262 Princess Coral Princess Cruise Reviews

Overall, we really like Princess. The Coral Princess is beautiful and very clean. The ship was sold out, but it never felt crowded. We did the anytime dining and never had to wait. There were 7 of us in our group. One night we might have ... Read More
Overall, we really like Princess. The Coral Princess is beautiful and very clean. The ship was sold out, but it never felt crowded. We did the anytime dining and never had to wait. There were 7 of us in our group. One night we might have had to wait for a table, but the head waiter called the other dining room and personally took us up on the elevator. They were very accommodating. On this cruise we ate at both the specialty Italian restaurant and at the Bayou Steak house (first night/last night). We have done the Italian restaurant on other cruises. I think there are 18 courses. It is very good, but we all liked the steak house better. The steaks were wonderful and perfectly cooked. In general, the food is very good, but not great. The service and selection in the dining room and the buffet are very good. We don't do cruises for the food. We did Alaska first, the Italy-Greek Isles-Turkey trip second and now the Panama Canal. For us it is about the destinations and not the food. That being said, there is plenty of it and it is good. We had coffee delivered every morning and really enjoyed that luxury. We also went to the buffet every afternoon and got happy hour snacks and took them back to our cabin. we had 3 cabins that the balconies opened up...it allowed us to all meet each day and talk about our activities with snacks and wine. One day I called and complained that they did not have anything appropriate like crackers and cheese, olives, veggies etc. The person in the customer service area had the head of Horizon Court kitchen call me. He said that if I did not find what I wanted just ask and they would make up an antipasta plate for me. The next day I did just that and sure enough they brought everything I could want. Craig Siddall in Crooners Bar is Great!!! Make sure you go by to hear him!! We went every night. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This is our seventh cruise and our third one with the kids in tow. There were six in our party, my wife, myself and our four children - ranging in age from 11 to 18. We left London and flew the eleven and a half hour flight to Mexico ... Read More
This is our seventh cruise and our third one with the kids in tow. There were six in our party, my wife, myself and our four children - ranging in age from 11 to 18. We left London and flew the eleven and a half hour flight to Mexico City and then, after three long hours, got a connection to Acapulco. So it was a very long day travelling (20 hours door to door). We traveled Business Class which always helps on such lengthy journeys. We stayed in The Grand Hotel in Acapulco for one night, which is perfectly okay for a night, and we boarded the ship at about 2pm. Embarkation took about 15 minutes from arrival to getting aboard. I checked in online before we left, which definitely speeds up the process. Our staterooms were ready and very clean and the luggage arrived within the hour. We had two connecting (by balcony) mini-suites (D522 and D524), which are on the port side and reasonably central. The room steward, Henry, was a real gem - top bloke! First impressions of the Coral were that it was far bigger than I expected. We went on the Crown last year and I told the kids to expect a much smaller ship. In fact, it felt pretty much the same size as the Crown (it's slightly longer in fact) - and because it's a big ship, with 30% less passengers, it felt very uncrowded. This was a real pleasant surprise. In fact, my wife and I have decided that when we book future cruises we're going to look carefully at the size/passenger ratio. The public rooms were very well kept and the service throughout was impeccable - which we've almost always have found to be case with Princess. We ate in the Bordeaux dining room on the 'anytime' option. Only on one occasion did we have to wait for a table - which is pretty good given there are six of us. Oddly, I noticed it seemed to be the 'couples' that had to wait more often than families. Thought the entertainment was 'okay' but not outstanding. We particularly liked the pianist and violinist who played in the atrium and they also did a 'classical' show in the Universe Lounge one evening - they are truly talented. The two younger kids (11 and 13) absolutely loved the kids clubs - it was impossible to keep them away - they've both got lots more friends now. Emails were waiting for them by the time we got home! As for the cruise itinerary, as follows: Because there are six of us we find it infinitely more preferable do our own thing (in the main), so we do a bit of research in advance. For example, it's generally cheaper to hire a taxi for the day than it is to pay for six excursions - generally speaking we reckon it's about one third the cost, plus you have more independence. Guatemala: Google Earth revealed an interesting place called 'Iztapa' (not featured on any cruise excursion), which has a beach where all the locals go. It is about five miles from the port. Interestingly, the first cabbie quoted me $160 (one way) to which I said a few words which I won't repeat in this review. The next cabbie, witnessing this, immediately quoted me $30 return. Guess which one I used? We had a great day on the beach (which is then reached by a five minute boat trip from Iztapa.) The kids loved the huge Pacific waves! Nicaragua: Didn't do much here - just went for a wander off the boat, down some back streets, bought a few bits and bobs and then returned to the ship. It was one hot day and we were glad to be back in an air-conditioned ship. Costa Rica: This is the only place we did a Princess excursion because it looked interesting. We went rafting through (slightly) white water and rain forest, where we saw lots of wildlife (monkeys, birds, bats, lizards, etc..) I was somewhat surprised to also see 'crocodiles' - as an inflatable raft seemed like minimal protection to me! However, the organizers really knew their stuff and we felt very safe in their care. An excellent trip which I would wholeheartedly recommend. Panama Canal Transit: 'Awesome' is the only word I can describe this. The scale of the thing is mind blowing in all respects. Each one (of six) is 1000 feet long and 110 feet wide - there was only about a six inch gap each side of the ship! Out of curiosity on one descent I went into the dining room and if felt like a submarine!!! Lots of things appealed to me, including: The close proximity to other huge ships; The scenery - especially through the lake; The sight of the locks from all angles - and it's worth noting that on deck ten, right at the front, there is a door which says 'keep out crew only'. Well don't keep out because you're allowed there. I reckon it's the best place on the ship for viewing the Canal. Cristobal: What a waste of time that was! We were allowed off the ship, but just onto the pier for two hours. For some reason the Panama stop was canceled so people were keen to get off. So we all queued up for half an hour, trudged off the ship and on to the pier, looked through piles of souvenirs (mainly tat) and then waltzed back on the ship. But do you know what, it didn't matter to me because I was still on a high after the Panama Canal transit. Jamaica: Again, we did our own thing. We hopped on a taxi to Dunns River Falls (a five minute Taxi ride from the port) and then paid to go there ($15 per person). The whole day cost us about $100 for six of us - I reckon it would have been nearer $400 had we have gone on an excursion, plus we could come and go as we liked. Great fun it was, climbing up the falls - it was more ferocious and longer than I expected! Then we chilled out on the beach for a few hours. A very nice day it was! On the sea days, and there were quite a few of these, we did loads of different things - kids clubs, trivia, cream teas, swimming, and more. We were never bored. Fort Lauderdale: Disembarkation took a long time. I presume it was because we didn't have a plane to catch so we were low priority. We assembled in the appropriate place at 8:30am (as requested) but weren't clear of customs until about 11:30am. So three hours hanging around was a bit of a pain. We stayed in Fort Lauderdale for three days at the Pelican Beach Grand Hotel. I can highly recommend it because it's right on the beach (unlike most other hotels) and the service was pretty good. It was a bit pricey, but worth it in my view. Overall, a most excellent holiday. We have already booked our next cruise with Princess (August 2009 - Norway and Iceland), who manage to get it just right for our family. No real gripes, other than a couple of stops didn't happen (Panama and one in Mexico), but I tend to be quite pragmatic about such things. As such, four and a half stars out of five from me. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
I wanted to get this review of the Coral Princess Panama Canal Cruise Posted. I have been home since Monday, so I figured I better get it up. This review will focus more on the ship and not on the ports. Embarkation: Princess definitely ... Read More
I wanted to get this review of the Coral Princess Panama Canal Cruise Posted. I have been home since Monday, so I figured I better get it up. This review will focus more on the ship and not on the ports. Embarkation: Princess definitely shone during the check-in and embarkation process. First of all, the San Pedro facility is one of the cleaner, nicer facilities that I have been in. There were lots of people on hand to help, and they all seemed to know what they were doing. When we arrived we were told that there would be a 1 hour delay, but it was actually only about 20 minutes. We were also in group 9 and it was a very quick trip through security and onto the ship. I also like the fact that Princess allows you to go straight to your rooms so that you can drop off your carry-on items. This is definitely better than having to wait until 2 or 3 to get to the stateroom. Staterooms: We stayed in a mini-suite on the Dolphin Deck that was partially covered. The stateroom was very nice. There was more than enough room to store all of our clothes, including plenty of hangers, way more than needed. The room was clean and in good shape. They were also very quiet and kept out unwanted noise. The only thing was a lack of outlets for recharging cameras. Horizon Court: In my opinion, this was the weakest area of the ship. I felt that the Horizon Court was too small for the size of the ship. It was very crowded trying to maneuver around the food stations. I was also very disappointed with the variety of food. The quality was fine, but there was a lot less choices than on other ships. The sandwiches were sitting out wrapped in cellophane which seemed a bit too roadside diner for me. I was also unable to find a table at some lunches. I have never had this happen on a cruise before. I think Princess really failed here when they designed the Coral. During the dry dock I hope they work to improve this area. First thing they can do is get rid of the Piano area which is no longer used (one of the entertainers told me that they actually did use it in the past, but cost cutting has left it unmanned). I would also get rid of the pay bar in the buffet. I never saw anyone using it at anytime I was there. These areas could easily be turned into additional food stations so that they can offer more variety. Provence Dinning Room: We are old fashioned and prefer traditional dining. I like having the same tablemates at night so that you can get to know people and trade stories over dinner. We have always been lucky at getting good people and this was no exception. The quality of the food here was good. My biggest issue was lack of spice. On the night I had the fra Diavlo shrimp, there was no heat to them at all. I know that some people complain about the blandness of HAL food, but HAL was more adventurous and spicy than Princess. The service was also good over all. The only difficulty we had occurred on the first night trying to explain the coffee card. The Servers would only get espresso and not just brewed coffee. My partner was too tired to argue the first night so he took the espresso, but on the second night we finally made them understand about how the coffee card allowed for unlimited brewed coffees. From that point on there were no problems. Also, the Maitre D' was wonderful. This is the first cruise I have been on where they actually made a difference. Usually you only see them (at least I have) near the end just before it is time to tip, but not on this ship. He was always out and about making sure everything was going well. Chefs Table: Do it. This was a wonderful meal and definitely worth the $75. It was great to see the workings of the kitchen and get to spend so much time talking with the chef and finding out in detail about the operations. The food and the wine were also wonderful. It was all top shelf all the way. I will sure to sign up for this again the next time I sail Princess. Entertainment: I never have high expectations of the entertainers on the cruise ships. I feel that corporate waters down everything into bad variety show material. I only went to a few of the actual production shows because of this. The new show "Motor City" was sort of the Osmonds meet Motown. When they did the Stevie Wonder homage, all the hipness was sucked right out of the room. Maybe if I was 85 and still longed to watch Lawrence Welk I would have enjoyed it. The show I did enjoy was 'Adrian Zmed in Concert' This show definitely had a different feel to it, so I am guessing that Adrian had more creative control. This was the type of show that I feel would be worth watching on land. The biggest disappointment I had was with timing. The ship scheduled a lot of the 'game show' like entertainment in the Explorers lounge to start at 9:15. They also showed more of the second runs of shows at 8 PM. It was definitely not conducive for second seating traditional diners. I am not sure if this was intentional or not. But, most nights I was only finishing up dinner at 9:15, so I was having to run right over to Explorers to see the show I wanted. Cruise Staff I think the cruise staff on this ship was marvelous. I think it was probably the best of any ship so far. They were very active with the passengers and I felt took the time to really get to know you if you let them. I think this was the most interaction that I have seen. I have to give Princess props for fostering this environment. I think that they were the biggest asset that Princess had on the ship. Pottery: This was one of the most interesting things on the cruise. There is actually a pottery center and a kiln on the Coral. On our second Sea day my partner and I signed up for pot throwing. We started out with lumps of clay and actually used the wheel to make our pottery. After it was bisqued, we came back on another sea day to paint and glaze them. The rates for this lesson were very reasonable and I like to see the ship offer interactive classes like this. Missed Port: As many of you know, we missed a port. Because of trouble with the gas turbines the captain chose to cut out Cartagena. I was very disappointed, because ever since Romancing the Stone I have actually wanted to see Cartagena. But, I think Princess went above expectations by giving each person on the ship a $100. Now, I while I understand that they are under no obligation to give anything, I am one of those people who feel they should offer something as a sign of good customer relations. $100 is way more than I was ever expecting to receive. Overall: Overall Princess did a really good job. It was a very nice cruise and I was not happy to have to get off the ship. This was my first 14 night cruise and I hope that I will be doing more longer cruises in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We were on the February 13th sailing of the Coral Princess for a 10 day Panama Cruise from Fort Lauderdale. Not taking any chances with winter weather, we left Halifax on the Feb 10th and had no problems reaching Florida. We had chosen the ... Read More
We were on the February 13th sailing of the Coral Princess for a 10 day Panama Cruise from Fort Lauderdale. Not taking any chances with winter weather, we left Halifax on the Feb 10th and had no problems reaching Florida. We had chosen the Comfort Inn near Saw Grass Mills for a few days which gave us an opportunity to do some pre-cruise shopping. A few visits to Lauderdale-by-the Sea for beach walks, shopping til you drop at Saw Grass Mills and great eating at places like Outback and Cheddars saw three days pass quickly. Cruise Critic Friends www.cruisecritic.com We joined a February 10th thread/chat group, started many months ago by Dogasia (Lynn) from Orlando. The group of forty or more participants had become cyber friends by the time sailing day rolled around. We were a diverse group ranging in age from 29 - 70 from Canada and the US. We had agreed to meet shortly after the ship sailed and for a formal "meet & greet" on Day 2 in the Wheelhouse Bar. On our final check of our thread the day before we sailed, we learned that there would be a four to six hour delay in boarding Coral because of the number of Norwalk virus cases on the prior cruise. The ship would undergo a thorough sanitization before it would leave. We called the Princess hotline and this was confirmed. So we ended up having another few hours in the sunshine before returning our rental car to the airport and grabbing a shuttle to Port Everglades. There were about eight of us on the Shuttle and three are fellow CC er's. Linda and Charlie from St. Louis and Linda from Ontario. Princess took our luggage from the Shuttle and we were on to checking in. Everything is running smoothly but we were unprepared for the sheer numbers when we arrived upstairs in the assembly area. Many were unaware of the delay and had arrived at noon. Princess did their best to provide food and a few shuttles to the Mall for those individuals but for the most part it was hurry up and wait to board. Lines formed, groups were called and eventually we did start boarding shortly before 5:00 pm. Once the process started, things moved along as well as could be expected. If the extra precautions meant the ship was taking the extra precautions for our benefit then so be it. The other option could have been canceling the cruise or a further delay and missing an destination. Once on board we checked out our cabin; luggage hadn't been delivered so it was off to explore the Ship. Arriving on Deck 14, the first two folks we meet are acquaintances from our home city. What a small world. Having sailed on the Dawn and the Crown, the Coral didn't hold any surprises. Sail away happened sometime after 8:00 pm while we were enjoying Dinner in the Dining Room. After a relaxing dinner it was back to the room to unpack. Saturday & Sunday are sea days: Saturday is Valentine's Day and the Atrium is being decorated with a huge display for the occasion and the first of two formal nights. I had read on cruise critic about a coffee card so I made the first of my morning visits to the Atrium's coffee bar with my Princess coffee thermos mug that comes with the card. Memories of the terrible coffee at Horizon were no more. The coffee card entitles you to fifteen specialty coffees and unlimited regular brewed coffee from the cafe. If you do not use your 15 espressos or lattes you can redeem them on your next cruise. Not a bad deal for $35. I have six left on my card. Our pre-arranged Cruise Critic meeting was scheduled for 11 am in the Wheelhouse Lounge. About 40 fellow cc'ers were present. Captain Roger Bilton, the staff captain and cruise director Frank all came to welcome us, made remarks and answered questions. About twenty of us had arranged for a gift exchange which involved drawing random numbers and selecting a gift from another cc'er. Gifts were opened and for the most part reflected an item(s) from the giver's home town. Great conversation for more than hour and instantly we had become friends with a great number of fellow cruisers. We enjoyed most of our luncheons in the "anytime" dining room, the Bordeaux on the Plaza Deck. Our first cruise had been on NCL where the norm is anytime dining. While I know many cruisers enjoy traditional dining, we would never consider such an arrangement. I just could not imagine not being able to enjoy meeting the many varied folks you get to chat with during meal time and share cruise and life experiences. That being said, we found on this cruise we shared lunch and dinner with the same individuals on several occasions, quite by accident rather than good planning. We did not have one negative dining experience. There is an interesting thread here on the message boards where many dining room horror stories are told. Some of our fellow cc'ers did have some rather unpleasant table mates we learned. It would be interesting to know if cruisers are trending away from "traditional dining". Day 4 - Aruba: Monday we docked in Aruba at 7:00 am. coincidentally, this was our last port of call in 2008 on the Crown. We had fond memories of this very clean and friendly island. Having spent most of our prior visit on Eagle Beach, we planned a short tour before doing a bit of shopping. As soon as we hit the gate we were approached by Willie, who had a very clean and comfortable van for six and was available for a sightseeing tour. Another couple from Texas were willing to share the ride and for $30 each got out ahead of the waiting tour buses and made our way around the "Happy Island" with Willie giving us history and personal anecdotes as we drove the 19 mile long and six mile wide Dutch paradise. Not to undermine the organized tours by the cruise lines, we prefer to arrange our own personal tour with a guide or share with a small group. There is much more flexibility and you do not have the wait to get on or off the bigger buses. There is also a monetary saving. Back in Oranjestad at 9:30 am we still had two hours to shop. We found Larry (Larry's Fine Jewelry) on Haven Straat #17, picked up some Canada Dry and aloe sun balm at the market and walked back to the ship. It would have been great to have had the afternoon to enjoy the beach but the ship was sailing at 1:00 pm. This was one of a few disappointments with this particular itinerary. Day 5 - Cartegena, Columbia: Tuesday would be an early day as we had pre-booked an organized tour with fellow cruise critics for 9:00 am. There were three cruise ships in port so a pre-arranged tour was a good idea. There were 15 of us in a very comfortable minibus with owner Dora of Dora's Tours. As we made our way through the city to La Popa, an old monastery and shrine, we heard about local history. The view from La Popa is breathtaking. We then went to the Fort for a photo stop. This was followed by a walk around the walled area admiring the houses and plazas. We stopped at the Dungeons and the handcraft shops before making our way to the church of San Pedro Claver. We then had a leisurely drive back to the ship going through the new city along the bay making a brief stop at a small shopping center for some columbian coffee and souvenirs. It was a very quick 5 hours. Dora was a great guide and I would recommend her tour to other cruisers. The only downside to this port is the "in your face" souvenir, craft and merchandise sellers. At every stop you encounter countless folk who have the same products everywhere you go. The sail away from Cartegena was at 3:00 pm, again two or three hours earlier than we liked. That evening we chose to dine at Sabatini's, one of two specialty restaurants on the Coral. Not that one tires of the dining room or buffet choices on the Ship, the specialty restaurant experience is a treat not to be missed. At Sabatini's you are asked to make a "main" dining choice. For me it was lobster tails and my wife chose the giant sea scallops. The rest of the food (18 other portions) are brought to your table. Breads, pasta, soup, salad, vegetables, desert are served over the course of the three hour culinary experience. While the bill is $20 pp, this dinner at any other restaurant would garner a $100 bill per person. I had put my name in for the Chef's Table when we sailed but because of the noro situation, this dining experience was not offered on this cruise. Day 6 - Panama Canal: Wednesday's itinerary was the reason most folks take this cruise so if one were to get the real "canal experience" you had to be on deck early. We were told we would be approaching the first set of locks at about 6:00 am. The ship took a full two hours to go through the locks. The length was probably less than one kilometer as the ship was literally pulled through by locomotive (mules) engines. It's a fascinating process to watch for the first time. Commentary was provided on the PA system in the Horizon dining room where most who didn't have a balcony cabin watch. Many stake their chairs out early to get the best window seats. I found a small balcony area just outside the Horizon's emergency exit. I couldn't hear the commentary but it was a good vantage point. After the Ship gets through the final set of locks you are in Gatun Lake where the ship anchors and tenders take the passengers, who have land tours arranged, ashore. The rest of us simply enjoy another day on deck. At noon, you prepare for the trip back through the locks to the ocean. For this journey we were on deck 14 at the front of this ship. This gave a different perspective. We were followed through the Canal by the Island Princess, which was doing a cruise from Los Angeles to Lauderdale. This added to the excitement and made for some great pictures as this similar size ship followed us through. I understand the bill for the Coral to go through the Canal was $330,000 or $167.00 for each person on the cruise. In less than two hours we were on our way to Cristobal. We were only here for three hours. It was a cloudy, humid day. The ship docks at an old warehouse where there is some shopping and entertainment. It was the least pleasant of all stops. You really do not have anytime to do anything other than find a souvenir and are relieved to get back on board the ship. Since we didn't have much lunch, we decided this might be a good day to go to Afternoon Tea. Finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and other finger deserts are served most afternoons for 45 minutes in the Dining Room. If planning had been better, a quick jaunt into Cristobal may have given a better impression. Day 7 - Limon - Costa Rica: On Thursday, we docked at 6:30 am to another mostly cloudy day. The beautiful AIDA Aura ship from Germany docked alongside us. We had another pre-arranged five hour tour with our cruise critic friends. This was with "Oscar Tours". There were fifteen of us so 11 traveled in a minivan with Oscar and four followed in a taxi with Allan. Allan was a friendly type who gave us a running commentary along the way. Roads are not in great shape through the city nor in the countryside. This was by far the poorest of the ports we saw. Many depend on tourism for a living. Along the tour we stopped in a number of places where youngsters with animals would want to be photographed for a tip; other roadside stops offered fresh fruit or local crafts. Poverty is very evident. We made a fifteen minute stop at an acquaintance of the tour operator. This person took care of a small farm where we saw how the locals live. He had a pet sloth and other creatures that made for a few Kodak moments. On to the Del Monte Banana plantation for a tour. This was followed by a one hour canal ride in a covered boat. We were able to see local wildlife, rainforest vegetation and other attractions including a young boy and his sister who had two alligators (more pictures - more tips). Beer, water, cola were provided. A short drive later we were back to Limon where were picked up some Costa Rican coffee beans and then back to the ship. All in all, a five hour tour for $50 left some lasting memories. