3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
This was my sixth Princess cruise and my second to the Panama Canal. The first, with my husband, was also on the Coral Princess and we had a terrific time. This "girlfriend" trip I was excited to experience the newly refurbished ... Read More
This was my sixth Princess cruise and my second to the Panama Canal. The first, with my husband, was also on the Coral Princess and we had a terrific time. This "girlfriend" trip I was excited to experience the newly refurbished Coral Princess as well as tour the Canal a second time. The Good Given that I am at the Platinum level both boarding and disembarkation were flawless. Our luggage arrived at our cabins (interior) without a hitch. Our cabin steward was terrific and took care of our needs and concerns throughout our two week stay on board. The service on this ship was outstanding no matter where you went or with whom you spoke. All the waitstaff work very hard to make sure your meals and service are top notch. As mentioned above, our cabin steward, and every cabin steward we met, was courteous, professional and friendly. My friend and I took the ship's tour, offered at the beginning of the cruise with a limit of 14 people. The $150 cost for this tour is money well spent. Our tour lasted four hours as the Captain kept us on the bridge for quite a long time. This is a behind the scenes tour of the entire ship and you are presented with a bag full of "goodies" that evening. So, if you decide to take this tour on your next cruise make sure to pack an extra bag 'cause you will need it to bring home the extras. The ship's tours are good. I prefer private tours but am cautious in which countries I sign up for a private tour. I did have an issue with one of my Princess tours and wrote a note to the tour desk describing the disappointment on a segment of the tour. I was not surprised, though, to receive a call from the tour office to discuss my concerns. I've found Princess to be very responsive to their customer's concerns and needs. Princess is an environmentally responsible cruise line and I appreciate the efforts made to recycle and limit waste. In addition, attention to cleanliness and sanitary conditions are posted throughout the ship. One has to clean their hands before entering the dining rooms, there are notices posted in all bathrooms to wash your hands before exiting, etc, etc. I know some folks became ill on our cruise but, thankfully, we did not experience an Norovirus outbreak. The Not So Good (and I've let Princess know all this so I don't feel bad posting it here) The International Cafe The first thing I noticed was that my favorite hangout on all my tours - the International Cafe (IC) - had been relocated to Deck 6. When on Deck 5 the International Cafe's large windows allowed you to sit with a good cup of coffee and watch the sea, or just people watch in comfort. When the IC was adjacent to the Atrium you could partake of the music and other offerings as well as quietly read a book. On Deck 6 the IC is located next to the Casino. There is never a quiet time here anymore. I'm an early riser when I would go for coffee in the wee hours of the morning the noise of the slot machines interrupted the quiet. When the photo easels are erected the view of the ocean is blocked. Plus, there are no chairs near the windows so sitting and reading here is not an option. Entertainment OMG...this was such a disappointment. I've always enjoyed the musical numbers - the singers and dancers work so hard to produce a good show at sea. However, the shows were cut from 50 minutes to 30 minutes! I've seen several of the shows on previous cruises and they were great....but you can't have a GREAT show in only 30 minutes. Princess...go back to the longer shows! The Scholarship at Sea and port lectures were ok, some better than others. That said, what do lectures about the History of Nursery Rhymes, Cuba or NASA have to do with a cruise of the Panama Canal with stops in Aruba, Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico or Costa Rica? I understand that the demographic of a Panama Canal cruise is "older" but the ship is not a rest home, for heavens sake, and that's the demographic that most of these programs seemed to be geared towards. Finally, every Princess cruise I've been on has offered diverse activities on board, especially on sea days. On this trip the activities were unreal - paper airplane making, model ship building, the Great Egg Drop! Really, I kid you not, The Great Egg Drop. Unbelievable and disappointing, for sure. The activities left much to be desired. I read lots of books, though, as the shopping in the ship's stores was seemed to be limited to large sizes and clothing for the more mature woman. Food and more The food, as always, was very good. I tend to prefer the Horizon Court as the offerings in the buffet are always fresh and varied. A few of my friends preferred the dining room for all meals and were never disappointed. I find the dining room menu limited but good if you like fewer choices. One never goes hungry on a Princess cruise, that's for sure. I wasn't upset that the Dessert or Chocolate Extravaganzas were not included on this trip. While they are delightful to see and taste I imagine the cost and time to prepare these events are huge. And, I'm sure there is a lot of waste involved, as well. The Art Auctions are fun. But be forewarned...if you "win" a free work of art in the raffles you cannot carry it off the ship. There is a $35 shipping fee attached so it isn't really free. I can understand the shipping cost and don't have a problem with that. I do have a problem, however, with this not being disclosed at the onset. That's about it. I will continue to sail with Princess unless I experience similar disappointments on my next cruise. But, one thing I know for sure, my next cruise will NOT be on the Coral Princess.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
3 of us cruised on the 11 night Panama Canal Coral Princess on April 4-17, 2014. Embarkation was efficient, and we were allowed to board and go our room. We then went upstairs for lunch on the Lido deck. Typical cruise line ... Read More
3 of us cruised on the 11 night Panama Canal Coral Princess on April 4-17, 2014. Embarkation was efficient, and we were allowed to board and go our room. We then went upstairs for lunch on the Lido deck. Typical cruise line buffet...nothing spectacular. We met our room steward, and we told her since there were 3 of us cruising this time, we booked a Jr.Suite, and that we would need extra ice because we like to sit on our balcony a lot. We even brought our own ice bag for the extra ice. The steward, however, decided she would give us ice only at her convenience. We usually had enough ice to last us through the day, but not the evenings. We like to have a cocktail before dinner, but we were usually out of ice. Our afternoon "ration" of ice usually arrived around 9 pm every night. When we came back from dinner the first night, our room was made up with the covers turned down and chocolate on the pillows. The sleeping accommodations for our travel guest was pitiful...again Princess should be ashamed of itself. The bed turned out be a sleeper sofa with a 3 inch thick mattress. When our companion got on the bed, the cross bar dug into her back. We caught the steward (ours seemed to be the only one working that time of night because of her inefficiency) and told her something needed to be done. She brought in another 3 inch mattress, which helped somewhat, but it still wasn't right.......the steward finally brought up yet a 3rd 3 inch mattress. That finally did the trick, but during the day time, the steward folded up the sofa sleeper and leaned the extra mattresses against the wall, and the bedding on one of our chairs in the room.. How can you have a bad cruise? It's a lot easier on the Coral Princess. We really thought this was going to be nice getting a Jr. Suite, but for 11 days we had to look at mattresses leaned up against the wall and bedding taking up our sitting space. Oh well, back to RCCL and Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our fourth Princess Cruise in three years, and 14th cruise overall. For this experience, we were somewhat disappointed. Our mini suite was a good sized, but the furnishings were in need of replacing. For example, the sofa was ... Read More
This was our fourth Princess Cruise in three years, and 14th cruise overall. For this experience, we were somewhat disappointed. Our mini suite was a good sized, but the furnishings were in need of replacing. For example, the sofa was dirty and cushions fairly beat up. Our room steward (Ramon), while seemingly pleasant, provided basic cleaning but nothing special. On embarkation day, I asked for robes, which he delivered that evening. Upon our arrival, the chairs and the hand railing on our balcony were filthy, and called Ramon's attention to it. He nicely explained that embarkation day was a difficult turnover day to get everthing done, but he would tend to it. However, the next day after he cleaned but never touched the railing or the chairs, I cleaned them all myself. But on day 4 of our cruise, Ramon entered our locked cabin while we were inside with the "do not disturb" sign in the door (ugh) and said he was there to clean the balcony. In fact, on a couple of occasions Ramon walked unannounced into our cabin while we were there when our "do not disturb" sign was on our door. Separately, mid cruise during an at-sea day, my husband lost his on board cruise ID card which you use for all purchases. He went to the customer service desk, and they issued him a new card. When he questioned what if someone found his old card, the attendant told him it would not work because the actual card had been deactivated in their computer system. My husband then questioned about the services on board where crew members simply jot down your folio number, rather than swipe the card. The crew member curtly stated that no one on board does that, and that all crew swipes through the card reader. At that point the crew member got an attitude as if my husband was bothering them. For the next few days, my husband and I chuckled with each other about how many times we both used our ship ID card when each crew member just jotted down our folio number without swiping it. Additionally, we daily checked our on board account. On the last night of our cruise, a CHARGE (not ours) for Sabatini's (specialty dining) for $25 showed up on my husband's account, Apparently whomever snagged my husband's lost card decided to use it and have a special dinner "on us"; and yes PRINCESS CRUISE LINES it was charged to us by your crew jotting down the folio number and not swiping the card as we had feared. Luckily, my husband caught it and promptly went to the customer service desk and disputed the charge, which they credited back to us. Perhaps your processes need to be revisited????? For me, itt's not that passengers have issues while on board (that's assumed), it's how the cruise line deals with the customers that is our complaint. And the customer service desk crew on board the Coral Princess FAILED both on process and tone, to the point that we will select a different cruise line for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
We have sailed Princess several times and have never been disappointed, until now. Princess is our favorite cruise lines so I find it difficult to be negative, however I think a few complaints are in order. I first want to say that the ... Read More
We have sailed Princess several times and have never been disappointed, until now. Princess is our favorite cruise lines so I find it difficult to be negative, however I think a few complaints are in order. I first want to say that the Coral is a beautiful ship, spotless clean and she sails as smooth as glass. The food was good in the dining room as well as in the Horizon Court and the crew were wonderful. Our room steward, Efren, was terrific. My husband's back was bothering him the first few days and Efren made sure there was plenty of ice and plastic bags in our room and came by to ask about him several times. Kudos to Efren. We booked an obstructed oceanview. Normally, we always book a balcony, but the economy being what it is made that indulgence too much. The first thing I did when we boarded was to go to the Pursers Desk and request an upgrade. I knew the ship wasn't full (1,300 passengers and they carry up to 1,900) and there had been flight delays all over the country possibly keeping people from boarding. They told us they were going to give passengers that missed boarding a chance to get on board in Aruba, so they wouldn't know about an upgrade until then. In Aruba, they denied us - not because of late arrivals, so I was told. As we met people during the cruise, we heard story after story about how they were upgraded up to 5 categories. Some had booked interior and ended up in oceanview. One oceanview couple ended up in a junior suite and so on. I'm not a person that expects something for nothing, but that put a bad taste in my mouth. The couple with a 5 category upgrade would have been just as happy with 4 categories and give us the 5th! We obviously stayed in our obstructed oceanview and were happy as clams. I don't let things like that change my mood or attitude while I'm enjoying myself. I'll concern myself later, if necessary. For those of you interested in hearing about particular cabins....for the sake of searching: Obstructed Oceanview E510. The room is small, but manageable. Okay amount of storage except flat horizontal surfaces. We seem to clutter the counter tops to the max!. Room under the bed for big luggage, closet is big and there is shelving where the safe is. The shower is insanely small. My husband hung the shower curtain over a hook and just let the water fly. No other choice, you can barely turn around. Note: From balcony room to interior, all the showers are all that small. The obstruction in this room is livable. You get plenty of light and can see the water if you stand towards the left side of the bed.  This cruise took place during Thanksgiving. I didn't know what to expect, but I hoping for more. I realize that Thanksgiving is an American Holiday and many cruisers aren't American, but I guess I assumed most people would enjoy a Thanksgiving celebration. We went to the dining room for the dinner half expecting some American tradition. For instance, I thought maybe the servers would come out of the kitchen holding platters of traditional roasted turkeys and carving stations set up around the dining room. Something along those lines. However, all they did was have a turkey selection on the menu and it was only sliced white meat. Kinda took the tradition out of the equation. It was good food, but not Thanksgiving dinner. My other disappointment was the entertainment. Typically, we attend all the shows in the Princess Theater and if there is a guest entertainer that will be playing in a lounge, we will go see him/her in the less crowded venue. No point on this cruise. Every show in the Princess Theater was 35 minutes long and not very impressive. There was a good comedian, but he did the same show each time - no variations. The magician was okay, but nothing to get excited about. VERY disappointed in the entertainment. Keeping in mind we were sailing in and around South America, Central America and the Panama Canal, the temperatures were sweltering. They played some of the Movies Under the Stars during the day. We are not pool people and we don't do hot real well, so those movies were out of the question. The ports of call were great and the Panama Canal was amazing. We had beautiful, albeit very hot weather the entire cruise. This will not keep us from sailing on Princess, but I certainly hope they have not cut back on entertainment on all their ships and cruises!   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
Have always been with Holland America and none of these negatives exited on those cruises of 18, 28 and 10 days. THE SHIP...Very Nice FOOD..In anytime dining was lousy. One night ordered pork and sauerkraut and got sauerkraut and a ... Read More
Have always been with Holland America and none of these negatives exited on those cruises of 18, 28 and 10 days. THE SHIP...Very Nice FOOD..In anytime dining was lousy. One night ordered pork and sauerkraut and got sauerkraut and a piece of ham. Other nights food was bland at best. The folks servicing the tables were rude at best. Kept interrrupting any one talking with stupid non essential questioning......How is the meal, need anything..any coffee, everthing OK, and on and on. After 5 nights of this went to the floor above and ate in the scheduled dining room. Matre D was a pleasure. Gave us a nice table. Food was better, which I do not understand since I presume it comes from the same prep area. Service here was excellent. Went back for our last night and had the same impression. STATEROOM...very nice. Good attendent. No issues ENTERTAINMENT...Please ...no good. An illusionist doing 30 to 40 years old "stuff". The last night the crew show was good for some of the crew ..they do have talent. BUT the last segment on the last night was crude and not up to the standards I THOUGHT existed with Princess. OVERALL....Next cruise will be with Holland America. Food, Service and entertainment were top shelf at HAL. Princess has lost a prospective cruiser for the future. Its a shame since our Travel Agent recommended them. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
Note: I dwell on the food a bit, since I think that's important on a cruise. To get "excellent", you simply have to do a better job than my wife or I! For this ship, buy the coffee card -- it entitles you to the better ... Read More
