Sail Date: July 2004
We sailed on the Coral Princess to Alaska this summer on the July 31 cruise from Vancouver to Whittier. This was the first cruise for 7 of the 10 people in our party. The ship was a lot of fun for all of us and we ranged in age from 7 to ... Read More
We sailed on the Coral Princess to Alaska this summer on the July 31 cruise from Vancouver to Whittier. This was the first cruise for 7 of the 10 people in our party. The ship was a lot of fun for all of us and we ranged in age from 7 to 69. Both embarkation and debarkation were very easy for all of us. If we were to go to Alaska again, I would do different shore excursions than some of the ones we picked on this trip. Different folks in our party did different excursions in each port and most of us agreed that in the future we would not use the ship excursions, but look for the local ones instead. Alaska is an amazing trip and we highly recommend it. The Coral Princess was perfect for our group. We ate at both the Bayou and at Sabatinis, both were very good, but don't eat for a day or two before going to Sabatinis! The regular dining room was good food, we didn't have too many amazing meals there but it was very good. We also preferred the dining room for breakfast to the buffet. We found the crew to be very friendly and very willing to accommodate us, that's not always easy when you have to deal with 10 loud people! The service we received was very good. 6 of us had the same cabin steward, Homer, and he was very good to all of us, but did need to be reminded about a few requests more than once. My husband and I have already booked another cruise to the Caribbean next spring, this time we will try Celebrity's Summit to try something a little different. We debated between another Coral Princess cruise and the Summit one pretty heavily before deciding that we liked the one day longer on the Summit more. I would not hesitate to go with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
We just returned from this cruise and wanted to provide some insights for other cruisers. This was my second Princess cruise (2 others on Celebrity) and my first to this destination. Here are high points and some areas that could use ... Read More
We just returned from this cruise and wanted to provide some insights for other cruisers. This was my second Princess cruise (2 others on Celebrity) and my first to this destination. Here are high points and some areas that could use improvement. The Ship - The Coral is a beautiful ship. We were in a mini-suite and the cabin size, balcony, and bathroom were the perfect size for us. The cabin steward, Manuel De Leon, was outstanding and provided a consistently high level of friendly service. The public rooms were excellent and the level of service was better than I had experienced on my previous Princess cruise aboard the Dawn a few years ago. Onboard activities were pretty standard, but the cruise staff was very entertaining - especially Peter, the assistant cruise director. Dining - The food was pretty good, but the quality was inconsistent. The beef and seafood both in the dining room and even the buffet was very good. The pastas were almost universally disappointing and the desserts were very hit-and-miss. The Horizon Court buffet was our choice for breakfast and lunch for those days we were on board. The quality was hit and miss, but pretty good. Service was so-so, but you expect that with a buffet. Alternative dining offered 2 venues - the Bayou Cafe (Cajun) and Sabatini's (Italian). We did not try the Bayou because the menu was very limited, but we heard good reviews. Sabatini's was a cut above the dining room, but the way they stage the meal is a little confusing. You only select your entree and dessert (very good Tiramisu). The other courses are a tasting menu and I would have preferred to choose one item for each of the courses. The time devoted to the meal was fine, but there some long lapses between courses. One nit-pick - since there was a $20.00 per person charge for dinning there, they should not charge for $2.00 for a Cappuccino. Entertainment - We did not attend the shows so we cannot give a review. There are three venues - The Princess Theatre, The Universe (2 level), and the Explorer's Lounge. There seemed to be a lot of variety daily. Lotus Spa - The pool was very nice and pretty much off limits to kids (not too many on the ship anyway). We did not take any spa treatments. Gym - Small and usually crowded. There were not a lot of classes (due to the average age of the passengers). Ports - A) Days at sea. This is a personal point for most people. I enjoyed the port-per-day break. I would have paced it to have only one day at sea to begin, but the itinerary was the main reason we selected the cruise. B) Costa Rica - The best. A beautiful country with magnificent scenery and wildlife tours. We took the Costa Rica's Favorites tour and had a wonderful time. Sloth sightings on the way. The aerial tram was an interesting way to see the rain forest but the main sights were plant life, butterflies and an Eyelash Pit Viper. Since this is an all day tour, the gift shop at the tram is an excellent place to shop. The second part of the tour is a cruise on the Tortugero canals. Fantastic wildlife sightings - 4 separate groups of Howler Monkeys, crocs, caimans, many birds, etc. Our guide, Daniel, was the best!! C) Panama - The partial transit through the Gatun Locks was very interesting. One suggestion - see the transit from the back of the ship. Everyone was up front and the back was practically deserted! Great views of the gates, the locomotives, other ships transiting, etc. Our tour was the Caribbean Rain Forest Nature Hike. A very poor and boring tour with almost no sightings except for a few birds. Perhaps take one of the train tours instead. D) Grand Cayman Island - A complete bust since very rough waters caused the cancellation of all snorkeling tours and most scuba tours. We took the Island Highlights Tour and it was pretty boring. Unfortunately, the devastation of Hurricane Ivan was very evident. The island was really devastated with 95% of the buildings either destroyed or damaged. E) Cozumel - A shopper's paradise if that is important to you. We split and took 2 tours - Tulum and the Dolphin Swim. I enjoyed Tulum, my girlfriend really loved the dolphin swim. It was the highlight of her cruise. F) Belize - Another hit! We took the Lamanai and River Cruise tour. It is all day, but it is very rewarding. The ruins were extremely interesting and the cruise provided a lot of wildlife sightings - especially birds. Howler monkeys were very much in evidence at the ruins. No shopping to speak of in this port. Fellow Passengers - Definitely an older crowd. Average age was probably close to 70. Almost no kids. A Final Word - Overall, we had a great cruise, but we feel that Celebrity is definitely superior. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
My girlfriend and I (she's 23 I'm 30) chose the Coral Princess for our second cruise because of the opportunity to cruise the Panama Canal, the fantastic feedback we have received about the Coral, and because of the 10-day cruise ... Read More
My girlfriend and I (she's 23 I'm 30) chose the Coral Princess for our second cruise because of the opportunity to cruise the Panama Canal, the fantastic feedback we have received about the Coral, and because of the 10-day cruise length. We ended up having an excellent time on the Coral, and would recommend this cruise. I will however point out a few things that I think need to be improved in order for this cruise to get a 5 or 6 star rating. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale from Buffalo, NY, a day prior to our departure. I have family in Palm Beach, and we had a relaxing evening before heading to the port. We arrived at 12:45. My brother was able to drive right up to the pier, and drop us off right where the Princess busses let their passengers off. We both have passports and quickly moved to the line for platinum check-in. However, the folks at Platinum were dealing with some difficult passengers, and the Dolphin deck registration took us instead. After receiving our cards, we went upstairs to board the ship. Here we ran into some confusion, as the photographers really created unnecessary lines at a time when you really just want to get to your stateroom and begin exploring. We were on the ship just before 2:00. Although I have read much about Princess not having people in place to take you to your stateroom, there were tons of staff waiting at every doorway on the ship to guide us--we had no problem at all. After checking out the room and meeting our fantastic stateroom attendant, Thamanoon, we were surprised by wine, champagne, and a huge tray of appetizers from our wonderful family! What a way to start our cruise!!! We booked cabin D705 a mini-suite and were thrilled by our choice. Plenty of room, a full bathtub, covered balcony, and a great cabin steward. We asked for robes and down pillows (and got both on day #2). We then went exploring the ship. While exploring, we looked at the first evening's menu and found nothing that looked too hot, so we made a reservation for Bayou Cafe the first night. The host was nice enough to show us the week's menus for the dining rooms, and we proceeded to book Sabatini's later in the week on French night. Dinner at the Bayou was outstanding. One of the best filets of beef I have ever had, and great shrimp too! Well worth the $10. Sabatini's was very good too, but we were a little too picky to enjoy some of the more daring items on the menu. At both alternative restaurants, the service was A+. We selected PC dining, and would do so again, but ended up sitting at the same table at the same time most nights. We enjoyed Aniko, our fantastic waitress, and her assistant Gary, as well as the company of the nice couple who sat next to us and became our friends on the ship. The food was good, but not ever great. We also had a difficult time with the Maitre 'ds. Not only was it difficult to make reservations, but one time they gave our reserved table to someone else! (I had them reseat the other people). I think we were an afterthought because of our age. The ship was beautiful, the common areas very clean. In fact, it seemed like there was always someone cleaning, painting, etc... I was very impressed. We especially liked Explorer's lounge, which became our hang out. The staff there were excellent and DJ Mike kept the music going long after Princess closed the bar. The Lido pool was very nice as well, with plenty of chairs, lots of waiters to get us drinks, and perfect weather. We participated in Princess Survivor, several versions of trivia games, darts, and for the first time ever, Bingo. We tried to do as many activities as we could! The activities staff was great--Jack, Sam, Melissa, Vicki, the assistant CD Peter - who is so funny and would make a great CD. David, the CD was not too good though. We are not "show" people so I cannot comment on the entertainment, except for the comedian, who was hilarious! We used the Lotus Spa and were completely impressed! A major complaint: Most of the passengers on this cruise were very old and tended to be asleep by 10-11 p.m. There were some passengers who used the bars and lounges which were supposed to be open "till the wee hours." At least 4 times, Princess closed the bars throughout the ship with people in them who were enjoying themselves and wanted to remain out, and they did this at midnight!!!! Where I come from this is not good customer service, and midnight is not a "wee hour." By the end of the cruise, we stocked up on beer during the day to bring down to the bars when Princess decided to close them. Our first port was Limon, and we booked a tour with Oscar Brown to go zip lining. The tour was a mixed bag though--not as great as we had heard on the Ports of Call boards. Zip lining was unbelievable! Such a rush! I would recommend it to everyone- even if you are afraid of heights as I am. We also had the opportunity to hold a sloth, which made Kristin very happy, and got us some cool pictures. We visited the Del Monte banana plantation, and got a behind the scenes look which a large tour would never get. What was bad? First, the van. The van had to be running the whole time, because when it was shut off, we had to push it and jump start it to get it going again. I don't remember that from the brochures. Second, I don't remember reading anywhere what a long ride it was from the port to zip lining--almost 2 hours!!! I guess that is fine, but wish I could have mentally prepared..We did meet some awesome people on the tour, and have new friends because of it! Next was the Canal experience. We ordered breakfast on our balcony to be delivered at 7:30 which ended up being a good guess as to the time we transited the Canal. I got up at 5:30 and went to see if there was a better vantage point, but I think the balcony was best. There were tons of people on the bow thru the canal transit. Once in Gatun Lake, we tendered to shore and went on a very average, yet expensive eco-boat ride/tour which we booked thru Princess. Due to our intense dislike for waiting for slow people, we cancelled our tours in Grand Cayman and Cozumel, and decided to go it alone. In Grand Cayman, we found another couple with whom we shared a taxi, and for $13/pp we got an island tour that included Hell, 7 Mile Beach, and the Turtle Farm. (The exact tour we cancelled from Princess.) If you refuse to get on one of the large tour busses loaded with people, they will find you a small cab--fight the power!! Upon returning, we did some shopping and beach time before returning to the ship. Princess did a poor job with the tendering process. While in line to return, no tenders came for us in the time that 6 came for Royal Caribbean. When I questioned a crew member, he explained that it took a long time to get the older passengers on/off. Cozumel was very nice. We cabbed it to the main shopping area, which is torn up due to construction. We were provided with directions by Princess to give to the driver, which I thought was a nice touch. We made some purchases--nice sliver there, then went to Paradise Beach. PB was great! Relaxing, beautiful water, good drinks. We were hit with some disappointment in Belize. We had booked cave tubing with Extreme Cave Tubing, but were not able to get off the ship (tenders were given to ship excursions before anyone else was let off) in time. There was nothing else to do there. I understand this was completely our fault though. We ended up spending the day by the pool and working on our amazing tans. We were invited to attend a Bridge tour (I have no idea why or how) but were unable to go due to Kristin's participation in Survivor. After seeing the rest of the people on the tour, I can with 100% confidence say that the pool games were a much better choice, although I am sure the Bridge is interesting. On the last at sea day, we had champagne breakfast on the balcony (another gift) which was very good. Due to cold weather, we spent the rest of the day with our friends, Scott and Jenn, finishing the Princess bar hop and competing in activities. Overall, this was a very good cruise. We only have one other to compare it to, but why compare? I think you would have to make a conscious effort not to have a great time on a cruise! Like everything else, a cruise is all about the attitude you bring to it. If you want to have a great time, you will. If you want to be miserable, you will. THE BEST: 1. Service and staff 1a. The great people we met onboard. 2. Cleanliness of ship/common areas. 3. Lido pool. 4. Thermal spa at Lotus spa. 5. Princess Pizza is awesome! THE WORST: 1. No night life. 2. Maitre 'd at PC dining. 3. Tendering process. 4. Food quality -- not availability or selection. Feel free to contact me if I can explain or answer anything for you! Have a great cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
The ship was beautiful and the staff was helpful and friendly. I was a little disappointed with the entry onto the ship. On my last cruise, I was greeted with champagne and an eager staff member to show me to my cabin and take my carry-on, ... Read More
The ship was beautiful and the staff was helpful and friendly. I was a little disappointed with the entry onto the ship. On my last cruise, I was greeted with champagne and an eager staff member to show me to my cabin and take my carry-on, but on this ship we were left to find our own way. The shopping on the ship was limited and they ran out of a few items such as bug spray before we got to our first port. Our cabin steward, Manuel deLeon, was excellent and always available and eager to assist with anything. He also made your day by telling us to have a good day or asking how your day was. Our assistant waiter, Rolando, was top notch and kept us smiling. His smile never wavered through the cruise and he was always entertaining us. The cruise director and his staff were wonderful and made the cruise fun and the time at sea pass quickly. My favorite event was the horse racing with David, Peter, Vicki and Sam...you must see this event. Also, the culinary demonstrations were fun and David's comments and the chef's jokes were funny. Stay away from the guest lecturer/historian unless you need a nap...go to the port and shopping lectures instead. Food -- Was OK Dining room food was better than the Horizon Court, but nothing to write home about. The fresh fruit was wonderful as well as the Baked Alaska the last night. If you think you are going to work off calories at the gym...forget it because you will not be able to get a machine when you want it since the gym is very small. My suggestion is to walk the decks instead. Ports of call: Costa Rica -- I went on the aerial tram and Tortugero canal cruise (Costa Rica's Favorites) and it was filled with wildlife and an excellent view of the rain forests. Our guide, Daniel, was great and went out of his way to show us a banana farm, coconuts, a poisonous frog and other interesting sites. If you go on this, my suggestion is to shop at the gift shop at the aerial tram site. Panama -- The locks were breathtaking, but our Caribbean Rainforest and Nature Hike was extremely boring. I see more nature on my train ride to work than I did on the hike. Grand Cayman -- Unfortunately, due to high winds and seas all water activities were cancelled. We took the Island Highlights Tour and the best part of the tour was the rum cake factory. Cozumel -- ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL! You must do the swim with the dolphins and after that wander through the national park. Swimming with the dolphins is an experience that I will never forget and well worth the money. There is an opportunity to see some natives do their crafts and buy some of their wares at a reasonable price. (Bring cash to buy their crafts since they do not take credit cards.) Be careful buying items on the dock area since some crafts are imported from other areas and not from local craftsmen. Excellent shopping port. Belize -- Lamanai and New River Tour -- The ruins were breathtaking and there was a lot of history about the Mayan culture. We also had Howler monkeys visit us at the ruins. On the river cruise we sited bats, small crocodiles, birds and iguanas. Great trip. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2005
Embarkation: We arrived at 12:00 noon from the hotel - on the boat in less than 30 minutes since we pre-registered on the web site. Totally painless. Luggage arrived by 1:30 AM in our rooms. Dining: Since we signed up for anytime ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at 12:00 noon from the hotel - on the boat in less than 30 minutes since we pre-registered on the web site. Totally painless. Luggage arrived by 1:30 AM in our rooms. Dining: Since we signed up for anytime dining we were limited to either the Horizon Court or the Bordeaux room. At the Bordeaux Room tables for 2 were 2 inches from the next table. Very strange situation for dining but meet new folks that way. Overall food was OK but not great. Service was quite good. Horizon court food at night was just as good as the dining room and you didn't need to dress up. Went through 4 bottles of wine over the course of the cruise. You can store bottles from night to night so you don't need to drink the entire bottle in one sitting. Ate at the speciality restaurants - Bayou - was good for very large portions. My husband had the biggest steak I ever saw. Sabatini's was better for me since it was 16 courses with a wide variety of food in smaller portions. Both were worth the extra money. For those dining in Horizon court get a plate and eat out by the pool its much nicer then in the dining room. Pizza by the pool: good variety and tasty but sometimes wasn't cooked enough. Pool grill: totally overcooked food but good for a change. Food choices overall were good but not enough variety. Stateroom: We had a normal Balcony room on Aloha deck. Awesome cabin steward. Smallest shower known to man (about 2 X 2) with a shower curtain and small ledge so when you shower expect water on the floor. Our balcony was covered and we were glad it was since it rained on some nights we were still able to use our balconies while those below us could not. All balconies below Aloha deck were viewable and open by those on Aloha deck. I don't think some folks ever looked up. Bring an extension cord if you need additional outlets. There are only 2 plugs in the room. Room service: Better be dressed when you order since it normally took less than 5 minutes. We had coffee on the balcony each morning. Room service was top notch they never messed up any orders. Bar Service: Quick but not very friendly. We tried all the bar's on the ship and they all measure (which can be good or bad). We each had a soda card (about 40.00 for 10 days) which we purchased as soon as we got on the ship. Princess supplies a small insulated cup for soda/water. You may want to consider bringing your own insulated cup. (We did and they refilled it just the same). Pools: Spa pool was covered and air conditioned. Outdoor pool was very noisy. Since our cruise had almost no kids we used the family pool on the back of the boat and it was perfect. Nice and quiet and very clean. Splash pool on 15th although we didn't use it (Only 2 inches deep). Cut through the teen area to get to the family pool (one deck above Aloha). One complaint on Coral since it is used for Alaska trips the windows in the main pool area didn't open and it got quite hot if you were sitting in one of the tables on the sides or the lounge chairs on the sides since no breeze except for the roof. Panama Canal: If you are on Aloha deck or the one below go to the back of the ship. There are 2 decks with chairs. We viewed the Panama Canal from here and had great view while the pool deck was packed with folks this wasn't very crowded and you can see both sides of the ship quite easily. Panama is easily the most humid place on earth. We took the Ocean to Ocean shore excursion through Princess which takes you to the Pacific ocean since the cruise ship only goes through the first set of locks to Gatun Lake. The Ocean to Ocean trip was nice although the women's rooms were disgusting and the lunch was a very bland sandwich in a box with a muffin so eat a big breakfast in the AM if you take this one and go the bathroom before you go. its a 90 minute bus ride from the ship to the smaller boat. There is also a Panamanian women on the boat selling souvenirs. Other shopping in Panama is strictly at the pier. (Christobel). Handicrafts and the usual. Lots of vendors selling the same things. The Panama Canal was amazing overall. Grand Cayman: Took the Stingray City Snorkel trip through Princess. It was very nice and fun. Very short ride (about 10 Minutes to the boat). There were 5 ships in port the same day as us. Shops were utter chaos...Cayman was tendered but the wait wasn't too long. Ocho Rios: We had been there 7 or 8 times so just walked to the plaza right off the ship and did some shopping and walked back to the ship since it was so hot we wanted to swim. Costa Rica: Was the day after Panama and all tours were at least 1.5 hour ride each way so we opted out and did some shopping. Leave the ship terminal and walk through town. Better prices and more variety. Stocked up on coffee and vanilla. Cozumel: We had also been there a few times so just did some shopping (mostly Mexican pottery) took a cab to town (6.00 each way). Very touristy. Entertainment: Geared toward the 55+ crowd which we were not. We attended a few shows (Juggler and ventriloquist were good), Coral princess dancers were terrible. Other shows played music our parents listened to so we left. (We are both in our 40s). Cooking Demo and galley tour: The galley tour is on the last day at sea with a cooking demo and was fun, but very crowded. Art Shows: There were 2 art auctions on board. I attended one was looking for Whalen but didn't purchase anything. SPA: Spa services were nice. Got a full massage and the masseuse was very good. Very clean. Workout Area: Had about 10 treadmills, Ellipticals, weights . Used 3 days never had to wait for a machine. Overall I wasn't overly impressed with Princess. I think we will go back to NCL which had more variety for dining options and better entertainment. In closing ship was clean and well maintained but the cabins on NCL were much nicer than Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