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Oscar & Allan. Day 8 - At Sea: Friday would be a day to relax at sea. The Coral has a Library where I had taken out a few books on Day 2. This would be a full reading day on deck and would be formal night #2. For repeat Princess Cruisers it was also the night Captain Roger Bilton hosted the Captain's Circle. After getting our formal pictures taken we went to the 7:15 pm reception before Dinner. There were 1,081 cruisers in the Captain's Circle on this cruise. Lobster tails and Beef Wellington were on the menu. Day 9 - Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Saturday 's visit was to Ocho Rios, just 90 miles south of Cuba. Only 16,000 people live here of the Island's 2.8 million population. A very scenic, clean and touristy town, the Coral was docked in what seemed like the center of town. Not having been to Jamaica, we wanted to see both the town and some of the Island. We found Terance, a Jutta tour guide just outside the gate and off we went for three hours. We chose not to go to Dunn's River Falls but rather did a drive through Fern Gully to Cayoga Gardens, to a Pottery Factory , met some local characters along the way before being dropped off at the Jamaican Grand. $25 each,a tip and a few photo tips along with a $5 admission to the gardens wasn't bad for the morning. After spending an hour at the Grand we walked back to the Coral. Had a quick lunch at KFC and did some shopping at many of the shops that line the main street. Managed to get a good deal on Blue Mountain Coffee and some Jamaican liqueurs to bring home. Day 10 - At Sea: Sunday would be the last cruise day. The sun was in the sky and a light sea breeze was blowing. The day was spent on deck, lunch with our cruise critic group, an afternoon of packing and a New Orleans culinary experience at The Bayou that evening. The fare was Bayou themed including an appetizer that featured alligator ribs (looked like chicken with a pork, beef texture). We both had the beef tenderloin that I would describe as one of the best, if not the best, steak I've ever eaten. For $15 pp, it was a dining experience to remember and a delightful way to end the cruise. Other notes: We went to seven or eight shows in the Princess Theatre and Universal Lounge. Kevin Hughes (comedian) gave a good show. The Motor City and Tribute musicals were enjoyable. The disembarkation went much smoothly than on any other cruise. Thanks for serving breakfast was in the Dining Room. We were off the Coral by 8:30 am and at our Hotel 15 minutes later for a final day in Fort Lauderdale that included a canal tour on the Jungle Queen.. Of the three Princess Cruises we've taken, I would rate this behind the Crown (Caribbean) and Dawn (Mexican Riviera). The dining room food was not as well prepared or presented, service not quite as friendly and the entertainment was mediocre. Perhaps the Norovirus had everyone on edge. We would have liked longer port times. We find a 10 day cruise to be a good length. Cruises are great vacation travel value. Looking forward to a Mediterranean Cruise sometime soon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was our 14th cruise but the first time on Princess. EMBARKATION We flew in from Tahiti the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn San Pedro. Although there were a number of negative reviews of this hotel, it was within our ... Read More
This was our 14th cruise but the first time on Princess. EMBARKATION We flew in from Tahiti the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn San Pedro. Although there were a number of negative reviews of this hotel, it was within our price range and we had stayed at other HI hotels so decided to take a chance. Very pleased we did. Arriving at 9am we thought we would not be able to get into our room until 3pm. However, it was ready so we were able to have a shower and relax before walking around the area. Our room was spotlessly clean, shower and bed both great. What more do you want ? We did not eat in the hotel as there were a number of restaurants in the vicinity and we also had breakfast at the Gaffey Street Diner. There was also a liquor store adjacent to the hotel where we bought wine to take on board the ship. Hotel shuttle was $5 pp which delivered us right to the dock where our cases were promptly collected. We arrived at about 11am. Embarkation was very efficient and we were in our room around 12.30pm. SHIP After 14 days on board the Coral Princess, we can say that we would be more than happy to sail on this ship again. It is very easy to move around on board. We had a triple cabin with plenty of cupboard space. Sure, the shower is small but you really don't want to spend a lot of time in it, do you ? We enjoyed the first 3 full days at sea just relaxing and familiarizing ourselves with the ship. PORTS OF CALL Huatulco, Mexico - No organized tour. We went swimming at the beach alongside the pier. Lovely clean water and sandy beach. Shops also had good prices for T-shirts, etc. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - We took the ship's tour "Antigua on your own". This was a 1-1/2 hour drive each way to and from Antigua. Not a great deal to see. Would probably not recommend this trip. Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua - No organized tour. Very dirty town. Others who booked tours were disappointed. I believe that Princess should omit this port from its itinerary. Puntarenas, Costa Rica -We took ship's "Scenic tour". Alvaro was an excellent guide. We were interested in the fruits and actually saw cashew nuts growing for the first time. The tour included a visit to Espanza township with a short folkloric performance by local school children. Panama Canal Full Transit - This was the highlight of the cruise for my husband who was out on board from 5.15am. Cartagena, Colombia - Took ship's tour of Cartagena. Another excellent guide - Eduardo. Humidity was very high. Visited Fort San Felipe, La Popa Monastery and the old town which is really quite beautiful. Quite a number of passengers expressed concern about leaving the ship at this port so they decided to stay on board. I think that they missed out on a really great travel experience. Aruba - Caught the local bus to Eagle Beach. Really lovely beach. We decided that this is a port that we would like to go back to at some time in the future for a longer stay. Best internet rates at this port - $1.60 for 30 minutes. Fort Lauderdale - Took tour from ship. Disembarking went smoothly. Airboat ride in the Everglades, alligator show and a visit to the Flamingo wildlife sanctuary before arriving at the airport. This was a good tour if you have a late flight. ENTERTAINMENT Comedian, Kevin Hughes, was excellent. Enjoyed Ron Merritt in the Crooners Lounge. Also showtime dancers and singers did well. LAUNDRY As we were travelling for 5 weeks in all, we were grateful for the self-service laundry on board. DISAPPOINTMENTS This was the first time that we have cruised where we did not see the captain at any time - not even at the Captain's cocktail party. The talk on the various ports consisted of hardsell for Diamonds International and other shops. Very little explained about the actual port. Luckily I had done quite a lot of homework before the cruise. Cost of internet. After using the onboard facilities once at the exorbitant cost, we decided to check our emails using port facilities which were so much cheaper. We had to arrive in the Princess Theatre 45 minutes before shows to ensure that we were able to find a seat. Being Aussies - we really dislike the daily gratuity charges imposed on our account. We believe that such gratuities should be earned and rewarded accordingly. I truly believe that passengers should be given the flexibility of rewarding cabin stewards and dining room waiters personally for services rendered rather than have this gratuity charge imposed upon them. Can someone explain why there is a 15% service charge imposed on each and every drink yet there is this additional blanket daily gratuity charge ? Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We are a family of 6... 4 kids ages 21-13 we travel with my mother and her best friend. That makes traveling a little hard with 8 of us. That is why we "choose to cruise". We boarded the ship in LA which was nice. We are from ... Read More
We are a family of 6... 4 kids ages 21-13 we travel with my mother and her best friend. That makes traveling a little hard with 8 of us. That is why we "choose to cruise". We boarded the ship in LA which was nice. We are from the San Diego area, only an hour and a half drive! Embarkation was fast, it only took 15 min. We met my mother on the ship, by the time we got to our rooms our baggage was there. We had 3 mini suites with connecting balconies Dolphin Deck aft rms 710,712,714. This was our second time onboard the Coral. We took an Alaska cruise on the Coral 2 years ago. I think this is a beautiful ship and I love sailing on her. It is a little hard for me to find my way around this ship for some reason. I think the layout is a bit confusing. With that being said, I really have no complaints about the ship or it's staff. Everyone that we had contact with that worked on the ship went above and beyond the normal service expected of them. Our cabin steward Gil, was great. Our rooms were clean and when i requested an egg crate he managed to find one for me even though the ship was full. He even put an extra mattress on our 2 kids' sofa beds every nite! I liked where our rooms were, there was no traffic and it was for the most part quiet. The food was better than the last time I was on the Coral. But I still give the buffet a C-. We ate in the dining room every nite except when we got back late from shore excursions. They had 2 lobster nites and a good traditional Christmas dinner. We had early seating with our own group of 8 at the table. Our head waiter was amazing, and his assistant Arturo . We never had to ask for anything to drink. they figured out all of our tastes and just kept it coming! Our CC group was AWESOME!!!! We met some of the nicest people and I will remember some of them and the memories we shared for a long time. We had our M&G at the Wheelhouse bar and we had a gift exchange on Dec.26 at the same place. This really was for the most part a fun group of people! We were able to see two important football games in the theater on BIG screen. The USC Trojans and the SD Chargers. That was a lot of fun. Fight On!!! The ship was decorated beautifully, there was snow in the atrium while the Carolers sang it was quite an experience. My kids were a little sad about spending the holidays on a cruise ship but they soon got over it. One of the CC members even brought presents for them to open Christmas day. The last time we were on the Coral my kids complained that there wasn't enough for them to do. This time we were pretty busy. We went to tea, had wine tasting, sunbathed( Deck 10 and 11 nice and private), spent a lot of time in the gym,walked everyday on the promenade deck 7, enjoyed our balconies and spent time getting massages in the Spa. I think the attitude you have towards other people makes your traveling experience either enjoyable or intolerable. I saw a lot of grumpy people and a lot of smiles. There were a LOT of children on this cruise mostly in the" teens " Including my kids. Don't go on a holiday cruise if you don't like being around kids. I think Princess needs to step up their security at nite at certain areas of the ship. there were kids running up and down the hallways knocking over trash cans in front of the elevators and doing "inappropriate" activities late at nite. Everyone kept asking"where are their parents?" Good Question!!!!!!!!! We do things as a family, my kids don't go in the teen clubs because they are pretty close in age and they keep each other occupied. We were getting blamed for the actions of this wild bunch of kids right and left. We walked on a tour bus in Cartegena and it was full of "elderly" people and immediately one person said "oh no,not kids" and turned around and glared at me. a woman in the laundry room said" I hope those aren"t your kids running up and down the halls making all this noise" I guess this would be the only negative thing I have to say about this cruise is the way Princess handled the chaos and noise from the kids. Many people complained and Princess did nothing. The New Years celebration was something I will never forget. FUN FUN FUN!!!!!!!!!!! You have to experience it at least once. My one suggestion to Princess is to spend time actually taking the shore excursions you offer people. Check out the guides and the busses you put people on. There were quite a few breakdowns. Some of the tours were not what was described in the shore excursion listings. I think on this cruise I came to the conclusion that I will from now on book my own excursions through private operators. Overall,this cruise was everything I expected. We really enjoyed our time together as a family and time spent on the Coral. I would do it again and probably will, next Christmas. I forgot to mention the Entertainment. I thought it was pretty sorry. The comedians were mediocre and the dancers were pretty bad. We got most of our entertainment watching the Karaoke and Princess Pop Star contest. Maybe because my daughter was in it.LOL Seriously, Princess needs to improve their shows just take it up a notch or two. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
I have my own wheelchair as I can't stand or walk very far without alot of pain due to a back injury and told Princess that I needed assistance to get on and off the ship. When we arrived at the port I was told that there was no one ... Read More
I have my own wheelchair as I can't stand or walk very far without alot of pain due to a back injury and told Princess that I needed assistance to get on and off the ship. When we arrived at the port I was told that there was no one to help me as they were all busy with people that needed Princess's wheelchairs. If I wanted to wait until they were finished helping others they would have someone help me.I ended up pushing the wheelchair like a walker to get myself on the ship. We had been on the Caribbean Princess last year and loved everything about it so we were expecting the same on the Coral. All of the staff we met were above our expectations. The public rooms were lovely but we saw some of the same entertainment as previous Princess cruises. We did not eat at Sabatini's as we did that before and it's too much food. We heard mixed reviews about the Bayou Steakhouse so we didn't go there either. The food in the Bordeaux (Anytime Dining) was good but the Horizon Buffet had alot of well done meats and half cooked bacon. There was alot of broth type soups with fancy names with little bits of celery and carrots. We had "spaghetti and meatballs" in the Bordeaux for lunch one day and it was like spaghetti with Campbell's Tomato soup poured on top and miniature tasteless well done meatballs. The night they served crab legs they should have been ashamed as they were smaller than snow crabs! We spoke to the Maitre'D who advised us to fill out the questionnaire. Enough about the food..we did want to get off the ship in Aruba but Hurricane Omar prevented us from docking there. I can't comment on the tours as we stayed onboard as it's difficult for me to get around. Going through the Locks was the highlight of our cruise and we had ordered the Champagne Breakfast for 28.00. It was very hot on the balcony at 7 AM on the port side so the nice cold champagne tasted pretty good. We really enjoyed reading and resting more than anything and met some nice people that made up for the food. I guess hard times have hit the Chef's budget and he did the best he could with what they gave him. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
On Sept 1st we sailed to Alaska with the Coral Princess, leaving from Vancouver. Embarkation was smooth and done fairly quickly 20 minutes. I was surprised to find that our cabin was ready on boarding. (Previously sailed with holland ... Read More
On Sept 1st we sailed to Alaska with the Coral Princess, leaving from Vancouver. Embarkation was smooth and done fairly quickly 20 minutes. I was surprised to find that our cabin was ready on boarding. (Previously sailed with holland america and had to wait for cabin to be ready) Though i realize now that the reason the cabin is ready so early is that at the other end of the trip they kick you off the ship at the crack of dawn, no matter what time your flight. We had a disembarkation time of 6:50 AM for a 330 pm flight! in Anchorage- and no room service on the day of disembarkation- go the to horizon court at 5 am! - Ok the Coral is a beautiful ship, we never felt crowded. we found there was always plenty to do. Our room steward was wonderful and generally the staff are friendly and seem to be interested in providing good customer service. - the Production shows we thought were fantastic and all the other entertainers were pretty good. We particularly enjoyed Larry Dunsmore, singer and pianist who played in Crooners Bar and headlined one night with a "tribute to Sinatra" we are not big sinatra fans, but he was wonderful. he had a faithful following in the bar for most of the trip, and we could see why. Highly recommend listening to him sing and play. - the ports Ketchikan Juneau and Skagway were not that exciting. -and filled with lots of cruise ship jewelry stores and other junk stores. we did the mendenhall glacier tour in Juneau which was good. But the best thing we did there was the Alaska State Museum which was $5 each and really wonderful. We spent several hours there after reading about it on cruise critic. Highly recommend it. IN skagway we did the train to white pass and back ( the 3 hour train, you don't get off) It was fine, but I thought over priced- and we were expecting a bit more spectacular scenery. Though we are used to the rockies so perhaps someone from the midwest would have found it more exciting. Glacier National Park was the highlight for us, just a beautiful place, pristine and unspoiled. we had great weather and thoroughly enjoyed our day there. Now the food on the Princess, this was their one downfall. We really felt the cruise food quality was pretty mediocre- tired lettuce, too many pre fab frozen desserts, fancy names for food that did not match the description. Particularly disappointing was the exciting description for fresh tom turkey with dressing and gravy - this turned out to be processed turkey roll with an odd colored gravy and stuffing that was soggy and tasted like jam. The diver seared scallops. Were seared but not cooked. - and the list went on. This was in the main dining room. the buffet was even worse, and depending when you went you might not find a place to sit , or utensils or cups. they don't have trays in the dining room, but a big plastic platter plate, that can be a tray or a plate, depending i guess on how much you plan to eat. we did not like the food or the setup in horizon court and mostly ate in the dining room. Overall the food on our previous cruise 2 years ago on the Holland America oosterdam was significantly better. The one positive food comment i can make on the princess was that after the first day they left a card in your room to fill out for fresh fruit and it was replenished every day at your request, by filling in another card, this was a really nice touch. The princess also did have better entertainment and a larger ship, so it depends what you are looking for. we docked in whittier and were disembarked within 30 minutes of our time. though we had to wait on the bus for over half an hour to get the green light to go through the one way tunnel. Fortunately for us we had a great driver Karen, who has been driving for many years and really went over and above the call of duty making it an informative +++ transfer to anchorage. She was absolutely terrific! Overall a great cruise,Princes generally has a smooth and well put together product. Would I go with Princess again? Probably , though I might try Royal Caribbean next time. the food quality on the princess really needs some work The other issue is I discovered when I got home is that princess had converted our onboard charges ( US) to canadian funds ( before charging to our credit card, adding a nasty exchange rate and 3 % conversion fee- m/c only charges 2.5 % plus a better rate. and on the final folio it is officially typed in that we were offered a choice of currencies for payment and that our choice of currency is final. THIS WAS NEWS TO US! and completely untrue! We only got the folio on our way out the door and at no time on this cruise on embarkation or before disembarkation were we ever given that choice.or told about this. i am in the process of taking this up with princess. So be aware of this, if you are not from the US. find out if they are charging your credit card in US funds or if they opted without your consent to change it to your home currency, so they include a nasty exchange rate and conversion fee. I am still miffed about this, not a great end to an otherwise fine cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We hadn't really even planned a vacation, but following our younger daughter's early June wedding we decided to check into last-minute deals that were available during the time frame we had available. A cruise sounded like a ... Read More
We hadn't really even planned a vacation, but following our younger daughter's early June wedding we decided to check into last-minute deals that were available during the time frame we had available. A cruise sounded like a perfect way to rest and relax following a very busy few months, and we'd never been to Alaska. I found a great price on a guaranteed oceanview stateroom on the Coral Princess and booked immediately. We also found decent airfare (there seem to be few real bargains in airfare these days) and in the space of about a half an hour had everything in place to leave in about a week! Temperatures here in the deep South were hovering near 90, so it required a total change in mindset to pack for the radical difference in climate we would experience in Alaska. The more we travel, the less disposed we are to over pack; knowing that the Coral Princess had self-service laundry facilities on several decks, we resolved to bring just one carry-on size suitcase each. As there were to be two formal nights on the seven-night cruise, my husband tried to rent a tux to be waiting for him onboard, as we have done in the past. However, as we were barely a week out, he was informed that it was too late, and brought a dark suit instead; I packed a long black skirt and two dressy tops and it turned out that this worked well for both of us. We flew into Anchorage the day before the June 16th cruise, spending the night at a Days Inn which was perfectly adequate and reasonably priced, though by no means fancy. Our older daughter had described Anchorage as looking like a town that "had the snot beaten out of it"; she was pretty much dead on in that description. However, she had also mentioned an excellent restaurant, Orso, which turned out to be just a few blocks from the hotel. It was a bustling, upscale place with an eclectic menu - an excellent choice, as my sirloin and hubby's rockfish (a new one on us!) were both simply divine. I had been uncertain about transfers between Anchorage and the ship; by booking so late we had no chance to book any Princess-sponsored transportation. As it turns out, this was serendipitous, resulting in my booking a trip on the Alaskan Railroad's Glacier Discovery train ($60/person, one way) which left at 10 am. The trip was utterly delightful, with comfortable, old-fashioned seats and great scenery, accompanied by commentary from a pleasant young woman who highlighted points of interest along the way. The train arrived in Whittier twenty minutes early - plenty of time to acquaint ourselves with this most peculiar little port where virtually everyone lives in the same high-rise building (a remnant of its days as a military base.) Embarkation was easy as pie; though we arrived earlier than planned, and expected a real crush of people, it never materialized. Within 5 minutes of entering the rather makeshift cruise terminal, we were on board. I knew that we were taking a chance when we booked an oceanview "guarantee" cabin; we ended up on Emerald deck, starboard side, in a cabin with what was described as a "fully obstructed" view (E317.) While our picture window did, indeed, open onto a lifeboat, we actually had a pretty decent view over the top of the boat. For what we were paying, combined with the fact that we planned to be on deck most of the time, I certainly couldn't complain. The cabin had superb closet space - more than plenty of room to hang everything, along with several shelves in a cabinet, and several small drawers in the desk. Our suitcases stowed easily under the twin beds pushed together. There wasn't much room to move about, but we managed. The bathroom was small, and the shower could only be described as minuscule. The grab bar was right at elbow height, further constricting movement. It was by far the smallest bathroom we've yet encountered on any ship. Our steward was an 8-year Princess veteran, delightful, efficient and unobtrusive. All in all, we were well satisfied with our accommodations, and with the service. A housekeeping supervisor saved my sanity by finding my "lost" passport, which had lodged itself inside an area of the small safe obstructed by its door. Apparently, it wasn't the first time this had happened. The ship is large, but not huge, and we found our way around fairly easily. The main dining rooms - Provence for traditional dining and Bordeaux for "anytime dining" were on decks 5 and 6. With our late booking, our only choice had been between the late seating for traditional dining, or "anytime dining", which we chose. Service in the Bordeaux dining room varied from inattentive to excellent; I wonder if the fact that there are not generally extra tips forthcoming, given that diners are not necessarily served by the same waiters each day, was the reason for this inconsistency. We found the meals (dinners only, in our experience) to be excellent, though portions were a bit modest (not necessarily a bad thing, given the buffets we visited for breakfast and lunch!) I had been apprehensive, having read some rather lukewarm reviews of the dining room, but we both agreed that the