Although they are partially covered by the deck immediately above, they are 100% covered by a deck much higher up. If the rain is coming in at an angle from the sea side you will get wet, but we stayed dry during most of the rains, even when we were by the railing. We were extremely satisfied with the regular balcony cabins and spent a great deal of time outside (fleece jackets and thin gloves or glove liners worked perfectly well for us when we were far north). The balcony provided us with the entertaining room we needed most of the time but on the occasions before dinner when it might be colder or too soggy for our glass of pre-dinner wine, we just used the two cabin chairs plus bed-side for sitting. We slept with the curtains open, and it never gets completely black at night. It was remarkable to open our eyes at midnight, 1, 2 or 3 AM, and see mountains drifting by as we moved through the channels. We often went to the Horizon Court at 4 AM to grab coffee and a roll, and just watch the landscape go by. Hey, you can always nap later. Bathroom: Although the regular balcony rooms don't have the larger bathrooms, we found the configuration well-designed and although the shower WAS small (DH used most of the towels to mop the floor his first try) the water pressure was great and the shower-head was high enough to avoid the "bent-knee/arched back crouch" that taller people often adopt for the lower shower heads... this was a nice surprise. The closet and floor-to-ceiling cabinet provided a spacious area for clothing with LOTS of hangers, and allowed us to keep the cabin relatively picked-up and clutter-free. Empty suitcases fit under the beds. Great mirror for those "exiting the cabin" clothing checks. Bed: Although there were one or two flat pillows, we had more than enough fluffy ones in the piles on the bed to choose from for sleeping, and they made great nesting and support when we wanted so sit and read inside. The egg-crate may have had more of a placebo effect, but we found the bed comfortable and the mattresses fit together snugly without any indication we were sleeping on two separate beds. We actually found the bed at the Sutton Place (which was a 5 star hotel) much harder and more uncomfortable. We really could have used the egg-crate there! Ship: What can we say that hasn't been said already? The Coral is a lovely ship and a perfect size, making for a spacious but intimate sailing experience. DH and I went to the Wheelhouse bar and were impressed with the comfort and character of the place, not to mention the very reasonable prices and large selection for single-malt scotch. Dining: We didn't use the specialty dining since we never ran out of options at dinner (Traditional, 2nd seating). We had breakfast and lunch in the dining room as well, but snacked in the Horizon Court. Service, of course, was perfect. Our friend loves lamb and our head waiter arranged for her to get "sides" of lamb with other meals as well. One miscommunication was when they asked her how many she would like the next night and she signaled "3", they brought her 3 dinners with 3 chops apiece rather than JUST 3 chops so we all ate extra lamb that night! Our best purchase was the thermo mug and coffee card. DH and I shared one card and normally had unlimited cups of brewed coffee, splurging on cappuccinos for dinner or glacier-days. Towns: Ketchikan: No excursions here - we just wandered around the town, walked up the Married Man trail to the top of the tram for the views, and got some great shots of the Sea Star (from the "Deadliest Catch" series on the Discovery Channel). Salmon were running which was fun to see off Creek Street, and we spotted a number of bald eagles. There is a fun local book store on Creek Street with unusual (playful) gifts, tee shirts, etc. We bought ulus made in the Anchorage factory at the Tongass Trading Post adjacent to the docks as gifts, but will keep one for us. The sun came out and gave us a beautiful day. Juneau: Not surprisingly, this was the most modern and populated port. We had booked the 11:30 whale-watching tour with Captain Larry at Orca, which was terrific! The shuttle ride was fun, and gave us a brief glimpse of the Mendenhall Glacier as we headed for the docks. I spent most of the tour outside on the back deck, which provided great panoramic views and more glacier shots as well. Captain Larry certainly knows the waters, and found humpbacks feeding using a "bubble-net" technique where a male dives and makes a circle of bubbles which encloses and drives the food-source up… then you see the group of whales explode up out of the water with mouths wide open scooping up chow. Extraordinary! By the time we left, other boats had also come up to view this remarkable activity. This was my highlight of the trip! Skagway: My favorite town, and we were the only large cruise ship in port that day so there were very few crowds. It was a drizzly day, which just enhanced your ability to put yourself back in time in this small community with less than 1000 residents. The streets were wide with little traffic. Sidewalks were the more traditional “board” walks, lined by the old buildings. The town has preserved its historic feel, with walking tours, historic markers and buildings. It also has clean and well-marked toilets available throughout the town (hey, that’s important!). After passing the ever-present tee shirt and Diamonds International shops, there were many locally owned and Alaska-made stores, and we bought our “for us” souvenirs here. The Skagway Brewing Company down the street on Broadway has nice locally brewed beers and a friendly staff which makes it a good place to stop take a break. DH and his buddy took Princess’ Helicopter tour of the glacier (noon tour) and had remarkable time even with the wet, and his pictures were amazing. While airborne, they were treated to the sight a large brown bear racing across the ice, so all in all this was DH’s highlight of the trip! Wildlife and glacier viewing: This was a northward sailing and we LOVED the port-side cabin. Much of the sailing is through channels where you get land on both sides, and we often caught first views of the glaciers, although the captain spins the ship at the major glacier sites and because you sail up a channel you turn around to sail back so there is no problem in getting a good view from either port or starboard side. From our balcony we spotted dozens of dolphins playing directly by the ship on our first at-sea day, which was thrilling! Also spotted humpback whale blows/backs/tails, and farther north saw Orcas, which are really something when they’re racing just below the water and you can see those beautiful markings. The sea otters in College Fjord were the icing on the cake for us. Tip: some of the deckchairs on the 7th floor Promenade, starboard side located under lifeboat 7 can get a slight warm downdraft and are a good place to sit for viewing at anytime. You will still want your jackets and gloves in the northern locations, but it certainly takes the edge off the chill. The only negative is that it is close to the ashtrays for smokers, but we sat on the end farthest from the ashtray and smokers were usually considerate and moved along fairly quickly so it wasn’t too bad. Bottom line, the trip was splendid and we thoroughly enjoyed each minute. Our concern is that we’re spoiled now, and fear that larger ships will feel too crowded. We’re still feeling that residual “the floor is rocking on dry land” feeling even after 24 hours off the ship, which just makes us want to book something again soon. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
My wife and I traveled with our two children, ages 5 and 7, on the Coral Princess 7 day, northbound Vancouver to Whittier "Voyage of the Glaciers" sailing. The ship - the Coral Princess is a newer ship and it is beautiful. The ... Read More
My wife and I traveled with our two children, ages 5 and 7, on the Coral Princess 7 day, northbound Vancouver to Whittier "Voyage of the Glaciers" sailing. The ship - the Coral Princess is a newer ship and it is beautiful. The most notable comment I have is that, although the ship was full to capacity with nearly 2000 passengers and about 900 crew, it never felt crowded. There are a huge number of public rooms and various nooks and crannies where you can hang out. So, whether you want peace and quiet or lots of activity, there's a place for you on the ship. Embarkation - we boarded the ship at Canada Place in Vancouver. We dropped off our luggage in the late morning and then caught an IMAX show at the Pier before boarding. Boarding was quick and easy. When we got to our cabin, our luggage was already there waiting for us. Our cabin - we booked an outside cabin with a balcony. There is really no point to booking an inside cabin on an Alaskan cruise. For a family of four, this cabin had two bunk style beds that dropped down from the ceiling above the two lower beds. The upper berths were put away during the day. As is true on most ships, the cabins are small, the bathrooms even smaller. But, somehow, the 4 of us managed to keep our stuff put away so we could co-exist in cramped quarters. There are two large swimming pools. One outdoor and one indoor pool (retractable roof) for the Alaska sailings. We never had a problem finding available deck chairs, nor did the pools seem crowded. Obviously, this is probably different than what might be experienced on a Caribbean cruise. Although we didn't use it, the spa and fitness rooms looked very nice. The ship has two main entertainment venues - the Princess theater forward and the Universe Lounge aft. The entertainment was generally good. The ship had its "house" singers and dancers that put on a really good Motown review one night. There were also guest entertainers - magician, comedian, juggler - all of whom were very good. Our biggest concern getting on the ship was that our younger kids (ages 5 & 7) would have something to do when they decided that they could no longer look at glaciers. Although I have nothing to compare it to, all I can say is that our kids (and many others) were always excited to go to the kids club on the days we were at sea. The staff was first rate and they planned a decent variety of activities to keep the kids' attention. Also, the security and safety of all the kids seemed to be the top priority. The Kids Zone was a very secure area, with strict sign in procedures. Pagers were provided to the parents in case something came up while we were away. Overall, we were very pleased (as were our kids) with the kids club activities. Dining - the ship has two dining options: 1 dining room for the traditional early and late seatings. The second dining room was for "anytime dining," which we opted for. Overall, we liked the flexibility of anytime dining. The only problem was if you didn't eat on the earlier side, there could be long wait to sit down if you showed up around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. The dining room had a basic kids menu which had the usual suspects - hamburger, chicken fingers, fish sticks, etc. The ship also has two speciality restaurants (Italian and a Cajun themed steakhouse), which we did not eat at. There is also a pool side pizzeria and grill (burgers, hot dogs), which the kids liked. Finally, there is a 24 hour buffet that changes its selection of food depending on the time of day. Our biggest criticism of the ship was the food. Not that it was bad; it just wasn't that good. The menu selections in the dining room often were a bit eclectic, and were short on what I'd call more mainstream type entrees. (On one evening, the entree selections were Venison, frog legs, and some strange fish). As a result, my wife and I felt each evening that there were often too few choices that interested us. Looking at the menus in the speciality restaurants, it appeared that the menus there were also a bit strange. With the exception of breakfast, which was always decent, the Horizon Court Buffet was fairly poor. If you wanted to eat there for lunch or dinner, it appeared that the chefs took left over ingredients and combined them into rather odd concoctions. At least in my view, the buffet was not very palatable at all. The food in the dining room was reasonably well prepared. Those menu items that interested my family did taste good and the desserts were always good. Overall, though, we'd rate the dining experience on this ship as only being average. Of course, the main reason one goes on an Alaskan cruise is for the scenery/wildlife and the cruise did not disappoint here. Ketchikan - a very cute downtown area. We did a rainforest tour, which was just ok. However, the lumberjack show was a big hit with both my wife and I and our kids. I heard from other passengers that the Misty Fjords flight tours were very good. The only problem with this port is it's a short stop - you leave at 2:00 pm on the northbound cruise. So, you don't have a lot of time to do all that you might want to. By the way, we had very unusual Alaska weather. No rain. Sunny and in the mid to upper 70s in our ports of call. Juneau - this is the main whale watching stop. We opted to skip the ship's tour and booked our own whale watching tour through Orca Enterprises (aka Captain Larry's whale watching tour). Don't walk, run to book this tour when you get off the ship (there are booths everywhere near the docks and Orca Enterprises has its storefront right on the main street next to the Alaska Shirt company). The naturalist from our ship happened to be with us on this tour and she said this tour is consistently the top rated whale watching tour in southeast Alaska). In the 2 1/2 hours we were on the water, we came across a pod of Orcas that came within 50 yards of the boat. Then we spent quite a while watching a group of 7-10 humpback whales engaging in cooperative "bubble feeding." It was like being in the middle of a Discovery Channel show. It was really the most thrilling outdoor whale watching adventure we'd ever been on. Skagway - at first glance, we weren't sure what to expect at this stop. Not much peaked our interest on the list of shore excursions. We first took a "Gold Adventure" tour in the a.m. with the kids. It was surprisingly interesting and the kids had a blast panning for gold. Then, on the recommendation of the ship's naturalist, we just rented a car (check out Sourdough rental car at Broadway and 6th) and drove. Skagway is very scenic. We first drove on a road (much of it gravel) to the town of Dyea. Very scenic ride along a glacial water inlet. It ends near a sled dog camp which runs tours from the ship. We weren't able to get into the dog camp on our own, although we did see the puppies. Anyhow, the whole ride to Dyea is filled with scenery and wildlife (eagles, seals, bears). We then backtracked a bit and drove about 9 miles along the Yukon highway, which runs adjacent to a spectacular gorge with lots of pull outs to be able to stop and look at the sights. I highly recommend that you try and drive around when you're in Skagway. The town itself is small, but rather fun to walk around. Glacier Bay and College Fjords - After the whales, these two stops really are the highlights of the cruise. It really takes your breath away when the ship is stopped next to the massive glaciers. The captain takes his time and spins the ship at times so you can sit on your balcony if you have one and soak in the views. On the very last night of the cruise, the ship was parked at the very end of the College Fjords. With the kids off to the kids club and most of the passengers in the dining room, my wife and I had a quiet dinner in the Horizon Court buffet and we sat all the way forward where there are glass windows all around. I can't imagine a more impressive dinner with a view - glaciers were surrounding us on all sides as we ate our dinner. Our overall cruise experience was quite good. The ship was beautiful and the sights were even better. The staff, from our room steward to the waiters to the deck attendants were all very friendly and often went out of their way to do the little things to make the cruise even better. Unless you are insistent on a ship with high quality, "fine dining," we would highly recommend this ship and itinerary to anyone that appreciates the beauty and grandeur of Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
Last August I was persuaded by my good lady wife to take her on an Alaskan Cruise. We consulted friends who had already taken a similar cruise and they recommended the one way version so that more sites were visited. We decided on a ... Read More
Last August I was persuaded by my good lady wife to take her on an Alaskan Cruise. We consulted friends who had already taken a similar cruise and they recommended the one way version so that more sites were visited. We decided on a Southbound cruise on the Coral Princess from Whittier in Alaska to Vancouver, Canada. Being an avid amateur travel agent I arranged the whole trip including a pre-cruise tour of Alaska starting in Fairbanks and a post cruise Rocky Mountaineer trip into the Canadian Rockies. When we arrived in Whittier aboard the "Magic Bus" transfer from Anchorage as the heavens opened but we were dropped right outside check in and were swiftly processed and in our cabin within half an hour although our luggage took a little longer to turn up. We were impressed with our choice of cabin (C-310) as it was a corner cabin on one of the bump-out sections that afforded wonderful all round views. The ship is blessed with perhaps the greatest percentage of Balcony cabins of any ship afloat apart from its sister ship the Island Princess and this was to prove invaluable later in the cruise to allow my wife to view the Killer whales passing by whilst doing her hair in preparation for a formal night. It's a pity that there isn't a similar site to the wonderful "Seat Guru" site that gives a low down on all the best seats available with all the airlines as this would greatly assist in the selection of cabins from the 67 different grades that appear to be available. The cabin was spacious, clean and comfortable and wonderfully serviced by Chai, a lovely Thai boy who I suspected was saving for the operation needed to become a "Lady Boy". Don't even contemplate any monkey business in the shower as a cat is in no danger of being swung therein. Well onto the cruise. Glacier Bay was understandably chilly especially early in the morning until the sun broke through. The Italian captain was very fair and turned the ship to afford similar amounts of viewing time to both Port and Starboard cabins. The other stops in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan were all interesting in different ways and the choice of excursions from both Princess and other local companies such as "Dolly Varden tours" was staggering. Suffice it to say that we saw sufficient Humpback Whales, Bald Eagles and Grizzly Bears to bore our relatives for many a long day. On the food front we were greatly impressed with the standard considering that the chefs are catering for 1,950 people at every meal. We decided that we were there to be pampered and so took all our meals bar one in the formal restaurants. We had opted for "Anytime Dining" although we ended up booking at 8.00 pm every evening. We thought the benefit of this arrangement was the possibility of meeting different people each night as we opted to be seated at the larger tables. This was fine except for one night where our arrival at the table was met with a stoney silence and we asked to be re-seated elsewhere. Otherwise a very sociable time was experienced. Our one visit to the buffet was brought about by our early morning Zodiac excursion with "Captain Dave" on the fjord in Skagway where we nearly bumped into a Humpback Whale. We weren't terribly impressed with self-service albeit for breakfast and so we did not join the hungry hoards at the 24 hour dining ever again. Entertainment was organized by a Cruise Director from the north of England and was excellent. We were both in hysterics at times with most of the comics. There were also plenty of quizzes, lectures and demonstrations to keep everyone occupied on our "at sea" days. We were disappointed with the number of people who did not join into the spirit of the two "formal nights" as we enjoyed the opportunity of dressing in our finery for two evenings. The champagne glass pyramid on the second formal night was amazing although it was of course enhanced by the availability of free champagne. Disembarkation was handled very efficiently and we arrived at our Vancouver hotel early in the morning to find a room available, a great blessing. All in all a fantastic introduction to cruising, so much so that we signed up for our next cruise with the on-board cruise coordinator! And guess what? I'm pleased to say that we're on the Coral Princess again but this time we'll be sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Acaplulco through the Panama Canal in November. Look out for further reports in December. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
