Cruise December 14 to December 24, 2005 Embarkation Went smoothly and quickly. We boarded at noon and found no crowd as the cruise information implied by saying its smoother after 2:00 p.m. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and ... Read More
Cruise December 14 to December 24, 2005 Embarkation Went smoothly and quickly. We boarded at noon and found no crowd as the cruise information implied by saying its smoother after 2:00 p.m. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and overnighted there at a motel that provided transportation to the pier. Others who drove to the cruise parked at hotels/motels that they stayed at overnight where parking for the duration of the cruise was either at a nominal charge or no charge. For those who drove to the ship and parked in the garage, there was the inconvenience of leaving from Pier 2 and returning at Pier 21. Baggage delivery was terribly slow. Didnt get our bags until at least 6:30 p.m. -- we were at dinner in our jeans (hooray!). Others were not pleased also. Food We elected Anytime Dining in that we wanted the flexibility it affords. Generally, the breakfast and lunch food was good. Portions at breakfast, lunch, and dinner were adequate. At dinner, the Beef Wellington, lobster, baked clams (appetizer), and scallops were quite good, but my steak was tough and neither mine nor my wifes were cooked as we liked them, and the baked potato was not cooked. Service varied from meal to meal with the last breakfast being totally inefficient. The waiter didnt seem to be able to take more than one customers order at a time. Bayou Cafe: fillets not cooked appropriately, but nice size. Service was terrible. It wasnt crowded, but we had to continuously ask waiter for water. Others reported that they did not have the same problems (perhaps different staff on duty). Sabatinis: Absolutely excellent in all ways  food and service (well worth the extra $20/person). Horizon Court: Food below par at all meals, but was plentiful and many choices (many more choices than in dining room). Pizza bar is excellent and there is no extra charge. Paying extra for ice cream at the Ice Cream Bar is ridiculous. Free ice cream in the Horizon Court in mid-afternoon was available, but the scooper could have been used to scoop melons. Be careful of very slippery floor very early in the morning. Soft drink card for $39.50 is pricey. To this they added 15% for a gratuity (another indicator of the cheap attitude felt by even those who had cruised with Princess many, many times --- i.e., ever since it was acquired by Carnival -- another was our cabin steward saying that he is allotted only a certain number of chocolates for pillows). Formal Nights We were pleasantly surprised that there was a loosening of the requirements that men had to wear tuxedos, suits, or sport jackets in that I dont believe in playing dress up when on vacation. A pair of slacks for men and a shirt with a collar works for men and slacks and a blouse or a dress works for women. The crew, wait staff, etc. didnt give a hoot, but we did get some disparaging stares from snooty passengers. Too bad. Our money is a green as theirs. Amenities There are several antimicrobial liquid dispensers at the Horizon Court buffet. Would be a good idea to have it at all dining areas and when reboarding the ship. Bring you own laundry bag if youre planning on doing laundry. Laundry facilities good. Costs $1.00 for detergent, $1.00 for a wash, $1.00 for a dry. Bring quarters in that coin change machine might not work or be out of quarters. Be aware that slot machine tokens might be in the coins the change machines make. Theyll work in the laundry equipment, but are useless off the ship. Surprisingly, the cost for dry cleaning is not any more than youd pay in many cities (e.g., I had a pair of short dry cleaned and the price was $3.25). Would have been nice to have instructions printed on the laundry bag as to what to do with the clothes (i.e., turn it in where, give to cabin steward, or. . .). Too many attempts by photographers to take pictures that then are a rip off. If they say 8-1/2 by 11 pictures, theyre giving you the paper size. The picture is considerably smaller with maps and other material covering much of the page. Communication and Disabilities Communication is not a strong feature on the Coral Princess. In fact, its pretty bad. Incorrect information in the onboard publications (someone should help the writers with appropriate capitalization of words), including signage throughout the ship being less than adequate, information on the onboard TV not being accurate (insurance on purchases that applied to earlier cruises was broadcast throughout one day, but no one seemed to have a clue about it), and the requirement that you must carry picture ID when leaving the ship (not once were we asked for this, especially since the electronic system now in use has your picture displayed each time your boarding card is scanned). Also, would be a nice feature if the ship announced the weather forecast in addition to the condition of the seas. Ship was very accommodating to persons with motor disabilities (many wheel chairs, canes, walkers). Cabin Our cabin was on the Aloha Deck (Deck 12) and we had a balcony. Cabin was good sized with a very large closet and adequate drawer space. Bathroom was typical and shower size was OK (unless you weight 350 lbs  we dont). Two electric outlets next to each other on the desk and one in bathroom. Bring a power strip if you need more. Balcony adequate for two (two chairs and a table). Facial tissue: cheap brand and like sandpaper. There was no clock, but the wakeup call did work. Bring your own clock. The one on your cell phone wont work (duh!). The only problem we had with the cabin (it was amidships) is that it was below an area where they must have kept livestock in that there were hoof beats late into the night. A complaint to the pursers desk was ignored. Others said the same about the noise. Also ignored was our request to visit the bridge and we did not receive any notification one way of the other that was supposed to be forthcoming in writing. Ignored requests and complaints relates to the communication problem noted above. Written complaint about the Tulum tour (see below) did result in a letter of apology and a refund of a third of the price. Crew The strong point was that the young men and women from many countries who worked in numerous capacities (wait staff, clerks, maintenance, etc.) were delightful and most helpful. It was surprising to find that the maintenance department dispatched a worker to replace a flickering light with 10 minutes of the call. Cabin steward did his job. Entertainment We went to three shows (productions) and the magician (he did the traditional Transformation and also walking through a mirror). The production numbers had good themes and staging, but absolutely the wrong choice of music for the productions. Cast was generally good, except for one singer who screamed and was often off key. Piano player/singer in the atrium lounge was fun, good, and entertaining. Tours Montego Bay  Return to ship by 3:30 p.m.; ship scheduled to leave at 4:00 p.m. Actually left at 4:45 p.m. Should have provided later time before leaving to allow more time for tours. Impression was that Montego Bay is not the safest of places. Tulum  Knees in your chest buses. Box lunch horrible, including an apple that wasnt washed and chips with cayenne pepper. We didnt eat them at all. Our guide knowledgeable. Tulum itself was magnificent. Downside was on the return when there was a long wait to board the tender and no place to sit. Were sure that the idea is for you to be shopping along 5th Avenue. If there is time, we are told that two blocks away the prices are much more reasonable. Grand Cayman  enjoyed the half submarine and the turtle farm. Guide had worked at the turtle farm in the past and was most informative. Limon  same bus problem as Tulum. The poverty is striking. Makes one appreciate what one has. Buses on Panama Canal tour quite adequate. Promotional material in error in that its a 90 minute bus ride both to and from the tour boat. Promotional material gave the impression of a quick transfer to the tour boat from the Coral Princess, but instead it was a 90 minute bus ride (did get to see some of the countryside). Tour of the Canal was a fantastic experience. Overall Beautiful ship. Many friendly passengers. Crew excellent. Tours enjoyable (although the busses were uncomfortable at times and the tours through Princess were overpriced in some cases). Our goal was to experience the Panama Canal, to get a snapshot of some of the Caribbean, and to relax. The cruise lived up to those expectations and we enjoyed the experience. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
CORAL PRINCESS PANAMA CANAL October 30 - November 9, 2003 By Mary & Vincent Finelli This cruise began in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with a crescent moon and culminated in the Florida Straits with a total Lunar Eclipse. ... Read More
CORAL PRINCESS PANAMA CANAL October 30 - November 9, 2003 By Mary & Vincent Finelli This cruise began in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with a crescent moon and culminated in the Florida Straits with a total Lunar Eclipse. What happened in between is the substance of this review. There was nothing average about these ten days. From the first glimpse of the Coral Princess in port with her "gas turbine/diesel enviro engines installed above decks in the funnel, it is obvious that this ship is something different. When arriving in port our son Marcello asked, "are you sailing or flying?" This is an impressive, unique silhouette: polished steel structures, resembling jet engines, and steel stacks, perched atop a 15 deck tall ship! This ship, built in Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France, is 964 ft. long, her beam is a Panamax 106 ft, her height is 204 ft. and with a draft of 27 ft, her maximum speed is 24 knots. There are 987 cabins including 20 wheel chair accessible (sq. footage between 217 - 374); 89% of all cabins are ocean view and 83% of these have balconies. Passenger capacity is 1,970 and the crew numbers 900. She is still in her inaugural year having been launched December 2002. Registry, of course, is Hamilton, Bermuda. Since Princess is the union of two venerable lines: England's P&O (Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company) founded in 1840, and Italy's Sitmar Line established in 1913, her crews reflects these beginnings even today. When P&O purchased Sitmar in 1988, a new line emerged --- Princess. The Coral Princess' Captain Giorgio Pomata joined Sitmar in 1978, and has continued to serve on many Princess ships as Captain. Crew members and customs reflect the Princess' origins. The serving of High Tea in the Bordeaux Dining Room every afternoon at 3:30 pm accompanied by the Delphinus Strings contributes to her very English atmosphere. The continental manners of the top Italian crew members, like Passenger Services Director Carlo Gunetti, from whom a formal greeting is customary (Ladies .."a kiss on the hand is quite continental"), and Maitre d' Generoso Mazzone, who overseas the ship's dining venues like a virtuoso conductor, generate an atmosphere of elegance and efficiency. Whilst the very British Cruise Director Trevor Bradford handles the passenger activities with great aplomb. EMBARKATION Security was evident at Port Everglades when we arrived at 11:30 am. Embarkation started at noon. There were crew members on the dock to assist with the wheel chair and the pre entered data sheets helped to expedite the processing. The on board credit/cabin key card is a handy system. We were in our cabin within 30 minutes --- which is quite excellent. The expansive "Welcome On Board" Buffet was appetizing; however, we tend to avoid buffets, so we ate on Lido Deck 14 at the Princess Pizza (very crispy, thin and excellent). During embarkation, personnel were stationed at all elevators providing directions and a welcoming atmosphere. Our luggage was in our room by 1:30 pm. Very efficient! SHIP'S PUBLIC AREAS Passengers enter the ship on deck 5, into the Princess Plaza. The "Under the Seas " theme juxtaposes the Coral Princess' motto "Over the Seas." There are murals of crustaceans, black and white whales, and coral formations, as well as bubbling cylindrical glass fountains. A cascade of stainless steel flows down four flights from Deck 8, while an impressionistic stainless steel boat acts as a net for marine shapes and both are illuminated with changing colors. Each separate level of this four deck atrium affords areas for cocktails bars, coffee bars and entertainment. Plaza Deck 5 forward is the Bordeaux dining Room. This walnut wood paneled room has several very nice paintings, square walnut columns with brass trim and a ceiling with white twinkling lights over head. The Fili D'Oro linens used in the dining rooms are a nice touch. Midship is the Passenger Service Desk, Tour Desk and the Patisserie Coffee Shop, serving specialty coffees, teas and pastries. Then, there is a series of mostly outside staterooms and just a few inside cabins. Fiesta Deck 6 forward is the Provence Dining Room. Toward midship are the onboard shops and the entrance to the Princess Casino flanked by two red coated, beaver hatted, tall Buckingham Palace Guards. The Casino has carpeting depicting Beefeaters, Big Ben, among other London scenes. Among red painted telephone booths, passengers play Hyde Park Poker, Buckingham Palace Blackjack and other charmingly named games of chance. Going toward aft is the expansive Explorers' Lounge. It is off a wonderful corridor with windows to the sea and mosaic green, tan and white pillars forming a six arch arcade in front of the lounge. The carpeting depicts African animals, and the walls display several murals with exotic scenes (Asian, Turkish, Egyptian, Ethiopian, etc.). All the way aft on Deck 6 is the Universe Lounge with its wide, wide, revolving and elevating stage, which is a fitting place for on board extravaganzas. However, the brass rails on its upper level obstruct the view of performers. These are soon to be replaced with glass. Look for the interestingly lighted two deck bar in the rear. Promenade Deck 7 forward is the Princess Theatre. This simple, open room has a perfect view of the stage from every seat. Its walls are covered in gold and maroon suede. Go early or you may not get a seat. Walk toward midship to see the Wheelhouse Bar, a beautiful dark walnut paneled room with a huge brass and copper light as a centerpiece. The tables are drop leaf with brass fittings, brass wall sconces and dark green and brown leather furniture complete the decor. The carpeting is blue depicting continents, oceans and sailing ships. The walls hold many ship memorabilia and paintings of ships like the 1950 "Chusan" of P&O. The Wheelhouse corridor entrance is flanked by two wooden ship's figureheads: One a female in a black sarong and the other a naval officer with gold epaulettes. These evoke images of the South Seas. Mid ship is the Crooner's Lounge with pictures of the "Rat Pack" (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. etc...). Here you may purchase a martini in a Sinatra souvenir glass. There is also the Churchill Lounge where cigars and spirits can be enjoyed. Mid ship, on the port side is a beautiful wedding Chapel where couples may be married in international waters by the Captain. Going toward aft is Sabatini's, the upscale Italian restaurant, which in this class ships is larger and more elegant than the "Sabatini's Trattoria" of the Grand class ships. Then, there also is the Bayou Cafe with its brick walls, New Orleans Jazz and Cajun cuisine. All the way aft, on this deck, is the balcony of the Universe Lounge. Outside is the wrap around Promenade with lounge chairs for reading or watching the waves. Emerald Deck 8 has the Library, the Card Room and the Internet Cafe with world stock trade information, all of which are clustered around the central elevators. Then, both forward and aft are staterooms, some categories with balcony and some with obstructed view. Dolphin Deck 9, Caribe Deck 10, and Baja Deck 11 are all staterooms and suites, mostly with balconies and some inside cabins. Aloha Deck 12 is mostly staterooms with balcony and a few inside cabins, except for aft, where are located the Pelican Children's Pool & Playhouse (ages 2-7 yrs), the Fun Zone (ages 8-12 yrs) and the Off Limits Teen Center (ages 13 -17 yrs). As you can see the young people have their own well supervised facilities. Lido Deck 14 forward has the Horizon Court (24 hr) Buffet Restaurant seating 386, which is quite crowded at peak times. Outdoors are the Princess Pizza, Lido Bar, Lido Swimming Pool, three whirlpools, and the Haagen Daz ice cream bar. Towards aft is the Solarium Lotus Pool area with its retractable dome and a swim-against-the-current pool and two small whirlpools. Excellent before 9:30 am, when you may have it all to your self. The decor is relaxing: a statue of a young Buddha overlooks the pool and there is a white gazebo on the end. Aft is the Lotus Spa and the Fitness Center. Sun Deck 15 has a Princess Link mini golf course and the Golf Simulator with some of the world's most renown courses featured. It also holds the Outdoor Grill serving hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, etc.... Sports Deck 16 has a Splash Pool, a Center Court for sports with space for spectator seating, Shuffle Board and the Deck Chess Set. FOOD & SERVICE Passenger Services Director Carlo Gunetti has this ship running like a precise time piece: The service is fast and friendly. For instance, a screw broke on Vincent's wheelchair during boarding and Ronan Amaral, Jr. Asst. Purser, supplied us with a temporary wheelchair while he had Vincent's fixed over night. He was very helpful, and we appreciate his thoughtfulness. Throughout the ship we always received courteous and prompt service with a smile! The "Anytime Dining Program" means that there is more to do for the Maitre d' Generoso and the Head Waiters, since there is no longer a fixed time and table for many cruisers: thus, reservations and seating is an ongoing activity. We happen to recognize Head Waiter Pasquale Marino from previous cruises, but on the Coral he was magnificent. Generoso and his staff pleasantly greeted the passengers at the dining room door and outdid themselves in accommodating everyone's request in the best possible way. Moreover, the Maitre d' himself went from table to table assuring that everything was perfect. At Table #20 for two, we enjoyed some of the finest meals. At lunch, our waiter, Elisa Dumitrescu was always cordial and efficient as was the asst. waiter Sandor Lorincz. Every evening our waiters Gerardo De Leon and his Asst. Larry Gutierez were top notch. We know this wonderful service is mainly due to the instructions of Generoso and Pasquale. We surely received special attention. They helped us in selections from the kitchen and their recommendations were always excellent. Thank you for the many great delicacies. Bravi! The International Menu offers splendid choices; there is a lot of reading. We thoroughly enjoyed this Gastronomic Tour. Executive Chef Michael Borns, his Sous Chef Giuseppe and the Pastry Chef Cosimo (Sicily) did three "Culinary Demonstrations," two of which we attended. Princess Lines has three Corporate Executive Chefs, and seventeen Executive Chefs, thirteen of which are Italian, including our old friend Antonio Cereda. The gustatory delights we sampled were outstanding and here are some of our recommendations: SAILAWAY DINNER: Shrimp Cocktail; Cream of Porcini Mushroom Soup; Watercress and lettuce salad, and Nebraska Prime Rib. CAPTAIN'S WELCOME DINNER: Crab Quiche with jalapeno chili salsa; Capon broth, tortellini with minced chives; Mixed salad with arugula; Lobster Thermidor or Royal Pheasant with shallots and Parisienne potatoes. PRINCESS DINNER: Cold water Lobster & Crayfish Cocktail with sun dried tomatoes; Chilled Cream of Zucchini with William pear and blue poppy seeds; Endive salad with mushrooms and shallots; Roast Buffalo slowly cooked in Napa Valley Red Wine sauce with potato pancake and baby vegetables. FRENCH DINNER: Pate de fois de Strassbourg; Escargot Bourguignon (cooked in Bourdeaux wine); French onion soup; Mixed garden greens and radicchio with vinaigrette; Caneton Roti a` l'Orange (Roast duckling glazed with Orange Curacao sauce). ITALIAN DINNER: Prosciutto di Parma with melon; Eggplant Parmigiana; Pasta e fagioli; Salad of baby spinach, crispy bacon, pine nuts and Pecorino cheese; Pappardelle al Sugo di Lepre (Flat egg noodles with rabbit sauce). INTERNATIONAL DINNER: Baby leeks with smoked salmon in Champagne sauce; Won Ton soup; Salad of lettuce, tomato, avocado and red onion; Penne pasta with calamari; Surf & Turf of Filet Mignon and Jumbo grilled shrimp. CHEF'S DINNER: Green asparagus spears in warm tarragon butter sauce under puff pastry; Lobster bisque with Cognac; Salad of field greens, cherry tomatoes and shredded carrot; King crab legs or Rack of Lamb Dijonaisse with Brussels sprouts and garlic mashed potatoes and mint jelly. These menus do not list the "piece de resistance" DESSERT. There is such a variety, that we will only name a few of our favorites: * Swan puffs on a heart shaped lake of melted chocolate. * All of the SoufflEs, vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, hazelnut and their accompanying sauces. * Almond mousse with custard -- ooh la la! * Sorbets, sherbets and ice creams are all made on board and are delicious. * Pecan pie, apple pie, and pear tart --- do not miss them. * Dark chocolate mousse, heart shaped with Lady Godiva liqueur, Tiramisu and NY cheesecake are served every day. * Many fruits, international cheeses and delicate petit fours are served daily. The dining room staff are beautifully dressed every night: Nile green dinner jackets, Red, White & Blue cummerbunds with stars and matching ties. The Maitre d' Generoso looks spiffy in his pin stripe trousers and black cut away. Head waiter Pasquale was sharp in the white tuxedo with shawl lapels. What more can we say? As Executive Chef Borns said, "Food is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate." The English Rose dinnerware was the palette for the plating of excellent culinary masterpieces. We also dined in Sabatini's whose decorations were refined and lovely. The long parade of antipasti made the main course seem anticlimactic; however, we still managed to enjoy the veal chop and the fritto misto frutti di mare (mixed seafood, langostino, shrimp, scallops etc., etc...). This made for a very enjoyable evening, overlooking the sea with wonderful background music. CABIN Our Stateroom # C627, wheelchair accessible, has a double wide door and when entering on the left there is a triple armoire with two closets, and a third with shelves, and a personal safe. Next, there is a TV, and a desk/mirrored vanity with hair dryer, and two chairs. When entering on the right there is a huge bathroom with 5x5 ft. shower and many safety rails in the proper places. The triple mirror is nice, but the shelves are small. There is a queen bed, two four drawer night stands and an end table. The far wall is glass with the ramp and door to the double balcony. There was a large table and two chairs to which our terrific Steward Henry Sebastian added a chaise for Vincent. Henry was excellent in every way. Accommodations Supervisor Dorota Bak (Poland) visited us just to check if we needed anything. She was very courteous and we appreciated it. Thank you. ENTERTAINMENT The Coral Princess has many venues similar to the larger Grand class ships, but it is smaller and carries fewer passengers. The Princess Theatre Production shows were nicely staged, (but could use a sound check, since the decibel rate was too high at times). We preferred the Universe Lounge, where the Premier Season of "Tribute" was performed on the extra wide stage, while making good use of its rotation and elevation capabilities. The show was dedicated to music legends such as the following: the Beatles ("Hey Jude"), the Beach Boys ("California Girl"), The Rat Pack (Frank, Dean and Sammy were all highlighted), and finally Cher's "Believe" was saluted. The singers were terrific and the Princess dancers were energetic. The same cast performed "Da Beat" a Jazz/Swing piece. Most shows were staged twice to give cruisers a chance to see them. We especially enjoyed Tony Cherry, a singing impersonator, who did a memorable Tom Jones and other imitations. The "Princess Patter" lists all daily activities, plus has a column from the Ship's Navigator which is informative both historically and geographically. It also gives the current ship's position. Other activities were Trivia, at which we each won 5 gold medals and 6 silver for Mary and 7 silver for Vincent. There is also line dancing, Bingo, horse races, and daily movies (i.e. "Bruce Almighty," "Alex and Emma," "Plots with a View,"), etc. The Princess Scholarship Program is new and offers the following classes: Pottery, Digital Photography, Building Wealth Investing, and the Princess Grapevine wine tasting. All of the above is under the stewardship of the affable Cruise Director Trevor Bradford, and he is up to the task. Princess also has a Captain's Circle Program which has many benefits for repeat cruisers. On board Host Nicola Fisher was helpful and explained many of the perks: a Quarterly, preferential pricing, stand by, platinum check in, on board events etc. It pays to return to Princess. We expect to return soon, since we have booked on board three future cruises! PORTS OF CALL Oct. 30, 2003 Port Everglades, Ft Lauderdale, Florida, Depart 5:00 pm Oct. 31, 2003 At Sea Nov. 1, 2003 Cozumel, Mexico -- Arrive: 6:59 am Depart: 4:26 pm Some of the available shore excursions: Tulum Mayan Ruins, 7 hrs, $94; New Waves Scuba Diving, 2.5 hrs, $75, for beginners. Nov. 2, 2003 Grand Cayman -- Arrive: 10:00 am Depart: 6:36 pm Island Highlights & Stingray Sandbar Snorkeling, 4.5 hrs, $64; Atlantis Submarine Odyssey, 1.5 hrs, $86. Nov. 3, 2003 At Sea Nov. 4, 2003 Limon, Costa Rica -- Arrive: 6:27 am Depart: 6:56 pm The Jungle Train, 3.5 hrs, $49, a ride through the lush rain forest; River Rafting, 7.5 hrs, $99. Nov. 5, 2003 Panama Canal -- Arrive: 5:46 am Depart: 7:26 pm One hour and 42 minutes to traverse the Gatun Locks; Cruising in Gatun Lake (the world's largest man made lake), There was a a perfect rainbow off starboard side, which we saw from our balcony as we ate breakfast; We arrived at Colon's Cristobal Cruise Terminal at 4:06 pm, but were not allowed into the city because of political demonstrations. There is great shopping on the pier (coffee, T-shirts, Panama hats, etc...) Nov. 6, 2003 At Sea Nov. 7, 2003 Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- Arrive: 12 noon Depart: 4:18 pm Prospect Plantation & Dunn's River Falls, 4 hrs, $62; River Tubing Safari, 3.5 hrs, $69. Nov. 8, 2003 At Sea Nov. 9, 2003 Port Everglades -- Debarkation: 9:00 am SUGGESTIONS 1. During the Welcome Aboard Buffet, at the Horizon Court some crew should direct the passengers to the various food stations thus minimizing the long line formed at the first station near the entrance. This long line occurs mainly on the first day, when new passengers are unaware of the several food stations which can be accessed independently. 