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It was my husband and my 3rd honeymoon (2 were not enough) as we are both widowers in our 50's who found one another 3 years ago and are celebrating every minute of life together in love. So, on both our bucket lists was the Panama Canal. Princess delivered an extraordinary experience. (And I am a pretty experienced traveler for business.) There were just a few negatives. Boarding on Princess' timed schedule was a breeze... not one person in line. We zipped through empty roped cattle shoots onto the ship. Our cabin was ready. Attendant Toffee came by shortly after to greet us. But then the first blip occurred... an officer appears with my wheeled carry-on cradled in his arms in what looked like a body bag. The front zippered panel was completely severed off... with greasy tire tracks across the front of the bag. My cosmetic bag... handle ripped off and tire tracked. Extra underwear... black tire treads across it. An evening bag... crushed. My hard-bound book inside the front zippered pocket? Covers marled. But otherwise, most other things in tact. Clearly, the bag fell off the pile, and someone ran over it with a fork lift or some other vehicle. The officer handled it smoothly, apologetically. We completed a report, and they gave us a free carry-on to get us by, but also took the damaged one to try to repair it. 3 days later, a wobbly, tire-tracked war-torn roller bag reappeared- all patched up. They did their best. But it's in the trash already. And what's important is how they reacted to it. All other luggage arrived fine. If that's the worst thing that happened - and it was - it was going to be a great voyage. And it was. Sea days are fabulous, and two days tuning the world out, and enjoying the ship's amenities was glorious. The food was terrific... not the best we've had, but very good quality. We thought we'd try Anytime Dining, but switched to standard. Our servers Randy and Ryan from the Philippines were fantastic. Great sense of humor, and so attentive. Loved lobster night, and the chicken pot pie! The buffet was hit or miss. Breakfast - how can you go wrong? But often so crowded, hard to find a table. Lunch and dinner... standard favorites with some international dishes. Desserts were just OK. Actually the sushi was terrific, as well as eggplant parmesan, and the bread pudding divine. The shows... the comedian Try Thorngill was FANTASTIC. We could have watched him every night. When my skeptical husband belly laughs on both performances, and gives a standing ovation, you know he was great. The production show On the Bayou was one of the best production shows I have ever seen on a cruise ship (and I have produced shows in my career.) The others, such as "It's a Swell Party", well, err... I felt sorry for the dancers and performers... sooooo boring... outdated numbers with songs my grandmother may have heard before (and I am 50 years old.) This cruise definitely catered to the OVER 60 crowd. Average age: 65-70. And the production shows reflected that. The two showcased singers who had their own shows were LOUSY. Tom Jones-copy cat singer-impressionist and a country-western crooner guitarist - both tried to hard. The guitar-playing was great... singing - so phony and over-acted. My husband and I walked out of both. But music is subjective, and I heard some people liked it. Cringe! I know I am tough on performers. The crew show was fantastic. John the assistant cruise director was a hoot... a ham who was very entertaining in every activity he participated in... made you want to participate as well. Singer Muhammed was spectacular... clearly the strongest player, but other vocalists and dancers were good as well. The Love Boat Dance Party on pool deck was fun, as well as the balloon drop party. Disco gets you dancing! (My era, my music. My rock-loving husband people-watched.) Other activities? I felt they were lacking (other than "sell-you-stuff" presentations or drawings or sales) - OR - they were overlapping. Several shows/movies on top of one another? Spread them out, people! Princess... please add more interactive hands-on sessions, such as fruit carving, sushi-making, cooking demos, roundtables where you can meet others with similar interests on sea days. We don't just want detox, accupuncture, shopping tours, bingo, casino games or art gallery hard sells. That was 80% of the activities line-up. (And when I heard one art dealer rep quote $5200 for one painting, and 10 minutes later, the next rep quoted the same painting $6700... you know what's going on there. Not worth the free champagne!) The historical and port talks were very informative. Now, the ports. Aruba? Nice island. We did our own excursion we heard about from others - NOT a Princess excursion. Trikes of Aruba. AMAZING. The best of the trip. Since we were only there 5 hours - from 7 AM to 12 PM... what do you do on a tropical beach island? We were picked up at the cruise ship, and taken to their offices where we rented those 3-wheeled motorcycles. After a brief lesson, we followed the ever-smiling leader/tour guide Zeus in a caravan, drove practically the entire island. What a blast! Stopped at several key spots for a rest, refresh, photos, see cool scenery. Fantastic experience. Exhilarating! Hot but sooo cool with the wind blowing. Others were jealous of our fun, waving to us on the way. And so safe... even with me afraid of traditional motorcycles. But Cartagena, Colombia... we loved our tour operator, but the country? NOT IMPRESSED. We took a private tour with Duran Duran. He was everything people said... an expert, kind, informative. We did a cooking lesson with him and his wife which included a market tour of a local labyrinth of vendors to pick out our ingredients and taste some local fruit. What a 'colorful' trek, to say the least! We were definitely out of our element... and looked like tourists... told "Put your phone away" for safety reasons. Also, you must be good on your feet and be able to keep up with Duran and his wife Maria going through the hot stalls. They then took us to their home and gave us a cooking lesson where we helped prepare an authentic Colombian meal. Delicious! We learned a lot. Their family was lovely. Wonderful hospitality, and everything he advertised. We then asked to return to the port, where there was a lovely wildlife exhibit and air-conditioned