What a great trip with awesome weather. We started our trip with a 2 day stay in Seattle. Staying at the Warrick hotel it was OK and I would stay there again. Had lunch across the street at Ralph's Deli. good food infact we had ... Read More
What a great trip with awesome weather. We started our trip with a 2 day stay in Seattle. Staying at the Warrick hotel it was OK and I would stay there again. Had lunch across the street at Ralph's Deli. good food infact we had breakfast there the next morning. Afterwards we took a walking tour and visited Pikes Market, love the flowers and went back on the second day. Our first night we had dinner at Ray's Boathouse the food was very good our favorite so far. The 2nd night we ate a Chandler's Chowder house, very good clam chowder my DH & I didn't care for it but the others in our party did. What was really nice was they paid the cab fair back to our hotel. On our walking tour the next day we came upon the convention center and found a really nice garden in the back. We also fell in love with all the PIG STATUES that they have in Seattle. We made it our mission to take as many picture of them as we could. The next morning we to the Clipper Vacations ferry boat over to Victoria. Went through customs, boy was that a long line. VICTORIA: Took the Butchard/city tour. The Gardens was wonderful, but the city tour left alot to be desired. Stayed at the Royal Scot. Nice hotel, but freaked me out when they told me no air cond. but it got really cool at night so it wasn't a problem. Victoria was having a NATO Convention going on and alot of the big wigs was staying across the st from us. So alot of FBI,CIA and police hanging around checking cars as they tried to get into the Pan Pacific. Afterwards we took ourselves for a walking tour of the city. By the harbor they were having alot of locals out selling the crafts. There were even some st performers out which was cool to watch. After doing some shopping we took ourselves off to find the German Rest. that we wanted to have dinner at The Rathskeller. It was several block north of the harbor but well worth it. The food was GREAT and everyone was so nice. Would go back there again. Loved walking around Victoria at night. The next morning we were on our way to Vancouver. Took a ferry then a bus. Vancouver: Another great blue sky day.Our hotel was the Fairmont Water Front. All I say say was WOW. We felt like the Beverly Hill's Hillbilly's.........:) We took a city tour and what a difference this one was from Victoria so much better. Alot of work going on in the city getting it ready for the 2010 Olympic's. We later on took ourselves on our own walking tour, shopped then had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory outside. It would have been a very nice dinner if you weren't bothered by so many beggars. The next morning the hotel took our luggage over to the ship for us and we took ourselves off walking the city again. We had a great breakfast at the hotel's food court and met some really nice people that worked at the camera shop there. By 12:30 we couldn't wait any longer so we took ourselves over to Canada Place to board the Coral. Coral: Great ship with really nice people working on it. The only neg I have to say was the size of the shower. Loved the food in the Horizon and the Bordeaux. What yummy desserts they both had. I found the massage that I had was a waste in my opinion. I've had better and cost less at home. Took in alot of the shows and enjoy the group Freedom alot. Played Bingo and didn't win the big jackpot...:( Had plans for that for another cruise. Ketchikan: I regret not having alot of time to explore this city due to the 2 tours we took. Saxman Native Village, got to dance with the natives which was cool. Then we went on the Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary. DH and I enjoyed this the most, got to see Salmon jumping up stream and got some really awesome pictures of it. Our friends took the Zip Line which they had alot of fun with. Juneau: My most FAVORITE TOUR was the Photo Safari by Land & Sea. Our guide Liz was the best helped us with our cameras to make sure we were taken the best pictures that we could. We had a short walk through the woods then to Mendenhall Glacier. Wow what a awesome Glacier. Afterwards it was our time to meet up with Gary to go on a boast ride to find whales and did we ever. I got some of the best whale tail shots. It was like we hit the mother load. He then took us over to this Island to see tons of seals and some Eagles. What a day...:) Our 2nd tour was the Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Bake. At first I didn't think this was going to be much, but it was another great tour in our eyes. Spent time at the salam creek and then back over to Mendenhall Glacier. But this time we walked all the way down to the viewing area at the bottom. The food at the Salam bake was very good. Afterwards we left and went back to do some shopping before the shipped pulled out. Skagway: It was a little cloudy for this tour. Went to Haines for the Alaska Nature-Wildlife Expedition. It was OK, but if I had to do it over again I would have taken the railroad tour. That was one of my biggest regrets of everything. All the Glaciers was very awe inspiring and left you very much opened mouth. We loved seating our on our balcony watching them go by. Whittier: We weren't in any hurry to leave Alaska so we took the Portage Glacier & Wildlife Center tour. We got taken out in a ferry up close to the Glacier and got to see some Calving. AWESOME!!! On the way to the Wildlife Center a bear ran infront of the bus. Wasn't time to take a picture but still was cool to see. The Wildlife Center was enjoyed by us all. We then took Alaska Air to Seattle, flying out the next day to come back home to S. F. This was a trip of a life time for us. Thank you all on the CC that helped me in any way. We've already planned on taking a Canada/New England trip in Sept 2008. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Embarkation: Canada Place was a zoo when we arrived, but we were herded efficiently through a long lineup and boarded around 1 p.m., within one hour of arrival. We carried on (and declared) four bottles of wine to enjoy in our stateroom ... Read More
Embarkation: Canada Place was a zoo when we arrived, but we were herded efficiently through a long lineup and boarded around 1 p.m., within one hour of arrival. We carried on (and declared) four bottles of wine to enjoy in our stateroom and packed another couple of good quality Tetra-packs (one-litre boxed wines) in our luggage, no problem at all. Stateroom: Our starboard forward Aloha balcony stateroom was clean and ready for our arrival; we met our very efficient and friendly steward Chet (from Thailand) and requested eggcrate mattress-tops and bathrobes. The eggcrates were delivered promptly and the bathrobes arrived the next morning. The tux/shoes that we had pre-rented were hanging in the closet as promised and were in excellent condition. We later discovered that the shower had a slow drain, but Chet arranged to have it fixed within a couple of hours of embarkation. Another issue was an outside pipe above our covered balcony that collected condensation and dripped rust; this was solved easily enough by wiping the pipe every couple of days. Our stateroom was below the Horizon Court. During the day, we heard very little noise from above, but almost every night, there were banging sounds (from the galley?) between 3 and 4 a.m. It startled us awake the first few nights, but then we got used to it. The Coral Princess: Clean and easy to navigate. We especially enjoyed power-walking the length of the ship around the Sun Deck in the morning, and strolling the quite Promenade Deck in the humid evenings. Maintenance crews were constantly (but unobtrusively) cleaning, painting and varnishing. Ship's drinking water was excellent, no need for expensive bottled water. Smoking: We are non-smokers and avoid smoking areas for health reasons. While the smell of smoke was quite strong outside of some staterooms, it did not bother us in our own. We had smokers upwind of us, but they were courteous and only smoked one at a time on their balcony, so we could enjoy ours most of the time. Smokers on deck mostly stayed on the port side by the Lido bar. Pools: The jets on two of the three outdoor hot tubs on the Lido deck were not working, but nobody seemed to mind. The crews were testing the pool and spa waters constantly, which was reassuring. Both the Lido and Lotus pools were clean and we swam in both. Deck drink/food service: Drink orders were taken frequently with prompt, friendly delivery. The Lido pizza was heavenly (I loved the Nordic pizza with smoked salmon). The french fries from the grill were double-fried to a perfect golden crisp, and there was guacamole to dip them in! Avoid the vegetarian burgers, they were very mushy. My husband really enjoyed the beef cheeseburgers and bratwursts. Fellow travellers: A real mix of ages, which was great. This was by no means a golden-oldies cruise. Lots of walkers, some wheelchairs/scooters and very few children on such a long cruise. Quite a few passengers were in the 40-65 range. Everybody was ready for a good time, and from what I saw, were accommodating to those who had to move more slowly. The line-dancing classes, bingo, trivia and other activities looked very well attended! One of the best aspects of this cruise was meeting our CruiseCritic.com group ahead of time on the roll call and getting together for fun on the ship. What a great group of people! We were lucky to have the opportunity to meet them all. Gym/Sauna: We didn't join any of the organized classes, but used the fitness area quite a bit. There were enough treadmills and other equipment, all clean and in good shape. We also stopped here to fill up our water bottles with cold water before heading ashore. The fitness area is aft and overlooks the ship's wake, a great place to work out. There are weigh scales in kilograms and stones, with a conversion chart if you need to know pounds. (But who wants to know?) Towels are provided, as are anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down your machine after use. The smallish sauna area (ladies) had two roomy showers, and while the sauna was not as hot as I'd like, it was a pleasant place to pass an hour. We didn't opt for the thermal suite, it was in a windowless room and I didn't fancy sitting around with other folks warming my tush when I could do that on the Sun Deck in the open air for free. Dining: We opted for Late Traditional. No need for a waiting list here, a few tables in the room sat empty the entire cruise, and our table for eight was only filled by three couples. We'd taken a previous cruise to Mexico on the Sapphire two years ago, and had really liked the food, however, I found this 17-day menu a bit of a mishmash. I didn't recognize many of the dishes from our last cruise (or the Princess cookbook) and perhaps the head chef was trying to be adventurous on such a long voyage. I was very disappointed in the lobster, they were small and overcooked in comparison what we had enjoyed before, and they were served with large prawns, instead of being the featured seafood on the plate. I noticed a few of the same sauces were being repeated on subsequent nights on different dishes. On one night, our tablemates raved over the French Onion soup. I asked if it was possible to have the French Onion Soup the following night, but with a vegetable base (the soup base is beef.) A simple request. But the server had to consult with the head waiter for five minutes, halting the service to the three tables he was covering. Then the head waiter came over, asked who had made the special request, and had me repeat it. Then he wrote everything down on a notepad. Then he asked me for my stateroom number. That was my last special request, it seemed like too much of a fuss. But the soup the next night proved to be excellent! Our waiter was mostly competent, but was not a very warm person - unlike the gal serving the table next to us. When our server did make small mistakes, such as delivering the wrong salad dressing or the wrong dessert, he would simply dismiss it or argue if you pointed it out. (We ended up just swapping dessert plates ourselves). If you asked what ingredients were in a particular dish and he didn't know, he would shrug. Our assistant waiter was much more friendly, addressing us by name and remembering preferences. He got the larger tip! Other dining options: We tried breakfast and lunch in the dining rooms, but the service (three separate visits) was very, very slow, so it was back to Horizon Court, which we enjoyed (especially the omelette station at breakfast). Sabatini's was an unforgettable evening, delicious and well-presented food, great service, and we didn't over-eat. We also loved the Bayou Cafe for the same reasons. Entertainment: Unfortunately, we didn't make it to many of the big shows. (Early to bed, early to rise). But kudos to the historian on board, Lawrence Rudner, whose talks were well-researched and informative. Our at-sea days were mostly spent reading, in the gym, walking and hanging out by the pool. The nightly entertainment in the Bayou Cafe was excellent - the very personable Denise Canby trio and earlier in the evening, the talented Ron Coleman noodling away on the piano. Both Ron and Denise took the time to chat with passengers. It was a lovely way to relax before and after dinner, and you didn't have to be eating at the Bayou to go in soak up the lounge atmosphere. (And it's smoke-free!) Unusual event: Overnight off the coast of Cuba, a large thunderstorm (didn't really rock the ship at all, as we slept through it) blew dozens of tropical birds into the ship. When we went to walk on the Sun Deck first thing in the morning, it was a Hitchcockian scene. Dead and stunned birds of all sizes littered the deck and other confused birds were flying inside the Lotus Pool area and bumping into the glass. Some of the birds survived - and a few plucky yellow finches spent the final day cruising to Ft. Lauderdale with us on the Lido Deck. I have pictures of them perching by the hot tubs. Sealife sightings: Whales, dolphins, lots of flying fish, one big dead Great White Shark (south of San Fran.) a live shark, tons of interesting sea birds and by my count (from what I could see from our balcony), 13 sea turtles. We were fortunate to have mostly calm seas so we could look right down (no balconies jutting out below us) into the ocean. Ports: Everybody will have different experiences in the ports. Ours were mostly positive. A brief summary: San Francisco: Lunch at Scoma's on the pier (excellent seafood, wine selection and service), cable car ride to Union Square, and back to wander around Pier 39 and watch the sea lions bark in the sun. Cabo: We hired a water taxi ($10 each) out to the Arch, which was a lot of fun. He dropped us off at Lover's Beach for a swim, and picked us up as promised an hour later. If you take a water taxi, be prepared to get wet - especially if you are not in good shape and cannot jump nimbly from the boat into the surf. We saw quite a few older and overweight tourists (some in jeans!) take a dunking. Once back on the main pier, we walked into town and had lunch (very slow service, but good food) at the Giggling Marlin, where other tourists were happily strung upside down like marlins to have their pictures taken. Acapulco: The fortress was closed, so we walked to the old part of the city (Zocala) and wandered around. Very few vendors bothered you once you got outside the immediate port vicinity and it was good to see the places where ordinary citizens shopped and walked. Huatulco: A beautiful and clean small port. But the vendors were almost unbearable near the pier. We took at cab to the resort area of Tangolunda beach (five dollars) just to have a quiet walk on the beach. Puntarenas: We had pre-booked a private Charlie Soto tour, which was a bit of a misnomer as Charlie didn't show and sent his son instead. His son, a medical student, was friendly but didn't speak English very well - he wasn't a professional tour guide so we learned very little about the countryside we were seeing. There was no air-conditioned van with cold drinks and fruit but a very small taxi with the windows rolled down. We had to ask to stop for a drink of water, and our guide drove to a friend's place and presented us with some warm, bottled water which took an hour to cool off in a bucket of ice. A single beer materialized later in the day. We enjoyed ziplining at Villa Lapas (excellent guides there) and lunch at a beachside eatery before returning to the pier for some shopping. There was a wide variety of affordable crafts at this pier, the best on the trip, and I wish I had bought more. The vendors were courteous and did not hassle