This was our 4th cruise with Princess and 7th altogether. We have decided to stick with one cruise line to build up loyalty points, and I truly believe amongst the major players like Celebrity, Holland America and Princess, there is not a ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with Princess and 7th altogether. We have decided to stick with one cruise line to build up loyalty points, and I truly believe amongst the major players like Celebrity, Holland America and Princess, there is not a lot of difference between them. Embarkation: Passengers can start boarding after 11 AM. Check in was very quick for us at about 1230. The cab from the airport (FLL) was only $15 (tip included). The Cabin: We had a balcony which was nice. But it's quite small, maybe 4 feet by 10 feet. Just enough for 2 chairs and a square table. The room is well designed but the shower is the smallest one I have ever used on board a ship. The Ship: Beautiful public rooms and very clean. Big ship for 2000 passengers. I love to use the gym and it was almost never busy each day when I went. Service: Excellent as usual for Princess. Very friendly staff. Food: Love the desserts! Sometimes had 2 at at time! Unfortunately put on some weight after the end of the cruise. The main dining room food was good enough. No need to pay extra for specialty restaurants. Anytime dining is a real bonus onboard Princess. Tip- to avoid excessive weight gain, stick to the dining rooms rather than the Horizon Court buffet. Entertainment: we are in our 40's and the shows were geared to people in their 50-60s. IE most of the passengers. Skipped most of the shows. Enjoyed Curtains Up, couple of guest singers and the guest magician. Excursions: 1) Cozumel. Lots of wreckage cause by last year's hurricane. ?Wilma The Chankanaab National Marine Park is still closed. The snorkeling trip by boat for $35 for 3 hours was a bit of a let down. We booked this on the pier. Snorkeled at 2 sites. Not great. Some corals are wrecked by the aforementioned storm. Shopping is good here. Lots of shops. Nice to walk around. 2) Grand Cayman. We did stingray city trip 3 years ago. This is a must see site. This year we cabbed to famous 7 mile beach. Got dropped off at the Public Beach for snorkeling. Better than Cozumel but still not outstanding. The beach here was not bad. But have seen a lot better elsewhere. Can rent chairs and umbrellas here. 3) Limon, CR. It is a disgusting town. You have to do excursions to get anything out of this port. Best to arrange it on the pier- lots cheaper. In AM we did the jungle aerial ride attached to a cable. We flew through the trees just like Tarzan! 12 cables in all. In PM cabbie took us to a jungle boat trip to see wildlife, flora, etc. as well as a banana plantation. All worthwhile and interesting. 4) Panama Canal. Highlight of the trip. Got up at 5 AM in order to secure the best spot up front to see the ship enter the first lock at 6 AM. Wanted to take some great photos which I did. Highly suggest taking a ship excursion. Otherwise you stay on board and double back through the same locks. Our excursion was the best! We did the ocean to ocean trip which took us by boat to traverse the rest of the canal to the Pacific Ocean. Not cheap though- $169/person. Avoid Cristobel where the ship docked. Security guy from the ship told us his mate almost got killed while strolling in the city. It looked like a poor ugly port city. 5) Montego Bay, Jamaica. Again, an ugly large Caribbean city. Skip the downtown shopping district. You will get the best shopping at the Caymans and Cozumel. We took the cab to doctor's beach. Small but lovely. Good snorkeling here also. Very busy spot. Overall nice cruise. I recommend it. The Canal was the best! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
My family and I just got off of the Coral Princess this morning. This was our fourth cruise our first with Princess. We did the 10 day Panama Canal cruise beginning in Fort Lauderdale. Embarkation was a breeze. No lines,walked directly ... Read More
My family and I just got off of the Coral Princess this morning. This was our fourth cruise our first with Princess. We did the 10 day Panama Canal cruise beginning in Fort Lauderdale. Embarkation was a breeze. No lines,walked directly on board and found our stateroom and met our cabin stewardess named Evelyn. All of our luggage arrived shortly thereafter with the exception of mine and that showed up just before going to dinner! I was sweatin that one out! My daughter's brand new suitcase arrived broken. The stand was totally ripped away from the wheels and Princess claimed no responsibility and offered no compensation. 60.00 bucks gone. Our cabin was a balcony cabin and the furnishings were nice. The cabin was very small with just a sitting chair versus a small sofa. The bathroom was ridiculously tiny and the shower was no more than a broom closet. If you were unfortunate enough to drop something in the shower you literally had to get out and pick it up! Not good for those with claustrophobia either. The balcony consisted of 2 chairs and a table and there was no more room. Kind of dirty out there too. The bed was firm and the pillows quite hard. Friends we met asked for feather pillows and got them. Who knew? Evelyn was amazing. The best cabin attendant ever. Always greeted us by name and with a smile and the service was impeccable. Twice daily! The ship itself is pretty. For a ship only 4 years old it does look worn. They keep it very clean. Public areas were well appointed and comfy. The adult only Lotus Pool area was very plain and sparse. Both dining rooms were identical and inviting. The gym is nice with weights, treadmills,and mats. Nice. I did use the Lotus Spa a few times just to take a shower. It was roomy! The food was superb and the personal choice dining ended up to be a lifesaver. Our original tablemates were nice but right away we knew we were not in a level of comfort that we wanted for 10 days. We gave it 3 nights and then decided to switch to personal choice. We requested the same wait person for the rest of our cruise. Her name was Aniko and her assistant was Schukart (forgive my misspelling) from the Philippines. Aniko was from Romania and was the best we have ever had. She was so professional,knowledgeable about each menu and very concerned about our satisfaction each meal. She was a delight. The food overall was wonderful both in the dining rooms and the 24 hour Horizon Court. The grill outside was great because some days ya just feel like havin a burger. They were great. Paying for ice cream stinks! The least they could do was have a soft serve machine that was easily accessible. Each day for 1 hour there was free ice cream in the back of the Horizon Court but it was served to you by a man with a melon ball scooper. Come on Princess! Panama Canal was very interesting and a good experience. We did the bus/train trip through the ship and I highly do NOT recommend it. It is very pricey for what you get. A 90 minute bus ride through Colon seeing nothing but extreme poverty and filth. The bus was freezing cold and a lot of people Napped. The tour guide was well informed and I did learn a lot although not 169.00 worth of knowledge. Maybe 69.00 worth. The train ride promised wildlife sightings. Did not see one- of anything! On board we were given a box lunch and a turkey sandwich. You decide. Then we got on another bus to take us back to the ship, Again- more slums and garbage in Cristobol. Costa Rica was the port we were looking forward to the most. Unfortunately it was pouring rain and all tours were cancelled. On a port day all shops and the casino are closed. No one wanted to zip line during a lightening storm imagine that. It cleared for about 5 min and we ventured our way to the marketplace at the end of the pier. They are very creative with tarps. However even the best tarps leak. We were soaked. Again talk about filth. The wooden crafts were beautiful and the coffee was a good buy. Outside of the marketplace children came up to us begging for a dollar as they were hungry. Heart wrenching and depressing. The other ports were fun. We have been to them before and enjoyed them immensely. Why Grand Cayman is the shortest port I'm not sure. Because its the nicest? The teen center and kid programs were wonderful. Our daughter who is 13 had a blast!The teen center was the most fun I've ever had out of all the cruises I have been on. We did stuff like disco's, Miss Coral Princess, fashion/clothes scavenger hunts, award nominations, board games, and there was unlimited PS2 for all you video game freaks, JUST KIDDING. There's also a free jukebox in the center so we always have music playing. It's a really teen friendly area and I'd like to go back to Princess Cruises. The teen staff there is really outgoing and nice. Except maybe this time he got annoyed at us because some people made up some stuff about him and his girlfriend. That was my daughter's input. The entertainment was so-so. Singers and dancers were ok. Not spectacular. The comedian Sarge should not be missed. He gave 2 shows on 2 different nights and he was hysterically funny! The violinist was very talented but unfortunately very full of herself. This was our first 10 day cruise. It was perfect in length. However we found the people to be a lot older than we are used to. Many older folks with wheelchairs, walkers, and other assistive devices. It was pretty much the geriatric love boat. We met awesome people and will stay lifelong friends. That is priceless. Our previous cruises were on Costa, and Royal Caribbean. Our daughter had the best cruise ever. We had a lot of good times too. We will be returning to Royal Caribbean in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
Our first cruise on Princess, overall this was a good experience. Our cabin was comfortable, and the views from our oceanview double balcony spectacular. Our steward from Poland could not have been better. He was a gracious and ... Read More
Our first cruise on Princess, overall this was a good experience. Our cabin was comfortable, and the views from our oceanview double balcony spectacular. Our steward from Poland could not have been better. He was a gracious and attentive. However, the bed was rock hard, and our requested egg shell cushioned it somewhat. Shower was claustrophobic, I wonder how obese passengers get in and out. The shore excursions were very good, in each off the three ports, Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. I'm glad I consulted Cruise guide books this cruise. Entertainment at the Princess Theater was good, although the size of the theater sometime meant we sat too far from the stage. The overall relaxed atmosphere of the cruise, carefully timed public address announcements were just right. Unlike our previous Mexican Rivera cruise on another cruiseline, we didn't feel like we were in a military bootcamp. We selected anytime dining, however, found the food and service unsatisfactory. The Bayou Cafe's food and service was good, but not spectacular, not worth $15 a piece surcharge. However, the Horizon Court, Lido Deck Buffet was excellent, and that's where we ate the rest of the cruise. Same selection as dining room, only you can see what you're getting, and chose amounts and options. Personnel at the buffet were gracious and efficient. Great view while dining, along with an excellent naturalist, and lots of whales to see. Getting on and off the ship very efficient and organized. We'll be back again to Coral Princess, but not in the anytime dining room. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2006
Just got back ystdy Dec 2/06. Pretty good time and quite good value. My first cruise and my wife's second. I absolutely hated the tourist traps at each shore location, particularly Grand Cayman. Is this really the way to purchase ... Read More
Just got back ystdy Dec 2/06. Pretty good time and quite good value. My first cruise and my wife's second. I absolutely hated the tourist traps at each shore location, particularly Grand Cayman. Is this really the way to purchase diamonds - on a cruise? We had quite a bit of rain (GC, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, Ocho Rios). The ship staff were very good. We had the late seating and the staff were very accommodating. I really enjoyed the wine selection. The Horizon buffet was quite good. Often hard to get a coffee though. I don't know about the special coffees but the coffee on board is generally not that good. The pizza was awesome on the Lido deck. The bartender on the Lido deck bar was great. Took a fully body massage, a lime and ginger treatment, and a seaweed wrap - mostly adventuring and trying out. I have had many massages. I was fairly disappointed, especially at the prices charged. The organization lacked a little also. I was disappointed that I could not use the steam rooms without purchasing a package. The fitness room was very good and easy to access equipment. My biggest complaint was the age of the passengers. My wife and I are both 52 and we felt overwhelmed by the other passengers. One benefit was that there were few children. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2006
My wife and I, along with another couple we often travel with, booked this cruise to see the Canal again and to take a break from the cold weather here at home.  This is cruise number 46 for us and we enjoyed this trip but Princess needs ... Read More
My wife and I, along with another couple we often travel with, booked this cruise to see the Canal again and to take a break from the cold weather here at home.  This is cruise number 46 for us and we enjoyed this trip but Princess needs to take a break on a few things. We felt like we were on a floating " QVC CRUISE "...They have gone over the top on trying to sell.sell,sell you something all the time.The one that was way to much was at dinner when the waiter tried to sell a "Special orange juice glass, to drink your orange juice at home and remember the cruise for $3.95 " Then there are the way over priced cruise pictures.....$19.95 for a 4X6 with a digital boarder..I saw very few people buying and simple business is keep prices lower, sell more and make it up on volume...They must throw away thousands of pictures a week and look at the waste...Then the worst presentation of the week is the personal shopping director on board. She does a show that will crack you up... She throws stuff at the ladies sitting down and then tells you where to shop in only the "ships stores" at port. That means where the ship gets a kick back and pays the ship to pre sell the stuff to the passengers. Out of all our cruise around the world this was the worst for trying to sell you gold by the inch, glasses, cheap watches, and his and her spa treatments, cheap over priced jewelry, and we don't want to even talk about the over priced wine at Dinner !!!!!! We like to cruise and I have learned to accept this lately but it needs a little correction in my view... Over all the food was very good, the staff was polite and friendly, the ship was clean and not worn looking. I will not review the ports because that is a different experience for each persons on taste. . The cruise director was not the best one I have seen, he tends to be full of himself and has no redeeming social value that I could see. We enjoyed the cruise but back to Europe for us on the next one.. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2007
It has been several years since we cruised with Princess but have cruised often during that time. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: This process could not have been smoother. There was a bit of a wait to disembark but that is to be expected ... Read More
It has been several years since we cruised with Princess but have cruised often during that time. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: This process could not have been smoother. There was a bit of a wait to disembark but that is to be expected with 1900 people aboard. SHIP: The Coral Princess had a very comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. The decor reminded one of the oceanliners of the past. I found it to be very clean with plenty of public areas as well as deckchairs and sun deck room. The lounges were all well-appointed but the Wheelhouse Lounge lacked good service and need to learn how to make cocktails. This was not a friendly lounge. The wait staff tended to hover over us even after we had ordered drinks. DINING: The food portions were just right although the quality was just okay. There could have been more variety. We had the later seating and enjoyed excellent service from our wait staff. We took breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court and again enjoyed good service but average quality of food. ENTERTAINMENT: Other than two Broadway-type shows, the entertainment was lacking. The comedians for the most part were raunchy but not funny. Since we were onboard for Superbowl Sunday it was nice to see the game on the big screen in one of the theaters. EXCURSIONS: The Costa Rican Rainforest Tram and swimming with Stingrays were excellent. The Highlights of Panama tour was an absolute waste of time and money. The two young girls who were the guides were silly and more interested in their chewing gum than giving us a professional tour. VERY DISAPPOINTING! MISCELLANEOUS: Service by the staff was very good. What was annoying was the constant "hawking" of the Spa. To have announcements made, literature on your bed everynight about the Spa was over the top. Also, having bottled water for sale as you disembarked for excursions was tacky to say the least. Especially when all the excursions we were on (sponsored by Princess) provided bottled water. Too much nickel and diming. Next time we would probably look for a more upscale line. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2007
This was not our first cruise, but it was our first on the Princess line. We booked through an online travel agency and were pleased with the service and price. We flew down to Ft. Lauderdale the day before embarking. It was a good thing ... Read More
