1,012 Princess Coral Princess Cruise Reviews

Our cruise actually started in Seattle where we arrived at 9:00. After checking in with Princess and were told we would be leaving on the shuttle 'shortly', we sat in the baggage claim area for 2 ½ hours. After getting on the ... Read More
Our cruise actually started in Seattle where we arrived at 9:00. After checking in with Princess and were told we would be leaving on the shuttle 'shortly', we sat in the baggage claim area for 2 ½ hours. After getting on the bus we made good time until the border where we sat for an hour waiting to be cleared through Canada. If we had to do it again, we would have just flown into Vancouver. We arrived in the port at 3:45 and thought since the boat was to leave shortly, that we would be one of the last to board. We were surprised to see the long line to get back through security and immigration. Basically, the embarkation process was a nightmare. The positive aspect of the embarkation was that we missed the muster drill that had the passengers sitting in the muster sights for 1 ½ hours! Our room was on the 12th deck with a balcony. Very nice and comfortable. The only issue I had was that the robes that I had requested online before we left were not there and it took 3 attempts to get them. We did have a meet and greet on our first day on sailing that was supposed to be on the Princess Patters, but due to the late departure from Vancouver, the purser could not get it on the Patter. I was surprised to see that no one from the cruise ship greeted us. I have planned several meet and greets and have always had an officer (usually several) join us. I have to say I really did not see many officers (2?) the entire time I was on the cruise. I did not find the crew overly friendly. I had no issues with any of the service on the ship. The room steward was fine and food was fine - not spectacular. We ate a majority of our breakfasts in the Horizon Court - the dining room was more of a time commitment that we were not willing take. The Court had plenty of workers there, but they did not interact with the passengers. We get up very early, so did not have a problem with seat, though I did hear from others that late arrivals had difficulty finding a seat, especially while the glacier view was going on. After being seated, we needed to call a waiter to get coffee or juice. At one point, I went over myself to use the coffee carafe and was scolded. They weren't very friendly and the service was often slow. We ate dinner in the dining room (early seating). The servers referred to the two older ladies sitting at our table as 'mommy'. I am not sure what that was about, but I am glad they did not refer to me with that name - I would have definitely take offense. Other then the overly familiar names, the wait staff was very nice and the service was punctual. We did eat one night in the Bayou Cafe - the food and service was excellent! With all that being said, I do not go on a cruise for the food - though I have no problem eating too much. I used the gym regularly and found it more than adequate. It was a good way to work off some of the food We chose this trip based on the ports and our desire to see Alaska. We had planned our activities at each port based on cruise critic and did not do the excursions on the ship. Therefore, I cannot speak on the merits on those. We did extend our trip to Denali which was through Princess. I did talk to several people who did do some of the excursions and they seemed to enjoy them. We found most of the port easy to do independently and there were many vendors outside the ship if passengers did not have prior arrangements. The 10 hour train ride was long, but the scenery was beautiful. I was on the train when I saw my first moose! The Princess Lodge was adequate. My only issue was the long lines to get coffee. Unfortunately, it was not available in the rooms, so everyone was trying to get their caffeine before heading out of the day at the same time. I know they are a business, but providing a coffee service in the room would be a nice addition. Denali was very easy to do independently. We started into Denali at 7:30 and made it back in time for the dog sled demonstration .We were blessed to have great weather during our trip - even saw the mountain. The people of Alaska and Canada could not have been more welcoming and helpful. The trip from Fairbanks to Seattle was a long day. They had us get the bus two hours before the flight for the 10 minute ride to the airport. We took a short hop to Anchorage and sat again until our flight to Seattle. It was a shame that this could not have been coordinated better and had a direct flight to Seattle. The Doubletree hotel in Seattle was great - spacious, coffee, a warm cookie and close to the airport. Check in was seamless - I would stay at this hotel again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We just got back from the Coral Princess (Ghost Ship more on that later) 19 day Panama Canal Cruise Ft. Lauderdale to Vancouver and here is my review. We left Ft. Lauderdale on April 21st about 300 passengers short as many people including ... Read More
We just got back from the Coral Princess (Ghost Ship more on that later) 19 day Panama Canal Cruise Ft. Lauderdale to Vancouver and here is my review. We left Ft. Lauderdale on April 21st about 300 passengers short as many people including the captain were unable to make it over from Europe due to the volcano. I'm not sure if this is why the ship was so quiet but most nights the sip was desserted by 11:00 p.m. sometimes earlier. The demographics definitely leaned to an older crowd 60+ with maybe two or three children that we saw. Pre Cruise - We stayed at the Cambria Suites Hotel in Dania Beach. This is a new hotel and overall we were pleased with everything. The hotel provides free shuttle to/from the airport and cruise terminal. While we did have to wait a little while at the airport the service was excellent and the drivers friendly. The hotel provides a wheelchair shuttle (which we required) and may have been the reason for the delay getting picked up at the airport. The hotel has an onsite restaurant with decent quality food for a reasonable price. Breakfast buffet is $8.00 a person and a good value. The restaurant does not open during lunch time. The rooms are very nicely decorated with a separate living room area, fridge and microwave. Complimentary coffee is also provided (Wolfgang Puck brand which was excellent) The bathrooms are very large. Staff at the hotel were pleasant and very accommodating. We paid $99.00/night which was an excellent value compared to other hotels in the area which were almost double the price. Embarkation - We arrived at the cruise terminal by 11:00 a.m. and were onboard by noon. Other than the onsite Princess staff being a little rude when the special need group was brought up to check in this was the quickest and smoothest embarkation we have had so far. I did mention to the lady who was harping about them not being ready for us yet that she wasn't making me feel very welcome and she changed her attitude so I can't be overly critical about this. Meet and Greet - We held a meet and greet on the first sea day in the Wheelhouse and had about 50 people in attendance. I had the opportunity to organize it so any opinion I might provide would be biased. I did receive very positive feedback however. Other than the Captain's Circle Host (who send me a note to apologize) all the senior members of the ship stopped by to say hello. I should note that I sent invitations to them as my Princess contact provided me their names. We also had a gift exchange on our second sea day, also in the Wheelhouse which was attended by about 40 people. We had a great time and lots of laughs during the gift exchange which really went well. I would recommend to anyone going on a cruise to at least get on the roll call even if you don't want to go to the meet and greet. The information that was shared among us was really useful and it was fun to have others to share the excitement of an upcoming cruise with. Our Cabin - We had a wheelchair cabin B633 and it was well laid out and the bathroom was easily accessible. I rented a shower bench as the fold down seat in the roll in chair is not adjustable and doesn't feel as secure as a shower bench. I recommend anyone needing a wheelchair cabin to rent this piece of equipment as it really is safer and makes life much easier. The Ship - Having previously sailed on the Caribbean and Star Princess we found the layout of the Coral excellent and easy to get around once we figured out everything was pretty much reversed. The Horizon Court is forwarded while the Spa is Aft. The dining rooms are both forward as well. The Wheelhouse Bar is much larger than on the other ships we sailed but just as elegant. Sabitini's is larger and the Bayou is also larger than the Steakhouses on the other ships we sailed. The two pools on the Lido deck (one is covered) seemed to be bigger than on previous ships as well but we aren't pool people so I didn't pay a lot of attention to them. The Casino seemed a bit smaller but for the most part we didn't have problems getting a machine to play. The layout of the spa wasn't quite as nice as the larger ships particularly in the area of the thermal spa but the spa rooms were slightly larger. We missed having an International Cafe and Vine's but it didn't deter from our enjoyment of the cruise. The Sanctuary which is on two levels looked very nice and while we didn't take advantage of it on this cruise we would definitely consider in the future. The Staff - Probably the best overall crew we have come across so far on Princess. I'm not sure if this is because there are fewer passengers are if it was just an overall happy crew. Other than the Captain you always saw senior staff around the ship and available to talk to passengers. Our cabin steward, Carmelita was excellent and really paid attention to little details and how we liked things in our room. She would notice things like us using the extra bedding as a pillow and bring more pillows without us asking. When I asked for extra Kleenex she always made sure to have it on hand and instead of removing our wine glasses like on other cruises she washed them and left them in the room. Unfortunately she was moved to another area of the ship when we reached Los Angeles and our next steward was not nearly as attentive. We had traditional late dining and when I saw we had a waitress instead of a waiter I was a bit taken back. I'm somewhat old school when it comes to formal dining but our waitress Gabriella changed my tune with her outstanding and friendly service. She was such a delight and one of the highlights of our cruise. Unlike reports I've read on cruise critic our head waiter Alex and the Maitre' D Guiseppe were around consistently and both were very accommodating with any special requests we had. The bar staff were extremely friendly and helpful with drink suggestions. They remembered our names from the first day and always made us feel welcome. If you sail on the Coral make sure to find Mile the waiter who serves Crooner's Bar and Churchill Lounge (smoking and cigar lounge). He really is a lot of fun. The Cruise staff were everywhere and also remembered our names and had a smile a welcome whenever we saw them. We loved Andrew (ladies who wouldn't) who was a fellow Canadian and a real joy to be around. Billy Hygate was the CD and he and Andre (assistant CD) put on a great morning show which was always hilarious. I can honestly say I never once felt that our staff were looking for tips, they all seemed genuinely pleased to be there and to accommodate us in anyway possible. Dining - As I previously mentioned we had traditional dining at the late seating. The food was excellent throughout and seemed to be better than on previous cruises. We booked the Chef's Table ($75 per person) and were not disappointed. If you enjoy food and wine you should try this at least once. Sign up is limited to 10 passengers and due to the popularity of it 3 Chef's Tables were held on the first 15 days of the cruise. We ate at both the Bayou and Sabitini's twice each over 19 days and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Sabitini's has a $20 per person surcharge and the Bayou has a $15 per person surcharge with an additional $5 for lobster tail (well worth the value). The Island and Coral are the only two ships with a Bayou which I thought was much better than Sterlings or Crown Grill. We didn't eat in the Horizon Court very often but enjoyed the meals we did have. As I previously mentioned we missed having the International Cafe but enjoyed the specialty coffees at the Patisserie which does not serve food. We had pizza a few times on the Lido Deck which was pretty good and my DH enjoyed the hotdogs and hamburgers at the Grill on the Sun Deck. Our travel agent sent us a gift of the champagne balcony breakfast which we enjoyed while docked of Cabo San Lucas. We have done this on both our previous cruises and enjoyed it thoroughly. There is a lot of food so be prepared. My DH doesn't like smoked salmon but we were allowed to substitute eggs Benedict. Entertainment - For some reason the main rooms on this cruise didn't seem to have the calibre of entertainment we enjoyed on previous cruises. Crooner's which is usually one of the most popular places on the ship had a woman who most staff and passengers thought was awful and this was evident in the number of passengers who abandoned the lounge when she was playing. My DH a former musician said she was a competent piano player but she sang and played way to high which was a turn off and probably a killer for anyone with a hearing aid. The band in Explorer's lounge Indigo was okay a decent band with a good guitarist and pleasing to listen to. The band in Wheelhouse was again okay but not up to level of bands on previous ships. For the most part this is all very subjective and travelling with a former musician you get a different outlook on things but the Crooner's entertainment was really brutal. The ships house band that backed the entertainer's was great. We saw the comedian Al Katz who was awesome. A musical review of the Beatles, Rat Pack, Beach Boys, and Diva's was extremely well put together and enjoyable. We also saw a show by Jackie Wilson's son Bobby Brooks Hamilton that was very good. Unfortunately the night we went the crowd seemed to be in a coma or sitting on their hands so it didn't have the energy it could have had the crowd been more involved. The Ports - I wish Princess would give a bit more time in some of the ports as we would have loved to explore a bit more. Aruba was quaint and the shopping area was varied and had some good deals. Cartagena is a fascinating port but the vendors just spoiled it as they were way to pushy and probably did themselves a disservice by turning off the tourists. This is one port were more time would have nice. Costa Rica was another nice port with a nice selection of vendors with very reasonable prices and while you could barter the prices were so good you really didn't need to. Going through the Canal was just amazing and I would do it again in a heartbeat. We really enjoyed Huatulco and were surprised at how beautiful and for unblemished it was. Cabo San Lucas (we didn't disembark) was also gorgeous and we enjoyed the time sitting on our balcony and just watching the activity in the harbour. Acapulco has a gorgeous harbour but I found it to be overcrowded. We did take a taxi tour and had some fantastic views of the harbour and also saw the cliff divers. We rented a limo in Los Angeles and took a tour of the highlights and stopped for a bit a the Farmer's Market. Since we are Canadians and have been to Victoria we didn't do any touring but if you go there for the first time be sure to go into town at least. Overall - We had a wonderful cruise but it really was like a ghost ship with things shutting down early almost every night including the casino. We are not big partiers but there were nights when we walked around the public areas at 10:30 p.m. and didn't see one single passenger. I think this is in most part to the demographics on longer cruises. After 19 days cruising we were ready to come home and never eat again. Notes to Princess - Is it really necessary to have sale tables set up near the dining room, we found this tacky and it blocked passengers entering and leaving. If you sell a 19 day cruise why does everything have to be reset after 15 days? We got a new cabin steward, had to have casino and internet credits reinstated and also started our billing process again along with getting new cruise cards etc. We found this entire process very disjointed. With all the technology available today there should be some way to avoid this disruption to passengers. The staff on the Coral Princess are awesome I hope you realize what a treasure you have with this group of staff. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Richard and Cathy's Trip Report for our cruise on the Coral Princess From Feb 19- Mar 7 2010. I am not going to get into a play by play of every detail but just some general observations from each day. Preparation: We booked this ... Read More
Richard and Cathy's Trip Report for our cruise on the Coral Princess From Feb 19- Mar 7 2010. I am not going to get into a play by play of every detail but just some general observations from each day. Preparation: We booked this cruise while on the Emerald Princess almost 3 years ago. We cancelled it once and pushed it ahead to this date so this trip was a while in coming. We booked Princess Air because at that time it was $600 pp there and back including transfers and hotel. That couldn't be beat. Once we got our ticket information however we decided to use Westjet credits to fly directly home as they had us on a milk run going through Seattle that wouldn't have got us home until past midnight. Westjet got us home at 5:00 pm. Fri Feb 19 Our good friend Mike drove us to the airport. On the way there we realized we forgot our bathroom bag, where else but in the bathroom. After taking a quick mental inventory we decided that there was nothing critical in the bag. We arrived there at about 6:00am for an 8:00am flight. Normally lots of time but for some reason customs was backed up for "miles". Unusual for our airport. We flew NWA which became Delta before we left. They charge for your bags. Not one bag free then a charge, they charge for all of them. Luckily we found this out and paid in advance. Cathy wanted to get duty free on the way out but they were boarding by the time we got through customs so we rushed right onto the jet. Oh well, maybe we can get some in our stop in Minneapolis. Minni is a big airport. Luckily we didn't have to clear customs again as we did it on our side. We found duty free but of course because we are technically flying from the US to the US we couldn't purchase anything. We found a small store where we bought toothbrushes, contact lens cases and solution. We were hungry (no food on these flights) so we went to a brewpub for my first beer in almost 2 months. Tasted great so I had another. ? Flew onto Fort Lauderdale where we were met by a Princess Rep and shuttled onto a bus to the Hotel. It was a Sheraton Suites and not too bad. Had a bedroom area and a sitting area with a small kitchenette. We ate dinner at a diner (cool) where Cathy surprised me by having the ½ pound hotdog. When they brought it out they gave it to me assuming I'd be the one chowing down on the monster dog. Back to the hotel and asked at the front desk for a cab so we could get the rest of the items we forgot. Turns out they had a shuttle so he took us to a Walgreens. Did you know they sell beer and wine at Walgreens? I do now. We bought the remainder of the items we needed and I picked up 2 cases of beer with the intention of drinking some and taking the rest on to the ship. This actually worked out well. They had wireless internet that you had to pay for in your room, or it was free in the lobby. I went to the lobby to send my first of what was going to turn out to be almost daily emails home. Great having a laptop. Went up to the room, watched a bit of Olympics then went to bed. Cathy was forced to drink vodka and 7up for a nightcap as she never got her duty free and the bar was closed by 11:30 pm. Sat Feb 20 We woke up and walked to the diner for breakfast. We put out our bags to be picked up and I headed to the lobby to check email as Cathy had the start of a headache. After a brief rest we went down to the lobby and waited for the bus. Hopped the bus to the port where there were several ships in Port, including the massive Oasis of the Seas. Check in was a breeze. It was about 1:00pm so there were no lines. Got our documents right away and proceeded on board. Once on board we made reservations for the "Chefs Table". This is very much like our Nait wine dinners but made for your table of 12 only. It also came with wine parings so at $75 each we thought it was worth it to try. More on this later. We unpacked, I think I brought too much stuff. We also redeemed our pre-purchased wine and beer vouchers for our sail away beverages and internet time. Actually we brought on two bottles of wine and the leftover beer (still cold) so we started on that first. Cracked them open, toasted our trip then went to wander around. This is when we first began to notice the general age on board. Pretty much all senior citizens. We are not young by any means but felt like kids on this ship. We did the obligatory muster drill and then proceeded to wander around and have a few bevy's. My bevy of choice was Budweiser in the aluminum bottles. Bar staff got to know this very well! We went to dinner and met our tablemates. A couple from Alberta, a couple from Ontario and a couple from the southern US. One fellow (Alberta) was a barbershop singer and one couple (Ontario) were Dixieland band members. We all had a variety of different interests and I think it was a good table. I am normally a bit quiet so I thought I'd break the mold and be outgoing that night, introducing myself and Cathy and trying to initiate conversations. I wasn't impaired or anything, I just thought I'd try something different. Cathy said she'd never seen me like that. I asked her if I embarrassed her or myself and she said no, it was just different. I cooled my jets a bit the next night. ? Sunday 21 Our first full sea day. It's starting to warm up as we head to Aruba. I won $100 in blackjack last night so feel pretty good about that. We had breakfast and headed out to wander around. We met the people from Cruise Critic at lunch today. Seems like a good bunch of people and should be fun to take tours with. Saw dolphins at sail away yesterday. Had a game of shuffleboard where Cathy accused me of making up the rules. Quit due to heat. Checked and sent my daily email before dinner. Did this pretty much each day. Tonite was formal night and I once again rented a tux. No problems whatsoever and a very convenient way of doing it. Mind you after 3 rentals you could buy one but this way here you don't have to haul it in your luggage. Cathy is freaked out by the mirror as it meets at a 90 degree angle and makes you look weird. Gave back my blackjack winnings in 3 Card Poker then went to explorers lounge and had fun until everyone went to bed at midnight. All the bars closed and Cathy couldn't get a coke with her coke card. We walked from one end of the sip to the other looking for a soda fountain. Had the ship to ourselves! They said to call room service but there would be a charge because its canned. I cracked by Toe on a table that night going to the washroom and think I broke it. Not much you can do for a broken toe so I have to grin and bear it. Good way to start a cruise! Always something with me... Mon 22 Another day at sea. We had breakfast and headed out to the sun deck. I put on some spray sun block that Cathy bought at the dollar store. Guess why it was only a dollar? I turned beet red later that day and had a bad tank-top farmers tan. Pretty funny looking. Sunburn was bad though. Peeled of layers of