491 Princess Coral Princess Cruise Reviews

First, EMBARKMENT went quickly and very smoothly. We did not have to wait to get through to the terminal. Once in the terminal we waited approximately 20 minutes before we were quietly and without rush boarded onto the ship. We found our ... Read More
First, EMBARKMENT went quickly and very smoothly. We did not have to wait to get through to the terminal. Once in the terminal we waited approximately 20 minutes before we were quietly and without rush boarded onto the ship. We found our cabins quickly and easily. My husband and I explored the ship and were able to find our way around the ship with great ease. CABIN: We reserved a cabin with a balcony. It has been commented by other Coral Princess cruisers that the shower is extremely small. Yes, it's small but quite servicable. The bathroom is quite roomy, the closet/changing area is wonderfully large, the bedroom is fine and the balcony is the highlight. The cabin service was impeccable. Carman kept our room spotlessly clean. We always had clean towels no matter when we used our towels, freshly cleaned room and she is a quiet, sweet woman. The ship itself was always being cleaned, painted and varnished. A superb ship that offered clean chaise lounges, immaculate decks and almost-invisible, efficient ship's personnel. DINING: We chose the Personal Choice Dining which allowed us freedom to eat whenever and wherever we wanted. Breakfast: We always ate breakfast up in the Horizon Court Buffet. Anything you could think of to eat for breakfast was there. The food was always presented in a clean tasteful fashion and the personnel working there were always friendly and smiling. If we happen to choose a table that didn't have silverware wrapped in a linen napkin, it would appear at our elbow as we sat down. The servers would ask us what we'd like for drink and were always quick to help in any other way. The tables were always kept clean and inviting. Lunch: We only snack at home, so we tried keeping with this habit on our cruise - VERY hard to do with all the gorgeously appealing dishes presented to us in the Horizon. They always offered fresh fruit, cheeses, premade sandwiches (which were different every day) and the best - fresh breads and sliced cold meats and cheeses. There were other dishes offered, hot and cold. We were unsuccessful in keeping with just fruits and cheeses for lunch! Dinner: Although the Bayou Cafe Steakhouse - $15 cover charge and Sabatini's Trattoria - $20 cover charge are offered, we were more than pleased with the meals offered in the Bordeaux Dining Room. We met a wonderful couple not only in the hotel the night before boarding the Coral Princess, but we met in the Bordeaux Dining Room. We ended up finding a table that was extremely pleasing and service that was perfect. We enjoyed our dinners on board the ship with each dinner usually lasting at least 2 hours. Every evening the left side of the menu would have alternative dining choices which pretty much remained the same and would offer four courses with two to four choices per course. Each evening the menu on the right would change with a variety of choices for each course. Dessert was on its own menu and offered only after we thoroughly enjoyed our first three courses. The two dress codes: "Smart Casual" - Basically no short-shorts, cut-off jeans, bathing suits. "Formal" for the men varied from tuxedos to slacks, sports jacket and tie. Ladies: Go for it! If you want fancy, wear it. If you prefer less "formal" wearing a nice skirt/blouse or dress and anything but sneakers for footwear. THE PRINCESS PATTER: Whoever takes the trouble to publish this little daily newsletter should be commended. This is the cruise ship's publication that is found on our beds every evening. It's the perfect little newsletter that lets us, the passengers, know exactly what's going on the next day. Everything that is happening on the ship was in the daily publication. I was wondering why there wasn't any recognition to the people who put this valuable material together. ROOM SERVICE: Perfect with every detail. TOUR DESK: I wish we had used them instead of planning our shore excursions in advance. ENTERTAINMENT: Much better than some professional performances found here in Kansas City! We were delighted with our many choices. The Coral Princess Dancers were absolutely fabulous. We're still trying to figure out how they kept their balance while the stage was rocking and rolling. Al Katz was absolutely fabulously funny. Larry Dunsmore was a delight. He is an average vocalist but great on the piano and can joke with passing passengers to the delight of his audience. He played in the Atrium so his field of comic scenery was ever-changing. There was always something for everyone on this cruise. Some of ports are not included on the "Ports Review" list, so I have included them below: HAUTULCO, MEXICO: All water excursions were cancelled - for good reason. We unexpectedly ran into the Tehauntepecanos. These are winds that can increase in strength without warning. The winds got to 90 mph with surf from 5-7 feet high! We spent 1 1/2 days in rough waters. The port itself was a delight. The beaches, even with high winds, were gorgeous. Finally got to PUNTARENAS, COSTA RICA: Well worth the stop. We did the Original Canopy Tour at Mahogany Park. The description on www.princess.com is absolutely correct except they don't tell you how absolutely exciting, fun and safe this tour is. A definite must. We did not see many birds, but the actually Native experience was worth every minute. PUERTO AMADOR, PANAMA: Authentic Embera Indian Village. What a wonderful experience. Going in their dug-out canoes and being greeted by a young group playing their native instruments (flutes and drums). After being greeted we walked up into their village where we were permitted to go into their lodgings and wander the village. We were given American bread with cold cuts and cheese before we sat around their central meeting building and were explained the various plants and animals and their function with the Embera people. A very interesting, educational and wonderful tour. PANAMA CANAL: What's to say about this day of ever changing scenery. What an engineering marvel. On our way to Colombia the Captain came on the loudspeaker and announced that by Maritime Law, we were requested (and required) to assist in a rescue mission. A Tuna vessel had sunk and 18 crew members needed to be rescued. There is two suggestions I would like to see Princess Cruise line do. First, keep their website up-to-date. A lot of the excursions they had listed when we signed up for the cruise were either unavailable or non-existant. We do realize that companies come and go but some of the excursions we wanted to take were still listed even a week before our cruise was to leave Los Angeles. Also another point of interest that would have been helpful is to be informed whether there were local merchants within walking distance of the ship. Of course if we knew this, there are some excursions we would not have taken. DISEMBARKMENT: Easy! Fill out some paperwork the night before we dock. Wake up and have a nice last breakfast in the Horizon Court then disembark at our leisure. Although we were assigned times for disembarkment we found that people got off the ship according to their plans. Some people had planes to catch so they left early. Some passengers relaxed on their balcony and watched the dock workers unload and start reloading the ship. Once we got off the ship, getting around the Immigration and getting to our hotel was easy. I would recommend cruising with Princess to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was my husbands and my first cruise and we loved it. We are in our thirties and were travling with both of our parents. We travelled from Jan. 21 to Feb 5. 2010. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before we were to embark to ... Read More
This was my husbands and my first cruise and we loved it. We are in our thirties and were travling with both of our parents. We travelled from Jan. 21 to Feb 5. 2010. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before we were to embark to save from the stress, and were we ever glad that we did. We almost missed our connection due to a medical emerency on board and because customs took sooooo long to get throug in Toronto. But because a lady from Air Canada called to the gate they held the plane for us as well and about 4 other people. We stayed at the Sheraton, which was okay but needs to be updated. The rooms were clean which was the most important thing! The following morning we were transfered to the pier to embark. Embarkment: I expected this to be a long process, which it wasn't! We ended up only having to wait for one couple in front of us at the terminal and then were aborad the ship! Cabin: We decided to stay in an inside cabin because 1: we didn't plan on being in our rooms very often- only to sleep and 2: we were with our parent who both had balconies! Our room was bigger then I was expecting and had plenty of closet space. It was extremely clean. We had a wonderful room stewart who made us different animals with our towels everyday! He was sooooo friendly and always so happy! Very impressed with him knowing our names and always asking if we needed anything! Dining: We had the first seating at 5:30 in the Provenice Room. My husband and I would have prefered to eat later, his parents wanted to eat at this time for the liked to go to bed early. The food was amazing and our waiter was even better. I have never had better service then Chris gave us! He was friendly and had the best suggestions. I loved the fact that if we were going to order something that he did not feel we would like he would tell us! Loved the fact that we got to know him ( Him and I still keep in touch on facebook!). They offered many different types of dishes from pasta to steak to frogs legs to cold soups! I don;t think I tried anything that I didn't like! For breakfast and lunch we ate at the Horizon Court which offered everything and anything! Thought they did a wonderful job and once again had amzingly wonderful staff! We never did tried any of the speciality resturants, and have no regrets becuase were completely statisfed with what we were eating! Pools: We spent most of our time at the Lido pool. You needed to save a chair early if you want to get a spot by the pool and in the sun. They had plenty of chairs but we liked being right by the pool. The service in the area once again.....amazing. They were always checking to see if you had everything that you needed. We got to know a server from India here, and albsoutly loved him. The only days that we spent at the Lotus pool were the last 2 days...one day it was raining and the other it was chiily out, and since it was indoors, this worked for us. Passage Service desk: The staff were very friendly! I got to know them very well as my room card kept demaagatizing. We think it was because of my camera or the magents on my camera bag. This is a extremely busy place the last day- everyone is sorting through their bills and paying here. Princess Platter: I looked forward to recieving this everynight. It helped us plan out our days- especially th esea days! I also kept all of them, for the photo book that I am going to do of the cruise! It gives me all the info that I want ot put in the book as well is like a reminder of everything we did while we were on the cruise. Entertainment: We didn't take in very many shows- we were all exhausted from the day that we didn't think we would make it through the shows. However we did go and see one of the comedian/magication, who was amazing! Staff: I can't say enough about the staff that was on this ship!!! They work very long hours and always are so friendly! If you ask anyone at any given time how their day is going the answer is always: Excellent! And after how many months they have been on the ship for, and how many hours they work in a day, I never saw once staff member every seem grouchy, irrated, or even tired! The staff on this ship made our trip that much more enjoyable! Medical: On this cruise, my mother-in-laws husband got sick and was quartenteened for three days. Luckily the had a balcony that he still was able to enjoy. The staff once again were amazing with him, making sure that he had everything that he needed. And it was nice to see how quickly the took care of a situation that could be bad for the whole ship. Now he had a Nora Virus which is like a flu, gave him a shot and kept him in for three days so noone else would get it. My mother-in-law was aloud out of the cabin because she had no signs of it,but was not allowed to eat off the buffet. Very understandable! Aruba: My husband, mom, dad, and I went on the 2 stop snorkling adventure. This was great and we snorkled over the sunken ship of Antiles. It was breath taking! Colombia: We took the Old City Tour. I was a little worried about going to Colombia, but once we were in Cartagana felt so comfortable. The people who were trying to sell you something were a little pushy but not too bad. It is such a beautiful old city! Would love to go back to explore some more. Very, Very , Very hot there. I have never experinced such humide temptures butloved it! Drink lots of water! The Panama Canal: BREATHTAKING!!!! I never thought that going through the locks would be such an experince, but it was. It is such a marvel and hard to believe how long ago it was constructed! The views....WOW! PUERTO AMADOR, PANAMA: Here we went to the Authentic Embera Indian Village. Highly recommend this to anyone travelling to Panama! The people here are so friendly and entertaining! This was one of my favorite tours of the trip! Costa Rica: I had been to Costa Rica a few years before, and when we arrived there it felt so good to be back! We went on the Skywalks, which were amazing views! The bridges looked a bit scary, but we made it! HAUTULCO, MEXICO: Here We wnet River Rafting, had so much fun in this. The river isn't very deep and the rapids were only a 1 to a 1.5. the guides were so much fun...starting water fights between the rafts, jumping out and pulling the other guides in...etc. Alot of fun! CABO SAN LUSICA: Here my dad and I went and did the Helment Sea Trek! This was my favorite of all the tours. Your hair stays dry, you can touch your face under the helmet and you are waling on the sea;s floor! I would do this again and again! The pictures that I got are undescribale! DISEMBARKMENT: This was fairly easy. What took the longest was going through the line at customs. Because we had a later flight we were in the middle of the pact trying to get off. Took about an hour hour and a half to go through. I would recommend Princess Cruises to everyone, and I would recommend the Coral priness to everyone as well. This is a fanstatic way to travel and get a sample of so many differnt countries! I want to visit everywhere again! Although my husband we way below the average age on this cruise ( average age 65 to 70 ) we expected this. We still had an amzing time with our parents and would love to cruise again someday! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We've actually been married over 26 years now but are finally doing what the wife wanted. When we left LA it was blustery and seas a bit rough. But we were delighted with the cabin. Very spacious and the deck is long - full width of ... Read More
We've actually been married over 26 years now but are finally doing what the wife wanted. When we left LA it was blustery and seas a bit rough. But we were delighted with the cabin. Very spacious and the deck is long - full width of the cabin. Layout it excellent to optimize the room. We've done four sailings with Seabourn and a coule with Crystal. We were ready for a larger ship with more to do. Lot's of things going on here. We'd visited Cabo San Lucas, Alacapulco and Huatulco in Mexico. I'd never heard of the last before but it is a new area that the Mexican government has been promoting. Beautiful beach and warm clean water. The vendors are a bit irritating until you settle down at a spot on the beach. I had a beer and my wife a Marguerita. I finished that for her and then got worried as I'd forgotten the ice. Thankfully I feel fine today but still think it was dumb to drink anything except from a bottle in a 3rd world location like that. We dock in Punta Arenas, Costa Rica tomorrow. Meanwhile, the service has been good and we like the ship. The 'anytime buffet' is on the Horizon deck and overlooks the bow. Two fine dining restaurants, one for scheduled seating with the same guests or an alternative 'anytime' with open seating. We chose the open at the Bordeux dining room. Very pleasant. The food is not up to the quality of Seabourn or Crystal but I'd rather be on a ship like this. So much more to do and areas to walk around. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This our first cruise on Princess thru the canal. We have done four other cruises on Holland America (x2) and Royal Caribbean (x2) . being our second cruise thru the Canal we were interested in seeing the changes for the new locks. We are ... Read More
This our first cruise on Princess thru the canal. We have done four other cruises on Holland America (x2) and Royal Caribbean (x2) . being our second cruise thru the Canal we were interested in seeing the changes for the new locks. We are in our mid to late fifties . I suffer from very bad knees that restrict how much Walking I can do. Princess Cruise Air and Transfers: We selected this option as it was the cheap airfare and a hotel was included at Fort Lauderdale. We are going to take this option with Princess transfers again. The only problem with their flight schedule was that if a flight was late you had to Quickly run or jog to your next flight. On arrival in FLL we where met by the Princess Rep and transferred directly to the hotel . We where impressed as how Princess handle Delayed or lost luggage . The transfer to Port Everglades was very smooth and on time as scheduled or a little earlier.. Embarkation: What impressed us most was how quick we went thru the pre-boarding lines And onto the ship. The total time from getting of the bus to being in our cabin was less The 30 min. The cabin was ready and the cabin steward introduced himself with 30 min. HAL and RCI could learn on how to do embarkations this fast. Accommodation: We originally where got a price from our TA for BH Balcony on Dolphin Deck . Before we even put A deposit down we were upgrade to a BA cabin on Aloha deck under the Adult's only Pool ??? The layout of the cabin was the best we have ever had. Ther was no wasted space with a couch and Coffee table . The closet was more adequate for my wife's clothes . Most of my cloths were On the shelves except for my formal outfit. Ports: The scheduled port s where Aruba, Cartagena, Fuerto Amador , Puntarenas , Huatulco Acapulco and Cabo san Lucas. The only ports we went ashore Cartagena, Huatulco and Acapulco. Huatulco we went ashore to see the Pink Church on the beach . Acapulco was to visit the fort overlooking the harbor. The rest of the time we just stayed on the ship and relaxed in different quiet spots on deck and around the Wheelhouse Bar. Food: We ate most of our breakfasts in the Horizon Court on Lido deck. We normally had lunch and diner In the dining room. We had chosen "Anytime Dining" . We normally had supper at 5:30 with MDR opening at 5:15 . I noticed that if you waited until 6:30 you could have a long wait. The wife found the fish cooked to perfection even in the Horizon Court. The only problem we found was with the smoked salmon that was served . It had a tendency to soft and watery . This might just be a personal preference as we both grew up wild smoked sockeye salmon (Pacific Salmon) Ship in general: The ship was very good condition. Everything was well laid out and in good shape. The only issue we had was that teenagers would run up and down the halls until all hours and the parents didn't seem to care or notice . A couple of times we saw toddlers crawling on the floor of the MDR as stewards were trying to serve tables and carry large trays of meals. Weather: The weather was usually sunny (85 gegrees) with high humidity (90-100%) . The first sea day after leaving FLL we were in a Force 7 sea and wind condition. They closed the promenade deck for walking during the short period. As we left Cabo the temperature started to drop and sea fog formed for a few hours . The temperature dropped to the high 70's as we approached San Pedro Pier. Disembarkation: Again Princess was well organized and disembarkation was a efficient as embarkation. The only hold up US Customs in processing the passengers. We used the Princess transfers to LAX . With a 9AM disembarkation we be late getting to LAX . We disembarked 15min early and arrived at LAX within 45 min. Misc items: We saw whales as we left Cabo . Between Panama and Acapulco we saw two sea turles. Numerous dolphins and flying fish where observed . Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
