Coral Princess Cruise Review by Eleanor Sokoll
- Sail Date: March 2005
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
- Cabin Type: Balcony
Itinerary - we loved the 5 ports: Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Panama Canal crossing (Colon/Cristobal), Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Belize. The Panama Canal crossing was the main reason we chose this itinerary.
Ship - The food was very good, both the main dining room and the Horizon Court buffet. The pizza was excellent! We hated the Bayou Cafe. We've been to New Orleans, and believe me, this cafe doesn't begin to approximate New Orleans cuisine. Save your money, as there is a $15 per person cover charge. We did hear that Sabatini's Restaurant (also a cover charge) was wonderful, but we didn't try it. Skip the ice cream bar (extra charge) but note that ice cream was served free at the back of the Horizon Court buffet from 3:30-4:00 or so.
The staff was great; our steward went the extra mile to provide robes, fruit, chaise lounges (which fit on our balcony)and extra pool towels. You are only assigned 1 towel per person per day and there are no additional towels poolside. Ask your steward for extras.
All the nickel and diming I could do without; you pay for every soda you drink, every "class" you take, every bottle of water,some classes in the gym, etc. etc. etc. I HATED the constant loud music at the main pool. The Lotus Pool was quieter, but the water was on the cold side. The Spa was fantastic and the heated beds there are great. If you book a spa service, you may use them, as well as the steam rooms and sauna.
Tours we took: Costa Rica (Limon) - booked an independent tour with Oscar Brown; visited the Tortuguero Canals (saw some wildlife), banana plantation,(not my favorite) and a wonderful Wildlife Sanctuary, where I got to hold a baby howler monkey. These folks rehabilitate animals that have been abandoned or who are in trouble and after nursing them back to health, release them into the wild again. It's called the Marina Rescue Center and you can e-mail Horace at email@example.com.
Panama Canal- We did Ocean to Ocean. You board a small boat and go through the remaining three locks all the way to the Pacific. They provide a box lunch and soft drinks/bottled water. It's a long day but well worth it! We went through the locks with several small sailboats attached to us, a gigantic freighter and a tugboat. You come so close to the side of the Canal that you can actually touch it. Grand Cayman - We had rough seas and couldn't dock here. We were disappointed not to go to Stingray City.
Cozumel - We beached it at Playa Palancar and had a wonderful day. It's a quiet, laid-back beach, with chairs (ask to have a cushion), and shade, parrots and peacocks are there too! Wonderful restaurant.
Belize - We snorkeled the Barrier Reef off Belize City. I was quite disappointed in the lack of fish and have found much more beautiful reefs in the Grenadines(Tobago Cays), Grand Cayman, Bonaire and Cozumel. The boat ride out to the reef was fun. One of the guides got stung by a Stingray and had to seek medical attention. This was upsetting. Also, the Tour Desk overbooked and our tour was delayed and cut short by 45 minutes. They didn't apologize, were a bit arrogant, but did eventually refund a small portion of the tour price to us.
Generally, the Tour Desk on the Coral Princess is very uninformed about the ports; there seems to be a strong emphasis on shopping. They also seemed very disorganized. There is a general lack of information available to you, so do your research before you sail.
Cabins - Very small shower, not much water pressure, and hot water needed to be hotter. Our cabin had various noises in the ceiling (bunk beds that are in the ceiling for extra beds) that were rattling the whole cruise and disturbed our sleep. Maybe they fixed this the last night of the cruise (?), but it was quite annoying.
I would recommend this ship/cruise/itinerary, but might have enjoyed it more on another cruise line. we have mixed feelings about booking with Princess again.
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