Coral Princess Cruise Review by smoosh21
- Sail Date: March 2009
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Princess definitely shone during the check-in and embarkation process. First of all, the San Pedro facility is one of the cleaner, nicer facilities that I have been in. There were lots of people on hand to help, and they all seemed to know what they were doing. When we arrived we were told that there would be a 1 hour delay, but it was actually only about 20 minutes. We were also in group 9 and it was a very quick trip through security and onto the ship.
I also like the fact that Princess allows you to go straight to your rooms so that you can drop off your carry-on items. This is definitely better than having to wait until 2 or 3 to get to the stateroom.
Staterooms: We stayed in a mini-suite on the Dolphin Deck that was partially covered. The stateroom was very nice. There was more than enough room to store all of our clothes, including plenty of hangers, way more than needed. The room was clean and in good shape. They were also very quiet and kept out unwanted noise. The only thing was a lack of outlets for recharging cameras.
Horizon Court: In my opinion, this was the weakest area of the ship. I felt that the Horizon Court was too small for the size of the ship. It was very crowded trying to maneuver around the food stations. I was also very disappointed with the variety of food. The quality was fine, but there was a lot less choices than on other ships. The sandwiches were sitting out wrapped in cellophane which seemed a bit too roadside diner for me. I was also unable to find a table at some lunches. I have never had this happen on a cruise before. I think Princess really failed here when they designed the Coral.
During the dry dock I hope they work to improve this area. First thing they can do is get rid of the Piano area which is no longer used (one of the entertainers told me that they actually did use it in the past, but cost cutting has left it unmanned). I would also get rid of the pay bar in the buffet. I never saw anyone using it at anytime I was there. These areas could easily be turned into additional food stations so that they can offer more variety.
Provence Dinning Room: We are old fashioned and prefer traditional dining. I like having the same tablemates at night so that you can get to know people and trade stories over dinner. We have always been lucky at getting good people and this was no exception. The quality of the food here was good. My biggest issue was lack of spice. On the night I had the fra Diavlo shrimp, there was no heat to them at all. I know that some people complain about the blandness of HAL food, but HAL was more adventurous and spicy than Princess. The service was also good over all. The only difficulty we had occurred on the first night trying to explain the coffee card. The Servers would only get espresso and not just brewed coffee. My partner was too tired to argue the first night so he took the espresso, but on the second night we finally made them understand about how the coffee card allowed for unlimited brewed coffees. From that point on there were no problems.
Also, the Maitre D' was wonderful. This is the first cruise I have been on where they actually made a difference. Usually you only see them (at least I have) near the end just before it is time to tip, but not on this ship. He was always out and about making sure everything was going well.
Chefs Table: Do it. This was a wonderful meal and definitely worth the $75. It was great to see the workings of the kitchen and get to spend so much time talking with the chef and finding out in detail about the operations. The food and the wine were also wonderful. It was all top shelf all the way. I will sure to sign up for this again the next time I sail Princess.
Entertainment: I never have high expectations of the entertainers on the cruise ships. I feel that corporate waters down everything into bad variety show material. I only went to a few of the actual production shows because of this. The new show "Motor City" was sort of the Osmonds meet Motown. When they did the Stevie Wonder homage, all the hipness was sucked right out of the room. Maybe if I was 85 and still longed to watch Lawrence Welk I would have enjoyed it.
The show I did enjoy was 'Adrian Zmed in Concert' This show definitely had a different feel to it, so I am guessing that Adrian had more creative control. This was the type of show that I feel would be worth watching on land.
The biggest disappointment I had was with timing. The ship scheduled a lot of the 'game show' like entertainment in the Explorers lounge to start at 9:15. They also showed more of the second runs of shows at 8 PM. It was definitely not conducive for second seating traditional diners. I am not sure if this was intentional or not. But, most nights I was only finishing up dinner at 9:15, so I was having to run right over to Explorers to see the show I wanted.
Cruise Staff I think the cruise staff on this ship was marvelous. I think it was probably the best of any ship so far. They were very active with the passengers and I felt took the time to really get to know you if you let them. I think this was the most interaction that I have seen. I have to give Princess props for fostering this environment. I think that they were the biggest asset that Princess had on the ship.
Pottery: This was one of the most interesting things on the cruise. There is actually a pottery center and a kiln on the Coral. On our second Sea day my partner and I signed up for pot throwing. We started out with lumps of clay and actually used the wheel to make our pottery. After it was bisqued, we came back on another sea day to paint and glaze them. The rates for this lesson were very reasonable and I like to see the ship offer interactive classes like this.
Missed Port: As many of you know, we missed a port. Because of trouble with the gas turbines the captain chose to cut out Cartagena. I was very disappointed, because ever since Romancing the Stone I have actually wanted to see Cartagena. But, I think Princess went above expectations by giving each person on the ship a $100. Now, I while I understand that they are under no obligation to give anything, I am one of those people who feel they should offer something as a sign of good customer relations. $100 is way more than I was ever expecting to receive.
Overall: Overall Princess did a really good job. It was a very nice cruise and I was not happy to have to get off the ship. This was my first 14 night cruise and I hope that I will be doing more longer cruises in the future.
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