First a little about us. We have been married for 5 years, and have been cursing together since 2003. We are 49 & 51 years old. This is our 10th cruise together. We got a BB category Balcony room A439, midship, starboard, aloha deck ... Read More
First a little about us. We have been married for 5 years, and have been cursing together since 2003. We are 49 & 51 years old. This is our 10th cruise together. We got a BB category Balcony room A439, midship, starboard, aloha deck (12). Embarkation day 11/7/09 We were told by the cruise line that no one will be allowed to enter the port until noon. We got to the pier at 12:45pm. The line was very short (4 couples ahead of us). We were on the ship by 1:30pm. We went directly to our stateroom. One of our checked bags was waiting and as I opened the stateroom door our steward (Mario) was coming down the passage way with the other. Not too shabby forty-five minutes from curb to stateroom with all our luggage. One of the best embarkations I can remember. The ship was extremely clean. She just got out of dry dock 2 weeks earlier. We were going to be her second voyage since dry dock. Our stateroom was very clean, and set up the way we requested. The bed was hard and uncomfortable (our only complaint in the room). The public rooms. My favorite place on the ship was the Wheelhouse bar. Deck 7 midship. I'm sitting here right now writing this review. The wheelhouse bar is non-smoking, full of lots of leather chairs and couches. A very quiet and cozy place. Bring a sweater it's a bit cold in the wheelhouse bar. The main pool area has an equal number of chairs with sun and in the shade. The Lido Bar/pool is on the lido deck aft. It's the covered pool for adults only. They have cushioned lounge chairs. This is also where you will find the ice cream bar. They have vanilla, chocolate, or swirl soft serve cones only. This area is also very quiet, great for reading or taking a nap. The Sanctuary is on the Lido deck aft. It was newly added during the 11/09 dry doc. It's a very serine and quiet area for adults only, but the catch is you have to pay for all that serenity $10 for ½ a day, $20 all day. The Food The Buffet (Horizon Court) is at the bow of the ship on the lido deck. It has a great view over the bow. The food is good, with a good variety. At breakfast you'll find a cooked to order egg/omelet, and waffle station. The Waffles are to die for. They have fresh pastries, croissant, muffins, bagels, toast, and every other day real jelly doughnuts, filled with raspberry jam (The best!!!). They have the usual breakfast, fresh fruit, lunch meats, cheeses, fresh veggies, sausage, bacon, ham, hash, turkey sausage, grits, cream of wheat, oatmeal, cereals, etc. The entire staff is very attentive, and very professional. The security screening to get back on the ship is just a formality. I was able to carry-on a bottle of rum in two different ports, without having to turn it into the booze police. We started out with anytime dining. We just thought the flexibility was great. The only problem with that is the wait to get into the dining room. Seams everyone else was into flexibility too. They would give you a beeper disc, when it lights up and vibrates it self off the table—your up! Much like the wait at you local restaurant. The wait was usually 1 hour during prime dinner time 6-8pm. If you get there when they open at 5:30 there is no wait. We found the food was great. The service was a bit lacking, the wait staff seamed a bit thin and overworked, but all in all it was always a great dining experience every night. We went to the Bayou Cafe (the Cajun grill/Steakhouse) specialty restaurant for dinner one night. The extra fee was $15 per person, plus an extra $5 if you wanted to add a Lobster tail to your meal. The $5 extra was well worth it for the big Lobster tail they added. They have the usual Cajun fare (Gumbo, Jambalaya, etc), also great steaks. We never made it to Sabatini's the Italian specialty restaurant $20 per person. Their signature meal is an 18 course dinner (Good luck with that). I just can't eat that much, but I spoke to a few people that ate there and they said the food was amazing. The Ice Cream bar was open most of the day in the Lido pool area. They served only soft serve Vanilla, Chocolate, or swirl cones and cups with toppings. There is a great pizza area at the back of the main pool area. Upstairs from the pool area is "The Grill" Hot dogs, Brats, Hamburgers, Fries. All cooked fresh to order. On Board Fun stuff The usual Trivia and Bingo a few times a day, pool olympics, ping pong, shuffle board, bridge tournaments, and a chance to challenge the cruise staff in water volleyball. They also had the various game shows, Newlywed/not so newlywed, Millionaire, Charades, Scavenger hunt. Generally they keep you busy on sea days. The casino was acceptable. They had lots of slots from 1 ¢ - High roller, Blackjack, Roulette, Poker, and Craps. I didn't spend much time in the casino, but those that did were saying that there were no big payouts. Tendering in the ports The tender process was very organized. If you have a booked tour you're covered. If you are doing your own thing you had to go to the dining room and get a ticket, and await your number being called. **** Here is a big secret**** They never check the number of your ticket, so just wait a few minutes and go out with the next group, if you are in a hurry to get off. It worked every time. Debarkation day The Breakfast was limited due to the extra personnel needed to do the embarkation day shuffle (no omelets or waffles) only a skeleton crew in the dining rooms and buffet. Kicking you off the ship was also very organized. Go to the room listed for the time you want to get off, and wait. It all ran very close to the scheduled time. Overall we had a great time. The Panama Canal is now crossed off our bucket list. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
By H Cato: This was our first major cruise, and it was great. We were a group of 11 people, including a couple from Denmark. To start with, through no fault of Princess Cruise Line, as each family had arranged their own booking, there was ... Read More
By H Cato: This was our first major cruise, and it was great. We were a group of 11 people, including a couple from Denmark. To start with, through no fault of Princess Cruise Line, as each family had arranged their own booking, there was a mix up in our dinner seating, with some seated in "Traditional Dining, and some in "Anytime Dining", but after the first dinner, with the expert guidance of the maitre'd , this was straightened out, with us getting a table for our whole party of 11, in the "Dine Anytime" dining room, receiving special attention from the headwaiter, and our table waiter Adi, who took the time to explain the different dishes on the menu, and the wine steward, who made certain that no glass was empty. With 5 birthdays and one graduation, being celebrated, we had no shortage of special cakes with candles. With the variety selection on the menu, each meal was an adventure in it self. As for the staterooms, I did hear anything, but praise from the rest of our party, one cabin steward even folded towels into animal figures, for myself, we weer three in our cabin (B-503), I do not remember the cabin stewards name, but service was explicit, from straightening out the cabin in the morning, while we were at breakfast, to turning down the beds, with a chocolate, in the evening, with everything else in between. We even experienced a deep sea rescue, of which, one in our party, was able to get some excellent video clips. the whole operation, was carried out with great professionalism. As entertainment tastes vary, our whole group were very happy, the bar servers were very friendly. In all we had a very enjoyable cruise, and looking forward to the next one, which, for us is coming up, with a short, repositioning cruise, Los Angeles to Vancouver, 3 days in May, on, you guessed it, the "Coral Princess".. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Summary The Canal Transit Cruise is a great cruise, but the ports are not as exciting as on a Baltic, British Isle or Mediterranean cruise. Aruba is not Santorini, Cartagena is not Barcelona, and Panama City is not Istanbul. ... Read More
Summary The Canal Transit Cruise is a great cruise, but the ports are not as exciting as on a Baltic, British Isle or Mediterranean cruise. Aruba is not Santorini, Cartagena is not Barcelona, and Panama City is not Istanbul. Nevertheless each port does have something special to offer, but the reason I selected this cruise was to witness my 90,000 gross ton cruise ship lifted onto the fresh water Gatun Lake for the transit - what an awesome and memorable experience. Embarkation Arrived at the Cruise Terminal at about 1230PM and was aboard in about 15 minutes. Well done Princess. The Cabin Classic Mini-Suite that seemed a bit larger than my recollections from the Grand Class Ships, but maybe it was my imagination. D710, an aft cabin, has a lot of shake and rattle from the the power plant and propulsion systems. Much more than aft cabins on the Grand Class ships. The crown moldings and the ventilation vents vibrated and rattled constantly, and when the ship reached 20+ knots during the FL to Aruba and Cabo to LA runs it was a bit hard to sleep. You could actually see the wine vibrating in your glass, and come night time we had to make sure that glasses left on the counter were on paper and not touching to reduce the noise. Even our overnight in Panama City, with the propulsion system stopped, we had a lot of vibration from the electrical power plant. The mattress was in fine condition. The MiniSuite, for a 15 day cruise with lots of sea days, is a sweet ride and for us well was worth the extra cash over the balcony class rooms (which we've also enjoyed on many other cruises). Aruba Nice to get off the ship, but given that the shops opened at 930 or 1000 AM and we departed in the early afternoon it was a very quick stop. However, it was nice to visit the La Bodega Wine Shop a few blocks from the pier to stock our cellar for the next 12 days. See Frommers/Aruba then Google map for location. Cartagena Really nice to get a small glimpse of Columbia, but the heat and humidity are not for the faint of heart. The Monastery, the Fort, and the Old City are the highlights. I especially enjoyed the Fort - El Castillo de San Felipe de Borajas. As the Columbia President was visiting the Old Town, the very large military presence was unexpected. Used a private tour operator Dora (www.cartagenatour.com ), who did a fine job. Given the heat, it was wonderful to have a car (with A/C) and driver at our disposal. The Transit Wow. Much has been written on this board about the transit, and I must agree that it's a great cruise experience. IMHO aft deck 8 and 9 are some of the best places to see the action. As others have said - enjoy all the viewing locations. From Deck 7 you are at eye level with the mules (locomotives that guide the ship through the canal). As we passed the lock control towers the canal operators stepped out onto their tower's balcony and they were about 3 feet away from the Dolphin Deck balconies - really neat! As others have said, consider reading "Path Between the Seas" before you go. Just awesome. Panama City Pre-arranged a car and driver from the firm "My Friend Mario" (mario@myfriendmario.com) for the day. We visited the El Charco rainforest, about 45 minutes from the dock and just beyond the Miraflores Locks and near the Charges River. Everyone else must have been in town shopping, because my wife, myself and our guide Carlos were alone in the rainforest. Quite a treat. While we never sighted the Howler Monkeys, we could hear them screaming as we walked the jungle. The leaf-cutter ants and termites are just amazing, not to mention the flora, vines, trees, butterflies, and jungle canopy. Bring water, bug spray, and take your time. We casually walked for about 90 minutes along a 1 mile, level trail through the rain forest. This isn't Yellowstone or Yosemite! After the walk we had some drinks at a near-by hotel overlooking the Charges River entry point to the canal, and enjoyed the birds and turtles, and the ships making the transit. The remainder of our time was in the Old Town - be prepared for a mix of upscale and poverty. I would not advise walking the Old Town without a guide. Had an authentic Panamanian lunch of sea bass, beans and rice with a Panamanian beer at a nice restaurant a few dozen yards across the plaza from the National Theatre. Carolos insisted that Panamanian Beer was the best in Central America. A few yards from the tender dock at the Marina at the end of the Causeway you'll find a restaurant and gift shop, where you can also buy some acceptable South American wine. Costa Rica We were lucky - this was a scheduled tender port, but I guess space was unexpectedly available and we were able to dock. Pre-arranged a car and driver from Greenway Tours, and Eduardo served as our guide. Many passengers opted for the more exotic destinations, but the bus time to those destinations is just too, too much for my wife and me. IMHO once you get to 4+ hours on the bus, the ultimate destination is rarely worth the sacrifice and the time on location always very short. We instead opted for the Carara National Biological Reserve about 40 minutes from the docks. This rainforest is home to the Scarlet Macaw http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarlet_Macaw We had just decided to end our walk and return to the van when Eduardo spotted the rare bird in the forest canopy. To see such a beautiful bird in its natural environment was quite special. Lunch and beer at the beach, and Eduardo corrected Carlos, sharing that the Costa Rican beer called Imperial was the best in Central America. Huatulco Given our 4 hour visit, it's mainly an opportunity to walk off the ship for a Mexican Lunch and a Corona. Wish some US airlines few non-stop to this place as it would be a great alternative to busier places like Cabo and Can Cun. Acapulco Nice to now say I have visited, but it's not a place I'd care to visit again. Very busy with city with lots of traffic and smog. For my Mexican vacations I far prefer the smaller, quieter and cleaner town of Ixtapa. However, the divers are famous and I'm sure many passengers enjoyed the viewing. Fort San Diego is across the street from the Cruise Terminal. My guide Manuel corrected both Carols and Eduardo - he shares that a Corona is the best beer in the world. Cabo Another quick visit - only a 5 hour port-of-call that required a 20 minute tender ride to the Marina. Like Huatulco, it was a good place to lunch and beer. It's a very American town with US citizens far out numbering the locals. Costco, Wal-Mart, Office Depot, McDonalds, KFC, and more are all represented. The Americans live just outside of town. Cabo even has an American staffed hospital to cater to the local American population. The shopping and souvenirs by this time all seem identical to every other port and with good reason - they do all look alike. With the Sapphire Princess and Radiance of the Seas also in port - it was crowded. Dining Room Excellent service, maybe the best of all my Princess cruises. Had requested a table for two for early Traditional, but by luck was assigned the worst table in the room - the first table as you walk into the room. Imagine every diner entering the room passing behind either my wife or myself. After dinner I visited the Dining Room Captain of the Anytime Dining Room, and was assigned a great table with standing reservations for the rest of the cruise. Food quality was as expected and ranged from good to very good. I'm always amazed they do as good as they do considering they are cooking for hundreds and the kitchen is doing 18 knots. Thanks Princess. Horizon Court What can you say....it's the court. Its all about fast and large quantities, both achieved at the understandable sacrifice to quality. Chef's Table If you enjoy a wide variety of food and wine, this is a great experience. Highly recommended. I'd suggest that food at the Chef's Table is simply the very best that a Princess ship can offer. Included with the purchase were photos of the event (delivered back to the table before we finished dessert) and a hardback cookbook of Princess recipes. I was thinking that my wife might enjoy having the book signed by the Executive Chief. When I opened the book I found that it was already autographed. Very thoughtful. This was my best ever on-board Princess experience. Disembarking What a disaster - see http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1087998 for an entire tread on that fiasco. I've added my comments to an already long and sad tale. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We selected a cruisetour for our Alaskan cruise. This was our 2nd Alaskan cruise on Princess and our 1st one was 5 years ago. We selected the Coral Princess as we had head many positive things about the ship. The cruisetour was wonderful - ... Read More
We selected a cruisetour for our Alaskan cruise. This was our 2nd Alaskan cruise on Princess and our 1st one was 5 years ago. We selected the Coral Princess as we had head many positive things about the ship. The cruisetour was wonderful - we did a 4 night land package which was 1 night in Anchorage, 1 night at Mt. McKinley and 2 nights in Denali. We enjoyed ourselves and had some wonderful excursions. Princess as always was right up there with their service and being sure our needs were met. Our 1st night was spent at the Captain Cook hotel in Anchorage. Good location. Had dinner at Seafort's Salon & Grill which is approximately 1 block from the hotel. Excellent dinner. The next day we transferred by train to our next destination of Mt. McKinley. We arranged for the Byers Lake Nature Walk. Our guide was Freddy. There were 9 of us on the tour and it was very informative. Our guide introduced us to wild berries and we were all able to sample. I just loved the wild blueberries. We booked directly with the tour company and not thru Princess - same tour as we had Princess passengers with us but we paid $5.00 per person less! The Mt. McKinley Lodge is very nice but be aware there are not elevators so if stairs are an issue be sure your room is on the 1st floor. In Denali we did the Homestead Husky Tour and the Tundra Tour. The Husky tour we booked directly and once again it is the same tour that Princess offers - but it was $5.00 per person less and the tour was more than I could imagine. The dogs, the puppies, seeing how they train the dogs, did I mention the dogs??? It really does give you some insight into what goes into training for this - not just the dogs, but the individual themselves. Now on the Tundra tour - we saw 8 bears, 1 wolf, 2 foxes, 1 bald eagle, 1 golden eagle, lots of Dall sheep, many different types of birds. It was wonderful, got very tired as it made for a long day but it was so worth it. 5 years ago we did the history tour and the amount of wildlife we saw on the Tundra tour was so much more than the History tour. Forget the history tour and go for the Tundra. It is what Alaska is all about. The natural beauty of it all. The train from Denali to the ship was a very long day but it was enjoyable. Last time we did the coach and this was so much better. The food on the train is adequate. We did see Mt. McKinley from the train and it was beautiful! Before arriving at Whittier, a Princess rep boarded the train and processed our paperwork and checked us in for the ship. So, once we arrived in Whittier, we got off the train and walked right on the ship. No waiting in lines to board the ship - it was wonderful! We booked a mini suite and had D724. There were 3 of us to the cabin. It was somewhat crowed with the 3 of us, but we got a routine worked out with 3 females. Our cabin steward "Jeffrey" was wonderful and never had the need to ask for anything, as it was there before the asking. We were welcomed to our room with a glass of champagne which was a nice touch. The sofa bed for the 3rd person was horrible and she ended up keeping it as a sofa to sleep on as it was more comfortable that way. Our twin beds - I slept so that is good............when the beds were made up you could see the lumps in the matresses. It is time for new ones. It was quiet at our end of the ship but did seem to be somewhat of a walk at times to and from the elevator but I did enjoy our location. The mini suite was smaller than other ones we have had in the past but did have ample storage and closet space. Overall on the ship you could tell areas in where the carpet was worn and areas need to be updated. The casino is small and selection is limited. The shows by Princess "dancers" left much to be desired. We ended up not going to many shows or leaving during the show. We did have dinner one night in their speciality restaurant "Sabitini's" It was excellent and you receive more than enough food. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Embarkation: For us, embarkation was a breeze. Our limo arrived at our house promptly at 11am. We loaded up the car with our luggage and headed down to the pier. We must have arrived before the crowds because we were onboard and in our ... Read More
