149 Princess Coral Princess Cruise Reviews

Panama Canal January 2011 Background Information This was our 14th cruise, the fourth with Princess. We were traveling with another couple that had never cruised on Princess. Overall, the crew was friendly and helpful with ... Read More
Panama Canal January 2011 Background Information This was our 14th cruise, the fourth with Princess. We were traveling with another couple that had never cruised on Princess. Overall, the crew was friendly and helpful with some exceptions described below. Hotel in Fort Lauderdale The night before the cruise we stayed at the Renaissance Plantation. This is a four star hotel that I had booked through Priceline many months before the cruise. The room was $59.00 and was quite a good buy for a very nice hotel. Transfer to Port / Embarkation We drove to the port arriving about noon, dropped our wives and bags off and continued to park the car. When we returned to this area there was a long line but soon my wife called and told us to come up and inside the building. Because of this the embarkation process moved quickly. When we got to the person that issues the cruise cards we ran into a problem. Since the couple we were traveling with had not cruised with Princess their price would have been more that ours. To fix this I booked one cabin in my name and one in my wife's name. I wanted to change the people assigned to each cabin at this time. I was informed that I would have to do that at the front desk once on board. Once inside the ship we went to the font desk and then to the horizon Court for lunch which of course was very busy. After lunch we found our cabin and most of our bags had already arrived. Front Desk a. After coming on board we went to the front Desk to get our cabin situation straighten out. This was quite simple two people one in each cabin needed to be switched. The person at the desk must have been new because she must have tried three or four time to do this and after about 20 minutes was finally able to accomplish this task. It is apparent to me that this person lacked proper training. The next day I had to return to the front desk because the number on the front of my cruise card did not match the number encoded on the magnetic strip. b. Latter in the cruise I ask a person at the front desk if they had an ATM. The person did not know and had to ask a supervisor I then ask if I could cash a personal check again she did not know and had to ask a supervisor. Again this gets to training and Princess has done a poor job. c. Princess has a program for Veterans. They provide a limited $100 credit. They sent me an email about this program which show you need to have a DD214 to prove your service. I brought my DD214 and presented it at a the front desk only to be told you have to apply for this at least a week before sailing. I said that nowhere in the email was this mentioned and couldn't they just do it now. They said only Corporate could do this and they would send it to them. After three days I checked back and no one had done anything. I finally talked to someone in a white uniform who promised me an answer by the afternoon. Later she said they could do nothing for me. It appears to me that Princess is letting it's bureaucracy get in the way of good customer service. Dining The food on cruise ships is supposed to be one of the highlights. Breakfast was fine, with a selection of, pastries, fruit, eggs to order, omelets to order, French toast, etc. I was disappointed that they only had smoked salmon on the first morning. I did notice that it was available at lunch in the main dining room one day. Lunch in the Horizon Court was a big disappointment. There was a poor selection of sandwiches and the main entrees did not look appetizing and those I tasted were not good. There was a salad bar, however that aas limited and got old quickly. Desserts were fine and there was fresh fruit. As a result I eat lunch on deck 15 poolside Hamburgers and Brats or Pizza from deck 14 poolside. We ate two lunches in the Provence Dining Room. It was alright except the service was very slow. The first time we were there it took about 15 minutes just to fill a shared table. They had Brunswick Stew as an entrEe. I ordered a Cuban sandwich and a cup of Brunswick Stew. The waiter had a hard time with this since they did not show that on the menu. I had to finally say if you can't bring me a cup of stew bring the bowl and I will eat what I want. When the stew arrived it was not Brunswick Stew it was Chicken soup with vegetables. Good but not what I and four others at the table ordered. The soup did not even match the menu description of what was to be served. There were five people at that table from Georgia and we all knew what Brunswick Stew was. The next time we ate in the dining room for lunch we had Rubin sandwiches. These were very good. We did not feel like paying extra for Sabatini's or the Bayou Cafe. We had signed up for Anytime Dining, which was chaotic. I have had Anytime dining on NCL and the Ocean Princess and both worked without a problem. The first night we had about a 40 minute wait for dinner. The next night it was about 30 minutes wait. The next morning I tried to get reservation but at 8:20 am there was nothing until 8:15 pm. We decided to go to the dining room at 5:15pm when they first open and were able to get in and get a table without waiting and we continued this practice for the remainder of the cruise always eating at the same table. The dinner menus were generally good with a few exceptions, both the Salmon and the Scallops suffered from being frozen far to long. Both were tough and not tasty. Some meals were superb...the Prime rib and the lobster tails were excellent. The service in the dining room was usually prompt and accurate. We can't remember being on a ship where the waiters spent so little time with you. They were always rushing around. It was clear to us that Princess has reduced staffing levels significantly since our previous Princess cruise and as a result dinner time on Princess was not as enjoyable as on other lines. Shore Excursions We booked four shore excursions thru Princess. Aruba - Snorkeling, Columbia - old city tour and free time, Costa Rica - Zip line, and Jamaica - Tubing on the White River. All were good but not spectacular tours and for what received a little to expensive. Entertainment The entertainment was generally good. The comedian was hilarious and the magician was excellent. Actually his assistant did all the hard work. We did not enjoy Maurizio's show. The music was way to loud and the synthesizer distorted the music. Most of the shows with the Coral Princess dancers and singers were fine but I left half way thought the second performance - just to much of the same over and over again. We also could have done without most of the on-board movies. We did not watch any. The Pool The deck around the Lido pool was pretty crowded but we never had a problem finding a seat. The deck chairs were not all that comfortable. We enjoyed the Lotus Pool with its quiet atmosphere. Cabins Our Cabin was a reasonably size BE balcony unit on the Caribe deck. The balcony had a table and two seats. We enjoyed our balcony very much. The showers on the Princess ships are on the small size. Our cabin stewardess, Mary, kept the cabin clean and was extremely helpful. She showed us to the front of the ship on deck 10 so we had a great view of the Panama Canal. The Internet We did not purchase any minutes due to the high price and very slow response time. The Library I didn't take out any books, but we enjoyed the crossword puzzle that they provided The Spa We did not utilize the Spa - over priced. The Gym We did not utilize the Gym... Ship Activities We enjoyed the at-sea days with some of the activities planned. I took the Galley Tour on the last sea day and found it to be very interesting. Also we enjoyed the culinary demonstration. Disembarkation This was quite orderly and timely. We made it off the ship, located our luggage in the terminal and passed easily through US Customs and Immigration. We got our car from the parking garage and returned to the terminal area to pick up our wives and bags. Summary Even though the food quality and service was not to our liking, we had problems with customer service and poorly trained employees, we had waiters that only talked to us take our food order - we made the most our cruise. We enjoyed meeting the other passengers and relaxing in the sun. We definitely, however, will have to think again before sailing with Princess in the future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
This was our first experience with Princess Cruises. We usually travel on Celebrity or Holland American. The trip was just "OK", but not nearly what we expected. We wondered if we weren't being too critical until we began to ... Read More
This was our first experience with Princess Cruises. We usually travel on Celebrity or Holland American. The trip was just "OK", but not nearly what we expected. We wondered if we weren't being too critical until we began to hear similar comments from fellow travelers as the trip progressed. Let's begin with the positives: Entertainment was excellent throughout the week. There was something for everyone. Our room steward was wonderful. He was friendly, helpful and did a great job. Excursions were usually of good quality A request for dining change was handled well. We were able to rearrange reservations so that the group which met the first morning was able to change to the same dining time and table. We began with a six day land tour of Fairbanks, Denali and Mt. McKinley. Our tour guide, Liz, was wonderful. She was full of energy and excitement which carried over to the group. We got introduced at a breakfast on the first morning and met some wonderful people who we stayed with for the full two weeks. That evening, the head of food services for the lodge, (Mr. Wynan?), treated us to a wine dinner. The food and beverages were outstanding, as was his commentary on the meal and his tales of living in Alaska. This was a true highlight. The land accommodations were in lodges with impressive public spaces and comfortable rooms - usually in separate buildings - for sleeping. The rooms were nice, but they had no air conditioning. During most of our land tour, the temperature was in the high 70s to the mid 80s. Sleeping was uncomfortable. In two of the three lodges, we were on the first floor and there was no way to lock the window so that it was only open partially, but we could still feel safe at ground level. There were several included excursions, but we were on our own far too much. The included excursions, as well as the ones we purchased, were of excellent quality. The last day, they had nothing planned and most of the available trips were repeats of things we had done earlier in the week. We left for the cruise at 11 AM on Saturday morning, but there was nothing to do but wait for the bus to the train. Any excursions at the McKinley lodge got back too late for us to partake. We had a very good time on this portion. We saw lots of the scenery and the wildlife. We were checked in for the cruise by Princess personnel who got on the train in Anchorage. They were friendly and efficient. This process made boarding the ship a breeze. When we got to the ship we saw the differences between this line and the others. As we entered the ship we were handed a glass of champagne and then had to walk a gauntlet of people trying to sell wine packages, drink packages, photo packages, tours, etc., etc. We asked each how to get to our floor, but they said they weren't sure and passed us along to the next salesperson. Only when we found the elevator did someone finally tell us which number floor corresponded to the letter on our documents. The room was a big surprise. We booked mini-suite. Based on our experiences on other lines, we expected a spacious room and large balcony. Instead, we had a cramped room which was poorly set up. Much of the floor space was dedicated to a tower with a refrigerator and two flat screen TVs. One faced the bed and the other faced the couch. The room was small and not always seemed to have some piece of furniture in your way. The bathroom had a full tub, but that extra space could easily have been dedicated to room space. The closets and shelving were adequate, but the dEcor looked like we had walked into a hotel in the 1970s. The room was about ½ the size of a mini-suite we had on Celebrity last year. The balcony was only about 1/5 the size of our previous cruise. There were four chairs and a small round table, but we constantly had to rearrange the furniture to move around the balcony. On Celebrity, the mini-suite came with champagne, flowers, fruit, personalized stationary, daily tea, a dining table, and a butler. On Princess, the mini-suite came with a room steward. He was terrific and kept the room spotless, but he couldn't compare with a butler. Day for day, the Princess cruise was more expensive. One of the couples at our dining table had a full suite. The expensive accommodations didn't begin to compare with our Celebrity experience. Our stays in Juneau and Ketchican were very short. We needed much more time there to get a feeling for the destinations. The main problem during the cruise was the lack of attention to detail. We had our first dinner and most breakfast meals in the Horizon Court. The food selection was much smaller than other buffet venues we have experienced. After getting your food, you were left to your own resources to find seats in the crowded venue. There were plenty of workers there, but they didn't interact with the passengers. After being seated, we needed to call a waiter to get coffee or juice. They weren't very friendly and the service was often slow. In the dining room, the service was perfunctory. Our waiter wasn't very friendly and his assistant didn't say 10 words during the seven days. Waiters, especially at assigned seatings, are often the people who make you feel the most welcome onboard. This was not our experience during this cruise. On several occasions we were served the incorrect selection. When asked what was in the wild-game pate, our waited insisted that it was a vegetarian selection. He was unable to correctly identify a number of dishes throughout the week. They also pushed the wine list heavily at each dinner. Offerings were inconsistent. On two afternoons a pub lunch was served in one of the specialty restaurants. The food was good and there was no extra charge for lunch in the room, but they charged for coffee after the meal and no dessert was available. It would have been nice if other specialty lunches were offered on additional days. The ice cream bar served small soft-serve cones, but charged for hard ice cream. After about 10 cruises, this was truly a first for us. One night we watched a movie under the stars on the open deck. The movie was fine, but someone forgot to turn on the sound. A number of us tried to find someone who could address the problem. The first two workers I approached told me that was not their department and kept on walking. Other passengers had the same experience. Finally I got one of the servers at a snack bar to allow me to use the phone to call the main desk to report the problem. It took over 30 minutes to get it working. The movie was a popular title and many people wanted to see it. Many requests were needed to get the stewards to unlock the blankets and let us use them. We were on the open water in Alaska and it was cold! They only brought out a few blankets at a time and needed constant prodding to produce more. Our last day was a sea day. We wanted to sit on the deck and read, but we were told that blankets were not available. There were three stewards standing on the outside deck chatting, but the rest of the space was nearly empty except for a few people who bundled up with coats and towels from the pool. They wouldn't give a reason why we couldn't use the blankets. While the entertainment was excellent, the timing of events was poor. Many activities overlapped by a few minutes. By the time one show or game was finished, the next event was already starting in the next room. If the cruise staff left a little additional time between events, there would be more availability for the passengers. It seemed like much of the time on ship was spent catching the last portion of one event or another. Many entertainments took place during only one of the dining times. If you were scheduled to eat then, you just missed the entertainment. The event times in the Princess Patter newsletter didn't always match up with the actual events. Several things we wanted to attend were just terminated early. One of these was the highly-touted "dessert extravaganza." We went up to get a snack about 45 minutes before it was supposed to end. The "extravaganza" had been moved to the regular food line and two waiters were doling out minute portions of the final half of just two cakes which were available. While seated in the various theatres or lounges, we were often approached by four or rive servers hawking drinks. It servers had been assigned to a particular section, they would know who didn't want service and that would be the end. After a few days, the constant bombardment got to be annoying. The disembarkation process did not go nearly as smoothly as the embarkation. We were assigned tags with colors and numbers. When we assembled in the Princess Lounge (theater), the numbers were not seated separately. When they called a group, people found themselves crawling over others who were still waiting to be called. It truly felt like we got the bum's rush getting off the ship. We were told that we could be in our rooms until 8 AM. When we got back from breakfast at 7:20, our things had been piled on the couch and the room was ready for the next passengers, even though the next boarding was 5 hours away. While the personnel on the pier were friendly and helpful, those who worked on the ship gave the impression that the tips had been given and they were more than through with us. When the Princess buses arrived at the airport, we needed to stand in a very long line for nearly 45 minutes before any luggage arrived. We were there over an hour when we finally received our bags. Anyone in PR should know that the first and last impressions are the most lasting. This last impression wasn't what they should be giving. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We boarded the Coral Princess on April 6th for the Panama Canal Cruise. In this review I am going to talk about the tours we took. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - This was the only ship shore excursion we booked. We booked the Discover Todos ... Read More
