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Cruise December 14 to December 24, 2005 Embarkation Went smoothly and quickly. We boarded at noon and found no crowd as the cruise information implied by saying its smoother after 2:00 p.m. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and overnighted there at a motel that provided transportation to the pier. Others who drove to the cruise parked at hotels/motels that they stayed at overnight where parking for the duration of the cruise was either at a nominal charge or no charge. For those who drove to the ship and parked in the garage, there was the inconvenience of leaving from Pier 2 and returning at Pier 21. Baggage delivery was terribly slow. Didnt get our bags until at least 6:30 p.m. -- we were at dinner in our jeans (hooray!). Others were not pleased also. Food We elected Anytime Dining in that we wanted the flexibility it affords. Generally, the breakfast and lunch food was good. Portions at breakfast, lunch, and dinner were adequate. At dinner, the Beef Wellington, lobster, baked clams (appetizer), and scallops were quite good, but my steak was tough and neither mine nor my wifes were cooked as we liked them, and the baked potato was not cooked. Service varied from meal to meal with the last breakfast being totally inefficient. The waiter didnt seem to be able to take more than one customers order at a time. Bayou Cafe: fillets not cooked appropriately, but nice size. Service was terrible. It wasnt crowded, but we had to continuously ask waiter for water. Others reported that they did not have the same problems (perhaps different staff on duty). Sabatinis: Absolutely excellent in all ways  food and service (well worth the extra $20/person). Horizon Court: Food below par at all meals, but was plentiful and many choices (many more choices than in dining room). Pizza bar is excellent and there is no extra charge. Paying extra for ice cream at the Ice Cream Bar is ridiculous. Free ice cream in the Horizon Court in mid-afternoon was available, but the scooper could have been used to scoop melons. Be careful of very slippery floor very early in the morning. Soft drink card for $39.50 is pricey. To this they added 15% for a gratuity (another indicator of the cheap attitude felt by even those who had cruised with Princess many, many times --- i.e., ever since it was acquired by Carnival -- another was our cabin steward saying that he is allotted only a certain number of chocolates for pillows). Formal Nights We were pleasantly surprised that there was a loosening of the requirements that men had to wear tuxedos, suits, or sport jackets in that I dont believe in playing dress up when on vacation. A pair of slacks for men and a shirt with a collar works for men and slacks and a blouse or a dress works for women. The crew, wait staff, etc. didnt give a hoot, but we did get some disparaging stares from snooty passengers. Too bad. Our money is a green as theirs. Amenities There are several antimicrobial liquid dispensers at the Horizon Court buffet. Would be a good idea to have it at all dining areas and when reboarding the ship. Bring you own laundry bag if youre planning on doing laundry. Laundry facilities good. Costs $1.00 for detergent, $1.00 for a wash, $1.00 for a dry. Bring quarters in that coin change machine might not work or be out of quarters. Be aware that slot machine tokens might be in the coins the change machines make. Theyll work in the laundry equipment, but are useless off the ship. Surprisingly, the cost for dry cleaning is not any more than youd pay in many cities (e.g., I had a pair of short dry cleaned and the price was $3.25). Would have been nice to have instructions printed on the laundry bag as to what to do with the clothes (i.e., turn it in where, give to cabin steward, or. . .). Too many attempts by photographers to take pictures that then are a rip off. If they say 8-1/2 by 11 pictures, theyre giving you the paper size. The picture is considerably smaller with maps and other material covering much of the page. Communication and Disabilities Communication is not a strong feature on the Coral Princess. In fact, its pretty bad. Incorrect information in the onboard publications (someone should help the writers with appropriate capitalization of words), including signage throughout the ship being less than adequate, information on the onboard TV not being accurate (insurance on purchases that applied to earlier cruises was broadcast throughout one day, but no one seemed to have a clue about it), and the requirement that you must carry picture ID when leaving the ship (not once were we asked for this, especially since the electronic system now in use has your picture displayed each time your boarding card is scanned). Also, would be a nice feature if the ship announced the weather forecast in addition to the condition of the seas. Ship was very accommodating to persons with motor disabilities (many wheel chairs, canes, walkers). Cabin Our cabin was on the Aloha Deck (Deck 12) and we had a balcony. Cabin was good sized with a very large closet and adequate drawer space. Bathroom was typical and shower size was OK (unless you weight 350 lbs  we dont). Two electric outlets next to each other on the desk and one in bathroom. Bring a power strip if you need more. Balcony adequate for two (two chairs and a table). Facial tissue: cheap brand and like sandpaper. There was no clock, but the wakeup call did work. Bring your own clock. The one on your cell phone wont work (duh!). The only problem we had with the cabin (it was amidships) is that it was below an area where they must have kept livestock in that there were hoof beats late into the night. A complaint to the pursers desk was ignored. Others said the same about the noise. Also ignored was our request to visit the bridge and we did not receive any notification one way of the other that was supposed to be forthcoming in writing. Ignored requests and complaints relates to the communication problem noted above. Written complaint about the Tulum tour (see below) did result in a letter of apology and a refund of a third of the price. Crew The strong point was that the young men and women from many countries who worked in numerous capacities (wait staff, clerks, maintenance, etc.) were delightful and most helpful. It was surprising to find that the maintenance department dispatched a worker to replace a flickering light with 10 minutes of the call. Cabin steward did his job. Entertainment We went to three shows (productions) and the magician (he did the traditional Transformation and also walking through a mirror). The production numbers had good themes and staging, but absolutely the wrong choice of music for the productions. Cast was generally good, except for one singer who screamed and was often off key. Piano player/singer in the atrium lounge was fun, good, and entertaining. Tours Montego Bay  Return to ship by 3:30 p.m.; ship scheduled to leave at 4:00 p.m. Actually left at 4:45 p.m. Should have provided later time before leaving to allow more time for tours. Impression was that Montego Bay is not the safest of places. Tulum  Knees in your chest buses. Box lunch horrible, including an apple that wasnt washed and chips with cayenne pepper. We didnt eat them at all. Our guide knowledgeable. Tulum itself was magnificent. Downside was on the return when there was a long wait to board the tender and no place to sit. Were sure that the idea is for you to be shopping along 5th Avenue. If there is time, we are told that two blocks away the prices are much more reasonable. Grand Cayman  enjoyed the half submarine and the turtle farm. Guide had worked at the turtle farm in the past and was most informative. Limon  same bus problem as Tulum. The poverty is striking. Makes one appreciate what one has. Buses on Panama Canal tour quite adequate. Promotional material in error in that its a 90 minute bus ride both to and from the tour boat. Promotional material gave the impression of a quick transfer to the tour boat from the Coral Princess, but instead it was a 90 minute bus ride (did get to see some of the countryside). Tour of the Canal was a fantastic experience. Overall Beautiful ship. Many friendly passengers. Crew excellent. Tours enjoyable (although the busses were uncomfortable at times and the tours through Princess were overpriced in some cases). Our goal was to experience the Panama Canal, to get a snapshot of some of the Caribbean, and to relax. The cruise lived up to those expectations and we enjoyed the experience.

