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This is my first review but I know when I was shopping for a cruise I wanted more information than was available at the time. So I'm making an attempt to add my views for what they're worth. My husband and I are both in our 50s and took our first cruise of Alaska on 5/15/04 on the Coral Princess. Prior to this we had cruised in the Caribbean and the west coast of Mexico. We chose the southbound cruise out of Whittier. Because of time constraints we were not able to take a land tour prior to the cruise. Most of the other passengers were our age with a good representation of younger and older people. Our trip was very last minute. We didn't make our reservations until March when we found a very good price for a balcony on the Baja deck. About 2 weeks before we left we received notification from our Travel Agent that we had been upgraded to a mini-suite (C211) on Caribe. I was a little concerned about this because it is very far forward but the location of our cabin turned out to be fine. It was under the Horizon Court and the pool and above the Princess Lounge. The seas were so smooth that there was no concern about seasickness and my Dramamine was not needed. We took Northwest from Newark to Anchorage via Minneapolis and returned to Newark from Vancouver via Chicago on United. Princess arranged our flights and we used their transfer service between airports and docks. The motor coach from Anchorage to Whittier took approximately 3 hours. The trip itself is not 3 hours long but there is a one-way tunnel just outside of Whittier and traffic alternates between vehicles going to and from Whittier so this required a 40-minute wait. Embarkation was very smooth and we were on the ship approximately 15 minutes after we arrived at the dock. We also had a transfer from the dock to Vancouver Airport for our return trip. We were among the first off the ship at Vancouver as our flight was very early. Disembarkation went very smoothly and our luggage was brought directly to the airport. For later flights passengers were matched up with their luggage right at the dock. The bus driver was very informative about the city and Vancouver looks like a very nice place and worth a return visit. There is a US$8 charge at the airport to pay for their modernization. You can take care of this with a credit card at one of the vending machines before checking in. I liked the size and feel of the Coral Princess. It's not so overwhelming that you feel lost yet it was never crowded. There are many cozy spots around the ship. We particularly liked the Wheelhouse Lounge and the pool and hot tub area outside the Lotus Spa. We chose traditional dining at the late seating. The food was good but not exceptional. Most of our breakfasts and lunches were taken in the Horizon Court, which was pretty good for a buffet. The pizza at the pool is very good. There is also an outdoor grill for hamburgers and grilled chicken sandwiches. Despite the horror stories I've read about the coffee, it wasn't nearly that bad. It's not gourmet coffee, but certainly not the worst I've had. The staff is very efficient and friendly. We found the automatic tipping very easy. You don't need to bother about personally tipping your wait staff or cabin steward. The added 15% gratuity to bar and room service bills is also much better. Even though we read that alcohol could not be brought on the ship, we were able to bring a bottle of vodka on at Whittier in our carry on bag. The security staff x-raying our bags was not interested in our vodka. We were a little put off our dining room waiter offering to sell apertif glasses and cookbooks after dinner on two different occasions. He also had to promote a wine-tasting event. I don't think Princess should require this of its waiters. Our mini-suite was a good size with a refrigerator, 2 televisions and a covered balcony with a small table and 2 chairs. Because we had wonderful weather, we were able to use the balcony every day and could listen to the naturalist on the television describe what we were seeing. Most of the cruising days we were on deck as the viewing is better there, but we also took advantage of the balcony. Princess has their own naturalist on board for the entire cruise and she was excellent. She also gave presentations during the week about whales, native artifacts, etc. We saw a show with comedian Stu on Sunday. He was just okay. Monday we attended a very good magic/comedy show with Jeff . A performer not to be missed is Duncan . He is a singer and comedian and just wonderful. Another great act is Jim, a wonderful comedian. Duncan and Jim later in the week combined for another show and again they were both great. As you may have suspected, we're not too big on the usual cruise production shows. We did see "Tribute" in the Universe Lounge, which was pretty amateurish. A better show was "Curtain Up" in the Princess Theater. Except for rain in Whittier and Vancouver, our cruise was blessed with wonderful weather. Every day was sunny and in the mid to high 60s. I'm sure this had an effect on how much we enjoyed Alaska. Of course we were prepared for cold and rainy weather and didn't need all the clothes we brought. We had been keeping a watch on the temperatures the week before and threw in a few warm-weather articles at the last minute. There were people in the outdoor pool but we restricted ourselves to the hot tubs. There are 2 indoor hot tubs and 3 outdoor hot tubs. The 2 formal nights were not quite as stuffy as we had feared. My husband packed a dark suit and I brought 2 dressy dresses. But perhaps because an Alaskan cruise is