We boarded the Coral Princess on April 6th for the Panama Canal Cruise. In this review I am going to talk about the tours we took. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - This was the only ship shore excursion we booked. We booked the Discover Todos Santos excursion. The excursion was okay but over priced at $74 pp. It took you outside of town about 1 ½ hours to Todos Santos. We had a traditional Mexican lunch at the Hotel California and some free time in town. The write up portrayed the town as an "artist village". This was a little lacking. There were a few art galleries but mostly some stores. A little disappointing. Acapulco, Mexico - We booked a tour with Tours in Acapulco. Their website is toursinacapulco.com. Our guide was Cesar and he was fabulous. He was exactly on time to meet us and get the tour started. There were only 4 in our tour group since that was all that had booked from the ship. Cesar made an extra stop for me to pick up Hard Rock pins since it was oaky with everyone else. We also had to make a detour to Wal-Mart since I broke my camera that day. The tour was very comprehensive. We saw all sides of town and our last stop was at the cliff divers. The $29 pp was extremely reasonable compared to the ship shore excursion for $54 and we got to see a lot more. Would definitely recommend booking a tour with this company. Huatulco, Mexico - Just got off the ship and wandered around town. Took a cab for $3 each way to LaCrucetia for some additional shopping and walking around. Puntarenas, Costa Rica - Booked our tour with Ricky Ricardo Tours. His website is rickyricardotours.com. Ricky met us at the end of the dock promptly once the ship had docked. There were 8 in the tour group from the ship that day. We stopped at a farm and had a demonstration of making a Costa Rican energy drink from fresh sugarcane, ginger, and water. It was delicious. Our next stop was for a jungle boat ride. Saw many birds and alligators. We then went to the Turubari Park and took a tram ride to the bottom and from there we saw iguanas, monkeys, birds and a butterfly farm. It was very interesting and our guide at the park was excellent. We also had lunch at the park and it was very good. On our way back to the ship we stopped for cashews and at a local grocery store for coffee. We also had a tour of Puntarenas before being dropped off at the ship. The value and excellent tour that Ricky provided was an excellent value at $95 pp. His tour was much better than any of the ship shore excursions that we talked to. Puerto Amador, Panama - Booked a private tour with Easy Travel Panama. Their website is easytravelpanama.net. Our guide for the day was the owner - Judith Tovar. She promptly picked us up at the designated time and we were on our way. We booked a 4 hour tour that turned into a 4 ½ hour tour. She had previously provided some suggestions for us to think about. I had some special shopping stops (Harley Davidson & Hard Rock) which she took us to and we had a complete city tour. Judith's knowledge and enthusiasm for Panama City is evident. I really enjoyed learning about Panama City and Panama from her and seeing all the sights. She took us to a nice local artist market close to where she lives for our souvenir shopping and helped us with our bartering. We got some really unique items. The value of our private tour that day was excellent. For the 4 ½ hours it was $65 pp. Definitely worth every penny. Cartagena, Columbia - Booked with Claudia Vidal Tours. Her website is toursclaudiavidal.com. I organized a City Tour that day with her and got 2 other couples to go with from the Cruise Critic board. It was real nice only having a party of 6. We took her City Tour which included a walk through the old city, a visit to the convent/monastery at the top of the hill for great city views, and a panoramic view of the Fort. She took us to a local grocery store to buy coffee and some wine. Claudia was an excellent tour guide and very knowledgeable. The value for $65 pp for a small group cannot be beat. Aruba - Just got off the ship and wandered around town. It was Sunday so not all the stores and restaurant/bars were open. I really enjoyed the Panama Canal cruise. I think the highlight of this trip though was the tours I took with small groups instead of the big bus things from the ship. I really learned and saw more of the destinations. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
My hairdressing experience was less than stellar. I looked no better than when I left the Lotus Spa. The women who fixed my nails was argumentative and contrary. She was also very rude to my husband when he asked how long it would take to ... Read More
My hairdressing experience was less than stellar. I looked no better than when I left the Lotus Spa. The women who fixed my nails was argumentative and contrary. She was also very rude to my husband when he asked how long it would take to fix my finger nails. This woman barked at my husband and he left and since he was good enough to pay for this services, I found this woman to be rude and somewhat mean spirited. Her people skills are sorely lacking. I will now be obligated to buy hairpieces for formal nights. $50.00 is no unreasonable for hair care, but when I looked at both hairdo's, it looked like someone put an eggbeater to my head and scrambled bobby pins. It was so sad, and I couldn't enjoy the formal nights. In the past the hairdressers were excellent and paying the price was worth it. Also, the Champagne fountain was ridiculous. It was not well planned, and happened on the first of 3 formal nights. Too chaotic and not well organized. I missed out on a memory of pictures. Speaking of which, the prices were all over the map. Too many rules and no sense of how things worked. I will have my own pictures, and minimize ordering from the ship. Not all of us are made of money. Also, the entertainment was fair. A couple of comedians made unkind and unfounded comments about people jumping overboard. How TACKY is that? I have traveled with Princess 7 times now, and my experience was a bit disappointing with the Cruise Directors, who would not listen to my concerns and I was constantly being blown off with frivilous excuses. Too many comedians, limed folkloro dancers, and certainly not well planned. Half the passengers were on a land tour when this happened. The food was great except in the Bayou Cafe, where my husband experienced a tough New York Strip steak, and had more fat on it than meat. And at $15.00 a pop on top of everything else, this was very unacceptable. One day we took a Samba lesson from someone who was channelling Len Goodman from Dancing with the Stars, and pointed out that my husband was not getting the steps-my husband was humiliated in front of a lot of people. Shame on this instructor, no more dance lessons for us. My husband gave up a lecture for my sake and has one less good memory. Our Room Steward was great and our wait staff was excellent,and should be commended for the attentiveness and great service. Overall review, barely FAIR. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
I am writing to tell you about the cruise I just took on the Coral Princess on February 5th. This was the first time that I have taken a cruise on Princess Cruise Lines and was honestly looking forward to it. This was the 7th cruise in my ... Read More
I am writing to tell you about the cruise I just took on the Coral Princess on February 5th. This was the first time that I have taken a cruise on Princess Cruise Lines and was honestly looking forward to it. This was the 7th cruise in my life that I have been on. Anyway I can tell you that my experience was not a pleasant one. I traveled with 3 other people and there was supposed to be 2 in each cabin with adjoining balconies. We were originally assigned to cabins E708 and E710. When we got on the ship we soon discovered that we didn't have adjoining balconies. The ship's staff basically told us the ship was full, there really wasn't anything they could do but they would put us on a waiting list and maybe we would know something the next day but don't count on it. We asked them if we could switch with the people on either side of us and they said the cabins weren't the same so that was not an option. We took matters into our own hands and stood in the hall (about 2 1/2 hours) waiting for the folks on either side of our cabins to come to their room to ask them if we could switch with them. As luck had it, we did finally get a couple to do that with us. The rooms were the same after all. We ended up having to spend money to thank them to accommodate us however. The ship's staff didn't seem very happy that we did that. Next we were told by our Travel Agent that we would be able to divide the on board credit or credit card with the other party we were traveling with on the ship. The ship would not split up the credit card nor would they apply it to our bill unless we converted it to cash. They told us to go to the casino and get the cash but there would be a charge to do that. So to this day we still have the credit card and haven't used it. We had many discussions with our travel agent about wanting to have the early dining slot of 5:30 and somehow we got assigned to "anytime dining"-we did finally get that changed but not without hassles with that too. I found the staff on the ship overall was pretty unfriendly, unaccommodating and in some cases unprofessional. The photographers were a joke. Most of the pics they took of me and my friends were not looking at the camera, not smiling or dumb poses. Out of all the pics that were taken, I only bought 1 picture. And also, I've never been on a cruise that the captain didn't come and take pics with you on one of the formal nights. As a matter of fact, I never saw the captain the whole 2 weeks. The cruise was obviously geared for a much older crowd (I just turned 50) because the daily activities were boring and the same. I cannot believe that the ship did not show the Olympics nor did they have some kind of event tied to "Fat Tuesday" on 2/16. One of the few things that we enjoyed on the ship was the "ship building from scraps" event on the last full day of the cruise. We followed the rules faithfully only to have the staff change them at the last minute. They did that with a number of the games we attempted to participate in. I was disappointed not too have towel creatures in my cabin (adults enjoy these too). The staff had a towel creature demonstration one of the days but we were not allowed to participate in attempting to put the creatures together ourselves nor was there a book to buy to show you how do to it at home (that was a first). I had a bartender put two drinks on my card by mistake and instead of him apologizing for the mistake, he laughed at me and starting serving another person leaving me to settle the issue myself. Of course since we switched cabins, our luggage tags got messed up when we were getting off the ship. You could tell the staff was dismayed about that cause he gave me around 40 blue tags for my luggage. We attempted to enjoy some of my or our kind of music with "DJ Seb" and no matter what we requested he didn't have it. Also apparently there was a webcam that our friends/family in the states could see us going thru the Panama Canal. It would have been nice to know that before we left so that we didn't have to pay to use their computers/internet to let them know. The ports of call, however, were wonderful. We did not take a shore excursion in Cabo San Lucas-just walked around the city and enjoyed our first port in the warm weather taking in the sites. Acapulco was next and we did take a city tour there. We enjoyed that alot especially since we got out of the heart of downtown Acapulco which we found to be noisy, trashy and smelly (exhaust). The outskirts were beautiful. Huatulco was a quaint fishing town and it was a nice change from the big cities. Took a river raft tour there and enjoyed that. The rapids were not very challenging but it was nice being on the river and seeing all the wildlife. Puntarenas was very nice and here we did not take an excursion offered by Princess but went thru "Ricky Ricardo Tours". I recommend him very, very highly. For the price you would have paid Princess for the 4 hour zip line tour, we got the zip line plus an additional 4 hour private tour. We fed monkies, made drinks from sugarcane ourselves, went on boat safari tour, explored some of-the-road villages, saw a cashew tree, ate at a local restarant, took us to a bueatiful hotel for some awesome pics and drove around the city somemore. He also took us to a grocery store and pharmacy where we picked up some coffee for souveniers and some cold medicine which would have cost us a fortune elsewhere. Just google him if you're interested in using him. Anyway, next was Fuerte Amador. We took an arial tram/city tour there. I thought the city was beautiful and very clean. I was certainly impressed with Panama. On the Arial tram we saw a sloth, many pretty birds and a Tucan. The Panama Canal was fascinating in the beginning but kind of boring as they day progressed. It was a long day getting thru the canal. Cartegena was the next stop and this place had a lot of history. Took a city tour and boy you really need to. Alot to see in a very short time. This city was a great mix of very old historic buildings with the new modern skyscrapers. I would of liked to spend more time here. Aruba was the last stop and it was way too short. We did a snorkel trip here and it was okay-water was a little cold this time of year. Didn't see a lot of cool fish either. Anyway as soon as the snorkel trip was over we had to get back onto the ship. I will say it was nice seeing the beautiful blue carribean water again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We just returned from a relaxing trip on the Coral Princess with a full transit through the Panama Canal. We started in Ft. Lauderdale and visited Aruba, Colombia, transited the Canal, Puerto Amador (Panama city), Costa Rica, Huatulco, ... Read More
We just returned from a relaxing trip on the Coral Princess with a full transit through the Panama Canal. We started in Ft. Lauderdale and visited Aruba, Colombia, transited the Canal, Puerto Amador (Panama city), Costa Rica, Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas before completing our cruise in Los Angeles. The Ship was beautiful and modern and the gym, spa and eating facilities onboard were wonderful. The food at the buffet on the Lido deck was not much different than the food in the main dinning rooms, so it was an easy choice on many days to just relax by the poolside instead of getting dressed for dinner. We enjoyed one dinner at the Bayou Cafe (which has a $15 cover charge) and boy do they want to serve you there. Our waiters brought out almost EVERYTHING on the menu for us to try. I was so stuffed with goodness that I nearly needed to be wheel chaired back to my cabin. Service in the main dining room and buffet were not what I expected. The servers were not rude, but they were not welcoming either. Many times in the buffet it seemed like a hassle for them to refill your drink, which I think Princess would do better if they had self serving juice stations. Overall, dinning was about average in taste and selection. I enjoyed visiting every port of call for the experience, but was disappointed with a few. Aruba has amazing water and beach areas, but was surprised that it is mostly desert. There areas where the Hotels were location was of course the most beautiful, but definitely worth the visit. Colombia has too many aggressive street vendors who want to sell you everything (especially t-shirts) and won't take 'NO" for an answer. Since they wouldn't leave me alone, I decided to reverse the psychology and told them the only way I could buy their products was if they bought my camera for $2000 and baseball cap for $50. I even offered them a 20% discount (which they refer to as "promotion"), but they kept declining me... go figure. That actually was very fun and other tourist had a blast watching me harass the vendors and follow them until they started running from me. The Canal was amazing, but not very beautiful. It took 10 hours to pass from ocean to ocean and nearly 5 hours of it was in the three different locks. One time for the experience is enough for me. Puerto Amador (Panama City) has very little to do near the pier and you must taxi into the city to enjoy any time here. Problem is that downtown is very busy and "old town" is unbelievably poor. I would recommend the Mall near the pier or the Mall downtown if you want to walk and shop or people watch and sample local food. Costa Rica is AMAZING, beautiful, clean and very friendly. I could live here and definitely plan to return. The ship had many great excursions, but we choose Ricky Ricardo Tours who was waiting outside the side and boy are we happy we did!!! Go to Trip Advisor for my full review, but bottom line... it was the best time we had in any of the countries visited. Huatulco is a secret gem of a place. Take advantage of the local boat taxi's and spend less than $10 to visit 5-7 of the bays. This is a snorkler or divers paradise, but they also have several private little beaches with little to no crowds. We stopped at a beach that seemed to have no tourists... only locals. It was like we were celebrities because everyone was smiling and kids were crazy happy to see visitors. All the restaurants lining the beach share the same grass covering that stretched for about 400 feet. After looking at a few menus we settled down at Mely and La Escondida. We chose it based on one local families food order that walked by our noses.. and had a great meal. Acapulco was too crowded, but the Dolphin experience here was every bit worth the money!!! Plenty of time with the dolphins and included a photo and video. My wife swam with them while I was a spectator taking pictures. She had the time of her life being pushed and pulled through the water, giving hugs and kisses, and having the dolphins dance as the group sang "la cucaracha". After their singing, the trainer asked the dolphins if they enjoyed the singing and they nodded "NO", then returned to the group and started singing (in dolphin dialect of course). And they were actually better singers!!! Cabo is simply the best place on this plant and will forever be a yearly destination for my family. It was THEE most balanced place for beauty, activities and relaxation. Don't book any excursions here... just venture out and enjoy. We visited Cabo Wabo, the beach, a few resorts and the Shrimp Factory for lunch. I love this place. Our final experience was disembarkation and this was the only REALLY bad experience of the trip. It was a nightmare and completely unorganized. People were confused over where to go, what line to be in, who was in charge and what exit was available. Friends we met on the ship emailed us that several altercations almost turned physical because tension was so high. We were smart enough to sign up for express walk-off and arrived at the immigration room 45 minutes prior to our scheduled time. We experienced some delay, because immigration did not release anyone to leave the ship for over 1 hour past scheduled time, but it was not nearly as bad for us as others who came on time or late. Princess told every passenger on the ship to meet in the Universe lounge to pass thru immigration @ 7:15am and from there you had times allocated according to your cabin/travel. Problem with that is the lounge is small and located at the back of the ship and 2,000 passengers showed up. lines were at best ridiculously long and many had their luggage also. Big thumbs down to Princess for this fiasco. FOOD/DINNING... Average for a cruise ship. I was told this was an area that Princess shined, but my expectations must be too high. Carnival has been the most enjoyable food of all the cruiselines we have vacationed with in my opinion. OUR CABIN... Our stateroom was an inside cabin on the 10th floor (Caribe) and it was very small, but functional. Princess did a good job with storage design and we were able to put away 3 suitcases of clothes/shoes and one carry-on of toiletries with no problems. The ship was recently dry docked and all the linens/carpets were updated. Our only complaint would be the comfort of the mattress. I think I may need surgery after sleeping on them for two weeks. ONBOARD ACTIVITIES... Your only concern will be the lack of activities Princess gives for entertainment. I was 40 during this '09 cruise and found the ships entertainment very boring and geared to a much older crowd. Nobody makes it fun and entertaining like Carnival and nobody has the amount of onboard activities like Royal, but Princess has the best shore excursions. EXCURSIONS... Our cruise took us from Ft. Lauderdale to Aruba, Colombia, The Canal, Panama, Costa Rica, Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas. I recommend The Ostrich Farm tour for Aruba, Aerial Tram for Panama, and Dolphins in Acapulco (you will get a ton of time with the Dolphins here and it includes a photo AND video). Acapulco is very crowded and the other tours are less than satisfying. You'll pay dearly to see the Cliff Divers (which isn't that great)... so my suggestion here is to walk around or stay on the ship. Do anything in Colombia that will keep you from the local areas...otherwise you will be mobbed by street vendors every 5 feet that won't take NO for an answer. We did the Fortress tour in Colombia and it was hotter than Hades at 9 am. Others had a blast touring the Mud Volcano. In Costa Rica, I would use RickyRicardoTours.Com and customize my tour. Ricky is the best private tour guide you can get for your money... honest, clean, knowledgeable and has great air conditioning!!! You can get a local boat taxi in both Huatulco and Cabo to see the bays and Arc's and spend less than $10 each. Cabo has a great beach area and the Dolphins are also within a few feet of the Pier. Hope this helps. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Over the past five years, we have spent almost 300 nights on more than 20 cruises to all parts of the world.  Even though I have leg problems, I have managed to climb the Great Wall, traverse the Acropolis, catch piranha in the Amazon, go ... Read More