Coral Princess - Central America/Panama Canal

Coral Princess Cruise Review by The Constructive Curmudgeon

Trip Details
Cruise December 14 to December 24, 2005

Embarkation
Went smoothly and quickly. We boarded at noon and found no crowd as the cruise information implied by saying its smoother after 2:00 p.m. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and overnighted there at a motel that provided transportation to the pier. Others who drove to the cruise parked at hotels/motels that they stayed at overnight where parking for the duration of the cruise was either at a nominal charge or no charge. For those who drove to the ship and parked in the garage, there was the inconvenience of leaving from Pier 2 and returning at Pier 21.

Baggage delivery was terribly slow. Didnt get our bags until at least 6:30 p.m. -- we were at dinner in our jeans (hooray!). Others were not pleased also.

Food
We elected Anytime Dining in that we wanted the flexibility it affords. Generally, the breakfast and lunch food was good. Portions at breakfast, lunch, and dinner were adequate. At dinner, the Beef Wellington, lobster, baked clams (appetizer), and scallops were quite good, but my steak was tough and neither mine nor my wifes were cooked as we liked them, and the baked potato was not cooked.

Service varied from meal to meal with the last breakfast being totally inefficient. The waiter didnt seem to be able to take more than one customers order at a time. Bayou Cafe: fillets not cooked appropriately, but nice size. Service was terrible. It wasnt crowded, but we had to continuously ask waiter for water. Others reported that they did not have the same problems (perhaps different staff on duty). Sabatinis: Absolutely excellent in all ways  food and service (well worth the extra $20/person).

Horizon Court: Food below par at all meals, but was plentiful and many choices (many more choices than in dining room). Pizza bar is excellent and there is no extra charge. Paying extra for ice cream at the Ice Cream Bar is ridiculous. Free ice cream in the Horizon Court in mid-afternoon was available, but the scooper could have been used to scoop melons. Be careful of very slippery floor very early in the morning.

Soft drink card for $39.50 is pricey. To this they added 15% for a gratuity (another indicator of the cheap attitude felt by even those who had cruised with Princess many, many times --- i.e., ever since it was acquired by Carnival -- another was our cabin steward saying that he is allotted only a certain number of chocolates for pillows).

Formal Nights
We were pleasantly surprised that there was a loosening of the requirements that men had to wear tuxedos, suits, or sport jackets in that I dont believe in playing dress up when on vacation. A pair of slacks for men and a shirt with a collar works for men and slacks and a blouse or a dress works for women. The crew, wait staff, etc. didnt give a hoot, but we did get some disparaging stares from snooty passengers. Too bad. Our money is a green as theirs.

