Coral Princess Cruise Review by Whitnee1
- Sail Date: April 2006
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation- You could not find an easier port to sail from being less than 10 minutes from the Hollywood Airport. The embarkation process was very organized and swift.
Itinerary- This cruise is listed as a Panama Canal trip and travels over 3,000 nautical miles. The ironic part is that only about one of those is actually in the Panama Canal. You enter Gatun Lake, through the Gatun Locks (which is an engineering marvel) anchor and then turn around and come back out. That is the extent of what you see of the Panama Canal. It was OK but I would not do it again. In addition the cruise line is charged a $245K toll which I am sure is reflected in the cost of the cruise.
Cabin- We again traveled with our 16 and 11 year old sons and opted as we always do for a mini-suite and were in cabin #C716 which is aft on the Caribe deck port side. This is the second time we opted for this location and would be the last. We had the same location on the Golden Princess and had no problem yet on this trip the room had constant vibration and engine noise. I thought I was in one of those cheesy motel room beds that you put quarters in to vibrate. On the plus side was the larger balcony which is partially covered. The mini-suites provide adequate room for four, if you stay organized, but make sure you opt for the egg crate mattress cover for the pull out sofa. We did not receive the advertised champagne but did get the robes in the room. Our cabin steward was just OK. The location was nice as we had a rear open deck that was never crowded and good for the Canal passage viewing.
Food- On my first two Princess cruises we were really wowed by the food in the dining rooms and the Lido buffet. The third cruise was on HAL and after that one we said we could not wait to get back to Princess. After this one we can't wait to get back to our next planned HAL cruise next July. We opted for the anytime dining and met with the maitre d' the first night and arranged for the same table and waiter every night at the same time. This is the best way to ensure you get the best level of service. While a couple of nights the food was very good on most nights again it was just OK and did not wow us. Either from a selection or quality standpoint. Our waiter though was a bright spot and was excellent. The Lido buffet food was also disappointing and was a big step down from the HAL buffet. We did not opt for any of the alternative restaurants as we have previously dined in Sabatini's on the Golden and that does go over the top and is worth doing it at least once.
Ports- Our ports of call were Ocho Rios, Panama (Tender), Costa Rica, Grand Cayman (Tender), and Costa Maya. Ocho Rios is horrible and they clearly are not geared up to handle the influx of people going a shore. We did not dock at the main pier but rather the alternate "industrial" pier and the area to meet your excursions was a circus. It was not an enjoyable event and from what we saw of the island you can keep it. In Panama my son and I went fishing for Peacock Bass which was a good time. Costa Rica has good shopping and was OK. Grand Cayman was the home run. Do not visit this port without swimming with the sting rays and the money on this island is evident. The green turtle farm is also very interesting. Costa Maya was an alternate port for us to Cozumel. It is only about three years old and has adequate amenities although the shopping is not that good from a price standpoint. We visited the 1/2 day Mayan Ruin tour which was very good.
Ship board entertainment- The entertainment was just OK with the best being the stand up comedian Sarge. The musicals were OK but nothing over the top. The casino is adequate and was never really crowded.
Disembarkment- The disembarkment was again organized and smooth. It looked like everybody was off the ship by about 10:00 AM.
All in all this cruise again was just OK. In all aspects it is not one I would do again but I would probably give Princess a second chance, at some point on another ship, hoping that some of the low points are inherent to just the Coral.
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