2. At the Princess Theater the last row of seats and the area behind it should be reserved for people with wheelchair and those with limited mobility as well as the persons accompanying them. The reserved area should be supervised by a theater attendant before the beginning of shows. CONCLUSION Princess remains one of our favorite cruise lines. We are now Platinum Members of the Captain Circle, the Princess "Frequent Floaters" Club. We have already booked with Princess three future cruises; however, before we'll be back on a Princess ship, we must complete the next three cruises in the near future: The Southern Caribbean on the new Serenade of the Seas, Dec. 6 - 13, 2003; the Western Caribbean on the new Costa Mediterranea, Jan. 11 - 18, 2004; and the W. Caribbean again on the new Mariner of the Seas, Feb. 22 - 29, 2004. As you may have noticed we love cruising and we especially favor new ships, which we can first explore and write about. We plan to write reviews of our next cruises, so look for them at the appropriate time. We wish you Great Holidays and Happy Cruising! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
Just got back from an amazing adventure. We sailed from Ft Lauderdale round trip, passing through partial Panama Canal. Our stops were Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, Panama and Jamaica. We were at first very sad that Colombia was ... Read More
Just got back from an amazing adventure. We sailed from Ft Lauderdale round trip, passing through partial Panama Canal. Our stops were Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, Panama and Jamaica. We were at first very sad that Colombia was cancelled because we have done Jamaica several times. But hey, better safety first. We loved our ship. It turned out most of the people were quite old, but we were there to enjoy each other so we didn't really care the age of the other passengers. They were all very nice and we were mostly just with each other. The ship has almost all balconies, our first. The room was a little larger than I remembered my other cabins on Princess. I loved the configuration and found room for everything. We ordered coffee each morning and sat on our balcony and "watched the waves go by". It was so peaceful. The food was as good as we remembered. I do not like seafood so it is more of a challenge for me to find something. I ended up eating a lot of beef. But everything was cooked perfect and my husband, who adores seafood, seemed to think he was in food heaven. He tried several new dishes and enjoyed each one of them. And the desserts. Don't get me started! I think we had souffle five nights!! We did think we were in heaven on the dessert issue. They are always amazed and how good they all are on every single night. We had great waiters that added to the enjoyment of dining. We chose to do shore excursions in Grand Cayman, Costa Rica and Panama. Anyone who loves to snorkel or just wanting to try needs to do it here. We snorkeled practically in front of the ship. But it was wonderful and I think better than Hawaii. In Limon we went on a Jungle Train. It was fun and informative. We wanted to do the Aerial Tram in the Rainforest but worried about the time. The only shopping is in front of the ship so go ahead and do a long excursion. Next time we will be in the trees. In Panama we watched a ship go through the locks and then took a boat around part of Gatun Lake and saw many kinds of monkeys. It was fun, but again, next time we will get a little braver and go on a larger excursion. Spend the money, you may never get back. The shopping for Panama and Limon was just in front of the ship but lots of great deals and fun to buy. We bought a little bit of everything. Did walk in to town in Limon to mail postcards but the shopping wasn't any better than by the ship. In Jamaica we went in, thinking of a little shopping and then back to the ship. Well, I ended up getting a surprise from my husband. He bought me a diamond and a ring to have it set into. What a surprise that was. Guess everything happens for a reason and there was a reason for us to return to Jamaica. Told you it was a romantic cruise!! I can't wait to return to visit the Panama cruise and this ship. Coral Princess was wonderful. It had all the other "usuals" for a ship, the bingo, games and gambling but we didn't make it to any of them. They had the Wheelhouse Bar hopping with excitement every night that looked fun, but by the time we ate and raced to all the entertainment, we just didn't have the energy. But whatever you are looking for, I am sure you would find it here. Coral Princess is a 5 star ship for me. Let me know if you have any questions. Jan Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Embarkation: The process of getting on the Coral Princess was very quick and efficient. We arrived at Port Everglades at around 11:20am and we actually were on board at 11:50am ! Upon arrival at Port Everglades, my guess is that there ... Read More
Embarkation: The process of getting on the Coral Princess was very quick and efficient. We arrived at Port Everglades at around 11:20am and we actually were on board at 11:50am ! Upon arrival at Port Everglades, my guess is that there were 200 to 300 people waiting to get inside the building. When the doors opened, everyone got inside and since there are 2 desks per deck, with 2 lines per desk, it went fairly well. When the lady behind the desk saw our golden Captain Circle cards, she said to us "Welcome back to Princess." I thought it was a gentle thing to say... After the security check, we went to the waiting room on the second floor. We then were able to board the ship (with the usual "welcome aboard" picture taken by the ships photo crew). Since I am the kind of person who thoroughly studies deck plans before going on cruise, I didn't need help to find our cabin (C427). But, for those who can easily get lost, there were many crew members all around the ship ready to help. Public rooms: Lets go from bottom (Plaza deck 5) to top (Sports deck 16). Plaza deck 5: When you enter the ship, you are in the Princess Plaza. It is a beautiful place with an open view of decks 5, 6, 7 and 8. There are 2 panoramic elevators. You will find there: the passengers services desk, the tour desk, the future cruises sales desk, la patisserie and the Captain Circle desk. There is also the Bordeaux dining room for those who have chosen the "personal choice dining" option. The first thing that I remember when I entered the place was its cleanliness. Everything shines. And under the stairs going to the upper decks, there are changing color lights. Very fascinating to look at... Compared with the atrium of the Sun class ships (Sun Princess and Dawn Princess), the atrium of the Coral (and Island) is a bit smaller. Therefore, when there are some special offers from the boutiques on deck 6 (with many tables out of the boutiques), there is not much space to move around, especially when you are there at the time when people are going out of the dining room or out of a show from the Princess theater or the Universe lounge. Fiesta deck 6: From bow to stern: you will find the lower section of the Princess Theater; the Provence dining room (for those with fixed seated dinner option); the 2 boutiques (Calypso cove and Meridian bay) in mid-ship around the plaza atrium; the Princess casino with the adjacent boutique "Facets"; the photo gallery and photo boutique; the Explorers lounge; the lower level of Universe lounge. The two dining rooms (Bordeaux and Provence) are almost identical to those on the Sun and Dawn Princess (I can't compare with those from the Grand class ships since we had never cruised on those before). If you plan to see a show in the Universe lounge, go to the lower level. In the upper level (on deck 7), the view is obstructed by the rails. I heard that Princess is planning to replace these rails with some kind of glass in the near future... Universe lounge is a great place with the three revolving stages. The shows there were magical and the sound system provides surround effects... Promenade deck 7: From bow to stern: there is the Princess theater; the Wheelhouse bar; the crooner's bar and Churchill lounge in the atrium part of the ship; the wedding chapel; the Princess fine art gallery; Sabattini's restaurant; the Bayou cafe; and finally, the upper level of the Universe lounge, and, of course, the wrap around promenade (1 mile = 2 7/8 tours). Comparing with the Sun class ships, I can say that the Princess theater est almost identical in size while the Wheelhouse bar is a bit bigger. At the back of the Wheelhouse bar (between the bar and the atrium), there is a little maritime museum showing many artifacts from P&O... It is quite interesting to see. Churchill lounge is the place of choice for those cigar smokers. And even with people inside, there is no smell outside the lounge. Now, about Sabattini. I highly recommend that restaurant ! You won't regret it. There is only one thing to know about Sabattini: when you plan to go there, don't eat two days prior to going there !!! Why ? Because you will have plenty of food and you will feel like you have to roll out of the restaurant... There is so much food there and it is so good, you won't believe it ! It took us 3 hours to eat our dinner. The 20$ cover charge per person is not exaggerated. At the Bayou cafe, you won't eat as much as in Sabattini, but it is absolute heaven ! Try the gator ribs ! Emerald deck 8: There is the internet cafe; the library and the card room. The charge for using internet is 0.35$ per minute, and it's free if you are a Platinum Captain Circle member. The internet speed is fairly slow, and sometimes, the satellite link cuts. On our cruise, it happened once and the internet cafe was closed for almost the entire day. You can not download things from internet since there is only a screen, a keyboard and a mouse. No pc's, no diskette drive or cd drive, no hard drive... There is a printer and if you would like to print something, remember that it is 1.00$ per page. The library and the card room are quiet places. Dolphin deck 9; Caribe deck 10; Baja deck 11: these are stateroom deck and there is no public area. Aloha deck 12: There is the fun zone and the Pelican playhouse. This area is for children and youngsters. Lido deck 14: From bow to stern: There is the Horizon court (identical to the Sun class ships); the lido bar; the lido pool and 3 spas; the Lotus pool and 2 spas; the Lotus bar; the Lotus spa; the gym. This is the place where people go on sea days (specially if it is a hot sunny day !). The Lotus pool area can be covered. This is the "swim against the current" pool. This feature is not always "on" since you can find a button at the end of the pool to activate it. On the ten days we where on the Coral, we had no problems finding empty chairs. So, you do not have to be up early to "reserve" a chair... The Horizon court is a buffet style restaurant. You won't find "high class" food there, but it is ok. Really nothing to complain about. Sun deck 15: Chairs, chairs and chairs ! Just over the Lido pool, there is the Grill with burgers, hot dogs, and, of course, a bar. Between the Lido pool and the Lotus pool, you will find the golf simulator and Princess Links 9 hole miniputt. Sports deck 16: Just over the Horizon court, there is the Splash pool with chairs. If you look at the web cam from the Coral Princess on the Princess web site, this is what you see. Further back, there is the Center court (for tennis and basketball), a giant chess game and two shuffle board. Expect the place to be very windy when the ship is at sea... Stateroom (C427): We had an oceanview double with balcony stateroom (cat. BD) on the Caribe deck 10. Since we were in the mid-ship section, where the cabins are "pushed" out, we didn't have the problem of being overlooked by the people in staterooms above us. The cabin is average in size. Since we are not the kind of people who stay in their cabin the entire cruise, we didn't care about the size of it. We go there to change and to sleep. That's it ! There is enough space for all your belongings. Shore Excursions: On this cruise, our ports of call were: Nassau, Panama canal (Colon), Limon, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. In Nassau, we had an excursion into the city and on Paradise Island. The city tour was quite interesting with a visit to the fortifications. Paradise Island was very fast. We went there, took a few pictures of Atlantis Hotel and out we go ! All in all, I rate this tour as below expectation. Not recommend. In Panama canal, we had chosen the "Gatun locks & eco cruise" tour (tour A1). This was great. In the eco cruise part, you are on Gatun lake and the guide goes around the little islands found there. We saw alligators, turtles, monkeys... It was very interesting. For the "Gatun locks" part, you have to climb some stairs to go to the 3rd lock level. We had the chance to be there just as the Coral Princess passed through the locks. Very impressive ! In Limon, we had chosen the "Pineapple plantation: taste of tropics" tour (tour Q1). Unbelievable ! This was THE BEST tour we had. After that tour, you know all about pineapples ... and bananas ... Highly recommend it. The stop at Grand Cayman was cancelled because of dangerous conditions in the harbor. In Cozumel, we had chosen "Cozumel sail & snorkel" tour (tour S1). It was our second time in Cozumel and it was the second time we took this tour. Snorkeling with all those colorful fish is awesome ! If you like fun, this is the tour to choose ! Dining: We were on the traditional first sitting option. Our waiter (Ricardo, from Mexico) and our junior waiter (Frankie, from Italy) were great. Especially Frankie. Ricardo was, at first, a bit shy and we didn't know why... Finally, he told us that it was his first cruise as a waiter (he was junior waiter for 11 years with Princess). Frankie gave us very good advice on wine selection (Italian, of course !!!) and we are sure that he should get a promotion to be a waiter very soon. By comparing with previous cruises we had with Princess, we found that the waiters (not only Ricardo, but others too), were pushing us to finish our meal as soon as possible. We talked with other passengers and they felt the same way. On previous cruises, we felt that we could stay there for as long as we wanted... Not anymore. I don't know if Princess wants everyone to go with the "personal choice" dinner option... but for us, we are thinking seriously about it. On the other hand, the food was as great as it was. Of course, no two person have the same feeling about food, but for me, it was fabulous. All in all, I rate our dining experience on the Coral as average because of the waiters pushing us. Entertainment: We generally go to the Broadway style shows. So, there were quite a few of them on this cruise and we enjoyed each and every one of them. As I said earlier, the sound systems of both the Princess Theater and the Universe lounge can produce surround sounds. There were some new Princess Cruises Productions Shows and we recommend them ! They are not to be missed ! Of course, there is many more entertainment all around the ship during the day. In fact, there is so much to do that you have to make choices and you won't be able to do everything... There is one complaint I would like to tell you about: the music on the lido deck near the Lido pool is so loud that you can't hardly talk to each other. When the musicians were there (Sugar Cane: great Trinidad en Tobago duo), it's not as bad. But when they take a break, go somewhere else or you will end your cruise being deaf ! The cruise director, Richard Joseph, is quite a guy. If you're on a cruise ship where he is the CD, go see his "Ships - where are they now" lecture. It is really interesting. And he is very accessible. You can talk to him and he likes to talk with passengers. On previous cruises, I liked the other CD but I never had the chance to talk with them as much as I did with Richard. The best CD ever ! Fitness & Recreation: I didn't use these facilities but my wife did. She said it was very good. It seems there was enough equipment. Value for price: We find this cruise to be an excellent value for the price paid. Overall cruise: Excellent ! The best cruise we ever had so far. We highly recommend it ! Don't hesitate to ask questions. We will try to help everyone who plans to cruise the Panama Canal with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
First I would like to say thank-you Princess Cruise Line for restoring my faith back in your company. I was on the Island Princess back in October of 2003 (you can read the review on this web site) and out of 18 cruise's I finally ... Read More
First I would like to say thank-you Princess Cruise Line for restoring my faith back in your company. I was on the Island Princess back in October of 2003 (you can read the review on this web site) and out of 18 cruise's I finally decided to write my 1st review. With out going into too much detail about that cruise I was approached by upper Management in an email with regards to this review, they wanted to speak with me about my time on the Island Princess. Approximately a week later I received a call from Princess Management and to my surprise we talk over half an hour regarding all of my sister and mine concerns regarding the food and service on the Island. Also at that time I mentioned that I was thinking about canceling our trip on the Coral and the one on the Tahitian Princess. After our conversation I was asked not to cancel this trip but let Princess redeem itself when I was to set sail on the Coral Princess. So here is my review of the Coral Princess, please keep in mind that this is my husband's personal opinion and mine, my sister her husband could not be with us on this trip. ARRIVAL - We flew in the day before and had a beautiful time at the Hyatt Pier 66, we took the Water Taxi around the Intercostals and spent some time shopping on Las Olas Blvd (a fabulous place to shop), then we had an excellent meal at the Pier 66 Restaurant. Day of embarkation we left the hotel around 12:00 PM and were in line to register by 12:15 PM. We waited in line about ½ hour then were given our keys to our Suite (D702) and told to get in line for the usual Security Check. The line had grown and was not moving when we found out that the boarding was not going to start until 1:00 PM because they were "still cleaning the ship". I notice that a lot of people had a piece of paper in their hands when I asked the person behind us what it was she told me it was regarding the outbreak of the Norwalk Virus on the cruise that just arrived. After another half and hour some one else came out to say we would be boarding around 2:00 PM, we actually started the boarding process around 2:15 PM which was fine with us I was much more comfortable with fact that Princess was doing such a through job to insure our cruise would be an wonderful experience instead of being sick and lock in your cabin. Once on board we proceed up to deck 9 (Dolphin Deck) to off load the carry on bags and out to the Lido Bar to have a cocktail. The ship is beautiful just as its sister ship the Island Princess, full of beautiful art and gracious lines. It was very easy for us to navigate around the ship seeing that we just did this same trip, the only problem I had was I kept going to our old cabin because it was on the other side on the Island (D703). I finally figured it out about 5 days into the cruise. Our cabin was excellent along with our cabin stewardess Lilliana; this lady was top notch one of the best in the industry. Anything we wanted she was right there with her smiling face; she always complimented us and kept our room perfect. We had a lot of room and the layout was easy to move around in, the whirlpool bath was fantastic, I used it quiet a few times. The deck is a wonderful size great for being able to sit back and watch the world go by on one of the 2 lounge chairs, we also had a table and 2 regular chairs where we were able to have breakfast everyday. FOOD—The food was excellent!!! We decided to have traditional dining on second sitting and have decided that for us this is the only way we will have our meals. We like the structure of having the same waiter and assistant waiter, ours was excellent by the second night they new just what we liked and always bought more. We had a table of 8 and we all enjoyed each other's company. The Hotel Maitre'd Francois found us every night including the night we ate a Sabatini's and twice at the Bayou. Francois made sure that we were happy with every thing, if there was anything extra we needed he was there providing it. That brings me to one night in the Bayou, my husband likes his steak rare (I mean blue) and his steak came out Medium Rare when he mention it to the waiter the waiter took it back in a matter of 8 minutes he was served with a perfect (blue) steak. The manager that night went in and cooked it himself, now that is SERVICE.... I wanted to make sure that we were not the only ones treated this special so I started watching how the staff was interacting with the other passengers on board and making sure the other passenger were receiving the same treatment. I also spoke with several people over the next 9 days and they too all were having a wonderful time and could not say enough about the food and service they were receiving on board. The food in the Lido for lunch was not bad, there was a lot to offer and it was always warm and tasty, but I have to say my favorite is the pizza along with an Ice Cold Beer sitting by the pool and having fun watching the pool games.... SERVICE—The service was top notch, everyone had a smile on their face and always went out of their way to say either good morning, afternoon or evening. Sometimes they just wanted to hear about your day. With all the stress that they had to be under because of the last cruise having over 130 people sick with the Norwalk virus they were fabulous, as if nothing ever happened. EXCURSIONS - We played golf in Jamaica and Grand Cayman, we loved Jamaica we had a wonderful caddy that really help out my game. When we returned back to the ship we were approached by a few people that were on this excursion with us that were not happy with the way things were handled. I am not sure what actually happened but I was told that the tour company took them off the course early and they were not allow to finish their round. Later that night I received a letter in my mailbox with an apology from the Tour Desk and they stated that they were looking into it. The next day we received another letter stating we were getting back 40% of our money because of what had happen. We then played in Grand Cayman the Manger at the golf course treated everyone pretty bad when we had arrived, I guess there was some confusion as to when we were actually to be there ready to tee off. We received another letter of apology from the Tour Desk and they were checking into the problem we never heard what actually happened but we still had a wonderful time. In Cozumel we swam with the Dolphins, I can't say enough about this excursion. It was one of the best excursions I have ever been on and I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone. I know it is expensive but it is well worth the experience, to able to hold on to their fins and let them pull you around the lagoon there is just no words to explain the excitement. All I can say is "JUST DO IT". In Limon we did our own thing. We went Zip Lining at Almonds and Corals and they are really great people. The owner is Aurora very genuine, sweet and hard worker, her son Dani and Raffel picked us up at the dock around 8:30 AM and whisked us to Almonds and Corals. Along the way Dani and Raffel gave us so much information about their country, rainforest, animals and all the activities to do in costa Rica. After we were done with the Zip line, which took about 1 ½ hour to do, they had juice and fresh fruit waiting for us. After that Dani took us sightseeing and show us beautiful butterflies, sloths, toucans and monkeys. We were back at the ship 2 hours before we had to be. This was another excursion that is something not to be missed the only problem is that you have to do it on your own. We actually had 2 other couples that ended up joining us and one gentleman was 76 years old and he had a ball.... ENTERTAINMENT—We only went to a few of the shows, I still think the entertainment on any cruise ship can use some brushing up on. The Island Party was excellent; it was especially nice seeing James the Deputy Cruise Director again. James was on the Island the same time we were and I know someday in my travels we will run into him again but this time he will be the CD on board, funny, energetic and a very down to earth person. This cruise was fantastic, I want to send out a special thanks to Mr. Caluori, Adam Gorst, Francois and the entire staff for making this cruise one of our best. My sister and her husband are still having their reserves but I think once they get back from our future cruise to Tahiti in November they will have to agree that Princess Cruise Line is "where I belong"..... If any one has any questions please do not hesitate to email me. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