This was not our first cruise, but it was our first on the Princess line. We booked through an online travel agency and were pleased with the service and price. We flew down to Ft. Lauderdale the day before embarking. It was a good thing we did, as a winter storm delayed flights from many airports. The hotel provided a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, and transportation to the Port for a charge of $10 per person. Embarkation was well organized and we waited only a short time to board the ship. Ship personnel were stationed at the elevators to direct you to your cabin. The cabin was attractively decorated and had plenty of room for our belongings. There was sufficient hanging space in the closet area, along with a cabinet that had several shelves and a safe. The bathroom had one of the smallest showers I have ever seen on a cruise, but it was immaculate. Unfortunately, there were two very dirty handprints on the drapes over the patio doors. The veranda had four plastic chairs and a small table. A desk in the main cabin area had four deep drawers and one shallow drawer (and a hairdryer on the wall.) We had everything put away within an hour of boarding. We had signed up for a fixed dining time and were assigned a table for nine. Because many of our table mates took advantage of the "anytime" dining or ate at the specialty restaurants, there were only four nights when the entire group was at the table. Despite never knowing just how many people were going to be at the table on any one night, the dining room waiters were excellent. We usually ate our breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Buffet and, although the traffic pattern left something to be desired, there was always an ample supply and good variety. We also tried the pizza and the hamburgers on the pool deck. Although service was excellent, the food was somewhat of a disappointment. Even in the main dining room, the food was OK, just not extraordinary. We chose this trip for the itinerary and, except for Montego Bay, Jamaica, we were not disappointed. We had booked shore excursions online before we left home, but our first excursion in Jamaica, white water rafting, was cancelled due to low water. We immediately went to the Tour desk to reserve another excursion. On the advice of the tour staff, we signed up for, "Rafting on the Martha Braye". What a mistake! Just getting off the ship in Jamaica was a joke. They had people in line down the halls and up the stairs onto another floor waiting to get off. We finally found our tour guide in the terminal and then waited over 30 minutes before she led us to a bus. The bus was clean but certainly not very new. The roads were terrible and we bumped and jolted for almost an hour before we got to the rafting site, where we received our complimentary glass of "rum punch". The Ladies bathroom at the rafting site had only two stalls and one of the toilets was overflowing onto the floor. After waiting another 20 minutes while vendors tried to sell you something, we were led down to the river. The rafts were made of bamboo poles wired together and had a bench seat for two people. Some of the rafts looked pretty unstable, but once you were sitting down, they were surprisingly comfortable. The "raft captain" poled the raft down the river and stopped at one point to try and sell you decorated gourds. The ride itself was pleasant if you ignored the sales pitches. The ride lasted about 40 minutes and then it was back on the bus for another rough ride back to the ship. We were gone from 10:30 AM until 4PM without any food. We found that there was another tour that included a different raft ride. That tour also included a trip through a banana plantation, and a complimentary lunch and cost only $10.00 more. When we complained about our trip at the Tour desk, the young lady who had recommended it acted like it was our fault. Perhaps Princess should have their Tour Desk staff take some of these excursions to find out what the tours are like! Our second port was Panama, and we elected to stay on board the ship to watch the progress through the locks. The cruise had an informative movie about the Canal available on TV, and also had a guest lecturer who spoke about the history of the Canal. We took lots of pictures! Our next stop was Limon, Costa Rica. Our tour here was to the Aerial Tram Ride in the rain forest. Although it was about an hour ride, the bus was very comfortable and the tour guide was excellent. The trip included a 45 minutes ride through the rain forest, lunch, and a guided tour of the grounds. It was a very good experience and well worth the money. There was a market on the pier where we bought reasonably priced souvenirs and several bags of good coffee. After a day at sea, we arrived at Grand Cayman Island. We did some snorkeling and enjoyed the warm water. Not much to do here unless you like the water. Our last stop was Cozumel, Mexico where we took a tour to a park for more snorkeling. We had been to Cozumel many years ago and the progress here was apparent. Everyone we met was pleasant and the stop was enjoyable. We felt we wanted to return to both Costa Rica and Cozumel. Disembarkation was very smooth. We had purchased transportation to the airport from Princess and waited on the bus for a very long time before it left for the airport, and then the driver had everyone stay on the bus until he had unloaded all the luggage. If you have an early flight for home, take a cab! There were not too many children on this cruise, but some were not the best behaved. They took over the pools by jumping and splashing so that many adults just resigned themselves to not using the pools when the kids were around. One gentleman asked them, in a very nice way, to calm down a little, and the adult with them got nasty. One evening we watched two boys take apart some of the pool furniture and throw it around. Later they climbed up on railings to jump into the pool. Two different Princess staff people walked by while this was going on and neither of them said anything to the boys. The Coral Princess is a beautiful ship and the service was excellent. However, food was not up to our expectations, and we did not appreciate the constant sales pitches. The "flea market" of last season's gift shop merchandise was definitely tacky. Would we book a Princess cruise again? We'd have to think about it. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
Cruise Review Coral Princess April 8-18, 2007 This cruise was the 6th one for me. We are a group of 12 and all of them have cruised before. I have cruised with 3 of them several times.... One of them has cruised about 13 times. ... Read More
Cruise Review Coral Princess April 8-18, 2007 This cruise was the 6th one for me. We are a group of 12 and all of them have cruised before. I have cruised with 3 of them several times.... One of them has cruised about 13 times. We've cruised with Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL. So it's an experienced group. We chose this cruise for a couple of reasons. First off, part of the group was a family of 4 (1 girl 12 y/o & 1 boy 7y/o) and their daughter was studying the Panama Canal in school. Also, the group had all wanted to cruise the Panama Canal at some point, whether it was a round trip (as we did) or a transition from the East coast to West coast or vice versa. We booked this cruise about 1 year ahead of time. We all made our own flight arrangements. We did not use Princess air. Too many restrictions and too expensive. We all arrived on Saturday, April 7, the day before the cruise and stayed at the Ramada Inn Ft. Lauderdale. Very nice hotel. They have a center area where the pool is and it's landscaped like a tropical paradise. They also have a Tiki bar during the day. They don't have elevators so take that into consideration if any of your party is disabled. One of our group members had a stroke several years ago and requires a wheelchair for distances. Luckily, we were on the ground floor. Had we not been, I would of requested it as I was the first to arrive. The Ramada does have shuttle buses from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the pier. They also have a restaurant on the premises and it has great food.... On April 8th we boarded the shuttle bus @ 11:30 a.m. for the approx. 15 min drive to the pier to board our ship. Embarkation was pretty easy. Our only hold up was the line we chose for our deck. There were 2 passengers that had a problem due to the computer not having all the correct info. It held up the line for about 30min. They should have taken them out of the line and not held everyone up. We finally got into a 2nd line and got through our processing. We had our sign/sail card and off to board the ship.... We were embarking by about 12:30-12:45 p.m. Went right to our room and dropped stuff off to go eat. We had 2 sea days which were thoroughly enjoyed poolside. FYI, the pool on the Coral Princess is a deep one. Never experienced this before. It goes from 5'2" to 7'2". It was great but surprising. It is also fresh water and I love that. On our 2nd sea day we had rough seas and the pool became a wave pool..... Literally! It would go down/over on the water from 3"-4-5".... It was wild. Very warm and had a great time. Our first port was the Panama Canal crossing. I had scoped out what I thought would be a great spot after being on the Caribbean Princess and finding a private area that most people don't know about. Luckily the Coral Princess had the same spot. I knew I wanted to be in the front going through the first time. I did not want to be up on the decks with a 1000 other folks fighting for space and trying to see through the glass panels. I found my spot, told my group and planned to be up early to get that spot saved. Which I did. All 12 of us were out there along with maybe 10 others but mostly all by ourselves. My plan worked.....lol.... It was awesome. They have these little train engines (several of them) that hook up to the ship to help guide it through the Canal. It's mainly to keep it straight as there is about 5-6" each side to not scrape. Ship is under their own power but does need to be guided. You have 3 locks for the Gatun Locks. You go in, the water fills and you go through. We all did feel the rise and descent going the other way.. It's quite fun. On the way back through, we got our prime spot in the aft of the ship and watched a cargo ship coming through behind us. It was awesome. We even had room service delivered to our aft spot. It was great. After coming back through, we docked in Cristobol. You can disembark for some shopping. And those that did excursions, getting off in the Gatun Lake to do Panama Canal excursions, boarded back on here. They have a warehouse there for vendors. Some cute things. Two things to beware of regarding this port. One is that it is VERY HOT in Panama. Make sure you have water, a hat and sunscreen. Second, if you go to the warehouse for shopping, there are some local, native vendors that are almost naked. Mainly the women are topless but the guys aren't wearing very much either. So if you have kids, be aware. So off to Costa Rica. The next day we arrived in Limon, Costa Rica. My dad had told me that if we did any excursion, do the San Jose one. But everyone on the boards disagreed with that. Plus it was very early in the a.m. and very far away. So our group decided to do the Eco/Countryside tour. It included a tour of a Banana Plantation (very interesting), a river tour (very cool) and saw a sloth, birds, a gecko and a native kid was in a boat shoreside holding a small crocodile or alligator. Not sure which it was. Then we did a ride on a train over the countryside. There is alot of impoverished folks in that area but they seemed friendly and happy to see us. Then back to the ship... We had a sea day between Limon and our next port. Spent it poolside as usual..... The next port was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I loved this port. Loved the area and the people were very nice. Our group did many different things here. I did the Chukka Cove Horseback Ride/Swim along the beach... Absolutely loved it. I have had horses/ridden for over 30 years but recently had a scare that almost made me cancel this excursion. Glad I didn't. We did about a 30-40 minute ride along the beach and trails. Then got to this cove area where they took off the saddles, put on bareback pads and we rode the horses in the ocean for about 10-15 minutes. I loved it.... I stressed a little wondering how we would not float off the horses back.. But the bareback pads have breast collars that keep them on.... It was tons of fun... They do have people there that take photos of you while you ride in the ocean. The cost is 6 photos for $20.. They have a computer there so you can view/pick the photos and then they put them on CD for you.... It was cool. My horses name was Volcano..... And he did well...... Next port was Grand Cayman. Again, our group went in different directions. I'm the only diver of the group and chose the 2 tank dive for adv. divers through Princess. I had tried to do Stingray City in Dec. on another cruise but it had been canceled. This dive did a dive of the North Wall first and then included a dive at Stingray City. The dive shop Princess used was Resort Sports who is associated Spanish Bay Resort. They took us by van to the dock. We did the first dive and it was great. But the Stingray City dive was the highlight. You get to feed the Stingrays and just watch them. They are so graceful.. And very large..... You do have to be careful if feeding as they are like dogs that got the first taste and want to come back for more. They didn't believe I didn't have more and ended with 2 hickies from these creatures. One is a golf ball size bruise/hicky.... They have very strong suction. Then back to the ship... It was a short port day leaving at 3pm so once back at the dock, I shopped a little then back on the ship. Then next port was Cozumel. I was supposed to dive this port too. I had booked privately with Scuba with Alison but had to cancel. I had bad allergies and should not have dived in Grand Cayman but thought I was fine. I wasn't. More detail in the review of Grand Cayman that I'll put in the Scuba Section. Not only was Alison ok with the cancel but gave me advice on what happened. Also, the Noreaster that came through the U.S. affected Cozumel as well. The day I was in G.C. the harbor master canceled all boats from diving in Cozumel. And the next day, the day I was in Cozumel, they did the same. So I couldn't have done dives anyways. So our entire group went off to Nacchi Cocum for a beach day. It's a private excursion that is along the beach. The day started out cool but then got nice & hot. They have a pool, hot tub and provide lunch as well. The pool however, was ridiculously cold. I couldn't use it. The hot tub was warm but warmed up more as the sun came out. They have lounge chairs, some shade areas. FYI, the give you alot of food for lunch. The appetizers alone filled almost all of us up. They also have wave runners & snorkel equipment avail. The ocean was cold to the first toe touch but quickly warmed up.... So off to snorkel I go.. Found some little reefs with lot's of fish.... Very cool. We were there from about 11:30 to 5 p.m. We got back to the ship and did some shopping in a little mall area. The next day was a sea day.... And our last sea day...... Spent poolside of course.. And packing..... Then we arrived back to Ft. Lauderdale. We all had flights after 1 p.m. so none of us were in a hurry to leave the ship. We got up at 9 a.m. and then had breakfast relaxing until they made us leave. We found a van right outside the port and off to the airport we went. Ports- I liked all the ports. My least favorite was Costa Rica. Though our excursion was great, the way people live there is depressing. Costa Rica needs to upgrade some areas if they want cruise ships to come back. My favorite ports were Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Ship- I do love the ship. It's really nice. Staff very friendly. One of my roommates had to use the medical facilities and said they were great. The Dr. was wonderful. Our waiters, Tomas and Nicky were awesome. Remember, one of our group was in a wheelchair. I have to say, Princess was wonderful about that. Between our waiters helping to seat her, to their room steward looking out for her. No one made her feel inferior that I saw. Very accommodating on the excursions too. Amazing. I do have issues with our room steward and our room. It was a mini suite w/balcony. FYI, I was in D616 but the balcony was not covered. Some are, some aren't. We were open to the world above. The first day, the hinge on the closet door was almost off. Finally fixed on day 6. I had asked online for bathrobes for all 3 of us. Didn't get them until day 7 or 8. The couch bed had a horrible mattress. Our roommate had to get an eggcrate mattress as she could feel the bar under the mattress. We got those quickly but the room steward felt very put out by having to remove them daily to make the couch as the couch would not fold up with them on. Did he really think we wouldn't want to use the couch for visitors? Then after Panama, we had a bunch of bugs in our room. In the afternoon we killed 3-4 flying mosquito type bugs. But that night, they were all over the couch bed. Our roommate refused to sleep in the bed. We killed them and got her a roll away type bed. The next day they fumigated and bugs were all gone. When we told the steward, he asked if we had the balcony open. Well duh!! Did they think we would pay extra for a balcony and not use it??? I did not hear of anyone else having a bug problem. So that was weird. Excursions- I liked all of them. The only complaint I had is that when I questioned the excursion desk about the Jamaican excursion and belongings, she obviously had not been on it or knew anything about it to guide me. FYI, on the horseback riding excursion, you can bring a bag. But wear shorts with pockets or a small fanny pack that you can put your money or valuable in. They will bring your bag to you at the cove so you can dry off or change clothes after the swim and then take it back to the stables where you will ride back too. Food- At first, to me, it was not very good at all. It got better after Panama. We kept joking that they must have put the Chef overboard at Panama and got a new one. It was just weird, fancy stuff that wasn't that appealing. I kept going to the "always available" section for steak or salmon. And the deserts were odd too..... I just didn't care for it. I thought the food on the Carnival Valor in Dec. was far superior.... As did 2 members of our group that were on the Dec. cruise as well. Buffet was good.. Big variety. But they don't know Mexican food. They need education there. There was always pizza available and the hamburgers and such. I loved their chicken breast sandwich on the grill. Very good. The ice cream you have to pay for. Ridiculous I say. But each day from 3-4pm or 3-5pm they have ice cream for free in the Horizon Buffet. Spa- I used it on the last sea day for a massage. I still feel they are very pricey but the massage I had which was a deep tissue massage, was one of the best ever. Ask for Juan P. from Mexico. He was excellent. Still tried to sell me stuff but not a hard sale and when he saw I wasn't interested, he backed off. Gym- Never used it. Wanted to but never did. Entertainment- Didn't like the comedian. Can't remember his name. Saw 3 shows. The first, the beach scene one was horrible. Couldn't tell you the story line and didn't care for much of the music. And to me, Jason Chow is not a good singer. Didn't like him at all. The next 2 shows were very good to me inspite of Jason still singing. They have 4 lead singers. The other 3 are good. Enjoyed the last 2 shows. Photos- What can you say about this. I would like to run the photo dept. of all cruiselines. They are way too expensive. There is not enough variety. They have a fairly large photo area and obviously do all their own printing. Yet they continue to offer only 8X10's of formal night. All photos taken should be available in a variety of sizes. Some of us who do scrapbooks or photo albums, don't want 8X10 sizes. The staff was nice, accommodating. They are able to download your memory cards to CD's. And you can print your own photos there too. Overall I really enjoyed the cruise as it takes more than these little issues to ruin a vacation for me. I would do it again in a heartbeat. You get a wide variety of ports and things to do. Very enjoyable. Any questions, feel free to ask....... Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
This was our 3rd cruise with Princess: Mexico, Alaska, and Panama Canal. DH and I were originally booked on the 3/25 Panama Cruise from San Juan to Los Angeles. We had to change our plans and Princess gave us full credit for an April ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with Princess: Mexico, Alaska, and Panama Canal. DH and I were originally booked on the 3/25 Panama Cruise from San Juan to Los Angeles. We had to change our plans and Princess gave us full credit for an April cruise (we were only due 50% refund). DH and I have always enjoyed Princess but this cruise was a mixed bag of very good and very bad. We used Marriott Hotel points to book two "free" nights at the 17th Street Marriott. This was the grubbiest Marriott we have ever stayed at. Avoid it. The Coral Princess was a very comfortable ship to spend time on. It was easy to get around and find our way. Stateroom D422 is the Galapagos Suite (VS). All I can say is "WOW"! This was our first suite and it is definitely the way to go. The room steward was attentive and unobtrusive. We had priority embarking and disembarking at all ports, fresh flowers, daily fresh fruit, no charge for laundry/dry cleaning, corsages for formal night, daily canapes, daily tea, spa use, free one time bar set up and lots of other goodies throughout the cruise. We had the room steward move 2 deck chairs onto our balcony and there was still a lot of room. Our suite was on the best side to view the Panama Canal, too. Dinner fixed 2nd seating was awful! We requested a table for 2 and ended up next to a busing counter. It was loud and smelly with piles of dirty dishes. We requested another table and was told by the head waiter/supervisor he would have to check with the maitre de (whom we never saw). We only ate there twice and found other ways to spend our dinnertime. Balcony Dining is worth the little extra cost. It was tasty and the service was the best. Very romantic. We put on some music and danced under the stars. Sabatini's was a good alternative to the dining room. We ate there twice and enjoyed picking and choosing from the parade of 20+ dishes the waiters kept bringing to the table. The Bayou Cafe was excellent the first night we ate there but not as good the second night. We think it had to be a different chef working. We had the buffet one night. It was as expected; lots of choices and buffet quality. We had late lunches of hamburgers and pizza two nights and just had fruit for evening snacks. Which worked out fine for us. The lounges each had a different character: While I like the smell of cigars coming from the smoking lounge my dh didn't care for it at all. The Crooner's martini bar was right next to it and the smoke kept us from enjoying our pre-dinner drink there. We enjoyed the live music in the lounge of the Bayou Cafe during dinner. Never did see anyone on the dance floor there. The Wheelhouse Lounge was our favorite spot. The female singer was not very good but the music was wonderful for social dancing. We attend the art auctions in the Explorers Lounge and even won 4 lithographs. The casino was big and a lot of folks were enjoying it. We skipped it this trip. The Adult Only Pool area was great! The pools was lots of fun when the waves got rolling. Reading a book on the cushioned deck chairs was quiet and relaxing. The Spa was lovely but I think the prices were too high for their services. Shore Excursions have always been good on Princess. We enjoyed the Pirate Encounter, Beach Party, Eco Train & Boat Ride. Overall, this was a good trip. The suite was wonderful. However, the dining room was an issue and we wouldn't do fixed seating again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2007