Amenities
There are several antimicrobial liquid dispensers at the Horizon Court buffet. Would be a good idea to have it at all dining areas and when reboarding the ship.

Bring you own laundry bag if youre planning on doing laundry. Laundry facilities good. Costs $1.00 for detergent, $1.00 for a wash, $1.00 for a dry. Bring quarters in that coin change machine might not work or be out of quarters. Be aware that slot machine tokens might be in the coins the change machines make. Theyll work in the laundry equipment, but are useless off the ship.

Surprisingly, the cost for dry cleaning is not any more than youd pay in many cities (e.g., I had a pair of short dry cleaned and the price was $3.25). Would have been nice to have instructions printed on the laundry bag as to what to do with the clothes (i.e., turn it in where, give to cabin steward, or. . .).

Too many attempts by photographers to take pictures that then are a rip off. If they say 8-1/2 by 11 pictures, theyre giving you the paper size. The picture is considerably smaller with maps and other material covering much of the page.

Communication and Disabilities
Communication is not a strong feature on the Coral Princess. In fact, its pretty bad. Incorrect information in the onboard publications (someone should help the writers with appropriate capitalization of words), including signage throughout the ship being less than adequate, information on the onboard TV not being accurate (insurance on purchases that applied to earlier cruises was broadcast throughout one day, but no one seemed to have a clue about it), and the requirement that you must carry picture ID when leaving the ship (not once were we asked for this, especially since the electronic system now in use has your picture displayed each time your boarding card is scanned). Also, would be a nice feature if the ship announced the weather forecast in addition to the condition of the seas.

Ship was very accommodating to persons with motor disabilities (many wheel chairs, canes, walkers).

Cabin
Our cabin was on the Aloha Deck (Deck 12) and we had a balcony. Cabin was good sized with a very large closet and adequate drawer space. Bathroom was typical and shower size was OK (unless you weight 350 lbs  we dont).
Two electric outlets next to each other on the desk and one in bathroom. Bring a power strip if you need more.
Balcony adequate for two (two chairs and a table).
Facial tissue: cheap brand and like sandpaper.
There was no clock, but the wakeup call did work. Bring your own clock. The one on your cell phone wont work (duh!).

The only problem we had with the cabin (it was amidships) is that it was below an area where they must have kept livestock in that there were hoof beats late into the night. A complaint to the pursers desk was ignored. Others said the same about the noise.
Also ignored was our request to visit the bridge and we did not receive any notification one way of the other that was supposed to be forthcoming in writing. Ignored requests and complaints relates to the communication problem noted above. Written complaint about the Tulum tour (see below) did result in a letter of apology and a refund of a third of the price.

Crew
The strong point was that the young men and women from many countries who worked in numerous capacities (wait staff, clerks, maintenance, etc.) were delightful and most helpful. It was surprising to find that the maintenance department dispatched a worker to replace a flickering light with 10 minutes of the call. Cabin steward did his job.

Entertainment
We went to three shows (productions) and the magician (he did the traditional Transformation and also walking through a mirror). The production numbers had good themes and staging, but absolutely the wrong choice of music for the productions. Cast was generally good, except for one singer who screamed and was often off key.
Piano player/singer in the atrium lounge was fun, good, and entertaining.

Tours
Montego Bay  Return to ship by 3:30 p.m.; ship scheduled to leave at 4:00 p.m. Actually left at 4:45 p.m. Should have provided later time before leaving to allow more time for tours. Impression was that Montego Bay is not the safest of places.
Tulum  Knees in your chest buses. Box lunch horrible, including an apple that wasnt washed and chips with cayenne pepper. We didnt eat them at all. Our guide knowledgeable. Tulum itself was magnificent. Downside was on the return when there was a long wait to board the tender and no place to sit. Were sure that the idea is for you to be shopping along 5th Avenue. If there is time, we are told that two blocks away the prices are much more reasonable.
Grand Cayman  enjoyed the half submarine and the turtle farm. Guide had worked at the turtle farm in the past and was most informative.
Limon  same bus problem as Tulum. The poverty is striking. Makes one appreciate what one has.
Buses on Panama Canal tour quite adequate. Promotional material in error in that its a 90 minute bus ride both to and from the tour boat. Promotional material gave the impression of a quick transfer to the tour boat from the Coral Princess, but instead it was a 90 minute bus ride (did get to see some of the countryside). Tour of the Canal was a fantastic experience.

Overall
Beautiful ship. Many friendly passengers. Crew excellent. Tours enjoyable (although the busses were uncomfortable at times and the tours through Princess were overpriced in some cases). Our goal was to experience the Panama Canal, to get a snapshot of some of the Caribbean, and to relax. The cruise lived up to those expectations and we enjoyed the experience.
The Constructive Curmudgeon’s Full Rating Summary
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Service
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