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We sailed the Coral Princess/Panama Canal voyage March 4th-March 14th, 2003. Ports of call: Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Limon, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, and Aruba. The Coral Princess was at its full capacity for this cruise. We arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport, on flights that I arranged on my own, along with my brother & sister-in-law on March 3rd. We were booked at the Westin, Cypress Creek, through Princess along with transfers. After claiming our luggage, the transfer from airport to hotel with Princess motor coach went smoothly. We made our own arrangements for the morning by taxi to go to the pier around 10:30. It was well worth the $30 cab ride for the 4 of us to be at the pier ahead of the Princess buses. Check in was done by deck. We were on the Baja deck, and there were 4 attendants doing the processing for our deck. We went through security and waited until about 11:45 to board. The first time they swiped our cruise card upon entering the ship, they also took our picture for security. What a beautiful ship! We found our cabins right away. My brother had an inside; C507 and we had a balcony on the "bump-out" B501. This was the first time my husband and I had a balcony cabin and we loved it. There was a lot of closet space to hang clothes in an open area and shelves in a floor to ceiling closet with doors. This closet also contained the safe; which requires a 4-digit code of your selection to open and close. The safe was ample space to put wallets, jewelry, and camera. The bathroom was nice with shelves in vanity for toiletries. We used the shampoo, conditioner, hand & body lotion, and soap that was provided and wouldn't have had to pack those items. The shower was a bit small, but it wasn't bad. We requested the use of 2 Princess robes and the extra foam mattress pads for the bed as soon as we met our room steward, Gabrielle. The foam pads made our bed very comfortable. Putting 2 twin beds together made our double bed and they separated easily when made up as a double bed. On our August cruise on the Star Princess my husband is bringing a long strap with ratchet to go around the whole outside edge to hold the mattresses together. We had a nice sized vanity with a chair and an extra-upholstered chair. There was a hair blow dryer next to the vanity mounted on the exterior wall. There were only 2 additional outlets located there. If you want more outlets or need to plug in something with a short cord, I would suggest bringing an extra 6'-8' extension cord. There are no clocks of any sort in the room, which I knew in advance so I brought an alarm clock. We had a comfortable deck with 2 chairs and a table about 3' X 3'. The table took up more space than we liked and next time I will ask that it be removed and just a small table large enough to hold a room service tray will be all we need. Being on the "bump-out" we had a wonderful view of everything either side of us. I can see where cabins on either side of the bump out would have an obstructed view in the direction of the "bump-out". The refrigerator, a nice plus, was compact but large enough for anything we wanted to keep cold. New/fresh ice appeared in it every day. We purchased the Coke sticker right away for $27.50 each for the 10-day cruise and an extra $2.50 for the Coke cup, which works well for hot beverages as well as cold. We had Personal Choice "PC" dining. We all really like the flexibility of being able to plan our evening meal around the other activities of the day and ship; rather than having an assigned time in Traditional Dining where you have to plan your activities around the mealtime. The downside of PC dining is reservations are accepted. If you reserved a table whether for that night or the whole cruise, you had 15 minutes before the table was released if you didn't show up. That made it more difficult for those who just came to the PC dining room without a reservation. Example: we came to the dining room and asked if we could have a particular table that was open. We were told it was reserved in 10 minutes so we selected another table. Watching that first table, 4 people were seated about the time we were having our main entrEe. Come to find out the reservation didn't show up and these 4 were the first to come along after the reservation expired. In our opinion, PC dining should be a "first come, first served" basis. If you would rather have a specific time to eat, Traditional dining would be a better choice I would think. The food was good everywhere on the ship. The buffet had fresh fruit and vegetables and many of the same foods were served in the dining room. Room service was good and also prompt. Most mornings we enjoyed room service ordering from the door hanger they place in your cabin every evening. The menu listed is mostly continental style food, but anything I wrote on it, they delivered on time and hot. We also requested 1/2 & 1/2 for our coffee through