Note: I dwell on the food a bit, since I think that's important on a cruise. To get "excellent", you simply have to do a better job than my wife or I! For this ship, buy the coffee card -- it entitles you to the better regular coffee at the International Cafe, no charge. Note: call your hotel from the airport when you arrive to get a shuttle, there is no parking at the airport for pickups. Day 1: Boarding in Fort Lauderdale Stayed overnight in the Hampton Inn, which offers shuttles from the airport and to the ship the next day. Bonus is the Old Heidelberg restaurant within walking distance of the hotel, and it's a 5 star German experience. Shuttle to the ship at 11:45, and we wait around until 12:45 while the workmen still on board clear immigration (that's the story, anyway). Bonus after refurb is going to our cabin and dumping the carryon first for a change. Lunch: good curry, rest ordinary. Discover the secret "back porch" on deck 10 -- a dozen chairs, call from your room and get drinks. Mini-suite seems smaller than advertised, but has a tub and a bigger closet. Also blocks the bathroom door, so you don't light up the whole room for your mid-night potty break. Usual lifeboat drill at five. Dinner: ceviche (just fish and lime juice), mushroom soup (decent), prime rib(g) with an excellent grilled tomato and a 2 inch piece of tough grilled sweet corn. Crème Brulee for dessert. Across the table had a tasteless sugar free mango cheesecake. Service very slow, orders mixed up / substituted, other waiters stepped in to help ours. Day 2: at sea Breakfast in Horizon -- ordinary, slow juice service, but a Masked Booby going by to provide interest(sorry, I'm a birder...) No smoked salmon in sight, turns out you can get it in the dining room only. Morning trivia: lost by one with 16/20, Afternoon had 14, 14.5 to win. Stop by the library to pick up the daily Sudoku and word puzzle sheet. Lunch totally forgettable. Dinner: beef medallions(g), shrimp cocktail (available every night, 6 medium, decent), French Onion soup(poor -- mine is a LOT better), Gourmandises for dessert, turns out to be an excellent cookie assortment, just the thing for a mild diabetic.... I share around the table. Lose an hour tonight, Aruba is on Atlantic Time. Watch TV a bit, northeast getting pasted with a blizzard of up to 3 feet in places, all flights canceled. Day 3: Aruba Water mixer in shower has broken, can't get any cold water. Turned it left, and it unscrewed in my hand. Bread Pudding in the breakfast line, and some good broiled tomatoes. Dinner of Crab Cake(edible, too much breading), Corn/Sausage chowder(ok), Blackened Rockfish (more like baked, with no spices whatsoever, but good with an excellent romanesqu sauce). Give up on the sugar-free dessert and have crème brulee again. Tshirts and hats are on sale for our big canal cruise, so splurge and buy 2 for 20 bucks. Will report later on how cheap they are on land. You know, most of the slot machines are 1 cent, but have all the small bets disabled -- some of them have a minimum bet of 30 cents! Greedy bastards..... Day 4: Cartagena Off the boat and walk to the visitor center. Behind the visitor center is an excellent patch of woods -- they have a few captive birds (Macaws, some passerines, a monkey) but other birds and one monkey visit and partake of the feeders and watering points. Some of the captives piss a birder off -- they have Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks on migration from the States, for instance -- but I restrain myself from busting the lock and setting them free. (These captive birds "don't count" on your life list, incidentally) After a fine morning of birding, I walk back to the ship for lunch. After lunch, return and develop the birder plan: walk around the woods for 20 minutes, then pull up a chair in the shade pointing at the woods and drink a beer so you don't get dehydrated in the tropical heat, then repeat. After 3 sessions of the birder plan, time to leave. There's a free shuttle from the ship to the visitor center to spare the 1/3 mile walk on the concrete, if that's your preference. Dinner of an excellent piece of Corvina. News around the ship features the Carnival Triumph, now being towed to Mobile after the engines burned up down by Cozumel. The usual "limited toilets", no air conditioning, no lights. Didn't last year's occurrence get down to PBJ sandwiches before they got there? Day 5: Panama Canal Since this is the whole point of taking this cruise, up early to watch the approach. Through the Gatun Locks by 8 and into the lake. Breakfast in the dining room, and I discover the smoked salmon stash on board: I'll be back..... Cruise across Gatun Lake for a couple of hours, then enter the engineering marvel of the Gaillard Cut. Through the last two locks at about 4 and into the Pacific. Panama City is visible and very large in the distance. For a birder, this was a decent experience -- you're pretty close to the shore a lot, the shores are wooded and there are few shoreline birds. No sandpipers, etc. A few egrets, herons, one kingfisher (Ringed, unfortunately, and I looked at thousands of excellent perching branches -- he was at the Miraflores locks on the wall!) You will get to see Frigatebirds at a distance of 20 feet, plenty of Pelicans and Laughing Gulls, a few Royal Terns. I got to see Frigatebirds bathing by scraping the surface (and yes, they can get back in the air). Dinner in the Bayou to celebrate Mardi Gras. Nothing special for the occasion, except some free dollar store beads. Really makes you look forward to Valentine's Day. The sausage appetizer and Gumbo were good, but the Gumbo was more like seafood soup. The grilled Shrimp was good. My wife felt the catfish was undercooked, and serving it on a bed of French Fries was not acceptable in a specialty restaurant. They put some unsauced chopped cabbage on everything. The fried green tomatoes and potatoes were poor, but I rooted through the veggies for the lima beans, which I love. On the whole? Not worth it..... Day 6: At sea Princess Patter this morning features an announcement at the bottom that the port on Friday (San Juan del Sur) has limited landing facilities, and handicapped passengers can't be accomodated. This is the first notice I've seen. This would have me downstairs pounding on the desk and demanding a day's refund on the cruise fee! They just figure this out? Also included is the "tonight is the last chance to cancel your tour" notice. Breakfast in the dining room: salmon and Mexican omelette/refried beans. Needs some more taste, heat. Lunch upstairs, Hungarian goulash quite good. Lose trivia by ½ point this time. Brown Booby passes by at breakfast, Blue-footed Booby at lunch. Looking for a trifecta, but nothing at dinner. Dinner was Steak Diane, sadly inferior to my own..... Back an hour to Central time, which is a good thing, since my tour leaves at 7:15 tomorrow. Day 7: Puntarenas, Costa Rica Pull into port at 6, I eat breakfast and ready to go on Tour#1 at 7:15. Pier is two lanes wide, at least 1500 feet long, forcing the buses to back onto the pier. Decently efficient on loading/queing. Tour goes about a mile on the north side of the peninsula, then board a boat at go up the river to look at the crocs and various birdlife. I get two lifers (collared Plover and Grey capped Flycatcher (which the narrator called as a Kiskadee). Since she was calling Dowitchers "Sandpipers", the information was bit unreliable.... Up and back, about an hour total. Load on the bus and go to the Macaw Sanctuary, about an hour out of town. Decent tour, Rudulfo runs the place as a charity / wildlife refuge and does a good job. He has a newer book than mine, more knowledge of the local birds... I wander around and get a dozen lifers on my own, follow Rudulfo's directions to get a few more (the hummers are hitting flowers in the pen with the spider monkey). Since birds in cages don't count for listers, I don't even bother with the standard lectures and kinda go parallel with the tour, out in the grass. The best birding is at the end of the cages, next to the little stream. We get to see Scarlet Macaws defending their nest box, a Toucan in a tree. The place is lousy with Clay colored Robins (national bird of Costa Rica), and if you knew the trouble you have to go to, to see just one in Texas.... We have a snack of fruit from the locals -- excellent pineapple, papaya, bananas, watermelon... Really good stuff, and as a diabetic, I get to taste a bit. Back through the gift shop (I avoid the whole process and just hand Rudulfo some cash for bird seed) visit the washroom (long trough for the guys, non-working faucets for the washup) and back on the bus. Hour back to the ship, have lunch, then take the free shuttle (cute trainy thing) to the shore. Maybe a hundred vendors, not pushy, selling local crafts and coffee. Put a half mile on the clock, buying a couple of wood puzzle boxes for the grandkids, a couple ocarinas for them, a sample pack of Costa Rican coins to put in the puzzle boxes -- then spot the Ruddy Doves and some Tropical Kingbirds. About a thousand White-winged Doves on the ground. Work my way back to the ship, sampling local beers (Imperial, Bavaria, Pilsen) for $2-3 a bottle. Dinner is some excellent Short Ribs (a little fatty), then to bed. Day 8: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua Failed to book a tour for this port -- all except one are "2 hour bus ride, get badgered in the market by street vendors, 2 hour bus ride back"; plus all the pictures online show the volcanoes buried in the haze, so what's the point. The sole Ecolodge tour is very pricy at $150/4 hours and sold out. So I wait until 10 and the tenders are free, go ashore, and wander around. The port has about 20 vendors set up -- Tshirts are $5, embroidered Tshirts are $10, and you could get pottery vases for maybe 3 bucks after bartering. There was a large selection of wood bowls, necklaces, placemats, etc. I pass right on by, exit the port fence, go along the shore road for a block or two, then go right a block to the base of the hills to bird. Decent birding, several batches of parrots/keets pass by (one landed and was 3 Crimson fronted Parakeets), the usual Social Flycatchers, Tropical Kingbirds, a large dove of some sort that needs more study (tail like a Mourning Dove in flight, but larger). There's a Boat-billed Flycatcher building a nest half way up the cellular tower that I got a glimpse of lugging a stick. Most interesting were the three King Vultures soaring over the hills when we came into the harbor, and we had a Brown Booby on the back sunporch of Deck 10 for the morning. There were a couple of Grackles cleaning up on the top deck for breakfast. Don't miss: free rum samples at the Flora Cana booth right off the tender. A couple vendors sell the 8 year old (decent, skip the cheap stuff) for $9/half, $15/fifth. The local beer is Tona, decent and similar in taste to Pilsen in Costa Rica -- little bit hoppy. The landing proved to be a couple feet wide, six steps up and two down. No way a wheelchair would make it. Stopped at the local bank for coins for the grandkids. $3 got me a handful of assorted. Security made me remove my hat, scanned my bag, and I had to show my passport to exchange my 3 singles! Escargot for appetizer, Prime Rib for main course at dinner.... Good food, indeed. Departure delayed ½ hour for "immigration issues", according to the announcement. That turned out in the morning to be a heart attack that killed a guy on the hike up the volcano, according to fellow passengers. Day 9: at sea Morning walk: from the smell, someone threw up on the Promenade, and it still smells. Working late, shower at 8:30 and we're out of hot water in the shower, still have hot water in the sink. Word to the wise: plan ahead. Breakfast of the usual stuff -- Cantaloupe hard, Honeydew fine. Brown and Masked Boobies riding the air in front of the ship, 2 porpoises/dolphins seen out from the stern. Morning trivia had 16, 19.5 to win. Special lunch: English Pub Grub in the Bayou, your choice of Breaded Shrimp, good Cod fried, Scottish Egg, Chicken Curry. That's it. Had to do the afternoon trivia by myself when the ladies attended the high tea, and got smoked. Dinner had an excellent piece of tilapia, a not so good seafood salad (calamari was tough), good butter pecan ice cream. Captain announcement that we're modifying course to close the land -- there's high winds predicted. Turned out to hit 90 knots is gusts with 16 ft waves, ship rolling moderately since it's off the quarter. Wreaked some havoc on the top deck during the movie with spray and howling winds. ESPN quit working, never to return... Day 10: at sea Shower at 7:45 was just barely on the cool side. Breakfast in dining room, lost morning trivia by one (again). Usual lunch, with brown booby passing the ship in mid-salad. Tequila tasting for free in afternoon, with 4 drinks raffled off, a fifth given away, very small tastings. Hint: get up and dance, you get more raffle tickets. Nap after. Dinner was Italian; special pasta fresh tossed, tiramisu, seafood salad (better this time), excellent cold Bellini soup, Limoncello shots with souvenir glass for $5 (not cold enough). Pavorotti video after gave us a chance to use the free drink coupon from the Captain's welcome. Day 11: at sea Shower at 7:15 was just about right. Liked the free champagne breakfast so much from the travel agent that we bought one on our own. Nice day on the balcony, about 70. Traveling through a fishing area -- pass a dozen boats and some floats securing catch lines of some sort. Birdy, see Frigatebird, Masked Booby, and a batch of Terns of some sort (Off the Jalisco coast) Done by 10 or so. Attended talk on "Navigation at Sea", which turns out to be "Bridge Tour by PowerPoint". Jet engines on top deck turn out to be plastic shrouds for gas turbine intakes and are non-functional. Run through "why the Princess can never have an accident like the other ships" - the standard question and answer for these type of things. After the Costa ran aground last year, the "entire Carnival fleet" adopted the Princess bridge model. Afternoon trivia: got 17, 18 to win... Dinner: Marlene and Robert at our table had a meat mix of chicken, pork, lamb and described it as "the worst dish of the cruise". Should have had the Orange Roughy or the Scallops -- they were excellent. Thyme infused Strawberry Sorbet for a palate cleanser before the main course, nice try.... Day 12: Cabo san Lucas Up early for the whale-watching tour; not to be missed. Mother Humpback and calf jumping and playing, couple of juvenile humpbacks cruising around. Keep an eye out for the sea lions -- they hitch rides on the fishing boats and can be seen in the marina. 2.5 hours, free margaritas/pina coladas/ beer, some chips and salsa fresca (nice and spicy) -- decent value. They check your bags getting off the ship, so watch what you bring ashore -- no food items. Back to the dock for a couple hours of power shopping -- I bought a Tshirt to help the economy of Mexico. Town is nothing but buildings; I try to get some birding in by going to the nearest trees behind one of the hotels, but all there is - House Sparrows. Back to ship, lunch was sort of Italian, and the cream puff was very good with the almond cream filling. Go on deck as we round the corner for California, there are more whales to be seen. Dinner at Sabatini's. Not very crowded on the last formal night. Good Calamari appetizer, some bread with evoo to start it off, nice tomato soup with not so good calamari, marinated beefsteak, zabaglione for dessert Decent value for a special night (one that ends in y...) Day 13: at sea Classic American breakfast in the dining room, and the hash browns weren't any good in there, either... Captain announces that the weather is going to be bad starting about noon and continuing bad until we reach port in LA -- he is altering course to go closer to the land again. About two in the afternoon, the waves are approaching 15 feet, the temperature outside is about 60, the wind is getting up there, and attendance around the pool is zero. I watch the Egg Drop competition at 1300 hrs, which is pretty funny, since I was the district and regional judge for Science Olympiad and conducted workshops in that very subject! These were pretty pathetic, and mostly consisted of putting your egg in various cushions "liberated" from lounges around the ship. Waves got up to 20 feet, and attendance at dinner was about half -- got great service! Day 14: disembarkation One of the better experiences -- could stay in the cabin until nine, wander downstairs and wait until 9:45. If the customs people were faster, would have been on the bus in 15 minutes, but they added a half hour in the queue to the process. Off to LAX for our flight home. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
Embarkation and Debarkation- We got to the pier before 1:00 and waited in line for about 50 minutes to check in. Everyone was friendly and the process was good. At the completion of the trip, getting off the ship and getting to the ... Read More
Embarkation and Debarkation- We got to the pier before 1:00 and waited in line for about 50 minutes to check in. Everyone was friendly and the process was good. At the completion of the trip, getting off the ship and getting to the airport was as smooth as we have ever experience. Cabin - We had a balcony on Emerald deck (mid-ship). No major problems, but the shower hardware was loose (there must be some water damage behind the wall) and there was a fair amount of rust on the balcony walls and rail. Out cabin stewardess was Christina and she did fine, although nothing exceptional. Food - We are not "foodies" but thought the quality was only fair. There was a lot of fat on the meat several nights and a lot of the food was very salty. Often the pastries in the buffet seemed stale. We did not try the specialty restaurants on this trip. On previous cruises we thought the Italian restaurant was great and the steakhouse was OK. Service - The waitstaff made mistakes at many of the meals (forgetting a food item, promising to get something and not following through). We did the flexible dining so maybe not having a "permanent" waiter was part of the problem. Everyone was friendly; they were just careless. Entertainment - Our evaluation is mixed. The mentalist, the comic, and the female singer were excellent. The magician was fair and we were not impressed with the in-house singers and dancers. Shore Excursions - In Aruba we did the Jeep trip and thought it was great. In Cartagena we did a private tour and weren't particularly impressed. In the Panama Canal we took the ferry through the Pacific locks and would highly recommend that to everyone. In Costa Rica we did the banana plantation, the 45 minute train ride, and the boat ride through a canal and found it very enjoyable. In Jamaica, we went ziplining and believe that everyone should try that activity once. The Ship - At the completion of our trip the ship sailed to Nassau for two weeks in drydock. It needed it. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
The Coral Princess is not a huge ship, which is fine by me. However, there was so little to do that we found ourselves sleeping more than any cruise ever before! My husband and I are 29, and some of the youngest aboard. Again, this is ... Read More
The Coral Princess is not a huge ship, which is fine by me. However, there was so little to do that we found ourselves sleeping more than any cruise ever before! My husband and I are 29, and some of the youngest aboard. Again, this is fine. We get along very well with an older crowd - better, in fact. It was the lack of activities and places to go that was disappointing. During the sea days, there were lectures and seminars that did not pertain to us; "Fear of outliving your money" - things like that. Last year we went on a 14 night Hawaii cruise on the Golden Princess, and that ship was great! The Coral had NO shopping. The perfume and makeup selections were pitiful. (saved me money, though). The duty free liquor was abysmal. (First time my husband did not buy a fine liqueur onboard - there were none!) The casino was very shabby. We like to play craps, and this is the first cruise we've ever taken where craps is not open in the day on sea days, and the casino was this tiny. While the dealers were nice, as soon as midnight hit, they couldn't wait to get out of there and made it well known. A bit uncomfortable. Our cabin steward was nice enough, but little touches that we've experienced on other cruises just weren't there. No towel animals (not that I really care, actually, just noticed it). VERY slow to refresh the room. We were gone one day from 7am until 2pm and it still wasn't refreshed. We brought on champagne and must have asked for champagne flutes 3-4 times at least, but he never left any in the room unlike our last cruise. The food on Princess is better that, say, Carnival. But it was not as good as it was on our Hawaiian cruise. There were the same selections most of the time, and not many specialty stations. On the last Princess cruise, there were specialty stations every day along with chocolate buffets and 24hr snacks in the horizon court. Not here. Overall, we had a great time (vacation is what you make it!) but were not a fan of the ship. We could cover it top to bottom in 20 minutes. Never slept out of boredom so much on vacation before. Also, very few decent shows. BUT - Panama Canal was excellent. Worth the boring ship in the end! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