This was our first cruise on Princess, our second cruise in a year. It would seem the bug bit us hard! We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale four days before the sailing date to take the opportunity to visit a friend and see some of the sights in ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Princess, our second cruise in a year. It would seem the bug bit us hard! We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale four days before the sailing date to take the opportunity to visit a friend and see some of the sights in southern Florida, something we did not have the opportunity to do on our last trip to the area. We stayed at the Hampton Inn on State Road 84 about ten minutes from downtown. It is a wonderful hotel; clean, comfortable, and a staff like none we had experienced before at any hotel. The hotel provides free light breakfast, but because it had no dining room, the staff would shuttle us to list of restaurants close to the hotel for dinner. One restaurant, within easy walking distance, is the Thai 84, a tiny restaurant in a strip mall with an exceptional menu, service and Chef. We also had fun eating at a diner down the road that had excellent food. Embarkation Smooth, efficient and well organized. Arrived at the pier at 11:20 and were in our mini-suite by 11:50 and at the Horizon Court by noon. Baggage was delivered by the time we had finished lunch and everything was tucked away before 2:00 pm. Exploring the Coral After the luggage was stored away and we met our Room Steward we were off to explore the ship. The public rooms and spaces on the Coral are nothing short of stunning. The extensive use of rich dark wood, brass, glass and warm colored carpet give Coral a feel of the old classical ocean liners. This sense is enhanced by displays of magnificent paintings of old ships that are everywhere on the ship. The same use of wood gave the dining rooms the same sense of elegance as the rest of the ship. One of the most comfortable areas on Coral is the Lotus Pool at the back of the Lido deck. This area is for adults only and the wood deck chairs, the use of huge statue of Buddha and the use of more wood and green fabric along with the quietness of the space makes in a little spot of paradise on the this ship. The rest of Coral is not a lot different than every other cruise ship. There is the casino to take your money, shops and a very high-end jewelry store, as well as lounges of all types. The theater spaces are pretty standard. Mini-suite Our suite is centrally located on the ship. A good choice for a number of reasons; it provided easy and relatively quick access to any part of the ship, provide a smooth ride when things got marginally rough, (this happened only once and the waves were only running a max. height of 8ft.). The bed was comfortable and bedding very nice with a choice of pillows based upon one's personal firmness preferences. The bathroom was a standard cruise ship size. It has a nice tub and shower, but could benefit greatly from a glass tub enclosure rather than the flimsy fabric shower curtain that has seen better days and usually wound up plastered against my back; a nasty cold feeling for sure. There is plenty of room for storage of toilet articles and medications. Nothing fancy, but pleasant enough. The couch was comfortable, the room clean, but the carpet showed wear around the balcony door, certainly nothing to deter one form enjoying this mini-suite. What we did not like about this cabin is that it is about 1/3 smaller in size than what we had on Carnival Triumph, yet cost more. Food. Cruise ship food is always very personal and subjective. Likes and dislikes will vary from person to person, so this is only how we found the food on the Coral, others may have a completely different opinion, and equally correct one. We had anytime dining and liked it very much. We never had more than a few moments wait for a table, and we did not make reservations. We always got the table for two that we enjoyed. As one would expect quality of service varied from waiter to waiter, although one waiter we had twice was exceptional. The food in the dining room was disappointing. It was certainly not of the caliber we had been expecting. It is fair to say that it was hotel banquet quality but certainly nothing more. The food was presented without imagination or flare and was never more than just warm. The exception was the second formal night when lobster was served. It was well prepared and very tasty. The Horizon Court was a different matter all together. It was consistently good buffet food with interesting dishes served hot. The dishes were original, not just left-overs from last night's dinner and were served piping hot. The lines moved efficiently because of the layout of the buffet lines with 'hot stations' on one side and 'cold stations on the other, with two 'islands' between the lines. The layout is essentially two complete restaurants, one on each side of the ship with seating arranged around the outside. The seating provides tremendous views of the sea and ports of call. The Horizon Court is an excellent restaurant for breakfast, lunch and as a sound alternative to the dining rooms for dinner. There are two 'specialty' restaurants on Coral, one excellent and the other an unmitigated disaster. Sabatini's was absolutely outstanding in all respects. The food was exciting and exceptionally well prepared. The service was impeccable. There are numerous courses, but, if one is cautious in the amount taken at each course one can make it to the end without requiring wheels to return to one's cabin! The seafood pasta course is truly to die for and the cannelloni is running a very close second. The only weakness at Sabatini's, and if it were not an Italian restaurant would not bear mentioning, is the poor bread offering. Good bread is essential to good Italian food. On the other side, literally because both Sabatini's and the Bayou restaurant operate out of the same kitchen, is the exact opposite of its neighbor. Service was exceptional only in the sense that I have had better service at fast food drive through on land. The server refused to listen to the diner's requests, and as a result ruined the dinner experience for at least one of those dining with us. For another the evening was dragged to new heights of mediocrity when the arrogant server placed his plate before him with, "Here's your dead cow!" and walked away. The food was atrocious. One almost felt the need go to the kitchen to tell the Chef that there is in fact a Cajun Cuisine and that throwing handfuls of cayenne pepper at food does not make it Cajun. The Porterhouse steak was large and served hanging off the end of the plate something I find particularly disgusting. It was cut thin and poorly butchered, leaving a large junk of gristle and fat to be the first bite. It appears that Princess has attempted to combine the Cajun restaurant concept with its very popular Sterling Steakhouse concept that is found on other ships, but not Coral. It is an interesting idea, but one that falls far short of meeting the height of either restaurant when offered on their own. The Bayou restaurant on Coral should be avoided at all costs in my opinion. But, I heard others on the same cruise comment very favorably about this restaurant, so I guess you take your chances! But we would never go back. Room service was always quick and efficient. They invariably said that the order would take 15 - 20 minutes to deliver, but it was rarely longer than 5 minutes from the time of the call. We ordered the Balcony Breakfast for the morning we went through the Panama Canal; unfortunately there was a deluge of water that the locals euphemistically refer to as "rain" so we had to eat in the cabin. For $28, the half bottle of champagne and interesting menu, made it a great breakfast buy. Had we been able to eat it on the deck it would have been a wonderful experience. Entertainment We did not attend any of he production shows, so others will have to give their opinions on those. We did take in the documentary films shown in the Universal Lounge on the construction of the Panama Canal. These made the actually trip through the Gatun Locks that much more interesting and exciting. The ship also provided a lecture on what is happening with the Panama Canal today and for the immediate future. The woman presenting the lecture was from the Marketing Dept. of the Panama Canal Authority and, not to be unkind, was a waste of time. She was clearly not a public speaker and it showed. Her presentation was boring at its height! We saw two culinary demonstrations during the ten days. The second was hilarious as the Maitre d' Hotel challenged the Coral's Chef to a cook off. If the Maitre d' Hotel ever decides to start a career in comedy he would have no trouble being a success. Together these truly talented men in their chosen professions made a culinary demonstration into entertaining show. A 'not to be missed' event! In all three "live" presentations the ship's technical crew demonstrated their complete inability and incompetence to operate the basic production equipment. Even microphone levels for these people presented an enormous operational challenge, not to mention the two video projectors. Ports Of Call This was a 10 day five stop itinerary. Cozumel : We took a Princess excursion that provided a Mexican cooking lesson at a beach resort about 20 minutes from the pier. This was a great time, with an exciting and entertaining young Chef teaching basic cookery with a Mexican flare. Well worth the time and money. Grand Cayman: We had planned to go to Boatswain's Beach but having seen the turtle farm before and hearing that the admission price had gone to $50 a head we decided to scrap that idea. We went ashore, had lunch at Senor Frogs and walked around shopping for a couple of hours. Not the best stop for shopping bargains. Costa Rica: My loving wife went zip lining through the jungle of a Princess excursion, while I let Oscar Brown tour me and four others from our Cruise Critic group around the country side for the morning. This was a great excursion that included stops at the home of one of Oscars friends to take pictures of sloths, monkeys, birds and other wild life; then on to a banana plantation to watch the harvesting, grading and packaging of bananas. We took a small flat-bottomed boat down the canal and saw more wild life. The photography opportunities are abundant and it is simply impossible not to get some good pictures. In the afternoon we did some shopping for coffee and locally made wood products. Costa Rican coffee at $5US a pound made for a long slog through the heat back to the ship!! Panama Canal/Cristobal Going through this canal is one of the truly exciting travel opportunities available and makes this Coral cruise a bargain!! I cannot tell you how fascinating going through that canal is, especially if one takes the time to learn a little about the construction of the canal at the turn of the century. The ship went through the Gatun Locks and into Gatun Lake where it dropped anchor and let those with excursions off on the tenders. Once they were all away the Coral returned back though the Gatun Locks and docked at Cristobal, Panama, the countries major port. There is a large port building on the pier that has been converted to a market. One simply walks off the gangway and into this very large shopping mall. The 'mall' is divided into two sections. One section, closest to where the returning tour buses stop is an air conditioned space lined on four sides with one shop after another. We found no really good bargains in any of these stores. At the end of this section of the building is a door out to an area referred to on Princess' shopping map as the "flea market"! This is the place to purchase handcrafts and art from the local Indians. These people make some of the finest woven baskets, paintings and wood products in Central America. There are great bargains to be had in this part of the market. Make sure you bring cash because the Indians do not take credit cards. Also Princess' shopping guru, a most annoying woman, never mentions that the local Indian women selling art in the market often do not wear clothing to cover their upper torso. As a result their breast are uncovered except for the intricate tattoos covering their upper bodies. Just a note for those who may be traveling with children or have personal 'thing' about public nudity even in the context of hundreds of years of cultural tradition. The Cristobal pier market capped what was the best day of the entire cruise! Ocho Rios, Jamaica We traveled at night from Panama towards Jamaica. In the middle of the night we were awoken by the P.A. system in the hall and looking out the window it was clear that we were making only steering speed in 7-8 ft waves. There were no alarm bells ringing so I went back to bed. We learned in the morning that the Coral bridge watch had seen a distress flare and launched a rescue boat. The boat returned to Coral with three new passengers that had been taken from a sailboat that had its mast break off three days earlier. We docked at what is referred to as the James Bond Pier, but is really just a spare pier left over from an abandoned bauxite bulk loading facility. It is a long walk into town, especially in the heat and along the side of a busy highway that has no sidewalks. We did not get off the ship in Ocho Rios having had the delightful experience of the locals swarming us to sell anything and everything, but mostly drugs, on our first visit to Jamaica a year ago. In spite of what others say, a firm "no" does not back these people off. It is a real shame because Jamaica is a beautiful island, but having to shop in gated and guarded malls is not my idea of paradise in the Caribbean! Debarkation Getting off the Coral was as easy, if not easier, than getting on. Under a relatively new Princess program, if you can carry your own bags of the ship, unassisted by ship or shore crew then you get off first. We were off at just after 7:00 in the morning. Overall Observations This was a wonderful cruise on a beautiful ship. The itinerary was excellent and there was nothing that would cause us not to take another Princess cruise based on a different itinerary. In saying that however, there is nothing that would compel us to return to Princess based upon food, cabin and service, or price. Our comparison of our Carnival Triumph cruise and the Princess Coral cruise came out pretty much a saw-off. On a per diem basis the cost of the Triumph was only about $10 a day cheaper...but the Triumph mini-suite (Cat 11) was larger than what we experienced on Coral. The food was an even split...the service marginally better on Coral...the itinerary and length of cruise on Coral was better than Triumph...a big deciding factor for us. The public spaces were much more genteel than Triumph...but again that is a matter of personal taste. So now we have two cruise lines to choose from because in our opinion both offer a great cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2007
We embarked from Vancouver on May 21 for our Alaskan Cruise. We were checked in in a matter of minutes and in our mini-suite. First impression of the ship was awe-struck. It was simply beautiful. The Coral Princess is a very up-scale ship ... Read More
We embarked from Vancouver on May 21 for our Alaskan Cruise. We were checked in in a matter of minutes and in our mini-suite. First impression of the ship was awe-struck. It was simply beautiful. The Coral Princess is a very up-scale ship and the decor was gorgeous. My husband and I walked around and became familiar with where everything was before heading to the Horizon Court for a lunch buffet. I wish I could say something really positive about the Horizon Court but for us it was below standard in quality. The only meals that we somewhat enjoyed there were breakfast and after several mornings we ended up in the main dining room for breakfast and it was delicious. I will get back to the dining experiences a little later. We booked a mini-suite on the ninth floor. Our cabin was perfect for us. We had a balcony and as the cruise progressed we realized that a balcony stateroom was the only way to travel on an Alaskan cruise. The scenery was breathtaking everyday. But our only complaint was that we were at the very back of the ship so therefore we had to walk "forever" after getting off the elevator to get to the main features of the ship. In doing another cruise we will make sure we get our room towards the middle of the ship. Our cabin steward was very nice but not very talkative. We had a hard time understanding him sometimes but he was very attentive and brought us anything we requested. The entertainment on the ship was first class on the nights that the Coral Princess Singers/Dancers performed. The only problem was that they only put on 3 or 4 performances. They were simply fantastic. The other nights featured comedians/magicians and etc and for us were somewhat boring. We wish they had booked some other types of entertainment such as famous groups that other ships do, but they only had one performance with one original Drifter and the Theater was so crowded we didn't get a seat. They have a nice casino on board if that is your cup of tea. We enjoyed that and actually won some money so that was nice. We stopped in the ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and had excursions in each of those ports. Our favorite excursion was the Yukon Experience in Skagway. It was 7 hours long but worth it. The scenery was gorgeous and we were treated to a very nice meal. We had a great tour guide who made the trip even better. Our excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau was okay but we were disappointed in that we didn't get to be closer to it and had to admire it from afar. We did the Totem Pole Excursion in Ketchikan and it was so boring. I don't recommend that to anyone. The scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord was fantastic but it was so cold that we froze out on the decks while trying to film everything. The weather was cold the entire trip but especially those two places where it was in the 40s. Pack plenty of warm clothing!!! We had hoped on this cruise we would get to witness plenty of wildlife but we were disappointed that all we saw was some sea otters, a few whales in the distance that we could barely see, and a small black bear on our way to the Yukon. Other than that, we didn't witness much of anything. My husband was very disappointed because this was what he was most interested in for this cruise. Back to the food.....Well we had an early booking in the Provence Dining Room that started at 6:00. We were seated at a table with 5 other couples and I guess we were fortunate because we enjoyed visiting with all of them. We had all ages at our table and everyone was gracious, funny and entertaining. We elected to forego the formal nights on this cruise, mainly because we just didn't want to pack formal wear. The food in the dining room was considerably better than the Horizon Court Buffet but still it lacked seasoning, and the portions were so small. My husband usually left every night still hungry and that should never happen. We had a very sweet waiter who was very attentive. Our only other cruise was with Royal Caribbean and to us, the food was like day and night compared to this cruise. The bread was already on our tables and was cold. Also another complaint and word of advice if you are seating at a large table is that most of the time you have to wait until everyone shows up for the waiter to take your orders then you have to wait until everyone is finished to be served desert. Sadly we had two really slow eaters at our table so that was kind of irritating as the week went along. Our favorite night was the last night. We were celebrating our anniversary on this cruise so the head waiter came to our table and brought us a special cake and sang to us. We also had another couple at our table celebrating their anniversary along with newlyweds so they both got cakes. We took alot of pictures and this was a fun night. Breakfast in the main dining room was so much better than the buffet. I strongly recommend this to anyone and in fact I would never recommend the Horizon Court to anyone. Disembarkation was very smooth and overall this cruise was wonderful. But my husband and I agree that Royal Caribbean is our choice of cruise lines. Princess Ships are beautiful but food is very important and in our opinion the food was below standards. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
My DH, 2 DS ( ages 9 and 8) and myself recently returned from our first cruise. I have to admit that it was fabulous! We sailed the Coral Princess from Vancouver to Alaska and it met or exceeded our expectations in every way. We booked our ... Read More
