Coral Princess Cruise Review by Smokeyham
- Sail Date: May 2008
- Destination: British Columbia
My friend and I joined the Coral Princess for the short (two night) trip from San Francisco to Vancouver. The ship departed at 4:00 PM on Saturday, and arrived in Vancouver at 10:00 AM on Monday. I have cruised a number of times before, and this was my friend's first cruise.
Overall, this was a very nice experience. We enjoyed the ship itself, the facilities and the food. My comparison for this cruise is with a similar (three night) cruise I did last year (2007) aboard the NCL Norwegian Star, from Los Angeles to Vancouver.
EMBARKATION This was very smooth. We followed the e-mailed advice from Princess, and did not arrive until after 1:00 PM, and so avoided any long lines. Having your passport available, and your boarding forms filled out in advance definitely makes the process smoother. The boarding area at the San Francisco cruise terminal is very small, so rushing up to be early probably won't help you to avoid lines.
CABIN We had cabin D229 (Dolphin deck), and enjoyed the cabin and the balcony. The cabin was slightly smaller than the Norwegian Star, but not appreciably so, and I liked the available hanging space. Like any ships cabin.... Bring your own power strip for all of the electronics.
PUBLIC ROOMS The Lotus Pool area is very nice, and a fun way to sit around the pool and enjoy the hot tubs on a blustery day at sea. We had moderate seas, and the pools were closed because of the action of the waves in the pools. This area has a retractable roof, so it is nice to be able to have the protection from the weather. Some on board said that the Lotus pool is the adults only pool, however there weren't many kids on board (which was appreciated by us) and since only the hot tubs were open it was not a huge factor either way.
The gym is very nice, with views from a high vantage point. However, being at the stern/high deck does mean that there is some movement experienced when at sea.
The ship is clean and relatively easy to navigate. My comparison with the Norwegian Star is that that it has less of a "Wow!" factor than the Norwegian Star. The Atrium is not as impressive, and there are fewer shops. However, we did very much enjoy what have been referred to as the "secret" decks on the bow and stern (Caribe and Baja for the bow).
One thing which I did enjoy is that the servers were available with drinks when you wanted them, but weren't overly pushy about it.
Food For the first lunch aboard I try to go to a restaurant (as opposed to the buffet), and often if you ask you will find that one is available. We were told that lunch was being served in Provence dining room, but it was closed when we got there. This was to be first of a number of times when we received conflicting information from Princess staff. We ended up at the Horizon Court buffet. The buffet was fine, but choices seemed a little limited.
My friend was extremely tired at the end of the day, and decided not to have dinner, so I initially went back to the Horizon Court buffet, but the choices at dinner looked very much like the choices at lunch, so I ended up going to the Bordeaux dining room, which was very pleasant.
For dinner we had chosen "anytime" dining, and the Maitre d' had said that reservations were not necessary. On both nights I found this to be true, but we tend to eat later (around 8:00 PM). Earlier in the evening there were some lines.
One morning we had breakfast in the Bordeaux restaurant, which was very pleasant. On the final morning we chose the Horizon Court, which had a nicer view as we came into Vancouver Harbor. The breakfast at Horizon was fine, but you do have the hustle and bustle of a buffet environment.
I had afternoon tea while my friend went to the Lotus Spa, and she joined us a bit later. This is where the somewhat mechanical aspect of the service showed, since we had all be served earlier, the servers had "moved on" to other tables and we had to do quite a bit of arm-waving to get tea and food for her.
My general impression of the food service is that it is fine as long as you go along with the program, and all arrive, and eat, at the same pace as everyone else. This NCL advertisements showing people eating in lock-step did seem to have an element of truth!
BARS AND ENTERTAINMENT My favorite bars would be Crooners (good place to people watch and enjoy the sounds of music from the string quartet in the Atrium), and Churchill's Lounge, with the nautical dEcor.
ON FORMAL NIGHT.... AND THOUGHTS ON A TWO-NIGHT CRUISE. This was only a two-night cruise, so from information we received from Princess, and what we read on CC message boards, we understood that there would not be a formal night.
Turns out that the second night (our final night) there was to be a formal night. No one we talked to was really excited about this. Some people had been on board for the Fort Lauderdale/Panama Canal portion, and had already had formal nights. They had more to pack and wanted to get a head start on that. Others, such as ourselves, were only on board for two nights, and had not brought formal clothing.
We arrived at the restaurant nicely, but not formally, dressed and were still allowed entry without a fuss which was much appreciated. Arriving at a later time (around 8:30 PM) probably also helped.
The entertainment on the second evening was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn't necessarily bad entertainment; it was just that the crowds were not there.
A hypnotist was performing in the Princess Theatre, but many in the already small crowd got up and left mid-way through the act. He eventually cut it short, saying that the subjects were not deeply enough hypnotized. From there I went to the Universe lounge where a juggler was finishing his act, again to a small crowd. I then went to the Explorers lounge where some music was playing (recorded, not a DJ), and only a small group of people were present. Ended up having a relatively early night.
Overall, this was a good experience. The staff aboard were friendly and provided good service. I enjoyed the food, especially in the restaurant (as opposed to the buffet).
If you are choosing between a two-night and three-night cruise I would suggest the three-nighter. This is not because a longer cruise is necessarily better (though it almost always is), but the first night we were just getting settled in, and the second-night had that "end of cruise" feeling and so you just don't get to feel like you've had that full cruise experience.
Thanks for reading this, and I hope you will enjoy your next cruise!
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