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Family of 4 (42, 41, 12, 11) in a mini-suite w balcony C721. Flew in the night before, stayed at Courtyard Marriott Ft. Lauderdale Beach which was nice except for getting stuck in the elevator the next morning. This was our first cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale and I can see why it is a popular port. The airport, cruise port, beaches, accommodations, etc. are all so close to each other. I could see staying a few days before/after a cruise before flying back home. Embarkation was good. I saw an email the morning of that stated our embarkation should be delayed until 1pm "due to operational reasons" (the first clue this cruise might not go our way) but when we got there at 1pm, we pretty much sailed through and made it to our cabin without issue. We have left out of Port Canaveral and Tampa previously and this was definitely the fastest embarkation we have experienced. The ship itself was nothing to write home about. It was similar in size to other ships we have been on but for some reason it seemed a little smaller. The main atrium area is not very big or open. It is quaint, but its not going to take your breath away. I will say that I liked the open balcony areas that run the length of the aft of the ship on the cabin decks. Those were nice and provided some great views. The fitness center was nice but a little small. We only walked through the spa but it seemed nice, like your average spa area on a cruise ship. Otherwise, I would say the ship is in "fair" shape. There were urine/mold odors on some of the passenger deck hallways on the port side and wet spots in the hallways on the starboard side. Walking through them with sandals on would cause your feet to get wet with whatever unknown liquid caused the issue (assumed plumbing since access panels from the hallway were constantly open). From our balcony we could look down and see paint completely peeled off of the balcony railing below us, running the entire starboard length of the ship. Aesthetic things like that which you would have thought would have been taken care of in dry dock really stood out. The Princess Theater was a little smaller but nice too, and probably our favorite part of the ship. We saw all of the evening shows and they all were great. I would not compare them to something like on the larger Disney ships but for the space they had to work with they really put on some good shows. I should also add here that the pools and hot tubs were not functional for a part of the trip as well, I think this was attributed to the dry dock. I know they weren’t available for the first day but I’m not sure how often afterwards. Food - We all agreed that the food was the best food we have had on a ship as far as quality goes. The selection, especially in the buffet, seemed a little light in comparison but when we did find something that we would eat we enjoyed it for the most part. A good mix of vegetarian options in the main dining room as well. The desserts in the main dining room were great too. We purchased the soda package for all 4 of us and it included a stamp on your room card and also 4 refillable mugs. These are the types of mugs that have the RFID sensor in the bottom so I assumed there would be somewhere on board that you could go and fill up your drink yourself. That is not the case, you must visit a bar each time you want a refill. The main problem with this is that many of the bartenders, and this is not just Princess, act annoyed when you come up to them with 4 refillable mugs. I understand that to a point since they cant charge an automatic gratuity on it but when that is the only option you have of utilizing your beverage package, you expect to be treated like any other customer. Really something that I wish all cruise lines would look at. Activities - Princess delivers the "Princess Patter" to your stateroom each day and it lists all of the scheduled events onboard the ship for the day with the corresponding times. Great, except most of it was about purchasing art, photos and jewelry or purchasing health or beauty treatments. Throw in the mix of ping pong and Pictionary and the daytime activities were really very blah. The cruise director seemed like a nice guy but the only time that we ever saw or heard from him was after one of the evening shows. In 6 days on the ship I never saw him outside of the theater, did not hear him over the PA system or anything like that. I appreciate the information and energy that a cruise director can bring to a cruise but that appeared to be lacking here. I'll add to this that the entire time on the ship there never seemed to be that fun vibe, that "Hey, your on vacation!" vibe. No real hustle and bustle about the ship, it just seemed to lack any energy. The crew (cruise director, etc.) did not create any kind of atmosphere to facilitate a fun time around the ship so it seemed like we were all going through the motions. I would have thought that especially with the problems that we encountered, that trying to lift the spirits of the passengers would be a higher priority. One positive that I should mention, and I'll put it under the activities section is that that family movie channel in the room was appreciated by us. They showed a lot of recent popular movies (Inside Out, Big Hero Six, Peanuts, The Good Dinosaur). While we signed the kids up for the childrens club, we never ended up going there so I can't comment on that. On this cruise I don't think there were any more than 15 kids, from infants to teenagers on the entire ship so I don't know how effective the clubs would have been this time around. Service was mostly good, our steward Bernard did a good job and our server Faye and her assistant Vincent did a good job for us. When my daughter broke her refillable mug when she dropped it, one of the crew replaced it for us without question which was nice. Had some minor issues with some of the folks during embarkation and as I mentioned some of the bar staff but otherwise the service was good. So now, what made this a really disappointing cruise for us? The dry dock was not completed properly so sometime after we left