Coral Princess, April 18 to 28, 2007; Cabin B355, AnyTime Dining. 2nd Princess cruise
Overall the trip was great, just short of being perfect. The five ports of call were all below expectation otherwise it would have been perfect. Since we had been to Cozumel and Grand Cayman previously and after reading up on the good spots on various site on the Internet, we decided to go snorkeling on our own. In future, we will go back to doing a tour in a protected area. In Cozumel, we went to Chankanaab Park which was very nice but the hurricane of a few years ago ruined the water system for their lagoon which would have been ideal for snorkeling (peaceful and a lot of captive fish). There is a huge beautiful sandy beach with cabanas and chairs, a snorkel and scuba rental shop and lockers and a restaurant but the entry into the water (except for the kiddie area) is a concrete breakwater with concrete and rock steps into the water and a metal hand railings. We had 4-5 foot waves pushing us into the rock where we tried to snorkel. Cathy was flipped completely over once while getting in. I am not that good a swimmer even with the inflatable vest so I only ventured in once. On her second time, Cathy did see a lot of fish when two scuba divers went by feeding the fish.
In Grand Cayman we walked to some of the snorkeling areas close to downtown after turning left off of the tenders, but the beaches were not very sandy. We found a public beach, just after the gas station on the east (land) side of the road and a cemetery on the west (ocean) side that had a sign on the road and a narrow pathway to it, which was nice and sandy. This was NOT Seven Mile Beach. As we swam, we saw one sea urchin then about 100. I stepped on a couple of sea urchins, painful for a minute but no poison. I had seen them but I stopped swimming and stood up in 4 feet of water. There were no warning signs on the beach. So we cut short our visit to get back to the boat to have Cathy extract the spikes (which is hard to do since they break up). We never did get to see any of the reefs or other good areas mentioned on the websites. We arrived at the entrance to the Panama Canal around 6 am. I stayed mainly on Baja deck, at the viewing area at the front or the rear. You couldn't see the side walls from the front but you could a little from the back. Also, the Sun Princess was in the locks beside us, but one lock behind, so you were able to see how close they were to the walls. And there was a freighter two locks behind us in our locks so we could watch the tug boat line it up properly. Beware when on the front of Baja deck. I think someone squeegeed the water from the Lido deck, two above, and this huge torrent of water came down upon us without any warning. At these two vantage points, I never really got the sense of awe at being moved up 26 feet. We tendered off of the Coral to the former Gatun Yacht Club (a very short hop) and then drove 90 miles to Gamboa. It was like driving from 8 oclock to 6 oclock on a clock. We went east, then north (I think close to Colon) then west (on the road to Panama City) then south and then east again.