492 Princess Coral Princess Cruise Reviews

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
Princess Elite passengers spent pre-cruise night at LAX Airport Marriott. We found a better rate through AAA for the same hotel that Princess uses and were able to use the Princess "airport" transfer from the HOTEL to the ship. ... Read More
Princess Elite passengers spent pre-cruise night at LAX Airport Marriott. We found a better rate through AAA for the same hotel that Princess uses and were able to use the Princess "airport" transfer from the HOTEL to the ship. If boarding in Ft.Lauderdale a cab is the way to go...less than $20 to the ship includes a stop at "Total Wine" on the way. The Coral Princess was decorated for Christmas with holiday music playing in the atrium. Our balcony cabin E210 was ready when we boarded at 1PM. Our category "BG" was the lowest priced unobstructed balcony at the time of our booking on a "guarantee" basis seven months prior to sailing. We did not get upgraded. The Horizon Court was well stocked for the hungry travelers. Pizza was available on deck 14 and burgers and hot dogs on deck 15. The only fault I could find with the food in general was weak coffee and watered down juice. I switched to tea which had lots of different choices. We had second seating traditional at 8:15 PM which was wonderful. The new menus are great with lots of choices. The always available steak went away (tornados still available) and the fettucine alfredo was not as good as in the past. The caesar salad is still available every night, with anchovies on request...yummy. There were three formal nights on each 14-day cruise. You can expect lots of children on any Christmas/New Years cruise. We had 350 minors, mostly teenagers who were not very well behaved, ignoring most of the rules and roaming the ship in groups of ten or more. Our second cruise which began on 1/6 had 26 well behaved children. We only took part in one shore excursion"Colonial Granada and Las Isletas Boat Ride" out of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. It was a long bus ride (4 hours plus) for a so so meal and a 45 minute boat ride. A total waste of time and money. We went mainly for the "cruising" and not the ports. Our favorite ports were Huatulco and Aruba. The highlight of this trip is the Panama Canal and of course the beautiful Coral Princess. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Coral Princess Panama Canal 12-23-2008 to 01-06-2009 I recently returned from a 14 day Panama Canal transit where I was surprised by a rash of migraine headaches which completely disabled me and rendered me room bound for a good portion ... Read More
Coral Princess Panama Canal 12-23-2008 to 01-06-2009 I recently returned from a 14 day Panama Canal transit where I was surprised by a rash of migraine headaches which completely disabled me and rendered me room bound for a good portion of the cruise. Having said that, I cannot think of a better place to have a Migraine, the Coral staff was one of the best I've experienced so far. I got excellent room service and even was allowed to order some items off the main menu when I couldn't get out of the room. Lauren, the Assistant Cruise director, was the best, she made everything more enjoyable and everybody loved her. In spite of having some health problems on this cruise, I really had a good time and I learned a lot about how to travel better. I had a lot of misconceptions about some of the ports in Central America. I stayed back in ports that I otherwise wouldn't have and was pleasantly surprised at the small moments I found there. When I missed a port I made all my wonderful CC friends tell me everything! Strangers too. Our CC group was incredible; they all really made a difference for me. I made some mistakes and learned from them, always a bonus when traveling. The Coral is in good shape and if anybody is in E736 you will have the best room steward ever, Supatra. She took care of me like a mother. Our balcony room was a perfect place to watch the canal transit since it was the most aft corner portside; I even got to touch the canal sides a few times. Although I had a headache, we were gratefully not on the sunny side of the ship so I was able (after taking my migraine pills) to watch the transit from the bed and eventually go out onto the balcony. I had planned to go all throughout the ship while transiting but when I got sick I had to stay in the room and frankly that turned out to be wonderful as well. One note on this balcony; it is completely connected to the aft viewing area and not private at all. Anybody can climb onto your balcony and walk right in to your cabin so make sure you keep it locked. This only applies to the Emerald deck far aft balconies; all the other decks are not connected. Finally, only the Emerald deck aft port balconies are covered, all the rest are uncovered. I was not clear about this but we did not mind the privacy thing and were grateful for the shade. I took pictures of the balcony, if anybody is interested I'll post them on the Princess boards when I get them downloaded to my computer in the next few days. We enjoyed the ship so much because it was not unusual to walk through it and barely see a person. The ship was filled to capacity since it was a holiday cruise, but on this ship you hardly felt it. I never encountered lines during our traditional early seating in the dining room. We had a great diverse table which really made it interesting and the waiter was good if not great but our Junior Waiter Felipe from Chile was incredible, I can't praise him enough. We got there nightly at 6PM but often had to wait 30-40 minutes before our orders were taken and then things got rushed. Our table company was very good so it never was that big a deal, and I took my time eating anyway! We never encountered any angry or surly staff members all, I was struck by the happiness factor I encountered amongst all the staff. Nice. I liked but did not love all of the new menu items. I am somewhat picky, and frankly I don't really care that much about food so I am not a fair judge. I lost 9 pounds on the cruise so I am not complaining about it! I did have a wonderful Turkey dinner for Christmas. I heard that the executive head chef was on the ship and he created a Chef's table at the last minute, several of my friends were able to attend that and they raved about it. They also got to try Sabatini's Breakfast, which is normally reserved for Suite passengers only, and I think this was the trial run. Again, I heard good things. We ate one night at Sabatini's and they went above and beyond the call of duty in preparing my picky eater requests, bless them! I didn't feel at all like the pain in the rear that I usually feel like when I make all the special requests in restaurants and that was wonderful. The restaurant manager from South Africa was so nice. I loved his style, panache, and perfect attitude. The whole experience was fun and delicious. One thing I did notice was a reduction of security, particularly youth security. Last year I was on B2B Island Princess Canal transits during the holidays and there were a lot more visible security people present. I was told that there were undercover staff around but I didn't notice them controlling the teens much. Most of the kids were very well behaved and a delight to meet. There were a few permissive and somewhat aggressive families on the ship. I heard one large family kept calling the captain and asking him to move the ship closer to shore so they could whale watch, when they didn't get their way they threw a fit! They let their kids run wild, never a good idea on a ship as far as I am concerned. I saw things that shocked me regarding kids' and adults' behavior and I am a middle school teacher in LA Unified so you can imagine that I am pretty used to this. Parents, be very careful about how much freedom you give your kids here. I caught some youngsters "doing it" on the aft balcony at 4:30 am on New Years day, or rather they caught me as I was half asleep and looking for the line of ships waiting to enter the Panama Canal. Many parents innocently think nothing bad can happen on a self-contained ship. Think again about that private room for them and protect your precious cargo on cruise ships. Huatulco was wonderful, we took the Sail and Swim tour and swam in one of the bays and sailed around the others. We explored a cove and just floated around in the water with CC friends. As we swam back to the small boat a huge spotted Ray swam under us, it was so cool. The weather was perfect, the water was the same. You can easily do this town on your own, and a tour with Princess is also nice. You can walk to a great swimming beach right off the pier. There is plenty of shopping too. I missed my tour in Guatemala and was so bummed out that I made myself hobble out to the shopping area right off the ship with a raging migraine, I just had to buy something and I wasn't going to allow a headache prevent me. I pooped out quick but managed to get some beautiful woven purses at extremely reasonable rates ($4 each). It was worth it! Princess was generous and gracious enough to let me cancel my pre-booked excursion at the last minute without making me pay, or even making me go to the doctor. I really appreciated that, it made all the difference in the world. I also missed my private tour in Nicaragua, but was pleasantly surprised at the town of Porto Corinto. I was expecting it to be terrible, poor and filled with starving dogs and people but this was not the case. It was very cute; we caught a parade that was so interesting and different where they were carrying the statue of Mary through the streets and what a statue it was! I sat with my mouth open most of the time here, this is the kind of place where you get an authentic slice of the real locals, like it or not, but I really loved it! I bought a wonderful Chess set of the Conquistadors vs. the Mayans in ceramics for $30 bucks. I saw Crocodile purses for $35 and bought a wooden coaster set for $5! The prices were great, and the locals were very nice. Finally, I bought the best coffee beans here (I'm drinking it now) for $5 a pound. Wow. We did a tour in Costa Rica with Charlie Soto to the Tarcoles River; it was my 3rd and last time with Charlie. We had a large CC group and while it was enjoyable enough, there were some disappointing moments for some and there were quite a lot of us who didn't think we got what we were expecting or paid for. I might have been grumpy from the migraine medication which was turning me into a zombie. ? It was hot in Cartegena and there were 400 people on the "best of "tour so it was funny to see the massive line of buses, and soon we all descended upon the city like flies. But oh what a city, it is amazingly scenic and really not to be missed. The old city is gorgeous, narrow streets filled with colorful home and stores with balconies filled with flowers and flower boxes everywhere. I am certain I saw Carmine Miranda (and old movie star) walking down the street with fruit on her head. The views from La Popa Monastery were magnificent and we learned a lot about the history of the city from our tour guide. We even got to climb the fort and walk through the cave like passages. There was not enough time to shop for Emeralds yet I managed to buy one anyway. My only criticism is that there was not enough time to explore this fabulous port! Give us more time here Princess. Aruba was the only port besides Huatulco that I felt great at and didn't have to take Migraine medication. We arrived late and this was where I made a giant mistake; I got in line very early (an hour and a half before we got to port) because I had reserved a car and we were late and I was hoping to jam off the ship and grab my car late. We were 5th and 6th in line. About 10 minutes before we finally got to port, there were people cutting into line left and right and I started telling them to go to the back of the line and wait their turn. Needless to say, I was called mean names or ignored which infuriated me and hurt my feelings at the same time (not the best feeling combo) and by the time we actually disembarked there were 30 or more people in front of me. I could see the Princess staff with there hands full of complainers, and there was not enough security to manage the crowd which was getting aggressive. I missed my car anyway, and it was not worth the hassle and humiliation of being on that line. We walked around Aruba, hired a local to drive us to the Temple which was closed and went back to the ship early. One of my CC friends (hi Cathy) shouted to me from the ship as I was running off, she was wise to wait the 20 minutes it took to offload most of the passengers and next time that is exactly what I am doing! I don't mind making mistakes if I learn from them. After having some horrific experiences on past cruises with the hard sell at the spa, I broke down and got a message, which I sorely needed from all the tension of the migraines. This time I had a great masseuse, her name was Mai Mai and she was the best I ever had. ? She relieved me of all the knots and tension and I had to go back and get another massage the next day because it helped so much. Note to self, massages are much better than migraine pills on a cruise! We had an awesome trivia team and won a lot of games, so I have enough luggage tags to last a life time. We loved playing trivia on this ship, it was pack and fun and the staff that ran it was great. We participated in more stuff on this ship than any other we've been on, from game shows to Princess Pop star (go Amanda) and loved every minute. The shows were good to great although they were crowded and you had to get there early to get a seat. Also, there were some rude people who talked loudly during performances which bugged the heck out of me, and these people did this every night. Eventually, we stopped going to the shows to avoid this rude behavior. Manners do count. I took three pottery lessons on the ship during the first three sea days. I have taken Pottery lessons on several different Coral/Island Princess Cruises since they are the only ships that have a pottery wheel. I threw 14 pots but only had time to paint two, which is probably a good thing since I had to fly home. I love the pottery I made because I did it completely myself with only a minimum of help and they are both perfectly imperfect. Disembarkation was a breeze (just like embarkation) since we carried our luggage off on our own. We loved getting off the ship quickly so we had more time in Florida and got a full extra day of sightseeing. We spent three extra days in Key West (nice) and one in the Everglades (awesome) and I wish I had more time in the Everglades because I've never seen such a diversity of wildlife in one day including many different birds, rare trees and forests, American Crocodiles (much bigger than the Costa Rica relatives), and Alligators. We missed an Airboat ride because I had to spend some time picking up garbage dumped on the side of the road in the park. I couldn't believe people would throw trash in such a place and I couldn't just drive past it. It was well worth the extra time to drive to all the way to Flamingo (38 incredibly scenic miles) from the main park entrance out of Florida City because that is where we saw the Crocodiles, they were almost gone from the park (and south Florida) but are making a comeback. If you can, go to the Everglades. Pick up a few pieces of trash too! Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
I want to start off by saying this was a wonderful cruise and we are just so sorry to be home again after the fantastic time we had cruising the Panama Canal. We did not stay at a hotel since we are from the Los Angeles area and it was ... Read More
I want to start off by saying this was a wonderful cruise and we are just so sorry to be home again after the fantastic time we had cruising the Panama Canal. We did not stay at a hotel since we are from the Los Angeles area and it was only a 40 minute drive for us to get to the port. My better (or should I just say other half?) always wants to make sure that we get to the ship on time, so needless to say we had a shuttle pick us up at 10:00 A.M, well, they were early... We got to the port around 10:30, but was a great way to start off a cruise. We were checked in within minutes and waited in the lounge for a little over 30 minutes and got to our cabin by 11:30. We had a balcony room in the front. (beware - if you have a tendency to get sea sick pick a cabin in the middle). We love falling asleep to the motion of the ocean. The cabin was compact but had plenty of room for our things on the two week cruise. The Coral Princess (sister ship to the Island Princess) is a great ship. We never felt crowded or had any problems getting a chair in the pool area. I have to admit we usually spend our time in the Lotus Pool area and really did not lay out to get a tan. I loved the Lotus Pool (and just like we did on the Island Princess we spend a lot of time in this area). The ship was very clean and we did not see any areas that were not well maintained. We are not show people and therefore I cannot recommend any of the shows - we only saw the Crew Talent Show (excellent) and one comedian (not good). I can however recommend the wine tasting - we did the two that were offered and thoroughly enjoyed them. Learned more information on wine then I can ever use. Guess you could say we are becoming Wine Snobs. We spend a little bit of time in the casino each night - and I can say that in the end we walked out ahead!! Lots of fun - I decided to try all the different table games available. Not being a gambler I had never played any of the games and maybe it was beginners luck but out of 12 nights of playing, I only lost two nights... Our favorite bar was Crooner's. Each night we would have a martini before dinner and an after dinner drink and listen to the music of Roger Carr. Our bartender was the best - (Hi Rexi!!!) Great services - which brings me to the other service on the ship - we had wonderful service at dinner each night. We had Anytime Dinning and never had the same waiter - but service was consistently good!! Our room stewardess- Eliza was a pleasure to have around as well. She kept our cabin spotless!! I also would like to mention a waiter we had at the buffet - we kept going to his section - we called him XXX - looked like Van Diesel - loved to have you at our table for breakfast - you made my day (maybe not my DH's). We did a few excursions from the ship, let me go day by day: Huatulco - we just walked off the ship, about 2 miles, and walked to town - great exercise and just nice to get off the ship. We are not great walkers - so took the cab back - and ended up at the beach viewing the Coral Princess. I never drink beer (no matter what the time) but we ordered two beers and guacamole. The whole trip cost us about $20 Guatemala - did a Princess tour to the Chapin Drive-Thru Park. We had a great time but in hind sight would do another tour. We drove through a park which was similar to the Wild Animal Park in Escondido. We had fun but I think (personal opinion) that a trip to a coffee plantation would show you more of the country. Nicaragua - did a tour through Princess - The city of Leon and the Mud pots. It was nice tour - a lady prior to our tour fell and broke her ankle at the Cathedral, but we heard she made it back to the port and spend the rest of the cruise in a cast. The tour through the mud pots had kids escorting us through the sight. (it was almost like the commercial for donating to the poor children in Nicaragua, if you watch TV you know who I mean). Considering everything it was a great tour. Costa Rica - We actually booked a tour here but as Luck would have it it was cancelled - the fishing boats booked our passage to Costa Rica and the Taxi Drivers and Fishing boats where having a dispute. No port of call in Costa Rica. This was actually lucky for me - let me explain - the night prior to going to Costa Rica, my DH (lets call him Rhino Dude) and I where having a martini at Crooners and as was our routine, after one martini we would go down to dinner at around 6 o clock (just a quick hind - no waiting at 6 for dinner). We walked down the stairs to the dinning room (we never take the elevator while on a cruise). The Atrium is beautiful and an easy walk from Crooners. As luck would have it - my heel caught on my pant leg and who should go crashing down the stairs cracking her head on the marble staircase? ME..... oh thank god I was not wearing a dress!!!! People galore where staring at me - as Princess staff took me to the Infirmary... I ended up being fine, just a slight swelling on my head!!! However it was great to rest an extra day before going of exploring new ports!!! Panama - we did this port instead of Costa Rica - which was really cool for me since I had never been to Panama. (My DH and I have a map in our dining room that shows all the countries we have visited - we plan to visit every country in the world - but the only countries that count is countries we have not been at together!) Since this was not on the original itinerary we had no plans, hence a ship excursion to the Mira Flores Locks. Great Tour - we learned all about the Panama Canal and also got to tour the Army, Navy and Airforce bases which formerly belonged to belong to the GOOD OLD USA...It was interesting to learn that in order to move to Panama you only needed to prove that you had income of $500 a month from the US. Houses - beautiful houses where only around 60k. I guess if you can't afford to live in the good old USA, move to Panama!!!. The next day was the Panama Canal - Rhinodude was sooooo happy - I think he took over 400 pictures from our Balcony!!! If you can afford it - get a balcony - the last time I went with DS and Grandma we had an outside cabin - which was fine, but if you have a man with you that likes to take pictures - get a balcony!! It was a great day - we were originally going to order the breakfast in our room - but since I am vegetarian it would have been a waste. Instead we just ordered tea and coffee and Rhinodude ran up to the buffet and got rolls and cheese. We made a meal of this and had the best time ever. Cartegena - The very next day (thank god my head was feeling better) we were in Cartegena, Columbia. We got off the ship and got a tour with one of the vendors outside. It was $20 per person and we got to see - the fort, the monastery, the old and the new city. This was $20 well spend. Aruba - Got to Aruba the next day and did the same thing - $20 for a 3 hour tour. We saw alot and had a great time. The sea days were very relaxing and we enjoyed everything about the cruise. There was only 1 child on the ship, so this was definitely an older crowd. (as Rhinodude stated - every ambulatory device known to man!). We are not hard to please - we figure as long as we are away from work and home its a vacation and nothing can spoil it. To all of you in Cruise Critic Land - Please Chill - let things happen and don't sweat over the little things!!!. Disembarking : I admit it's the worse day of the cruise, but hey, if you book another one before leaving you have something to look forward too!! We got off the ship around 9, and took a tour of the Everglades and Flamingo Gardens prior to getting on our flight back to Los Angeles. It was a great tour and kept is busy - so we did not have to waste time sitting around the airport. Princess gets a 10 for providing us a great vacation - we already booked another cruise for 2009!! See you on our next cruise!!! Rhinodude and Rhinochick Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Flew to Acapulco and stayed at the Crown Plaza for two nights. Attended the Salsa Festival and didn't even know it was taking place there at that time, but had a blast....which I had a dance partner because I would have dance all ... Read More