Ft. Lauderdale the ship had slowed. At one point I believe the captain came over the PA system and stated that we were being propelled by the stabilizers. The issue was with an engine shaft bearing. I'm not an engineer nor am I a mechanic or familiar with such things but I can surmise that if your sole means of propulsion is your stabilizers then that is not good. Not only did this issue cause us to lose most of our propulsion, it also made for a rocky ride. While we were supposed to arrive in our first port, Cozumel, at 7am, it was not until after 8pm (3 hours after our scheduled departure time from Cozumel) that we actually arrived there. In the meantime, we weren't even sure what was going to happen, were they going to turn around and go back? Were they going to find another port to stop at for repairs? A lot was up in the air that day without much communication. I should mention that the engineers were able to fix the issue (I assume temporarily) which allowed an increase of speed to allow us to get to Cozumel. They decided to overnight there and then spend the next day there as well which we were told gave them enough time to completely fix the issue. This also meant that they had to cancel Roatan... Now when booking a cruise, for some people the ports of call are more important than others. We are those people. We had done a similar itinerary a few years ago and could not wait to get back to Roatan and Costa Maya. We did not care if we did anything at Cozumel and in fact had just planned to shop that day. To cancel our stop in Roatan because of the ships issues, was very deflating. Still we tried to make the best of things as we had Costa Maya to look forward to. We woke up the morning of our scheduled stop in Costa Maya only to find ourselves far offshore being tossed about. The captain came over the PA system and explained that due to rough seas, swells, etc. that we would not be able to dock there. Safety is the first priority, we can't control the weather, etc. etc. etc. The captain continued to state that there were no alternate ports of call so we were just heading back to Ft. Lauderdale. So now, we are on the 4th day of a cruise where we have missed the only two stops that we actually wanted to go to all of the while on a ship that offered a very rough ride for most of our time on it, either due to technical issues or due to weather. To top it off, we are just going home now but instead of traveling at normal speed to get back, we are going to go very slowly because we have an extra day now to make it back. Very slowly through rough seas. It was on this day that my kids and I finally broke and we took turns being ill in our stateroom. I've never been close to being seasick in my life but we all lost our lunch that day. Again, I'm not an expert on these matters but with an extra day to make it back to Ft. Lauderdale could we have not gone faster through the rough seas to get out of them or perhaps taken a more circuitous route that would have gotten us out of rough water? It was an entire day of rough seas. Alternatively, if the forecast predicted poor weather in Costa Maya, why go there to begin with? Why not find another port to make it to? This is why I do not buy the whole "can't control the weather" excuse they seemed to constantly want to reinforce to us at every opportunity they had (the whole crew at that point was speaking the same mantra). I never expect them to control the weather, I just expect them to use the tools at their disposal to avoid it as best as they can, and I can't begin to imagine that they actually did that in this case. The final sea day was mostly uneventful as far as the weather/technical issues went. The ship seemed to be operating fine at that point. Probably the most excitement we had was when someone spotted a makeshift raft with about 12 people on it north of Cuba and the captain decided to go and see if they needed help. We got to within 300 yards of them (my best guess) and they did their best to ignore us. The logical conclusion was that they were trying to get into the US but since they did not want the help of the ship, we continued on our journey to Ft. Lauderdale. At about 6am on disembarkation day, we were awoken by what felt like an earthquake going through the room. For a good 30 seconds, if not longer, our entire room shook, glasses were clanking all over the place, the whole ship seemed to shudder loudly. My daughter woke up screaming because it was so loud. This apparently is the docking process. I can't recall ever docking so violently before but there you have it, the icing on the cake. So for compensation, Princess provided $100 per person in shipboard credit and half off of what you paid for this cruise, as a future cruise credit to be booked by the end of this year (can travel after 2016, just have to use the credit by the end of the year.) The problem that I have with this is that I have no desire to ever sail with Princess again so I'll lose $1500 in compensation. Even if I did want to sail with Princess again, our family takes other vacations as well. We enjoy going to Disney, we have a trip planned for Europe next year, we would have to rearrange our plans to take a cruise on a cruise line that failed us in the first place. I don't know if this is always the case, but the vast majority of our fellow cruisers on this itinerary were retirees. They would seem to be in a better position to be able to take advantage of this form of compensation than those who are still working full time and have younger children in school. It would have been nice if they would have offered a choice of compensation but I'm not surprised that they didn't. Considering we spent 6 days on the Coral Princess, with a total of 6 hours ashore in Cozumel, and the majority of the time the ship was not very stable, either due to technical or weather issues, it really felt like a disappointing cruise to nowhere. You always hear that "Hey at least you are on a cruise" or "There are no bad cruises" and I've tried to be fair in my review here but this was a very poor experience for us and I can't recommend the Coral Princess nor Princess as a cruise line to anyone that might ask.

