1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Coral Princess
Let me begin by saying this was one of our best vacations yet. The Princess motto "Escape Completely" really applies to me (Lora) and my husband (Greg) and that's what a cruise is all about for us. Escaping from everything. Before the cruise: Our vacation began on April 16th with a flight into Fort Lauderdale and staying at the Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort. We always fly in a day ahead and that's what we did this time, too. The location of this hotel can't be beat. It's right across the street from the Beach in Fort Lauderdale, right in the heart of all the action. We walked up the street to the restaurants and had a great dinner at Lulu's Bait Shack. On Sunday morning we had coffee at a lovely local coffee shop right on the beach. The coffee and food are great and it's clearly a local hangout as well. If you enjoy good espresso, don't miss it. The we walked all the way up the bridge and looked across the port to the ships. It's more than a mile each way, but the weather was perfect and we couldn't miss the opportunity to see the ship. April 17th - Embarkation When we got back to the hotel, we picked up our things and headed off to the pier about 11:00. That put us at the pier by 11:15 and onboard by 11:45, in spite of a line most of the length of the terminal. I'm consistently impressed by how well embarkation goes. As we walked onto the ship, I could tell we were going to have a wonderful time. The Coral Princess just sparkles and it's size makes it so easy for walking from the forward to aft without being completely exhausted. We were in cabin D504, a mini-suite on the Dolphin deck that I would highly recommend. It's just a few steps away from the central elevators and is convenient to everything. The balcony is mostly covered by the bumpout above it and it provided a real sense of privacy. After exploring our cabin, we had lunch in the Horizon Cafe. The view is spectacular and I love that there is a covered place with a few out over the bow. The only rain of the entire trip came during sailaway. We found a partially covered area just outside the Horizon for taking pictures as we sailed away. On the first night we decided to sample the fare at the Bayou Cafe. It was very tasty, but disappointing to our tastes. We expected some very spicy cajun and instead got something that didn't quite meet our standards. Although, that was the only food the entire week that didn't meet our expectations. Drink of the Day - Rum Punch April 18th - At Sea -- I usually don't take advantage of the spa, but I decided to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure early in the morning. It was two hours of pure luxury. This was followed by a late breakfast at the horizon court, then lunch at the Grill. With hot tubs and swimming in between and most of the afternoon. Let me take advantage of this distraction to tell you the beauty of the Lotus Pool. We spent most of our swimming time in this area and just loved it. The pool was the perfect temperature to just walk into - not too hot and not too cold. This was the first formal night and the Captain's Welcome Cocktail party. It was a very lovely time. Although, there were hardly enough waiters to go around. We also watched "Curtain Up". The princess dancers were very good and we were very impressed with the quality of all the production shows. I'm a musical theater nut and it was good to see all of that great music put together. Drink of the Day - Yellow Bird April 19th - At Sea -- Yet another completely relaxing day. We had breakfast at the horizon court and lunch at the pizzeria. We also attended the first cooking demo. It was entertaining, but I'd like to learn a little more in the process. And I would have liked to get handouts of the recipes before the session, rather than just pointing to the cookbook. On the other hand, we bought the cookbook last year on the Caribbean Princess and it really is good. Dinner tonight was the highlight of our cruise. We ate at Sabatini's and I believe this is an experience never to be missed. The wait staff was wonderful and we were able to get a table next to the window where we could see the water. My only complaint is that by the time we got to the main course we were so stuffed we couldn't really enjoy it. I had the tiger prawns and they were utterly delicious. Drink of the Day - Chocolate Banana (Yumm!!) (If you order one the first day, that's what you'll want all week.) April 20th - Limon, Costa Rica -- Our day in Costa Rica was an adventure that I would not want to have missed. After breakfast in the horizon court we were at the Princess Theater at 7:15 to wait for our shore excursion (Jungle River and Eco Adventure). Our tour guide was Maria and she did a wonderful job of giving us a picture of the history of the country as well as some good exposure to the flora and fauna of the area. The boat ride was a great experience and I'm sure Disney made the Jungle Boat ride from one just like