Flew to Acapulco and stayed at the Crown Plaza for two nights. Attended the Salsa Festival and didn't even know it was taking place there at that time, but had a blast....which I had a dance partner because I would have dance all night long. Went to Vista Linda (I think that was the name of the restaurant) for dinner and the view, the service, and the food were awesome. Went to a timeshare presentation with the Mayan Resorts and because I love what they had to offer and the price I bought one. Love to travel to Mexico and the destinations are great. Boarded the Coral Princess and the check-in is a piece of cake if you have all the documents filled out correctly and get there early. Don't worry, if you get in the ship early you wont be bored. The buffet is open and you can start doing a recon of the ship before it gets crowded. I really Don't wont to spoiled your vacation because its kind of like a movie. If I tell you the whole plot, then why would you go to see it? But, the truth is I was very impressed with the entire Coral Princess experience. All the way from embarkation to disembarkation. Ten days is perfect and then back to reality. Don't get me wrong....all cruise lines are great, and I would go to any of them depending if it fits my budget, timeline and itinerary. From all the ports we visited I enjoyed Ocho Rios and Puntanegras the most. Puerto Quetzal and Puerto Corinto were all right. Did not get a chance to visit Huatulco because the ship canceled the stop at that port prior to embarkation. Many countries if not all Central America are a third world country still and it really gives you a reality check on how lucky and fortunate we really are as Americans of having what we have, living where we live and sharing the common interests that we do. Seriously....experience other cultures and you will see what I am talking about. It really goes deep in the heart. Entertainment: Awesome shows and great entertainment. Don't miss any of the shows even if you have to go to the last show after dinner. Do the back stage tour when offered. Say hello to Ger (Argentina), Andy, Sammy (India), among others. Awesome guys! Uh, can't remember the gal name and the cruise Director. Dinning: Ate at the Bordeaux in open sitting. If you want to seat with the same passengers every night, get the assign table for dinner. I rather meet different people all the time. Say hello to Jorge {Head waiter}(Portugal), Rocio (Mexico), Luis Miguel {Junior waiter} (Mexico), {Head waiter} (Italy)...oh my gosh, cant recall his name. They are on the 5th floor. Awesome crew. The entire crew is fabulous. Enjoy your trip. Cant wait to go back. Waiting for the ship to go to another destination I have not been. They know me by Dee. Happy new year! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Our Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess departed 11/29/08 from Acapulco. It was a great cruise and we were lucky to have perfect weather for most of the trip. After reading tips and suggestions on the Cruise Critics boards, I was ... Read More
Our Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess departed 11/29/08 from Acapulco. It was a great cruise and we were lucky to have perfect weather for most of the trip. After reading tips and suggestions on the Cruise Critics boards, I was able to take advantage of the shareholder credit offered by Princess Cruises (Carnival Cruise Line shares). I happened to already own the required 100 shares and we received a $100 on board credit! I also received some on board credit as a birthday gift, so we started off in good shape! We flew to Acapulco and took a taxi to the ship. I think the taxi was cheaper than the Princess transfer. There was a great deal of traffic and it took almost 1 ½ hours to get to the port. Embarkation was extremely easy and we were in our room within minutes. Once in the room, I called to see if we could make reservations for a chef's table (that I had read about on cruise critics). There was no chef table available on this ship. Oh well. After we were settled, we went out on deck and watched the sunset and took some great photos of Acapulco. We were on the deck for almost every sunset (with drinks in hand). It is such a beautiful time of day and I wonder why so few people are on deck at this time. We like to see the sunset and eat dinner late. We would sometimes get a slice of pizza as a snack at this time. The pizza was always very tasty and there was a different pizza each day. The only annoying thing about being on the top deck at this time is that the deck hands start stacking all of the deck chairs. I wish they would wait a bit. The first day was a sea day. We start every sea day with coffee from La Patisserie. The first day we buy a coffee card which gives you a bit of a discount on the fancy coffee drinks. There are also some complementary pastries and mini muffins available at La Patisserie. We ate lunch at the grill (great knockwurst) and then visited the spa that afternoon. I had to get a pedicure and manicure for the trip - and it was formal night! We made our spa reservations online prior to the cruise. We rented a tux for my husband while on the ship - which was very easy and fit perfectly. Formal night was fun and we met our dinner tablemates. Our tablemates were great and so were our waiters. The next day (and every day that we were going on a shore excursion) we had room service continental breakfast. We ordered via the door tag the night before. It was always on time and exactly what we ordered. I always tipped the server. We arrived in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala and went on the "Antigua on your own" shore excursion. The bus ride took 1 ½ hours each way and there was plenty to look at along the way. Once we arrived in Antigua, the bus stopped outside of a jade store / museum / factory. There you can use the restrooms and get free bottled water (and learn a little bit about jade). Outside there were lots of women trying to sell textiles and men trying to sell flutes. This was at times annoying, but other times amusing when they come up with funny sales pitches. We had a good tour book so we walked around on our own, but if you want you can hire a guide for a small amount. There were several guides at the jade store and then later in the Central Park there were very nice guides in official uniforms. We almost hired one, but then decided not to. The benefit of hiring a guide is that they will tell you facts about buildings that you may not have in your guide books. Also, they can recommend cafes and shops. The map that you get on the bus is not as good as ones you can find in guide books. In Antigua we ate lunch at Cafe Condesa. It is across the Central Park on 5th Ave. You have to go through a book store next door to the Cafe Condesa Express to get to the cafe. It has a nice courtyard and the quiche (yes, quiche) is a specialty and is the best quiche we have ever had! Get there about 11:30 am for a good seat. The next day was Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua. We went on the San Antonio Rum Distillery shore excursion. It took about 45 minutes to get to the distillery. The weather was hot and clear - tolerable in the shade. Our guide provided good information about Nicaragua's history while we were on the bus. We passed through a few towns and passed the market near the distillery. Our guide also gave us the tour of the rum distillery. It was interesting, but it is obvious that we were among the first few groups to tour the facility. They said that they are working on putting together a better tour with more informational signage, etc. After we toured the distillery they took us to a "social club" where we could buy rum to take home. It is illegal to sell the rum at the distillery, so we had to go off site to buy the rum. From the street in front of the "social club" we had an excellent view of the nearby active volcano. There was smoke coming out of it. We took several photos and then an oxcart passed by and that made a great photo! After we returned to the ship I went to the craft market by the pier. It was small and most of the booths had identical items. There were lots of Cuban cigars available as well as handicrafts and coffee. I did find a couple of booths that appeared to have unique hand made items. One was a wood artist and I bought some things from him. I was glad that the vendors were not aggressive and just let us shop. There were several guys that try to sell bike cart rides as you step off the pier area, but the market is only a block or so away from the pier so you don't really need a ride. This port is not really set up for tourists - there is no tourist greeting area. This port is primarily an industrial port that happens to get a couple of cruise ships a month. At least you can see a "real" town versus a tourist town. That night we went to Sabatini's for dinner. It was very good and very filling. The next day we were in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We took the Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls excursion. It was raining quite a bit in the mountains. We saw the huge waterfalls, butterfly area and hummingbirds. We also saw wild monkeys! And we had a great lunch. We did not see the volcano since the road was closed by a tree that had fallen due to the heavy rain. Instead we saw a metal church that was very pretty in Sarchi and we did some shopping. We arrived back to the ship early. Princess gave us a 25% refund on this excursion since we did not go to the volcano. This was a very nice unexpected surprise. If you go on this excursion you will need a rain poncho. Of course they sell them at the waterfalls in case you need one. We had a sea day next. We ate lunch at the buffet - I loved the salad bar. We played bingo. I wonder if anyone ever wins the big jackpot prior to the final day. The next day was Panama Canal day! I woke up to sounds of tugboats and conversation at about 5:30 am. I knew that we were supposed to go under the Bridge of Americas at that time, so I looked outside and saw that we had just passed under the bridge. My husband and I went to the back of the ship to see the bridge and the sunrise! It was beautiful to see the sunrise and we could see Panama City skyscrapers peeking out above the hills. Thanks to the Cruise Critic boards I knew that there were "secret" decks at the back of the ship. On our floor (Dolphin) there is a small public deck at the back and we were the only ones out there! In addition to Dolphin, there are also small public decks on the back of the ship on Baja, Caribe and Emerald. As we approached the first set of locks (Miraflores Locks) we decided to go to the front of the ship topside. I knew it would be packed with people and it was. We decided to see if there were "secret" decks at the front of the ship. I had read on Cruise Critic that there were public decks at front on Baja and Caribe. Sure enough we went out on Caribe and there was a deck at front and a perfect view of the locks. After going through the next set of locks (Pedro Miguel Locks) we went back to our room for our champagne breakfast! We had the breakfast on our balcony. It was great and we finished just before the direct sun forced us back into our room. We were on the port side so we did not have direct sun until the ship had passed the first two pacific side locks. During the middle part of the canal we passed another cruise ship going the opposite direction and we both blew our horns and waved like crazy! It was fun. For the Gatun locks we went up front and then to the back again. The view from the back of the ship was great since there were ships on the side of and behind us. We then docked in Cristobal, Panama for shopping. They had some interesting items and performers at the market and they had cheap Panamanian beer! The next day was a sea day (which you need to recover from the prior Panama Canal day). We played bingo and used the internet. It was a formal night and we went to the Captain's Circle party. A cruise critic member received the award for taking the most Princess Cruises (49 cruises)! After dinner we went to the casino and played in the black jack tournament. We arrived in Ocho Rios, Jamaica the next day. We went on a private tour with Peat Taylor, Jr. to Dunn's Falls and then tubing down White River. It was great fun and we were all by ourselves (with a guide) on the river! We ate lunch at The Ruins restaurant. This is a large restaurant with a river and falls that go through the courtyard in the middle of the restaurant. They serve buffet style. There is also a path behind the falls that is worth exploring. The site used to be a plantation. Our last day was a sea day. We participated in "On Deck for the Cure" 5K walk around the promenade deck that benefits the Komen foundation. We also went to the spa. Before and after dinner we went to the Crooner's piano bar. We liked the martinis and the variety of olives! We also enjoyed the piano player in the evening. During the week we went to some of the shows. Our favorite was the comedian Kevin Hughes. The crew talent show was fun also. We disembarked in Ft. Lauderdale and took a taxi to the Riverside hotel (very nice) for one night. Then we flew home the next day. It was a very good trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Our journey began from Heathrow airport flying BA direct to Miami, the flight was pleasant and we were well looked after in our executive plus seats (makes all the difference for leg room). We arrived at miami 13.30 local time and were ... Read More
Our journey began from Heathrow airport flying BA direct to Miami, the flight was pleasant and we were well looked after in our executive plus seats (makes all the difference for leg room). We arrived at miami 13.30 local time and were greeted by two princess reps holding cards as we entered arrivals. Once all the passengers were gathered (about 15 minutes) we were taken to the bus for our transfer to The Intercontinental Hotel, Miami. Once on the bus a rep explained what time we would be collected the next day to be taken to the ship and gave a brief run through of things to do in the area that evening and how our luggage would be collected etc. The check in for the room was speedy and efficient and we were in our room twenty minutes later. The room was clean and tastefully decorated, comfortable beds and a very nice bathroom. We got a cab to the Dolphin mall $16 to do some shopping and grab a bite to eat before settling down for the night. On the morning of the cruise we decided to eat breakfast out rather that in the hotel restaurant which was rather expensive (around $28 pp) there weren't too many places to choose from and we ended up at McDonalds but it was ok. We left the hotel at around 12.00pm on the bus heading for FtLauderdale to board the ship. Entertainment, hmmm, we found the crowd on this ship to average around 65 to 75 years old (we were mum and daughter 46 & 28)several other cruisers commented on this voyage being the oldest they had come across but it wasn't a problem for us, we met some great people and the most interesting of characters. I don't know if the entertainment was set around this age group on purpose but for us it was a bit "quiet" but we found Larry (the pianist) in the Crooners bar very upbeat and highly amusing. The production shows, no thanks, only one really good singer among them, the others were most times off key and out of tune and this was my only real grumble about the cruise. Ports of call Aruba (best beaches I've ever seen) Colombia (alot of walking and history) Panama Canal (Amazing, we did the Embera excursion and it was fantastic) Limon (beautiful and very interesting rainforest) Jamaica (how soon can I go back) We booked all bar one tours with Princess (Jamaica)and I found them to be good value for money although there is scope to do your own thing from the port. I had previously read on CC that vendors were very pushy in Colombia, they can be but a polite "no thankyou" is all that is required and you are left alone. We bought some great bargains in this town and enjoyed the bartering. I would definitely recommend a visit to the Embura tribe in Panama after you've done the locks (ours was a partial transit) Limon Costa Rica, a beautiful rainforest tour, strange and interesting animals, lots of bananas and very friendly people. Jamaica, we did an independent tour and it was fantastic, did the falls, white river tubing (very relaxing and a great way to cool off from the sun) shopping and Jimmy Buffets which is definitely not to be missed. At no time were we offered drugs whist in Jamaica and the locals are really friendly but this may have had something to do with our tour guide, he was notably respected within his community and looked after us well. Once we disembarked the ship (very organized)we were originally told we would be taken back to the Intercontinental hotel for lunch before a transfer to the airport, however, we were taken to South beach Miami for a sightseeing tour before lunch, then we were collected again and taken to a shopping mall before returning to the hotel for afternoon tea, this was a pleasant surprise and a really nice way to end the cruise. Would I do it again............... YES, no question about it, Princess was amazing and looked after us so well, the service, attention and all the little extras that I've failed to mention made this a holiday of a lifetime for us!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
I finally decided to go to Alaska. After many years of putting off this trip, I now ask myself why I did. With all the many cruises I have been on, this was my favorite. The beauty of Alaska is amazing. It is so different than the ... Read More
I finally decided to go to Alaska. After many years of putting off this trip, I now ask myself why I did. With all the many cruises I have been on, this was my favorite. The beauty of Alaska is amazing. It is so different than the Caribbean cruises and the Australia/New Zealand cruises I have taken. I believe this is my 12th cruise and my parents first cruise. I am 50 yrs old and my parents in their 70's. They were worried about seasickness, so my mother had a patch from the doctor. My dad and I roughed it with our sturdy sea legs. We stayed at the Marriott Renaissance for 2 nights prior to departing for the cruise. I must say the airport in Vancouver is small and congested. Good luck when they host the Olympics! Customs took nearly 2 hours to get thru and that was just waiting in the lines on a Saturday afternoon. I never did find my parents so we met up at the hotel. I must admit the hospitality there is amazing. Vancouver is a nice place but only for a few days. It is very expensive and with the US Dollar shrinking you can feel it. I have been there before and they seem to have the same construction going on from years ago. Embarkation was really easy. One of the best and fastest. We arrived a little after noon and there was no line and plenty of people to help you. We took a cab from the hotel and it cost about $5 which was better than walking, they have lots of hilly streets. Went right to our cabins and the entire process was about 20-30 minutes. You walk more than you wait in lines. Luggage came really fast. We immediately (as everyone else) went to have lunch at the buffet. (Horizon Court) So much food and only one stomach! They have plenty of room but you may need to search for a seat on this first day. Once we ate lunch we went to our cabins (A307 and A305) and my parents luggage was already there. We had balcony cabins and had the steward open the door outside to give us more space. The cabins are large enough for 2 people but I would not want any more. Plenty of closet space and shelf space. The bathroom could use more enclosed shelving for personal items but was sufficient. As all, showers are too small. Having a balcony cabin is the way to go. Once you go balcony you can never go back, be aware! Only had one fancy towel made the entire trip and that is the fault of the room steward. I must say my parents had a much better room attendant than I had. The beds are comfortable. I have read other reviews were people complain about the beds, I do not agree. I could not hear the neighbors at all. TV has many stations including a few daily movies and the news. We had plenty to do the first day with our adventure of the ship. The muster drill was the usual boring first drill but necessary in case of an emergency. We chose the early seating and I must say that Princess did mess this up. I booked the cabins at the same time and request same time to eat, etc. and they did not get it right. We went to anytime (Bordeaux) dining the first evening and after than we had the first seating (Provence Dining Room) and got a table just for the 3 of us. That was the best for us as my parents are a bit shy with people they do not know and I a bit opinionated at times. They did meet quite a few people and enjoyed their company and we would run into them on the ship. We met a few people that were always trying to up the other. (known as "uppers") We had fantastic wait staff and they really did a great job and that really made my parents feel comfortable with dinner every night. Plus they got to know what we liked and did not like. The maitre de did make a presence which I did not see much on my other cruises. The food is good. Won't say it is great and it is not as good as the first cruises I took back in the late 90's but times have changed and ships are bigger. All in all, the food was very good. The rolls are wonderful and I did gain 7 pounds on this trip so I must have like some of the food. The desserts are really good and that includes "the love boat" my personal favorite! It really is to die for! The first night was the introduction of the entertainment staff. They had a comedian who was just so funny. I cannot remember the last time I heard my dad laugh as hard as he did. I believe he is a regular on the Princess trips and on the Alaska Coral Princess, Scott Wyler. Don't miss him if you have the chance. He played 2 different nights. The first night was much shorter than the second time. It was packed both nights. We went to see the show also at the Princess Theatre and then retired for the night. It was entertaining but the comic just stole the night! The second day was a sea day. I get room service every day for breakfast as I don't like to rush in the morning and plus it is my alarm clock! Just so you know, they are always early or exactly at the earliest time you check on the room service ticket. Went for a massage and relaxed most of the day. There was much to do on board and my parents checked out many of the other areas of the ship. So much to do and so little time. They have the golf simulator which we all had a shot at the first day (it was free) and also a putt putt course. It was the first of the formal nights so we dressed up pretty and took the photo's as expected. Lines for the photo's are not as long on the Alaskan cruises. I think it is due to the age group. The crowd is a definite 50 or better. I believe we saw 3 kids the entire trip. Definitely not something for the kids or teenagers. The next day was Ketchikan which was a big day for us. I made lots of plans. First we were going to have a private plane ride with Family Air. The owner, Dave was our pilot and the plane was rather small. I booked it for 2 hours and we cruised the Misty Fjords. That is definitely something not to be missed if you can afford the cost. We even landed once and got out and walked around. Amazing. I sat in the front and you wear headphones. After that we did the Alaskan Lumberjack Show which was also a great deal of fun. That packs the crowds in so get there early. Keep in mind that these events are outdoors and it is cold in Alaska. I live in Phoenix, AZ and I am not used to the cold. I wore my Ugghs (boots) and blue jeans, layered clothing and a jacket I purchased