room service as the buffet only serves the individual small NON-dairy creamers. The coffee is made from a liquid concentrate and I would have much preferred fresh brewed, but the only place that serves fresh brewed was at LaPatisserie bar. The presentation of food in the dining room was very nice. We thought the pizza was very good at the pizza counter open 11-6 every afternoon. We never tried anything at the hamburger/hot dog grill. We tried the Bayou Cafe with it's $10 extra chg per person and although is wasn't very crowded, our service was slow and we weren't particularly impressed with the food. There was no reason to ever go hungry in any of the Cruise-included food. The ship itself had many nice public spaces and smaller areas for private, cozy sittings. The Promenade deck was usually quiet and few people. On the back of Decks 10 & 8 (Caribe and Emerald) we discovered a small but very nice deck with lounge chairs. We used the Laundromat once, $1 to wash $1 to dry and $1 for soap. Well worth the cost. I could have packed half of the clothes I did. We tried the soft serve ice cream in the Haagen Daas bar but thought that $2.65 for a small cone was a lot to charge. When you consider some of the expensive desserts in the buffet, you would think that a simple soft serve machine would be free in the buffet. TOURS: All of our tours were booked through Princess. Ocho Rios: Dunns Falls & kayaking - We really enjoyed this! I had seen lots of pictures of the falls and people climbing it, but it truly was a beautiful adventure I'll never forget. We were hoping to purchase some JaBluM brand coffee while in Jamaica, but we didn't go into town after our tour and there weren't any little shops by the ship with the exception of liquor being sold from a trailer. Limon: Costa Rican Adventure - this included an hour and half motorbus ride to the aerial tram ride in the rain forest. The tram was a little more than an hour with time to stop in the gift shop, which is where we bought our Costa Rican coffee. We then went to an open-air restaurant and enjoyed a traditional Costa Rican lunch. Then on to a boat ride through some of the canals before a bus ride back to the ship. We really enjoyed the tram and the lunch, but for us, we could have passed on the boat ride. It is true that you saw more animals and birds, but I still like the rain forest better. Listening to others back on the ship and the bus back, many enjoyed the boat ride better than the aerial tram. It definitely is a personal choice. I'm not sorry we did both, but we like the rain forest tram better. Panama: We started the day up on the Sun Deck so we could see straight ahead at the locks. Once we actually got to the locks, we went back to our cabin and stood on our balcony and watched the remainder of the transition. Once in Gantun Lake, we tendered to a waiting bus not far from the dock. We did the Deluxe Train ride in the domed train. It went from the Atlantic to the Pacific where we saw the Mira Flores locks and a short movie about the canal. It was well worth the extra money to get the domed car, but if you think you want it, book early. Ours was filled 2 weeks or so before we left home. Marty, our guide gave us some very interesting info about Panama and the history of the country and canal. Aruba: Catamaran, snorkel and beach tour. Neither my husband nor I had snorkeled before. After about 45 min on the catamaran, they set anchor and the guide explained how to use the equipment and then showed us how to get down the ladder. In hindsight, it would have been easier for a first timer to learn by starting from the beach, which is what we wrongly assumed they would do. It was cloudy, so what we saw underwater was a bit drab in color, but fun. We then proceeded to an open dining area where lunch was served and we had an hour to sit or walk on the beach. Then back to the ship in the catamaran. We wouldn't choose this tour again. We really enjoyed the 4 major production shows. They were excellent!! 3 out of the 4 were held in the Princess Theater and one in the Universe Lounge; truly a state of the art venue. We also enjoyed the 50's & 60's night as well as Vince and Hip Pocket band. The Karaoke was fun to watch also. There was a lot that we didn't do on the ship, but there are only so many hours in a day and we wanted some relaxation time also. You could be as busy as you wanted to be or not. Disembarkment: We had a flight before noon, so we were assigned Red2 tags for our luggage. For us it went OK, but for my brother who had a later flight, he said finding the luggage in the same room where we checked in at the beginning of the cruise was very chaotic. It took him an hour just to get his luggage and get to the INS agent. Overall we had a great time and enjoyed this cruise vacation. It is a beautiful ship and the 10 days we spent on it flew by! We are looking forward to August 9, 2003 when my entire family of 3 generations, 21 people/ages 13-76, sails to Alaska on the Star Princess. thekoehlers@centurytel.net June 2003