you at all. Panama Canal: What a great transit, and in lovely weather! We went forward on Baja deck to the very front of the ship for great views. During the last set of locks, we toasted the Canal from the Patisserie on Deck 5 and watched the ship sink below the walls of the locks. An exciting day! Cartegena: We took a ship's tour, the walk through Old Cartegena. The Coral was the first Princess ship to visit this port in a number of years due to safety concerns, so the locals pulled out all the stops with a big cultural show (band, dancers) on the pier and some red-carpet officials who visited the ship. Our walking tour was fantastic. Very few soldiers around, just lots and lots of "tourist police" with armbands on almost every corner. Amazing architecture, churches and a great guide, although he spent too long in a stop at an emerald shop. Other than the dead rat that I accidentally stepped in, this was a great tour and we were happy to see many important historical sites preserved. Note: while we returned early to the ship, we noticed late-arriving cruise tours were forced to stand out in long lineups in the hot sun. Armed guards were searching the bags of almost all the crew members who had been ashore, and checking quite a few passengers, as well. Aruba: A quick half-day visit. We left the ship and headed for the bus station conveniently across the street from the pier. It cost $1.15 each to take a short bus ride to either Eagle or Palm beach. We enjoyed a swim in the calm waters at Palm Beach, but were reluctant to sit and relax, as all the chair and cabanas were reserved for hotel guests only and we didn't want to rent. We spent a couple of hours walking the beach and having a quick (and very expensive) beer at a hotel beach bar before taking a bus back to the pier for a little shopping. Fort Lauderdale: Disembarkation was effortless, although a little delayed. We took the post-cruise Everglades boat ride tour, as our flight didn't leave from MIA until late in the afternoon. The guide on our tour bus was among the best we've had, very entertaining, and we learned quite a bit about the Everglades on the 30-minute ride to the park. We enjoyed the 20-minute airboat ride, it was very informative. But the alligator "show" afterwards was too hard to watch - a barefoot, unkempt "animal trainer" in a small fenced arena poking at alligators with a stick, dragging them by their tails to get them into a position for better photos. We left almost immediately - in my opinion, it was disgusting to see this kind of 19th century animal exhibition. Summary: What hurricane season??? The seas were calm and the temperatures beautiful. A once-in-a-lifetime cruise, although we may go back in another decade to see the new canal once it is finished! In retrospect, not much to complain about at all, and some fabulous memories. Good job, Princess, and thanks CruiseCritic.com for helping us prepare! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
This was my 12th cruise and my wifes 11th cruise, she is 27 and I am 30. We chose this cruise based on the fact that neither of us had ever been to any of the ports, so it sounded good. We also picked Princess because we had been on the ... Read More
This was my 12th cruise and my wifes 11th cruise, she is 27 and I am 30. We chose this cruise based on the fact that neither of us had ever been to any of the ports, so it sounded good. We also picked Princess because we had been on the inaugural year of the Caribbean Princess and absolutely loved it. So we decided this would be the perfect cruise for us. Travel Day We flew from Newport News VA to Fort Lauderdale arriving at 2:30p.m. We were a little worried that we would be late to check in but this worked to our advantage. Embarkation We were pleasantly surprised that there was no line for us to check in and we had not filled out the credit card form online because I didn't know which card I wanted to use, no problem says princess and less than 10 minutes later we were on the ship in our cabin and very happy, by far the smoothest embarkation we had experienced, however we heard if you were earlier it wasn't so smooth. Cabin We had an inside cabin cat. P629. This was our first inside cabin ever. We were shocked at first that it was so small but it ended up being plenty big with more storage area than a balcony cabin that we spent some time in. Everything seemed very well taken care of. We had no problems with noise, a very good location in my opinion because we were very close to the back elevators which never seemed crowded. Ship The Coral Princess was beautiful. She seemed very well cared for, they were painting the anchor while we were docked at Costa Rica. All the public rooms seemed well kept. We enjoyed the explorers lounge, princess theater and the universe lounge. The main dining rooms were nice but not as grand as on RCCL, which I prefer. The two special restaurants were both nice and well maintained. Both pool areas were great and got a lot of use from us. The main pool was the most crowded, however it never seemed as crowded as any of the other main pools on any other cruise we've taken. The spa pool or "adult" pool was also great, it was never crowded when we were there. The decor in the spa pool was beautiful. I do wish they would have opened the roof on a least a couple occasions when it was beautiful outside, the chlorine smell could get bad at times. The hot tubs in the main pool were much better in my opinion than the ones in the spa pool because they were bigger, you could stretch out, and the jets worked in two of them, where as the spa pools hot tubs were BLAZING hot the first day but they did get better, and the jets only worked in one of them. The casino was a good size and they had the new Texas Hold'em tables which were very fun. The shops were o.k. there seemed to be a much bigger selection of stuff on the CB Princess, however they did put out rain jackets on the third straight port with rain. The best part of the Coral Princess in our opinion was the ship never seemed crowded. I'm not sure if it was the passenger age range or just good ship planning, but it was great. Service We thought the service overall on this ship was o.k. Our waitress in the dining room Christiana was awesome. All of the service we had in the dining room was great. The service in the Horizon court was also very good, you never had to look far for a glass of ice tea, water or even a coke if you had the card. All over the ship you never had to look far for a bar server to get you a drink. On that note everyone that you came in contact with on the ship (Stewards,waiters,drink guys and gals) seemed very friendly and willing to help you with anything. Our cabin steward was Melanie and she was fantastic, I was a little worried that our service in an inside cabin might not be as good but I was relieved to find our service so good. My problem with service came from the pursers desk and the cruise directors staff. We will start with the first night of the cruise the NFL football late game was on in the Explorers lounge. It was between the Steelers and Denver I think. We enjoyed watching because I am a huge football fan. I asked one of the entertainment staff if the games were going to be on the following Sunday and she said "oh yeah" So I was relieved. Then comes the following Sunday, no football in the patter so I wait to see if it comes on the t.v. and it does. So I call the pursers desk and ask them to see if there is anywhere they can put the game on so we can watch (I say we, there was about 15 of us who were planning on watching the games together) the pursers desk says there is an art show in the explorers lounge (mind you i was one of what seemed like 20 art shows but I believe the real number is 4) so there was nothing they could do. I asked if there was anywhere else they could put the game,possibly the late game after the art auction, they said they would get back to me. One hour later I call back and they say they have never talked to ME!!! This was after about four phone calls with the same guy NEIL!!! He says he has not talked to me all day. So after many calls and much anger the final answer is the Deputy Cruise Director Stu doesn't not want to change anything and he will not accommodate us. This started a string of poor service between the pursers desk and the cruise staff and us. Princess cancelled Jamaica and offered absolutely nothing in return. We have been on other cruises with cancelled ports and at the very least even Carnival offered us a $50 shipboard credit. Princess nothing. No explanation of why we could not go to any of the five ports we were going to go right by (Roatan, Belize, Cozumel, Cancun, Progresso, anywhere!!). Last but not least my favorite ACD Stu actually lied to my face on the night of Peer Factor. The patter told us to be there at 9:15 to sign up, of course this was right in the middle of my late dinner, but I left to go sign up and no one was there so one of the video guys was very nice and tried to help me find someone finally at 9:30 they finally come out and tell me I can't sign up anyone unless they are there, so then I explain that we are all at dinner they let me sign up. I see Stu on the way back to the dining room and tell him the "young people" are signed up for peer factor, because Stu had asked us earlier in the cruise to make sure we were there. Stu tells me to make sure we are back before the show starts at 9:45. SO I return at 9:40 with the whole crew and see Stu and tell him we are back and he tells me we are too late!!! I was hot! I asked him how, he says "I told you, you had 2 minutes" then some other people who there spoke up and said that wasn't true. Then he lets myself and a friend we had met in the show and proceeds to be rude in front of quite a few people and tell me how I need to thank him and this other guy for doing this!! It was terrible service from them to say the least. Also we had to dock early in FL due to the storm, so everything on the cruise ship shut down around 9:30 even the bars were closed at 11. There were many people who were upset at this. There was nothing to do, so we ended up playing Monopoly. At least that was fun and we weren't being mistreated. That's all for that. Entertainment I thought the entertainment on the cruise was good overall. The vegas style shows were wonderful in my opinion. There were four of them and we saw them all and enjoyed every one of them. There was a comedian a couple nights at the beginning of the cruise we got some laughs, I'd seen better at sea but he was still good. It was disappointing that they didn't have a late night show, actually they never had anything late night except for the disco in the Explorers lounge and that was a disappointment also because DJ Richard played the same 70's music everynight including the Electric Slide twice in one hour??? I like the electric slide but it was overkill on this sailing. We actually requested songs at the disco but DJ Richard would tell us it was going to be 20 or 30 minutes before our songs would get played because he had so many other requests??? There was maybe 20 people there so who put in all these requests? And there was no one on the Dance floor so try changing the music. When he finally would play our songs the dance floor would finally get some people on it. The Sea day entertainment was o.k. ping pong, art auction, golf chipping in the pool, movies, bingo, dance classes, but these were all repeated every sea day and new things were very rare. They did have some guest lectures that we heard were good. They had 2 wine tastings, the first was $10 a person which we attended. The second was $25 and we did not attend that one. The other entertainment at night was the Princess Pop Stars, Ballroom Blitz and even some of the comedian, magic act was planned around 9:30, right in the middle of late dinner. I asked who planned the events and they said ACD Stu, the cruise staff said it was planned this way so that people in late dining could go to the buffet or to one of the specialty restaurants so we could make the show. We didn't find that to be acceptable or appropriate. Dining We found the Food on the Coral to be great in the Bourdeaux dining room and Bayou Cafe, and poor at Horizon Court. We ate in the dining room eight of the 10 nights and the Bayou the other two nights. The dining room was great it had the standard Lobster, Beef wellington, surf and turf, and too many other things to remember. I do remember the food was hot and tasty. The ceaser salad was always delicious as were the deserts, the baked alaska seemed a little too sweet for me. We were sat with a great couple from Wales, they had both done some extensive traveling and had great stories to tell, plus you gotta love their accents, also at our table was a mother with her daughter. They were from Vancouver Canada and were taking this cruise to celebrate the daughters graduation from high school, what a present. We were lucky hat we got sat with some great people, some others were not so fortunate. I'm not sure how they do the seating assignments on Princess but it was definitely not by age. The Bayou Cafe was fabulous, we enjoyed the carpetbaggers filet and the gator ribs,oysters, sausage w/grits, jumbalaya and the fried peach was to die for!!! Us guys ordered the big porterhouse the first time at the bayou and it was nowhere near as good as the filet. Order more than one of the fried peaches because it takes 30 minutes and if your late eating they won't be able to get you another one, trust me your table will want more than one! I actually think the service in the Bayou was not as good as the dining room, it seemed you had to ask for more things like refills on drinks and bread, and it took over 2 hours both times so be prepared, it was definitely worth the $15 though. The horizon court was very disappointing. The buffet seemed to be the same everyday if you weren't there between 11:30 and 1:30 sandwiches, a pasta which was normally the best thing, and the same cookies everyday, they couldn't even change the types of cookies! If you could make it there in the two hours you would get a little more variety. There was always a carving station, mashed potatoes, cubed potatoes, a couple vegetables and a salad bar. The mexican buffet is the only one I can remember that I actually enjoyed. The breakfast buffet was not very good either unless you wanted to wait in line for fresh eggs, the waffles were decent, bacon was not. So I would recommend going to the dining room for breakfast lunch and dinner. The service was always good and the food was too. ALso the pizza was very good, as were the cheeseburgers and fries at the grill, but be prepared they both close at 7 p.m. for some unknown reason. No midnight buffets which kinda stinks. Free ice cream, yeah right. For one hour in the buffet some days otherwise you had to get it at dinner or pay for it. Rarely was anyone paying for it. Since this is Princess and supposed to be upscale from Carnival how come Carnival has free ice cream and 24 hr pizza??? Ports Aruba We did the golf excursion in Aruba. Jerry the golf pro on the ship was very accommodating. We enjoyed the course until it started thundering and then lightning and then the rain. The rain did lighten up and we were able to finish the course. The course was well maintained and very difficult once it got soaked. My wife and I did enjoy it, despite the rain. Cartagena, Columbia We had planned to do the mud volcano, however when we got to the Princess theater to check in we were told it was cancelled due to the downpour and we could book another tour, however there was much chaos at the desk to change your tour, after looking outside and seeing nothing but pouring rain, we decided to book a couples massage for later in the day. Princess did decide to refund anyone who didn't want to go on their excursion and gave everyone who did go half off of theirs, I thought this was a nice gesture considering, the tickets say tours go on rain or shine. The CD added a movie "Fracture" in the middle of the day which was enjoyable. The couples massage was great, however we did miss Columbia and we were looking forward to it. Panama We woke up at 6:30 to enjoy the Panama Canal. We met some friends in their balcony cabin and enjoyed the views for the next few hours. The canal was very fascinating to me. It's a sight everyone should see, amazing. We had a nice morning with only light sprinkles. Of course once we got of of the ship in Gatun lake it started raining. We did the Rainforest hike and it definitely was a rainforest. We were not able to do the whole hike due to the rain, we did get to tour an old fort right on the Atlantic ocean. The fort was awesome even in the rain. We did get do some hiking where we saw some monkeys and lots of birds, flowers and butterflies. The port of colon seemed very poor so when we got back to the ship we did not head back out, there are some shops right by the ship for local souvenirs. Limon, Costa Rica I don't know what happened in Costa Rica but God must have shined down on us because what do you know the sun was out!!!! Hallelujah!! This was by far our best port and it wasn't just the sun. We had met some friends from Cruise Critic who had booked an outside tour and invited us to come along. The tour they booked was thru Oscar Brown Tours and it was the best $105 dollars I have spent! Oscar actually gave us the tour himself. There was 8 of us. We had a mini-bus to ourselves. Oscar took us to one of his friends houses where we got to sample coconuts and cocoa. We also got to hold a sloth!! That was amazing! After that stop we headed off to the zipline. The zipline was sweet, very personal service there. This is a different zipline than the one sold on the ship, however there was a few former employees of the other zipline and they said this one was better. It didn't matter to me. The zipline was unbelievable. There were 10 different line and the 2nd and the last one were both crazy. After the zipline we went to the banana plantation where we got to see the bananas come all the way from the tree to the box. Remarkable to say the least. After that we went to do an eco-river cruise which was also great. We saw 2 sloths, all kinds of birds, bats and iguanas. It was a nice break from the rain. Then Oscar took us to this great restaurant that overlooked the whole harbor, what a view! The food was o.k. but the company was great! We headed into town, where Oscar took some of our party to the market because they wanted some coffee and he said this was the cheapest place to get the best. Oscar Brown was outstanding, anyone who is going to Costa Rica should definitely look him up, he has a website and his tour are top notch. Thanks Dave for the connection. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Guess what? Tropical Storm Noel said we aren't going to Jamaica. As I stated before Princess gave no compensation except $8 refund of port charges. Princess also gave no explanation of why we could not go to any other ports. Tidbits Most passengers on this cruise were older which is to be expected. Even having this expectation I was still surprised that there were only 6 couples in our age range 20's- 30's most I would say are in there 60's. Luckily we met a couple and hit it off well with them or we might have gone crazy. We ended up the last three sea days playing Clue and Monopoly in the card room because at 11 p.m. the ship entertainment was over unless you want to gamble. Don't get late dinner unless you want to miss half of the entertainment. Final Thoughts Even though this was our worst cruise out of 11, we still had a blast! We met some great people and had some great experiences. I can't say I will sail on Princess again or recommend them after our experience. We would do another panama canal cruise hopefully with better weather. We did think this was a great value for 10 days averaging around $100 a day per person for the cruise. Hopefully Princess will listen to our comment card and fix the entertainment fiasco and treat people a little better at the pursers desk. Coral Princess is great ship, easy to get around, rarely seemed crowded. Crew was very friendly. Looking forward to our next cruise, to bad it won't be on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