food was very, very good - inventive, well prepared and presented beautifully. There are still some kinks to be worked out of "anytime dining". We had heard in advance about the possibility of making reservations for a table in the Bordeaux dining room at a particular time. We did this a few times and were immediately ushered to our table for two (we tend to eat fairly early, which likely helped.) It was clear, however, that many people had no idea that reservations could be made, and there was no indication whatsoever at the dining room entrance that the line on the left was for those who had reservations. Diners who had not called ahead tended to feel a bit like "second class citizens", and this was certainly understandable. The whole concept of "Anytime Dining" seems to be undermined by this growing tendency towards reservations; I honestly don't know what the solution may be, as it is clearly impossible to know exactly how many people will show up at any given time each evening. I think that we would opt for early traditional dining next time around. The Horizons buffet tended towards bedlam at "rush hours" for breakfast and lunch, with people often having to wander off to other Lido deck venues (near the pools, etc.) to find a place to sit and eat. Food was plentiful, varied, with excellent fruits and vegetables, and some of the best cookies I've had anywhere. There were always numerous elaborate pastries, many of which were simply too heavy to appeal to us. We were never disappointed in the selection of entrees and accompaniments, and the service was impressive; coffee, tea and juices appeared reasonably quickly at breakfast, tables were quickly cleared and utensils replaced, and there were frequent offers to get anything we needed. We had been apprehensive about the food in Horizons, having read a number of unflattering reviews, but we simply couldn't complain about any of the meals we had there. We also tried the separate pizza parlor - absolutely delicious, and they get the thin crust just right. The entertainment is always a question mark, as we have encountered everything from exceedingly bad to very professional on various cruises. We made a point of attending three shows and were fairly impressed with the high quality of the costumes and sets, and, for the most part, the dancing. Two male and female vocalists were also featured, and they were adequately talented. One unexpected pleasure was the hypnotist who appeared the last night of the cruise. We had enjoyed a little ballroom dancing (getting harder and harder to find on cruises, it seems) and decided to stay for the hypnotist's show. He put on a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining show with audience volunteers - several of whom who were politely "disinvited" from the stage when they showed clear indications that they were not susceptible to hypnosis. There was much good-natured laughter and lots of fun and no real embarrassment to the participants, except, perhaps for the young woman who leaped up and shouted to her husband "Holy s***, we won the lottery!" when so convinced under hypnosis. She also did a pretty good impression of a vacuum cleaner, as I recall... The scenic cruising was memorable and it was simply astonishing to get so close to glaciers...close enough to actually witness "calving" (a portion of a glacier sliding into the sea.) The ports were enjoyable, looking much as we expected they would. We had booked the cruise too late to sign up beforehand for any excursions, but we prefer to explore by ourselves, anyway. I had booked, independently, a whale watching trip out of Juneau through Orca Enterprises, on a jet boat with "Captain Larry" - a real whale-locating expert - at the helm. (I found it interesting that the Coral Princess's naturalist was on board with us, rather than the excursion sponsored by the cruise line.) I was astonished by the calmness of the water and thrilled that there was no hint of seasickness. Instead we had about 2.5 hours of terrific whale watching and saw plenty of humpback and killer whales, plus sea lions and many bald eagles. This was a real highlight of our trip and exceeded all expectations. Having packed lightly, we were in the first, independent group to disembark in Vancouver, a city we had visited before. I had been fortunate enough to book a room at the Sutton Court Hotel on Burrard Street; this is a truly outstanding hotel with excellent rooms and service. We presented our weary selves at 8 am, bags in tow and fully expecting to stow them until mid-afternoon when our room would be ready, but were gratified and delighted to be told that there were a few rooms available and we could check in immediately. I had made a point of mentioning that we were just off the Coral Princess, as I knew that this was one of the hotels Princess employs for pre- and post-cruise hotel stays; I figured it couldn't hurt. All in all, and especially considering the last minute nature of our plans, it was a thoroughly enjoyable week and I feel we more than got our money's worth. Of course, we tend to be the type of people who subscribe to the "we're on a cruise...how bad can it be?" school of thought, but it would have to be considered delightful by any standards. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Coral Princess - Cruise Review May 10 - 13, 2008 San Francisco to Vancouver My friend and I joined the Coral Princess for the short (two night) trip from San Francisco to Vancouver. The ship departed at 4:00 PM on Saturday, and arrived in ... Read More
Coral Princess - Cruise Review May 10 - 13, 2008 San Francisco to Vancouver My friend and I joined the Coral Princess for the short (two night) trip from San Francisco to Vancouver. The ship departed at 4:00 PM on Saturday, and arrived in Vancouver at 10:00 AM on Monday. I have cruised a number of times before, and this was my friend's first cruise. Overall, this was a very nice experience. We enjoyed the ship itself, the facilities and the food. My comparison for this cruise is with a similar (three night) cruise I did last year (2007) aboard the NCL Norwegian Star, from Los Angeles to Vancouver. EMBARKATION This was very smooth. We followed the e-mailed advice from Princess, and did not arrive until after 1:00 PM, and so avoided any long lines. Having your passport available, and your boarding forms filled out in advance definitely makes the process smoother. The boarding area at the San Francisco cruise terminal is very small, so rushing up to be early probably won't help you to avoid lines. CABIN We had cabin D229 (Dolphin deck), and enjoyed the cabin and the balcony. The cabin was slightly smaller than the Norwegian Star, but not appreciably so, and I liked the available hanging space. Like any ships cabin.... Bring your own power strip for all of the electronics. PUBLIC ROOMS The Lotus Pool area is very nice, and a fun way to sit around the pool and enjoy the hot tubs on a blustery day at sea. We had moderate seas, and the pools were closed because of the action of the waves in the pools. This area has a retractable roof, so it is nice to be able to have the protection from the weather. Some on board said that the Lotus pool is the adults only pool, however there weren't many kids on board (which was appreciated by us) and since only the hot tubs were open it was not a huge factor either way. The gym is very nice, with views from a high vantage point. However, being at the stern/high deck does mean that there is some movement experienced when at sea. The ship is clean and relatively easy to navigate. My comparison with the Norwegian Star is that that it has less of a "Wow!" factor than the Norwegian Star. The Atrium is not as impressive, and there are fewer shops. However, we did very much enjoy what have been referred to as the "secret" decks on the bow and stern (Caribe and Baja for the bow). One thing which I did enjoy is that the servers were available with drinks when you wanted them, but weren't overly pushy about it. Food For the first lunch aboard I try to go to a restaurant (as opposed to the buffet), and often if you ask you will find that one is available. We were told that lunch was being served in Provence dining room, but it was closed when we got there. This was to be first of a number of times when we received conflicting information from Princess staff. We ended up at the Horizon Court buffet. The buffet was fine, but choices seemed a little limited. My friend was extremely tired at the end of the day, and decided not to have dinner, so I initially went back to the Horizon Court buffet, but the choices at dinner looked very much like the choices at lunch, so I ended up going to the Bordeaux dining room, which was very pleasant. For dinner we had chosen "anytime" dining, and the Maitre d' had said that reservations were not necessary. On both nights I found this to be true, but we tend to eat later (around 8:00 PM). Earlier in the evening there were some lines. One morning we had breakfast in the Bordeaux restaurant, which was very pleasant. On the final morning we chose the Horizon Court, which had a nicer view as we came into Vancouver Harbor. The breakfast at Horizon was fine, but you do have the hustle and bustle of a buffet environment. I had afternoon tea while my friend went to the Lotus Spa, and she joined us a bit later. This is where the somewhat mechanical aspect of the service showed, since we had all be served earlier, the servers had "moved on" to other tables and we had to do quite a bit of arm-waving to get tea and food for her. My general impression of the food service is that it is fine as long as you go along with the program, and all arrive, and eat, at the same pace as everyone else. This NCL advertisements showing people eating in lock-step did seem to have an element of truth! BARS AND ENTERTAINMENT My favorite bars would be Crooners (good place to people watch and enjoy the sounds of music from the string quartet in the Atrium), and Churchill's Lounge, with the nautical dEcor. ON FORMAL NIGHT.... AND THOUGHTS ON A TWO-NIGHT CRUISE. This was only a two-night cruise, so from information we received from Princess, and what we read on CC message boards, we understood that there would not be a formal night. Turns out that the second night (our final night) there was to be a formal night. No one we talked to was really excited about this. Some people had been on board for the Fort Lauderdale/Panama Canal portion, and had already had formal nights. They had more to pack and wanted to get a head start on that. Others, such as ourselves, were only on board for two nights, and had not brought formal clothing. We arrived at the restaurant nicely, but not formally, dressed and were still allowed entry without a fuss which was much appreciated. Arriving at a later time (around 8:30 PM) probably also helped. The entertainment on the second evening was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn't necessarily bad entertainment; it was just that the crowds were not there. A hypnotist was performing in the Princess Theatre, but many in the already small crowd got up and left mid-way through the act. He eventually cut it short, saying that the subjects were not deeply enough hypnotized. From there I went to the Universe lounge where a juggler was finishing his act, again to a small crowd. I then went to the Explorers lounge where some music was playing (recorded, not a DJ), and only a small group of people were present. Ended up having a relatively early night. Overall, this was a good experience. The staff aboard were friendly and provided good service. I enjoyed the food, especially in the restaurant (as opposed to the buffet). If you are choosing between a two-night and three-night cruise I would suggest the three-nighter. This is not because a longer cruise is necessarily better (though it almost always is), but the first night we were just getting settled in, and the second-night had that "end of cruise" feeling and so you just don't get to feel like you've had that full cruise experience. Thanks for reading this, and I hope you will enjoy your next cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
BACKGROUND My wife and I are fairly young for retirees. She is late 50's. I am early 60's. We both love to travel. Most of the time we take off in our motor home. We also enjoy cruise ship travel. Over the years we have ... Read More
BACKGROUND My wife and I are fairly young for retirees. She is late 50's. I am early 60's. We both love to travel. Most of the time we take off in our motor home. We also enjoy cruise ship travel. Over the years we have experienced Holland America, Costa, Princess, Celebrity and NCL. Last year we did a narrow boat trip down the Llangollen (glang -GO- len) canal in Wales. Truth to tell, it was hardly a "cruise" experience because in many places the canal was only a few feet wider than the boat and the water was generally less than four feet deep. I mention this Welsh adventure because it was well worth the trip and a very economical way to experience the UK. E-mail me if you'd like more info on narrowboating. You can also type "narrowboating" in your search engine. Neither my wife nor I are professional cruise ship critic. There are vast numbers of people more experienced in cruises than us. We have been on enough cruises to establish a sort of bench mark on cruise ship offerings. I submit the following as a our opinion of the April 5, 2008 sailing of Princess lines vessel Coral Princess on the "Panama Canal" cruise. TRAVEL TO PORT We live in North Florida, so travel to embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale (a.k.a. Port Everglades) was a six hour drive. For us this was pretty much no pain (South Florida traffic can be a pain): I-75 south to the Sunshine State Parkway, off in Ft. Lauderdale and a short distance to the terminal. To me, it was key that we not get caught in the Friday afternoon rush traffic. This means getting to where we were going before 3:00. We left one day before the cruise was to embark. This gave us plenty of time for unexpected delays. I found the hotels north of Ft. Lauderdale, i.e. Pompano, Boca Raton to be better in price than those around the cruise terminal. We opted for the Marriott Courtyard in Boca. A very clean three star property. Breakfast available for $12.95 . A short drive to other restaurants serving breakfast. Less than an hour to the cruise terminal in moderate traffic It's South Florida, so if you hotel be sure and take your cruise luggage out of your car. If you have the kind of GPS with a suction cup to stick to your windshield, take the GPS too. Wipe the windshield to remove any mark left by the suction cup. They've been breaking into cars with the telltale suction cup mark looking for the GPS. Wanting to save a few bucks I chose a cut rate car park near the airport, less than 15 minutes from the cruise terminal. This place was Quality Car Park and Auto Rental at 500 NE 32 Ct. in Lauderdale. The $8.00 a day rate was not worth it. Despite their claim that our car would be parked in a fenced area it was actually parked in an unfenced, unguarded area right next to the road in a questionable part of town. SHIP INFORMATION The cruise line recommends arriving after 1:30 to avoid the initial boarding rush. We got there just after 3:00 and found the terminal virtually empty. Once checked through security, boarding was a matter of walking up the gangway and onto the vessel. The Coral Princess is one of the larger cruise ships. Built in 2002 she measures 980 ft in length and 105 across the beam. Big at 92,000 ton, she is not to be mistaken with some of the grand cruise ships weighing in at over 140,000 ton. The Coral Princess has a passenger compliment of about 2000. The vessel is designed so that it never seemed crowded anywhere. Even in the quintessential main pool area there lounge chairs to be had, even on the days at sea. What's more, if you want to lounge in the pool area but don't wish to experience the band and general pool noise up close, there are several lounging areas set behind translucent partitions. A more traditional sunning area is on the Promenade Deck, complete with mahogany finished loungers. Of the vessels we have been on the Coral Princess was by far the cleanest. Extremely well maintained inside and out. It's said that Holland America has some of the largest staterooms in the business. Except for the balcony, ours seemed every bit as roomy as that on the Holland America ships. Our Coral Princess room was bright, cheerful, well laid out. The ample closet included a floor to ceiling cabinet with shelves and a safe. Drawers were at the bedside and on the vanity, small and narrow. Being RV owners we have experienced the small shower (it is RV sized !) so it was not an issue. Not so with other travelers on this boat. Even one of the show lounge comedians made fun of the showers. The queen sized bed was a comfortable pillow top. The pillows, on the other hand were awful. It reminded me of those used at economy hotels; small and with little substance. ACTIVITIES Clearly this cruise was designed for a lot of Americans in their seventh and eighth decade. I believe the oldest on board was plucky lass of 96, travelling on her own. Lots and lots of stuff do on the boat. Bingo, shuffleboard, golf putting, trivia, origami, afternoon tea, movies and of course the casino, to name a few. My wife and I like to work out so we did the gym every other day. Crowded in the morning and late afternoon. When we could, we went to the gum around 1:00. The gym had an adequate number of treadmills, a few stationary bikes, nice Cybex equipment and two racks of dumbbells and some barbells (with concrete filled weights). Usually an attendant was on duty and seemed genuinely interested in answering questions or giving general help with the equipment. The men's locker room was well appointed, two showers and a bank of lockers. Towels were also available there. Nice hot sauna. Steam was available but it cost extra. EATING The Coral Princess has no shortage of places to eat. Two main dining rooms. One for traditional (two seatings) dining, the for Anytime Dining. The Horizon Court was another favorite, offering grand buffet style dining three times a day. I especially liked the one luncheon that included a very impressive sushi buffet. Also available was a hot dog and hamburger bar, a pizza bar (in the main pool area and next to the pool bar). There were two specialty dining rooms. Though for $20.00 extra p.p. we were not impressed with the menu. There was also a complete ice cream bar. This was at additional cost. This was our first experience with Anytime Dining. We liked it. Traditional dining would seat us with the same people every evening. Anytime Dining sat us with different people every night. This was an adventure. We met many people from many different places. Virtually all from the US. We met a lot of folks from upstate New York. Both being Florida natives, my wife and I were able to share lots of information about the Sunshine State. We learned of many other peoples travel adventures and great info about their home states. Where you chose to dine is truly a matter of what you like. We have made some nice acquaintances with people we dined with, ala Traditional, on other cruises. With Anytime Dining the food is the same as in Traditional. The dress code is the same. Dining companions are not. Dine most anytime you want after the dining room opens. To make certain you get seated and to shorten the wait time (usually it was less than five minutes) be sure and make reservations each day. The quality of food on the Coral Princess lacked consistency. There were a few highlights. There were also lowlights. The lobster appetizer, the first night, was like a slice of tofu meatloaf with pieces of lobster embedded. No taste of lobster here. Found the Pina Colada soup interesting in that is was listed as a soup but turned out to be nothing more than a pina colada, complete with straw, fruit garnish and drink glass. Between my wife and I, steak was ordered five times on this cruise. I'm not sure I understand why the waiter bothered to ask how we liked it cooked (medium rare) as it always showed up at the table cooked medium well or well done. Other passengers had the same experience (except those wanting their steak medium well to well done). We love lamb, most any cut. The lamb shank was a total disappointment. Cooked more to resemble a Boston Butt with little semblance of lamb flavor. I didn't finish mine. One night rack of lamb was listed on the menu. We were surprised when it was delivered to the table as three lamb chops. They were very good but hardly presented as "rack of lamb" Sometimes the fish was good, other times it was mediocre. The prime rib was good (though somewhat overcooked). I was disappointed to see it served with creamed horseradish. Real horseradish was available on request. Desserts were catch as catch can. Some were very good, others tasted as if they had come from the corner store's frozen food case. I stopped making notes on the food after three days. Too much to keep up with. A lot of us did the breakfast buffet: Picture many pre-coffee passengers, shuffling around the buffet area collecting breakfast (we were glad to see they included grits some mornings). We discovered that it was less of a hassle and the food tended to be a little better when we ate breakfast in the Bordeaux dining room. The coffee was very good. As was the fresh pineapple and cantaloupe. Vegetables were always tasty. The Horizon Court buffet always had lots of variety (including low calorie selections). And of course, wherever we ate, there was no end to the amount of food we could eat. Some days into the cruise another table mate summed it up pretty well when he said "We came on board expecting the food to be an 8 and discovered that it really is a five". ** Just a quick note here about the drink option. This was heartily offered when we first got on board. The option was presented as many soft drinks as you like on the entire cruise for only $39.95 per person. If a person drinks a lot of soda, this doesn't seem to be too bad a deal, especially when one considers the ships price for a bottle of pop. Be warned, this option is not for bottles or cans of soda. It is for fountain drinks only. Included with the deal was a nice plastic coolie drink bottle (with "Coke" logo).. ** One other note, about hand sanitizer. With the bad press cruise lines have received over the Norwalk Virus, vessels we have been on in the past few years have had hand sanitizer available most everywhere; especially around elevators and outside restaurants. We were a bit surprised to find that while the Coral Princess offered this in the Horizon court buffet it was not openly offered in either one of the main dining rooms. Hand sanitizer was available from the maitre d' in the Bordeaux dining room, though he appeared somewhat put out the time I requested it from him. There were none around the elevators. ENTERTAINMENT On board entertainment was either very good or pretty bad. The Coral Princess Dancers did quite well. The first nights comedian did not. We enjoyed Lorena B. Fox's performance. It seemed everyone loved comedian Duncan Tuck and his talent with the guitar. Magician Greg Moreland demonstrated some thought provoking illusions. Cruise Director Ron Goodman seemed to do his job well. The last nights entertainment fell somewhat flat as did the comedian offering "250 jokes". Since we did not see all the entertainment offered, we cannot totally comment on the entertainment. SERVICE Virtually all the service personnel on the Coral Princess seemed to do a very good job. We had no language barrier issues (we only speak English) with the crew. At no time did it seem there was a shortage of service people. Benjamin, our cabin steward was a real professional. He always referred to us by name. At no time did our cabin lack for anything. Our ten nights aboard, he seemed to catch on to our in and out of cabin routine and do his work around our absence. To me a good cabin steward should be almost invisible. Benjamin was terrific ! ***** Tipping on the Coral Princess involves and automatic debit to your shipboard account. This amounted to $10.50 per day per person. People wishing to adjust this amount need to call passenger services and request a change form. The form will be delivered to your cabin. ***** Unlike other cruises we have been on, the Coral Princess did not offer receipts for incidental purchases, e.g. drinks, wine at dinner, ice cream. I'm a retired businessman and I like to have proof of what we've spent money on. Though it was usually no problem when requested, sometimes it seemed to be a major issue: "a receipt sir?, you want a receipt?" Twice, when requested, I never got it. PORTS OF CALL Aruba- If all you want to do is shop, that's good, because that's all of what metropolitan Aruba's about. As with other Ports of this cruise, lots of diamond and jewelry shops. From the few other passengers we talked with, Aruba was a port many could have done without. Cartagena- Once we got over the polluted harbor and stinky air we found Cartagena to be charming in its own way. Finding this charm is not easy for many of our cruise mates because of the sidewalk vendors; they are aggressive to say the least. About every fifty feet we were approached; cigars, handbags, tablecloths, leathergoods. Colorfully dressed native women wearing large hats filled with fruit beg to have you take their picture. Bargains can be had from these folks. Just don't asked price unless you are seriously interested in buying. Haggling is expected. A box of six Cuban Claros was priced at $40.00 American and purchased for $12.00. Don't do the walking tour of downtown Cartagena unless you like to be pestered almost non stop. Usually a simple "no thank you" will turn them away. I used "no tengo dinero" ( I don't have any money) which seemed to work even better. Overall my wife and I liked Cartagena. A final word about illegal drugs. We were approached in this port. It seems best to give these guys wide berth. Simply shake your head no and move quickly on. The boat is very zero tolerant on bringing dope aboard. Panama Canal For us, this was a dynamic experience ! We believe staying on the vessel was the best way to enjoy this port. We ordered breakfast delivered to our cabin at 7:00 am, just when we were getting close to the canal. We ate breakfast and drank Moet & Chandon on our balcony as the canal experience unfolded. A local, brought on board, described the canal as we moved through the locks and into Gatun Lake. His narration was on our cabin TV, so we raised the volume a little and sat on the balcony, listening to the narration. If you wish to experience the Panama Canal from the boat, a balcony cabin is a must. With two plastic chairs and a small table it was adequate for the two of us. One other thing about the balcony cabin on this trip...get one on the starboard side of the vessel. The boat enters the canal early in the morning. Those on the port side (east side) are subjected to the hot morning sun making it uncomfortable at best. Cristobal, Panama Passengers were not allowed out of the dock area at this port. The dock has a large enclosed shopping mall with a large variety of stores. Prices were very good. The mall was interesting in its own way. To me this was one of the better places to make purchases. Limon, Costa Rica We have experienced Costa Rica from San Jose. We loved it. Costa Rica is one of the most literate countries in the world. The country has made great progress in maintaining and growing its vast rain forest. Our adventure here was the aerial tram across rain forest. This tram was built with as little impact on the forest as possible. Even the pillions supporting the tram's cable system were placed on the forest floor by helicopter. The tram was a small open car attached to an overhead cable. The car held six people, including the guide. A strong wire cage on the upper half of each car assured passenger safety and kept passenger debris from falling into the forest (no smoking). The ride took about an hour and a half. We moved silently over treetops and jungle, sometimes as low a three feet or as high as 120 feet. Seeing this unspoiled tropical paradise was an amazing experience. The people of Costa Rica are friendly, many speak English as a second language. We gave this port a solid 'A'. Ocho Rios, Jamaica We were impressed with the well laid out shopping village at this port. Winding paths, lots of palms and hibiscus, many Jamaican style restaurants, lots of good local music, and a general sort of laid back style of living. If there was down side, it was somewhat aggressive vendors and the occasional strong smell of marijuana wafting through public areas. We'd give this port a 'B'. DISEMBARKATION For us getting off the boat was almost as easy as getting on the boat. We opted to do the "Express Disembarkation". For those who can handle their own luggage from their cabin to the pier this was great. The morning of disembarkation we took our luggage to the pre-assigned area. After waiting for perhaps thirty minutes for customs to clear the vessel we were called by pre numbered groups. Being in group 'A' we got off earlier than most. From the time we reached our disembarkation area until the time we cleared customs it was less than one hour. Done and done. SUMMARY I suppose a question most travelers ask themselves after a cruise is "Having experienced this cruise, would I have taken it if I had to do all over again?" My wife says she would have. I shopped around a lot for a good price on this cruise. Weighing the cost against the quality, I'd say it was a bit overpriced, even given the current fuel cost dilemma. The overall issue was with consistency of quality. This showed up in the dining room, the entertainment, and to some degree, with the cruise lines choice of ports. On the other hand, service and overall vessel quality was very good. I thought choice and price of excursions was also good. Experiencing the Panama Canal made this a very memorable trip. On a 1-10 scale I'd book this down as a 5+. Bon Voyage. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