skin throughout the rest of the cruise and stayed out of the sun for many days. Put on tons of Aloe but still didn't help. Good thing formal night was last night. Wandered around a bit and found the "secret" doors to the front and back of the sip. No one there! Also found the laundry. At least Princess still has laundry. Great on a long cruise like this. Show tonite was the Adrian Zmed "look at me, I used to be someone" show. Pretty self promoting with many pictures of himself in his youth. Better than a kick in the groin I guess. Went to the casino where we met a couple called Linda and Bob. They were a fixture at this table all cruise, dropping and winning many hundred a night. She was having luck and I lost my money. I got up to watch and she started losing so gave me a stack of fives (about $50) and asked me to keep playing. I did and she started to win again. Wound up leaving with about $25 of her money which she refused to take back. Oh well, it was fun. Quote of the day: "At least my toe takes my mind off of my sunburn" Tue 23 Port Day, Aruba. We slept in a bit so we just walked around and hit the local shops and casino. Cathy managed to find some "supplies" to bring back on board. We weren't here for very long so were back on the ship after a few hours. It hurt to be in the sun and it was very hot! Luckily the casino was air conditioned. Cathy went to the washroom here to transfer her "supplies" into a water bottle to bring back onto the ship. We got back on board and found out we were "selected" to go to the chefs dinner so that should be neat. We went to the Bayou Cafe for and authentic fish and chips lunch. Very busy, bad service as many people were served after we were seated. We finally got served after I asked where our lunch was. Good fish. That night we went to Karaoke and only the staff participated as all the seniors are in bed. Although I did come up with a new song, "I'm too fat for my sexy shirt" which I sang back to the cabin, much to Cathy's chagrin. That was my quote of the day. Wed 24 Today was Cartagena. Had a light room service breakfast, fruit, coffee and a Danish. We went on a private tour with the Cruise Critic people. We had air conditioned vans for our group which was nice. Lee Miles tours I believe, they did a great job. We went to the Old Fort, a Monastery, the old walled city, the inquisition palace and a few other places. It was very nice but the vendors there are overly aggressive. Think of Mexico x10. To the point of I'd consider not going back because of the vendors. They literally placed hats on your head and shirts on your back. The country and the people were very nice, police presence everywhere, felt safe all of the time. It was very hot though, 104 degrees with 100% humidity. Even the locals said it was hot. My shirt was drenched and stuck to me like I was just swimming in it. We bought some coffee and Cathy bout a nice pair of emerald earrings at a bottle of hot sauce for a co-worker. Came back to the ship and lunch was crazy busy. Finally found a place to sit. We went to the lobby to make signs for the panama canal tomm and basically spent the rest of the day cooling off. We went to dinner and then hit the lounge for trivia and bed. We didn't make too many shows this trip as they either didn't interest us of were too busy. Thur 25 Went thru the canal today, very cool and very hot. Cathy was up early but it was too dark to see anything. I got up about an hour later and it was light enough to see stuff. We took lots of pictures and video. Yesterday we made a sign that we are supposed to hang from our balcony and they will take our picture from the canal side. We hung the sign over the edge of the balcony and waved our flag. They took pictures and it looks pretty good. We were on the ships video too which we bought. Off to the Chefs table dinner tonite. The Chef's Table begins when the Maitre d' personally has us put on chefs coats and escorts us to the galley where we see the busy dinner preparations and meet the executive chef, plus enjoy French champagne with four appetizers. The chef previews the details of the menu he created for the evening, and our group is paraded to our special table in the dining room. The multi-course menu is specially created by the chef, and is not offered anywhere else on the ship. We had a Lobster Risotto, Sorbet with Grey goose, a very cool trio of starters, Veal, Venison and Beef on cast iron hooks stand. They poured flaming brandy over the meat and had the veggies underneath. You took pieces off with tongs and had sauces to accompany them. Each course is accompanied by a detailed explanation of special features, preparation methods, and tasting suggestions. Specially selected wines complement the meal. During the dessert course, the chef rejoins the group at our private table to participate in a discussion about the meal, answer questions, and share culinary secrets perfected during many years of experience at sea and on land. Additionally, each couple at the Chef's Table received a personalized autographed copy of Princess' best-selling cookbook, Courses, A Culinary Journey. We also got a complimentary photo taken at the private table with the chef. One fellow at our table asked the Chef if he ever had Velveeta Cheese. The Chef never heard of this and asked what country this came from and what region etc. I told the Chef this was processed cheese and the Chef just rolled his eyes. The fellow was then known as "Velveeta Dave". Pretty funny moment. We were stuffed so wandered a bit and went to the Casino where Cathy won $500 playing 3 card poker. Put out some laundry to get cleaned and pressed. Quote of the day: While being sprayed with COLD sunscreen and flinching like crazy, "I feel like Joe Cocker at Woodstock" (if you've ever seen him you'd know what I mean). Fri 26 Took a Ships Panama city (early) tour today. Very interesting, very modern/rundown. Weird combination. Went to the Original city, ruins, and the old colonial town. Fastest growing city in the Americas. Once again, very hot. Can't stay out too long. Learned my lesson in Cartagena though. Wore a tank top under my Hawaiian shirt. Worked well and will be the way I do all ports for the rest of the trip. Were back on the ship by noon so went a did a load of laundry. Our other laundry came back nicely cleaned and pressed. Went to the dining room for lunch, which we did a few times this cruise as the food was better. Geritol cruise though. Everyone with canes or slow going and in bed early. Gets a little boring after a while as everything shuts down at 11:00 pm. Quote of the day: "All the old people are starting to look the same" Sat 27 Had breakfast in the dining room today. Rode the exercise bike this morning (Cathy went to lay in the sun) and while watching the TV found out there was a big Earthquake in Chile. Guess there is a small Tsunami heading our way. Turns out it just felt like a big swell, no big deal to us. Saw a few dolphins too. Bought some tickets for the slot tournament but didn't get in by 3:00 pm so will have to try on Thursday. Got some bingo cards so of course had to go play. Formal night tonite and Costa Rica tomm. Out tour got canceled so we are scrambling to find something to do tomm. Sun 28 We joined up with our Cruise Critic group for a Costa Rica Tour (Okey Dokey Tours). It was pretty cool actually. We fed monkeys stopped for some sugar cane juice and went down a river full of alligators. Got some nice pictures and Video and picked up a bunch of coffee. Hot again but not as bad as Cartagena. Stopped for a Costa Rican lunch on the way back. Not too bad, pretty busy though with lots of locals. Stopped at a grocery store so I popped in for some cold med's (getting a cold) and more Aloe and Cathy bought some more "supplies" for the room. Also grabbed 2 pounds of coffee. Bought some tickets for the slot tournament but didn't get in by 3:00 pm so will have to try on Thursday. Got some bingo cards so of course had to go play. Found out Canada won the gold medal in Hockey. Not that you know it watching the ships TV, there was ZERO Olympic coverage. If they showed the games in the lounges I'm sure they would have made back whatever it cost them to show it in liquor sales alone. Anyway we put on our Canada shirts and were parading around. Got a nice picture of us holding up the Canadian flag. Bought it. We went to Trivia in our shirts and got many high fives from people there. Also went to the Casino for a while. Mar 1 Mon Sea day so we slept in. It's been pretty fun the last 24 hours. We have been parading around in our Canadian shirts and been "in your face". Getting lots of high fives from the Canadians (over 500 on this cruise) and grumbles from the US people. Played elevator roulette and won a cap and beach bag. Played afternoon trivia and would have won except for 2 disputed answers. Watched some of the Movie "UP" on the MUTS on deck. That evening after dinner we went to the show and watched a very good flamenco guitar player. Then went to the lounge and watched the house band. Many people dancing until "DJ Seb" came on and started playing oldies. Trouble is he is young and didn't realize his oldies music had no words, he was playing Karaoke tracks! Room emptied out in 3 songs. I went up to tell him and he said "How am I supposed to know, these were recorded before I was born". Maybe I should have done it for him. ? Went full speed ahead for a medical emergency (they don't tell you what) so we were told to be ready for a rough night. Hate to hear about stuff like that but on a Geritol cruise, it can be expected. Turns out it was a stomach ailment of some sort. Tomm is Huatulco, nothing planned. My sunburn is peeling like crazy so I think I'll take a dip in the ocean and let nature do its work. Today's Quote of the day: "We're so bored, maybe we should take up smoking". Tues Mar 2 We stopped in Huatulco today. Got in 8 hours ahead of time for the emergency. Wasn't rough at all. We had nothing planned so just walked off the ship and sat on the beach. There was a very friendly dog there running around but getting in people's faces a bit much. I went in the ocean (cold) to try and get rid of some dead skin. Helped a little. Met up with Stu and Linda, some nice people from the CC group and chatted and had a few beers on the beach. Lots of crew here today, must be because of our early arrival. Did a bit of shopping and back to the ship. There was a Holland America ship in port that was rumored to have Norovirus on it. Not only that but it was said that a disabled passenger pulled themselves up on the rail and fell overboard, an apparent suicide. Never heard if any of this was true or not but it is listed here under Feb 26: http://www.cruisejunkie.com/events.html Wed Mar 3 Today was Acapulco. It must have been a booming place in its heyday. Reminded me a bit of Cuba. Still very nice but very poor or very rich. We took another private tour with the CC people. Great Tour, Tour by Van I believe. Small vans so we were able to get into places a big bus couldn't. Went down back roads and got to see the "real" Acapulco. Very enlighting and informative. Saw the Cross, chapel on the hill, locals market and the cliff divers. I guess the drug trade is still very much alive here which is why they have the very rich and very poor. Heard after we got back that there was a large murder over drugs that some tourists got killed in because they just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, eep! Back on board in time for a late lunch. Party on deck tonite was really well attended. First time I've seen a lot of people dancing. It would have went on longer but the band quit at 11:30. The one event they had people out for and the ship shuts it down, go figure? Sunburn is gone, pretty much brown now. One stop left and then home! Thur Mar 4 Another sea day. These are great for sleeping in and trying to catch up on your rest. Went for breakfast in the dining room, had a table full of complainers. We went to a lecture on metabolism, nothing really we didn't already know but it motivated me to go exercise. Cathy went to lay in the sun and read. Had lunch and then back into the sun for more reading. I joined her this time. Did our slot tournament that we missed earlier, did nothing. Watched another great sunset. Played Trivia with some folks from Edmonton that we met. Haven't won yet but keep getting close. Hit the casino for a bit, we've stayed away for a few days, and did OK. Walked away a little ahead. Fri Mar 5 Today we went on a whale watching cruise with the CC people. Up at 6:00 am then a 20 minute walk to the boats where we we early and had to wait about an hour. It was overcast and not too hot. We were on a small sailboat and Went to lovers beach, the arch and then out to sea. We did actually see a few as well as some sea lions. Had a light sprinkling of rain (one of the 6 days they get it) and it cooled down a bit. Picked up some Cabo Wabo and headed back to the ship. Took a while to get on as they were doing a medical evac for someone. Second one that we seen this trip. We are now done and heading for LA. Today is the last formal night. We'll have to pack up and hope we are not over the weight limit with 8 lbs of coffee (Columbian and Costa Rican)! Sat Mar 6 Disembarkation day: They tell you not to book any flights before 1:00pm. We've done this before and know better so we booked ours for 12:30. Princess tries to put the fear of God into you that you may not make your flight. We asked for early off the ship and were off at 8:15. On the bus and sitting at the airport by 10:00am. Very smooth and seamless and not a thing to worry about. We couldn't print off our boarding passes for some reason so had to go to the counter at the airport but still got emergency exit seating, which is nice. Got our luggage after a bit of a wait and out the door to a smiling Mike ready to pick us up. For this he earns a bottle of Cabo Wabo and a couple other small items. It's much easier when someone drops you off and picks you up but it doesn't always work out to be possible. This time it did and were thankful to Mike for his help. At home by 6:00pm about the same time we were supposed to board the other flight to Seattle! Final Thoughts: There is always something on every cruise that could bother you. Kids, teens, babies, Texans, old people. We don't let it bother us but there were an exceptional amount of seniors. Dunno why but I guess its till better than teens. At least you can have an intelligent discussion with them. I suspect our next cruise in November will have lots of Seniors and Texans on it as it's a Transatlantic and ends in Galveston. Luckily there are 6 of us (so far) so we can make our own fun. Yee-Ha y'all! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Flew to Los Angeles stayed overnight and joined the Coral Princess on the next day.We had booked an outside cabin with balcony and were not disappointed it was definitely worth the extra cost.Very comfortable cabin with TV,fridge hair ... Read More
Flew to Los Angeles stayed overnight and joined the Coral Princess on the next day.We had booked an outside cabin with balcony and were not disappointed it was definitely worth the extra cost.Very comfortable cabin with TV,fridge hair dryer and safe,large bed,shower room with ample supply of fluffy towels.Rommel our cabin steward was brilliant,he changed towels twice a day,bed linen was also changed every 2nd day and we always had plenty of toiletries.A nice touch was the bowl of fruit and the nightly chocolates on the pillow.The food was very good in the Horizon buffet where we took breakfast and lunch but preferred to eat in the Provence Dining Room for dinner (all waiter service).Excellent waiters,good choice of dishes and food well presented.The only negative comment concerns the time of first sitting it was stated as 6.30pm when we booked the cruise but changed to 5.30pm found this rather early.We enjoyed the three formal evenings and everyone looked very smart it was quite a change to get dressed up also nice to have an official photo taken too.Other evenings were classed as smart casual we thought the daily newsletter was a good idea as you knew what was on and it reminded us which evenings were formal.Choice of entertainment was good two theatres with live shows each night,bands played for dancing,movies under the stars on the horizon deck and a casino.The cruise itinerary was nicely planned with breaks of 1-2 days between Ports of call.You could pre book any shore excursions before leaving home but we managed to book two trips on board.Some excursions were also available with local taxi or bus at the port on the day.All of the drivers know where passengers want to go so its quite easy to negotiate a price for a city tour etc.One tip don't pay until you get back that way they have to return you to the Port gates.Most days Kenneth Williams a Canadian ex teacher gave an interesting talk on each port with photographs and suggested places of interest to visit.We found this was a great help especially if you had not visited any of the areas before.Of course the highlight of the cruise was the day transit of the Panama Canal and we had wonderful sunshine most of the day.The view from our balcony was just perfect to watch the progress through the Canal and we had the TV on so we could listen to the commentary from the bridge by Kenneth Williams the atmosphere on board was one of great excitement. We met some very nice people on board the ship and would definitely travel on the Coral Princess again some repeat passengers mentioned that standards had dropped but we couldn't comment as its our first time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We just returned from this great cruise. The Panama Canal was the focus for our trip, and that is why we selected this Princess cruise. We had not sailed on Princess in a while and I had read many comments related to the food and areas for ... Read More
We just returned from this great cruise. The Panama Canal was the focus for our trip, and that is why we selected this Princess cruise. We had not sailed on Princess in a while and I had read many comments related to the food and areas for improvement. Our expectations were more than exceeded. We live in the Northeast so we flew into LA two days before the cruise and stayed a the Doubletree Hotel in San Pedro, very nice, right on the marina, and they had a shuttle that took us to the ferry for Catalina Island as well as to the pier the day of the cruise. Boarding was smooth, we arrived early so we had to wait until almost noon to board , but then it was smooth and quick and we were in our room. Luggage was delivered within 2 hours. The mini suite was nicely laid out , the balcony had a table and 4 chairs. The only complaint I had on this cruise was with the bed, it was very uncomfortable, after I complained they changed the mattress , which helped but it was still not great. We had assigned seating , first sitting ( a first for us) , nice table mates, great service and the food was just fine, there is an alternate menu that you can choose from each night if you wanted to, plenty of choices and we enjoyed all our meals there. We did not plan to do to the dining room on the formal nights, but since we enjoyed our dinners so much, we did attend the last 2 formal nights, my husband wore a sport coat ( no tie ) and that was fine. The Horizon Court, with the buffet, is the same as it is on most ships, although it is a little congested when you first walk in. We are coffee drinkers and I felt that the coffee in the Horizon court was weak, but the coffee in the dining room and room service was better. Speaking of room service, they were exceptionally fast and efficient, we routinely ordered room service in the morning and in the evening for coffee and cookies. We did eat in each of the specialty restaurants, they were good, but we felt that the specialty restaurants on HAL and RCC were better My husband did the Ultimate Ship Tour and thoroughly enjoyed it, a small group of 9 people and they had a 3 ½ hour tour, very impressive, expensive, but he thought it was well worth it. He was amazed at how clean everything was everywhere he went. We spent more time in the casinos then seeing any of the shows so I cannot comment on those. We did look at the Sanctuary , but chose not to use it. We swam in the indoor pool and relaxed on our balcony or on the pool deck. Ports Cabo San Lucas- tender port- very congested waiting for the tenders, due to other ships in port. We just walked about the marina, very crowded area, we were originally going to take a water taxi to the beach- it was just too crowded in the area. Acapulco, since we had been there before as well, we decided to stay on the ship, very relaxing Huatulco- I had read the comments on CC re the nice beach right at the pier and that is where we went- we paid $ 5.00 and had lounge chairs and a beach umbrella, beach was great we just walked back to the ship. Puntarenas- we do not normally do ship tours, but we decided to do the Pacific aerial tram, the tram tour was not worth the money, there were 8 passengers and a guide, the guide was very good, we did not see great views, nor animals or birds , all we saw were trees. They had a buffet lunch that was okay and then there was also a 40 minute walk to see reptiles- we did not do that. It was very hot, there were a number of cruise ships in port, so it was very crowded, long time standing in lines, shuffling along. Puerto Amador- here we also did a ship tour but this one was worth every penny. We did the Panama Canal by boat tour. They took us by bus to the ferry that would take us through the Pacific side of the locks. The ferry was old but it had plenty of seats, both in the shade and in the sun, they supplied cold drinks the whole time and a very nice buffet. Excellent narrator pointing out lots of interesting information. It was great to experience the locks with a small boat and then the ship the next day. Our cabin was on Caribe deck forward , starboard side, so we had a great view of all the goings on. We did go to the front and the back of the ship to see it from a different angle , but we spent most of the time on our balcony. Seeing the mules in operation and the whole process is really inspiring. Cartagena. We took a taxi into the old city, we shared with another couple and it was $30.00 total. The taxi driver was offering to stay with us and take us on a tour for $60.00, we were not interested but we did see a number of these taxi drivers , with their blue shirts, walking with people in the city. As stated many times on CC, there were lots of people trying to sell you stuff , especially when you first entered the area, but once you said no, they would go on their way, the problem was there was so many of them. Lots of shops in the old city and it was getting quite warm .We had no problem getting a taxi back- this time for $ 10.00 Aruba- again 4 ships in port, when you get of , it is a little bit of a walk to the end of the pier- we were the 4th ship there. On the way back there was a shuttle to take you to the ship. We planned to take a taxi to eagle beach, but we did not see any- again very crowded, lots of stores- so we took the bus ( bus terminal right near the pier) Bus fare was $1.30 pp each way. We saw the sign for Eagle Beach, but we did not see any beach chairs, so we stayed on the bus and got off at the Hyatt. Great little beach, they charged us $10.00 for the use of the umbrella and 2 lounge chairs and 4 towels. The return bus stop was right outside the hotel. Fort Lauderdale, we chose early walk off and were off the ship around 0730, plenty of time to catch our flight home Overall a great cruise and great experience, time for relaxing and enjoying the warm weather and seeing the wonderful Panama Canal. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We took GoSedan to LAX. They picked up at about 8:30 AM. We were at airport in an hour. Check in at VirginAmerica was easy with emergency rows available. Flight was on time departure with early arrival in Fort Lauderdale. In Ft. ... Read More