onboard. I had a hat and also gloves. As long as you dress properly you will really enjoy your trip. We saw too much people freezing as they did not plan for the cold. Hats, gloves and shoes are essential to keep yourself warm. Try and not carry too much, one mistake I made constantly. This was a short port of call so we left for Juneau around 2pm that day. That evening we saw Scott Wyler again, too much fun! Juneau was going to be a full day. I had plans to go dogsledding in the morning but it was cancelled! We still had plans to go whale watching that afternoon which was still on. So in the morning we walked downtown and just looked in some shops, stopped at McDonald's for hot cocoa and mailed some postcards. The whale watching trip did spot us some whales. Not like I have seen in Provincetown, Mass but sufficient. We did have a small incident with the boat stalling out in the middle of nowhere, but Capt Jack repaired the boat and we made it back on time. I was not worried, he is an ex coast guard. We saw many many seals. When in doubt of whales, they will find you some seals. The boat only had 5 passengers onboard which is more than enough. They say it has room for 8 but I think that 5 was enough, that is all they have seats for. With the weather being cold, you are not hanging outside that much. They do have a bathroom on the boat, bigger than most I have been in. In the middle of the summer it was probably ok for 8, not in early Sept. Went back to the ship and departed around 8-9 pm. Had dinner and it was good as usual. We saw a hypnotist this night. Pretty good, nothing really embarrassing and very interesting as he explains the entire process of being hypnotized. Another early morning, last port of call is Skagway. I had read about renting a car and driving to Emerald Lake in Canada. So we did just that. You can go online and for $5 purchase a Murrays Guide and it gives you mile by mile instructions of what you see all the way to Emerald Lake and even further. The views and scenery are so pretty that words cannot describe it. We stopped so many times to take photo's of the beautiful lakes, mountains, and anything we thought would make a good photo. The road was not crowded at all. Don't forget to bring your passport, you are entering Canada. You will drive thru Carcross and don't stop at the first place you see to eat. There is a dog sledding and museum (right side of road) and that has a place to eat. You can even eat in stagecoaches, now that is different. We did not see it and ended up eating at the gas station stop which serves food. You can visit the dogs (not snow dogs, land mush dogs) and the museum. I think I paid $7.00 to get in. They have many stuffed animals (which used to be living animals) and they look so real. Drove back to the Skagway and decided this was the best scenery we had seen so far on this trip. We went thru customs on the way back and they even stamp your passport with a Skagway stamp. Returned the car and headed back to the ship. Mind you gas is very expensive in Alaska, I think we paid $4.50 a gallon and the cost of the car rental was about $100. All in all, not that bad for 3 people. I dropped my parents as close to the ship as possible because it is a long walk for them. We went back on board and had dinner. The shows were very good for the evening entertainment. Well that is all for ports of call. We will be on the ship for the next 2 days cruising Glacier Bay and College Fjord. They bring people on the ship and they talk about what you will be seeing. There is one glacier that is so beautiful. We saw a few small calvings but nothing major. We saw a water hole in the side of a glacier that was pouring water out of it and that was very loud! They say every time you go it is different. We took plenty of photo's and the deck was very crowded. If you have a balcony you can see it from there. They turn the ship around so that you can see it on both sides. I have booked another massage that day and you can see the glaciers from the massage rooms (one sided glass, not to worry). Even the staff was taking photo's. This is the last formal night. We had the early seating and while having dinner we arrived at another beautiful glacier. You should have seen so many people run out of the dining room to go take pictures. Dinner can wait, this is a once in a lifetime event. I just left my parents there and ran! Looking back it must have looked pretty funny. We went to see another comedian that night which was not very funny (my opinion) and then called it a night. I enjoy sea days and not having to get off every day. More trips should be like this. Next day we were at the last of the destinations. As usual, the scenery is incredible and the water was so calm that it was like glass. We saw lots of sea otters swimming along side the ship. Beautiful glaciers and mountains with snowcaps. Another cold day but with the sun shining, you could actually sit on the balcony without a jacket. Time to pack up, buy those last photo's, cash out your casino winnings, get your tip money to the correct people, buy your onboard video, look at the last of the glaciers, and wish we were just starting all over again. I always find the last night to be sad and that makes me want to book my next cruise as soon as I get home. I chose not to extend the trip in Alaska. A thought I would rethink if I was to do this trip again. Disembarking was not as pleasant as getting on the ship. There color coded system is out of date and they do need to revise it. Plus no one follows it. Had I chose to extend this vacation, it would not have mattered as they would have had me off the ship first. We arrived in Whittier in the middle of the night. There is nothing in this town, not even a taxi. You must book your way out of there before you leave for your trip. They have a tunnel and it is only one way and they take turns going thru it. Princess offers their bus transportation and I think they was $55 per person. I opted to go with the Alaskan Leopard (at $52 per person) and it includes a few stops back to the airport. We stopped at a small rest stop and it includes (the tour)a pastry and drink and you are there about 1 hour. Take a walk by the parking area in the back and see small icebergs. This is on the other side of the tunnel. The next tour stop is where you drive thru and see small animals. There is a place were you can get out and see bears, bald eagle, moose and of course, they have a gift shop and outdoor toilets. You are there another hour. Then off to the airport which you arrive around 1pm. They have a tape that plays thru the trip and it narrates many facts about Alaska. It was a good way to end the trip. All in all, this was one of the best cruise I have been on. Many reasons, the relaxing atmosphere, the scenery, the quality of people onboard,the staff, the company I was with and it was a very long time since I have spent quality time with my parents. I would do this again if the opportunity did arrive. Enjoy the trip and email me if you have any questions. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Coral Princess Sept 1-8, 2008 Background and General Impression My wife and I are in our early 40's, have two kids who did not accompany us on this cruise, which was our 6th. Previously, we sailed on the Grand Princess, Norwegian ... Read More
Coral Princess Sept 1-8, 2008 Background and General Impression My wife and I are in our early 40's, have two kids who did not accompany us on this cruise, which was our 6th. Previously, we sailed on the Grand Princess, Norwegian Dawn, Majesty of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, and the Carnival Triumph. This was our first Alaskan cruise. Our northbound cruise began in Vancouver, stopped in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. Our days at sea included the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay, and College Fjords. The ship was beautiful, the scenery breathtaking, and the ports interesting enough. Princess certainly earned the right to be a strong contender for our next cruise. YVR to the ship: We took a taxi. Apparently, you are supposed to get a standard rate of $25 total. Our guy used the meter that reached $31. He took an even $30. We waited until 12:30 to show at the ship, which worked fairly well. From the time we arrived at the first checkpoint, we were on the ship within 10 minutes. Excellent. The ship earns its high ratings. More than 90% of all staterooms have balconies which serves multiple purposes. We purposely chose an inside room, preferring instead to save $1,500 to use for our next cruise. The ship is laid out very well both horizontally and vertically. You can navigate the ship from the bow to the stern on the 5th, 6th, 7th, 14th, and 15th decks. With the majority of rooms on the 8th-12th decks, it is easy to access a public floor above or below (it should be pointed out that the 13th deck is skipped, so the 14th is actually immediately above the 12th). Our inside stateroom was roomy and well-equipped. In fact, I never heard anyone complain about their stateroom during the cruise. Again, we don't spend much time there, but were completely comfortable for sleeping and, er... never mind. The atrium area is typically ornate and serves as a 4-floor hub to every public room. The restaurants are forward on the 5th and 6th floor, the show theaters are forward and aft respectively on the 7th floors, and the bars, night clubs and specialty restaurants are on the 7th floor mid-ship. The 8th floor has the game room and library across from one another as well as some offices and such. The top of the ship is for the more adventurous. The Horizon Buffet is in the front of the 14th floor, the outdoor and then indoor pool and Jacuzzi areas are behind that, and the gym is in the aft. The 15th floor allows for outdoor deck walking around the ship, shuffle board and basketball. All in all, compared to some ships, we felt like we were always close to everything and enjoyed traversing the ship throughout the day. Food Among the suggestions we have for relatively inexperienced cruisers is the very strong one to utilize the sit-down restaurants for the majority of your meals. Most passengers choose to use the Horizon Court Buffet for breakfast and lunch. We contend that most will be happier and healthier in the restaurant for these meals. The quality of the meals is excellent and the service is quite rapid. The second food recommendation is to take advantage of the "traditional" seating arrangement. Developing a nice rapport with your waiter and, if you choose, table mates can be a lot of fun. Anyway, we found the dining room food excellent nearly every night, particularly the last 3 when crab legs, lobster, and prime rib/ scallops were offered. The service provided by our Romanian waiter was awesome—friendly and efficient. There are only 3 places to spend food money on the ship: Sabatini's ($20), Bayou ($15), and ice cream ($1.50-$4.00). We ate at Sabatini's one night. The event was quite enjoyable and the food was varied and expensive-looking. There is no way to go home hungry and the staff was top notch. Were we to do it again, we would probably choose the same night as Italian night in the restaurant, as you will not want for anything Italian again after your Sabatini night. As fun as it was, I do have to admit that we found the scallops and lobster to be better (by far) later in the week in the dining room. In addition to these options, there is afternoon pizza in the pool area on the 14th floor, and chicken, beef and veggie burgers on the 15th. Room service is available 24-hours per day, but cash tips are encouraged. Partying Not a strong suit this particular week. There are several nice venues, but a couple of them are too smoky for me, and the others couldn't seem to gain much traction. The bar entertainment was pleasant, but oriented toward folks a decade or two older than us. Between hiking, the gym and overeating, we were ready for bed, anyway. Entertainment The staff was pleasant and I liked all three comediennes. By request of my brother-in-law, we didn't go to any of the production shows. Peter the Cruise Director is a sickeningly-sweet guy who says "respective," "indeed," and a few other terms every time he opens his mouth. His jokes were purposely- bad, but that got old. Not to complain, but we were all rather tired of his shtick by the end of the week. Ports, Sailing and Excursions Sorry to say, we chose no excursions. Some looked fairly interesting, but they were extremely overpriced. $300 to fly 20 minutes in a little airplane? $1600 to have a hummer and a driver? $65 for glorified shopping tours? Crazy unless your vacation budget lacks limits, or if you absolutely do not want to miss anything in your one lifetime trip to Alaska. So, we explored other options. In Ketchikan, we walked into the contrived town. My wife spent most of "our" time on Creek Street, which is a narrow walking road over and alongside of a creek. It was probably more interesting as a red light district. At this point, the street simply houses 101 gift shops. I have to admit, there were some good prices for fairly nice Chinese-Alaskan merchandise. There was an artsy-bookstore and an adjacent museum that may have been worthwhile. I only used it for the public restroom. We walked up the hill to the salmon hatchery, bald eagle preserve, and totem pole museum. It was $12 for everything, or $5-7 per venue. We declined after learning there were only two live bald eagles (no idea how many carcasses). Juneau was a nicer stop. We took a shuttle bus to the Mendenhall Glacier ($7 each way). It was nice, but paled in comparison to the glaciers we would encounter while on the ship farther north. We had friends do the same thing, but hike on the trails behind and above the glacier for a couple of hours. They enjoyed it very much. For myself, I went on a more aggressive hike a 3+ mile, 1,800' climb to the mountain peak above the cruise ships. It was awesome, as I never saw a human being or heard a vehicle for the entire 2 hours. It may not have been smart taking a hike in such secluded land in the heart of brown bear country during pre-hibernation fattening season. But, we saw a bear scarfing down salmon like crazy on the river bed, so I think they were happy taking the path of least resistance. Still, it was a bit eerie. Upon reaching the summit, I found out that the $25 gondola only costs $5 for the trip down, and they waived that for me. I suppose I was a pitiful sight, rain-beaten and exhausted. In any case, it afforded room in my budget for a $6.00 pint at the famous Red Dog Saloon. Despite poor reviews and jokes made by the ship's comedian, Skagway was our favorite destination. My wife loved the inexpensive downtown shopping. I loved the bars. My buddies took another long hike, this one around Small Lake and Big Lake. You can walk right from town, and will enjoy fantastic scenery. During the day, I ran into our room guy from the ship along with a couple of his work buddies, and we had a blast playing pool and sharing a few cold ones. The cruising days were just awesome. Glacier Bay, College Fjords, and the Inside Passage were all tremendously beautiful. We saw many whales, hundreds of sea lions, dozens of otters, and even a bear from the ship. We spent all of this time in bathing suits on the 14th deck, utilizing the indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis between viewing opportunities. While not perfectly clear, the visibility was generally perfect. Disembarkation was a piece of cake, and the drive from Whittier to Anchorage beautiful. For other thrifty people, we found a bus service for $35/person (as opposed to $55 via Princess). Then, we rented a car for around $40 and toured all around Anchorage, including a trip back to the south where we went to an Indian village and the wildlife preserve. This cost the 4 of us around $20 each including entry fees, compared to the $100 excursion that included less stops. Small criticisms: Pool towel exchange should be moved to the pool area. In the cold and humidity, they got soaking wet very quickly. The outdoor Jacuzzis were perfect the first day. For the remaining time, they were around 90 degrees, which is way too cold. The indoor ones were 104, which is too hot for an extended period. The deck guys would never let me talk to engineering directly, so all we every got were promises. The viewing from the front of the ship is VERY poor. The tinted panels rise 7.5', making them impossible to see over, and the slits between are too small. While there is plenty of viewing along the side and back of the ship, there were MANY times we wanted to look at things in front of the ship, but couldn't. I don't take issue with paying for drinks and premium coffee concoctions. But, I see no reason for ice cream to cost extra, or for the stand to take up such a prominent place on the deck. The internet was ridiculously expensive ($.75/ minute, down to $.50/ with a huge contract). The entertainment schedule is just plain weird. There were different start times practically every night, two shows some, one others. Final Analysis Aside from these tiny, little, things, the week was perfect. They certainly have earned "benefit of the doubt" booking from me, meaning I'd pay a $50 premium to take a nice Princess ship compared to RC or Carnival. Alaska is now our favorite destination unless the euro drops like a rock. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We booked this cruise thru Princess on line last January in celebration of our 40th Wedding Anniversary. We have both always wanted to see the Panama Canal up close and chose to do the full transit from LA to FLL. We booked our own ... Read More
We booked this cruise thru Princess on line last January in celebration of our 40th Wedding Anniversary. We have both always wanted to see the Panama Canal up close and chose to do the full transit from LA to FLL. We booked our own flights arriving the same morning as embarkment. Used Princess transfers both for embarkment and disembarkment they both went quite smooth and had no issues. I have read many reviews and other things on these boards regarding upgrade fairy and such so this might be interesting to some. Our cruise was set for Thursday, September 18th and on Monday, September 15th I received an e-mail from Princess offering the following, which I could not or should say did not take advantage of. We had booked a BC balcony cabin on the Port side which I had picked out because of location. The offer was if I would postpone our trip until after December they would upgrade me to a mini suite and only charge for one passenger instead of two. They also offered $200 towards changing our air. This threw me into a tizzy because of the good deal that was being offered. Talked to my husband and we decided that we needed this vacation now and so declined. Just wanted to let everyone know that it does happen. Embarkment was easy and quick. We arrived around 11:30 and we were on the ship by 11:45. They really have this down pat. The ship is beautiful and well laid out in our opinion. Found our cabin B528 balcony on the Port side of ship and went inside to check it out and get rid of our carry-on. Husband had ordered roses and they were waiting for me. Very nice flowers but only lasted 3 days. He went and ordered more flowers, the tropical ones. Mentioned that the roses only lasted a few days and they only charged him half for the tropical ones. I felt that was a nice gesture. They were beautiful and lasted the entire cruise. Went up to the Buffet for lunch then back to our cabin for our life jackets and then off to the Muster drill. I like the way Princess does this because we met in the lounge and it was all quite painless and quick. Sail away took place at 4:00 pm and then it was time to explore the ship. We had chosen anytime dinning because it fits our life style. That went easy each time we chose to dine in the dinning room. I have to admit most of the time we ate at the Buffet because we don't really enjoy making every dinner an event that can last up to 2 hours. Both the dinning room and the Buffet had good to great food. But must admit after 2 weeks the food all seems the same, at least the newness has worn off. We celebrated our 40th Anniversary while on the ship and let them know about it before the cruise. We had balloons on our door and a free cake with happy anniversary sung by the staff at dinner. It all made for a special day. Our cabin was a nice size and loved the balcony. It made it seems so much bigger. The bathrooms are small but knew it would be. Brought an over the door organizer and that worked out great for all those small items that do not have a place for them. Plenty of storage for clothes and suitcases. We booked our excursions thru Princess because of the various Ports that we were not sure about safety wise. We were quite pleased with all of our choices. Huatulco, Mexico did the Rural Communities & Traditions Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala did the Filadelfia Coffee Estate and Antigua Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua did the Leon Viejo & Colonial Leon with Lunch Puntarenas, Costa Rica did the Train Ride & Mangrove Nature Cruise Panama Canal was an all day event. We really enjoyed watching from various locations thru out the ship including our balcony and the "secret" decks on the Baja Deck. This day was fantastic! Cartegena, Columbia did Cartegena "Old City" walking tour Aruba we did on our own. We have vacationed here before so ventured out on our own. We would highly recommend this cruise to anyone and everyone who would like to see the Canal up close and personal. The Coral is a wonderful ship and we hoped to be on her again some day. One more thing that was great was the seas were calm every day and had some fantastic lightening storms in the distance. Smooth Sailing Myke and Linda Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Coral Princess to Alaska Cruisetour July 25 - August 4, 2008 Part I - Land Tour We (myself and my mother) decided to take a Princess.com offer for a cruisetour with the booking of a mini-suite last winter. We had traveled the Coral ... Read More