This was my second cruise -- the first was the identical itinerary on the Veendam 7 years ago. First time was with my husband; this time with a friend. I chose Princess over HAL for this trip because of the itinerary; I wanted a ... Read More
This was my second cruise -- the first was the identical itinerary on the Veendam 7 years ago. First time was with my husband; this time with a friend. I chose Princess over HAL for this trip because of the itinerary; I wanted a northbound trip and I most wanted to visit Glacier Bay, College Fjord and Hubbard Glacier. This was the only cruise that visited two out of those three. I give the trip okay ratings with one serious, serious problem that I have not seen mentioned anywhere else. I had been telling my friend -- a first time cruiser -- about how wonderful the moment is when you sail away under the bridge in Vancouver. So we rushed up to the front of the ship (not enough time, really, because we began sailing before the safety drill was over) only to find great sheets of blue glass that obscured the entire view! A few people were trying to stick their cameras into the little space between the sheets of glass -- really sad. The most important thing to me on a cruise to Alaska is to SEE ALASKA. We did finally find two little spaces on decks 10 and 11 -- behind doors marked "emergency only" -- that gave an unobstructed view. But there was nowhere to get the wonderful views that we had on the Veendam where I could see such a wide area. The second view-related problem was the dining room. I had been resolved not to keep comparing the Coral Princess with the Veendam but, my gosh, what a difference in the dining rooms! The Veendam's formal dining room was in the stern -- there were great curving windows with outer tables on the lower level and inside ones on the higher level so that everyone had a nearly 180 degree view of the water. The Princesses dining rooms were in the middle of the ship with low ceilings and as much wall space as window area. There were heavy curtains that covered some of the window space and sheers that covered it all. The dining room staff explained to me that when people think of "formal" dining they think of draperies. I was able to open the sheers most of the time but it gave a very limited view. This meant that on evenings when my dinner seating coincided with good viewing I had to either eat earlier in one of the other dining rooms or miss the view. In addition to the multiple outdoor decks in the stern of the Veendam, there was a gigantic bar area with an amazing view. The Coral Princesses buffet restaurant, OTOH, featured the trademark low ceilings and actually had great potted plants obscuring what view there was!I have to assume that most people don't find any of this a problem since I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere on CruiseCritic but (as must be obvious) I was both surprised and disappointed. As far as the rest of the trip: We flew to Seattle (used frequent flyer miles and the carriers didn't fly into Vancouver) and spent a day exploring on our own. Then took the Amtrak Cascades to Vancouver and took the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus the next day -- well worth it if you want to see Vancouver in two hours! Then we hit a wine store -- no problem with Princess about our bringing on boxes of wine. Embarkation was easy. We had booked an obstructed view cabin, got upgraded to unobstructed twice but each time Princess had a fare sale and we went back to obstructed view to get the discount. Would, of course, have preferred a balcony but it wouldn't have solved my "view" problems since I wanted the wide scope that's only available at the front and back. Also the balconies have the blue glass halfway up and it looks like it would obscure the view if one were sitting down. Storage areas in the cabin were quite nice -- I needed an eggcrate mattress for the bed but it was fine once I unmade the bed and turned the eggcrate right side up! Lighting was excellent. And the fridge was nice. Steward did his job but no towel animals or really special touches. Food was average to good. Maybe better than the Veendam had been. There were two Alaska lunches at the grill on deck 14 that were very good. We used room service a few times for coffee in the morning -- very good and efficient. Another big lack -- to me, ymmv -- was that no one could ever tell me where the ship was and when we were expected to get to certain places. I bought a very good Princess guidebook to the cruise that highlighted certain areas to watch for whales or lighthouses, etc. but I could never figure out when we would be at those areas. There was one tv channel that had a gps screen but it wasn't at a high enough resolution to be helpful and you had to sit through all kinds of "how to use your life jacket" before the map flashed -- briefly -- on the screen. I liked the design of the ship. It was filled with little nooks with chairs and couches and we almost never felt crowded. I didn't go to any of the entertainment -- I'd rather watch Alaska than Vegas-style shows -- so I have no opinion here. In Ketchikan we did the boat trip into the Misty Fjords which I highly recommend. On my first trip we had taken a floatplane and while that experience was great fun I had much more appreciation for the Misty Fjords from the boat. In Juneau I took a non-Princess 10 hour boat ride to the Sawyer glaciers in Tracy Arm. That was a trip highlight because we got so close to the glaciers, floating through icebergs and we saw dozens of harbor seals resting on the icebergs. Skagway was socked in but we had reserved the White Pass railroad and it was too late to cancel. Not a good value for the money. Great whale watching from the ship! We listened to the naturalist and did the research so we knew when to be watching. I brought on several bottles of wine -- took them to the dining room and paid the $15 corkage fee so the cost was about the same as buying the Princess wine. Their wine list is much more extensive than it shows on their web page so it turned out that I would have been able to get what I wanted without bringing it on board. They will re-cork the bottle and save it for you or give it to you to take back to your cabin. Wine and drink prices are comparable to restaurant prices but the bartenders aren't very liberal with the alcohol. Formal night was less so than on the Veendam -- not sure if it's the ship or the passage of 7 years. Almost no tuxedos on the Coral Princess while there had been a nice sprinkling of them on the Veendam. Disembarkation was handled well. We took the transfer to Anchorage with several sightseeing stops. Not Princesses fault but I find it very tedious to get on an off the buses! They took us to a downtown "hospitality center" where we could leave carry on luggage while we explored Anchorage and then take a shuttle to the airport. That worked well except the last shuttle was at 6:00 -- not so good for those of us with late flights. There's not really a good way to get from Anchorage to the East Coast! I'm glad that I took this second trip to Alaska -- no sense of 'been there; done that'. But I would never sail on another Princess ship because of the various impediments to good views. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Coral Princess May 16th, 2012 I would like to say that this was my first cruise so I have nothing for comparative value except my experience with Princess and what the other companions in our group expressed about other lines, so ... Read More
Coral Princess May 16th, 2012 I would like to say that this was my first cruise so I have nothing for comparative value except my experience with Princess and what the other companions in our group expressed about other lines, so that being said here is my thoughts on this cruise. We stayed at the Marriot Pinnacle which is 3 blocks downhill from Canada place so getting to the ship was very easy. Princess had enough employees to direct luggage and people to parts unknown in this massive hall. We were corralled into an area seated given water and waited maybe 30 min to embark. Princess allowed us to bring on two bottles of wine, one a large one and in each port to bring on one bottle per person. It was a lot cheaper than buying their alcohol. Liquor is very expensive on board and they are trying to sell you plenty. Lots of profit in a watered down drink. Flash, Flash, Flash, everyone gets an ID and the welcome aboard photo. One of way too many for my taste. People who boarded the ship were already engaged in a get to know the ship scavenger hunt so elevators were in use more for that than moving passengers to their rooms. Congested. We arrived at room C509, our home for the next 7 days. It was a nice room with a covered balcony mid ship. There was plenty of closet space with wooden hangers for the clothes we brought. A large cupboard for folded clothes. The bathroom had a shower, toilet and sink it was basic, but I have had less space in European bathrooms in the past. There was always hot water, but maybe not enough pressure depending on time of day. This was not a luxury room more on par with a low to midrange chain hotel. The story of the Princess and the Pea fit the bed. We all had different complaints. Once I got the egg crate it helped a little with the dip. There is no top sheet, just a duvet. My sister in Law requested and received her sheet. There is a small refrigerator, flat screen TV which does not receive many channels, but again the view is what you come to Alaska for. The balcony was wonderful but mid-May in Alaska has some draw backs, and when the ship was under sail it was just too cold to hang out. We also found that sitting in the chairs you didn't get a really good view of the shore. The chairs were comfortable and I believe the older version since we did see newer chairs on other decks. There was a speaker outside the door but could not hear the naturalist speak. It looks like it does not work and one has to turn on the TV to hear her speak. There should be an option for outside reception. The room steward was fine, kept the room clean and made up, but, than again we are not messy guest. There was always ice, clean towels, waste bins clean, sink wiped down. Some of the others missed the towel animals on the beds at night not ever having any I did not miss it. They did do a demo later in the cruise in the atrium. I believe the steward is one of the hardest working souls on the ship. Our luggage was waiting for us when we got up to the room. There are a lot of hard working people behind the scenes on these cruises. A to all the workers behind the scenes. All in all the room was fine. We than needed to get our dinning taken care of since one couple in the group were given another table. We had been seated at a table for 10 and we had 11 in our group. We waited in line and the Matrie de rearrange our seating, all he had to do was add another chair to the group. We were close to a window, not seated in the middle of the room so we could look out while dining. Happy with our table. We located our group on the upper deck to watch Vancouver sale away. They were doing games on deck and the young woman who was with us won a bottle of champagne. We were under way for 4:30. Had the mandatory safety drill, lots of Princess Staff on hand to get you to your station. It was clear and understandable. Done in 40 minutes. No confusion at all. The food in the Provence Dining room was wonderful. Our waiter was excellent as was the junior waiter. There is a lot of attention to detail. They want the fork on the left hand and they reset it there each time a course is presented. Even when one places it on the right. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner met all expectations. We had open seating at the earlier meals and met nice people. Looking at the Horizon Court Buffet, it looked like they had a lot to offer. We only had a snack in there. The view is wonderful from the front windows. The waiters move around during the day to either large dining room. We ate at Sabatini's one night and our waiter, Hector was down there making sure we got our birthday cake. The food was wonderful and this was dining, very slow and relaxed. I give the Dining and A+. There are two formal nights and the dress was cocktail to long dresses. Most of the men wore suits. I did see some white dinner jackets and a few tuxes. Remembrance of high school prom night. Many photo stations to get that great picture. Back drops of boat, mountains, Rome? Almost anything you wanted. The entertainment is not Disney and or Broadway maybe your local dinner theater production. We have a nephew who is a professional dancer and the movement of the dancers was stiff and not fluid . The comedians were very funny and clean. Enjoyed them the most. There are numerous bars on board with music; I found the beat to be a little slow for my taste. The cruise directors worked hard, but I feel I can only give the C here. Customer Service Desk the people staffing this branch of service were lacking in many areas and added to confusion all around. As they say the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing is correct and I have to give them a C- in this area. This should be an area where each of the staff can give precise answers to a customer's question and not have to go into the back to check. The one excursion we went on out of Juneau to see whales was wonderful. Everyone I spoke to also gave high marks for their trips. The excursions are a bit pricey and add a good bit to your bill at the end of the trip. The tours do their best to make you happy and see as much as possible. A for excursions. Having done most of our travel in large cities with lots to see and do I was not so happy with the ports of call. If you are a shopper than you have reached Nirvana. The ship pushes you to go shopping at their shops on land. Great discounts. Everything is marked up 500 percent for them to give you a discount and bargain and the shops and the ship still make a profit. We walked around in Skagway and Ketchikan. Skagway being the most interesting to me. The Park Service offers a free tour which was very good. There is a bus that runs all over the place and for 5 dollars you can ride it all day a great deal. Princess always seems to have the furthest berth from the city. At 55 I was one of the younger passengers. There were a few children on the cruise but didn't see them. I would venture on this cruise the average age was 65 on up and the cruise is geared to this age group. I have to say they could stay up longer than I. One night we were going to bed for 10:30 and two 80 year old ladies were heading to the 11 o clock movies! Than on the flip side not too many people up at 5:30 am on board. We had prepaid our tips, but felt that the room steward and the wait staff deserved more so we padded their tips and gave it to them personally. I found the disembarkation was easy but getting the right info was difficult, are we were going to the airport or the Civic center. The bus drivers to the city give a brief description of what we were passing. There seemed to be some confusion as to which lane to be in going through the tunnel which is only one way and trains have the right of way. This held us up 30 minutes. Ones bags can go to the airport or the civic center (Egan Center). We had our large bags go to the airport and toured around Anchorage on our own in a rented car. Retrieving our bags at the airport was easy. There was a help desk and a person to take you up to the storage area to get your luggage. Than you must check in with the airline with baggage. There is supposed to be a service that Princess offers to check your bags all the way to final destination, but United Airlines would not allow us to use this service. My final thoughts on Princess Cruise are these: A person is nickeled and dime to death. Photos are way too expensive at 25.99 for an 8 x 10. They throw out bags of photos at the end of the cruise, so why not make them more affordable to the masses in the first place. One is there to see Alaska in all her splendor and the cruise makes this happen. Food and wait staff excellent. Shows are so, so. Personally I would not choose this cruise line for myself again , the demographics just were not a good fit. I would have preferred more educational lectures not shopping talks. It was a good time spent with wonderful family and friends. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Ft. Lauderdale, embarkation: Very efficient, quick and simple. From cab to the ship in twenty minutes, well done! First impression: Boarding the ship-a pretty dull routine, no feeling of being welcomed. Missing the " WOW ... Read More
Ft. Lauderdale, embarkation: Very efficient, quick and simple. From cab to the ship in twenty minutes, well done! First impression: Boarding the ship-a pretty dull routine, no feeling of being welcomed. Missing the " WOW feeling". Cabin (Sorry, "stateroom"): Rather small, yet bright and "cosy", no sofa, just two chairs. Thank goodness for the balcony! Bathroom: Minimalist-airplane size with a 60x60 cm shower alcove added on. No bath. Was wondering how can full-bodied people fit in! General presentation of the ship: Very decent newish ship, 10 years old. Maintenance is very good. Everything worked fine during the full period of 14 days. Cleanliness: No complains. Standards were kept up at all times. Cabin was serviced twice daily, felt always fresh and looked after. Meals: Being a major component of a cruise, turned out to be extremely disappointing, by far the weakest component of the cruise. Dinner: First night-assigned to a table of eight pleasant people. Food served on cheap looking plain white china. The waiter made an effort but the menu options didn't allow for a balanced composition of courses. The meal served was pretty tasteless and the presentation was very basic. Absolutely no finesse or style; Coffee at the end of the meal-served for an extra charge! Following nights: Moved between the Sabatini, a specialty restaurant-excellent, beautiful presentation (cover cost $20.00 p.p.) and the Horizon buffet-at least one could see and choose the food, served on plastic plates (!), but unfortunately the sight wasn't uplifting. No fresh juices, had to ask for lemonade...pretty basic flaws! Overall, with a few exceptions, the dishes were bland, unimaginative, repetitive and tired looking. A very small variety for vegetarians. For health conscious guests the choice was almost non-existent. Overpowering use of heavy sauces and gravies (To cover up the blandness?). On the last night of the cruise ended up with a food poisoning, probably due to spoiled seafood. Not a nice ending! Public areas: Look reasonably appealing, a typical cruise ship "Las Vegas style" decoration. Commerce: It is well known that the sale of merchandize is a major component of the business of the cruise lines. Yet here it felt like the push to sell is particularly hard and "in your face". Entertainment: Las Vegas/off Broadway fare. Good experienced cast providing polished performances. A couple of good soloists. All in all-the type of shows you expect on a cruise. A bit of a change from the all American fare could've freshened it up. Why not bring in some local Latin sounds while cruising around Central America? Activities: "ScholarShip @ Sea ", in particular the lectures relating to the ports on the itinerary and the story of the Panama Canal, were very good. During the rest of the day the range of activities was quite limited. Staff: Many staff members looked bitter and not happy, serving without a smile. Is there is an issue with low morale? Is it the wide mix of nationalities that doesn't allow cohesion? Other reasons for dissatisfaction? In summery: Not very impressed with the experience and don't think that we'd book another cruise with Princess. Didn't feel that we were able to "Escape completely", as their slogan claims... Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