Photos http://community.webshots.com/album/104034426eQjXll Our Background: We are a married couple, ages 32 and 30. We consider ourselves pretty experienced travelers having vacationed throughout Mexico (Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta ... Read More
Photos http://community.webshots.com/album/104034426eQjXll Our Background: We are a married couple, ages 32 and 30. We consider ourselves pretty experienced travelers having vacationed throughout Mexico (Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Playa del Carmen), Europe (Paris and London) and throughout the U.S. in our 3+ years of marriage. Our only other cruise experience was an Eastern Caribbean itinerary on the Golden Princess in February 2003. We were pretty devoted land-based vacationers until we were introduced to cruising and especially Princess' version of cruising! Some of the things we love about cruising include visiting new ports of call, the convenience and options tied to dining and being treated very, very well by all members of the ship's company. Itinerary: Saturday, February 21: Fort Lauderdale, Florida Sunday, February 22: Sea Day Monday, February 23: Montego Bay, Jamaica Tuesday, February 24: Sea Day Wednesday, February 25: Panama Canal Thursday, February 26: Limon, Costa Rica Friday, February 27: Sea Day Saturday, February 28: Grand Cayman Sunday, February 29: Cozumel, Mexico Monday, March 1: Sea Day Tuesday, March 2: Fort Lauderdale, Florida Embarkation - Ft. Lauderdale We booked the Renaissance on 17th Street in Ft. Lauderdale through Priceline. I probably bid a little too early to secure a room but did get what I thought was a good price ($95) for one night. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and arrived to the hotel after midnight on Saturday, February 21. On our previous trips into Ft. Lauderdale (this was our third time) the time it took to get our luggage seemed excessive. This time, our luggage came out quickly. The cab ride was inexpensive ($10). The Renaissance was fantastic! We had previously stayed at the Pier 66 (Lanai rooms) and at the Embassy Suites on 17th Street. Although nothing can top the Pier 66 (and we paid rack rate there), the Renaissance was just a bit classier than the Embassy. It was bright and clean and the desk staff was exceptionally friendly, especially considering the hour! We were given a room with two queen beds, which was fine considering we were only going to be there for about 10 hours. The room was comfortable and had a view looking east. When we woke the next morning we could see the Grand Princess at her berth (Pier 2). We grabbed breakfast in the touristy part of Ft. Lauderdale. We ate at a great restaurant called The Deck right along Seabreeze Boulevard (A1A). We had an outdoor table that overlooked the Boulevard and the beach. We arrived at the pier at about 12:30 PM and were fairly quickly through the check-in procedures and security screening. We could tell pretty quickly that the average passenger age aboard this particular cruise was going to be older. We spotted more than a few wheelchairs and walkers in the cruise terminal. We were in our stateroom no later than 1:00 PM. Our bags were quickly delivered on this cruise - we had both our checked bags before 3:00 PM. We did put some of our embarkation essentials (swimsuits, shorts, toiletries, etc.) in our carry on bags so we could have them immediately upon arriving to our stateroom. Stateroom We had booked a mini-suite on the Dolphin Deck (Deck 9). We were given D512 (category AB) and found it to be wonderful. We had previously sailed on the Golden Princess in a mini-suite and had an exact duplicate of our stateroom, except reversed! We knew what to expect and were pleased with the size of the closet and shelf space, the size of the bathroom and the additional seating area (with sleeper sofa) by the balcony door. Our beds were pushed together in a queen configuration. The beds were hard, which was fine. However, what I missed most during the cruise were my natural feather pillows. The pillows we had simply did not "mush". They certainly didn't spoil our cruise, however. A couple of things we brought that made our stateroom even more comfortable were: -An inexpensive shoe organizer that hangs over a door; kept the limited counter space in the bathroom neat and free from clutter -A power strip for additional outlets. After reviewing Cruise Critic, I could not determine whether one needed a 3-prong adapter or not (a device that turns a 3-prong plug into a 2-prong plug). I brought one along but was pleased to find that the outlets in the stateroom were standard U.S. 3-prong types. The power strip offered additional outlets for such things as a laptop computer and battery charger used for my digital camera. -A corkscrew -Our own supply of wine and beer. I know the issue of "smuggling" booze aboard a Princess ship is a topic of heated debate on the message boards. Here's my take: I'm simply not going to order a glass of wine or a bottle of beer from room service to enjoy on my balcony. It's simply not going to happen. However, when I am in the public areas of the ship, I order from the bars. We averaged 2 to 3 drinks per person per person from the ships' bars during the entire cruise so I don't feel Princess lost any significant revenue because we had our own stash in the stateroom. And, we did not bring or try to bring hard liquor aboard, either in Ft. Lauderdale or from any port. Our stateroom steward, Sonny, was exceptionally polite and efficient. Our room was always tidy when we came back to it and Sonny made sure that we had clean wine glasses each evening (we had to initially ask for the glasses at the beginning of the cruise). Sonny did a great job for us and earned an additional tip from us at the end of the cruise. We do enjoy spending time in our stateroom, sometimes to simply watch a movie that we may have missed. The television selection aboard was limited: CNN, CNNfn during the week and CNN Headline News on weekends shared the same channel, TNT, ESPN (the international version) and the usual Princess television channels. The movies shown during our cruise on TV included: "Bruce Almighty", "School of Rock", "Whale Rider", "Lost in Translation", "S.W.A.T.", "In America" and many more. Because we were at sea on Sunday night (Academy Awards night), they did lock onto the satellite feed and showed the event on the channel reserved for TNT. The feed was not 100% however and portions of the show were missed during "blips". They also had movies throughout the cruise in one of the public lounges. Some of those titles included: "Seabiscuit", "Master and Commander" and "Radio". Our balcony was fully exposed to those above us but this did not bother us. We rarely saw others on their balconies except for the Panama Canal transit and upon entering or leaving a particular port. We had two plastic (heavy duty) chairs on our balcony and a good-sized round table. We felt the Coral handled very well, even in rough seas. The roughest seas we had on our 10-day cruise were classified as "Rough" (7.5 - 12 feet) with near gale winds. We never felt the Coral pitching or rolling. There were times either in the Princess Theater (far forward) or the Universe Lounge (far aft) where we felt swaying, but nothing too dramatic. If anything, I would say we felt the Coral shudder under heavy seas and nothing too severe. Yes, there is some creaking, popping and groaning in the stateroom during active seas but it's only enough to let you know you're sailing! The Coral's Public Spaces -Princess Theater: A nice venue on Deck 7 forward. There are only two entrances/exits to the theater at the top and back. This was a change from what we had on the Golden with exits at the back on a higher deck and exits at the front on a lower deck. The reason this was significant is because due to the advanced age of many of the cruisers, it wasn't necessarily fun to be seated at the front of the theater. Exiting seemed to take just a little longer getting everyone up the steps and out of the exits on Deck 7. A word of advice: most people appeared to use the starboard entrance to the theater, as the port entrance was less open due to the Wheelhouse Bar. Therefore, it appeared throughout the cruise that seats on the left side of the theater were more plentiful as people were not using that entrance. The left aisle was also clearer of passengers. -Universe Lounge: A very nice venue on Decks 6 & 7 aft. On the Golden, this would have been the Vista Lounge, a pretty standard lounge. However, on the Island class vessels, the Universe Lounge has two tiers and plenty of good sight lines. The theatrical technology in the Universe Lounge allowed for some pretty spectacular shows throughout the cruise, including a singing and dance revue called "Tribute". The Universe Lounge used intimate sofas and chairs that made up the seating area. -Explorer's Lounge: Deck 6. We only used this lounge for the art auctions that were held primarily on sea days. Apparently they used the lounge for a disco at night although we were never there to witness it. -Wheelhouse Bar: Deck 7 forward. This was one of the spaces on the Coral that really surprised me. I was expected the Golden version of the Wheelhouse, which was an intimate space but certainly not grand. However, the Coral's Wheelhouse was large and very clubby. It was paneled in darker woods and held a variety of nautical memorabilia, especially from the P&O line. Even the hallways leading to the Wheelhouse were memorable in that they carried out the theme. If you are a cruise fanatic and enjoy history, stop into the bar and review the display cases and walls. There is a somewhat hidden niche just off to the side from the Atrium entrance where vintage cruise posters, postcards and even menus from past cruisers can be reviewed. The Wheelhouse Bar was also a good place to look for drink specials throughout the cruise. There were frequent 2-for-1's on margaritas, daiquiris, etc. -Princess Casino: Deck 6. We're not gamblers but even we enjoyed people watching in the casino. The casino has a London-theme and faithfully carries out the theme in using the Queen's Guards to watch the starboard entrance, a colorful carpet with London themes throughout and phone booths and double-decker busses to house slot machines. The casino was much more open feeling than the one on the Golden and was far less smoky than what we experienced on the other ship. -Crooner's Bar: Deck 7. The bar wrapped around the atrium and was styled with Rat Pack images and themes. It was a very nice bar to congregate in before a dinner or during the evening for live piano music. Crooner's also had frequent drink specials during the cruise, including $3 martinis from their "Bond Collection". This was a menu of traditional and more contemporary martinis that were delicious. Service was excellent at Crooners. -Princess Fine Arts Gallery: Deck 7 aft. We really enjoyed the art experience aboard the Coral. The Art Gallery itself is an intimate space with works from all eras and artists. The collection did change from day to day although major pieces remained in place. We enjoyed talking with Michael, the Coral's Art Director, and picking up bits of knowledge about the pieces aboard. We would frequently attend the art auctions (mainly held on sea days) and would definitely recommend previewing the art beforehand (approximately 1 hour before an auction a wide selection of art was displayed in the Explorer's Lounge and made available to be requested for auction). We ended up purchasing two pieces of art during the cruise (Jean Vollet's "Soleil Sur La Seine" Zamy Steynovitz's "Musical Bouquet in Paris"). Both were signed lithographs that we felt were quality pieces and a good value. The art auctions were also a great way to drink on Princess! A champagne auction was held during the 1st sea day as well during the last auction on the 4th sea day. -Bordeaux Dining Room (Personal Choice Dining Room): Deck 5 forward. We had selected Personal Choice Dining during our cruise and were not disappointed. Although we had wait staff that were wonderful and whom we'd like to have gotten to know better, our dining times varied extensively throughout the cruise. For us, it just didn't pay to have a reserved time or table. We got the sense during the cruise that people were eating earlier. We would often catch one of the earlier shows and then eat later. We were always immediately shown to a table and never had to use the pagers. The dining room itself reminded us a lot of what we saw on the Golden. One of the changes, however, was how tables for two were arranged. On the Golden, the tables for two were completely separated from other tables. A lot of tables for two on the Coral were actually placed in close proximity to other tables for two. We actually liked this a lot. There was enough space between the tables to suggest intimacy but they were close enough that conversation with neighbors was natural. We met some great couples dining this way throughout the week. Just a recap of some of the menu items we had during the week: -Appetizers: Spring rolls, shrimp cocktail, crab quiche, smoked supreme of duck, escargot, prosciutto with melon, baked eggplant parmigiana, Turkish lamb and eggplant turnover, baked clams casino, asparagus with puff pastry, avocado boat with mixed seafood salad, Vol-au-Vent (creamed chicken and sweetbreads in puff pastry) -Soups: Pina Colada splashed with rum (chilled), lentil soup, yogurt and tamarind (chilled), fish gumbo, pumpkin and turnip puree, vichyssoise choid (chilled leek and potato), papaya and kiwi (chilled), capon broth with vegetables, pasta and fagioli red bean soup, Won Ton, tropical fresh fruit cream (chilled), lentil puree with garlic, apricot (chilled), lobster bisque, asparagus puree, pumpkin puree (chilled) -Entrees: SautEed filet of Zander (white fish), prime rib, medallion of beef tenderloin, salmon filet with dill sauce, scallops and shitaki mushrooms, pasta with salmon strips, roast duckling with orange and curacao sauce, glaze, roast center cut of pork loin, sea bass, shrimp flambEed in brandy and served with a spicy tomato sauce, veal chop with sautEed mushrooms, Thai snapper fillet, filet mignon and grilled jumbo shrimp, twin lobster tails, Beef Wellington, lamb chops, linguine with poached clams, Mediterranean sea scallops -Deserts: Profiteroles with mixed berries, Mohr im Hemd (baked chocolate pudding with glaze), apple tart, chocolate hazelnut soufflE, croquembouche, almond soufflE stuffed in baked peaches, Austrian chocolate cake with apricot layers, Princess Love Boat Dream, chocolate gateau with cherries, New York style cheesecake and a variety of ice creams in unique and complementary flavors (cinnamon, strawberry daiquiri, champagne, etc.). We simply don't have a specific review for each and every dish we had aboard the Coral. In short, everything we ate was fabulous! Perhaps it's because we were not shopping, preparing, serving and cleaning up what we ate but everything was marvelous. In the days since we've returned we've come to the conclusion that the individual dishes that may not have tasted absolutely superb to us had less to do with the preparation and more to do with our own taste buds! "Special Nights": Formal Night 1 (sea day 1), French Night (sea day 2), Italian Night (Costa Rica), International Night (sea day 3), and Formal Night 2 (Grand Cayman) -Horizon Court: Deck 14 forward. We liked having the Horizon Court at the front of the Coral instead of at the back as we had on the Golden. This was truly a different dining experience. There are slanted windows in the Court at the very front of the ship allowing one to see forward from up high. This was especially popular during the Panama Canal transit. The Horizon Court also had a dedicated bar with bar stools and a stage for performances by a pianist or guitarist during different times of the day. We ate many of our breakfasts and lunches at the Horizon Court. Sometimes the offerings were better than at other times. There were lunches when the pickings were very slim and we resorted to using the Grill or Princess Pizza for the main part of our meal. However, some standards that always worked for us were the selection of fresh fruits and cookies! Breakfasts were always good: enormous steam trays full of bacon and sausage daily, fresh egg selections (including Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine regularly) and plenty of breads. I was actually somewhat disappointed in some of the bread and rolls on the Coral. I know it's difficult to maintain freshness in a buffet setting, but often the bread was hard. Not stale by any means, but not fresh tasting or in texture, either. Because the average age of this cruise was higher, there were difficulties in navigating the buffet. I was always looking over my shoulder or to my side to make sure I wasn't running anybody down. We also noticed that the Horizon Court was exceptionally busy between about noon and 1:15 PM. There were times when we simply could not find a table to sit. However, the longer you waited to eat lunch, the better it got! Finally: the coffee. I will agree with others who have said the coffee is not all that great but I did not find it completely offensive either. It comes straight from a concentrate (in a bottle that looks a lot like a motor oil container!). However, the coffee had a mild taste to it and wasn't as acidic as a lot of fresh-brewed options are. -Fitness Center: Deck 14 aft. We like the Coral's gym! We managed to get up to the facility on 6 occasions during a 10-day cruise. I believe the Coral had more weight machines to work more parts of one's body than what we had on the Golden. They were also arranged much better so that there wasn't a traffic issue between the weights and the aerobic equipment. There were plenty of treadmills in addition to six low-impact aerobic machines and several more stationary bikes and stair-steppers. The gym never got entirely full or crowded. There were mornings when we spent more time on the weights waiting for an aerobic machine to open up but it wasn't excessive. Gym towels were available daily. -Lido Pool: Deck 15 midship. We like the pools aboard Princess ships! We enjoy the fact that they are freshwater and deep! The pools aboard the Coral were no different. The Lido Pool tended to be the center of activity on Deck 14 for such things as wacky pool games, ice carving demonstrations, music by steel drum band Sugar Cane on most days and the Island Night party. We found that we could always find a lounger in the sun and we did not really see evidence of chair hogging or saving. Drink service was always available but wasn't intrusive. The one thing we noticed on this cruise was that the pool water temperature was brisk at times. I'm guessing that due to rough seas at some points during the cruise, the staff may have emptied the pools during the evening and then refilled them during the mornings. -Lotus Pool: This was a very serene pool and also offering a place to be by the pool but remain out of the sun. We did notice the retractable roof in the closed position one evening and the pool deck nicely air conditioned, probably due to steamy conditions outside! -Pelican's Pool: We never swam or even lounged around the aft pool. It is a smaller pool and does not have a deck ringing the pool (you have to go up one level to get to loungers). The deck above also has the ping pong tables. -Alternative Restaurants: we never dined at Sabatini's or The Bayou Cafe. They appeared to be empty on most nights with plenty of tables available. We did like how each venue was distinctively decorated, however. -Internet Center: Deck 8, midship. The Internet Center wrapped around the Atrium on Deck 8. We used it twice while onboard. We found the connection to be extremely slow but this may have been due to the ship's position. -Library/Card Room: Deck 8, midship. Both of these venues were beautiful and cozy. Both had large windows for viewing the ship's progress at sea or during a port visit. The library had a pretty extensive collection and using the facilities was easy. Entertainment -"Dance"/"Da Beat"/"Up Curtain"/"Tribute". I don't mean to shortchange any of the full dance and singing shows by lumping them together, but in short, they were all fabulous! The shows (either performed in the Princess Theater or Universe Lounge) were unbelievable! The use of the theater technology aboard is simply impressive. Set refreshes and props were delivered in amazing ways, the lighting and audio were flawless and the feel was close to Broadway. The dancers and singers aboard this cruise were wonderful. They were exceptionally talented and energetic. We probably enjoyed "Dance" the best out of all the shows during our cruise but each one is simply not to be missed. -Billy Vader. Vader did a brief routine during the Welcome Aboard show but also did his own 1-hour act later in the week. He also MC'd the final show of the cruise. He is not to be missed. He is extremely funny and does a variety of stand up material, singing and impressions. He was a riot. -Duncan Tuck. Duncan performed only one evening in the Universe Lounge. He is a guitarist/vocalist who does what he calls 'singing comedy'. He was very talented. -Dan Horn. Dan is a ventriloquist who we had previously seen on the Golden. He used