An Unfortunate Series of Events

Coral Princess Cruise Review by Burghrocks

14 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2016
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
Family of 4 (42, 41, 12, 11) in a mini-suite w balcony C721. Flew in the night before, stayed at Courtyard Marriott Ft. Lauderdale Beach which was nice except for getting stuck in the elevator the next morning.

This was our first cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale and I can see why it is a popular port. The airport, cruise port, beaches, accommodations, etc. are all so close to each other. I could see staying a few days before/after a cruise before flying back home. Embarkation was good. I saw an email the morning of that stated our embarkation should be delayed until 1pm "due to operational reasons" (the first clue this cruise might not go our way) but when we got there at 1pm, we pretty much sailed through and made it to our cabin without issue. We have left out of Port Canaveral and Tampa previously and this was definitely the fastest embarkation we have experienced.

The ship itself was nothing to write home about. It was similar in size to other ships we have been on but for some reason it seemed a little smaller. The main atrium area is not very big or open. It is quaint, but its not going to take your breath away. I will say that I liked the open balcony areas that run the length of the aft of the ship on the cabin decks. Those were nice and provided some great views. The fitness center was nice but a little small. We only walked through the spa but it seemed nice, like your average spa area on a cruise ship.

Otherwise, I would say the ship is in "fair" shape. There were urine/mold odors on some of the passenger deck hallways on the port side and wet spots in the hallways on the starboard side. Walking through them with sandals on would cause your feet to get wet with whatever unknown liquid caused the issue (assumed plumbing since access panels from the hallway were constantly open). From our balcony we could look down and see paint completely peeled off of the balcony railing below us, running the entire starboard length of the ship. Aesthetic things like that which you would have thought would have been taken care of in dry dock really stood out. The Princess Theater was a little smaller but nice too, and probably our favorite part of the ship. We saw all of the evening shows and they all were great. I would not compare them to something like on the larger Disney ships but for the space they had to work with they really put on some good shows.

I should also add here that the pools and hot tubs were not functional for a part of the trip as well, I think this was attributed to the dry dock. I know they weren’t available for the first day but I’m not sure how often afterwards.

Food - We all agreed that the food was the best food we have had on a ship as far as quality goes. The selection, especially in the buffet, seemed a little light in comparison but when we did find something that we would eat we enjoyed it for the most part. A good mix of vegetarian options in the main dining room as well. The desserts in the main dining room were great too.

We purchased the soda package for all 4 of us and it included a stamp on your room card and also 4 refillable mugs. These are the types of mugs that have the RFID sensor in the bottom so I assumed there would be somewhere on board that you could go and fill up your drink yourself. That is not the case, you must visit a bar each time you want a refill. The main problem with this is that many of the bartenders, and this is not just Princess, act annoyed when you come up to them with 4 refillable mugs. I understand that to a point since they cant charge an automatic gratuity on it but when that is the only option you have of utilizing your beverage package, you expect to be treated like any other customer. Really something that I wish all cruise lines would look at.