it. I can't imagine a more beautiful place. This tour was only a half day which allowed us more time to enjoy the ship and swimming after we returned. Dinner that evening was in the Boudreaux dining room where we were able to get a lovely table in an area with Cesar and Jorge as our waiters. This was the first time we sat in their section and decided that we would make standing reservations for 8:15 so we could sit there the rest of the week. That evening we saw "Da Beat". Again, the performance was excellent. I'm not sure how they can dance like that on a moving stage. Drink of the Day - Strawberry Daiquiri April 21st - Panama Canal -- This day was without a doubt the best part of the trip. And although I enjoyed our entire vacation, this is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. We were up at about 6:15 and already had our pilot aboard and were going into the channel toward Gatun Lock. If you really want to experience it, I'd recommend being up and at least checking things out by 6am or so. We had coffee on the balcony as we watched the passage of the locks and it really is one of the most amazing feats of engineering that has ever been accomplished. As we looked over the side of the ship and watched us go from the Promenade deck being 2 feet from the wall to being way above the water. It just blew you away. One of the fun things is that there was narration on the bridge cam tv channel and you got a good picture of everything going on. If I did it again, I might try to go forward and watch it from the Horizon Cafe. But on the other hand it was really neat to have it be just outside our door. For a shore excursion we did the Ocean-to-Ocean and it was truly amazing and I highly recommend it. During the bus ride to Gamboa our guide kept us entertained with information about the country and the culture. We were on the first boat to arrive at the pier and so we were able to get a seat outside up front so we could see everything up close. The only problem is that it's VERY hot. So, if that's your plan, be sure to drink plenty of water. (They'll have it on the boat for you.) I'm not sure that I can begin to tell you how truly emotional it is to ride through the Gailliard cut and think about all the people who lost their lives to create this amazing place. It makes you feel as though you're part of history. And then being right next to the wall as we passed through the locks really gave you a chance to experience the scope of the project. After we passed through the locks, we docked in Balboa and then took a bus back to the ship in Cristobol. This is a shore excursion that is truly not to be missed. While we were on the excursion, the ship went back through the Gatun locks and docked at Cristobol. When we returned we walked through the handcraft market and had a beer as we watched the local dancers. Then we returned to the ship and cooled off in the Lotus Pool. It was truly a most incredible day. Drink of the Day - Panama Mule Punch April 22nd - At Sea -- After the amazing day yesterday, a day at sea was the perfect antidote. We spent most of the day relaxing and enjoying the pool and hot tub. The high point of the day was the Maitre D's Wine Tasting. The wines were all very wonderful and it was very much worth the cost. My only suggestions are that they slow things down a little so you get to enjoy things a little more and perhaps add some more appetizers as well. Drink of the Day - Melon Ball April 23rd - Grand Cayman -- This was another wonderful day. We try to do ½ day shore excursions at some places so that we can enjoy the town as well. Grand Cayman was no exception. We were there in the spring of 2004 and saw Stingray City, so this time we decided to do the "Sea and Sea," so that we could get a taste of the island. We started with an Atlantis partially submerged submarine ride. This was great fun and I would highly recommend it. It was very neat to see the sea life and the wreckage in the harbor. We then boarded a bus and went to "look at" one end of 7-mile beach and to visit hell. Neither of these events was especially exciting but they were OK. More interesting actually was the chance to see some of the damage of Hurricane Ivan and to hear the stories from the driver about the damage on the island. It sounds like it was horrible. The last thing we did on this tour was visit the turtle farm (http://www.turtle.ky) this was actually interesting and we got to hold a turtle. So the beginning and the end made the adventure worthwhile. Although, if I were making a recommendation to someone, I'd tell them to have a cab take them out to the turtle farm and maybe just do a separate submarine trip. After the tour was done, we moved onto the shopping part of the day. The amazing part of this visit was to hear how hard everyone worked to get the stores restored and ready for cruise visitors since Hurricane Ivan. Of course, we did find a couple of pretties as well. Then it was off to lunch at Paradise restaurant. It's a nice place near the cruise terminal and we