About the Coral: I won't tell you what I have read in all the other reviews. I will only give new information I have about the Coral.
1. The staterooms are magnetic. By bringing strong kitchen magnets I could hang up schedules, notes, messages on the wall. I think the entire Princess ship staterooms are metal so this should work for anyone sailing on a Princess ship.
2. Princess has color coded the carpet in the halls of the staterooms. The even number rooms have a red border on the blue carpet and the odd number rooms have a blue strip on the blue carpet. Once I stepped off the elevator or stairs I knew exactly which hall was mine without having to get my bearings.
Meet and Greet: In order to recognize other Cruise Critic members we wore mardi gras bead for a couple of days. It was fun and made us stand out. My only regret with the Meet and Greet was we didn't get a picture with everyone together. I assume full responsibility for this omission and apologize to everyone. Princess out did themselves with our meet and greet. It was held in the explorers lounge. The tables filled with vegetable trays, cheese and cracker trays, and chips and dip was set up beautifully with tablecloths and flowers. Four of the ships officers came by and were introduced. We had a gift exchange which was enjoyed by some but not everyone decided to participate. We also had a contest before hand. Everyone on the board was asked to suggest "what was the most important thing to bring on a cruise." The suggestions were: duck tape, foam topper for bed, teddy bears, magnets, electrical outlet, night light, insect repellent, lightweight bag with shoulder straps, over-the-door organizer, double sided tape, small post it notes, shower cap, tiny bottle of Camphopheneque, rubber door stop, waterproof bag for camera, rain gear, zip ties, bubble wrap, gift wrap cardboard tube, small flashlight or penlight, small light weight day pack, walkie talkies, extra batteries, luggage scale. The winners of the contest were determined by everyone attending the meet and greet.
Our fellow travelers exploring (Bonnie and Bob) provided us with very professional looking name tags. A funny story about the nametags: I was wearing my name tag after the meet and greet and a couple of people stopped me to give their opinion of what I should put in my review of the cruise. The funny thing was they thought I was a professional who was getting a free cruise and being paid to write a review. Now that would be a perfect job.
Dinning: We had the traditional dinning experience. I enjoyed having a set time for dinner with set table mates. The food was very good. I'm sure there are cruise lines that have better food or a larger variety but I felt that everything I was served was delicious (except the cold cucumber soup with dill). I only ate in the buffet twice. They had a wonderful salad and fruit bar. The rolls and breads were also top quality. Otherwise I only had one dinner there which I didn't enjoy. I am not a buffet type person so that is probably why. My travel mates ate all their breakfasts and most lunches in the buffet and thought it was top notch. The Pizzeria and Grill were enjoyed by my travel mates as well. For breakfast and lunch I enjoyed a meal brought by room service. Room service food was good and in small portions. My goal was to not gain weight and by having a light room service breakfast and lunch I accomplished my goal.
I had to insist that everyone in my group go to High Tea at least once. I love their Orange Spice Tea. The scones and pastry were so enjoyable. I had had a stressful day and came into the dinning room looking stressed. The Matr'D reminded me to relax and enjoy the experience. A musician played soft soothing music while we all distressed. To quote my husbands home town newspaper: "A good time was had by all."
Drink Cards: The soda card has gotten so expensive that I really felt that I would have saved money by not getting the card. The Specialty Drink Card was worse. My travel mates got the card that entitled them to have the soda and specialty drinks such as smoothies. After a few days of 3 or 4 special drinks they got so they were not having them often or at all. They said they were too many calories and too filling. The only card that seems to be a good deal is the Coffee card. You purchase it at a discount and it is punched every time you get a coffee or chocolate from the bar. If you don't use the entire card pack it away with your formal and tux until the next cruise. It is good anytime on any Princess cruise.
1. Card Room: Coral has a good sized card room where you can play cards, board games, put puzzles together or any other activity that requires a table and chairs. The chairs were comfortable and the room was well lit. The wall of windows made it so you could enjoy looking out at sea while enjoying a good game. It was a well used room but because of the size and number of tables it never seamed crowded.
2. Library: The library was larger than on most ships I've been on. The chairs were placed so you felt isolated. The room was well lit and conducive to quiet reading. Placed on the opposite side of the ship from the card room it was similar in size and placement including the wall of windows. There was a good selection of books to choose from. Princess is introducing a book club on their cruises. Each month a book is selected that cruisers can read and then get together for a book club. Coral kept numerous copies of The Big Bad Wolf by James Patterson so there would be enough for anyone interested. I was excited to get the book and read it but unfortunately I was the only one on the Coral Princess who participated in the first book club of the year. A rather lonely experience.
3. Internet: I only saw an occasional back up at the internet. This was toward the end of the cruise when everyone realized they had hundreds of minutes not used and they were determined to use their minutes even if they only played games or surfed the web. Princess gave you the option of buying minutes or using minutes as you went. If you bought a package on the first 2 days then you received 100's of extra minutes for free. I was surprise at how slow the internet was and only used it to check on flights and bank accounts. I think I have been spoiled by having a highspeed internet connection. The slow internet didn't seem to be abnormal to everyone.