a variety of puppets. At times his routine seemed to stall but he more than made up for it when he brought up a passenger for a very funny scene. The Ports of Call -Montego Bay, Jamaica: After a full sea day we arrived to Montego Bay. We had nothing formally scheduled for the port so decided to take a shuttle bus ($3 per person each way) to the main shopping area. We were dropped off at some jewelry shops that did not appeal to us. I could see the city center just a few blocks away and headed in that direction. A local calling himself Steve approached us on the street. Steve would not leave our side for the next hour. He would point out some of the main sites in downtown Montego Bay and led us to an outdoor craft market that was big but off the beaten path. The market was made up of dozens of individual stalls, each selling the same thing! If you're looking for a wooden carving of Bob Marley's face (in a variety of sizes) this is your place! Each vendor would attempt to lure us into their stalls although they were very kind about it. Steve, of course, expected a tip at the end of about an hour and I gave him $5, although he was looking for more and suggested as much. We caught another shuttle bus from downtown back to the Coral. On the way back we let off some passengers at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville on Gloucester Avenue. It appeared to be a nice place and perhaps a better way to spend the day in Montego Bay! We were not all that impressed with what we saw in Montego Bay. Perhaps an organized excursion to Dunn's River Falls would have suited us better. -Panama Canal: after another full sea day, we arrived at the Panama Canal on the Wednesday of our cruise. I awoke at about 6:00 AM and found that we were already in the 7-mile channel that leads to the Gatun Locks. I caught the sunrise over a very surreal and primeval-looking plain. There was a haze covering the plain and I could hear the sounds of birds calling to each other. It was far-less industrial than I thought and very, very quiet as the Coral made slow speed toward the locks. As we approached the Gatun Locks, we began moving around the ship for better vantage points. The doors leading to bow observation decks were open on Decks 10 and 11. We were surprised at how few people were actually on these decks that morning! Do not be intimidated by the "authorized personnel only" signs on Panama Canal morning - boldly use the doors at the front of each deck for a great vantage point! We had great views forward of the lock operations and all the activity laid out below us. We actually went up to breakfast (Horizon Court) during the transit between lock chamber 1 and 2. The forward-looking windows in the Horizon Court were jammed with people but otherwise the crowds were tolerable. We had a guide on the bridge that was giving information over the ship's loudspeakers. We could just make out his narration while on our stateroom balcony but found that the audio was also being played on channel 35 in our stateroom. We simply cranked up the TV's volume and kept the balcony door open so we could listen to the narration. We were through the locks and anchored in Gatun Lake by about 9:30 AM. At that point, the excursions in Panama began to organize in the Princess Theater. That day's Princess Patter had listed approximate times for tours to meet at the Theater (based on actually Canal transit information relayed to the Coral the day before). The staff were making announcements for various tour groups to come into the Princess Theater so entire excursion groups could be tendered ashore together. We actually could not hear these announcements in our stateroom so loitered around the Princess Theater even though all prior notices had suggested not doing just that. Once our entire tour group was assembled, we were led down to the tender deck and took one of the survival craft to shore - it was a very short tender ride from ship to shore! We actually used the piers at the Gatun Yacht Club to disembark the tenders and to organize into the various tour busses. We booked the Panama Canal Railroad tour. I had pre-reserved the Deluxe Car (dome observation car - $156 pp) very early on using the Cruise Personalizer feature on the Princess website. I would highly recommend pre-reserving this tour sooner than later as we talked to many people who wanted the Deluxe car but got closed out. Once we got ashore, everyone with deluxe accommodations was bussed together, separated from those who had booked the Executive Car (standard) excursion. One of the nice perks in booking the Deluxe car was that we were given preferential boarding on and off the train. Our group was the first to board the train in the morning and when we returned to Colon later that afternoon, we were the first group allowed to exit the train and re-board our bus for the short trip back to Cristobal. Our tour guide Maria was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. As we bussed to the train depot at Colon, she made an effort to point out the biodiversity of Panama, even stopping the bus at one point to let us look at iguanas lounging on rocks in the sun. The dome car was beautiful! Nothing I had read prior to booking the excursion did the dome car justice. Upon entering, there was a lower lounge portion with a bar and club-style seating. A short flight of stairs led to the observation portion of the car. Seating was in booths along both sides. They were tight accommodations. Even though it was a bright and sunny day, the air conditioning did a good job keeping the car cool. However, it was always cooler in the lounge portion downstairs by the bar. We had 3 girls in the deluxe car serving as bar tenders and waitresses. We were offered complimentary coffee or could purchase sodas & juice ($1) or beer ($2). There were also snacks available for purchase. The local Panamanian beer was excellent (even at 11:00 AM)! The train tour along the canal took just about 50 minutes. Along the way, we paralleled Gatun Lake (and could see the Coral still at anchor), marshes (where you occasionally saw turtles resting on logs), rainforest and plains. The train moves away from the Canal at the Culebra Cut so you don't really see much of that portion of the Canal, which was unfortunate. However, we did get to see the Pedro Miguel locks in passing and did catch glimpses of several ships making the entire transit through the Canal during the train ride. Once we got to Panama City the tour took a slight turn for the worse. We were loaded into tour busses (fully air conditioned and comfortable) and taken to the Panama Canal administration building and the monument to Goethals (the chief engineer during the American effort). This was okay as was our next stop to view the Bridge of the Americas at a park on the Pacific side. However, we were next taken to a nice-looking but practically vacant shopping mall for 45-minutes. The only retail store in operation was a large duty-free store that was nice...except it had much of the same merchandise you could buy on the Coral for the same price!! 45-minutes was simply too long to be there. We got some nice pictures of Panama City, but otherwise this stop was a joke. Once we re-boarded our bus, we were next taken to a large craft market for another 45-minute stop. This was actually a little better than being dropped at a shopping mall but each vendor tended to have the same items. And, the market was un-air conditioned. At this point, many in our tour group decided to stay on the busses or find a spot in the shade near the market. You could sense that at this point in the day most on this excursion were either tired, hungry or both. Mercifully, the busses next took us back to the Panama City train depot where we were able to relax in the dome car. The depot actually has a nice selection of Panama Canal Rail Road merchandise, including high-quality t-shirts. In short, the highlight of the day was the train ride. However, the round-trip train ride made up only about 1 hour and 40 minutes of the 6+ hours we were away from the Coral. We felt the cost was excessive given that we were taken to shopping venues while ashore in Panama and did not get to see the Canal in operation up close as I had previously thought. I was glad that I had booked an excursion for Panama thus allowing me to step foot ashore. However, this particular excursion was a disappointment. I have since written a letter to Princess expressing my disappointment in this particular tour in the hopes that 1) it could be tweaked to have more focus on the Canal or 2) that the literature describing the tour is updated so folks are fully aware of what they're getting. Maybe one could simply lobby to stay aboard the train and ride it back and forth across Panama couple of times?!?! :) -Limon, Costa Rica. We woke up the following day to the smell of smoke in our stateroom. I had no idea what was going on until I went to the balcony. Apparently, small fires around the port were used to burn either garbage and/or vegetation. Mercifully, the winds shifted a short time later and the smoke was directed inland. We had no formal tours scheduled for Costa Rica so stayed close to the ship. There was a craft market set up at the end of the pier and we ventured there in the late morning. There was a nice selection of goods, including beautiful hand-carved bowls made from exotic woods. We picked up a salad bowl carved from rosewood for about $60. Otherwise, our general thought about Costa Rica: hot! We literally dripped just walking around the pier and craft market and enjoyed most of day by the Lotus Pool. We did hear from folks who took organized excursions into the heart of the country. More than one couple said the Rainforest Aerial Tram was one of the best things they ever did! I heard that the guides were phenomenal and the sights unbelievable! I now know a return trip to Costa Rica is in order to experience the rainforest! -Grand Cayman. We scheduled to anchor just offshore Georgetown but were diverted to Spott's Bay due to rough seas. I woke up that morning and tried to make the map of Georgetown I had received the night before match up with the view from my stateroom! It simply didn't work! Despite our detour, the tendering operations were extremely efficient. We were told that tender tickets were required for this port. Passengers were supposed to go down to Explorer's Lounge on that morning to get tender tickets. However, we were up and moving by 8:30 AM and were told there was no need for tickets to tender at that point. I believe as more and more people wanted to go ashore, the tender tickets were required. Even though we were diverted to an alternative anchorage, there were plenty of vehicles waiting for us ashore to take us into Georgetown. We got on a shuttle bus for $4/pp and took about a 20-minute ride into Georgetown. The seas at the Georgetown tender piers were unbelievably rough and we considered ourselves very fortunate to even be on the island! I had actually scheduled a Stingray City snorkel tour with Soto's Cruises (http://sotoscruises.com/index.shtml) prior to departure. I had contacted them via e-mail several months before our visit and reserved two spots. They had asked for a credit card to hold the reservation only used the card as a security deposit if you failed to show up or cancel the tour without enough advanced notice. We were given clear instructions on how to meet up with Soto's representatives once ashore Grand Cayman. We waited about 30 minutes at the appropriate spot (right in the downtown shopping area). We never did make contact with Soto's while on the island and wondered if perhaps all boating excursions were cancelled due to the rough seas. I e-mailed my contact at Soto's after returning and confirmed that my credit card was not going to be charged but I never did get an explanation of why I never made contact while ashore. We spent the rest of the day exploring the main shopping area in Georgetown. We found Georgetown to be very pleasant! It is apparent that there is money on Grand Cayman and I think it shows in how the public areas are kept up and how you are treated. We bought various souvenirs at several stores and even strolled into Kirk Jewelers to look around. According to my wife, Kirk Jewelers had an excellent selection of David Yurman jewelry (I wouldn't know David Yurman from David Schwimmer). We were on the way out the door when we spotted a good display of gemstone (Lapis) globes in the store's window. We have always loved globes and even considered buying them aboard the Princess Boutiques. The clerk assisting us could not have been nicer. We were actually dressed pretty scruffily (assuming that our day was going to be spent snorkeling) yet we never felt put down upon. We were made to feel important and walked away thinking that Kirk Jewelers was a class operation. We got what we considered a good deal and the clerk assisted us in safely packing our globes for transport home. We had a light meal while in Georgetown at Breezes by the Bay. This beautiful restaurant had a 2nd floor deck overlooking the port in Georgetown and main shopping district. We had delicious conch fritters along with a great mudslide and a rum punch! Prices at Breezes were a little high but we know part of what we were paying for was the view. We very much enjoyed our stay in Georgetown and on Grand Cayman. Our only regret was not snorkeling with the stingrays and having to weigh anchor so early (3:00 PM) for an arrival in Cozumel the next day. -Cozumel: We were securely berthed in Puerta Maya, Cozumel by 9:00 AM the next morning. We had previously been on Cozumel two years prior and were impressed with the changes to Puerta Maya. The port now boasts an entire shopping district and would satisfy most shoppers! We wanted to explore the main shopping district, just 3 miles (and $6 per taxi) away. As occurred two years ago, we simply were not that impressed with the main shopping venue. Even though it was a Sunday morning, vendors were already persistent in getting us into their stores to see their "almost free" wares. Plus, there was nothing unique in the main shopping district. We had already decided to take one of the ferry lines on Cozumel across the 12-mile stretch of water to Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula. We had previously visited Playa two years earlier and fell in love with the town. We caught the 11:00 AM ferry from Cozumel to Playa. We used UltraMar, which boasts a sleek-looking and very modern ferry. We were completely enclosed and enjoyed the stability of a catamaran hull. The ferry ride was extremely short (25 to Playa and 30 minutes on our return). The ferry docks on the south end of Fifth Avenue in Playa. The area surrounding the ferry dock hosts a collection of pretty typical Mexican souvenir shops and vendors. However, as you walk further north along Fifth Avenue, the shopping and the restaurants get a little more upscale. We enjoyed window shopping along Fifth Avenue and killed some time before our main reason for being in Playa was fulfilled: lunch at La Parilla. La Parilla is an open-air restaurant on Fifth Avenue (kitty corner from a TGIFridays!). We grew to love the food and atmosphere two years ago and this year was no different. La Parilla has some potent margaritas and delicious food. We're especially drawn to their use of cactus in some of their dishes, which is delicious. On this particular day we had steak and cactus fajitas, fresh guacamole and plenty of refreshments! We enjoyed people watching on the streets of Playa and just soaking in the atmosphere. We took the ferry back to Cozumel and wandered the shopping area at Puerta Maya. We had more beers at the Crazy Pelican, an open-air bar set up right off the pier. Disembarkation - Ft. Lauderdale Disembarkation is always sad but Princess handles it as well as anyone. We were initially given rose-colored luggage tags, which were meant for passengers who had Princess transfers. We went down to the Passenger Services desk and switched our tags for the standard tags designed for Dolphin Deck passengers: Aqua. We were told our disembarkation would be around 9:10 AM and it actually happened at 9:25 AM. We had a 12:00 PM flight and were not terribly worried about making our flight as we knew the airport was very close to Port Everglades. We cleared immigration very quickly and then had to retrieve our bags. We had neon luggage straps put around our two checked bags but, unfortunately, one was missing when we went to look for our bags. The bag with the luggage strap was easy to spot. However, I really had to search the Dolphin section for the other bag. Once all bags were collected, then you had to be cleared through Customs. The line for Customs was unbelievably long! It snaked throughout the terminal building. However, at the Customs table itself I noticed that porters were passed right through. Therefore, I hailed a porter and had our bags loaded up on his dolly. We were out of the terminal building and to a taxi in no time! This was well worth the money! We definitely enjoyed this 10-day cruise. Our last cruise aboard the Golden was 5-days and simply felt too short. This was just the right length. Princess continues to impress us with her beautiful ships, warm and welcoming staff, fantastic entertainment and delicious food. While on board the Coral, we met with the Future Cruise Specialist, Jayne, and put down deposits for a future (yet named) cruise. We've decided that Princess is truly where we belong! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
Well I am Benjamin. I'm 24 from Montreal, Canada. Its was my first cruise with Princess but did three others with Carnival, the differences are pretty big. The Coral Princess his a awesome ship really nice and new with a lot of pool ... Read More
Well I am Benjamin. I'm 24 from Montreal, Canada. Its was my first cruise with Princess but did three others with Carnival, the differences are pretty big. The Coral Princess his a awesome ship really nice and new with a lot of pool and hot tubs to relax and they are open 24 hours. That's amazing and you can dive in those pools cause they are more than 7 feet depth for 2 of them. For the kids center really nice but there was no kids to play in cause this cruise, this we have to say more mature old people but nice and really enjoying for lot of them but if you want to go party at night that's not the boat to go on 10 days cruise cause longer so its people who have time to travel compared to 7 days cruise. People were up until 1:30am. There wasn't any activity after, just the casino, if you like to play, actually the casino was really nice the nicest a sea so far and I didn't lose this time. For morning persons excellent there his all those morning activities free and paying ones and of course always every day at see those seminars about different stuff you can learn about, its really cool and funny most of time. For those who love good food you're on the right boat. Yes was amazing and you can choose the time you want to go diner between certain hours, and different country specialities every day. The tours and all the stops especially when you pass in Panama Canal it's really impressive those big gates. Limon, Costa Rica this a amazing stop, people are really nice like Cozumel friendly. If you want to shop Limon and Cozumel really nice and Panama Canal Colon is really nice to shop when open.  Now I have to talk about the crew and staff. I have to say they are amazing everyone seem to love what there doing and they really have a good relationship between each other that seems to reflect on their work the best crew I saw. Ok ladies especially if you have to go fixed your hair or a cut the best hair stylist in the world his on that ship his name Nathan Woodley -- that guy knows what is doing and done it for a long time is gonna make you laugh so bad, if you can have a appointment cause hes really busy all the time. And don't forget all the ladies working in the spa amazing too, you will really feel comfortable. For the show and entertainment they are really in to it and make all people dance and have a good time. I remember Sarah really entertaining. The passenger desk service was amazing really fast and serviable. So i really have to say that was an amazing time i had with the crew and passenger even with the big age differences but I totally recommend that cruise to anyone. Have a good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Our family, a group of 7, took the May 22nd cruise north from Vancouver to Whittier and then continued on the extended tour to Copper River and Denali Parks. Our cruise on the Coral Princess was wonderful from beginning to end with only ... Read More
Our family, a group of 7, took the May 22nd cruise north from Vancouver to Whittier and then continued on the extended tour to Copper River and Denali Parks. Our cruise on the Coral Princess was wonderful from beginning to end with only a few rough spots to note. The ship itself is lovely and run well. The staff is friendly and helpful. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the food was on the ship since I had heard it was just average. I don't think I had anything that wasn't really good and we had trouble limiting ourselves in the Horizon Court buffet area to just one serving since you could keep going back if you wanted. We had Personal Choice dining and had no trouble getting seated in the formal dining areas. The balconies on the ship were nice and the stewards opened the doors between our rooms so we could visit and talk between our balconies. We spent a lot of time just watching the scenery and looking for animals (we saw quite a few too). We took scheduled tours through Princess in each of the ports and all were professionally run. Our helicopter tour to Mendenhall Glacier was cancelled in Juneau due to weather but we went to the tour desk on the ship and they were able to book us for a glacier helicopter trip the next day in Skagway. I highly recommend the tours. My only complaint about the ship itself was the design of the Horizon Court Buffet. The traffic patterns were poorly planned and when it was even a little crowded people were crossing each other back and forth to get to food. My other big complaint was with the embarkation in Vancouver. Princess sped us through their processing but the US Govt Customs people had us lined up for over an hour with only two agents checking passports for the huge crowd of people boarding. Despite this, which was out of Princess' control, I'd highly recommend the Coral Princess and this awesome trip through the glaciers and Alaska's towns. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Stateroom - Emerald Deck 310. Spacious, plenty of storage, 6 dozen wooden hangers, shelves in bathroom, nightstands, refrigerator. I would recommend bringing a power strip as electrical outlets are limited. The balcony was nice sized and ... Read More
Stateroom - Emerald Deck 310. Spacious, plenty of storage, 6 dozen wooden hangers, shelves in bathroom, nightstands, refrigerator. I would recommend bringing a power strip as electrical outlets are limited. The balcony was nice sized and covered. We were port side with the life boats to the side of us and our balcony was a little larger than others. Beds were soft and pillows ( 6 ) were good. No complaints about the accommodations. The Ship - Clean, good lighting, easy directional signs and once you learn port from starboard it is easy to find your way around. The Horizon Buffet was well stocked and the food good. We chose Personal Choice dining and found the portions to be large, tasty, appealing in presentation and the wait-staff attentive. Room service catered to our every whim. My only suggestion would be to have ice cream available at all times. We did purchase the soda cards ( 22.50 each) and unless you are a soda-holic, save your money and purchase drinks at port and store in your refrigerator. Activities - Something for everyone and the on-board narrator which broadcast over the TV channel was great. As you sailed, she would point out areas of interest, spot whales, ect. We would recommend this ship and the Southbound Voyage of the Glaciers and plan to take this trip again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
This is my first review but I know when I was shopping for a cruise I wanted more information than was available at the time. So I'm making an attempt to add my views for what they're worth. My husband and I are both in our 50s ... Read More