Activities - Princess delivers the "Princess Patter" to your stateroom each day and it lists all of the scheduled events onboard the ship for the day with the corresponding times. Great, except most of it was about purchasing art, photos and jewelry or purchasing health or beauty treatments. Throw in the mix of ping pong and Pictionary and the daytime activities were really very blah.

The cruise director seemed like a nice guy but the only time that we ever saw or heard from him was after one of the evening shows. In 6 days on the ship I never saw him outside of the theater, did not hear him over the PA system or anything like that. I appreciate the information and energy that a cruise director can bring to a cruise but that appeared to be lacking here.

I'll add to this that the entire time on the ship there never seemed to be that fun vibe, that "Hey, your on vacation!" vibe. No real hustle and bustle about the ship, it just seemed to lack any energy. The crew (cruise director, etc.) did not create any kind of atmosphere to facilitate a fun time around the ship so it seemed like we were all going through the motions. I would have thought that especially with the problems that we encountered, that trying to lift the spirits of the passengers would be a higher priority.

One positive that I should mention, and I'll put it under the activities section is that that family movie channel in the room was appreciated by us. They showed a lot of recent popular movies (Inside Out, Big Hero Six, Peanuts, The Good Dinosaur).

While we signed the kids up for the childrens club, we never ended up going there so I can't comment on that. On this cruise I don't think there were any more than 15 kids, from infants to teenagers on the entire ship so I don't know how effective the clubs would have been this time around.

Service was mostly good, our steward Bernard did a good job and our server Faye and her assistant Vincent did a good job for us. When my daughter broke her refillable mug when she dropped it, one of the crew replaced it for us without question which was nice. Had some minor issues with some of the folks during embarkation and as I mentioned some of the bar staff but otherwise the service was good.

So now, what made this a really disappointing cruise for us? The dry dock was not completed properly so sometime after we left Ft. Lauderdale the ship had slowed. At one point I believe the captain came over the PA system and stated that we were being propelled by the stabilizers. The issue was with an engine shaft bearing. I'm not an engineer nor am I a mechanic or familiar with such things but I can surmise that if your sole means of propulsion is your stabilizers then that is not good. Not only did this issue cause us to lose most of our propulsion, it also made for a rocky ride. While we were supposed to arrive in our first port, Cozumel, at 7am, it was not until after 8pm (3 hours after our scheduled departure time from Cozumel) that we actually arrived there. In the meantime, we weren't even sure what was going to happen, were they going to turn around and go back? Were they going to find another port to stop at for repairs? A lot was up in the air that day without much communication. I should mention that the engineers were able to fix the issue (I assume temporarily) which allowed an increase of speed to allow us to get to Cozumel. They decided to overnight there and then spend the next day there as well which we were told gave them enough time to completely fix the issue. This also meant that they had to cancel Roatan...

Now when booking a cruise, for some people the ports of call are more important than others. We are those people. We had done a similar itinerary a few years ago and could not wait to get back to Roatan and Costa Maya. We did not care if we did anything at Cozumel and in fact had just planned to shop that day. To cancel our stop in Roatan because of the ships issues, was very deflating. Still we tried to make the best of things as we had Costa Maya to look forward to.

We woke up the morning of our scheduled stop in Costa Maya only to find ourselves far offshore being tossed about. The captain came over the PA system and explained that due to rough seas, swells, etc. that we would not be able to dock there. Safety is the first priority, we can't control the weather, etc. etc. etc. The captain continued to state that there were no alternate ports of call so we were just heading back to Ft. Lauderdale.

So now, we are on the 4th day of a cruise where we have missed the only two stops that we actually wanted to go to all of the while on a ship that offered a very rough ride for most of our time on it, either due to technical issues or due to weather. To top it off, we are just going home now but instead of traveling at normal speed to get back, we are going to go very slowly because we have an extra day now to make it back. Very slowly through rough seas. It was on this day that my kids and I finally broke and we took turns being ill in our stateroom. I've never been close to being seasick in my life but we all lost our lunch that day. Again, I'm not an expert on these matters but with an extra day to make it back to Ft. Lauderdale could we have not gone faster through the rough seas to get out of them or perhaps taken a more circuitous route that would have gotten us out of rough water? It was an entire day of rough seas. Alternatively, if the forecast predicted poor weather in Costa Maya, why go there to begin with? Why not find another port to make it to? This is why I do not buy the whole "can't control the weather" excuse they seemed to constantly want to reinforce to us at every opportunity they had (the whole crew at that point was speaking the same mantra). I never expect them to control the weather, I just expect them to use the tools at their disposal to avoid it as best as they can, and I can't begin to imagine that they actually did that in this case.