We took GoSedan to LAX. They picked up at about 8:30 AM. We were at airport in an hour. Check in at VirginAmerica was easy with emergency rows available. Flight was on time departure with early arrival in Fort Lauderdale. In Ft. Lauderdale the bags were there quickly, the shuttle (free) from Hampton Inn came within 10 minutes and we were in our room quickly. We met our friends and went to dinner at Old Heidelberg Restaurant across the street. Good Wiener Schnitzel and reasonable prices. Next morning, after continental breakfast, took the 11:00 AM hotel shuttle (free) to the Coral Princess. Arrived quickly. Turned in luggage and went to pre-embarkation room for Platinum-Elite. In about 10 minutes were checked in and on to lunch. Our waiter, Bernard, was the same one we had on the Alaska cruise in September on the Coral Princess. His son Jayson was his assistant. We were at a table for 4 (really, two tables for 4 next to each other. It was next to our previous cruise table for 10. The ship had been in dry dock a few weeks before our cruise. They added "The Sanctuary", a for pay area where you can sun and swim by yourself—a clear attempt at generating more revenue at the expense of most passengers. They also added "Movies Under The Stars" and it was quite nice. You could sit in the outside pool area and watch events and movies on a huge LCD screen. This was a great addition. They had the two NFL league championship games on the screen live—a great touch. The ship was very clean, the personnel went out of their ways to be accommodating and friendly. The venues never seemed crowded. The dining rooms and buffet were full, but didn't seem overcrowded. The quality of food was up to Princess standards, and they even had lobster tail on two nights. In the buffet, they just had it out, so you could have as many tails and you wished. Embarkation and debarkation were very organized and went very smoothly. Next 2 days were at sea. Sunday we arrived in Aruba. We had not made any tour reservations, however, Marv booked a gold tour. The rest of us walked around Orangjestad and looked at buildings and the shops. On Monday we arrived in Cartagena. We disembarked and met Dora De Zubria who was waiting on the shore for us. She was on time, had a lovely van for the 4 of us, it had air conditioning and a driver. Our tour was to see Cartagena. Dora was very personable and accommodating. We visited the old town, the cathedral, and fortress. We were also driven to the top of a hill that housed a beautiful church. It also had the 14 stations on the drive up. There were a lot of well-armed guards as a festival was coming where people walked the stations. The road up was blocked, but Dora got us through. We also visited the inquisition jail which has been transformed into little shops. While walking through the old town we saw two different gentlemen who had sloths clinging to their torsos. The sloths were somewhat active and you could see the face and claws very well. Dora was magnificent. Well-informed, directed us quickly and efficiently, spoke excellent English, and was willing to modify our tour as we requested. She can be contacted at www.cartagenatours.com. Our next day Tuesday, was our transit of the Panama Canal. We arrived about 6:30 AM and transited the 3 Atlantic locks in about 3 and ½ hours. During the transit we had a large ship in the lock adjacent to us so we could watch the process with the mules and gates. We then sailed Lake Gatun and the Culebra Cut. Next was the Centennial Bridge. We then entered the Pedro Miguel Lock with the same large ship beside us. Next were the two Miraflores locks with the same adjacent ship. We passed the Miraflores observation center and decided not to take the tour of this the next day. The skyline of Panama City was visible and was very striking and modern looking. W also saw the Bridge of the Americas. We then sailed to Fuerte Amador bay and anchored for the night. Wednesday we tendered in and met with Almiza Tours just outside the tender area. There was a nice A/C van waiting with a driver. We told our guide, Elio, that we would prefer to cross the Miraflores Locks part of our excursion off our tour and add more of the Panama City area. He was very accommodating. We went to the French Embassy area and walked around. We visited the park, went on the shorefront for views. We then climbed a hill outside of town, which had a guard at the entrance to a small park at the top. The view here was fantastic. Both Panama City and the Panama Canal. We then went by some of the buildings that were destroyed in the Noriega war with the USA. We drove through the old town and walked visiting the Cathedral and old town area. Then we drove through the high rise downtown area. Next we went out to Old Panama City and viewed the ruins. We went to the museum—Museo del Canal Interoceanico de Panama, but chose not to go in. We then drove to and crossed the Bridge of the Americas. We stopped at the China Memorial on the bridge for photos and souvenirs. We then returned to the ship. Elio was wonderful, spoke excellent English and showed us everything we wished to see. We arranged it through Almiza Tours aka My Friend Mario tours at www.myfriendmario.com. Booking was easy and he communicated quickly and clearly. Prices were as stated in booking. No deposit was required. Our next stop, after a day at sea, on Friday was Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We had booked a tour with Odyssey Tours of Costa Rica, dealing with Diego and Alvaro who are brothers. They were waiting for us right off the dock. Diego was going to look for another tour, so we went to the A/C van and met the driver. Alvaro then gave us an overview of our tour. We had requested a tour to see as many animals as possible. We started our drive along the highway with Alvaro describing the area. He then stopped on the side of a hill and got out and looked for monkeys in the trees. There were none, so we continued on to the entrance to the Carara National Park. Alvaro paid for us and then we drove back about 2 miles to another entrance. A gated dirt road was the path—the road went to an Indian village about 40 km inland. We went here to avoid the tour bus crowds which would make seeing animals unlikely. The hike was about 2 km each way. It was an easy hike along the dirt road. About 1 kilometer in we came on a group of 4 capuchin monkeys frolicking in the trees along the road. We got pictures and one of the monkeys jumped across the road. Alvaro had a single lens scope—very nice—which he trained on the monkeys. For all of the animal we would see he would do this, and after we viewed it, he would take our cameras and take pictures of the animals through his scope—very nice. We also came on some beautiful large iridescent butterflies. About 1 ½ km in we came on a pair of scarlet macaws. One was sitting in branches, and the other was eating dates. We then came on our goal, the lagoon area. Here we saw a small crocodile, Jesus Christ lizards, boat-beaked heron, and an Aracari. Alvaro got us some great pictures of the latter with his scope. On the hike back we saw the macaws and an iguana. We next drove to a road that went to a colonial village resort and went beyond its entrance to get a great view of the ocean and a beautiful waterfall. We then visited the resort and its shops. Next we drove to the seashore and a small village where we viewed some more scarlet macaws. We then went into a little. Local restaurant and had plates of wonderful fresh fruits and drinks (included in price). We started back and stopped at a bridge over a river where we saw several dozen large crocodiles sunning themselves on the bank. We then went to the village of Orotina to view the sloths the villagers had put in the trees in the park to discourage the Grackles from nesting there. Besides the sloths, we got a great view of a large gray owl. Then we went to a small house in the village that had souvenirs for sale. Then we proceeded to the town super market and purchased Costa Rican coffee for gifts—price was very cheap, and Alvaro even used his super market loyalty card to get a discount. We then drove back to the pier. The tour was great. We saw lots of animals, Alvaro was doing everything he could so we could see more. He brought his scope everywhere which really enhanced the viewing. The lunch was very nice. Alvaro and the driver were both personable and did whatever it took to make the tour comfortable and enjoyable. Diego and Alvaro can be reached through www.odysseytourscr.com. They were excellent at communicating, provided everything they promised and more, and were very reasonable. After a sea day, we arrived on Sunday in Huatulco. We tendered in and walked around the lovely village. Many shops and food establishments. Vendors were not aggressive and the place was exceptionally clean. It was not too hot, and views of the ocean and beaches were pleasant. We got an extra 3 hours in port because they arrived early to take care of a medical emergency on board. Monday we were in Acapulco. Our tour was with Tours By Van. Rudy met us on the dock and he led one group and we had a guide named Miguel. He took us to a van, A/C, with driver. It was a 14 passenger van for the 4 of us, so it was very nice. We drove through the Mercado, seeing all of the stores, including, the hanging chickens and beef. Next we drove out to Las Brisas and the giant cross. We went to an overlook to view Puerto Marques bay. Next we drove up narrow roads to the top of a hill and a lovely house. We walked into the car port and had magnificent views of Acapulco, the bay and our cruise ship. We passed on lunch. We then drove to the Zocalo and walked all about with Miguel giving us details of the buildings, history and other anecdotes. We went into the Cathedral and a service was on that made it even more interesting. As always, the car would let us off, we would walk, and then the car would be waiting at the end of our walk, saving us not walking back through the same area. Next we went to Quebrada to see the cliff divers. We paid an extra $13.50 for two drinks and seats in a lovely restaurant with a covered patio overlooking the divers. It was magnificent. Next we went to Casa Blanca Hotel which was confiscated by the police. We climbed to the second floor and had more wonderful views of Acapulco. Next we went to the Diego Rivera murals. Finally, we went to Johnny Weissmuller's house. We toured around the grounds. We then returned to the ship. The tour company, owned by Rudolfo Fregoso, was effusive in communications. He kept his word on everything promised and provided even more. He was very reasonable and his associate Miguel was extremely knowledgeable. He was a history teacher. The web site was www.tourbyvan.com. Our next stop, after a sea day, was Cabo San Lucas. It was Wednesday. We tendered in to take a Princess whale watching tour. We boarded the vessel. It was not too crowded. We easily found seats. They provided free drinks—water and sodas. They also provided guacamole, salsa and chips. We drove out beyond the arch and point. Then we found whales. It was incredible. We saw a mother and baby as well as other humpback whales. The best part was we saw the whales breach at least 30 times, sometimes as close as 25 feet from the ship. It was exceptional. We also saw several dolphins. After our tour, we walked around Cabo San Lucas and then boarded the tender. The entertainment on board was good. The comedians were funny, the musicians were competent, and the production shows were professional. As an added plus, Adrian Zmed of Grease and TJ Hooker fame put on a musical revue. The shows were shown 3 times (probably a cost cutting measure), but for the passengers it meant that the shows were less crowded and could accommodate all those interested. The next day was a sea day, then we arrived in Los Angeles. We took the choice to disembark with our luggage in tow. They let us off by 8:00 AM. We were through customs and on the street by 8:20 AM and our GoSedan was there in 5 minutes. We were home by 9:30 AM. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We sailed on The Coral Princess on the Los Angeles - Fort Lauderdale sailing, January 6-21, 2010. The Coral Princess has recently came from dry dock, and parts of the ship shine. Others, such as the lamps in our stateroom, are the old ... Read More
We sailed on The Coral Princess on the Los Angeles - Fort Lauderdale sailing, January 6-21, 2010. The Coral Princess has recently came from dry dock, and parts of the ship shine. Others, such as the lamps in our stateroom, are the old lamps and are faded and peeling, and the carpet looks like someone has trued futilely to clean it. The ship was very clean and the crew did a fantastic job of maintenance. The Oasis Pool became a favorite due to it being quiet and serene, especially on sea days. We encountered several interesting things while on the cruise. Leaving Costa Rica, the ship had heavy seas and we got hit with 100+(yes, 100+) mile-per-hour winds. Certainly rocked us to sleep. Then, leaving Columbia The Coral Princess assisted in a rescue of sailors that were on a tuna fishing vessel. We didn't pick up any survivors; however, we had word that 15 of 18 were rescued. Our suite was bright, and sizable, with a walk-in shower in the bath. The room was kept clean and tidy by our efficient cabin steward. Food/Dining - The food on the Coral Princess is pedestrian. The Horizon Court has at times marginal quality during the evening meal. We had anytime dining, and are, as was others we dined with, convinced that the waiters-in-training on The Coral Princess are assigned to anytime dining. Dining Orders were mixed-up; coffee and soft drinks were served with the beverages sloshing all over the place. Entertainment - The production shows were nothing short of fantastic. The on-board entertainers (just WHERE did they get Adrian Zmed???) were good to fair, except in The Crooners Lounge, where Larry Dunsmore was a true delight. Ports - all great; and what can be said for The Panama Canal.......breathtaking would be a vast understatement. Huatulco Mexico is up-and-coming; a real gem. Room Service never failed in their excellence and attention to detail. Guest Services was great when they listened to the passengers and followed through; abysmal at most other times. Very disappointed. We ate at Sabbatini's for dinner one evening, and it was superb. Just like dining at an Italian home in New York. Overall, a decent cruise; however, Princess falls short in some areas, and attention needs to be paid to the people that are paying for the cruise. The Tour Desk staff was knowledgeable and forthcoming in their suggestions; very professional and friendly. Both boarding and departures were well organized. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This was our fifth Princess cruise and we have never cruised with anyone else. All our friends in the USA think they are the best. However this one we felt a little disappointed. As always the ship was spotlessly clean.However we believe ... Read More
This was our fifth Princess cruise and we have never cruised with anyone else. All our friends in the USA think they are the best. However this one we felt a little disappointed. As always the ship was spotlessly clean.However we believe that the choice of food in the evening in our dining room had been drastically reduced and the service on our table on some evenings was truly diabolical. On many occasions we had to ask for refills of our drinks and on one night it took 90minutes before our first course arrived. In contrast the service in the Horizon Court was as good if not better than ever. Friendly cheerful staff greeted us at any time of day or night and tables were cleared efficiently without interruption or fuss. They were attentive and shared conversation with us whilst doing a superb job. The entertainment was ok but we loved Billy and Collette.The WAKE SHOW should be bottled and shipped to the world media. A real tonic and great start to every day. As always there was so much to do but the Panama transit and Cabo San Lucas were our favourites. Excitement broke out on the ship as we cruised away from Acapulco when many dolphins followed us but this was exceeded by the whales as we left Cabo. How priviliged we were to see such beautiful creatures especially as we never expected to see them. Christmas and New year celebrations were good but were better in 2005 and 2007 on the Sea Princess. Maybe because the guests on the Coral were mainly from Mexico and the USA whereas the Caribbean roundtrips attract younger people with families from England. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Coral Princess 7-22 November 2009; LA - Ft Lauderdale via the Panama Canal A bit about us - mid-50s with 13 cruises between us; 6 on HAL. This was our first Princess cruise and we are converts!! Our jobs require us to travel worldwide ... Read More
Coral Princess 7-22 November 2009; LA - Ft Lauderdale via the Panama Canal A bit about us - mid-50s with 13 cruises between us; 6 on HAL. This was our first Princess cruise and we are converts!! Our jobs require us to travel worldwide frequently (more than 2 weeks a month), so we book a cruise vacation for pure R&R and to spend time together after hectic work schedules! We booked our own airfare and embarkation hotel, but used a TA for the Princess booking. We arrived a day early and stayed overnight at the Doubletree San Pedro. Very nice hotel with lots of cruisers! After check-in, we ventured out to a nearby Target store where we stocked up in bottled wine and bottled water to hand carry on-board. The hotel shuttle dropped us off at the San Pedro cruise terminal at 11am. Princess check-in was not open, but after a short wait, we were checked-in and boarding the ship right before noon, way ahead of the crowds! We were in a mini-suite, B223. Baja deck, starboard. Very nice cabin. Queen bed. Full-size sofa. Two TVs. Balcony with 4 chairs and a small table. Largest closet space in our cruising experiences! Super cabin steward who quickly responded to our requests. Our upfront cash tip directly to him may have contributed to the attentive service. We chose first seating, requesting a table for 2. We quickly found out that our 5 month request resulted in a table for 4. When we inquired about a table for 2, we were told our best bet was "Anytime" Dining which took reservations beginning at 8am each day for that specific evening. After a very disappointing dinner with our other two table assignees and their obsessions on discussing their health issues, we were on the phone the next morning BEFORE 8am trying for a table for 2 and after redialing a dozen times, we were able to confirm a table for two in the "Anytime" dining room. It was during that day we received notice that a table for 2 was available during first seating in the Provence dining room! We were delighted!!! Unlike any other cruise line, we found the dining room staff extremely overworked. It would not be uncommon for us to sit and wait for 10-15 minutes for service or for dirty dishes to be removed. We would grade the Provence dining room food good, but the service fair. The Horizon Court buffet on the Lido deck is similar to herds of cattle at the trough. There are various food stations along with a drink station. Passengers are dashing from one food station to another with filled plates and cups!! The worst part is when you finish eating, the only exit is back thru the food station area. A severe design flaw that desperately needs a remedy! We would grade the Horizon Court food very average. We enjoyed an evening at Sabatini's. LOTS of food; in fact just too much food! We were warned to eat lightly throughout the day and we did and were still stuffed. We would grade Sabatini's as very good and the service extremely good. Pool side pizzeria had some great pizza. Usually 3-4 varieties. The afternoon cookies and milk was a neat snack, but it was only served in the pool areas. Hubby found the coffee card a great value as he enjoyed numerous trips to the Patisserie. We found the Coral Princess in tip-top shape as it had only been out of dry dock 2 weeks. The newly installed Movie-Under-the-Stars (MUTS) was great when there was a movie!!! Mostly it was utilized for pro-football. We took the Ultimate Ship's Tour and it was well worth the $150 each!!! Besides the tour, we received mementos of the tour, a chef's jacket, a fluffy bathrobe, personalized stationary and many photos taken throughout the tour by the ship's photographer. We were with the understanding that NO cameras were allowed during this 4 hour tour, but many in our group (there were only 10 of us) took pics, but were stopped when we were on the Bridge. At the conclusion of the touring, you spend around 45 minutes in the Captain's conference room chatting about the ship and the Princess company while enjoying champagne and appetizers. We were all over that ship, from the Princess theater performers dressing room, to the many refrigerator and freezer rooms (yes, actually in these rooms), to the engine control room, to the kitchen prep areas, to the medical center, to the laundry. At each "department" we were greeted by the officer in charge and given a briefing on the department's role. Extremely interesting!!! We found that Formal Evenings were stretched to a new meaning on the Coral Princess. While hubby enjoys wearing his tux on these evenings, we did witness gentlemen in plaid shirts and sweater vests complete with tennis shoes. We can only surmise their jackets fell overboard! Evening gowns were nearly non-existent, with most ladies wearing a sparkly top and black slacks, even though there were a few ladies wearing tennis shoes. We were shocked to see passengers wearing shorts in the dining room at dinner on more than one occasion. It was obvious to us that the dress codes established for each evening was just on paper (PRINCESS PATTER). Luckily we planned ahead as we embarked the ship wearing slacks. Our luggage did not appear in our cabin until AFTER dinner upon sailing from San Pedro, so it took about 8 hours for delivery. We enjoyed a 50 minute couple's massage in the Lotus Spa. To avoid the products sales pitch, we were very careful on how we completed the pre-massage questionnaire and it seemed to work! Cost $289 plus tip. Our shore excursions consisted of: Cabo San Lucas - Costal Highlights. We visited a cacti and succulent garden, glass blowing factory and shopping in the village of San Jose del Cabo. Nothing to write home about! Acapulco - Bravo Rafting on the Papagayo River. Super trip on Class 2 and 3 white waters. Good raft guides! If you are in shape for hiking thru the mountains to this river and paddling for over an hour - don't miss this! Huatulco Mexico - Eco Walk and Birding Adventure. The early morning walk was hot! Since we aren't birders, we were interested in the walk and it provided some great scenery, especially along the ocean. Our guide had a keen sense of the local birds and provided many sightings. Puntarenas Costa Rica - The Original Canopy Tour At Mahogany Park. AKA zip lining. WOW - what an adventure!! The tree "landings" are a bit scary, but once you get over that - it's a blast!!! Cartagena Columbia - Cartagena By Land & Sea - A tour of a fort, followed by herding us into this small strip mall where local merchants wanted to make a deal! Concluded with a very small boat ride thru the inner bay, returning nearby where the ship in along side. Aruba - ABC's of Aruba - A visit to a butterfly farm, which more correctly should be named a sanctuary, a quick tour of an aloe factory and sales room and a tour around the island. Definitely nothing to write home about!!! All shore excursions departed from the Princess Theater where you sit and wait until your excursion is called and then you are led thru the ship, thru security, down the gag plank, onto the pier and onto waiting tour guides and transportation. Great for second graders, but a bit overkill for paying adults! Didn't understand why we just couldn't report to the tour group on the pier. It took us eight hours to transit through the Panama Canal. Yes, we were up at 430am to secure an unobstructed deck view as we entered the first lock in the pre-dawn darkness! It is simply amazing how the ship makes this tight maneuver. One of the more unique views of the canal was in the Provence dining room, eating breakfast, while the ship rose from the bottom of the lock. You have a great view of the canal walls as it is rising!! Since our mini-suite had a balcony, we enjoyed most of the day there as we sailed from the Pacific locks to the Atlantic locks. Our on-board lecturer, Mr. Emile Baladi, did an excellent job of providing narration the entire 8 hours through the Panama Canal in addition to the Scholarship@Sea Enrichment Lectures. There were numerous on-board activities we enjoyed, but we steered away from bingo, the casino and the shopping lectures!! Evening entertainment provided a good variety of shows and entertainers. We quickly learned that it's a slow process getting out of the Princess theater when you are seated close by the stage! We didn't miss the GOOD MORNING CORAL PRINCESS - The Wake Show with Cruise Director Billy Hygate and Donna Dobson broadcasted on the ship's TV. A light-hearted start to each day! The most disorganization we experienced was disembarkation. Printed information was provided on procedures and we complied by reporting to our designated lounge at the designated time only to find the disembarkation schedule was nearly 80 minutes behind schedule. There were NO ship-wide announcements for disembarkation. You had to be in the designated lounge to hear the ship's staff yell out your group, which also caused confusion. There were passengers everywhere as the lounge was filled due to the backlog, with more passengers coming in 10 minute intervals. Not a good way to end an enjoyable cruise. Princess could learn from HAL's disembarkation procedures which permit passengers to relax in their cabins until they are called for disembarkation. Luggage was organized on the Ft Lauderdale pier fairly well to facilitate quick retrieval. We breezed through US customs and passport control and onto the Princess coach airport transfer, arriving at the Ft Lauderdale airport hours prior to our flight departure. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