This is my first review but I know when I was shopping for a cruise I wanted more information than was available at the time. So I'm making an attempt to add my views for what they're worth. My husband and I are both in our 50s and took our first cruise of Alaska on 5/15/04 on the Coral Princess. Prior to this we had cruised in the Caribbean and the west coast of Mexico. We chose the southbound cruise out of Whittier. Because of time constraints we were not able to take a land tour prior to the cruise. Most of the other passengers were our age with a good representation of younger and older people. Our trip was very last minute. We didn't make our reservations until March when we found a very good price for a balcony on the Baja deck. About 2 weeks before we left we received notification from our Travel Agent that we had been upgraded to a mini-suite (C211) on Caribe. I was a little concerned about this because it is very far forward but the location of our cabin turned out to be fine. It was under the Horizon Court and the pool and above the Princess Lounge. The seas were so smooth that there was no concern about seasickness and my Dramamine was not needed. We took Northwest from Newark to Anchorage via Minneapolis and returned to Newark from Vancouver via Chicago on United. Princess arranged our flights and we used their transfer service between airports and docks. The motor coach from Anchorage to Whittier took approximately 3 hours. The trip itself is not 3 hours long but there is a one-way tunnel just outside of Whittier and traffic alternates between vehicles going to and from Whittier so this required a 40-minute wait. Embarkation was very smooth and we were on the ship approximately 15 minutes after we arrived at the dock. We also had a transfer from the dock to Vancouver Airport for our return trip. We were among the first off the ship at Vancouver as our flight was very early. Disembarkation went very smoothly and our luggage was brought directly to the airport. For later flights passengers were matched up with their luggage right at the dock. The bus driver was very informative about the city and Vancouver looks like a very nice place and worth a return visit. There is a US$8 charge at the airport to pay for their modernization. You can take care of this with a credit card at one of the vending machines before checking in. I liked the size and feel of the Coral Princess. It's not so overwhelming that you feel lost yet it was never crowded. There are many cozy spots around the ship. We particularly liked the Wheelhouse Lounge and the pool and hot tub area outside the Lotus Spa. We chose traditional dining at the late seating. The food was good but not exceptional. Most of our breakfasts and lunches were taken in the Horizon Court, which was pretty good for a buffet. The pizza at the pool is very good. There is also an outdoor grill for hamburgers and grilled chicken sandwiches. Despite the horror stories I've read about the coffee, it wasn't nearly that bad. It's not gourmet coffee, but certainly not the worst I've had. The staff is very efficient and friendly. We found the automatic tipping very easy. You don't need to bother about personally tipping your wait staff or cabin steward. The added 15% gratuity to bar and room service bills is also much better. Even though we read that alcohol could not be brought on the ship, we were able to bring a bottle of vodka on at Whittier in our carry on bag. The security staff x-raying our bags was not interested in our vodka. We were a little put off our dining room waiter offering to sell apertif glasses and cookbooks after dinner on two different occasions. He also had to promote a wine-tasting event. I don't think Princess should require this of its waiters. Our mini-suite was a good size with a refrigerator, 2 televisions and a covered balcony with a small table and 2 chairs. Because we had wonderful weather, we were able to use the balcony every day and could listen to the naturalist on the television describe what we were seeing. Most of the cruising days we were on deck as the viewing is better there, but we also took advantage of the balcony. Princess has their own naturalist on board for the entire cruise and she was excellent. She also gave presentations during the week about whales, native artifacts, etc. We saw a show with comedian Stu on Sunday. He was just okay. Monday we attended a very good magic/comedy show with Jeff . A performer not to be missed is Duncan . He is a singer and comedian and just wonderful. Another great act is Jim, a wonderful comedian. Duncan and Jim later in the week combined for another show and again they were both great. As you may have suspected, we're not too big on the usual cruise production shows. We did see "Tribute" in the Universe Lounge, which was pretty amateurish. A better show was "Curtain Up" in the Princess Theater. Except for rain in Whittier and Vancouver, our cruise was blessed with wonderful weather. Every day was sunny and in the mid to high 60s. I'm sure this had an effect on how much we enjoyed Alaska. Of course we were prepared for cold and rainy weather and didn't need all the clothes we brought. We had been keeping a watch on the temperatures the week before and threw in a few warm-weather articles at the last minute. There were people in the outdoor pool but we restricted ourselves to the hot tubs. There are 2 indoor hot tubs and 3 outdoor hot tubs. The 2 formal nights were not quite as stuffy as we had feared. My husband packed a dark suit and I brought 2 dressy dresses. But perhaps because an Alaskan cruise is pretty informal, there were quite a few men in sports jackets and not many at all in tuxes. I would definitely prefer if Princess offered an alternate dining room for people who do not wish to dress up. The first day we cruised College Fjord and the next day Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the cruise. The scenery is spectacular and we saw 5 whales on the way into the park. Two were quite close to the ship. We also saw sea otters and harbor seals. Some people spotted bears on the shore but I didn't see them. We also saw a young bald eagle. This was the only eagle we saw the whole week. Rangers from the National Park Service boarded the ship for the day and their commentary was excellent. We waited patiently for the Marjorie Glacier to calf and were rewarded just before the ship pulled away. Tuesday morning we docked in Skagway. We had arranged with Princess to take the White Pass & Yukon Railway. The train pulls right onto the dock. We sat on the left because we had read that these were the best viewing seats. The commentary was good, if a bit hokey. You are invited to purchase videos, books and hats but there isn't high pressure. The train passes the Canadian border but you do not get off. The engine is switched to the other end of the train and you return to Skagway by the same route. At the top you switch with the people on the other side of the train so that everyone gets to view the scenery. However since most of the commentary is on the way up, you're better off sitting on the left leaving Skagway. We took the 8:20 am train and returned to the dock just before noon. After lunch on the ship, we walked into town. We went to the National Park Service office and took a free 45-minute walk around town. This is an excellent way to learn about the history of the gold rush. On Wednesday we were in Juneau and had arranged for a helicopter trip to Mendenhall Glacier which included a dog sled ride. We arranged this on our own with Coastal Helicopters. They met us at the dock and were very professional throughout. I would recommend them and this trip. We were interested in dog sledding but did not want to do this unless it was on snow. The dogs and their handlers camp right on the glacier and your 2-mile ride is on a snow-covered portion of the glacier. You are able to get a feeling of driving the team because you stand on a sled at the back with the real driver on another sled controlling the dogs. It was a wonderful experience and by booking directly we saved money. Our last Alaskan city was Ketchikan. We didn't have any tours scheduled here. We had to tender into the city so we waited until late morning to avoid those with scheduled excursions. We walked around Creek Street, took the funicular and the Married Man's Trail. There are free Walk Tour maps available all over town. We visited the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center but this was kind of a disappointment. We should have made the trip out to Totem Bight State Park. Friday was spent cruising the Inside Passage, which is beautiful. We had a great time and would definitely recommend the Coral Princess and Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
Coral southbound Whittier to Vancouver 8/7/04. First the coffee, while not the best, is drinkable. The ship is wonderful, just the right size, never crowded. Staff was superb, even though tipping is automatic. Entertainment was ok. The ... Read More
Coral southbound Whittier to Vancouver 8/7/04. First the coffee, while not the best, is drinkable. The ship is wonderful, just the right size, never crowded. Staff was superb, even though tipping is automatic. Entertainment was ok. The ship had a nice mix of older and younger folks and several families. We had no problem with the food in Horizon Court or the dining room. Crab legs and lobster tails were great, as was the escargots we enjoyed one night. Wish they would charge us more upfront and not charge for espresso and cappuccino. The pizza was fantastic--as good as we get in New York. We passed on Sabatini's but ate at the Bayou restaurant and our party of four was not impressed--we have some great Cajun restaurants on Long Island and this did not make the grade. Personal Choice dining was great and we never had a long wait for a table. In summary, a great ship, great crew and a great cruise. Our shore excursions were all arranged through Princess and could not have been better--highlight was the helicopter/dogsled excursion in Skagway. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2004
This was, technically, our 4th, and actually our 3rd, cruise, so far all with Princess. It was hands down our favorite so far, with the others being Alaska on the Sea Princess and Honolulu-Tahiti-Honolulu (back to back) on the Dawn being 2 ... Read More
This was, technically, our 4th, and actually our 3rd, cruise, so far all with Princess. It was hands down our favorite so far, with the others being Alaska on the Sea Princess and Honolulu-Tahiti-Honolulu (back to back) on the Dawn being 2 & 3. Embarkation was a breeze. We stayed over at the Hilton arranged through Princess, having flown in the day before from Hawaii. We went to the hotel gym, had coffee and joined up with the waiting group for transport in time to make the last bus to the port. The lines were pretty moderate by that time and we were about 45 minutes from arrival to on board. Our luggage arrived on board about mid-afternoon, but we heard of other folks who didn't get theirs until quite late, and one couple whose luggage never did catch up with them until we arrived in Aruba, the last stop before Ft. Lauderdale. Disembarking was also relatively easy, and, for a change, it seemed like everyone had actually done their customs thing when we were ready to leave, so it was just a matter of finding luggage and getting transport to our rental car, neither of which was much of a hassle. Ft. Lauderdale is a pretty easy port facility to get around in and they seem to have their act together so things went smoothly. We had a balcony cabin on Aloha Deck, which afforded about the only balconies with even a touch of privacy. All the others were quite visible from the decks above them. Ours was the top deck with balconies, so we had views of everyone else, but were less exposed than most. Service was generally okay, although we are of the opinion that the automatic tipping is having a bad effect on service levels, particularly in the personal choice dining room. Our wait staff service varied from excellent to surly and rude. One evening the waiter was so impolite that 3 of the 4 couples actively complained to the dining room captain, and the other one complained to the purser. We like personal choice dining, but will be more active about selecting a "good" table with a nice wait staff on on our next cruise (not until October, sigh...) and we plan to make use of the comment cards on the table to track and tip on an individual basis rather than allowing the automatic tip to be added. The Princess sponsored shore excursions were outstanding, and we did see, first hand, why it pays to book through your ship rather than independently. Two busloads of folks on a "rainforest" excursion in Costa Rica were unable to get back to the ship due to torrential rains that washed out the usual road and bridge and they had to take a much longer road back. All the rest of us had gathered for the usual drink for sailaway and the time came and went and we didn't move. Finally, about two hours late, the two buses arrived and were greeted at the gangway by ships' crew and hustled on board. The Coral Princess had the best entertainment we have seen on board so far. The Princess singers and dancers were young, talented, and enthusiastic and the shows were fabulous. The individual entertainers were also good, although the comics don't as a rule impress me much and the juggler/magician types leave me totally cold. The singers were very good as were the pianists and string quartet who entertained in the atrium and all the live entertainers in the bars. The lecturers were okay, both having books to push, and did more of that than providing any real insights, but the historian who boarded in Panama and spent the day providing commentary over the speakers was very good. The in cabin television also had several different documentaries about the canal which ran for a couple of days prior to our arrival, so we were well educated on the Canal before we started our journey through. It was amazing, start to finish, and, while very low tech, very impressive. We did snorkel tours in both Cabo and Aruba, and enjoyed both very much. Cartagena was eliminated as a stop due to concerns about security and safety, and we had extra time at the end of the Canal for a "shopping stop" and an extra half day in Aruba which we spent on our own looking through the numerous jewelry stores. Aruba is charming and a place we will likely go back to for a longer visit someday. Costa Rica was very impressive - scenic, historically complex, and socially and politically very interesting and advanced. The guide on our bus tour to the capital was very informative and clearly proud and happy to share information about his country with all of us. The Coral Princess is really quite lovely, and we found the facilities a cut above the "Sun" Class ships we had been on before. The show rooms and theater were state of the art, well designed, and the show room had entries on two levels, cutting down on the after show traffic jams. The only complaint I had was the very low temperature of the air conditioning, particularly in the Princess Theater. I've finally learned that no matter where you are cruising to, it is smart to pack a sweater to wear in the theater and public rooms. The alternative dining in both the Italian and the New Orleans dining venues was priced higher than the brochure or online listings, at $20 per person, and, perhaps because of that, were virtually deserted during our cruise. We passed by both on a regular basis and, other than a few people in the bar area of the New Orleans venue, which had good jazz/blues live entertainment, we rarely saw more than 5 or 6 tables out of probably 20 or 25 occupied. Those few people we spoke with who DID try them were favorably impressed with the food quality, and particularly the quantity in the Italian venue, but weren't all that enthusiastic, so we stuck with the dining rooms for the most part. Our balcony cabin was comparatively spacious, with ample closet and shelf space. In fact, they could easily have made more room for the bath (which was tiny, as usual) and we could have done fine with about half the closet space provided. The library was well positioned, and well used, frequently without any empty chairs. Likewise, the card/game room seemed to be very well used. The internet cafe stayed busy on a consistent basis. All of these are grouped close together, and much more visible than on the Sun class ships, which may account for the heavier traffic. The various training classes on all kinds of software were also well attended and well received by the passengers I spoke with who had taken them. Deck areas were well designed, but we missed the stern hot tub for sailaways. The stern pool was designated as a children's pool, but as we had very few children on board, it was used by adults as well, but it didn't take the place of the stern hot tubs with a view, sad to say. The Lotus pool and deck area afforded a place to tan under glass and with air conditioning, which was welcome as we approached the equator. It was also the spot where the resident potter set up shop and taught wheel based pot throwing. Very individualized half hour sessions were around $20 and if you liked the results, you could have your object d'art fired and keep it forever. It was great fun to learn, and I hope it is going to be a feature on other ships. Princess has gotten chintzy with their prizes for the trivia contests - our first experience in Alaska we got coffee cups, pens, nice key chains, and other fun stuff. On our last two cruises, including this one, they only offer bags and backpacks, both pretty cheesy. I still enjoy the trivia contests but now just for the challenge. Most of the time, I don't even play "officially" any more, having given as many people as I can the backpacks and bags... The art auctions, sometimes downright obtrusive before, seemed much more contained and discrete on the Coral than on other cruises. I think it has to do with the space design, as much as anything. The art folks have their own space, which is enclosed, rather than in an alcove type of open area in a walkway. It isn't my thing, but folks do seem to enjoy the auctions. The gym was well equipped, and was better run than we have experienced before. There were always ample towels, the equipment sign up sheets (for the treadmill) were there every morning for the next day, no matter how early we got there, and there were people around to help with the machines, provide instruction and support and they didn't seem to be annoyed if you weren't buying something or signing up for a paid class. This was a MAJOR improvement. Overall, it was our best cruise ever. We will be doing another back to back in October, 2004 on the Star Princess - Western and Eastern Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2004
Just returned form the 10/31/04 Panama Canal sailing of the Coral Princess. There were 3 of us that went—myself age 29 and my parents mid 60s. As a general rule, the majority of passengers on this sailing were much older than myself. ... Read More
Just returned form the 10/31/04 Panama Canal sailing of the Coral Princess. There were 3 of us that went—myself age 29 and my parents mid 60s. As a general rule, the majority of passengers on this sailing were much older than myself. However, I expected this due to the length of the cruise and the itinerary. Children were not very prevalent on this sailing—I think I saw a total of 6 the entire cruise. Also of note was that in each port we were the only cruise ship in port that day. Pre-cruise stay: we always fly down a day early before a cruise and this time we chose to stay at the Marina Marriott in Ft. Lauderdale. It was during the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, so was quite filled up. The hotel is right across the street from the pier and when we arrived we could see the Caribbean Princess getting ready to leave. Another thing we enjoyed about this hotel and it's proximity to the pier was getting up early on the morning of embarkation (5am) and watching all the ships return to Ft. Lauderdale. It was fun to watch the Coral Princess return to port and made us even more excited to start our cruise. The hotel offers a courtesy shuttle to the pier so we made arrangements to take that. Just sign up with the bell captain's stand. I should note that the first person we asked at the stand told us that they did not offer shuttle service, but we asked someone else again and they told us that they did have a shuttle; so it may pay to ask more than one person if they tell you they don't offer one. We took the 11:40am shuttle time and were the only guests on it and arrived at the pier by 11:50am. Embarkation: After arriving at 11:50am, the porters took our bags and we got in the line outside the terminal. Once we made it inside the terminal and everybody sorted into the various lines for check in according to deck etc, that part went fairly quickly and smoothly. After check in, the line through security went very slowly, and there was a bottleneck of people waiting to get their embarkation photo taken etc. I think the whole process took us an hour; this was the slowest embarkation I've experienced on Princess. Cabin: we booked D421 a suite. We loved the size and layout of this room! For those who are familiar with the Sun, Dawn etc, the suites on the Coral are laid out almost the same as the minisuites on the Dawn etc, but are a bit bigger and include a wet bar. There was tons of storage space—drawers, cabinets, shelves. The balcony included 2 lounge chairs and a table and 2 chairs. I know there has been much discussion previously on which balconies on the Coral are covered/uncovered etc. Our room was located midship and the balcony was about 2/3 covered I would say—maybe a little more. We did get most of the suite perks without having to ask. We got our welcome glass of champagne. Got the chocolate covered strawberries automatically delivered on both formal nights, got a corsage and buttonaire delivered on the first formal night. The free internet service was nice, as well as being able to order canapes any night free of charge. We also got the complimentary flower arrangement and it lasted the entire cruise. Ship: when we got onboard, they had the ship decorated for Halloween. They had a carved pumpkin display in the atrium and spider webs and other decorations in the bars and restaurants. Later that night the staff- bartenders etc dressed in costume. Dining: we elected to do Anytime Dining which is in the Bordeaux dining room on Plaza deck 5. The food and service were excellent. We did not make reservations, as they would only let you reserve for 6 or 8pm and we like to go in between. There were several nights that we had to wait and were given a pager. The wait was about 5- 20min and we took this time to get drinks in La Patisserie Bar. We had different servers most nights, except a couple of time we had the same; we especially enjoyed the service of Noli from Romania. One night we choose to eat dinner in the Bayou Cafe and that was wonderful as well. The cheese biscuits and cornbread to start we quite tasty and were served with a cheese spread. I had the fillet of beef which was great and another one of our party had the catfish which he also enjoyed. The food for lunch in the Horizon Court was fine. There was always ample selection and one could always find something to suit. They had the hand sanitizer stations outside the entrance to the Horizon Court and the majority of people seemed to use them. I thought this was great that they are trying to stop sickness from becoming epidemic before it even starts. The order of the dinner menus for this cruise were as follows: Day 1 Sailaway, Day 2 Captain's Welcome, Day 3 Caribbean, Day 4 Continental/French, Day 5 Princess Dinner, Day 6 Italian, Day 7 Captain's Gala, Day 8 International, Day 9 Chef's dinner, Day 10 Landfall. The only "problem" we found was that we wanted to find out the order of the menus for the entire cruise on the first day so that we could book our Bayou Cafe reservation accordingly. However, nobody seemed to know what the order would be. We asked in the Bayou when we made our reservation and he gave us one answer but did not seem sure, so we asked several people in the dining room (waiters and maitre d') and nobody there could give us a straight answer either. However, I now have full copies of the dinner menus from this cruise, as well a few of the lunch and dessert menus, so if anyone wants to know if a particular dish was served or has any other menu questions, feel free to ask me. Day 2: this was a sea day. I took advantage of the scholarship at sea program and signed up for a pottery wheel class. It is $20/half hour and you can throw as many pots as you want. Then you may choose the