My DH, 2 DS ( ages 9 and 8) and myself recently returned from our first cruise. I have to admit that it was fabulous! We sailed the Coral Princess from Vancouver to Alaska and it met or exceeded our expectations in every way. We booked our hotels and the cruise through a travel agent whom was recommended to use as a large percentage of her business is Princess cruises. As for our air travel, we did our own research and booked that on our own. Given that this was our first cruise, we took our TA's advise and arrived in Vancouver early. We actually arrived 2 days early, on June 16, which, was my younger son's 8th birthday. Our flight on Alaskan Air from SFO to Vancouver was uneventful (the best kind) and we made it through customs in about 15 minutes. We then got a cab from the airport to take us to our hotel, the Marriott Pinnacle in downtown Vancouver. The hotel was very nice and we enjoyed our stay there alot. As we were checking in, my 8 year old asked the woman checking us in if she knew what was special about today. When she had no clue, my DS told her that it was his birthday. She then asked us if we would be in our room for a while, which we told her that we needed to go for dinner, so she offered to have a piece of cake sent up for his birthday at 7:30 giving us enough time to go for a quick bite. We thought that was very nice. Well, about 7:40, room service shows up with: 2 bottles of water, 2 chocolate chip cookies, 2 brownies, 2 gelatin type candies and 4 chocolate covered strawberries! It really made my son's day! We were really appreciative of there gesture. This was pretty much the attitude for the duration. My DH is allergic to feathers, and Marriott uses feather pillows and duvets. When called, they were at our room in a couple minutes changing everything for him. The Marriott was also a bit on the pricey side, but it also included full buffet breakfast. At first we were told for only my DH and myself, BUT the maitre'd checked for us and told us that the kids were free as well. OK, Saturday, our full day in Vancouver. We first walked down to Canada Place as we wanted to show the kids a cruise ship as they were not sure what to expect. We then spent the day in Stanley Park. If you ever have the opportunity to go there, it is definitely worth the time--make sure you see the totem poles. Unfortunately, after 5 hours of walking, we were a bit too tired to do the aquarium. Monday, we checked out of our hotel and made our way to Canada Place. My first impression of the Coral was "wow" it was much prettier than the ship we saw the day before. Boarding did not take more than 20 minutes from the time we got in line to go through security until we were on the ship. We found our mini-suite easily and met our steward, Ramon. Ramon was very helpful and already had the 2 twins converted to a queen for us. He also added the egg crate to our bed. We then went up to the Horizon for lunch, which was good. Afterwards, the 4 of us walked around a got our bearings. My DH kept annoying me because I told him we set sail at 4:30, and when it didn't happen, he kept asking me when. (I told him to go ask the captain). We then went for an early dinner as we had anytime dining, which I really enjoyed, especially with the kids! Tuesday, the ride was a bit rough. My poor 8 year old was a bit green until I have him some Dramamine then he was fine. My 9 yo did not have any issues. Tuesday the kids started going to the funzone and absolutely loved it!!! They asked to go all the time. On the last day of the cruise they even got a visit from the captain. The funzone was not just a place to play video games, but they had a lot of activities for the as well, including a junior ranger program and dinner with their friends one evening. Throughout the cruise, we ended up eating most of our lunches and all of our dinners in the dining room, but only 1 breakfast in the dining room. We really liked the Horizon court for breakfast, especially the made to order omelettes. As for the dining room food, it was good, some food was better than others. I think that the children's menu could have included something like mac and cheese or cold sandwiches, but this is more because a little more variety on a 7 day cruise would have been nice. As for entertainment, the comedian was ok. My DH and I spent some time in the casino and played bingo one afternoon. I really enjoyed the country night. We even took the kids swimming in the lotus pool, which was very nice. Ports. Well, Ketchikan it rained most of the day. We didn't have any organized tour scheduled so we hired a cab for 2 hours and he took us to the rainforest and Totem Bight State Park. The rainforest was ok, nice views, but the kids especially liked the totems. There was a tour guide with a group, and she invited us to join her in the clan house to hear her talk. We thought that was very nice. We also got to see some bald eagles and a deer. When we got back to town, we were looking for a totem pole for my 9 yo, which we eventually found one to his liking. The next day was Juneau. We walked around all morning, it is an interesting town, and headed back to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we went on a whale watching excursion (ship sponsored). My 9yo was a little bored as he wanted more action. My DH, 8 yo and myself really enjoyed it. We even had one juvenile whale perform for us for about 20 minutes. During this trip, we also saw bears and sealions. The naturalist was very knowledgeable and very approachable. The next day we were in Skagway. Again, we walked around the town before returning to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we took a helicopter/glacier walkabout tour. This was absolutely amazing! The 4 of us absolutely loved this. The only thing that could have been better on this was our pilot was fairly new there and he set us down in an area which did not give us a lot of walking space, other than that, it was fantastic. The next 2 days, we went through Glacier Bay and College Fjords. We were lucky enough to see a calving glacier twice. Unfortunately, apparently there were some prime whale viewing which my DH and I missed as the ocean put us right to sleep. I guess we had too much fun! Once we disembarked in Whittier, we took the Princess bus to Anchorage. I think that the customer service there was not as knowledgeable as it could have been. However, if I went outside to where Princess reps were unloading passengers, they were much more helpful. That night we stayed at the Voyager hotel. It definitely was not the Marriott, but it was clean and a large room. We did not have a car, so we walked to the visitor center and caught a shuttle to the ulu factory. From there we walked to a mushing show. If you are in Anchorage, especially with kids, this is well worth the trip! It is put on by a family whose grandfather helped develop the first Iditorod and most of the family is competing to this day. After the show, you were able to go back and pet and hold baby musher pups. The next day, we returned to California and I am so ready to go again! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2007
We took a June 4, 2007 northbound Alaskan cruise on the Coral Princess, visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and College Fjords. Embarkation was nicely done, with no waits when we boarded at about 1 pm for a 4 pm sail-away. ... Read More
We took a June 4, 2007 northbound Alaskan cruise on the Coral Princess, visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and College Fjords. Embarkation was nicely done, with no waits when we boarded at about 1 pm for a 4 pm sail-away. However, the ship was held up until 7 pm because a busload of 30+ people was late arriving. No problem; we met our Roll Call cruisemates at the Lido Bar and had a great time. The full day of cruising is a wonderful way to leisurely see the ship and decide what types of activities, if any, to join. My husband really enjoyed the photoshop elements classes; the instructor was quite good, he said. Formal night was not really very formal. Most men wore business suites and the women black cocktail dresses or other nice dresses. Frankly, we didn't think the Princess food was very good, so it didn't match the "formal" theme. The staff on the Princess were always cheerful and helpful. Well trained! Our minisuite on the Caribe deck was spacious, clean and comfortable (except for the bed). We loved our balcony and spent a fair amount of time out there, as the weather was quite nice. Ports were basically tourist shops, one after another. Ketchikan and Skagway are cute little towns, though. We enjoyed our flightseeing of Misty Fjords in Ketchikan (with Michelle of Island Wings), and the helicopter flight and dogsledding on Denver Glacier in Skagway. Princess did a remarkable job in Glacier Bay. The narration by the park ranger was outstanding and the captain is excellent at maneuvering the ship. College Fjords had more glaciers to see. We lucked out with weather. Some people were actually in the outdoor swimming pool in Glacier Bay. Food in the dining room (anytime dining) was only poor to fair. Seafood was generally overcooked and dry. The Beef Wellington was pretty good, however. The pizza on the Lido Deck is excellent. The string quartet was quite good, as was the singer in the Crooner's bar. Comedians were also good. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2007
My wife and I traveled with our two children, ages 5 and 7, on the Coral Princess 7 day, northbound Vancouver to Whittier "Voyage of the Glaciers" sailing. The ship - the Coral Princess is a newer ship and it is beautiful. The ... Read More
My wife and I traveled with our two children, ages 5 and 7, on the Coral Princess 7 day, northbound Vancouver to Whittier "Voyage of the Glaciers" sailing. The ship - the Coral Princess is a newer ship and it is beautiful. The most notable comment I have is that, although the ship was full to capacity with nearly 2000 passengers and about 900 crew, it never felt crowded. There are a huge number of public rooms and various nooks and crannies where you can hang out. So, whether you want peace and quiet or lots of activity, there's a place for you on the ship. Embarkation - we boarded the ship at Canada Place in Vancouver. We dropped off our luggage in the late morning and then caught an IMAX show at the Pier before boarding. Boarding was quick and easy. When we got to our cabin, our luggage was already there waiting for us. Our cabin - we booked an outside cabin with a balcony. There is really no point to booking an inside cabin on an Alaskan cruise. For a family of four, this cabin had two bunk style beds that dropped down from the ceiling above the two lower beds. The upper berths were put away during the day. As is true on most ships, the cabins are small, the bathrooms even smaller. But, somehow, the 4 of us managed to keep our stuff put away so we could co-exist in cramped quarters. There are two large swimming pools. One outdoor and one indoor pool (retractable roof) for the Alaska sailings. We never had a problem finding available deck chairs, nor did the pools seem crowded. Obviously, this is probably different than what might be experienced on a Caribbean cruise. Although we didn't use it, the spa and fitness rooms looked very nice. The ship has two main entertainment venues - the Princess theater forward and the Universe Lounge aft. The entertainment was generally good. The ship had its "house" singers and dancers that put on a really good Motown review one night. There were also guest entertainers - magician, comedian, juggler - all of whom were very good. Our biggest concern getting on the ship was that our younger kids (ages 5 & 7) would have something to do when they decided that they could no longer look at glaciers. Although I have nothing to compare it to, all I can say is that our kids (and many others) were always excited to go to the kids club on the days we were at sea. The staff was first rate and they planned a decent variety of activities to keep the kids' attention. Also, the security and safety of all the kids seemed to be the top priority. The Kids Zone was a very secure area, with strict sign in procedures. Pagers were provided to the parents in case something came up while we were away. Overall, we were very pleased (as were our kids) with the kids club activities. Dining - the ship has two dining options: 1 dining room for the traditional early and late seatings. The second dining room was for "anytime dining," which we opted for. Overall, we liked the flexibility of anytime dining. The only problem was if you didn't eat on the earlier side, there could be long wait to sit down if you showed up around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. The dining room had a basic kids menu which had the usual suspects - hamburger, chicken fingers, fish sticks, etc. The ship also has two speciality restaurants (Italian and a Cajun themed steakhouse), which we did not eat at. There is also a pool side pizzeria and grill (burgers, hot dogs), which the kids liked. Finally, there is a 24 hour buffet that changes its selection of food depending on the time of day. Our biggest criticism of the ship was the food. Not that it was bad; it just wasn't that good. The menu selections in the dining room often were a bit eclectic, and were short on what I'd call more mainstream type entrees. (On one evening, the entree selections were Venison, frog legs, and some strange fish). As a result, my wife and I felt each evening that there were often too few choices that interested us. Looking at the menus in the speciality restaurants, it appeared that the menus there were also a bit strange. With the exception of breakfast, which was always decent, the Horizon Court Buffet was fairly poor. If you wanted to eat there for lunch or dinner, it appeared that the chefs took left over ingredients and combined them into rather odd concoctions. At least in my view, the buffet was not very palatable at all. The food in the dining room was reasonably well prepared. Those menu items that interested my family did taste good and the desserts were always good. Overall, though, we'd rate the dining experience on this ship as only being average. Of course, the main reason one goes on an Alaskan cruise is for the scenery/wildlife and the cruise did not disappoint here. Ketchikan - a very cute downtown area. We did a rainforest tour, which was just ok. However, the lumberjack show was a big hit with both my wife and I and our kids. I heard from other passengers that the Misty Fjords flight tours were very good. The only problem with this port is it's a short stop - you leave at 2:00 pm on the northbound cruise. So, you don't have a lot of time to do all that you might want to. By the way, we had very unusual Alaska weather. No rain. Sunny and in the mid to upper 70s in our ports of call. Juneau - this is the main whale watching stop. We opted to skip the ship's tour and booked our own whale watching tour through Orca Enterprises (aka Captain Larry's whale watching tour). Don't walk, run to book this tour when you get off the ship (there are booths everywhere near the docks and Orca Enterprises has its storefront right on the main street next to the Alaska Shirt company). The naturalist from our ship happened to be with us on this tour and she said this tour is consistently the top rated whale watching tour in southeast Alaska). In the 2 1/2 hours we were on the water, we came across a pod of Orcas that came within 50 yards of the boat. Then we spent quite a while watching a group of 7-10 humpback whales engaging in cooperative "bubble feeding." It was like being in the middle of a Discovery Channel show. It was really the most thrilling outdoor whale watching adventure we'd ever been on. Skagway - at first glance, we weren't sure what to expect at this stop. Not much peaked our interest on the list of shore excursions. We first took a "Gold Adventure" tour in the a.m. with the kids. It was surprisingly interesting and the kids had a blast panning for gold. Then, on the recommendation of the ship's naturalist, we just rented a car (check out Sourdough rental car at Broadway and 6th) and drove. Skagway is very scenic. We first drove on a road (much of it gravel) to the town of Dyea. Very scenic ride along a glacial water inlet. It ends near a sled dog camp which runs tours from the ship. We weren't able to get into the dog camp on our own, although we did see the puppies. Anyhow, the whole ride to Dyea is filled with scenery and wildlife (eagles, seals, bears). We then backtracked a bit and drove about 9 miles along the Yukon highway, which runs adjacent to a spectacular gorge with lots of pull outs to be able to stop and look at the sights. I highly recommend that you try and drive around when you're in Skagway. The town itself is small, but rather fun to walk around. Glacier Bay and College Fjords - After the whales, these two stops really are the highlights of the cruise. It really takes your breath away when the ship is stopped next to the massive glaciers. The captain takes his time and spins the ship at times so you can sit on your balcony if you have one and soak in the views. On the very last night of the cruise, the ship was parked at the very end of the College Fjords. With the kids off to the kids club and most of the passengers in the dining room, my wife and I had a quiet dinner in the Horizon Court buffet and we sat all the way forward where there are glass windows all around. I can't imagine a more impressive dinner with a view - glaciers were surrounding us on all sides as we ate our dinner. Our overall cruise experience was quite good. The ship was beautiful and the sights were even better. The staff, from our room steward to the waiters to the deck attendants were all very friendly and often went out of their way to do the little things to make the cruise even better. Unless you are insistent on a ship with high quality, "fine dining," we would highly recommend this ship and itinerary to anyone that appreciates the beauty and grandeur of Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Embarkation: Canada Place was a zoo when we arrived, but we were herded efficiently through a long lineup and boarded around 1 p.m., within one hour of arrival. We carried on (and declared) four bottles of wine to enjoy in our stateroom ... Read More
Embarkation: Canada Place was a zoo when we arrived, but we were herded efficiently through a long lineup and boarded around 1 p.m., within one hour of arrival. We carried on (and declared) four bottles of wine to enjoy in our stateroom and packed another couple of good quality Tetra-packs (one-litre boxed wines) in our luggage, no problem at all. Stateroom: Our starboard forward Aloha balcony stateroom was clean and ready for our arrival; we met our very efficient and friendly steward Chet (from Thailand) and requested eggcrate mattress-tops and bathrobes. The eggcrates were delivered promptly and the bathrobes arrived the next morning. The tux/shoes that we had pre-rented were hanging in the closet as promised and were in excellent condition. We later discovered that the shower had a slow drain, but Chet arranged to have it fixed within a couple of hours of embarkation. Another issue was an outside pipe above our covered balcony that collected condensation and dripped rust; this was solved easily enough by wiping the pipe every couple of days. Our stateroom was below the Horizon Court. During the day, we heard very little noise from above, but almost every night, there were banging sounds (from the galley?) between 3 and 4 a.m. It startled us awake the first few nights, but then we got used to it. The Coral Princess: Clean and easy to navigate. We especially enjoyed power-walking the length of the ship around the Sun Deck in the morning, and strolling the quite Promenade Deck in the humid evenings. Maintenance crews were constantly (but unobtrusively) cleaning, painting and varnishing. Ship's drinking water was excellent, no need for expensive bottled water. Smoking: We are non-smokers and avoid smoking areas for health reasons. While the smell of smoke was quite strong outside of some staterooms, it did not bother us in our own. We had smokers upwind of us, but they were courteous and only smoked one at a time on their balcony, so we could enjoy ours most of the time. Smokers on deck mostly stayed on the port side by the Lido bar. Pools: The jets on two of the three outdoor hot tubs on the Lido deck were not working, but nobody seemed to mind. The crews were testing the pool and spa waters constantly, which was reassuring. Both the Lido and Lotus pools were clean and we swam in both. Deck drink/food service: Drink orders were taken frequently with prompt, friendly delivery. The Lido pizza was heavenly (I loved the Nordic pizza with smoked salmon). The french fries from the grill were double-fried to a perfect golden crisp, and there was guacamole to dip them in! Avoid the vegetarian burgers, they were very mushy. My husband really enjoyed the beef cheeseburgers and bratwursts. Fellow travellers: A real mix of ages, which was great. This was by no means a golden-oldies cruise. Lots of walkers, some wheelchairs/scooters and very few children on such a long cruise. Quite a few passengers were in the 40-65 range. Everybody was ready for a good time, and from what I saw, were accommodating to those who had to move more slowly. The line-dancing classes, bingo, trivia and other activities looked very well attended! One of the best aspects of this cruise was meeting our CruiseCritic.com group ahead of time on the roll call and getting together for fun on the ship. What a great group of people! We were lucky to have the opportunity to meet them all. Gym/Sauna: We didn't join any of the organized classes, but used the fitness area quite a bit. There were enough treadmills and other equipment, all clean and in good shape. We also stopped here to fill up our water bottles with cold water before heading ashore. The fitness area is aft and overlooks the ship's wake, a great place to work out. There are weigh scales in kilograms and stones, with a conversion chart if you need to know pounds. (But who wants to know?) Towels are provided, as are anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down your machine after use. The smallish sauna area (ladies) had two roomy showers, and while the sauna was not as hot as I'd like, it was a pleasant place to pass an hour. We didn't opt for the thermal suite, it was in a windowless room and I didn't fancy sitting around with other folks warming my tush when I could do that on the Sun Deck in the open air for free. Dining: We opted for Late Traditional. No need for a waiting list here, a few tables in the room sat empty the entire cruise, and our table for eight was only filled by three couples. We'd taken a previous cruise to Mexico on the Sapphire two years ago, and had really liked the food, however, I found this 17-day menu a bit of a mishmash. I didn't recognize many of the dishes from our last cruise (or the Princess cookbook) and perhaps the head chef was trying to be adventurous on such a long voyage. I was very disappointed in the lobster, they were small and overcooked in comparison what we had enjoyed before, and they were served with large prawns, instead of being the featured seafood on the plate. I noticed a few of the same sauces were being repeated on subsequent nights on different dishes. On one night, our tablemates raved over the French Onion soup. I asked if it was possible to have the French Onion Soup the following night, but with a vegetable base (the soup base is beef.) A simple request. But the server had to consult with the head waiter for five minutes, halting the service to the three tables he was covering. Then the head waiter came over, asked who had made the