pretty informal, there were quite a few men in sports jackets and not many at all in tuxes. I would definitely prefer if Princess offered an alternate dining room for people who do not wish to dress up. The first day we cruised College Fjord and the next day Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the cruise. The scenery is spectacular and we saw 5 whales on the way into the park. Two were quite close to the ship. We also saw sea otters and harbor seals. Some people spotted bears on the shore but I didn't see them. We also saw a young bald eagle. This was the only eagle we saw the whole week. Rangers from the National Park Service boarded the ship for the day and their commentary was excellent. We waited patiently for the Marjorie Glacier to calf and were rewarded just before the ship pulled away. Tuesday morning we docked in Skagway. We had arranged with Princess to take the White Pass & Yukon Railway. The train pulls right onto the dock. We sat on the left because we had read that these were the best viewing seats. The commentary was good, if a bit hokey. You are invited to purchase videos, books and hats but there isn't high pressure. The train passes the Canadian border but you do not get off. The engine is switched to the other end of the train and you return to Skagway by the same route. At the top you switch with the people on the other side of the train so that everyone gets to view the scenery. However since most of the commentary is on the way up, you're better off sitting on the left leaving Skagway. We took the 8:20 am train and returned to the dock just before noon. After lunch on the ship, we walked into town. We went to the National Park Service office and took a free 45-minute walk around town. This is an excellent way to learn about the history of the gold rush. On Wednesday we were in Juneau and had arranged for a helicopter trip to Mendenhall Glacier which included a dog sled ride. We arranged this on our own with Coastal Helicopters. They met us at the dock and were very professional throughout. I would recommend them and this trip. We were interested in dog sledding but did not want to do this unless it was on snow. The dogs and their handlers camp right on the glacier and your 2-mile ride is on a snow-covered portion of the glacier. You are able to get a feeling of driving the team because you stand on a sled at the back with the real driver on another sled controlling the dogs. It was a wonderful experience and by booking directly we saved money. Our last Alaskan city was Ketchikan. We didn't have any tours scheduled here. We had to tender into the city so we waited until late morning to avoid those with scheduled excursions. We walked around Creek Street, took the funicular and the Married Man's Trail. There are free Walk Tour maps available all over town. We visited the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center but this was kind of a disappointment. We should have made the trip out to Totem Bight State Park. Friday was spent cruising the Inside Passage, which is beautiful. We had a great time and would definitely recommend the Coral Princess and Alaska.

Coral Princess - Alaska

Coral Princess Cruise Review by Putnam

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2004
  • Destination: Alaska
This is my first review but I know when I was shopping for a cruise I wanted more information than was available at the time. So I'm making an attempt to add my views for what they're worth.
My husband and I are both in our 50s and took our first cruise of Alaska on 5/15/04 on the Coral Princess. Prior to this we had cruised in the Caribbean and the west coast of Mexico. We chose the southbound cruise out of Whittier. Because of time constraints we were not able to take a land tour prior to the cruise. Most of the other passengers were our age with a good representation of younger and older people. Our trip was very last minute. We didn't make our reservations until March when we found a very good price for a balcony on the Baja deck. About 2 weeks before we left we received notification from our Travel Agent that we had been upgraded to a mini-suite (C211) on Caribe. I was a little concerned about this because it is very far forward but the location of our cabin turned out to be fine. It was under the Horizon Court and the pool and above the Princess Lounge. The seas were so smooth that there was no concern about seasickness and my Dramamine was not needed.
We took Northwest from Newark to Anchorage via Minneapolis and returned to Newark from Vancouver via Chicago on United. Princess arranged our flights and we used their transfer service between airports and docks. The motor coach from Anchorage to Whittier took approximately 3 hours. The trip itself is not 3 hours long but there is a one-way tunnel just outside of Whittier and traffic alternates between vehicles going to and from Whittier so this required a 40-minute wait. Embarkation was very smooth and we were on the ship approximately 15 minutes after we arrived at the dock.
We also had a transfer from the dock to Vancouver Airport for our return trip. We were among the first off the ship at Vancouver as our flight was very early. Disembarkation went very smoothly and our luggage was brought directly to the airport. For later flights passengers were matched up with their luggage right at the dock. The bus driver was very informative about the city and Vancouver looks like a very nice place and worth a return visit. There is a US$8 charge at the airport to pay for their modernization. You can take care of this with a credit card at one of the vending machines before checking in.