shopping. To sum up this port.... it is not the way we would choose to live. Crazy drivers and motorcycle taxis cutting you off everywhere - even the police. Barbed wire everywhere. We didn't feel safe in the inner city. Others had different experiences in the downtown areas by the old forts and churches. But we did not wish to look at old forts, churches or museums, but see how the people lived. We got our wish. It was eye-opening, and to be frank - a relief to be back on the ship. The Panama Canal... AMAZING. I am not one to marvel over mechanical wonders. But THIS? Once you learned the history and ingenuity, and how the US triumphed doing the impossible... you get this amazing feeling of pride! And then when your ship begins to go through the locks, and you see this "water elevator" lifting a cruise ship up 82'... with just one meter to spare going through the locks on either side of the ship... it was amazing! The photo team offers you the chance if you are a balcony cabin to be photographed while going through the locks inside your cabin. We did, but just know it is not the general portrait price, nor can you get them in your $199 package... it's separate. We bought 2 photos of all the ones they took and it came to $49. But they were good, showing you and the locks. During the first part of the trip, you are encouraged to make posters reflecting your family or sentiments of the trip - to display during the canal lock crossing. It's for the camera, and the video! (Yet you can't even read most posters!) They have produced this wonderful video - and drop in the footage of all the posters and wavers during this passage. A great memento... but for $70? How often would you watch THAT? They also add in several other historical Panama Canal videos in the package, but who wants THAT? We said NO to the video, but if it was $25, we would have purchased it. They have screenings to show you the video and then try to sign you up for it, before they tell you the price. Ouch! The photo crew worked their butts off during the voyage, shooting every imaginable event. Bottom line: Formal portraits on the black backgrounds were done well, and we bought several. The other backgrounds were cheesy. The all-inclusive $199 package - who needs all those photos? Perhaps great for a family. But not for a couple. And it does not include the Panama Canal balcony shots nor the videos. Excursion: Gatun Lake & Embera Indians. Loved it! This man-made lake for the canal was gorgeous - and filled with wildlife. Next a trip on a boat (not a canoe) to visit the Embera Indian Village. What a treat! Learning about their culture, meeting their families, photographing their beautiful children, their costumes, seeing them dance, dancing WITH them, then buying their wares was fascinating and so entertaining. LOVED IT! And the women were not topless, which my husband was worried about being uncomfortable. They wore ceremonial large necklaces which covered their chests. A relief for all. The port of Colon was just a few Indian vendors and one duty-free shop. Too scary to walk anywhere else. Costa Rica. GORGEOUS! This is the nature-lover's spot. We did a private tour with Jorge Morales Ramirez with his driver Vic. What a wonderful day. First the Jaguar Rescue Center - far, but so worth it. Sloths up close, monkeys and many other animals. Gorgeous countryside, learning about organic bananas and male-female banana plants. Next a canal boat ride to see wildlife, a beach stop and terrific lunch, then a scenic drive overlooking the city and through it. Nice shopping back near the ship at a market of vendors. Good prices, cheap coffee. Warning... bring your own toilet paper for public bathrooms in most of these countries... NO TOILET PAPER. Have your own stash. Seriously! Final stop: Grand Cayman: The postcard. Gorgeous blue water. Fabulous beaches. Very civilized shopping. We took a taxi, where they group shove you to the gills to get the most people they can in the bus before they budge... we waited 20 minutes... but the ride to the beach was only $4 a person. We rented a private Cabana at the Royal Palms Resort for $100. Not worth the expense... it was just a framework with sheer curtains, table, chairs and 2 loungers... but it was a splurge. Gorgeous views and swimming. Good burgers and drinks. Th ultimate beach day. Then T-shirt shopping before the tender back to the ship. No worries about this port at all... the safest of all. Then sea day back. A glorious and restful way to end the trip. Disembarkation was easy - delayed a bit, but we went straight through to our luggage. Many taxis there waiting. No worries. Final notes: - Movie choices were iffy. Knowing you have an older crowd... showing a film like "Miles Ahead"... about drug addiction with constant cussing... terrible choice. The theater cleared by the first 30 minutes. Better choices and timing! Did not go to Movies Under the Stars once... not good features. - The Love Boat channel was cool. But showing the same episode over and over each day, until the next day... TERRIBLE!!! How about 30 episodes that repeated on a loop? - The drink package for sodas, milkshakes & mocktails was well worth it... $7 per day. - Burgers at the grill were great at the beginning of the cruise, but not so much at the end. We wondered why. - The library had a nice variety of books, including some travel guides. All free to borrow. - Lots of hangers in the closet, even for clothes-horses like me who overpack. Lots of storage for luggage under the bed and in the closet bottom. - The shower was TINY. Make sure the shower curtain stays in. Or flood-time! - Deck chair hogs! A perpetual problem. When you're through, take your towels and GO! 80% of the chairs went empty most of the time, with only 40 people in the pool. So what does that tell you? Pool and hot tubs were great. - When you go to one of their "clearance sales" - sometimes the registers go down. They end up hand writing your orders down and entering them later on. Check your receipts. They over charged me, and then I had to wait 35 minutes while one of the shop folks tried to figure out what went wrong, even when I pointed everything out, had the merchandise there, showed how it was probably mis-entered. Just credit it and re-ring it, for God's sake! Sheesh!!! Check your receipts and your onboard account for mischarges. I hope you all have voyages as wonderful as ours.