special request, and had me repeat it. Then he wrote everything down on a notepad. Then he asked me for my stateroom number. That was my last special request, it seemed like too much of a fuss. But the soup the next night proved to be excellent! Our waiter was mostly competent, but was not a very warm person - unlike the gal serving the table next to us. When our server did make small mistakes, such as delivering the wrong salad dressing or the wrong dessert, he would simply dismiss it or argue if you pointed it out. (We ended up just swapping dessert plates ourselves). If you asked what ingredients were in a particular dish and he didn't know, he would shrug. Our assistant waiter was much more friendly, addressing us by name and remembering preferences. He got the larger tip! Other dining options: We tried breakfast and lunch in the dining rooms, but the service (three separate visits) was very, very slow, so it was back to Horizon Court, which we enjoyed (especially the omelette station at breakfast). Sabatini's was an unforgettable evening, delicious and well-presented food, great service, and we didn't over-eat. We also loved the Bayou Cafe for the same reasons. Entertainment: Unfortunately, we didn't make it to many of the big shows. (Early to bed, early to rise). But kudos to the historian on board, Lawrence Rudner, whose talks were well-researched and informative. Our at-sea days were mostly spent reading, in the gym, walking and hanging out by the pool. The nightly entertainment in the Bayou Cafe was excellent - the very personable Denise Canby trio and earlier in the evening, the talented Ron Coleman noodling away on the piano. Both Ron and Denise took the time to chat with passengers. It was a lovely way to relax before and after dinner, and you didn't have to be eating at the Bayou to go in soak up the lounge atmosphere. (And it's smoke-free!) Unusual event: Overnight off the coast of Cuba, a large thunderstorm (didn't really rock the ship at all, as we slept through it) blew dozens of tropical birds into the ship. When we went to walk on the Sun Deck first thing in the morning, it was a Hitchcockian scene. Dead and stunned birds of all sizes littered the deck and other confused birds were flying inside the Lotus Pool area and bumping into the glass. Some of the birds survived - and a few plucky yellow finches spent the final day cruising to Ft. Lauderdale with us on the Lido Deck. I have pictures of them perching by the hot tubs. Sealife sightings: Whales, dolphins, lots of flying fish, one big dead Great White Shark (south of San Fran.) a live shark, tons of interesting sea birds and by my count (from what I could see from our balcony), 13 sea turtles. We were fortunate to have mostly calm seas so we could look right down (no balconies jutting out below us) into the ocean. Ports: Everybody will have different experiences in the ports. Ours were mostly positive. A brief summary: San Francisco: Lunch at Scoma's on the pier (excellent seafood, wine selection and service), cable car ride to Union Square, and back to wander around Pier 39 and watch the sea lions bark in the sun. Cabo: We hired a water taxi ($10 each) out to the Arch, which was a lot of fun. He dropped us off at Lover's Beach for a swim, and picked us up as promised an hour later. If you take a water taxi, be prepared to get wet - especially if you are not in good shape and cannot jump nimbly from the boat into the surf. We saw quite a few older and overweight tourists (some in jeans!) take a dunking. Once back on the main pier, we walked into town and had lunch (very slow service, but good food) at the Giggling Marlin, where other tourists were happily strung upside down like marlins to have their pictures taken. Acapulco: The fortress was closed, so we walked to the old part of the city (Zocala) and wandered around. Very few vendors bothered you once you got outside the immediate port vicinity and it was good to see the places where ordinary citizens shopped and walked. Huatulco: A beautiful and clean small port. But the vendors were almost unbearable near the pier. We took at cab to the resort area of Tangolunda beach (five dollars) just to have a quiet walk on the beach. Puntarenas: We had pre-booked a private Charlie Soto tour, which was a bit of a misnomer as Charlie didn't show and sent his son instead. His son, a medical student, was friendly but didn't speak English very well - he wasn't a professional tour guide so we learned very little about the countryside we were seeing. There was no air-conditioned van with cold drinks and fruit but a very small taxi with the windows rolled down. We had to ask to stop for a drink of water, and our guide drove to a friend's place and presented us with some warm, bottled water which took an hour to cool off in a bucket of ice. A single beer materialized later in the day. We enjoyed ziplining at Villa Lapas (excellent guides there) and lunch at a beachside eatery before returning to the pier for some shopping. There was a wide variety of affordable crafts at this pier, the best on the trip, and I wish I had bought more. The vendors were courteous and did not hassle you at all. Panama Canal: What a great transit, and in lovely weather! We went forward on Baja deck to the very front of the ship for great views. During the last set of locks, we toasted the Canal from the Patisserie on Deck 5 and watched the ship sink below the walls of the locks. An exciting day! Cartegena: We took a ship's tour, the walk through Old Cartegena. The Coral was the first Princess ship to visit this port in a number of years due to safety concerns, so the locals pulled out all the stops with a big cultural show (band, dancers) on the pier and some red-carpet officials who visited the ship. Our walking tour was fantastic. Very few soldiers around, just lots and lots of "tourist police" with armbands on almost every corner. Amazing architecture, churches and a great guide, although he spent too long in a stop at an emerald shop. Other than the dead rat that I accidentally stepped in, this was a great tour and we were happy to see many important historical sites preserved. Note: while we returned early to the ship, we noticed late-arriving cruise tours were forced to stand out in long lineups in the hot sun. Armed guards were searching the bags of almost all the crew members who had been ashore, and checking quite a few passengers, as well. Aruba: A quick half-day visit. We left the ship and headed for the bus station conveniently across the street from the pier. It cost $1.15 each to take a short bus ride to either Eagle or Palm beach. We enjoyed a swim in the calm waters at Palm Beach, but were reluctant to sit and relax, as all the chair and cabanas were reserved for hotel guests only and we didn't want to rent. We spent a couple of hours walking the beach and having a quick (and very expensive) beer at a hotel beach bar before taking a bus back to the pier for a little shopping. Fort Lauderdale: Disembarkation was effortless, although a little delayed. We took the post-cruise Everglades boat ride tour, as our flight didn't leave from MIA until late in the afternoon. The guide on our tour bus was among the best we've had, very entertaining, and we learned quite a bit about the Everglades on the 30-minute ride to the park. We enjoyed the 20-minute airboat ride, it was very informative. But the alligator "show" afterwards was too hard to watch - a barefoot, unkempt "animal trainer" in a small fenced arena poking at alligators with a stick, dragging them by their tails to get them into a position for better photos. We left almost immediately - in my opinion, it was disgusting to see this kind of 19th century animal exhibition. Summary: What hurricane season??? The seas were calm and the temperatures beautiful. A once-in-a-lifetime cruise, although we may go back in another decade to see the new canal once it is finished! In retrospect, not much to complain about at all, and some fabulous memories. Good job, Princess, and thanks CruiseCritic.com for helping us prepare! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
This was my 12th cruise and my wifes 11th cruise, she is 27 and I am 30. We chose this cruise based on the fact that neither of us had ever been to any of the ports, so it sounded good. We also picked Princess because we had been on the ... Read More
This was my 12th cruise and my wifes 11th cruise, she is 27 and I am 30. We chose this cruise based on the fact that neither of us had ever been to any of the ports, so it sounded good. We also picked Princess because we had been on the inaugural year of the Caribbean Princess and absolutely loved it. So we decided this would be the perfect cruise for us. Travel Day We flew from Newport News VA to Fort Lauderdale arriving at 2:30p.m. We were a little worried that we would be late to check in but this worked to our advantage. Embarkation We were pleasantly surprised that there was no line for us to check in and we had not filled out the credit card form online because I didn't know which card I wanted to use, no problem says princess and less than 10 minutes later we were on the ship in our cabin and very happy, by far the smoothest embarkation we had experienced, however we heard if you were earlier it wasn't so smooth. Cabin We had an inside cabin cat. P629. This was our first inside cabin ever. We were shocked at first that it was so small but it ended up being plenty big with more storage area than a balcony cabin that we spent some time in. Everything seemed very well taken care of. We had no problems with noise, a very good location in my opinion because we were very close to the back elevators which never seemed crowded. Ship The Coral Princess was beautiful. She seemed very well cared for, they were painting the anchor while we were docked at Costa Rica. All the public rooms seemed well kept. We enjoyed the explorers lounge, princess theater and the universe lounge. The main dining rooms were nice but not as grand as on RCCL, which I prefer. The two special restaurants were both nice and well maintained. Both pool areas were great and got a lot of use from us. The main pool was the most crowded, however it never seemed as crowded as any of the other main pools on any other cruise we've taken. The spa pool or "adult" pool was also great, it was never crowded when we were there. The decor in the spa pool was beautiful. I do wish they would have opened the roof on a least a couple occasions when it was beautiful outside, the chlorine smell could get bad at times. The hot tubs in the main pool were much better in my opinion than the ones in the spa pool because they were bigger, you could stretch out, and the jets worked in two of them, where as the spa pools hot tubs were BLAZING hot the first day but they did get better, and the jets only worked in one of them. The casino was a good size and they had the new Texas Hold'em tables which were very fun. The shops were o.k. there seemed to be a much bigger selection of stuff on the CB Princess, however they did put out rain jackets on the third straight port with rain. The best part of the Coral Princess in our opinion was the ship never seemed crowded. I'm not sure if it was the passenger age range or just good ship planning, but it was great. Service We thought the service overall on this ship was o.k. Our waitress in the dining room Christiana was awesome. All of the service we had in the dining room was great. The service in the Horizon court was also very good, you never had to look far for a glass of ice tea, water or even a coke if you had the card. All over the ship you never had to look far for a bar server to get you a drink. On that note everyone that you came in contact with on the ship (Stewards,waiters,drink guys and gals) seemed very friendly and willing to help you with anything. Our cabin steward was Melanie and she was fantastic, I was a little worried that our service in an inside cabin might not be as good but I was relieved to find our service so good. My problem with service came from the pursers desk and the cruise directors staff. We will start with the first night of the cruise the NFL football late game was on in the Explorers lounge. It was between the Steelers and Denver I think. We enjoyed watching because I am a huge football fan. I asked one of the entertainment staff if the games were going to be on the following Sunday and she said "oh yeah" So I was relieved. Then comes the following Sunday, no football in the patter so I wait to see if it comes on the t.v. and it does. So I call the pursers desk and ask them to see if there is anywhere they can put the game on so we can watch (I say we, there was about 15 of us who were planning on watching the games together) the pursers desk says there is an art show in the explorers lounge (mind you i was one of what seemed like 20 art shows but I believe the real number is 4) so there was nothing they could do. I asked if there was anywhere else they could put the game,possibly the late game after the art auction, they said they would get back to me. One hour later I call back and they say they have never talked to ME!!! This was after about four phone calls with the same guy NEIL!!! He says he has not talked to me all day. So after many calls and much anger the final answer is the Deputy Cruise Director Stu doesn't not want to change anything and he will not accommodate us. This started a string of poor service between the pursers desk and the cruise staff and us. Princess cancelled Jamaica and offered absolutely nothing in return. We have been on other cruises with cancelled ports and at the very least even Carnival offered us a $50 shipboard credit. Princess nothing. No explanation of why we could not go to any of the five ports we were going to go right by (Roatan, Belize, Cozumel, Cancun, Progresso, anywhere!!). Last but not least my favorite ACD Stu actually lied to my face on the night of Peer Factor. The patter told us to be there at 9:15 to sign up, of course this was right in the middle of my late dinner, but I left to go sign up and no one was there so one of the video guys was very nice and tried to help me find someone finally at 9:30 they finally come out and tell me I can't sign up anyone unless they are there, so then I explain that we are all at dinner they let me sign up. I see Stu on the way back to the dining room and tell him the "young people" are signed up for peer factor, because Stu had asked us earlier in the cruise to make sure we were there. Stu tells me to make sure we are back before the show starts at 9:45. SO I return at 9:40 with the whole crew and see Stu and tell him we are back and he tells me we are too late!!! I was hot! I asked him how, he says "I told you, you had 2 minutes" then some other people who there spoke up and said that wasn't true. Then he lets myself and a friend we had met in the show and proceeds to be rude in front of quite a few people and tell me how I need to thank him and this other guy for doing this!! It was terrible service from them to say the least. Also we had to dock early in FL due to the storm, so everything on the cruise ship shut down around 9:30 even the bars were closed at 11. There were many people who were upset at this. There was nothing to do, so we ended up playing Monopoly. At least that was fun and we weren't being mistreated. That's all for that. Entertainment I thought the entertainment on the cruise was good overall. The vegas style shows were wonderful in my opinion. There were four of them and we saw them all and enjoyed every one of them. There was a comedian a couple nights at the beginning of the cruise we got some laughs, I'd seen better at sea but he was still good. It was disappointing that they didn't have a late night show, actually they never had anything late night except for the disco in the Explorers lounge and that was a disappointment also because DJ Richard played the same 70's music everynight including the Electric Slide twice in one hour??? I like the electric slide but it was overkill on this sailing. We actually requested songs at the disco but DJ Richard would tell us it was going to be 20 or 30 minutes before our songs would get played because he had so many other requests??? There was maybe 20 people there so who put in all these requests? And there was no one on the Dance floor so try changing the music. When he finally would play our songs the dance floor would finally get some people on it. The Sea day entertainment was o.k. ping pong, art auction, golf chipping in the pool, movies, bingo, dance classes, but these were all repeated every sea day and new things were very rare. They did have some guest lectures that we heard were good. They had 2 wine tastings, the first was $10 a person which we attended. The second was $25 and we did not attend that one. The other entertainment at night was the Princess Pop Stars, Ballroom Blitz and even some of the comedian, magic act was planned around 9:30, right in the middle of late dinner. I asked who planned the events and they said ACD Stu, the cruise staff said it was planned this way so that people in late dining could go to the buffet or to one of the specialty restaurants so we could make the show. We didn't find that to be acceptable or appropriate. Dining We found the Food on the Coral to be great in the Bourdeaux dining room and Bayou Cafe, and poor at Horizon Court. We ate in the dining room eight of the 10 nights and the Bayou the other two nights. The dining room was great it had the standard Lobster, Beef wellington, surf and turf, and too many other things to remember. I do remember the food was hot and tasty. The ceaser salad was always delicious as were the deserts, the baked alaska seemed a little too sweet for me. We were sat with a great couple from Wales, they had both done some extensive traveling and had great stories to tell, plus you gotta love their accents, also at our table was a mother with her daughter. They were from Vancouver Canada and were taking this cruise to celebrate the daughters graduation from high school, what a present. We were lucky hat we got sat with some great people, some others were not so fortunate. I'm not sure how they do the seating assignments on Princess but it was definitely not by age. The Bayou Cafe was fabulous, we enjoyed the carpetbaggers filet and the gator ribs,oysters, sausage w/grits, jumbalaya and the fried peach was to die for!!! Us guys ordered the big porterhouse the first time at the bayou and it was nowhere near as good as the filet. Order more than one of the fried peaches because it takes 30 minutes and if your late eating they won't be able to get you another one, trust me your table will want more than one! I actually think the service in the Bayou was not as good as the dining room, it seemed you had to ask for more things like refills on drinks and bread, and it took over 2 hours both times so be prepared, it was definitely worth the $15 though. The horizon court was very disappointing. The buffet seemed to be the same everyday if you weren't there between 11:30 and 1:30 sandwiches, a pasta which was normally the best thing, and the same cookies everyday, they couldn't even change the types of cookies! If you could make it there in the two hours you would get a little more variety. There was always a carving station, mashed potatoes, cubed potatoes, a couple vegetables and a salad bar. The mexican buffet is the only one I can remember that I actually enjoyed. The breakfast buffet was not very good either unless you wanted to wait in line for fresh eggs, the waffles were decent, bacon was not. So I would recommend going to the dining room for breakfast lunch and dinner. The service was always good and the food was too. ALso the pizza was very good, as were the cheeseburgers and fries at the grill, but be prepared they both close at 7 p.m. for some unknown reason. No midnight buffets which kinda stinks. Free ice cream, yeah right. For one hour in the buffet some days otherwise you had to get it at dinner or pay for it. Rarely was anyone paying for it. Since this is Princess and supposed to be upscale from Carnival how come Carnival has free ice cream and 24 hr pizza??? Ports Aruba We did the golf excursion in Aruba. Jerry the golf pro on the ship was very accommodating. We enjoyed the course until it started thundering and then lightning and then the rain. The rain did lighten up and we were able to finish the course. The course was well maintained and very difficult once it got soaked. My wife and I did enjoy it, despite the rain. Cartagena, Columbia We had planned to do the mud volcano, however when we got to the Princess theater to check in we were told it was cancelled due to the downpour and we could book another tour, however there was much chaos at the desk to change your tour, after looking outside and seeing nothing but pouring rain, we decided to book a couples massage for later in the day. Princess did decide to refund anyone who didn't want to go on their excursion and gave everyone who did go half off of theirs, I thought this was a nice gesture considering, the tickets say tours go on rain or shine. The CD added a movie "Fracture" in the middle of the day which was enjoyable. The couples massage was great, however we did miss Columbia and we were looking forward to it. Panama We woke up at 6:30 to enjoy the Panama Canal. We met some friends in their balcony cabin and enjoyed the views for the next few hours. The canal was very fascinating to me. It's a sight everyone should see, amazing. We had a nice morning with only light sprinkles. Of course once we got of of the ship in Gatun lake it started raining. We did the Rainforest hike and it definitely was a rainforest. We were not able to do the whole hike due to the rain, we did get to tour an old fort right on the Atlantic ocean. The fort was awesome even in the rain. We did get do some hiking where we saw some monkeys and lots of birds, flowers and butterflies. The port of colon seemed very poor so when we got back to the ship we did not head back out, there are some shops right by the ship for local souvenirs. Limon, Costa Rica I don't know what happened in Costa Rica but God must have shined down on us because what do you know the sun was out!!!! Hallelujah!! This was by far our best port and it wasn't just the sun. We had met some friends from Cruise Critic who had booked an outside tour and invited us to come along. The tour they booked was thru Oscar Brown Tours and it was the best $105 dollars I have spent! Oscar actually gave us the tour himself. There was 8 of us. We had a mini-bus to ourselves. Oscar took us to one of his friends houses where we got to sample coconuts and cocoa. We also got to hold a sloth!! That was amazing! After that stop we headed off to the zipline. The zipline was sweet, very personal service there. This is a different zipline than the one sold on the ship, however there was a few former employees of the other zipline and they said this one was better. It didn't matter to me. The zipline was unbelievable. There were 10 different line and the 2nd and the last one were both crazy. After the zipline we went to the banana plantation where we got to see the bananas come all the way from the tree to the box. Remarkable to say the least. After that we went to do an eco-river cruise which was also great. We saw 2 sloths, all kinds of birds, bats and iguanas. It was a nice break from the rain. Then Oscar took us to this great restaurant that overlooked the whole harbor, what a view! The food was o.k. but the company was great! We headed into town, where Oscar took some of our party to the market because they wanted some coffee and he said this was the cheapest place to get the best. Oscar Brown was outstanding, anyone who is going to Costa Rica should definitely look him up, he has a website and his tour are top notch. Thanks Dave for the connection. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Guess what? Tropical Storm Noel said we aren't going to Jamaica. As I stated before Princess gave no compensation except $8 refund of port charges. Princess also gave no explanation of why we could not go to any other ports. Tidbits Most passengers on this cruise were older which is to be expected. Even having this expectation I was still surprised that there were only 6 couples in our age range 20's- 30's most I would say are in there 60's. Luckily we met a couple and hit it off well with them or we might have gone crazy. We ended up the last three sea days playing Clue and Monopoly in the card room because at 11 p.m. the ship entertainment was over unless you want to gamble. Don't get late dinner unless you want to miss half of the entertainment. Final Thoughts Even though this was our worst cruise out of 11, we still had a blast! We met some great people and had some great experiences. I can't say I will sail on Princess again or recommend them after our experience. We would do another panama canal cruise hopefully with better weather. We did think this was a great value for 10 days averaging around $100 a day per person for the cruise. Hopefully Princess will listen to our comment card and fix the entertainment fiasco and treat people a little better at the pursers desk. Coral Princess is great ship, easy to get around, rarely seemed crowded. Crew was very friendly. Looking forward to our next cruise, to bad it won't be on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
