Coral Princess Thanksgiving Cruise Nov 24 thru Dec 4. Captain: Giorgio Pomata Cruise Director: J.J. Ulrich Throughout the entire cruise the ship never changes time either forward or back although some port times were different. Passengers were caution about the different times when going ashore.
General Information I have a job, like many of you, that is high stress and very demanding. It is difficult for me to get away. And the only true way to get away is board a ship and head out to sea. I dont care for the hustle bustle of getting up for tours and prefer to just lay around the ship. My wife and I live in Boynton Beach, FL, which is about a 45 minute drive to Port Everglades.
This was our third cruise & .all on Princess. The first two were on the Caribbean Princess, East and Western Caribbean cruises. We enjoy shows, cocktails and always have a bottle of wine with dinner when eating out. Cruising certainly qualifies as eating out therefore we had a bottle of wine with every dinner. We brought five bottles on board, all reds. We also purchased bottles for those nights we did not bring our own. We also enjoy a drink (either glass of wine or martini before dinner). Also brought a CD player with small portable speakers for use on our balcony; a flashlight, noise machine for sleeping, small power strip with three outlets, cloths steamer, disinfectant wipes, and air freshener for bathroom.
We generally eat during the day at the Horizon Court, Pizza and/or Hamburger places. Evening meals were at the Bordeaux Dining Room Personal Choice.
Living close to the port has certainly advantages, and I salute those of you who have to fly into either Ft. Laud or Miami. It must be stressful and a pain to have to pack and haul all that luggage onto planes.
Embarkation/Day One (Dress - Smart Casual): We left our home and headed to Port Everglades at about noon. Arrived at the Port a little before on, dropped off wife and luggage pier side and parked in the garage at Pier Two ($12 per day). Hustled out of the garage and wife and I proceeded to board. Step one; quickly filled out the were you sick within the past 48 hours form. Step two; proceeded through security scanner; Step three: checked in at counter. Step four; boarded ship (passed on the photo op). There was virtually no waiting. We were in our stateroom which was located port side forward part of the ship (Aloha 404BB balcony) before 1:30 PM. Originally we booked Baja 408BC and we were upgraded early on to our Aloha cabin. Once in the cabin, took the Lysol disinfectant wipes and gave everything a quick wipe down as an extra precaution to insure things in the room are sanitary. Unpacked our carry-on luggage, including our wine and we were set.
Note: Our cabin was below the main pool deck. Occasionally you could hear a chair being dragged or footsteps if someone was running. However I did not find this to be problematic or frequent. I personally would not concern myself with this nor would I hesitate in taking the same cabin again.
Our cabin steward (Mr Watcharatoon), who was called Toon, greeted us. I asked for two robes, feather pillows and an egg crate. I told him it was okay to put the egg carte on in the morning when he made the bed. I gave him $10.
Writers Opinion: There is a lot of commentary on this board about tipping extra in advance. My philosophy is give a little up front and if they are responsive and pleasant throughout the cruise, then give them a little more at the end. We were provided with everything we asked for, so Mr. Toon was also tipped extra at the end of the cruise. Next we headed up to Horizon Court for some lunch. The majority of passengers seemed to be seniors, very few kids on board. As always, during embarkation, it was hectic at the buffet since everyone has the same objective after boarding and that is getting something to eat. A few people cutting in or jostling, but its going to happen, and I just shrug it off.
They had the hand sanitizing stations and most people were compliant. Unfortunately there were a few idiots who dont use the tongs and pick up cookies, bread etc. using their bare hands.
Writers Opinion: Lots of comments on this board about quality of food. Personally, I was always able to find something that I liked. I have no expectation that all the meals are going to be perfect for my particular taste. Yes, there were times when something on the buffet sat out a little too long and maybe dried out or the texture changed. I just passed or waited until the staff brought out a fresh batch.
After lunch, back to the cabin to see if our luggage arrived. Not yet, so we took a tour of the ship, which was gorgeous. Very clean, easy to get around and very helpful staff. Thanks to the posters on this board it was easier because of the tip about the trim in the carpet (red for port and blue for starboard). Makes it so much easier. Throughout the cruise I shared this with several passengers who I noticed couldnt get there bearings. When I showed them they were amazed and so thankful as if I shared an ancient secret with them.
After touring, we again checked for our luggage and it was there (about 3PM). We unpacked and put everything away. By then it was time for the muster drill. We headed for our station in the Wheelhouse Bar. After muster up on deck for the sail-away. The sun had pretty much set and we headed out to sea pretty much on time. We returned to our balcony to relax before getting ready for dinner. We have always selected Personal Choice and enjoy that option. We usually have a drink before dinner and like to eat around 8PM. Went down to the Bayou Cafe for a martini and listened to some jazz.