Over the past five years, we have spent almost 300 nights on more than 20 cruises to all parts of the world.  Even though I have leg problems, I have managed to climb the Great Wall, traverse the Acropolis, catch piranha in the Amazon, go on safaris in Africa, climb to the top of Edinburgh Castle, etc.  In other words, we have seen almost the whole world and were looking forward to the Panama Canal, Central America, and southern ports in Mexico - one of the few places we have not visited.  As a result, we embarked on the Coral Princess on April 26, 2009. To be very honest, there were several excellent features to this trip.  Embarkation and disembarkation were the easiest we've ever encountered in all our travels.  The floor shows, pianists, violinists, and singers were again the best we've ever seen and the quality and timeliness of the movies excellent (I just don't like going on a cruise and spending my days in the theater).  My husband adds that he loved the opportunity to play basketball every day and to practice whenever he wanted! With the exception of the toilet (details later), our handicapped stateroom was excellent (roomy, enjoyed the window even though obstructed, room for my scooter) and the services of our steward, Pedro, were excellent. All of the public rooms were also lovely, well cared for, and with excellent service.  The alternate restaurants (Sabatini's and Bayou Cafe) had excellent food and service for an additional $20 a person.  Instead of lukewarm, tasteless coffee in the dining areas, one could, for a price, get excellent coffee in one area of the ship, and excellent ice-cream could be purchased as a substitute for the mediocre fare in the dining areas. Unfortunately, that is really where the excellence ended.  Through no error of the cruise line, the swine flu virus cancelled all five Mexican ports.  Rather than extending our time in Costa Rica and allowing more time and tours in Panama, we were given two ports - San Diego (over 50% of the passengers on this ship live within a day's drive of San Diego) and San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, where dire warnings were issued about the difficulties facing anyone with leg problems should they go ashore (tendering, a moving pontoon platform, and steep and hard-to-negotiate stairs). While I tried to work with the tour office, I learned several things:  1) although they would allow wheelchairs to be tendered ashore, those of us with light-weight, portable scooters that come apart could not use the tenders -not even during quiet times when the tours were out   2) that their information was often Incorrect -San Juan del Sur was not a difficult landing and there was shopping nearby which could be easily reached by wheelchair or scooter - you could go ashore in Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua, and get transportation that would drive you through Antigua.  Often, though, we didn't know that until it was too late;   3) even though the average age of the passengers was close to 80 and there were dozens of scooters, walkers, and wheelchairs and hundreds of canes, no special accommodations were to be made;  4) that e-mailing Princess Cruises for assistance does not even get the respect of a reply;  5) that, when all was said and done,  I was only able to get off ship to see a foreign port twice in 19 days! You would expect, then, that Princess would try to find some other way to keep us happy while on board - maybe 2 sheets of paper for scrapbooking.  Maybe more games other than Trivia (4-5 times a day) or even Trivia where you were lucky if you knew even half the answers.  It was amazing to hear the silence when a question was read and no one had a clue, but even more amazing when the answer was read - also to dead silence.  While our Trivia crew captain was a delightful young man, his accent made it difficult to understand much of the time and the questions were often obscure.  Imagine the top team getting a score of 9 out of 20!  Many of us would have quit, but you can't desert your team mates.  A qualified craftsperson was not available to provide really good craft experiences - making something you would want to keep. Rec crew members would teach a paper rose or a simple paper box.  They also ran the scrapbooking program, even they though didn't have a clue.  They provided a die cut machine and a few die cuts, scissors, glue, and ONE 12X12 paper per passenger for the whole cruise.  We started out with 45 enthusiastic passengers (including teachers and owners of scrapbooking companies).  It would have been a fantastic opportunity had we had any supplies; no one came back again.  In the past, I have had marvelous arts and crafts experiences. There was a ceramic (throwing clay) class taught by a ceramist at $40 an hour or you could paint ceramics for $20 an hour or more.  You could also take computer lessons for $25 an hour.  The teacher was good, but the actual breadth of the learning was very narrow.  But the end feeling iwas one of being nickeled and dimed to death. Knowing this might be a looooooong trip, I signed up for 500 minutes of Internet time so that I could use my laptop wirelessly from most areas of the ship.  Several days out, the ship lost all power.  Apparently, according to the Internet attendant, when it came back on there was a huge power surge that took out the wireless network.  No one informed us of this, so for two days I kept trying without success to get online.  Finally I called to see if there was a problem, only to discover I could no longer use my laptop on board.  Actually, I was lucky because I'm knowledgeable enough to figure out I could use my memory stick as a drive to hold my data files, insert it in a memory card slot on their computers, and attach files to my e-mails.  The wireless network was never repaired.  There was no credit for this. Our cabinm while wonderfully appointed and suited for handicapped access, had a toilet so low a person on a wheelchair could not have transferred, and the bars were right next to the toilet rather than extending in front of the toilet to give the passenger the leverage to get up.  So I requested a toilet seat riser.  It came with tight arms so one could not wipe making it unusable.  The arms were just screwed on so I requested that they be removed.  Absolutely NOT, I was told.  It took two weeks to get a commode so I had to use the public restrooms instead. The food was another issue.  Perhaps it was because we were on anytime dining (a new experience for us), but there were frequent examples of waiting to be paged for dinner, very long dinner services (once it was just short of 3 hours) wilted Caesar salad, tasteless foods that were described as mango or passion fruit, but just tasted vanilla, butter dishes and beverages are not refilled, lukewarm soups and coffee, and frequent evenings where everyone at the table (8) ordered the always available grilled chicken or grilled salmon because the menu offerings were so unappetizing.  The one time I decided to try it anyway, I ordered a favorite, Irish Stew, and received a broth-based soup with some lamb, potatoes and carrots floating in it as my entrEe.  I did not make that error again.  Even the desserts just didn't match the desserts we've had on other cruises.  The buffet was actually better tasting and hotter food, but without the nice ambiance of the dining room. On the last two nights, the passengers expressed their feelings about the dining room by giving little or no applause for the food and service they had received.  Hundreds of passengers left the ship with very negative attitudes toward the ship and cruise - that's all you heard the last week. For me, it ended up being a long and boring trip - I've been on a 60 day voyage and several 30+ day trips and didn't want them to end, but this was the first time I wanted to go home before it was even half over. Shame on Princess!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Lady, Lady...you want to buy? I have shiny jewelry, I got fancy art, maybe you want nice steak? Lady, Lady, pretty drink just for you, ice cream? I make it special. Lady, I got special sale for you, T-shirts? paint your toenails? Come On ... Read More
Lady, Lady...you want to buy? I have shiny jewelry, I got fancy art, maybe you want nice steak? Lady, Lady, pretty drink just for you, ice cream? I make it special. Lady, I got special sale for you, T-shirts? paint your toenails? Come On Lady... Where was I again? at a port with small children tugging at my sleeve while their eager parents held up the local crafts they sell to support their family? Nope, I was on the Coral Princess where the day started off and ended with every attempt to get more out of the passenger. Home Shopping Network has nothing on Princess. Years ago, I was one of those fresh new travel agents who eagerly extolled the virtues of cruising as the all inclusive way to vacation. Those days seem as far away as Love Boat's Doc and his hypersexy romancing of every female guest star under 60 years of age.  I can only imagine that if Doc were operating on Princess today, he'd be charging a service fee and making you pay 10 bucks for the Viagra. Embarkation was easy for us and a nightmare for others. We arrived early, Mom is Elite and we were able to go on board without trouble. We were pleased to find our luggage in the room right away and we unpacked and went to lunch. Others were very unhappy, the ship was in the middle of an inspection and some of them were held at hotels or bussed back to hotels and held for more than two hours.  Life boat drill was delayed because of the delay in getting folks aboard.So, the ship is quite pretty. The Coral is a slim gal for the Panama crossing. Open areas are tasteful and inviting, the two shops were well stocked. The ship sails like a dream and most of the time, you hardly feel any movement. Going ashore, you would not feel like you had just off a ship; it was that smooth.  I really thought that the folks who had the ear patch and sea sickness bands were wasting their money. Both pools were nice and it is great to have a pool with shade for those of us who don't tan. Two tracks, one in the sun and another shaded make it easy to take a nice walk or jog around the ship. We picked anytime dinning; not a great idea. I loved sitting with new people each night and we met a wide variety of interesting people. Unfortunately, we often had a long wait and although they would take reservations, we had a hard time getting an open line. The first night and despite my mother's protest, we were put at a table for two and where I had to face the shiny bright whirling kitchen door. I had one banging headache from the flashing light and we finally had to demand to be put at another table. We got attitude from the staff;  oh some people ASK for that table so who were we to want another? What the heck? in a service industry, you do not challenge a customer on a matter like this and give excuse and attitude. If you have people who just love a spinning door and flashing lights, then by all means, save it for them and just move us.The library was nice but the large chairs were often occupied by people taking naps! The shelves were locked and open only when a staff member was there. The computers...argh. This was one of my biggest peeves. I brought along my laptop and I had wi-fi for two days until some electrical problem on the ship sent that system out. No back up?? so sorry, NO. Would it be fixed? Sure in Los Angeles after I was off the ship!I was really unhappy about this as were others in the same situation. This was my way of checking on my family, I had my webcam ready to chat with them, I had planned to review one of my daughter's final paper for her college class, I was going to write long letters and then log on to send them. Mind you, there is NO difference on the price for either wi-fi or if you used the ship computers, it is all the same ridiculously high fee. BUT, using the ship computer did not allow me  to spend time sending long letters and at up to 75 cents per minute, the ship computers took three minutes to log on three to log  off; what a rip-off!  Because of the "grippe Porcina" aka Swine Flu, on day two, all five of our Mexico port stops were cancelled and we embarked on a long sea voyage. Not making those stops also prevented extra speakers and entertainers from getting on the ship at that point. The daytime speakers were very good about making new programs. The big screen movies were a collection of odd picks. Given the age of most of the cruisers, "Twilight" and "Role Models" were not well received. I caught two comedy acts, one that should have stayed in the Catskills and the other quite good. Sadly, once again, you can't just enjoy the show and pass by the comedian to shake his hand. No, once again, there is a table where you are prodded to purchase the guy's CD and DVD. Chargeable to with your room key, doncha' know.Song and dance shows were very good. Staging was terrific and the crew of singers and dancers talented. The last show featured dances and songs from around the world. One of dances featured a pretty sexy adagio dance from India with a shirtless muscular male dance and barely dress female dancer. After they had wrapped themselves around each other in several poses, one older fellow behind me ask, "Is this what they call that kama sutra?"  Oh my! I loved, loved, loved, the two young ladies from Delicia duo. They played every day in the atrium and then later, they were pressed into doing a couple of show in the Universal lounge. Both are, I think from the Ukraine. Lovely music, lovely young ladies. The fellow in the Crooners Bar was very good also.I can't speak about the dancing classes or dance venues as we didn't do either but people did seem pleased with them.I had great fun playing Trivia and other games. It was fun making new friends and laughing about some of our answers. I did win a couple of times. Yay! I won baggage tags, so did all the winners.I did go to the pet lovers meeting which was hosted by one of the young British staffers who sometimes hosted games as well. I wish I had his name, if anyone knows, let me know, (the other guys were South African). He was was a sweetie and I enjoyed meeting him. Cruise director Frank, is, I think, possibly an android or a set of identical twins are sharing the job. No one human could be so perky and lively all hours of the day. Food food food. What about the food. OK, some was great, some wasn't so great and some was, "what the heck is that thing?"  Horizon Court had buffet style and a pretty wide selection to pick from. Nice salad bar. Wonderful rolls and breads are abundant. The pizza bar and hamburger grill were both very good.  Breakfast in the dinning room was always good though I did witness an odd thing; a waiter brought a burned English muffin to another person at our table. When she asked for one that wasn't burned, he instead showed her how to scrape off the burned parts!  We were all cracking up. Really? you ask a passenger to grind off the burned parts? Yes, she insisted on another.Dinner in the dining room were about 75% really nice. I love fish but most of the time it was a bit too overcooked. I had two very good steaks and nice beef Wellington. The lobster was dreadful, so salty and dried that it looked like lobster jerky. The crab legs were supposed to be king crab but mine were very slim and looked like snow crab.Dinner one night at Sabatinis was nice. At $20. per person cover charge, you do get great service and plenty of food.The room was nearly empty and I heard that is was only really busy on Mother's Day.  I do wish that I picked another entree. I had the vanilla scallops; way too sweet and not really tasty but with so many other great things during our two hour meal, I didn't fall asleep that night, I think I fell into a food coma. The ship photographers were everywhere. I had three cameras and five lenses with me; did I really want to be ambushed at every meal with a camera in my face?  Selling all types of photos was another Princess sell-sell. Folks, if you really want a studio portrait, go to a real studio with a real photographer. The soft focus portraits were just awful. If you want a memento of your trip, by all means let the ship's camera guys and girls take a few and you can buy them. If you want a lasting portrait to give your grand kids, try to find a pro. Hint: you won't find on working a cruise ship. I won't even say what I think about the "art" auctions. Those who know what I mean  know what I mean and those who love them will never understand my view point. I'm chatty and I like to meet people. So what were the topics of conversation: cabin pricing, missed ports, shore excursions which don't meet expectations and the computer problems.  