Just returned from a wonderful 10 day cruise on the Coral Princess. It was very relaxing and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We thought the food was good, the buffets very good. The entertainment fun. The magician was funny and very ... Read More
Just returned from a wonderful 10 day cruise on the Coral Princess. It was very relaxing and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We thought the food was good, the buffets very good. The entertainment fun. The magician was funny and very enjoyable. They played movies in the theaters some afternoons for those who did not go ashore. The best of all was the entry into the Panama Canal. I recommend that people take advantage of the delicious champagne breakfast they offer for $28 to enjoy while cruising thru the locks and into Lake Gatun. Delicious and well worth the price. We went on the coffee plantation excursion that included a Costa Rican lunch on the way back to the ship. This was so beautiful it took our breath away. I now know why people expatriate to Costa Rica...it is truly beautiful in the mountains. The Coral Princess is a beautiful ship that I thought was very understated in decor. It was tasteful, well designed and VERY CLEAN. I did take the advise of some of the CC board members who suggested that we ask for a top sheet under the duvet cover. Good idea. We had a min suite which we also had on our only previous Princess cruise. It was plenty big enough for all our things and even big enough to invite some folks in to have a drink. We stored our bags under the bed but there probably would have been room in the closet area. I recommend a mini suite if your budget allows. The extra room for over 7 days is worth the price. Two things I did not care for was the mattress was not very comfortable. It was not too hard, it had a dip in it that once you fell into it...you were stuck. My DH complained about it about night 4 so I took his side of the bed thinking maybe it wasn't all that bad. I was mistaken. I laughed so hard because once I got into it, it wasn't easy to get back out of. And I had heard that the mattresses had been replaced...can't imagine what the old ones were like. Also, though greatly improved the any time dining doesn't always work very smoothly. We did not realize that any time dining meant that you can make RESERVATIONS for anytime. That is very important to know as you MUST call an extension onboard each day to ask for the specific time you want to be seated. It resulted in a number of people being very unhappy as they jammed outside the Bordeaux dining room. Once you figure out the trick and IF you can get thru to the people at the ext you are to call (3463 I have it memorized from redialing it for up to 1.5 hrs and this is not what I call vacationing) it works. Other than the mattress and the business with the anytime dining we enjoyed our cruise. So much so that we reserved a future cruise while onboard. It is a very good option to consider. It is good for up to 4 yrs costs only $100 considerably less than normal for a deposit and you get progressively higher onboard credits for future cruises. A real win win. Again, this cruise was what we had hoped it to be and the Panama Canal is all we thought it would be an more. Be sure to see it sometime! AS far as excursions go reserve EARLY and I do mean EARLY. WE could not get very many due to the lack of space. So, we could not do some we really had wanted to. The good ones fill up fast and there were a large number that were cancelled. Not sure as to the why of it they just were. So, if you think you want to do one...reserve it. You can always cancel. Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
CORAL CARIBBEAN CHRISTMAS CRUISE We just returned from the Coral Princess Christmas sailing to the Eastern Caribbean 12/20/2007 - 12/27/2007. The trip was fantastic! We have cruised many times with other cruise lines but this was only our ... Read More
CORAL CARIBBEAN CHRISTMAS CRUISE We just returned from the Coral Princess Christmas sailing to the Eastern Caribbean 12/20/2007 - 12/27/2007. The trip was fantastic! We have cruised many times with other cruise lines but this was only our second cruise with Princess. Two years ago we went on the Coral Princess to the Panama Canal and had a very disappointing experience. However, much has improved with the Coral since then and Princess has made up for their mistakes! WORDS OF WISDOM ABOUT SAME DAY FLIGHTS!!! We always fly to the embarkation port the day before the cruise, but this time we flew to Fort Lauderdale the morning of sailing due to schedule conflicts. We will never do this again because we had a BIG SCARE about lost luggage. Our flight arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 9:00am and we were ready to collect our baggage and get a taxi to the cruise port. Everything was working out perfectly and we expected to be at the ship by 10:00am. But only 3 of our 4 bags arrived! We spent over an hour at the airport consulting with the airline and trying to track down our lost bag. We had no luck and the airline just asked for our cell phone number and said there was nothing that could be done and they had no way of knowing where it was. The bag we lost was our "miscellaneous" bag that contained everything from shoes to two twelve packs of diet doctor pepper. We had no choice but to go shopping. We took a taxi to the Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale to buy dress shoes and sandals, and then to Walgreen's to buy toiletries and beach stuff. As soon as we paid for everything we got a call from the airport. Our bag was returned TWO hours later by someone who mistook it for their own! The worker in the baggage claim office said the two bags were entirely different colors as well!! SO PLEASE CHECK THE NAME TAG ON YOUR BAG BEFORE CLAIMING IT! We were panicked to the point of thinking the cruise was ruined and we had to spend almost $100 on taxi fares alone driving around Fort Lauderdale. To lighten things up our embarkation picture was so hilarious because we looked ready to pass out. This was a very long day. EMBARKATION We got to the cruise terminal at 1:30pm. We gave our bags to a porter and walked directly to the Baja check in counter. There are two counters for each deck and there was no one in line for Baja. This was the smoothest embarkation we had ever had. It only took us 15 minutes from the time our taxi pulled up to the ship to the time we were in our cabin. The longest wait was for the embarkation photo, which we just had to buy as a reminder of the disastrous morning we had! SHIP CONDITION The Coral Princess is in great condition. Everything was the same as it had been two years ago. Cleaning, painting, varnishing etc. was going on throughout the cruise. The only things that showed ware and tear were the steamer chair lounges on the promenade deck. Most of them stuck and were not able to be adjusted. The carpet outside the Princess Theater showed water spots and could also be replaced. Everything else was perfectly fine! CABIN AND ACCOMMODATIONS Since all the cabin layouts and furnishings are the same throughout the most of the Princess fleet I won't go into detail. The only complaints we had about the cabin were the air conditioning and the mattresses. The air conditioning was reasonable, but with the duvets we would had preferred the room to be cooler at night. The mattresses we a little uncomfortable but next time we will request egg crate toppers for the beds. Everything else was great. NEW MATTRESSES On disembarkation day Baja deck was lined up and down with new twin mattresses to be installed after our cruise. It looks like we just missed them! The crew elevator area was also full of new mattresses so it appeared that they are being replaced in all the cabins. FOOD AND DINING The food in the dining rooms was very good. Our main complaint on our cruise on the Coral two years ago was the food. This time the food was much improved. Two dining firsts for us on a cruise were frog legs and crab legs. Both of these entrees were wonderful! This was the only cruise we have been on that offered these menu items. The food was better than our last two cruises on Royal Caribbean, just stay away from the seafood avocado boat and you will be fine. The filet and sea scallops were wonderful. The food was also served hot, which was a problem the last time we were on the Coral. The air conditioner above our table the last time chilled our food in minutes. This time was much better. Breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court got to be repetitive because they served the same thing almost every day. Most of the food in the Horizon was good, but it was not as good as the food in the dining room. The Horizon Court in general needs help in terms of layout and aesthetic appeal. The grill helped us to get some variety for lunch, including Princess Pizza which was also good. We did not eat at Sabatini's' because we enjoy the main dining room experience and the food in the dining room was to our liking. ANYTIME DINING ISSUES We booked our Coral Cruise six months ago and have been on a waitlist for traditional late seating dining for the last two months. We went to the Maitre'D as soon as we boarded and explained the situation. We were told to eat anytime dining the first night and that we would be accommodated the second night. Having never done anytime dining before, we called down to the purser's desk and asked what time is anytime dining and the purser laughed. Live and learn I guess. The second night we went into the dining room and found that the Maitre'D stand was removed so that more tables could be set up for traditional dining. We were basically seated in the hallway and were not happy. We refused to sit there, flagged down the Maitre'D and were promptly escorted to a table in the back of the dining room that had three empty chairs and a family of four already seated. This arrangement was fine, but why couldn't this request be accommodated in the first place? We received a $75 dollar onboard credit for this ordeal which was a nice surprise! SERVICE Our cabin steward was very courteous. He seemed to have personality and to like his job. He always smiled at us and said hello to us in the hallway. Our room was kept in great order. Our dining room waiter was fine, but was pushy. Every time we ordered a bottle of wine he would say, "No, no, no, this one is much better." The wines he wanted us to order were $15 to $20 more than the bottles we wanted. He also came to our table two nights with the Princess Cook Book and showed us the recipes for the meals we just had. He kept telling us to buy it and we kept telling us we didn't want it. When the last two nights of the cruise arrived he kept telling us to fill out the comment card and mention table 15. Other than being a little forward, his service was fine. Some of our meals were slow however, and we didn't get out of the dining room until 10:45pm. Overall we had an enjoyable experience. Servers in the Horizon Court were always around with the carts to serve drinks and waiters by the pool were plentiful. HOLIDAY DECORATIONS The atrium was tastefully decorated with wreathes, garland and lights draped along the railings. Christmas trees were placed in the atrium, many of the lounges, in the Horizon Court and in also in the casino. The dining rooms also had decorations adorning the waiter stations and had two Christmas trees at the entrance. Every cabin door had a holiday garnish on the mailbox. The entire ship looked festive. We were worried that the decorations would actually take away from the beauty of the ship, but we were completely wrong. Two years ago we thought the atrium looked quite drab and plain, but the holiday dEcor enhanced the ship greatly! HOLIDAY FESTIVITIES This was our first Christmas cruise and we were so surprised at how festive the atmosphere was onboard. I highly recommend holiday sailings! A Christmas cruise brings about another dimension of cruising that is not experienced at other times of the year. Santa was sitting in the atrium during embarkation for photo opportunities and appeared again on Christmas morning handing out wrapped presents to the children onboard. On Christmas Eve the crew sung Christmas carols in the atrium while the snow machines were working. The crew choir included staff from all the departments including the captain. It was amazing to see the snow falling and to be part of the festive atmosphere. The entertainment staff did a great job keeping everyone involved. There was a table of Christmas cookies and milk in the atrium on Christmas Eve, and during Christmas day the crew pushed a cart of cookies and milk around the pool deck. On Christmas Day there was a special Holiday Family Show in the Princess Theatre. We went to the show with apprehension but it turned out to be great. The stage was set up to look like a living room, and "family members" would arrive at the door and sing a Christmas song after being welcomed. The talent was great and the show made everyone feel at home for Christmas. The Coral Princess dancers also did a knock off of the New York City Rockets. Christmas at sea is simply wonderful! There was a special menu in the dining room on Christmas Day. The cabin TV had a Yule log channel and was very festive. The Christmas music being played throughout the ship was very bizarre, but was a nice change from the traditional Christmas songs. One song had the line, "I want to wash my hands, my face and hair in snow," which we thought was very comical. A Catholic midnight mass was held in addition to Protestant and Jewish services. PORTS OF CALL We called at St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Princess Cays. We have been to St. Thomas and St. Maarten many times so we just walked around town and did some minor shopping. We cruise mainly to be on the ship, not to go to the ports. Princess Cays was nice but very chaotic. We had to obtain tender tickets and wait about 45 minutes to get off the ship. If we ever went to Princess Cays again we would stay on the ship. Lunch on the island was limited and not good. The lines were long and seating was limited. We concluded that because the Coral doesn't call at Princess Cays regularly the crew was not prepared like the crew on the Caribbean Princess which calls at Princess Cays every week. WEATHER AND SEA CONDITIONS The weather overall was great. Temperatures were in the 80s almost every day. We had some rain showers on embarkation day and in the morning of the first sea day but it was sunny and warm every other day. There was also a 15 minute tropical shower just before sail away in St. Maarten. St. Thomas was very hot. Sea conditions were moderate for the majority of the cruise. The December trade winds were evident and made Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day rather rough. The Coral handles the seas very well and most of the motion was due to pitching from bow to stern. The ship moved more due to the winds than high waves, and the pools mirrored the seas on Christmas Day. We didn't hear about anyone becoming sea sick and the motion just allows you to know you are at sea and not in a hotel. I love the motion of the ocean. CREW MEMBER POLICIES What turned us away from Princess two years ago was the policy that some crew members, the entertainment staff and officers are permitted to eat in the Horizon Court with paying passengers and mingle extensively in passenger areas on their time off. On our previous Princess cruise we saw an officer in complete white uniform and name tag laying asleep on a deck lounge chair on the promenade deck while at sea. The singers and dancers also congregated on the promenade deck and ate at the same buffet and were served drinks by other crew members. We have never witnessed crew members using passenger facilities on any other cruise line. During the Champagne Waterfall party many crew members and waiters were dancing along with the passengers. On this cruise we witnessed the same policy. Does anyone else have feelings about this? ENTERTAINMENT The production shows were very good. We have seen Tribute and Dance before, but saw them a second time and liked them. The ship was very quite after 11:00pm each evening. At 11:30pm you could walk from stem to stern and see only a handful of people. At 12:30am you could walk around and not even see a crew member. MISCELLANEOUS We had a medical disembarkation in St. Thomas. On the night of 12/26/2007, at 2:00am, the captain made an announcement regarding a missing person. He apologized and said that it was necessary to broadcast on all circuits because it was an emergency. They paged a passenger to dial 12000 on any of the ships telephones. Another announcement was made 20 minutes later ordering the "missing persons operations" to stand down. We found out from a crew member the following day that a girl was in someone's cabin and could not be found by her parents. The crew member told us there was a search party getting ready to search the water if she was not found. OVERALL Overall we had a great time onboard the Coral for Christmas. A holiday cruise was just what we needed to escape winter for a week. We were very pleased with this cruise. Passengers on this cruise were of a variety of ages. We were surprised that there were only 300 kids onboard. They were well behaved. The only time we noticed the kids was when a group of 7 year olds took all of the red, white and blue balloons out of the dining room on the last night and ran up and down deck six holding nearly 100 balloons. It was quite a sight to see them flying through the crowded photo gallery with all those balloons. I believe I have covered most things. If you have any questions about the ship I will be more than happy to answer them. WE RATE THIS CRUISE 8 OUT OF 10 Happy cruising to all of you at Cruise Critic Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We spent a pre-embarkation day in Ft. Lauderdale on the Water Taxi and an everglades tour. See the Florida departures board for reviews of this as well as the Renaissance on 17th and 3030 Ocean restaurant. Embarkation: We took a taxi ... Read More
We spent a pre-embarkation day in Ft. Lauderdale on the Water Taxi and an everglades tour. See the Florida departures board for reviews of this as well as the Renaissance on 17th and 3030 Ocean restaurant. Embarkation: We took a taxi from hotel to Port Everglades a little before 1500 hours. Tipped the porters at the port $2 per bag for our checked luggage, filled out all the requisite paperwork, stood for the obligatory photos (although we never did find them on the boards at the photo shop the next day), and onto the ship—all without lines or stopping. Total time from hotel to stateroom was 20 minutes. Ship: This was our second time on Princess, first time on Coral. We booked a suite on the port side of Dolphin. It was nice, but not much larger than the aft mini-suite we had on Dawn. Also found the room furnishings a little tired (and the bed was horrible) and steward service mixed. (A full posting on our "suite experience" is on the main Princess board.) Overall, the Coral is a beautiful ship—lovely public areas and very nicely decorated and maintained. It was decked out for the holidays for our cruise and looked very festive—unfortunately, however, they didn't set up the snow machine for the lobby until the end of the cruise and didn't use it until the one following ours. I'd collected hints for embarkation from the CC.com boards. You do need to check the temperature in mini-refrigerator—it was barely cool on check-in. Call "DINE" and order any ultimate balcony breakfast and dinner as well as Bayou cafe and Sabatini's reservations as well as any spa reservations as soon as possible if you have a date/time you want. On our cruise, however, these services did not appear to be heavily used—we were able to book both specialty restaurants easily and the spa kept running lots of specials (one of which was honored for my services, even though I had booked them on-line before the cruise.) General muster was next and, as many have noted, it was very short and sweet. Then it was time for our CC.com sailaway party! We had agreed to meet after the muster at the bar near "The Grill" on the Sun deck. We wore mardi gras beads, so we could find each other and brought extras for those who might not have been abe to find them (such as our friends from the UK). We started on our tasting of Princess cocktails from the "Favorite Drink" thread with an Ultimate Cooler and a Captain's Bounty; the former was a tad too sweet but the latter was VERY yummy. We had a GREAT roll call group and a good turnout for our sailway party. A group of ten of us from the sailaway party decided to go have sailaway dinner together in the Bourdeaux (anytime) dining room. One of us should have thought to try to make a reservation as it was a madhouse and we ended up waiting for 45 minutes for a table. Menu included pasta shells (long Italian name), rockfish, prime rib and seafood turnover. The waiter was Carlos from Mexico--he was very slow and into pushing everything from more expensive wine than you initially ordered to the cookbook. Too tired for any after dinner entertainment. First Sea Day: Captain Stefano Ravera took over command of the Coral on the 10 Nov cruise. The Cruise Director is Rob Goodman from the U.S., assisted by Collette (Australian) and Mark (also from U.S.) Paula, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the Captain's Circle Host. The Captain and CD staff have the reputation as being out and about, but they must have always been some place on the ship where we are not. We did finally see them all on the last sea day. The lecturer at sea on our trip was Stephen Bauer, who had served in the White House and gave lectures on happenings behind the scenes there. Unfortunately, that meant we had no one on board who was lecturing on the history of the Panama Canal. A disappointment. The Coral sailed full, but you only felt the crowds at the pool, at the Horizon Court, and while waiting for dinner seating. Otherwise, lots of area to find a quiet place around the ship. The usual round of activities for sea day. We were still worn out from finishing up everything at work and ended up doing nothing more strenuous than going to the pool. We did the ultimate balcony breakfast this morning (Thank you, Amber!) and were glad for the CC.com tip to bring ziplock bags for leftovers. Also used the gym today and most days on board. They have a nice selection of treadmills, elipticals, and other cardio equipment as well as weight machines and free weights. Never had to wait for equipment. Towels available as well as a fountain for cold water--we followed a CC.com tip and brought water bottles to fill and then chill in our cabin fridge for shore excursions the following day. The Coral seems to be switching around formal nights—everyone on CC.com prior to us had reported that the first formal night was the SECOND sea day, but on our trip it was the FIRST one along with the Captain's Welcome Party. Dinner included mahi-mahi and beef tournedos. Second Sea Day: Went to the ice-carving demonstration by the pool today—lots of people. The carvers made a parrot and angelfish. Dinner was Caribbean dinner. The Seafood Potpourri and Rack of Pork were very good. Saw the comedian Adam Ace tonight. His act mixes bringing up someone from the audience or going into the audience as well as traditional stand-up and prop comedy. I found the show a little mean-spirited, but many others loved it. They also had a "smoke-free" night in the casino; there is a second one later in the cruise. Ports: Our cruise stopped in Oranjested, Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; the Panama Canal; Limon, Costa Rica; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We booked private tours for all ports except the canal, where we took the ferry tour to the Pacific side of the canal. I've posted reviews of all on the destination boards, so won't repeat them here. The ship sprung ahead to the Atlantic time zone the first night, putting it in sync with local time in Aruba. It fell back to EST between Aruba and Cartagena, putting it in sync with local time in the latter. It stayed on EST for the rest of the cruise. Costa Rica is in the Central time zone, however, so local time there was one hour behind ship's time. We did find we were usually in port and able to disembark earlier than the times posted in the itinerary, but of course, that could definitely vary due to weather, etc. Captain