Coral Princess

Coral Princess Cruise Review by sunnyv

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
We sailed the Coral Princess/Panama Canal voyage March 4th-March 14th, 2003.

Ports of call: Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Limon, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, and Aruba.

The Coral Princess was at its full capacity for this cruise.

We arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport, on flights that I arranged on my own, along with my brother & sister-in-law on March 3rd. We were booked at the Westin, Cypress Creek, through Princess along with transfers. After claiming our luggage, the transfer from airport to hotel with Princess motor coach went smoothly. We made our own arrangements for the morning by taxi to go to the pier around 10:30. It was well worth the $30 cab ride for the 4 of us to be at the pier ahead of the Princess buses. Check in was done by deck. We were on the Baja deck, and there were 4 attendants doing the processing for our deck. We went through security and waited until about 11:45 to board. The first time they swiped our cruise card upon entering the ship, they also took our picture for security.

What a beautiful ship! We found our cabins right away. My brother had an inside; C507 and we had a balcony on the "bump-out" B501. This was the first time my husband and I had a balcony cabin and we loved it. There was a lot of closet space to hang clothes in an open area and shelves in a floor to ceiling closet with doors. This closet also contained the safe; which requires a 4-digit code of your selection to open and close. The safe was ample space to put wallets, jewelry, and camera. The bathroom was nice with shelves in vanity for toiletries. We used the shampoo, conditioner, hand & body lotion, and soap that was provided and wouldn't have had to pack those items. The shower was a bit small, but it wasn't bad. We requested the use of 2 Princess robes and the extra foam mattress pads for the bed as soon as we met our room steward, Gabrielle. The foam pads made our bed very comfortable. Putting 2 twin beds together made our double bed and they separated easily when made up as a double bed. On our August cruise on the Star Princess my husband is bringing a long strap with ratchet to go around the whole outside edge to hold the mattresses together.

We had a nice sized vanity with a chair and an extra-upholstered chair. There was a hair blow dryer next to the vanity mounted on the exterior wall. There were only 2 additional outlets located there. If you want more outlets or need to plug in something with a short cord, I would suggest bringing an extra 6'-8' extension cord. There are no clocks of any sort in the room, which I knew in advance so I brought an alarm clock.

We had a comfortable deck with 2 chairs and a table about 3' X 3'. The table took up more space than we liked and next time I will ask that it be removed and just a small table large enough to hold a room service tray will be all we need. Being on the "bump-out" we had a wonderful view of
everything either side of us. I can see where cabins on either side of the bump out would have an obstructed view in the direction of the "bump-out".

The refrigerator, a nice plus, was compact but large enough for anything we wanted to keep cold. New/fresh ice appeared in it every day.

We purchased the Coke sticker right away for $27.50 each for the 10-day cruise and an extra $2.50 for the Coke cup, which works well for hot beverages as well as cold.

We had Personal Choice "PC" dining. We all really like the flexibility of being able to plan our evening meal around the other activities of the day and ship; rather than having an assigned time in Traditional Dining where you have to plan your activities around the mealtime. The downside of PC dining is reservations are accepted. If you reserved a table whether for that night or the whole cruise, you had 15 minutes before the table was released if you didn't show up. That made it more difficult for those who just came to the PC dining room without a reservation. Example: we came to the dining room and asked if we could have a particular table that was open. We were told it was reserved in 10 minutes so we selected another table. Watching that first table, 4 people were seated about the time we were having our main entrEe. Come to find out the reservation didn't show up and these 4 were the first to come along after the reservation expired. In our opinion, PC dining should be a "first come, first served" basis. If you would rather have a specific time to eat, Traditional dining would be a better choice I would think.

The food was good everywhere on the ship. The buffet had fresh fruit and vegetables and many of the same foods were served in the dining room. Room service was good and also prompt. Most mornings we enjoyed room service ordering from the door hanger they place in your cabin every evening. The menu listed is mostly continental style food, but anything I wrote on it, they delivered on time and hot. We also requested 1/2 & 1/2 for our coffee through room service as the buffet only serves the individual small NON-dairy creamers. The coffee is made from a liquid concentrate and I would have much preferred fresh brewed, but the only place that serves fresh brewed was at LaPatisserie bar. The presentation of food in the dining room was very nice. We thought the pizza was very good at the pizza counter open 11-6 every afternoon. We never tried anything at the hamburger/hot dog grill. We tried the Bayou Cafe with it's $10 extra chg per person and although is wasn't very crowded, our service was slow and we weren't particularly impressed with the food. There was no reason to ever go hungry in any of the Cruise-included food.