I sat at dinner with two couples. One had booked only two weeks before and received a greatly discounted price on their room. The other had booked well in advance and paid a great deal more for the same class of cabin. I would this over and over again and boy, were some people mad. (I even heard it in French) Not sure how this happens but at one time, cruise lines guaranteed lowest price. One couple was livid, they had booked a cabin which did not show an obstructed view in the brochure. Princess admitted this mistake but the passengers could not be moved because the ship was full. The kicker? the couple right across from them were given a higher level of cabin for far less than the first couple paid and they had booked it only ten days before sailing. Why, couple number one wanted to know, were the full price folks upgraded before the better cabins were sold at bargain basement prices. Mexico was out so Princess added one port in Nicaragua and San Diego. That was all they had to offer. One rumor that was passed around the ship went like this, "Well, you can't fault Princess for the missed ports. A crew member told me that one ship was quarantined in San Pedro for seven days!" OK, I heard this rumor so often that I think it was planted to manage expectations. Folks, it NEVER happened. I've said what I thought about the way Princess treated our missed ports in another post so I won't repeat it here.  I did learn today why the Holland America Veendam which shadowed us from Panama stayed so close. We knew that they had problems with their air conditioning but a passenger that my mom spoke with today told her the rest of the story. Some people were also without toilets and power in their rooms. The Veendam stayed close to the Coral in the water incase the Coral was needed to evacuate their passengers. Yikes! The passengers on the Veendam were given a 30% discount coupon on a future cruise. Did we have fun? Yes. Was this the best cruise ever? No. Was it a great value? Not really. Little things that were once included in the Princess price or free at Elite level are not. We had only $100. computer time which we used quickly and not very efficiently. Laundry was no charge and great to have. We had to request the robes which should have been in the room and they were very shabby. I enjoyed the trip and I was glad I could go with my mother. My father would have been there with her but he passed away in January so for us, this trip held both wonderful memories and some fragile moments of longing for what had been. What could Princess do better? Training. It just can't be stressed enough. It is more than just training people to do a job, it needs to be about how to make sure the passenger is happy and that they feel good about how they are treated. Sure, dealing with people can be difficult but the next week could bring the best passengers ever and attitude is pretty aggravating. It's pretty simple and like I used to tell my kids, "In the time it took to argue with me and to make excuses, you could have done what I asked and be on your way." Some of the waitstaff had perfected the "I won't glance your way because I know that you want something." look. My daughter was a Disney intern, you know what they tell their people? There is no "Not my job" at Disney, it's your job to make sure people get what they need. My pampered teenager took it to heart and if Disney can train my child to think of other people first and do it with a smile, then I know it can be done.   Stop all the selling all the time! It feels invasive to have an endless sales spiels  every hour of the day and most of the Princess patter is filled with advertisements.  I actually talked with one guy who bragged that he spent as much on the ship after he got on as he did on his fare. Good for him if it makes him happy but I still don't get it. Princess is a business and while they may call repeat passengers "Family" it isn't really true, you're a customer.  I know that I'll anger some Princess cheerleaders with my words. Sorry about that...sort of but don't let the "free" stuff that Princess gives you as a repeat passenger keep you from asking for better service. This was only my second trip on Princess but I know what a better cruise line is like.Comments? Write me at Suzk55@aol.com  Just a note, I won't waste time dialoging with the rude or crazy so if you don't get a reply, you'll know why. Peace out... The port feature isn't fully working for me and I don't see the ports we went to listed. We were unable to go to any of our five Mexico portsOur stops were Puerto San Juan in Nicaragua. Took a nice shore trip. Our guide Gabby was very interesting and it was nice easy tour.  Great shopping at the port.Puntarenas Costa Rica was very nice. Port trip was to a coffee plantation, a botanical garden and shopping area. Our guide was very imformed and everyone enjoyed the trip. Lunch at the Doka Plantation was excellent.In Panama, we did the city tour. Excellent! the price was very low and we saw so much that other tours didn't offer. Our guide was terrific and the small busses were wonderful. We loved the old city and museum. We also saw the old US base. Back to Nicaragua, we only did a walking trip into town. Nice shopping, pretty dancers.Puerto Quetzal was nice, we didn't do a tour but the shopping was nice at the port. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
My wife and I are Elite Captain Circle members and we booked this cruise while we were on the Tahitian Princess in Tahiti, November 2007. We booked a mini suite on Baja. The itinerary was terrific and we liked the round trip, 19 days, from ... Read More
My wife and I are Elite Captain Circle members and we booked this cruise while we were on the Tahitian Princess in Tahiti, November 2007. We booked a mini suite on Baja. The itinerary was terrific and we liked the round trip, 19 days, from San Pedro. We live in San Francisco, so it was easy to drive to L.A.  When we booked this cruise it was offered as a full transit through the Panama Canal. That was later changed to a partial transfer through the Pacific locks and an overnight stay in Lake Gatun. This was later changed to a morning transit through the Pacific locks and a late afternoon transit out with an overnight, anchored in the waters off of Panama City. More changes were made to the itinerary with ports in Mexico being switched before we finally sailed on April 26, 2009. One note on us; we travel a lot and when we travel we always travel with low expectations so we won't be disappointed if the trip isn't that great. So most of the time the trip exceeds our expectations. This trip did not exceed our expectations. We arrived in San Pedro the day before and stayed at the Doubletree Hotel. Great place where they let you park your vehicle for as long as your cruise lasts. They also have a shuttle that will take you to the port and pick up when you return.  We arrived at the Coral Princess at 11am. We were told we would be allowed to board right away. After we checked in we were told that there was an inspection and we were not allowed to board for several hours. Once we were allow to board things went pretty smoothly, although our luggage came one at a time until the last one arrived just before dinner. The next day, April 27th, on our way to Cabo San Lucas the Captain announced that because of the swine flu outbreak in Mexico, all stops in Mexico were cancelled.  I think most of the passengers understood that it was prudent to cancel all the Mexican port stops especially since most of the passengers on this cruise were elderly. Any swine flu on this cruise ship could have been devastating. This was the beginning of a completely changed itinerary than the one we booked almost two years earlier. It was very disappointing, having spent more than a year researching each of these ports and choosing the tours to take. Princess did little if anything at all to make this an interesting cruise. We now had 8 sea days in a row, and 13 sea days out 19 total days. Two new stops were added, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, and San Diego.  Most of the people on this cruise were from southern California, so this stop made little sense.  More about the stops later. Our cabin was very nice, a mini suite on the Baja deck, B216. It was located about 8 cabins from the front of the ship. Lots of room for our things and it was very comfortable. We had the best room steward possible, Cristian. Very thoughtful and competent, one of the most pleasant we have had on any cruise. The location of the room was terrific for viewing the transit through the Panama Canal. We chose personal choice dining. One thing that surprised us about dining on this cruise was that folks were lined up and ready to eat at 5pm, even though the dining room didn't open until 5:30pm. We had no problem getting a table anytime after 7:30pm. We found a great waiter and assistant waiter, Leo and Ramon. Both of them were very obliging and were always ready to help pick the best choices for each meal. We tried the Bayou restaurant once, which was OK, not great. We have eaten at Sabatini's before, too much food, so we passed on it this cruise. The food overall was not up to the quality that Princess was known for in the past. Most evenings there were a few good choices to pick from the menu.  We did try to eat breakfast and lunch in the dining room. Breakfast was difficult because they only served until 9am. It was unreasonably early on sea days, no reason to get up that early just to eat breakfast. Even if we did get up early for breakfast the food was just so so, with limited choices. It seemed as if the staff wanted everyone to eat in the Horizon court which most did. The food choices were much better, omelets made to order and lots of choices. This was the first cruise that we took most of our breakfasts and lunches outside of the main dining room. Lunch in the main dinning room was about the same; choices were quite limited compared to the buffet in the Horizon court. The pizza, hamburgers & hot dogs were good. We have noticed, in our humble opinion, a decline in the over all quality of the food and food service on Princess. We are not looking for 5 star dining; it's a cruise ship serving thousands of meals everyday. It was more about the indifference in the overall product that made it seemed less inviting than in the past. The ship is in beautiful condition. She is laid out nicely with most of the entertainment and restaurants on the two middle decks so everything is close together, and easy to get to. The wheelhouse bar was the most comfortable bar on the ship. A great place to listen to dance music and have a cocktail before or after dinner. The universe lounge was another lovely spot on the ship. The casino seemed under utilized due to lack of a good vibe. We didn't hear anyone say they had won anything at the tables or machines.  We played a little each night but had no luck. The entertainment was limited because we didn't change entertainers at each port so we had the same ones each night. The shows were better than most we have seen on other ships. There were two comics, one funny and one not. There were two young women who entertained in the atrium. They played the piano and violin and were fantastic. We thought they were the best. There was also a trio that played each night in the Bayou bar, Jean something and they were also very good.     We used the spa everyday and hung out at the lotus pool, which is the covered pool. The pool areas were very good for relaxing on sea days. We were charged an extra $160 to use the steam room for the entire trip, but it had only four heated recliners to use when using the steam rooms. There were four different steam rooms in this spa and two out of the four didn't work very well but it was never the same two that were out of order. A very weird spa, and small for a ship this size. The ship charges for using their twelve computers and the fee is something like $100 for two hundred minutes and that includes wifi if you brought your own computer. On the third day of the cruise the wifi blew out and was not fixed for the duration of the cruise. This made it almost impossible to use the ship computers because nineteen hundred and seventy people needed to use them to keep in contact with the outside world. To make matters worse these were among the slowest computers we have ever used, three to four minutes to sign in and the same to sign out. We heard many complaints while waiting in line to use a computer.  One further note: everyone should check their bills often; we were charged $900 in error, $400 for computer time mischarged during sign up. The purser's desk took care of the problem as soon as we brought it to their attention, but if we weren't checking we would have paid the extra $900 overcharge.  Now, about the ports that we visited, the first stop was the unscheduled stop at San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Not a great port and a very long ride to get to a very poor town with just one church to visit and limited shopping. It was just great to get off of the ship. The next port was Puntarenas Costa Rica. Nice tour with lots to see, a beautiful place to visit. Next was The Panama Canal, we think this stop made the whole trip worthwhile. It was fantastic to see the canal in operation. We would do this trip again just for the canal transit. We anchored overnight and took the eco lake tour the next day. Most of the tour was very boring with a visit to an orchid hot house, a snake museum a few fish in tanks and a very long wait for the ride on Gatun Lake. Once on the lake the tour was great with lots of wild life sightings. Then we were back to Nicaragua for a long ride to very poor locations with little to see or do. Not our favorite stop. We then headed for Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala where we took the best of Antigua tour. Antigua is a great place to visit. It is a difficult place to walk and many people on this tour had problems getting around, the tour guide had to make special arrangements for vans to come and pick some of the people that were having trouble keeping up with the tour. This took time away from the tour, so there was little time to shop.  Antigua has a great market but we had only around twenty minutes to shop, not enough time to bargain for the great textiles that they have there, you must bargain because they start with very high prices and expect you to bargain with them. Also for some unknown reason Princess had changed the sail away time from 7pm to 4pm making the tour feel rushed. There was no need to make this a short stop since we missed five ports already and had plenty of time to kill. We liked this tour the best but Princess ruined it by leaving this port so early. The bus ride from the port to Antigua was about one and a half hours; so most of the time was spent on the bus. One last note on the tours, on four of the five tours we took at least one person fell while on the tour. Lastly, San Diego, I'm not going to review this port. Our overall view of this cruise; it felt as if Princess had no interest in making this an interesting cruise. The Princess carried on like everything was just fine. It did not seem that Princess put any effort in finding replacement ports for the ones we missed. Nothing was mentioned about the cancelled stops and nothing was offered to make up for the changed itinerary. No shipboard credits, future cruise credits, drink credits or anything else. Princess just seemed to treat the situation arrogantly by not acknowledging that this cruise had changed sufficiently enough to warrant some type of adjustment. They didn't throw any extra parties to make life on board more interesting.  I truly felt like a hostage on this cruise, and that Princess had gotten away with a bait and switch with this cruise.  We don't blame the crew, many who worked hard to please the passengers. The blame falls squarely on Princess. We have already booked our next cruise with Oceania and will think twice before we book with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
In amongst the reviews listed here ( mostly 4&5 stars) there are a few 2 and 3 star reviews that basically say the trip was great but Princess does not meet expectations. I am afraid that I am in agreement with this group and that is ... Read More
In amongst the reviews listed here ( mostly 4&5 stars) there are a few 2 and 3 star reviews that basically say the trip was great but Princess does not meet expectations. I am afraid that I am in agreement with this group and that is the reason for the low rating. I would do this tour again in a heart beat but not with Princess. Fort Lauderdale: We arrived a day early and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Sail/Fly on SW 24th street (W. State Rd 84 ). For the price they include airport pick-up, full breakfast and shuttle service to the Cruise terminals. (Call them when you get to the airport for pick-up). There is a strip mall across the street that has a clothing store, grocery store and "Big Daddy's Liquor Store" for all your pre-cruise needs. Big Daddy is more than happy to hand out free samples for you to try so be carful crossing the street afterwards. Down the street is a big Walgreen drugstore and on the same side there is a German Restaurant called the "Old Heidelberg". Some reviews have suggested that it's the best German restaurant in Florida. Embarkation: We left the hotel on the 10:30 am shuttle and were sitting aboard the Coral at 12:30 pm. After lunch in the Horizon Court and a tour around the ship we went back to our cabin about 2 pm to find our luggage had already been delivered. Princess does excel in this aspect. The Ship: The ship is about 6 years old and there is maintenance and repairs going on constantly to keep it looking new. Outside our cabin a piece of the wall covering started to peel away and in a day or two it was repaired and looked like new except for the smell of the contact cement. The Staff: It didn't take long to realize that a lot of the staff did not speak English, or Spanish even. Most of the wait staff was from Russia or Romania and it looked like they were right out of cruise training school. Photographers: The guys taking pictures are the same guys giving the trivia. That explains why the pictures are so poor. But why do they charge $18 to $24 for them? Ouch! The Stateroom: The stateroom layout is the best I've seen on 4 cruiselines with a large closet and lots of shelves. There is one problem however. The shower is really tiny. So tiny in fact that the on board entertainers were making fun of it. I don't mean like a corner shower you might have in a second bathroom small, I mean about 22" square small. To make matters worse there is only the fixed shower head so good luck cleaning anything else below the neck. Another thing I found strange. NO towel animals. Would it kill them to make a towel animal once in a while? Every cruise line makes towel animals but not Princess? Main Dining Rooms: There are 2 main dining rooms, one for the two fixed times (early and late), and the other room is for anytime dining. Of course the early seating times are all taken because the majority of Princess customers have to be in bed by 9pm. That means that there is a big line-up every night for the early seating in the "anytime" dining which means if you didn't get in at 6:30 you are not getting in until 9:00 pm anyway. So where's the "anytime" dining ? Princess needs to take a look at their clientele and adjust there meal times. Maybe three seating's at 4:30, 7:00 and 9:30. The food was just ok and the lobster night just happened to be on the same night we went into Panama City so we missed that meal. Coincidence ? Specialty Dining: We tried out the Bayou Cafe and for $15 extra I would say it is well worth it. The steaks were made to order and bigger than the plates. 