Coral Princess to Alaska Cruisetour July 25 - August 4, 2008 Part I - Land Tour We (myself and my mother) decided to take a Princess.com offer for a cruisetour with the booking of a mini-suite last winter. We had traveled the Coral Princess on a Panama Canal partial transit, so the choice of ship was easy. Alaska is the last of the 50 states Mom was to visit, so this was a special vacation for both of us. We departed Orlando on Friday morning, via Alaska Air (booked through Princess). Princess does a great job of getting passengers and their luggage to their first stop. You pick up your room keys and itinerary from the tour desk in the luggage area, tag your luggage and board the coach for transfer to the hotel. Also included in the information package is a Lodge Princess Patter and information about Fairbanks. Our first night was spent at the Fairbanks Princess Lodge, within 15 minutes our luggage arrived and we were off to explore the hotel and Fairbanks. The weather was beautiful, 70ish; we had dinner on the terrace overlooking the river. After dinner we took the shuttle to downtown Fairbanks, our driver was a local and pointed out the main points of the city. Back at the lodge, we transferred some clothes from one suitcase to the other, tagged the suitcase that would join us at the ship and the one to travel with us and retired for the evening. Saturday morning was a little gray, but it brightened by the time we took our tour. I tried the reindeer sausage for breakfast (very much like Polish kielbasa); when in Alaska... We were then off to the Discovery Riverboat cruise. This was a great tour, the riverboat has been operated by the same family for many years and the Captain's commentary is outstanding. We viewed a floatplane taking off and landing, a dogsled demonstration and then stopped at a recreated Athabascan village. After lunch in town at a wonderful Italian restaurant (Gambardella's Pasta Bella) and some fudge for dessert from the Fudge Pot, we boarded the coach for the trip to Denali. Again, our driver was a very informative local, who discussed points of interest on the way. Upon reaching Denali National Park, it was raining and it would do so on and off through Monday. The weather was cold and damp during our stay here. (Low to mid 50s). The accommodations at the Princess Lodge were great. Again, upon arrival we were handed a packet with our room key, Princess Patter and tour information. We had dinner at the Base Camp Bistro, looked around a little... it was raining pretty hard and retired for the night. In the morning we had the Natural History Tour, but before that we had the most wonderful cinnamon buns at the River Run Espresso. The tour was a minor disappointment, we didn't get to see Denali... and the wildlife didn't cooperate much either, we did see a moose, snow hare and a Willow Ptarmigan and her chicks (Alaskan National Bird). But I have to say that the scenery was spectacular and the tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the park and its history as well as passionate about Alaska and preserving the wilderness. After the tour, we crossed the road to "Glitter Gulch" and checked out some of the shops. In the evening we went to the Music of Denali dinner theater. Good food and wonderful entertainment. On Monday morning we tagged our luggage for transfer to the ship, had breakfast and boarded the Denali Express for a 9-hour ride in a domed observation train. They serve snacks throughout and there is a dining car available also. It was a wonderful scenic ride through Alaska. We saw Dall Sheep, waterfalls, running rivers, glaciers, picturesque town and view, way too much to describe here. When we arrived in Anchorage Princess employees boarded the train, they verified our passports and documents and processed us for boarding the ship. When we got to Whittier we were issued our Sea Passes, crossed the street, through security and boarded. Since it was already 6:30, we were handed a card for dining room service at 8:15. The majority of our luggage was already in the cabin and the rest arrived by the time we had returned from the safety drill. I can't say enough about land tour portion of this trip, the accommodations were wonderful, and the tours were great and well planned. A little dampness and not seeing Denali certainly didn't put a "damper" on this portion of the trip. Part II - Cruising Southbound We booked a mini-suite balcony on this trip, and we certainly weren't sorry we had a balcony. Even when it was too cool to sit on the balcony, the views it afforded were great. Our first stop was College Fjord, the fog lifted and the sun shone as we reached the terminus. The explanations of the naturalist onboard were wonderful; she had great tidbits of info and history of the glaciers. We ate breakfast in the Horizon Court and watched as the ship did its 360° turn observing the glaciers and there was a bear and her cubs along the shore. The weather was so beautiful I spent the afternoon reading on the balcony and watching the scenery. The first evening was the formal night and for the most part the passengers did it up right. The production show was "Motor City" (Motown songs) and I thought it was very good. Our second day was spent in Glacier Bay; the National Park Service boards the ship and does the narration. The views here are indescribable, again the weather was gorgeous, the park ranger said it was the first time they had seen the sun in 2 weeks. Again the ship does a 360°, there were plenty of small ice flows and we experience the Marjorie Glacier caving. We stopped at the Hopkins Glacier when we exited the bay, and watched a waterfall exiting from the bottom of the glacier. The second highlight of the day was at the mouth of Prince William Sound, we got to view whales doing their thing for about 30 minutes, and it was a real treat. Day 3 stop was Skagway, the weather was not what it had been the previous two days, it was drizzling and foggy. We took the White Pass Railway, which follows the route taken by the men of the gold rush. It was interesting and with the high trestle bridges and sheer drops, it isn't for the faint of heart. When we got back we walked into town and browsed a bit before going back to the ship. The entertainment that night was another production show, again very good. Our next stop was Juneau, and Mother Nature smiled on us here too, we had sunshine, according to our tour guide, for the first time in a month. We did the Mendenhall Glacier and whale watching, both were wonderful. The whale watching was especially exciting, as we saw a ton of whales. The glacier has created is own lake and is a beautifully tranquil spot. This evening we didn't do the show in the Princess Theater, it was a comedian/hypnotist. We did however do the show in the Universe Lounge it was headlined by Adrian Zmed (T.J. Hooker fame). It was a great performance, with backup by the Princess Dancers. The last port was Ketchikan, again we lucked out with a sunny day. Our tour was Eagles, Lighthouses and Totems, another wonderful tour, we saw 15 eagle nests and over 2 dozen eagles. We stopped by Bight Park and viewed the Totem Poles from the boat. Here we had time to walk around the city, visit Creek Street and do some shopping. This night was our second formal night, this night I found that people did not dress up quite as much, as a matter of fact, I found that the dress in the dining room was rather "lax". Our last day was a sea day and again the weather cooperated, I had some balcony time and again the scenery was beautiful. We entered Vancouver harbor and got wonderful view of Lion's Gate Bridge, disembarkation was very smooth. We were doing an overview tour of the city and then dropped at the airport. This was a great cruisetour and I would do it again. It was well worth the money. The tours were great and the tour operators were informative and passionate about Alaska. Finally, I want to say that Alaska is spectacular and in most cases beyond words and I say "do it" if you get the chance. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Vancouver: We arrived the night before our cruise and got a last-minute "deal" through Priceline for a 4-star hotel, Marriott Pinnacle Downtown, for $125. I reserved a room 10 months in advance at the YWCA Hotel and kept bidding, ... Read More
Vancouver: We arrived the night before our cruise and got a last-minute "deal" through Priceline for a 4-star hotel, Marriott Pinnacle Downtown, for $125. I reserved a room 10 months in advance at the YWCA Hotel and kept bidding, finally 2 days before we left I nabbed a deal. The "Y" has a 24-hour cancellation policy with no prepayment. Marriott location was very good, taxi fare to Canada Place was about $5 plus tip, and we could walk to Gastown and around Downtown. We took the "Hop On Hop Off" Trolley which is $35 for a 2-day ticket. Was a good way to get to Granville Island and Stanley Park. The weather was cool and sometimes misty. Embarkation: Since we only had Sunday a.m. to take the trolley, we didn't arrive at Canada Place until about 2:00 p.m. No lines, no waiting, and our luggage was delivered to our stateroom quickly. It was misty for Sail Away so nothing special was planned. Different from the Caribbean cruises we've taken. Stateroom: We like the Caribe balcony because of it's size. Part is covered and part uncovered, which is not a big deal to us (let 'em look!) Tip: have your TA or call Princess before you cruise to request an egg crate mattress topper and down pillows. Oh so comfy! I took a 4-cup electric coffeepot (get one with auto shutoff) and we had coffee every a.m. (which I sometimes took to the Horizon Court) and hot chocolate with marshmallows while cruising. I don't care for the syrup coffee and like the real deal. The stateroom is well laid out, and there are 2 sturdy hooks on the bathroom door to hang organizer bags. I couldn't find an adult shoe bag and ended up with a kid's one from the dollar store, but it fit perfectly on the towel rack. Kept everything in view. Plenty of closet hanging space and I also brought small plastic "S" hooks for the clothes bar. Our steward was Marlon "Brando" Castro and he was very good. Our safe battery signaled "low" when we arrived and someone was there within 5 minutes to replace it. Everything worked, everything was neat and clean. Take additional electrical plug-in's. I took an extension cord that worked fine rather than a power strip. (electronic's junkie!) We also brought wine aboard in plain sight. Remember your binoculars!!! We had a small magnetic marker board that was so handy in leaving notes as to where we were and a place for others to communicate with us. Dining: We had Anytime Dining that was okay for the most part. On the first night we waited a lonnnng time for the entrEe, but there were 10 of us at a table. Seems like we chose to dine other nights when everyone else was hungry, but we just waited at the bar lounge with friends and enjoyed a martini or two. They give you a blinking pager, but keep checking with the maitre 'd for progress. I found that good humor and pleasant attitude helped, as he recognized us after the first night and always tried to seat us quickly. You can call in the morning for reservations, but we never did and either sat with friends who'd made reservations or wherever a space was available. Dined one night with 2 ladies and then found out they were in the stateroom next to ours! Food was good, not spectacular but good. I ordered 1 desert and 1 ice cream every night (or more). If you see an entrEe that you like but not the "sides," they can substitute if it's on the menu for the evening. One night we wanted steamed asparagus and they brought a plate of it. Or fettuccine alfredo as a side dish. Just ask. The pizza was good. Afternoon tea was fun with a string quartet. Entertainment: Went to the singing and dancing show in the Universal Lounge one night and it was their usual fare. We didn't go to anything else as it seemed like we dined late. The martini mixer on the first night was fun (in the Atrium). The Casino slots were not friendly to me until the end. I played the 2-cent machine and got over $200. Cashed out and said "thank you very much." They have poker tournaments and $3 blackjack tables. Ship Layout: We never seemed crowded. Some nights it was almost deserted. Look for the color of the border on your hallway carpet so you can tell which way to turn when you get off the elevator or stairs. If the weather is nasty, walk to the front of the ship and then take the elevator to Deck 14 at the Horizon Court. The Caribe also has a place at the front where you can go through a door marked "Caribe Deck 10" and then a brass plaque by the handle stating to be used for emergency use. Go through it and then through a wood door and you'll find yourself out on a deck for perfect viewing of wildlife and glaciers on either side of the ship. Verrry cold and windy so be prepared or you'll be walking back to your cabin for earmuffs and gloves. Hardly anyone goes there and it's a great place to take photos. There is a self-laundry with irons on a couple of the decks - I know there is one on Caribe. Not all elevators go to the same floors. The central elevator is different from the ones on each end. You can enjoy a gorgeous view from Crooners Bar, and there is a Cigar Lounge for smokers. Ports of Call: We didn't plan excursions through Princess and booked an independent tour in Skagway through Chilkoot Charters. Ketchikan: Lucky us....sunny warm day. We walked to Creek Street and looked at the shops. If you need to get to the internet, you can access 15 min. free at the public library located in the Museum beside the entry to Creek Street. Sign up early for a time slot. Take the tramway for $2 to the Cape Fox Lodge (on Creek Street). There are a few totems outside the lodge and you can get a wonderful view of the port. The fish and chips on the dock at the Alaskan Surf are some of the best I've ever had. Juneau: Many ships in port and hordes of people! It was misty in the morning when we took the Mt. Roberts Tramway, but still got a good view at the top. Many of the trails were closed, however. We ate halibut fish and chips at the Red Dog Saloon - very tasty. The place really gets crowded. There are tour groups along the docks so we decided later to take one to Mendenhall Glacier. For $37 each you can take a van tour with M & M Tours that lasts about 2 1/2 - 3 hours. We were the only ones on the 3:30 p.m. tour, and our driver John had lived there all his life and spent as much or little time at the included sites. It was such a nice time, so relaxed. He even turned back down the highway so I could get a photo of an eagle. A nice budget tour and no planning needed. Just wait and see what the weather is like. Skagway: The Coral was the only ship in port so it wasn't crowded. We walked to the pickup point at the end of the dock (Coral provides a free shuttle as well) and met the Chilkoot Charter small tour bus. Everyone in our Cruise Critic Roll Call that signed up for this tour got on the same bus so we had a rowdy time and a fun driver, Sunday. Because we'd all read the posts on this forum, we all boarded the train car (which is one for Chilkoot Tour only) on the left side and no one was on the right side! What a funny sight! I spent most of my time on the rear platform videoing the trip (and it was chilly). We went on to the Yukon (Carcross) by bus and had lunch and saw the musher dogs and puppies. Stopped at Emerald Lake for photos, or any place else that we had time to view. I can't say enough good things about this trip and would encourage you to contact them. Whittier: We pre-arranged transportation to the Anchorage Airport to pick up rental cars through Alaskan Transportation. Good rate and we stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservatory on the way. I reserved a Pontiac Grand Prix through Alamo for 7 days for $373 last September. Sure glad I did. Prices are much higher if you wait. Do it as early as possible. Seward: Stayed at a B & B that we reserved through Alaska Point of View. Nice clean place and reasonable (Linda Lou's B & B). I believe they may have a website now. We drove to Exit Glacier and hiked the trail to take photos. Many places to eat in Seward so just pick one. We ate at Marina's and it was okay. I think the one downtown is recommended but we ate at the one on the dock. You can stop by the Chamber of Commerce for information and the ladies are very helpful. The next afternoon we took the Kenai Fjords Tour at 3 p.m. Luck was on our side as there were hardly any waves and it was sunny. No whitecaps! They stopped to pick up a salmon dinner on the way and it was delicious! The boat was a 2-story catamaran but I think there were only about 40-50 people on it. Never too crowded to get those once-in-a-lifetime photo shots. The Captain narrated throughout and the crew was knowledgeable as well. We stayed on the bottom deck and I think it's easier to get photos from there as we could walk all the way around the ship from back to front. We used our 2/1 coupon in the Alaska Toursaver Book, which I brought home with many unused coupons. That morning we took a drive out on Nash Road that ends at the prison and saw a black bear beside the road eating plants. Great photos!!! Also heard there was a moose and baby at the post office but didn't get around to going there to get a photo. Denali: Drove from Seward to the McKinley Princess Lodge (another 2/1 coupon) and then had dinner in Talkeetna later at Mountain High Pizza Pie...great food. The McKinley Princess is remote, but the view of Mount McKinley is spectacular. Didn't get to see the mountain until the next afternoon, but we stayed up and had pub dinner and drinks on the deck and took sunset pictures. Wow! The next a.m. we also got pictures at breakfast, but a cloud was settling over the peak. Wish we had gotten up about an hour early. The lodge is not auto friendly...very little parking close to your room. It's a beautiful place and very rustic. They have 4 computers to check e-mail. Lots of Princess tour busses coming and going. Food and drink reasonable for Alaska. Oh, try the Alaska Brewery Rasberry Wheat Ale!!! The next day we took the Denali National Park "school bus" tour to the Eielsen Center (66 miles). Our driver was Dale Ebben and his passion is the Park. He's a computer nerd by winter and lives and works at Denali in the summer. He narrated along the way to the Center and then we had a more laid back trip back. Stopped on the way back to watch a grizzly mama and 2 cubs come down the mountain. He made several stops whenever he saw wildlife and shut off the bus engine so we could just watch. For the money, this is a great tour. If you are a "senior" get a pass before making reservations, as the one they sell is for 7-days only and you can't get a refund by buying a senior pass at the Visitor Center. They also have a longer tour but this one suited our needs. There's a Denali South Lookout Point along the Park Road Highway at about mile 137 (est.). Anchorage: We left the Lodge and went to Talkeetna for a Mt. McKinley Summit Tour through Talkeetna Aero. I made the mistake of taking my "earplanes" out of my purse, and when they saw that they wouldn't let me fly. The plane goes 21,000 feet and is not pressurized. I BEGGED but they wouldn't let me go. This was a 2/1 coupon and they refunded my half. We ate in Talkeetna at Wildflower Cafe...excellent! From there we took a side road at Wasilla to Hatcher Pass and the Independence Mine State Park. Beautiful scenery. Then on to Anchorage and the G Street B & B. It's an older house but the owners are very nice and the breakfast was so good. Great location near downtown. We ate dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse - excellent food! You will have to wait almost 45 minutes to be seated. This was the Mayor's Midnight Solstice Run weekend and that may have made it more crowded. Next day was Saturday and we went to the Market on 3rd street. Good place for souvenirs, especially a quality ulu. We ate a late lunch near Tudor Street at the Sea Galley for our last "halibut" fish and chips fix. Drove to Chugach Park for a super view of Anchorage before we left for the airport and a 7-hour ride home plus 3-hour time change. This was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend putting in the time to plan the trip yourself. This forum has been invaluable for help and I so appreciate everyone who takes time to share their knowledge. Our Roll Call had about 50 members at our Meet and Greet, and Princess provided a place and dry snacks for us. We have a website that might be helpful to some of you for future plans at http://alaskacruiser.home.sprynet.com. You can contact me through the e-mail link. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
After one week on land in rental car, embarked from Whittier, using Princess bus transfer service from Anchorage. Transfer was smooth and pleasant, although it was inconvenient that we had to check-in that AM at Anchorage Convention Center ... Read More
After one week on land in rental car, embarked from Whittier, using Princess bus transfer service from Anchorage. Transfer was smooth and pleasant, although it was inconvenient that we had to check-in that AM at Anchorage Convention Center to get time of transfer. Bus ride to Whittier was made more pleasant by scenery and driver who gave narrative of area. Embarkation lines were longer than on other cruises, mostly because 3 bus loads of people arrived at same time, due partly to scheduled tunnel opening to get to Whittier. Still, it was all organized and pleasant. Found our 2 mini-suites, one for husband and me and one for our 2 near-adult children, ages 17 and 22. Large, beautiful, clean - adequate storage. Bedding was not arranged properly in kids cabin (should have been 2 twins, was not) but quickly fixed by cabin attendant. Upon arrival on ship guests are given assignment for dinner seating for that night only - ours was at 5:30, which was fine with us since we never really stopped for lunch. Unpacked, checked out some of the ship. We immediately noticed that most passengers were in the 55-75 age group. There were a few children but, as we expected, saw no one in age group of our kids. Usual lifeboat drill was held completely within one of the theatres, unlike other cruises where we had to actually go stand on a deck. Our cabin had only one life vest in it - I informed my husband that he would have to swim if we sank, and our kids told us life expectancy in Alaska waters was so short it would not matter. Despite several requests, never got another life vest. Next 2 days were glacier sailings. Views were spectacular, both from our balcony and decks of ship. There was a "naturalist" giving narrative over PA system - she was not very good, but easy to ignore. On second day, glacier viewing was cut short by passenger requiring emergency medical evacuation. While disappointing, it was reassuring to see lengths cruiseline would go to get passenger off ship (sailing 3 hours at higher speed, transfer passenger to lifeboat, take to ranger station, transport from there, wait for lifeboat to get back to ship) First port was Skagway. Unless one took rail tour, this is not an interesting town. Lots of the usual cruiseline-owned jewelry and t-shirt shops. Dtr and I did enjoy culinary demonstration and garden tour at Skagway Inn. Husband and son did independent hike with benefit of map from ranger station. In Juneau splurged and did Mendenhall glacier helicopter landing and glacier walk-around. While I was somewhat scared at going in tiny helicopter, the glacier and views made it worthwhile. Then to Salmon Bake by bus - it was a nice break from ship food, but skippable. Never did see much of Juneau. Ketchikan 3 of us went on rainforest zipline adventure and I did rainforest walk. Saw a bear. Both very enjoyable. Final day was at sea - for us a nice chance to relax after 2 1/2 weeks away from home - and there was surprisingly great scenery and sea mammal sightings. We did later traditional dining. Food was very good - always something we liked, and service was exceptional. Our waiter made sure our 22 year old son had plenty of main courses - including a small ton of crab legs on crab leg night. She was also knowledgeable about making recommendations off menu. We ate lunches at buffet, which was above average for cruise lunch buffet. Same with breakfast. Our son ate his share of pizza and proclaimed it excellent. Never did any late night dining nor did we try specialty restaurants. One interesting note is that this group of passengers was an early-to-bed bunch. Husband, son and I tried one night around 11:30 to get a drink in a ship bar, found only 2 open, and then it was "last call" just as we got our drinks. Not that we wanted to party all night, but walking back to our cabins, we saw virtually no other passengers at a little after midnight. And, being Alaska, it was still light at that hour! Other things we enjoyed - demonstration by head chef and galley tour, National Park Service narration one day (as opposed to that of naturalist), service by excellent cabin steward, efficient room service, comfortable bedding, surplus of hangers in closet. Dress was far less formal than warm-weather cruises I have taken, even on "formal nights". Most people wore jeans and fleeces all day and for evening almost business-casual. Saw only one long dress and about 2 tuxes. Ship temperature inside was comfortable all the time - but it is cold in Alaska in June (yes, I knew that, but it took a while to register) and we found ourselves in shorts on day catching some balcony sun when it was 61 degrees - and thinking it was quite warm for a change. There was an indoor pool, lightly used, and saw only a few hearty souls in outdoor pool. Even hot tubs lightly used. Great cruise, great ship, great staff. Very different atmosphere from Caribbean cruise, but enjoyable. Best part was excursions, which were expensive but not unreasonably so considering what and where they were. Balcony was nice to have, but if money were an issue I would skip the balcony and spend the money on excursions. I would not suggest this cruise for families with little kids or teens if they hoped to meet other young people on board. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