did some snorkeling there as well. The water was a little rough and I would have felt better with either flippers or sand shoes (it's very rocky) but the sea life was very interesting. Then it was back to the ship for a nap, some hot tubing and getting ready for dinner and the Captain's Circle party. The interesting story for the afternoon was that the ship turned around about 2 hours out from Grand Cayman due to an illness on board and that put us into Cozumel later than expected. It also meant that the Captain didn't make it to the party. But it was fun anyway. Then it was off to a wonderful dinner. The odd and interesting thing on this cruise was running into our waiter last year (Arnold) who had taken such wonderful care of us on the Caribbean Princess. This was the second formal night, so after dinner we relaxed until time for the Champagne Waterfall. A wonderful event and truly something not to be missed. Drink of the Day - Ocean Breeze 4/24 - Cozumel -- As I mentioned earlier our arrival into Cozumel was delayed because of the return to Grand Cayman. However, that didn't cramp our day to much. We went to the San Gervasio ruins and were very impressed to see these very interesting sites from the past. If you aren't going to see any Mayan sites later in your cruise and you don't want to take an entire days than these are worth seeing. When we returned we met a new friend for lunch at Pancho's Backyard and then did some more shopping. It was a Sunday afternoon and unfortunately several shops closed early, but it was still a very enjoyable day. One thing to note about Pancho's Backyard. There is one at the cruise terminal, but if you want one that's much quieter head to the one downtown. It's hidden inside Los Cinco Soles. Of course after a day like that we had to head back to the ship for more relaxation before a lovely dinner. Drink of the Day - Fun on the Beach 4/25 - Belize -- Belize was a wonderful surprise. As we pulled into the harbor, the GPS showed the twists and turns the ship had made getting close to the harbor and the tender in took at least 10 minutes. We booked the Lamanai Ruins and New River Safari Tour through the ship and thoroughly enjoyed it. The adventure began with a short boat ride to a river. Followed by a 40mph ride down twisty rivers to the ruins. (The ride was almost the best part). Then we arrived at the ruins and walked down a ¼ mile path to the first of 3 temples we would see. (Be sure to bring insect repellent.) It was amazing. You really felt you were part of the history. Then we moved on to a second even bigger temple that we were actually able to climb. It was truly spectacular. My only wish is that we could have stayed longer. By the time we got to the top, it was time to climb down. And the climb down is certainly scary. They have a rope to help you, but our legs were both sore for two days after that climb. Then we were off to one last temple. And then a lovely lunch by the side of the river. Captain Chino was our guide and both his boat driving skills and knowledge of the history of the area were wonderful. This adventure took most of the day, but we were very glad to have had a plan for the day as the rest of the area was certainly not a place we would want to go. If you stop in Belize be sure to book a tour. Once we got back, we were back to the pool before a relaxing evening. Drink of the Day - Tequila Sunrise 4/26 - At Sea -- One last day to enjoy the Coral Princess and we had to take advantage of the time. Most of it was spent relaxing by the pool. But we did attend the cooking demo and galley tour. (The escalators in the galley are the coolest thing). We also attended the ice carving demo. Dinner was for a final night in the anytime dining room with our wonderful waiters. The only thing we missed was the Baked Alaska parade, but it's a small price to pay for the flexibility of anytime dining. Drink of the Day - Homeward Bound 4/27 - Ft. Lauderdale and Miami -- The only good thing about leaving the Coral Princess was knowing it wasn't quite time to go home yet. Once we got off the ship, we took a cab into South Beach and checked into a lovely little hotel (The Blue Moon.) The nightlife was fun, the shopping was good, the Mojitos were wonderful, and it was a great way to relax before heading home. Overall Comments: Food: Wonderful as always. And the deserts are spectacular. Now if they only had SoufflEs on the menu every night. Ship: Excellent. We're torn about whether we like this size ship or the Grand class better, but we really had no complaints. Everything was clean and sparkly. The small spaces are so well designed you never feel crowded. Service: Best Yet. I'm not sure if it was the fewer passengers or the longer cruise, but the service was fantastic. It never took more than 5 minutes to get coffee in the morning. The waiters at the pool actually had time to get to know you and were always around when you needed one. There were never any complaints or even disappointment when I ordered a Coke rather than alcohol.