Embarkation: For us, embarkation was a breeze. Our limo arrived at our house promptly at 11am. We loaded up the car with our luggage and headed down to the pier. We must have arrived before the crowds because we were onboard and in our room by noon. Arriving at the pier around 11:30, it only took us 30 minutes to go through security, customs and checkin. All went very smoothly. Once on board, you were directed to your cabin to drop off any carry-ons. This was definitely a plus considering a couple of other lines I have sailed do not let you go to the cabin until an announcement is made. Muster Drill: The way Princess does their muster drill is so civilized compared to a couple of other lines I have been on. Princess has passengers arrive at a lounge without wearing your jackets. They explain the procedures and show you how to put the jacket on at the drill. It was much better then standing on deck with everyone else wearing your jacket throughout the drill. Cabin: We booked a mini-suite for this particular cruise since we would be on board for 18 days. We like the location near the aft. It was quiet and close to the elevators. Our cabin steward Jon was great and always had a smile on his face. It was nice having a tub in the bathroom and a couch in the room. Also, the extra chairs on the balcony were nice since it made it really easy to take a nap out there. Dining: We had the majority of our meals in the Horizon Court. Overall, the service in there was good. However, we did find service deteriorated in the evening. I think Princess really should reconsider the lemonade station and move it so passengers can access it themselves and not have to rely on the servers to get it. We did do breakfast in the Bordeaux dining search a couple of mornings and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. We also did a few dinners in the Bordeaux and enjoyed the meals. The Bayou Cafe was an excellent deal ($15 cover charge) in our opinion. We ate in there twice. For an additional $5 you could order an 8 oz lobster tail. During the cruise, on a couple of sea days, the Bayou was the place to go if you were wanting an English Pub-style lunch of fish n chips or bangers n mash. Entertainment: The entertainment was good. There is room for improvement with the comedians as I did not find any of them roll-on-the-floor-laughing-til-you-cry performances. We enjoyed the production shows, especially "What a Swell Party". The Adrian Zmed show was good as well. The hypnotist was enjoyable. It's just too bad a couple of the passengers who were on stage faked being under hypnosis. Shore Excursions: We did Princess Shore Excursions in Fuerte Amador, Cartagena and Aruba. We really enjoyed the Panama City tour. Our guide was wonderful and spoke very clear. In Cartagena, before stepping off the tour bus, our guide warned us not to smile and just say "No gracias". For the most part, the vendors did leave you alone. As part of the Best of Cartagena tour, we were taken to the Pierino Gallo shopping centre. I did not like that we were not allowed to get off the bus and go on our own right away. They herded everyone into this one store. From what we heard, the sales associated were pretty agressive. In Aruba, I enjoyed the sights we saw. It was not the most enjoyable excursion we did but that did not have to do with the tour or guide itself. It would have been nice to have had more time in this port. Chef's Table: We were one of the few lucky one's to attend the Chef's Table on this cruise (there were 3 in total). For 3 hours, we were winded, dined and entertained. It was a fabulous evening of good food and company. Even though there is a $75 pp charge, it was money well spent IMHO. I would love to do this experience again on another ship to see the comparison. For attending, we received two photos (group and individual), roses for the ladies as well as cookbooks for the ladies. Overall: In summary, the Coral is a beautiful ship. Sure, it's worn in some areas but what ship isn't unless it's brand new. It is well laid out with lots of areas to sit, look out the windows and watch the world go by. It never felt overcrowded. You would never have known it was full. For the most part, service was good everywhere and the majority of staff were friendly. As this was the final cruise before drydock, there was no evidence of work going on. It was well masked and undisruptive to the passengers. I look forward to travelling with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
This was my 10th cruise, second time to Alaska and second time on Princess. The 10 night cruise tour was a great experience, I am glad that we took the land portion first. I was first on an Alaskan cruise in September of 2006 on ... Read More
This was my 10th cruise, second time to Alaska and second time on Princess. The 10 night cruise tour was a great experience, I am glad that we took the land portion first. I was first on an Alaskan cruise in September of 2006 on Celebrity's Summit. I must admit The Summit is STILL my favorite ship of all I have cruised. Anyway. We arrived late afternoon in Fairbanks after being on planes and in airports from 4:30 AM, so needless to say we were tired. Alaska Airlines service was as good as I remember and even though I flew coach the planes were comfortable and the crews friendly. The last flight was especially memorable as we flew to Fairbanks, and got a lot of narration from the crew. The views of the glaciers were spectacular. Once in Fairbanks we were met by the Princess Rep and boarded the bus. Some people went to The Fairbanks Princess while we were booked into the Rivers Edge Resort. This was a very nice place, I suspect an older facility, since there were individual cabins. Our cabin was modern, neat, clean and very comfortable, I would have liked to stayed there another day or so. The next morning our baggage was piked up promptly and we ate breakfast before departure in the Rivers Edge Buffet, EXCELLENT! From there we went by coach to the train and boarded on time and went to our assigned seating in the Domed observation cars. We met two ladies from Canada who would become good friends during the train travel and on the cruise as well. First stop was the Princess Denali Lodge. Very nice lodge, and of course the scenery was wonderful. I We were scheduled for the 1/2 day tour which was nice however we did not see a lot of wildlife. We ate in the Princess restaurant, I did find the menu a bit limited and prices a bit higher than expected, but the service was good. All In all ate there 3 times, one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner. The morning of departure we ate at the Buffet, I was disappointed with the quality and service, I suspect that this was being run by a contractor and not Princess. Back on the train for the trip to Mt. McKinley, we actually did get to see it from some 75 miles away while we were on the train. Ate lunch on board, very nice and not terribly over priced. The rest of the trip was spent admiring the beautiful Alaska scenery and playing cards with our friends. After you disembark the train for the Mt McKinley stop you have about a 1 hour bus ride to the lodge, our driver was a young lady who had lots of knowledge and was very informative and funny. We only had one night at the Princess Lodge, that was a shame, the lodge there was beautiful, great views , McKinley hid however, but service and food was excellent. We really felt that this was the nicest of the Two Princess Lodges. Back on the train to go to Whittier. This was a LONG day, thank goodness for good friends and cards and nice scenery. No dome car on this leg, but the windows were big and the views again were great. Arriving at Whittier we boarded the ship very quickly, princess has the boarding process well in hand there. The Coral Princess has yet to get it refurb, (Big Movie Screen) but it was in excellent shape. Our partly obstructed stateroom was clean and comfortable and out attendant was very attentive to our needs. One real high point was the Head Waiter in the Bordeaux Dining room. Since we had anytime dining we made reservations for a specific time each night to meet our friends. The service was excellent, food superb, and portions very nice. We ate all but 1 evening meal there. The buffet, is another story. I hope when they do the refurb they redesign it, it is cramped with little rhyme or reason to the layout. The food, other than breakfast was not as good as I had on Celebrity at their buffet. All in all I was disappointed with the buffet area with the exception of breakfast. Ports of call were fine, we didn't do any sightseeing other than Ketchikan, where we piked up a local tour on the dock. Saw some bear, eagles, and some of the city highlights, well worth the time. Skagway, we got off the ship to go to the drug store and The Alaskan Shirt Factory, other than that we stayed on the ship and had a good time. As usual I played trivia everyday, and had fun we won a couple of times. The production shows were very good I did not go to any of the single acts, however. Disembarkation in Vancouver was smooth, we had a VERY long wait for our flight back. Our air was arranged through Princess, I do feel they could have done a better scheduling job so in the future I will probably schedule my own air. All in all the trip was wonderful, but I did feel the land portion was a bit pricey. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Arrived in Anchorage Aug 14. Stayed at ComfortInn Ship Creek for one night. Very nice hotel. I used my Choice rewards to get a free night, but would stay at this hotel even if I had to pay for it. In the morning we took advantage of the ... Read More
Arrived in Anchorage Aug 14. Stayed at ComfortInn Ship Creek for one night. Very nice hotel. I used my Choice rewards to get a free night, but would stay at this hotel even if I had to pay for it. In the morning we took advantage of the free continental breakfast and it was very good. Had reserved a car through Enterprise. They had someone come pick us up and then went back to Enterprise to fill out papers and we were on our way. very nice rental company and fast. I used my Northern Lights Coupon to get 50% off a three day rental.The book paid for itself twice over just with that coupon. After roaming around Anchorage for awhile we eat at Rumrunners. Used my Northern Lights coupon. Food was just ok, but the Alaska beer was great!! Now we were on our way to Wasilla. Scenery was beautiful. We rented a cabin on Lake Wasilla with Gatehouse B & B for 2 nights. Nice lttle rustic cabin with all the facilities (kitchen, nice soft bed, laundry area, pourch) However don't expect to watch tv, but there are lots of videos you can watch for free. We weren't there to watch tv, the view was amazing. We sat on the porch drinking wine and watched as the sun sank behind the mountains. Irene is a lovely lady and her home made coffee cake was the best I have ever eaten. We turned in early since tomorrow we had a long day coming up. It was raining when we got up, but by the time we left it was starting to clear up. I had booked a private tour with Heiny's ATV Adventure as a birthsay present for my husband. This trip was the high light of his Alaska trip.They have easy to extreme rides and are great people to deal with. I decided to do a hike at the Eagle River Nature Center inside the Chugach State Park. It was wonderful. I photographed moose, grizely bear, beavers, swans and salmon on my 8 mile hike. After that I hiked to Thunderbird Falls,drove to Eklutna Lake and then to Hatcher Pass. We both had such a long eventful day we decided to get take out and turn in early. Aug 17 we headed back to Anchorage, dropped off the car and took Alaska Leopard to Whitter. I really enjoyed the tour. Learned about the area and our driver was great. Once out of the tunnel I saw our ship. I was SO excited. It took around 15 minutes before we were on our way to our ocean view room on Plaza deck. This is the first time out of 7 cruises we did not have a balcony. At first I felt I made a mistake, but the savings allowed us to book another cruise for our upcoming anniversary (that one is a balcony) Plaza deck was great. Will book this area again if we decide on an ocean view. Our cabin steward Randal was very nice and pleasent. Room always cleanned with full bucket of ice in refrig. We choose traditional dinning. We had anytime dinning the cruise before and decided to go back to tradition. Our waiter was good, but Carlos our matridee was excellent. We had signed up for the Chefs Table and were picked. I am not going to go into detail since there is already great reviews on this. If you have the chance to do this, it is a must. The Chefs table was held the night crab was going to be served and I didn't mind knowing we were going to have a great meal. However to our surprise Carlos had arranged for us to have the crab the next night. What a great guy. I thought the food was very good to excellent. I thought the wine we purchased was reasonable and the drinks we had were not over priced with all the liquor they put in them. The first sea day we relaxed and watching the scenery. Glacier Park was beautiful and I saw several whales. There were hardly any calving due to no sunshine and cool temperatures. Still a wonderful day. Ports: Skagway we rented a car from Avis and drove to Emerald Lake. It drizzeled most of the day, but that made taking pictures more dramatic with clouds hanging low and deap rich colors. On the way back we spotted a black bear and snapped many pictues before it crossed in front of our car and into the wood. After returning the car my husband went back to the ship and I shopped. Make sure you pick up an Alaska Coupon book. Lots of free stuff to get in every port. Juneau was a tour with Harv & Marv (second time with them) Great trip with seeing so many whales we couldn't keep track. Also saw a big sea lion, many seals & eagles. Went to the glacier and then eat at Tracis Crab Shack. Time for a lttle shopping and back to the ship for a nap before dinner. Another great day. Ketchikan we had no tour planned except I choose to power shop for family here. I felt this port was the best to bargin and I feel I got a great buy on some of my larger purchases. A nice sunny warm day we walked to Creek Street and watch the salmon try to jump up the falls. Came back to the ship early since the Chefs table was tonight. Stopped at Wheelhouse Bar for our usual afternoon 24K margarita. Next day was a sea day. I took a book up to the enclosed pool area and stayed there almost all day watching our the window and soaking in the sun. Celebrated Hubbys Birthday at dinner and had a wonderful time together reminissing on our great trip. Went to our asigned area and within 10 minutes was off the ship. Took a taxi to Holiday Inn Downtown, dropped off our bags and took the hop on hop off trolly. Great tour. Vancouver is a beautiful City not to be missed. Eat the best halibit and cod at Prospect Cafe. Back to our hotel to relax then had dinner at the hotels resturant. Very good. We had a morning flight and back home by late afternoon. Our two pets we had arranged for someone to watch while we were gone greated us with licks and love. Thank you Princess for a wonder trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Coral Princess Southbound August 17th-24th, 2009 Cabin C721 10th floor, Starboard side, minisuite. Two adults in our early fifties and two 11 year olds, our daughter and a friend. First, I made the arrangements for this cruise and I ... Read More
Coral Princess Southbound August 17th-24th, 2009 Cabin C721 10th floor, Starboard side, minisuite. Two adults in our early fifties and two 11 year olds, our daughter and a friend. First, I made the arrangements for this cruise and I am a "do it myself" online guy all the way. At the encouragement of a friend of ours we used a cruise consultant/travel agent and I am very glad we did. Still paid the lowest fare I could find on line plus received lots of useful information about the trip and the cruise and had a ready source to answer questions and address concerns along the way. Of course always a personal choice and Princess has a great web site and the user interface is pretty straight-forward and easy to use with contact points for people who prefer person to person and mail or email. Overall the Coral Princess was great. Well maintained, clean, with the exception of the main open areas outside the dining rooms at dinner time, never felt crowded and the cruise was sold out. We did a minsuite with a balcony. We were told a balcony for this itinerary was a must if you can do it.. When the weather was good like our last day when I am typing this out, it is well worth it... on raining days, not so much. Arrived in Anchorage the day before using our own flight arrangements through Alaska Airlines. Worked great. Had enough time to do some quick sightseeing in Anchorage including seeing the Northern lights show at the Performing Arts Center. About 45 minutes long. Plays every hour. We all thought it was great. We did not use the Princess shuttle service from Anchorage to Whittier. Instead, we took the Whittier Shuttle which drops you off right in front of the Princess check in. It was less expensive, the most reasonable of any option we could find. Took about 90 minutes including a 15 min stop at the tunnel to wait for our turn to traverse the one lane thoroughfare. We were the last pick up, (shortest time on the shuttle but no choice of seats so we all sat separately). The shuttle was comfortable but we were ready to get off when we reached the ship. There did not seem to be much to see in Whittier so we boarded when we arrived. Embarkation in Whittier was amazingly smooth, fast and painless. We dropped our luggage within about 15 feet from the shuttle stop and were on the ship in less than 10 minutes. Counter reps were friendly, helpful and doing a great job. We chose the anytime dining, which, if you do not know how to work the system, means you dine anytime it is convenient for the ship to let you eat - you will end up waiting in a long line. Read on... For the first night only everyone was assigned a seating time (we were at 5:30 pm). The next night was a formal night; we called the reservations line that day and were told that they do not accept reservations between 6 and 8 so we just went to our assigned dining room at 7:30 and had about an hour wait, not good with two 11 year old girls. The third night we again tried for reservations without success and ended up with some delightful folks who told us the secret (which someone else on cruise critic had mentioned but I had forgot) that you need to talk to the Maitre De in the dining hall who controls all. For the next nights we were seated at a table we liked, with people we enjoyed and at the time we wanted. So forget doing what the on board information tells you to do and talk to the head Maitre De the first night. Calling the dining reservations line is a total waste of time. We usually ate breakfast at the Horizon Court which is the 24 hour buffet. Can be extremely busy or pretty calm depending on port stops, etc.. Food was pretty good for cattle car dining and the views are great. In addition there are specialty restaurants for dinners. We liked the Bayou Cafe for a date night while the girls had room service. We never tried the other one, Sabatini's but others said it was good as well. Regular dinners in the normal dining room were good, on the edge of very good at times. Your waiter makes all the difference so if you find one you like, find a way to stick with him or her. Afternoon tea was a favorite of the my wife and the girls. Nice way to break up the "at Sea" days. There is also a Pizza Place around the