1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
Having cruised on large ships before, I was prepared for the herding but not for the lack of caring by management. An attitude of "company policy" and "couldn't care less" were exhibited by front desk personnel. ... Read More
Having cruised on large ships before, I was prepared for the herding but not for the lack of caring by management. An attitude of "company policy" and "couldn't care less" were exhibited by front desk personnel. Hanukkah and Christmas occurred during cruise time and there was neither a rabbi or priest on board for Mass or rites. The entertainment was an embarrassment and the food lackluster. The company seems to have adopted a policy of scrimping to get by. I took one arranged excursion, zip lining in Costa Rica. I prearranged it on line before the trip. It was an adventure in the rain that I thoroughly enjoyed but it would have been better if the group of 25 had been smaller so as to make a speedier trip. The ship interior is badly in need of renovating. The carpeting was beyond repair in the hallway, the hot tub leaked and swamped the deck daily. On the other hand the wait staff was impeccable as was the room steward. I enjoyed dining with pleasant people of various backgrounds. I took a taxi in Aruba to spend the day on a public beach. It was a breath taking sight and an enjoyable afternoon. Since the trip I have heard that this cruise line is under the umbrella of Carnival Cruise Line along with Holland America and Cunard. After this cruise experience I doubt that I ever cruise those lines again.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
For those of you who want me to get down to brass tacks immediately, I will say this was overall a wonderful cruise. The ship was in beautiful shape, very classy and clean. This was my third Princess cruise and my 5th overall. I have never ... Read More
For those of you who want me to get down to brass tacks immediately, I will say this was overall a wonderful cruise. The ship was in beautiful shape, very classy and clean. This was my third Princess cruise and my 5th overall. I have never been on the Coral before. We had a balcony room on deck 8 and an interior room, and although as many of you have read, the showers are crazy small, everything else was fine. Plenty of space for clothing, nice sized balcony, comfortable beds. Water pressure in the showers was amazing. Never ran out of hot water. Embarkation was fast and friendly, although for some reason, they never took our luggage. So when we embarked we had it with us. That turned out to be good, because our rooms were ready right away so we could get in and unpack immediately. I was happy about that because I wanted to change into shorts and now I could! Our room steward, Pedro, was fabulous. Always smiling and greeted us by name. Very sweet to our kids, and spoiled them with towel animals and chocolates. He made sure we had whatever we asked for. He even found some packing material so we could safely take our bottle of champagne we won home. A+ for Pedro! I will say that EVERY crew member I ran into greeted me with a "Good morning" "Happy New Year" or some other kind remark. Everyone smiled and seemed genuinely happy. That was SO nice. It really affects the quality of your overall cruise. I know this from past experience with another cruise line, where this did not happen and it really spoiled the trip. We were hoping our kids would be upgraded from their interior to a balcony, since this ship was not full, but figured that maybe the balconies do not all fit 3 people. No biggie. The new layout of Horizon Court is wonderful. Someone really took notes on what did not work in the past with the buffet and fixed it. I never had to wait for more than a few seconds to get any food, with the exception of the omelets station in the morning, but they have to cook them as you order, so it was fine. The food up at the court is good, not great, but good. I will give kudos for 2 things that I noticed: one was that the salads (green salads) were always very crisp and fresh. They do not skimp with iceberg lettuce either- they used mixed greens or romaine. Nice! Two was the fruit- the watermelon and pineapple and melons were always fresh and ripe. Good job! The desserts were not very good, much better in the MDR. I will say that the sugar-free desserts where surprisingly good- usually better than the regular desserts at HC. The entertainment I noticed was geared more towards the older demographic- since that makes up the majority of cruisings population is I guess why they go that route. The first show was called "What a Swell Party" which consisted of a number of old (classic) show tunes like "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" and "Let's Misbehave". I found it to be a bit boring and dated, but I am not the demographic they are trying to please, so. The best show is "On the Bayou", great sets, costumes, etc. Don't miss that one. "MotorCity" was their ode to Motown, which was pretty good. "Ye Olde Pub Show" was awful. Yikes! I am not a prude, but I don't like some cruises ship's female dancers costumes (barely there), as I think it's unnecessary. I am proud that Princess does not denigrate their female dancers that way. If other cruise lines want to have their female dancers in thongs, then let's have the guys in thongs, too! The comedian was really funny the first night, passable the second show. The mentalist was amazing, and the magician was good, except some of this tricks were revealed inadvertently by lighting, so that kind of took the amazement away. The staff run game shows were great, very funny and entertaining. The other games/trivia were fine, except one staff member didn't "believe" in prizes- so when we won, we got nothing! :( Not cool. The ports were nice, and we went on 3 excursions through Princess- the Cartagena old city tour and canoe trip through the mangroves, in Grand Cayman, the Dolphin Cove/Stingray City tour and the Panama Canal Monkey Island trip. I liked the old city tour, I could have lived without the canoe trip. Did not see much wildlife (birds, a crab), and the mangroves smelled really bad. Our tour guide was great, Willy Guttierez. I can see why he has won awards. The Dolphin Cove/Stingray City tour was great. Keep in mind that if you do Dolphin Cove and want ANY pictures, make sure you have $100 on you. You can purchase one picture for $25 or the whole CD for $100. I will say the pictures are really good, though. Worth it for me. The monkey island trip was not so great, as we only saw 3 monkeys total- all in one sighting- and our tour guide did not bring any fruit to entice them. Another