The following is a review of our Alaskan adventure aboard the Coral Princess that sailed from Whittier AK on June 16, 2008. We celebrated my wife's 50th birthday and our 16th anniversary during the voyage. We splurged a little and got ... Read More
The following is a review of our Alaskan adventure aboard the Coral Princess that sailed from Whittier AK on June 16, 2008. We celebrated my wife's 50th birthday and our 16th anniversary during the voyage. We splurged a little and got a full sized suite. We had a wonderful time and a definite must do (both itinerary and ship) for anyone wondering whether this cruise is for him or her. I will offer some critiques that hopefully Princess will notice...these would have made the overall experience exceptional versus a great one. We flew to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines direct from San Francisco. Great flight, very attentive flight attendants...good start to the trip. In Anchorage Airport, baggage claim is fairly simple and relatively quick. Taxi ride to town was about $23. Anchorage is a good starting point, a lot of shops, restaurants and a shopping mall for those that may have forgot to pack an item of clothing, like a swimming suit or just 1 shoe (as one of our party did). We stayed at the Marriott which was average (I stay at a lot of hotels on business trips)...this one was average. A definite must - request a room up above 10 stories - Cook Inlet side....the view of the sweeping inlet is worth the extra request. It costs nothing extra for an inlet view room. The Hilton looks nice and a bit more convenient to the shops, restaurants and Egan Center. The most convenient to Egan Center would be the Westmark, which also appeared nice. All are within walking distance of the Egan Center (Marriott - 5 blocks, Hilton - 3 blocks, West mark - 2 blocks). We dined at the Snow Goose (1st Street) - a brewery and pub with that rustic Alaskan dEcor. Highly suggested for lunch or dinner. More upscale, Club Paris (a steakhouse) is great (a recommend from my business colleagues who travel to Anchorage) and located across the street from JC Penney. There are many restaurants to choose from, just ask the front desk of the hotel for a recommend. All are easy walking distance in the downtown area. Transfer to the ship - we took the Princess transfer from the Egan Center to the ship. We had looked into the train (completely booked) and the comedy bus. As we did not take those alternative forms of transportation, I am sure there are many pluses...but we did note that the train brought many people all at once creating a long embarkation security check line each time a train arrived. The view from the bus is essentially the same as the train as the tracks run along the same highway. From the bus, our embarkation took about 12 minutes. On the comedy bus....we saw one that was an old school bus (don't know if that is just a local pick up bus or ...anyone planning this should check). Those going to the Egan Center: Princess does have things set up to check in your bag early (we did at 9 AM). You can also do a drop off your carry- on similar to leaving your carry-on with the bellman at a hotel. You can then retrieve your carry-on with your claim check. The service is free. This allows you to explore downtown Anchorage and even have early lunch as there is absolutely nothing happening at the Egan Center until your bus departure time. When you check in at the Egan Center, you will get your bus assignment. Buses left 12:30, 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00. All make the ship with plenty of time to explore the ship before dinner. The bus trip takes approximately 90 minutes with several photo stops. After you get out of Anchorage proper, the highway winds along the shore of the Turnagin Arm of Cook Inlet. The driver pointed out many historical and interesting sites and cracked some groaner jokes...but a fun trip. Do bring a bottle of water and perhaps a sack or two, if you must, as there is no beverage or food service on the bus or at the stops. There is a bathroom on board the bus. The scenery, glaciers immediately before the Whittier tunnel and the 2 1/2 mile tunnel are impressive. When you pop out the Whittier end of the tunnel, instant inlet with ship! The ship - The Coral Princess is stunningly beautiful. You enter into the Plaza deck atrium area (Deck 5). The sweeping staircases and glass elevators provide a grand accent to this lovely space in the ship. There is a lounge in the atrium on Plaza deck (5) and Promenade deck (7). The latter is the Crooners lounge that serves up great martini's. The two main dining rooms (Bordeaux and Provenance) and the Wheelhouse lounge are just off the atrium (near the glass elevators). These areas are very nicely appointed. On chilly days or rainy ones too, Crooners is a lovely place to meet with newly made friends in an elegant atmosphere. The Internet Cafe is on Emerald deck (8) in the atrium as well. Note: Internet is frustratingly slow while the charged minutes tick away!!! Throughout the atrium is a hotspot that you can use your wireless through the Princess wireless system. Though slow, it is much better than using the provided desktops, which are extremely slow. My recommend, if you have to e-mail; wait till you are in port and use a wireless provider. Fiesta deck (6) has gift shops, jewelry and sundry shops in the atrium. The casino is on Fiesta deck (slots - penny, two cent, nickel, quarter and dollar slots; and the usual compliment of table games - minimums tended to be $3 on blackjack cards up and $5 on other tables). Except for smoking, which is allowed in the casino (except for one designated no smoking evening); the casino was fun and lively. Note unlike Vegas, drinks are not free! The slots do take US currency or you can charge to your room. Along the main hallway on Fiesta deck (6) is the photo store (yes, these folks take many photos and post them for your purchasing pleasure - the photographers are pretty good - I don't photo well, so we just bought the embarkation photo). Also on Fiesta is Explorers Lounge - great Karaoke and a very good band that played late. Promenade deck (7) have the upscale restaurants (Sabatini's and Bayou Cafe) which I will mention later. On deck: Lido deck (14) and Sun deck (15) are the pools and lounge chairs. Despite being an Alaska cruise, we had great sunny, 70-degree weather on two days that brought out the pool and sun worshippers. For the Alaska cruise; one pool and two spas are indoor and the others are open air, so something for everybody. There were also lounges on Promenade deck (7) that did not catch as much draft as the upper decks. Great place the curl up with a book and hot cocoa! Shows and presentations are in the two theaters at either end of the ship (Deck 7 and 6) - the Universe Lounge and the Princess Theater. Both are extremely comfy and enjoyable show venues. The entertainment was good, not exceptional, but entertaining. The restaurants on board offer up something for everyone's taste: * The main dining rooms (Bordeaux and Provenance) were average....the service varied by table. Some waiters/waitresses were very attentive and happy, others were unresponsive and bitter (seems the longer a person was on staff, the less attentive they were - I think the gratuity included on every drink and the daily gratuity charge per person per room is a disincentive to provide good passenger service). Anyway, Food in the main dining room tended to come out on the cold side for the sides (potatoes, veggies)...the entre's were usually warm. Food was average cruise food - I have had better on other cruise lines. Wine prices were actually quite decent - most bottles averaged between $30 and $55 - typical for any mainland restaurant. The staff does hold unfinished wine for the next dinner service in case you cannot finish a bottle in 1 sitting. Also, a decent selection of wines was available by the glass too! Note: the first night is open dining - after that set time based on your wishes when you did your pre-boarding preferences. * Horizon Court - the concept is great - a variety of food goo - but man, the chaos!!! Seems everyone that dined there must have been starved for weeks and could not get enough food. People cut each other off, would grab the serving spoons literally out of your hand. Mix in a very confused layout of the food lines and some older set that would wander around between the food stations aimlessly, and then once you had your food finding a table (finding a parking space in downtown San Francisco or Manhattan would be easier at lunch) - you get the adult version of Chuck-E-Cheese! We avoided this like dining room except for off hours. We did note that some smart folks picked up their food and then went out near the pool and dined versus doing the parking lot cruise hunting for that open table. If you want the buffet, eating out by the pool, does make things a bit more bearable at lunchtime. Food average, fruit and veggies seemed to be more aged than in the dining room, but Ok. Many families dined here with their kids and seemed to "enjoy" it. * Pizza and the Grill - both open 7 AM till 7 PM - Deck 14 and Deck 15 respectively - we found the food much better than either the dining room or Horizon Court during lunch - I suggest this as a great alternative. Note: If too cold outside to dine - pick up a burger/chicken sandwich/hot dog and fries (at the grill) or pizza (cheese, pepperoni or the daily special) and go back to your cabin or into the Horizon Court to eat. During the week, as more passengers "discovered" these two eateries, the popularity grew. Do yourself a favor and find these first! * Ice Cream - Mid deck - Deck 14 (Lido) - great variety of flavors and toppings. There is a nominal charge for food from here, but worth it! Indulge...you're on vacation! The ship has two upscale restaurants Sabatini's and the Bayou Cafe. * Sabatini's is upscale Italian cuisine with a 3 hour tasting menu...hint to all, you get a sample of everything on the menu, taste and pace yourself or you won't make it through the entire dinner. Also, if you don't - the staff will wrap up desert so that you can take it back to your stateroom for nibbling later. Minisuites and suites had small refrigerators -not sure if all the rooms had them. Sabatini's is well worth the $20 pp cover. Wine list is the exact same as the main dining rooms. Another hint, ask for a window side table when making your reservation! * Bayou Cafe - this restaurant is a steakhouse with a nice variety of food. Some spice but not so much that anyone should shy away. A nice variety of southern foods, Cajun and Creole. Our best meal on ship was in this restaurant and well worth the $15 pp cover. Steaks are great and can be blackened, or topped with whatever you desire. Don't be afraid to make requests!! These folks were the most service oriented on the ship. You will do yourself wrong if you don't dine here at least once during your voyage! Stateroom - I had mentioned that we splurged and got a full sized suite....a better word would be SWEET! I know the photo and layout on the Princess website don't help much in trying to envision what the room would be like, so let me try here. You enter into a small 5 ft x 5 ft foyer that opens into a living room that comfortably sits 5...I would say about 10 ft x 7 ft. A desk and a wet bar separate the living room from the foyer. There is a small refrigerator under the TV and a storage cabinet above the TV. Our sofa could open into a second bed. A curtained partition separates the living room from the bedroom. The bedroom has a queen-sized bed with nightstands and lamps on either side. You get about 3 ft around the bed. The nightstands both have drawers. The bedroom opens to a 10 ft x 10 ft dressing area equipped with makeup "desk" lighted makeup mirror, walled dressing mirrors and 8 clothing drawers. Off the dressing room is a walk-in closet that has a "his and hers" clothes hanging area. There are more drawers, storage cabinets and safe in the entry into the closet. There are entries to the bathroom from both the dressing area and the foyer. Off the foyer, the sink and toilet, then an inside door to the shower and tub area. The shower is roomy for a ship! The tub has "jets" to help relax one before bed. Another hint - there is space around the tub if you bring a faux candle or two for the mood (real candles are NOT allowed nor safe!). Our deck was twice the size of the decks of the other cabins and could easily accommodate up to 8 although only 5 chairs and 2 tables are provided. The two desk chairs help if you have friends over (we did). Our deck was partially covered - so if you went to the railing, you could see and speak with the folks above (I mention that for those who desire privacy and want to get out of the rain - if you encounter that - you might want to make sure you check your cabin when booking as many cabins have partial or no covering). Partial was just fine, except when some lame-brained passengers thought it harmless to feed some sea gulls when the ship slowed down in Glacier Bay - first 1 sea gull then fifty! I digress....the deck is great for room service breakfast or lunch! We did both on scenic cruising days (when the naturalist would be on TV talking about the sites as we sailed by). On a cruise like this, the cabin does enhance the experience. Go for it if you can, you will not regret it! The cabin was great!! You do get upgraded amenities in toiletries, live flowers, some complimentary mini-liquors, expedited room service delivery after breakfast (note: breakfast food was typically cold when it arrived - which altered what we ordered - there is no microwave in the cabin - if you want a truly hot breakfast - run up to Horizon Court). Shore excursions - we had three ports of call - Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. We didn't do the Princess tours at Anchorage or Vancouver - we did hear people rave about the Denali excursion for those considering - Denali will probably be the only place you will see bears and moose during your trip as nobody saw any on ship or in the ports mentioned above - we did see humpback whales, orcas, seals, otters and Eagles. Vancouver is a great place (I have been there on business), but I will leave that to others that did Princess excursions. For our three Ports: * Skagway - we took the White Pass & Yukon Railway and Yukon Expedition. As opposed to the brochure description we took the train up and bus back. The train is neat, definitely not as roomy as the Alaska Railway or Amtrak train passenger cars. The seats reminded me of school bus seats. Still breath taking scenery abounds as you climb to the summit. Hint: Bring something to drink and snack on as there is NO food service on the train. There is water from a water cooler, but that's about it for 2 hours. Second hint: bring some paper towels if it is chilly as the window will steam up and prevent good photos. The train trip was super! At Fraser BC, we boarded our bus for Caribou Crossing in the Yukon...a nice drive of about an hour with stops for photos (no food or drinks provided - bring your own - there is a bathroom in the bus). At Caribou Crossing (which is a small wayside of shops, rustic museum, ATV rides and dogsled rides - the latter $30 pp) we joined 17 other tour buses for lunch. Yes, I said 17. People are everywhere. Despite that, the folks at Caribou Crossing moved us through the food line quite quickly (about 10 minutes from bus to picnic table). Food consisted of a BBQ chicken drumstick/thigh (which you could have up to 2), coleslaw, baked potato, bread and mini-donuts. Coffee and/or Ice Tea to drink. There is an ice cream shop, which we went to for a waffle cone after "dining". You could also get soda pop at this ice cream shop. You are at Caribou Crossing for 1 hour - not enough time to go ATV'ing. But enough time to eat, shop in the gift shop, see the husky pups, walk the museum and have an ice cream cone. On the bus back, we stopped at Carcross Yukon. A small railroad stop town with a place where people got their passports stamped. There is a gift shop and food. Hint: Pick up something to drink or munch on as it is 3 hours back by bus with just photo stops. The scenery is great - lots of photos. A definite must do excursion if you like tours. This is an all day thing that leaves about 1 hour in town - the bus will drop you off in town. There is a shuttle that you can catch back to the ship at a nominal cost. * Juneau - we did the Mendenhall Glacier Helicopter Tour and Expedition. As great as the voyage and ship were, this is the top highlight of our trip. After a short bus hop to the helicopter people (Tempsco), you get fitted for ice gripping boots that go over your shoes. Hint: don't bring a lot of stuff (pocket books etc) with you as they have you put all but your camera in a locked bin before you board the helicopter. Depending on the number in the tour, you will have 1 to 6 helicopters carrying 4 or 5 people each. I don't know which was more spectacular, the helicopter ride or the walk on the glacier! The helicopter pilots fly in formation and do a dance in the sky as you fly over mountain tops, see vast ice fields in the distance, fly above Mendenhall and then land on the glacier. Here, you are met by guides who walk you around the glacier and who are more than welcome to snap your photo of you with your camera. It is an incredible experience. To a person, everybody wanted to stay longer after the 30 to 45 minutes on the glacier were up. The guides chuckled and said that everybody says the same. Then its lift off and fly back to Juneau - have the cameras ready for an aerial photo of Juneau. Hint: Dress in layers - it is not freezing - dress for 50-degree weather. Unless you are really sensitive to the cold, don't overdress or you will roast. Note: The helicopter tour and return takes about 2 1/2 - 3 hours from departing the ship to returning to the ship despite what the tour description says. The time in the brochure is the actual helicopter/glacier time and does not include the to/from, safety video, dressing time and gift shop time, so plan accordingly. Again, the bus will drop you off in town if you want. We did some minor shopping at the foot of the pier and then returned to ship. * Ketchikan - here we took the Misty Fjord Seaplane tour. After a short bus ride, we arrived at Taquan Air. On the northwest side of town. Very nice people! After a short safety video, you meet your pilot and board the seaplane. The plane will hold up to 7 people. Take off from the water was neat! We flew above town and the cruise ship (good photo op!). We flew on to the Misty Fjords. We had sunshine and blue skies, rare for this area. We flew by waterfalls, snow topped mountains, inlets with new age music playing in our headphones. After an hour, we landed in a remote fjord. For those that were brave, we crawled out and stood on one of the plane's floats atop a 1000 ft deep fjord. What an awesome experience - in nature, quite, refreshing air, steep tree covered cliffs on both sides, indigo water all around - wow, it doesn't get much better than that! If you want to be one with nature - do this! We were out about 2 1/2 hours - a bit longer than advertised because the pilot had some curiosity about areas he hadn't been to since the prior year (or so he said). Note: The plane does make tight turns, steep climbs and some bumpy air - so take your motion sickness pills or do something else if you have this issue. Otherwise, a fantastic must do! We did get back to town with plenty of time to shop and eat. Ketchikan is great on a sunny day! Let me close with the disembarkation. Your choices are an excursion, the Princess transfer to the airport ($20 pp) or walk off. We did the Princess transfer, which the purser described as whisking you past all the hassles of US customs. You still must clear customs, you have two passport checks and you still go through security in a very long line if you are not the first bus to arrive at the airport. Our friends chose to walk off, took a $30 cab to the airport and beat us to the gate by 25 minutes. We also did the EZ luggage transfer offered by Princess ($15 pp) which the purser described as hassle free - you will meet your bag at baggage claim when you arrive at your destination airport. Sounds good - doesn't work - our bags arrived the following day. Our airline said, the cruise line thing never works unless you have a evening flight, they suggested we not waste our money next time. Makes sense in Vancouver. I hope this review helps - I cannot say it more - this cruise/stateroom/itinerary SPECTACULAR! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