Since it was Thanksgiving I think everyone was having dinner in the dining rooms as that first night it was pretty hectic getting a table. The PC dining room is the Bordeaux. We generally dine alone, but in order to get seated we sat with six other people (three from England, two from California and one from Bermuda). All very pleasant tablemates. Out waiter was Joao Paulo from Portugal, and Apichat from Thailand. Joao seated us and said How ya dooin as in a Robert Dinero impersonator. Very good job too! He was an excellent waiter. Obviously, turkey was on the menu. Also lots of items with a pumpkin base. I opted for the Chateaubriand, which was excellent.
After dinner we headed for the casino.....should have went to bed, which we eventually did.
The main entertainment that night was the Welcome Aboard Show in the Princess Theater. Other entertainment included Max Sherman Band and Terry and Maya Duo in the Wheelhouse Lounge, Perry Phillips Trio in the Bayou Cafe.
Day Two/At Sea (Dress - Formal): Seas calm, sunny skies. Up at 8AM, the nice thing about our cabin location was being one deck below and slightly aft of Horizon Court. Every morning I would run up with insulated mugs, get some coffee, rolls, fruit etc. and take them back to the cabin were DW and I would have a lite breakfast on our balcony.
Writers Opinion: Now many of you may ask why not use room service. Heres why...I never know what time I want to (or will) wake up. And when you fill out the form the nite before you have to indicate what time they should deliver. So I am always worried the delivery steward will wake me up. Also, once I am up I dont want to wait after I phone in the order. In fact, on the next to the last nite we ordered the breakfast to be delivered at 8:30AM and the guy showed up at 7:30...said they had so many orders thats why it was early LOL.
Each day I would exercise, which I do at home also. On the CP I walked the Promenade Deck for a few miles each morning. Since it was a sea day we spent much of our time lounging around by the pool or on our balcony.
A word about balconies: Our balcony was covered, the overhang extended about 6 to 8 feet beyond the end of the balcony. The balcony was small (about 7ft across 5ft deep) and had a table and two partially reclining chairs.
As best I could determine (exclusive of bump-out sections) Aloha is covered, Baja is covered, Caribe, which are the biggest, are partially covered, and Dolphin is uncovered. The bump out sections vary a bit. Aft bump-out Aloha and Baja covered, Caribe partially covered and Dolphin covered. Fwd bump-out Aloha exposed; Baja, Caribe and Dolphin covered. Not sure about the balconies on Emerald.
The Captain has his cocktail party on this day in the Atrium. Free drinks are passed out by waiters. If you want something different then what is offered, just ask and they will bring it to you.
Next we went on to dinner. This nite we were seated at a table for two, which was fine with us. Our waiter was Steven. For the rest of the cruise we decided to sit in the section serviced by Joao and Apichat, our waitstaff from the first night. They were pleasant and fun, so before we left we asked the Head waiter for an 8PM reservation in their section, which he took care of. The head waiters for the Bordeaux are Godwin and Augusto, both excellent.
After dinner we went to the 10:15 show in Princess Theater which featured a comedian named Chas Elstner. Not my cup of tea&he just wasnt funny. I actually felt sorry for him as he was not getting a lot of laughs.
After the show we went to the casino to donate more money to Princess.
Note: Read the Patter carefully as several of the shows are in the Universe Lounge, not the Princess Theatre. When we went to the Princess Theatre we though we were going to see the production show Tribute, but it was in the Universe Lounge. Our fault! Day Three/Cozumel (Dress Smart Casual) Sunny and Hot: Ship anchored at Cozumel and it was necessary to tender ashore. However, tenders were provided by the port and were very large and accommodated lots of people (about 400). DW and I stayed aboard to just relax and lay back.
Had pre-dinner cocktails at the Wheelhouse Bar and enjoyed the songs by Terry and Maya Duo.
At dinner the headwaiter Augusto, brought us a special Shrimp Risotto as an appetizer. It was delicious.
After dinner went to see Sarge (comedian). Many people post great things about him on this board. I concur, he was great very funny. Dont miss him if he aboard during your cruise.
Day Four/Grand Cayman (Dress Smart Casual): Sunny/with occasional clouds. Anchored at Grand Cayman. Again, the port provided some tenders, in addition to those provided by Princess.
Went ashore at Grand Cayman. Many people were upset because most of the shops were closed (Sunday). However, enough were opened to meet our needs. DW purchased a gold bracelet and I got a gold chain. Also purchased two liters of Grey Goose @$26 per bottle. The shop wouldnt let you take it, they would have it delivered to the ship. It was delivered to our stateroom on the last day.
Since it was Sunday, they did broadcast some of the NFL games. They had the afternoon games PATRIOTS vs. CHIEFS and the 4PM game GIANTS at SEAHAWKS.