Another Delightful Cruise with 5 Mostly Fabulous Ports and Just a Few Blips

Coral Princess Cruise Review by Cinderellie

22 people found this helpful
Trip Details
It was my husband and my 3rd honeymoon (2 were not enough) as we are both widowers in our 50's who found one another 3 years ago and are celebrating every minute of life together in love. So, on both our bucket lists was the Panama Canal. Princess delivered an extraordinary experience. (And I am a pretty experienced traveler for business.) There were just a few negatives.

Boarding on Princess' timed schedule was a breeze... not one person in line. We zipped through empty roped cattle shoots onto the ship. Our cabin was ready. Attendant Toffee came by shortly after to greet us. But then the first blip occurred... an officer appears with my wheeled carry-on cradled in his arms in what looked like a body bag. The front zippered panel was completely severed off... with greasy tire tracks across the front of the bag. My cosmetic bag... handle ripped off and tire tracked. Extra underwear... black tire treads across it. An evening bag... crushed. My hard-bound book inside the front zippered pocket? Covers marled. But otherwise, most other things in tact. Clearly, the bag fell off the pile, and someone ran over it with a fork lift or some other vehicle. The officer handled it smoothly, apologetically. We completed a report, and they gave us a free carry-on to get us by, but also took the damaged one to try to repair it. 3 days later, a wobbly, tire-tracked war-torn roller bag reappeared- all patched up. They did their best. But it's in the trash already. And what's important is how they reacted to it. All other luggage arrived fine.