Ravera gave us a great ride despite some choppy seas along the way. He always provided lots of good information on his arrival and departure announcements. I believe someone finally posted the menus from the trip, so I won't go into detail. The sailaway dinner and dinners on the first two sea nights were very good. The fourth night (Aruba) was the Continental menu, which did not really appeal so we ended up going to Sabatini's, with four others from our roll call, which was excellent. Assortment of antipasto brought by the waiter, then a small plate with a dab of caviar if you wanted it. Then you had a choice of soup or salad. After that a round of three pastas are brought—like the antipasto served as a small taste of everything (three of the gnocchi, for example). Finally, your chosen entrEe and then dessert. And the service is really wonderful. Before dinner we had a cocktail in the Bayou bar, listening to Thelma's Trio. After dinner, we heard a couple of songs from pianist Larry Dunsmore in Crooners. Both were very enjoyable. We also substituted the night of the "Princess dinner" for dinner at the Bayou Cafe. The Bayou was fabulous, both food and service. The waiter suggested we start with a sampler plate of all the appetizers (shrimp and grits, gator ribs, oysters, and sausage). Then there was soup and salad. The entrees were all wonderful—especially the carpetbagger filet. The desserts were also great, but definitely too much after all the rest. Panama Canal, Panama: A few comments on this port as it's the point of the cruise. The ship was scheduled to go through the first lock chamber at Gatun at 0700 hours. Based on recommendations from previous CCers on Coral, we were at the "secret" deck on Caribe (there's another one on Baja—none on Dolphin) by a little past 0530. Which turned out to be way too early—although it was a lovely dawn enjoyed by just the two of us on deck! You really want to be on deck about one hour before scheduled lockage, which is the point at which the shop passes the breakwater to enter the canal area and the ship takes on the local pilot and commentator from the Panama Canal Authority. The lockage time for the Coral was delayed by 90 minutes, however, due to a ship making the transit from the Pacific having had mechanical problems, which backed everything up, meaning we had a very leisurely approach to the first set of locks. We had brought a split of champagne to toast our passage and did so when we entered the first lock, at about 0830 hours. Lots of fellow CCers around by that time to take our photo and for us to return the favor. Also following CCer advice, we spent the voyage through the first lock at the bow. Then after the gates opened and the ship moved forward to the second chamber, we hightailed it back to the stern (Caribe deck still) to get a completely different perspective. For the third chamber, we went back to the cabin, where our room service breakfast was awaiting so we could have our lox in the locks (and take obligatory photos of each other enjoying this treat). It was really a wonderful 360-degree experience doing it this way. The menu for Panama Canal night was "International" with Rollatine di Magro alla Caprese (Spinach and Ricotta crepes), Snapper Filet, Rainbow Trout, Leg of Lamb, or Surf and Turf (filet and shrimp). It was not very inspiring—would be another good night for alternate dining. For the day of Limon, it was "Italian night" including Pappaardelle al Sugo di Lepre (rabbit and noodles), Saltimbocca Baby Turbot (fish), Gamberi alla Fra Diavolo (shrimp flambe), Costoletta di Vitello Piemontese (veal), and Brasato di Manzo al Barolo. They were also cooking a pasta dish in the dining room and brought a small plate of that for the table to share. On deck afterwards, it was Island night. The Redskins were playing the Bears that night, so hubby went to see that on the big screen in the Explorer's Club. I went to see the production show, a tribute to Motown. Since the shows are all done by the same company, they all tend to look the same to me--but it's still hard to go wrong with music from Motown. Third sea day - After four port days in a row, today was all about relaxing. By the pool, in the thermal suite, on the balcony, etc. This was the second formal night of the cruise with the "Captain's Gala Dinner" proceeded by the Captain's Circle reception. Menu for the evening was Ravioli con Salsa di Funghi, Cold Water Barramundi in a Coriander Butter Sauce, Lobster Tail with two King Prawns, Royal Pheasant in Pan Juices, and Beef Wellington. We opted to do the Lobster (aka Ultimate) Balcony Dinner instead. We had reserved a date and time for this when we first boarded. The room service superintendent did not come by personally to go over the menu and take our order as other CCers had posted, but did have the menu delivered as well as the dining room menu so we could call him and decide what we wanted. We opted for the very tasty Captain's Bounty (a lot of different rums) and a Dr. No martini to start, had a glass each from the included split of Moet and Chandon champagne with the appetizers and salad (we had brought a corker and saved the rest for mimosas with breakfast on our last sea day), and a glass of Malbec we had brought on board with the entrEe. The crab starters were a little bland, so was glad we had chosen to just get one of those along with a seafood tian and a clams casino form the dining room menu for that night. The salad was lovely as were the lobster tail and filet. Dessert covered the table they had brought and set up on the balcony—cheese and fruit plate, three mousses, and the plate of pastries and cookies. There was also a cake as we were celebrating my DH's birthday. Way too much. Good thing we had our handy ziplocks—we ate parts of that dinner for the rest of the trip and finally ate the cake when we got home. (There were also canapEs to start—along with the daily suite canapEs and the chocolate-covered strawberries for formal night. Skip your canapEs if you order this as they are all the same.) A ship's photographer showed up with the two waiters from room service and took a lot of photos inside and out. Apparently we weren't very good subjects, however, as only four were available to review at the photo gallery (you have to ask for them at the counter). Unfortunately, the ones from outside did not come out well—it was too windy. Still, a wonderful time was had by all. Dinner after Ocho Rios was the "Chef's menu" including crab legs and lamb. The crab legs were very good and they would bring extras if you asked for them—or even if you did not, which is what happened to us. Fourth Sea Day: We finished knocking around the ship, filled out "You made a difference cards" and put together tip envelopes (on top of the auto tip) for those who delivered excellent service, played trivia, ate, and treated ourselves to a couple of specials in the spa. (I followed CCer advice and began my appointment by telling my therapist that "I have tons of products at home. I will tip you extra if do provide service for the full time and you do not pitch products." Either it worked for me or I just lucked into two spa staff who were not into the product game as I had zero hard sell. DH did not follow the advice and got a push for $300 worth of stuff he had to have to protect his skin in shaving according to the very pushy staffer he had.) Then it was time to pack, meet some of our CC friends for cocktails and another wonderful dinner in the Bayou Cafe, and then late-night entertainment with Larry Dunsmore in Crooners. (He's a wonderful pianist and singer from the UK. He will be moving to the Golden next year.) The dinner in the dining room was the "Landfall menu" but I forgot to even look at the menu. Princess does now charge slightly higher daily hotel fees for minis and suites ($11 versus $10.50) but I know CCers believe you should still tip extra in a suite based on the extra service provided by the cabin steward. We felt ours provided only the most basic service, however, and he failed to respond to a couple of what seemed to us to be reasonable requests—like the ones for deck chairs as our neighboring suite had. So we only tipped him an extra $20 over the autotip. We did write a note to his supervisor advising him of our thoughts. We also provided extra tips to the head waiter in the Bourdeau dining room, Catalan from Romania, and to the two teams of waiters and assistant waiters we had a couple of times (we requested their sections again after the first times)—Silvio (Romania) and Birgitta (Hungary) as well as Pietro (Italy) and Raul (Argentina). Disembarkation—the saddest day! We pulled into Ft. Lauderdale between 0630 and 0700. The disembarkation information asked everyone to vacate their cabins by 0800. We grabbed our last latte and fresh brewed coffee (using our "Jack of Java" card, which still works on "cash only" disembarkation day and that was punched only for the specialty coffees, not the fresh brewed at La Patisserie, and our handy thermal mugs) and headed to the Province dining room for breakfast. By the time we were finished, our tag color/number had been called. The immigration and customs inspection lines were running a little slowly, but we were still off the ship and off to the airport by 0900. After clearing customs it was a fairly short walk to the taxi waiting area and there were lots waiting—no problem finding one at all. Overall, a great itinerary, a wonderful captain and crew, a beautiful ship, and a great bunch of new CC friends. We put down a deposit on a trip on the Royal next year with six of our new friends from the trip and look forward to a similarly fabulous time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We sailed on the Coral Princess from 11/10 to 11/20 with the primary purpose of viewing the Panama Canal. In that respect the cruise was great, the canal is amazing to see in operation and to actually go thru the locks at Gatun Lake was ... Read More
We sailed on the Coral Princess from 11/10 to 11/20 with the primary purpose of viewing the Panama Canal. In that respect the cruise was great, the canal is amazing to see in operation and to actually go thru the locks at Gatun Lake was incredible. However after the Canal there was not really much else that happened that made me glad that we took this particular cruise. This was my wife and I's 3rd cruise on Princess and to tell you the truth, each cruise has been less satisfying then the previous one. The main problems with this cruise were with the food and the shore trips. Embarkation - Excellent Left Providence on a 7:40AM flight on Southwest and was actually on the ship and in my cabin by 12:15PM. Disembarkation was just as easy. Dining. - Fair to poor Breakfast at Horizons was great, lunch was okay and dinner in Horizons (we elected not to go the formal route for 2 nites) was absolutely terrible. I would have preferred McDonalds. The other 8 nites that we ate in the dining room were okay, nothing to write home about. (except for the Fettuccine Alfredo, which is to wonderful). Soups were either watery or a type of cold soup. Overall the food wasn't much better then what you would get at an Outback restaurant. Ship Facilities - Very good I had no problems with the ship itself, its very nice and laid out very similar to all the other Princess ships. It's not hard to get around or find things. Didn't see a lot of people winning on the slots. Shows were good for the most part. Shore Trips - Poor (except for the trip thru Canal) Aruba - we were there from 7:00 am to 1:00 am, you can't really do much in such a short time. We went snorkeling and it was okay. Cartagena Columbia -- very dirty place. Shopping not worth it. Cristobol Panama - just a shopping area Costa Rica - Signed up for the $200 rain forest / river trip. - Not worth it. This may sound stupid but all the rain forest consists of is a bunch of trees and vines and plants that are wet and close together. I thought I would see flowers and some animals. Saw none of either. The river part was also lame, however did see some animals from a hundred yards or so away. Jamaica - Went on a catamaran ride, saw the end of Dunn River Falls. - nothing special. Not sure if I will travel on Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
**** Please note this is a review of my own experiences and opinions that I wanted to share here - I do not wish to spark any controversy. Embark - disembark: this was by far the BEST ever embarking and disembark. Princess knows what ... Read More
**** Please note this is a review of my own experiences and opinions that I wanted to share here - I do not wish to spark any controversy. Embark - disembark: this was by far the BEST ever embarking and disembark. Princess knows what they are doing here. We arrived at the pier at 12:00 - never waited in a line and walked right on the ship.. it was terrific! Disembark - we were given a time of 8:30am - we were to go to the Explorer's lounge - within minutes we were leaving the ship - no lines to wait in at all - Luggage area was a little crazy a porter - a cab - and we were off in no time. Muster Drill: I have to comment on this because Princess has made this pain bearable. We were to meet in the Princess theater - carrying our life vest - not wearing it and standing on deck being shoved every which way.. we listened to the announcements and instructions - everyone was paying attention - and for the first time - so was I. Other cruise lines could learn from this - it was great. Ship: overall - pretty nice, liked the public areas - Horizon court gets a little crazy and crowded, but then most buffets do. Dining room was very nice, on board stores didn't have a lot to offer in my opinion. Pools are nice - I thought Lotus pool is for adults - there was a lady with a toddler in a diaper in the pool - they should really post signs saying Adults only. Viewing the canal was very nice from our balcony - as well as the front of our deck and the aft.. we were on deck 10 - and the aft viewing has lounge chairs - very nice - the front is smaller - but just as good to see the canal - I would advise checking each out. Services: Room service was great - we had the same guy every morning ( we order coffee) he was always on time - and very friendly. Princess does not have phone cards available to make calls. This is the 1st cruise I have taken where I had to pay $4.95 a min to call home when at sea - they should think about phone cards. I was able to use my Cingular cell phone in all ports of call - I'm sure it will be a BIG bill. Spa - I walked through there - and it seemed real nice - but didn't purchase any service. Gym - looked very nice - again I didn't use the facility. Laundry self service is available near aft on decks 10, 11, 12 - and maybe others I don't know. I was on 10, and they had 5 washers and dryers in a laundry room with iron/board, wash, dry and all soap products are $1.00 each. (there is a change machine - but sometimes it's out). I did do a couple loads of laundry - this was a nice feature. Smoking: Let me start by saying I am a smoker - and Princess does NOT offer the smokers much space for smoking. We could not smoke anywhere around the Lido pool or Lotus pool. On deck 15 - above the Lido - there was a small area with 3 tables for smokers, then there is the cigar room, Wheelhouse bar allows smoking in 1/3 of the area (nice) and Explorers Lounge has a small smoking area. I think that is it - and I hear that they used to allow smoking on one side of the ship on outside decks, like most ships do, but they had changed this. Casino is smoking except for 2 nights from 6pm on where it is smoke free. Cabin: We were in C226, mini-suite. I was able to view a regular balcony room and compare to a suite - and I can tell you that there is not a huge amount of difference. The rooms are just as narrow - the mini offers extra room for a sitting area, a few feet more on the balcony, and we had a bathtub instead of stand up shower, which I heard was very very tiny. Plenty of space for our things (2 of us) and you can store some empty luggage under the beds. Our room steward was just o.K.. meaning he did clean our room, and we did ask for a few things (extra pillows) and he obliged - but nothing more than that - and we hardly saw him - not overly friendly. Food: Horizon court buffet - I only have one word "yuck". Most everything was below average in my opinion. Main dining - I thought the food was very good - I have had better - but they did a pretty good job. Lobsters are small, lots of fish items to chose from, one night we had Alaskan King Crab legs. Didn't eat at a specialty restaurant, but did have afternoon tea 3:30 - 4:30 daily - and it was wonderful. One bad note - our server (Monica) was very nice the first 2 nights - then she seemed to be irritated with anyone ordering anything outside the menu, or extra things.. this seemed to get worse each night - some of us at our table felt quite uncomfortable with her abrupt behavior - and it put a damper on dinner - which was unfortunate - as we had great tablemates (8 of us in all). Entertainment: The ship's singers and dancers were good - some were better than others - but you have to give them credit for putting on so many shows - I enjoyed the shows - when I could find a seat. I think the show schedule and dinner times conflict. We had early dining 6pm, and the shows following dinner were always completely full - the later ones were almost full. People with late seating did not have as many options for shows and some friends we met were very disappointed in this. The comedian/Magician was terrific - what a great personality. We play Trivia - and they had plenty of it during the day - but in the evening it was not available.. much to our disappointment. WE really enjoyed "name that tune" and "evening trivia" on other cruise lines. Demographics: I am 46 and my Mom is 67 and we were comfortable with the rest of the passengers on board. I rarely saw any children - a few teens, but mostly an over 60 crowd in my opinion. Royal Caribbean has a younger following - and more active night life. Casino: Mom says the machines are very tight - and she knows her stuff. I played a little on the slots and Roulette - but am no gambler. Ports of Call: Aruba - very nice, walk right into shopping areas - we were not there long enough to take a tour - Princess should figure out a way to stay in Aruba longer. Cartagena Columbia: a little scary - street vendors swarm tour busses, banging on windows and blocking your path to get you to buy.,.. very unsettling - we took a ship tour - and although it was interesting and we saw many sites, I would not get off the ship again. Panama Canal: get up plenty early (6am) to see the locks - beautiful sites to behold - temp is Super HOT and we had 100% humidity..whew! Cristobal: we got off the ship and shopped at the pier.. right off the gang way - no walking hardly - lots of locals selling crafts - lots of singing and dancing - a very nice spot. Jamaica: docked at James Bond Pier, not very easy to get around there - you have to taxi into town, unlike at the main pier. We took a local tour (30.00 each) went through villages, Dunns River Falls ( you have to pay $15.00 each - just look at the falls -even if you don't want to climb it) we didn't do it. Went to Sony's for some shopping - was ok - lots of jewelers. Costa Rica - was cancelled because of demonstrations regarding free trade - went to Grand Cayman : this stop is tendered - we have been there before so opted to enjoy the near empty ship. Pre cruise: we stayed at the Lauderdale beachside hotel $129.00/night - room was just ok - nice little balcony facing the ocean - and beachfront view.. if you like the beach - this one is great. http://www.clarionbeachresort.com/ ** note: we took a cab from airport to this hotel $45.00 - we should have asked for a shuttle - it would have been $25.00 Post cruise: We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Ft. Lauderdale - WOW… what a nice place - very clean - upscale - beautiful pool - friendly staff - just all around very nice place. Cost $199/night - we had a beautiful poolside view from 9th floor - totally worth the money. http://www.seminolehardrockhollywood.com/ Cruise Critic Meeting - I spoke with Renee Wittwer - Onboard Coordinator : rwittwer@princesscruises.com via Email before the cruise and she set us up with a meeting place and time - she was very very helpful and our meeting went well. I do want to comment that Royal Caribbean seems to be the only line so far that I have been on where the Captain actually came - and answered questions, posed for photo's and was a real treat to meet for our meeting - other cruises will provide a room - but I think they should take the time to attend the CC meetings. I did get a voice mail from Ron, the CD asking if our group was having a good time - and did we need anything.. he seemed to have an interest - but this was 2 days before the cruise ended.. if he had com to the meeting it would have been much better. Final comments: Princess had good and bad - as do most lines - but in comparison - I believe Holland America to be a step above in service and food - as well as Royal Caribbean, and will probably chose one of these for my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
This was my 12th cruise and my wifes 11th cruise, she is 27 and I am 30. We chose this cruise based on the fact that neither of us had ever been to any of the ports, so it sounded good. We also picked Princess because we had been on the ... Read More
This was my 12th cruise and my wifes 11th cruise, she is 27 and I am 30. We chose this cruise based on the fact that neither of us had ever been to any of the ports, so it sounded good. We also picked Princess because we had been on the inaugural year of the Caribbean Princess and absolutely loved it. So we decided this would be the perfect cruise for us. Travel Day We flew from Newport News VA to Fort Lauderdale arriving at 2:30p.m. We were a little worried that we would be late to check in but this worked to our advantage. Embarkation We were pleasantly surprised that there was no line for us to check in and we had not filled out the credit card form online because I didn't know which card I wanted to use, no problem says princess and less than 10 minutes later we were on the ship in our cabin and very happy, by far the smoothest embarkation we had experienced, however we heard if you were earlier it wasn't so smooth. Cabin We had an inside cabin cat. P629. This was our first inside cabin ever. We were shocked at first that it was so small but it ended up being plenty big with more storage area than a balcony cabin that we spent some time in. Everything seemed very well taken care of. We had no problems with noise, a very good location in my opinion because we were very close to the back elevators which never seemed crowded. Ship The Coral Princess was beautiful. She seemed very well cared for, they were painting the anchor while we were docked at Costa Rica. All the public rooms seemed well kept. We enjoyed the explorers lounge, princess theater and the universe lounge. The main dining rooms were nice but not as grand as on RCCL, which I prefer. The two special restaurants were both nice and well maintained. Both pool areas were great and got a lot of use from us. The main pool was the most crowded, however it never seemed as crowded as any of the other main pools on any other cruise we've taken. The spa pool or "adult" pool was also great, it was never crowded when we were there. The decor in the spa pool was beautiful. I do wish they would have opened the roof on a least a couple occasions when it was beautiful outside, the chlorine smell could get bad at times. The hot tubs in the main pool were much better in my opinion than the ones in the spa pool because they were bigger, you could stretch out, and the jets worked in two of them, where as the spa pools hot tubs were BLAZING hot the first day but they did get better, and the jets only worked in one of them. The casino was a good size and they had the new Texas Hold'em tables which were very fun. The shops were o.k. there seemed to be a much bigger selection of stuff on the CB Princess, however they did put out rain jackets on the third straight port with rain. The best part of the Coral Princess in our opinion was the ship never seemed crowded. I'm not sure if it was the passenger age range or just good ship planning, but it was great. Service We thought the service overall on this ship was o.k. Our waitress in the dining room Christiana was awesome. All of the service we had in the dining room was great. The service in the Horizon court was also very good, you never had to look far for a glass of ice tea, water or even a coke if you had the card. All over the ship you never had to look far for a bar server to get you a drink. On that note everyone that you came in contact with on the ship (Stewards,waiters,drink guys and gals) seemed very friendly and willing to help you with anything. Our cabin steward was Melanie and she was fantastic, I was a little worried that our service in an inside cabin might not be as good but I was relieved to find our service so good. My problem with service came from the pursers desk and the cruise directors staff. We will start with the first night of the cruise the NFL football late game was on in the Explorers lounge. It was between the Steelers and Denver I think. We enjoyed watching because I am a huge football fan. I asked one of the entertainment staff if the games were going to be on the following Sunday and she said "oh yeah" So I was relieved. Then comes the following Sunday, no football in the patter so I wait to see if it comes on the t.v. and it does. So I call the pursers desk and ask them to see if there is anywhere they can put the game on so we can watch (I say we, there was about 15 of us who were planning on watching the games together) the pursers desk says there is an art show in the explorers lounge (mind you i was one of what seemed like 20 art shows but I believe the real number is 4) so there was nothing they could do. I asked if there was anywhere else they could put the game,possibly the late game after the art auction, they said they would get back to me. One hour later I call back and they say they have never talked to ME!!! This was after about four phone calls with the same guy NEIL!!! He says he has not talked to me all day. So after many calls and much anger the final answer is the Deputy Cruise Director Stu doesn't not want to change anything and he will not accommodate us. This started a string of poor service between the pursers desk and the cruise staff and us. Princess cancelled Jamaica and offered absolutely nothing in return. We have been on other cruises with cancelled ports and at the very least even Carnival offered us a $50 shipboard credit. Princess nothing. No explanation of why we could not go to any of the five ports we were going to go right by (Roatan, Belize, Cozumel, Cancun, Progresso, anywhere!!). Last but not least my favorite ACD Stu actually lied to my face on the night of Peer Factor. The patter told us to be there at 9:15 to sign up, of course this was right in the middle of my late dinner, but I left to go sign up and no one was there so one of the video guys was very nice and tried to help me find someone finally at 9:30 they finally come