Drinks on our balcony before dinner. As I mentioned earlier, the location of our cabin was great, as I could run up to Horizon Court and bring down a plate of cheese, crackers, grapes, etc. to have with our wine/cocktails on the balcony.
Off to dinner, and again Augusto brought out a special risotto appetizer. This time it was a Chicken risotto. Godwin stopped by to taste our wine
Joao and Apichat were their usual charming selves.
Day Five/At Sea (Dress Smart Casual) Sunny Seas smooth: Spent a lot of time at the Lotus Pool. They had the roof closed and the area was ACd. Although, with the sun shinning thru the glass it was still pretty warm. It is a nice area to relax and read. Generally wasnt very crowded. I think it is supposed to be adults only, but there were a few Griswalds that had their kid there. I wouldnt mind except they were yelling and jumping in the pool and being somewhat disruptive. Also saw a lady with a kid in diapers (had a supposedly water proof pant over the diaper) in the main pool. As usual Staff did nothing.
Writers Opinion: I believe that you could do anything short of a felony on the ships and Princess staffers would never say a word.
This was the day of the Princess Grapevine Wine Tasting. $7.50 sign-up fee and if you order a bottle of wine for dinner they deduct $5 from the fee. You taste five wines during the session which lasted about and hour.
After the session we signed up for the Maitre d Wine Tasting at $25 pp. to be held at a future date
Other events included Trivia, Ice Carving Demo, Cocktail Demo, Line Dancing and of course Bingo.
Cocktails and Dinner, Augusto brought out a special appetizer of Carpaccio.
Headed for the Princess Theater to see the show Da Beat. Primarily singing and dancing by Princess performers. An okay show, they worked hard and it was enjoyable.
Off to the casino.
Day Six/Limon: Docked at Limon starboard side to the pier.
Relaxed in the AM at pool, etc. Went ashore in the afternoon and walked around the market place. Nothing remarkable, standard shops and merchandise. Went back to the ship and just hung-out. Sail-away at 6PM and as usual, watch one or two stragglers strolling down the pier about a half hour late. If I was the Captain those late comers would have arrived at an empty pier. Or perhaps I would have charged them the prorated rate for a half hour that it costs the ship to dock.
Drinks and dinner..it was Italian night in the dining room. Again, Augusto brought out a special risotto, this time it was Radicchio Risotto. For dinner I had the veal chop and after dinner a lemoncello.
To the casino for awhile. Had to get to bed early and set the clock (phone) for 5:30AM wake-up as we are arriving at the canal.
Day Seven/Panama Canal: Arrive early at the Panama Canal, it was still dark. But it was impressive as you approach the locks before daylight breaks. We had a pilot aboard who gave a blow-by-blow description as we proceeded through the canal. During transit I viewed the process from the promenade deck, balcony on Aloha deck and from the stern The upper-decks forward all have the tinted glass wind shields which making photographing difficult. We were fortunate to have the Celebrity Galaxy transit at the same time in the adjacent lock and slightly aft. I got good pictures and viewing from the aft public areas on Baja, Caribe and Dolphin decks. Also the view from the promenade deck is good, especially if there is a ship in the adjacent locks (which there should be).
It took a couple of hours to go through the locks into Gatun Lake. Arrive in the lake about 0830. We anchored in Gatun Lake and the tenders offloaded the passengers going on tour. Around noon time we weighed anchor and headed back into the locks for our return trip. There is plenty of time and opportunity for ample pictures.
Note: After the first trip through the locks, I went down to the photo gallery and downloaded my pictures (memory card) on to a CD ($9.95) and was ready to take more pictures on the return through the locks.
The gentleman providing the narration was very good and provided interesting information about the canal as the ship proceeded through the locks.
For those of you who may be interested you can order a Balcony Champaign Breakfast for $25 the night before. There will be an order form in your mailbox.
We pulled into Colon and docked starboard side to the pier. The Celebrity galaxy was on the other side of the pier. There is a small market place at the pier with vendors selling crafts, etc. It seemed to me that they were all selling pretty much the same stuff.
This night we had dinner in the Bayou Cafe. I have previously eaten in Sabatinis and Sterlings. I had Gator Ribs, Mud Bug Bisque and Jambalaya. DW had the filet. The sweet potato pie was excellent. I thought the service was below par, the food was no better or worse than the dining room. It wasnt very crowded and I think they only had minimum staff working as the host at the entrance was also waiting tables. I saw the reservation list and there was only nine for that night. The jazz band was good. The theme restaurants are okay, but I personally have no desire to return to any of them in the future.