If that's the worst thing that happened - and it was - it was going to be a great voyage. And it was.

Sea days are fabulous, and two days tuning the world out, and enjoying the ship's amenities was glorious. The food was terrific... not the best we've had, but very good quality. We thought we'd try Anytime Dining, but switched to standard. Our servers Randy and Ryan from the Philippines were fantastic. Great sense of humor, and so attentive. Loved lobster night, and the chicken pot pie!

The buffet was hit or miss. Breakfast - how can you go wrong? But often so crowded, hard to find a table. Lunch and dinner... standard favorites with some international dishes. Desserts were just OK. Actually the sushi was terrific, as well as eggplant parmesan, and the bread pudding divine.

The shows... the comedian Try Thorngill was FANTASTIC. We could have watched him every night. When my skeptical husband belly laughs on both performances, and gives a standing ovation, you know he was great. The production show On the Bayou was one of the best production shows I have ever seen on a cruise ship (and I have produced shows in my career.) The others, such as "It's a Swell Party", well, err... I felt sorry for the dancers and performers... sooooo boring... outdated numbers with songs my grandmother may have heard before (and I am 50 years old.) This cruise definitely catered to the OVER 60 crowd. Average age: 65-70. And the production shows reflected that. The two showcased singers who had their own shows were LOUSY. Tom Jones-copy cat singer-impressionist and a country-western crooner guitarist - both tried to hard. The guitar-playing was great... singing - so phony and over-acted. My husband and I walked out of both. But music is subjective, and I heard some people liked it. Cringe! I know I am tough on performers. The crew show was fantastic. John the assistant cruise director was a hoot... a ham who was very entertaining in every activity he participated in... made you want to participate as well. Singer Muhammed was spectacular... clearly the strongest player, but other vocalists and dancers were good as well.

The Love Boat Dance Party on pool deck was fun, as well as the balloon drop party. Disco gets you dancing! (My era, my music. My rock-loving husband people-watched.)

Other activities? I felt they were lacking (other than "sell-you-stuff" presentations or drawings or sales) - OR - they were overlapping. Several shows/movies on top of one another? Spread them out, people! Princess... please add more interactive hands-on sessions, such as fruit carving, sushi-making, cooking demos, roundtables where you can meet others with similar interests on sea days. We don't just want detox, accupuncture, shopping tours, bingo, casino games or art gallery hard sells. That was 80% of the activities line-up. (And when I heard one art dealer rep quote $5200 for one painting, and 10 minutes later, the next rep quoted the same painting $6700... you know what's going on there. Not worth the free champagne!) The historical and port talks were very informative.

Now, the ports. Aruba? Nice island. We did our own excursion we heard about from others - NOT a Princess excursion. Trikes of Aruba. AMAZING. The best of the trip. Since we were only there 5 hours - from 7 AM to 12 PM... what do you do on a tropical beach island? We were picked up at the cruise ship, and taken to their offices where we rented those 3-wheeled motorcycles. After a brief lesson, we followed the ever-smiling leader/tour guide Zeus in a caravan, drove practically the entire island. What a blast! Stopped at several key spots for a rest, refresh, photos, see cool scenery. Fantastic experience. Exhilarating! Hot but sooo cool with the wind blowing. Others were jealous of our fun, waving to us on the way. And so safe... even with me afraid of traditional motorcycles.