We sailed on the Coral Princess from 11/10 to 11/20 with the primary purpose of viewing the Panama Canal. In that respect the cruise was great, the canal is amazing to see in operation and to actually go thru the locks at Gatun Lake was ... Read More
We sailed on the Coral Princess from 11/10 to 11/20 with the primary purpose of viewing the Panama Canal. In that respect the cruise was great, the canal is amazing to see in operation and to actually go thru the locks at Gatun Lake was incredible. However after the Canal there was not really much else that happened that made me glad that we took this particular cruise. This was my wife and I's 3rd cruise on Princess and to tell you the truth, each cruise has been less satisfying then the previous one. The main problems with this cruise were with the food and the shore trips. Embarkation - Excellent Left Providence on a 7:40AM flight on Southwest and was actually on the ship and in my cabin by 12:15PM. Disembarkation was just as easy. Dining. - Fair to poor Breakfast at Horizons was great, lunch was okay and dinner in Horizons (we elected not to go the formal route for 2 nites) was absolutely terrible. I would have preferred McDonalds. The other 8 nites that we ate in the dining room were okay, nothing to write home about. (except for the Fettuccine Alfredo, which is to wonderful). Soups were either watery or a type of cold soup. Overall the food wasn't much better then what you would get at an Outback restaurant. Ship Facilities - Very good I had no problems with the ship itself, its very nice and laid out very similar to all the other Princess ships. It's not hard to get around or find things. Didn't see a lot of people winning on the slots. Shows were good for the most part. Shore Trips - Poor (except for the trip thru Canal) Aruba - we were there from 7:00 am to 1:00 am, you can't really do much in such a short time. We went snorkeling and it was okay. Cartagena Columbia -- very dirty place. Shopping not worth it. Cristobol Panama - just a shopping area Costa Rica - Signed up for the $200 rain forest / river trip. - Not worth it. This may sound stupid but all the rain forest consists of is a bunch of trees and vines and plants that are wet and close together. I thought I would see flowers and some animals. Saw none of either. The river part was also lame, however did see some animals from a hundred yards or so away. Jamaica - Went on a catamaran ride, saw the end of Dunn River Falls. - nothing special. Not sure if I will travel on Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
**** Please note this is a review of my own experiences and opinions that I wanted to share here - I do not wish to spark any controversy. Embark - disembark: this was by far the BEST ever embarking and disembark. Princess knows what ... Read More
**** Please note this is a review of my own experiences and opinions that I wanted to share here - I do not wish to spark any controversy. Embark - disembark: this was by far the BEST ever embarking and disembark. Princess knows what they are doing here. We arrived at the pier at 12:00 - never waited in a line and walked right on the ship.. it was terrific! Disembark - we were given a time of 8:30am - we were to go to the Explorer's lounge - within minutes we were leaving the ship - no lines to wait in at all - Luggage area was a little crazy a porter - a cab - and we were off in no time. Muster Drill: I have to comment on this because Princess has made this pain bearable. We were to meet in the Princess theater - carrying our life vest - not wearing it and standing on deck being shoved every which way.. we listened to the announcements and instructions - everyone was paying attention - and for the first time - so was I. Other cruise lines could learn from this - it was great. Ship: overall - pretty nice, liked the public areas - Horizon court gets a little crazy and crowded, but then most buffets do. Dining room was very nice, on board stores didn't have a lot to offer in my opinion. Pools are nice - I thought Lotus pool is for adults - there was a lady with a toddler in a diaper in the pool - they should really post signs saying Adults only. Viewing the canal was very nice from our balcony - as well as the front of our deck and the aft.. we were on deck 10 - and the aft viewing has lounge chairs - very nice - the front is smaller - but just as good to see the canal - I would advise checking each out. Services: Room service was great - we had the same guy every morning ( we order coffee) he was always on time - and very friendly. Princess does not have phone cards available to make calls. This is the 1st cruise I have taken where I had to pay $4.95 a min to call home when at sea - they should think about phone cards. I was able to use my Cingular cell phone in all ports of call - I'm sure it will be a BIG bill. Spa - I walked through there - and it seemed real nice - but didn't purchase any service. Gym - looked very nice - again I didn't use the facility. Laundry self service is available near aft on decks 10, 11, 12 - and maybe others I don't know. I was on 10, and they had 5 washers and dryers in a laundry room with iron/board, wash, dry and all soap products are $1.00 each. (there is a change machine - but sometimes it's out). I did do a couple loads of laundry - this was a nice feature. Smoking: Let me start by saying I am a smoker - and Princess does NOT offer the smokers much space for smoking. We could not smoke anywhere around the Lido pool or Lotus pool. On deck 15 - above the Lido - there was a small area with 3 tables for smokers, then there is the cigar room, Wheelhouse bar allows smoking in 1/3 of the area (nice) and Explorers Lounge has a small smoking area. I think that is it - and I hear that they used to allow smoking on one side of the ship on outside decks, like most ships do, but they had changed this. Casino is smoking except for 2 nights from 6pm on where it is smoke free. Cabin: We were in C226, mini-suite. I was able to view a regular balcony room and compare to a suite - and I can tell you that there is not a huge amount of difference. The rooms are just as narrow - the mini offers extra room for a sitting area, a few feet more on the balcony, and we had a bathtub instead of stand up shower, which I heard was very very tiny. Plenty of space for our things (2 of us) and you can store some empty luggage under the beds. Our room steward was just o.K.. meaning he did clean our room, and we did ask for a few things (extra pillows) and he obliged - but nothing more than that - and we hardly saw him - not overly friendly. Food: Horizon court buffet - I only have one word "yuck". Most everything was below average in my opinion. Main dining - I thought the food was very good - I have had better - but they did a pretty good job. Lobsters are small, lots of fish items to chose from, one night we had Alaskan King Crab legs. Didn't eat at a specialty restaurant, but did have afternoon tea 3:30 - 4:30 daily - and it was wonderful. One bad note - our server (Monica) was very nice the first 2 nights - then she seemed to be irritated with anyone ordering anything outside the menu, or extra things.. this seemed to get worse each night - some of us at our table felt quite uncomfortable with her abrupt behavior - and it put a damper on dinner - which was unfortunate - as we had great tablemates (8 of us in all). Entertainment: The ship's singers and dancers were good - some were better than others - but you have to give them credit for putting on so many shows - I enjoyed the shows - when I could find a seat. I think the show schedule and dinner times conflict. We had early dining 6pm, and the shows following dinner were always completely full - the later ones were almost full. People with late seating did not have as many options for shows and some friends we met were very disappointed in this. The comedian/Magician was terrific - what a great personality. We play Trivia - and they had plenty of it during the day - but in the evening it was not available.. much to our disappointment. WE really enjoyed "name that tune" and "evening trivia" on other cruise lines. Demographics: I am 46 and my Mom is 67 and we were comfortable with the rest of the passengers on board. I rarely saw any children - a few teens, but mostly an over 60 crowd in my opinion. Royal Caribbean has a younger following - and more active night life. Casino: Mom says the machines are very tight - and she knows her stuff. I played a little on the slots and Roulette - but am no gambler. Ports of Call: Aruba - very nice, walk right into shopping areas - we were not there long enough to take a tour - Princess should figure out a way to stay in Aruba longer. Cartagena Columbia: a little scary - street vendors swarm tour busses, banging on windows and blocking your path to get you to buy.,.. very unsettling - we took a ship tour - and although it was interesting and we saw many sites, I would not get off the ship again. Panama Canal: get up plenty early (6am) to see the locks - beautiful sites to behold - temp is Super HOT and we had 100% humidity..whew! Cristobal: we got off the ship and shopped at the pier.. right off the gang way - no walking hardly - lots of locals selling crafts - lots of singing and dancing - a very nice spot. Jamaica: docked at James Bond Pier, not very easy to get around there - you have to taxi into town, unlike at the main pier. We took a local tour (30.00 each) went through villages, Dunns River Falls ( you have to pay $15.00 each - just look at the falls -even if you don't want to climb it) we didn't do it. Went to Sony's for some shopping - was ok - lots of jewelers. Costa Rica - was cancelled because of demonstrations regarding free trade - went to Grand Cayman : this stop is tendered - we have been there before so opted to enjoy the near empty ship. Pre cruise: we stayed at the Lauderdale beachside hotel $129.00/night - room was just ok - nice little balcony facing the ocean - and beachfront view.. if you like the beach - this one is great. http://www.clarionbeachresort.com/ ** note: we took a cab from airport to this hotel $45.00 - we should have asked for a shuttle - it would have been $25.00 Post cruise: We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Ft. Lauderdale - WOW… what a nice place - very clean - upscale - beautiful pool - friendly staff - just all around very nice place. Cost $199/night - we had a beautiful poolside view from 9th floor - totally worth the money. http://www.seminolehardrockhollywood.com/ Cruise Critic Meeting - I spoke with Renee Wittwer - Onboard Coordinator : rwittwer@princesscruises.com via Email before the cruise and she set us up with a meeting place and time - she was very very helpful and our meeting went well. I do want to comment that Royal Caribbean seems to be the only line so far that I have been on where the Captain actually came - and answered questions, posed for photo's and was a real treat to meet for our meeting - other cruises will provide a room - but I think they should take the time to attend the CC meetings. I did get a voice mail from Ron, the CD asking if our group was having a good time - and did we need anything.. he seemed to have an interest - but this was 2 days before the cruise ended.. if he had com to the meeting it would have been much better. Final comments: Princess had good and bad - as do most lines - but in comparison - I believe Holland America to be a step above in service and food - as well as Royal Caribbean, and will probably chose one of these for my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
CORAL CARIBBEAN CHRISTMAS CRUISE We just returned from the Coral Princess Christmas sailing to the Eastern Caribbean 12/20/2007 - 12/27/2007. The trip was fantastic! We have cruised many times with other cruise lines but this was only our ... Read More
CORAL CARIBBEAN CHRISTMAS CRUISE We just returned from the Coral Princess Christmas sailing to the Eastern Caribbean 12/20/2007 - 12/27/2007. The trip was fantastic! We have cruised many times with other cruise lines but this was only our second cruise with Princess. Two years ago we went on the Coral Princess to the Panama Canal and had a very disappointing experience. However, much has improved with the Coral since then and Princess has made up for their mistakes! WORDS OF WISDOM ABOUT SAME DAY FLIGHTS!!! We always fly to the embarkation port the day before the cruise, but this time we flew to Fort Lauderdale the morning of sailing due to schedule conflicts. We will never do this again because we had a BIG SCARE about lost luggage. Our flight arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 9:00am and we were ready to collect our baggage and get a taxi to the cruise port. Everything was working out perfectly and we expected to be at the ship by 10:00am. But only 3 of our 4 bags arrived! We spent over an hour at the airport consulting with the airline and trying to track down our lost bag. We had no luck and the airline just asked for our cell phone number and said there was nothing that could be done and they had no way of knowing where it was. The bag we lost was our "miscellaneous" bag that contained everything from shoes to two twelve packs of diet doctor pepper. We had no choice but to go shopping. We took a taxi to the Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale to buy dress shoes and sandals, and then to Walgreen's to buy toiletries and beach stuff. As soon as we paid for everything we got a call from the airport. Our bag was returned TWO hours later by someone who mistook it for their own! The worker in the baggage claim office said the two bags were entirely different colors as well!! SO PLEASE CHECK THE NAME TAG ON YOUR BAG BEFORE CLAIMING IT! We were panicked to the point of thinking the cruise was ruined and we had to spend almost $100 on taxi fares alone driving around Fort Lauderdale. To lighten things up our embarkation picture was so hilarious because we looked ready to pass out. This was a very long day. EMBARKATION We got to the cruise terminal at 1:30pm. We gave our bags to a porter and walked directly to the Baja check in counter. There are two counters for each deck and there was no one in line for Baja. This was the smoothest embarkation we had ever had. It only took us 15 minutes from the time our taxi pulled up to the ship to the time we were in our cabin. The longest wait was for the embarkation photo, which we just had to buy as a reminder of the disastrous morning we had! SHIP CONDITION The Coral Princess is in great condition. Everything was the same as it had been two years ago. Cleaning, painting, varnishing etc. was going on throughout the cruise. The only things that showed ware and tear were the steamer chair lounges on the promenade deck. Most of them stuck and were not able to be adjusted. The carpet outside the Princess Theater showed water spots and could also be replaced. Everything else was perfectly fine! CABIN AND ACCOMMODATIONS Since all the cabin layouts and furnishings are the same throughout the most of the Princess fleet I won't go into detail. The only complaints we had about the cabin were the air conditioning and the mattresses. The air conditioning was reasonable, but with the duvets we would had preferred the room to be cooler at night. The mattresses we a little uncomfortable but next time we will request egg crate toppers for the beds. Everything else was great. NEW MATTRESSES On disembarkation day Baja deck was lined up and down with new twin mattresses to be installed after our cruise. It looks like we just missed them! The crew elevator area was also full of new mattresses so it appeared that they are being replaced in all the cabins. FOOD AND DINING The food in the dining rooms was very good. Our main complaint on our cruise on the Coral two years ago was the food. This time the food was much improved. Two dining firsts for us on a cruise were frog legs and crab legs. Both of these entrees were wonderful! This was the only cruise we have been on that offered these menu items. The food was better than our last two cruises on Royal Caribbean, just stay away from the seafood avocado boat and you will be fine. The filet and sea scallops were wonderful. The food was also served hot, which was a problem the last time we were on the Coral. The air conditioner above our table the last time chilled our food in minutes. This time was much better. Breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court got to be repetitive because they served the same thing almost every day. Most of the food in the Horizon was good, but it was not as good as the food in the dining room. The Horizon Court in general needs help in terms of layout and aesthetic appeal. The grill helped us to get some variety for lunch, including Princess Pizza which was also good. We did not eat at Sabatini's' because we enjoy the main dining room experience and the food in the dining room was to our liking. ANYTIME DINING ISSUES We booked our Coral Cruise six months ago and have been on a waitlist for traditional late seating dining for the last two months. We went to the Maitre'D as soon as we boarded and explained the situation. We were told to eat anytime dining the first night and that we would be accommodated the second night. Having never done anytime dining before, we called down to the purser's desk and asked what time is anytime dining and the purser laughed. Live and learn I guess. The second night we went into the dining room and found that the Maitre'D stand was removed so that more tables could be set up for traditional dining. We were basically seated in the hallway and were not happy. We refused to sit there, flagged down the Maitre'D and were promptly escorted to a table in the back of the dining room that had three empty chairs and a family of four already seated. This arrangement was fine, but why couldn't this request be accommodated in the first place? We received a $75 dollar onboard credit for this ordeal which was a nice surprise! SERVICE Our cabin steward was very courteous. He seemed to have personality and to like his job. He always smiled at us and said hello to us in the hallway. Our room was kept in great order. Our dining room waiter was fine, but was pushy. Every time we ordered a bottle of wine he would say, "No, no, no, this one is much better." The wines he wanted us to order were $15 to $20 more than the bottles we wanted. He also came to our table two nights with the Princess Cook Book and showed us the recipes for the meals we just had. He kept telling us to buy it and we kept telling us we didn't want it. When the last two nights of the cruise arrived he kept telling us to fill out the comment card and mention table 15. Other than being a little forward, his service was fine. Some of our meals were slow however, and we didn't get out of the dining room until 10:45pm. Overall we had an enjoyable experience. Servers in the Horizon Court were always around with the carts to serve drinks and waiters by the pool were plentiful. HOLIDAY DECORATIONS The atrium was tastefully decorated with wreathes, garland and lights draped along the railings. Christmas trees were placed in the atrium, many of the lounges, in the Horizon Court and in also in the casino. The dining rooms also had decorations adorning the waiter stations and had two Christmas trees at the entrance. Every cabin door had a holiday garnish on the mailbox. The entire ship looked festive. We were worried that the decorations would actually take away from the beauty of the ship, but we were completely wrong. Two years ago we thought the atrium looked quite drab and plain, but the holiday dEcor enhanced the ship greatly! HOLIDAY