Coral Princess - Central America/Panama Canal

Coral Princess Cruise Review by loralei

Trip Details
Let me begin by saying this was one of our best vacations yet. The Princess motto "Escape Completely" really applies to me (Lora) and my husband (Greg) and that's what a cruise is all about for us. Escaping from everything.
Before the cruise: Our vacation began on April 16th with a flight into Fort Lauderdale and staying at the Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort. We always fly in a day ahead and that's what we did this time, too. The location of this hotel can't be beat. It's right across the street from the Beach in Fort Lauderdale, right in the heart of all the action. We walked up the street to the restaurants and had a great dinner at Lulu's Bait Shack. On Sunday morning we had coffee at a lovely local coffee shop right on the beach. The coffee and food are great and it's clearly a local hangout as well. If you enjoy good espresso, don't miss it. The we walked all the way up the bridge and looked across the port to the ships. It's more than a mile each way, but the weather was perfect and we couldn't miss the opportunity to see the ship.
April 17th - Embarkation When we got back to the hotel, we picked up our things and headed off to the pier about 11:00. That put us at the pier by 11:15 and onboard by 11:45, in spite of a line most of the length of the terminal. I'm consistently impressed by how well embarkation goes.
As we walked onto the ship, I could tell we were going to have a wonderful time. The Coral Princess just sparkles and it's size makes it so easy for walking from the forward to aft without being completely exhausted. We were in cabin D504, a mini-suite on the Dolphin deck that I would highly recommend. It's just a few steps away from the central elevators and is convenient to everything. The balcony is mostly covered by the bumpout above it and it provided a real sense of privacy. After exploring our cabin, we had lunch in the Horizon Cafe. The view is spectacular and I love that there is a covered place with a few out over the bow.
The only rain of the entire trip came during sailaway. We found a partially covered area just outside the Horizon for taking pictures as we sailed away.
On the first night we decided to sample the fare at the Bayou Cafe. It was very tasty, but disappointing to our tastes. We expected some very spicy cajun and instead got something that didn't quite meet our standards. Although, that was the only food the entire week that didn't meet our expectations.
Drink of the Day - Rum Punch
April 18th - At Sea -- I usually don't take advantage of the spa, but I decided to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure early in the morning. It was two hours of pure luxury. This was followed by a late breakfast at the horizon court, then lunch at the Grill. With hot tubs and swimming in between and most of the afternoon. Let me take advantage of this distraction to tell you the beauty of the Lotus Pool. We spent most of our swimming time in this area and just loved it. The pool was the perfect temperature to just walk into - not too hot and not too cold.
This was the first formal night and the Captain's Welcome Cocktail party. It was a very lovely time. Although, there were hardly enough waiters to go around.
We also watched "Curtain Up". The princess dancers were very good and we were very impressed with the quality of all the production shows. I'm a musical theater nut and it was good to see all of that great music put together.
Drink of the Day - Yellow Bird
April 19th - At Sea -- Yet another completely relaxing day. We had breakfast at the horizon court and lunch at the pizzeria. We also attended the first cooking demo. It was entertaining, but I'd like to learn a little more in the process. And I would have liked to get handouts of the recipes before the session, rather than just pointing to the cookbook. On the other hand, we bought the cookbook last year on the Caribbean Princess and it really is good.
Dinner tonight was the highlight of our cruise. We ate at Sabatini's and I believe this is an experience never to be missed. The wait staff was wonderful and we were able to get a table next to the window where we could see the water. My only complaint is that by the time we got to the main course we were so stuffed we couldn't really enjoy it. I had the tiger prawns and they were utterly delicious.
Drink of the Day - Chocolate Banana (Yumm!!) (If you order one the first day, that's what you'll want all week.)
April 20th - Limon, Costa Rica -- Our day in Costa Rica was an adventure that I would not want to have missed. After breakfast in the horizon court we were at the Princess Theater at 7:15 to wait for our shore excursion (Jungle River and Eco Adventure). Our tour guide was Maria and she did a wonderful job of giving us a picture of the history of the country as well as some good exposure to the flora and fauna of the area. The boat ride was a great experience and I'm sure Disney made the Jungle Boat ride from one just like it. I can't imagine a more beautiful place. This tour was only a half day which allowed us more time to enjoy the ship and swimming after we returned.