But Cartagena, Colombia... we loved our tour operator, but the country? NOT IMPRESSED. We took a private tour with Duran Duran. He was everything people said... an expert, kind, informative. We did a cooking lesson with him and his wife which included a market tour of a local labyrinth of vendors to pick out our ingredients and taste some local fruit. What a 'colorful' trek, to say the least! We were definitely out of our element... and looked like tourists... told "Put your phone away" for safety reasons. Also, you must be good on your feet and be able to keep up with Duran and his wife Maria going through the hot stalls. They then took us to their home and gave us a cooking lesson where we helped prepare an authentic Colombian meal. Delicious! We learned a lot. Their family was lovely. Wonderful hospitality, and everything he advertised. We then asked to return to the port, where there was a lovely wildlife exhibit and air-conditioned shopping. To sum up this port.... it is not the way we would choose to live. Crazy drivers and motorcycle taxis cutting you off everywhere - even the police. Barbed wire everywhere. We didn't feel safe in the inner city. Others had different experiences in the downtown areas by the old forts and churches. But we did not wish to look at old forts, churches or museums, but see how the people lived. We got our wish. It was eye-opening, and to be frank - a relief to be back on the ship.

The Panama Canal... AMAZING. I am not one to marvel over mechanical wonders. But THIS? Once you learned the history and ingenuity, and how the US triumphed doing the impossible... you get this amazing feeling of pride! And then when your ship begins to go through the locks, and you see this "water elevator" lifting a cruise ship up 82'... with just one meter to spare going through the locks on either side of the ship... it was amazing! The photo team offers you the chance if you are a balcony cabin to be photographed while going through the locks inside your cabin. We did, but just know it is not the general portrait price, nor can you get them in your $199 package... it's separate. We bought 2 photos of all the ones they took and it came to $49. But they were good, showing you and the locks. During the first part of the trip, you are encouraged to make posters reflecting your family or sentiments of the trip - to display during the canal lock crossing. It's for the camera, and the video! (Yet you can't even read most posters!) They have produced this wonderful video - and drop in the footage of all the posters and wavers during this passage. A great memento... but for $70? How often would you watch THAT? They also add in several other historical Panama Canal videos in the package, but who wants THAT? We said NO to the video, but if it was $25, we would have purchased it. They have screenings to show you the video and then try to sign you up for it, before they tell you the price. Ouch!

The photo crew worked their butts off during the voyage, shooting every imaginable event. Bottom line: Formal portraits on the black backgrounds were done well, and we bought several. The other backgrounds were cheesy. The all-inclusive $199 package - who needs all those photos? Perhaps great for a family. But not for a couple. And it does not include the Panama Canal balcony shots nor the videos.

Excursion: Gatun Lake & Embera Indians. Loved it! This man-made lake for the canal was gorgeous - and filled with wildlife. Next a trip on a boat (not a canoe) to visit the Embera Indian Village. What a treat! Learning about their culture, meeting their families, photographing their beautiful children, their costumes, seeing them dance, dancing WITH them, then buying their wares was fascinating and so entertaining. LOVED IT! And the women were not topless, which my husband was worried about being uncomfortable. They wore ceremonial large necklaces which covered their chests. A relief for all.

The port of Colon was just a few Indian vendors and one duty-free shop. Too scary to walk anywhere else.

Costa Rica. GORGEOUS! This is the nature-lover's spot. We did a private tour with Jorge Morales Ramirez with his driver Vic. What a wonderful day. First the Jaguar Rescue Center - far, but so worth it. Sloths up close, monkeys and many other animals. Gorgeous countryside, learning about organic bananas and male-female banana plants. Next a canal boat ride to see wildlife, a beach stop and terrific lunch, then a scenic drive overlooking the city and through it. Nice shopping back near the ship at a market of vendors. Good prices, cheap coffee.

Warning... bring your own toilet paper for public bathrooms in most of these countries... NO TOILET PAPER. Have your own stash. Seriously!

Final stop: Grand Cayman: The postcard. Gorgeous blue water. Fabulous beaches. Very civilized shopping. We took a taxi, where they group shove you to the gills to get the most people they can in the bus before they budge... we waited 20 minutes... but the ride to the beach was only $4 a person. We rented a private Cabana at the Royal Palms Resort for $100. Not worth the expense... it was just a framework with sheer curtains, table, chairs and 2 loungers... but it was a splurge. Gorgeous views and swimming. Good burgers and drinks. Th ultimate beach day. Then T-shirt shopping before the tender back to the ship. No worries about this port at all... the safest of all.

Then sea day back. A glorious and restful way to end the trip.