This was our first cruise, and the information I learned from Cruise Critic was invaluable - so thank you everyone! We had a great cruising experience and made some great friends through Cruise Critic. We had 2 get togethers - one at sail ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and the information I learned from Cruise Critic was invaluable - so thank you everyone! We had a great cruising experience and made some great friends through Cruise Critic. We had 2 get togethers - one at sail away and one the next morning in the Wheelhouse Lounge where Princess put some space aside for us and provided us with bar snacks. Some of us really hit it off and spent a bit of time together either at dinner, having drinks, or out and about on the ship. Travel to Vancouver Easy for us - we flew down the a.m. of embarkation, from northern British Columbia. We lived in Vancouver for 16 years, so we didn't need to do the tourist thing there. Embarkation Very smooth. We arrived at the terminal a little after noon and were in our room with ½ an hour. Room & Steward We had a mini suite with a balcony toward the front the ship - C209 on the Caribe (10th) deck. Hotels have a lot to learn from cruise ships with respect to storage. There was plenty of storage space in the bathroom and for clothes. Storage space in the regular rooms was almost identical except for less space under the bathroom counter which isn't as long in a regular room. We were very happy with the room and our Steward, Manuel, who took great care of us and all the little details. (I really like the concept of a room steward.) The Ship We have nothing to compare the ship to other than a resort hotel, but I really liked that you never felt there were 1900 other passengers on board. Lots of great places to curl up with a book if that was your intention (not ours, but to each their own), lots of different places to have a drink, and the requisite shops and casinos. Didn't use either very much. Public spaces were all in very good condition. Dining We did Anytime Dining which suited us the best. Only had to wait for a table twice - which really wasn't a hardship as we just made ourselves comfortable in the adjacent lounge while we waited. Rest of the time we made reservations the morning of, or just walked in. DH was thrilled that prawn cocktail and fillet on the menu as part of "always available" items! I tried a myriad of dishes and was happy with everything I was served. Used the dining room for breakfast when our schedule allowed. Never had lunch there. Buffet for lunch and breakfast was more than adequate and never busy as we were either there very early or relatively late. Overall we were very pleased with the food and the service. Speciality Restaurants We tried them both. I'm glad we tried Bayou Cafe as we don't get to eat much alligator here in British Columbia! My catfish was excellent as was DH's fillet. We were underwhelmed by Sabatini's - too much food and nothing "wow'd" us. Next time we'd probably give specialty restaurants a skip because we were more than happy with the food and service in the dining room. Special Meals "Sushi" lunch buffet on the first day at sea was a bit of a disappointment as it was all what I call "fake" sushi (ingredients all cooked), but I understand why they might want to do that on a cruise ship. Salmon bbq on the Lido deck Glacier Bay day was great - but only if you like salmon as it was served in a variety of ways, hot and cold, along with some salads. The "food art" (carved veggies + fruit) was quite something! Formal Nights DH has never worn a tux, and didn't want to pack a suit, so we went all out - he rented the tux and we did it up big time. Maybe 20% of the men were in tuxes. 60% in suits & ties. I'm glad we did it - DH I'm sure did it to humor me; not sure he'd do it again! On Board Activities + Entertainment We never seemed to make any of the shows from start to finish. We caught the end of 2 (hypnotist and "tribute" show) - liked what we saw. Went to one naturalist lecture which was very good. The library and card room looked very nice, we just didn't have occasion to use them, or to attend any other on-board activities. Oh, we tried the casino one night for an hour or so. And, I checked out an art auction for a little while - not really my thing. Shore Excursions I booked 2 excursions ahead of time - Misty Fjords float plane trip with Island Wings in Ketchikan and whale watching with Harv & Marv in Juneau. Both lived up to all of the hype. Saw humpbacks breaching which was very exciting! In Skagway we shared a car rental with some CC friends and the 6 of us drove to Emerald Lake and back, stopping often to take pictures. Juneau in particular was very busy with 5 ships in port that day - walking around town in the afternoon was a challenge. Best to have your sense of humor with you! Meals in Port For the BEST fish & chips - the Alaskan Surf on the dock in Anchorage. One large halibut and chips ($12.00) fed 2 of us with some left over! On our way back to the ship in Skagway we decided to "play hooky" from getting presentable for dinner on board and stopped and the Skagway Fish Company (right on the dock) for dinner. The food was great and it was a very fun evening. Glaciers & Wildlife from the Ship - WOW Our expectations were exceeded on both fronts. At the entrance to Glacier Bay (coming and going) there were countless sea otters (ditto for the next day in College Fjord), whales, grizzlies on the shore (very far away - almost indistinguishable without very good binoculars), puffins and dolphins. I missed the sea lions (saw one swimming, but missed a few on rocks) and seals, but was so excited by the sea otters, I didn't really care! In Glacier Bay Marjorie Glacier was very active - lots of calving. We spent A LOT of time out on the little bow deck in front of the Caribe deck. It was a great place to catch all of the action and the naturalist and rangers can be heard just fine out there. The glaciers and wildlife were really the highlight of the trip. What do I wish I'd brought (or left at home) I read all the packing lists on CC, bought things like over-the-door shoe holders (which I really didn't need but they will come in handy on other trips!), enough warm & waterproof clothes and too many other clothes. I really wish I'd remembered to bring 2 of our insulated coffee mugs so I could bring coffee back a bit more easily in the mornings (or just for having when on deck). I refused to buy any on ship or in port, because we have so many at home. DH regretted not bringing "idiot strings" for his glasses as it was very windy some days - we hunted some down in Ketchikan. Pictures, Patters + Menus I've posted PDF's of the Patters and most menus at http://imageevent.com/rcurry/coralprincessmenuspatters And our pictures will be posted at http://imageevent.com/rcurry/alaska sometime in the next week or so. Negatives With respect to the cruise, they are very minor. I found just a tad too much paper landed in our room every day (apart from the Patter), mostly promoting shopping or booking next cruises, etc. Along with all the paper that you need to keep for disembarkation, etc, it was a bit much keeping track of at times (what to keep, what to toss). Overall Experience - Cruise Was extremely positive. There are parts of being on a cruise ship I'm a bit ambivalent about, but would I do it again? Absolutely! We were very pleased with the service, our room, the food, and the cruise's itinerary. I understand why the Coral is so many cruisers' favorite ship - it's well laid out, not too large and very comfortable. We made some great friends onboard and have wonderful memories of our cruise. Cruise Tour We did a 3-day Princess land tour as part of our package, after the cruise. It probably wasn't the right choice for us - we would have been better off to rent a car and travel on our own. A bit too long on the train (although the scenery was remarkable and we had a great guide in our car) and the bus and not enough time at Denali. Princess Denali Lodge a big disappointment in terms of service and employee attitude, Lodge lacking in atmosphere. Princess McKinley Lodge totally different - much better employee morale and a great main lodge. Did a great excursion there - with Bill Hall, a 20+ year Iditarod veteran. The Captain Cook hotel in Anchorage was very nice. Feel free to contact me with any questions. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
We boarded the ship at Fort Lauderdale. As usual on Princess, it was an easy embark and quick to the ship. We traveled with another couple so the four of us decided to book mini-suites on Dolphin deck with balconies. It was definitely ... Read More
We boarded the ship at Fort Lauderdale. As usual on Princess, it was an easy embark and quick to the ship. We traveled with another couple so the four of us decided to book mini-suites on Dolphin deck with balconies. It was definitely worth the upgrade and price. The largest difference other than the actual size of course, the bath amenities were wonderful...towels and their thickness and bath supplies themselves were noticeable. Hard to imagine going back. Our room steward was very nice also and cannot decide if the service is better on this level but our rooms were promptly done by the time we returned from breakfast and our turndown down when we returned from dining. No matter when we saw him in the hall he was working and very pleasant. The ship itself was beautiful. Atrium and shopping was very nice although not quite as plentiful it seemed to be. We ate at the steak restaurant again....food was superb as expected. Entertainment was a bluesy type singer and back up which we enjoyed. The walkway through there was very, very pretty and different from any of the other 5 Princess ships we had sailed on. We have never tried Sabatini's although it looks beautiful but the menu just never seems to catch us. We did anytime dining which we also like. Had no issues other than we preferred to dine just the 4 of us each evening which at times incurred a very slight wait. The dining room was very much like the other ships we have sailed on. Service in the dining room was very good also the standard with Princess. Food was definitely better in our rating than the January sailing on the Golden Princess. Buffet was pretty typical but my husband enjoyed the omelets again which had been missing from the Golden. Desserts are never particularly tasty in my estimation...but the presentation is always very nice! Now for the ports. Our first port was Aruba which we booked the Best of Aruba tour. It was an okay tour but I found Aruba disappointing overall. Was a beautiful drive along the ocean but other than that it was simply another Caribbean island. Cartagena was a surprise! Tour was very nice through Princess and although there was a bit of language barrier all in all was very nice. I found the vendors VERY aggressive and that made me uncomfortable. Items to purchase were quite nice. The Panama Canal was an absolute sight. Arriving early morning to all the lights and other ships was just spectacular. The information was very good over the ship intercom and educational. Costa Rica came next and that was the topping on the cake for me. I had decided prior to the cruise that I wanted to do a zipline. Turning 60 seemed like the year to do something totally off the wall and this was it. We booked through Greenway tours...it was a very positive experience. It was recommendation from our travel agent who did this cruise earlier and used Greenway. The payment etc was handled promptly by email through them with a fax with credit card information. Mario was a perfect connection. The tour was the Canal tour, zipline, and then to a banana plantation for $80 per person so very reasonable. The zipline felt very safe and exhilarating! Then Ocho Rios was another hit. We had been to Jamaica previously flying in and going to Negril. I loved the resort we stayed at but found Jamaica to be a bit dirty lots of approaching to buy drugs. This time it was like a different island..maybe due to docking in Ocho Rios. Where we docked was great and very beautiful. Nice shopping also with Hard Rock and Margaritaville within walking distance of the ship. We did the Dunn's River Falls tour and then the all inclusive resort...Bamboo Club. The Dunn's River Falls was wonderful and the guides we had were great. We did buy the video...a bit hokie but what the heck!!! The all inclusive Bamboo Club was disappointing. Think the Sandals choice would have been better. It was drinks and food but both were pretty unimpressive as was the beach area. We had been to Grand Lido all inclusive on Negril previously and that was so nice this could not compare. Still Dunn's River Falls was well worth it. Our sea days were so peaceful...chairs to lounge in and read, sleep or simply sit and chat. Lots of activities if you so wished. The usual late sale on ship in the dining room was very much smaller than previous ones and much less to choose from. All in all it was a very wonderful cruise. Have already booked on the new Ruby Princess in June of 2009 to Europe with family. Know we won't be disappointed with Princess...this gives us Platinum which is already a big plus. Hope everyone enjoys this review. The entertainment was pretty much standard although this was our second cruise with Roger Carr in Crooner's. We happen to really like listening to him so this was a bonus! The comedian was really pretty good. Enjoyed the Universe lounge for the shows. Found several of the crew to be the funniest ever which only added to those shows. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
This is our third cruise with Princess, but the first time on the Coral. Our cruise was from Ft. Lauderdale to Aruba, Cartagena, Panama, Costa Rica and Jamaica. On this cruise, we had my mother, son and eleven year old daughter. We ... Read More
This is our third cruise with Princess, but the first time on the Coral. Our cruise was from Ft. Lauderdale to Aruba, Cartagena, Panama, Costa Rica and Jamaica. On this cruise, we had my mother, son and eleven year old daughter. We decided it would be more economical for us to drive down to Ft. Lauderdale rather than fly. We actually spent the night at our son's house in Orange Park so we didn't need to use a hotel. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the next day around 2:30 pm. Prior to our departure, we had filled out all of our forms online, so when we approached the check in, it literally took us no longer than 5 minutes to check in. I will also say that there was only one other couple checking in when we were so we definitely hit it at a good time!! We had 2 inside cabins that were right next to each other on the Caribe (10th) floor. We already knew what to expect from previous cruises with Princess so we were fine with our cabin. They were ready when we arrived, so we dumped our bags and went to eat a snack before we set sail. Our first two days were spent relaxing at sea. We really enjoyed having the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy the ship. Coral is really a beautiful ship with lots of fun activities and lots of places to go and just relax! Children's Program: We had to attend a mandatory meeting so our child could participate in the program. They give you 3 different times when you would like to attend the meeting. It was relatively short and they basically just explained how they ran the program. While our daughter had a fun time and made lots of new friends, she didn't particularly love their program. She just felt like it was boring at times. She really loves the water and ended up spending most of her days at the pool. In the evening she would go back to the club. They usually did karaoke, watched a movie or played games. ARUBA: We chose not to do an excursion in Aruba. Instead we opted to rent a car and go out on our own. We did not pre-arrange to rent a car, but decided to rent one when we got there. We took a short shuttle ride to the gate where we were dropped off. There were several places where they rent cars, but only one was open at 8:00 in the morning. We opted for a Durango as there were five of us and we wanted a/c. It took about thirty minutes as they had to bring one from the airport. We headed out southeast towards San Nicolas. We ended up in Arikok National Park, but we had to turn around because the road was blocked due to construction and they would not let us through. During our ride, we saw donkeys, goats and a lot of cactus! The beach, however, was very beautiful. On our way back we planned to drive to the other side of the island, but our car broke down. We were fortunate that there was a business close by and we were able to make a call to the rental agency. After waiting 45 minutes, they finally came with a replacement car (another Durango). By the time we were back in Oranjestad the traffic was really bad and we only had about an hour left so we just took the car back. I will say that we originally had rented the car for $85 dollars, but because of our trouble we were only charged $50 and did not get charged for any gas. Even though we were shortchanged on our sightseeing it all worked out okay. Cartagena COLUMBIA: We opted to go with Lee Miles Tours and am I glad we did!! We felt like we had the best tour on the ship!! We met immediately after docking. Lee was there to greet us and introduce us to our guide and driver. Claudia was our guide and she was awesome! Very friendly and knowledgeable. We were taken first to the LaPopa Monastery which sits on a hill and overlooks Cartagena. When we first arrived, it was a little scary as many of the vendors came up to the van to look in our windows and show us their wares. When we got out of the van however, we found that just saying no and continuing to walk toward the monastery was enough to ward them off. The monastery was a beautiful place in itself. The view we had of Cartagena was awesome and we got a lot of great pictures. We left the monastery and drove to the fortress next. We did not walk up to the top, but stopped to take pictures of it. We left the fortress and went to Lee's Emerald shop where we had the opportunity to do a little shopping. There were other stores there as well, so we weren't just limited to his store. While he had some beautiful jewelry, it was a little above our budget, so we just enjoyed looking. They are not pushy in the least bit and will not pressure you to buy anything. Next to Lee's shop is a coffee shop that also sells souvenirs, etc. We made a few purchases and bought a coke that cost a dollar. We left the shops and headed for a walking tour of the old Walled City. It was an awesome tour and we saw many beautiful things! We also stopped at the Gold Museum. It is free and only takes 10 minutes or so to see...very interesting. Our last stop was at the Las Bovedas (dungeons) They are basically shops that you can go to. Our guide loves shop number 6 and 14 so we decided to go there. They were a little more upscale, but it was right on the money for us. They were definitely nicer than the typical souvenir store where everything is the same. We made several purchases and was then taken back to the ship. I would have to say that this was one of our favorite tours overall! PANAMA: In Panama, we opted to do the Princess excursion "Embera Indian Tribe". We really enjoyed this excursion and the time we spent with the Indians. The ride on the bus however is pretty lengthy. It took a good 1 1/2 hrs. just to get to the canoes. The canoe ride is only about 5-10 minutes long. You have to walk up a very short, slight incline to get to their village. Princess already had some sandwiches and drinks set out for us. We ate and sat on benches while the Indian chief explained (through translation) their way of life. When he finished, they gave us lightly fried tilapia and plantains in banana leaf bowls. It was delicious!! I wish they had told us about the fish because I would not have eaten a sandwich!! Princess also set out delicious pineapple and watermelon for us as well as more drinks. We then went over to another area where each tribal family had an area set up where they sold their crafts. The crafts consisted of masks, jewelry, baskets, wood sculptures, bowls. They were beautiful and reasonably priced. After shopping for 20 minutes or so, we sat down again and they performed a dance for us. Then they chose people from our group to join them in another dance. After the dance, we were allowed to look around the village. Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves. I thought it was funny with how they live that they had public restrooms there for men and women. They were clean and it was a relief to see them!!! Our bus ride back to the ship was not as long because the ship had sailed to Colon so we met them there. When we got off the bus, we had to go through a large market to get on the ship. I really liked this place, they had a lot of very interesting things you could purchase. We bought several t shirts for 5 dollars each. I bought a really pretty Panama purse for 14 dollars. COSTA RICA: We arranged for another private tour, this time with Okey Dokey Tours. Our guide was very prompt and very good!! We had chosen to do the A-1 tour so we left the dock to head to a farm. At the farm, we were taken on a tour and shown a large variety of fruits and vegetables that they grow. It was like a garden of Eden!! My mom was not able to do the walking in the garden area, but the driver was kind enough to bring her samples of all of the things that we were shown. We went to a covered building where they had the fruits and vegetables set up and we were given samples to eat. They also cut open coconuts so we could drink the water. The man had a sloth with its baby and my daughter was allowed to hold it for pictures. There was a tip box there but we were not under any pressure at all to tip if we did not want to. There were also bathroom facilities. Along the way to our next stop we saw howler monkeys in trees and stopped to take pictures. We continued on to the Dole banana plantation where we toured for 30 minutes or so. Very interesting place to see. From there we left to go on a boat ride through the Tortuguero Canals. We did see several different types of birds, lizards, iguanas, crocodiles and some monkeys. The boat ride was 1 hour long. We really enjoyed it. We stopped at Bonita Beach next which was only a few minutes from the boat ride. We ate lunch at the restaurant in an open patio. Lunch was included in the tour if we chose the beef/or chicken, rice, black beans and salad. Drinks were also included. We opted for that and it was very good. Lastly, we were taken to a grocery store where we were able to purchase coffee and vanilla. I was able to purchase relatively large bottles of vanilla for only 3 dollars a bottle! I love a bargain! George, our tour guide and even our driver were excellent. We really had a fabulous time and we were very happy we went on this tour. I forgot to mention that we also had a cooler full of water, soft drinks and costa rican beer at our disposal. (free) For a four-five hour tour and 55 dollars each we really got our moneys worth!! JAMAICA: We did not do an excursion or a tour for Ocho Rios. We decided to walk into town to the Island Village and Taj Mahel to shop. To be honest, we only stayed a couple of hours and headed back to the ship. We just were not that impressed with what we saw. It was nice back on the ship because we had the pool all to ourselves!! FOOD AND SERVICE: We chose to have a fixed time for dinner as we like to get to know our waiters. We felt the food we had was outstanding. Prime rib and filet mignon was served a couple of nights. One night they served lobster and another night we were served King Crab legs...yum!! We usually ate a light breakfast at the Horizon buffet. We felt that the breakfast was very good. For lunch we would occasionally grab a cheeseburger at the grill or a slice of pizza. On the few times that we did eat at the Horizon we felt that the selection and quality was very good. Service for dinner was always outstanding for us and when we would eat at the buffet, we were always treated like royalty. SHIP: We thought the Coral was a beautiful ship. We enjoyed spending time playing cards in the card room or browsing around the library. We also got in several ping pong games (despite the winds!) and even played a few rounds of putt putt. We really enjoyed the speaker who talked to us about Panama. She had a 1 hour presentation for three days. It was very interesting. We did not go to too many shows. We saw Duncan Tuck and he was really good. The hypnotist was also really awesome!! The only other show we saw was the magician and while he was entertaining, I would have to say he was just okay. On the last night they had the finals for the Princess Idol and that was probably the best entertainment of the night. Jason, who is an asst. cruise director should have his own show!! He was fabulous and if you get a chance to meet him....by all means do!! Go to anything that he is in charge of because you are sure to have fun!! DISEMBARKATION: I think if Princess could have come back to the same dock it left out of it would have been much easier and maybe faster to leave the ship. We had to wait well over an hour past our scheduled time to disembark, but that wasn't the worst of it. Getting our luggage and going through customs was a breeze, but we had to catch a shuttle to be taken back to the pier garage that we parked on. We left out by pier 2 but came back by pier 18 because another Princess ship had to take that spot because it was so large. It probably took an extra couple of hours for the whole process. OVERALL: I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat. I love Princess and we will continue to sail her every chance we get. We were treated royally and ate like royalty!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Review - Coral Princess - Panama Canal - 2008-02-25 to 2008-03-06 This is my first posting of a review on cruisecritic.com. Your feedback is welcome! My partner and I booked a suite (C701 - Tahiti Suite) on the Coral Princess. This ... Read More