4. Laundry: The laundry rooms were large and clean. There was a sink, two ironing boards and irons, and 7 washers and dryers. The washer and dryer cost $1 each per load. The laundry soap and dryer sheets were also $1 each. Next cruise I will do what I saw others do and bring laundry soap and dryer sheets from home. I found the laundry a place to have friendly conversations. Only once did I meet a truly Ugly passenger. When she couldn't bully someone into giving her their dryer she put her clothes into another dryer and left. Imagine the surprise of the passenger who came back to get their clothes only to find someone's clothes mixed in with theirs. The lady was gracious and removed her clothes and then placed the Ugly passengers' clothes back in the dryer. I don't think I would have been as gracious.
Ship Tours: The ship tour I have always heard about was the one held the first sea day that cost $120. This time there were other tours and they were free. The Culinary Demonstration and Galley Tour was interesting and fun. You went behind the revolving door to the kitchen. The Executive Chef Thomas Ulrich and Maitre D Gluseppe Gelmini were very entertaining. This is a DO NOT MISS activity. The Backstage Tour took you behind the scenes of the Princess Theater where you learned about how the shows are put together. Not quite as memorable as the Galley Tour but still fun and worth the time.
There were other activities
• Towel folding
• Napkin folding
• Culinary Demonstrations
• Fruit and Vegetable carving
• Painting green ware (Ceramics)
• Card making
• Hyacinthine - paper flower
Most of them were fun but some of the crafts were rated low by passengers. I went to the paper flower making thinking it was a class on Hyacinthine. I was not alone in this thinking. As I sat making a paper Hyacinthine, some of the women talked about the girl teaching the class. She was very vocal about hating to do crafts and this wasn't what she signed up to do. She was the only Princess employee on the cruise who I found to be negative.
I enjoyed most of the live shows but I think my favorite was the International Crew Show - I was amazed at the talented crew. With the exception of the skit which reminded me of going to Scout Camp on parent's night, everything was top notch. I enjoyed it as much as any production.
Music: There were so many different places to listen to music that I know I didn't hear them all but I did have my favorites. Every evening Exotique played in the Explorers lounge. Because of the shows at the same time this was a low attended venue. Once I convinced my friends to miss Movies under the Stars to listen (dance) to Exotique then they were also taking a few minutes in the evening to wander past the Explorers lounge. Throughout the cruise The Ship's Musicians played in the Atrium. They always drew a crowd. The Joszef Trio played classical music. They were a break from the typical ship music. The crowds were smaller but very loyal.
Enrichment Lecture by Jim Kennedy was a favorite of my husband. If you can't attend the lecture it is repeated on the television throughout the day.
NFL games were not missed by anyone on the Coral Princess. If weather permitted they were shown on the Movies Under the Stars Theatre. Other days they were on screens in the Explorers lounge.
Shore Excursions: In Acapulco we had a private tour through "Rosie's Tours of Acapulco". We started at 9:00 am and ended at 4:00 pm. We could have gone longer but I told Rosie we wanted to be back on the ship at 4:00. For $35 we road in clean modern air-conditioned vans with drinks provided. We had a tour of the Acapulco shopping district that the locals use. We visited the Chapel of Peace, La Quebrade Cliff Divers, Los Flamingo Hotel where we ate lunch, and the Diego River's Mural. Of the 44 people who were with us (requiring 4 vans) all but 4 had the best time. The 4 people who didn't left the tour after the cliff divers and Rosie had a driver take them back to the ship. She could have just told them to take a Taxi but she didn't. Rosie was friendly and informative. She is known by everyone in town and knew all the side roads to miss traffic. We were in Acapulco on a holiday so traffic was terrible. Getting into places to eat was equally bad. Every tour that day had the same problems so it was something that Coral Passengers had to endure. I felt safe with Rosie and had a wonderful time. My favorite stop was the Diego River's Mural.
Kay (Traveler 50) organized a private tour through LeMiles in Cartagena and it was equally as enjoyable. I will let her describe the tour in her review.
The ships excursions are mostly good but they make their living by having "forced" shopping stops. I found staying on the bus was the best way to handle having the tour guide holding your hand and walking you over to see expensive emeralds, etc. The one surprise I had was the stop we made in Aruba for a restroom break had a man standing outside of the toilets collecting 50 cents per person. Apparently this is common in Europe and Aruba is a Dutch colony so this was normal.
The only complaint I would voice about our cruise was fellow passengers who were too loud in the dinning room after having a few too many drinks. Also, the continual complainers who wanted everyone to know about the terrible time they were having. I loved meeting the interesting people and would say "learn to enjoy the moment and look past small inperfections. If there is a problem find the right person to complain too."
Cabin D408 was quiet. We were close to the lifts but didn't notice the hallway noise. Chairs and couch were comfortable to sit on. We noticed at times the cruisers in the cabin next to ours smoking. The balcony wasn't covered but it didn't cause any problems for us. The toilet was hard to flush at times. The bed was hard until our room steward brought us an egg crate to sleep on.