The ship itself had many nice public spaces and smaller areas for private, cozy sittings. The Promenade deck was usually quiet and few people. On the back of Decks 10 & 8 (Caribe and Emerald) we discovered a small but very nice deck with lounge chairs.

We used the Laundromat once, $1 to wash $1 to dry and $1 for soap. Well worth the cost. I could have packed half of the clothes I did.

We tried the soft serve ice cream in the Haagen Daas bar but thought that $2.65 for a small cone was a lot to charge. When you consider some of the expensive desserts in the buffet, you would think that a simple soft serve machine would be free in the buffet.

TOURS: All of our tours were booked through Princess.

Ocho Rios: Dunns Falls & kayaking - We really enjoyed this! I had seen lots of pictures of the falls and people climbing it, but it truly was a beautiful adventure I'll never forget. We were hoping to purchase some JaBluM brand coffee while in Jamaica, but we didn't go into town after our tour and there weren't any little shops by the ship with the exception of liquor being sold from a trailer.

Limon: Costa Rican Adventure - this included an hour and half motorbus ride to the aerial tram ride in the rain forest. The tram was a little more than an hour with time to stop in the gift shop, which is where we bought our Costa Rican coffee. We then went to an open-air restaurant and enjoyed a traditional Costa Rican lunch. Then on to a boat ride through some of the canals before a bus ride back to the ship. We really enjoyed the tram and the lunch, but for us, we could have passed on the boat ride. It is true that you saw more animals and birds, but I still like the rain forest better. Listening to others back on the ship and the bus back, many enjoyed the boat ride better than the aerial tram. It definitely is a personal choice. I'm not sorry we did both, but we like the rain forest tram better.

Panama: We started the day up on the Sun Deck so we could see straight ahead at the locks. Once we actually got to the locks, we went back to our cabin and stood on our balcony and watched the remainder of the transition. Once in Gantun Lake, we tendered to a waiting bus not far from the dock. We did the Deluxe Train ride in the domed train. It went from the Atlantic to the
Pacific where we saw the Mira Flores locks and a short movie about the canal. It was well worth the extra money to get the domed car, but if you think you want it, book early. Ours was filled 2 weeks or so before we left home. Marty, our guide gave us some very interesting info about Panama and the history of the country and canal.

Aruba: Catamaran, snorkel and beach tour. Neither my husband nor I had snorkeled before. After about 45 min on the catamaran, they set anchor and the guide explained how to use the equipment and then showed us how to get down the ladder. In hindsight, it would have been easier for a first timer to learn by starting from the beach, which is what we wrongly assumed they would do. It was cloudy, so what we saw underwater was a bit drab in color, but fun. We then proceeded to an open dining area where lunch was served and we had an hour to sit or walk on the beach. Then back to the ship in the catamaran. We wouldn't choose this tour again.

We really enjoyed the 4 major production shows. They were excellent!! 3 out of the 4 were held in the Princess Theater and one in the Universe Lounge; truly a state of the art venue. We also enjoyed the 50's & 60's night as well as Vince and Hip Pocket band. The Karaoke was fun to watch also. There was a lot that we didn't do on the ship, but there are only so many hours in a day and we wanted some relaxation time also. You could be as busy as you wanted to be or not.

Disembarkment: We had a flight before noon, so we were assigned Red2 tags for our luggage. For us it went OK, but for my brother who had a later flight, he said finding the luggage in the same room where we checked in at the beginning of the cruise was very chaotic. It took him an
hour just to get his luggage and get to the INS agent.

Overall we had a great time and enjoyed this cruise vacation. It is a beautiful ship and the 10 days we spent on it flew by! We are looking forward to August 9, 2003 when my entire family of 3 generations, 21 people/ages 13-76, sails to Alaska on the Star Princess.

thekoehlers@centurytel.net
June 2003
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