FESTIVITIES This was our first Christmas cruise and we were so surprised at how festive the atmosphere was onboard. I highly recommend holiday sailings! A Christmas cruise brings about another dimension of cruising that is not experienced at other times of the year. Santa was sitting in the atrium during embarkation for photo opportunities and appeared again on Christmas morning handing out wrapped presents to the children onboard. On Christmas Eve the crew sung Christmas carols in the atrium while the snow machines were working. The crew choir included staff from all the departments including the captain. It was amazing to see the snow falling and to be part of the festive atmosphere. The entertainment staff did a great job keeping everyone involved. There was a table of Christmas cookies and milk in the atrium on Christmas Eve, and during Christmas day the crew pushed a cart of cookies and milk around the pool deck. On Christmas Day there was a special Holiday Family Show in the Princess Theatre. We went to the show with apprehension but it turned out to be great. The stage was set up to look like a living room, and "family members" would arrive at the door and sing a Christmas song after being welcomed. The talent was great and the show made everyone feel at home for Christmas. The Coral Princess dancers also did a knock off of the New York City Rockets. Christmas at sea is simply wonderful! There was a special menu in the dining room on Christmas Day. The cabin TV had a Yule log channel and was very festive. The Christmas music being played throughout the ship was very bizarre, but was a nice change from the traditional Christmas songs. One song had the line, "I want to wash my hands, my face and hair in snow," which we thought was very comical. A Catholic midnight mass was held in addition to Protestant and Jewish services. PORTS OF CALL We called at St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays. We have been to St. Thomas and St. Maarten many times so we just walked around town and did some minor shopping. We cruise mainly to be on the ship, not to go to the ports. Princess Cays was nice but very chaotic. We had to obtain tender tickets and wait about 45 minutes to get off the ship. If we ever went to Princess Cays again we would stay on the ship. Lunch on the island was limited and not good. The lines were long and seating was limited. We concluded that because the Coral doesn't call at Princess Cays regularly the crew was not prepared like the crew on the Caribbean Princess which calls at Princess Cays every week. WEATHER AND SEA CONDITIONS The weather overall was great. Temperatures were in the 80s almost every day. We had some rain showers on embarkation day and in the morning of the first sea day but it was sunny and warm every other day. There was also a 15 minute tropical shower just before sail away in St. Maarten. St. Thomas was very hot. Sea conditions were moderate for the majority of the cruise. The December trade winds were evident and made Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day rather rough. The Coral handles the seas very well and most of the motion was due to pitching from bow to stern. The ship moved more due to the winds than high waves, and the pools mirrored the seas on Christmas Day. We didn't hear about anyone becoming sea sick and the motion just allows you to know you are at sea and not in a hotel. I love the motion of the ocean. CREW MEMBER POLICIES What turned us away from Princess two years ago was the policy that some crew members, the entertainment staff and officers are permitted to eat in the Horizon Court with paying passengers and mingle extensively in passenger areas on their time off. On our previous Princess cruise we saw an officer in complete white uniform and name tag laying asleep on a deck lounge chair on the promenade deck while at sea. The singers and dancers also congregated on the promenade deck and ate at the same buffet and were served drinks by other crew members. We have never witnessed crew members using passenger facilities on any other cruise line. During the Champagne Waterfall party many crew members and waiters were dancing along with the passengers. On this cruise we witnessed the same policy. Does anyone else have feelings about this? ENTERTAINMENT The production shows were very good. We have seen Tribute and Dance before, but saw them a second time and liked them. The ship was very quite after 11:00pm each evening. At 11:30pm you could walk from stem to stern and see only a handful of people. At 12:30am you could walk around and not even see a crew member. MISCELLANEOUS We had a medical disembarkation in St. Thomas. On the night of 12/26/2007, at 2:00am, the captain made an announcement regarding a missing person. He apologized and said that it was necessary to broadcast on all circuits because it was an emergency. They paged a passenger to dial 12000 on any of the ships telephones. Another announcement was made 20 minutes later ordering the "missing persons operations" to stand down. We found out from a crew member the following day that a girl was in someone's cabin and could not be found by her parents. The crew member told us there was a search party getting ready to search the water if she was not found. OVERALL Overall we had a great time onboard the Coral for Christmas. A holiday cruise was just what we needed to escape winter for a week. We were very pleased with this cruise. Passengers on this cruise were of a variety of ages. We were surprised that there were only 300 kids onboard. They were well behaved. The only time we noticed the kids was when a group of 7 year olds took all of the red, white and blue balloons out of the dining room on the last night and ran up and down deck six holding nearly 100 balloons. It was quite a sight to see them flying through the crowded photo gallery with all those balloons. I believe I have covered most things. If you have any questions about the ship I will be more than happy to answer them. WE RATE THIS CRUISE 8 OUT OF 10 Happy cruising to all of you at Cruise Critic Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We spent a pre-embarkation day in Ft. Lauderdale on the Water Taxi and an everglades tour. See the Florida departures board for reviews of this as well as the Renaissance on 17th and 3030 Ocean restaurant. Embarkation: We took a taxi ... Read More
We spent a pre-embarkation day in Ft. Lauderdale on the Water Taxi and an everglades tour. See the Florida departures board for reviews of this as well as the Renaissance on 17th and 3030 Ocean restaurant. Embarkation: We took a taxi from hotel to Port Everglades a little before 1500 hours. Tipped the porters at the port $2 per bag for our checked luggage, filled out all the requisite paperwork, stood for the obligatory photos (although we never did find them on the boards at the photo shop the next day), and onto the ship—all without lines or stopping. Total time from hotel to stateroom was 20 minutes. Ship: This was our second time on Princess, first time on Coral. We booked a suite on the port side of Dolphin. It was nice, but not much larger than the aft mini-suite we had on Dawn. Also found the room furnishings a little tired (and the bed was horrible) and steward service mixed. (A full posting on our "suite experience" is on the main Princess board.) Overall, the Coral is a beautiful ship—lovely public areas and very nicely decorated and maintained. It was decked out for the holidays for our cruise and looked very festive—unfortunately, however, they didn't set up the snow machine for the lobby until the end of the cruise and didn't use it until the one following ours. I'd collected hints for embarkation from the CC.com boards. You do need to check the temperature in mini-refrigerator—it was barely cool on check-in. Call "DINE" and order any ultimate balcony breakfast and dinner as well as Bayou cafe and Sabatini's reservations as well as any spa reservations as soon as possible if you have a date/time you want. On our cruise, however, these services did not appear to be heavily used—we were able to book both specialty restaurants easily and the spa kept running lots of specials (one of which was honored for my services, even though I had booked them on-line before the cruise.) General muster was next and, as many have noted, it was very short and sweet. Then it was time for our CC.com sailaway party! We had agreed to meet after the muster at the bar near "The Grill" on the Sun deck. We wore mardi gras beads, so we could find each other and brought extras for those who might not have been abe to find them (such as our friends from the UK). We started on our tasting of Princess cocktails from the "Favorite Drink" thread with an Ultimate Cooler and a Captain's Bounty; the former was a tad too sweet but the latter was VERY yummy. We had a GREAT roll call group and a good turnout for our sailway party. A group of ten of us from the sailaway party decided to go have sailaway dinner together in the Bourdeaux (anytime) dining room. One of us should have thought to try to make a reservation as it was a madhouse and we ended up waiting for 45 minutes for a table. Menu included pasta shells (long Italian name), rockfish, prime rib and seafood turnover. The waiter was Carlos from Mexico--he was very slow and into pushing everything from more expensive wine than you initially ordered to the cookbook. Too tired for any after dinner entertainment. First Sea Day: Captain Stefano Ravera took over command of the Coral on the 10 Nov cruise. The Cruise Director is Rob Goodman from the U.S., assisted by Collette (Australian) and Mark (also from U.S.) Paula, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the Captain's Circle Host. The Captain and CD staff have the reputation as being out and about, but they must have always been some place on the ship where we are not. We did finally see them all on the last sea day. The lecturer at sea on our trip was Stephen Bauer, who had served in the White House and gave lectures on happenings behind the scenes there. Unfortunately, that meant we had no one on board who was lecturing on the history of the Panama Canal. A disappointment. The Coral sailed full, but you only felt the crowds at the pool, at the Horizon Court, and while waiting for dinner seating. Otherwise, lots of area to find a quiet place around the ship. The usual round of activities for sea day. We were still worn out from finishing up everything at work and ended up doing nothing more strenuous than going to the pool. We did the ultimate balcony breakfast this morning (Thank you, Amber!) and were glad for the CC.com tip to bring ziplock bags for leftovers. Also used the gym today and most days on board. They have a nice selection of treadmills, elipticals, and other cardio equipment as well as weight machines and free weights. Never had to wait for equipment. Towels available as well as a fountain for cold water--we followed a CC.com tip and brought water bottles to fill and then chill in our cabin fridge for shore excursions the following day. The Coral seems to be switching around formal nights—everyone on CC.com prior to us had reported that the first formal night was the SECOND sea day, but on our trip it was the FIRST one along with the Captain's Welcome Party. Dinner included mahi-mahi and beef tournedos. Second Sea Day: Went to the ice-carving demonstration by the pool today—lots of people. The carvers made a parrot and angelfish. Dinner was Caribbean dinner. The Seafood Potpourri and Rack of Pork were very good. Saw the comedian Adam Ace tonight. His act mixes bringing up someone from the audience or going into the audience as well as traditional stand-up and prop comedy. I found the show a little mean-spirited, but many others loved it. They also had a "smoke-free" night in the casino; there is a second one later in the cruise. Ports: Our cruise stopped in Oranjested, Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; the Panama Canal; Limon, Costa Rica; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We booked private tours for all ports except the canal, where we took the ferry tour to the Pacific side of the canal. I've posted reviews of all on the destination boards, so won't repeat them here. The ship sprung ahead to the Atlantic time zone the first night, putting it in sync with local time in Aruba. It fell back to EST between Aruba and Cartagena, putting it in sync with local time in the latter. It stayed on EST for the rest of the cruise. Costa Rica is in the Central time zone, however, so local time there was one hour behind ship's time. We did find we were usually in port and able to disembark earlier than the times posted in the itinerary, but of course, that could definitely vary due to weather, etc. Captain Ravera gave us a great ride despite some choppy seas along the way. He always provided lots of good information on his arrival and departure announcements. I believe someone finally posted the menus from the trip, so I won't go into detail. The sailaway dinner and dinners on the first two sea nights were very good. The fourth night (Aruba) was the Continental menu, which did not really appeal so we ended up going to Sabatini's, with four others from our roll call, which was excellent. Assortment of antipasto brought by the waiter, then a small plate with a dab of caviar if you wanted it. Then you had a choice of soup or salad. After that a round of three pastas are brought—like the antipasto served as a small taste of everything (three of the gnocchi, for example). Finally, your chosen entrEe and then dessert. And the service is really wonderful. Before dinner we had a cocktail in the Bayou bar, listening to Thelma's Trio. After dinner, we heard a couple of songs from pianist Larry Dunsmore in Crooners. Both were very enjoyable. We also substituted the night of the "Princess dinner" for dinner at the Bayou Cafe. The Bayou was fabulous, both food and service. The waiter suggested we start with a sampler plate of all the appetizers (shrimp and grits, gator ribs, oysters, and sausage). Then there was soup and salad. The entrees were all wonderful—especially the carpetbagger filet. The desserts were also great, but definitely too much after all the rest. Panama Canal, Panama: A few comments on this port as it's the point of the cruise. The ship was scheduled to go through the first lock chamber at Gatun at 0700 hours. Based on recommendations from previous CCers on Coral, we were at the "secret" deck on Caribe (there's another one on Baja—none on Dolphin) by a little past 0530. Which turned out to be way too early—although it was a lovely dawn enjoyed by just the two of us on deck! You really want to be on deck about one hour before scheduled lockage, which is the point at which the shop passes the breakwater to enter the canal area and the ship takes on the local pilot and commentator from the Panama Canal Authority. The lockage time for the Coral was delayed by 90 minutes, however, due to a ship making the transit from the Pacific having had mechanical problems, which backed everything up, meaning we had a very leisurely approach to the first set of locks. We had brought a split of champagne to toast our passage and did so when we entered the first lock, at about 0830 hours. Lots of fellow CCers around by that time to take our photo and for us to return the favor. Also following CCer advice, we spent the voyage through the first lock at the bow. Then after the gates opened and the ship moved forward to the second chamber, we hightailed it back to the stern (Caribe deck still) to get a completely different perspective. For the third chamber, we went back to the cabin, where our room service breakfast was awaiting so we could have our lox in the locks (and take obligatory photos of each other enjoying this treat). It was really a wonderful 360-degree experience doing it this way. The menu for Panama Canal night was "International" with Rollatine di Magro alla Caprese (Spinach and Ricotta crepes), Snapper Filet, Rainbow Trout, Leg of Lamb, or Surf and Turf (filet and shrimp). It was not very inspiring—would be another good night for alternate dining. For the day of Limon, it was "Italian night" including Pappaardelle al Sugo di Lepre (rabbit and noodles), Saltimbocca Baby Turbot (fish), Gamberi alla Fra Diavolo (shrimp flambe), Costoletta di Vitello Piemontese (veal), and Brasato di Manzo al Barolo. They were also cooking a pasta dish in the dining room and brought a small plate of that for the table to share. On deck afterwards, it was Island night. The Redskins were playing the Bears that night, so hubby went to see that on the big screen in the Explorer's Club. I went to see the production show, a tribute to Motown. Since the shows are all done by the same company, they all tend to look the same to me--but it's still hard to go wrong with music from Motown. Third sea day - After four port days in a row, today was all about relaxing. By the pool, in the thermal suite, on the balcony, etc. This was the second formal night of the cruise with the "Captain's Gala Dinner" proceeded by the Captain's Circle reception. Menu for the evening was Ravioli con Salsa di Funghi, Cold Water Barramundi in a Coriander Butter Sauce, Lobster Tail with two King Prawns, Royal Pheasant in Pan Juices, and Beef Wellington. We opted to do the Lobster (aka Ultimate) Balcony Dinner instead. We had reserved a date and time for this when we first boarded. The room service superintendent did not come by personally to go over the menu and take our order as other CCers had posted, but did have the menu delivered as well as the dining room menu so we could call him and decide what we wanted. We opted for the very tasty Captain's Bounty (a lot of different rums) and a Dr. No martini to start, had a glass each from the included split of Moet and Chandon champagne with the appetizers and salad (we had brought a corker and saved the rest for mimosas with breakfast on our last sea day), and a glass of Malbec we had brought on board with the entrEe. The crab starters were a little bland, so was glad we had chosen to just get one of those along with a seafood tian and a clams casino form the dining room menu for that night. The salad was lovely as were the lobster tail and filet. Dessert covered the table they had brought and set up on the balcony—cheese and fruit plate, three mousses, and the plate of pastries and cookies. There was also a cake as we were celebrating my DH's birthday. Way too much. Good thing we had our handy ziplocks—we ate parts of that dinner for the rest of the trip and finally ate the cake when we got home. (There were also canapEs to start—along with the daily suite canapEs and the chocolate-covered strawberries for formal night. Skip your canapEs if you order this as they are all the same.) A ship's photographer showed up with the two waiters from room service and took a lot of photos inside and out. Apparently we weren't very good subjects, however, as only four were available to review at the photo gallery (you have to ask for them at the counter). Unfortunately, the ones from outside did not come out well—it was too windy. Still, a wonderful time was had by all. Dinner after Ocho Rios was the "Chef's menu" including crab legs and lamb. The crab legs were very good and they would bring extras if you asked for them—or even if you did not, which is what happened to us. Fourth Sea Day: We finished knocking around the ship, filled out "You made a difference cards" and put together tip envelopes (on top of the auto tip) for those who delivered excellent service, played trivia, ate, and treated ourselves to a couple of specials in the spa. (I followed CCer advice and began my appointment by telling my therapist that "I have tons of products at home. I will tip you extra if do provide service for the full time and you do not pitch products." Either it worked for me or I just lucked into two spa staff who were not into the product game as I had zero hard sell. DH did not follow the advice and got a push for $300 worth of stuff he had to have to protect his skin in shaving according to the very pushy staffer he had.) Then it was time to pack, meet some of our CC friends for cocktails and another wonderful dinner in the Bayou Cafe, and then late-night entertainment with Larry Dunsmore in Crooners. (He's a wonderful pianist and singer from the UK. He will be moving to the Golden next year.) The dinner in the dining room was the "Landfall menu" but I forgot to even look at the menu. Princess does now charge slightly higher daily hotel fees for minis and suites ($11 versus $10.50) but I know CCers believe you should still tip extra in a suite based on the extra service provided by the cabin steward. We felt ours provided only the most basic service, however, and he failed to respond to a couple of what seemed to us to be reasonable requests—like the ones for deck chairs as our neighboring suite had. So we only tipped him an extra $20 over the autotip. We did write a note to his supervisor advising him of our thoughts. We also provided extra tips to the head waiter in the Bourdeau dining room, Catalan from Romania, and to the two teams of waiters and assistant waiters we had a couple of times (we requested their sections again after the first times)—Silvio (Romania) and Birgitta (Hungary) as well as Pietro (Italy) and Raul (Argentina). Disembarkation—the saddest day! We pulled into Ft. Lauderdale between 0630 and 0700. The disembarkation information asked everyone to vacate their cabins by 0800. We grabbed our last latte and fresh brewed coffee (using our "Jack of Java" card, which still works on "cash only" disembarkation day and that was punched only for the specialty coffees, not the fresh brewed at La Patisserie, and our handy thermal mugs) and headed to the Province dining room for breakfast. By the time we were finished, our tag color/number had been called. The immigration and customs inspection lines were running a little slowly, but we were still off the ship and off to the airport by 0900. After clearing customs it was a fairly short walk to the taxi waiting area and there were lots waiting—no problem finding one at all. Overall, a great itinerary, a wonderful captain and crew, a beautiful ship, and a great bunch of new CC friends. We put down a deposit on a trip on the Royal next year with six of our new friends from the trip and look forward to a similarly fabulous time. Read Less
Coral Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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