My husband and I (boomers) celebrated our 25th anniversary by cruising to the canal on the Coral Princess. This was our 8th cruise overall and 2nd on Princess Here are the highpoints -- embarkation was a snap - Cabin steward Ray was ... Read More
My husband and I (boomers) celebrated our 25th anniversary by cruising to the canal on the Coral Princess. This was our 8th cruise overall and 2nd on Princess Here are the highpoints -- embarkation was a snap - Cabin steward Ray was terrific. Minisuite was more than ample for our needs. We chose anytime dining and rarely had to wait. We generally dined around 8 pm. and because the average age of the other cruisers was one year younger than God, they ate early. We lucked out with a terrific waiter whom we stayed with for most nights -Gabor. I thought that the food was better than average. Some of it was even inventive and superior. Bayou steak house was great. The ports were interesting but I would not choose to visit any of them again other than Aruba where we had been before on several occasions. The highlight of course was the canal -- We got up early, grabbed a coffee ( more about the coffee later) and watched the ship go thru the first lock. Thereafter was had ultimate balcony dining for breakfast and watched the balance of the transit from our balcony. DOWNSIDES -- the coffee on the ship including the coffee brewed in the patisserie was nothing short of atrocious. The first thing I did when we returned to the Ft. Lauderdale airport was to get a cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts. If America runs on Dunkin and there are Starbucks on China, why cant Princess brew a decent cup of coffee? I don't know if it was the itinerary, the time of year or the length of the cruise, but could people have been any older? As a result, nightlife was dead. We will cruise on Princess again. They give you great value for the money you spend and certainly know how to pamper. The spa and gym where I spent alot of my time was lovely. The spa did not try to oversell you on products. After the novelty of the gym wore off for most passengers, getting a treadmill or other piece of equipment was no problem. Disembarkation was also relatively quick and painless. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
We sailed on the Coral Princess from 11/10 to 11/20 with the primary purpose of viewing the Panama Canal. In that respect the cruise was great, the canal is amazing to see in operation and to actually go thru the locks at Gatun Lake was ... Read More
We sailed on the Coral Princess from 11/10 to 11/20 with the primary purpose of viewing the Panama Canal. In that respect the cruise was great, the canal is amazing to see in operation and to actually go thru the locks at Gatun Lake was incredible. However after the Canal there was not really much else that happened that made me glad that we took this particular cruise. This was my wife and I's 3rd cruise on Princess and to tell you the truth, each cruise has been less satisfying then the previous one. The main problems with this cruise were with the food and the shore trips. Embarkation - Excellent Left Providence on a 7:40AM flight on Southwest and was actually on the ship and in my cabin by 12:15PM. Disembarkation was just as easy. Dining. - Fair to poor Breakfast at Horizons was great, lunch was okay and dinner in Horizons (we elected not to go the formal route for 2 nites) was absolutely terrible. I would have preferred McDonalds. The other 8 nites that we ate in the dining room were okay, nothing to write home about. (except for the Fettuccine Alfredo, which is to wonderful). Soups were either watery or a type of cold soup. Overall the food wasn't much better then what you would get at an Outback restaurant. Ship Facilities - Very good I had no problems with the ship itself, its very nice and laid out very similar to all the other Princess ships. It's not hard to get around or find things. Didn't see a lot of people winning on the slots. Shows were good for the most part. Shore Trips - Poor (except for the trip thru Canal) Aruba - we were there from 7:00 am to 1:00 am, you can't really do much in such a short time. We went snorkeling and it was okay. Cartagena Columbia -- very dirty place. Shopping not worth it. Cristobol Panama - just a shopping area Costa Rica - Signed up for the $200 rain forest / river trip. - Not worth it. This may sound stupid but all the rain forest consists of is a bunch of trees and vines and plants that are wet and close together. I thought I would see flowers and some animals. Saw none of either. The river part was also lame, however did see some animals from a hundred yards or so away. Jamaica - Went on a catamaran ride, saw the end of Dunn River Falls. - nothing special. Not sure if I will travel on Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
**** Please note this is a review of my own experiences and opinions that I wanted to share here - I do not wish to spark any controversy. Embark - disembark: this was by far the BEST ever embarking and disembark. Princess knows what ... Read More
**** Please note this is a review of my own experiences and opinions that I wanted to share here - I do not wish to spark any controversy. Embark - disembark: this was by far the BEST ever embarking and disembark. Princess knows what they are doing here. We arrived at the pier at 12:00 - never waited in a line and walked right on the ship.. it was terrific! Disembark - we were given a time of 8:30am - we were to go to the Explorer's lounge - within minutes we were leaving the ship - no lines to wait in at all - Luggage area was a little crazy a porter - a cab - and we were off in no time. Muster Drill: I have to comment on this because Princess has made this pain bearable. We were to meet in the Princess theater - carrying our life vest - not wearing it and standing on deck being shoved every which way.. we listened to the announcements and instructions - everyone was paying attention - and for the first time - so was I. Other cruise lines could learn from this - it was great. Ship: overall - pretty nice, liked the public areas - Horizon court gets a little crazy and crowded, but then most buffets do. Dining room was very nice, on board stores didn't have a lot to offer in my opinion. Pools are nice - I thought Lotus pool is for adults - there was a lady with a toddler in a diaper in the pool - they should really post signs saying Adults only. Viewing the canal was very nice from our balcony - as well as the front of our deck and the aft.. we were on deck 10 - and the aft viewing has lounge chairs - very nice - the front is smaller - but just as good to see the canal - I would advise checking each out. Services: Room service was great - we had the same guy every morning ( we order coffee) he was always on time - and very friendly. Princess does not have phone cards available to make calls. This is the 1st cruise I have taken where I had to pay $4.95 a min to call home when at sea - they should think about phone cards. I was able to use my Cingular cell phone in all ports of call - I'm sure it will be a BIG bill. Spa - I walked through there - and it seemed real nice - but didn't purchase any service. Gym - looked very nice - again I didn't use the facility. Laundry self service is available near aft on decks 10, 11, 12 - and maybe others I don't know. I was on 10, and they had 5 washers and dryers in a laundry room with iron/board, wash, dry and all soap products are $1.00 each. (there is a change machine - but sometimes it's out). I did do a couple loads of laundry - this was a nice feature. Smoking: Let me start by saying I am a smoker - and Princess does NOT offer the smokers much space for smoking. We could not smoke anywhere around the Lido pool or Lotus pool. On deck 15 - above the Lido - there was a small area with 3 tables for smokers, then there is the cigar room, Wheelhouse bar allows smoking in 1/3 of the area (nice) and Explorers Lounge has a small smoking area. I think that is it - and I hear that they used to allow smoking on one side of the ship on outside decks, like most ships do, but they had changed this. Casino is smoking except for 2 nights from 6pm on where it is smoke free. Cabin: We were in C226, mini-suite. I was able to view a regular balcony room and compare to a suite - and I can tell you that there is not a huge amount of difference. The rooms are just as narrow - the mini offers extra room for a sitting area, a few feet more on the balcony, and we had a bathtub instead of stand up shower, which I heard was very very tiny. Plenty of space for our things (2 of us) and you can store some empty luggage under the beds. Our room steward was just o.K.. meaning he did clean our room, and we did ask for a few things (extra pillows) and he obliged - but nothing more than that - and we hardly saw him - not overly friendly. Food: Horizon court buffet - I only have one word "yuck". Most everything was below average in my opinion. Main dining - I thought the food was very good - I have had better - but they did a pretty good job. Lobsters are small, lots of fish items to chose from, one night we had Alaskan King Crab legs. Didn't eat at a specialty restaurant, but did have afternoon tea 3:30 - 4:30 daily - and it was wonderful. One bad note - our server (Monica) was very nice the first 2 nights - then she seemed to be irritated with anyone ordering anything outside the menu, or extra things.. this seemed to get worse each night - some of us at our table felt quite uncomfortable with her abrupt behavior - and it put a damper on dinner - which was unfortunate - as we had great tablemates (8 of us in all). Entertainment: The ship's singers and dancers were good - some were better than others - but you have to give them credit for putting on so many shows - I enjoyed the shows - when I could find a seat. I think the show schedule and dinner times conflict. We had early dining 6pm, and the shows following dinner were always completely full - the later ones were almost full. People with late seating did not have as many options for shows and some friends we met were very disappointed in this. The comedian/Magician was terrific - what a great personality. We play Trivia - and they had plenty of it during the day - but in the evening it was not available.. much to our disappointment. WE really enjoyed "name that tune" and "evening trivia" on other cruise lines. Demographics: I am 46 and my Mom is 67 and we were comfortable with the rest of the passengers on board. I rarely saw any children - a few teens, but mostly an over 60 crowd in my opinion. Royal Caribbean has a younger following - and more active night life. Casino: Mom says the machines are very tight - and she knows her stuff. I played a little on the slots and Roulette - but am no gambler. Ports of Call: Aruba - very nice, walk right into shopping areas - we were not there long enough to take a tour - Princess should figure out a way to stay in Aruba longer. Cartagena Columbia: a little scary - street vendors swarm tour busses, banging on windows and blocking your path to get you to buy.,.. very unsettling - we took a ship tour - and although it was interesting and we saw many sites, I would not get off the ship again. Panama Canal: get up plenty early (6am) to see the locks - beautiful sites to behold - temp is Super HOT and we had 100% humidity..whew! Cristobal: we got off the ship and shopped at the pier.. right off the gang way - no walking hardly - lots of locals selling crafts - lots of singing and dancing - a very nice spot. Jamaica: docked at James Bond Pier, not very easy to get around there - you have to taxi into town, unlike at the main pier. We took a local tour (30.00 each) went through villages, Dunns River Falls ( you have to pay $15.00 each - just look at the falls -even if you don't want to climb it) we didn't do it. Went to Sony's for some shopping - was ok - lots of jewelers. Costa Rica - was cancelled because of demonstrations regarding free trade - went to Grand Cayman : this stop is tendered - we have been there before so opted to enjoy the near empty ship. Pre cruise: we stayed at the Lauderdale beachside hotel $129.00/night - room was just ok - nice little balcony facing the ocean - and beachfront view.. if you like the beach - this one is great. http://www.clarionbeachresort.com/ ** note: we took a cab from airport to this hotel $45.00 - we should have asked for a shuttle - it would have been $25.00 Post cruise: We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Ft. Lauderdale - WOW… what a nice place - very clean - upscale - beautiful pool - friendly staff - just all around very nice place. Cost $199/night - we had a beautiful poolside view from 9th floor - totally worth the money. http://www.seminolehardrockhollywood.com/ Cruise Critic Meeting - I spoke with Renee Wittwer - Onboard Coordinator : rwittwer@princesscruises.com via Email before the cruise and she set us up with a meeting place and time - she was very very helpful and our meeting went well. I do want to comment that Royal Caribbean seems to be the only line so far that I have been on where the Captain actually came - and answered questions, posed for photo's and was a real treat to meet for our meeting - other cruises will provide a room - but I think they should take the time to attend the CC meetings. I did get a voice mail from Ron, the CD asking if our group was having a good time - and did we need anything.. he seemed to have an interest - but this was 2 days before the cruise ended.. if he had com to the meeting it would have been much better. Final comments: Princess had good and bad - as do most lines - but in comparison - I believe Holland America to be a step above in service and food - as well as Royal Caribbean, and will probably chose one of these for my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
CORAL CARIBBEAN CHRISTMAS CRUISE We just returned from the Coral Princess Christmas sailing to the Eastern Caribbean 12/20/2007 - 12/27/2007. The trip was fantastic! We have cruised many times with other cruise lines but this was only our ... Read More
CORAL CARIBBEAN CHRISTMAS CRUISE We just returned from the Coral Princess Christmas sailing to the Eastern Caribbean 12/20/2007 - 12/27/2007. The trip was fantastic! We have cruised many times with other cruise lines but this was only our second cruise with Princess. Two years ago we went on the Coral Princess to the Panama Canal and had a very disappointing experience. However, much has improved with the Coral since then and Princess has made up for their mistakes! WORDS OF WISDOM ABOUT SAME DAY FLIGHTS!!! We always fly to the embarkation port the day before the cruise, but this time we flew to Fort Lauderdale the morning of sailing due to schedule conflicts. We will never do this again because we had a BIG SCARE about lost luggage. Our flight arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 9:00am and we were ready to collect our baggage and get a taxi to the cruise port. Everything was working out perfectly and we expected to be at the ship by 10:00am. But only 3 of our 4 bags arrived! We spent over an hour at the airport consulting with the airline and trying to track down our lost bag. We had no luck and the airline just asked for our cell phone number and said there was nothing that could be done and they had no way of knowing where it was. The bag we lost was our "miscellaneous" bag that contained everything from shoes to two twelve packs of diet doctor pepper. We had no choice but to go shopping. We took a taxi to the Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale to buy dress shoes and sandals, and then to Walgreen's to buy toiletries and beach stuff. As soon as we paid for everything we got a call from the airport. Our bag was returned TWO hours later by someone who mistook it for their own! The worker in the baggage claim office said the two bags were entirely different colors as well!! SO PLEASE CHECK THE NAME TAG ON YOUR BAG BEFORE CLAIMING IT! We were panicked to the point of thinking the cruise was ruined and we had to spend almost $100 on taxi fares alone driving around Fort Lauderdale. To lighten things up our embarkation picture was so hilarious because we looked ready to pass out. This was a very long day. EMBARKATION We got to the cruise terminal at 1:30pm. We gave our bags to a porter and walked directly to the Baja check in counter. There are two counters for each deck and there was no one in line for Baja. This was the smoothest embarkation we had ever had. It only took us 15 minutes from the time our taxi pulled up to the ship to the time we were in our cabin. The longest wait was for the embarkation photo, which we just had to buy as a reminder of the disastrous morning we had! SHIP CONDITION The Coral Princess is in great condition. Everything was the same as it had been two years ago. Cleaning, painting, varnishing etc. was going on throughout the cruise. The only things that showed ware and tear were the steamer chair lounges on the promenade deck. Most of them stuck and were not able to be adjusted. The carpet outside the Princess Theater showed water spots and could also be replaced. Everything else was perfectly fine! CABIN AND ACCOMMODATIONS Since all the cabin layouts and furnishings are the same throughout the most of the Princess fleet I won't go into detail. The only complaints we had about the cabin were the air conditioning and the mattresses. The air conditioning was reasonable, but with the duvets we would had preferred the room to be cooler at night. The mattresses we a little uncomfortable but next time we will request egg crate toppers for the