24hr Dining: The Horizon Cafe is where you can find something to eat 24hr a day. They have a great selection on the first few days and then things start to disappear and by the last few days you are happy with finding anything palatable. On Deck/ Activities On deck entertainment and ship board activities were practically non existent. Of the 10 days there was only one sail-away party but it was 3 hours after we left port. There was daily trivia but only a handful of people attended. We were 2 of 4 people who showed up for the shuffle board tournament. (we lost). A couple of times you would see something going on on deck but there was no pre announcement or call for audience participation. Bar Service The bars will make you every cocktail known to man but they only carry about 3-4 brands of beer, Dos Equis, Fosters and Budweiser. What's that about? Not even Corona. Another thing, it was hard to get any consistency. You wouldn't see any waiters for an hour and then 5 would ask you if you wanted something in the space of two minutes. The same was with the "bucket of beer specials". Sometimes a bucket was 5 beer for the price of 5 beer, other times it was buy 5 get one free, and one time it was buy 8 get 2 free. Ocho Rios, Jamaica We participated in a private tour to Dunn's River falls and White River Tubing thru Knowjamaica Tours, which is owned and operated by Marva Shaw and her son Javia. We paid $55 total as compared to the ship's tours of $74 for tubing and another $69 for the falls. Javia entertained us with free Jamaican lessons during the transfers as well. Panama Canal Transit The highlight of the tour, the canal transit starts about 5:30 in the morning and is narrated by a tour guide sitting the bridge giving all the information you need over the PA system. By 4 pm you have gotten to the other side. Fuerte Amador, Panama This was supposed to be a 5 hour stop and was by tender. Panama City is one of the biggest shipping ports in the world and there's not a dock somewhere? Princess's port reviews and comments basically hammered home the message that if you didn't take their tour then you were taking your life in your own hands. And you better be back on ship by 9pm because they will leave without you. The only ship tour was sold out months before so we arranged a tour with Judith Tovar and "Easy Travel Panama". We saw twice as much as the ship tour with more background information, better shopping spots and were back in plenty of time. In fact the ship didn't sail until 11pm because "their" tours were late. Puntarenas, Cost Rica Here we booked the ship tour PA4-600 train ride and boat tour. We had booked the morning time so we could see the town in the afternoon after the tour, but what-do-you-know princess bumped us to the afternoon time so we had to get back on the ship after seeing the town to meet the tour group only to get off again. Imperial beer was available along with fruit during the rest stop before the eco-tour boat cruise. San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua Another tender port. We took a private tour with "Julio Tours Nicaragua" to Grenada for $27. The comparable Princess tour is SJ1-330 and costs $99. We saw much more than the ship tour and our guide even took us to his house on the shore of lake Nicaragua for a fantastic view of the Masaya volcano on Ometepe Island. At the Craft area in Masaya we drank as many Toña beer as we could and loved it so much got a 6 pack for the ride back. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala There was such a lovely shopping area by the pier and it was so hot we just did the quick once around for a tee shirt and sat down to see how many Gallo's we could drink. After the wives left to go back to the ship we changed to Dorada. Come to think of it now I guess we missed lunch? Bays of Huatulco For some reason Princess cancelled this port of call. To fill in the time the ship travelled at about ½ speed for 2 days. We could have spent more time in Panama City. Disembarkation: Once again Princess's system of getting you off of the ship is excellent. We reported to one lounge to get our passports stamped then went for breakfast. After breakfast we went back to our cabin got our hand luggage and reported to another lounge to disembark at 9:00am. At 8:50 they called our color and we were on shore by 9:00. Acapulco, Mexico We stayed one night at Acamar Beach Resort on Playa Caleta. Just a basic well priced Mexican hotel but it's right on the beach. There is a real nice open air restaurant next door "La Cabana" and the Corona is only $1.80. VW Taxi to the flee market was only $3.00 but we took the Costera bus for $0.45 instead. At the market I bought an 100% linen Guayabera Shirt made in the Yucatan. Last year they were $20 cheaper, when am I going to learn? From the flea market we walked back to the Zocalo where the Cathedral is. In among the back streets where all the restaurants are we found "The Bratwurst". The owner Wilde Hilde, speaks German, English and Spanish and makes all the food herself. The German food is the best I've tasted on the north American continent. The bratwurst is to die for! Two bratwurst lunches and a couple of beer were $14.00 Summary We always considered Prince Cruise Lines "a step above" but soon found out that they are not. Carnival has nice big showers with hand held spray heads on ships about the same age. Norwegian has sail away parties on deck for every port. Royal Caribbean had a different towel animal every night. Hope this helps feel free to Email at peter.katzur@gmail.com with questions Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We took our first Princess cruise on the Coral Princess last week. 10 days from Ft. Lauderdale through the Panama Canal. Boarding was extremely smooth and by 11:30 AM we were in our mini suite. Lovely room and great service by our ... Read More
We took our first Princess cruise on the Coral Princess last week. 10 days from Ft. Lauderdale through the Panama Canal. Boarding was extremely smooth and by 11:30 AM we were in our mini suite. Lovely room and great service by our steward throughout the cruise, BUT...the most uncomfortable beds....mattresses must have been very old....you could feel the wire rims around the edges. Lovely ship, great public rooms. We loved the Wheelhouse Bar and Lounge and the drinks and service there were outstanding. I liked the 'anytime dining' and the fact that you could make reservations for dinner and also opt NOT to share a table if you preferred it that way. The service in the dining room was great for the most part and the food was very good. NOT SO for the buffet. I've been on other cruise lines with much better buffets! This one was limited in choices and the food was awful. Inedible vegetables (unless you only ate salad) and meats that had steam table quality. We ate all of our meals in the dining room! The ports of call were lovely, but as on most cruise ships, the tours were expensive. $45. for a bus ride up the mountain in Nicaragua and a stop at a church, then to Lake Nicaragua and a stop at a lakeside hotel for a view of the volcano across the lake. The trip through the canal and the locks was very interesting. THEN...there was disembarkation!! Getting off the ship was quite smooth. BUT don't take the ship transfer to the airport in Acapulco!! A horrible bus ride to downtown Acapulco, a holdover in a hotel for 2 hours in a room of 300 other cruisers that was meant to hold only 100. Then another bus ride to the airport. What a way to ruin the end of a vacation. It was a nightmare. Also, please note that Acapulco Airport is not very 'modernized' and quite inefficient. After passing through security (with X-rays) with carry on luggage they hand searched EVERY bag again before we boarded the plane. Small gate waiting area and many flights board by bus out to the tarmac. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
This was our 12th cruise on Princess. The morning of the cruise we flew from Sacramento to Vancouver via Horizon airlines. I very nice airline. Arrived in Vancouver, promptly met by Princess representatives who took our luggage and we ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise on Princess. The morning of the cruise we flew from Sacramento to Vancouver via Horizon airlines. I very nice airline. Arrived in Vancouver, promptly met by Princess representatives who took our luggage and we boarded a bus for the trip to Canada Place. Embarkation in Vancouver was not as nice as other embarkation points. A somewhat confused atmosphere. But we got aboard and our luggage arrived very promptly. This was our third time aboard the Coral Princess and yes it is our favorite ship. At this point however its worth mentioning that for whatever reason Internet/TV service on this voyage was the worst we've ever experienced on any Princess ship. Internet capability was down right poor the whole time until crossing into the Atlantic. Satellite TV reception was equally bad but the entire cruise. Princess needs to invest in better quality satellite services especially since passengers pay extra for Internet service. First port was Los Angeles. Took a tour of the city which was fine except for the tour guide telling everyone onboard multiple times that LA is the "drive by capital" of the US. Not exactly what tourists want to hear. Next was Huatulco, Mexico which was a very pleasant surprise. Not like other ports along the west coast of Mexico but rather lush, green and very quaint like. The next three ports in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica leave a lot to be desired in our opinion. In addition time in each port not only these but all was generally 6 to 7 hours. Cant figure that one out. Guatemala was perhaps the best of the three, Nicaragua was the worst and where most people didn't feel safe walking the streets and Puntarenas according to the locals is a dying town since its literally sinking. Of course the Panama Canal was the highlight of the trip. Next was Columbia. Again you need to be careful when venturing out into Columbia. And Aruba was nice. The casino onboard is generally nice except that many slot machines are down for repair. I registered with the Ocean Players Club before leaving but when I got onboard they didn't have any info on me. Dining on board was very good. Most meals we ate in Horizon Court buffet, sometimes in dining room and once at Bayou Steak house. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
A trip of a lifetime. As we were traveling to Anchorage we flew over the Canadian Rockies. It was a beautiful clear day. The pilot pointed out the Rockies and Mount Logan. A breathtaking start to our vacation. In Anchorage the ... Read More
A trip of a lifetime. As we were traveling to Anchorage we flew over the Canadian Rockies. It was a beautiful clear day. The pilot pointed out the Rockies and Mount Logan. A breathtaking start to our vacation. In Anchorage the Princess transfers went smoothly and we quickly arrived at the Captain Cook Hotel. This is a lovely hotel with large comfortable rooms. We stayed here the 1st night and then, later the night between the landtour and the cruise. We ate in 2 restaurants in the hotel and one (the Corsair) across the street. The Pantry serves all 3 meals, but we only went there for breakfast- convenient and good- a full breakfast is about $12. The Corsair was very nice- after traveling all day from the midwest we were ready for dinner at 5pm our time, but the restaurants opened at 9pm our time! The staff of the Corsair all wore tuxes and most of the clients on a Monday night were casual. A well-presented chateaubriand dinner was about $100, but at that point we were so tired and so hungry that we found the service and food well worth it. The best food we had in Anchorage and the most memorable of the whole trip was found in the Whale Tail in the Captain Cook. Our waiter Adam brought us a long glass tray of Oysters Rockefeller. The best thing that I have eaten in a long, long time. We had one tray the 1st night and 2 when we returned the next week. The 2nd morning the Princess people took us to the train. The bus driver gave us an interesting commentary on the way, including darn good reasons for the "bridge to nowhere" (I get it, but I still don't want to pay for it). The train was great. I had cards and a book with me because people on the Alaska board had advised that it was a long (7-8 hours) and boring trip-no way! We stared out our window the entire time. The weather was clear and we even had perfect views of Mount McKinley. Some had also said that the restaurant on the train served a very good prime rib- we asked when we didn't see it on the menu and got blank stares- they claim that prime rib has never been available- so, at least not this year. Soups and sandwiches were good. This was a very pleasant trip. At the end of the ride we were given our room keys and bused to our buildings at the Princess Wilderness Resort at Denali. That evening we just nosed around . We had a great halibut dinner at the Salmon Bake restaurant across the street from building 10. This is not a buffet, but a menu restaurant- wavy floors and my husband advised me to skip the bathroom, but the food and service is good- I had good chowder as well. Our room at the resort was of average size. Two double beds, as there was not much room in the closet area we were glad to use the 2nd bed for our suitcases. New friends of ours went on the whitewater rafting tour on the Nenana River that evening. Jimmy and Linda had quite a time! For the next 2 weeks all I had to do is mention rafting to set Jimmy off! They had a thrilling time, but it was not stressed how COLD the water was. Even though they were wearing the special wetsuits, they got very cold and the icy water went down into their suits. They said that they were supposed to hold onto a metal bar, but their fingers got too cold to hold on. Later the tour providers had to help them out of the wetsuits . Linda said she had to have help tying her shoes. Definitely a memorable trip. The next day we went shopping across the street- end of the season bargains- and looked around the resort. We had breakfast at the dinner theater- it was a family style breakfast with a slide show about climbing the mountain. (The last morning we opted for a quick breakfast at the Canyon station because we were leaving from that location, and my husband said that he wished we had gone back to the 1st place- a much better value and a better breakfast). Our documents from the Previous November and repeated on update after update, had us on the early morning Tundra Wilderness Tour, but 10 days before we left they changed us to afternoon- tried, but no dice, stuck with afternoon. We left at 2pm. Our driver was Paul Christianson. He was very knowledgeable and interesting. We went over 60 miles and saw moose, caribou, 13 bears, a fox, and snowshoe hares. We got great pictures of all and had a grand time. When we stopped to take a picture of a hare chewing on one of those white warning signs, the driver opened the door and another bunny came up and started chewing on the rubber on the side of the bus door. That night we got back to the resort a few minutes before 10. We hopped across the street for a hamburger- I'd recommend splitting one- they are huge. (The boxed lunch on the TWT was something! When the 1st person tore open the package of reindeer sausage, the scent wafted throughout the bus and as one we said "What is that???" We were glad we took Subway subs!) The 3rd morning Princess Gene was our motorcoach driver to Fairbanks. He let us off in downtown Fairbanks for a 2 hour break- there are free computers in the visitor center so that you can e-mail your family. It is next to the bridge over the Chena River. We walked a couple blocks to an Italian restaurant and had a good lunch. After walking around town we went back to the Visitor Center- there is a huge statue of Alaskan people. Princess Gene took us to the Discovery Sternwheeler. If you go, (some in our crowd opted for other tours) get a window seat on the farside of the boat. When we went it was hard to see anything, the boat was full. At first we chose seats at the bow of the ship, it was so sunny that I was squinting too much, by then the seats that looked best-Portside outside, but with roof, were taken, so we got seats 2 and 3 next to the window. A Lot is shown from that side- the late Susan Butcher's home (her husband talks and runs some dogs for you), seaplanes (visible from all sides), and the native village- one of the girls cuts up fish. Even people with great views feel the need to stand and block the windows, so the boat ride itself was frustrating at times. There are TVs showing what is going on , but by then most people are standing and milling around trying to see, so make your move and get the seat you want and try to be kind to those around you. The Chena River Native Village was very interesting- Sisters Ida and Gracie were our guides and they were in a playful mood. Rita showed the beautiful chief coats that she and her mother make out of multiple furs. We also talked to a woman who has been in the Iditarod- she had some dogs with her, including puppies. After the tour we were taken to the Princess Riverside Resort- another lovely resort- here we were upgraded to a 2 bathroom suite. This resort is much fancier than the Denali one. The nicest place that we stayed out in Alaska. That night we took the free Pioneer Park shuttle bus to the Salmon Bake- this was neat! We walked through a mining tunnel and then came out into a grove. Very picturesque. It cost $31 each for dinner- there is a show as well, but we would have to hurry our meal to see it, so we passed. The side dishes are not much, but the prime rib, salmon and halibut were fantastic. We sat at a big picnic table outside, there are indoor tables if it is raining or too cold for you. It had been 80 degrees at noon, but it got cool in the evening. The next morning we had breakfast at the resort buffet and it was fine. We waited by the fire in the main lobby for Princess Grag to collect us. From now on we would spend more time with the other 34 people on our tour. We left the hotel at 7:30 AM. Greg drove us the 259 miles to Coldfoot. Along the way we made many photo stops and we also stopped at Joy, Alaska for an outhouse break and to shop- got a diet coke here and a little wooden bear. That outhouse sure has an interesting updraft! We stopped to walk along the pipeline and at the Arctic Circle and at Finger Mountain. Great photos including a caribou using the pipeline for shade. For lunch we went to the Hot Spot run by a former Playboy Bunny, Theresa, I think- still pretty hot! Greg radioed her when we were close and then again when we were 5 minutes away so that lunch would be ready- there was a choice of several types of hamburgers (with cheese, teriyaki, etc), a chicken sandwich, and something vegetarian. You got your own drink, chips, and cookies. After everyone had a chance to order and was served, Julie came around and asked if you wanted a milkshake- we were warned ahead of