About 18 years ago, I cruised on the Grand Princess and the Dawn Princess. I boarded the Coral Princess with the image of exceptional service, dining and entertainment similar to my experience those many years ago. Much to my ... Read More
About 18 years ago, I cruised on the Grand Princess and the Dawn Princess. I boarded the Coral Princess with the image of exceptional service, dining and entertainment similar to my experience those many years ago. Much to my disappointment, the dining was less than enticing, service virtually non-existent unless you were a regular at the bar scene and the entertainment..well, this is the 1st cruise ever that I had experienced repeat performances and the talent had alot to be desired. What ever happened to those Vegas type shows with all its splendor? The spa facilities and treatments were utilized on a daily basis. Service here was very good but of course at a rather high price but then to be pampered is part of cruising. The cabin stewart was less than enthusiatic and I had to request replenishment of the shampoo etc. Not a big tip left for him! Speaking of tips, I much prefer to tip the individuals that I feel have provided good service and not this automatic charge to the onboard account. I will say that when I went to the Passenger Service desk, they willingly credited back the automatic daily charge without even asking me for a reason. From what I gathered...I was not alone in this request. Does that tell you something?? I must say in all fairness, embarkment and disembarkment went very quickly and without any problems whatsoever. Taxis to the airport were plentiful and very reasonable...$12.00...much cheaper than the ship transfer! I have not yet given up on the Princess line and have just booked passage on the Sapphire Princess for March 6th to the Mexican Riviera. If this trip turns out similar to the Panama trip, then it will be my last on Princess. Having travelled several other lines, I have come to expect a certain standard and we all pay enough for these cruises that we should not have to settle for a lower standard. Seait Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was my first experience with Princess, as my other two cruises were both with Holland America (on Vista-class ships), so I'll preface this review with those HAL experiences as my benchmark. I did tons of reading about Princess ... Read More
This was my first experience with Princess, as my other two cruises were both with Holland America (on Vista-class ships), so I'll preface this review with those HAL experiences as my benchmark. I did tons of reading about Princess before we left, and that helped raise my expectations before we even left. My wife and I, along with our pre-teen daughter, cruised on the Coral out of Vancouver on 24 August 2009. We were on a Princess CruiseTour which actually started in Seattle I'll post comments on our land portion separately, on the Boards. Following our bus shuttle from SeaTac, embarkation went very smoothly. The pier facility is beautiful, and check-in was fast and very efficient. Signs at check-in, as well as at the ship's front desk, clearly announced that our sailing was completely sold out, yet things moved well. Our cabin a BA-category balcony on the Caribe deck was nice and efficient. Our daughter's bed folded down from the ceiling and actually worked out quite well. The bathroom is tiny (no surprise) with no bath. They do, however, make very good use of the space. It worked for us. We had expected a small seating or couch area, as on HAL, but the large balcony compensated. Our cabin had the extra-large, partially covered balcony recommended by our travel agent and on this site. We had a table, two chairs, and two chaise chairs, and it was twice the size of the balconies on the other decks. The weather kept us from making full use of the outdoor space, but it was nice to have during Glacier Bay and College Fjord. I have to agree, however, that the tiered balcony layout on Coral is disconcerting. There is no privacy and there is very much a ball-game feel to it. I also recommend people to avoid balconies on level 8, as they are fully exposed. In addition, LARGE drops of rain and/or condensation fall down into the middle of those balconies from the ship's superstructure, so even if it's only foggy, people on those balconies get wet. I rarely say anyone using them. If you're in a dry climate and want full sun, then go for them otherwise, stay clear. The ship is nice and was consistenly clean. The staff does a great job of keeping public areas clean and tidy. That said, there was also a "blandness" to the ship. Artwork is cheap and generic (nod to HAL's outstanding art collections) and cheap plastic flowers abound. We also consistently found ourselves going the wrong way on the ship. We spoke with many people who shared our confusion. The large elevator banks are not color-coded or named, so it is easy to get turned around and/or walk the wrong way. After a while, we realized this never happened on HAL, as the Vista ships have glass, outside elevators, so at any elevator bank, you can look outside and get oriented to which way the ship is headed. In addition, Coral is a large ship, so walking the full length from helm to stern takes a long time. There are a couple ship layout aspects which we found particularly annoying, You cannot reach the main dining rooms Provence and Bourdeaux from any of the primary elevator banks. You must go down, and then walk forward or aft to either a lone "short" bank or walk down the staircases in the main lobby area. If you choose to walk, then you are "naturally" funneled past the boutiques, or you wait in large crowds for the elevators. Secondly, the Churchill smoking lounge is located in the main atrium area, and it is hard to avoid. Having to consistenly walk past the lounge, which understandably stinks of cigarettes and cigars, represents poor planning. We opted for set seating, during the early 5:30pm session. Our table was wonderful, and the service was consistent. Set seating is reserved for the Provence room, while the mirror room below Bourdeaux is for anytime seating. I routinely saw very long lines of people waiting for anytime seats. Food in the main dining room was good, but not great. HAL's run circles around Princess in the food arena. Many dishes sounded great on the menu, but often disappointed me. In fairness, many of our table mates truly enjoyed the food and saw it as a high point, but for me, I was consistently let down. We did every dinner save one in the main dining room, one speciality restaurant (Sabatini's), two breakfasts in the Provence, one room service breakfast, and all others in the Horizon Buffet on Lido Deck. Our Provence breakfasts were okay. On the first morning of the cruise, we opted for sit down, and the service was simply awful. I had to ask for coffee four times, and waited more than 15 minutes before someone finally brought over a refill. During that same breakfast, I watched two of the servers loudly argue with each other, right in front of several tables. Can you tell it's the end of a long season for them? ;-) Our room service breakfast was okay. Unlike HAL, only continental breakfasts are available for non-suite guest or premium guests. This was a big disappointment. Okay the Horizon Buffet...my biggest pet peeve. The upstairs buffet was a HUGE disappoint for me. The area is laid out VERY, VERY poorly, and seating is a real problem. The buffet lines on both sides are hemmed in, in that there are food area on two sides, with salad "islands" in the middle. With people coming in from both the front and back (you are funneled that way), the area was always packed and had a horrible cattle-car feel to it. The food, also, was low quality and often didn't look appetizing. Harping back to HAL, the layout of their Lido buffet is far superior, much more open and easy to navigate. We found ourselves looking for ways to avoid Horizons, as it was simply unpleasant. Nothing I had for lunch there was even really enjoyable. Finding a seat was also difficult at times. I had their pizza a couple times served poolside, which allowed me to avoid Horizons. I give Princess a big thumbs up on their fresh pizza. Also, thumbs up on their rolls the Horizon always had fresh-baked rolls, which stood out often, they're all I ate. The Grill, however, was quite poor. Tried a hamburger and Bratwurst, both of which I could not each. The Brat was not fully cooked, and the hamburger was rubbery and cold in the center. I did not venture a second try at the Grill. As noted, we did try Sabatini's. Service was excellent but the food was simply okay. As their premium sit-down place, I'm surprised they chose Italian. My main dish Chilean Sea Bass was not fully cooked, but I was so full from umpteen previous courses, that I simply passed. We did not try the other specialty place Bayou Cafe', which costs $15 pp, as opposed to Sabatini's $20 cover charge. I understand that the Coral is heading into dry dock following a couple Panama Canal crossings in the early fall, and that the Bayou is being replaced by an English Pub. This seems like a good move, as we rarely saw more than one table with people eating at the Bayou. Entertainment was good. The two productions put on by the "Coral Dancers" were both excellent, and I give them huge props for being able to dance during very rough seas one night. A comedian was excellent, while the ventriloquist was sophmoric. We missed Adrian Zmed. All that said, I was disappointed by the scheduling of events. Several shows often conflicted, while others were repeated on later nights, but with no alternative shows, meaning that some nights were too busy while others were left empty. With no advance schedule, there was no way to know if a show scheduled for that night might be repeated later in the week. There was also a entertainer from Skagway who played music and spoke in the Wheelhouse Lounge, but it was scheduled during the early seating, so we were only able to hear the last 10 minutes or so of his very entertaining set. We attended on talk by the accompanying naturalist, on "Alaska A-Z." About 20 minutes was lost because no one could figure out how to project from a laptop in the Princess Lounge, but it was good. Many had to leave early (around "p" for us) as it was formal night, and we had to be read for 5:30 seating. Also attended the "Shopping and Port" lecture, which was a huge waste of time. We went looking for the port info, but instead found ourselves at what amounted to a taping of QVC. I know many people go cruising to shop, but this was a too over the top. I suggest they remove the "port info" from the lecture description. On the service front one word: inconsistent. Some folks really stood out, while others were inefficient and even rude. Here, too, HAL is far, FAR superior. Little touches were missing, too. Some of these are very nit-picky, but they're noticed. No towel animals at night. No real flowers anywhere on the ship. No regular announcements from the captain or cruise director. No daily news summary delivered with the daily "Princess Patter." On that note, the Patter was not very well laid out, and devoted WAY too much space to sales advertisements. Other things were missed, too. The enclosed pool the Lotus was drained one day (with no notice as to when and if it would reopen), and the following day it was filled but it and the two adjacent hot tubs were covered by safety net. We asked at the Front Desk when and if it would open. The clerk seemed annoyed I asked, but did call someone to ask they didn't know either. The clerk told us he'd call and let us know he never called. On a bigger scale, the thermostat in our cabin did not work. By the third night, as we went north, it was down to 65 degrees in the cabin (according to a travel clock). As we left the ship in the morning around 0700, I called the Front Desk and asked that it be checked out. We returned at noon and nothing had been done, so I called again. By supper time, nothing had been done, so we stopped by the Front Desk on the way to dinner. They said it would be done immediately. We returned to our cabin around 0900pm and still no heat, and the temp was down to 62. I returned to the Front Desk and spoke with the same lady. This time, someone from Maintenance did arrive and was able to repair the HVAC in about 10 minutes, and for the first time during the cruise, we did not sleep in sweatshirts and socks. I give Princess credit for the high number of public laundries they have on the Coral. This was very helpful, especially given that most cruise guests were continuing on land portions, and needed to do some laundry. Detergent and each load were only $1.00 the only bargain on board, and I applaud Princess for not charging more. While the tenor of this review may seem on the negative side, I have to call out two things which made this cruise stand out for us on the positive side. 1) The children's program, and 2) ALASKA! We could not have been happier with the kid's program; our daughter was in Shockwaves. We were told there were a total of 60 kids on this sailing, with 12 in our daughter's age group. That said, seeing children was a rarity and Shockwaves usually had 5-8 kids there at any time. Cion and Ana were fantastic, and the activities were well scheduled and executed. The kids area is very large and I cannot say enough nice things about the program. Alaska! If we had gone on Princess for the cruise experience alone, then I would have been disappointed, but the beauty of Alaska more than compensated. I'll write more on the Boards, but summaries appear below. Glacier Bay very poor weather, but spectacular. The ranger narrative was excellent, if not hard to hear at times. Our "Patter" said we'd be entering the Park around 0600am, so ourselves and many others we met got up early to watch. That said, we didn't arrive at a glacier until several hours later. College Fjord a big highlight for us. Admittedly the weather was great, but I think we would still rate this higher than Glacier. The captain got us very close to two glaciers, and to watch the icebergs calve was spectacular. Just to HEAR the roar of the cracking is something I will not forget. The problem with College, however, is that during a northbound cruise, you don't arrive at the first glacier until around 5:30, right when many are sitting down for supper. This meant the dining room was pretty empty (and it's the last night), and those of us who chose to attend supper, missed a lot of viewing time. In addition, this is the night of the "Baked Alaska Parade," which was missed by many, and those of us who waited (a long time) for the parade to come upstairs from the Bourdeaux and enter the Provence, lost another half hour of viewing time. Disembarkation at Whittier KUDOS to Princess. With people heading to all kinds of places, and departing by train, boat, and bus, they were remarkably efficient. Nothing but good things to report on this. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
My husband and I just returned from a 13 day Cruisetour, JA6 7-night Voyage of the Glaciers Cruise with 6-night Land Tour featuring 2-nights Copper River Princess Lodge, 2-nights Denali Princess Lodge, 1-night Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a 13 day Cruisetour, JA6 7-night Voyage of the Glaciers Cruise with 6-night Land Tour featuring 2-nights Copper River Princess Lodge, 2-nights Denali Princess Lodge, 1-night Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge and 1-night Anchorage. I'll only cover the Cruise portion and will review the land portion on the message boards. We sailed on July 27 and returned Monday, August 9. The weather was unusually warm this whole time, and we greatly benefitted from the extraordinary visibility. This was the vacation of a lifetime, and we returned rested and relaxed. I should preface my comments by mentioning that my husband and I really needed a restful vacation, and we intentionally chose not to try to do too much in the ports. On previous cruises, we've returned exhausted, and we wanted to avoid that. Folks who try to fill every minute will think we missed some opportunities, and they're right. But we achieved our goal of seeing Alaska while returning rested, relaxed and refreshed. One thing that stood out is how well organized Princess was with all the transfers, luggage, etc. they never dropped the ball once. You can really tell that Princess knows what they're doing. I'm astonished that they managed the logistics so well. All we had to do is show up when and where instructed, and everything worked. I had thought this might be irritating, but it wasn't - it really helped us to relax. The Ship: We were in Stateroom D305, which was on the Starboard side, right off the forward elevators. I was worried that it would be noisy, but aside from a couple of rowdy teenagers, it was not a problem. This ship is kind of strange in how the elevators are laid out. Almost every time we wanted to go somewhere, like the dining room, we had to change elevators. Oh, well. Our room was SMALL. I had forgotten how small the balcony cabins on Princess are. (Note to self: next time, get a mini-suite.) On the Carnival ships, a comparable balcony stateroom has a small couch, comfortable to sit and read. There was no such place in this room. The bed was much too hard, even with a foam mattress pad. The bedding was tired the sheets washed too many times, the pillows were smashed and too hard, and, yes, the shower was lilliputian. This is made worse by the grab bar that protrudes 3" into the already inadequate space. It was difficult to take a shower without flooding the bathroom, though we learned the technique through trial and error. (Don't turn the water on full blast unless you need it briefly to rinse hair, be sure to keep the shower curtain hem inside the shower stall at all times.) The Staff: I am always struck at the positive attitude of the Princess staff. I can't understand how these people can work as hard as they do for the long hours that they work and still be so pleasant and positive. But the crew were consistently wonderful. Day 1: We took the Princess Transfer from SEA-TAC to Vancouver, a very interesting and enjoyable bus ride. Due to a half hour delay at the border, we arrived about 3:30 PM, and boarded the ship very quickly. It was about 15 minutes from the moment we left the bus until we arrived in our room. In that period of time, we went through customs, infectious disease screening, baggage screening and ship check in. I've never seen embarkation go so quickly. The sailaway was delayed 'til 8 PM due to a minor mechanical problem, so we did the muster drill and then went to dinner. We got to the Bordeaux dining room before the crowd, and we were really glad we did. That first night, there were long lines to get into anytime dining and I really didn't think it was handled well. We made a standing reservation for 8 PM and so basically avoided the problems associated with anytime. I think anytime is fine if you don't care who you sit with, but if you want a private table, it's better to have traditional or a fixed reservation. The food was wonderful. We pretty much stuck to the dining room for breakfast and dinner and some lunches because the food was better and the atmosphere a LOT better than the Horizon Buffet. The Horizon is so busy that it's hard to eat in peace. By 8 PM, we were on our balcony, watching the sun drop toward the western horizon and the ship make its way toward the inside passage. Beautiful. The views from our balcony were consistently wonderful. There's a lot of Alaska you can see only from a ship, and this itinerary is one that is really great with a balcony. We arrived very tired and stressed, and we spent a lot of time sitting on the balcony watching the scenery and the sea go by. Day 2: At Sea: One of the standout features of this ship that I really, really appreciated was the library. They had a row of comfortable chairs with ottomans where you could sit and read and relax while watching the ocean go by. This was wonderful and I spent many hours there. (I know, this wouldn't be important to everyone but it sure is to me.) We also liked the Lotus Pool, which was much more peaceful than the other one. There were multiple opportunities to attend lectures by the on-board naturalist, a biology professor from a state college in Colorado as well as the rangers from the various national parks and forests we visited. I really liked those it helped to make me feel that I was really in Alaska, not just sailing by. Day 3: Ketchikan: This was a short port call, so we just walked around town, purchased the stuff we forgot to bring and visited a museum. The town is kind of touristy, and doesn't feel authentically Alaskan. I attended a talk on the ship given by a ranger, who talked about what it's like to live in Ketchikan, and I really enjoyed that. After we sailed, we sat on our balcony and watched the scenery. Really breathtaking. Day 4: Juneau: We walked a couple of blocks into town and took the shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier, which is absolutely worth seeing. We also saw two bald eagles nesting, and flying. The salmon were running, and the bus driver stopped at a stream that was loaded, bank to bank, with salmon. As it was a sunny day, we considered doing the tramway to the top of Mt. Roberts, but just couldn't bring ourselves to spend the money. Probably should have. Day 5: Skagway: This was the highlight of the cruise for us. We rented a car from Avis and drove to Whitehorse, about a 2.5 hour drive. The scenery was breathtaking, pristine, reminiscent of the Swiss Alps. We stopped at several lakes and genuinely enjoyed the trip. Emerald Lake was very much worth seeing, but it wasn't the most beautiful of the lakes. This trip make us realize just how remote we were from any big city. After we sailed from Skagway, the scenery got better and even better. Words are inadequate to describe the beauty we experienced on this trip. Day 6: Glacier Bay: We selected this itinerary because it visited Glacier Bay, and we weren't disappointed. The narration by the park rangers really added to the experience. At one point, I was sitting in the library reading a book and dozed off. I awakened to see the Margerie Glacier filling the window. Just amazing. We spent a lot of time on our balcony listening to the narration on the TV. Day 7: Prince William Sound and College Fjord: More beauty, more glaciers. It's really sad but we got so that we almost experienced 'beauty fatigue'. Day 8: Whittier and Disembarkation: When we awakened on day 8, we were already berthed and ready to go. We arrived at our disembarkation lounge at the appointed time to find folks already starting to get off. Again, very well managed. All in all, a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