Review - Coral Princess - Panama Canal - 2008-02-25 to 2008-03-06 This is my first posting of a review on cruisecritic.com. Your feedback is welcome! My partner and I booked a suite (C701 - Tahiti Suite) on the Coral Princess. This was our 4th cruise and our 3rd on Princess. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the night before the cruise and stayed at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel and Yacht Club. This is virtually across the street from Port Everglades and within walking distance to Total Wine. We bought a few bottles to bring on board and had no problems. We showed up for embarcation around 14h00 and walked right through to check-in with our e-checkin boarding passes. Everything went smoothly and we were in our stateroom about 15 minutes later. We had requested that the beds be separated, but they were together forming a very comfortable queen. We decided to leave it. The bed was quite comfortable, but we asked our room steward, for an egg-crate underlay and top-sheet. The duvet was nice, but is nicer with a top sheet. This is not normal setup, but worth asking for. The ship sailed about 1.5 hours late as some passengers were delayed due to winter weather up north. The suite itself was nicely appointed and after having stayed in mini-suites previously, the full suite was well worth it. Furthermore, the perks that come with a suite, like free, unlimited internet access, daily hors d'oeuvres, a boutinere/corsage on the first formal night, a welcome glass of champagne, all the complimentary laundry and dry-cleaning/shoe polishing you want and a beautiful flower arrangement (that lasted the full 10 days), plus the many other amenities, really helped to offset the premium on the price. Muster station drill was painless and well done by the crew. It took about 20 minutes. Coral Princess, herself, was very clean and in excellent shape. Other than the lack of a Skywalker's Bar high on the stern, I really enjoyed this ship. We are in our 40's, and felt very young on board! The age demographic was a bit older, but it did not stop anybody from kicking up their heels and having a good time. However, the vessel became a virtual ghost ship after 23h00 every night. The first 2 days were at sea and offered a chance to de-stress. The first stop was Aruba. We did not take any tours, but did a walk-about and had a few relaxing drinks. Cartagena, Columbia was the 2nd stop and I really did not like it at all, although it is a beautiful city. We booked a private walking tour which was mediocre at best - caveat emptor. I have travelled to a lot of places, but I have never been hassled so aggressively or frequently as in Cartagena! It was very annoying and Columbia has a way to go if they want to increase tourism. Beware of the taxi drivers - we got ripped off! English can be a problem. The 3rd stop was the Panama Canal. It was an early rise and the ship entered the Gatun Locks on schedule. It was facinating! Coral Princess has two public decks that are not widely advertised. There exists access to forward and aft decks on the Caribe and Dolphin decks. Obviously, not too many people knew about them as there were very few passengers there for the transit. The forward deck is the best one for observing the transit, and the aft one is just as good as you sail into the next lock. We booked a land tour with Princess to do a boat tour of the Canal. We were tendered and bussed for about an hour to the embarcation point. The small ferry continued through the Miraflores Locks to the Pacific and we then took another 1 hour bus ride back to Cristobal. It was nice, but was a bit of a cattle-ride and was expensive. The 4th stop was Puerto Limon, Costa Rica... by far my favourite!. We booked a private tour with www.okeydokeytours.com and our guide, Jose, was fantastic! I highly recommend them! We did a great 13-station zip-line canopy tour, a 1 hour horseback ride, and an eco-river tour. Lunch and beer were included and Jose even took us to a local grocery store to buy coffee and vanilla, which was much cheaper than at the tourist market. This tour lasted for about 6 hours and cost just $95.00 each... a much better deal than Princess had to offer. The owner of the company, Charlie Soto, even phoned us on Jose's cell phone to make sure we were being treated well. It was a class act! Day at sea... Ocho Rios, Jamaica... we were tired and went to Island Village for a few drinks. Day at sea... We got back in Fort Lauderdale and disembarcation was a breeze. Being suite-passengers, we were invited to the Wheelhouse Bar with the Platinum and Elite passengers to await our call. In general terms, we were extremely impressed with the crew, the food, the entertainment and the level of service. I really have no complaints and highly recommend that you consider taking this cruise or any other cruise with Princess. We purchased 4 future cruise credits on board, so you know where we'll be for the next few Canadian winters! I'm not sure if it was appropriate or not, but we tipped our steward $20 in advance on the first day, and again on the penultimate day. We received excellent service and ended up with a cute collection of "towel-imals" by the end of the cruise (I especially liked the "hanging monkey" on the 2nd last night!)". If you have any questions or want more detail, please ask. Happy cruising! Carl and Brett Halifax, NS, Canada Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
This was our 5th cruise, our 2nd on Princess. We were 3 couples, and none had seen the Canal before. This trip certainly lived up to our expectations. The Coral Princess is a beautiful ship, slightly worn, but very well taken care of. ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise, our 2nd on Princess. We were 3 couples, and none had seen the Canal before. This trip certainly lived up to our expectations. The Coral Princess is a beautiful ship, slightly worn, but very well taken care of. We had a balcony cabin on the Caribe deck, and it was more than satisfactory--small shower, but for 10 days you can live with it! Just don't drop the soap... We drove to Ft. Lauderdale from the west coast of FL. We arrived about 1:30 p.m. and were in our cabin by 1:50. Princess has the best embarkation we've found. After checking out our cabin, we went up to the Horizon Buffet for a light lunch (delicious--what a pleasant surprise). By the time we finished lunch and took a little tour of the ship, our bags were in our cabin. We unpacked, dressed for dinner, and met the other 2 couples at Crooners Bar. Crooners was our favorite bar the last time we cruised with Princess, and it quickly became the same this time. It's located in the center, at the atrium, and it's a great place to people watch. The staff there, Biljana, Venny, and Dante, were terrific. Great fun, good personalities, good servers! The staff everywhere on the ship deserves praise, as they all do their very best to please. Our cabin steward, Dino Seno, managed to get us everything we needed without even asking, and always with a smile. We saw several of the shows: a couple of singers, 1 of the production shows and all were enjoyable. Activities we participated in (bingo and trivia) were fun and well run. Cruise Director, Peter, was very good--his morning show, B.S. in the A.M. made me laugh every day.Dining on the Coral Princess was by far the best we've had on any cruise. We did a galley tour one day (if you get a chance, take this tour--it's great fun), and they told us the chef had won all kinds of awards, and it showed! Food was excellent in the dining room and buffet. If only Princess could clone this chef for all the other ships! We chose anytime dining, and we didn't have to wait one night. We dined at Sabatini's one night, which was very good, but more food than anyone should have to eat--course after course after course. If we ever go back (and I'd like to), before they even start to serve, I will limit the courses to 3! We also ate at the Bayou Cafe, and food and service were excellent there, too. We saw several of the shows: a couple of singers, 1 of the production shows and all were enjoyable. Activities we participated in (bingo and trivia) were fun and well run. Cruise Director, Peter, was very good--his morning show, B.S. in the A.M. made me laugh every day. Itinerary was: Aruba: We had just been there in November, so we got off the ship just to stretch our legs after 2 sea days and did a little shopping. Cartagena, Columbia: Got off the ship and found a local tour company to take the 6 of us to LaPopa Monastery(fantastic view), the Dungeons, which used to be just that, but are now shops. There must be 25 of them, but they're all pretty much the same, one after another. Had a little tour of the city, and our driver took us to a local restaurant for lunch. I'dlike to have seen more of this beautiful city but it was time to get back to the ship. My advice for those of you planning this trip: skip the Dungeons (or just have a quick look) and spend more time in the city. Panama Canal: This was the only bad spot in an otherwise great cruise. For whatever reason, Princess wouldn't let you get off the ship unless you took one of their tours. So we opted for the Domed Rail Car to the Pacific side of Panama. Big mistake. We are big fans of private tours, because you have control of the tour, and if you're tired or bored, you can say "take me to the ship". That's not possible on a ships tour, which generally has 40-60 people on a bus. Also, private cars and vans can get lots of places buses can't. And you can pick where you want to eat--not someplace where the bus driver gets a piece of the action. At any rate, this tour was a rail ride through vegetation (not always lush) with occasional views of water. It must only go one way (we still haven't figured out how it gets back--backwards, maybe?), because at the end of the line, there's a bus to pick you up. Since each of us paid $189 (total:$1,134) for the privilege of riding the rails and going back by bus, what happened next is even more outrageous. The bus they had for us had 45 seats, and the rail car tour had over 50 people. How this happened, no one seemed to be able to explain. Anyway, because we all wanted to stay together, we volunteered to go with another Princess bus tour that had been somewhere else and came to pick us up. The bus took us to a shopping center with a duty-free shop and not much else, although there was a gorgeous marina with fabulous yachts behind the shopping center. After about 45 min. we were loaded back on the bus and taken to the Pacific locks so we could see what we had already been through on the Atlantic side on the ship that morning. Trust me, the Pacific locks are exactly the same, no better, no worse. Because we were late getting through the Canal in the morning, the tours started later, and instead of shortening the tours (God forbid the tour operators didn't get their piece of the shopping activity!), they continued on as if we didn't have to be back at the ship by 6:00. Long story short (well, sort of), we gotback to the dock at 6:45 p.m. after sitting in their version of Los Angeles at rush hour. It ended up being a 3 1/2 hour bus ride from hell. Of course, because it was a Princess tour, the ship patiently waited. So a word to the wise: take one of the other tours if you must, but stay far, far away from the Domed Rail Car. It's overpriced, boring, and they don't know how to count. My advice would be to stay on the ship. For those of you with high blood pressure, definitely stay on the ship. Limon, Costa Rica: My brother & sister-in-law had made prior arrangements for a zip lining excursion, which they thoroughly enjoyed. Not being quite that adventurous, the rest of us opted to get off the ship and find a tour. After Panama, we were due to get lucky, and we did. Found a guy named Mario, who talks to you about what you can do, makes all the arrangements, takes care of payment, etc. We agreed to a tour with Jamar as our guide and Jamal as our driver. We had an air conditioned mini-bus that must have seated 10 or 12 all to ourselves. Great tour and even greater guide. Jamar is 16 yrs. old and looks like a model, although models don't generally have the personality he has! He gave us a tour of the city, then we went to the Tortuguero Canals for a 1 hr. boat trip (beautiful!), then a short stop at a banana plantation. About 4 1/2 hrs., at a cost of $35/person. Try that on a ship's tour! We were back on the ship and having lunch at 1:30. Ocho Rios: We made reservations on-line to go to Dunn's River Falls and tubing down the White River. It was one of the best excursions we ever took. For those of you who have never seen the Falls, it's beautiful and just worth a look even if you don't climb. Three of our party climbed and the rest of us chickens took pictures. Then the driver took us to the White River, where we all went tubing. They say it's the best kept secret in Jamaica, and I believe it. Recommend it highly, we all had a ball. No problems with disembarkation, although because we had driven over, we could take our time and let everybody else fight to get off! Overall, a wonderful cruise. Four of us put down $100 deposits toward our next cruise with Princess, so we must have been happy! Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We live north of Tampa and drove the 5 hours to Ft Lauderdale on the 5th of January for the 6th departure out of Port Everglades. On our September Caribbean Princess Cruise we stayed in the Embassy Suites near the port for something just ... Read More
We live north of Tampa and drove the 5 hours to Ft Lauderdale on the 5th of January for the 6th departure out of Port Everglades. On our September Caribbean Princess Cruise we stayed in the Embassy Suites near the port for something just under $150 per night for two. This time of the year this hotel wanted close to $340 for a night so we opted for the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton right on I-95 about 30 miles north of the port for a nightly rate of $136. We like the Embassy suites because of the two room suite floor plan and the fully cooked to order breakfast for two. We drove to the Port and discovered that, because the departure date was on a Sunday that the Coral Princess was leaving from Terminal 19 instead of Terminal 2. We parked the car in the mid-port garage instead of the north garage near Terminal 2. That was a bit of an error because, since the Coral Princess came into Port Everglades on a Wednesday, and since there was nothing docked at Terminal 2, they docked at Terminal 2. In retrospect I would have dropped the wife and bags off at Terminal 19 and driven back to Terminal 2 to park, then taken taxi back to Terminal 19, recovered the wife and carry-on bags and boarded the ship. More later. There doesn't appear to be any reason to get to the port much before 1:30 as the crowd is mostly gone by that time and the boarding process is much easier. Having said that, we boarded at around 11:30 and our bags were in the room by 1:00. We were having lunch in the Horizon Court on the Lido Deck by 12:30. The boarding process was the usual Princess no problem and without problems. My wife had gone through major surgery in the fall and we had requested wheelchair assistance in boarding expecting it to end as we arrived on the Plaza Deck. She was taken from the check-in line all the way to the stateroom by a crewmember. What a grand surprise. Not enough can be said for the leadership and example set by Captain Stfano Ravera. Princess should be proud to have him as a Captain and his crew seemed to have the utmost respect for him. Every announcement he made to the passengers also included his "ships company" When not needed on the command bridge, he spend a fair amount of his time "managing by walking around". He spent a fair amount of time talking with passengers, but at the same time he seemed to go out of his way to talk with the crew, especially the wait staff, buss people and deck personnel. The net result for us was a crew who seemed to really care for the passengers and went out of their way to be of assistance. We had been on the Caribbean Princess in September and the crew seemed quite distant, almost to the point of being disinterested. The Horizon Court on the Coral seemed to be less of a disaster than the same buffet on the Caribbean Princess. For the reasons stated above, the staff on the Corat was head and shoulders above that of the Caribbean Princess. On the CB you almost had to trip a staff person to get coffee or juice at breakfast and iced tea at lunch. On the Coral they were almost fighting amongst themselves to get to you with that first cup of joe and juice and it kept coming until you said "uncle". They are a well managed group. The DW was really impressed with the Mexican Buffet and we both gained tons of weight on the last day dessert buffet. There was so much Kirschwasser in the Black Forest cake that if you consumed two pieces you would likely have gotten a DUI had you been driving home. We had a mini-suite on the Baja deck forward. Our steward, Reynaldo Dela Cruz was the best we have ever had on a cruise. We are only on our third cruise since June of 2007, but we have traveled a lot all over the world and Rey was an incredible service person. When he knocked on the door shortly after we joined the ship, he mad sure to tell us about the "secret" door on the Caribe Deck of the Coral Princess. On both the Caribe and the Dolphin Decks of the Coral (Decks 10 and 11) there are doors marked do not enter at the forward end of the passenger areas. If you ignore those warnings and proceed to the next door you come out on a private forward viewing area just below the floor of the command bridge. Since this was a Panama Canal cruise, these areas were perfect to view the passage through the locks. The only negative on the entire cruise was a 20 minute delay for fresh ice mid-afternoon in port at Montego Bay when Rey was off for the afternoon and room service seemed to be understaffed. Not a big deal and proof that excellent can never be absolutely perfect. We are not big port tour people. Sometimes the best times on the ship are port days when the pools and other areas are not overcrowded. We met and talked to some very nice folks on port days. That doesn't mean that we did not go into the ports as we did, but, for the most part, were back on the ship by 11:30 a.m. Aruba caught us for a watch, we should have gone into Cartagena and will do so the next time. The Colombians at the cruise terminal could not have been nicer or kinder. Cristobal terminal seemed to be wrapped around loud local music and naked natives. Limon, once out of the terminal security was not very comfortable to be walking around alone. Montego Bay also had some very nice local folks in the cruise terminal area. We chose any time dining. This was our second Princess cruise and our second any time dining experience. We now have 17 days of any time dining under our belts and 7 of fixed dining. Anytime wins hands down over fixed. We have met some incredible folks at anytime. We typically would go in to the dining room between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. for dinner. We sought out the Bordeaux dining room greeter and maitre d' and said that we would share a table any time so long as it was at least 6 to 8 people and so long as we were not the last two people to fill in a group of 6 or 8 who were travelling together and we would be the lone rangers with them. They were wonderful in meeting our expectations. While we did have three of the same couples who were at our table on consecutive nights (not a problem) we did manage to mix it up so that we would up meeting something in excess of 50 or 60 people on the ship we might have never met before. We can honestly sat that between the Coral Princess and the Caribbean Princess cruises we have yet to have a bad dinner table in 17 nights. Highly interesting people, dinner conversations and memories for years to come. Compared to our one experience with fixed dining, there is no way we would sail on a cruise line that did not offer anytime dining. Our waitstaff in the Bordeaux dining room was very attentive and professional every night we were there. The food was generally quite good. A couple of nights the menu seemed a bit bland. We chose to eat at Sabatini's and chose off the "always" menu the other night. We never seemed to make it to any of the late shows. We usually spent our entertainment times listening to the piano melodies of Ron Coleman in the Bayou Cafe bar or Thelma's Trio in the same venue. Ron is an incredible "by ear" pianist. It is tough to play stump the band with him for he must have several thousand tunes committed to memory. Sadly, he has left the Coral Princess to go back to New Zealand for a short bit only to re-appear on the Island Princess in the Alaska trade in May. Coral's loss and Island's gain. Thelma's Trio are also a group with an amazing range of nice easy to listen to music. Every thing from the great American Standards to Samba and Bossa Nova. The pizza and grille kept you filled up if you chose not to partake of the Horizon Court buffets. The pool deck waiters and waitresses kept you as well hydrated as you desired in a non-pushy way. The gym was reasonably well equipped and certainly very accessible on port days, and in the mid-afternoon on sea days. You must do some exercise given the quantity of food and drink available. Everyone should do a full or partial transit of the Panama Canal. It is a very special cruise experience. We got up early and visited the forward viewing area during the initial transit. We then returned to our cabin for an 8:45 Champagne Balcony Breakfast. Wonderful way to watch the final lock transit from your balcony while munching on smoked salmon, quiche, pastries, bagels, fruit and sipping a split of French champagne. This was a wonderful cruise, we would repeat it again. A couple of tips. Watch for the two days where they offer a $20 bargain on a bag of laundry. If you can fold, roll or crunch it up enough, they will was the whole laundry bag from the closet for $20 and they offer this deal twice on the cruise. Try both of the wine tastings on the ship. The first is Tuesday and is $15 each, the second is the last sea day and is $25 each. The second one has nicer wines and canapes but both are great was to meet folks on board. We did opt for Sabatini's one night. A great feast, come hungry and go away searching for the Tums bottle, not because of bad food but simply too much food. A wonderful experience. The Coral Princess is a wonderful ship. It is just enough smaller than the Grand class ships to be more manageable to get around and find things easily. With Captain Ravera moving on to the Pacific Princess and taking over the world cruise, the new Captain Michele Bartolomei (the former Staff Captain of the Coral Princess) will inherit a very well motivated and friendly crew. Hopefully he can continue the fine job that Captain Ravera has done with his "Beautive White Lady" and her excellent crew. They are a true shining light in the Princess family. Getting off the ship was the usual Princess smooth move. We went to the Universe Lounge at 8:00 a.m. and were looking at our bags at 8:20 a.m. The only glitch was the fault of the Port Everglades folks and the Customs people. We came in on a Wednesday. There were too few porters, those that were there, didn't want to deal with you if you had something to declare because there were delays at customs. Not a pretty sight. You really can't blame Princess because they are dealing here with local government and people who they don't control or employ. They did arrange for transportation back to the mid-port garage with your luggage to get your vehicle if you had parked there, but I still think they could have given advance notice on the potential to come back into terminal 2 and done the transportation at the other end to simplify arrival logistic for those passengers who drove to, and parked at the cruise terminal. Even with all the logistics we were still on the road to Tampa by 9:30 so there isn't too much to complain about. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We drove to the dock and thought we were leaving from Terminal 2, but went out of Terminal 19 instead. We parked in the parking garage at the terminal. Embarkation was a breeze, and the only delay was a short line at the security ... Read More