time not to inquire about milkshakes until she told you that you could. We told both ladies that we were told not to "poke the bear" and to be good or else! Lunch was very good- Theresa pre-cooks the burgers and then simmers them in beef broth , at the last radio message she flips them onto the grill to finish them off. After lunch and a trip around her buildings-we ate under a tarp between 2 shacks- we went to the "gift shop" and told her what we had- strictly on the honor system- lunch, 2 cheeseburgers, 1 bag of chips, coffee, 1 diet coke, and a milkshake-$32.50 plus tip. No complaints- I'm not sure how far her reach is. A very good lunch. We arrived in Coldfoot at 6pm. This is a very rustic place- basic, but clean. Greg asked some of us to take bedtime showers so that there would be enough hot water for morning showers. There was a dinner buffet- the general menu was only available after 9pm because of the number of us, so we had a Coldfoot Pilsner and then went to the ranger talk down the road- an interesting slide show about eagles. After that we had some good fried shrimp at the restaurant. We slept well and started the next day with Greg pounding on our doors to wake us up at 6:30am. There are no phones or TVs at Coldfoot. The walls are paper-thin, so keep the hanky-panky to a minimum here. Another buffet breakfast and then onto the bus. Great vistas today- we went through the Brooks Range and the Antigun Pass. We saw 3 wild herds of muskox, lots of caribou, and moose. Today we had a "box" lunch- there is nowhere to eat between Coldfoot and Deadhorse, so Greg pulled the bus to the side of the road and handed out ziplock bags for our lunches. The day before we picked our drink and sandwich- ham, roast beef, turkey, cheese, or peanut butter (no jelly), and a flavor of pop. We also got various small bags of chips and cookies- if you didn't like what you got, you could trade. Greg suggested that we hunker down by the side of the road- Charlie and I sat in the dirt and ate- everyone else had better sense and ate on the bus. My hands were freezing and I may have said "Charlie, you are killing me!!" After we ate our sandwiches we went back to the bus to eat our cookies. Greg found outhouses for us from time to time and there was bathroom on the bus- we never had to use it, so Greg must have had good timing, at least for the 2 of us. This day was my favorite of the whole vacation- the Brooks Range was magnificent and that was followed by the Northern Slope and the amazing Tundra. We got to Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay) about 7pm. We washed up in our rooms and then got into the buffet line along with the oil camp workers. They were very nice. The buffet was good- spaghetti, lasagna, and cod almondine that night. A salad bar with fruit as well. 5 or 6 choices for dessert (I had german chocolate cake), ice cream, and coffee, juices and pop. There is no booze in Deadhorse- workers are not allowed to have any and you can be arrested if you give or sell any to a worker- safety reasons- there are a lot of wild animals outside, the work is dangerous, and of course the winters are rough. We ate at long tables in the lunchroom. There is a large TV in there- workers have the remote, so don't even think about it! The rooms are a little nicer than Coldfoot, but maybe a little smaller. Still no phones, but a 13 inch TV- turned it on for a few minutes, but too bushed. There was a small digital clock with alarm- Greg can't bang on doors here- the workers are 12 hours on and 12 hours off, 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off. That evening a young Yupik Girl,Sarah, (20 years old) spoke about life in her remote village and life working in the Arctic Caribou Inn kitchen. She was so sweet and giggly. There was also an older guy- Henry, about 35, I'm not sure what he does at the camp- he talked about drug abuse and suicide. He is from a remote village as well-you can get there by boat, airplane, or snow machine or ATV. We slept well again- it felt like sleeping in a snug box. No problems with the room- the arm chair was just in the way- no where to lay open the suitcase- 2 twin beds, 2 dressers, armchair, 1 nightstand, bathroom up one step-indoor-outdoor carpet everywhere- I laid down towels to walk on after showering and then straight to shoes! Up at 6:30am-luggage out by 7am. We had another breakfast buffet- not bad. Both in Coldfoot and here they have flavored creamers- a bit of luxury in the wild. After breakfast we went to the general store- a Napa parts store on the bottom and a general store upstairs- snacks, movies, clothes, fur hats ($500 for a fancy one), and sundry items. This is where the only cat in Deadhorse lives- John Denver. You can even buy a t-shirt with his picture on it. Cars in Deadhorse have no license plates (leased land- no where to go) and they always have the keys in the ignition-and are unlocked. This is in case you are being chased by a bear, moose, muskox, or caribou, you will be able to jump in the nearest car. There was a sign at the Inn- "don't go out alone". It was up mainly because the polar bears had been hanging around. Two in our group went out together and were charged by a caribou! It was pretty scary looking- the caribou had been scraping off the velvet on his antlers, so he was bloody and the velvet was hanging from the antlers like spanish moss. Later we drove around and spotted it. When we got back from the general store Grant the oil camp security guard talked to us and took us to his bus. He said that we couldn't go swimming in the Arctic Ocean that day because of the bear activity. We could not even take off our shoes to wade! I don't think he wanted to do the paperwork if one of us got killed. I had planned to swim- I had my swimsuit in my tote. Grant drove us through the security gate and then by the pump stations- very interesting. It was in the low 30s that day. We got to see and touch the Arctic Ocean. We collected thunder stones along the edge of the ocean- gray and black rocks with a circle of white around them. They told us that eskimo people consider them good luck. I found about a dozen. Back to the Inn- we identified our luggage for the Alaskan Airline official and then went to lunch- reindeer stew, chicken, beef casserole, all the extra stuff and great apple cobbler. Do you know the difference between reindeer and caribou? Reindeer are owned by someone and caribou are wild. After lunch Greg took us on another ride around Deadhorse- we saw more manufactured-home type buildings- offices and housing- they say the elite have fancier digs with gyms and theaters, but all in the same type buildings. Greg pointed out buildings with "refrigerated" foundations. We saw a "christmas tree", the piece on top of a drilled well where the pipes are attached. We also saw some caribou and trumpet swans. Princess Greg was a great driver and guide- he wrote the thesis for his masters degree about the Dalton Highway -a long and bouncy gravel road. He was knowledgeable and kind and funny. Greg put us on the plane on Monday afternoon and would hang out at the Arctic Caribou Inn until Thursday morning when he would return to the airport and pick up a new crowd. He was good to us- stopping any time we wanted- to take a better look at an animal or a mountain and he even turned the bus around to look for some wolves a passenger saw. That night we were back at the Captain Cook and feasting on oysters rockefeller. The next morning we had breakfast in the Pantry and got on buses heading to the Native Heritage Center and the on to Whittier. We scared our driver (Grandma Jo) with the song that Greg had taught us -"Off we go, like a herd of Turtles! Where we go nobody knows!" Our little group would do this from time to time- we lived to startle! Grandma Jo was a disappoint after all the great drivers that we had had, including the ones that just drove us to and from airports and trains. We learned a lot about her ex-husband, children, grand-children, and their significant others, but not much about the things we were going past. We arrived at the Heritage Center about 10 minutes too late to both go on the escorted tour and see the dance show, so we walked through the village on our own and then went to the dance- I am glad that we saw the dance- I can now do the "seal". This is a very interesting place and I would have preferred more time there. Next we got back on the bus and went to the tunnel-pretty cool. Embarkation was smooth and quick. We went straight to Emerald 712. Our travel with me luggage was there, so we settled in and I did laundry. We met Supatra, our stewardess. A nice girl from India. She did a fine job all week. We called for ice and had a cocktail on our balcony- I still had a little whiskey left over from the landtour. Charlie and I had spotted a liquor store across the street from the Captain Cook, so we had our own source throughout the 1st week. Our laundry was done by dinner time, but the meet suitcase wasn't there, so dinner in jeans. We shared table 128 in the Provence dining room, early traditional, with Teddie and Claude. They were celebrating their 57th anniversary and happened to be in cabin E714!!!! That NEVER happens unless you are traveling together! At our table were a family from Toronto, Ontario, Canada-Mom, Dad, Daughter and son-in-law. All nice people. Dinners were unremarkable. Food okay, service okay. Except on one night when it was awful- sat with dirty plates for so long that we finally left and got our dessert and coffee upstairs. Our balcony cabin was fine, 4 chairs and a table on the balcony, but the shower is just ridiculous- it is so small that the whole bathroom was flooded every night- you wouldn't think that I would have to long for the showers at Coldfoot or Deadhorse! The 1st morning we cruised into the College Fjords- a little fog as we started, but it cleared within 30 minutes. A wonderful day. We spent time on the balcony and then we went through the "secret" door on Baja deck- what a view-we spent 2 days there! Glacier Bay was spectacular as well. We never had any rain from the time we left home on August 18th until we got back on September 1st. Entertainment on board: bands not very good; hated the hypnotist; Garry Carson, the comedian/illusionst-quite good; Scot Wyler, comedian, good; Adrian Zmed, song and dance man- surprisingly good; cruise director-annoying. Not much late-night entertainment- pretty quiet after 11pm. The singer/dancers were not very good and the night the orchestra had a Big Band show people started leaving after the 2nd song- we left after the 3rd. We were led to believe that Princess was a class act, but the food, service in the dining rooms, and the entertainment were below par. We have been on the Norway, Costa , Carnival , and Royal Caribbean. My husband says no more Princess. The landtour portion was fabulous, with accommodations as expected, but the Coral Princess was less than we expected. Tours during Cruise: In Skagway we privately booked the White Pass Railway- train up and bus back- ours was a morning tour and I would recommend a later time- it was our only lasting foggy time- the bus ride back was better- the fog had lifted- BJ was a great driver and stopped for lots of photos. We had a choice of getting dropped off in town or back at the ship- we thought that we would do some shopping, but with 4 ships in town it was too busy for me. We walked back to the ship. Boy! What a long way. We stopped at the Skagway Fish Company and had a great halibut lunch. In Juneau we went on the Princess "Best of Juneau"- Mendenhall glacier followed by whale watching and then a salmon bake. Their salmon bake was not as good as the one in Fairbanks. We had a good time. The tour started at 8:20am and we were back at the ship at about 3pm- last boarding at 3:30pm, so no time to go to the Red Dog or to shop- I would trade the salmon bake for some time downtown. At Ketchikan we went on the Princess Totem Traditions tour- good driver/guide. Had lunch at the Ketchikan Fish Company- We DO NOT recommend this place- hard, dry fish. Checked out Creek Street- shopped there and at stores by the dock- late season- some good bargains. All in all we had a great trip- the best part was the land portion- saw beautiful sights every day for 15 days. Princess kept track of our stuff and delivered it to our rooms from Anchorage to Deadhorse to the ship. Some things on our ship bothered us- we have never had a Captain's party where the Captain doesn't come (he only goes to the late-sitting party on the Coral). I highly recommend Alaska- beautiful beyond words- the landtour-we never felt "herded"- we always felt cared for and special, especially after we headed north out of Fairbanks. We don't plan to ever set foot on a Princess ship again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Quick background: Our group - 6 to 12 persons - have been taking an annual 10 day cruise for some years now. Itinerary, availability and sailing dates are the deciding factors so we have been on various Celebrity, Princess, and Holland ... Read More
Quick background: Our group - 6 to 12 persons - have been taking an annual 10 day cruise for some years now. Itinerary, availability and sailing dates are the deciding factors so we have been on various Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America ships. We have topped 100 days on these Premium or at least near Premium lines by now, mostly originating from Fort Lauderdale and have a decent perspective on the relative merits of these types of cruises. We recently returned from a 10 day Panama Canal cruise. Aruba, Cartagena, Panama, Costa Rica, Ocho Rios on the Coral Princess. The word for this cruise was - uneven. Some great, most OK, and some remarkably poor. Embarkation: Great. Arrived at peak time and found no lines, no having to wait to reenter data previously entered. The on-line boarding pass process worked. Ship entry: OK. No provision to greet passengers or direct them to rooms. Just sort of got dumped into to ship to fend for ourselves. The luggage only arrived at room five hours after boarding. Cabin: Balcony Cabin on Baja deck was clean and a decent size. The general sense of the overall service was competent but in no way special, indulgent or fawning. Think Holiday Inn not Ritz Carlton. My take on the reasons for this are threefold. 1) Tip is automatically added to bill. $ 10.50 / day plus 15% on all bar tabs. This reduces the motivation to go above and beyond. 2) Crew demographics. Large Eastern European contingent who are by nature less effusive and demonstrative than folks from other areas of the world. English skills and/or listening skills were also occasionally wanting. My wife always asked for 'water with no ice' and inevitably got a full glass of ice. 3) Newness of crew. There seemed to be many new crew members with a lot of the job training going on. In fact that the Captain kept reassuring the new crew members that the ship was safe even in rough sea during his announcements. Speaking of which, we had some very rough seas - 15' waves, 45 mph winds across the beam for 3 sea days. The ship was rock solid and barely pitched and really didn't roll at all. Excellent ship for those who tend towards sea sickness Ship has plenty of areas to find one's own little niche. Exception was the pool area on sea days, no chance of getting a deck chair after about 9:00 AM. Public rooms were fine. Basic layout opposite from that of other ships - Food buffet in front of ship and gym / spa in back of ship. Spa/Gym in front and buffet / bars in back is much better. There was no place to sit out and have a drink and watch ship depart ports. No clubs / bars overlooking the sea. Late night club DJ was a really arrogant dope. As soon as dance floor was full he'd switch genres and the floor cleared out. Played the same song set for 10 days. Who knew that Kanye West's Golddigger could qualify for both 'Retro night' and 'Country night'? Gym was the worst one I've seen, almost an afterthought. Other ships offer sweeping views of the sea and a tv on every tread mill. This one was small, poorly laid out, with older machines and offered a fine view of the ping pong table and deck chairs. As an aside, we noted that the Pilates classes were all sold out when we boarded. This isn't our thing but it would be annoying if it were. Everybody knows that food on cruise ships is more about volume and variety than any kind of absolute quality. And the nature of the beast doesn't lend itself to hot food, be it temperature or spice With that said the food was good cruise quality cuisine. The variety on the buffet was outstanding, the dining room food was solid. The worst meal was in the premium Bayou Cafe. One of our steaks was inedible, the side dishes were barely warm and the entire experience was painfully slow. Reservation at 8:00, first food at 9:15, dessert at 10:45 - that is correct - 10:45. We like the routine of fixed seating time. Being able to establish a relationship with the wait staff is part of the fun. Our team was good. The assistant waiter was totally over his head, and generally unskilled, but as nice as could be. Entertainment was excellent. The musical shows were all good, except that the stage in the theater kept breaking, causing the show to stop or have to be modified on the fly. Cruise Staff was appropriate to the the type of cruise audience. The Cruise Director was the least annoying one we've seen in a long time. Captain was very active and communicative. All were friendly. Internet service was slow and mindbogglingly expensive. Find an internet cafe at the ports for a much cheaper way to scratch the e-mail itch. We do our own thing at ports so no comment on the ship tours, except that we usually ended up at the same places the formal tours did and we paid $15 to do what the ship charged $50 to do. Bottom line - a nice vacation was had, weight was gained, sights were seen, but we may be getting 'cruised out'. We'll try Costa next year and see if this CCL brand is all about Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
This was my 6th Alaska cruise and NO ONE can spoil this cruise. This time it was a family reunion of adults ranging in age from 40 to 85. I used an internet agency that I explicitly trust to book the cruise. We flew to Whittier because it ... Read More