Dinner that evening was in the Boudreaux dining room where we were able to get a lovely table in an area with Cesar and Jorge as our waiters. This was the first time we sat in their section and decided that we would make standing reservations for 8:15 so we could sit there the rest of the week.
That evening we saw "Da Beat". Again, the performance was excellent. I'm not sure how they can dance like that on a moving stage.
Drink of the Day - Strawberry Daiquiri
April 21st - Panama Canal -- This day was without a doubt the best part of the trip. And although I enjoyed our entire vacation, this is something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
We were up at about 6:15 and already had our pilot aboard and were going into the channel toward Gatun Lock. If you really want to experience it, I'd recommend being up and at least checking things out by 6am or so.
We had coffee on the balcony as we watched the passage of the locks and it really is one of the most amazing feats of engineering that has ever been accomplished. As we looked over the side of the ship and watched us go from the Promenade deck being 2 feet from the wall to being way above the water. It just blew you away. One of the fun things is that there was narration on the bridge cam tv channel and you got a good picture of everything going on. If I did it again, I might try to go forward and watch it from the Horizon Cafe. But on the other hand it was really neat to have it be just outside our door.
For a shore excursion we did the Ocean-to-Ocean and it was truly amazing and I highly recommend it. During the bus ride to Gamboa our guide kept us entertained with information about the country and the culture. We were on the first boat to arrive at the pier and so we were able to get a seat outside up front so we could see everything up close. The only problem is that it's VERY hot. So, if that's your plan, be sure to drink plenty of water. (They'll have it on the boat for you.) I'm not sure that I can begin to tell you how truly emotional it is to ride through the Gailliard cut and think about all the people who lost their lives to create this amazing place. It makes you feel as though you're part of history. And then being right next to the wall as we passed through the locks really gave you a chance to experience the scope of the project. After we passed through the locks, we docked in Balboa and then took a bus back to the ship in Cristobol. This is a shore excursion that is truly not to be missed.
While we were on the excursion, the ship went back through the Gatun locks and docked at Cristobol. When we returned we walked through the handcraft market and had a beer as we watched the local dancers. Then we returned to the ship and cooled off in the Lotus Pool.
It was truly a most incredible day.
Drink of the Day - Panama Mule Punch
April 22nd - At Sea -- After the amazing day yesterday, a day at sea was the perfect antidote. We spent most of the day relaxing and enjoying the pool and hot tub. The high point of the day was the Maitre D's Wine Tasting. The wines were all very wonderful and it was very much worth the cost. My only suggestions are that they slow things down a little so you get to enjoy things a little more and perhaps add some more appetizers as well.
Drink of the Day - Melon Ball
April 23rd - Grand Cayman -- This was another wonderful day. We try to do ½ day shore excursions at some places so that we can enjoy the town as well. Grand Cayman was no exception. We were there in the spring of 2004 and saw Stingray City, so this time we decided to do the "Sea and Sea," so that we could get a taste of the island. We started with an Atlantis partially submerged submarine ride. This was great fun and I would highly recommend it. It was very neat to see the sea life and the wreckage in the harbor. We then boarded a bus and went to "look at" one end of 7-mile beach and to visit hell. Neither of these events was especially exciting but they were OK. More interesting actually was the chance to see some of the damage of Hurricane Ivan and to hear the stories from the driver about the damage on the island. It sounds like it was horrible. The last thing we did on this tour was visit the turtle farm (http://www.turtle.ky) this was actually interesting and we got to hold a turtle. So the beginning and the end made the adventure worthwhile. Although, if I were making a recommendation to someone, I'd tell them to have a cab take them out to the turtle farm and maybe just do a separate submarine trip.
After the tour was done, we moved onto the shopping part of the day. The amazing part of this visit was to hear how hard everyone worked to get the stores restored and ready for cruise visitors since Hurricane Ivan. Of course, we did find a couple of pretties as well. Then it was off to lunch at Paradise restaurant. It's a nice place near the cruise terminal and we did some snorkeling there as well. The water was a little rough and I would have felt better with either flippers or sand shoes (it's very rocky) but the sea life was very interesting.