beds. Everything else was great. NEW MATTRESSES On disembarkation day Baja deck was lined up and down with new twin mattresses to be installed after our cruise. It looks like we just missed them! The crew elevator area was also full of new mattresses so it appeared that they are being replaced in all the cabins. FOOD AND DINING The food in the dining rooms was very good. Our main complaint on our cruise on the Coral two years ago was the food. This time the food was much improved. Two dining firsts for us on a cruise were frog legs and crab legs. Both of these entrees were wonderful! This was the only cruise we have been on that offered these menu items. The food was better than our last two cruises on Royal Caribbean, just stay away from the seafood avocado boat and you will be fine. The filet and sea scallops were wonderful. The food was also served hot, which was a problem the last time we were on the Coral. The air conditioner above our table the last time chilled our food in minutes. This time was much better. Breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court got to be repetitive because they served the same thing almost every day. Most of the food in the Horizon was good, but it was not as good as the food in the dining room. The Horizon Court in general needs help in terms of layout and aesthetic appeal. The grill helped us to get some variety for lunch, including Princess Pizza which was also good. We did not eat at Sabatini's' because we enjoy the main dining room experience and the food in the dining room was to our liking. ANYTIME DINING ISSUES We booked our Coral Cruise six months ago and have been on a waitlist for traditional late seating dining for the last two months. We went to the Maitre'D as soon as we boarded and explained the situation. We were told to eat anytime dining the first night and that we would be accommodated the second night. Having never done anytime dining before, we called down to the purser's desk and asked what time is anytime dining and the purser laughed. Live and learn I guess. The second night we went into the dining room and found that the Maitre'D stand was removed so that more tables could be set up for traditional dining. We were basically seated in the hallway and were not happy. We refused to sit there, flagged down the Maitre'D and were promptly escorted to a table in the back of the dining room that had three empty chairs and a family of four already seated. This arrangement was fine, but why couldn't this request be accommodated in the first place? We received a $75 dollar onboard credit for this ordeal which was a nice surprise! SERVICE Our cabin steward was very courteous. He seemed to have personality and to like his job. He always smiled at us and said hello to us in the hallway. Our room was kept in great order. Our dining room waiter was fine, but was pushy. Every time we ordered a bottle of wine he would say, "No, no, no, this one is much better." The wines he wanted us to order were $15 to $20 more than the bottles we wanted. He also came to our table two nights with the Princess Cook Book and showed us the recipes for the meals we just had. He kept telling us to buy it and we kept telling us we didn't want it. When the last two nights of the cruise arrived he kept telling us to fill out the comment card and mention table 15. Other than being a little forward, his service was fine. Some of our meals were slow however, and we didn't get out of the dining room until 10:45pm. Overall we had an enjoyable experience. Servers in the Horizon Court were always around with the carts to serve drinks and waiters by the pool were plentiful. HOLIDAY DECORATIONS The atrium was tastefully decorated with wreathes, garland and lights draped along the railings. Christmas trees were placed in the atrium, many of the lounges, in the Horizon Court and in also in the casino. The dining rooms also had decorations adorning the waiter stations and had two Christmas trees at the entrance. Every cabin door had a holiday garnish on the mailbox. The entire ship looked festive. We were worried that the decorations would actually take away from the beauty of the ship, but we were completely wrong. Two years ago we thought the atrium looked quite drab and plain, but the holiday dEcor enhanced the ship greatly! HOLIDAY FESTIVITIES This was our first Christmas cruise and we were so surprised at how festive the atmosphere was onboard. I highly recommend holiday sailings! A Christmas cruise brings about another dimension of cruising that is not experienced at other times of the year. Santa was sitting in the atrium during embarkation for photo opportunities and appeared again on Christmas morning handing out wrapped presents to the children onboard. On Christmas Eve the crew sung Christmas carols in the atrium while the snow machines were working. The crew choir included staff from all the departments including the captain. It was amazing to see the snow falling and to be part of the festive atmosphere. The entertainment staff did a great job keeping everyone involved. There was a table of Christmas cookies and milk in the atrium on Christmas Eve, and during Christmas day the crew pushed a cart of cookies and milk around the pool deck. On Christmas Day there was a special Holiday Family Show in the Princess Theatre. We went to the show with apprehension but it turned out to be great. The stage was set up to look like a living room, and "family members" would arrive at the door and sing a Christmas song after being welcomed. The talent was great and the show made everyone feel at home for Christmas. The Coral Princess dancers also did a knock off of the New York City Rockets. Christmas at sea is simply wonderful! There was a special menu in the dining room on Christmas Day. The cabin TV had a Yule log channel and was very festive. The Christmas music being played throughout the ship was very bizarre, but was a nice change from the traditional Christmas songs. One song had the line, "I want to wash my hands, my face and hair in snow," which we thought was very comical. A Catholic midnight mass was held in addition to Protestant and Jewish services. PORTS OF CALL We called at St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays. We have been to St. Thomas and St. Maarten many times so we just walked around town and did some minor shopping. We cruise mainly to be on the ship, not to go to the ports. Princess Cays was nice but very chaotic. We had to obtain tender tickets and wait about 45 minutes to get off the ship. If we ever went to Princess Cays again we would stay on the ship. Lunch on the island was limited and not good. The lines were long and seating was limited. We concluded that because the Coral doesn't call at Princess Cays regularly the crew was not prepared like the crew on the Caribbean Princess which calls at Princess Cays every week. WEATHER AND SEA CONDITIONS The weather overall was great. Temperatures were in the 80s almost every day. We had some rain showers on embarkation day and in the morning of the first sea day but it was sunny and warm every other day. There was also a 15 minute tropical shower just before sail away in St. Maarten. St. Thomas was very hot. Sea conditions were moderate for the majority of the cruise. The December trade winds were evident and made Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day rather rough. The Coral handles the seas very well and most of the motion was due to pitching from bow to stern. The ship moved more due to the winds than high waves, and the pools mirrored the seas on Christmas Day. We didn't hear about anyone becoming sea sick and the motion just allows you to know you are at sea and not in a hotel. I love the motion of the ocean. CREW MEMBER POLICIES What turned us away from Princess two years ago was the policy that some crew members, the entertainment staff and officers are permitted to eat in the Horizon Court with paying passengers and mingle extensively in passenger areas on their time off. On our previous Princess cruise we saw an officer in complete white uniform and name tag laying asleep on a deck lounge chair on the promenade deck while at sea. The singers and dancers also congregated on the promenade deck and ate at the same buffet and were served drinks by other crew members. We have never witnessed crew members using passenger facilities on any other cruise line. During the Champagne Waterfall party many crew members and waiters were dancing along with the passengers. On this cruise we witnessed the same policy. Does anyone else have feelings about this? ENTERTAINMENT The production shows were very good. We have seen Tribute and Dance before, but saw them a second time and liked them. The ship was very quite after 11:00pm each evening. At 11:30pm you could walk from stem to stern and see only a handful of people. At 12:30am you could walk around and not even see a crew member. MISCELLANEOUS We had a medical disembarkation in St. Thomas. On the night of 12/26/2007, at 2:00am, the captain made an announcement regarding a missing person. He apologized and said that it was necessary to broadcast on all circuits because it was an emergency. They paged a passenger to dial 12000 on any of the ships telephones. Another announcement was made 20 minutes later ordering the "missing persons operations" to stand down. We found out from a crew member the following day that a girl was in someone's cabin and could not be found by her parents. The crew member told us there was a search party getting ready to search the water if she was not found. OVERALL Overall we had a great time onboard the Coral for Christmas. A holiday cruise was just what we needed to escape winter for a week. We were very pleased with this cruise. Passengers on this cruise were of a variety of ages. We were surprised that there were only 300 kids onboard. They were well behaved. The only time we noticed the kids was when a group of 7 year olds took all of the red, white and blue balloons out of the dining room on the last night and ran up and down deck six holding nearly 100 balloons. It was quite a sight to see them flying through the crowded photo gallery with all those balloons. I believe I have covered most things. If you have any questions about the ship I will be more than happy to answer them. WE RATE THIS CRUISE 8 OUT OF 10 Happy cruising to all of you at Cruise Critic Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
The DW and I drove to Ft Lauderdale early on the 27th, arriving in Ft Lauderdale at 1:30 pm and were in our room by 2pm. Great check-in, painless and fast even though we had to make a last minute change. It's been awhile since we have ... Read More
The DW and I drove to Ft Lauderdale early on the 27th, arriving in Ft Lauderdale at 1:30 pm and were in our room by 2pm. Great check-in, painless and fast even though we had to make a last minute change. It's been awhile since we have been on Princess and we were glad we did this time. The only thing to say is the Coral provides great food, great service, and has a great staff. We ate in the Dining room, the Bayou Cafe, Sabatini's, the buffet, and used room service, they all exceeded our expectations. The DW was hooked on those wonderful room service hamburgers, make sure to ask for a ROOM service burger, It is thick, juicy with a slightly smoky flavor. There are not enough words to describe the quality of the food we had at the Bayou Cafe, succulent Oysters Bienville, a 18 oz Porterhouse that melts in your mouth. The DW had the surf (lobster) and turf (thick filet mignon)special and was not disappointed although a bit overstuffed. Absolutely the best food we had in a long time on a cruise. We ended up taking the left-overs up to the room for a 2 am snack! I suppose I should talk about the room. We had a mini-suite that was more than adequate for 2, with a nice closet. Drawer space was good even though most of the drawers a shallow, there were enough to put away all our clothes. We had to use a eggcrate for the mattress because they were a bit lumpy and hard. Where the beds met, was a hump that was a tad bothersome but was fixed quite nicely by the eggcrate. The room steward (Rodolpho) was great and always cheery and polite. The room was always clean even if it took till 10:30 am to get my butt out of bed. We were never rushed to get out so he could clean up. Our toilet would not flush one day, passenger service said they would have someone check it out, we told Rodolpho about it and in 10 minutes, he was back with the maintenance guy and it was fixed. Going through the Canal Locks on the balcony was a definite plus. Being we like to donate at the Casino, we met the staff early and often and had a great time. The DW won $3000 at video poker and did well at the 3-card poker table. I did alright at the 3-card table and only made $500 at the video poker(1st time player). The last night I also hit $300 on the one of the slots trying to empty the DW's Ocean Player's Card account. They had a get a ticket for prize drawings night for winning poker hands and I won a $500(?) piece of art (number and signed print). The only way to describe the Canal is, you have to experience it to appreciate it! We were pleasantly surprised by Cartagena, Columbia. There were a lot of mixed feelings about on the CC boards so we were a bit leery going in but we really enjoyed Cartagena and would love to go back. Aruba, I'm not a big fan of the place, once outside the city it is nothing but rocks, sand, and cacti. I think they call that a desert anywhere else. There are some interesting sites to see but I wouldn't go out of my way travel there. If it hadn't been on the itinerary, I wouldn't bothered trying to go there. Costa Rica - It rained most of the morning so we stayed on ship and kicked back and relaxed all day. The only thing we heard from most folks was they were overwhelmed by the level of poverty there. Jamaica - Bad weather, big waves, no Jamaica, enough said! Couldn't get my Blue Mountain Coffee again, DRAT the bad luck! Overall it was fabulous trip and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I can;t say how much we appreciated the great crew, exceptional service, and fabulous food. We skipped the show for the Casino so nothing to say about the shows. our friend traveling with us, went to the shows couple of times and always said they were good. Alan and DW Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We spent a pre-embarkation day in Ft. Lauderdale on the Water Taxi and an everglades tour. See the Florida departures board for reviews of this as well as the Renaissance on 17th and 3030 Ocean restaurant. Embarkation: We took a taxi ... Read More
We spent a pre-embarkation day in Ft. Lauderdale on the Water Taxi and an everglades tour. See the Florida departures board for reviews of this as well as the Renaissance on 17th and 3030 Ocean restaurant. Embarkation: We took a taxi from hotel to Port Everglades a little before 1500 hours. Tipped the porters at the port $2 per bag for our checked luggage, filled out all the requisite paperwork, stood for the obligatory photos (although we never did find them on the boards at the photo shop the next day), and onto the ship—all without lines or stopping. Total time from hotel to stateroom was 20 minutes. Ship: This was our second time on Princess, first time on Coral. We booked a suite on the port side of Dolphin. It was nice, but not much larger than the aft mini-suite we had on Dawn. Also found the room furnishings a little tired (and the bed was horrible) and steward service mixed. (A full posting on our "suite experience" is on the main Princess board.) Overall, the Coral is a beautiful ship—lovely public areas and very nicely decorated and maintained. It was decked out for the holidays for our cruise and looked very festive—unfortunately, however, they didn't set up the snow machine for the lobby until the end of the cruise and didn't use it until the one following ours. I'd collected hints for embarkation from the CC.com boards. You do need to check the temperature in mini-refrigerator—it was barely cool on check-in. Call "DINE" and order any ultimate balcony breakfast and dinner as well as Bayou cafe and Sabatini's reservations as well as any spa reservations as soon as possible if you have a date/time you want. On our cruise, however, these services did not appear to be heavily used—we were able to book both specialty restaurants easily and the spa kept running lots of specials (one of which was honored for my services, even though I had booked them on-line before the cruise.) General muster was next and, as many have noted, it was very short and sweet. Then it was time for our CC.com sailaway party! We had agreed to meet after the muster at the bar near "The Grill" on the Sun deck. We wore mardi gras beads, so we could find each other and brought extras for those who might not have been abe to find them (such as our friends from the UK). We started on our tasting of Princess cocktails from the "Favorite Drink" thread with an Ultimate Cooler and a Captain's Bounty; the former was a tad too sweet but the latter was VERY yummy. We had a GREAT roll call group and a good turnout for our sailway party. A group of ten of us from the sailaway party decided to go have sailaway dinner together in the Bourdeaux (anytime) dining room. One of us should have thought to try to make a reservation as it was a madhouse and we ended up waiting for 45 minutes for a table. Menu included pasta shells (long Italian name), rockfish, prime rib and seafood turnover. The waiter was Carlos from Mexico--he was very slow and into pushing everything from more expensive wine than you initially ordered to the cookbook. Too tired for any after dinner entertainment. First Sea Day: Captain Stefano Ravera took over command of the Coral on the 10 Nov cruise. The Cruise Director is Rob Goodman from the U.S., assisted by Collette (Australian) and Mark (also from U.S.) Paula, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the Captain's Circle Host. The Captain and CD staff have the reputation as being out and about, but they must have always been some place on the ship where we are not. We did finally see them all on the last sea day. The lecturer at sea on our trip was Stephen Bauer, who had served in the White House and gave lectures on happenings behind the scenes there. Unfortunately, that meant we had no one on board who was lecturing on the history of the Panama Canal. A disappointment. The Coral sailed full, but you only felt the crowds at the pool, at the Horizon Court, and while waiting for dinner seating. Otherwise, lots of area to find a quiet place around the ship. The usual round of activities for sea day. We were still worn out from finishing up everything at work and ended up doing nothing more strenuous than going to the pool. We did the ultimate balcony breakfast this morning (Thank you, Amber!) and were glad for the CC.com tip to bring ziplock bags for leftovers. Also used the gym today