My wife and I have cruised eight times on Princess ships.  We decided to take the Alaska glacier cruise and figured it would be just as cheap to make it a round trip so booked back to back cruises making it a round trip from Vancouver.  ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised eight times on Princess ships.  We decided to take the Alaska glacier cruise and figured it would be just as cheap to make it a round trip so booked back to back cruises making it a round trip from Vancouver.  The alternative was to fly back from Whittier (Anchorage) or take the Danali interior train trip and then fly back but decided to leave this for another cruise.  We booked through Princess's web site and used the category guarantee which also states they will upgrade if available.  We booked interior going up and mini-suite back.  We received upgrades in both cases where the interior was upgraded to window and mini-suite to top category (AA from AC).  Booking on line when prices were low (usually around 3 months prior), we were able to book the interior for under $400 and the mini for under $900.  Considering the air cost for the extra Anchorage leg, transfer from Whittier to Anchorage, we figured this was a bargain of a cruise for two weeks.  Getting there: We flew into Vancouver a day early and booked into the Renaissance Hotel next to the Harbor area.  No problems getting in and caught a taxi for the trip in (about $40 with tip).  The hotel was nice and received an upgrade to a harbor view.  Very scenic and were able to watch float planes landing and taking off in the water.  Not much around the area as close to business financial area.  Lots of food places around though.  Went to Cardero's Restaurant and Marine Pub for dinner and was able to sit on the patio facing Stanley Park.  Since the weather was in the 80's it was a great evening and it was great sunset time to have a dinner there.  The food was good as was the service.  Embarkation:  Although the hotel was within walking distance to the Canada Place cruise ship terminal, we took a taxi as you have to wind your way down to the correct area to find the entrance and the taxi drops you right off where they will accept your luggage.  Getting on the ship did not take much time at all.  We had arrived around 12:30 but had only two short 5 minute wait in lines:  One for passport processing and one for the Princess line.  Didn't matter that we were Platinum level princess cruisers as both lines were the about the same length.  Ramp up to the ship and we were on.  Using the web site to fill in all the required information Princess wanted (their PIF) makes it easier so all you have to do is sign your credit card form there and confirm the credit card.  They have a meaningless medical form which asks you if you've been sick the last couple of days but not sure people would truthfully respond to this. Ship Info:  We had actually cruised on Coral Princess in October, 2008 on the Panama 10 day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, so were very familiar with this ship.  It cruises with about 2000 people and of course they always say the ship is full to reduce the number of upgrade request on board.  The ship is smaller yet the open areas feel very spacious and not crowded.  You have to get used to the elevators as they are quite different if you've been on other Princess ships.  The central are the only ones that go to all floors.  Glass only reaches the atrium floors and forward ends on the 7 or promenade level as there is no 6 or 7 level access here.  Aft is similar to central but does not reach the top sun deck or  deck 15.  Princess for some reason likes to confuse you with calling all the levels by a name but when you use the elevators it's only by numbers to select.  However the voice in the elevator then calls out the floors by name not the number you punched.   Can be confusing for newbies.  Like most Princess ships, the main theater is in the front and the Lounge theater is in the aft.  The Horizon buffet is in the front and the Coral only has two large dining facilities.  The set time on deck 6 (Provence Dining room) and the anytime on Deck 5 (Bordeaux Dining room).  Exercise gym is in the back of the ship. Staterooms:  Going North we had a starboard side window on deck 5 (Plaza Deck).  Couldn't complain about  this as it sure beat the inside cabin we had paid for.  The room seemed a little larger as with the bed against the window, this seemed to open up more space.  The bathroom, of course, had the normal soap the walls and then enter the shower so your shower goes very fast as these are size challenged showers. Make sure you keep the curtains inside the shower too or you will flood the floor very easily.  The low lip is not helpful in keeping the curtain in so your body sways tend to knock it out too.  Outside of that, the beds are okay, mirrors help and hanging closet area is good.  Going South we had starboard Mini-Suite which have balconies.  Very nice as these have a full bath tub.  It's quite a change in size too as you have a sofa-sleeper sitting area and two televisions in the room (although they only give you one TV controller).   The balcony is great to view marine mammals in the water and the glaciers when the ship is positioned right. This should be 50% of the time but this depends on the captain and he doesn't really equal the times out and also does not include his approach positions.  I'll write more about this when I review the glacier viewings which were just spectacular.  Both stewards were good and attentive and aware of what our normal patterns were in order to clean or reset the room.  If you work with the steward, you won't bump into them when you want to use be in the room. Dining:  We were on anytime dining and the Bordeaux dining room on the 5th or Plaza level.  Anytime is misleading as you can arrange for a set time and table if you work with the Head waiter at the door but this you will find depends on who is in charge. On our Panama trip, the Head waiter did not do this and you had to phone in every morning early to get a reservation for a specific time and table.  Florian on this cruise was willing to set aside a time and table for you for the entire trip so you did not have to call in.  This works best if you are willing to eat late from 8 p.m. on.  The reason to reserve the table is the servers.  You'll find good and mediocre waiters and assistants.  We found two we liked the first night and then arranged for the same two for the entire time.  In this way, we developed a good relationship and they knew how we liked things served.  They would go out of their way to make sure we were happy and do extra things to help us enjoy our dinner.  We like dining alone so this arrangement worked very well for us.  Of course we tip extra all three (waiter, assistant, head waiter) which I know most cruisers on Princess do not because Princess tags on a $10.50 to $11 per day per person tip which is distributed to all the servers, stewards and others who serve you.  You can change the amount and or remove this from your bill but we feel that's a small amount for the service we receive and feel giving extra to our food servers is well worth it.  Keep in mind that the salary received by these servers is very, very low which is why you only see people from impoverished countries in these positions.  It's better than many jobs in their home country, but you or I would never work for their salaries and put in all the required hours which comes to over 12 hours per person 7 days a week.  The Coral princess has two upgrade small restaurants in which you are charged for the upgrade service and food you receive.  These are the Bayou Cafe (steak house) and Sabitini's (Italian).  We did not eat at either of these but have always heard they are good and you tend to overeat.  Other areas of food are the Princess pizzeria and upstairs on the Sun deck (15) the Grill and Bar for hamburgers, hot dogs and hot French fries.  There's also an ice cream bar and La Patisserie pastry or really a charge you coffee place.  And of course there's the all you can eat, 24 hours a day Horizon Court buffet.  We normally ate breakfast there or used hang card room service continental breakfast.  Food in the buffet is usually good but you should always try to eat dinner in the dining room.  To not do so is like wasting half the cost of your trip as the food in the dining room is superior in taste and presentation.  It will also allow you to eat many items you may never do so otherwise such as King crab, Lobster, Giant perch, sweet meat, etc.  Remember you can always order extra main courses if you don't get enough.  We've noticed that Princess has cut back the size of most food plates which is good as then I can always have room for some yummy dessert.  However, if you're a hearty eater, you can order extra as well as order items not on the menu.  Keep your eye out for the deck lunch specials such as a dessert buffet or seafood barbeque which are especially good.  Skip the so called "Sushi" buffets as they are pretty poor tasting with hard refrigerated rice.  All in all the food is still pretty good but not as tasty as what I remember in the past.  This has a lot to do with the quality of meat and other items which just doesn't seem to be holding up which I suspect is due to financial reasons.  Ports:  We had been on the round-trip inside passage cruise from Seattle in 2006 and as the same ports are used for this trip, did not do much excursions.  The docks all were fairly close to the cities and were available via a free shuttle or $2 per trip bus or within walking distance.  There's not much to most of the ports.  You'll run into the normal bunch of cruise port vendors (Diamond Int., Venetian Jewelers, Tanzanite Int., ...).  The cruise port specialist was a young girl and not a very good one as she was not very experienced.  As you are shopping in Alaska, you don't have to worry about duty as there is no duty since the shops have already paid it.  The towns have become more and more "touristy" but if you enjoy that aspect, you'll enjoy it.  Juneau probably has more "true" places to go to as it is the largest city in Alaska.  The other two ports (Ketchikan and Skagway) are pretty small and limited in what's available (e.g. try finding a grocery store in Skagway.  The one and only is at 4th and State, one block over from the main tourist road of Broadway).  My wife did take the dog sled tour in Ketchikan which she really liked.  They saw a bear on the side of the road on the way to the musher's camp.  We took the float plane glacier view in Juneau.  It was absolutely spectacular.  The pilot could have done a better job of showing things but we saw enough and the view was just wonderful.  I should point out that we had the most wonderful weather going North.  We were told this type of sunny weather where all of our days were bright sun had not happened in over 4 years.  Coming back south, we did not have as much sunny days and this affected the glacier viewing in College Fjord.  One reason we did back to back cruising was hoping that we would have at least one day of good viewing at each of the two main glacier viewings.  Instead, we had 3 spectacular viewings and one pretty good one.   Getting back to the ports, there is nothing much to these stops so don't expect much.  It is cheaper to pick up local tours but I noticed that the Princess prices are the same at times such as if you go up the Tram in Juneau, it's the same price.  Incidentally, if you keep your eyes open, there are Bald Eagles flying around the towns.  Glacier Viewings:  As mentioned, we had spectacular sunny weather going North.  Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau had temperatures in the 80's.  When we were at Glacier bay, Mt. Fairweather was bright and clear and you could see for miles in all direction.  The trip in and out was spectacular with a lot of calving taking place at Margerie glacier and we had a very clear view of the Grand Pacific Glacier.  There were lots of viewings of whales, dolphins, sea lions, bears, etc. but they are still only seen occasionally and it takes a lot of standing around to see these as the ship is moving at a pretty good clip except when you're near the glaciers.  There' the ship will slowly spin around for about an hour of viewing.  Park rangers hop on the ship and give a narration from time to time as well as make a presentation in the princess theater.  The next day trip into College Fjord was just as spectacular and as there are more glaciers and steeper hills, the view is just outstanding.  Again it was very sunny and made for wonderful views.  Coming back South, College Fjord in the morning was quite different as the sun position was not the same.  Glacier Bay was slightly overcast and you could not see the Grand Pacific Glacier as it was misty in that direction.  However the captain gave us a treat by entering the John Hopkin inlet and gave us a spectacular view of the Johns Hopkins Glacier as well as the Lamplugh Glacier.  It should be noted that the ship changed naturalist speaker and it turned out that the one on the South trip has been doing this for some time.  Barbara was really good and had a much larger presentation of the history and culture of the area as well as knew a lot of when you should be on deck to see different wildlife.  Whittier:  There was very little to see or do at Whittier which was the end of the line.  There's some small shops along the wharf now.  We had planned to go on a boat excursion there to kill some time as the departure time was 9:00 p.m. but they cancelled the excursion as not enough takers.   We were pleasantly surprised to find we didn't have to get off of the ship and just had to leave our clothes on hangers but fill up the loose stuff in our suitcases and they moved everything to the new cabin.  So we just lounged around the ship which is very strange when there's only a few people on the ship.  You could go on top and there was no one at the pool levels.  In any case, it was fun to see people moving off and on the ship, especially when the trains pulled in.  Shipboard Entertainment:  We were surprised to find a strong group of the four lead singers/dancers.  They were really very good compared to what we had encountered on previous cruises.  We thoroughly enjoyed their performances.  The music selection for some of the shows could be better, but you can't beat the Motown show which we were able to see twice.  In fact, we saw most of the shows twice and enjoyed them both time.  The other shows, such as the comedians, were okay but nothing to write home about.  The atrium musicians and performers were okay.   I tend to exercise a lot so know the gym equipment pretty well as I spend from 2 to 3 hours a day there if I can.  If you want to meet the leads, they tend to go up to the gym around 5 p.m. to use the equipment to warm up with.  By the way, the equipment on the ship was okay.  Nothing great and if you go in the late afternoon, rarely will you find a line up to use the equipment.  Although they have televisions to view, the sound system is a free for all as you don't have individual sets but shared sets.  Some people are so inconsiderate and turn up the sound so everyone in the gym gets to hear what's going on.  They need to get to the point where each equipment has their own set and people can use their personal head sets to listen to the audio.  Debarkation:  Debarkation was pretty easy but was done in a different method than we've encountered before.  Normally we would take our time getting of the ship and be a little later than what the times Princess wanted you to get off of to get to the airport.  We had purchased the bus return as it was about the same in cost as getting a Taxi.  Normally you get off, go look for your luggage which has been off loaded and stacked into color codes in the cruise terminal.  Not here in Vancouver.  Luggage for airport folks was loaded into trucks and moved by color code to the airport.  So once you arrived at the airport, you would then claim your luggage and then go check in at your airline.  So if you waited too long, your luggage was going to be left alone there in the airport,  It actually works pretty good in any case and it was still easy to find our bags as most of our color was gone by the time we showed up to claim them. Sick:  I got sick on the way back with a urinary tract infection so was given a first hand view of the medical department.  If you do get sick, you'll find that the medical staff is pretty good.  Not the greatest, but pretty competent.  They don't work with any of the medical plans, so everything is charged to your ship board account and you will have to send all the claims to your medical plans yourself.  The charges are a little high, but they did have some normal hospital equipment on hand and they didn't appear to be very busy at any time.     Summary and Hints:  All in all we enjoyed the back to back cruises on the Coral Princess.  If you take this trip, I wouldn't expect to have the sunny weather we had on the way North.  Coming South, we did run into rain and drizzle which we were told were the more normal for this cruise.  Luckily this was at the ports, after we had gone to the glaciers.  If you have a choice, the North trip is better as  the glacier viewing is timed better (no early morning viewing of College Fjord) and the sun position is better for evening viewings.  Although the ship turns around to give both sides glacier viewings, the port side is positioned better to see the glaciers if you have a balcony.  If you're going to splurge on a cruise, get a balcony on this cruise.   If you want an unobstructed view when approaching the glaciers, there are two little known open areas in the front of the ship.  They are located on decks 10 (Caribe) and 11 (Baja).  There is no glass to obstruct your view and the speaker systems are nice and loud on these decks.  There is a sign which seems to imply you shouldn't go past the door, but just walk right through on either the right or left side and you'll find a wonderful area to view glaciers as well as wildlife.  Once the ship starts to turn though, you'll have to find another place to view and when moving, it can be quite cold as the wind blows right in on you.  Finally, I would say that these back to back cruises were well worth the money and we thoroughly enjoyed the time spent on board. 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Sail Date June 2009
This was our second cruise.  Our first had been a longer cruise, in South America, on the Star Princess.  The Star was a larger, and in our opinion more luxurious ship than the Coral, but the latter was fine.  We had booked an oceanview ... Read More
This was our second cruise.  Our first had been a longer cruise, in South America, on the Star Princess.  The Star was a larger, and in our opinion more luxurious ship than the Coral, but the latter was fine.  We had booked an oceanview cabin and were upgraded to a oceanview balcony cabin, apparently due to the ship being far from full (the rates went down as time went on and we got an excellent deal).  It seemed that sometimes two restaurants were used for anytime dining, and sometimes just one.  Food was not great, but it was fine.  Worst part was that on two occasions we ended up sitting with people who seemed to want to impress others with their knowledge of food, and talked rather condescendingly to the staff about ingredients supposedly missing from the dish   The only dish which received generally bad reviews was the lobster, which we fortunately avoided.  It looked pretty gross.   There were a number of bands playing in lounges; most seemed very uncrowded.  I generally avoided the variety shows. We enjoyed the naturalist lectures, though one by a visiting park ranger from Glacier Bay seemed a bit perfunctory.  Since we had been on a previous Princess Cruise we were invited to the captain's party, which ended up being rather boring.  We did walk by a receiving line that included the captain, who, it was announced as we entered, would not be shaking hands (we had heard separately it was due to swine flu concerns, but it came across as rather arrogant.  The "party" itself merely consisted of sitting at tables, being served one or two very weak drinks, and hearing some short talks by staff (and a drawing).    Embarkation in Vancouver was quick and efficient.  Much better than our previous cruise's embarkation (in Buenos Aires).  Disembarkation in Whittier more compressed in time so more chaotic, as would be expected.  For us the highlight of the trip was College Fjord, even more beautiful than Glacier Bay, where the ship spent considerably more time.  Glad we had great weather at both stops.  It was difficult to hear the rangers who spoke over a P.A. system on the deck, but we heard enough to learn a few things.  The only rough seas of the entire trip came between College Fjord and Whittier, and that lasted for only a few hours.  The rest of the cruise was calm (definitely calmer than our Star Princess trip from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso the year before).   We had booked the Princess bus transfer from Whittier to Anchorage.  $55 seemed kind of pricey for a 90-minute bus ride, but the options were few, and at least it cost less than the train.  We stayed in Anchorage for one night, then took the train to Denali for one night, and on to Fairbanks for a night, before flying out.  In Denali we stayed at the Princess Denali Lodge, since it cost less than other places I found on the Internet.  The lodge itself was much like a big, sprawling motel, especially for those of us in rooms with exterior corridors.  In addition to the restaurants at the hotel, there were a few restaurants, fast food and otherwise, across the street.  We took one tour through the lodge, to see a sled dog kennel operation.  I found it less than thrilling, especially for the cost, but my wife enjoyed it.   Health note:  towards the end of the cruise, there was an announcement of an outbreak of Noro virus on the ship.  It was suggested that passengers try to use the toilets in their own cabins when possible, and to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, and to contact the health clinic if they exhibited any symptoms.  We saw no change in shipboard routine other than in the buffet line, where waiters with utensils served food rather than letting passengers take it themselves.  The man in the cabin next to us said his wife was quarantined and would disembark separately from other passengers.  We felt fine until we got to Denali, where my wife suffered bouts of diarrhea.  Maybe related to the ship, maybe not.  She did inform the hotel, who had someone look in on her, but when my wife asked to be able to stay in her room until it was time to depart for the train, she was told that would not be possible since the room was promised to an arriving traveler.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
This cruise departed from Vancouver and my daughter had gone a day early so we could have a day to sight-see.  I had booked at the Fairmont Hotel by the waterfront so our luggage would be sent over to Canada Place and we would not have to ... Read More
