Coral Princess Cruise Review by Jerry Ehnes
- Sail Date: March 2006
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
We arrived at Port Everglades about 3PM with a scheduled sailing at 5PM, it was a great time to arrive, there were no lines and we were aboard ship within 15-20 minutes from the time we entered the terminal. We used our cell phone to locate our friends who were already aboard ship and joined them on the top deck for a party that was already in process.
We had an obstructed view cabin on Emerald Deck (Deck 8)and it worked out great. The cabin had two double beds set up as a queen size, the room had sufficient storage for all of our clothes. The cabin more than met our needs, with the exception of sleeping, we were seldom there. Our cabin steward kept everything in great shape.
The Coral Princess is a relatively new ship and was in excellent condition. The upper deck pool areas were very enjoyable. Just forward of mid-ship is an outdoor pool with hot-tubs and plenty of deck chairs. Slightly aft of the outdoor pool is a covered air-conditioned pool area that came in handy on one extremely rainy day. There were always enough deck chairs that we were able to choose between open sunshine or shade. There was enough room to meet with our friends and there was always easy access to food and beverages. The Wait staff was very attentive. They were easy to find when you wanted service and were never pushy. The pool area was a popular meeting area, we could usually find some of our group in the general vicinity. The pools were crowded but always fun, a number of shipboard activities centered around the pool. They were enjoyable whether you were participating or just watching.
The average age of passengers aboard this cruise was much older than we had experienced on prior cruises. I don't know if it was because of the length of the cruise (10 days) or destination (Panama Canal), this is just a comment, it didn't impact our ability to enjoy what the ship had to offer in any way. It did make a difference in the energy level, there seemed to be more noise and energy on prior cruises and I missed that part of it.
Dining like usual on the Princess line was great. For breakfast we would go to the Bordeaux Dining Room. The smoked Salmon is excellent. For lunch we would go to the Horizon Buffet on Deck 14 or the burger bar on 15. They were both good. As a group we chose the first sitting (6pm) in the Provence Dining Room. This gave us more time to enjoy the evenings shows and other events. We had planned to eat at one of the specialty restaurants (Sabatini's), but the meals and service in the Provence Dining Room more than met expectations and we never went to Sabatini's. Our group was seated at two adjoining tables and we shared one waiter and his helper. Sebastian and Ricky did a great job, they interacted with our group very well and were fun to be around. I found the fish, pork and lamb to consistently be excellent. I had steak one evening which was definitely inferior and never ordered steak again. I did have prime rib and it was fine. Sebastian gave us his picks of the entree every evening and he was consistently correct. The soups were a special treat and well worth trying. I'm not a desert eater, but I am when I travel on Princess ships - make sure you save room for them. The day's and evenings can be as busy as you like; you have a choice of activities to participate in. The daytime dance lessons were excellent. In the evening we always enjoyed shows in both the Princess Theater and Universe Lounge. The smaller lounges had music for dancing or listening after the main theaters closed. It wasn't the least bit difficult to party into the wee hours of the morning. The lounges definitely were not crowded after about 11, this was big change from the Golden Princess which drew a younger crowd. The smaller crowds lowered the energy level in the lounges and I found that disappointing.
The shore excursions are what you make of them. In Ocho Rios we had signed up for Dunn's River Falls and the Shaw Botanical Garden, they were both fun. The climb up the falls looks to be strenuous, but it wasn't all that difficult. The Shaw Botanical garden was worth the visit, our guide was very well informed. The Panama Canal was what I was most interested in. We took the full transit by boat through to the Pacific. I'd recommend it to anyone. It is an engineering marvel that should be seen, our tour guide was informative and obviously loved the canal. His commentary lasted 4 hours and held our attention the entire time. Our next stop was Limon Costa Rica, we hit it on a day of torrential rains and all tours were cancelled. The ship's crew did a beautiful job of adjusting to the challenge. Within two hours they had published a list of replacement activities that would be available aboard ship, it turned out to be an enjoyable day. I take my hat off to the entire Princess staff, they did a great job. The Grand Cayman's are beautiful to see. We toured the island and did some shopping, it was quiet day but enjoyable. In Cozumel the damage from last years hurricane is obvious, they are a long way from having fully recovered. We took the snorkel trip to Planacar Reef. It was a beautiful day, the water was clear and the fish were plentiful but even the reef was damaged by the storm. Everyone is working very hard to repair the storm damage but progress is slow. Disembarkation went very smoothly. The ship's crew had published a list of anticipated departure times for your deck. They held very closely to that schedule and we were off the ship as expected, transportation to the airport by cab was easy and inexpensive.
The entire 10 days were great, there was some concern that 10 days would be too long; it wasn't. We enjoyed every day of the cruise. Princess does an excellent job, the ship was great, food and entertainment were on par with any fine resort and the crew was well trained and very courteous. Traveling with a group of friends was a major plus, it enhanced the good times. But when traveling with that many people you expect to hear complaints, there weren't any. All of us enjoyed it and will do it again.
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