one or ones you want to keep and the instructor will set them aside to dry and you can return a few days later and paint them. I thought this was a great way to pass the time on a sea day and would definitely do it again. There is also a $15 firing fee for the pots you keep. Day 2 was also our first formal night. Day 3: another sea day. Again, I took advantage of one of the activities offered onboard and did the wine tasting in the Provence dining room for $7.50 The price included a souvenir cordial glass and if you buy a bottle of wine following the event, you will receive a portion of your fee as a credit. Day 4: Limon, Costa Rica. This was a lovely and very worthwhile stop in my opinion. I took the Sloth Sanctuary Tour. On the drive to the sanctuary we pulled over and saw howler monkeys in the trees. When arriving at the sanctuary, we assembled in an open air pavillion to watch a short film about the sloths and the sanctuary. After that, there was a photo opportunity with Buttercup, one of the original sloths there and chance to view some of the other residents. Then, they broke the group in half and half went on a canoe ride and the other half went on a nature walk (and then you switch). On the canoe ride, we saw lots of different birds, more monkeys, an iguana. The nature walk we observed all the different types of plants that the area has. It was quite pretty I thought. My parents did the Jungle Eco- Adventure boat trip and they loved that as well—saw an anteater, monkeys, birds. Day 5: Panama Canal. Today we got up at 5am to watch our ship make it's approach to the canal. Near the entrance, there were tons of other ships (tankers, cargo etc) waiting to enter as well. I believe we approached the first chamber around 6:45am. Going through the canal was real treat. It was fun to watch the ship beside us go thorough as well, because you could really see more of what was happening by watching them. The photographers were on the ground as we went through to take pictures of everyone out on their balconies. They also circulated the open decks to get your picture there. Once we entered Gatun Lake, those of us on tours were tendered ashore. My mother and I did the Deluxe Train dome train car tour. We enjoyed this tour—learned about the history of the canal etc. The description of the tour indicated that we would only go one way on the train—this turned out to not be true. We ended up going both ways on the train (with a motor coach tour in between), which was fine with us. My father took the Ocean to Ocean tour and he really liked that as well. Day 6: Another sea day. Took advantage of the sea day to paint the pots I had made on the pottery wheel. Also did the Maitre D' Wine Tasting for $25. Day 7: Grand Cayman. Much to our delight we did stop at Grand Cayman. The tours were not able to be booked prior to getting on board the ship and there was an abbreviated listing of available tours due to damage to some of the boats etc etc. We booked the Stingray Sanbar Snorkel- snorkel boat. The tour was nice and we had a about 50 min to interact with the rays. On the drive to pick up the boat and as we were going out to the sandbar, there was destruction evident, but the clean up appears to be well under way and continually occurring. We were just happy to get to go there and they seemed happy to see us come as well. This was our second formal night and night of the champagne waterfall. Day 8: Cozumel. My father and I had signed up to snorkel at Palancar reef and my mother was to to Chankanab park. However, due to pretty rough seas that day (was very windy), many of the water related tours were canceled. We ended up shopping at the pier (Puerta Maya) in the morning and taking a cab to the downtown pier in the afternoon. Day 9: Belize. I did the Belize Zoo and city tour. All the animals in the zoo are animals that you would find in the country of Belize. None of the animals were captured from the wild—they are all animals that were injured and can not longer fend for themselves in nature or are being rehabilitated to be eventually set free. In Belize the ship must anchor very far out in the ocean and then the tender ride is about 10-15 min. There are some shops at the pier, but it this is an emerging port so is not as developed as many others. This afternoon, I went to tea in the Bordeaux dining room. I had never been to tea on Princess before. I loved the scones with jam and clotted cream. They also served cookies, pastries and finger sandwiches. They seat you at tables and white gloved servers circulate the tables to serve you. They also have a musician perform during the event. Day 10: At sea. Our final day of the cruise was a sea day. Sitting by the pool was the order of the day. Apparently it was what every one else wanted to do as well. It was a little tricky to get a chair in the afternoon and I noticed that there were chair hogs out in force. Today was also the last culinary demonstration and galley tour, which we did. I thought it was very interesting to see all the different stations in the galley and it was impressive to think about what the galley must look like at dinner with everyone bustling around and doing their jobs. At the end of the day they was a champagne party for people who had made or painted pottery to go and pick up their pieces in the pottery studio. You could then go and see what everyone else had made during the cruise. Disembarkation: went pretty smoothly and timely. We were off the ship by about 9:30am and were about the 4th group called. Once we found our luggage and got a porter we were able to easily get a cab to the airport. Since we docked at a different terminal for disembarkation, i belive they offered shuttle service to the other terminal to people who had driven and parked at the pier to embark. Additional Information that some people may want to know; Cruise Director, David; Captain Giorgio; Maitre D' Rui. Overall, I thought this was a great cruise. I had never done a 10 day itinerary before and it was the perfect amount of time. I can only hope that now 7 days won't seem too short to me! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2004
The cruise started off badly when our travel agent fouled up our reservations. We were traveling with relatives and reserved early so that we would have adjoining cabins of our choice. The agent lost our reservations, so, while other ... Read More
The cruise started off badly when our travel agent fouled up our reservations. We were traveling with relatives and reserved early so that we would have adjoining cabins of our choice. The agent lost our reservations, so, while other members of our party got their packets from Princess in late October, all we got was a runaround about problems. We finally got our packet with immigration forms that were supposed to be mailed 30 days in advance of travel 15 days before the cruise. Thank goodness for Princess's online form filing! Our cruise documents came a week later and that was when we found out that not only didn't we have adjoining cabins, we were two decks down and at the other end of the ship! When we complained, the agent gave us $100 shipboard credit and a bottle of wine. Big Deal! At that late date, there wasn't much more to do, but I will never use that agency again. In spite of all that, the cruise was great! Nice balcony cabin with plenty of storage. The only gripe is the size of the shower. You actually can't turn around in it. It's the size of a coffin. I had to put my foot on the toilet seat outside the shower so I could wash my feet. The room steward was OK, but just. We asked for 3 bath towels instead of 2 and got them once during the cruise, so we used the pool towels in our room. And that brings up another complaint. Passengers are supposed to be responsible for those towels and bring them back to the room, even wet and/or dirty, rather than the ship supplying towels at poolside. Another gripe about the steward. He couldn't seem to keep the room supplied with shampoo, conditioner and lotion. We got all of one thing and none of the others often. We learned to raid his cart in the hall. I wonder if the policy of tips being included in the charges has anything to do with this. Other than that, the service was excellent all over the ship. My husband and I both got soda cards and, unlike on other ships, the sodas were served with a smile, especially at the Lido bar. The boutiques had a nice selection of items from the ports we were visiting. My husband wanted a shirt with "mulo?" decoration on it from Panama, but the size tags were hard to read (smudged). The Boutique assistant manger, Carla, saw our difficulty (at 10 p.m.) and promised, that, if there was a shirt on board in the color my husband wanted and in his size, we would have it. By the next morning, we had a message on our phone that there were two shirts for us to choose from. She really went out of her way for us. The food was good, not outstanding, but there was always something that we liked on the menu and the quality was excellent. We had open seating (not our first choice, but that was the travel agent again). It turned out fine and we met a lot of nice people. We only ate in the dining room for dinner and used the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Plenty of choices with interesting salads and good chocolate chip cookies. My husband says that the pizza on the Lido was the best he's had since leaving NY -- great crust and sauce. The Lotus pool area under the dome is supposed to be for adults only and that policy was enforced if someone complained. I also often saw parents bringing infants in diapers into the hot tubs! Not only is this bad for an infant's health, but it must be against every health code! When wants to swim in a cesspool? There was a very nice 8" deep splash pool on board, but I guess it was too much trouble for some of these self-absorbed people to use it. The entertainment on board was good and two of the production shows were excellent. There were two comedy shows. The one we saw was very good. We've seen him before but he had new material. We couldn't get into the other show. There were also current movies every day. My husband used the gym every day and found it to be of good size and well maintained. No waiting for treadmills or other equipment. The tours offered were some of the best we've been on, especially in Panama and Belize. We took the Panama City tour and went to "Old," new and Colonial Panama City on the Pacific side. The "Old" city was burned by the pirate Henry Morgan and is ruins that are being excavated and are partially rebuilt. The guide explained that under Noriega nothing was done and they are only now developing a tourist industry. He also hoped that we would keep the former dictator in jail "until he rots." The new city is a bustling metropolis with skyscrapers going up everywhere. The colonial city is a typical Central American slum, but it is slowly being restored, building by building, with the facades being reconstructed in the old style. It will be beautiful, but the rule is they have to find housing for the inhabitants before a building can be renovated, so it's a slow go. Belize is very interesting. The sea is so shallow offshore that we had a 20 minute tender ride at high speed to reach shore. Carnival is in the process of excavating a ship channel and building a pier. Our guide explained that Belize is a very small agricultural country and will be very happy to have a tourist industry. It isn't all quite up and running yet but our tour to the Lamania Mayan ruins was excellent. Only 3% excavated. You really need insect repellant for this one and expect to walk trails hacked from the jungle with howler monkeys screaming overhead. Good lunch cooked and served by the locals. Small museum but very nice -- brand new. The "gift shop" was two huts on stilts and the timing was so bad we didn't even have a chance to look inside them. It was a long trip upriver to the ruins and the ship was leaving at 4:30, probably due to tides since the channel is not ready. The tour leader was quite knowledgeable. At one point, we were going up a small incline when he stopped us. "Look to your right," he said. We saw a hill going off into the jungle with large trees and a lot of rubble. "Now look to your left." We saw a steep dropoff with more rubble and trees. "You are walking across the side of an unexcavated pyramid." The ruins are so far inland that with the ship's schedule, we barely made the last tender, tired and happy. All in all, I would highly recommend this ship and itinerary. We had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
We just returned from 10 great days on the Coral Princess. There were 16 of us and we all had a wonderful time. The ship is beautiful. It is well laid out. We had a mini-suite with balcony. The room was perfect size. Some in our group ... Read More
We just returned from 10 great days on the Coral Princess. There were 16 of us and we all had a wonderful time. The ship is beautiful. It is well laid out. We had a mini-suite with balcony. The room was perfect size. Some in our group booked the balcony room. They commented that it was a bit cramped. The bathrooms in the balcony rooms are especially small. We had a full bath. Our balcony was covered which is why we chose rooms in the back. The pool area was perfect size. You could always find a lounge somewhere on the pool deck. I was surprised at how many younger people were on board. Our group averaged around 51. There were a lot of college kids, parents with little children and a lot of 40 year olds. Of course, there were the older folks Our table was 123, second seating. Marianna was our waitress. She just took off for two months to return to Romania. She was the best. The food was plentiful and good. Everybody in our party agreed. We were unable to stop in Costa Rica due to rough seas. Panama Canal was great. Six of us took the Ocean to Ocean excursion. We loved seeing the entire canal by boat (you take a bus to where the canal leaves Gatun lake). You really appreciate the size of the locks in a smaller vessel. Grand Cayman is really messed up due to the hurricane damage. There isn't much to do there. We went to the mainland Mexico in Cozumel and went to X-Caret. It is an adventure park. Very clean and enjoyable. We went cave tubing in Belize. It was enjoyable but the 1 1/2 hour trip each way makes for a long day. All the excursions are 5 to 6 hours because of driving. I do want to comment that the shore excursions are pricey. We could have booked excursions privately for 1/2 the price. The fitness center is too small for a ship with this many passengers. Very little equipment. I didn't use the SPA so I can't comment. By the way, this was my 18th cruise (my second on Princess). I have been on RCI five times (most recently with our children last January) and Holland America six times, most recently to Alaska in 2003. Would I sail on the Coral Princess again -- yes. Would I go on this particular itinerary again -- probably not. I have been to Cozumel and Grand Cayman too many times and I did not like Belize. If anyone has any questions, please e-mail me. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
My husband and I have travelled extensively, but only cruised 4 times. Our last cruise was on Holland America to Alaska and the travel agent who had booked that trip for us claimed that we would be disappointed if we changed to Princess. ... Read More
My husband and I have travelled extensively, but only cruised 4 times. Our last cruise was on Holland America to Alaska and the travel agent who had booked that trip for us claimed that we would be disappointed if we changed to Princess. Thank goodness we didn't listen to her. Our trip was fabulous!! The only complaint I can think of was that the Ranch dressing was real Ranch! Otherwise everything else was great. Sanitization and cleanliness were evident everywhere we went. There were always staff cleaning. The public rooms were beautifully decorated and always tidied up by the staff The best bargain of the trip: buy the soda pass when you get on. This gives you unlimited sodas, tonic, non-alcoholic drinks. This is not well marketed and I wish I had taken advantage of this. The option of being able to bring on your own wine is great. A friend gave the four of us 8 bottles of champagne to drink on the cruise on our balconies. What a treat! The embarkation process went extremely smooth and quick. Much better than Holland America where we stood in line for over 2 hours. Finding our way around the ship was very easy. We travelled with close friends who had the cabin next to us. In reading about the other reviews regarding lack of balcony privacy we found this to not be true. Yes, if you hung way over the edge or around the divider you could see your neighbors. The only problem was that the swinging gate between balconies on conjoined cabins could not be latched open and there was not way to open it ourselves. The first night it banged. But we quickly solved the problem by using a luggage belt to keep it open. We were lucky as our weather was good. It was windy the first day at sea and then some drizzle. The ship was very steady in some rough seas and we never felt any rolling. The food was much better than Holland America, although we did not try the separate restaurants. They never looked to be that busy. As we were travelling as a foursome, we requested a large table. We were booked with the most delightful travelling companions: a family of four and two singles. We had a late seating, which as we were usually the last out of the dining room, we were unable to get seated at most of the late shows. But this was a self inflicted problem as if we really wanted to see the shows we could have made more of an effort. I do think they should start the late show at 10:30 instead of 10. It seems that a lot of the early seating diners wait until 10 to see the show, making it hard for the late seated to get in. Our waitress, Daniela, was from Romania and she was spectacular! We did experience problems with personality from another waitstaff when we attended one of the wine tastings, but otherwise, all staff that we encountered were top notch, no matter where we saw them. They all seemed to work several areas of the ship and it was nice that the staff developed a rapport with the passengers. The Horizon Buffet was much better laid out than Holland America or Costa. We never had to wait in line and they were quite stringent on hand sanitation. The food was also hot We booked all our tours in advance via the internet. We were not impressed by the stop in Costa Rica. The portside shopping was not much better than Tijuana, and the stallkeepers were pushy. This pushiness was not experienced in any other port. We took a jungle excursion and viewed lots of birds and wildlife. Our stop in the Panama Canal was 1st class. We booked the train trip Atlantic to Pacific; do not bother with upgrading the $10 to the higher class. The "snack" was more than adequate: sandwich, water, cookie, chips; not at all lacking as we were told. Grand Cayman was hard hit by the storms and it is still in evidence. We booked a tour to the turtle farm which was well worth it. I would have felt comfortable not booking the tour on board and just taking chances getting a tour as you get off the boat. The tour operators were very nice and I think you would have gotten an honest tour operator. We booked the Mayan ruin tour in Belize. While that was very interesting, the tour guide felt it her obligation on the return trip to take us through the extreme poverty areas of Belize. I felt this was very unnecessary to drive a tour bus full of "wealthy" foreigners through such an area of poverty. We swam with the Dolphins in Cozumel. What a treat! The water was unbelievably clear. While I would not have traded in this opportunity, I would have no problem taking a taxi to the snorkeling area ($10 per taxi) and there is plenty of snorkel equipment to rent. We out a deposit down on a future cruise (2006) which is good for four years. What a great bargain. If your travel agent also offered any shipboard credits, these will apply as well. I will gladly be a return customer to Princess. The disembarkation process was handled very well. We booked an Everglades tour, which unfortunately can only be booked on board. Therefore, if you have scheduled a late flight to take advantage of this and not enough people sign up for it, you could be hanging around for several hours. But, there were plenty of people booked and the tour was worth it. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
Well designed ship, but poor quality of finishing especially in the steel fabrication/welding, carpeting and tiling in the washrooms. Entertainment - Excellent, including the Princess Productions Shows, Guest Entertainers and the onboard ... Read More
Well designed ship, but poor quality of finishing especially in the steel fabrication/welding, carpeting and tiling in the washrooms. Entertainment - Excellent, including the Princess Productions Shows, Guest Entertainers and the onboard cruise staff. Great selection of activities throughout the day and themed nights in the evening. Cruise staff were brilliant. Food - Quality and presentation is excellent, but the service in the dining rooms does not meet the standards of prior years. Even in the Horizon Court the food is always fresh and warm. Breakfast in the restaurant was not a satisfactory venture. Cabins - Cabin steward was excellent, she worked around our schedule and anticipated our every need. Balcony was rather small and had no privacy. Smoking Policy - Biggest detriment to the cruise. As a non-smoker found the alleyway from the Casino to Explorers Lounge constantly polluted. In Explorers Lounge no seat in the lounge is completely free from the pollution. Photo Department - Extremely poor. Photographs not correctly posed and were unable to download and burn photographs to a CD. Poor customer service at the desk. Bars - Good selection with the notable exception being the aft decks. No bar aft serving the sports deck or aft pool. Computers at Sea - Great program, spent a few lessons learning Photoshop Elements, which has been put to great use since returning home. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
Let me begin by saying this was one of our best vacations yet. The Princess motto "Escape Completely" really applies to me (Lora) and my husband (Greg) and that's what a cruise is all about for us. Escaping from everything. ... Read More