pool and a Grill that does burgers, dogs, etc. An ice cream bar and hot chocolate chips cookies in the afternoon and hot chocolates with cream as well which the kids (and us as well) indulged in at times. Entertainment: We saw two shows. One called Dance which was excellent. An amazing production for a cruise ship. The other was a song and dance lounge act by Adrian ZMed. That was not our type of show, the show seemed to be all about ZMed and his show business career and was over produced. Not great but not terrible either. The various bands and groups playing in the various bars and in open spaces on the ship were good and appropriate to the environment. We did not see any of the comedians or any of the game show format options. Regarding Shockwave, the kid's club: our 11 year olds went there for about an hour the first day and were bored, but we have read in other Cruise Critic reviews that it worked for them. Our daughter and her friend were at the top end of the 8-12 year range and enjoyed the freedom of being able to roam the ship, do the pool, etc on their own so it may not be fair to write it off entirely. We did not expect to be able to use the pool much due to the cool weather, but one of the pools is in a glass-enclosed area which stays pretty warm. It made for some pleasant afternoons, kept the girls entertained while we relaxed and read or went in the hot tub. Excursions: Unless you need the certainty of booking ahead you can save lots of money booking your own, even if you wait until the day you enter port. This is especially true if what you want to do is weather-dependent, as this is Alaska and it does rain. There are lots of people selling tours right off the ships. If you are willing to endure their pitches and are willing to negotiate and be a bit flexible you can save 20 - 40 % over the ship prices. Especially if you are buying "perishable" items like flights. Close to flight time if there are a few spaces left they will discount them rather than lose the revenue. For example, a 2 hour Misty Fiord float plane flight in Ketchikan, through the cruise line went for almost $300 US, the regular price on the dock was $229, we got it for $200 and by late in the afternoon it was going for $169 a person. In Skagway we did the White Pass and Yukon train, we booked our own tickets on line and saved over $50 although it does require you to walk to the station instead of boarding on the ship (about 5 minutes at a leisurely pace). Train ride was great. We planned on hiking the rest of the day but we hit rain and so decided to visit someone we knew at a local inn while the girls shopped the rest of the day. We felt comfortable with the 11 year olds in town on their own, a cell phone call away. Very clean and a friendly place. Juneau we did a private land tour to the Mendenhall glacier and the St Theresa Shrine which was much better than we thought it might be. In Ketchikan we did the float plane and the duck tour. Float plane was great, would skip the Duck tour unless you have never done one. Same jokes as the one in Seattle. Last day at sea was actually a great day. Lots to do on board. Our room and room steward were great. We have read horror stories at times on this site about people's rooms being an issue for one reason or another. Ours was clean, and while way at the back at the ship which made everything in the front quite a walk, it was very quiet and the elevators rarely busy. We even had an AC issue, it stuck in the high position and was quite cold in the room. We called at about 10 at night and they sent someone out in about 15 minutes. Told us it would take a few hours to repair so they came back in the morning and fixed it as they said they would, amazing. Lots of people taking photos but for the most part if you said "no thank you", they went away quickly. Debarkation in Vancouver BC went pretty well. They were running a bit behind schedule with Princess putting the blame on the Canadian Customs folks working some baggage issues. But once off the ship we were through customs quickly and on our way to our next destination. One final note which others who do their research will know but we did not. Most of the ferry terminals to other islands in the area such as Victoria BC are about a 40 minute, $70 Canadian taxi away. And the Vancouver airport is also a ways from both the cruise terminals and ferry terminals so plan accordingly. Also, if flying to a US destination from Vancouver BC, you will clear US passport Immigrations and Customs at the Vancouver BC airport. While this is a great idea, it takes extra time so plan accordingly, had we not been able to do the short line for security (due to my MVP Gold Status with Alaska Air), we may have missed our flight home. All in all a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
This is written by two sisters in their 20's. Side note..the age group on this cruise is kinda on the older side. There were about 100 cruisers younger than 30! Sister 1: We took our very first cruise with Princess Cruises to ... Read More
This is written by two sisters in their 20's. Side note..the age group on this cruise is kinda on the older side. There were about 100 cruisers younger than 30! Sister 1: We took our very first cruise with Princess Cruises to Alaska on 07/27/09. It was AMAZING. We were 1st time cruisers, so we were worried about getting seasick. We even got a prescription patch which we ended up not needing. We were a large group of travelers and only 2 of our group got a little motion sickness one day but that's about it. I personally didn't feel too much "motion in the ocean" except when I was sleeping. And of that, only 2 of the 7 nights was there a significant amount. As for the weather...I have one word: PERFECT. The cruise director did say this was one of the few cruises where there was 7 days of sunlight. But bring jackets/sweatshirts. It gets a little cold while traveling around Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord. One word of advice, bring stretchy clothes. HAHA. There is SOOOO much food to eat. One of my favorite parts was the afternoon tea. Not too many people went, so the ratio of staff to attendees was 2 to 1. You could get tea and wonderful pastries. Another favorite event of mine was the pastry extravaganza. WOW. The Grill has great burgers. The Pizzeria has good pizza. You can get personalized omelets each morning. The dining options are various. But, you do get a little of the food; It's like the "same variety" everyday. A lot of healthy stuff was available, but who wants that, right? Overall, no complaints with the food. The staff was great. Everyone was so nice and accommodating. Our waiter and his assistant remembered little things like the fact that we like lemon with our water, or water without ice. Attention to detail was 2nd to none. Maybe it was just the waiters we had J. The cruise director's staff was amazing. They were always SO energetic. We took advance of all of the dance classes because they were so fun. They had activities planned each night and each day and we really had to schedule what we were going to do. A word of advice, read your Princess Patter nightly. They have a list of ALL of the activities so you can plan accordingly. Sister 2: Shore Excursions: So in Ketchikan, we went snorkeling. I personally didn't think it was worth the $100. Sure they give you the whole body suit thing with the hood and goggles and flippers, but the view isn't as great as it is in Hawaii (and you can do it there for $50). However, the water was like 60 degrees so that was nice! In Juneau, we did the Alpine Zipline and Mendenhall Glaciers excursion. TOTALLY worth the $200. Let's break it down a little. The zipline portion included all materials needed to make it from one end of the rope to the other safely. Our instructors were GREAT..funny and charismatic. The difference between the Alpine zipline and the other one (I think it's the rainforest one) is that the Alpine zip consists of "5 lines" that equal to about a mile long and the other one is 2 miles in length with 9 lines. Then you head on over to Mendenhall Glaciers. Again the weather was sunny the entire cruise so we just had a sweatshirt and were ok. It was pretty..scenic is probably the only way I can describe it. A must see if it isn't included in your excursion. Last, but not least, we went to Skagway which is a tiny little city with a population of 800 and is 4 blocks long and 1 mile wide (or something similar to that). We had booked the 8 hour Experience the Yukon and Suspension Bridge tour, but cancelled that BECAUSE in Juneau, the Mendenhall Glacier tour was more than 50% off when booked outside than with Princess!!!! SO cancelled the 8 hour tour, saved ourselves $124 a person and we winged it! Walked around the entire city, went to their museum, and booked our own tour that took us to the Summit and gold panning for $50 a person...and it was about a 3 hour tour. Not bad I say..considering how we struck it rich with the gold panning..NOT! Overall, had a good time on the excursions, but don't feel the need to book through Princess-massive rip off unless you go ziplining! This was our 1st cruise, and won't be the last. The standard was set really high by Princess Cruises. Not sure if other ships meet the same standard. Will definitely cruise with Princess again. Oh..and FYI...the cruise lets you take one bottle of wine per person onto the ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
We are a family of four, with two boys (ages 8 & 10).  My husband and I had only cruised on SilverSea without our children prior to this trip, so we tried to be extra cautious when selecting our first family cruise.  We decided on ... Read More
We are a family of four, with two boys (ages 8 & 10).  My husband and I had only cruised on SilverSea without our children prior to this trip, so we tried to be extra cautious when selecting our first family cruise.  We decided on Princess, as we heard that the children's programs were great.  We also selected the Coral Princess specifically, as we had heard only good things about that ship.  Thankfully, our research and preparation paid off, and we have mostly good things to say about this trip... with a few exceptions. We flew from Salt Lake City to Seattle on the day before the cruise, and spent a night at the Hyatt in downtown Seattle.  The Hyatt is a lovely hotel, and it is located just a few short blocks from the Amtrak station.  On the morning of the cruise, we boarded the Amtrak Coaster and took the train up to Vancouver, which was our embarkation port.  It was a nice, comfortable train ride along the coastline to Vancouver, and everyone enjoyed the views.   It was actually better than expected and quite relaxing.  Upon arriving in Vancouver, we went through customs at the train station and took a quick taxi ride to the port.  We experienced no delays and were on the ship by 12:30.  We had a mini suite with balcony on the Caribe deck that comfortably slept four people.  The room had a bunk bed that pulled down from the ceiling so that both children had their own beds. This feature also enabled us to walk around the room without having to climb over a fold-away bed.  We also chose the port side headed northbound, as we had heard that this was the better side of the ship for both views and late afternoon sunshine.  This proved to be true.  For dining, we had chosen the anytime dining, but on the second night we spoke with the maitre'd, Florian, and he was able to accommodate us at a prime window table for four at 7:30pm every night.  Florian was wonderful, as was our waiter, Roman.  We were given the best of service at dinner every night.  On our first night of the cruise we ate a Sabatini's, and the food was great, with the exception of our main courses.  I had order a shrimp dish, which was tasteless and my husband ordered sea bass, which was rubbery.  All of the other courses were superb, though, and our children ordered pasta dishes which were also very good.  We cannot say enough positive about the service that we received in the main dining room.  This was true at breakfast, as well as dinner.On the flipside of dining, there was Horizon Court, which has the buffet.  The food there was very average at best.  There was also a "herd" of people there lining up to fill up their large plates with piles of food.  I think that the people who went to Horizon Court everyday focused on quantity of food and not quality.  In addition, everyday our children would ask for hot chocolate, and the waiters in Horizon Court had no idea what it was or how to make it!  We would get lukewarm dark syrup in a cup with a dash of milk.  It was so terrible that my kids couldn't drink it.  For other dining options, the Grill for burgers and hot dogs and the Pizza areas by the pool were really good.  My kids ate lunch there most everyday, and I enjoyed the wood fired pizzas very much.  My kids also enjoyed the free soft-serve ice cream at the Ice Cream Bar.  Our two boys attended the kids club every day...in fact they ran there every day.  It was only open for sign ups on the day of embarkation, and only opens for limited hours on days in port.  However, this was not an issue, as on days in port our children were out with us.  After all, this was a family vacation.  Our boys really enjoyed Shockwaves, which were the 8-12 groups.  There were only about 44 kids signed up for their group, and their area never seemed crowded.  The counselors were excellent with the kids.  Safety and fun were priorities, and we felt that it was well run and more than kept the boy's interest.  Our boys also enjoyed the indoor pool area, which was conveniently open for "family hours" when camp was closed.  In Ketchikan, we booked the private Hummer tour and it was fantastic.  Our driver and guide, Hunter, took us to several spots in Ketchikan to view eagles, walk along beaches and see waterfalls, museums, wild life and more.   He found out what we wanted to do, and he made sure that we got to see as much as possible.  He also packed a little picnic and beverages for us.  This was MUCH better than booking a tour that would involve a busload of people.  In Juneau, we booked a private whale watch boat with Captain Louis through Alaska Galore, and it was one of the highlights of the trip.  We saw 10+ whales bubble feeding, orcas and sea lions.  Captain Louis was great.   We also booked the Mendenhall Glacier Canoe trip, and it was the best way to see the glacier up close.  I would say though, that our boys were a little young to fully enjoy this.  They just wanted to get out of the canoe and throw stones in the lake.  In Skagway, we booked a tour with DYEA Dave and he was very entertaining.  He took us along the same trail that the 3 - 7 hour White Pass train takes, and he made sure that we avoided all of the tourist traps and crowds.  He took us to Carcross and into Canada and the Yukon Territory.  In Carcross we ordered a picnic lunch and ate by a beautiful white sandy beach on a lake.  Our turn around point was Emerald Lake.  The scenery was spectacular and all enjoyed the excursions.  We loved cruising Glacier Bay, and we were particularly lucky with the weather.  It was sunny and the naturalist on the ship said that he had been to Glacier Bay many times and had never seen so much calving.  We had great weather all week, with the exception of our last cruise day - College Fjords.  It rained that day which made the viewing not so spectacular.  We were not impressed at all by the entertainment, although the band in the atrium on formal nights was good.  Disembarkation was an easy process, although we felt like cattle being herded from area to area by crew members with walkie talkies. We arranged for a bus transfer with Princess from Whittier to the airport in Anchorage.  Since we were used to how SilverSea handles things, this part of the trip and dealing with the crowds was not so great in comparison. I know that I shouldn't compare Princess to SilverSea, as it is not comparing apples to apples.  However, on a basic level, I did not appreciate that Princess charged extra for things like bottled water, sodas, and specialty coffees.  I also didn't like that they had photographers roaming around constantly trying to take your picture and then sell each one for $20 a pop.Overall, though, the Coral Princess staff and crew were outstanding, and this vacation was a very enjoyable trip for us.  We would highly recommend a voyage to Alaska on the Coral Princess. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
We had anticipated and planned this family for almost one year, and expectations were high - we were not disappointed.We are a couple who have cruised several times before, and were traveling with daughter, son-in-law, and 2 grandkids ... Read More
We had anticipated and planned this family for almost one year, and expectations were high - we were not disappointed.We are a couple who have cruised several times before, and were traveling with daughter, son-in-law, and 2 grandkids (ages 4and 6 years). This was the first cruise for the rest of the family.  We flew from Los Angeles to Vancouver on the day prior to our cruise, and stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel.  The hotel was lovely and very convenient - this made the embarkation so easy!  After breakfast, the kids went for a swim in the hotel pool, and then at 11AM we took the elevator to the cruise terminal (we sent our luggage to the terminal at about 10:30).  We experienced no delays and were on the ship by 11:30.  We had two staterooms, mini suite with balcony, and had the door opened between the balconies for the duration of the trip.  By doing this, we were able to walk between the two rooms without going into the hallway.  Our room steward, Reymond, took care of this the first day, and was extremely helpful and friendly throughout the cruise.For dining, we had chosen the anytime dining, but we were able to reserve a six person window table for 5:30 each evening.  This was important to us because two members of our party had severe food allergies (peanut and shellfish) and we wanted continuity of service.  We were given the best of service at dinner every night.  Our wait staff (Marisca and JoJo) were outstanding, giving great suggestions and prompt service.  In addition, the head waiter, Mario, made certain that our food allergies were addressed at every meal.  We cannot say enough positive about the service that we received in the dining room.  We celebrated our wedding anniversary on the trip by renewing our wedding vows.  This was very intimate and special.  We wrote our own renewal vows and everything about the ceremony was very nice.  Our two grandkids attended the kids club several days.  It was only open for sign ups on the day of embarkation, and only limited on days of port.  The kids really enjoyed it, and their parents (who are admittedly very protective) felt that it was well run, kept their interest, and safety was a priority.  Cion, Ana and Nataly were excellent with the kids.  It would be noted that while they don't expect a tip, it was greatly appreciated.  In Ketchikan, we took the Bering Sea Fisherman's trip and it was enjoyed by all ages.  This was the undisputed favorite excursion for everyone in the family.  We saw whales, eagles, crabs, octopus, and other fish.  Our grandkids even held some of the crabs and shrimp!  In Juneau, we took the Whale Watch and Wildlife Quest.  While the adults enjoyed this trip, it was not really geared for the younger kids.  In Skagway, five of us the 3 hour White Pass train, while one person took the 7 hour White Pass train (and bus) tour.  The scenery was spectacular and all enjoyed their trips.  We were grateful that we took the kids on the 3 hour trip!  All our shore excursions were booked through Princess.  We were not overly impressed by the entertainment.  We liked the production shows of Dance and Motor City.  The other entertainment was not up to Princess standards.  Only one night was there good entertainment in the atrium during the dinner hour, and that was the Coral Princess band.  Disembarkation was an easy process.  We arranged private transportation from the cruise terminal in Whittier to the airport in Anchorage.  We booked Girdwood Shuttle, and while they got us from A to B, that was it.  Luckily we were paying attention in the terminal, and noticed the driver or we would have missed the shuttle (he did not make an announcement, nor did he make any effort to check his list of passengers until we got to the airport!).  Overall, the Coral Princess staff and crew were outstanding and made this a very enjoyable trip for us.  Each crewmember we came into contact with was pleasant and helpful.  We would highly recommend a voyage on the Coral Princess to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Alaska was the trip of a lifetime so far and everyone enjoyed the trip, our only wish was to have more time then what we had scheduled. The Coral Princess is a great ship with plenty of on board daily activities and the ship is in great ... Read More