out and tell me I can't sign up anyone unless they are there, so then I explain that we are all at dinner they let me sign up. I see Stu on the way back to the dining room and tell him the "young people" are signed up for peer factor, because Stu had asked us earlier in the cruise to make sure we were there. Stu tells me to make sure we are back before the show starts at 9:45. SO I return at 9:40 with the whole crew and see Stu and tell him we are back and he tells me we are too late!!! I was hot! I asked him how, he says "I told you, you had 2 minutes" then some other people who there spoke up and said that wasn't true. Then he lets myself and a friend we had met in the show and proceeds to be rude in front of quite a few people and tell me how I need to thank him and this other guy for doing this!! It was terrible service from them to say the least. Also we had to dock early in FL due to the storm, so everything on the cruise ship shut down around 9:30 even the bars were closed at 11. There were many people who were upset at this. There was nothing to do, so we ended up playing Monopoly. At least that was fun and we weren't being mistreated. That's all for that. Entertainment I thought the entertainment on the cruise was good overall. The vegas style shows were wonderful in my opinion. There were four of them and we saw them all and enjoyed every one of them. There was a comedian a couple nights at the beginning of the cruise we got some laughs, I'd seen better at sea but he was still good. It was disappointing that they didn't have a late night show, actually they never had anything late night except for the disco in the Explorers lounge and that was a disappointment also because DJ Richard played the same 70's music everynight including the Electric Slide twice in one hour??? I like the electric slide but it was overkill on this sailing. We actually requested songs at the disco but DJ Richard would tell us it was going to be 20 or 30 minutes before our songs would get played because he had so many other requests??? There was maybe 20 people there so who put in all these requests? And there was no one on the Dance floor so try changing the music. When he finally would play our songs the dance floor would finally get some people on it. The Sea day entertainment was o.k. ping pong, art auction, golf chipping in the pool, movies, bingo, dance classes, but these were all repeated every sea day and new things were very rare. They did have some guest lectures that we heard were good. They had 2 wine tastings, the first was $10 a person which we attended. The second was $25 and we did not attend that one. The other entertainment at night was the Princess Pop Stars, Ballroom Blitz and even some of the comedian, magic act was planned around 9:30, right in the middle of late dinner. I asked who planned the events and they said ACD Stu, the cruise staff said it was planned this way so that people in late dining could go to the buffet or to one of the specialty restaurants so we could make the show. We didn't find that to be acceptable or appropriate. Dining We found the Food on the Coral to be great in the Bourdeaux dining room and Bayou Cafe, and poor at Horizon Court. We ate in the dining room eight of the 10 nights and the Bayou the other two nights. The dining room was great it had the standard Lobster, Beef wellington, surf and turf, and too many other things to remember. I do remember the food was hot and tasty. The ceaser salad was always delicious as were the deserts, the baked alaska seemed a little too sweet for me. We were sat with a great couple from Wales, they had both done some extensive traveling and had great stories to tell, plus you gotta love their accents, also at our table was a mother with her daughter. They were from Vancouver Canada and were taking this cruise to celebrate the daughters graduation from high school, what a present. We were lucky hat we got sat with some great people, some others were not so fortunate. I'm not sure how they do the seating assignments on Princess but it was definitely not by age. The Bayou Cafe was fabulous, we enjoyed the carpetbaggers filet and the gator ribs,oysters, sausage w/grits, jumbalaya and the fried peach was to die for!!! Us guys ordered the big porterhouse the first time at the bayou and it was nowhere near as good as the filet. Order more than one of the fried peaches because it takes 30 minutes and if your late eating they won't be able to get you another one, trust me your table will want more than one! I actually think the service in the Bayou was not as good as the dining room, it seemed you had to ask for more things like refills on drinks and bread, and it took over 2 hours both times so be prepared, it was definitely worth the $15 though. The horizon court was very disappointing. The buffet seemed to be the same everyday if you weren't there between 11:30 and 1:30 sandwiches, a pasta which was normally the best thing, and the same cookies everyday, they couldn't even change the types of cookies! If you could make it there in the two hours you would get a little more variety. There was always a carving station, mashed potatoes, cubed potatoes, a couple vegetables and a salad bar. The mexican buffet is the only one I can remember that I actually enjoyed. The breakfast buffet was not very good either unless you wanted to wait in line for fresh eggs, the waffles were decent, bacon was not. So I would recommend going to the dining room for breakfast lunch and dinner. The service was always good and the food was too. ALso the pizza was very good, as were the cheeseburgers and fries at the grill, but be prepared they both close at 7 p.m. for some unknown reason. No midnight buffets which kinda stinks. Free ice cream, yeah right. For one hour in the buffet some days otherwise you had to get it at dinner or pay for it. Rarely was anyone paying for it. Since this is Princess and supposed to be upscale from Carnival how come Carnival has free ice cream and 24 hr pizza??? Ports Aruba We did the golf excursion in Aruba. Jerry the golf pro on the ship was very accommodating. We enjoyed the course until it started thundering and then lightning and then the rain. The rain did lighten up and we were able to finish the course. The course was well maintained and very difficult once it got soaked. My wife and I did enjoy it, despite the rain. Cartagena, Columbia We had planned to do the mud volcano, however when we got to the Princess theater to check in we were told it was cancelled due to the downpour and we could book another tour, however there was much chaos at the desk to change your tour, after looking outside and seeing nothing but pouring rain, we decided to book a couples massage for later in the day. Princess did decide to refund anyone who didn't want to go on their excursion and gave everyone who did go half off of theirs, I thought this was a nice gesture considering, the tickets say tours go on rain or shine. The CD added a movie "Fracture" in the middle of the day which was enjoyable. The couples massage was great, however we did miss Columbia and we were looking forward to it. Panama We woke up at 6:30 to enjoy the Panama Canal. We met some friends in their balcony cabin and enjoyed the views for the next few hours. The canal was very fascinating to me. It's a sight everyone should see, amazing. We had a nice morning with only light sprinkles. Of course once we got of of the ship in Gatun lake it started raining. We did the Rainforest hike and it definitely was a rainforest. We were not able to do the whole hike due to the rain, we did get to tour an old fort right on the Atlantic ocean. The fort was awesome even in the rain. We did get do some hiking where we saw some monkeys and lots of birds, flowers and butterflies. The port of colon seemed very poor so when we got back to the ship we did not head back out, there are some shops right by the ship for local souvenirs. Limon, Costa Rica I don't know what happened in Costa Rica but God must have shined down on us because what do you know the sun was out!!!! Hallelujah!! This was by far our best port and it wasn't just the sun. We had met some friends from Cruise Critic who had booked an outside tour and invited us to come along. The tour they booked was thru Oscar Brown Tours and it was the best $105 dollars I have spent! Oscar actually gave us the tour himself. There was 8 of us. We had a mini-bus to ourselves. Oscar took us to one of his friends houses where we got to sample coconuts and cocoa. We also got to hold a sloth!! That was amazing! After that stop we headed off to the zipline. The zipline was sweet, very personal service there. This is a different zipline than the one sold on the ship, however there was a few former employees of the other zipline and they said this one was better. It didn't matter to me. The zipline was unbelievable. There were 10 different line and the 2nd and the last one were both crazy. After the zipline we went to the banana plantation where we got to see the bananas come all the way from the tree to the box. Remarkable to say the least. After that we went to do an eco-river cruise which was also great. We saw 2 sloths, all kinds of birds, bats and iguanas. It was a nice break from the rain. Then Oscar took us to this great restaurant that overlooked the whole harbor, what a view! The food was o.k. but the company was great! We headed into town, where Oscar took some of our party to the market because they wanted some coffee and he said this was the cheapest place to get the best. Oscar Brown was outstanding, anyone who is going to Costa Rica should definitely look him up, he has a website and his tour are top notch. Thanks Dave for the connection. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Guess what? Tropical Storm Noel said we aren't going to Jamaica. As I stated before Princess gave no compensation except $8 refund of port charges. Princess also gave no explanation of why we could not go to any other ports. Tidbits Most passengers on this cruise were older which is to be expected. Even having this expectation I was still surprised that there were only 6 couples in our age range 20's- 30's most I would say are in there 60's. Luckily we met a couple and hit it off well with them or we might have gone crazy. We ended up the last three sea days playing Clue and Monopoly in the card room because at 11 p.m. the ship entertainment was over unless you want to gamble. Don't get late dinner unless you want to miss half of the entertainment. Final Thoughts Even though this was our worst cruise out of 11, we still had a blast! We met some great people and had some great experiences. I can't say I will sail on Princess again or recommend them after our experience. We would do another panama canal cruise hopefully with better weather. We did think this was a great value for 10 days averaging around $100 a day per person for the cruise. Hopefully Princess will listen to our comment card and fix the entertainment fiasco and treat people a little better at the pursers desk. Coral Princess is great ship, easy to get around, rarely seemed crowded. Crew was very friendly. Looking forward to our next cruise, to bad it won't be on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Embarkation: Canada Place was a zoo when we arrived, but we were herded efficiently through a long lineup and boarded around 1 p.m., within one hour of arrival. We carried on (and declared) four bottles of wine to enjoy in our stateroom ... Read More
Embarkation: Canada Place was a zoo when we arrived, but we were herded efficiently through a long lineup and boarded around 1 p.m., within one hour of arrival. We carried on (and declared) four bottles of wine to enjoy in our stateroom and packed another couple of good quality Tetra-packs (one-litre boxed wines) in our luggage, no problem at all. Stateroom: Our starboard forward Aloha balcony stateroom was clean and ready for our arrival; we met our very efficient and friendly steward Chet (from Thailand) and requested eggcrate mattress-tops and bathrobes. The eggcrates were delivered promptly and the bathrobes arrived the next morning. The tux/shoes that we had pre-rented were hanging in the closet as promised and were in excellent condition. We later discovered that the shower had a slow drain, but Chet arranged to have it fixed within a couple of hours of embarkation. Another issue was an outside pipe above our covered balcony that collected condensation and dripped rust; this was solved easily enough by wiping the pipe every couple of days. Our stateroom was below the Horizon Court. During the day, we heard very little noise from above, but almost every night, there were banging sounds (from the galley?) between 3 and 4 a.m. It startled us awake the first few nights, but then we got used to it. The Coral Princess: Clean and easy to navigate. We especially enjoyed power-walking the length of the ship around the Sun Deck in the morning, and strolling the quite Promenade Deck in the humid evenings. Maintenance crews were constantly (but unobtrusively) cleaning, painting and varnishing. Ship's drinking water was excellent, no need for expensive bottled water. Smoking: We are non-smokers and avoid smoking areas for health reasons. While the smell of smoke was quite strong outside of some staterooms, it did not bother us in our own. We had smokers upwind of us, but they were courteous and only smoked one at a time on their balcony, so we could enjoy ours most of the time. Smokers on deck mostly stayed on the port side by the Lido bar. Pools: The jets on two of the three outdoor hot tubs on the Lido deck were not working, but nobody seemed to mind. The crews were testing the pool and spa waters constantly, which was reassuring. Both the Lido and Lotus pools were clean and we swam in both. Deck drink/food service: Drink orders were taken frequently with prompt, friendly delivery. The Lido pizza was heavenly (I loved the Nordic pizza with smoked salmon). The french fries from the grill were double-fried to a perfect golden crisp, and there was guacamole to dip them in! Avoid the vegetarian burgers, they were very mushy. My husband really enjoyed the beef cheeseburgers and bratwursts. Fellow travellers: A real mix of ages, which was great. This was by no means a golden-oldies cruise. Lots of walkers, some wheelchairs/scooters and very few children on such a long cruise. Quite a few passengers were in the 40-65 range. Everybody was ready for a good time, and from what I saw, were accommodating to those who had to move more slowly. The line-dancing classes, bingo, trivia and other activities looked very well attended! One of the best aspects of this cruise was meeting our CruiseCritic.com group ahead of time on the roll call and getting together for fun on the ship. What a great group of people! We were lucky to have the opportunity to meet them all. Gym/Sauna: We didn't join any of the organized classes, but used the fitness area quite a bit. There were enough treadmills and other equipment, all clean and in good shape. We also stopped here to fill up our water bottles with cold water before heading ashore. The fitness area is aft and overlooks the ship's wake, a great place to work out. There are weigh scales in kilograms and stones, with a conversion chart if you need to know pounds. (But who wants to know?) Towels are provided, as are anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down your machine after use. The smallish sauna area (ladies) had two roomy showers, and while the sauna was not as hot as I'd like, it was a pleasant place to pass an hour. We didn't opt for the thermal suite, it was in a windowless room and I didn't fancy sitting around with other folks warming my tush when I could do that on the Sun Deck in the open air for free. Dining: We opted for Late Traditional. No need for a waiting list here, a few tables in the room sat empty the entire cruise, and our table for eight was only filled by three couples. We'd taken a previous cruise to Mexico on the Sapphire two years ago, and had really liked the food, however, I found this 17-day menu a bit of a mishmash. I didn't recognize many of the dishes from our last cruise (or the Princess cookbook) and perhaps the head chef was trying to be adventurous on such a long voyage. I was very disappointed in the lobster, they were small and overcooked in comparison what we had enjoyed before, and they were served with large prawns, instead of being the featured seafood on the plate. I noticed a few of the same sauces were being repeated on subsequent nights on different dishes. On one night, our tablemates raved over the French Onion soup. I asked if it was possible to have the French Onion Soup the following night, but with a vegetable base (the soup base is beef.) A simple request. But the server had to consult with the head waiter for five minutes, halting the service to the three tables he was covering. Then the head waiter came over, asked who had made the special request, and had me repeat it. Then he wrote everything down on a notepad. Then he asked me for my stateroom number. That was my last special request, it seemed like too much of a fuss. But the soup the next night proved to be excellent! Our waiter was mostly competent, but was not a very warm person - unlike the gal serving the table next to us. When our server did make small mistakes, such as delivering the wrong salad dressing or the wrong dessert, he would simply dismiss it or argue if you pointed it out. (We ended up just swapping dessert plates ourselves). If you asked what ingredients were in a particular dish and he didn't know, he would shrug. Our assistant waiter was much more friendly, addressing us by name and remembering preferences. He got the larger tip! Other dining options: We tried breakfast and lunch in the dining rooms, but the service (three separate visits) was very, very slow, so it was back to Horizon Court, which we enjoyed (especially the omelette station at breakfast). Sabatini's was an unforgettable evening, delicious and well-presented food, great service, and we didn't over-eat. We also loved the Bayou Cafe for the same reasons. Entertainment: Unfortunately, we didn't make it to many of the big shows. (Early to bed, early to rise). But kudos to the historian on board, Lawrence Rudner, whose talks were well-researched and informative. Our at-sea days were mostly spent reading, in the gym, walking and hanging out by the pool. The nightly entertainment in the Bayou Cafe was excellent - the very personable Denise Canby trio and earlier in the evening, the talented Ron Coleman noodling away on the piano. Both Ron and Denise took the time to chat with passengers. It was a lovely way to relax before and after dinner, and you didn't have to be eating at the Bayou to go in soak up the lounge atmosphere. (And it's smoke-free!) Unusual event: Overnight off the coast of Cuba, a large thunderstorm (didn't really rock the ship at all, as we slept through it) blew dozens of tropical birds into the ship. When we went to walk on the Sun Deck first thing in the morning, it was a Hitchcockian scene. Dead and stunned birds of all sizes littered the deck and other confused birds were flying inside the Lotus Pool area and bumping into the glass. Some of the birds survived - and a few plucky yellow finches spent the final day cruising to Ft. Lauderdale with us on the Lido Deck. I have pictures of them perching by the hot tubs. Sealife sightings: Whales, dolphins, lots of flying fish, one big dead Great White Shark (south of San Fran.) a live shark, tons of interesting sea birds and by my count (from what I could see from our balcony), 13 sea turtles. We were fortunate to have mostly calm seas so we could look right down (no balconies jutting out below us) into the ocean. Ports: Everybody will have different experiences in the ports. Ours were mostly positive. A brief summary: San Francisco: Lunch at Scoma's on the pier (excellent seafood, wine selection and service), cable car ride to Union Square, and back to wander around Pier 39 and watch the sea lions bark in the sun. Cabo: We hired a water taxi ($10 each) out to the Arch, which was a lot of fun. He dropped us off at Lover's Beach for a swim, and picked us up as promised an hour later. If you take a water taxi, be prepared to get wet - especially if you are not in good shape and cannot jump nimbly from the boat into the surf. We saw quite a few older and overweight tourists (some in jeans!) take a dunking. Once back on the main pier, we walked into town and had lunch (very slow service, but good food) at the Giggling Marlin, where other tourists were happily strung upside down like marlins to have their pictures taken. Acapulco: The fortress was closed, so we walked to the old part of the city (Zocala) and wandered around. Very few vendors bothered you once you got outside the immediate port vicinity and it was good to see the places where ordinary citizens shopped and walked. Huatulco: A beautiful and clean small port. But the vendors were almost unbearable near the pier. We took at cab to the resort area of Tangolunda beach (five dollars) just to have a quiet walk on the beach. Puntarenas: We had pre-booked a private Charlie Soto tour, which was a bit of a misnomer as Charlie didn't show and sent his son instead. His son, a medical student, was friendly but didn't speak English very well - he wasn't a professional tour guide so we learned very little about the countryside we were seeing. There was no air-conditioned van with cold drinks and fruit but a very small taxi with the windows rolled down. We had to ask to stop for a drink of water, and our guide drove to a friend's place and presented us with some warm, bottled water which took an hour to cool off in a bucket of ice. A single beer materialized later in the day. We enjoyed ziplining at Villa Lapas (excellent guides there) and lunch at a beachside eatery before returning to the pier for some shopping. There was a wide variety of affordable crafts at this pier, the best on the trip, and I wish I had bought more. The vendors were courteous and did not hassle you at all. Panama Canal: What a great transit, and in lovely weather! We went forward on Baja deck to the very front of the ship for great views. During the last set of locks, we toasted the Canal from the Patisserie on Deck 5 and watched the ship sink below the walls of the locks. An exciting day! Cartegena: We took a ship's tour, the walk through Old Cartegena. The Coral was the first Princess ship to visit this port in a number of years due to safety concerns, so the locals pulled out all the stops with a big cultural show (band, dancers) on the pier and some red-carpet officials who visited the ship. Our walking tour was fantastic. Very few soldiers around, just lots and lots of "tourist police" with armbands on almost every corner. Amazing architecture, churches and a great guide, although he spent too long in a stop at an emerald shop. Other than the dead rat that I accidentally stepped in, this was a great tour and we were happy to see many important historical sites preserved. Note: while we returned early to the ship, we noticed late-arriving cruise tours were forced to stand out in long lineups in the hot sun. Armed guards were searching the bags of almost all the crew members who had been ashore, and checking quite a few passengers, as well. Aruba: A quick half-day visit. We left the ship and headed for the bus station conveniently across the street from the pier. It cost $1.15 each to take a short bus ride to either Eagle or Palm beach. We enjoyed a swim in the calm waters at Palm Beach, but were reluctant to sit and relax, as all the chair and cabanas were reserved for hotel guests only and we didn't want to rent. We spent a couple of hours walking the beach and having a quick (and very expensive) beer at a hotel beach bar before taking a bus back to the pier for a little shopping. Fort Lauderdale: Disembarkation was effortless, although a little delayed. We took the post-cruise Everglades boat ride tour, as our flight didn't leave from MIA until late in the afternoon. The guide on our tour bus was among the best we've had, very entertaining, and we learned quite a bit about the Everglades on the 30-minute ride to the park. We enjoyed the 20-minute airboat ride, it was very informative. But the alligator "show" afterwards was too hard to watch - a barefoot, unkempt "animal trainer" in a small fenced arena poking at alligators with a stick, dragging them by their tails to get them into a position for better photos. We left almost immediately - in my opinion, it was disgusting to see this kind of 19th century animal exhibition. Summary: What hurricane season??? The seas were calm and the temperatures beautiful. A once-in-a-lifetime cruise, although we may go back in another decade to see the new canal once it is finished! In retrospect, not much to complain about at all, and some fabulous memories. Good job, Princess, and thanks CruiseCritic.com for helping us prepare! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My wife and I traveled with our two children, ages 5 and 7, on the Coral Princess 7 day, northbound Vancouver to Whittier "Voyage of the Glaciers" sailing. The ship - the Coral Princess is a newer ship and it is beautiful. The ... Read More