and most days on board. They have a nice selection of treadmills, elipticals, and other cardio equipment as well as weight machines and free weights. Never had to wait for equipment. Towels available as well as a fountain for cold water--we followed a CC.com tip and brought water bottles to fill and then chill in our cabin fridge for shore excursions the following day. The Coral seems to be switching around formal nights—everyone on CC.com prior to us had reported that the first formal night was the SECOND sea day, but on our trip it was the FIRST one along with the Captain's Welcome Party. Dinner included mahi-mahi and beef tournedos. Second Sea Day: Went to the ice-carving demonstration by the pool today—lots of people. The carvers made a parrot and angelfish. Dinner was Caribbean dinner. The Seafood Potpourri and Rack of Pork were very good. Saw the comedian Adam Ace tonight. His act mixes bringing up someone from the audience or going into the audience as well as traditional stand-up and prop comedy. I found the show a little mean-spirited, but many others loved it. They also had a "smoke-free" night in the casino; there is a second one later in the cruise. Ports: Our cruise stopped in Oranjested, Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; the Panama Canal; Limon, Costa Rica; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We booked private tours for all ports except the canal, where we took the ferry tour to the Pacific side of the canal. I've posted reviews of all on the destination boards, so won't repeat them here. The ship sprung ahead to the Atlantic time zone the first night, putting it in sync with local time in Aruba. It fell back to EST between Aruba and Cartagena, putting it in sync with local time in the latter. It stayed on EST for the rest of the cruise. Costa Rica is in the Central time zone, however, so local time there was one hour behind ship's time. We did find we were usually in port and able to disembark earlier than the times posted in the itinerary, but of course, that could definitely vary due to weather, etc. Captain Ravera gave us a great ride despite some choppy seas along the way. He always provided lots of good information on his arrival and departure announcements. I believe someone finally posted the menus from the trip, so I won't go into detail. The sailaway dinner and dinners on the first two sea nights were very good. The fourth night (Aruba) was the Continental menu, which did not really appeal so we ended up going to Sabatini's, with four others from our roll call, which was excellent. Assortment of antipasto brought by the waiter, then a small plate with a dab of caviar if you wanted it. Then you had a choice of soup or salad. After that a round of three pastas are brought—like the antipasto served as a small taste of everything (three of the gnocchi, for example). Finally, your chosen entrEe and then dessert. And the service is really wonderful. Before dinner we had a cocktail in the Bayou bar, listening to Thelma's Trio. After dinner, we heard a couple of songs from pianist Larry Dunsmore in Crooners. Both were very enjoyable. We also substituted the night of the "Princess dinner" for dinner at the Bayou Cafe. The Bayou was fabulous, both food and service. The waiter suggested we start with a sampler plate of all the appetizers (shrimp and grits, gator ribs, oysters, and sausage). Then there was soup and salad. The entrees were all wonderful—especially the carpetbagger filet. The desserts were also great, but definitely too much after all the rest. Panama Canal, Panama: A few comments on this port as it's the point of the cruise. The ship was scheduled to go through the first lock chamber at Gatun at 0700 hours. Based on recommendations from previous CCers on Coral, we were at the "secret" deck on Caribe (there's another one on Baja—none on Dolphin) by a little past 0530. Which turned out to be way too early—although it was a lovely dawn enjoyed by just the two of us on deck! You really want to be on deck about one hour before scheduled lockage, which is the point at which the shop passes the breakwater to enter the canal area and the ship takes on the local pilot and commentator from the Panama Canal Authority. The lockage time for the Coral was delayed by 90 minutes, however, due to a ship making the transit from the Pacific having had mechanical problems, which backed everything up, meaning we had a very leisurely approach to the first set of locks. We had brought a split of champagne to toast our passage and did so when we entered the first lock, at about 0830 hours. Lots of fellow CCers around by that time to take our photo and for us to return the favor. Also following CCer advice, we spent the voyage through the first lock at the bow. Then after the gates opened and the ship moved forward to the second chamber, we hightailed it back to the stern (Caribe deck still) to get a completely different perspective. For the third chamber, we went back to the cabin, where our room service breakfast was awaiting so we could have our lox in the locks (and take obligatory photos of each other enjoying this treat). It was really a wonderful 360-degree experience doing it this way. The menu for Panama Canal night was "International" with Rollatine di Magro alla Caprese (Spinach and Ricotta crepes), Snapper Filet, Rainbow Trout, Leg of Lamb, or Surf and Turf (filet and shrimp). It was not very inspiring—would be another good night for alternate dining. For the day of Limon, it was "Italian night" including Pappaardelle al Sugo di Lepre (rabbit and noodles), Saltimbocca Baby Turbot (fish), Gamberi alla Fra Diavolo (shrimp flambe), Costoletta di Vitello Piemontese (veal), and Brasato di Manzo al Barolo. They were also cooking a pasta dish in the dining room and brought a small plate of that for the table to share. On deck afterwards, it was Island night. The Redskins were playing the Bears that night, so hubby went to see that on the big screen in the Explorer's Club. I went to see the production show, a tribute to Motown. Since the shows are all done by the same company, they all tend to look the same to me--but it's still hard to go wrong with music from Motown. Third sea day - After four port days in a row, today was all about relaxing. By the pool, in the thermal suite, on the balcony, etc. This was the second formal night of the cruise with the "Captain's Gala Dinner" proceeded by the Captain's Circle reception. Menu for the evening was Ravioli con Salsa di Funghi, Cold Water Barramundi in a Coriander Butter Sauce, Lobster Tail with two King Prawns, Royal Pheasant in Pan Juices, and Beef Wellington. We opted to do the Lobster (aka Ultimate) Balcony Dinner instead. We had reserved a date and time for this when we first boarded. The room service superintendent did not come by personally to go over the menu and take our order as other CCers had posted, but did have the menu delivered as well as the dining room menu so we could call him and decide what we wanted. We opted for the very tasty Captain's Bounty (a lot of different rums) and a Dr. No martini to start, had a glass each from the included split of Moet and Chandon champagne with the appetizers and salad (we had brought a corker and saved the rest for mimosas with breakfast on our last sea day), and a glass of Malbec we had brought on board with the entrEe. The crab starters were a little bland, so was glad we had chosen to just get one of those along with a seafood tian and a clams casino form the dining room menu for that night. The salad was lovely as were the lobster tail and filet. Dessert covered the table they had brought and set up on the balcony—cheese and fruit plate, three mousses, and the plate of pastries and cookies. There was also a cake as we were celebrating my DH's birthday. Way too much. Good thing we had our handy ziplocks—we ate parts of that dinner for the rest of the trip and finally ate the cake when we got home. (There were also canapEs to start—along with the daily suite canapEs and the chocolate-covered strawberries for formal night. Skip your canapEs if you order this as they are all the same.) A ship's photographer showed up with the two waiters from room service and took a lot of photos inside and out. Apparently we weren't very good subjects, however, as only four were available to review at the photo gallery (you have to ask for them at the counter). Unfortunately, the ones from outside did not come out well—it was too windy. Still, a wonderful time was had by all. Dinner after Ocho Rios was the "Chef's menu" including crab legs and lamb. The crab legs were very good and they would bring extras if you asked for them—or even if you did not, which is what happened to us. Fourth Sea Day: We finished knocking around the ship, filled out "You made a difference cards" and put together tip envelopes (on top of the auto tip) for those who delivered excellent service, played trivia, ate, and treated ourselves to a couple of specials in the spa. (I followed CCer advice and began my appointment by telling my therapist that "I have tons of products at home. I will tip you extra if do provide service for the full time and you do not pitch products." Either it worked for me or I just lucked into two spa staff who were not into the product game as I had zero hard sell. DH did not follow the advice and got a push for $300 worth of stuff he had to have to protect his skin in shaving according to the very pushy staffer he had.) Then it was time to pack, meet some of our CC friends for cocktails and another wonderful dinner in the Bayou Cafe, and then late-night entertainment with Larry Dunsmore in Crooners. (He's a wonderful pianist and singer from the UK. He will be moving to the Golden next year.) The dinner in the dining room was the "Landfall menu" but I forgot to even look at the menu. Princess does now charge slightly higher daily hotel fees for minis and suites ($11 versus $10.50) but I know CCers believe you should still tip extra in a suite based on the extra service provided by the cabin steward. We felt ours provided only the most basic service, however, and he failed to respond to a couple of what seemed to us to be reasonable requests—like the ones for deck chairs as our neighboring suite had. So we only tipped him an extra $20 over the autotip. We did write a note to his supervisor advising him of our thoughts. We also provided extra tips to the head waiter in the Bourdeau dining room, Catalan from Romania, and to the two teams of waiters and assistant waiters we had a couple of times (we requested their sections again after the first times)—Silvio (Romania) and Birgitta (Hungary) as well as Pietro (Italy) and Raul (Argentina). Disembarkation—the saddest day! We pulled into Ft. Lauderdale between 0630 and 0700. The disembarkation information asked everyone to vacate their cabins by 0800. We grabbed our last latte and fresh brewed coffee (using our "Jack of Java" card, which still works on "cash only" disembarkation day and that was punched only for the specialty coffees, not the fresh brewed at La Patisserie, and our handy thermal mugs) and headed to the Province dining room for breakfast. By the time we were finished, our tag color/number had been called. The immigration and customs inspection lines were running a little slowly, but we were still off the ship and off to the airport by 0900. After clearing customs it was a fairly short walk to the taxi waiting area and there were lots waiting—no problem finding one at all. Overall, a great itinerary, a wonderful captain and crew, a beautiful ship, and a great bunch of new CC friends. We put down a deposit on a trip on the Royal next year with six of our new friends from the trip and look forward to a similarly fabulous time. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Background Information We traveled on Coral Princess for it's Christmas Cruise. The ship usually does the Panama Canal or Alaska itineraries. We were 9 people in total. Dh, myself and our 3 boys (13,11,8), SIL and her 2 kids (7,5), ... Read More
Background Information We traveled on Coral Princess for it's Christmas Cruise. The ship usually does the Panama Canal or Alaska itineraries. We were 9 people in total. Dh, myself and our 3 boys (13,11,8), SIL and her 2 kids (7,5), a and MIL. MIL/SIL travelled to Fort Lauderdale the day before we left and stayed at our house, which is half an hour from Port Everglades. Embarkation was uneventful. It was easy and organized. The ship was a great size for us. It is large enough to have lots of stuff to do and not so large that we were overwhelmed with the size of it. We especially liked the Card Room where there are lots of games and tables set up for families. The kids loved playing games after dinner. The kids all used the kids/teens club. There were alot of different activities for the kids. My boys especially enjoyed the casino night, guitar hero tournament, and karaoke. There were lots of crafty activities for kids who enjoy that sort of thing (not my kids). They have ice cream most afternoons, which is free. You have to pay for the ice cream at the ice cream bar. Neither SIL nor I force the kids to go to the kids club. They liked it and went for the activities that they enjoyed. Kids between 8-12 can sign themselves in and out if their parents give them that privilege. Parents can change their permission any time they like. We gave our kids walkie talkies and told them they had to let us know if they were leaving the kids club so we could find them. Teens can come and go as they like. There are organized teen activities that the kids can join any time they like but they don't sign in or out. The teen lounge is an area where the teens go to hang out/meet people and play video games. My son went there every night to meet up with other teens. Sometimes they did the organized activities, other nights they did their own thing. He kept in touch with us via walkie talkie. We had outside balconies. They were nice. I think they are pretty standard cabins. Everything was nice and clean and the room steward was very attentive. We enjoyed the adult areas of the ship very much. When the kids were busy doing their own thing we sat by the adult pool and relaxed and read our books. It was air conditioned so it was nice to get out of the heat. We live in FL so we have no need to be in the heat all the time. The adult pool is nice because it has the feeling of being outdoors, but is air conditioned. Service on board was excellent everywhere we went. Our waiter (Vicente) and his assistant (Art) were excellent and attentive. They were really nice to the kids and handled the inevitable special requests that come with five kids with grace. There were always plenty of cocktail servers and servers in the buffet at lunchtime. We thought the food was excellent in the dining room. I didn't have a single bad dinner all week. The food in the buffet was better than expected. There was a special type of food every lunchtime and some were excellent (loved the sushi). My SIL and son used the gym every day. They said it was pretty standard. Entertainment on board was uneven. Some of the comedy shows were awful and others were terrific. The hypnotist was great, and the magical comedy show was cute. The shows we went to were all appropriate for the kids and the kids really enjoyed the shows they attended. They opted for the kids club most nights though. We did not book any shore excursions through Princess. In St. Thomas we took a cab to the beach. In St. Martin we booked a "Pirate Ship" excursion on our own. In Princess Cays we rented some snorkel equipment (from Princess) and had alot of fun snorkeling. Princess Cays was a tender port. We had to wait on line for our tender tickets but after that the tender process was uneventful. Disembarkation was organized. Much better than our last 2 Carnival cruises. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Quick background: Our group - 6 to 12 persons - have been taking an annual 10 day cruise for some years now. Itinerary, availability and sailing dates are the deciding factors so we have been on various Celebrity, Princess, and Holland ... Read More
Quick background: Our group - 6 to 12 persons - have been taking an annual 10 day cruise for some years now. Itinerary, availability and sailing dates are the deciding factors so we have been on various Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America ships. We have topped 100 days on these Premium or at least near Premium lines by now, mostly originating from Fort Lauderdale and have a decent perspective on the relative merits of these types of cruises. We recently returned from a 10 day Panama Canal cruise. Aruba, Cartagena, Panama, Costa Rica, Ocho Rios on the Coral Princess. The word for this cruise was - uneven. Some great, most OK, and some remarkably poor. Embarkation: Great. Arrived at peak time and found no lines, no having to wait to reenter data previously entered. The on-line boarding pass process worked. Ship entry: OK. No provision to greet passengers or direct them to rooms. Just sort of got dumped into to ship to fend for ourselves. The luggage only arrived at room five hours after boarding. Cabin: Balcony Cabin on Baja deck was clean and a decent size. The general sense of the overall service was competent but in no way special, indulgent or fawning. Think Holiday Inn not Ritz Carlton. My take on the reasons for this are threefold. 1) Tip is automatically added to bill. $ 10.50 / day plus 15% on all bar tabs. This reduces the motivation to go above and beyond. 2) Crew demographics. Large Eastern European contingent who are by nature less effusive and demonstrative than folks from other areas of the world. English skills and/or listening skills were also occasionally wanting. My wife always asked for 'water with no ice' and inevitably got a full glass of ice. 3) Newness of crew. There seemed to be many new crew members with a lot of the job training going on. In fact that the Captain kept reassuring the new crew members that the ship was safe even in rough sea during his announcements. Speaking of which, we had some very rough seas - 15' waves, 45 mph winds across the beam for 3 sea days. The ship was rock solid and barely pitched and really didn't roll at all. Excellent ship for those who tend towards sea sickness Ship has plenty of areas to find one's own little niche. Exception was the pool area on sea days, no chance of getting a deck chair after about 9:00 AM. Public rooms were fine. Basic layout opposite from that of other ships - Food buffet in front of ship and gym / spa in back of ship. Spa/Gym in front and buffet / bars in back is much better. There was no place to sit out and have a drink and watch ship depart ports. No clubs / bars overlooking the sea. Late night club DJ was a really arrogant dope. As soon as dance floor was full he'd switch genres and the floor cleared out. Played the same song set for 10 days. Who knew that Kanye West's Golddigger could qualify for both 'Retro night' and 'Country night'? Gym was the worst one I've seen, almost an afterthought. Other ships offer sweeping views of the sea and a tv on every tread mill. This one was small, poorly laid out, with older machines and offered a fine view of the ping pong table and deck chairs. As an aside, we noted that the Pilates classes were all sold out when we boarded. This isn't our thing but it would be annoying if it were. Everybody knows that food on cruise ships is more about volume and variety than any kind of absolute quality. And the nature of the beast doesn't lend itself to hot food, be it temperature or spice With that said the food was good cruise quality cuisine. The variety on the buffet was outstanding, the dining room food was solid. The worst meal was in the premium Bayou Cafe. One of our steaks was inedible, the side dishes were barely warm and the entire experience was painfully slow. Reservation at 8:00, first food at 9:15, dessert at 10:45 - that is correct - 10:45. We like the routine of fixed seating time. Being able to establish a relationship with the wait staff is part of the fun. Our team was good. The assistant waiter was totally over his head, and generally unskilled, but as nice as could be. Entertainment was excellent. The musical shows were all good, except that the stage in the theater kept breaking, causing the show to stop or have to be modified on the fly. Cruise Staff was appropriate to the the type of cruise audience. The Cruise Director was the least annoying one we've seen in a long time. Captain was very active and communicative. All were friendly. Internet service was slow and mindbogglingly expensive. Find an internet cafe at the ports for a much cheaper way to scratch the e-mail itch. We do our own thing at ports so no comment on the ship tours, except that we usually ended up at the same places the formal tours did and we paid $15 to do what the ship charged $50 to do. Bottom line - a nice vacation was had, weight was gained, sights were seen, but we may be getting 'cruised out'. We'll try Costa next year and see if this CCL brand is all about Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We live north of Tampa and drove the 5 hours to Ft Lauderdale on the 5th of January for the 6th departure out of Port Everglades. On our September Caribbean Princess Cruise we stayed in the Embassy Suites near the port for something just ... Read More