Alaska was the trip of a lifetime so far and everyone enjoyed the trip, our only wish was to have more time then what we had scheduled. The Coral Princess is a great ship with plenty of on board daily activities and the ship is in great shape. Our mini suite at the stern of the ship with its covered balcony was exactly what we expected, since we had two rooms side by side we were able to open the door between them. We started by flying to Vancouver from our home port a day before our cruise. Vancouver airport was easy to get around and the people were very friendly to deal with. We had reserved a private stretch limousine prior to our arrival from High End limousine. The cost was only $6 more than taking the YVR Airporter for 5 people in all and we figured for that why not. They were courteous and friendly and they took us right to the Pan Pacific hotel. The Pan Pacific Hotel is a very nice hotel attached directly to the Canada Place pier. Getting to the ship the next day was as easy as taking an elevator one floor below the street level main entrance of the hotel. This hotel can be expensive but, you are on vacation, why not enjoy. I know we did. Embarkation was easy and we were on the ship in less than 15 minutes. We managed to carry our entire luggage to the room so we did not have to wait for it to be delivered. We unpacked, hung everything up, went to eat in the Horizon Court buffet and then started to explore the ship. We purchased my son the Ultimate Kids Card and I think he hit every waiter and bar with it. It was well the cost in my opinion. After we finished exploring we left the ship, went to the local wine store, purchased several bottles and had no issues bringing them back on. I had them in a book bag and with many people lined up at this time to get on the ship they just ran us right through. Our inside passage cruising day it was raining and cold. No matter the pools are heated, many people were in the indoor pool so we braved the outdoor family pool on the back of the ship. My son (10) and I were the only two back there and we had it all to ourselves. It was a little cold getting out, our towels were wet even after being protected from the above cover, not matter we were wet as well from just getting out of the pool. We arrived in Ketchikan and it was a little cool, it warmed up by noon. We walked all around the town, up and down Creek Street, watched parts of the lumberjack show as we walked by. We missed the starting time by 20 minutes. They were not full and were trying to sell entrance tickets at a reduced cost. We chose to move on. Due to limited time in port we did not do any excursions here. Our next stop was Juneau; we departed the ship to take the Underground Juneau Gold tour. This was fun and interesting. You do go into the gold mine but not the main part of the mine. These were the outfalls and training portion of the mine. It was still fun and we learned a little more about the area and mining. We got to pan for gold; we hit the jackpot with about $3 of gold apiece. I would do this trip again. After we returned we cleaned up, ate some lunch on the ship and went out to explore the town. This was a long day in this port, I think we could have scheduled so longer activities our evening tours, being our first time though we do like to explore the towns. In Skagway we did the morning White Pass Mountain Railroad train trip to the summit and back down. This is the 3 ½ hour roundtrip tour. The scenery it unbelievable and the amount of time spent on this tour met our needs. I think the 7 hour plus tours would have been to much in our opinion. This may fit others schedules or needs but it is not for us. We rode the train back to the ship instead of getting off in town; we freshened up, ate lunch and walked to town to explore all it has to offer. Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau are all three very tourist driven towns. If you really wanted to purchase something in one town and you forget to do it, don't worry as you will be able to purchase it in the next town. Not sure what we were expecting, the towns are nice, we always felt safe, most of the time the people were friendly, I guess I just did not expect the same t-shirts, hats, carvings etc to be in every port. Don't get me wrong as I did like every stop we made and everything we planned. The weather for all three were about the same. The morning temperatures were cool starting off in the lower to mid 40's and rising to almost 60's. If you are walking around the towns you will feel like it is even warmer then what it actually is. Layering is the important thing to remember as you will need to take some off as the day goes on and put them back on as the evening comes. We had no rain these three days and no complaints. Glacier Bay was probably the highlight of the trip. We managed to see lots of whales, many breaching but to far off to get a clear picture. Seals were laying on the rocks and tiny islands and of course the glaciers. Calving was abundant as we had sun and it felt like 70. If I had one wish for this day it would be for a longer lens for my camera. I shot everything with a 28-135 IS USM lens for my Rebel XSI as I did not want to haul a bunch of stuff around. I really needed at least a 300 to get some of the things I really wanted to get. I managed to get lots of great shots regardless (almost 1500) and I am happy with my choice, just needed a little extra reach...... Next time!!! College Fjord was similar to our inside passage day. Seems all the dice went out the window as far as weather. It was only in the 30's, nice winds with sleet, rain and snow. This is just what you would think for Alaska. Our covered balcony allowed me the opportunity to stay outside the entire voyage as we entered Prince William Sound until we reached Whittier. Since it was very foggy as well it made things hard to see while actually in College Fjord. I expected to be closer to the glaciers much like in Glacier Bay, this is not the case. You have to take a private tour once you get off the ship. I am glad were went there, I would have preferred more time in Glacier Bay. I did manage to catch about 30 shots of a pod of Orcas as we were sailing through Prince William Sound as well as many more whales. It just shows you have to be watching all the time. If your room is near the stern of the ship make good use of the almost private viewing areas. During our cruise we had this almost always to ourselves when we wanted to see something we could not from our balcony. Our debarkation was easy; we had a late time as all those going on with additional tours were escorted off to the trains first. It was hard watching those board the trains and continuing on knowing our time was limited to just a few more days. We boarded a bus to Anchorage to the Egan Center. The heat from the engine of the bus was cooking us all because the air was not functioning in the bus. The driver would not allow us to change or get off the bus while we had to wait for the tunnel to open. My timer said I was done about 20 minutes into the bus ride to Anchorage. I think I saw a little girl shrivel up and wilt into the seat. The driver almost had a mutiny on her hands. We had very poor service in our opinion with this transfer from Princess. First time we have ever had that happen so we will just let it go. While in Anchorage we stayed at The Historic Anchorage Hotel.  It was a three minute walk from the Egan center. Everyone in the hotel is extremely nice, the rooms are good and what I would expect. In the morning you get a free breakfast of waffles, breakfast roll, coffee, juice etc. The location is great and if I am ever in Anchorage again I would stay there. We had an extra day and a half before we were to fly home so we drove to Talkeetna. This is neat little town which is the gateway (100 miles away) to Denali National Monument. On Saturday, Sundays and Mondays they have a small town fair atmosphere where local crafts are put on display for sale. There are some of the typical items you see in the other ports as well. I am glad we decided to make this drive as it gave us a nice view of the interior portions of Alaska. On our last day we drove back down the Seward highway towards Portage Glacier Area, stopping at some of the historical and information pull offs along the way. I would have like to have had more time to go all the way to Seward but we had to turn around and catch a 1930 flight. On a side note be sure to eat prior to going to the North Terminal at Ted Steven's airport in Anchorage. This terminal is old, antiquated and has almost absolutely nothing in it. We met several people on this cruise. Oddly enough we went all the way to Alaska and met someone who lives less than 5 minutes from us at home. Got together with several others from a roll call, had a few laughs, discussed the trip and planning. There was an auction going on at our meeting place so it only lasted a short time and everyone went off to a wine tasting. I cannot say enough about those who work on the Coral Princess. Our room Steward Jimmy (sp) who will be returning to his family at the end of July on his birthday took great care of our two rooms while we were on board. You will also want to try and get table 69 in the anytime dining room to have Juvenile Delinquent (his words not mine) as your waiter, his companion's name slips my mind as I am writing this. If they ever read this I am sorry for forgetting, but hopefully the "You made a difference card" we turned in for everyone gets you something from Princess.   Official Log Book of Weather for Cruise Tuesday June 16th Cruise Inside Passage 13.5C / 56.3F Wednesday June 17th Ketchikan 15.2C / 59.36F Thursday June 18th Juneau 13.0C / 55.4F Friday June 19th Skagway 13.8C / 55.4F Saturday June 20th Glacier Bay 10.5C / 48.6F No listings for Vancouver, College Fjord or Whittier Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My mother, sister, 8-year old nephew, and I were on the 5/24 sailing from Whittier to Vancouver. I originally booked the cruise in mid-March. A couple of weeks after making the final payment (which was due at the time of booking) I saw ... Read More
My mother, sister, 8-year old nephew, and I were on the 5/24 sailing from Whittier to Vancouver. I originally booked the cruise in mid-March. A couple of weeks after making the final payment (which was due at the time of booking) I saw that there was a $100 price drop. I called our TA and she was able to upgrade our obstructed view cabin to a regular oceanview, and our inside cabin to an obstructed view. Plus we were given $50 onboard credit per adult. A week before sailing I checked the Cruise Personalizer and saw that the originally booked inside cabin was now a regular oceanview. Not bad! We flew in the night before and stayed at the Hawthorn Suites in Anchorage (a steal on Hotwire). We chose to rent a car and drive to Whittier in order to maximize our sightseeing time. If you are interested in driving yourself, Avis is the only option and there is a $100 one-way drop fee. The day was sunny with a few wispy clouds and about 65°F so we stopped at the Alyeska Resort and took the tram to the top of the mountain. Spectacular! My nephew got a kick out of the fact that it was summer and he was playing with snow! Afterwards we had a quick lunch at The Bake Shop in Girdwood before heading to the Portage Glacier and slogged our way through the slush to Byron Glacier. If you drive to Whittier here are a couple of tips to remember: · arrive at the Anton Anderson tunnel a little bit before the half-hour (we arrived at 2:45 and had to wait until 3:30 for the next opening) · big tour buses go first through the tunnel (I didn't know this and since we were the very first ones there I jumped the gun and tried to go before the buses. A definite no-no.) · there is a tiny 2-pump gas station in Whittier at the start of the one-way road that leads to the Inn at Whittier · the Avis office is actually The Harbor Store/Outpost Liquor Store. It's a short 5-minute walk to the ship Embarkation: Since we boarded at around 4pm embarkation was a breeze. We were onboard in around 15 minutes and in our cabins 5 minutes after that. The Ship: Everything was spotless. We saw crew members continually scrubbing, vacuuming, and dusting. Maybe it's because of an outbreak of the Norovirus on the previous cruise or maybe that's how they always do things. My mother was quite impressed when she saw someone scrubbing away in the laundromat and when we saw our favorite chairs outside of the Explorer's Lounge being steam cleaned. Entertainment: Since we had an 8-year old in tow we didn't go to any of the shows. Instead, the scenery was our entertainment. However, do attend the culinary demonstration/galley tour if it's offered. I always enjoy seeing the "behind the scenes" parts of places. This was offered on our last day on ship (a sea day) and was right before the ice carving demonstration on the Lido Deck. Dining: We had anytime dining. The first night we ate in Horizon Court. We were not impressed. It's fine for breakfast but if you have any other options for lunch and dinner I would highly recommend that you go with those. The other nights we dined in the Bordeaux dining room. The first formal night we were served by Adrian and Nikola and enjoyed ourselves so much that we made a standing reservation for the same table on the other nights. The food and service were excellent. The Pizzeria and The Grill (hot dogs and hamburgers) were also very good. Formal Nights: Since we each packed only a carry-on sized suitcase there wasn't any room for formal clothes. Instead we wore the same type of things for formal night as we did on an ordinary night - dark pants, a nice sweater, and heels. No one mentioned anything about the way we were dressed and we didn't notice any strange looks. Service: I have never seen such a large group of people who were as friendly and willing to help out in any way. Our cabin steward Jorge was attentive without being overbearing. However, the attentiveness of the crew members to my nephew was amazing. It seemed like everyone greeted him by name or called him "baby" when they overheard us calling him that. The servers that we had for breakfast or lunch on previous days always went out of their way and stopped by to chat with us. One day at lunch one of the waiters made an origami shirt out of the children's menu for my nephew and the assistant waiter gave him a mouse made out of napkin. At our final dinner Florian, the head waiter, bought my nephew a virgin Strawberry Daiquiri. He enjoyed it so much that Adrian our waiter bought him another one! Ports Cruising with the Glaciers: Both days were sunny and between 45°and 50°. Now this was my entire reason to cruise in Alaska. We went to College Fjord first and it was a nice introduction to tidewater glaciers. Glacier Bay was incredible. I think the entire ship was up on deck trying to find a good view of the Margerie Glacier calving so you really couldn't get a good view. We gave up trying to jockey for position and went into the Horizon Court for some hot chocolate and found the most incredible seats at the very front of the ship with unobstructed views of the glaciers. We could see them calve without having someone jostle you. Skagway: Partly cloudy, windy, and in the low 50s. I can't say much about Skagway. On the way to the WPY Railroad depot my nephew took a very strong dislike to Skagway so we headed back to the ship, had a nice relaxing lunch in the dining room, did some laundry, and explored the ship. Juneau: Rainy, windy, and in the low 40s. We rented a car from Rent-A-Wreck (I think they're the only ones who pick you up at the dock). First, we went to the Mendenhall Glacier. Even though it was raining (thankfully we had waterproof shoes and jackets!) we did the short Photo Point Trail that takes you along the lake's edge. Then we went into the visitor's center to warm up and see the exhibits. Next we stopped at the Glacier Gardens and took the tour through the Tongass National Forest. If you don't have time to return the car to the Rent-A-Wreck offices (over by the Mendenhall Glacier) you can drop it downtown for an additional $15. Also we couldn't find a gas station anywhere close to the dock (we went back to the ship for lunch), but there is a gas option for $5/gallon. Ketchikan: A gorgeous day - partly sunny with one tiny period of light rain, windy, and in the low 50s. We wanted to visit Totem Bight and were planning on getting there by public bus but the bus doesn't run on weekends. Instead we found a tour guide in the Tourist Information center. After a quick lunch we watched the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show - kind of hokey but a lot of fun. Sea Day: Not much to do. We did the culinary demonstration and galley tour and watched the ice carving demonstration. Disembarkation: This was chaos. We opted for the "Express Walk-Off" where you carry your own bags off the ship. We were supposed to line up at 7:00 am in the Explorer's Lounge. All would be fine except that people who were not due to disembark until 9:00 am decided to get there 2 hours early! And then there were the people who were in the wrong meeting area who were using up the limited number of chairs. Thankfully we were off the ship and through customs by 7:45 and off to our hotel (La Grande REsidence at Sutton Place - another great Hotwire find) for a 3-day exploration of Vancouver. Conclusion: My favorite cruise to date. I have cruised twice before with NCL and once with RCCL. Princess is the best by far. The level of service and the condition of the ship is light years beyond what the other two lines can offer. The itinerary, in my opinion, is superior to an Inside Passage only cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We left a day early so we could spend some time in Vancouver seeing the sites before we boarded the ship. We flew to Seattle and rented a car, one way, to drop right at Canada Place. The cost was about the same if we flew to YVR and took a ... Read More