This was my 6th Alaska cruise and NO ONE can spoil this cruise. This time it was a family reunion of adults ranging in age from 40 to 85. I used an internet agency that I explicitly trust to book the cruise. We flew to Whittier because it is easier to get the long flight over first. I used Princess to book the flights and that was a mistake. My traveling party had 2 disabled and we were split up all over the plane, none close to the front. EMBARKATION: We were the last onboard and there were no wheelchairs for the disabled (includes me). The 6 cabins were not in a row as booked and confirmed. Got an excuse 4 days later that made no sense but Passenger Services onboard tried and that matters. CABINS: The cabins are very small compared to other lines. No seating area or table to enjoy your morning coffee. The shower was built for an 80 lb. pygmy. You couldn't even turn around in the bathroom. AWFUL!! Lots of space wasted on a huge closet area that experienced travelers would never use. The balcony was wonderful as usual. NEVER cruise Alaska without a balcony stateroom. You will miss the splendor of Alaska. Our cabin steward did the minimum. I had to ask her to vacuum! Ice didn't appear as I asked and my soda order was not submitted as asked. No extra tip here!! Princess needs to get with the rest of the industry and upgrade their beds and pillows. FOOD: The food in the dining room is excellent. We had a head waiter since Princess stuffed 12 people at a table for 10. Nicolu was superior as you would expect. He didn't even push the cookbook and I had to ask since I collect them. The buffet was mediocre at best. The food was hot but a small variety. There were more raw fruits and veggies than hot food. You had to PAY FOR ice cream. Also, plain coffee and tea everywhere but with a meal. Omelets not as ordered, awful french toast, just overall the worst food at sea. Many of the food serving crew did NOT speak English. I asked one young man in his language and he said a few words but not a lot. ACTIVITIES: Superb selection for all ages. I was sorry the naturalist was not on board for the entire trip as on Carnival and HA. I missed her pointing out wildlife, high points on shore and history. The scenery and shore excursions are MAGNIFICENT! DISEMBARKATION: The Canadians do a great job in Vancouver. We used a new program for some US airlines where your airline boarding passes are given to you onboard and your bags checked from the ship to home. WHAT A HUGE HELP!!! Customs clearance is a breeze. Like I said, You Can't Mess Up an Alaska cruise even thought Princess tried very hard to do so. I will never book on Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
This was our 16th cruise for my wife and I. We are mid 50s and usually have adult family members with us. Most of our cruises have been with RCCL but sometimes we try other lines. This was our second Princess cruise. The Good: Off and ... Read More
This was our 16th cruise for my wife and I. We are mid 50s and usually have adult family members with us. Most of our cruises have been with RCCL but sometimes we try other lines. This was our second Princess cruise. The Good: Off and on the ship was the best we have ever experienced. Our mini suite was beautiful. The public rooms...bars, lounges, etc. were very impressive but no outside viability. Overall service was good and friendly. Food in dining room was decent...not great but pretty typical. The ship was clean and in good repair. People at the pursers desk were friendly and solved our problems. The Bad: The Horizon Court buffet is stuck in the '70s...poor selection, taste...the desserts were few and far between...the soups were horrible ...the lay out was cramped with people on top of each other...and not enough staff. They have a lot of work to do here to catch up with RCCL or Celebrity The dining rooms are one story layouts that again are a throw back to much older ships...Can't believe a ship of this age doesn't have a multi level configuration...it adds so much to the room. Sabbatinis Specialty -- A seafood restaurant that calls itself Italian.Lots of seafood on all the menus. There is no place on this ship to view the scenery...very closed in except for the the Horizon Court....the ship needs much more glass. Summary: Certainly not our best cruise experience...will probably not try Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Prior to this cruise we have cruised on the Dawn and Golden Princess ships and the HAL Oosterdam. I will hit on the significant high and low lights of this 10-night Panama Canal trip. Embarkation- You could not find an easier port to ... Read More
Prior to this cruise we have cruised on the Dawn and Golden Princess ships and the HAL Oosterdam. I will hit on the significant high and low lights of this 10-night Panama Canal trip. Embarkation- You could not find an easier port to sail from being less than 10 minutes from the Hollywood Airport. The embarkation process was very organized and swift. Itinerary- This cruise is listed as a Panama Canal trip and travels over 3,000 nautical miles. The ironic part is that only about one of those is actually in the Panama Canal. You enter Gatun Lake, through the Gatun Locks (which is an engineering marvel) anchor and then turn around and come back out. That is the extent of what you see of the Panama Canal. It was OK but I would not do it again. In addition the cruise line is charged a $245K toll which I am sure is reflected in the cost of the cruise. Cabin- We again traveled with our 16 and 11 year old sons and opted as we always do for a mini-suite and were in cabin #C716 which is aft on the Caribe deck port side. This is the second time we opted for this location and would be the last. We had the same location on the Golden Princess and had no problem yet on this trip the room had constant vibration and engine noise. I thought I was in one of those cheesy motel room beds that you put quarters in to vibrate. On the plus side was the larger balcony which is partially covered. The mini-suites provide adequate room for four, if you stay organized, but make sure you opt for the egg crate mattress cover for the pull out sofa. We did not receive the advertised champagne but did get the robes in the room. Our cabin steward was just OK. The location was nice as we had a rear open deck that was never crowded and good for the Canal passage viewing. Food- On my first two Princess cruises we were really wowed by the food in the dining rooms and the Lido buffet. The third cruise was on HAL and after that one we said we could not wait to get back to Princess. After this one we can't wait to get back to our next planned HAL cruise next July. We opted for the anytime dining and met with the maitre d' the first night and arranged for the same table and waiter every night at the same time. This is the best way to ensure you get the best level of service. While a couple of nights the food was very good on most nights again it was just OK and did not wow us. Either from a selection or quality standpoint. Our waiter though was a bright spot and was excellent. The Lido buffet food was also disappointing and was a big step down from the HAL buffet. We did not opt for any of the alternative restaurants as we have previously dined in Sabatini's on the Golden and that does go over the top and is worth doing it at least once. Ports- Our ports of call were Ocho Rios, Panama (Tender), Costa Rica, Grand Cayman (Tender), and Costa Maya. Ocho Rios is horrible and they clearly are not geared up to handle the influx of people going a shore. We did not dock at the main pier but rather the alternate "industrial" pier and the area to meet your excursions was a circus. It was not an enjoyable event and from what we saw of the island you can keep it. In Panama my son and I went fishing for Peacock Bass which was a good time. Costa Rica has good shopping and was OK. Grand Cayman was the home run. Do not visit this port without swimming with the sting rays and the money on this island is evident. The green turtle farm is also very interesting. Costa Maya was an alternate port for us to Cozumel. It is only about three years old and has adequate amenities although the shopping is not that good from a price standpoint. We visited the 1/2 day Mayan Ruin tour which was very good. Ship board entertainment- The entertainment was just OK with the best being the stand up comedian Sarge. The musicals were OK but nothing over the top. The casino is adequate and was never really crowded. Disembarkment- The disembarkment was again organized and smooth. It looked like everybody was off the ship by about 10:00 AM. All in all this cruise again was just OK. In all aspects it is not one I would do again but I would probably give Princess a second chance, at some point on another ship, hoping that some of the low points are inherent to just the Coral. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Having sailed with Princess on four previous cruises, we were looking forward to this cruise with much anticipation. Dining: This met our expectations... our waiters were terrific and the service was as good if not better than many fine ... Read More
Having sailed with Princess on four previous cruises, we were looking forward to this cruise with much anticipation. Dining: This met our expectations... our waiters were terrific and the service was as good if not better than many fine restaurants. The food was generally very good but aside from the main entrees, the rest of the selections were not as remarkable as I remember them from years past, they were generally the same from day to day. Room: Clean, well attended, completely met our expectations. We had a balcony room, we always get a balcony room. Well, just our luck... two balcony's over from us was a room with four kids. Princess swears they don't put kids alone in a balcony room but they did this time. These underage kids were outrageously drunk on that balcony most all the time... swearing cursing and threatening others around them. They had a boom box turned up so loud we could hear it in the shower. They played it until late at night - every night. They were also smoking pot quite often... since we were downwind, we had to endure it every day if we wanted to enjoy our own balcony. Several neighboring cabins were outraged and demanded to be "moved" to other rooms and they were; we tried but there were no more rooms. Several times they had my wife in tears as they threatened her and called her names after she asked them to turn their boom box down at midnight. What is so astounding and astonishing is that officials on the boat took absolutely no action despite our direct complaints and the many complaints that dozens of guests had with this outright illegal and rude behavior. I'm not sure why Princess turned their back on this - it literally ruined our vacation despite all the good points.  Entertainment: We always attended the main events after dinner and we were always very entertained. One complaint though: Generally way way too loud. Aside from that, lots of fun. Excursions and stops: The Panama City tour was very good, great tour guide. The Costa Rica Coffee Plantation tour was superb!! I would highly recommend that. The Canal: what a gas! This was terrific! Again, highly recommended. The ship itself it beautiful... perhaps the nicest we've seen yet. And very clean. But, we have watched Princess slowly turn from a classy top notch operation into another version of the Carnival Ships. You are "nickel and dimed" by everything and the overall quality has dropped significantly. I don't think there is any blame for the crew - they did an overall super job - but Carnival sure knows how to lower the bar of quality. And sadly, our experiences with the kids and their drinking and dope smoking on the balconies every night and all day, and the lack of any reasonable response from Princess, has driven us away from them. I think we'll look at Celebrity or Seaborne next time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
My wife and I have been cruising the Caribbean at least once or twice a year for the past 30 years. We've been on more ships than I can remember. The couple with whom we were travelling has similar cruise experience. We felt we never ... Read More
My wife and I have been cruising the Caribbean at least once or twice a year for the past 30 years. We've been on more ships than I can remember. The couple with whom we were travelling has similar cruise experience. We felt we never saw such a study in contrast before. We were on the Coral Princess for the 10-day Panama Canal cruise sailing December 14 from Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale). Embarkation was an absolute breeze. We've never been whisked aboard so quickly or effortlessly. There were virtually no other passengers on the pier when we arrived at around 1 PM! Don't know where they were and frankly, never saw most of them on the cruise (more about that later). On board we were met at the gangway and told where we could find our staterooms. First ship I've been on where someone didn't escort you to your room. Once we found it we tried to find the steward but he was nowhere around. Finally caught another steward who told us our steward was taking some kind of class (uh oh!). This steward gave us the basic information and was kind enough to open the door on the division separating our two balconies to form one long balcony. We've come to love fantail suites as they give you the most privacy and best views. The balconies tend to be a little larger, too. Not the case here as there are no fantail suites, so we took the last two mini-suites in the stern. The view was wonderful! Our steward finally showed up. We told him that we shower twice a day and wanted towels and washcloths for that. He never was able to get that right, but he did come close. He also was "out" of bathmats. The assistant purser was incredulous when we told him. A bathmat showed up in our room a few minutes later. We also asked for extra glasses in both rooms. He never got that right, either, but, as before, he came close. Entertainment and activities aboard were among the most dismal we have ever encountered. The "singers" and "dancers" could neither carry a tune nor stay in step with each other. Seemed very amateurish with a few outstanding exceptions. Comedian "Sarge" was hilarious. Pianist Roger Carr in Crooner's Lounge was absolutely outstanding. Rather than in this small area, he should have been booked into the Wheelhouse Lounge in order to accommodate the passengers who enjoyed him nightly. People were literally dragging chairs from all over the deck to listen to him. Very poor planning on the part of whoever books the talent. The Wheelhouse, by the way, was empty every night, probably due to an eastern European group that was passable but had to search through their music books for each song. Activities, as mentioned, were extremely limited. Not too many things to do other than the casino or the shops. A few people showed up at the Trivia game, as did we. The big push was for bingo and the art auctions (did those people really spend that kind of money?) We've been through the Caribbean so many times that we don't bother with the tours. We love the boats and the time away from business. We stay up late and sleep late when on vacation (although there was virtually nothing to do after midnight except visit the casino). The disco was the only thing going after midnight and the music was definitely not for us. Apparently it wasn't for anyone else either as it was always empty after 12. Why Princess can't have a lounge or two open late is beyond me. Believe it or not, Princess, not everyone on your ship goes to bed at 11! It did seem that way, though, because until the last few nights we saw very few passengers at night. We opted for traditional seating in the Provence dining room. We were on late seating as always. The room was never more than half full and we found that if we didn't want to be there at 8:15 for dinner, it didn't matter. We usually wandered in around 9 and had no problems with service at that time. Waiter was always ready. I suppose it didn't matter, as they were never that busy. The food was, without a doubt, among the best I've ever had afloat as was the presentation of the food (we're speaking of dinners in the Provence). It was truly one of the high points of the cruise. The other point we found wonderful..the Horizon Court buffet where we had breakfast and lunch every day. As I mentioned, we're late risers at sea. Horizon Court serves breakfast until 11:30 and lunch until 4:30. This is at least two hours longer than most other cruise lines and is a major plus. The ship itself is magnificent. She's a beauty! The interior exudes elegance, not glitz. Cleanliness is a priority with hand disinfectant dispensers all over the ship. Too bad the philosophy doesn't extend to the public ladies rooms, according to my wife her friend. They said that all the public ladies rooms they visited were always messy with paper towels all over and water and soap all over the sinks and floors. I found the men's rooms, though, to be perfectly spotless. Also found a curious way of making the beds in the staterooms. They don't use top sheets unless requested...just a comforter. Our steward never informed us of this. We didn't find out until two days before the cruise ended (from another steward, of course). The pool areas are really quite lovely. We spent all our pool time in the Lotus Spa pool. Sorry, it doesn't measure up to the spa pools on Celebrity's Millennium-class (probably the best afloat). Also, found it hard to understand why there were never any pool attendants available. Always had to chase one down (I was told there are only three for the entire ship!) to get towels. One day the attendant told me I should be bringing the pool towels my steward left in the room. Excuse me...what towels left by WHO? Also found it inexcusable that they never enforced the age or diving rules that were posted in the Lotus pool area. People frequently couldn't get into the pool because kids were constantly jumping into it. The hot tubs (2) were unbearably hot. We were told they were set at 105 degrees. That's HOT!That, combined with jets that came out under your thighs, made the whole experience a little tough. As beautiful as she is, the Coral Princess can be a bit noisy, especially when docking. As mentioned, we were in the stern, over the propellers and thrusters. On early morning arrivals were we rousted out of bed with noise and vibration that felt like the hull was coming apart! As I mentioned earlier, I've been on all sorts of ships and boats for many years and never felt anything like that. I would definitely recommend booking a room no further astern than the rear elevator. This was our second Princess cruise and probably the fifth or sixth for the other couple. It will probably be our last with Princess which is really a shame. The ship and food are wonderful. It just needs a lot of fine tuning that I think is impossible to accomplish. We got the feeling that we were experiencing the effects of very deep cost cutting and cost cutting like that is going to cost Princess a lot of passengers if they want to continue to compete with Celebrity and the like. There appears to be a strong philosophical/operational difference between Carnival Corporation and RCI. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Our first Princess cruise. We were the fortunate ones to sail on time and have nice weather. Fort Lauderdale was still recovering from hurricane Wilma. The boarding went smooth and we were allowed into our room quickly. On the first ... Read More