We live north of Tampa and drove the 5 hours to Ft Lauderdale on the 5th of January for the 6th departure out of Port Everglades. On our September Caribbean Princess Cruise we stayed in the Embassy Suites near the port for something just under $150 per night for two. This time of the year this hotel wanted close to $340 for a night so we opted for the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton right on I-95 about 30 miles north of the port for a nightly rate of $136. We like the Embassy suites because of the two room suite floor plan and the fully cooked to order breakfast for two. We drove to the Port and discovered that, because the departure date was on a Sunday that the Coral Princess was leaving from Terminal 19 instead of Terminal 2. We parked the car in the mid-port garage instead of the north garage near Terminal 2. That was a bit of an error because, since the Coral Princess came into Port Everglades on a Wednesday, and since there was nothing docked at Terminal 2, they docked at Terminal 2. In retrospect I would have dropped the wife and bags off at Terminal 19 and driven back to Terminal 2 to park, then taken taxi back to Terminal 19, recovered the wife and carry-on bags and boarded the ship. More later. There doesn't appear to be any reason to get to the port much before 1:30 as the crowd is mostly gone by that time and the boarding process is much easier. Having said that, we boarded at around 11:30 and our bags were in the room by 1:00. We were having lunch in the Horizon Court on the Lido Deck by 12:30. The boarding process was the usual Princess no problem and without problems. My wife had gone through major surgery in the fall and we had requested wheelchair assistance in boarding expecting it to end as we arrived on the Plaza Deck. She was taken from the check-in line all the way to the stateroom by a crewmember. What a grand surprise. Not enough can be said for the leadership and example set by Captain Stfano Ravera. Princess should be proud to have him as a Captain and his crew seemed to have the utmost respect for him. Every announcement he made to the passengers also included his "ships company" When not needed on the command bridge, he spend a fair amount of his time "managing by walking around". He spent a fair amount of time talking with passengers, but at the same time he seemed to go out of his way to talk with the crew, especially the wait staff, buss people and deck personnel. The net result for us was a crew who seemed to really care for the passengers and went out of their way to be of assistance. We had been on the Caribbean Princess in September and the crew seemed quite distant, almost to the point of being disinterested. The Horizon Court on the Coral seemed to be less of a disaster than the same buffet on the Caribbean Princess. For the reasons stated above, the staff on the Corat was head and shoulders above that of the Caribbean Princess. On the CB you almost had to trip a staff person to get coffee or juice at breakfast and iced tea at lunch. On the Coral they were almost fighting amongst themselves to get to you with that first cup of joe and juice and it kept coming until you said "uncle". They are a well managed group. The DW was really impressed with the Mexican Buffet and we both gained tons of weight on the last day dessert buffet. There was so much Kirschwasser in the Black Forest cake that if you consumed two pieces you would likely have gotten a DUI had you been driving home. We had a mini-suite on the Baja deck forward. Our steward, Reynaldo Dela Cruz was the best we have ever had on a cruise. We are only on our third cruise since June of 2007, but we have traveled a lot all over the world and Rey was an incredible service person. When he knocked on the door shortly after we joined the ship, he mad sure to tell us about the "secret" door on the Caribe Deck of the Coral Princess. On both the Caribe and the Dolphin Decks of the Coral (Decks 10 and 11) there are doors marked do not enter at the forward end of the passenger areas. If you ignore those warnings and proceed to the next door you come out on a private forward viewing area just below the floor of the command bridge. Since this was a Panama Canal cruise, these areas were perfect to view the passage through the locks. The only negative on the entire cruise was a 20 minute delay for fresh ice mid-afternoon in port at Montego Bay when Rey was off for the afternoon and room service seemed to be understaffed. Not a big deal and proof that excellent can never be absolutely perfect. We are not big port tour people. Sometimes the best times on the ship are port days when the pools and other areas are not overcrowded. We met and talked to some very nice folks on port days. That doesn't mean that we did not go into the ports as we did, but, for the most part, were back on the ship by 11:30 a.m. Aruba caught us for a watch, we should have gone into Cartagena and will do so the next time. The Colombians at the cruise terminal could not have been nicer or kinder. Cristobal terminal seemed to be wrapped around loud local music and naked natives. Limon, once out of the terminal security was not very comfortable to be walking around alone. Montego Bay also had some very nice local folks in the cruise terminal area. We chose any time dining. This was our second Princess cruise and our second any time dining experience. We now have 17 days of any time dining under our belts and 7 of fixed dining. Anytime wins hands down over fixed. We have met some incredible folks at anytime. We typically would go in to the dining room between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. for dinner. We sought out the Bordeaux dining room greeter and maitre d' and said that we would share a table any time so long as it was at least 6 to 8 people and so long as we were not the last two people to fill in a group of 6 or 8 who were travelling together and we would be the lone rangers with them. They were wonderful in meeting our expectations. While we did have three of the same couples who were at our table on consecutive nights (not a problem) we did manage to mix it up so that we would up meeting something in excess of 50 or 60 people on the ship we might have never met before. We can honestly sat that between the Coral Princess and the Caribbean Princess cruises we have yet to have a bad dinner table in 17 nights. Highly interesting people, dinner conversations and memories for years to come. Compared to our one experience with fixed dining, there is no way we would sail on a cruise line that did not offer anytime dining. Our waitstaff in the Bordeaux dining room was very attentive and professional every night we were there. The food was generally quite good. A couple of nights the menu seemed a bit bland. We chose to eat at Sabatini's and chose off the "always" menu the other night. We never seemed to make it to any of the late shows. We usually spent our entertainment times listening to the piano melodies of Ron Coleman in the Bayou Cafe bar or Thelma's Trio in the same venue. Ron is an incredible "by ear" pianist. It is tough to play stump the band with him for he must have several thousand tunes committed to memory. Sadly, he has left the Coral Princess to go back to New Zealand for a short bit only to re-appear on the Island Princess in the Alaska trade in May. Coral's loss and Island's gain. Thelma's Trio are also a group with an amazing range of nice easy to listen to music. Every thing from the great American Standards to Samba and Bossa Nova. The pizza and grille kept you filled up if you chose not to partake of the Horizon Court buffets. The pool deck waiters and waitresses kept you as well hydrated as you desired in a non-pushy way. The gym was reasonably well equipped and certainly very accessible on port days, and in the mid-afternoon on sea days. You must do some exercise given the quantity of food and drink available. Everyone should do a full or partial transit of the Panama Canal. It is a very special cruise experience. We got up early and visited the forward viewing area during the initial transit. We then returned to our cabin for an 8:45 Champagne Balcony Breakfast. Wonderful way to watch the final lock transit from your balcony while munching on smoked salmon, quiche, pastries, bagels, fruit and sipping a split of French champagne. This was a wonderful cruise, we would repeat it again. A couple of tips. Watch for the two days where they offer a $20 bargain on a bag of laundry. If you can fold, roll or crunch it up enough, they will was the whole laundry bag from the closet for $20 and they offer this deal twice on the cruise. Try both of the wine tastings on the ship. The first is Tuesday and is $15 each, the second is the last sea day and is $25 each. The second one has nicer wines and canapes but both are great was to meet folks on board. We did opt for Sabatini's one night. A great feast, come hungry and go away searching for the Tums bottle, not because of bad food but simply too much food. A wonderful experience. The Coral Princess is a wonderful ship. It is just enough smaller than the Grand class ships to be more manageable to get around and find things easily. With Captain Ravera moving on to the Pacific Princess and taking over the world cruise, the new Captain Michele Bartolomei (the former Staff Captain of the Coral Princess) will inherit a very well motivated and friendly crew. Hopefully he can continue the fine job that Captain Ravera has done with his "Beautive White Lady" and her excellent crew. They are a true shining light in the Princess family. Getting off the ship was the usual Princess smooth move. We went to the Universe Lounge at 8:00 a.m. and were looking at our bags at 8:20 a.m. The only glitch was the fault of the Port Everglades folks and the Customs people. We came in on a Wednesday. There were too few porters, those that were there, didn't want to deal with you if you had something to declare because there were delays at customs. Not a pretty sight. You really can't blame Princess because they are dealing here with local government and people who they don't control or employ. They did arrange for transportation back to the mid-port garage with your luggage to get your vehicle if you had parked there, but I still think they could have given advance notice on the potential to come back into terminal 2 and done the transportation at the other end to simplify arrival logistic for those passengers who drove to, and parked at the cruise terminal. Even with all the logistics we were still on the road to Tampa by 9:30 so there isn't too much to complain about. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We drove to the dock and thought we were leaving from Terminal 2, but went out of Terminal 19 instead. We parked in the parking garage at the terminal. Embarkation was a breeze, and the only delay was a short line at the security ... Read More
We drove to the dock and thought we were leaving from Terminal 2, but went out of Terminal 19 instead. We parked in the parking garage at the terminal. Embarkation was a breeze, and the only delay was a short line at the security checkpoint. We booked in an ocean view obstructed cabin and got "upgraded" to a handicapped room which was spacious. We had 3 couples with us and our room became pre-dinner drinks and frivolity location. We had sailed the Coral to Alaska before and found her to be the same great ship as before. It is a nice size ship with spacious public rooms. We have always liked the layout of the Princess ships we have been on finding them easy to get about on. This cruise had 4 days at sea and we had perfect weather for the whole cruise. We enjoyed the wrap around promenade deck for our daily walk, the ballroom dancing classes led by Dallas and Kaylea, the decks (14 and 15) on the back of the ship by what is called the Family Pool ( small but fairly unused). This cruise had an older crowd that the comedians and cruise entertainment staff frequently commented on. There were very few children and hardly any teenagers at all. I also enjoyed the guest lecturer that was on board. He was Dr. Wheeler from U Calif Sacramento and spoke to large crowds about the Panama Canal and the whole geology of the Caribbean Sea. We had anytime dining and found it to be just fine. The first night we were sort of unnerved as they couldn't seat our party of 8 together without a 45 minute wait. Every night after that it was just fine and we ate between 6:00 and 7:00. The food was fine, but not quite up to what we recalled from our last voyage on the Coral. We had no specific complaints, but it there were a couple of strange offerings that some of us had to send back and ask for a different entree. An example was the flying fish which did not look like a fish at all, and I am a cruiser who orders the fish most nights. We went to the Horizon Court for breakfast and lunch almost every day. Personally, I do not like to spend the time in the dining room with so much going on, and I feel like I am wasting time in the dining room. During breakfast and lunch primetimes it did get a little difficult to find a table in the Horizon Court The entertainment was very good. One complaint was that they did not seem to understand the BCS College Football Championship game was happening on Monday night. When they finally decided that they could actually get it, they beamed it into staterooms only......told us the Explorer's lounge was booked (karaoke). It was just as well as OSU got humiliated again anyway. The Princess singers and dancer production shows were great, and the guest performers were too. You had to get to the theater at least 20 minutes before show time if you wanted to sit together with friends. If there is any complaint about the Coral, it is the Universe Lounge. The sight lines are extremely poor. At least half the seats are blocked by the people in front of you, or by pillars. The other area we wished was better was that the shops on the ship are few and uninspiring. Not that we want to shop on the ship all the time, but it is nice to wander the shops before and after dinner. Ports: Aruba: It is a beautiful island that you feel very safe on, and you are not constantly hassled by vendors. On this cruise, you are just not there long enough. It is 7:30-8:00 before you get off the ship and you have to be back on by 12:30pm. We rented a van and went out to the California lighthouse, and stopped at the beaches on the way back. Well, I guess that just gives us reasons to go back. If you want to rent a car, you do not have to reserve one. They are there right as you walk off the ship. The ship docks right downtown. Cartagena, Columbia - As the city appears on the horizon, tall slender white high rises appear. The city is a lot bigger and more modern than I assumed. The old city is marvelous, with narrow walking streets, colorful building, lots of history, and an absolutely beautiful main square. We first went to the Fortress, which is very impressive. You are greeted by vendors who are very aggressive, but they can be ignored as long as you don't make eye contact. Once in the Fortress, they are not permitted. We then went to the Slave Dungeons which have been turned into shopping areas. It is a very colorful experience and then we went off to the old city. This was a Princess Cruise line arranged tour, and all went very well. The Canal - I got up at 4:30am and by 5:00am had secured two chairs in front row center of Deck 14. Great place to watch the trip thru the Canal. It was sort of spooky when we approached in the canal as we were going very slowly and there were many cargo ships at anchor and we slipped through the maze. Coral Princess has some sort of special deal that they can choose when they go through (they told us the cost for the ship to use the canal was $244,000). The transit thru the Gatun Locks is very impressive and by about 9:30am we were at anchor in Gatun Lake not far from the last lock. We sat there for about 2 hours or so as passengers got tendered off the ship to take tours. About 1000 of the 2000 passengers took tours. We then went back out and down the three locks, which is equally as impressive. On the trip out I roamed about watching from various spots. The Coral Princess just fits in the locks....there is about a foot on each side. The ship then goes to Cristobal Pier. This was a pleasant surprise. The warehouse at the pier has been turned into a shopping area...One part is set up like a little town and there is entertainment with music and dancing. There is also a bar there and we all had a great time enjoying the music and the brews. Limon, Costa Rica - Not thinking Limon was going to be a great place to go out on our own, we all took tours. Three couples went on a boat tour thru the jungle. It was ok, but we had wished we saw more animals...one howler monkey, one sloth, one iguana, and a bunch of birds...but it was a nice day out. Then the tour takes you to a Del Monte banana plantation. One couple went to the volcano. The pictures of it are great, but it is a 3+ hour bus ride both ways and they didn't get back to the ship until it was almost ready to sail. The town of Limon is fairly dirty, with trash sitting all around. Not very impressive. There is a shopping bazaar right off the ship, but the aisles are really tight and the stock is more of same old same old. Montego Bay, Jamaica----Again we took tours...Guys went to the zip line tour and ladies to a plantation house. The zip line was a fun time. Those people that fear it need not worry. Folks of all ages were on our tour. The hardest part for some was one part where we had to walk uphill on a trail from one platform to another. The zipping was fairly easy and the guides do a good job of keeping people safe even as they are continually joking around. The ship docks some distance from the downtown area so if that is a destination, one would have to take a cab or a tour to get there. Right off the ship there is the remnants of a shopping area that is mostly abandoned. It looked like it had possibilities, but only about one shop was open. In general this was a great cruise. We were blessed with fabulous weather, fairly smooth seas, and a beautiful ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2008