My wife and I traveled with our two children, ages 5 and 7, on the Coral Princess 7 day, northbound Vancouver to Whittier "Voyage of the Glaciers" sailing. The ship - the Coral Princess is a newer ship and it is beautiful. The most notable comment I have is that, although the ship was full to capacity with nearly 2000 passengers and about 900 crew, it never felt crowded. There are a huge number of public rooms and various nooks and crannies where you can hang out. So, whether you want peace and quiet or lots of activity, there's a place for you on the ship. Embarkation - we boarded the ship at Canada Place in Vancouver. We dropped off our luggage in the late morning and then caught an IMAX show at the Pier before boarding. Boarding was quick and easy. When we got to our cabin, our luggage was already there waiting for us. Our cabin - we booked an outside cabin with a balcony. There is really no point to booking an inside cabin on an Alaskan cruise. For a family of four, this cabin had two bunk style beds that dropped down from the ceiling above the two lower beds. The upper berths were put away during the day. As is true on most ships, the cabins are small, the bathrooms even smaller. But, somehow, the 4 of us managed to keep our stuff put away so we could co-exist in cramped quarters. There are two large swimming pools. One outdoor and one indoor pool (retractable roof) for the Alaska sailings. We never had a problem finding available deck chairs, nor did the pools seem crowded. Obviously, this is probably different than what might be experienced on a Caribbean cruise. Although we didn't use it, the spa and fitness rooms looked very nice. The ship has two main entertainment venues - the Princess theater forward and the Universe Lounge aft. The entertainment was generally good. The ship had its "house" singers and dancers that put on a really good Motown review one night. There were also guest entertainers - magician, comedian, juggler - all of whom were very good. Our biggest concern getting on the ship was that our younger kids (ages 5 & 7) would have something to do when they decided that they could no longer look at glaciers. Although I have nothing to compare it to, all I can say is that our kids (and many others) were always excited to go to the kids club on the days we were at sea. The staff was first rate and they planned a decent variety of activities to keep the kids' attention. Also, the security and safety of all the kids seemed to be the top priority. The Kids Zone was a very secure area, with strict sign in procedures. Pagers were provided to the parents in case something came up while we were away. Overall, we were very pleased (as were our kids) with the kids club activities. Dining - the ship has two dining options: 1 dining room for the traditional early and late seatings. The second dining room was for "anytime dining," which we opted for. Overall, we liked the flexibility of anytime dining. The only problem was if you didn't eat on the earlier side, there could be long wait to sit down if you showed up around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. The dining room had a basic kids menu which had the usual suspects - hamburger, chicken fingers, fish sticks, etc. The ship also has two speciality restaurants (Italian and a Cajun themed steakhouse), which we did not eat at. There is also a pool side pizzeria and grill (burgers, hot dogs), which the kids liked. Finally, there is a 24 hour buffet that changes its selection of food depending on the time of day. Our biggest criticism of the ship was the food. Not that it was bad; it just wasn't that good. The menu selections in the dining room often were a bit eclectic, and were short on what I'd call more mainstream type entrees. (On one evening, the entree selections were Venison, frog legs, and some strange fish). As a result, my wife and I felt each evening that there were often too few choices that interested us. Looking at the menus in the speciality restaurants, it appeared that the menus there were also a bit strange. With the exception of breakfast, which was always decent, the Horizon Court Buffet was fairly poor. If you wanted to eat there for lunch or dinner, it appeared that the chefs took left over ingredients and combined them into rather odd concoctions. At least in my view, the buffet was not very palatable at all. The food in the dining room was reasonably well prepared. Those menu items that interested my family did taste good and the desserts were always good. Overall, though, we'd rate the dining experience on this ship as only being average. Of course, the main reason one goes on an Alaskan cruise is for the scenery/wildlife and the cruise did not disappoint here. Ketchikan - a very cute downtown area. We did a rainforest tour, which was just ok. However, the lumberjack show was a big hit with both my wife and I and our kids. I heard from other passengers that the Misty Fjords flight tours were very good. The only problem with this port is it's a short stop - you leave at 2:00 pm on the northbound cruise. So, you don't have a lot of time to do all that you might want to. By the way, we had very unusual Alaska weather. No rain. Sunny and in the mid to upper 70s in our ports of call. Juneau - this is the main whale watching stop. We opted to skip the ship's tour and booked our own whale watching tour through Orca Enterprises (aka Captain Larry's whale watching tour). Don't walk, run to book this tour when you get off the ship (there are booths everywhere near the docks and Orca Enterprises has its storefront right on the main street next to the Alaska Shirt company). The naturalist from our ship happened to be with us on this tour and she said this tour is consistently the top rated whale watching tour in southeast Alaska). In the 2 1/2 hours we were on the water, we came across a pod of Orcas that came within 50 yards of the boat. Then we spent quite a while watching a group of 7-10 humpback whales engaging in cooperative "bubble feeding." It was like being in the middle of a Discovery Channel show. It was really the most thrilling outdoor whale watching adventure we'd ever been on. Skagway - at first glance, we weren't sure what to expect at this stop. Not much peaked our interest on the list of shore excursions. We first took a "Gold Adventure" tour in the a.m. with the kids. It was surprisingly interesting and the kids had a blast panning for gold. Then, on the recommendation of the ship's naturalist, we just rented a car (check out Sourdough rental car at Broadway and 6th) and drove. Skagway is very scenic. We first drove on a road (much of it gravel) to the town of Dyea. Very scenic ride along a glacial water inlet. It ends near a sled dog camp which runs tours from the ship. We weren't able to get into the dog camp on our own, although we did see the puppies. Anyhow, the whole ride to Dyea is filled with scenery and wildlife (eagles, seals, bears). We then backtracked a bit and drove about 9 miles along the Yukon highway, which runs adjacent to a spectacular gorge with lots of pull outs to be able to stop and look at the sights. I highly recommend that you try and drive around when you're in Skagway. The town itself is small, but rather fun to walk around. Glacier Bay and College Fjords - After the whales, these two stops really are the highlights of the cruise. It really takes your breath away when the ship is stopped next to the massive glaciers. The captain takes his time and spins the ship at times so you can sit on your balcony if you have one and soak in the views. On the very last night of the cruise, the ship was parked at the very end of the College Fjords. With the kids off to the kids club and most of the passengers in the dining room, my wife and I had a quiet dinner in the Horizon Court buffet and we sat all the way forward where there are glass windows all around. I can't imagine a more impressive dinner with a view - glaciers were surrounding us on all sides as we ate our dinner. Our overall cruise experience was quite good. The ship was beautiful and the sights were even better. The staff, from our room steward to the waiters to the deck attendants were all very friendly and often went out of their way to do the little things to make the cruise even better. Unless you are insistent on a ship with high quality, "fine dining," we would highly recommend this ship and itinerary to anyone that appreciates the beauty and grandeur of Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
My DH, 2 DS ( ages 9 and 8) and myself recently returned from our first cruise. I have to admit that it was fabulous! We sailed the Coral Princess from Vancouver to Alaska and it met or exceeded our expectations in every way. We booked our ... Read More
My DH, 2 DS ( ages 9 and 8) and myself recently returned from our first cruise. I have to admit that it was fabulous! We sailed the Coral Princess from Vancouver to Alaska and it met or exceeded our expectations in every way. We booked our hotels and the cruise through a travel agent whom was recommended to use as a large percentage of her business is Princess cruises. As for our air travel, we did our own research and booked that on our own. Given that this was our first cruise, we took our TA's advise and arrived in Vancouver early. We actually arrived 2 days early, on June 16, which, was my younger son's 8th birthday. Our flight on Alaskan Air from SFO to Vancouver was uneventful (the best kind) and we made it through customs in about 15 minutes. We then got a cab from the airport to take us to our hotel, the Marriott Pinnacle in downtown Vancouver. The hotel was very nice and we enjoyed our stay there alot. As we were checking in, my 8 year old asked the woman checking us in if she knew what was special about today. When she had no clue, my DS told her that it was his birthday. She then asked us if we would be in our room for a while, which we told her that we needed to go for dinner, so she offered to have a piece of cake sent up for his birthday at 7:30 giving us enough time to go for a quick bite. We thought that was very nice. Well, about 7:40, room service shows up with: 2 bottles of water, 2 chocolate chip cookies, 2 brownies, 2 gelatin type candies and 4 chocolate covered strawberries! It really made my son's day! We were really appreciative of there gesture. This was pretty much the attitude for the duration. My DH is allergic to feathers, and Marriott uses feather pillows and duvets. When called, they were at our room in a couple minutes changing everything for him. The Marriott was also a bit on the pricey side, but it also included full buffet breakfast. At first we were told for only my DH and myself, BUT the maitre'd checked for us and told us that the kids were free as well. OK, Saturday, our full day in Vancouver. We first walked down to Canada Place as we wanted to show the kids a cruise ship as they were not sure what to expect. We then spent the day in Stanley Park. If you ever have the opportunity to go there, it is definitely worth the time--make sure you see the totem poles. Unfortunately, after 5 hours of walking, we were a bit too tired to do the aquarium. Monday, we checked out of our hotel and made our way to Canada Place. My first impression of the Coral was "wow" it was much prettier than the ship we saw the day before. Boarding did not take more than 20 minutes from the time we got in line to go through security until we were on the ship. We found our mini-suite easily and met our steward, Ramon. Ramon was very helpful and already had the 2 twins converted to a queen for us. He also added the egg crate to our bed. We then went up to the Horizon for lunch, which was good. Afterwards, the 4 of us walked around a got our bearings. My DH kept annoying me because I told him we set sail at 4:30, and when it didn't happen, he kept asking me when. (I told him to go ask the captain). We then went for an early dinner as we had anytime dining, which I really enjoyed, especially with the kids! Tuesday, the ride was a bit rough. My poor 8 year old was a bit green until I have him some Dramamine then he was fine. My 9 yo did not have any issues. Tuesday the kids started going to the funzone and absolutely loved it!!! They asked to go all the time. On the last day of the cruise they even got a visit from the captain. The funzone was not just a place to play video games, but they had a lot of activities for the as well, including a junior ranger program and dinner with their friends one evening. Throughout the cruise, we ended up eating most of our lunches and all of our dinners in the dining room, but only 1 breakfast in the dining room. We really liked the Horizon court for breakfast, especially the made to order omelettes. As for the dining room food, it was good, some food was better than others. I think that the children's menu could have included something like mac and cheese or cold sandwiches, but this is more because a little more variety on a 7 day cruise would have been nice. As for entertainment, the comedian was ok. My DH and I spent some time in the casino and played bingo one afternoon. I really enjoyed the country night. We even took the kids swimming in the lotus pool, which was very nice. Ports. Well, Ketchikan it rained most of the day. We didn't have any organized tour scheduled so we hired a cab for 2 hours and he took us to the rainforest and Totem Bight State Park. The rainforest was ok, nice views, but the kids especially liked the totems. There was a tour guide with a group, and she invited us to join her in the clan house to hear her talk. We thought that was very nice. We also got to see some bald eagles and a deer. When we got back to town, we were looking for a totem pole for my 9 yo, which we eventually found one to his liking. The next day was Juneau. We walked around all morning, it is an interesting town, and headed back to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we went on a whale watching excursion (ship sponsored). My 9yo was a little bored as he wanted more action. My DH, 8 yo and myself really enjoyed it. We even had one juvenile whale perform for us for about 20 minutes. During this trip, we also saw bears and sealions. The naturalist was very knowledgeable and very approachable. The next day we were in Skagway. Again, we walked around the town before returning to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we took a helicopter/glacier walkabout tour. This was absolutely amazing! The 4 of us absolutely loved this. The only thing that could have been better on this was our pilot was fairly new there and he set us down in an area which did not give us a lot of walking space, other than that, it was fantastic. The next 2 days, we went through Glacier Bay and College Fjords. We were lucky enough to see a calving glacier twice. Unfortunately, apparently there were some prime whale viewing which my DH and I missed as the ocean put us right to sleep. I guess we had too much fun! Once we disembarked in Whittier, we took the Princess bus to Anchorage. I think that the customer service there was not as knowledgeable as it could have been. However, if I went outside to where Princess reps were unloading passengers, they were much more helpful. That night we stayed at the Voyager hotel. It definitely was not the Marriott, but it was clean and a large room. We did not have a car, so we walked to the visitor center and caught a shuttle to the ulu factory. From there we walked to a mushing show. If you are in Anchorage, especially with kids, this is well worth the trip! It is put on by a family whose grandfather helped develop the first Iditorod and most of the family is competing to this day. After the show, you were able to go back and pet and hold baby musher pups. The next day, we returned to California and I am so ready to go again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We took a June 4, 2007 northbound Alaskan cruise on the Coral Princess, visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and College Fjords. Embarkation was nicely done, with no waits when we boarded at about 1 pm for a 4 pm sail-away. ... Read More
We took a June 4, 2007 northbound Alaskan cruise on the Coral Princess, visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and College Fjords. Embarkation was nicely done, with no waits when we boarded at about 1 pm for a 4 pm sail-away. However, the ship was held up until 7 pm because a busload of 30+ people was late arriving. No problem; we met our Roll Call cruisemates at the Lido Bar and had a great time. The full day of cruising is a wonderful way to leisurely see the ship and decide what types of activities, if any, to join. My husband really enjoyed the photoshop elements classes; the instructor was quite good, he said. Formal night was not really very formal. Most men wore business suites and the women black cocktail dresses or other nice dresses. Frankly, we didn't think the Princess food was very good, so it didn't match the "formal" theme. The staff on the Princess were always cheerful and helpful. Well trained! Our minisuite on the Caribe deck was spacious, clean and comfortable (except for the bed). We loved our balcony and spent a fair amount of time out there, as the weather was quite nice. Ports were basically tourist shops, one after another. Ketchikan and Skagway are cute little towns, though. We enjoyed our flightseeing of Misty Fjords in Ketchikan (with Michelle of Island Wings), and the helicopter flight and dogsledding on Denver Glacier in Skagway. Princess did a remarkable job in Glacier Bay. The narration by the park ranger was outstanding and the captain is excellent at maneuvering the ship. College Fjords had more glaciers to see. We lucked out with weather. Some people were actually in the outdoor swimming pool in Glacier Bay. Food in the dining room (anytime dining) was only poor to fair. Seafood was generally overcooked and dry. The Beef Wellington was pretty good, however. The pizza on the Lido Deck is excellent. The string quartet was quite good, as was the singer in the Crooner's bar. Comedians were also good. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We embarked from Vancouver on May 21 for our Alaskan Cruise. We were checked in in a matter of minutes and in our mini-suite. First impression of the ship was awe-struck. It was simply beautiful. The Coral Princess is a very up-scale ship ... Read More
We embarked from Vancouver on May 21 for our Alaskan Cruise. We were checked in in a matter of minutes and in our mini-suite. First impression of the ship was awe-struck. It was simply beautiful. The Coral Princess is a very up-scale ship and the decor was gorgeous. My husband and I walked around and became familiar with where everything was before heading to the Horizon Court for a lunch buffet. I wish I could say something really positive about the Horizon Court but for us it was below standard in quality. The only meals that we somewhat enjoyed there were breakfast and after several mornings we ended up in the main dining room for breakfast and it was delicious. I will get back to the dining experiences a little later. We booked a mini-suite on the ninth floor. Our cabin was perfect for us. We had a balcony and as the cruise progressed we realized that a balcony stateroom was the only way to travel on an Alaskan cruise. The scenery was breathtaking everyday. But our only complaint was that we were at the very back of the ship so therefore we had to walk "forever" after getting off the elevator to get to the main features of the ship. In doing another cruise we will make sure we get our room towards the middle of the ship. Our cabin steward was very nice but not very talkative. We had a hard time understanding him sometimes but he was very attentive and brought us anything we requested. The entertainment on the ship was first class on the nights that the Coral Princess Singers/Dancers performed. The only problem was that they only put on 3 or 4 performances. They were simply fantastic. The other nights featured comedians/magicians and etc and for us were somewhat boring. We wish they had booked some other types of entertainment such as famous groups that other ships do, but they only had one performance with one original Drifter and the Theater was so crowded we didn't get a seat. They have a nice casino on board if that is your cup of tea. We enjoyed that and actually won some money so that was nice. We stopped in the ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and had excursions in each of those ports. Our favorite excursion was the Yukon Experience in Skagway. It was 7 hours long but worth it. The scenery was gorgeous and we were treated to a very nice meal. We had a great tour guide who made the trip even better. Our excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau was okay but we were disappointed in that we didn't get to be closer to it and had to admire it from afar. We did the Totem Pole Excursion in Ketchikan and it was so boring. I don't recommend that to anyone. The scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord was fantastic but it was so cold that we froze out on the decks while trying to film everything. The weather was cold the entire trip but especially those two places where it was in the 40s. Pack plenty of warm clothing!!! We had hoped on this cruise we would get to witness plenty of wildlife but we were disappointed that all we saw was some sea otters, a few whales in the distance that we could barely see, and a small black bear on our way to the Yukon. Other than that, we didn't witness much of anything. My husband was very disappointed because this was what he was most interested in for this cruise. Back to the food.....Well we had an early booking in the Provence Dining Room that started at 6:00. We were seated at a table with 5 other couples and I guess we were fortunate because we enjoyed visiting with all of them. We had all ages at our table and everyone was gracious, funny and entertaining. We elected to forego the formal nights on this cruise, mainly because we just didn't want to pack formal wear. The food in the dining room was considerably better than the Horizon Court Buffet but still it lacked seasoning, and the portions were so small. My husband usually left every night still hungry and that should never happen. We had a very sweet waiter who was very attentive. Our only other cruise was with Royal Caribbean and to us, the food was like day and night compared to this cruise. The bread was already on our tables and was cold. Also another complaint and word of advice if you are seating at a large table is that most of the time you have to wait until everyone shows up for the waiter to take your orders then you have to wait until everyone is finished to be served desert. Sadly we had two really slow eaters at our table so that was kind of irritating as the week went along. Our favorite night was the last night. We were celebrating our anniversary on this cruise so the head waiter came to our table and brought us a special cake and sang to us. We also had another couple at our table celebrating their anniversary along with newlyweds so they both got cakes. We took alot of pictures and this was a fun night. Breakfast in the main dining room was so much better than the buffet. I strongly recommend this to anyone and in fact I would never recommend the Horizon Court to anyone. Disembarkation was very smooth and overall this cruise was wonderful. But my husband and I agree that Royal Caribbean is our choice of cruise lines. Princess Ships are beautiful but food is very important and in our opinion the food was below standards. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Cruise Review Coral Princess April 8-18, 2007 This cruise was the 6th one for me. We are a group of 12 and all of them have cruised before. I have cruised with 3 of them several times.... One of them has cruised about 13 times. ... Read More
Cruise Review Coral Princess April 8-18, 2007 This cruise was the 6th one for me. We are a group of 12 and all of them have cruised before. I have cruised with 3 of them several times.... One of them has cruised about 13 times. We've cruised with Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL. So it's an experienced group. We chose this cruise for a couple of reasons. First off, part of the group was a family of 4 (1 girl 12 y/o & 1 boy 7y/o) and their daughter was studying the Panama Canal in school. Also, the group had all wanted to cruise the Panama Canal at some point, whether it was a round trip (as we did) or a transition from the East coast to West coast or vice versa. We booked this cruise about 1 year ahead of time. We all made our own flight arrangements. We did not use Princess air. Too many restrictions and too expensive. We all arrived on Saturday, April 7, the day before the cruise and stayed at the Ramada Inn Ft. Lauderdale. Very nice hotel. They have a center area where the pool is and it's landscaped like a tropical paradise. They also have a Tiki bar during the day. They don't have elevators so take that into consideration if any of your party is disabled. One of our group members had a stroke several years ago and requires a wheelchair for distances. Luckily, we were on the ground floor. Had we not been, I would of requested it as I was the first to arrive. The Ramada does have shuttle buses from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the pier. They also have a restaurant on the premises and it has great food.... On April 8th we boarded the shuttle bus @ 11:30 a.m. for the approx. 