I recently sailed on the Coral Princess, out of Ft Lauderdale, through the Panama Canal, and on to Los Angeles, sail date 10-11-11. Itinerary was main reason for booking Princess, ship went into Panama, and Aruba, two destinations I had ... Read More
I recently sailed on the Coral Princess, out of Ft Lauderdale, through the Panama Canal, and on to Los Angeles, sail date 10-11-11. Itinerary was main reason for booking Princess, ship went into Panama, and Aruba, two destinations I had not experienced before. Canal was on my 'bucket list'.. That being said, I need to impress on everyone, CHOOSE YOUR TRAVEL AGENT WISELY!!!!!! I used a 'friend', who advised me, when booking, to make it a 'final' booking, in other words, if ship didn't fill as expected, and price went DOWN, WE WOULD NOT GET A FEFUND OF FARE PAID, OVER AND ABOVE NEW FARE. Well, I talked to 30-40 people, conservatively, who not only got some HUGE refunds, but got 'upgraded'... beyond any of their wildest expectations. This would not have been such an issue, but, the ship is what I would classify as a sailing 'Howard Johnsons'... dating myself, but truly the room steward, the staff in general, and some of the entertainment, were all that I can say anything positive about. The cabin, (a balcony) had a shower that 90% of the passengers would not fit into. There was no 'shower gel', 'shower cap', or 'kleenex' in the room. Steward explained, only 'mini suites', and up, get such things. I attempted to purchase some 'Spa' Gel, 'Elemis' but, lo, they were out of it!!! Bear in mind that HAL provides all you need of that high end 'gel'... to inside cabins... everyone! I usually travel alone, and have had my share of remote cabins, should I supply my own toilet paper, should I cruise Princess again, alone in an inside cabin???? The food was really not very good. I went to the Dining room only 3 times, in the 14 day cruise, because nothing looked very good. Any seafood was dry(frozen too long), and tasteless. Meat, not high quality, steak, not tasting like 'steak' waiters very attentive, and caring, but could not make food better than what kitchen prepared. No l'escargot, French onion soup, creme brulee on the 'LEFT MENU', traditionally the daily offerings. Wow, the Buffet, at least there was visual choice, the things that I actually liked, the breakfast 'rice', the grits, and pastries, (were what put the 9 lbs. on my backside.) Scrambled eggs, out of a carton, were strange, but I got used to them, the bacon was delicious!!! Real eggs were available, but long waits, (not worth it.) No smoked salmon, with onion, capers, and a real bagel, not there. Bagels were 'white bread' in a round shape. Sounds like I'm being a picky jerk, but bear in mind we paid top dollar for this trip!!! Also, there was a fee, or charge for nearly everything. I was really affronted at every turn, with 'extra' charges, for everything. My trip into the 'Old City'... in Cartegena, Columbia was easy, because, you realized these people really needed the $$$$.... Princess, not so much, I had to even 'beg' for ice, and water in my cabin, What???????? And did I mention, another first. "anytime" dining, up to a 45 minute wait, with an 'Olive Garden' style vibrator? Normally I eat a 'good' diet on-board, salmon, chicken etc., that are cooked in a moist, and tasty way, then sauced or gravied well, not so on this ship. Just saying, if the quality, means anything to you, heed my advice, and decide what is right for you!!!!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2011
My 9 year old daughter lists cruising as her favorite vacation, even over Disney World. She's been on a half dozen cruises already and before she came along my wife and I had done about a half dozen ourselves. Most of our cruises had ... Read More
My 9 year old daughter lists cruising as her favorite vacation, even over Disney World. She's been on a half dozen cruises already and before she came along my wife and I had done about a half dozen ourselves. Most of our cruises had been to the Caribbean and Mexico. This was our first time in Alaska. Most of our recent cruises have been on Royal Caribbean. We cruised Princess years ago before they were owned by Carnival Cruises. We went on this cruise with two other couples, one of whom had a 15 year old. I am definitely glad we saw Alaska and we all had a very good time. However, cruising Alaska is a very different experience than cruising in the Caribbean and I wish I had understood a little more what we were getting into. That is why I want to do this review in two parts -- first points about Alaska cruises in general and second about this particular ship. Things you should know about Alaska Cruises. - This cruise only stops at three ports. That leaves three days at sea. Even though two of them claim to be scenic cruising, only a small part of those days are spent in scenic areas. Therefore you will find yourself with lots of time on the ship. Normally on sea days in the Caribbean, everyone sits by the pool and soaks in the sun. You can't do this when it is 50 degrees outside. Yet, because they don't have a pool for activities, the ship had even fewer and less interesting scheduled activities than most. Hence we found that we were bored for probably the first time ever while on a cruise ship. - Make sure you schedule tours ahead of time and don't assume you can spend all day in any of the ports. All three ports consist of about 4 blocks of jewelry shops and souvenir stores that can easily be seen in an hour or two. I'm not saying they are not scenic or interesting, which they certainly are. But I am saying you will want to see more. We had scheduled tours in each port way before the cruise started and were definitely glad we had. People trying to book tours on the ship were often disappointed and unable to get their first choice. - It is cold. I know it is Alaska and that should not be a surprise. But even in the first week of August it is really cold. You will not go outside without a jacket. Think about all the time you spend on deck and in the pool on a Caribbean cruise and realize that you will need to find something different to do on this one. Also, make sure that you pack for the cold. - Take at least four additional nights before or after the cruise to tour inland. This is the true scenic part of the cruise. Realize though that you will be spending a lot of time on a bus or train and plan accordingly. Basically plan like you would for a long airplane ride. While some of that ride is scenic, much of it is just looking at trees. Personally, if I ever did Alaska again, instead of taking the prepackaged tour from the cruise line, I would rent a car and do it all at my own pace. However, there is comfort in knowing that everything it taken care of and you just have to sit and enjoy. - I've seen debates on which side of the ship you should get your cabin. If you are going to College Fjord (and if you are not, you booked the wrong ship) then definitely get the port side. This is the single most interesting three hours you will spend in Alaska and 90% of the scenery is on the port side. In fact, I would say the three hours in College Fjord is worth the price of the entire cruise. - If you are leaving from Vancouver and are not a Canadian Citizen, do yourself a favor and get there the day before you embark. First off, Vancouver is a cool city that you will want to have time to explore. Secondly, arriving in Vancouver the day of the cruise like we did means you must first go through a huge customs line to get into Canada (keep in mind there were 4 ships full of passengers arriving that morning). Then you will take a 45 minute bus ride to the port where you immediately get into another long customs line to leave Canada and go back into the USA. We spent four hours getting onto the ship while our friends who had arrived the day before were on in about 15 minutes. - Here's something they don't tell you until they get there, when you will be warned by every tour guide you have. Don't expect to see a lot of wild life. I'll admit we went into this thinking there would be bears and moose all over the place. We saw mostly trees and mountains. Denali National Park is the size of Maine and we were told there were less than 2,000 bears and 900 moose in the entire park. We did see some bald eagles and a whale and had an encounter with a rather mean squirrel at our hotel, and there were lots of salmon swimming upstream. However, I've seen more wild life in my back yard than I saw in our entire trip to Alaska. The scenery is fabulous, but unless you take the 15 hour complete tour of Denali you will probably see very little wild life. The Coral Princess I'll be right up front and say that I doubt I will ever cruise on Princess again. This is not to say that it was a bad experience. We had a very good time. However, going from Royal Caribbean to Princess was like going from the Ritz Carlton to a Holiday Inn. My impression was of a business that was run by an accountant who had figured out every small corner to cut to add to the profits and not take too much away from the experience. This had the effect of taking this cruise from luxury to simply efficient. Let's start with the crew. We're used to the service on a cruise being overwhelmingly friendly and efficient. The crew on this ship seemed tired. While they tried to be friendly, they simply did not have the energy to do it properly. One person told me he hadn't had a break in three months. Perhaps it is because there is no tipping. Perhaps it is because Princess works them to the bone. Whatever it is, the level of service on this ship is just not up to the standards we are used to when we cruise. Entertainment. The shows were very well done and up to the level of other cruises. The lounge acts were also good. The cruise director and staff however left much to be desired. On most ships, the cruise director is the life of the party. This guy tended to kill the party. We went to a trivia contest that was so dull and serious that my wife remarked that she had been to college exams that were more exciting. Considering that you are on the ship for all but 30 hours of this cruise, there were very few interesting things scheduled by the staff to keep you entertained. If anything, this ship seemed to have fewer daily activities than most. Casino. I love to gamble. I've been to casinos all over the country. This was by far the worst casino I have ever been in. It was so bad I stopped going there. Cruise ship dealers are usually friendly, professional and experienced. These dealers seemed surly and afraid to make a mistake. It simply made for an uncomfortable atmosphere. I must not have been alone in that thought since by the end of the cruise the casino was mostly empty. Food. The pastry chef on this ship is one of the best I have ever had. The breads were always tasty and varied every day. Other meals were hit or miss, with one item being good and others being just blah. The soups were so horrible and salty we stopped ordering soup. Nevertheless, while I don't feel it was as good as our previous cruises, it was certainly not bad. We did each of the alternative restaurants and I don't really feel they added enough to justify the extra price. Again, perhaps it was because they were not working for tips, or perhaps it was because they were worked to the bone, but the level of service is best described as adequate. It was certainly not the over the top efficient and friendly service we normally associate with a cruise ship. Kids Club. This is the one aspect of this ship that gets rave reviews from me. My 9 year old daughter loved every minute she was here. She could not wait to go back each day. They did not just stick the kids in a corner and have them watch a movie or play video games. They actually interacted with the kids and played games. If you are travelling with small children, you can rest assured that they will have a wonderful time. However, I should mention that my friend's 15 year old did not like the teen club and rarely went there. Princess Hotels. We stayed one night at the McKinley Princess, two an the Denali Princess and one at the Fairbanks Princess. Here's my impressions of each. The McKinley Princess. If you are taking the train here, do not get directly on the bus when you arrive at Talkeetna. They have a bus going to the lodge every hour that you can take and you will definitely want to poke around Talkeetna, which is a really cool town. The hotel is situated by itself an hour outside of town, so once you get there you are stuck there. The hotel is beautiful and scenic and the rooms are nicely done. There are some nice walking trails that get you a little into the countryside without going too far away. The layout is pretty impractical for a state where is it cold and rains a lot. You will have to either walk outdoors a long ways to get to the main lodge or take a 15 minute trolley ride. This is a nice place for a single night, but I would not recommend staying here multiple nights without your own car. The Denali Princess. This is a large hotel with quite a bit of things to do within easy walking distance. Across the street are numerous shops to keep you entertained, and they have a regular bus to Denali. The hotel itself is a little run down and the rooms could use some updating, but that's being picky. The dinner show they put on is surprisingly good and well worth the time and money. The main restaurant here was probably the single best meal we had on our entire trip for both food and service. I would definitely stay here again. We took a 4 hour tour into Denali, which was plenty of bus time with a 9 year old. Our friends however took the 15 hour full tour of Denali and raved about how great it was. If you can, I recommend the long tour. The Fairbanks Princess. Do not stay here more than one night. If you are starting off with the tour portion, I would try to go from your plane to Denali that first day rather than stay in Fairbanks. The hotel is the worst of the three by far and Fairbanks is pretty much the least interesting place we were at for our entire vacation. This is a working town and not a vacation town. In conclusion, Alaska is a unique place that is well worth visiting. While we really enjoyed our cruise, I simply cannot recommend Princess over any other options. If I did this again, I would try a different cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
This was a "family" vacation with members ranging from 5 to 65 in our party. I found this ship to be "average" with a couple of odd observations. First, there is NO bar or lounge where anyone can watch TV. Not ... Read More
This was a "family" vacation with members ranging from 5 to 65 in our party. I found this ship to be "average" with a couple of odd observations. First, there is NO bar or lounge where anyone can watch TV. Not an issue until there is a major sporting event that part of your group HAS to see. (On this trip it was the Womens World Cup championships.) Not only was it not available in any bar or lounge, but not even on TV's in rooms. While not a big deal for me, it certainly was for other members of our party. (And considering the numbers of people asking at the front desk, others also.) The second oddity was the lack of a club/disco for the younger set. This was the first ship I have ever sailed on that had no dedicated "club" for the "20 something" set. (There was an open lounge that was "converted" at 10 PM, but it was a joke according to my son/daughter/nephew.) I do realize that Alaska cruises attract an older clientele, BUT... Aside from that, Princess does do most things right. Food was "on par" with most other mass market lines, service was excellent, everything was clean, well kept and presented well. The only negative was the bar service in the Wheelhouse lounge, where the wait staff spent more time chatting among themselves than helping customers. (Having said THAT, the Wheelhouse lounge itself was a wonderful place, open, cozy, and with wonderful entertainment.) As far as the cruise itself goes, excellent. Considering the size of Ketchikan, Skagway, and even Juneau, the ports were not mobbed, and there were a number of excellent excursions available. (I could go on for hours on the 10 hr train excursion in Skagway.... but lets just say it far exceeded expectations.) In closing, Princess provided what it claimed to, in a comfortable, relaxed way. Lots of kids (and BTW I am told by the two parents in our group that the Kids program was spectacular.) but few unattached college age types. Like most of my Princess experiences (There have been 4) I leave with few horrible, OR Spectacular memories OF THE SHIP. (The itinerary, location, and scenery were spectacular.) Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
ABOUT US: We are a married couple in our early 30's, who have previously taken 3 cruises in the Caribbean all on Carnival (expect Princess vs. Carnival comparisons throughout this review). CRUISE: EMBARKATION: Prior to ... Read More