We left a day early so we could spend some time in Vancouver seeing the sites before we boarded the ship. We flew to Seattle and rented a car, one way, to drop right at Canada Place. The cost was about the same if we flew to YVR and took a shuttle downtown. The drive was enjoyable until we got into Vancouver. I've seen saner driving in Manila. We swore we would never drive there again. We did go to Stanley Park which is very beautiful, had lunch, took some pictures, and then drove straight to the hotel. After checking in, we parked the car and didn't use it until it was time to go to the ship. We later found out it was a 3-day Canadian weekend and, on top of that, it was also a beautiful day so then the insane traffic made sense. Canadian drivers aren't all out of control....they're just like us Americans after all. I guess we're all crazy drivers on a 3-day weekend! All kidding aside, we enjoyed the rest of our day, had cocktails with some of our new CC Roll Call group, and had a very good meal at the hotel restaurant. The waiter was very good and shared a lot of information about the area. We, by the way, stayed at the Holiday Inn & Suites Downtown. This is a very nice hotel and we will use it again our next trip. Embarkation:  Since we're "vastly experienced" with three other cruises, I have to say this embarkation was the best so far. After dropping the car off, we checked our bags (very smooth process) and were still a little early so we wandered around the area, had something to eat, and finally boarded right around noon.  It was incredible. We went through a prescreening area, the x-ray, the US CBP checkpoint, and the "I'm not really Sick Form" area before going directly to the check in desk. This all took around ten minutes. We're still in awe of their efficiency. The Ship: The Coral was in good condition and the common areas were appealing. We particularly liked the looks of the Universe and Wheelhouse Lounge (although we weren't in either very often).  We spent some time in the Explorer's Lounge and enjoyed our time there.  The Princess Theatre, although fairly small, had good acoustics and no obstructed views.  The atrium was nice but could be a bit crowded when there were functions in that area.  They would cordon off some of the stairways when photos, demonstrations, etc, were occurring.  The fitness center and Lotus Spa were well-appointed but kind of small.  Our first at sea day we went in to the fitness center to use the equipment and it was completely full!   So we walked the deck instead (it was a little blustery so there weren't very many people on deck).  We did use the Lotus Spa pool in the covered area one day and it was very nice...we both thought that area was very well-appointed. Entertainment:  The Cruise Director and his staff did not overly impress us.  Our thoughts are maybe that Alaska cruises are more subdued than Caribbean cruises so perhaps things are different depending on where you are sailing.  We played a lot of trivia games and enjoyed Callie from the Cruise Director's staff...he was high energy.  The games were very divergent in their difficulty...some quite hard and others a bit easier.  We enjoyed the band "Evolution" when we were in the Explorer's Lounge.  On our first night, we saw the comedian Scott Wyler.  DW enjoyed him more than DH.  Other than that, the only other entertainment we saw was Princess Idol.  Again, Callie was entertaining and the singers were either very good or funny.  We did go and see the Naturalist that was on board, speaking specifically about the wildlife we may encounter.  DH thought she was selling her books a little too much but DW thought she was pretty informative.  While in Glacier Bay, the Park Ranger's comments from the bridge were helpful. Dining:  We had Anytime Dining.  The first night, we had a table for two (well, almost a table of 4 as you are 6 inches away from another table of 2!) and were served by Arthur and Jayson, both from the Philippines.  Had we been smarter, we would've reserved this table for the rest of the cruise.  However, we thought the idea behind Anytime Dining was to mix it up a little and not be beholden to any one time or place...big mistake!  The next night we were seated in an area served by two people I felt were really not happy to be onboard a ship!  The assistant waiter seemed angry and the head waiter indifferent.  We'd never experienced anything like it on our past cruises...it was uncomfortable.  At the end of the meal, DW made a beeline to Arthur's area to find the table number so we could make reservations in his area for the rest of the cruise...no more taking chances for us!!!  The next night, we had room service for the first time on a cruise ship and were pleasantly surprised (DW was not feeling too well due to a "vodka virus" from the previous evening and did not feel well enough to go to the dining room).  We then tried the Bayou Cafe.  DH didn't think the foods were very well matched...he thinks they should either decide to make it a steakhouse or a Cajun restaurant as the combination of flavors used did not work.  The service was good.  The rest of the meals were back with Arthur and Jayson, excellent service and good food.  As DW is not a big fan of buffets, we did try to eat breakfast in the dining room which was very good.  Our lunches were either at the buffet or missed due to excursions.  No complaints about the food...plenty of choices available. Ports of Call:  On Ketchican, we went snorkeling through a Princess excursion.  After a short bus ride to the snorkel shop, we got into our wet suits, snorkels, etc, and set off for the water.  There were just 7 of us with 2 snorkel guides (who were excellent) so we had plenty of attention.  DW was suffering from the afore-mentioned "vodka virus" from the previous evening so she was just trying to survive.  DH took underwater pictures and enjoyed the experience.  You don't get cold as any water that enters into your wet suit is then heated to 98.6 through your body temperature.  The guides brought up starfish, sea cucumbers and a few other critters.  The kelp is interesting to look at but, overall, it isn't anything like snorkeling in the Caribbean.  However, at the end of our 1 ½ hours in the water, a humpback whale swam by about 150 yards away so that was cool.  Both DH and DW think snorkeling in Alaska is worth doing once but cannot envision repeating the experience...just not that much to see.  On the ride back to the ship, our bus driver took us on a small tour of the town and gave us interesting information which we felt was above and beyond and much appreciated. In Juneau, we walked down and purchased tickets to Mendenhall Glacier for $28 roundtrip for both of us.  We could go and stay as long as we wished.  Our bus driver, again, was very informative on both the way to and from the Glacier.  We were glad we made the decision to go and see it.  After that, it was time to go back and eat lunch before going on our whale-watching tour with Orca Enterprises.  The time seemed to fly by!  Our whale-watching excursion (made directly with Orca, not through Princess) commenced at 3 pm.  After another short bus ride to the bay, we boarded the whale-watching vessel and off we went.  The weather was incredible; the boat had plenty of space and the crew was superb!  Almost right away we saw a humpback whale.  Throughout our 3 hours, we saw more humpbacks (one with a calf), some killer whales and sea lions.  We were fortunate enough to see a humpback breach...the whole experience was wonderful.  We had read rave reviews about Orca Enterprises and Captain Larry (who we were fortunate enough to have on our excursion) on the CC boards and they do not exaggerate!  Everyone should go on this excursion...we can't imagine a better one in Juneau. Skagway:  We had nothing planned for Skagway so just got off the ship and walked into town.  Several people we had spoken to that had been to Alaska before mentioned that the White Pass/Yukon train ride was something that should be done.  At $100 a person, it seemed a little steep but we didn't see a lot of other things to do in town so bought our two tickets.  We may be a bit jaded since we live in Colorado and are more accustomed to seeing mountains, but both of us rather wished we had saved our money and enjoyed a day on the ship instead.  It was beautiful scenery, and if you don't have the opportunity to go up in the mountains often it's probably worth the price.  It just didn't do anything for us.  We did have some chips and salsa at the Red Onion which had some fun ambience! Cruising the Glaciers:  In our opinion, the reason to do an Alaskan cruise.  In addition to our time in Glacier Bay and College Fjord, we especially enjoyed going up on deck after dinner (after leaving Juneau and Skagway especially) and viewing the scenery.  Cruising through the water with mountains on either side in the dusk is just indescribable.  Like the Grand Canyon, something that cannot really be captured in photographs but has to be seen to be appreciated.  Again, our weather was fantastic so we could just stand out on the deck at 11 pm with a light jacket and soak up the sights.  It's why we missed so much of the entertainment onboard...we couldn't get away from the views.  During the day in Glacier Bay, we spent a lot of time on our balcony with binoculars searching for wildlife and viewing the ice up close.  Whittier:  We decided to do a Portage Glacier and Wildlife Center excursion the day we disembarked as our flight wasn't until midnight. At Portage Glacier, we boarded a boat (with upper and lower deck seating) and motored over to see the glacier up close.  The scenery was good.  Then we took a bus to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  They have various animals that have been rescued from the wild and are raising them on sight (moose, bears, elk, etc).  It was OK but did not have a lot of time to spend roaming around.  After the excursion, people were either dropped off at the airport or the Events Center in Anchorage.  We were meeting some friends so we went to the Events Center where our luggage had been dropped off.  We thought it was very efficient. Disembarkation:  Since we had the excursion booked, we were one of the last groups to disembark.  After a delightful breakfast (served by a wonderful waiter named Davi from Brazil), we waited in the casino for about 20-30 minutes until boarding our bus at about 9:30 am.  In Whittier, they only have the one road so we had to wait until 10 am before we could drive through the tunnel.  Again, our bus driver was entertaining and enlightened us with Alaska facts.  Conclusion:  We are very happy that we took this cruise as the scenery is something special.  A year ago, we had booked a round-trip from Seattle that we had to cancel.  We're glad that we decided to do the one-way trip as we're not sure we would see quite as spectacular scenery on just an Inside Passage cruise.  We did find the atmosphere on the ship to be more subdued than our past Caribbean cruises.  Of course, while onboard we had to book another cruise...14-day Hawaiian with an Aft Balcony in March 2011!! Larry & Suzy L   Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We are a married couple around 40 years old, and live in South Carolina. This was our 14th Princess cruise, and ranks as one of the best to date! We had always wanted to do a full transit of the Panama Canal, and every aspect of this ... Read More
We are a married couple around 40 years old, and live in South Carolina. This was our 14th Princess cruise, and ranks as one of the best to date! We had always wanted to do a full transit of the Panama Canal, and every aspect of this cruise was unique and memorable. We used Princess Air and bus transfers, and arrived 1 day before the cruise. We stayed at the Hollywood Beach Marriott. We loved walking up and down the Hollywood Broadwalk, where we had dinner in one of the many restaurants. As the sun went down, it became cooler, and we enjoyed sitting on one of the benches and people-watching. Check-in went smoothly. There was a long line to board the ship, but it moved along quickly enough. Our balcony cabin was a category BC (Baja 318). What made it extra special was the fact that we had received an upgrade from an oceanview cabin 1 week before the cruise. The room was spacious enough for us, with a walk-in closet. The shower had a metal bar (for holding on) that was right in the middle of the shower wall, making it difficult to turn around. It was a confined space. We sat or stood on the balcony several times per day. On the first sea day out of Ft. Lauderdale and the last 2 sea days before L.A., it was cool outside. In Central America, especially Panama, it was hot and humid. Our cabin steward did an excellent job every day. This was our 1st cruise on the Coral Princess. We've been on the Sun-class ships, the Grand-class ships and the Tahitian Princess. One of the biggest differences from the bigger ships that we noticed was a greater amount of public space per passenger. We never felt crowded. There was enough seating in the Princess Theater, Universe Lounge and Explorer's Lounge. Another plus was the adults-only Lotus pool. This indoor pool had a large pool, plenty of loungers and beautiful decor. There was also an upper-level seating area that was popular on the cooler sea days. There was also a wrap-around walking track on the Promenade Deck that was all on one level (no stairs at the forward end of the ship). 2.8 Times around was 1 mile. The atrium was also a beautiful place, with 4 levels. The average age for this cruise was about 60. There were maybe 10-20 children on board We had 1st seating traditional dining at 5:45 in the Provence Dining Room on deck 6. Traditional 1st seating has always worked well for us. The service in the dining room at breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner was always very attentive. We liked the new menus with many new appetizers and entrees at lunch and dinner. We ate the homestyle dinners a few times and they were very good. We especially liked the English Pub lunch which was served on one of the sea days in the Bayou Cafe (an alternative restaurant). We had cottage pie, Strongbow Cider and Boddington's beer. There were always plenty of activities published in the Patter. Carol Berk, a naturalist, gave excellent talks on history and wildlife of Central America. There were also very good lectures on the ports, which gave us plenty of information. It was good to see Frank Castiglione again as C.D. He was always upbeat and entertaining. The entertainment was also first-rate. Kevin Hughes and Garry Carson were great comedians. Willie Tyler and Lester were also on board, and put on a good ventriloquist show. We remembered them from TV in the '70's. Adrian Zmed gave an excellent singing and dancing performance. The new production shows "Dance" and "Tribute" were also very well done. We visited Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica; San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Huatulco, Mexico. Some of the ports not included in the port reviews section. Panama Canal - Seeing the operations of the mules (locomotives), the massive lock gates and the movement of the water into and out of the locks was especially interesting. The hot sun, high temperature and humidity made it challenging in the afternoon, but we loved seeing the canal in operation. Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica - We toured the Scarlet Macaw Sanctuary. Seeing so many colorful macaws flying around us and over our heads made this a very special excursion. There were also toucans, parrots and sloths. We took a boat cruise through the mangroves, where we saw many large crocodiles swimming, walking on land and resting on the shores. We highly recommend this tour. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua - We went for a walk through this resort port. There were nice hotels and B&B's. We stopped at one of them, and noticed that English was not well understood. We saw some local citizens gathered around fighting roosters (cock fighting) in the street. We enjoyed our hike up to Pelican Eyes Resort on a hill a few blocks from the port. There were excellent views of the ship and the town from here. The resort does a lot of community service, and was entertaining a large group of senior citizens that day, with lunch, music and dancing. There is also an animal sanctuary here, with monkeys, raccoons, a tapir and other animals. This port was a pleasant surprise. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - We didn't do an excursion here. We went shopping in the port area and drank a beer at a restaurant. Huatulco, Mexico - A beautiful port, with many bays and inlets all around, each one with a nice beach. We went white-water rafting on the Copalita River on the Huatulco River Float excursion. We paddled and floated along. There were no serious rapids on this excursion, just class 1-1.5 rapids. There were beautiful views of the southern Sierra Madre mountains from the river, and plenty of interesting birdlife, like Kingfishers, Ibises, Herons, Orioles and others. This was just prior to the flu outbreak in Mexico, and we felt fortunate to visit this unique port. Disembarkation went slowly, because of a 90-day customs inspection of all the crew. There were also several questions asked of each passenger, and a thorough screening of each passport. We had a 2:00 PM flight out of LAX, and arrived in plenty of time for our flight. As you can tell from this lengthy review, this memorable cruise was one of our favorites, and we recommend it highly. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Coral Princess April 12, 2009 Panama Canal Just a few comments: There were few lines since there were less than 2000 passengers; only a short line when checking in; a crowd the first night for formal seating but that was just until ... Read More
Coral Princess April 12, 2009 Panama Canal Just a few comments: There were few lines since there were less than 2000 passengers; only a short line when checking in; a crowd the first night for formal seating but that was just until we all learned where our table was; we seated our selves after that; tours were poorly controlled on board; US Custom's line was long as expected. Crowd control training and planning would have helped the last two items. Why would they route the line directly in front of the elevators, blocking them for everyone else? There were very few kids. I only remember seeing half a dozen (that's another way to say almost everyone was a senior.) The pull-down third bed, hanging from the ceiling, is fine for kids but difficult for seniors. I'll posted a photo and suggest you look at if you plan to use it. The ladder can be moved. Pizza is barely acceptable; the hamburger/hotdog grill is better; formal dinning food and service was superb (as expected). Our stateroom near the stern had a constant rumble/vibration. If I had to guess, I would say a propeller was out of balance. It seemed hand sanitizer was available and used everywhere. WiFi was unreliable but the desktop internet cafe was reasonably fast. If you get knocked off line with WiFi, the clock keeps running. Two pools, one was covered and air-conditioned (for the humid climate) and the other was open air. There were several styles of deck chairs and loungers. I had to test drive several until I found the perfect one for me.The CC roll call was a great way to prepare for the cruise, get questions answered. Special thanks to Ann for volunteering to MC the Meet and Greet on board. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Pre-cruise Being from the UK we generally find that the Princess fly cruise deals are cheaper than we can arrange ourselves, and as they include an overnight pre cruise hotel there is some insurance against flight delays, and Princess ... Read More
Pre-cruise Being from the UK we generally find that the Princess fly cruise deals are cheaper than we can arrange ourselves, and as they include an overnight pre cruise hotel there is some insurance against flight delays, and Princess seem to have listened to feedback from northern UK passengers about the poor experience of flying via Heathrow and now offer more flights via US hubs. This can make the outward flight longer but the benefit of finishing the homeward transatlantic leg at your home airport instead of at Heathrow, and then having to wait several hours for an off peak low price connection back north is well worth it. We flew Delta from Manchester via Atlanta to LA and found their coach class perfectly adequate, legroom on their 767's is good, unless you are over 6 feet, and on the international legs you are reasonably fed and meals do include wine or beer, all non alcoholic drinks are complimentary on both international and domestic flights, but food has to be purchased on internal US flights. The overnight accommodation was at the LAX Hilton, a good quality 4/5 star hotel with large rooms and huge beds, but you may prefer Denny's one block away for breakfast, rather than the fairly expensive buffet breakfast in the hotel. Princess's airport transfer could have been better, arriving late at night after a long day and then having to carry your own luggage to the hotel shuttle stand, was a bit fraught, and then needing to fight your way on when the bus arrived was not pleasant. The transfer to the ship the following day was delayed due to a lack of coaches, but this was because of an accident on the highway and not through any fault with Princess. As a result it was after 3:00pm when we arrived at the terminal, fortunately we have Platinum Captain's circle status so were able to join the very short preferred check-in line. Ship. Our first Princess cruise was on the Coral and our second was on the Island and we have always considered these our favorite Princess ships, they are an ideal size less than 2000 passengers; plenty of deck space and with all the same amenities as the Grand class. However our last cruise was on the Emerald and we may now be having a change of heart. Most of the differences are only minor, but they can help to make the cruise more enjoyable. We had forgotten just how cold the lounges can be on the Coral/Island, especially the Princess theatre and Universe lounge. As we shivered through the shows it brought back fond warm memories of how much more comfortable the temperature had been on the Emerald. We had also forgotten how shallow the seats were tiered on the Coral, which restricted viewing unless you could sit behind some little old lady; on the Emerald every seat gave you a good viewing position, and I think they were bigger and more comfortable as well. But more concerning was the overuse of pagers and the wait times for the PC dining room. We tend to eat at the popular time between 7:00pm and 8:00pm, and on Emerald this had never been a problem, but on this cruise we were always turned away with a pager and advised wait times up to 20/25 