15 min drive to the pier to board our ship. Embarkation was pretty easy. Our only hold up was the line we chose for our deck. There were 2 passengers that had a problem due to the computer not having all the correct info. It held up the line for about 30min. They should have taken them out of the line and not held everyone up. We finally got into a 2nd line and got through our processing. We had our sign/sail card and off to board the ship.... We were embarking by about 12:30-12:45 p.m. Went right to our room and dropped stuff off to go eat. We had 2 sea days which were thoroughly enjoyed poolside. FYI, the pool on the Coral Princess is a deep one. Never experienced this before. It goes from 5'2" to 7'2". It was great but surprising. It is also fresh water and I love that. On our 2nd sea day we had rough seas and the pool became a wave pool..... Literally! It would go down/over on the water from 3"-4-5".... It was wild. Very warm and had a great time. Our first port was the Panama Canal crossing. I had scoped out what I thought would be a great spot after being on the Caribbean Princess and finding a private area that most people don't know about. Luckily the Coral Princess had the same spot. I knew I wanted to be in the front going through the first time. I did not want to be up on the decks with a 1000 other folks fighting for space and trying to see through the glass panels. I found my spot, told my group and planned to be up early to get that spot saved. Which I did. All 12 of us were out there along with maybe 10 others but mostly all by ourselves. My plan worked.....lol.... It was awesome. They have these little train engines (several of them) that hook up to the ship to help guide it through the Canal. It's mainly to keep it straight as there is about 5-6" each side to not scrape. Ship is under their own power but does need to be guided. You have 3 locks for the Gatun Locks. You go in, the water fills and you go through. We all did feel the rise and descent going the other way.. It's quite fun. On the way back through, we got our prime spot in the aft of the ship and watched a cargo ship coming through behind us. It was awesome. We even had room service delivered to our aft spot. It was great. After coming back through, we docked in Cristobol. You can disembark for some shopping. And those that did excursions, getting off in the Gatun Lake to do Panama Canal excursions, boarded back on here. They have a warehouse there for vendors. Some cute things. Two things to beware of regarding this port. One is that it is VERY HOT in Panama. Make sure you have water, a hat and sunscreen. Second, if you go to the warehouse for shopping, there are some local, native vendors that are almost naked. Mainly the women are topless but the guys aren't wearing very much either. So if you have kids, be aware. So off to Costa Rica. The next day we arrived in Limon, Costa Rica. My dad had told me that if we did any excursion, do the San Jose one. But everyone on the boards disagreed with that. Plus it was very early in the a.m. and very far away. So our group decided to do the Eco/Countryside tour. It included a tour of a Banana Plantation (very interesting), a river tour (very cool) and saw a sloth, birds, a gecko and a native kid was in a boat shoreside holding a small crocodile or alligator. Not sure which it was. Then we did a ride on a train over the countryside. There is alot of impoverished folks in that area but they seemed friendly and happy to see us. Then back to the ship... We had a sea day between Limon and our next port. Spent it poolside as usual..... The next port was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I loved this port. Loved the area and the people were very nice. Our group did many different things here. I did the Chukka Cove Horseback Ride/Swim along the beach... Absolutely loved it. I have had horses/ridden for over 30 years but recently had a scare that almost made me cancel this excursion. Glad I didn't. We did about a 30-40 minute ride along the beach and trails. Then got to this cove area where they took off the saddles, put on bareback pads and we rode the horses in the ocean for about 10-15 minutes. I loved it.... I stressed a little wondering how we would not float off the horses back.. But the bareback pads have breast collars that keep them on.... It was tons of fun... They do have people there that take photos of you while you ride in the ocean. The cost is 6 photos for $20.. They have a computer there so you can view/pick the photos and then they put them on CD for you.... It was cool. My horses name was Volcano..... And he did well...... Next port was Grand Cayman. Again, our group went in different directions. I'm the only diver of the group and chose the 2 tank dive for adv. divers through Princess. I had tried to do Stingray City in Dec. on another cruise but it had been canceled. This dive did a dive of the North Wall first and then included a dive at Stingray City. The dive shop Princess used was Resort Sports who is associated Spanish Bay Resort. They took us by van to the dock. We did the first dive and it was great. But the Stingray City dive was the highlight. You get to feed the Stingrays and just watch them. They are so graceful.. And very large..... You do have to be careful if feeding as they are like dogs that got the first taste and want to come back for more. They didn't believe I didn't have more and ended with 2 hickies from these creatures. One is a golf ball size bruise/hicky.... They have very strong suction. Then back to the ship... It was a short port day leaving at 3pm so once back at the dock, I shopped a little then back on the ship. Then next port was Cozumel. I was supposed to dive this port too. I had booked privately with Scuba with Alison but had to cancel. I had bad allergies and should not have dived in Grand Cayman but thought I was fine. I wasn't. More detail in the review of Grand Cayman that I'll put in the Scuba Section. Not only was Alison ok with the cancel but gave me advice on what happened. Also, the Noreaster that came through the U.S. affected Cozumel as well. The day I was in G.C. the harbor master canceled all boats from diving in Cozumel. And the next day, the day I was in Cozumel, they did the same. So I couldn't have done dives anyways. So our entire group went off to Nacchi Cocum for a beach day. It's a private excursion that is along the beach. The day started out cool but then got nice & hot. They have a pool, hot tub and provide lunch as well. The pool however, was ridiculously cold. I couldn't use it. The hot tub was warm but warmed up more as the sun came out. They have lounge chairs, some shade areas. FYI, the give you alot of food for lunch. The appetizers alone filled almost all of us up. They also have wave runners & snorkel equipment avail. The ocean was cold to the first toe touch but quickly warmed up.... So off to snorkel I go.. Found some little reefs with lot's of fish.... Very cool. We were there from about 11:30 to 5 p.m. We got back to the ship and did some shopping in a little mall area. The next day was a sea day.... And our last sea day...... Spent poolside of course.. And packing..... Then we arrived back to Ft. Lauderdale. We all had flights after 1 p.m. so none of us were in a hurry to leave the ship. We got up at 9 a.m. and then had breakfast relaxing until they made us leave. We found a van right outside the port and off to the airport we went. Ports- I liked all the ports. My least favorite was Costa Rica. Though our excursion was great, the way people live there is depressing. Costa Rica needs to upgrade some areas if they want cruise ships to come back. My favorite ports were Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Ship- I do love the ship. It's really nice. Staff very friendly. One of my roommates had to use the medical facilities and said they were great. The Dr. was wonderful. Our waiters, Tomas and Nicky were awesome. Remember, one of our group was in a wheelchair. I have to say, Princess was wonderful about that. Between our waiters helping to seat her, to their room steward looking out for her. No one made her feel inferior that I saw. Very accommodating on the excursions too. Amazing. I do have issues with our room steward and our room. It was a mini suite w/balcony. FYI, I was in D616 but the balcony was not covered. Some are, some aren't. We were open to the world above. The first day, the hinge on the closet door was almost off. Finally fixed on day 6. I had asked online for bathrobes for all 3 of us. Didn't get them until day 7 or 8. The couch bed had a horrible mattress. Our roommate had to get an eggcrate mattress as she could feel the bar under the mattress. We got those quickly but the room steward felt very put out by having to remove them daily to make the couch as the couch would not fold up with them on. Did he really think we wouldn't want to use the couch for visitors? Then after Panama, we had a bunch of bugs in our room. In the afternoon we killed 3-4 flying mosquito type bugs. But that night, they were all over the couch bed. Our roommate refused to sleep in the bed. We killed them and got her a roll away type bed. The next day they fumigated and bugs were all gone. When we told the steward, he asked if we had the balcony open. Well duh!! Did they think we would pay extra for a balcony and not use it??? I did not hear of anyone else having a bug problem. So that was weird. Excursions- I liked all of them. The only complaint I had is that when I questioned the excursion desk about the Jamaican excursion and belongings, she obviously had not been on it or knew anything about it to guide me. FYI, on the horseback riding excursion, you can bring a bag. But wear shorts with pockets or a small fanny pack that you can put your money or valuable in. They will bring your bag to you at the cove so you can dry off or change clothes after the swim and then take it back to the stables where you will ride back too. Food- At first, to me, it was not very good at all. It got better after Panama. We kept joking that they must have put the Chef overboard at Panama and got a new one. It was just weird, fancy stuff that wasn't that appealing. I kept going to the "always available" section for steak or salmon. And the deserts were odd too..... I just didn't care for it. I thought the food on the Carnival Valor in Dec. was far superior.... As did 2 members of our group that were on the Dec. cruise as well. Buffet was good.. Big variety. But they don't know Mexican food. They need education there. There was always pizza available and the hamburgers and such. I loved their chicken breast sandwich on the grill. Very good. The ice cream you have to pay for. Ridiculous I say. But each day from 3-4pm or 3-5pm they have ice cream for free in the Horizon Buffet. Spa- I used it on the last sea day for a massage. I still feel they are very pricey but the massage I had which was a deep tissue massage, was one of the best ever. Ask for Juan P. from Mexico. He was excellent. Still tried to sell me stuff but not a hard sale and when he saw I wasn't interested, he backed off. Gym- Never used it. Wanted to but never did. Entertainment- Didn't like the comedian. Can't remember his name. Saw 3 shows. The first, the beach scene one was horrible. Couldn't tell you the story line and didn't care for much of the music. And to me, Jason Chow is not a good singer. Didn't like him at all. The next 2 shows were very good to me inspite of Jason still singing. They have 4 lead singers. The other 3 are good. Enjoyed the last 2 shows. Photos- What can you say about this. I would like to run the photo dept. of all cruiselines. They are way too expensive. There is not enough variety. They have a fairly large photo area and obviously do all their own printing. Yet they continue to offer only 8X10's of formal night. All photos taken should be available in a variety of sizes. Some of us who do scrapbooks or photo albums, don't want 8X10 sizes. The staff was nice, accommodating. They are able to download your memory cards to CD's. And you can print your own photos there too. Overall I really enjoyed the cruise as it takes more than these little issues to ruin a vacation for me. I would do it again in a heartbeat. You get a wide variety of ports and things to do. Very enjoyable. Any questions, feel free to ask....... Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
This was our 3rd cruise with Princess: Mexico, Alaska, and Panama Canal. DH and I were originally booked on the 3/25 Panama Cruise from San Juan to Los Angeles. We had to change our plans and Princess gave us full credit for an April ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with Princess: Mexico, Alaska, and Panama Canal. DH and I were originally booked on the 3/25 Panama Cruise from San Juan to Los Angeles. We had to change our plans and Princess gave us full credit for an April cruise (we were only due 50% refund). DH and I have always enjoyed Princess but this cruise was a mixed bag of very good and very bad. We used Marriott Hotel points to book two "free" nights at the 17th Street Marriott. This was the grubbiest Marriott we have ever stayed at. Avoid it. The Coral Princess was a very comfortable ship to spend time on. It was easy to get around and find our way. Stateroom D422 is the Galapagos Suite (VS). All I can say is "WOW"! This was our first suite and it is definitely the way to go. The room steward was attentive and unobtrusive. We had priority embarking and disembarking at all ports, fresh flowers, daily fresh fruit, no charge for laundry/dry cleaning, corsages for formal night, daily canapes, daily tea, spa use, free one time bar set up and lots of other goodies throughout the cruise. We had the room steward move 2 deck chairs onto our balcony and there was still a lot of room. Our suite was on the best side to view the Panama Canal, too. Dinner fixed 2nd seating was awful! We requested a table for 2 and ended up next to a busing counter. It was loud and smelly with piles of dirty dishes. We requested another table and was told by the head waiter/supervisor he would have to check with the maitre de (whom we never saw). We only ate there twice and found other ways to spend our dinnertime. Balcony Dining is worth the little extra cost. It was tasty and the service was the best. Very romantic. We put on some music and danced under the stars. Sabatini's was a good alternative to the dining room. We ate there twice and enjoyed picking and choosing from the parade of 20+ dishes the waiters kept bringing to the table. The Bayou Cafe was excellent the first night we ate there but not as good the second night. We think it had to be a different chef working. We had the buffet one night. It was as expected; lots of choices and buffet quality. We had late lunches of hamburgers and pizza two nights and just had fruit for evening snacks. Which worked out fine for us. The lounges each had a different character: While I like the smell of cigars coming from the smoking lounge my dh didn't care for it at all. The Crooner's martini bar was right next to it and the smoke kept us from enjoying our pre-dinner drink there. We enjoyed the live music in the lounge of the Bayou Cafe during dinner. Never did see anyone on the dance floor there. The Wheelhouse Lounge was our favorite spot. The female singer was not very good but the music was wonderful for social dancing. We attend the art auctions in the Explorers Lounge and even won 4 lithographs. The casino was big and a lot of folks were enjoying it. We skipped it this trip. The Adult Only Pool area was great! The pools was lots of fun when the waves got rolling. Reading a book on the cushioned deck chairs was quiet and relaxing. The Spa was lovely but I think the prices were too high for their services. Shore Excursions have always been good on Princess. We enjoyed the Pirate Encounter, Beach Party, Eco Train & Boat Ride. Overall, this was a good trip. The suite was wonderful. However, the dining room was an issue and we wouldn't do fixed seating again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
This was our first cruise on Princess, our second cruise in a year. It would seem the bug bit us hard! We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale four days before the sailing date to take the opportunity to visit a friend and see some of the sights in ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Princess, our second cruise in a year. It would seem the bug bit us hard! We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale four days before the sailing date to take the opportunity to visit a friend and see some of the sights in southern Florida, something we did not have the opportunity to do on our last trip to the area. We stayed at the Hampton Inn on State Road 84 about ten minutes from downtown. It is a wonderful hotel; clean, comfortable, and a staff like none we had experienced before at any hotel. The hotel provides free light breakfast, but because it had no dining room, the staff would shuttle us to list of restaurants close to the hotel for dinner. One restaurant, within easy walking distance, is the Thai 84, a tiny restaurant in a strip mall with an exceptional menu, service and Chef. We also had fun eating at a diner down the road that had excellent food. Embarkation Smooth, efficient and well organized. Arrived at the pier at 11:20 and were in our mini-suite by 11:50 and at the Horizon Court by noon. Baggage was delivered by the time we had finished lunch and everything was tucked away before 2:00 pm. Exploring the Coral After the luggage was stored away and we met our Room Steward we were off to explore the ship. The public rooms and spaces on the Coral are nothing short of stunning. The extensive use of rich dark wood, brass, glass and warm colored carpet give Coral a feel of the old classical ocean liners. This sense is enhanced by displays of magnificent paintings of old ships that are everywhere on the ship. The same use of wood gave the dining rooms the same sense of elegance as the rest of the ship. One of the most comfortable areas on Coral is the Lotus Pool at the back of the Lido deck. This area is for adults only and the wood deck chairs, the use of huge statue of Buddha and the use of more wood and green fabric along with the quietness of the space makes in a little spot of paradise on the this ship. The rest of Coral is not a lot different than every other cruise ship. There is the casino to take your money, shops and a very high-end jewelry store, as well as lounges of all types. The theater spaces are pretty standard. Mini-suite Our suite is centrally located on the ship. A good choice for a number of reasons; it provided easy and relatively quick access to any part of the ship, provide a smooth ride when things got marginally rough, (this happened only once and the waves were only running a max. height of 8ft.). The bed was comfortable and bedding very nice with a choice of pillows based upon one's personal firmness preferences. The bathroom was a standard cruise ship size. It has a nice tub and shower, but could benefit greatly from a glass tub enclosure rather than the flimsy fabric shower curtain that has seen better days and usually wound up plastered against my back; a nasty cold feeling for sure. There is plenty of room for storage of toilet articles and medications. Nothing fancy, but pleasant enough. The couch was comfortable, the room clean, but the carpet showed wear around the balcony door, certainly nothing to deter one form enjoying this mini-suite. What we did not like about this cabin is that it is about 1/3 smaller in size than what we had on Carnival Triumph, yet cost more. Food. Cruise ship food is always very personal and subjective. Likes and dislikes will vary from person to person, so this is only how we found the food on the Coral, others may have a completely different opinion, and equally correct one. We had anytime dining and liked it very much. We never had more than a few moments wait for a table, and we did not make reservations. We always got the table for two that we enjoyed. As one would expect quality of service varied from waiter to waiter, although one waiter we had twice was exceptional. The food in the dining room was disappointing. It was certainly not of the caliber we had been expecting. It is fair to say that it was hotel banquet quality but certainly nothing more. The food was presented without imagination or flare and was never more than just warm. The exception was the second formal night when lobster was served. It was well prepared and very tasty. The Horizon Court was a different matter all together. It was consistently good buffet food with interesting dishes served hot. The dishes were original, not just left-overs from last night's dinner and were served piping hot. The lines moved efficiently because of the layout of the buffet lines with 'hot stations' on one side and 'cold stations on the other, with two 'islands' between the lines. The layout is essentially two complete restaurants, one on each side of the ship with seating arranged around the outside. The seating provides tremendous views of the sea and ports of call. The Horizon Court is an excellent restaurant for breakfast, lunch and as a sound alternative to the dining rooms for dinner. There are two 'specialty' restaurants on Coral, one excellent and the other an unmitigated disaster. Sabatini's was absolutely outstanding in all respects. The food was exciting and exceptionally well prepared. The service was impeccable. There are numerous courses, but, if one is cautious in the amount taken at each course one can make it to the end without requiring wheels to return to one's cabin! The seafood pasta course is truly to die for and the cannelloni is running a very close second. The only weakness at Sabatini's, and if it were not an Italian restaurant would not bear mentioning, is the poor bread offering. Good bread is essential to good Italian food. On the other side, literally because both Sabatini's and the Bayou restaurant operate out of the same kitchen, is the exact opposite of its neighbor. Service was exceptional only in the sense that I have had better service at fast food drive through on land. The server refused to listen to the diner's requests, and as a result ruined the dinner experience for at least one of those dining with us. For another the evening was dragged to new heights of mediocrity when the arrogant server placed his plate before him with, "Here's your dead cow!" and walked away. The food was atrocious. One almost felt the need go to the kitchen to tell the Chef that there is in fact a Cajun Cuisine and that throwing handfuls of cayenne pepper at food does not make it Cajun. The Porterhouse steak was large and served hanging off the end of the plate something I find particularly disgusting. It was cut thin and poorly butchered, leaving a large junk of gristle and fat to be the first bite. It appears that Princess has attempted to combine the Cajun restaurant concept with its very popular Sterling Steakhouse concept that is found on other ships, but not Coral. It is an interesting idea, but one that falls far short of meeting the height of either restaurant when offered on their own. The Bayou restaurant on Coral should be avoided at all costs in my opinion. But, I heard others on the same cruise comment very favorably about this restaurant, so I guess you take your chances! But we would never go back. Room service was always quick and efficient. They invariably said that the order would take 15 - 20 minutes to deliver, but it was rarely longer than 5 minutes from the time of the call. We ordered the Balcony Breakfast for the morning we went through the Panama Canal; unfortunately there was a deluge of water that the locals euphemistically refer to as "rain" so we had to eat in the cabin. For $28, the half bottle of champagne and interesting menu, made it a great breakfast buy. Had we been able to eat it on the deck it would have been a wonderful experience. Entertainment We did not attend any of he production shows, so others will have to give their opinions on those. We did take in the documentary films shown in the Universal Lounge on the construction of the Panama Canal. These made the actually trip through the Gatun Locks that much more interesting and exciting. The ship also provided a lecture on what is happening with the Panama Canal today and for the immediate future. The woman presenting the lecture was from the Marketing Dept. of the Panama Canal Authority and, not to be unkind, was a waste of time. She was clearly not a public speaker and it showed. Her presentation was boring at its height! We saw two culinary demonstrations during the ten days. The second was hilarious as the Maitre d' Hotel challenged the Coral's Chef to a cook off. If the Maitre d' Hotel ever decides to start a career in comedy he would have no trouble being a success. Together these truly talented men in their chosen professions made a culinary demonstration into entertaining show. A 'not to be missed' event! In all three "live" presentations the ship's technical crew demonstrated their complete inability and incompetence to operate the basic production equipment. Even microphone levels for these people presented an enormous operational challenge, not to mention the two video projectors. Ports Of Call This was a 10 day five stop itinerary. Cozumel : We took a Princess excursion that provided a Mexican cooking lesson at a beach resort about 20 minutes from the pier. This was a great time, with an exciting and entertaining young Chef teaching basic cookery with a Mexican flare. Well worth the time and money. Grand Cayman: We had planned to go to Boatswain's Beach but having seen the turtle farm before and hearing that the admission price had gone to $50 a head we decided to scrap that idea. We went ashore, had lunch at Senor Frogs and walked around shopping for a couple of hours. Not the best stop for shopping bargains. Costa Rica: My loving wife went zip lining through the jungle of a Princess excursion, while I let Oscar Brown tour me and four others from our Cruise Critic group around the country side for the morning. This was a great excursion that included stops at the home of one of Oscars friends to take pictures of sloths, monkeys, birds and other wild life; then on to a banana plantation to watch the harvesting, grading and packaging of bananas. We took a small flat-bottomed boat down the canal and saw more wild life. The photography opportunities are abundant and it is simply impossible not to get some good pictures. In the afternoon we did some shopping for coffee and locally made wood products. Costa Rican coffee at $5US a pound made for a long slog through the heat back to the ship!! Panama Canal/Cristobal Going through this canal is one of the truly exciting travel opportunities available and makes this Coral cruise a bargain!! I cannot tell you how fascinating going through that canal is, especially if one takes the time to learn a little about the construction of the canal at the turn of the century. The ship went through the Gatun Locks and into Gatun Lake where it dropped anchor and let those with excursions off on the tenders. Once they were all away the Coral returned back though the Gatun Locks and docked at Cristobal, Panama, the countries major port. There is a large port building on the pier that has been converted to a market. One simply walks off the gangway and into this very large shopping mall. The 'mall' is divided into two sections. One section, closest to where the returning tour buses stop is an air conditioned space lined on four sides with one shop after another. We found no really good bargains in any of these stores. At the end of this section of the building is a door out to an area referred to on Princess' shopping map as the "flea market"! This is the place to purchase handcrafts and art from the local Indians. These people make some of the finest woven baskets, paintings and wood products in Central America. There are great bargains to be had in this part of the market. Make sure you bring cash because the Indians do not take credit cards. Also Princess' shopping guru, a most annoying woman, never mentions that the local Indian women selling art in the market often do not wear clothing to cover their upper torso. As a result their breast are uncovered except for the intricate tattoos covering their upper bodies. Just a note for those who may be traveling with children or have personal 'thing' about public nudity even in the context of hundreds of years of cultural tradition. The Cristobal pier market capped what was the best day of the entire cruise! Ocho Rios, Jamaica We traveled at night from Panama towards Jamaica. In the middle of the night we were awoken by the P.A. system in the hall and looking out the window it was clear that we were making only steering speed in 7-8 ft waves. There were no alarm bells ringing so I went back to bed. We learned in the morning that the Coral bridge watch had seen a distress flare and launched a rescue boat. The boat returned to Coral with three new passengers that had been taken from a sailboat that had its mast break off three days earlier. We docked at what is referred to as the James Bond Pier, but is really just a spare pier left over from an abandoned bauxite bulk loading facility. It is a long walk into town, especially in the heat and along the side of a busy highway that has no sidewalks. We did not get off the ship in Ocho Rios having had the delightful experience of the locals swarming us to sell anything and everything, but mostly drugs, on our first visit to Jamaica a year ago. In spite of what others say, a firm "no" does not back these people off. It is a real shame because Jamaica is a beautiful island, but having to shop in gated and guarded malls is not my idea of paradise in the Caribbean! Debarkation Getting off the Coral was as easy, if not easier, than getting on. Under a relatively new Princess program, if you can carry your own bags of the ship, unassisted by ship or shore crew then you get off first. We were off at just after 7:00 in the morning. Overall Observations This was a wonderful cruise on a beautiful ship. The itinerary was excellent and there was nothing that would cause us not to take another Princess cruise based on a different itinerary. In saying that however, there is nothing that would compel us to return to Princess based upon food, cabin and service, or price. Our comparison of our Carnival Triumph cruise and the Princess Coral cruise came out pretty much a saw-off. On a per diem basis the cost of the Triumph was only about $10 a day cheaper...but the Triumph mini-suite (Cat 11) was larger than what we experienced on Coral. The food was an even split...the service marginally better on Coral...the itinerary and length of cruise on Coral was better than Triumph...a big deciding factor for us. The public spaces were much more genteel than Triumph...but again that is a matter of personal taste. So now we have two cruise lines to choose from because in our opinion both offer a great cruising experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
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

Find a Coral Princess Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click