ABOUT US: We are a married couple in our early 30's, who have previously taken 3 cruises in the Caribbean all on Carnival (expect Princess vs. Carnival comparisons throughout this review). CRUISE: EMBARKATION: Prior to the cruise we stayed one night at the Renaissance Marriott, which offered a fabulous view of the harbor and float planes. We walked to the port from the hotel (about 4-5 blocks downhill) arriving at 11am. There were two ships in port that morning, a Holland America ship and our Coral Princess. The luggage drop off for Holland America was well signed. However, the luggage drop off for Princess was not, but at that time of day it was not yet busy and there were lots of Princess employees to point us in the right direction. This was the first port where we were not hassled about tipping when dropping off our luggage (We have found that the ports of Ft. Lauderdale and Miami have been a nightmare with aggressive baggage handlers demanding excessive tips). Check in when smoothly and the lines moved very quickly and were done by 11:30am. However, the boat was not ready until 11:45am, so we were temporarily put in a holding area. STATEROOM: Upon boarding the ship we were able to go directly to our room and leave our carry on items. Our luggage had arrived when we returned from lunch. We were in a starboard balcony room on the Caribe deck 10. We chose this particular deck because of its partially covered balconies and because the balconies are twice as large as other decks. (Prior to cruising we had been upgraded to a mini suite on the dolphin deck 9, but fought to get our original room back. The mini suites on dolphin deck 9 are advertised as partially covered, but are not! We had a complete view of the minisuite's balconies on the dolphin deck below us.) Our room was nicely decorated with a large closet and 32 hangers (I mention this because on prior cruises with Carnival we've only had about 10 hangers and Carnival's stateroom are not nicely decorated). There were several drawers and shelves to pack your clothes and other items into. Our luggage fit perfectly under our bed, so we unpacked completely for the week. It was nice not to live out of a suitcase, and to have the suitcases out of the way. Our room steward was Gil and he was amazing! It seemed like every time we left the room he was in there straightening up. He was outstanding and by far the best room steward we had ever had on a cruise! The beds were on the firm side, but that is exactly what we like, so we did not request an egg-crate mattress pad like many Princess cruisers do. There was a minifridge in our room, but we never used it. We had a 27" flat screen TV, which we used often to listening to the naturalist talk while we sat on our balcony. The balcony was huge with 4 chairs, a table, and room to spare! The hairdryer was worthless, but I had expected that and bought my own. The only disappointment with our room was the super tiny bathroom, but that was minor. CREW: Like I said our room steward was amazing, but outside of him we didn't run across anyone else truly remarkable. The majority of the crew members are male and from the Philippines. We were surprised with that lack over diversity of crew members and the male dominated staff. Also, many of the crew were older than the crew members we have seen working on Carnival. FOOD: Disappointing. We were expecting food similar to Carnival. Let's start with the buffet...it was small, about half the size of a Carnival buffet and the food always looked like it had been sitting out for hours. It was unappetizing. They don't have trays, but have normal size plates and larger platters. There is just something weird about eating off a platter, but it is what it is. Water, ice tea, and coffee are available for you to serve yourself...if you want anything else you'll have to wait for someone to stop by your table to get you anything, some times they were quick and other times very slow. We are big water drinkers and were expecting water easy access to dispensers like on Carnival, but the only place there were dispensers were in the buffet. This was very inconvenient when eating at the grill or having pizza as they are not right next to the buffet. We ate in the real dining room as much as possible for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lunch is available in the main dining room from 12-1:30pm, it was never busy, I think a lot of people just didn't know about it. We even ate there the first day we boarded the ship. The burger and fries that they serve in the main dining room is amazing compared to poor quality burger you'll get at the grill. For dinner we had traditional dining for the first 5 nights and switched to anytime for the last two because we didn't want to miss any of Glacier Bay or College Fjord. On Carnival, I've never had a problem choosing an appetizer, soup/salad, entrEe, and dessert on the menu...but on Princess it was hard to find anything that I wanted. We had heard the Princess was known for their fettuccine alfredo, we had it, it was ok, but nothing special. The ice cream was great, both the hard scooped you would get in the main dining room, and the soft serve out by the pool. The problem with the ice cream is that if you order hard scooped by the pool then there is a charge, but it is free in the dining room as dessert. Also, you cannot serve yourself at the soft serve, so you often have to wait in a line, but it was worth the wait each time! We did not purchase any drinks, but we did appreciate that there was no pressure to buy drinks on Princess like there is on Carnival. Breakdown of who we think does a better job with food: Main Dining Room: Carnival; Desserts: Carnival; Buffet: Carnival; Grill: Carnival; Pizza: Princess; Ice cream: Princess ENTERTAINMENT: Ugh. Where do I begin?! First, if you want a seat at the 8:15pm show, get there by 7:45-8pm or else there might not be a seat left. We were amazed by how early people got there to get seats. Once seated, prepared to be disappointed. On the first night when the dancers and singers came out, my husband and I looked at each other and said "is this a joke?" we honestly weren't sure if it was supposed to be serious or comedy...turned out it was supposed to be serious. The dancing and singing were off the charts as horrible. There was a juggler/comedian (Dan Bennett) who was very good and a magician (Garimo) who was ok. The day time activities were far and few between. Sure, you can check out a book from the library, work on a jigsaw puzzle, play board games, but those are all things you can do at home. There just wasn't much going on during the day, that includes days in port and days at sea. The best "entertainment" we saw were the naturalist lectures, and Libby Riddles dogsled presentation. NATURALIST: Kathy Slamp She presented 4 lectures in the Princess theater and also provided commentary over the loud speaker and TVs when there was wildlife to be seen and in College Fjord. We thought she was great, but we saw several people fall asleep during her lectures in the theater. She also has published a few book, which are available for purchase on the cruise ship (we did not purchase these). PASSENGERS: I'm going to be blunt here...most people were old (we would estimate the median age to be 70) and most people were on their first cruise ever (good for them, but at times this can be an annoyance). There were very few children and teenagers (we would guess maybe 25 total out of a boat of over 2000 passengers). The under 40 years old crowd was probably about 100-125 people. LAUNDRY: Free irons are available (2 per laundry room), washers and dryers are available for a fee. CASINO: Rarely busy. Always smoky. BARS: Rarely busy. SHOPS: Typical shops on a cruise ship, jewelry, watches, souvenir type stuff. The best thing you can buy on ship is the cruising companion book, which comes with a map and is referred to daily in the "princess patter" newsletter. It was $20 and was a great investment. We used it all the time and knew exactly when we should be looking out for various landmarks and when/where the good whale watching would be off the ship. IN PORT SHOPPING: The best deals were in Ketchikan. (Lots of fleece jackets for $10-20 and jackets for $20-30.) DEBARKATION: This was very well organized and went smoothly. We continued on a land tour after debarking, and were the last group off the ship about 9:30am. THINGS WE WERE GLAD WE PACKED: sunblock, binoculars, windbreaker/raincoat, fleece jacket, gloves, liquid hand soap, Lysol wipes (yes, I re-clean the room quickly after we boarded...you can call me paranoid or you can take precautions to avoid getting sick on vacation) THINGS WE PACKED BUT DIDN'T NEED: umbrellas and shorts HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CRUISE: Glacier Bay, College Fjord, and a whale watching excursion with Harv and Marv out of Juneau, and having a balcony room. (We are so glad that we sailed North as the scenery got better and better everyday. Sailing South would have been a disappointment for us.) Overall, we got what we paid for. It was a fair price for what was offered. EXCURSIONS: Ketchikan: Misty Fjords and Wildlife Cruise booked through Princess. I'm glad we booked it ahead of time because the price was slightly higher on board. It is an hour getting to the Misty Fjords, an hour there, and then an hour back. It felt like a long time and the fjords were not every impressive...you'll see and be in better fjords while on the cruise ship. We saw eagles, seals, and dall porpoises. Juneau: Harv and Marv Whale Watching booked independently. This was one of the most amazing experiences we have ever had! First, the company was great! They picked us up dock side and then drove us for about 20-30 minutes the harbor. Their boats are small and they only take up to 6 people, but it was just us and one other couple, which was ideal. We were on the water for only about 30 minutes before we saw the first humpback whale. We had a spectacular whale watching day, definitely a once in a life time experience where we saw approximately 20 humpbacks and about 60 orca! (We also saw eagles and sea lions.) There were several times where the motor had to be shut off because the whales and orcas were so close to the boat. It was an outstanding whale watching day! Even if we only would have seen a few whales, Harv and Marv would have been a great experience! We spent a solid 3 hours out on the water watching the whales. We think this was better, longer, and cheaper than any whale watching you could book on the ship or at the dock. On the way back to the cruise ship we stopped for about 15 minutes at the Mendenhall Glacier. This was perfect for a few pictures, which was all we wanted. Skagway: Helicopter and Glacier Walk booked through Princess. This was a total of 40 minutes in the helicopter and 40 minutes on the glacier. The helicopter ride was beautiful. The glacier walk about was so so. Would I do it again? Absolutely! TOUR: We continued from Whittier by bus to the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center, which was nice. It was kind of a drive through zoo with a couple of places where the bus stopped and we could get off. We saw bear, musk ox, caribou, porcupine, moose, moose calves, and bear cubs. The only downside to this visit was the mosquitoes. Then we continued on to the Alaskan Native Hertiage Center, where we visited the museum, and the open air museum outside. We overnighted in Anchorage at the Captain Cook hotel, which was in a good location for walking to shops and restaurants. The following morning we took the train from Anchorage to Denali (8 hours on the train). We saw fox and moose from the train. The following day we took the Tundra Wilderness Tour (We had upgraded from the Natural History Tour and were very glad that we did!), which was great. We saw fox, bear, sheep, moose, caribou, golden eagles, and arctic squirrels on the tour and a partial view of Mt. McKinley. The following morning we departed by bus to Fairbanks (2.5-3 hours), where we went on the riverboat tour, which was really good. The only downside to the land tour was that there were no meals included (no breakfast, no lunch, no dinner). Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
This is not to be taken as a criticism of anyone on the ship.  I think the problem starts on land.It's long, not complete, and it happened to real people, 8 adults and 2 children.This 17 day cruise through the Panama Canal and up to ... Read More
This is not to be taken as a criticism of anyone on the ship.  I think the problem starts on land.It's long, not complete, and it happened to real people, 8 adults and 2 children.This 17 day cruise through the Panama Canal and up to Vancouver on the Coral Princess was to be a perfect family vacation. My wife and I were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, her 70th birthday, and my 75th, all in 2011. We had booked and paid for three side by side mini suites. My son and his family completed the embarkation paper work in a separate line from us, and my daughter and her partner. My son registered a Master Card, and my daughter a Visa. They were in separate rooms. No problem getting on, and from then on it was a great cruise. Our rooms were better than expected and our room steward, Rosalie, was a real gem. My wife and I have had a number of cruises (Platinum Level) and no one could compare, or even come close, to Rosalie.We enjoyed tours in Aruba and Cartagena, and the Canal crossing was great despite the rain. The clouds and rain probably saved us northerners. Fuerte Amador and Puntarenas tours were great, and so was the tour with Libby in Cabo San Lucas, the dolphin swim for my granddaughter, and snorkeling for the rest of them. Three of our group visited Alcatraz and were very,very, pleased with the tour.Everybody was always happy with the food, service, and room service. After we left San Francisco it turned colder and cloudier, but that's not the fault of any cruise line.But what had already started to happen can't be blamed on the weather, just PRINCESS CRUISE LINES.When the credit card statements came before San Francisco ALL my daughter's charges were on my son's Master Card. My daughter went down and signed in her Visa again. How they got mixed up I can't imagine, But the same thing happened again when we got to Vancouver. My daughter HAD to go and register her card again, a THIRD time. (Imagine what a comedian could do with this on stage!) We were just lucky this happened between family members. Others may have experienced this.My son and I were more than a little ticked off with PRINCESS. He later decided to ask that the $11/day charge for his two children be reversed for the last two days. He was told it had been. I witnessed this. But it seems it hasn't been. Typical???Then there was the matter of services paid for the cruise, assuming it was for 17 days as shown on our itinerary. Our son bought stickers to put on his two children's room cards. This showed that pop, chocolate milk, hard ice cream, non alcoholic drinks, etc. were prepaid. They ran out in San Francisco. My granddaughter asked for hot chocolate at lunch and, no, we'd have to pay for that. She had lemonade instead.Out of 8 adults in our party of 10, 6 bought tickets for the Sanctuary at the stern, $210 per person.I know my receipt said for the "full cruise". It turned out that PRINCESS had a different interpretation for that, one that hadn't been communicated to myself, or the girl who sold the space to me.That 'payment for a privilege' also ended in San Francisco! If I had wanted to sit in the 'Sanctuary' to watch the city fade away like a bad dream, I would have had to pay for the space I took up. Later on the next day we were advised by the captain that due to adverse currents, and leaving the last port late, we weren't going to get to Vancouver on time. 10:00 became 11:30. Passengers with flights out before 4:00 p.m. would have to make alternate arrangements. Phone calls were free, but soon swamped. Internet was free but with only less that 12 public computers and very slow internet service, you'd have to be very lucky. My daughter-in-law did find there was a later flight out, but that was it. My time on the internet had run out and no mention was made of it being free to all.I just couldn't accept the adverse currents being that "unexpectedly" strong. For a ship as powerful as ours?? And later I found out on "Cruise Critic" that we were late leaving the last port due to the complete failure of the security system when boarding the many people who were travelling to Vancouver or Alaska. Some had to wait in line for an hour and a half. Little did they know what they were all in for.Some time after we went for our last dinner and a show, someone delivered luggage tags and directions for putting luggage out to be collected. The directions advised us to put out what we could by 10:00 p.m., and the rest out by 10:00 a.m.. On this four page set of directions it also showed the time and place we could meet on the ship to be taken down for our departure. Our tags indicated we were last in the group of, "INDEPENDENT ARRANGEMENTS WITH EARLY AFTERNOON FLIGHTS", to meet an hour and twenty minutes after the first group who had a 11:30 meeting time. Any hope for four of our group who had a 2:10 flight was gone.Besides that one of our group was given a different coloured tag, indicating a time 40 min. later that the rest of us.Now some days prior to this we had been given a form to fill out and hand in. Our group were in four different cabins so I collected four forms and filled them all out the same. I requested an early time off the ship for each cabin. When I took these to passenger services these were stapled together. I offered to write on an explanation for the request but was told that wasn't necessary. I wish I had ignored her. Later I was to find it was all ignored.Anyway, we three men hurried down to passenger services to see if we could make some changes. There we found two people at the desk and a line stretching half way across the ship. During the 30 min. wait there was lots of time to study the schedule of passenger departure times.It really annoyed me to see that the first off had a "PRINCESS CRUISE HOTEL PACKAGE - 3 NIGHT TO VICTORIA". Then "SEATTLE BUS TRANSFER". This was followed by two groups who could get there own luggage off. Then three groups "YVR FLIGHTS TO USA PRINCESS AIR" , another walk off, a "YVR FLIGHTS WITHIN CANADA/NON-US WITH PRINCESS AIR", another couple of walk offs and two organized tours, and then "PASSENGERS WITH PRINCESS TRANSFERS TO YVR AIRPORT". One walk off group was next, and then 1 hr, and 10 min. later than the first PRINCESS group the people who hadn't paid anything but the price of their cruise, plus some people who could obviously be late.This understandably led to thoughts of discrimination on the part of PRINCESS CRUISE LINES. We finally got to the counter and tried to get on the early group as previously requested.  We were given a story about customs requiring it to be that way and threatening fines if it were changed.  We were given a time 20 min. earlier to appease us. As for the charges for changed flights, it was suggested that perhaps our flight insurance would cover it.As well the person with the later departure tag was given one that put him with the rest of us.We got off the ship about 1:00 and started the search for our luggage. My wife and I found ours last, about 1:30. It came out with a mixed set of tagged luggage, some which should have been off well before.By 2:00 we were all in the van we had arranged to take us to the airport, and then home.NOTE THIS:Now I had looked out at 6:30 that morning. The ship was sitting still off Victoria in calm seas. About 7:00 it started to move slowly. Later it was going faster, but not hurrying. When I was home I looked up the website for the dock we eventually tied up at and found no indication of a 10:00 booking, only an arrival at 11:32.Later a retired police officer, a fellow passenger, informed my son that he had looked out about 4:30 a.m. to find us in the same position I witnessed two hours later.Makes you wonder!Makes you want to travel with PCL again doesn't it.With all our cruises with PCL we only had one problem, and this seems to have been corrected.Obviously more needs to be done, and the buck stops at head office. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Embarkation - We were looking forward to a short-but-sweet getaway from San Francisco to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, but disappointment began right at the gangway on embarkation. We had booked a VS Suite, so our check-in was smooth in spite ... Read More