We drove to the dock and thought we were leaving from Terminal 2, but went out of Terminal 19 instead. We parked in the parking garage at the terminal. Embarkation was a breeze, and the only delay was a short line at the security checkpoint. We booked in an ocean view obstructed cabin and got "upgraded" to a handicapped room which was spacious. We had 3 couples with us and our room became pre-dinner drinks and frivolity location. We had sailed the Coral to Alaska before and found her to be the same great ship as before. It is a nice size ship with spacious public rooms. We have always liked the layout of the Princess ships we have been on finding them easy to get about on. This cruise had 4 days at sea and we had perfect weather for the whole cruise. We enjoyed the wrap around promenade deck for our daily walk, the ballroom dancing classes led by Dallas and Kaylea, the decks (14 and 15) on the back of the ship by what is called the Family Pool ( small but fairly unused). This cruise had an older crowd that the comedians and cruise entertainment staff frequently commented on. There were very few children and hardly any teenagers at all. I also enjoyed the guest lecturer that was on board. He was Dr. Wheeler from U Calif Sacramento and spoke to large crowds about the Panama Canal and the whole geology of the Caribbean Sea. We had anytime dining and found it to be just fine. The first night we were sort of unnerved as they couldn't seat our party of 8 together without a 45 minute wait. Every night after that it was just fine and we ate between 6:00 and 7:00. The food was fine, but not quite up to what we recalled from our last voyage on the Coral. We had no specific complaints, but it there were a couple of strange offerings that some of us had to send back and ask for a different entree. An example was the flying fish which did not look like a fish at all, and I am a cruiser who orders the fish most nights. We went to the Horizon Court for breakfast and lunch almost every day. Personally, I do not like to spend the time in the dining room with so much going on, and I feel like I am wasting time in the dining room. During breakfast and lunch primetimes it did get a little difficult to find a table in the Horizon Court The entertainment was very good. One complaint was that they did not seem to understand the BCS College Football Championship game was happening on Monday night. When they finally decided that they could actually get it, they beamed it into staterooms only......told us the Explorer's lounge was booked (karaoke). It was just as well as OSU got humiliated again anyway. The Princess singers and dancer production shows were great, and the guest performers were too. You had to get to the theater at least 20 minutes before show time if you wanted to sit together with friends. If there is any complaint about the Coral, it is the Universe Lounge. The sight lines are extremely poor. At least half the seats are blocked by the people in front of you, or by pillars. The other area we wished was better was that the shops on the ship are few and uninspiring. Not that we want to shop on the ship all the time, but it is nice to wander the shops before and after dinner. Ports: Aruba: It is a beautiful island that you feel very safe on, and you are not constantly hassled by vendors. On this cruise, you are just not there long enough. It is 7:30-8:00 before you get off the ship and you have to be back on by 12:30pm. We rented a van and went out to the California lighthouse, and stopped at the beaches on the way back. Well, I guess that just gives us reasons to go back. If you want to rent a car, you do not have to reserve one. They are there right as you walk off the ship. The ship docks right downtown. Cartagena, Columbia - As the city appears on the horizon, tall slender white high rises appear. The city is a lot bigger and more modern than I assumed. The old city is marvelous, with narrow walking streets, colorful building, lots of history, and an absolutely beautiful main square. We first went to the Fortress, which is very impressive. You are greeted by vendors who are very aggressive, but they can be ignored as long as you don't make eye contact. Once in the Fortress, they are not permitted. We then went to the Slave Dungeons which have been turned into shopping areas. It is a very colorful experience and then we went off to the old city. This was a Princess Cruise line arranged tour, and all went very well. The Canal - I got up at 4:30am and by 5:00am had secured two chairs in front row center of Deck 14. Great place to watch the trip thru the Canal. It was sort of spooky when we approached in the canal as we were going very slowly and there were many cargo ships at anchor and we slipped through the maze. Coral Princess has some sort of special deal that they can choose when they go through (they told us the cost for the ship to use the canal was $244,000). The transit thru the Gatun Locks is very impressive and by about 9:30am we were at anchor in Gatun Lake not far from the last lock. We sat there for about 2 hours or so as passengers got tendered off the ship to take tours. About 1000 of the 2000 passengers took tours. We then went back out and down the three locks, which is equally as impressive. On the trip out I roamed about watching from various spots. The Coral Princess just fits in the locks....there is about a foot on each side. The ship then goes to Cristobal Pier. This was a pleasant surprise. The warehouse at the pier has been turned into a shopping area...One part is set up like a little town and there is entertainment with music and dancing. There is also a bar there and we all had a great time enjoying the music and the brews. Limon, Costa Rica - Not thinking Limon was going to be a great place to go out on our own, we all took tours. Three couples went on a boat tour thru the jungle. It was ok, but we had wished we saw more animals...one howler monkey, one sloth, one iguana, and a bunch of birds...but it was a nice day out. Then the tour takes you to a Del Monte banana plantation. One couple went to the volcano. The pictures of it are great, but it is a 3+ hour bus ride both ways and they didn't get back to the ship until it was almost ready to sail. The town of Limon is fairly dirty, with trash sitting all around. Not very impressive. There is a shopping bazaar right off the ship, but the aisles are really tight and the stock is more of same old same old. Montego Bay, Jamaica----Again we took tours...Guys went to the zip line tour and ladies to a plantation house. The zip line was a fun time. Those people that fear it need not worry. Folks of all ages were on our tour. The hardest part for some was one part where we had to walk uphill on a trail from one platform to another. The zipping was fairly easy and the guides do a good job of keeping people safe even as they are continually joking around. The ship docks some distance from the downtown area so if that is a destination, one would have to take a cab or a tour to get there. Right off the ship there is the remnants of a shopping area that is mostly abandoned. It looked like it had possibilities, but only about one shop was open. In general this was a great cruise. We were blessed with fabulous weather, fairly smooth seas, and a beautiful ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
The DW and I drove to Ft Lauderdale early on the 27th, arriving in Ft Lauderdale at 1:30 pm and were in our room by 2pm. Great check-in, painless and fast even though we had to make a last minute change. It's been awhile since we have ... Read More
The DW and I drove to Ft Lauderdale early on the 27th, arriving in Ft Lauderdale at 1:30 pm and were in our room by 2pm. Great check-in, painless and fast even though we had to make a last minute change. It's been awhile since we have been on Princess and we were glad we did this time. The only thing to say is the Coral provides great food, great service, and has a great staff. We ate in the Dining room, the Bayou Cafe, Sabatini's, the buffet, and used room service, they all exceeded our expectations. The DW was hooked on those wonderful room service hamburgers, make sure to ask for a ROOM service burger, It is thick, juicy with a slightly smoky flavor. There are not enough words to describe the quality of the food we had at the Bayou Cafe, succulent Oysters Bienville, a 18 oz Porterhouse that melts in your mouth. The DW had the surf (lobster) and turf (thick filet mignon)special and was not disappointed although a bit overstuffed. Absolutely the best food we had in a long time on a cruise. We ended up taking the left-overs up to the room for a 2 am snack! I suppose I should talk about the room. We had a mini-suite that was more than adequate for 2, with a nice closet. Drawer space was good even though most of the drawers a shallow, there were enough to put away all our clothes. We had to use a eggcrate for the mattress because they were a bit lumpy and hard. Where the beds met, was a hump that was a tad bothersome but was fixed quite nicely by the eggcrate. The room steward (Rodolpho) was great and always cheery and polite. The room was always clean even if it took till 10:30 am to get my butt out of bed. We were never rushed to get out so he could clean up. Our toilet would not flush one day, passenger service said they would have someone check it out, we told Rodolpho about it and in 10 minutes, he was back with the maintenance guy and it was fixed. Going through the Canal Locks on the balcony was a definite plus. Being we like to donate at the Casino, we met the staff early and often and had a great time. The DW won $3000 at video poker and did well at the 3-card poker table. I did alright at the 3-card table and only made $500 at the video poker(1st time player). The last night I also hit $300 on the one of the slots trying to empty the DW's Ocean Player's Card account. They had a get a ticket for prize drawings night for winning poker hands and I won a $500(?) piece of art (number and signed print). The only way to describe the Canal is, you have to experience it to appreciate it! We were pleasantly surprised by Cartagena, Columbia. There were a lot of mixed feelings about on the CC boards so we were a bit leery going in but we really enjoyed Cartagena and would love to go back. Aruba, I'm not a big fan of the place, once outside the city it is nothing but rocks, sand, and cacti. I think they call that a desert anywhere else. There are some interesting sites to see but I wouldn't go out of my way travel there. If it hadn't been on the itinerary, I wouldn't bothered trying to go there. Costa Rica - It rained most of the morning so we stayed on ship and kicked back and relaxed all day. The only thing we heard from most folks was they were overwhelmed by the level of poverty there. Jamaica - Bad weather, big waves, no Jamaica, enough said! Couldn't get my Blue Mountain Coffee again, DRAT the bad luck! Overall it was fabulous trip and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I can;t say how much we appreciated the great crew, exceptional service, and fabulous food. We skipped the show for the Casino so nothing to say about the shows. our friend traveling with us, went to the shows couple of times and always said they were good. Alan and DW Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Background Information We traveled on Coral Princess for it's Christmas Cruise. The ship usually does the Panama Canal or Alaska itineraries. We were 9 people in total. Dh, myself and our 3 boys (13,11,8), SIL and her 2 kids (7,5), ... Read More
Background Information We traveled on Coral Princess for it's Christmas Cruise. The ship usually does the Panama Canal or Alaska itineraries. We were 9 people in total. Dh, myself and our 3 boys (13,11,8), SIL and her 2 kids (7,5), a and MIL. MIL/SIL travelled to Fort Lauderdale the day before we left and stayed at our house, which is half an hour from Port Everglades. Embarkation was uneventful. It was easy and organized. The ship was a great size for us. It is large enough to have lots of stuff to do and not so large that we were overwhelmed with the size of it. We especially liked the Card Room where there are lots of games and tables set up for families. The kids loved playing games after dinner. The kids all used the kids/teens club. There were alot of different activities for the kids. My boys especially enjoyed the casino night, guitar hero tournament, and karaoke. There were lots of crafty activities for kids who enjoy that sort of thing (not my kids). They have ice cream most afternoons, which is free. You have to pay for the ice cream at the ice cream bar. Neither SIL nor I force the kids to go to the kids club. They liked it and went for the activities that they enjoyed. Kids between 8-12 can sign themselves in and out if their parents give them that privilege. Parents can change their permission any time they like. We gave our kids walkie talkies and told them they had to let us know if they were leaving the kids club so we could find them. Teens can come and go as they like. There are organized teen activities that the kids can join any time they like but they don't sign in or out. The teen lounge is an area where the teens go to hang out/meet people and play video games. My son went there every night to meet up with other teens. Sometimes they did the organized activities, other nights they did their own thing. He kept in touch with us via walkie talkie. We had outside balconies. They were nice. I think they are pretty standard cabins. Everything was nice and clean and the room steward was very attentive. We enjoyed the adult areas of the ship very much. When the kids were busy doing their own thing we sat by the adult pool and relaxed and read our books. It was air conditioned so it was nice to get out of the heat. We live in FL so we have no need to be in the heat all the time. The adult pool is nice because it has the feeling of being outdoors, but is air conditioned. Service on board was excellent everywhere we went. Our waiter (Vicente) and his assistant (Art) were excellent and attentive. They were really nice to the kids and handled the inevitable special requests that come with five kids with grace. There were always plenty of cocktail servers and servers in the buffet at lunchtime. We thought the food was excellent in the dining room. I didn't have a single bad dinner all week. The food in the buffet was better than expected. There was a special type of food every lunchtime and some were excellent (loved the sushi). My SIL and son used the gym every day. They said it was pretty standard. Entertainment on board was uneven. Some of the comedy shows were awful and others were terrific. The hypnotist was great, and the magical comedy show was cute. The shows we went to were all appropriate for the kids and the kids really enjoyed the shows they attended. They opted for the kids club most nights though. We did not book any shore excursions through Princess. In St. Thomas we took a cab to the beach. In St. Martin we booked a "Pirate Ship" excursion on our own. In Princess Cays we rented some snorkel equipment (from Princess) and had alot of fun snorkeling. Princess Cays was a tender port. We had to wait on line for our tender tickets but after that the tender process was uneventful. Disembarkation was organized. Much better than our last 2 Carnival cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
My husband and I (boomers) celebrated our 25th anniversary by cruising to the canal on the Coral Princess. This was our 8th cruise overall and 2nd on Princess Here are the highpoints -- embarkation was a snap - Cabin steward Ray was ... Read More
My husband and I (boomers) celebrated our 25th anniversary by cruising to the canal on the Coral Princess. This was our 8th cruise overall and 2nd on Princess Here are the highpoints -- embarkation was a snap - Cabin steward Ray was terrific. Minisuite was more than ample for our needs. We chose anytime dining and rarely had to wait. We generally dined around 8 pm. and because the average age of the other cruisers was one year younger than God, they ate early. We lucked out with a terrific waiter whom we stayed with for most nights -Gabor. I thought that the food was better than average. Some of it was even inventive and superior. Bayou steak house was great. The ports were interesting but I would not choose to visit any of them again other than Aruba where we had been before on several occasions. The highlight of course was the canal -- We got up early, grabbed a coffee ( more about the coffee later) and watched the ship go thru the first lock. Thereafter was had ultimate balcony dining for breakfast and watched the balance of the transit from our balcony. DOWNSIDES -- the coffee on the ship including the coffee brewed in the patisserie was nothing short of atrocious. The first thing I did when we returned to the Ft. Lauderdale airport was to get a cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts. If America runs on Dunkin and there are Starbucks on China, why cant Princess brew a decent cup of coffee? I don't know if it was the itinerary, the time of year or the length of the cruise, but could people have been any older? As a result, nightlife was dead. We will cruise on Princess again. They give you great value for the money you spend and certainly know how to pamper. The spa and gym where I spent alot of my time was lovely. The spa did not try to oversell you on products. After the novelty of the gym wore off for most passengers, getting a treadmill or other piece of equipment was no problem. Disembarkation was also relatively quick and painless. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
What a great trip with awesome weather. We started our trip with a 2 day stay in Seattle. Staying at the Warrick hotel it was OK and I would stay there again. Had lunch across the street at Ralph's Deli. good food infact we had ... Read More
What a great trip with awesome weather. We started our trip with a 2 day stay in Seattle. Staying at the Warrick hotel it was OK and I would stay there again. Had lunch across the street at Ralph's Deli. good food infact we had breakfast there the next morning. Afterwards we took a walking tour and visited Pikes Market, love the flowers and went back on the second day. Our first night we had dinner at Ray's Boathouse the food was very good our favorite so far. The 2nd night we ate a Chandler's Chowder house, very good clam chowder my DH & I didn't care for it but the others in our party did. What was really nice was they paid the cab fair back to our hotel. On our walking tour the next day we came upon the convention center and found a really nice garden in the back. We also fell in love with all the PIG STATUES that they have in Seattle. We made it our mission to take as many picture of them as we could. The next morning we to the Clipper Vacations ferry boat over to Victoria. Went through customs, boy was that a long line. VICTORIA: Took the Butchard/city tour. The Gardens was wonderful, but the city tour left alot to be desired. Stayed at the Royal Scot. Nice hotel, but freaked me out when they told me no air cond. but it got really cool at night so it wasn't a problem. Victoria was having a NATO Convention going on and alot of the big wigs was staying across the st from us. So alot of FBI,CIA and police hanging around checking cars as they tried to get into the Pan Pacific. Afterwards we took ourselves for a walking tour of the city. By the harbor they were having alot of locals out selling the crafts. There were even some st performers out which was cool to watch. After doing some shopping we took ourselves off to find the German Rest. that we wanted to have dinner at The Rathskeller. It was several block north of the harbor but well worth it. The food was GREAT and everyone was so nice. Would go back there again. Loved walking around Victoria at night. The next morning we were on our way to Vancouver. Took a ferry then a bus. Vancouver: Another great blue sky day.Our hotel was the Fairmont Water Front. All I say say was WOW. We felt like the Beverly Hill's Hillbilly's.........:) We took a city tour and what a difference this one was from Victoria so much better. Alot of work going on in the city getting it ready for the 2010 Olympic's. We later on took ourselves on our own walking tour, shopped then had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory outside. It would have been a very nice dinner if you weren't bothered by so many beggars. The next morning the hotel took our luggage over to the ship for us and we took ourselves off walking the city again. We had a great breakfast at the hotel's food court and met some really nice people that worked at the camera shop there. By 12:30 we couldn't wait any longer so we took ourselves over to Canada Place to board the Coral. Coral: Great ship with really nice people working on it. The only neg I have to say was the size of the shower. Loved the food in the Horizon and the Bordeaux. What yummy desserts they both had. I found the massage that I had was a waste in my opinion. I've had better and cost less at home. Took in alot of the shows and enjoy the group Freedom alot. Played Bingo and didn't win the big jackpot...:( Had plans for that for another cruise. Ketchikan: I regret not having alot of time to explore this city due to the 2 tours we took. Saxman Native Village, got to dance with the natives which was cool. Then we went on the Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary. DH and I enjoyed this the most, got to see Salmon jumping up stream and got some really awesome pictures of it. Our friends took the Zip Line which they had alot of fun with. Juneau: My most FAVORITE TOUR was the Photo Safari by Land & Sea. Our guide Liz was the best helped us with our cameras to make sure we were taken the best pictures that we could. We had a short walk through the woods then to Mendenhall Glacier. Wow what a awesome Glacier. Afterwards it was our time to meet up with Gary to go on a boast ride to find whales and did we ever. I got some of the best whale tail shots. It was like we hit the mother load. He then took us over to this Island to see tons of seals and some Eagles. What a day...:) Our 2nd tour was the Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Bake. At first I didn't think this was going to be much, but it was another great tour in our eyes. Spent time at the salam creek and then back over to Mendenhall Glacier. But this time we walked all the way down to the viewing area at the bottom. The food at the Salam bake was very good. Afterwards we left and went back to do some shopping before the shipped pulled out. Skagway: It was a little cloudy for this tour. Went to Haines for the Alaska Nature-Wildlife Expedition. It was OK, but if I had to do it over again I would have taken the railroad tour. That was one of my biggest regrets of everything. All the Glaciers was very awe inspiring and left you very much opened mouth. We loved seating our on our balcony watching them go by. Whittier: We weren't in any hurry to leave Alaska so we took the Portage Glacier & Wildlife Center tour. We got taken out in a ferry up close to the Glacier and got to see some Calving. AWESOME!!! On the way to the Wildlife Center a bear ran infront of the bus. Wasn't time to take a picture but still was cool to see. The Wildlife Center was enjoyed by us all. We then took Alaska Air to Seattle, flying out the next day to come back home to S. F. This was a trip of a life time for us. Thank you all on the CC that helped me in any way. We've already planned on taking a Canada/New England trip in Sept 2008. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Coral Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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