Review - Coral Princess - Panama Canal - 2008-02-25 to 2008-03-06 This is my first posting of a review on cruisecritic.com. Your feedback is welcome! My partner and I booked a suite (C701 - Tahiti Suite) on the Coral Princess. This ... Read More
Review - Coral Princess - Panama Canal - 2008-02-25 to 2008-03-06 This is my first posting of a review on cruisecritic.com. Your feedback is welcome! My partner and I booked a suite (C701 - Tahiti Suite) on the Coral Princess. This was our 4th cruise and our 3rd on Princess. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the night before the cruise and stayed at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel and Yacht Club. This is virtually across the street from Port Everglades and within walking distance to Total Wine. We bought a few bottles to bring on board and had no problems. We showed up for embarcation around 14h00 and walked right through to check-in with our e-checkin boarding passes. Everything went smoothly and we were in our stateroom about 15 minutes later. We had requested that the beds be separated, but they were together forming a very comfortable queen. We decided to leave it. The bed was quite comfortable, but we asked our room steward, for an egg-crate underlay and top-sheet. The duvet was nice, but is nicer with a top sheet. This is not normal setup, but worth asking for. The ship sailed about 1.5 hours late as some passengers were delayed due to winter weather up north. The suite itself was nicely appointed and after having stayed in mini-suites previously, the full suite was well worth it. Furthermore, the perks that come with a suite, like free, unlimited internet access, daily hors d'oeuvres, a boutinere/corsage on the first formal night, a welcome glass of champagne, all the complimentary laundry and dry-cleaning/shoe polishing you want and a beautiful flower arrangement (that lasted the full 10 days), plus the many other amenities, really helped to offset the premium on the price. Muster station drill was painless and well done by the crew. It took about 20 minutes. Coral Princess, herself, was very clean and in excellent shape. Other than the lack of a Skywalker's Bar high on the stern, I really enjoyed this ship. We are in our 40's, and felt very young on board! The age demographic was a bit older, but it did not stop anybody from kicking up their heels and having a good time. However, the vessel became a virtual ghost ship after 23h00 every night. The first 2 days were at sea and offered a chance to de-stress. The first stop was Aruba. We did not take any tours, but did a walk-about and had a few relaxing drinks. Cartagena, Columbia was the 2nd stop and I really did not like it at all, although it is a beautiful city. We booked a private walking tour which was mediocre at best - caveat emptor. I have travelled to a lot of places, but I have never been hassled so aggressively or frequently as in Cartagena! It was very annoying and Columbia has a way to go if they want to increase tourism. Beware of the taxi drivers - we got ripped off! English can be a problem. The 3rd stop was the Panama Canal. It was an early rise and the ship entered the Gatun Locks on schedule. It was facinating! Coral Princess has two public decks that are not widely advertised. There exists access to forward and aft decks on the Caribe and Dolphin decks. Obviously, not too many people knew about them as there were very few passengers there for the transit. The forward deck is the best one for observing the transit, and the aft one is just as good as you sail into the next lock. We booked a land tour with Princess to do a boat tour of the Canal. We were tendered and bussed for about an hour to the embarcation point. The small ferry continued through the Miraflores Locks to the Pacific and we then took another 1 hour bus ride back to Cristobal. It was nice, but was a bit of a cattle-ride and was expensive. The 4th stop was Puerto Limon, Costa Rica... by far my favourite!. We booked a private tour with www.okeydokeytours.com and our guide, Jose, was fantastic! I highly recommend them! We did a great 13-station zip-line canopy tour, a 1 hour horseback ride, and an eco-river tour. Lunch and beer were included and Jose even took us to a local grocery store to buy coffee and vanilla, which was much cheaper than at the tourist market. This tour lasted for about 6 hours and cost just $95.00 each... a much better deal than Princess had to offer. The owner of the company, Charlie Soto, even phoned us on Jose's cell phone to make sure we were being treated well. It was a class act! Day at sea... Ocho Rios, Jamaica... we were tired and went to Island Village for a few drinks. Day at sea... We got back in Fort Lauderdale and disembarcation was a breeze. Being suite-passengers, we were invited to the Wheelhouse Bar with the Platinum and Elite passengers to await our call. In general terms, we were extremely impressed with the crew, the food, the entertainment and the level of service. I really have no complaints and highly recommend that you consider taking this cruise or any other cruise with Princess. We purchased 4 future cruise credits on board, so you know where we'll be for the next few Canadian winters! I'm not sure if it was appropriate or not, but we tipped our steward $20 in advance on the first day, and again on the penultimate day. We received excellent service and ended up with a cute collection of "towel-imals" by the end of the cruise (I especially liked the "hanging monkey" on the 2nd last night!)". If you have any questions or want more detail, please ask. Happy cruising! Carl and Brett Halifax, NS, Canada Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
This was our 5th cruise, our 2nd on Princess. We were 3 couples, and none had seen the Canal before. This trip certainly lived up to our expectations. The Coral Princess is a beautiful ship, slightly worn, but very well taken care of. ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise, our 2nd on Princess. We were 3 couples, and none had seen the Canal before. This trip certainly lived up to our expectations. The Coral Princess is a beautiful ship, slightly worn, but very well taken care of. We had a balcony cabin on the Caribe deck, and it was more than satisfactory--small shower, but for 10 days you can live with it! Just don't drop the soap... We drove to Ft. Lauderdale from the west coast of FL. We arrived about 1:30 p.m. and were in our cabin by 1:50. Princess has the best embarkation we've found. After checking out our cabin, we went up to the Horizon Buffet for a light lunch (delicious--what a pleasant surprise). By the time we finished lunch and took a little tour of the ship, our bags were in our cabin. We unpacked, dressed for dinner, and met the other 2 couples at Crooners Bar. Crooners was our favorite bar the last time we cruised with Princess, and it quickly became the same this time. It's located in the center, at the atrium, and it's a great place to people watch. The staff there, Biljana, Venny, and Dante, were terrific. Great fun, good personalities, good servers! The staff everywhere on the ship deserves praise, as they all do their very best to please. Our cabin steward, Dino Seno, managed to get us everything we needed without even asking, and always with a smile. We saw several of the shows: a couple of singers, 1 of the production shows and all were enjoyable. Activities we participated in (bingo and trivia) were fun and well run. Cruise Director, Peter, was very good--his morning show, B.S. in the A.M. made me laugh every day.Dining on the Coral Princess was by far the best we've had on any cruise. We did a galley tour one day (if you get a chance, take this tour--it's great fun), and they told us the chef had won all kinds of awards, and it showed! Food was excellent in the dining room and buffet. If only Princess could clone this chef for all the other ships! We chose anytime dining, and we didn't have to wait one night. We dined at Sabatini's one night, which was very good, but more food than anyone should have to eat--course after course after course. If we ever go back (and I'd like to), before they even start to serve, I will limit the courses to 3! We also ate at the Bayou Cafe, and food and service were excellent there, too. We saw several of the shows: a couple of singers, 1 of the production shows and all were enjoyable. Activities we participated in (bingo and trivia) were fun and well run. Cruise Director, Peter, was very good--his morning show, B.S. in the A.M. made me laugh every day. Itinerary was: Aruba: We had just been there in November, so we got off the ship just to stretch our legs after 2 sea days and did a little shopping. Cartagena, Columbia: Got off the ship and found a local tour company to take the 6 of us to LaPopa Monastery(fantastic view), the Dungeons, which used to be just that, but are now shops. There must be 25 of them, but they're all pretty much the same, one after another. Had a little tour of the city, and our driver took us to a local restaurant for lunch. I'dlike to have seen more of this beautiful city but it was time to get back to the ship. My advice for those of you planning this trip: skip the Dungeons (or just have a quick look) and spend more time in the city. Panama Canal: This was the only bad spot in an otherwise great cruise. For whatever reason, Princess wouldn't let you get off the ship unless you took one of their tours. So we opted for the Domed Rail Car to the Pacific side of Panama. Big mistake. We are big fans of private tours, because you have control of the tour, and if you're tired or bored, you can say "take me to the ship". That's not possible on a ships tour, which generally has 40-60 people on a bus. Also, private cars and vans can get lots of places buses can't. And you can pick where you want to eat--not someplace where the bus driver gets a piece of the action. At any rate, this tour was a rail ride through vegetation (not always lush) with occasional views of water. It must only go one way (we still haven't figured out how it gets back--backwards, maybe?), because at the end of the line, there's a bus to pick you up. Since each of us paid $189 (total:$1,134) for the privilege of riding the rails and going back by bus, what happened next is even more outrageous. The bus they had for us had 45 seats, and the rail car tour had over 50 people. How this happened, no one seemed to be able to explain. Anyway, because we all wanted to stay together, we volunteered to go with another Princess bus tour that had been somewhere else and came to pick us up. The bus took us to a shopping center with a duty-free shop and not much else, although there was a gorgeous marina with fabulous yachts behind the shopping center. After about 45 min. we were loaded back on the bus and taken to the Pacific locks so we could see what we had already been through on the Atlantic side on the ship that morning. Trust me, the Pacific locks are exactly the same, no better, no worse. Because we were late getting through the Canal in the morning, the tours started later, and instead of shortening the tours (God forbid the tour operators didn't get their piece of the shopping activity!), they continued on as if we didn't have to be back at the ship by 6:00. Long story short (well, sort of), we gotback to the dock at 6:45 p.m. after sitting in their version of Los Angeles at rush hour. It ended up being a 3 1/2 hour bus ride from hell. Of course, because it was a Princess tour, the ship patiently waited. So a word to the wise: take one of the other tours if you must, but stay far, far away from the Domed Rail Car. It's overpriced, boring, and they don't know how to count. My advice would be to stay on the ship. For those of you with high blood pressure, definitely stay on the ship. Limon, Costa Rica: My brother & sister-in-law had made prior arrangements for a zip lining excursion, which they thoroughly enjoyed. Not being quite that adventurous, the rest of us opted to get off the ship and find a tour. After Panama, we were due to get lucky, and we did. Found a guy named Mario, who talks to you about what you can do, makes all the arrangements, takes care of payment, etc. We agreed to a tour with Jamar as our guide and Jamal as our driver. We had an air conditioned mini-bus that must have seated 10 or 12 all to ourselves. Great tour and even greater guide. Jamar is 16 yrs. old and looks like a model, although models don't generally have the personality he has! He gave us a tour of the city, then we went to the Tortuguero Canals for a 1 hr. boat trip (beautiful!), then a short stop at a banana plantation. About 4 1/2 hrs., at a cost of $35/person. Try that on a ship's tour! We were back on the ship and having lunch at 1:30. Ocho Rios: We made reservations on-line to go to Dunn's River Falls and tubing down the White River. It was one of the best excursions we ever took. For those of you who have never seen the Falls, it's beautiful and just worth a look even if you don't climb. Three of our party climbed and the rest of us chickens took pictures. Then the driver took us to the White River, where we all went tubing. They say it's the best kept secret in Jamaica, and I believe it. Recommend it highly, we all had a ball. No problems with disembarkation, although because we had driven over, we could take our time and let everybody else fight to get off! Overall, a wonderful cruise. Four of us put down $100 deposits toward our next cruise with Princess, so we must have been happy! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Just returned from a wonderful 10 day cruise on the Coral Princess. It was very relaxing and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We thought the food was good, the buffets very good. The entertainment fun. The magician was funny and very ... Read More
Just returned from a wonderful 10 day cruise on the Coral Princess. It was very relaxing and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We thought the food was good, the buffets very good. The entertainment fun. The magician was funny and very enjoyable. They played movies in the theaters some afternoons for those who did not go ashore. The best of all was the entry into the Panama Canal. I recommend that people take advantage of the delicious champagne breakfast they offer for $28 to enjoy while cruising thru the locks and into Lake Gatun. Delicious and well worth the price. We went on the coffee plantation excursion that included a Costa Rican lunch on the way back to the ship. This was so beautiful it took our breath away. I now know why people expatriate to Costa Rica...it is truly beautiful in the mountains. The Coral Princess is a beautiful ship that I thought was very understated in decor. It was tasteful, well designed and VERY CLEAN. I did take the advise of some of the CC board members who suggested that we ask for a top sheet under the duvet cover. Good idea. We had a min suite which we also had on our only previous Princess cruise. It was plenty big enough for all our things and even big enough to invite some folks in to have a drink. We stored our bags under the bed but there probably would have been room in the closet area. I recommend a mini suite if your budget allows. The extra room for over 7 days is worth the price. Two things I did not care for was the mattress was not very comfortable. It was not too hard, it had a dip in it that once you fell into it...you were stuck. My DH complained about it about night 4 so I took his side of the bed thinking maybe it wasn't all that bad. I was mistaken. I laughed so hard because once I got into it, it wasn't easy to get back out of. And I had heard that the mattresses had been replaced...can't imagine what the old ones were like. Also, though greatly improved the any time dining doesn't always work very smoothly. We did not realize that any time dining meant that you can make RESERVATIONS for anytime. That is very important to know as you MUST call an extension onboard each day to ask for the specific time you want to be seated. It resulted in a number of people being very unhappy as they jammed outside the Bordeaux dining room. Once you figure out the trick and IF you can get thru to the people at the ext you are to call (3463 I have it memorized from redialing it for up to 1.5 hrs and this is not what I call vacationing) it works. Other than the mattress and the business with the anytime dining we enjoyed our cruise. So much so that we reserved a future cruise while onboard. It is a very good option to consider. It is good for up to 4 yrs costs only $100 considerably less than normal for a deposit and you get progressively higher onboard credits for future cruises. A real win win. Again, this cruise was what we had hoped it to be and the Panama Canal is all we thought it would be an more. Be sure to see it sometime! AS far as excursions go reserve EARLY and I do mean EARLY. WE could not get very many due to the lack of space. So, we could not do some we really had wanted to. The good ones fill up fast and there were a large number that were cancelled. Not sure as to the why of it they just were. So, if you think you want to do one...reserve it. You can always cancel. 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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