Embarkation - We were looking forward to a short-but-sweet getaway from San Francisco to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, but disappointment began right at the gangway on embarkation. We had booked a VS Suite, so our check-in was smooth in spite of several of their check-in laptops not functioning. Several check-in stations were unable to process passengers, so people who were behind us faced an ever-increasing delay to get through the initial check-in process. After checking in, we walked to the gangway where we had to stand in line for about 1-1/2 hours due to the ship's security system complete failure. They were unable to use the boarding kiosks to sign us onboard and take our picture. Although there was a staff person with a walkie-talkie standing nearby, he had no idea about what was going on -no one from the ship issued any information about the delay for almost 45 minutes. The crew eventually abandoned their routine and resorted to checking us off a paper master list by hand to get us onboard. Due to this problem, it took much longer for the embarkation to finish, and the ship had a 2 hour delay leaving the berth for sea.The ship normally would have been able to make up this time to our only port of Vancouver, Canada, but due to weather conditions (they alleged) we were informed on our only full day on board that our arrival was going to be delayed and that any of us who had flights before 4PM would not be able to make them. Our one and only full day on the ship was mainly dedicated to trying to re-book travel plans to get home after our original plans had to be scrapped. The ship did offer free internet and phone calls, to everyone so people who had independent plans could try and reschedule, but the internet was overloaded and in addition to overcast conditions, was almost useless. This is not the ship's fault, but did add to our frustration in trying to make alternate arrangements. Of course, the load on the phone system was maxed out and it took several hours to get a line out. By the time we were able to start making calls, our options had passed. We were finally able to book an independent bus transfer to the Seattle - Tacoma Airport, so we could spend an unplanned night at a nearby hotel. Our great TA was able to rebook our flights back to our home for Sunday, which was a Godsend, as our ability to communicate from the ship was almost nil. We managed to dock in Vancouver around 11:30AM. Between this delayed arrival and the extremely long time for the ship to get clearance to disembark, they did not start letting passengers off until about 12:20PM. When any of the staff in attendance in the waiting lounge was asked for any status when debarkation would begin, we were told they had no idea, and that there was no one we could ask, but she would announce it when she received a radio call. We never heard any announcement for our group to leave. We finally found out from a fellow passenger that our group had already left and two more groups had been dispatched. The continual lack of communication to the passengers only added to our frustration. Life onboard - Our suite was very nice of course. My wife loved the Jacuzzi Tub and the goodies you get in a suite for use in the tub. The bed, linens and pillows were top notch. Our steward, Henry, was very good and efficient. We hardly saw him. We were not able to take full use of our huge balcony due to the weather conditions, but that is just the way it is sometimes. We had heard that Suite guests had free use of the spa, but when we inquired about it at the Sanctuary they (the staff person we asked went to her manager to check) said we were mistaken. When we got home we researched our Suite amenities and we found we had free access to the Lotus Spa, not the Sanctuary. We know it was our mistake, but we never got a list of amenities, and we can't help but feel that the staff should have been able to re-direct us to the correct place. Again, we felt that staff was not fully aware or informed of all that was going on. Dining - The pizza served on this ship is the best we have ever enjoyed on any Princess ship. Our two dinners in the Provence Dining Room was excellent, as was the staff. Once again, the Fettuccine Alfredo was absolutely delicious. After so many years, that dish on a Princess ship continues to be top-shelf. We did not see any shows; we were too busy trying to get our travel plans changed. The exterior of the Coral Princess is being minimally maintained; it is showing signs of needing some significant rust cleaning and painting. The interior is in great condition and well kept. In this case, we did not escape completely, until we were off the ship and on our way to Seattle with a new plan to get home.In summary, we have learned that we will never again travel without travel insurance that can be brought to bare to resolve changing travel plans when delays such as what we experienced on this trip. We also learned to triple check what the various staff tell us is fact. May your reading of our experience on this trip be helpful when you are deciding whether or not to decline or accept travel insurance. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
I'm an experienced cruiser -- 18 cruises/6 cruise lines, including several luxury. Princess has always been one of our favorites, UNTIL this last cruise. What happened? a. NONE of the windows were EVER washed!! Not in the ... Read More
I'm an experienced cruiser -- 18 cruises/6 cruise lines, including several luxury. Princess has always been one of our favorites, UNTIL this last cruise. What happened? a. NONE of the windows were EVER washed!! Not in the common areas, like the panoramic Horizon Court, bars, walkways, nor in the cabins! In fact, we could stand on our balcony and watch other guests wash their own windows!! Nor were the plexiglass balcony shields ever watched so it was hard to sit on the balcony and watch the sea! We DID finally tell our cabin steward to clean the windows, which he did regularly, but only after telling us it wasn't done because it would just get dirty again!! b. I look forward to eating the seafood on cruises, and was sorely disappointed. Cod serve 3x in 10 days (!), including 2 consecutive nights!! Red snapper served as breaded fish sticks! No sea bass -- oh, except for the luncheon menu! On formal night they originally had orange roughie scheduled (whoopee!), but changed it to something unknown that the waiter didn't recommend! On formal night!! Lamb and veal were served nearly every day, which hasn't been the case in the past. c. Service/attitude of staff wasn't up to par. I upset a waiter because I asked for a fork for eating my pie! He provided a huge spoon, and proceeded to tell me that many people like to eat their pie with spoons! One of the tour cruise staff was upset when I asked how long before our tour was called, and I had to calm him down. I had Horizon Court waiter's shirt sleeves in my food because he'd reach across to fill coffee cups. d. Any Time Dining is "not" when you have to wait 45 minutes to be called! Particularly because they apparently were allowing people in fixed dining to use ATD (though they denied it). The maitre'd assured us "everyone" was checked, but in fact NO ONE EVER checked our dining preference during our 15 day cruise. e. I read the ship writeup of amenities for mini suites! I wondered what ship that was, since it certainly was NOT Coral Princess. No slippers, no appetizers, no pillow choices (and the pillows were so wimpy that lying on 2 barely felt like 1; I literally had to double them in half to get support), etc. Bottom line, you got the extra square footage, and that was it. It's been 4 years since my last cruise on Princess, and it's certainly degenerated into something I don't recognize. Not sure I'm inclined to repeat this cruise line again, and I'm a platinum member Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Panama Canal January 2011 Background Information This was our 14th cruise, the fourth with Princess. We were traveling with another couple that had never cruised on Princess. Overall, the crew was friendly and helpful with ... Read More
Panama Canal January 2011 Background Information This was our 14th cruise, the fourth with Princess. We were traveling with another couple that had never cruised on Princess. Overall, the crew was friendly and helpful with some exceptions described below. Hotel in Fort Lauderdale The night before the cruise we stayed at the Renaissance Plantation. This is a four star hotel that I had booked through Priceline many months before the cruise. The room was $59.00 and was quite a good buy for a very nice hotel. Transfer to Port / Embarkation We drove to the port arriving about noon, dropped our wives and bags off and continued to park the car. When we returned to this area there was a long line but soon my wife called and told us to come up and inside the building. Because of this the embarkation process moved quickly. When we got to the person that issues the cruise cards we ran into a problem. Since the couple we were traveling with had not cruised with Princess their price would have been more that ours. To fix this I booked one cabin in my name and one in my wife's name. I wanted to change the people assigned to each cabin at this time. I was informed that I would have to do that at the front desk once on board. Once inside the ship we went to the font desk and then to the horizon Court for lunch which of course was very busy. After lunch we found our cabin and most of our bags had already arrived. Front Desk a. After coming on board we went to the front Desk to get our cabin situation straighten out. This was quite simple two people one in each cabin needed to be switched. The person at the desk must have been new because she must have tried three or four time to do this and after about 20 minutes was finally able to accomplish this task. It is apparent to me that this person lacked proper training. The next day I had to return to the front desk because the number on the front of my cruise card did not match the number encoded on the magnetic strip. b. Latter in the cruise I ask a person at the front desk if they had an ATM. The person did not know and had to ask a supervisor I then ask if I could cash a personal check again she did not know and had to ask a supervisor. Again this gets to training and Princess has done a poor job. c. Princess has a program for Veterans. They provide a limited $100 credit. They sent me an email about this program which show you need to have a DD214 to prove your service. I brought my DD214 and presented it at a the front desk only to be told you have to apply for this at least a week before sailing. I said that nowhere in the email was this mentioned and couldn't they just do it now. They said only Corporate could do this and they would send it to them. After three days I checked back and no one had done anything. I finally talked to someone in a white uniform who promised me an answer by the afternoon. Later she said they could do nothing for me. It appears to me that Princess is letting it's bureaucracy get in the way of good customer service. Dining The food on cruise ships is supposed to be one of the highlights. Breakfast was fine, with a selection of, pastries, fruit, eggs to order, omelets to order, French toast, etc. I was disappointed that they only had smoked salmon on the first morning. I did notice that it was available at lunch in the main dining room one day. Lunch in the Horizon Court was a big disappointment. There was a poor selection of sandwiches and the main entrees did not look appetizing and those I tasted were not good. There was a salad bar, however that aas limited and got old quickly. Desserts were fine and there was fresh fruit. As a result I eat lunch on deck 15 poolside Hamburgers and Brats or Pizza from deck 14 poolside. We ate two lunches in the Provence Dining Room. It was alright except the service was very slow. The first time we were there it took about 15 minutes just to fill a shared table. They had Brunswick Stew as an entrEe. I ordered a Cuban sandwich and a cup of Brunswick Stew. The waiter had a hard time with this since they did not show that on the menu. I had to finally say if you can't bring me a cup of stew bring the bowl and I will eat what I want. When the stew arrived it was not Brunswick Stew it was Chicken soup with vegetables. Good but not what I and four others at the table ordered. The soup did not even match the menu description of what was to be served. There were five people at that table from Georgia and we all knew what Brunswick Stew was. The next time we ate in the dining room for lunch we had Rubin sandwiches. These were very good. We did not feel like paying extra for Sabatini's or the Bayou Cafe. We had signed up for Anytime Dining, which was chaotic. I have had Anytime dining on NCL and the Ocean Princess and both worked without a problem. The first night we had about a 40 minute wait for dinner. The next night it was about 30 minutes wait. The next morning I tried to get reservation but at 8:20 am there was nothing until 8:15 pm. We decided to go to the dining room at 5:15pm when they first open and were able to get in and get a table without waiting and we continued this practice for the remainder of the cruise always eating at the same table. The dinner menus were generally good with a few exceptions, both the Salmon and the Scallops suffered from being frozen far to long. Both were tough and not tasty. Some meals were superb...the Prime rib and the lobster tails were excellent. The service in the dining room was usually prompt and accurate. We can't remember being on a ship where the waiters spent so little time with you. They were always rushing around. It was clear to us that Princess has reduced staffing levels significantly since our previous Princess cruise and as a result dinner time on Princess was not as enjoyable as on other lines. Shore Excursions We booked four shore excursions thru Princess. Aruba - Snorkeling, Columbia - old city tour and free time, Costa Rica - Zip line, and Jamaica - Tubing on the White River. All were good but not spectacular tours and for what received a little to expensive. Entertainment The entertainment was generally good. The comedian was hilarious and the magician was excellent. Actually his assistant did all the hard work. We did not enjoy Maurizio's show. The music was way to loud and the synthesizer distorted the music. Most of the shows with the Coral Princess dancers and singers were fine but I left half way thought the second performance - just to much of the same over and over again. We also could have done without most of the on-board movies. We did not watch any. The Pool The deck around the Lido pool was pretty crowded but we never had a problem finding a seat. The deck chairs were not all that comfortable. We enjoyed the Lotus Pool with its quiet atmosphere. Cabins Our Cabin was a reasonably size BE balcony unit on the Caribe deck. The balcony had a table and two seats. We enjoyed our balcony very much. The showers on the Princess ships are on the small size. Our cabin stewardess, Mary, kept the cabin clean and was extremely helpful. She showed us to the front of the ship on deck 10 so we had a great view of the Panama Canal. The Internet We did not purchase any minutes due to the high price and very slow response time. The Library I didn't take out any books, but we enjoyed the crossword puzzle that they provided The Spa We did not utilize the Spa - over priced. The Gym We did not utilize the Gym... Ship Activities We enjoyed the at-sea days with some of the activities planned. I took the Galley Tour on the last sea day and found it to be very interesting. Also we enjoyed the culinary demonstration. Disembarkation This was quite orderly and timely. We made it off the ship, located our luggage in the terminal and passed easily through US Customs and Immigration. We got our car from the parking garage and returned to the terminal area to pick up our wives and bags. Summary Even though the food quality and service was not to our liking, we had problems with customer service and poorly trained employees, we had waiters that only talked to us take our food order - we made the most our cruise. We enjoyed meeting the other passengers and relaxing in the sun. We definitely, however, will have to think again before sailing with Princess in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
This was our first experience with Princess Cruises. We usually travel on Celebrity or Holland American. The trip was just "OK", but not nearly what we expected. We wondered if we weren't being too critical until we began to ... Read More