Our first Princess cruise. We were the fortunate ones to sail on time and have nice weather. Fort Lauderdale was still recovering from hurricane Wilma. The boarding went smooth and we were allowed into our room quickly. On the first night, the opening show was a disappointment. The dancers were very "sloppy" in my opinion. This set the stage for the entertainment that was on board. The best show was the talent contest. Amazing that the guests had better talent than the ship could offer. We found that the Bayou Rest didn't hold up to its good reputation as told on the boards. The waiter was "stiff" and only wanted to promote the wine tasting ($25 per person), which was separate from the first wine tasting that we attended. He said the wines were better, hmmm... Sabintini was the most amazing rest that we have ever eaten at. The service was excellent. Cindy, the art director, was very knowledgeable and personable with passengers. It was unbelievable, the amount of money the art was being sold for. Wouldn't mind having her percent of sells. We were able to see Matt Lauer from the "Today Show" while having breakfast catered to our balcony during the Panama Canal passage. We took a trip to San Jose in Costa Rica. LONG trip. Three hours each way and very bumpy. We were rushed through the museum and theatre. Although, the lunch was great that the tour company sponsored. Cayman Island was nice as always. We have done the stingray and turtle farm before, so we opt to shop and eat. Breezes was a blast to sit and watch the ship from shore. We enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and local beer. Costa Maya was a bit pushy with locals selling their goods. Everyone did better when they got away from the pier, we heard. The ship didn't have midnight buffets. They announced Bingo and Art shows endlessly. We found that the lines were very short everywhere on the ship. The seating for all shows were limited. The view from the balcony was selective. Princess should concentrate on getting more chairs for the guest to sit on during shows and events. Plan to spend at least $60 to $175 for excursions per person. Others told us that their prearranged trips outside of Princess Cruise was wonderful and with a personal touch. Unfortunately, we felt Princess had some unfriendly staff members and the only people who got any attention, was past cruisers. It was very noticeable that the workers wanted you to fill out comment cards for them because they are fearful of losing their jobs. No wonder there was so much tension and stress in the air. The spa was a big let down. After being on Celebrity Infinity's spa, it was disappointing. On the day that the ship sailed, I purchased a steam room package for the whole trip $109. Mint aroma was coming from the shower, pitchers of water lined with fruit, cucumbers with iced washed cloths were present. Only saw cucumbers once after that. The water in the pitchers was warm. I didn't smell any aromas after the first day. The steward was nice and friendly. All of the staff were nice, except one gentleman who blocked my way one day and questioned where I was going with a smirk on his face. The best part of the trip for us was the Cruise Critic friends we hung out with!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Overall, the experience was a 7.5/10. Minus Points: Leaving and re-boarding the ship in each port was poorly organized and wasted a good deal of time. Ship-promoted tours started a little late, and definitely ended much later than ... Read More
Overall, the experience was a 7.5/10. Minus Points: Leaving and re-boarding the ship in each port was poorly organized and wasted a good deal of time. Ship-promoted tours started a little late, and definitely ended much later than projected, totally changing our time table for the rest of the day. Next time, we will not use any of their tours, will do our own things in each port. The older people on the ship definitely had some attitude, like "this is my buffet line, out of the way!!!" Many were extremely rude, would cut in lines, etc. during the whole cruise. They were going to get their mon ey's worth, and we were not going to get in the way. Drinks are way overpriced for what you get, they need to take a tip from the all-inclusives in Mexico. For my money, better experience and service at those resorts especially if you drink. Food quality inconsistent, one dish great, the next was poor at best. Charging for WiFi and internet? Please!!!!!!!!! You can go to low-end hotels and get it included with your night. Princess, wake up please and just include this, quit trying to charge for it. Spa services were priced double what they should be, and they are always on the upsell before you even book a service. Plus Points: The staff tries really hard to help you out in every respect. The ship was very clean and appeared to be maintained well. Summary comment: Always trying to sell us something, need to tone that down and develop an inclusive for another 25 per day per person. Will consider an all-inclusive in Mexico before we do this again. Better experience and we pay just one rate and know what that is before hand. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
We arrived in Anchorage early to see the sights there. We, as in my husband, 2 children ages 2 & 7, my mother-in-law & father-in-law & sister-in-law. The Best Western at Shipcreek-awesome salmon in the creek, fishing right ... Read More
We arrived in Anchorage early to see the sights there. We, as in my husband, 2 children ages 2 & 7, my mother-in-law & father-in-law & sister-in-law. The Best Western at Shipcreek-awesome salmon in the creek, fishing right there, you can rent gear. The rooms were nice, but walk in closet is a joke. We were there only a few minutes when we received a call, we were too loud, try keeping 2 children under control after sitting on a van for over 2 hours & they were so excited about finally being there. Needless to say we spent our trip trying to hush our kids. My suggestion would be to make certain levels/areas for families & leave the couples on honeymoon & elderly people not used to excited kids on vacation in an area away from noisy families. Princess offered the cruise as family friendly & I have to laugh at that statement & have set my friends saving for this trip to look else where for family friendly. The indoor pool was adult only most of the day. Now it was not a kid friendly pool since the kids could not touch bottom to begin with, but trying to find a time when it was not nap time or bed time (even then we were chased out for the teen party) was very hard & frustrating. By the way yes there are outdoor pools, but when cruising it was windy & too cool to swim outside. The lady in the boutique was very rude to my crying 2 year old daughter, telling her to hush, while I had to stand in line for 10 minutes waiting to make my purchase, while another sales lady stood at her register looking busy not waiting on people. Our room steward was very nice, but we did not feel pampered. The shows were great. The food was really good, dessert lacked taste. The wait to get on & off the boat was awful. Especially in the rain in Ketchikan. Make sure to pack rain ponchos, they come in handy! We were on board on the 4th of July, however it was not celebrated other than, cakes sat out on display, wait staff wore red, white & blue attire & the show that evening had a title about all American. What a disappointment to us. What truly made our trip the most wonderful, once in a life time experience was the beautiful sites we saw a long the way narrated by the most informative, entertaining person on the bot, Barbara, the Naturalist. Make sure to set aside the time to go to her talks & tune in to her when possible. I doubt we will ever use Princess Cruise Lines again, but Barbara made us forget how awful other parts of our cruise was. Oh, yeah I won't forget to say the staff working with the kids in the Princess Pelicans were awesome also. They made my son's trip enjoyable & memorable. The excursions were very nice, Skagway the Yukon, White Pass train up to the summit is a must. Juneau- Mendenhall Glacier is wonderful, we did the Hatchery, glacier, salmon bake combo, skip the hatchery & do a trip out to the Glacier. However the salmon bake was absolutely the best! The food was good, but the rain forest was so beautiful. You can walk up to see a gold mine entrance, a waterfall that will take your breath away & many beautiful trees, flowers & sights. Ketchikan we walked around town, my in laws were treated to a cruise around town with Classic tours (I booked this on my own from an ad in AAA book) & they loved it! Upon departure in Vancouver we had to wait for a cab- make arrangements ahead of time- we stayed at the Holiday Inn- AWFUL!!! the elevator is tiny & you will wait 30 minutes or more to get all your bags upstairs. Stay on the water, Grandville Island is a must. All in all we had a good time, but feel that Princess could have made the trip more enjoyable for our family by taking the adults only signs on the indoor pool down & making a more family friendly atmosphere. I believe the brochures & print available is misleading & does not state areas are adults only. My children were charged the same price as adults, discounts given to # of people, not ages. Therefore we should not have to put ourselves in the position to upset fellow passengers by being in restricted area, Princess should not have the signs up period! Again, memories of a life time was made, but Princess did not do their job in providing my family the vacation of a lifetime. We would have to think really hard before using Princess Cruise lines again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
We have just returned from our Coral Princess 10-night Panama Canal/Caribbean cruise and wanted to share a few items. Itinerary - we loved the 5 ports: Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Panama Canal crossing (Colon/Cristobal), Grand Cayman, ... Read More
We have just returned from our Coral Princess 10-night Panama Canal/Caribbean cruise and wanted to share a few items. Itinerary - we loved the 5 ports: Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Panama Canal crossing (Colon/Cristobal), Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Belize. The Panama Canal crossing was the main reason we chose this itinerary. Ship - The food was very good, both the main dining room and the Horizon Court buffet. The pizza was excellent! We hated the Bayou Cafe. We've been to New Orleans, and believe me, this cafe doesn't begin to approximate New Orleans cuisine. Save your money, as there is a $15 per person cover charge. We did hear that Sabatini's Restaurant (also a cover charge) was wonderful, but we didn't try it. Skip the ice cream bar (extra charge) but note that ice cream was served free at the back of the Horizon Court buffet from 3:30-4:00 or so. The staff was great; our steward went the extra mile to provide robes, fruit, chaise lounges (which fit on our balcony)and extra pool towels. You are only assigned 1 towel per person per day and there are no additional towels poolside. Ask your steward for extras. All the nickel and diming I could do without; you pay for every soda you drink, every "class" you take, every bottle of water,some classes in the gym, etc. etc. etc. I HATED the constant loud music at the main pool. The Lotus Pool was quieter, but the water was on the cold side. The Spa was fantastic and the heated beds there are great. If you book a spa service, you may use them, as well as the steam rooms and sauna. Tours we took: Costa Rica (Limon) - booked an independent tour with Oscar Brown; visited the Tortuguero Canals (saw some wildlife), banana plantation,(not my favorite) and a wonderful Wildlife Sanctuary, where I got to hold a baby howler monkey. These folks rehabilitate animals that have been abandoned or who are in trouble and after nursing them back to health, release them into the wild again. It's called the Marina Rescue Center and you can e-mail Horace at hostcr@gmail.com. Panama Canal- We did Ocean to Ocean. You board a small boat and go through the remaining three locks all the way to the Pacific. They provide a box lunch and soft drinks/bottled water. It's a long day but well worth it! We went through the locks with several small sailboats attached to us, a gigantic freighter and a tugboat. You come so close to the side of the Canal that you can actually touch it. Grand Cayman - We had rough seas and couldn't dock here. We were disappointed not to go to Stingray City. Cozumel - We beached it at Playa Palancar and had a wonderful day. It's a quiet, laid-back beach, with chairs (ask to have a cushion), and shade, parrots and peacocks are there too! Wonderful restaurant. Belize - We snorkeled the Barrier Reef off Belize City. I was quite disappointed in the lack of fish and have found much more beautiful reefs in the Grenadines(Tobago Cays), Grand Cayman, Bonaire and Cozumel. The boat ride out to the reef was fun. One of the guides got stung by a Stingray and had to seek medical attention. This was upsetting. Also, the Tour Desk overbooked and our tour was delayed and cut short by 45 minutes. They didn't apologize, were a bit arrogant, but did eventually refund a small portion of the tour price to us. Generally, the Tour Desk on the Coral Princess is very uninformed about the ports; there seems to be a strong emphasis on shopping. They also seemed very disorganized. There is a general lack of information available to you, so do your research before you sail. Cabins - Very small shower, not much water pressure, and hot water needed to be hotter. Our cabin had various noises in the ceiling (bunk beds that are in the ceiling for extra beds) that were rattling the whole cruise and disturbed our sleep. Maybe they fixed this the last night of the cruise (?), but it was quite annoying. I would recommend this ship/cruise/itinerary, but might have enjoyed it more on another cruise line. we have mixed feelings about booking with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
The Coral Princess is small compared to the large mega ships. STATEROOM:The mini suites are narrow and have no amenities compared ot minis on RCCL, Costa, Cunard, etc. The cabins are very narrow including the bathroom and closet ... Read More
The Coral Princess is small compared to the large mega ships. STATEROOM:The mini suites are narrow and have no amenities compared ot minis on RCCL, Costa, Cunard, etc. The cabins are very narrow including the bathroom and closet space, drawer space is pretty sparse. The cabin was not what we expected as far as size, decor, and overall appearance and utilitarian aspects. with the  two of us in the cabin, it was a tight fit. Luggage was stored, which we always do, but this would have been unbearable without it out of the cabin. So, cabin is nothing to get excited about. suites are not as large as on other ships but better than the mini. Separate tub and shower, walk in closet, wet bar is small and square footage was not the same value as on other ships but better for the longer voyages such as our 14 day. FOOD: The food is OK. BUFFET:The buffet is terrible and I mean awful -- dried out meats, small in size, no specialty items such as Chinese station, Mexican, or any other special item stuff, soup, salad and entree and basics nothing great. Buffet on Horizon Court is one that you visit once and never again. No ice carvings, tray to table services and it is very small and uncomfortable. Plus the food stunk in the buffet, so pass on the buffet. DINNING ROOM: Our service was excellent A+ The service made the dining room. We had Viorica from Romania serving us and she is without a doubt one of the  best ever. Request her if at all possible. The dining room food starts out bad but much better as time went on. The chef was German so we missed the Italian chefs. The food is OK to good, nothing too great. The dining room had a distinct odor as well, like mold. Could never in the 14 days put my finger on the smell, but it was present and my 80 year old grandmother could smell it, so it was there like it needed to be aired out. The linens and tableware are just "OK". the tables are missing the candle and the dining room is missing the ice sculptures and decor we used to see on Princess, but again the staff in the dining areas made up for the food and the lace of ambiance etc. No theme night except one with Italian food but no Mexican or Port of Call themed foods as you see on RCCL, Celebrity, Costa or Cunard, so it is just what it is. Overall the dining room lunch was a daily adventure when not in port because of the buffet's poor quality and was a "C"  for average. ALTERNATIVE DINNING: We frequented at lunch and dinner the Bayou Cafe. Service is great, $10 per head surcharge and a lot of fun. No one was in there but the salon staff and our table of 5 both nights we dined there and the food is good -- not to be compared to Oceanliners the Celebrity Constellation but good and different to see a Cajun change to jazz things up a bit. But nothing spectacular. ITALIAN ALTERNATIVE: Was mismanaged a bit as our reservation was made in the early AM and our table was not ready upon arrival. On the Coral, you may only book your alternative dining the same day so it is different from other lines we have sailed. The food was good in this restaurant but you can see I forgot the name so it was not excellent but good. SALON: Hair coloring, massage, and nails are all great. Good staff and lots of fun. Similar to most ships. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: We sailed through customs on our way out and  had no problems embarking, so fantastic A+. SHOWS: No shows except for a few music groups. The large production groups were canceled and we found out as a member of the cruise staff dined with us each night with their family so we had the inside scoop - the performers were  not "ready" so the performances were canceled. Entertainment was terrible really, as the only ting going on was the DJ with less than a handful of passengers. Island Night was awful with no steel band or island buffet or anything similar to other experiences on Princess, but we were told that they were budgeting and it it was noticeable, especially in the areas of food and beverage. Shows get a C- and themed parties C-. CAPTAINS PARTIES: We are Captain Circle members and the cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were plentiful but not much seating, so we bribed the attendants for chairs for those older passengers in our party. Great service though once again made up for the lack of seating in the public areas as the staff did their best to pull it together. Champagne waterfall was pretty bad as no place to stand except crowded in a huge mess and in formals. This is not the way to go and the champagne was terrible. But again the staff made up for the problems, etc. CASINO: We are Las Vegas types and the casino was great. Won money and they did not close it when we did great!! Not really big but Craps, Roulette, Black Jack, Poker and plenty of slots all paying here and there so lots of fun. AIR CONDITIONING: There is a huge problem with the air conditioning in the cabins and in the public areas. Crews attempted to fix it several times but to no avail, so bring your fans as if sailing through the Canal It gets hot and when trying to dress for formal night in the mini suite it is cramped and hot so it is uncomfortable. Overall, the staff is great, however we will not sail Princess as it is not the same line as yesterday.. it is not as exclusive as it once was and after 18 cruises all with Princess, RCCL, Costa, Cunard and Celebrity there are too many other ships to sail. But we had a great time.. I would definitely book early if going Princess or on a special as not to spend tons of money for this cruise is not worth it. Happy sailing!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
Coral Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
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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