minutes, however the waits were often much less. As a consequence even though I dislike the use of reservations as negating the benefit of anytime dining, we were forced to use them on formal nights, and even here there were queues. But everything else was much as remembered and the ship is in excellent condition. Stateroom. We had a BD cabin just on the aft bump out section of Caribe deck, here the balcony is only about 7ft. deep compared with the 9ft depth of the BA Caribe balconies, but you still get 2 chairs and 2 recliners and enough room to comfortably enjoy a room service breakfast; and the balcony offers a split of two thirds covered and one third open, ideal for sunbathing or sheltering from the occasional tropical shower, of which there were very few on this cruise. The bathroom felt to be much smaller than I remember from the Emerald and I have one recommendation for you, do not drop the soap in the shower it is way too small to be able to bend down and retrieve it easily.. The soft furnishings were in excellent condition and the steward, as ever, kept it in perfect condition for us and kept us supplied with everything we asked for. I am always amazed that they can remember our names from day one of the cruise, even when we passed our steward away from our cabin he never got our name wrong. Other than wanting a 2 seater sofa in the Princess standard cabins, the only other nit picky issue I would have is about the electric sockets, although there are 2, for Europeans using adaptors you can only use one at a time, if Princess could separate them we would be able to make use of both together. Dining. I have already mentioned the delays finding a table in the Bordeaux dining room, unfortunately they did not end once you were seated; we sometimes sat for 15/20 minutes after being given a menu before our order was taken while other tables were being cleared and re-laid; there were also frequent long waits between courses, especially if you were on a larger table. The combination of all these delays resulted in us missing several shows and other planned activities; something we had never experienced before. This may all have been due to the fact that we seldom saw the Maitre D in the Bordeaux dining room and certainly were never approached by him to check if everything was OK; whereas on the Emerald we saw the Maitre D virtually every night and he was always interacting with the passengers. Interestingly, one of our shipmates who dined in the Provence traditional dining room and has posted his review on our Roll Call had exactly the opposite view which is perhaps why he felt their service was good. Regardless of the above the food was excellent, we have had some better on other cruises but there was never any need to send anything back; maybe I should have done then I would not now need to diet so desperately. The buffet serving area is smaller than I remember, as is the side seating area, but again this comes from comparing it with the much larger Grand Class. We mainly sampled the lunch menus and one or two breakfasts; here the quality was perfectly acceptable even if the variety could have been better. However for lunch we mainly chose the grill or pizza station and ate mainly where we were sunbathing. We normally chose chicken breast from the grill, but whether it was any less fattening than a burger I would doubt. Both venues provided excellent quality and the portion sizes were perfectly adequate for us; since food is available 24/7 you are not going to starve on a cruise. The Coral has our favorite Princess speciality restaurant, the Bayou Cafe and steakhouse, this latter name is a recent addition, fortunately it does not seem to have resulted in a change in menu, and of course it has not changed the style, dEcor or ambiance of the restaurant. Entertainment. This is a matter of personal taste, we always enjoy the Princess production shows and this cruise was no exception, the singers and dancers were excellent. However we generally find that Princess's choice of celebrity entertainers is below average, P&O, Celebrity, Thomson and Star cruises are our only other experience but all of these were far superior to Princess. The other musicians were of varying quality, Opus were the standout performers, an African American group with a very wide popular music repertoire, but the Delicia Duo, two attractive east European girls were also very good, playing mainly classical music on piano and violin. Crooners was also worthy of several visits, but just occasionally the smoke from the Churchill smokers lounge seemed to drift across the atrium. As usual the cruise director's staff put in a super performance organizing everything from trivia quizzes, through pool games to some excellent evening entertainment. Canal Transit. This was of course why most people had booked this cruise and it did not disappoint. We were up at 5:45am to watch the pilot boarding while it was still dark. I went for a quick exploration, as far as Horizon court for a couple of coffees, and it seemed that nearly everyone was already up and about, having a rushed breakfast or establishing a prime viewing position. Of course being a switched on Cruise Critic member I knew that the best viewing places were all the way forward on Baja and Caribe decks, or all the way aft on any deck from Emerald upwards; and we were not disappointed. We went up front on Baja as we approached the Bridge of the Americas and stayed until we were nearly through the Miraflores locks; we then alternated between here and an aft deck, or our balcony as we enjoyed a champagne breakfast. All these locations give you an uninterrupted view without those rather annoying bluish tinged glass panels getting in the way of your camera; and what cameras there were on view. I felt that my simple Sony wide angle digital compact was rather overwhelmed by some of the digital SLR's with their monstrous zoom lenses, but I was still pleased with the outcome of my pictures. Shore excursions. Only 3 full day and 3 half day ports on this itinerary and Cartagena, one of the half day ports, was dropped because of a turbine problem. In Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, we did the Antigua on your own tour and then picked up a walking tour guide for only $10 per person which we felt worked out very well. He was able to take us into Hotels, Churches and guest houses where we would probably have stayed outside, and his local knowledge enhanced our visit, we were even able to watch a wedding at the main cathedral. Antigua is a World heritage site and tries to reflect a typical colonial city of the 18th century, most of it was destroyed in an earthquake in 1773 but it is being carefully restored, and although mainly a tourist attraction it does have a population of 30,000. The only other shore excursion we took was the Tree top canopy walk and Pura Vida gardens in Costa Rica. A good tour but in the dry season during late morning do not expect to see many animals. We saw a few birds and plenty of ants, and termite nests in the trees during our canopy walk; where you cross three swaying cable style suspension bridges, a bit wobbly but although I suffer from vertigo, even watching TV, it did not present a problem. We saw more birds at the gardens and then crocodiles on the way back at a bridge over a river. In the other ports, we walked ashore in Huatalco and Aruba, and both towns are easily seen on foot. If you wanted to explore further there were private tours you could pick up in the resorts. In Puerto Corinto we did not bother going ashore, those who did said the town was a typical third world shanty type with not much to see or buy, but you could get a rickshaw ride round the town for only 1 dollar per person. Service. Here, other than the dining room issues, we had no cause for complaint, the Captain assured us at the welcome cocktail party that the Coral had a great crew dedicated to making our cruise unforgettable, and he was right. This cruise had a lot of sea days and the busiest sections of staff were the deck attendants, constantly clearing up and tidying the mess we were making, and the deck waiters keeping us topped up with cold drinks, even if a lot were only via soda cards. The maintenance level on this cruise was also impressive, fresh paint or varnish was being applied to just about everything, even if it did not look as though it was needed, and lots of the ships rails were being taken off and stripped back to bare wood ready to accept ever more coats of varnish; and of course the daily cleaning of all the public areas resulted in a dust and stain free environment that would be the envy of most shore based hotels. Disembarkation. This was probably the fastest and most efficient disembarkation we have experienced, the ship docked at 7:00am and the first passengers were waiting to disembark as we went for breakfast at 7:40; we were then among the last group to disembark and we were leaving the ship before 10:00am. It did get a bit protracted at immigration since all the end groups were British; and the loading of the coaches could have been improved. However Princess do take good care of their UK passengers, we were bussed to the Intercontinental hotel in Miami where we were provided with a very nice buffet lunch, and then whisked off to Miami International shopping mall to part us from our last few remaining dollars; before being taken to Miami airport for our flight home which again was with Delta via Atlanta. Summary. Overall the cruise certainly met our expectations and while I have made a few criticisms of my old favorite the Coral Princess, she is still a very fine ship and a wonderful floating hotel from which to view the world. One point that did stand out for me was the number of British passengers on board, over 500 in total which at over 25% of the total number of passengers was the largest group of Brits we have encountered on a Princess cruise, and this cruise does not have the special charter flights that are offered on some Caribbean sailings. When it comes to my next Princess cruise would I choose Coral again, quite possibly but I think I might be more likely to try another of it's big sisters, if only to enjoy a warm, comfortable and guaranteed good view in the Princess theatre; and by 2014 when the new bigger locks are in operation it might be time for another trip of a lifetime through the Panama canal. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We are a family of three, 40's with a teenage son. This was our sixth cruise. We have previously sailed on Princess, Holland America, and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Our Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess from LA to FLL 03/09/09 ... Read More
We are a family of three, 40's with a teenage son. This was our sixth cruise. We have previously sailed on Princess, Holland America, and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Our Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess from LA to FLL 03/09/09 was fantastic! We were fortunate to have great weather and calm seas the entire trip. Having CCL (Carnival Cruise Line) shares we were able to take advantage of the On Board Credit of $250 for a 14 day cruise with Princess. The OBC was easily obtained after the final payment was made. We flew into LAX the day before and stayed at the Crown Plaza LA Harbor. It is a great location, with enough things to do and plenty of restaurants within walking distance. Crown Plaza's free shuttle took us to the Cruise Terminal the morning of our cruise. The embarkation was very organized and fast, once the previous passengers were all disembarked. Once on board, we made our way to the buffet for lunch, being some of the first on board it wasn't busy at all. After lunch and a little walk to get acquainted with the ship, we made our way to our balcony mini-suite state room C727. This was a wonderful room. We were the last aft balcony on the starboard side. This room could sleep four. There was a bed that came down from the ceiling and the sofa could be made into a bed. There was lots of room for the 3 of us. Our balcony had 4 chairs and a table. The balcony was exposed on 3 sides. We unpacked our luggage, (there was tons of storage and closet areas) and met our room steward. Alvin introduced himself to us and asked if we would like some champagne. Wonderful! After getting our room setup we were off to purchase our Couples Thermo Suite passes for DW and myself, a discount and limited capacity first day only. DS purchased his internet minutes, extra 40 minutes if purchased first day then registered with teen program. The teen room was extremely well equipped. We chose anytime dining as it works best for us. We had our dinners in the Bordeaux dining room usually when it opened at 5:30pm. A table for 4 was always available for us. After a few evenings of trying different tables and waiters, the maitre'ds knew our preferences. We took advantage of Princesses bring your own wine policy. Some nights we arrived for dinner with a glass of wine, or a bottle of wine without a problem. On a few occasions we purchased a bottle from their reasonable selection. Celebrating a wedding anniversary on this cruise, we enjoyed anniversary balloons, heart shaped towel animals, and acknowledgement from the staff close to us. We were up early every morning and in the gym using the very adequate weight machines and free weights. Then a few miles around the promenade deck and off to the Thermo Suite for a steam sauna. Breakfasts were either on the balcony with room service or something quick from the Horizon Court buffet and taken out to the pool area. Huatulco - We taxied to La Entrega beach and snorkeled with our own equipment. There is a nice reef with numerous fish. We rented a Jet-Ski for half an hour. We sampled a few Cervezas, fresh homemade tortillas and guacamole, and local mescal. Ah heaven! Wish we could have stayed longer. Guatemala - What an experience! We booked Princesses "Antigua on your own" bus ride to Antigua. Armed with my own map of all the sites to see, we negotiated a tour with a driver of a three wheeled Baja taxi called a Tuk-Tuks, for an hour. What fun! Photo opportunities galore! Great restaurants are also to be found for lunch, as we discovered. After lunch we negotiated a ride with a horse and carriage operator, who showed us some hotel restaurant establishments. Nicaragua - We booked a private tour with Va Pues tours to climb Cerro Negro Volcano, have lunch, and tour the city of Leon. With all the volcanoes in Nicaragua, I think it's a must. The climb was over an hour. The descent took minutes. It was one of our most wonderful and amazing tours! Fantastic tour guides and tour, I can't say enough. As a side bar, we were talking to some gentlemen outside the gates of the pier, who are offering tours. There are many things to do and the prices are good, if you are the active type. Would love to go back! Do not be afraid of the country. The people are marvelous. Costa Rica - We took a tour through Princess "Corobochi River Float w/ Lunch". Level 1-2 rapids. We saw monkeys, crocodiles, various birds, iguanas and other animals that our guide was very quick to point out and was also very knowledgeable. Panama Canal - All day site seeing and you don't have to leave the ship. I read "The Path between the Seas' before the cruise. This gave me a great appreciation as to what was involved in building the canal. Cartegena - due to Gas Turbine problems on board, this port was missed. Princess gave every passenger $100.00 OBC. Good for Princess, as this has happed before to us, (other cruise lines) and the refunds haven't been as good. Aruba - Due to missing time in Cartegena, Princess gave us more time in Aruba. Yahoo! We booked a catamaran sail & snorkel with lunch through Princess. We snorkeled overtop of the sunken German tanker, "Antilles". This was a rush! We did some snorkeling near a beach, and then had lunch at Pelican Pier. There were many shows every evening, catering to various tastes. We attended a few comedy shows, the galley tour, wine tasting, also participated in numerous sports, pool and stage entertainment. It was all enjoyable. Disembarkation was the easiest we've experienced. We chose express disembarkation and carried our own bags off. We had a quick breakfast and we were amongst the first off and through customs in less than half an hour. A short $12.00 taxi to the FLL airport and we were on our way. Summary - The dinners in the Bordeaux dining room were excellent. The waiters were "excelente". Our favorite table was #30 with waiters Juan Carlos and Ricardo. The room service breakfasts were on time and adequate. Room stewards were friendly and attentive. We stayed away from the buffet as much as possible. (do not enjoy the atmosphere) We also avoid all the aggressive sales techniques on board, and the usual tourist shops in port. We enjoyed the more out of the way ports, and had our best cruise as of yet. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We flew out of Heathrow on Monday 19th January with American Airlines on a direct flight to Los Angeles. We arrived on time and were met at the airport by Princess reps who gathered together very efficiently the nearly 50 Brits who had all ... Read More
We flew out of Heathrow on Monday 19th January with American Airlines on a direct flight to Los Angeles. We arrived on time and were met at the airport by Princess reps who gathered together very efficiently the nearly 50 Brits who had all travelled together, and coached us to the Hilton Hotel for our overnight stay. Luggage was left outside our room the next morning for collection, and we did not see our cases again until we got to our stateroom. That was so easy. A coach picked us up at 11.00am and took us on the short 20 minute run to the cruise terminal. The terminal was very efficiently run, and within about 30 minutes we had booked in, been given our stateroom cards, sorted out all the paperwork required regarding passports etc, and in no time we were through security and on our way on board. The obligatory half dozen photographers were waiting to take photos before boarding, but more about them later. In no time at all we were on board and standing in front of our stateroom door ready to enter. Stateroom. Very pleased indeed with our stateroom. The usual compact, but very good bathroom, a nice bedroom/sitting area, but best of all the balcony. This was our first cruise in a balcony stateroom, and there is no way we will ever cruise again without one. We made full use of it both at sea and in port. To sit on the balcony on a warm night, as the ship smoothly sailed onwards was bliss, and when it came to going through the canal it really came into its own. Dining. We ate all of our meals in the buffet style Horizon Court. It had the best view on the whole ship, being just above the bridge. The food was excellent. A real variety at every meal. Breakfast choices were wonderful, whether you wanted continental or full cooked. At lunch and dinner the choice of soups, salads, cold or hot main meals, roasts with all the trimmings, some really exotic desserts, much to much to mention all that was available. The food was always fresh and hot. The staff were wonderfully attentive and could not do enough for you, and for buffet style eating this was really good. Horizon Court was open 24 hours a day, and I defy anybody to say they were hungry on this ship. We did not use any of the other dining rooms or speciality dining, but reports we heard from people who did was that they were excellent. Staff. The crew of 900 came from 63 different countries and all those we came in contact with were always smiling and polite. English was spoken by them all in the most cases really well. They have all been well trained that the customer comes first. Treat them well and they will come back again. we certainly will. Shore Excursions. We booked 3 shore excursions prior to leaving the UK, and were very pleased with the way they were organized and run. We visited countries such as Guatemala, Colombia and Nicaragua, as well as Mexico and Costa Rica, and would certainly say that with regard to the former three, don't go ashore under your own steam. These really are poor 3rd world countries, and it was only because we needed to get to Panama that I would have put them on my itinerary. From the number of tour buses that would pull up on the quay as soon as we docked, many many passengers must of booked the shore excursions. We were happy to do our own thing in Aruba, but this was a different world entirely. The main "excursion" and crux of the whole trip was without doubt the transit through the Panama Canal. This was awesome. To see 92000 tons of ship maneuvered through the locks was really a sight, and this is where a balcony stateroom really comes into it's own. You are right there, overlooking everything. I would recommend this trip to anyone. Entertainment. There was always plenty of entertainment laid on during the day, from quizzes to lectures to dancing to music. The evening shows were superb. The four production shows were excellent and would have graced any West End theatre. The visiting acts consisted of jugglers, comedians, musicians,ventriloquist and hypnotist. All excellent acts in a theatre that you would not thought you were on a ship. The Ship. The ship was large and roomy, spotlessly clean, and with every amenity you could think of. The atrium which was 4 decks high, and the main focus of shops casino and ships office area, was a job to imagine you were actually on a ship and not at some shopping mall. The Captain usually said a few words each day over the public announcement system, and always ended by saying " enjoy your day aboard the beautiful Coral Princess" She certainly was. The Downs. This is where I come back to the photographers. I think it is expected on cruises that the photographers are at the bottom of every gangway,to take your photo in each port of call. I have no real objection to this if the standard of photographs is good. We would of liked a nice photo of us and the ship as a memento of the trip, but the print standard was in my opinion as an ex photographer very poor. We have some great NCL photos from Bermuda, but the Panama trip was a no go. Overexposed, poorly printed photos at $20 a time is not on. Disembarkation. A real pain to have to go through immigration again. We had our green cards from arriving in LA, but had to hand these in and start again. A coach took us to the Miami Intercontinental hotel where we were provided with an excellent lunch. We were then taken to a shopping mall for a couple of hours shopping, before returning to the hotel for tea, and then to the airport for overnight flight back to Heathrow. Conclusion. A great trip. The Panama Canal is something worth seeing. This was our first cruise with Princess and we were suitably impressed. We are already planning our next trip to the Caribbean, with Princess obviously. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We flew from LAS to FLL via Southwest Airlines, leaving LAS late morning, with one stop in Tampa and onto FLL arriving in the early evening. All went very smoothly except that for a smallish airport it seemed to take them a long time to ... Read More