Let me begin by saying this was one of our best vacations yet. The Princess motto "Escape Completely" really applies to me (Lora) and my husband (Greg) and that's what a cruise is all about for us. Escaping from everything. Before the cruise: Our vacation began on April 16th with a flight into Fort Lauderdale and staying at the Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort. We always fly in a day ahead and that's what we did this time, too. The location of this hotel can't be beat. It's right across the street from the Beach in Fort Lauderdale, right in the heart of all the action. We walked up the street to the restaurants and had a great dinner at Lulu's Bait Shack. On Sunday morning we had coffee at a lovely local coffee shop right on the beach. The coffee and food are great and it's clearly a local hangout as well. If you enjoy good espresso, don't miss it. The we walked all the way up the bridge and looked across the port to the ships. It's more than a mile each way, but the weather was perfect and we couldn't miss the opportunity to see the ship. April 17th - Embarkation When we got back to the hotel, we picked up our things and headed off to the pier about 11:00. That put us at the pier by 11:15 and onboard by 11:45, in spite of a line most of the length of the terminal. I'm consistently impressed by how well embarkation goes. As we walked onto the ship, I could tell we were going to have a wonderful time. The Coral Princess just sparkles and it's size makes it so easy for walking from the forward to aft without being completely exhausted. We were in cabin D504, a mini-suite on the Dolphin deck that I would highly recommend. It's just a few steps away from the central elevators and is convenient to everything. The balcony is mostly covered by the bumpout above it and it provided a real sense of privacy. After exploring our cabin, we had lunch in the Horizon Cafe. The view is spectacular and I love that there is a covered place with a few out over the bow. The only rain of the entire trip came during sailaway. We found a partially covered area just outside the Horizon for taking pictures as we sailed away. On the first night we decided to sample the fare at the Bayou Cafe. It was very tasty, but disappointing to our tastes. We expected some very spicy cajun and instead got something that didn't quite meet our standards. Although, that was the only food the entire week that didn't meet our expectations. Drink of the Day - Rum Punch April 18th - At Sea -- I usually don't take advantage of the spa, but I decided to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure early in the morning. It was two hours of pure luxury. This was followed by a late breakfast at the horizon court, then lunch at the Grill. With hot tubs and swimming in between and most of the afternoon. Let me take advantage of this distraction to tell you the beauty of the Lotus Pool. We spent most of our swimming time in this area and just loved it. The pool was the perfect temperature to just walk into - not too hot and not too cold. This was the first formal night and the Captain's Welcome Cocktail party. It was a very lovely time. Although, there were hardly enough waiters to go around. We also watched "Curtain Up". The princess dancers were very good and we were very impressed with the quality of all the production shows. I'm a musical theater nut and it was good to see all of that great music put together. Drink of the Day - Yellow Bird April 19th - At Sea -- Yet another completely relaxing day. We had breakfast at the horizon court and lunch at the pizzeria. We also attended the first cooking demo. It was entertaining, but I'd like to learn a little more in the process. And I would have liked to get handouts of the recipes before the session, rather than just pointing to the cookbook. On the other hand, we bought the cookbook last year on the Caribbean Princess and it really is good. Dinner tonight was the highlight of our cruise. We ate at Sabatini's and I believe this is an experience never to be missed. The wait staff was wonderful and we were able to get a table next to the window where we could see the water. My only complaint is that by the time we got to the main course we were so stuffed we couldn't really enjoy it. I had the tiger prawns and they were utterly delicious. Drink of the Day - Chocolate Banana (Yumm!!) (If you order one the first day, that's what you'll want all week.) April 20th - Limon, Costa Rica -- Our day in Costa Rica was an adventure that I would not want to have missed. After breakfast in the horizon court we were at the Princess Theater at 7:15 to wait for our shore excursion (Jungle River and Eco Adventure). Our tour guide was Maria and she did a wonderful job of giving us a picture of the history of the country as well as some good exposure to the flora and fauna of the area. The boat ride was a great experience and I'm sure Disney made the Jungle Boat ride from one just like it. I can't imagine a more beautiful place. This tour was only a half day which allowed us more time to enjoy the ship and swimming after we returned. Dinner that evening was in the Boudreaux dining room where we were able to get a lovely table in an area with Cesar and Jorge as our waiters. This was the first time we sat in their section and decided that we would make standing reservations for 8:15 so we could sit there the rest of the week. That evening we saw "Da Beat". Again, the performance was excellent. I'm not sure how they can dance like that on a moving stage. Drink of the Day - Strawberry Daiquiri April 21st - Panama Canal -- This day was without a doubt the best part of the trip. And although I enjoyed our entire vacation, this is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. We were up at about 6:15 and already had our pilot aboard and were going into the channel toward Gatun Lock. If you really want to experience it, I'd recommend being up and at least checking things out by 6am or so. We had coffee on the balcony as we watched the passage of the locks and it really is one of the most amazing feats of engineering that has ever been accomplished. As we looked over the side of the ship and watched us go from the Promenade deck being 2 feet from the wall to being way above the water. It just blew you away. One of the fun things is that there was narration on the bridge cam tv channel and you got a good picture of everything going on. If I did it again, I might try to go forward and watch it from the Horizon Cafe. But on the other hand it was really neat to have it be just outside our door. For a shore excursion we did the Ocean-to-Ocean and it was truly amazing and I highly recommend it. During the bus ride to Gamboa our guide kept us entertained with information about the country and the culture. We were on the first boat to arrive at the pier and so we were able to get a seat outside up front so we could see everything up close. The only problem is that it's VERY hot. So, if that's your plan, be sure to drink plenty of water. (They'll have it on the boat for you.) I'm not sure that I can begin to tell you how truly emotional it is to ride through the Gailliard cut and think about all the people who lost their lives to create this amazing place. It makes you feel as though you're part of history. And then being right next to the wall as we passed through the locks really gave you a chance to experience the scope of the project. After we passed through the locks, we docked in Balboa and then took a bus back to the ship in Cristobol. This is a shore excursion that is truly not to be missed. While we were on the excursion, the ship went back through the Gatun locks and docked at Cristobol. When we returned we walked through the handcraft market and had a beer as we watched the local dancers. Then we returned to the ship and cooled off in the Lotus Pool. It was truly a most incredible day. Drink of the Day - Panama Mule Punch April 22nd - At Sea -- After the amazing day yesterday, a day at sea was the perfect antidote. We spent most of the day relaxing and enjoying the pool and hot tub. The high point of the day was the Maitre D's Wine Tasting. The wines were all very wonderful and it was very much worth the cost. My only suggestions are that they slow things down a little so you get to enjoy things a little more and perhaps add some more appetizers as well. Drink of the Day - Melon Ball April 23rd - Grand Cayman -- This was another wonderful day. We try to do ½ day shore excursions at some places so that we can enjoy the town as well. Grand Cayman was no exception. We were there in the spring of 2004 and saw Stingray City, so this time we decided to do the "Sea and Sea," so that we could get a taste of the island. We started with an Atlantis partially submerged submarine ride. This was great fun and I would highly recommend it. It was very neat to see the sea life and the wreckage in the harbor. We then boarded a bus and went to "look at" one end of 7-mile beach and to visit hell. Neither of these events was especially exciting but they were OK. More interesting actually was the chance to see some of the damage of Hurricane Ivan and to hear the stories from the driver about the damage on the island. It sounds like it was horrible. The last thing we did on this tour was visit the turtle farm (http://www.turtle.ky) this was actually interesting and we got to hold a turtle. So the beginning and the end made the adventure worthwhile. Although, if I were making a recommendation to someone, I'd tell them to have a cab take them out to the turtle farm and maybe just do a separate submarine trip. After the tour was done, we moved onto the shopping part of the day. The amazing part of this visit was to hear how hard everyone worked to get the stores restored and ready for cruise visitors since Hurricane Ivan. Of course, we did find a couple of pretties as well. Then it was off to lunch at Paradise restaurant. It's a nice place near the cruise terminal and we did some snorkeling there as well. The water was a little rough and I would have felt better with either flippers or sand shoes (it's very rocky) but the sea life was very interesting. Then it was back to the ship for a nap, some hot tubing and getting ready for dinner and the Captain's Circle party. The interesting story for the afternoon was that the ship turned around about 2 hours out from Grand Cayman due to an illness on board and that put us into Cozumel later than expected. It also meant that the Captain didn't make it to the party. But it was fun anyway. Then it was off to a wonderful dinner. The odd and interesting thing on this cruise was running into our waiter last year (Arnold) who had taken such wonderful care of us on the Caribbean Princess. This was the second formal night, so after dinner we relaxed until time for the Champagne Waterfall. A wonderful event and truly something not to be missed. Drink of the Day - Ocean Breeze 4/24 - Cozumel -- As I mentioned earlier our arrival into Cozumel was delayed because of the return to Grand Cayman. However, that didn't cramp our day to much. We went to the San Gervasio ruins and were very impressed to see these very interesting sites from the past. If you aren't going to see any Mayan sites later in your cruise and you don't want to take an entire days than these are worth seeing. When we returned we met a new friend for lunch at Pancho's Backyard and then did some more shopping. It was a Sunday afternoon and unfortunately several shops closed early, but it was still a very enjoyable day. One thing to note about Pancho's Backyard. There is one at the cruise terminal, but if you want one that's much quieter head to the one downtown. It's hidden inside Los Cinco Soles. Of course after a day like that we had to head back to the ship for more relaxation before a lovely dinner. Drink of the Day - Fun on the Beach 4/25 - Belize -- Belize was a wonderful surprise. As we pulled into the harbor, the GPS showed the twists and turns the ship had made getting close to the harbor and the tender in took at least 10 minutes. We booked the Lamanai Ruins and New River Safari Tour through the ship and thoroughly enjoyed it. The adventure began with a short boat ride to a river. Followed by a 40mph ride down twisty rivers to the ruins. (The ride was almost the best part). Then we arrived at the ruins and walked down a ¼ mile path to the first of 3 temples we would see. (Be sure to bring insect repellent.) It was amazing. You really felt you were part of the history. Then we moved on to a second even bigger temple that we were actually able to climb. It was truly spectacular. My only wish is that we could have stayed longer. By the time we got to the top, it was time to climb down. And the climb down is certainly scary. They have a rope to help you, but our legs were both sore for two days after that climb. Then we were off to one last temple. And then a lovely lunch by the side of the river. Captain Chino was our guide and both his boat driving skills and knowledge of the history of the area were wonderful. This adventure took most of the day, but we were very glad to have had a plan for the day as the rest of the area was certainly not a place we would want to go. If you stop in Belize be sure to book a tour. Once we got back, we were back to the pool before a relaxing evening. Drink of the Day - Tequila Sunrise 4/26 - At Sea -- One last day to enjoy the Coral Princess and we had to take advantage of the time. Most of it was spent relaxing by the pool. But we did attend the cooking demo and galley tour. (The escalators in the galley are the coolest thing). We also attended the ice carving demo. Dinner was for a final night in the anytime dining room with our wonderful waiters. The only thing we missed was the Baked Alaska parade, but it's a small price to pay for the flexibility of anytime dining. Drink of the Day - Homeward Bound 4/27 - Ft. Lauderdale and Miami -- The only good thing about leaving the Coral Princess was knowing it wasn't quite time to go home yet. Once we got off the ship, we took a cab into South Beach and checked into a lovely little hotel (The Blue Moon.) The nightlife was fun, the shopping was good, the Mojitos were wonderful, and it was a great way to relax before heading home. Overall Comments: Food: Wonderful as always. And the deserts are spectacular. Now if they only had SoufflEs on the menu every night. Ship: Excellent. We're torn about whether we like this size ship or the Grand class better, but we really had no complaints. Everything was clean and sparkly. The small spaces are so well designed you never feel crowded. Service: Best Yet. I'm not sure if it was the fewer passengers or the longer cruise, but the service was fantastic. It never took more than 5 minutes to get coffee in the morning. The waiters at the pool actually had time to get to know you and were always around when you needed one. There were never any complaints or even disappointment when I ordered a Coke rather than alcohol. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
Just returned from Coral Princess Repositioning Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Vancouver, BC. What can I say? - Absolutely terrific. ANY reports that might have been negative that you may have heard are ALL totally incorrect. I have been on ... Read More
Just returned from Coral Princess Repositioning Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Vancouver, BC. What can I say? - Absolutely terrific. ANY reports that might have been negative that you may have heard are ALL totally incorrect. I have been on the Star and the Dawn, and enjoyed this ship and all its crew members like it was my second home. No complaints whatsoever, and I am very aware of things when they just are not quite right, or covered up. Food was out of this world - and that's no lie. We ate both upstairs in Horizon Court and in dinning room at night time, for that "special touch." Only time food was not up to par, in the horizon, was morning disembarkation at San Fran. and in Vanc. but then, that should be expected as nothing is "normal" at that time. Aruba ATV's were the absolute bomb!! Dusty, but the best laugh ever and adrenalin rush (45mph through town!) - and I'm 54. Costa Rica was gorgeous - we did a private tour, doing the zipline through the Monteverde Rain Forest - in a heartbeat I'd be back! 420 feet up, 11 wires, one of them the highest anywhere, and one over 1/2 mile long - words cannot say how we felt, or the things we saw - go for it!! Hualtuco we just walked the town and swam and had the biggest and best Marguerita ever - actually, it was my first one ever! Acapulco, I was very disappointed in - Cinquo de Maya was NOT the best day to arrive there - traffic everywhere, and crowded beaches. But cliff divers made up for that as did Mayan Hotel three bays away for the day - 1 mile swimming pool and hot beach! Swimming again. Cabo was awesome - nicest resort of them all. Sea Kyaking was fun and we got a chance to go swimming - beautiful place, lovely people. Weather was great - Oh, right. The Panama Canal was a wonder to behold!! was out there from 6:30 a.m. till 5 p.m. with a break for lunch/etc. but was soooo interesting. "Ship go up; ship go down" - especially with the Spirit dogging our stern, it was fun to watch us go up or down as they did the opposite as they were just that little bit behind us!! Saw a large crocodile as we came through the last gates and that Really made my day complete!! San Fran was great as we had a wonderful warm day to walk around - Giradelli's chocolate factory, then Starbucks for orange-choc-mocha-something freezie, then Ben and Jerry's for cherry Garcia!! memorable, memorable, memorable, with awesome buys from some retail stores on jewelry. Home to Vanc was too quick, but with working in the gym everyday, and hanging out with great staff friends, great assistant cruise directors - PHIL, Chris, Jason, Peter, John, Leslie, Melissa, and soooo many others, they made this a trip of my dreams. Thank you Coral Princess - we will be back!!!   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2005
Introduction-This was our second cruise, our second cruise on Princess and our second cruise to Alaska. Our first cruise last May was wonderful but far from perfect. We booked it almost on a whim knowing little about cruising and not ... Read More
Introduction-This was our second cruise, our second cruise on Princess and our second cruise to Alaska. Our first cruise last May was wonderful but far from perfect. We booked it almost on a whim knowing little about cruising and not much more about Alaska. We missed so much (two ports and the glacier), a bad start made most of the passengers a little surly at best and an over tired crew did little in the beginning to improve things. On the way home, we started planning our next cruise and this is where this report really begins. We discovered cruisecritic.com and soon discovered cruise reports from our cruise. Many were totally negative. A few were Pollyanna sweet. Both sides missed the totality of the cruise. We started reading the cruise reports regularly, especially those to Alaska. We also read the Princess forum and the Alaska forum with care. We analyzed every detail of cruising and every reference to Alaska's ports of call. Soon, several consistencies emerged - itinerary is everything for the Alaska cruise, doing things on your own is less expensive and more fun, flight-seeing is a must and Alaska requires its extras. Our second cruise confirmed all of the above. We went back to our favorite TA to plan this cruise. We wanted the Coral Princess out of Vancouver in May. We wanted to see Glacier Bay and College Fjord. Our biggest disappointment last year had been to not see a glacier. This year we maximized our chances. Our TA told us we needed to book by early December to get what we wanted. This we would have done except that our best friends who hoped to go with us could not commit until January. By Mid-Jan, cabin choices were slim, but we got what we thought were good choices. Pre-cruise-We spent a week in Seattle visiting friends. We saw some of the sights of the area including Snoqualmie Falls and Mount Rainier. We went to Snoqualmie on a gloomy day. The falls were running full with spray everywhere. Mount Rainier blessed with a clear day for photo ops. We tried hard to adjust to West Coast time and did so a little better than last year. The weather forecast for Alaska's southeast coast was for rain all week. Saturday-Transfer and embarkation-On a cool overcast day, we went to the airport about 11:00 AM to catch the Princess transfer bus to Vancouver, BC. Princess had told our TA on two separate occasions that the first and last bus left SeaTac at 12:30. This, we discovered was not true. Buses had been running since 8:00 AM. We got on a bus that left at 11:45. First ding on Princess. This bus made good time to the Canadian border station. We were prepared for some wait and hassle and had been coached on behavior. There was another bus ahead of us when we arrived. Our driver said we would have to wait until that bus left before we could be cleared, but he took our declaration forms inside. He came back in a few minutes and said we were good to go. The whole thing took less than 10 minutes. Canada Place was a mess. President Bush's latest border security measures had just been implemented. Three ships were at the dock taking on passengers. The system was overwhelmed. The line was 5 hours long just to get to the first sorting point where US citizens were separated from non-US citizens to go through American INS clearance. Yes, the INS is in Canada, but I would rather see them there than in Juneau. After the sorting the estimate was an additional two hours. However, we skipped all of this. Our friend had by-pass surgery just fives weeks before the cruise, so our whole party went directly to the sorting area and directly to the INS station for those with medical difficulties. Our total embarkation time was about 30 minutes. Was this fair? For our friend it definitely was. He was tired from the bus ride and the additional wait may have put him in bed for several days. I expected that he, or maybe he and his wife, would get the fast track and that my wife and I would wait. Princess policy is that the whole party moves together. Getting through Princess registration was a snap. We posed on the gang plank for pictures and went on up. We were greeted and passed from crew to crew to our cabin where our cabin steward, Ban, greeted us by name. The cabin itself was exactly what we expected. Everything was in place and clean and neat. We asked for an egg crate for the bed and went to dinner. We were shown to a table for eight with a view and greeted by Leo our waiter and Joselito, our assistant waiter. Both proved to be funny, kind, efficient and knowledgeable about the food. Leo has been with Princess for 15 years. When Leo learned we are from Virginia, he sang a few bars of "Take me home country road." He has a pleasant singing voice. During the entire week, he always made sure we made a good choice from the menu. The egg crate pad was on the bed when we got back from dinner. My major disappointment of the day was that I was not on deck when we sailed. We were eating. The embarkation delays had delayed sailing and I missed getting a picture of the Lion's bridge. Sunday-This was our only Sea day. It started out badly for me. I wear contacts 8-10 hours per day. Other than that I have to wear glasses. So I started the day in glasses which have thick lenses which makes me a bit disoriented to my surroundings. On this day the sea was prone to heavy swells. The rolling of the ship exacerbated my disorientation and, for the first time in my life, I was experiencing motion sickness. Back to the room, remove glasses lay down for 30 minutes, insert contacts and I am a new man. I had no problems with my glasses the rest of the trip. We spent the day soaking up impressions of the ship. The Coral does not have the pure flash of the Diamond, but she is a beauty with class and overall, I think, a finer ship. The major ding on the whole trip was confined to the temperature control in the public rooms. When the weather was warm, as in Juneau and Skagway, the AC was on and everything was fine. When the weather was cool the heat was on and everyone, including me, was hot. I am extremely cold natured so when I get hot, I know that my wife is about dying from the heat.   