Then it was back to the ship for a nap, some hot tubing and getting ready for dinner and the Captain's Circle party. The interesting story for the afternoon was that the ship turned around about 2 hours out from Grand Cayman due to an illness on board and that put us into Cozumel later than expected. It also meant that the Captain didn't make it to the party. But it was fun anyway. Then it was off to a wonderful dinner. The odd and interesting thing on this cruise was running into our waiter last year (Arnold) who had taken such wonderful care of us on the Caribbean Princess.
This was the second formal night, so after dinner we relaxed until time for the Champagne Waterfall. A wonderful event and truly something not to be missed.
Drink of the Day - Ocean Breeze
4/24 - Cozumel -- As I mentioned earlier our arrival into Cozumel was delayed because of the return to Grand Cayman. However, that didn't cramp our day to much. We went to the San Gervasio ruins and were very impressed to see these very interesting sites from the past. If you aren't going to see any Mayan sites later in your cruise and you don't want to take an entire days than these are worth seeing. When we returned we met a new friend for lunch at Pancho's Backyard and then did some more shopping. It was a Sunday afternoon and unfortunately several shops closed early, but it was still a very enjoyable day. One thing to note about Pancho's Backyard. There is one at the cruise terminal, but if you want one that's much quieter head to the one downtown. It's hidden inside Los Cinco Soles.
Of course after a day like that we had to head back to the ship for more relaxation before a lovely dinner.
Drink of the Day - Fun on the Beach
4/25 - Belize -- Belize was a wonderful surprise. As we pulled into the harbor, the GPS showed the twists and turns the ship had made getting close to the harbor and the tender in took at least 10 minutes.
We booked the Lamanai Ruins and New River Safari Tour through the ship and thoroughly enjoyed it. The adventure began with a short boat ride to a river. Followed by a 40mph ride down twisty rivers to the ruins. (The ride was almost the best part). Then we arrived at the ruins and walked down a ¼ mile path to the first of 3 temples we would see. (Be sure to bring insect repellent.) It was amazing. You really felt you were part of the history. Then we moved on to a second even bigger temple that we were actually able to climb. It was truly spectacular. My only wish is that we could have stayed longer. By the time we got to the top, it was time to climb down. And the climb down is certainly scary. They have a rope to help you, but our legs were both sore for two days after that climb. Then we were off to one last temple. And then a lovely lunch by the side of the river. Captain Chino was our guide and both his boat driving skills and knowledge of the history of the area were wonderful. This adventure took most of the day, but we were very glad to have had a plan for the day as the rest of the area was certainly not a place we would want to go. If you stop in Belize be sure to book a tour.
Once we got back, we were back to the pool before a relaxing evening.
Drink of the Day - Tequila Sunrise
4/26 - At Sea -- One last day to enjoy the Coral Princess and we had to take advantage of the time. Most of it was spent relaxing by the pool. But we did attend the cooking demo and galley tour. (The escalators in the galley are the coolest thing). We also attended the ice carving demo. Dinner was for a final night in the anytime dining room with our wonderful waiters. The only thing we missed was the Baked Alaska parade, but it's a small price to pay for the flexibility of anytime dining.
Drink of the Day - Homeward Bound
4/27 - Ft. Lauderdale and Miami -- The only good thing about leaving the Coral Princess was knowing it wasn't quite time to go home yet. Once we got off the ship, we took a cab into South Beach and checked into a lovely little hotel (The Blue Moon.) The nightlife was fun, the shopping was good, the Mojitos were wonderful, and it was a great way to relax before heading home.
Overall Comments: Food: Wonderful as always. And the deserts are spectacular. Now if they only had SoufflEs on the menu every night. Ship: Excellent. We're torn about whether we like this size ship or the Grand class better, but we really had no complaints. Everything was clean and sparkly. The small spaces are so well designed you never feel crowded. Service: Best Yet. I'm not sure if it was the fewer passengers or the longer cruise, but the service was fantastic. It never took more than 5 minutes to get coffee in the morning. The waiters at the pool actually had time to get to know you and were always around when you needed one. There were never any complaints or even disappointment when I ordered a Coke rather than alcohol.
loralei’s Full Rating Summary
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Rates
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Coral Princess price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email