Note: Today was $20 Bag laundry day. I remember reading on this board this service was available twice on a ten day cruise and the charge was $15 for a bag. Anyway they will launder all you can fit in one of their laundry bags for $20. I did a wash the previous day in the laundry room. Piece of cake. There are five stackable washer/dryers in the laundry room with iron, ironing board, change machine and soap/bleach/softener vending machine. I thing everything was $1. Did all I could stuff in my bag for $4.
Day Eight/At Sea (Dress Formal) Sunny seas calm: Today the ships shopping store had a 70% off sale. Foolish me, I though I would get a good deal on a Panama Canal t-shirt or something. What they were selling is all their Alaska merchandise&t-shirts, cups, hats, etc.
Maitre d Wine Tasting was held today in Sabatinis. Very nice, each of the head waiters did a presentation on one of six wines. These wines were a little more expensive than the Princess Grape Vine Tasting. Hors d'oeuvres (s) were served and there was a complimentary glass of champaign in addition to the six wines. The event lasted about an hour.
Other events included the ever present Bingo games, Fruit and Vegetable Carving Demonstration, Art Auction, Horse Races, Line dancing and Trivia
Tonight was the Captains Gala Dinner, lobster night. Big show in the theater was Curtain Up a salute to Broadway. And in the Universal Lounge Sarge gave a second show which was completely different from his first show. This one was excellent also.
Writers Opinion: I didnt care for the Universal Lounge, there is a huge problem with seeing the stage because of the layout and all the brass railings. Make sure you get to this venue extra early because there are not a lot of good seats. They do put it up on movie screens, but those arent so great either. Day Nine/Montego Bay (Dress Smart casual) Hot and sunny: Arrive Montego Bay, starboard side to the pier. Stayed on board ship. DW and I really enjoy the ship when many people are ashore. You pretty much have everything to yourself. Very relaxing and peaceful.
Spent some time away from DW and went to watch War of the Worlds in the Universal Lounge.
Pre-reserved/booked our next cruise. For $100pp deposit you dont even have to pick anything yet. Depending on what cabin you book in the future you can get a $25pp up to $100pp ship board credit. You can go through Princess or your TA. The reservation is good for four years.
Show this evening in Princess Theatre was Dan Bennett, comedian/juggler. He was pretty good.
Back at the cabin our Customs Form and Luggage Tags were waiting for us, even though we still had another full day at sea.
Day Ten/At Sea (Dress Smart Casual) Overcast skies seas moderate to rough: Last full day of the cruise. Unfortunately the weather was not conducive to sun and fun by the pools.
Went to the cooking demo. Staff made Caesar Salad and then had two passengers come up and cook Shrimp Fra Diavlo. After the cooking demo we went on the tour of the galley.
DW went to afternoon bingo (didnt win).
Day Eleven/Disembarkation Port Everglades: Arrive back at Port Everglades, and surprise, we did not dock at the pier (Pier 2) where we departed and where I parked my car. We berthed way down at the south end of the port some where near pier 30, not sure of the exact number. We were scheduled to get off after the early flight people. Disembarking was scheduled to start at 0830 but didnt start until 9:00. However, they quickly caught up and we were called at 0935 (five minutes behind schedule). I remember someone on the board saying if you use a porter you get a cab faster. Since I was all the way at the other end of the port I needed a cab to get to the garage where I was parked. Princess did have buses to transport folks like me, but I didnt want to wait. So I got a porter, he hustled us out, got a cab, even had him take me into the garage up to where my car was ( I gave him the $2 parking fee in addition to fare and tip). The whole process took about ten minutes and DW and I were on the way home.
In a nutshell, disembarkation was a breeze&even with us docking at the wrong pier.
Conclusion (Writers Opinion): It was a great cruise. The ship was full, but did not seem crowded at any time any place. The crew were fantastic. I was very impressed with the friendliness and professionalism of all the staff. My two previous cruises were on Caribbean Princess, which I enjoyed immensely, but Corals staff far exceed Caribbeans. Our cabin steward Mr. Watcharatoon provided everything we requested promptly and with a smile. He was in and out of our cabin, bed made, cabin cleaned, and towels changed as soon as we left. The headwaiters in Bordeaux, Godwin and Augusto were excellent and treated us like royalty. My wife is allergic to nuts and shellfish (why bother cruising LOL) and we notified Augusto of this the first night in the dining room. He came over every night, reviewed what my wife was ordering, and even brought us the next nights menu for review. The Maitre D Hotel Ignazio DAugustino was also great. He frequently stopped by our table to see how we were doing. Unfortunately, Ignazio had a medical problem and had to leave the ship on our return to Ft. Lauderdale and return to Italy. I wish him well. Left comments cards and extra tips for all of the above.
The food was good, the drinks were even better. Nice to get a martini for $5.50. Wine was reasonable priced. The ship was clean, no one got sick as far as I know. The weather was great and ten days was just right. Where to next? Read Less