The final sea day was mostly uneventful as far as the weather/technical issues went. The ship seemed to be operating fine at that point. Probably the most excitement we had was when someone spotted a makeshift raft with about 12 people on it north of Cuba and the captain decided to go and see if they needed help. We got to within 300 yards of them (my best guess) and they did their best to ignore us. The logical conclusion was that they were trying to get into the US but since they did not want the help of the ship, we continued on our journey to Ft. Lauderdale.

At about 6am on disembarkation day, we were awoken by what felt like an earthquake going through the room. For a good 30 seconds, if not longer, our entire room shook, glasses were clanking all over the place, the whole ship seemed to shudder loudly. My daughter woke up screaming because it was so loud. This apparently is the docking process. I can't recall ever docking so violently before but there you have it, the icing on the cake.

So for compensation, Princess provided $100 per person in shipboard credit and half off of what you paid for this cruise, as a future cruise credit to be booked by the end of this year (can travel after 2016, just have to use the credit by the end of the year.) The problem that I have with this is that I have no desire to ever sail with Princess again so I'll lose $1500 in compensation. Even if I did want to sail with Princess again, our family takes other vacations as well. We enjoy going to Disney, we have a trip planned for Europe next year, we would have to rearrange our plans to take a cruise on a cruise line that failed us in the first place.

I don't know if this is always the case, but the vast majority of our fellow cruisers on this itinerary were retirees. They would seem to be in a better position to be able to take advantage of this form of compensation than those who are still working full time and have younger children in school. It would have been nice if they would have offered a choice of compensation but I'm not surprised that they didn't.

Considering we spent 6 days on the Coral Princess, with a total of 6 hours ashore in Cozumel, and the majority of the time the ship was not very stable, either due to technical or weather issues, it really felt like a disappointing cruise to nowhere. You always hear that "Hey at least you are on a cruise" or "There are no bad cruises" and I've tried to be fair in my review here but this was a very poor experience for us and I can't recommend the Coral Princess nor Princess as a cruise line to anyone that might ask.
Burghrocks’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MD C721
Pros - Larger balcony, from the sliding doors to the railings. You could actually stretch out a lounger without having to angle it much.

Cons - Small for a mini-suite room. The only real difference between this and a standard balcony that I could tell was that there was a tub in the bathroom. That made the bathroom a little bigger but the tub was narrow and the shower curtain kept clinging to you. The caulking on the tub was peeling off or had already peeled off. The tub itself was not level with the floor of the bathroom, it was a step up so coupled with the higher walls of the tub, you had to be extra careful when stepping out of the tub because it was a long step down.

Not much storage for clothes. There were the hangars but then there were no standard size drawers anywhere. You had to store your clothes on the shelves of a closet. No place to put your shoes once you stored your luggage under the clothes that were hanging up.

Fold out couch was dirty. Once unfolded, you could look behind the mattress and it was dirty.

Why two tvs side by side instead of just one larger tv? They only give you one remote to control two tvs and the buttons aren't very responsive. It's not very possible to watch two different shows at once because the volume from each interferes with the other. Just remove the partition between the two televisions and replace it with one larger television.

Wet spot on the carpet by the doors to the balcony that never dried. Not sure what it was from but it was always there.

Lack of convenient outlets to plug in to. There are two very close to each other on the desk and then two more high up on the shelves where the televisions are. None by the nightstand to charge your phone at night. Also, if you have anything other than a standard sized plug utilizing one of the desk outlets, you cant use the other one, not enough space to plug anything else in.

Definitely not worth the upgrade from a balcony room, not sure how they get away with calling it a mini-suite, there really is not much more room.
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