We flew from LAS to FLL via Southwest Airlines, leaving LAS late morning, with one stop in Tampa and onto FLL arriving in the early evening. All went very smoothly except that for a smallish airport it seemed to take them a long time to get our luggage on the carousel. There were lots of full sized taxis available and within in 15 minutes we were at the Sheraton Yankee Clipper, fare $24 including tip. We had bid the Yankee Clipper on Priceline for $160 per night and while it is becoming a bit dated and threadbare it is in a terrific location right on the Fort Lauderdale beach. We had phoned the hotel in advance requesting an accessible room as DW has MS, they were most accommodating giving us a beautiful corner room on the top floor overlooking the beach. The next morning we took the Jungle Queen cruise which lasts about 3 hours touring the inland waterways of the city where you pass many beautiful homes and estates; it excellent value for the $15.50 per person (advanced booking). We had intended to take the Sun Trolley around the city but were disappointed to learn that it only operated on Fridays and weekends. So we enjoyed a late lunch at a funky waterfront cafe, Bahia Cabana, and then took a cab over to Total Wine where we stocked up on the essentials of life and made use of our Rum Runners. For dinner we went to the 15th Street Fishery where we had a terrific seafood meal on their covered patio overlooking the waterway. We ate on the "casual dining" level and a meal for two ran about $40 before wine and gratuity. On the morning of embarkation DW elected to stay in our room and I went for a most enjoyable walk on the beach and around the neighborhood. We then took a cab from our hotel to the cruise terminal, the fare was $12 including tip, arriving at the terminal at noon. One observation is that we didn't find that Fort Lauderdale cab drivers particularly knowledgeable as to where things were and seemed loath to help pax in and out of their cabs or with their luggage. Embarkation procedures took a scant 10 minutes and we were in our cabin by 12:15 pm. We went to the Provincial dining room for lunch at 1:03 to learn that that they stop serving the sit down lunch at 1:00 and we were forced to go to the Horizon Court , it would be nice if Princess would extend the sit down service to 1:30 and make this option better known to pax. We were amazed and pleased to find our luggage in our cabin at 2:00 when we returned from lunch, a record to be sure. With DW being afflicted with MS and needing often needing either a walker or a chair we booked for the first time an accessible cabin on the Baja deck which was very much appreciated. We were disappointed to note that some people book these who have no apparent disability. Our cabin steward, Dennis, was soon along to introduce himself ; we had him put a egg crate on our bed to give it extra height and make it easier for DW to get out of bed. Our cabin was at the end of his cabins and around the corner from his main bank of cabins so we didn't see him as much as we ordinarily see a steward but he was prompt with any of our requests and kept our cabin wonderfully clean and neat. We thought the Coral was a lovely ship and the crew most accommodating. It took us awhile to get used of the fact that the dining rooms and Horizon Court were midships rather than towards the stern as in the case of many other ships as well as the fact that some of the interior public decks did not go around the ship. Also for the benefit of disabled pax, be aware that the companionways on the cabin decks are quite narrow and make getting a wheelchair or walker by the stewards' carts all but impossible. The condition of the ship was first rate however we do wish that Princess would make a more of an effort to keep the balcony railing glass clean; we did ask Dennis to clean it once and while he did do it he made it known that it was the seamen's job and they did it every other cruise which in the humidity we were in was not often enough. We had the early sitting for dinner in Traditional Dining and enjoyed best group of tablemates that we have ever had on a cruise and looked forward to each dinner. Our waiter was Dio from Mexico and his assistant was Charles from the Philippines. Both were excellent waiters, were attentive to our needs and made every dinner extremely enjoyable. We found all of our meals be it breakfast, lunch or dinner to very good. We did book one dinner in Sabatini's which we quite enjoyed however our pasta course and main course were served a bit cool and probably should have sent back. On the first full sea day we did have a Cruise Critic's Meet & Greet in the Wheelhouse lounge. About 30 CC's attended and all seemed to spend a pleasant hour together. Princess didn't seem to do anything for us except to provide the space and Ron Goodman the cruise director did drop in and shook a few hands but I doubt that most knew he had dropped in. We found the all of the entertainment to be excellent particularly the production shows; one that was a real standout was the show "Let Us Entertain You" and should not be missed. One small criticism would be that we wish Princess would make a greater effort in enforcing the "no reservation" of seats in the theatres. One thing that was noted with interest was that a "signer" was available in the Princess Theatre; we asked Ron Goodman about it and were told that if there are a number of hearing impaired pax aboard and there was a request they would put a signer aboard. Except for one day off Mexico northbound when we had cloudy skies the weather was flawless and many happy hours were spent by and in the Lido pool. Except for Costa Rica we did ship sponsored excursions, in Aruba we did the Best of Aruba tour, in Cartagena we took the Best of Cartagena & Fortress excursion. In Puntarenas we took an independent tour with Charlie Soto of Okeydokey Tours, he offered a tour that included a jungle boat tour, a fruit breakfast, lunch and Jaco Beach, feeding wild monkeys and a tour of a restored coffee plantation village which we found very good, his tour also included unlimited, water, sodas and beer. At San Juan del Sur we took the tour to Granada and that with tour of Antigua proved to be the highlights of our trip. At Huatulco we took the Highlights of Huatulco tour. All of our tours were professionally operated and most enjoyable. But alas all good things must come to an end. Upon arrival in San Pedro, disembarkation went quite smoothly , we had to wait in our holding lounge for about 20 minutes and it took us about 40 minutes to clear US Customs only because we were Canadian citizens and the young customs officer did not know quite how to deal with us as we were remaining in the US for about 3 months post cruise. We had trouble finding my DW's walker in the baggage claim but fortunately our porter had seen it come ashore and found it in another area. We then got a cab that took us to Long Beach where we rented a car and had and uneventful trip back to the desert. By way of a quick summary this was an amazing cruise and as interesting as the Panama Canal is, it clearly was the stops in the Central America that stole our hearts. It was fascinating and somewhat heart wrenching to see how the peoples of this region live, the 16 century colonial architecture, the jungle vegetation and of course the wildlife. It is a cruise that we would do again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Eight of us, ranging in age from 46 to 86, had a terrific vacation onboard Coral Princess from LA to Ft. L over the holidays. In Princess's parlance, the cruise "met our expectations," which is to say that we expected to ... Read More
Eight of us, ranging in age from 46 to 86, had a terrific vacation onboard Coral Princess from LA to Ft. L over the holidays. In Princess's parlance, the cruise "met our expectations," which is to say that we expected to have a fantastic time, and we did. After this, my third cruise with Princess (the others to Mexico and Alaska), I observe that Princess offers a total experience much greater than the sum of its parts, thus my 3s and 4s on the poll with an overall rating of 5. Very few parts of their cruises knock my socks off, but each cruise has been a vacation highlight. I really enjoy the journey, the whole scene onboard, and the chance to see new places, albeit very briefly. While it might not be my first choice for a vacation for just the two of us, it's an unbeatable way to travel with a large group, especially when it includes such a wide age range. I'll write this partly from my own observations, part from the aggregate experience of the eight of us, and another part from the experience of a four-person subset: my brother, his wife, my wife, and me. Our smaller group is my main source for bias: emphasis on fitness and good health, time with each other, seeing new places, learning new things, and experiencing the ship. We walk every morning, get additional exercise in the fitness center almost every day, take the stairs always, eat well (and most of us lost a pound or two), get plenty of sleep, enjoy each other's company, find private times for reading and writing, too, and aim to learn as much as we can about the places we're going. Embarkation in San Pedroa breeze. L and I had an Enterprise rental from LAX with a free drop-off in downtown SP, a 5-minute shuttle from the port terminal. I dropped L off with our bags at 11:00 and then circled back to drop off the car and return to the port. By the time I was back, the bags were checked, and we proceeded through the nonexistent lines for ticketing, waited a bit for our boarding group to be called, and headed onboard. (Others in our party joined later, including some with travel difficulties from the NW. Princess held the ship for two hours waiting for some with weather delays. Apparently about 10 caught up to us in Huatulco.) No problem with our Trader Joe's bags filled with wine bottles for the eight of us (since others were coming direct from the airport). Once again, Princess seems to have this process figured out. Oh, there was a problem with my cruise card, some mixup with my brother and me, but that was good for a laugh, and they got it straightened out. Public Rooms: beautiful, comfortable, clean, not crowded, opportunities for alone time as well as group gatherings, nice bars, game room, library, etc. Cabin: comfortable bed, cozy bathroom (we like them and we were glad to have remembered a nightlight), terrific Caribe balcony aft a few cabins from the midships bumpout. To rate a 5, we'd have to pay more, and I'm not really interested enough in a cabin to do that. Fitness and recreation: As I said above, we took great advantage of this. Among the four of us younger folks, we took only a handful of elevators during the entire trip, took Pilates and yoga, used the fitness center, met on the Promenade Deck for morning walks, etc. It rates 4 only because we're all used to excellent fitness facilities, and Princess's are very good. To be a 5, there'd have to be a wider variety of exercise machines, a refurbished aerobics floor, advanced yoga and Pilates, co-ed sauna, and a more welcoming spa staff. But again, we're happy with a 4. Enrichment: We heard two lecturers. The first, someone with an entertainment and talk-show background, was ill-prepared for a lecture on the Maya. L and I left after 5 minutes. Others in our group left about 5 minutes later, while a couple stayed for the duration: "I wanted to hear it all, so I could tell you how bad it really was." We weren't surprised that someone scheduled to give talks on 1) the Maya, 2) stress, and 3) communicating with teenagers wouldn't be much of an anthropologist, archeologist, or historian. The other lecturer, an academic, provided very good presentations on the canal and Mexican music (as well as others that we didn't catch). Belying our academic bias, we didn't mind his pacing around the stage, but rather enjoyed his more scholarly approach to the topics at hand. Some in our party noted that the theater on Oceania would have been proportionally SRO for such talks. Again, the Princess clientele has broad interests, and enrichment is clearly not highest on the list. We're okay with a 3, since we all read lots anyway. Dining: Again, Princess delivers a high quality product, and I'm regularly impressed with their consistency. The food is really good, but it's not great, and that's fine with me. As a group, we were very satisfied. A number of us would prefer spicier, more ethnically-varied cuisine, but I won't hold my breath for fresh tortillas, falafel, pad thai, and other more savory fare to supplant the staples of traditional dining. We're fans of the early seating, a great carefree chance for all to gather at the end of the day, and many dishes (soufflEs, lobster and crab, NY strip steak, shrimp fra diavolo, cold soups, etc.) were big hits. They're very accommodating and helpful for folks with food allergies or vegetarians, too. Our travel agent had provided vouchers for the eight of us to have a night at Sabatini's. It was great fun and very good, but I doubt I'd do it again. Service: As on our other cruises with Princess, service rates a 5 easily. Our cabin steward Chan, and our dining room servers Christen and Adrian were simply outstanding. They clued into us well, and we all had a great time with them. We appreciated Adrian's nightly recommendations (including his nonverbal disapproval when we'd ask about some non-recommended dishes), Christen's enthusiasm for the less expensive wines on the list (my favorite a CaliterraChileanred), and Chan's attention to every detail. L's vegetarian need to vet any "stealth meat" (e.g., chicken stock) was dealt with very attentively and discreetly by Adrian, also. On an earlier cruise, our niece, who is highly allergic to nuts, was treated royally. She cited "the food" as her favorite part of the cruise. So our expectations for Princess are high, and they delivered again on Coral. Entertainment: Several of us are connected to the performing arts, and we mainly assume that cruises are great employment opportunities for our students. And that's clearly the case. We were also pleasantly surprised by the featured performers we sawsinger, magician, and comedian. Again, nothing floored us, but we enjoyed the few shows we caught. Shore excursions: This was a mixed bag. Some of our group had terrific excursions out of Puntarenas, the train/boat combo and the river rafting, and one had a positive experience in Cartegena. Seven of us took the Cartegena by Land and Sea, and it wasn't a very good experience. Princess later reimbursed us for 75% of the tour costs, due to bus overcrowding, lack of attention to older members of the group, and the guide's lack of communication and knowledge. Clearly, the tourism infrastructure was strained by having three ships in port at the same time. Cartegena is beautiful, though, and motoring around the harbor (albeit in full sun) was very cool. Four of us caught a cab for beach time in Aruba nice walk, a quick swim, and happy-hour drinks at a beach bar. Perfect. We'd avoided the long disembarking lines that day by dallying over lunch in the buffet and waiting till we could just walk right off, still with enough time to walk the town and get some beach time. The shore highlight for me was our non-Princess excursion with Turansa during the Puerto Quetzal day. Guide Lionel and driver Wilfrido took the eight of us on a 7-hour tour of Antigua, a place not to be missed. I recommend Turansa highly for their pre-tour communication, the guide and driver, and the chance to see colonial marvels in a spectacular location. And for $48 per person, including gratuities and ccard fee, it way undercut the cruise line's price for a busload. With just the eight of us, we were never rushed nor ever in herd mode. The canal daywow!! Okay, I know that at least a couple of our CC friends from the roll call thought it was kind of boring, but for anyone with a bit of engineering or history nerdiness, it was a jaw-dropping time. Coral Princess ghosted its way toward the canal just as sunlight hit the skyscrapers of Panama City, and we gaped at the Bridge of the Americas. Once in the locks, we wandered all of the various vantage pointsCaribe fore- and afterdecks, Horizon Court (a cool feature of CP's layout up in the bow on Lido Deck), La Patisserie (which provided below-lock-level views), and our balconies, as well as a dining room lunch by the windows as we cruised Lake Gatun. Most of us had read the McCullough book, had seen films about it, and attended the onboard lecture on it, so seeing it for real was truly spectacular. We're happy to be nerds. The ship: Coral is my favorite of the three I've cruised (Star to Alaska, Sapphire to Mexico). Its layout is terrific, never feeling crowded even on our overbooked holiday cruise, and finding each other onboard is easy. I'm interested to try a smaller ship (Royal, maybe) next time. Disembarkation: easy and efficient, as we've come to expect. Next time we disembark in Ft. Lauderdale with afternoon flights, though, I'll hire a driver for our group and spend some time around the city before heading to the airport. Our airline (Delta) at least, didn't allow us to check in till three hours before the flight, so we had a lot of waiting time both before and after check-in. Other great stuff onboard: coffee card at La Patisserie for morning lattes, soda cards kept us hydrated with soda&lime, blackjack tournaments with a terrific casino staff, a wacky film trivia contest that featured refilmed scenes starring CP staff, dancing to Geraldo Osa's trio, formal nights, New Year's Eve celebrations in Universe Lounge and Lido deck, champagne balcony breakfast, lots of time just to hang out with each other, and of course amazing tropical weather. And probably my favorite thing to do just sit or roam the ship, watching us make our way toward the next port. It's no surprise that many of us put down deposits toward next cruises! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Coral Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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