The crew and staff were consistently friendly and helpful. The passengers responded with equal courtesy. This was a happy ship. I never heard a cross word the whole trip. We had few if any teenagers on board and only a few children and no babies so we did not experience any of the problems associated with them. The ship was clean and cleaned every day. We had no virus. Our balcony, A522 (port side) was a little disappointing. The port side mid-ship, has a monster overhang which obscures the overhead view from the balcony. This probably covers about 1/3 of the port-side cabins. One question CC did not give us was whether the electrical outlet in the cabin was a grounded outlet. It is. We came prepared with out three outlet strip ($1.00) from Wal-Mart, but my wife added a 3 to 2 prong converter in Seattle just to be safe. We did not need it. The food was excellent all week. We ate various places for breakfast and lunch but were faithful to our traditional first seating in the Provance dining room for dinner. We even got room service one morning. It was right on time. We ate Pizza which we all agreed was better than any fast food/delivery pizza. I had grilled shrimp at the on-deck seafood barbecue and it was excellent. The halibut, salmon, shrimp, lobster, and other fish were all outstanding. I had roast prime rib the last night. I've eaten roast prime rib since I was 8 years old in many fine restaurants. It was excellent. The only disappointment food wise was the beef short ribs for lunch. The flavor was good, but they were 90% fat. Our three coffee drinkers pronounced the coffee very good. The Coke card is still $22.50. The Cokes on the Coral are full strength and served in big glasses. On the Diamond, they were served in skinny bar glasses and watered down. These are differences any coke-aholic will appreciate. The entertainment was so-so. I missed Bert, at the Crooner's bar on the Diamond rocking the ship every night with "Elvira." And yes everything is still loud. The highlight of the day was our CC roll call meet and greet with about 30 people. About 10 of these were active posters to the RC. Monday- Ketchikan-We tendered to the dock which was no big deal. Our, friends, against our advice, left their Gortex wind breakers on the ship. As soon as we hit the dock, the wind came up and the rain came down. We left them to their own devices, at their insistence and charged off toward Creek Street. We did an excursion last year that took most of our time in K. This year we decided to walk the town and we did from one end to the other. We toured Dolly's house. This is a good $5.00 excursion. It is probably the only museum around decorated with hand made French Silk flowers made from condoms. Last year, I bought one of those fur hats (rabbit) with the pull down ear flaps for $35.00 US in Carcross, YT. This year I saw one in K for $295.00 made from beaver. The rain stopped in about 30 minutes and we had cloudy with showers the rest of the day. When the rain stopped we took pictures. When it came we tucked the cameras into our Gortex, and had a good time. Our excursion for the day was to eat lunch at Annabelle's in the restored hotel. The food was wonderful. When we got back to the ship, we found out that our friends had a good time on their own, but they never left the ship again without their Gortex. Tuesday- Juneau-The highlight of the day and of the week was our flight-seeing salmon bake at Taku Lodge. Flying conditions and photography light were perfect. The food was wonderful and in the middle of lunch someone cried bear and emptied the room in about 5 seconds. Scarface (resident bear) has not showed up this year. He was/is an old bear and may not have survived the winter, but there are still bears after the drippings. We had a flawless view of the hole-in-the-wall glacier. When we got back, I walked back to the ship by way of a couple of book stores and made my contribution to the city's economy. Wednesday-Skagway-We took Budget Queen's advice and rented a car and took off for Emerald Lake and the Cinnamon Cache Bakery. The car was a dream. We took four people to the Yukon for $25 each. Avis opened a few minutes early and we were on our way to the Yukon by 8:02 AM. We stopped at every pull off. We shopped at Carcross. We saw the lake and ate cinnamon buns and beef stew. We got back to Skagway in time to shop, turn in the car, and get back to our 5:45 PM dinner. We thought we might miss dinner this one time, but once we met the Ladies, dinner was not to missed for any reason short of health. Thursday-Glacier Bay-We saw four glaciers. Lamplugh, with its gushing mouth and Margerie, with its calving were the most interesting. A bridge game took up most of the afternoon. Friday-College Fjord and farewell to the Ladies-College Fjord was more beautiful than Glacier Bay at least in this week. There were Bergie Bits all over and the water was glassy smooth. The only drawback was that dinner was served during our time in the Fjord. So we interrupted the photo shoot for roast prime, baked Alaska and farewell to the Ladies. The four of us were partnered with four utterly charming, wonderfully entertaining and most gracious widow ladies from England. Each dinner brought the eight of us more in tune with each other. There were group photos, hugs all around, and a few tears when it was over. I shall never forget these ladies - all grandmothers and two great-grand mothers. All vigorous and cheerful. They may be riding off into the sunset of life, but they are doing it with grace and style and apologies to no one. This is traditional dining as I understand it should be. Saturday-Disembarkation-The process went smoothly on ship. We stepped off into the rain and straight onto the bus. Thanks to CC, we sat on the left side of the bus and saw what there was to see. The tide was going out so we saw a lot of mud. We got to the airport, picked up our luggage from Princess and checked it at Northwest. You can check bags 24 hours in advance in Anchorage. We rented a car and went down town or tried to. This was a big mistake. If you want to do down town, do it on foot. We did find the Ulu factory and bought for everyone on our list. There is no parking anywhere. We ended up going to several parks which was fun. Clouds broke up about 8:00PM and we saw Denali. By force of circumstances, we took the red-eye home. Never again. We got home to tired to even think. Afterthoughts-Everyone should go to Alaska. The land rejuvenates the soul. On a scale of 1-10, this rates about a 9.98. If we had been midship on Baja and the AC had been on the public rooms the whole cruise, it would have been a solid 10. The most subtle of the highlights came on Friday at lunch. Our traveling companions started the trip with mixed feelings. For her, it was her dream to cruise Alaska. He was going only to please her. At lunch that last day, he stated strongly that “I do believe that this has been the best week of my life.” That’s Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2005
I sailed on the Coral Princess on May 28, 2005 from Vancouver to Whittier, Alaska. We arrived at Canada Place around 10:30 a.m. and the baggage handlers immediately took our luggage which went immediately through an x-ray machine. We ... Read More
I sailed on the Coral Princess on May 28, 2005 from Vancouver to Whittier, Alaska. We arrived at Canada Place around 10:30 a.m. and the baggage handlers immediately took our luggage which went immediately through an x-ray machine. We exchanged canadian currency into US dollars and then stood in line for 5-10 minutes to go through security ourselves, just like at an airport, then to a customs desk (there was no line at all), then walked down a hallway to a big waiting room to get on the ship. Immediately went to the check in at the Princess desk where we received our room card and they took our credit card number (no wait here either). We then had about an hour wait until we could board. They would not let us on until noon which was the embarkation time. There was a bit of a wait in the line to actually board because we didn't jump up and get in line quickly. The Room: One of our suitcases was at the room when we got there and the other was delivered a bit later. We had a balcony cabin on the starboard side and it was a typical cruise cabin. There was plenty of space to hang clothes, a nice closet with shelves and a safe to put your things, tv, refrigerator, small desk and chair (the desk held the phone and the blow dryer and it contained a few drawers), bathroom was small but functional. Had plenty of shelves to put our things. I will say that the shower was very tiny. The bathroom had shampoo, conditioner and lotion from the spa. The balcony was a bit small but was ok for our needs and contained two white plastic chairs and a small white plastic table. Service: Our room steward was good and attentive to our needs and we did tip him extra at the end. The service in the dining room (we had personal choice dining) was pretty good also. I did have trouble getting my ice tea filled up on a few occasions but other than that it was good and in some cases very good. Service at the bars was just like you get at home....nothing spectacular or over friendly. Entertainment staff: These people were great. Friendly, nice, talked to you, very fun to watch and interact with. Leslie, Laura, Peter, John and Phil were especially great. The Food: The food was good. I did not lose any weight on this cruise...lol. Some nights I liked things better than other nights but I think it was good to very good. The lobster and king crab were great and I had seconds. There were a lot of chilled soups so I didn't have any soup at all. Not too many salads either because I wanted appetizers, main course and dessert. Desserts were very good. The avocado boat w/seafood appetizer was especially good. I ate in the Horizon Court for breakfast and there was a lot to eat. Bread, eggs, omelets, pancakes, french toast, fruit, smoked salmon (yummy, had it every day), sausage, bacon, etc., etc., etc. Lunches for me included pizza (yes it was good), hot dog (they also had hamburgers), Horizon Court food which consisted of too many things to name here. We did eat at the Bayou Cafe for lunch on Sunday and it was EXCELLENT. The jambalaya was soooo good, as was the filet. THE COFFEE: It was not as bad as I expected. It did taste like it was made from syrup and hot water (except in the Bayou Cafe where you knew it was different) but it was very drinkable and better than I drink at work. I had no problem with that at all despite what others say. Drinks of the Day were good but not much alcohol in them. Entertainment: They had 3 very good production shows and the talent was excellent. Broadway type shows. There was a Princess Idol competition where they had some great singers. The lounges and bars all had singers/musicians but I didn't really go there so I can't comment. There was a magician/comedian named Jeff Peterson and he was pretty good. Things to do: They had photo classes, pottery, trivia quizzes, ice carving, culinary demonstrations, park ranger talks, naturalist talks, art auctions, movies, bingo, shuffleboard, miniature golf, virtual golf, spa, etc. Lots to do and not enough time to do it all. The passengers were 90% older folks...I would say 60 and above and from all over the world. The scenery was spectacular...the glaciers were just great and all the ports were fun. Only negatives were that the wood on the balcony was very worn out (weird since the ship is only 3 years old) and that the white dividers separating the balconies were worn and needed painting. We definitely had a great time and would sail with Princess again and can't wait to go back to Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2005
We took a 14 day cruise on Coral Princess. Vancouver-Whittier-Vancouver. Overall a great ship and beautiful cruise. We were lucky and had great weather. The ship is spacious, very nicely decorated and well laid out. We never felt crowded. ... Read More
We took a 14 day cruise on Coral Princess. Vancouver-Whittier-Vancouver. Overall a great ship and beautiful cruise. We were lucky and had great weather. The ship is spacious, very nicely decorated and well laid out. We never felt crowded. We always found nice places to sit and enjoy the scenery both inside and out of the ship. The food was really good. Our waiter openly offered to get us more lobster and alaskan crab legs. Both of which were succulent and not that dried out frozen stuff you get in Vegas. The 24 hour buffet is a great idea instead of the midnight buffet. We opted for anytime dining but usually reserved in advance to get the waiter we liked. Some of the dining room staff are Romanian and Bulgarian. They are not the best at service industry jobs. We even encountered one really nasty woman (table 97 in the Bordeaux room). Generoso the maitre d' is fabulous and accommodated every request. The entertainment was so so. The lounge performers were drab and lifeless. The cruise director and staff were lively and good if you like that British Music Hall "Benny Hill" style of entertainment. The ship communicates very well with passengers and is very organized. Tenders were very well run. The pool was warm and always available. The same for the hot tubs but we did see inconsiderate parents with their baby in diapers using them even though the signs say not to.  We liked being able to buy bottles of hard liquor from the Patisserie Bar at very inexpensive prices ($22.00 for 40 oz.). We brought on board wine and champagne which Princess allows. In port we bought beer and soft drink for our mini fridge. The coffee is tasteless so we bought a jar of Folger's crystals to add. The pillows and beds were very uncomfortable. We recommend bringing your own pillows. We are Canadian so they converted our ship board charges to Canadian Dollars at a very exorbitant rate when billing our Visa. We recommend you pay with US travellers cheques if you are from another country. The shore shopping lady was way over the top pumping the stores they recommend. That was tiring. The art auction was a dud. We saw nothing being bought. It was all ugly at any price. A lot of hype!!. Overall a very good ship and highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
This was my first cruise. I was unsure about how the cruise would go and did not expect anything extraordinary. We are a family of four a 14 year od, 16 year old, a mother and a father. We booked a mini-suite on the Caribe level. ... Read More
This was my first cruise. I was unsure about how the cruise would go and did not expect anything extraordinary. We are a family of four a 14 year od, 16 year old, a mother and a father. We booked a mini-suite on the Caribe level. Embarkation- We arrived at the departure port at about 11:00, since we were staying at a nearby hotel, we got took a complimentary shuttle. The Embarkation process was very smooth. It took a maximum of 15 minutes to get all checked in. Before we boarded the ship, we got out picture taken which was a nice touch. When we entered the ship, it was beautiful, an attendant showed us to the elevator, rode in it with us, showed us to our room, and told us when our luggage should arrive. I was very impressed. Later that day we had some time to explore and then were shown to our muster station and had a lifeboat drill. Layout- First of all, this ship is beautiful. It is fairly easy to navigate. The atrium in gorgeous- it has a great feel, a few neon lights that please the party people, kids, and elderly. The dining rooms all have a first-class feel as well as the other public rooms. Although our cabin was towards the back of the ship, we were never bothered by the sound of the engine or the distance from the center of the ship. Cabin- Our cabin was a mini- suite on the Caribe level. it consisted of a king size bed, a pull-out double couch, and a twin bunk style bed that comes from the ceiling. The mattress on the bunk was foam and very comfortable, we moved the mattress on the pull our couch onto the floor the first night and every night after our cabin steward did this for us since the spring were a little hard but the foam mattress was soft. The king size bed is basically two twin mattresses pushed together this mattress was also comfortable. The extra room was perfect for our family and having a balcony is well worth the money. The closet space was set up very nicely and we never had a problem space problem while aboard. The fitness center over looked the ocean and was well equipped. The pools were amazing and had a kids pool and an adult pool that were beautiful. There were plenty of lounge chair all around this area. Service- Our cabin seward, Jon, was the best. Every time we passed him, or any of the stewards in the hall they greeted us or smiled. We were very impressed by the way our room was magically all cleaned up ( pull out bed put away and bunk put away too, new towels etc.) while we were out of it. He also setup our beds fro nighttime too. He did this by taking all the beds back out, folding the corner of the sheet over, and outing a chocolate on each bed. We were treated like royalty. The service in the dining room and buffet were excellent. The dinning room was like a first class restaurant ( the best one I have ever eaten at. Room service is great too, every night we got milk and chocolate chip cookies in our room...it was a great touch Kid's Program- For teenagers this program is a good way to meet people. You basically go to the teen center until you make friends and then can break away with them and do whatever you want. For all you parents, your kids may want to stay out until 12 , 1, or 2 o'clock. Trust me the boat is a safe place and there is no need to worry. Plus, there is always youth security where the kids are. Also if your children will be roaming the boat alone make sure they have heir own room card- they can buy stuff with it- soda sticker is on it (which by the way is well worth the 26 dollars you pay for it and save all the time of signing for the receipt), and they can get into the room whenever they want. Remember to tell them that they don't have to walk al the way back up to the room to tell you something, they can just call your room on any public phone to get in touch with you for absolutely no money. Ports and Excursion- All the ports were excellent and the scenic cruising day were great too. We recommend to go to the musher's camp. We got to ride with the dog play with them and we learned a lot too. This excursion is great for people of all ages and is a must see in Alaska. We also went on a excursion that was whale watching, glacier viewing and a salmon bake. This excursion really gave you a taste of Alaska. The Mendenhall glacier is beautiful, amazing and also a must see in Alaska. There was a naturalist on board who was very knowledgeable and entertaining during the scenic cruising. Shows- The shows on this ship were excellent. My only tip is to just go with your gut instinct. If a show seems interesting then just go...you can always leave f you don't like it. Overall- This cruise was amazing. Princess is a great cruise line and we will definitely be sailing with them again. In fact, we have already planned a cruise for next summer on the Caribbean Princess!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
We cruised on Coral out of Vancouver on the July 23rd sailing. We arrived in Vancouver 4 days in advance and stayed in the Westin Bayshore Resort. This is a beautiful hotel and has a superb location. This was our 7th cruise and our 3rd ... Read More
We cruised on Coral out of Vancouver on the July 23rd sailing. We arrived in Vancouver 4 days in advance and stayed in the Westin Bayshore Resort. This is a beautiful hotel and has a superb location. This was our 7th cruise and our 3rd on Princess. My husband and I are in our early 50s and our friends that we were travelling with are about 10 years older. We arrived at the ship at 11AM and were in our mini suite at 11:45. We met the couple we were travelling with and were having lunch by noon. This was a wonderful cruise. In fact I liked this ship better than the Star and the Grand. The food was good to very good and the service was excellent. I would say that our room steward was superb. There is a lot of selling going on but I just ignore it and enjoy my cruise. I was very impressed with the naturalist on board the ship. Her narration was interesting and informative. She was joined by park rangers in Glacier National Park and they were also great. I appreciated having someone explain what we were seeing and supplying interesting history. Needless to say the scenery was breathtaking. My pictures are awesome. The passengers on the ship were of varied ages but leaning toward 60. There were many extended families of children, parents, and grandparents. There were not many children on board and those on board were well behaved and kept very busy. The entertainment was varied enough to keep everyone happy. We took a number of shore excursions booked through Princess. We went deep sea fishing in Ketchikan and Juneau. We caught a lot of fish. In Skagway we went on the off road jeep adventure. The scenery was amazing because we went to the Yukon in an area called Three Valleys.....Wow what a view. The trip however was dangerous. The jeeps were not maintained and the road was not graded. One jeep broke down and had to be abandoned, another tipped over and the passengers were injured, our jeep over heated and the muffler fell off. Princess should rethink sub contracting with this company. After the cruise we went on a four night land tour with Princess. We took the train to Denali and then went on to Fairbanks. This was a fantastic trip. The train ride was a little too long...9 hours. The scenery from the train however was truly beautiful. The scenery in Denali was also everything I have read about it. All 4 of us had a super time. The lodges in Denali and Fairbanks were both beautiful and comfortable. We would go back on this trip in a minute. My compliments to Coral Princess for a job well done! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
Just returned from the 10 day Panama Canal cruise and had a great time. The ship is beautiful, comfortable, and fast. The staff was excellent and really tried to please even when communication was not always easy. We would do the cruise ... Read More
Just returned from the 10 day Panama Canal cruise and had a great time. The ship is beautiful, comfortable, and fast. The staff was excellent and really tried to please even when communication was not always easy. We would do the cruise again in a heartbeat. We had a mini-suite without the balcony which made it a bit larger. Very comfortable and allowed one of us to nap while the other watched tv from the sofa on the second tv. The bathroom had a full tub and shower and was plenty roomy by cruise ship standards. I travel with a messy person and never felt cramped. This review is from the perspective of someone who has cruised 5 times and my other half who was experiencing his first cruise. My first time on Princess. The tours: Next time we would arrange our own tours. We are divers and dove Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We probably would not even get off the boat in Ocho Rios, what a dump. The diving was ok but we were hounded to purchase cheap beads for that were worth 50 cents for $20 bucks in between dives. We walked into town after and were offered drugs, women, beggars, you name it. If you get off there are two shopping areas close to the ship that are ok. I wouldn't bother to go any further. Take a taxi to Dunns River Falls which is 10 minutes away. No need to take a tour. The Panama Canal is fascinating and once you go thru the first 3 locks they dock at Gatun lake but you can only get off if you have scheduled a tour, otherwise you stay on the boat and go back thru the same 3 locks. We took a Changes River cruise and Nature walk. Interesting but really not as we hoped. It was fun to watch the ship from the canal overlook as it went back thru the locks. Different view altogether. Next time we would stay on the ship. Shopping in Panama was right at the dock and you really don't want to go any further anyway. Highly recommend the rain forest tram tour. Really something to see for sure. Really enjoyed and may consider doing it again. We didn't see much in the way of mammals as other tours did but I'm glad we chose it. Costa Rica shopping is right at the dock as well, and again you probably do not want to go into town anyway. Grand Cayman is great and so is Cozumel. The Food If you are a vegetarian, don't plan on anything too exciting. They need to work on this area. The food I would rate a 7 just due to the inconsistency. The buffet was pretty good with a big selection and the two pay restaurants were ok. My other half enjoyed the fish and steaks at all of the restaurants. Overall it wasn't a big issue and we sure didn't starve for sure! The entertainment was great, the shows were fabulous. They were definitely targeted for the older crowd and if you are under 50 may find the entertainment in the lounges not to your liking. We are in our 40's and enjoyed the shows and dancing. The jazz in the New Orleans style restaurant was fabulous. Wow! The casino was fun and so were the art auctions. Watch someone spend over $100K during the trip on art. Very informative on the artist etc. The recreation was great, something for everyone. The pools very nice and never really had trouble finding a chair. Lots of quieter spaces if you don't like the loud music by the pool. Would have used the spa but found it way overpriced. I'm a big spa person but just couldn't justify what they wanted for treatments. They were offering half off the day we were in Cozumel. The fitness center is great and no charge. If you are a young person and want to party, I would recommend a different cruise. I would say the average age was over 65. You spend alot of time trying to move around slow passengers. On that note, a great cruise for seniors. As someone mentioned in a previous review, they charge for sodas. You can purchase a large soda looking can item and have it refilled thru the cruise for $39.50. What a pain to carry around and to dinner. Pictures were very expensive and yes we did feel there was a lot of nickel and diming going on. Would have paid a flat daily fee for all beverages if offered like an all inclusive. Overall the extras were a bit expensive. Several people we met had cruised with Princess many times and only cruise with Princess they love it so much. They did say they felt it had gone down a little since Carnival purchase. As a side note, we asked some people from the Carnival Inspiration to take our picture at the dock in Cozumel. They told us their ship was horrible and rat infested. They couldn't wait to get off. Again we had a great time, came back rested and ready to go again. We will cruise with Princess again but will try other cruise lines as well. 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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