I liked the size and feel of the Coral Princess. It's not so overwhelming that you feel lost yet it was never crowded. There are many cozy spots around the ship. We particularly liked the Wheelhouse Lounge and the pool and hot tub area outside the Lotus Spa. We chose traditional dining at the late seating. The food was good but not exceptional. Most of our breakfasts and lunches were taken in the Horizon Court, which was pretty good for a buffet. The pizza at the pool is very good. There is also an outdoor grill for hamburgers and grilled chicken sandwiches. Despite the horror stories I've read about the coffee, it wasn't nearly that bad. It's not gourmet coffee, but certainly not the worst I've had. The staff is very efficient and friendly. We found the automatic tipping very easy. You don't need to bother about personally tipping your wait staff or cabin steward. The added 15% gratuity to bar and room service bills is also much better. Even though we read that alcohol could not be brought on the ship, we were able to bring a bottle of vodka on at Whittier in our carry on bag. The security staff x-raying our bags was not interested in our vodka.
We were a little put off our dining room waiter offering to sell apertif glasses and cookbooks after dinner on two different occasions. He also had to promote a wine-tasting event. I don't think Princess should require this of its waiters.
Our mini-suite was a good size with a refrigerator, 2 televisions and a covered balcony with a small table and 2 chairs. Because we had wonderful weather, we were able to use the balcony every day and could listen to the naturalist on the television describe what we were seeing. Most of the cruising days we were on deck as the viewing is better there, but we also took advantage of the balcony. Princess has their own naturalist on board for the entire cruise and she was excellent. She also gave presentations during the week about whales, native artifacts, etc.
We saw a show with comedian Stu on Sunday. He was just okay. Monday we attended a very good magic/comedy show with Jeff . A performer not to be missed is Duncan . He is a singer and comedian and just wonderful. Another great act is Jim, a wonderful comedian. Duncan and Jim later in the week combined for another show and again they were both great. As you may have suspected, we're not too big on the usual cruise production shows. We did see "Tribute" in the Universe Lounge, which was pretty amateurish. A better show was "Curtain Up" in the Princess Theater.
Except for rain in Whittier and Vancouver, our cruise was blessed with wonderful weather. Every day was sunny and in the mid to high 60s. I'm sure this had an effect on how much we enjoyed Alaska. Of course we were prepared for cold and rainy weather and didn't need all the clothes we brought. We had been keeping a watch on the temperatures the week before and threw in a few warm-weather articles at the last minute. There were people in the outdoor pool but we restricted ourselves to the hot tubs. There are 2 indoor hot tubs and 3 outdoor hot tubs.
The 2 formal nights were not quite as stuffy as we had feared. My husband packed a dark suit and I brought 2 dressy dresses. But perhaps because an Alaskan cruise is pretty informal, there were quite a few men in sports jackets and not many at all in tuxes. I would definitely prefer if Princess offered an alternate dining room for people who do not wish to dress up.
The first day we cruised College Fjord and the next day Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the cruise. The scenery is spectacular and we saw 5 whales on the way into the park. Two were quite close to the ship. We also saw sea otters and harbor seals. Some people spotted bears on the shore but I didn't see them. We also saw a young bald eagle. This was the only eagle we saw the whole week. Rangers from the National Park Service boarded the ship for the day and their commentary was excellent. We waited patiently for the Marjorie Glacier to calf and were rewarded just before the ship pulled away.
Tuesday morning we docked in Skagway. We had arranged with Princess to take the White Pass & Yukon Railway. The train pulls right onto the dock. We sat on the left because we had read that these were the best viewing seats. The commentary was good, if a bit hokey. You are invited to purchase videos, books and hats but there isn't high pressure. The train passes the Canadian border but you do not get off. The engine is switched to the other end of the train and you return to Skagway by the same route. At the top you switch with the people on the other side of the train so that everyone gets to view the scenery. However since most of the commentary is on the way up, you're better off sitting on the left leaving Skagway. We took the 8:20 am train and returned to the dock just before noon. After lunch on the ship, we walked into town. We went to the National Park Service office and took a free 45-minute walk around town. This is an excellent way to learn about the history of the gold rush.
On Wednesday we were in Juneau and had arranged for a helicopter trip to Mendenhall Glacier which included a dog sled ride. We arranged this on our own with Coastal Helicopters. They met us at the dock and were very professional throughout. I would recommend them and this trip. We were interested in dog sledding but did not want to do this unless it was on snow. The dogs and their handlers camp right on the glacier and your 2-mile ride is on a snow-covered portion of the glacier. You are able to get a feeling of driving the team because you stand on a sled at the back with the real driver on another sled controlling the dogs. It was a wonderful experience and by booking directly we saved money.
Our last Alaskan city was Ketchikan. We didn't have any tours scheduled here. We had to tender into the city so we waited until late morning to avoid those with scheduled excursions. We walked around Creek Street, took the funicular and the Married Man's Trail. There are free Walk Tour maps available all over town. We visited the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center but this was kind of a disappointment. We should have made the trip out to Totem Bight State Park.
Friday was spent cruising the Inside Passage, which is beautiful.
We had a great time and would definitely recommend the Coral Princess and Alaska.
Putnam’s Full Rating Summary
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