This cruise departed from Vancouver and my daughter had gone a day early so we could have a day to sight-see.  I had booked at the Fairmont Hotel by the waterfront so our luggage would be sent over to Canada Place and we would not have to deal with this and would not need a taxi.  The accommodations were very luxurious and we enjoyed our small say in Vancouver and enjoyed very much the Trolley Tour that we did and then walked around quite a bit.  May18 we began to embark around 1 p.m. and there were no lines and we just breezed through customs and got right on the ship with no problems.My first visit to Alaska was a cruise given to me by my oldest daughter through Princess lines.  We sailed on the Sapphire in 2006 and did the inside passage.  This ship was just beautiful and pure quality from stern to stern. We were catered to and felt like royalty. This time I decided I had to go back and would take my younger daughter.  I allowed a travel agent (who booked the first one) to do the honors.  I told her I wanted a cabin on a higher level and centrally located.  She suggested I book an Ocean view balcony stateroom and would more than likely be upgraded since it was a return cruise as we had been upgraded the first time also.  This cruise was supposed to be a "two for the price of one" but that is definitely misleading because it really isn't as the prices go to the standard prices not the sale ones.  However, figuring it to be a pretty good deal I decided to go ahead. The agent called three weeks before sailing and asked if there would be an upgrade and was told probably not-but-how much was I willing to pay for one?  So-I decided to just wait until we checked in.  I  noticed  the cabin we were assigned was at the far front of the ship and on E deck which was lower and not on a higher level.  ......maybe I would get lucky when we checked in. Alas-no such luck-we were stuck in E212. We decided to locate our cabin first before going up for the sailing .  On the way to our room we had to go through two hallways and the musty smell and at times, foul odor was quite strong.  Upon entering our cabin, the odor was very noticeable.  We were very uncomfortable with this.  Two of the drawers on the nightstand smelled so rank that we could not place any of our personal items in it.  I sprayed some room spray in it and it just made it worse, I Decided to go to the main desk area and ask if we could perhaps be changed-the young man was so rude and condescending and said he could not give us another cabinbut if he couldhow much was I willing to pay?  I asked him how much he wanted and he said again-well how much will you pay to be moved?  Needless to say-being on a retired teacher's income,since this cruise was all ready taking most of my budget there was no way I could pay more as we still had the excursions to pay for which was all done through Princess.  Sowe were stuck with the cabin.However, all the ports were just s I had remembered and we did as much as we could do in each one.We signed up for anytime dining and sometimes we would get with a group who would ignore us until I would say hello-and try to make conversation.  Most of the dining we did have some nice people at the table.  The first formal night we had made reservations and one of the personnel told us that my daughter's slacks were not "formal" attire and skirts and dresses were required.  My daughter was so embarrassed and I told the head waiter to cancel our reservation as my daughter was told she was NOT dressed formal enough.  He asked who said that to her and to please wait and he would take care of things.  But my daughter just wanted to go to the cabin.  So-he told us to come to the next formal night and see him and he would assure us we would have the best table -and when we did he seated us at a window table and were catered to royally.  This made my daughter feel better.The dining food was very nice and we also enjoyed the grill and pizza and spent a lot of time in the Horizon Court.  Food was not a problem.  However-it was announced by the captain that the NORO virus had been blamed on a buffet on one of the decks during the Glacier Bay cruise. This virus broke out so fast and all food practices were changing and we were told to use our cabin facilities and to wash our hands very thoroughly.  I had packed lots of "wipes" and liquid germicides and we carried them everywhereI must admit we were a little paranoid.  The ship was being sanitized all over.  Of course, tales were being spread but we simply took care of ourselves the best we could and we survived.The ship naturalists were wonderful (although they did push their books a little) and seemed very knowledgeable.The ship's speaker system for the decks did not work well during the Glacier Bay part of the cruise but we followed the map let quite well.  College Fjord was beautiful cruising also. We could not have hoped for any better weather than we had all through the trip-not very cold and sometimes actually warm for Alaska.My daughter and I didn't do any ship activities except for Bingo and the Princess Theater productions.  They are always first class and lots of fun. Getting off in Whittier was absolutely no problem at all and we used a private transfer to Anchorage where we were staying for 6 days.All in allthe trip was great except for the accommodations.  I will probably not book through Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Overall, we really like Princess. The Coral Princess is beautiful and very clean. The ship was sold out, but it never felt crowded. We did the anytime dining and never had to wait. There were 7 of us in our group. One night we might have ... Read More
Overall, we really like Princess. The Coral Princess is beautiful and very clean. The ship was sold out, but it never felt crowded. We did the anytime dining and never had to wait. There were 7 of us in our group. One night we might have had to wait for a table, but the head waiter called the other dining room and personally took us up on the elevator. They were very accommodating. On this cruise we ate at both the specialty Italian restaurant and at the Bayou Steak house (first night/last night). We have done the Italian restaurant on other cruises. I think there are 18 courses. It is very good, but we all liked the steak house better. The steaks were wonderful and perfectly cooked. In general, the food is very good, but not great. The service and selection in the dining room and the buffet are very good. We don't do cruises for the food. We did Alaska first, the Italy-Greek Isles-Turkey trip second and now the Panama Canal. For us it is about the destinations and not the food. That being said, there is plenty of it and it is good. We had coffee delivered every morning and really enjoyed that luxury. We also went to the buffet every afternoon and got happy hour snacks and took them back to our cabin. we had 3 cabins that the balconies opened up...it allowed us to all meet each day and talk about our activities with snacks and wine. One day I called and complained that they did not have anything appropriate like crackers and cheese, olives, veggies etc. The person in the customer service area had the head of Horizon Court kitchen call me. He said that if I did not find what I wanted just ask and they would make up an antipasta plate for me. The next day I did just that and sure enough they brought everything I could want. Craig Siddall in Crooners Bar is Great!!! Make sure you go by to hear him!! We went every night. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This is our seventh cruise and our third one with the kids in tow. There were six in our party, my wife, myself and our four children - ranging in age from 11 to 18. We left London and flew the eleven and a half hour flight to Mexico ... Read More
This is our seventh cruise and our third one with the kids in tow. There were six in our party, my wife, myself and our four children - ranging in age from 11 to 18. We left London and flew the eleven and a half hour flight to Mexico City and then, after three long hours, got a connection to Acapulco. So it was a very long day travelling (20 hours door to door). We traveled Business Class which always helps on such lengthy journeys. We stayed in The Grand Hotel in Acapulco for one night, which is perfectly okay for a night, and we boarded the ship at about 2pm. Embarkation took about 15 minutes from arrival to getting aboard. I checked in online before we left, which definitely speeds up the process. Our staterooms were ready and very clean and the luggage arrived within the hour. We had two connecting (by balcony) mini-suites (D522 and D524), which are on the port side and reasonably central. The room steward, Henry, was a real gem - top bloke! First impressions of the Coral were that it was far bigger than I expected. We went on the Crown last year and I told the kids to expect a much smaller ship. In fact, it felt pretty much the same size as the Crown (it's slightly longer in fact) - and because it's a big ship, with 30% less passengers, it felt very uncrowded. This was a real pleasant surprise. In fact, my wife and I have decided that when we book future cruises we're going to look carefully at the size/passenger ratio. The public rooms were very well kept and the service throughout was impeccable - which we've almost always have found to be case with Princess. We ate in the Bordeaux dining room on the 'anytime' option. Only on one occasion did we have to wait for a table - which is pretty good given there are six of us. Oddly, I noticed it seemed to be the 'couples' that had to wait more often than families. Thought the entertainment was 'okay' but not outstanding. We particularly liked the pianist and violinist who played in the atrium and they also did a 'classical' show in the Universe Lounge one evening - they are truly talented. The two younger kids (11 and 13) absolutely loved the kids clubs - it was impossible to keep them away - they've both got lots more friends now. Emails were waiting for them by the time we got home! As for the cruise itinerary, as follows: Because there are six of us we find it infinitely more preferable do our own thing (in the main), so we do a bit of research in advance. For example, it's generally cheaper to hire a taxi for the day than it is to pay for six excursions - generally speaking we reckon it's about one third the cost, plus you have more independence. Guatemala: Google Earth revealed an interesting place called 'Iztapa' (not featured on any cruise excursion), which has a beach where all the locals go. It is about five miles from the port. Interestingly, the first cabbie quoted me $160 (one way) to which I said a few words which I won't repeat in this review. The next cabbie, witnessing this, immediately quoted me $30 return. Guess which one I used? We had a great day on the beach (which is then reached by a five minute boat trip from Iztapa.) The kids loved the huge Pacific waves! Nicaragua: Didn't do much here - just went for a wander off the boat, down some back streets, bought a few bits and bobs and then returned to the ship. It was one hot day and we were glad to be back in an air-conditioned ship. Costa Rica: This is the only place we did a Princess excursion because it looked interesting. We went rafting through (slightly) white water and rain forest, where we saw lots of wildlife (monkeys, birds, bats, lizards, etc..) I was somewhat surprised to also see 'crocodiles' - as an inflatable raft seemed like minimal protection to me! However, the organizers really knew their stuff and we felt very safe in their care. An excellent trip which I would wholeheartedly recommend. Panama Canal Transit: 'Awesome' is the only word I can describe this. The scale of the thing is mind blowing in all respects. Each one (of six) is 1000 feet long and 110 feet wide - there was only about a six inch gap each side of the ship! Out of curiosity on one descent I went into the dining room and if felt like a submarine!!! Lots of things appealed to me, including: The close proximity to other huge ships; The scenery - especially through the lake; The sight of the locks from all angles - and it's worth noting that on deck ten, right at the front, there is a door which says 'keep out crew only'. Well don't keep out because you're allowed there. I reckon it's the best place on the ship for viewing the Canal. Cristobal: What a waste of time that was! We were allowed off the ship, but just onto the pier for two hours. For some reason the Panama stop was canceled so people were keen to get off. So we all queued up for half an hour, trudged off the ship and on to the pier, looked through piles of souvenirs (mainly tat) and then waltzed back on the ship. But do you know what, it didn't matter to me because I was still on a high after the Panama Canal transit. Jamaica: Again, we did our own thing. We hopped on a taxi to Dunns River Falls (a five minute Taxi ride from the port) and then paid to go there ($15 per person). The whole day cost us about $100 for six of us - I reckon it would have been nearer $400 had we have gone on an excursion, plus we could come and go as we liked. Great fun it was, climbing up the falls - it was more ferocious and longer than I expected! Then we chilled out on the beach for a few hours. A very nice day it was! On the sea days, and there were quite a few of these, we did loads of different things - kids clubs, trivia, cream teas, swimming, and more. We were never bored. Fort Lauderdale: Disembarkation took a long time. I presume it was because we didn't have a plane to catch so we were low priority. We assembled in the appropriate place at 8:30am (as requested) but weren't clear of customs until about 11:30am. So three hours hanging around was a bit of a pain. We stayed in Fort Lauderdale for three days at the Pelican Beach Grand Hotel. I can highly recommend it because it's right on the beach (unlike most other hotels) and the service was pretty good. It was a bit pricey, but worth it in my view. Overall, a most excellent holiday. We have already booked our next cruise with Princess (August 2009 - Norway and Iceland), who manage to get it just right for our family. No real gripes, other than a couple of stops didn't happen (Panama and one in Mexico), but I tend to be quite pragmatic about such things. As such, four and a half stars out of five from me. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
I wanted to get this review of the Coral Princess Panama Canal Cruise Posted. I have been home since Monday, so I figured I better get it up. This review will focus more on the ship and not on the ports. Embarkation: Princess definitely ... Read More
I wanted to get this review of the Coral Princess Panama Canal Cruise Posted. I have been home since Monday, so I figured I better get it up. This review will focus more on the ship and not on the ports. Embarkation: Princess definitely shone during the check-in and embarkation process. First of all, the San Pedro facility is one of the cleaner, nicer facilities that I have been in. There were lots of people on hand to help, and they all seemed to know what they were doing. When we arrived we were told that there would be a 1 hour delay, but it was actually only about 20 minutes. We were also in group 9 and it was a very quick trip through security and onto the ship. I also like the fact that Princess allows you to go straight to your rooms so that you can drop off your carry-on items. This is definitely better than having to wait until 2 or 3 to get to the stateroom. Staterooms: We stayed in a mini-suite on the Dolphin Deck that was partially covered. The stateroom was very nice. There was more than enough room to store all of our clothes, including plenty of hangers, way more than needed. The room was clean and in good shape. They were also very quiet and kept out unwanted noise. The only thing was a lack of outlets for recharging cameras. Horizon Court: In my opinion, this was the weakest area of the ship. I felt that the Horizon Court was too small for the size of the ship. It was very crowded trying to maneuver around the food stations. I was also very disappointed with the variety of food. The quality was fine, but there was a lot less choices than on other ships. The sandwiches were sitting out wrapped in cellophane which seemed a bit too roadside diner for me. I was also unable to find a table at some lunches. I have never had this happen on a cruise before. I think Princess really failed here when they designed the Coral. During the dry dock I hope they work to improve this area. First thing they can do is get rid of the Piano area which is no longer used (one of the entertainers told me that they actually did use it in the past, but cost cutting has left it unmanned). I would also get rid of the pay bar in the buffet. I never saw anyone using it at anytime I was there. These areas could easily be turned into additional food stations so that they can offer more variety. Provence Dinning Room: We are old fashioned and prefer traditional dining. I like having the same tablemates at night so that you can get to know people and trade stories over dinner. We have always been lucky at getting good people and this was no exception. The quality of the food here was good. My biggest issue was lack of spice. On the night I had the fra Diavlo shrimp, there was no heat to them at all. I know that some people complain about the blandness of HAL food, but HAL was more adventurous and spicy than Princess. The service was also good over all. The only difficulty we had occurred on the first night trying to explain the coffee card. The Servers would only get espresso and not just brewed coffee. My partner was too tired to argue the first night so he took the espresso, but on the second night we finally made them understand about how the coffee card allowed for unlimited brewed coffees. From that point on there were no problems. Also, the Maitre D' was wonderful. This is the first cruise I have been on where they actually made a difference. Usually you only see them (at least I have) near the end just before it is time to tip, but not on this ship. He was always out and about making sure everything was going well. Chefs Table: Do it. This was a wonderful meal and definitely worth the $75. It was great to see the workings of the kitchen and get to spend so much time talking with the chef and finding out in detail about the operations. The food and the wine were also wonderful. It was all top shelf all the way. I will sure to sign up for this again the next time I sail Princess. Entertainment: I never have high expectations of the entertainers on the cruise ships. I feel that corporate waters down everything into bad variety show material. I only went to a few of the actual production shows because of this. The new show "Motor City" was sort of the Osmonds meet Motown. When they did the Stevie Wonder homage, all the hipness was sucked right out of the room. Maybe if I was 85 and still longed to watch Lawrence Welk I would have enjoyed it. The show I did enjoy was 'Adrian Zmed in Concert' This show definitely had a different feel to it, so I am guessing that Adrian had more creative control. This was the type of show that I feel would be worth watching on land. The biggest disappointment I had was with timing. The ship scheduled a lot of the 'game show' like entertainment in the Explorers lounge to start at 9:15. They also showed more of the second runs of shows at 8 PM. It was definitely not conducive for second seating traditional diners. I am not sure if this was intentional or not. But, most nights I was only finishing up dinner at 9:15, so I was having to run right over to Explorers to see the show I wanted. Cruise Staff I think the cruise staff on this ship was marvelous. I think it was probably the best of any ship so far. They were very active with the passengers and I felt took the time to really get to know you if you let them. I think this was the most interaction that I have seen. I have to give Princess props for fostering this environment. I think that they were the biggest asset that Princess had on the ship. Pottery: This was one of the most interesting things on the cruise. There is actually a pottery center and a kiln on the Coral. On our second Sea day my partner and I signed up for pot throwing. We started out with lumps of clay and actually used the wheel to make our pottery. After it was bisqued, we came back on another sea day to paint and glaze them. The rates for this lesson were very reasonable and I like to see the ship offer interactive classes like this. Missed Port: As many of you know, we missed a port. Because of trouble with the gas turbines the captain chose to cut out Cartagena. I was very disappointed, because ever since Romancing the Stone I have actually wanted to see Cartagena. But, I think Princess went above expectations by giving each person on the ship a $100. Now, I while I understand that they are under no obligation to give anything, I am one of those people who feel they should offer something as a sign of good customer relations. $100 is way more than I was ever expecting to receive. Overall: Overall Princess did a really good job. It was a very nice cruise and I was not happy to have to get off the ship. This was my first 14 night cruise and I hope that I will be doing more longer cruises in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
We were on the February 13th sailing of the Coral Princess for a 10 day Panama Cruise from Fort Lauderdale. Not taking any chances with winter weather, we left Halifax on the Feb 10th and had no problems reaching Florida. We had chosen the ... Read More
