Panama pleasures: Coral Princess Cruise Review by paratrooper888
Overall Member Rating
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: Los Angeles
Cabin: towards aft on Caribe deck on a "bump out;" no significant movement of ship was noted and gentle rolling in high-ish seas assisted in sleep; cabin was smallish but well laid out; shower was okay except for "amorous" shower curtain which kept wanting to wrap itself around you! Good space for clothes; liked the mini-fridge but not the lack of a coffee/tea maker; balcony seemed larger than some with two chairs and loungers with a small table while the lack of complete overhead cover was actually more enjoyable;
Cabin Steward: A great disappointment as her first words to us were to apologize for not completing our roomn upon embarkation - some magazines were missing - and stating that as she had 19 cabins to clean twice a day, she might be a little late on some days getting to ours - unlike previous cruises, we had no relationship with our cabin steward who seemed totally exhausted whenever we saw her; More CruiseAdvice indicated that as our cabin was next to two suites, we would enjoy the cabin services of a the steward assigned to them NOT!
Room service: We enjoyed breakfast on a few days and found the service very speedy and professional; it would have been nice had we been able to order more than just a light continental breakfast.
Entertainment/shipboard activities: without doubt, the highlight of the cruise for us - very professional and with great variety. Cruise Director and staff brilliant and omnipresent; good interaction with passengers.
Dining: "Anytime Dining" resulted in meeting many interesting and entertaining fellow passengers - another highlight of our cruise. Horizon buffet restaurant small with crowded serving lanes; sun was very hot on some tables; food was of a high quality with good variety. Formal dining room fare was surprisingly "average" and was served in smallish quantities; plating was excellent and wait staff always willing to provide additional orders upon request, such as steamed vegatables. Table staff from bussing to waitering was almost universally professional, warm and sincere - well done! Princess needs to address their two specialty restaurants which were mostly deserted after 8:00 p.m. each night; not sure if the $20 per person charge or the menus are to blame; lunch in the "Pub" was a blast and very well attended - good grub as well!
Ship design/amenities: we echo other past passengers observations of "where were all the people?" our cruise was sold out yet many areas of the ship seemed deserted. "Coral" is a very well laid out ship replete with lovely bars, meeting/entertainment places.
Shore excursions: we only chose a shiop excursion on disembarkation day to a0 use up some time as we were taking a late-afternoon flight to Arizona, and b), to reduce the hassle of geting our luggage out of our rooms and to the airport; we opted for the Fort Lauderdale bus tour and boat cruise of the canals - a very good choice as the scenery was fantastic and it was interseting to see the monster houses and yachts on the canals. We used "my friend Mario" for our Panama shore excursion and "Odessey Tours" for Costa Rica; we were not overy impressed with either company as they seemed to have "cobbled" together their tours with little attention being paid to content; we can provide more details upon request.
Ports of call: adequate time for Costa Rica and Panama but Princess needs to re-evaluate only spending a few hours in Aruba and Cartegena; heard many passengers complain about Princess shore excursions for these two ports being rushed.
Annoyments: It seemed that the higher up the staff chain one went with a complaint or interface, the less likely one was to receive a sincere response; it seemed that a glazed look comes over some staff members' faces when they actually have to address a passenger concern - the major complaint we had was in the allocation of mini-suites for which my wife and I were 3rd on the wait list pre-sailing; I phoned Princess 48 hours before the sailing date and was told that there was now availability and that I should check with the ship upon embarkation; this we did at Guest Services and we were met with one officious reply after another culminating with an officer who said that it was her job to allocate all passenger cabins; we never did receive a satisfactory answer and this experience on the first day of our cruise left a sour taste in our mouths.
Finally: We did enjoy our Princess experience on "Coral" enormously and loved the ship; not too keen on the constant badgering for "add on" expenditures but we just tuned them out and didn't sweat the small stuff. Less
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