This was our first experience with Princess Cruises. We usually travel on Celebrity or Holland American. The trip was just "OK", but not nearly what we expected. We wondered if we weren't being too critical until we began to hear similar comments from fellow travelers as the trip progressed. Let's begin with the positives: Entertainment was excellent throughout the week. There was something for everyone. Our room steward was wonderful. He was friendly, helpful and did a great job. Excursions were usually of good quality A request for dining change was handled well. We were able to rearrange reservations so that the group which met the first morning was able to change to the same dining time and table. We began with a six day land tour of Fairbanks, Denali and Mt. McKinley. Our tour guide, Liz, was wonderful. She was full of energy and excitement which carried over to the group. We got introduced at a breakfast on the first morning and met some wonderful people who we stayed with for the full two weeks. That evening, the head of food services for the lodge, (Mr. Wynan?), treated us to a wine dinner. The food and beverages were outstanding, as was his commentary on the meal and his tales of living in Alaska. This was a true highlight. The land accommodations were in lodges with impressive public spaces and comfortable rooms - usually in separate buildings - for sleeping. The rooms were nice, but they had no air conditioning. During most of our land tour, the temperature was in the high 70s to the mid 80s. Sleeping was uncomfortable. In two of the three lodges, we were on the first floor and there was no way to lock the window so that it was only open partially, but we could still feel safe at ground level. There were several included excursions, but we were on our own far too much. The included excursions, as well as the ones we purchased, were of excellent quality. The last day, they had nothing planned and most of the available trips were repeats of things we had done earlier in the week. We left for the cruise at 11 AM on Saturday morning, but there was nothing to do but wait for the bus to the train. Any excursions at the McKinley lodge got back too late for us to partake. We had a very good time on this portion. We saw lots of the scenery and the wildlife. We were checked in for the cruise by Princess personnel who got on the train in Anchorage. They were friendly and efficient. This process made boarding the ship a breeze. When we got to the ship we saw the differences between this line and the others. As we entered the ship we were handed a glass of champagne and then had to walk a gauntlet of people trying to sell wine packages, drink packages, photo packages, tours, etc., etc. We asked each how to get to our floor, but they said they weren't sure and passed us along to the next salesperson. Only when we found the elevator did someone finally tell us which number floor corresponded to the letter on our documents. The room was a big surprise. We booked mini-suite. Based on our experiences on other lines, we expected a spacious room and large balcony. Instead, we had a cramped room which was poorly set up. Much of the floor space was dedicated to a tower with a refrigerator and two flat screen TVs. One faced the bed and the other faced the couch. The room was small and not always seemed to have some piece of furniture in your way. The bathroom had a full tub, but that extra space could easily have been dedicated to room space. The closets and shelving were adequate, but the dEcor looked like we had walked into a hotel in the 1970s. The room was about ½ the size of a mini-suite we had on Celebrity last year. The balcony was only about 1/5 the size of our previous cruise. There were four chairs and a small round table, but we constantly had to rearrange the furniture to move around the balcony. On Celebrity, the mini-suite came with champagne, flowers, fruit, personalized stationary, daily tea, a dining table, and a butler. On Princess, the mini-suite came with a room steward. He was terrific and kept the room spotless, but he couldn't compare with a butler. Day for day, the Princess cruise was more expensive. One of the couples at our dining table had a full suite. The expensive accommodations didn't begin to compare with our Celebrity experience. Our stays in Juneau and Ketchican were very short. We needed much more time there to get a feeling for the destinations. The main problem during the cruise was the lack of attention to detail. We had our first dinner and most breakfast meals in the Horizon Court. The food selection was much smaller than other buffet venues we have experienced. After getting your food, you were left to your own resources to find seats in the crowded venue. There were plenty of workers there, but they didn't interact with the passengers. After being seated, we needed to call a waiter to get coffee or juice. They weren't very friendly and the service was often slow. In the dining room, the service was perfunctory. Our waiter wasn't very friendly and his assistant didn't say 10 words during the seven days. Waiters, especially at assigned seatings, are often the people who make you feel the most welcome onboard. This was not our experience during this cruise. On several occasions we were served the incorrect selection. When asked what was in the wild-game pate, our waited insisted that it was a vegetarian selection. He was unable to correctly identify a number of dishes throughout the week. They also pushed the wine list heavily at each dinner. Offerings were inconsistent. On two afternoons a pub lunch was served in one of the specialty restaurants. The food was good and there was no extra charge for lunch in the room, but they charged for coffee after the meal and no dessert was available. It would have been nice if other specialty lunches were offered on additional days. The ice cream bar served small soft-serve cones, but charged for hard ice cream. After about 10 cruises, this was truly a first for us. One night we watched a movie under the stars on the open deck. The movie was fine, but someone forgot to turn on the sound. A number of us tried to find someone who could address the problem. The first two workers I approached told me that was not their department and kept on walking. Other passengers had the same experience. Finally I got one of the servers at a snack bar to allow me to use the phone to call the main desk to report the problem. It took over 30 minutes to get it working. The movie was a popular title and many people wanted to see it. Many requests were needed to get the stewards to unlock the blankets and let us use them. We were on the open water in Alaska and it was cold! They only brought out a few blankets at a time and needed constant prodding to produce more. Our last day was a sea day. We wanted to sit on the deck and read, but we were told that blankets were not available. There were three stewards standing on the outside deck chatting, but the rest of the space was nearly empty except for a few people who bundled up with coats and towels from the pool. They wouldn't give a reason why we couldn't use the blankets. While the entertainment was excellent, the timing of events was poor. Many activities overlapped by a few minutes. By the time one show or game was finished, the next event was already starting in the next room. If the cruise staff left a little additional time between events, there would be more availability for the passengers. It seemed like much of the time on ship was spent catching the last portion of one event or another. Many entertainments took place during only one of the dining times. If you were scheduled to eat then, you just missed the entertainment. The event times in the Princess Patter newsletter didn't always match up with the actual events. Several things we wanted to attend were just terminated early. One of these was the highly-touted "dessert extravaganza." We went up to get a snack about 45 minutes before it was supposed to end. The "extravaganza" had been moved to the regular food line and two waiters were doling out minute portions of the final half of just two cakes which were available. While seated in the various theatres or lounges, we were often approached by four or rive servers hawking drinks. It servers had been assigned to a particular section, they would know who didn't want service and that would be the end. After a few days, the constant bombardment got to be annoying. The disembarkation process did not go nearly as smoothly as the embarkation. We were assigned tags with colors and numbers. When we assembled in the Princess Lounge (theater), the numbers were not seated separately. When they called a group, people found themselves crawling over others who were still waiting to be called. It truly felt like we got the bum's rush getting off the ship. We were told that we could be in our rooms until 8 AM. When we got back from breakfast at 7:20, our things had been piled on the couch and the room was ready for the next passengers, even though the next boarding was 5 hours away. While the personnel on the pier were friendly and helpful, those who worked on the ship gave the impression that the tips had been given and they were more than through with us. When the Princess buses arrived at the airport, we needed to stand in a very long line for nearly 45 minutes before any luggage arrived. We were there over an hour when we finally received our bags. Anyone in PR should know that the first and last impressions are the most lasting. This last impression wasn't what they should be giving. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
We boarded the Coral Princess on April 6th for the Panama Canal Cruise. In this review I am going to talk about the tours we took. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - This was the only ship shore excursion we booked. We booked the Discover Todos ... Read More
We boarded the Coral Princess on April 6th for the Panama Canal Cruise. In this review I am going to talk about the tours we took. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - This was the only ship shore excursion we booked. We booked the Discover Todos Santos excursion. The excursion was okay but over priced at $74 pp. It took you outside of town about 1 ½ hours to Todos Santos. We had a traditional Mexican lunch at the Hotel California and some free time in town. The write up portrayed the town as an "artist village". This was a little lacking. There were a few art galleries but mostly some stores. A little disappointing. Acapulco, Mexico - We booked a tour with Tours in Acapulco. Their website is toursinacapulco.com. Our guide was Cesar and he was fabulous. He was exactly on time to meet us and get the tour started. There were only 4 in our tour group since that was all that had booked from the ship. Cesar made an extra stop for me to pick up Hard Rock pins since it was oaky with everyone else. We also had to make a detour to Wal-Mart since I broke my camera that day. The tour was very comprehensive. We saw all sides of town and our last stop was at the cliff divers. The $29 pp was extremely reasonable compared to the ship shore excursion for $54 and we got to see a lot more. Would definitely recommend booking a tour with this company. Huatulco, Mexico - Just got off the ship and wandered around town. Took a cab for $3 each way to LaCrucetia for some additional shopping and walking around. Puntarenas, Costa Rica - Booked our tour with Ricky Ricardo Tours. His website is rickyricardotours.com. Ricky met us at the end of the dock promptly once the ship had docked. There were 8 in the tour group from the ship that day. We stopped at a farm and had a demonstration of making a Costa Rican energy drink from fresh sugarcane, ginger, and water. It was delicious. Our next stop was for a jungle boat ride. Saw many birds and alligators. We then went to the Turubari Park and took a tram ride to the bottom and from there we saw iguanas, monkeys, birds and a butterfly farm. It was very interesting and our guide at the park was excellent. We also had lunch at the park and it was very good. On our way back to the ship we stopped for cashews and at a local grocery store for coffee. We also had a tour of Puntarenas before being dropped off at the ship. The value and excellent tour that Ricky provided was an excellent value at $95 pp. His tour was much better than any of the ship shore excursions that we talked to. Puerto Amador, Panama - Booked a private tour with Easy Travel Panama. Their website is easytravelpanama.net. Our guide for the day was the owner - Judith Tovar. She promptly picked us up at the designated time and we were on our way. We booked a 4 hour tour that turned into a 4 ½ hour tour. She had previously provided some suggestions for us to think about. I had some special shopping stops (Harley Davidson & Hard Rock) which she took us to and we had a complete city tour. Judith's knowledge and enthusiasm for Panama City is evident. I really enjoyed learning about Panama City and Panama from her and seeing all the sights. She took us to a nice local artist market close to where she lives for our souvenir shopping and helped us with our bartering. We got some really unique items. The value of our private tour that day was excellent. For the 4 ½ hours it was $65 pp. Definitely worth every penny. Cartagena, Columbia - Booked with Claudia Vidal Tours. Her website is toursclaudiavidal.com. I organized a City Tour that day with her and got 2 other couples to go with from the Cruise Critic board. It was real nice only having a party of 6. We took her City Tour which included a walk through the old city, a visit to the convent/monastery at the top of the hill for great city views, and a panoramic view of the Fort. She took us to a local grocery store to buy coffee and some wine. Claudia was an excellent tour guide and very knowledgeable. The value for $65 pp for a small group cannot be beat. Aruba - Just got off the ship and wandered around town. It was Sunday so not all the stores and restaurant/bars were open. I really enjoyed the Panama Canal cruise. I think the highlight of this trip though was the tours I took with small groups instead of the big bus things from the ship. I really learned and saw more of the destinations. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
My hairdressing experience was less than stellar. I looked no better than when I left the Lotus Spa. The women who fixed my nails was argumentative and contrary. She was also very rude to my husband when he asked how long it would take to ... Read More
My hairdressing experience was less than stellar. I looked no better than when I left the Lotus Spa. The women who fixed my nails was argumentative and contrary. She was also very rude to my husband when he asked how long it would take to fix my finger nails. This woman barked at my husband and he left and since he was good enough to pay for this services, I found this woman to be rude and somewhat mean spirited. Her people skills are sorely lacking. I will now be obligated to buy hairpieces for formal nights. $50.00 is no unreasonable for hair care, but when I looked at both hairdo's, it looked like someone put an eggbeater to my head and scrambled bobby pins. It was so sad, and I couldn't enjoy the formal nights. In the past the hairdressers were excellent and paying the price was worth it. Also, the Champagne fountain was ridiculous. It was not well planned, and happened on the first of 3 formal nights. Too chaotic and not well organized. I missed out on a memory of pictures. Speaking of which, the prices were all over the map. Too many rules and no sense of how things worked. I will have my own pictures, and minimize ordering from the ship. Not all of us are made of money. Also, the entertainment was fair. A couple of comedians made unkind and unfounded comments about people jumping overboard. How TACKY is that? I have traveled with Princess 7 times now, and my experience was a bit disappointing with the Cruise Directors, who would not listen to my concerns and I was constantly being blown off with frivilous excuses. Too many comedians, limed folkloro dancers, and certainly not well planned. Half the passengers were on a land tour when this happened. The food was great except in the Bayou Cafe, where my husband experienced a tough New York Strip steak, and had more fat on it than meat. And at $15.00 a pop on top of everything else, this was very unacceptable. One day we took a Samba lesson from someone who was channelling Len Goodman from Dancing with the Stars, and pointed out that my husband was not getting the steps-my husband was humiliated in front of a lot of people. Shame on this instructor, no more dance lessons for us. My husband gave up a lecture for my sake and has one less good memory. Our Room Steward was great and our wait staff was excellent,and should be commended for the attentiveness and great service. Overall review, barely FAIR. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
I am writing to tell you about the cruise I just took on the Coral Princess on February 5th. This was the first time that I have taken a cruise on Princess Cruise Lines and was honestly looking forward to it. This was the 7th cruise in my ... Read More
I am writing to tell you about the cruise I just took on the Coral Princess on February 5th. This was the first time that I have taken a cruise on Princess Cruise Lines and was honestly looking forward to it. This was the 7th cruise in my life that I have been on. Anyway I can tell you that my experience was not a pleasant one. I traveled with 3 other people and there was supposed to be 2 in each cabin with adjoining balconies. We were originally assigned to cabins E708 and E710. When we got on the ship we soon discovered that we didn't have adjoining balconies. The ship's staff basically told us the ship was full, there really wasn't anything they could do but they would put us on a waiting list and maybe we would know something the next day but don't count on it. We asked them if we could switch with the people on either side of us and they said the cabins weren't the same so that was not an option. We took matters into our own hands and stood in the hall (about 2 1/2 hours) waiting for the folks on either side of our cabins to come to their room to ask them if we could switch with them. As luck had it, we did finally get a couple to do that with us. The rooms were the same after all. We ended up having to spend money to thank them to accommodate us however. The ship's staff didn't seem very happy that we did that. Next we were told by our Travel Agent that we would be able to divide the on board credit or credit card with the other party we were traveling with on the ship. The ship would not split up the credit card nor would they apply it to our bill unless we converted it to cash. They told us to go to the casino and get the cash but there would be a charge to do that. So to this day we still have the credit card and haven't used it. We had many discussions with our travel agent about wanting to have the early dining slot of 5:30 and somehow we got assigned to "anytime dining"-we did finally get that changed but not without hassles with that too. I found the staff on the ship overall was pretty unfriendly, unaccommodating and in some cases unprofessional. The photographers were a joke. Most of the pics they took of me and my friends were not looking at the camera, not smiling or dumb poses. Out of all the pics that were taken, I only bought 1 picture. And also, I've never been on a cruise that the captain didn't come and take pics with you on one of the formal nights. As a matter of fact, I never saw the captain the whole 2 weeks. The cruise was obviously geared for a much older crowd (I just turned 50) because the daily activities were boring and the same. I cannot believe that the ship did not show the Olympics nor did they have some kind of event tied to "Fat Tuesday" on 2/16. One of the few things that we enjoyed on the ship was the "ship building from scraps" event on the last full day of the cruise. We followed the rules faithfully only to have the staff change them at the last minute. They did that with a number of the games we attempted to participate in. I was disappointed not too have towel creatures in my cabin (adults enjoy these too). The staff had a towel creature demonstration one of the days but we were not allowed to participate in attempting to put the creatures together ourselves nor was there a book to buy to show you how do to it at home (that was a first). I had a bartender put two drinks on my card by mistake and instead of him apologizing for the mistake, he laughed at me and starting serving another person leaving me to settle the issue myself. Of course since we switched cabins, our luggage tags got messed up when we were getting off the ship. You could tell the staff was dismayed about that cause he gave me around 40 blue tags for my luggage. We attempted to enjoy some of my or our kind of music with "DJ Seb" and no matter what we requested he didn't have it. Also apparently there was a webcam that our friends/family in the states could see us going thru the Panama Canal. It would have been nice to know that before we left so that we didn't have to pay to use their computers/internet to let them know. The ports of call, however, were wonderful. We did not take a shore excursion in Cabo San Lucas-just walked around the city and enjoyed our first port in the warm weather taking in the sites. Acapulco was next and we did take a city tour there. We enjoyed that alot especially since we got out of the heart of downtown Acapulco which we found to be noisy, trashy and smelly (exhaust). The outskirts were beautiful. Huatulco was a quaint fishing town and it was a nice change from the big cities. Took a river raft tour there and enjoyed that. The rapids were not very challenging but it was nice being on the river and seeing all the wildlife. Puntarenas was very nice and here we did not take an excursion offered by Princess but went thru "Ricky Ricardo Tours". I recommend him very, very highly. For the price you would have paid Princess for the 4 hour zip line tour, we got the zip line plus an additional 4 hour private tour. We fed monkies, made drinks from sugarcane ourselves, went on boat safari tour, explored some of-the-road villages, saw a cashew tree, ate at a local restarant, took us to a bueatiful hotel for some awesome pics and drove around the city somemore. He also took us to a grocery store and pharmacy where we picked up some coffee for souveniers and some cold medicine which would have cost us a fortune elsewhere. Just google him if you're interested in using him. Anyway, next was Fuerte Amador. We took an arial tram/city tour there. I thought the city was beautiful and very clean. I was certainly impressed with Panama. On the Arial tram we saw a sloth, many pretty birds and a Tucan. The Panama Canal was fascinating in the beginning but kind of boring as they day progressed. It was a long day getting thru the canal. Cartegena was the next stop and this place had a lot of history. Took a city tour and boy you really need to. Alot to see in a very short time. This city was a great mix of very old historic buildings with the new modern skyscrapers. I would of liked to spend more time here. Aruba was the last stop and it was way too short. We did a snorkel trip here and it was okay-water was a little cold this time of year. Didn't see a lot of cool fish either. Anyway as soon as the snorkel trip was over we had to get back onto the ship. I will say it was nice seeing the beautiful blue carribean water again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