Disembarkation was easy - delayed a bit, but we went straight through to our luggage. Many taxis there waiting. No worries.

Final notes:

- Movie choices were iffy. Knowing you have an older crowd... showing a film like "Miles Ahead"... about drug addiction with constant cussing... terrible choice. The theater cleared by the first 30 minutes. Better choices and timing! Did not go to Movies Under the Stars once... not good features.

- The Love Boat channel was cool. But showing the same episode over and over each day, until the next day... TERRIBLE!!! How about 30 episodes that repeated on a loop?

- The drink package for sodas, milkshakes & mocktails was well worth it... $7 per day.

- Burgers at the grill were great at the beginning of the cruise, but not so much at the end. We wondered why.

- The library had a nice variety of books, including some travel guides. All free to borrow.

- Lots of hangers in the closet, even for clothes-horses like me who overpack. Lots of storage for luggage under the bed and in the closet bottom.

- The shower was TINY. Make sure the shower curtain stays in. Or flood-time!

- Deck chair hogs! A perpetual problem. When you're through, take your towels and GO! 80% of the chairs went empty most of the time, with only 40 people in the pool. So what does that tell you? Pool and hot tubs were great.

- When you go to one of their "clearance sales" - sometimes the registers go down. They end up hand writing your orders down and entering them later on. Check your receipts. They over charged me, and then I had to wait 35 minutes while one of the shop folks tried to figure out what went wrong, even when I pointed everything out, had the merchandise there, showed how it was probably mis-entered. Just credit it and re-ring it, for God's sake! Sheesh!!! Check your receipts and your onboard account for mischarges.

I hope you all have voyages as wonderful as ours.
Cinderellie’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BE D212
Nice views and layout. Tiny shower. Good closet space. Terrific for being on the side of the buffet, but to go to the dining room, you had to go to one elevator, then walk to the next elevator... not direct.
Aloha Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Island Tour
    The way to see Aruba. Safe, easy and bad-ass. 3 hours of the wind in your hair while you see the island and its beautiful beaches, even the city. Smiling tour guide Zeus showed us the best while we zoomed through Aruba with ease. Pick you right up at the ship and drop you off. SO easy, an 87 year old woman did it herself. Our favorite tour of the cruise!
    View All 216 Island Tour Reviews
  • Culinary Tour
    Not wanting forts and churches or museums, but to see the real Cartagena... our native Duran picked us up at the port and then met his wife who took us to a local market to sample the fruit and select our foods for our meal and cooking lesson. Maria then had us go to work preparing - in their home - a wonderful meal of coconut rice, tropical salad, and fantastic snapper, and enjoy talking about our cultures together. What a beautiful exchange and learning experience with their family... exactly as he advertised. A way to live Cartagena culture!
    View All 4 Culinary Tour Reviews
  • Embera Indian Tour
    Loved the visit with the Embera Indians. Totally enchanting and educational!
    View All 27 Embera Indian Tour Reviews
  • Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
    Fort Lauderdale was lovely. Stayed at both the Sonesta Beach Resort for one night pre-cruise. Nice modern view rooms. Neighborhood s bit sketchy.... then 3 nights at the lovely Lago Mar Beach Resort. Fantastic. THAT is the way to enjoy the beach. Old Florida style and resort amenities. So much to do or not do, and free parking!
    View All 1,921 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Review
  • Grand Cayman (Georgetown)
    Gorgeous beaches. Rented a Cabana at the Royal Palms. Great view, swimming. Good burgers and drinks. Cabana overpriced at $100, but it sheltered us form the rainstorm. Very nice day. Hated the bus taxis that made you wait until they were full, but they were cheap at $4 per person. Good shopping at the port.
    View All 3,379 Grand Cayman (Georgetown) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Grand Cayman (Georgetown) Cruise Port Review
  • City Tour
    Our guide Vic took us on a full day tour to the Jaguar Rescue Center, the canal tour, then a gorgeous beach and lunch spot, ending with a scenic view of the city and back to the port for good shopping. We fell in love with the natural beauty and people of Costa Rica! Pura vida!
    View All 5 City Tour Reviews