Coral Princess Cruise Review by Oneknee
- Sail Date: December 2004
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale from Buffalo, NY, a day prior to our departure. I have family in Palm Beach, and we had a relaxing evening before heading to the port. We arrived at 12:45. My brother was able to drive right up to the pier, and drop us off right where the Princess busses let their passengers off. We both have passports and quickly moved to the line for platinum check-in. However, the folks at Platinum were dealing with some difficult passengers, and the Dolphin deck registration took us instead. After receiving our cards, we went upstairs to board the ship. Here we ran into some confusion, as the photographers really created unnecessary lines at a time when you really just want to get to your stateroom and begin exploring. We were on the ship just before 2:00.
Although I have read much about Princess not having people in place to take you to your stateroom, there were tons of staff waiting at every doorway on the ship to guide us--we had no problem at all. After checking out the room and meeting our fantastic stateroom attendant, Thamanoon, we were surprised by wine, champagne, and a huge tray of appetizers from our wonderful family! What a way to start our cruise!!! We booked cabin D705 a mini-suite and were thrilled by our choice. Plenty of room, a full bathtub, covered balcony, and a great cabin steward. We asked for robes and down pillows (and got both on day #2). We then went exploring the ship. While exploring, we looked at the first evening's menu and found nothing that looked too hot, so we made a reservation for Bayou Cafe the first night. The host was nice enough to show us the week's menus for the dining rooms, and we proceeded to book Sabatini's later in the week on French night. Dinner at the Bayou was outstanding. One of the best filets of beef I have ever had, and great shrimp too! Well worth the $10. Sabatini's was very good too, but we were a little too picky to enjoy some of the more daring items on the menu. At both alternative restaurants, the service was A+. We selected PC dining, and would do so again, but ended up sitting at the same table at the same time most nights. We enjoyed Aniko, our fantastic waitress, and her assistant Gary, as well as the company of the nice couple who sat next to us and became our friends on the ship. The food was good, but not ever great. We also had a difficult time with the Maitre 'ds. Not only was it difficult to make reservations, but one time they gave our reserved table to someone else! (I had them reseat the other people). I think we were an afterthought because of our age.
The ship was beautiful, the common areas very clean. In fact, it seemed like there was always someone cleaning, painting, etc... I was very impressed. We especially liked Explorer's lounge, which became our hang out. The staff there were excellent and DJ Mike kept the music going long after Princess closed the bar. The Lido pool was very nice as well, with plenty of chairs, lots of waiters to get us drinks, and perfect weather. We participated in Princess Survivor, several versions of trivia games, darts, and for the first time ever, Bingo. We tried to do as many activities as we could! The activities staff was great--Jack, Sam, Melissa, Vicki, the assistant CD Peter - who is so funny and would make a great CD. David, the CD was not too good though. We are not "show" people so I cannot comment on the entertainment, except for the comedian, who was hilarious! We used the Lotus Spa and were completely impressed!
A major complaint: Most of the passengers on this cruise were very old and tended to be asleep by 10-11 p.m. There were some passengers who used the bars and lounges which were supposed to be open "till the wee hours." At least 4 times, Princess closed the bars throughout the ship with people in them who were enjoying themselves and wanted to remain out, and they did this at midnight!!!! Where I come from this is not good customer service, and midnight is not a "wee hour." By the end of the cruise, we stocked up on beer during the day to bring down to the bars when Princess decided to close them.
Our first port was Limon, and we booked a tour with Oscar Brown to go zip lining. The tour was a mixed bag though--not as great as we had heard on the Ports of Call boards. Zip lining was unbelievable! Such a rush! I would recommend it to everyone- even if you are afraid of heights as I am. We also had the opportunity to hold a sloth, which made Kristin very happy, and got us some cool pictures. We visited the Del Monte banana plantation, and got a behind the scenes look which a large tour would never get. What was bad? First, the van. The van had to be running the whole time, because when it was shut off, we had to push it and jump start it to get it going again. I don't remember that from the brochures. Second, I don't remember reading anywhere what a long ride it was from the port to zip lining--almost 2 hours!!! I guess that is fine, but wish I could have mentally prepared..We did meet some awesome people on the tour, and have new friends because of it!
Next was the Canal experience. We ordered breakfast on our balcony to be delivered at 7:30 which ended up being a good guess as to the time we transited the Canal. I got up at 5:30 and went to see if there was a better vantage point, but I think the balcony was best. There were tons of people on the bow thru the canal transit. Once in Gatun Lake, we tendered to shore and went on a very average, yet expensive eco-boat ride/tour which we booked thru Princess. Due to our intense dislike for waiting for slow people, we cancelled our tours in Grand Cayman and Cozumel, and decided to go it alone.
In Grand Cayman, we found another couple with whom we shared a taxi, and for $13/pp we got an island tour that included Hell, 7 Mile Beach, and the Turtle Farm. (The exact tour we cancelled from Princess.) If you refuse to get on one of the large tour busses loaded with people, they will find you a small cab--fight the power!! Upon returning, we did some shopping and beach time before returning to the ship. Princess did a poor job with the tendering process. While in line to return, no tenders came for us in the time that 6 came for Royal Caribbean. When I questioned a crew member, he explained that it took a long time to get the older passengers on/off.
Cozumel was very nice. We cabbed it to the main shopping area, which is torn up due to construction. We were provided with directions by Princess to give to the driver, which I thought was a nice touch. We made some purchases--nice sliver there, then went to Paradise Beach. PB was great! Relaxing, beautiful water, good drinks.
We were hit with some disappointment in Belize. We had booked cave tubing with Extreme Cave Tubing, but were not able to get off the ship (tenders were given to ship excursions before anyone else was let off) in time. There was nothing else to do there. I understand this was completely our fault though. We ended up spending the day by the pool and working on our amazing tans. We were invited to attend a Bridge tour (I have no idea why or how) but were unable to go due to Kristin's participation in Survivor. After seeing the rest of the people on the tour, I can with 100% confidence say that the pool games were a much better choice, although I am sure the Bridge is interesting.
On the last at sea day, we had champagne breakfast on the balcony (another gift) which was very good. Due to cold weather, we spent the rest of the day with our friends, Scott and Jenn, finishing the Princess bar hop and competing in activities.
Overall, this was a very good cruise. We only have one other to compare it to, but why compare? I think you would have to make a conscious effort not to have a great time on a cruise! Like everything else, a cruise is all about the attitude you bring to it. If you want to have a great time, you will. If you want to be miserable, you will.
THE BEST: 1. Service and staff 1a. The great people we met onboard. 2. Cleanliness of ship/common areas. 3. Lido pool. 4. Thermal spa at Lotus spa. 5. Princess Pizza is awesome!
THE WORST: 1. No night life. 2. Maitre 'd at PC dining. 3. Tendering process. 4. Food quality -- not availability or selection.
Feel free to contact me if I can explain or answer anything for you!
Have a great cruise!
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