We just returned from a relaxing trip on the Coral Princess with a full transit through the Panama Canal. We started in Ft. Lauderdale and visited Aruba, Colombia, transited the Canal, Puerto Amador (Panama city), Costa Rica, Huatulco, ... Read More
We just returned from a relaxing trip on the Coral Princess with a full transit through the Panama Canal. We started in Ft. Lauderdale and visited Aruba, Colombia, transited the Canal, Puerto Amador (Panama city), Costa Rica, Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas before completing our cruise in Los Angeles. The Ship was beautiful and modern and the gym, spa and eating facilities onboard were wonderful. The food at the buffet on the Lido deck was not much different than the food in the main dinning rooms, so it was an easy choice on many days to just relax by the poolside instead of getting dressed for dinner. We enjoyed one dinner at the Bayou Cafe (which has a $15 cover charge) and boy do they want to serve you there. Our waiters brought out almost EVERYTHING on the menu for us to try. I was so stuffed with goodness that I nearly needed to be wheel chaired back to my cabin. Service in the main dining room and buffet were not what I expected. The servers were not rude, but they were not welcoming either. Many times in the buffet it seemed like a hassle for them to refill your drink, which I think Princess would do better if they had self serving juice stations. Overall, dinning was about average in taste and selection. I enjoyed visiting every port of call for the experience, but was disappointed with a few. Aruba has amazing water and beach areas, but was surprised that it is mostly desert. There areas where the Hotels were location was of course the most beautiful, but definitely worth the visit. Colombia has too many aggressive street vendors who want to sell you everything (especially t-shirts) and won't take 'NO" for an answer. Since they wouldn't leave me alone, I decided to reverse the psychology and told them the only way I could buy their products was if they bought my camera for $2000 and baseball cap for $50. I even offered them a 20% discount (which they refer to as "promotion"), but they kept declining me... go figure. That actually was very fun and other tourist had a blast watching me harass the vendors and follow them until they started running from me. The Canal was amazing, but not very beautiful. It took 10 hours to pass from ocean to ocean and nearly 5 hours of it was in the three different locks. One time for the experience is enough for me. Puerto Amador (Panama City) has very little to do near the pier and you must taxi into the city to enjoy any time here. Problem is that downtown is very busy and "old town" is unbelievably poor. I would recommend the Mall near the pier or the Mall downtown if you want to walk and shop or people watch and sample local food. Costa Rica is AMAZING, beautiful, clean and very friendly. I could live here and definitely plan to return. The ship had many great excursions, but we choose Ricky Ricardo Tours who was waiting outside the side and boy are we happy we did!!! Go to Trip Advisor for my full review, but bottom line... it was the best time we had in any of the countries visited. Huatulco is a secret gem of a place. Take advantage of the local boat taxi's and spend less than $10 to visit 5-7 of the bays. This is a snorkler or divers paradise, but they also have several private little beaches with little to no crowds. We stopped at a beach that seemed to have no tourists... only locals. It was like we were celebrities because everyone was smiling and kids were crazy happy to see visitors. All the restaurants lining the beach share the same grass covering that stretched for about 400 feet. After looking at a few menus we settled down at Mely and La Escondida. We chose it based on one local families food order that walked by our noses.. and had a great meal. Acapulco was too crowded, but the Dolphin experience here was every bit worth the money!!! Plenty of time with the dolphins and included a photo and video. My wife swam with them while I was a spectator taking pictures. She had the time of her life being pushed and pulled through the water, giving hugs and kisses, and having the dolphins dance as the group sang "la cucaracha". After their singing, the trainer asked the dolphins if they enjoyed the singing and they nodded "NO", then returned to the group and started singing (in dolphin dialect of course). And they were actually better singers!!! Cabo is simply the best place on this plant and will forever be a yearly destination for my family. It was THEE most balanced place for beauty, activities and relaxation. Don't book any excursions here... just venture out and enjoy. We visited Cabo Wabo, the beach, a few resorts and the Shrimp Factory for lunch. I love this place. Our final experience was disembarkation and this was the only REALLY bad experience of the trip. It was a nightmare and completely unorganized. People were confused over where to go, what line to be in, who was in charge and what exit was available. Friends we met on the ship emailed us that several altercations almost turned physical because tension was so high. We were smart enough to sign up for express walk-off and arrived at the immigration room 45 minutes prior to our scheduled time. We experienced some delay, because immigration did not release anyone to leave the ship for over 1 hour past scheduled time, but it was not nearly as bad for us as others who came on time or late. Princess told every passenger on the ship to meet in the Universe lounge to pass thru immigration @ 7:15am and from there you had times allocated according to your cabin/travel. Problem with that is the lounge is small and located at the back of the ship and 2,000 passengers showed up. lines were at best ridiculously long and many had their luggage also. Big thumbs down to Princess for this fiasco. FOOD/DINNING... Average for a cruise ship. I was told this was an area that Princess shined, but my expectations must be too high. Carnival has been the most enjoyable food of all the cruiselines we have vacationed with in my opinion. OUR CABIN... Our stateroom was an inside cabin on the 10th floor (Caribe) and it was very small, but functional. Princess did a good job with storage design and we were able to put away 3 suitcases of clothes/shoes and one carry-on of toiletries with no problems. The ship was recently dry docked and all the linens/carpets were updated. Our only complaint would be the comfort of the mattress. I think I may need surgery after sleeping on them for two weeks. ONBOARD ACTIVITIES... Your only concern will be the lack of activities Princess gives for entertainment. I was 40 during this '09 cruise and found the ships entertainment very boring and geared to a much older crowd. Nobody makes it fun and entertaining like Carnival and nobody has the amount of onboard activities like Royal, but Princess has the best shore excursions. EXCURSIONS... Our cruise took us from Ft. Lauderdale to Aruba, Colombia, The Canal, Panama, Costa Rica, Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas. I recommend The Ostrich Farm tour for Aruba, Aerial Tram for Panama, and Dolphins in Acapulco (you will get a ton of time with the Dolphins here and it includes a photo AND video). Acapulco is very crowded and the other tours are less than satisfying. You'll pay dearly to see the Cliff Divers (which isn't that great)... so my suggestion here is to walk around or stay on the ship. Do anything in Colombia that will keep you from the local areas...otherwise you will be mobbed by street vendors every 5 feet that won't take NO for an answer. We did the Fortress tour in Colombia and it was hotter than Hades at 9 am. Others had a blast touring the Mud Volcano. In Costa Rica, I would use RickyRicardoTours.Com and customize my tour. Ricky is the best private tour guide you can get for your money... honest, clean, knowledgeable and has great air conditioning!!! You can get a local boat taxi in both Huatulco and Cabo to see the bays and Arc's and spend less than $10 each. Cabo has a great beach area and the Dolphins are also within a few feet of the Pier. Hope this helps. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
Over the past five years, we have spent almost 300 nights on more than 20 cruises to all parts of the world.  Even though I have leg problems, I have managed to climb the Great Wall, traverse the Acropolis, catch piranha in the Amazon, go ... Read More
Over the past five years, we have spent almost 300 nights on more than 20 cruises to all parts of the world.  Even though I have leg problems, I have managed to climb the Great Wall, traverse the Acropolis, catch piranha in the Amazon, go on safaris in Africa, climb to the top of Edinburgh Castle, etc.  In other words, we have seen almost the whole world and were looking forward to the Panama Canal, Central America, and southern ports in Mexico - one of the few places we have not visited.  As a result, we embarked on the Coral Princess on April 26, 2009. To be very honest, there were several excellent features to this trip.  Embarkation and disembarkation were the easiest we've ever encountered in all our travels.  The floor shows, pianists, violinists, and singers were again the best we've ever seen and the quality and timeliness of the movies excellent (I just don't like going on a cruise and spending my days in the theater).  My husband adds that he loved the opportunity to play basketball every day and to practice whenever he wanted! With the exception of the toilet (details later), our handicapped stateroom was excellent (roomy, enjoyed the window even though obstructed, room for my scooter) and the services of our steward, Pedro, were excellent. All of the public rooms were also lovely, well cared for, and with excellent service.  The alternate restaurants (Sabatini's and Bayou Cafe) had excellent food and service for an additional $20 a person.  Instead of lukewarm, tasteless coffee in the dining areas, one could, for a price, get excellent coffee in one area of the ship, and excellent ice-cream could be purchased as a substitute for the mediocre fare in the dining areas. Unfortunately, that is really where the excellence ended.  Through no error of the cruise line, the swine flu virus cancelled all five Mexican ports.  Rather than extending our time in Costa Rica and allowing more time and tours in Panama, we were given two ports - San Diego (over 50% of the passengers on this ship live within a day's drive of San Diego) and San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, where dire warnings were issued about the difficulties facing anyone with leg problems should they go ashore (tendering, a moving pontoon platform, and steep and hard-to-negotiate stairs). While I tried to work with the tour office, I learned several things:  1) although they would allow wheelchairs to be tendered ashore, those of us with light-weight, portable scooters that come apart could not use the tenders -not even during quiet times when the tours were out   2) that their information was often Incorrect -San Juan del Sur was not a difficult landing and there was shopping nearby which could be easily reached by wheelchair or scooter - you could go ashore in Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua, and get transportation that would drive you through Antigua.  Often, though, we didn't know that until it was too late;   3) even though the average age of the passengers was close to 80 and there were dozens of scooters, walkers, and wheelchairs and hundreds of canes, no special accommodations were to be made;  4) that e-mailing Princess Cruises for assistance does not even get the respect of a reply;  5) that, when all was said and done,  I was only able to get off ship to see a foreign port twice in 19 days! You would expect, then, that Princess would try to find some other way to keep us happy while on board - maybe 2 sheets of paper for scrapbooking.  Maybe more games other than Trivia (4-5 times a day) or even Trivia where you were lucky if you knew even half the answers.  It was amazing to hear the silence when a question was read and no one had a clue, but even more amazing when the answer was read - also to dead silence.  While our Trivia crew captain was a delightful young man, his accent made it difficult to understand much of the time and the questions were often obscure.  Imagine the top team getting a score of 9 out of 20!  Many of us would have quit, but you can't desert your team mates.  A qualified craftsperson was not available to provide really good craft experiences - making something you would want to keep. Rec crew members would teach a paper rose or a simple paper box.  They also ran the scrapbooking program, even they though didn't have a clue.  They provided a die cut machine and a few die cuts, scissors, glue, and ONE 12X12 paper per passenger for the whole cruise.  We started out with 45 enthusiastic passengers (including teachers and owners of scrapbooking companies).  It would have been a fantastic opportunity had we had any supplies; no one came back again.  In the past, I have had marvelous arts and crafts experiences. There was a ceramic (throwing clay) class taught by a ceramist at $40 an hour or you could paint ceramics for $20 an hour or more.  You could also take computer lessons for $25 an hour.  The teacher was good, but the actual breadth of the learning was very narrow.  But the end feeling iwas one of being nickeled and dimed to death. Knowing this might be a looooooong trip, I signed up for 500 minutes of Internet time so that I could use my laptop wirelessly from most areas of the ship.  Several days out, the ship lost all power.  Apparently, according to the Internet attendant, when it came back on there was a huge power surge that took out the wireless network.  No one informed us of this, so for two days I kept trying without success to get online.  Finally I called to see if there was a problem, only to discover I could no longer use my laptop on board.  Actually, I was lucky because I'm knowledgeable enough to figure out I could use my memory stick as a drive to hold my data files, insert it in a memory card slot on their computers, and attach files to my e-mails.  The wireless network was never repaired.  There was no credit for this. Our cabinm while wonderfully appointed and suited for handicapped access, had a toilet so low a person on a wheelchair could not have transferred, and the bars were right next to the toilet rather than extending in front of the toilet to give the passenger the leverage to get up.  So I requested a toilet seat riser.  It came with tight arms so one could not wipe making it unusable.  The arms were just screwed on so I requested that they be removed.  Absolutely NOT, I was told.  It took two weeks to get a commode so I had to use the public restrooms instead. The food was another issue.  Perhaps it was because we were on anytime dining (a new experience for us), but there were frequent examples of waiting to be paged for dinner, very long dinner services (once it was just short of 3 hours) wilted Caesar salad, tasteless foods that were described as mango or passion fruit, but just tasted vanilla, butter dishes and beverages are not refilled, lukewarm soups and coffee, and frequent evenings where everyone at the table (8) ordered the always available grilled chicken or grilled salmon because the menu offerings were so unappetizing.  The one time I decided to try it anyway, I ordered a favorite, Irish Stew, and received a broth-based soup with some lamb, potatoes and carrots floating in it as my entrEe.  I did not make that error again.  Even the desserts just didn't match the desserts we've had on other cruises.  The buffet was actually better tasting and hotter food, but without the nice ambiance of the dining room. On the last two nights, the passengers expressed their feelings about the dining room by giving little or no applause for the food and service they had received.  Hundreds of passengers left the ship with very negative attitudes toward the ship and cruise - that's all you heard the last week. For me, it ended up being a long and boring trip - I've been on a 60 day voyage and several 30+ day trips and didn't want them to end, but this was the first time I wanted to go home before it was even half over. Shame on Princess!   Read Less
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 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
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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