We were on the February 13th sailing of the Coral Princess for a 10 day Panama Cruise from Fort Lauderdale. Not taking any chances with winter weather, we left Halifax on the Feb 10th and had no problems reaching Florida. We had chosen the Comfort Inn near Saw Grass Mills for a few days which gave us an opportunity to do some pre-cruise shopping. A few visits to Lauderdale-by-the Sea for beach walks, shopping til you drop at Saw Grass Mills and great eating at places like Outback and Cheddars saw three days pass quickly. Cruise Critic Friends www.cruisecritic.com We joined a February 10th thread/chat group, started many months ago by Dogasia (Lynn) from Orlando. The group of forty or more participants had become cyber friends by the time sailing day rolled around. We were a diverse group ranging in age from 29 - 70 from Canada and the US. We had agreed to meet shortly after the ship sailed and for a formal "meet & greet" on Day 2 in the Wheelhouse Bar. On our final check of our thread the day before we sailed, we learned that there would be a four to six hour delay in boarding Coral because of the number of Norwalk virus cases on the prior cruise. The ship would undergo a thorough sanitization before it would leave. We called the Princess hotline and this was confirmed. So we ended up having another few hours in the sunshine before returning our rental car to the airport and grabbing a shuttle to Port Everglades. There were about eight of us on the Shuttle and three are fellow CC er's. Linda and Charlie from St. Louis and Linda from Ontario. Princess took our luggage from the Shuttle and we were on to checking in. Everything is running smoothly but we were unprepared for the sheer numbers when we arrived upstairs in the assembly area. Many were unaware of the delay and had arrived at noon. Princess did their best to provide food and a few shuttles to the Mall for those individuals but for the most part it was hurry up and wait to board. Lines formed, groups were called and eventually we did start boarding shortly before 5:00 pm. Once the process started, things moved along as well as could be expected. If the extra precautions meant the ship was taking the extra precautions for our benefit then so be it. The other option could have been canceling the cruise or a further delay and missing an destination. Once on board we checked out our cabin; luggage hadn't been delivered so it was off to explore the Ship. Arriving on Deck 14, the first two folks we meet are acquaintances from our home city. What a small world. Having sailed on the Dawn and the Crown, the Coral didn't hold any surprises. Sail away happened sometime after 8:00 pm while we were enjoying Dinner in the Dining Room. After a relaxing dinner it was back to the room to unpack. Saturday & Sunday are sea days: Saturday is Valentine's Day and the Atrium is being decorated with a huge display for the occasion and the first of two formal nights. I had read on cruise critic about a coffee card so I made the first of my morning visits to the Atrium's coffee bar with my Princess coffee thermos mug that comes with the card. Memories of the terrible coffee at Horizon were no more. The coffee card entitles you to fifteen specialty coffees and unlimited regular brewed coffee from the cafe. If you do not use your 15 espressos or lattes you can redeem them on your next cruise. Not a bad deal for $35. I have six left on my card. Our pre-arranged Cruise Critic meeting was scheduled for 11 am in the Wheelhouse Lounge. About 40 fellow cc'ers were present. Captain Roger Bilton, the staff captain and cruise director Frank all came to welcome us, made remarks and answered questions. About twenty of us had arranged for a gift exchange which involved drawing random numbers and selecting a gift from another cc'er. Gifts were opened and for the most part reflected an item(s) from the giver's home town. Great conversation for more than hour and instantly we had become friends with a great number of fellow cruisers. We enjoyed most of our luncheons in the "anytime" dining room, the Bordeaux on the Plaza Deck. Our first cruise had been on NCL where the norm is anytime dining. While I know many cruisers enjoy traditional dining, we would never consider such an arrangement. I just could not imagine not being able to enjoy meeting the many varied folks you get to chat with during meal time and share cruise and life experiences. That being said, we found on this cruise we shared lunch and dinner with the same individuals on several occasions, quite by accident rather than good planning. We did not have one negative dining experience. There is an interesting thread here on the message boards where many dining room horror stories are told. Some of our fellow cc'ers did have some rather unpleasant table mates we learned. It would be interesting to know if cruisers are trending away from "traditional dining". Day 4 - Aruba: Monday we docked in Aruba at 7:00 am. coincidentally, this was our last port of call in 2008 on the Crown. We had fond memories of this very clean and friendly island. Having spent most of our prior visit on Eagle Beach, we planned a short tour before doing a bit of shopping. As soon as we hit the gate we were approached by Willie, who had a very clean and comfortable van for six and was available for a sightseeing tour. Another couple from Texas were willing to share the ride and for $30 each got out ahead of the waiting tour buses and made our way around the "Happy Island" with Willie giving us history and personal anecdotes as we drove the 19 mile long and six mile wide Dutch paradise. Not to undermine the organized tours by the cruise lines, we prefer to arrange our own personal tour with a guide or share with a small group. There is much more flexibility and you do not have the wait to get on or off the bigger buses. There is also a monetary saving. Back in Oranjestad at 9:30 am we still had two hours to shop. We found Larry (Larry's Fine Jewelry) on Haven Straat #17, picked up some Canada Dry and aloe sun balm at the market and walked back to the ship. It would have been great to have had the afternoon to enjoy the beach but the ship was sailing at 1:00 pm. This was one of a few disappointments with this particular itinerary. Day 5 - Cartegena, Columbia: Tuesday would be an early day as we had pre-booked an organized tour with fellow cruise critics for 9:00 am. There were three cruise ships in port so a pre-arranged tour was a good idea. There were 15 of us in a very comfortable minibus with owner Dora of Dora's Tours. As we made our way through the city to La Popa, an old monastery and shrine, we heard about local history. The view from La Popa is breathtaking. We then went to the Fort for a photo stop. This was followed by a walk around the walled area admiring the houses and plazas. We stopped at the Dungeons and the handcraft shops before making our way to the church of San Pedro Claver. We then had a leisurely drive back to the ship going through the new city along the bay making a brief stop at a small shopping center for some columbian coffee and souvenirs. It was a very quick 5 hours. Dora was a great guide and I would recommend her tour to other cruisers. The only downside to this port is the "in your face" souvenir, craft and merchandise sellers. At every stop you encounter countless folk who have the same products everywhere you go. The sail away from Cartegena was at 3:00 pm, again two or three hours earlier than we liked. That evening we chose to dine at Sabatini's, one of two specialty restaurants on the Coral. Not that one tires of the dining room or buffet choices on the Ship, the specialty restaurant experience is a treat not to be missed. At Sabatini's you are asked to make a "main" dining choice. For me it was lobster tails and my wife chose the giant sea scallops. The rest of the food (18 other portions) are brought to your table. Breads, pasta, soup, salad, vegetables, desert are served over the course of the three hour culinary experience. While the bill is $20 pp, this dinner at any other restaurant would garner a $100 bill per person. I had put my name in for the Chef's Table when we sailed but because of the noro situation, this dining experience was not offered on this cruise. Day 6 - Panama Canal: Wednesday's itinerary was the reason most folks take this cruise so if one were to get the real "canal experience" you had to be on deck early. We were told we would be approaching the first set of locks at about 6:00 am. The ship took a full two hours to go through the locks. The length was probably less than one kilometer as the ship was literally pulled through by locomotive (mules) engines. It's a fascinating process to watch for the first time. Commentary was provided on the PA system in the Horizon dining room where most who didn't have a balcony cabin watch. Many stake their chairs out early to get the best window seats. I found a small balcony area just outside the Horizon's emergency exit. I couldn't hear the commentary but it was a good vantage point. After the Ship gets through the final set of locks you are in Gatun Lake where the ship anchors and tenders take the passengers, who have land tours arranged, ashore. The rest of us simply enjoy another day on deck. At noon, you prepare for the trip back through the locks to the ocean. For this journey we were on deck 14 at the front of this ship. This gave a different perspective. We were followed through the Canal by the Island Princess, which was doing a cruise from Los Angeles to Lauderdale. This added to the excitement and made for some great pictures as this similar size ship followed us through. I understand the bill for the Coral to go through the Canal was $330,000 or $167.00 for each person on the cruise. In less than two hours we were on our way to Cristobal. We were only here for three hours. It was a cloudy, humid day. The ship docks at an old warehouse where there is some shopping and entertainment. It was the least pleasant of all stops. You really do not have anytime to do anything other than find a souvenir and are relieved to get back on board the ship. Since we didn't have much lunch, we decided this might be a good day to go to Afternoon Tea. Finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and other finger deserts are served most afternoons for 45 minutes in the Dining Room. If planning had been better, a quick jaunt into Cristobal may have given a better impression. Day 7 - Limon - Costa Rica: On Thursday, we docked at 6:30 am to another mostly cloudy day. The beautiful AIDA Aura ship from Germany docked alongside us. We had another pre-arranged five hour tour with our cruise critic friends. This was with "Oscar Tours". There were fifteen of us so 11 traveled in a minivan with Oscar and four followed in a taxi with Allan. Allan was a friendly type who gave us a running commentary along the way. Roads are not in great shape through the city nor in the countryside. This was by far the poorest of the ports we saw. Many depend on tourism for a living. Along the tour we stopped in a number of places where youngsters with animals would want to be photographed for a tip; other roadside stops offered fresh fruit or local crafts. Poverty is very evident. We made a fifteen minute stop at an acquaintance of the tour operator. This person took care of a small farm where we saw how the locals live. He had a pet sloth and other creatures that made for a few Kodak moments. On to the Del Monte Banana plantation for a tour. This was followed by a one hour canal ride in a covered boat. We were able to see local wildlife, rainforest vegetation and other attractions including a young boy and his sister who had two alligators (more pictures - more tips). Beer, water, cola were provided. A short drive later we were back to Limon where were picked up some Costa Rican coffee beans and then back to the ship. All in all, a five hour tour for $50 left some lasting memories. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Oscar & Allan. Day 8 - At Sea: Friday would be a day to relax at sea. The Coral has a Library where I had taken out a few books on Day 2. This would be a full reading day on deck and would be formal night #2. For repeat Princess Cruisers it was also the night Captain Roger Bilton hosted the Captain's Circle. After getting our formal pictures taken we went to the 7:15 pm reception before Dinner. There were 1,081 cruisers in the Captain's Circle on this cruise. Lobster tails and Beef Wellington were on the menu. Day 9 - Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Saturday 's visit was to Ocho Rios, just 90 miles south of Cuba. Only 16,000 people live here of the Island's 2.8 million population. A very scenic, clean and touristy town, the Coral was docked in what seemed like the center of town. Not having been to Jamaica, we wanted to see both the town and some of the Island. We found Terance, a Jutta tour guide just outside the gate and off we went for three hours. We chose not to go to Dunn's River Falls but rather did a drive through Fern Gully to Cayoga Gardens, to a Pottery Factory , met some local characters along the way before being dropped off at the Jamaican Grand. $25 each,a tip and a few photo tips along with a $5 admission to the gardens wasn't bad for the morning. After spending an hour at the Grand we walked back to the Coral. Had a quick lunch at KFC and did some shopping at many of the shops that line the main street. Managed to get a good deal on Blue Mountain Coffee and some Jamaican liqueurs to bring home. Day 10 - At Sea: Sunday would be the last cruise day. The sun was in the sky and a light sea breeze was blowing. The day was spent on deck, lunch with our cruise critic group, an afternoon of packing and a New Orleans culinary experience at The Bayou that evening. The fare was Bayou themed including an appetizer that featured alligator ribs (looked like chicken with a pork, beef texture). We both had the beef tenderloin that I would describe as one of the best, if not the best, steak I've ever eaten. For $15 pp, it was a dining experience to remember and a delightful way to end the cruise. Other notes: We went to seven or eight shows in the Princess Theatre and Universal Lounge. Kevin Hughes (comedian) gave a good show. The Motor City and Tribute musicals were enjoyable. The disembarkation went much smoothly than on any other cruise. Thanks for serving breakfast was in the Dining Room. We were off the Coral by 8:30 am and at our Hotel 15 minutes later for a final day in Fort Lauderdale that included a canal tour on the Jungle Queen.. Of the three Princess Cruises we've taken, I would rate this behind the Crown (Caribbean) and Dawn (Mexican Riviera). The dining room food was not as well prepared or presented, service not quite as friendly and the entertainment was mediocre. Perhaps the Norovirus had everyone on edge. We would have liked longer port times. We find a 10 day cruise to be a good length. Cruises are great vacation travel value. Looking forward to a Mediterranean Cruise sometime soon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
This was our 14th cruise but the first time on Princess. EMBARKATION We flew in from Tahiti the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn San Pedro. Although there were a number of negative reviews of this hotel, it was within our ... Read More
This was our 14th cruise but the first time on Princess. EMBARKATION We flew in from Tahiti the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn San Pedro. Although there were a number of negative reviews of this hotel, it was within our price range and we had stayed at other HI hotels so decided to take a chance. Very pleased we did. Arriving at 9am we thought we would not be able to get into our room until 3pm. However, it was ready so we were able to have a shower and relax before walking around the area. Our room was spotlessly clean, shower and bed both great. What more do you want ? We did not eat in the hotel as there were a number of restaurants in the vicinity and we also had breakfast at the Gaffey Street Diner. There was also a liquor store adjacent to the hotel where we bought wine to take on board the ship. Hotel shuttle was $5 pp which delivered us right to the dock where our cases were promptly collected. We arrived at about 11am. Embarkation was very efficient and we were in our room around 12.30pm. SHIP After 14 days on board the Coral Princess, we can say that we would be more than happy to sail on this ship again. It is very easy to move around on board. We had a triple cabin with plenty of cupboard space. Sure, the shower is small but you really don't want to spend a lot of time in it, do you ? We enjoyed the first 3 full days at sea just relaxing and familiarizing ourselves with the ship. PORTS OF CALL Huatulco, Mexico - No organized tour. We went swimming at the beach alongside the pier. Lovely clean water and sandy beach. Shops also had good prices for T-shirts, etc. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - We took the ship's tour "Antigua on your own". This was a 1-1/2 hour drive each way to and from Antigua. Not a great deal to see. Would probably not recommend this trip. Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua - No organized tour. Very dirty town. Others who booked tours were disappointed. I believe that Princess should omit this port from its itinerary. Puntarenas, Costa Rica -We took ship's "Scenic tour". Alvaro was an excellent guide. We were interested in the fruits and actually saw cashew nuts growing for the first time. The tour included a visit to Espanza township with a short folkloric performance by local school children. Panama Canal Full Transit - This was the highlight of the cruise for my husband who was out on board from 5.15am. Cartagena, Colombia - Took ship's tour of Cartagena. Another excellent guide - Eduardo. Humidity was very high. Visited Fort San Felipe, La Popa Monastery and the old town which is really quite beautiful. Quite a number of passengers expressed concern about leaving the ship at this port so they decided to stay on board. I think that they missed out on a really great travel experience. Aruba - Caught the local bus to Eagle Beach. Really lovely beach. We decided that this is a port that we would like to go back to at some time in the future for a longer stay. Best internet rates at this port - $1.60 for 30 minutes. Fort Lauderdale - Took tour from ship. Disembarking went smoothly. Airboat ride in the Everglades, alligator show and a visit to the Flamingo wildlife sanctuary before arriving at the airport. This was a good tour if you have a late flight. ENTERTAINMENT Comedian, Kevin Hughes, was excellent. Enjoyed Ron Merritt in the Crooners Lounge. Also showtime dancers and singers did well. LAUNDRY As we were travelling for 5 weeks in all, we were grateful for the self-service laundry on board. DISAPPOINTMENTS This was the first time that we have cruised where we did not see the captain at any time - not even at the Captain's cocktail party. The talk on the various ports consisted of hardsell for Diamonds International and other shops. Very little explained about the actual port. Luckily I had done quite a lot of homework before the cruise. Cost of internet. After using the onboard facilities once at the exorbitant cost, we decided to check our emails using port facilities which were so much cheaper. We had to arrive in the Princess Theatre 45 minutes before shows to ensure that we were able to find a seat. Being Aussies - we really dislike the daily gratuity charges imposed on our account. We believe that such gratuities should be earned and rewarded accordingly. I truly believe that passengers should be given the flexibility of rewarding cabin stewards and dining room waiters personally for services rendered rather than have this gratuity charge imposed upon them. Can someone explain why there is a 15% service charge imposed on each and every drink yet there is this additional blanket daily gratuity charge ? Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We are a family of 6... 4 kids ages 21-13 we travel with my mother and her best friend. That makes traveling a little hard with 8 of us. That is why we "choose to cruise". We boarded the ship in LA which was nice. We are from ... Read More
We are a family of 6... 4 kids ages 21-13 we travel with my mother and her best friend. That makes traveling a little hard with 8 of us. That is why we "choose to cruise". We boarded the ship in LA which was nice. We are from the San Diego area, only an hour and a half drive! Embarkation was fast, it only took 15 min. We met my mother on the ship, by the time we got to our rooms our baggage was there. We had 3 mini suites with connecting balconies Dolphin Deck aft rms 710,712,714. This was our second time onboard the Coral. We took an Alaska cruise on the Coral 2 years ago. I think this is a beautiful ship and I love sailing on her. It is a little hard for me to find my way around this ship for some reason. I think the layout is a bit confusing. With that being said, I really have no complaints about the ship or it's staff. Everyone that we had contact with that worked on the ship went above and beyond the normal service expected of them. Our cabin steward Gil, was great. Our rooms were clean and when i requested an egg crate he managed to find one for me even though the ship was full. He even put an extra mattress on our 2 kids' sofa beds every nite! I liked where our rooms were, there was no traffic and it was for the most part quiet. The food was better than the last time I was on the Coral. But I still give the buffet a C-. We ate in the dining room every nite except when we got back late from shore excursions. They had 2 lobster nites and a good traditional Christmas dinner. We had early seating with our own group of 8 at the table. Our head waiter was amazing, and his assistant Arturo . We never had to ask for anything to drink. they figured out all of our tastes and just kept it coming! Our CC group was AWESOME!!!! We met some of the nicest people and I will remember some of them and the memories we shared for a long time. We had our M&G at the Wheelhouse bar and we had a gift exchange on Dec.26 at the same place. This really was for the most part a fun group of people! We were able to see two important football games in the theater on BIG screen. The USC Trojans and the SD Chargers. That was a lot of fun. Fight On!!! The ship was decorated beautifully, there was snow in the atrium while the Carolers sang it was quite an experience. My kids were a little sad about spending the holidays on a cruise ship but they soon got over it. One of the CC members even brought presents for them to open Christmas day. The last time we were on the Coral my kids complained that there wasn't enough for them to do. This time we were pretty busy. We went to tea, had wine tasting, sunbathed( Deck 10 and 11 nice and private), spent a lot of time in the gym,walked everyday on the promenade deck 7, enjoyed our balconies and spent time getting massages in the Spa. I think the attitude you have towards other people makes your traveling experience either enjoyable or intolerable. I saw a lot of grumpy people and a lot of smiles. There were a LOT of children on this cruise mostly in the" teens " Including my kids. Don't go on a holiday cruise if you don't like being around kids. I think Princess needs to step up their security at nite at certain areas of the ship. there were kids running up and down the hallways knocking over trash cans in front of the elevators and doing "inappropriate" activities late at nite. Everyone kept asking"where are their parents?" Good Question!!!!!!!!! We do things as a family, my kids don't go in the teen clubs because they are pretty close in age and they keep each other occupied. We were getting blamed for the actions of this wild bunch of kids right and left. We walked on a tour bus in Cartegena and it was full of "elderly" people and immediately one person said "oh no,not kids" and turned around and glared at me. a woman in the laundry room said" I hope those aren"t your kids running up and down the halls making all this noise" I guess this would be the only negative thing I have to say about this cruise is the way Princess handled the chaos and noise from the kids. Many people complained and Princess did nothing. The New Years celebration was something I will never forget. FUN FUN FUN!!!!!!!!!!! You have to experience it at least once. My one suggestion to Princess is to spend time actually taking the shore excursions you offer people. Check out the guides and the busses you put people on. There were quite a few breakdowns. Some of the tours were not what was described in the shore excursion listings. I think on this cruise I came to the conclusion that I will from now on book my own excursions through private operators. Overall,this cruise was everything I expected. We really enjoyed our time together as a family and time spent on the Coral. I would do it again and probably will, next Christmas. I forgot to mention the Entertainment. I thought it was pretty sorry. The comedians were mediocre and the dancers were pretty bad. We got most of our entertainment watching the Karaoke and Princess Pop Star contest. Maybe because my daughter was in it.LOL Seriously, Princess needs to improve their shows just take it up a notch or two. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
I have my own wheelchair as I can't stand or walk very far without alot of pain due to a back injury and told Princess that I needed assistance to get on and off the ship. When we arrived at the port I was told that there was no one ... Read More
I have my own wheelchair as I can't stand or walk very far without alot of pain due to a back injury and told Princess that I needed assistance to get on and off the ship. When we arrived at the port I was told that there was no one to help me as they were all busy with people that needed Princess's wheelchairs. If I wanted to wait until they were finished helping others they would have someone help me.I ended up pushing the wheelchair like a walker to get myself on the ship. We had been on the Caribbean Princess last year and loved everything about it so we were expecting the same on the Coral. All of the staff we met were above our expectations. The public rooms were lovely but we saw some of the same entertainment as previous Princess cruises. We did not eat at Sabatini's as we did that before and it's too much food. We heard mixed reviews about the Bayou Steakhouse so we didn't go there either. The food in the Bordeaux (Anytime Dining) was good but the Horizon Buffet had alot of well done meats and half cooked bacon. There was alot of broth type soups with fancy names with little bits of celery and carrots. We had "spaghetti and meatballs" in the Bordeaux for lunch one day and it was like spaghetti with Campbell's Tomato soup poured on top and miniature tasteless well done meatballs. The night they served crab legs they should have been ashamed as they were smaller than snow crabs! We spoke to the Maitre'D who advised us to fill out the questionnaire. Enough about the food..we did want to get off the ship in Aruba but Hurricane Omar prevented us from docking there. I can't comment on the tours as we stayed onboard as it's difficult for me to get around. Going through the Locks was the highlight of our cruise and we had ordered the Champagne Breakfast for 28.00. It was very hot on the balcony at 7 AM on the port side so the nice cold champagne tasted pretty good. We really enjoyed reading and resting more than anything and met some nice people that made up for the food. I guess hard times have hit the Chef's budget and he did the best he could with what they gave him. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
On Sept 1st we sailed to Alaska with the Coral Princess, leaving from Vancouver. Embarkation was smooth and done fairly quickly 20 minutes. I was surprised to find that our cabin was ready on boarding. (Previously sailed with holland ... Read More
On Sept 1st we sailed to Alaska with the Coral Princess, leaving from Vancouver. Embarkation was smooth and done fairly quickly 20 minutes. I was surprised to find that our cabin was ready on boarding. (Previously sailed with holland america and had to wait for cabin to be ready) Though i realize now that the reason the cabin is ready so early is that at the other end of the trip they kick you off the ship at the crack of dawn, no matter what time your flight. We had a disembarkation time of 6:50 AM for a 330 pm flight! in Anchorage- and no room service on the day of disembarkation- go the to horizon court at 5 am! - Ok the Coral is a beautiful ship, we never felt crowded. we found there was always plenty to do. Our room steward was wonderful and generally the staff are friendly and seem to be interested in providing good customer service. - the Production shows we thought were fantastic and all the other entertainers were pretty good. We particularly enjoyed Larry Dunsmore, singer and pianist who played in Crooners Bar and headlined one night with a "tribute to Sinatra" we are not big sinatra fans, but he was wonderful. he had a faithful following in the bar for most of the trip, and we could see why. Highly recommend listening to him sing and play. - the ports Ketchikan Juneau and Skagway were not that exciting. -and filled with lots of cruise ship jewelry stores and other junk stores. we did the mendenhall glacier tour in Juneau which was good. But the best thing we did there was the Alaska State Museum which was $5 each and really wonderful. We spent several hours there after reading about it on cruise critic. Highly recommend it. IN skagway we did the train to white pass and back ( the 3 hour train, you don't get off) It was fine, but I thought over priced- and we were expecting a bit more spectacular scenery. Though we are used to the rockies so perhaps someone from the midwest would have found it more exciting. Glacier National Park was the highlight for us, just a beautiful place, pristine and unspoiled. we had great weather and thoroughly enjoyed our day there. Now the food on the Princess, this was their one downfall. We really felt the cruise food quality was pretty mediocre- tired lettuce, too many pre fab frozen desserts, fancy names for food that did not match the description. Particularly disappointing was the exciting description for fresh tom turkey with dressing and gravy - this turned out to be processed turkey roll with an odd colored gravy and stuffing that was soggy and tasted like jam. The diver seared scallops. Were seared but not cooked. - and the list went on. This was in the main dining room. the buffet was even worse, and depending when you went you might not find a place to sit , or utensils or cups. they don't have trays in the dining room, but a big plastic platter plate, that can be a tray or a plate, depending i guess on how much you plan to eat. we did not like the food or the setup in horizon court and mostly ate in the dining room. Overall the food on our previous cruise 2 years ago on the Holland America oosterdam was significantly better. The one positive food comment i can make on the princess was that after the first day they left a card in your room to fill out for fresh fruit and it was replenished every day at your request, by filling in another card, this was a really nice touch. The princess also did have better entertainment and a larger ship, so it depends what you are looking for. we docked in whittier and were disembarked within 30 minutes of our time. though we had to wait on the bus for over half an hour to get the green light to go through the one way tunnel. Fortunately for us we had a great driver Karen, who has been driving for many years and really went over and above the call of duty making it an informative +++ transfer to anchorage. She was absolutely terrific! Overall a great cruise,Princes generally has a smooth and well put together product. Would I go with Princess again? Probably , though I might try Royal Caribbean next time. the food quality on the princess really needs some work The other issue is I discovered when I got home is that princess had converted our onboard charges ( US) to canadian funds ( before charging to our credit card, adding a nasty exchange rate and 3 % conversion fee- m/c only charges 2.5 % plus a better rate. and on the final folio it is officially typed in that we were offered a choice of currencies for payment and that our choice of currency is final. THIS WAS NEWS TO US! and completely untrue! We only got the folio on our way out the door and at no time on this cruise on embarkation or before disembarkation were we ever given that choice.or told about this. i am in the process of taking this up with princess. So be aware of this, if you are not from the US. find out if they are charging your credit card in US funds or if they opted without your consent to change it to your home currency, so they include a nasty exchange rate and conversion fee. I am still miffed about this, not a great end to an otherwise fine cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We hadn't really even planned a vacation, but following our younger daughter's early June wedding we decided to check into last-minute deals that were available during the time frame we had available. A cruise sounded like a ... Read More
We hadn't really even planned a vacation, but following our younger daughter's early June wedding we decided to check into last-minute deals that were available during the time frame we had available. A cruise sounded like a perfect way to rest and relax following a very busy few months, and we'd never been to Alaska. I found a great price on a guaranteed oceanview stateroom on the Coral Princess and booked immediately. We also found decent airfare (there seem to be few real bargains in airfare these days) and in the space of about a half an hour had everything in place to leave in about a week! Temperatures here in the deep South were hovering near 90, so it required a total change in mindset to pack for the radical difference in climate we would experience in Alaska. The more we travel, the less disposed we are to over pack; knowing that the Coral Princess had self-service laundry facilities on several decks, we resolved to bring just one carry-on size suitcase each. As there were to be two formal nights on the seven-night cruise, my husband tried to rent a tux to be waiting for him onboard, as we have done in the past. However, as we were barely a week out, he was informed that it was too late, and brought a dark suit instead; I packed a long black skirt and two dressy tops and it turned out that this worked well for both of us. We flew into Anchorage the day before the June 16th cruise, spending the night at a Days Inn which was perfectly adequate and reasonably priced, though by no means fancy. Our older daughter had described Anchorage as looking like a town that "had the snot beaten out of it"; she was pretty much dead on in that description. However, she had also mentioned an excellent restaurant, Orso, which turned out to be just a few blocks from the hotel. It was a bustling, upscale place with an eclectic menu - an excellent choice, as my sirloin and hubby's rockfish (a new one on us!) were both simply divine. I had been uncertain about transfers between Anchorage and the ship; by booking so late we had no chance to book any Princess-sponsored transportation. As it turns out, this was serendipitous, resulting in my booking a trip on the Alaskan Railroad's Glacier Discovery train ($60/person, one way) which left at 10 am. The trip was utterly delightful, with comfortable, old-fashioned seats and great scenery, accompanied by commentary from a pleasant young woman who highlighted points of interest along the way. The train arrived in Whittier twenty minutes early - plenty of time to acquaint ourselves with this most peculiar little port where virtually everyone lives in the same high-rise building (a remnant of its days as a military base.) Embarkation was easy as pie; though we arrived earlier than planned, and expected a real crush of people, it never materialized. Within 5 minutes of entering the rather makeshift cruise terminal, we were on board. I knew that we were taking a chance when we booked an oceanview "guarantee" cabin; we ended up on Emerald deck, starboard side, in a cabin with what was described as a "fully obstructed" view (E317.) While our picture window did, indeed, open onto a lifeboat, we actually had a pretty decent view over the top of the boat. For what we were paying, combined with the fact that we planned to be on deck most of the time, I certainly couldn't complain. The cabin had superb closet space - more than plenty of room to hang everything, along with several shelves in a cabinet, and several small drawers in the desk. Our suitcases stowed easily under the twin beds pushed together. There wasn't much room to move about, but we managed. The bathroom was small, and the shower could only be described as minuscule. The grab bar was right at elbow height, further constricting movement. It was by far the smallest bathroom we've yet encountered on any ship. Our steward was an 8-year Princess veteran, delightful, efficient and unobtrusive. All in all, we were well satisfied with our accommodations, and with the service. A housekeeping supervisor saved my sanity by finding my "lost" passport, which had lodged itself inside an area of the small safe obstructed by its door. Apparently, it wasn't the first time this had happened. The ship is large, but not huge, and we found our way around fairly easily. The main dining rooms - Provence for traditional dining and Bordeaux for "anytime dining" were on decks 5 and 6. With our late booking, our only choice had been between the late seating for traditional dining, or "anytime dining", which we chose. Service in the Bordeaux dining room varied from inattentive to excellent; I wonder if the fact that there are not generally extra tips forthcoming, given that diners are not necessarily served by the same waiters each day, was the reason for this inconsistency. We found the meals (dinners only, in our experience) to be excellent, though portions were a bit modest (not necessarily a bad thing, given the buffets we visited for breakfast and lunch!) I had been apprehensive, having read some rather lukewarm reviews of the dining room, but we both agreed that the food was very, very good - inventive, well prepared and presented beautifully. There are still some kinks to be worked out of "anytime dining". We had heard in advance about the possibility of making reservations for a table in the Bordeaux dining room at a particular time. We did this a few times and were immediately ushered to our table for two (we tend to eat fairly early, which likely helped.) It was clear, however, that many people had no idea that reservations could be made, and there was no indication whatsoever at the dining room entrance that the line on the left was for those who had reservations. Diners who had not called ahead tended to feel a bit like "second class citizens", and this was certainly understandable. The whole concept of "Anytime Dining" seems to be undermined by this growing tendency towards reservations; I honestly don't know what the solution may be, as it is clearly impossible to know exactly how many people will show up at any given time each evening. I think that we would opt for early traditional dining next time around. The Horizons buffet tended towards bedlam at "rush hours" for breakfast and lunch, with people often having to wander off to other Lido deck venues (near the pools, etc.) to find a place to sit and eat. Food was plentiful, varied, with excellent fruits and vegetables, and some of the best cookies I've had anywhere. There were always numerous elaborate pastries, many of which were simply too heavy to appeal to us. We were never disappointed in the selection of entrees and accompaniments, and the service was impressive; coffee, tea and juices appeared reasonably quickly at breakfast, tables were quickly cleared and utensils replaced, and there were frequent offers to get anything we needed. We had been apprehensive about the food in Horizons, having read a number of unflattering reviews, but we simply couldn't complain about any of the meals we had there. We also tried the separate pizza parlor - absolutely delicious, and they get the thin crust just right. The entertainment is always a question mark, as we have encountered everything from exceedingly bad to very professional on various cruises. We made a point of attending three shows and were fairly impressed with the high quality of the costumes and sets, and, for the most part, the dancing. Two male and female vocalists were also featured, and they were adequately talented. One unexpected pleasure was the hypnotist who appeared the last night of the cruise. We had enjoyed a little ballroom dancing (getting harder and harder to find on cruises, it seems) and decided to stay for the hypnotist's show. He put on a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining show with audience volunteers - several of whom who were politely "disinvited" from the stage when they showed clear indications that they were not susceptible to hypnosis. There was much good-natured laughter and lots of fun and no real embarrassment to the participants, except, perhaps for the young woman who leaped up and shouted to her husband "Holy s***, we won the lottery!" when so convinced under hypnosis. She also did a pretty good impression of a vacuum cleaner, as I recall... The scenic cruising was memorable and it was simply astonishing to get so close to glaciers...close enough to actually witness "calving" (a portion of a glacier sliding into the sea.) The ports were enjoyable, looking much as we expected they would. We had booked the cruise too late to sign up beforehand for any excursions, but we prefer to explore by ourselves, anyway. I had booked, independently, a whale watching trip out of Juneau through Orca Enterprises, on a jet boat with "Captain Larry" - a real whale-locating expert - at the helm. (I found it interesting that the Coral Princess's naturalist was on board with us, rather than the excursion sponsored by the cruise line.) I was astonished by the calmness of the water and thrilled that there was no hint of seasickness. Instead we had about 2.5 hours of terrific whale watching and saw plenty of humpback and killer whales, plus sea lions and many bald eagles. This was a real highlight of our trip and exceeded all expectations. Having packed lightly, we were in the first, independent group to disembark in Vancouver, a city we had visited before. I had been fortunate enough to book a room at the Sutton Court Hotel on Burrard Street; this is a truly outstanding hotel with excellent rooms and service. We presented our weary selves at 8 am, bags in tow and fully expecting to stow them until mid-afternoon when our room would be ready, but were gratified and delighted to be told that there were a few rooms available and we could check in immediately. I had made a point of mentioning that we were just off the Coral Princess, as I knew that this was one of the hotels Princess employs for pre- and post-cruise hotel stays; I figured it couldn't hurt. All in all, and especially considering the last minute nature of our plans, it was a thoroughly enjoyable week and I feel we more than got our money's worth. Of course, we tend to be the type of people who subscribe to the "we're on a cruise...how bad can it be?" school of thought, but it would have to be considered delightful by any standards. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Coral Princess - Cruise Review May 10 - 13, 2008 San Francisco to Vancouver My friend and I joined the Coral Princess for the short (two night) trip from San Francisco to Vancouver. The ship departed at 4:00 PM on Saturday, and arrived in ... Read More
Coral Princess - Cruise Review May 10 - 13, 2008 San Francisco to Vancouver My friend and I joined the Coral Princess for the short (two night) trip from San Francisco to Vancouver. The ship departed at 4:00 PM on Saturday, and arrived in Vancouver at 10:00 AM on Monday. I have cruised a number of times before, and this was my friend's first cruise. Overall, this was a very nice experience. We enjoyed the ship itself, the facilities and the food. My comparison for this cruise is with a similar (three night) cruise I did last year (2007) aboard the NCL Norwegian Star, from Los Angeles to Vancouver. EMBARKATION This was very smooth. We followed the e-mailed advice from Princess, and did not arrive until after 1:00 PM, and so avoided any long lines. Having your passport available, and your boarding forms filled out in advance definitely makes the process smoother. The boarding area at the San Francisco cruise terminal is very small, so rushing up to be early probably won't help you to avoid lines. CABIN We had cabin D229 (Dolphin deck), and enjoyed the cabin and the balcony. The cabin was slightly smaller than the Norwegian Star, but not appreciably so, and I liked the available hanging space. Like any ships cabin.... Bring your own power strip for all of the electronics. PUBLIC ROOMS The Lotus Pool area is very nice, and a fun way to sit around the pool and enjoy the hot tubs on a blustery day at sea. We had moderate seas, and the pools were closed because of the action of the waves in the pools. This area has a retractable roof, so it is nice to be able to have the protection from the weather. Some on board said that the Lotus pool is the adults only pool, however there weren't many kids on board (which was appreciated by us) and since only the hot tubs were open it was not a huge factor either way. The gym is very nice, with views from a high vantage point. However, being at the stern/high deck does mean that there is some movement experienced when at sea. The ship is clean and relatively easy to navigate. My comparison with the Norwegian Star is that that it has less of a "Wow!" factor than the Norwegian Star. The Atrium is not as impressive, and there are fewer shops. However, we did very much enjoy what have been referred to as the "secret" decks on the bow and stern (Caribe and Baja for the bow). One thing which I did enjoy is that the servers were available with drinks when you wanted them, but weren't overly pushy about it. Food For the first lunch aboard I try to go to a restaurant (as opposed to the buffet), and often if you ask you will find that one is available. We were told that lunch was being served in Provence dining room, but it was closed when we got there. This was to be first of a number of times when we received conflicting information from Princess staff. We ended up at the Horizon Court buffet. The buffet was fine, but choices seemed a little limited. My friend was extremely tired at the end of the day, and decided not to have dinner, so I initially went back to the Horizon Court buffet, but the choices at dinner looked very much like the choices at lunch, so I ended up going to the Bordeaux dining room, which was very pleasant. For dinner we had chosen "anytime" dining, and the Maitre d' had said that reservations were not necessary. On both nights I found this to be true, but we tend to eat later (around 8:00 PM). Earlier in the evening there were some lines. One morning we had breakfast in the Bordeaux restaurant, which was very pleasant. On the final morning we chose the Horizon Court, which had a nicer view as we came into Vancouver Harbor. The breakfast at Horizon was fine, but you do have the hustle and bustle of a buffet environment. I had afternoon tea while my friend went to the Lotus Spa, and she joined us a bit later. This is where the somewhat mechanical aspect of the service showed, since we had all be served earlier, the servers had "moved on" to other tables and we had to do quite a bit of arm-waving to get tea and food for her. My general impression of the food service is that it is fine as long as you go along with the program, and all arrive, and eat, at the same pace as everyone else. This NCL advertisements showing people eating in lock-step did seem to have an element of truth! BARS AND ENTERTAINMENT My favorite bars would be Crooners (good place to people watch and enjoy the sounds of music from the string quartet in the Atrium), and Churchill's Lounge, with the nautical dEcor. ON FORMAL NIGHT.... AND THOUGHTS ON A TWO-NIGHT CRUISE. This was only a two-night cruise, so from information we received from Princess, and what we read on CC message boards, we understood that there would not be a formal night. Turns out that the second night (our final night) there was to be a formal night. No one we talked to was really excited about this. Some people had been on board for the Fort Lauderdale/Panama Canal portion, and had already had formal nights. They had more to pack and wanted to get a head start on that. Others, such as ourselves, were only on board for two nights, and had not brought formal clothing. We arrived at the restaurant nicely, but not formally, dressed and were still allowed entry without a fuss which was much appreciated. Arriving at a later time (around 8:30 PM) probably also helped. The entertainment on the second evening was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn't necessarily bad entertainment; it was just that the crowds were not there. A hypnotist was performing in the Princess Theatre, but many in the already small crowd got up and left mid-way through the act. He eventually cut it short, saying that the subjects were not deeply enough hypnotized. From there I went to the Universe lounge where a juggler was finishing his act, again to a small crowd. I then went to the Explorers lounge where some music was playing (recorded, not a DJ), and only a small group of people were present. Ended up having a relatively early night. Overall, this was a good experience. The staff aboard were friendly and provided good service. I enjoyed the food, especially in the restaurant (as opposed to the buffet). If you are choosing between a two-night and three-night cruise I would suggest the three-nighter. This is not because a longer cruise is necessarily better (though it almost always is), but the first night we were just getting settled in, and the second-night had that "end of cruise" feeling and so you just don't get to feel like you've had that full cruise experience. Thanks for reading this, and I hope you will enjoy your next cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
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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