boat guide did, and he had a monkey jump on his boat. The resort they took us to was OK- the hotel was nice, but our tour guide was pointing out time shares she said had been refurbished, and all of us were looking at each other and saying "they have been?!" Yikes. In Aruba we went with Sonny Binns on a tour we designed, with 2 other couples from CC. It was great. Sonny was very informative and very nice. Definitely recommend him. In Costa Rica we had planned to go to the National Park via city bus, but got nervous and went on a canal tour instead. Our tour guide was good and we found many animals, including 3 sloths, howler monkeys, Basilisk lizards, bird and iguanas. He was bale to get the boat right up to the sloths and we could get at the bow and get good pictures. One nice thing about Princess is that when you get back to the ship, they have cold water and cool cloths for you- which is so nice on a hot day! Spoiled rotten with Princess! Food in the MDR- for the most part, I'd say very good. Some things were just okay, while others were fabulous, so they get a very good overall. If you like meat, I highly recommend the Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding- SO GOOD. I also recommend the Filet Mingon- cooked to perfection! Of course their fettucine alfredo is to die for, as is my favorite dessert, the Princess Love Boat Dream. Our waiter was great, Suwit from Thailand. Made great food recommendations and was very sweet to our kids. I preferred lunch in the MDR to HC, as the food was so much better. My son loved the pizzeria and ate lunch there every day. The grill was also good, good burgers, good fries and hot dogs. MUTS was great. They played "Now You See Me"- really enjoyed that one, "The Lone Ranger", "Pacific Rim", "The Great Gatsby" and had some music concerts and sports on as well. Loved the popcorn and the warm cookies and milk. Again, spoiled rotten by Princess! I did wish they had more deck hands passing out blankets, as most of the time we could not find one. The photographers were good, if you can, find Natalie- she will take a great portrait. Very good at posing people to look their best. Complaints? A few- no one is perfect. I was not happy that the Churchill Lounge (smokers lounge) was located in the atrium. Every time you walked past it you could smell smoke, and during disembarkation, we sat in Crooner's Bar which is right across from the atrium and got a sore throat from the smoke. We were supposed to wait in the Wheelhouse Bar, but there was no space left. Also, during our Panama Canal transit, the loudspeaker system was not working well and the man they had aboard to tell us all about the canal during the transit could not be heard- you got every 3rd or 4th word he said, which was extremely annoying. I really wanted to hear what he had to say. I was glad I had done a lot of research on the canal before I went, or I'd have been really ticked off. My DH was furious, because he called down to the front desk to complain, hoping they'd fix it, and they acted like they didn't know what he was talking about- "they are not making any announcements" they told him. I thought he was going to go down and choke them. I also thought they could have done more for the New Year's Party. No champagne (unless you bought it), no balloons, just streamers. One of our previous Princess cruises was over New Year's and they had the champagne waterfall that night with free champagne, a balloon drop at midnight, etc. But, other than those things, I thought Princess did a great job and I am looking forward to my next cruise- on Princess, of course! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
11/26/2013 through 12/07/2013 Background The views and opinions expressed in this review are mine and may conflict with others thoughts. That is what makes everyone unique. I have found these boards so very helpful in the past, and ... Read More
11/26/2013 through 12/07/2013 Background The views and opinions expressed in this review are mine and may conflict with others thoughts. That is what makes everyone unique. I have found these boards so very helpful in the past, and wanted to share my experience. I found little information on this cruise as I did my research that spoke to anything other than the canal. To me his trip was more than the canal and thus my review will hopefully provide a more comprehensive view on this cruise for newer cruisers such as myself. My DH and I sailed on the Coral Princess roundtrip Panama Canal partial transit from November 26, 2013 through December 7, 2013. We are in our late 30's and this was our 3rd cruise (on the Ruby Princess in January of 2013 and Celebrity Solstice in 2012). Previously we have done 5 all-inclusive resort vacations at Sandals. We booked Balcony Class B2, room #C603 (Caribe Deck - 10). This floor’s balcony cabins are larger than regular balcony cabins and are ½ covered and ½ exposed. I am a vegetarian when I travel (macrobiotic vegan at home) and I contacted Princess prior to departure. I was told via email that they would be able to accommodate my food request and to contact the Maître D once on ship. To get this out of the way, food was not very vegetarian on this cruise. Every main course contained egg. Why someone classifies chicken eggs as not animal is beyond me. Did I eat it, yes, because I didn’t want to cause a fuss. Before the trip, I read the recommended book The Path Between the Seas. I normally read a fiction book a week and have a difficult time reading non-fiction. This was no different. It took me 2 months to read the book cover to cover. I am glad I did because I certainly did not know any of the history on the canal. There was a 10 page section toward the end that would have sufficed. My DH read that part and felt well informed. However, there were several lectures and movies that would have provide a similar background. In fact the movie by NOVA, A Man, A Plan, A Canal, was almost a word for word read of the book. Travel and Embarkation We had a direct flight from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale on the day of embarkation. Our flight put us in around 1:00. We got to the terminal and upon exit from the curb a representative from Princess took our bags. This next part made my DH very happy. There was no wait for security or check-in and we waked right on board. We were able to immediately head to our room and drop our bag before heading for lunch. Room The balcony was very nice in that it was very large. It had 2 recliners and a table. On the way down, the balcony was always shaded which is good for us. The way back, the sun was intense, so we did not sit out there during the morning or afternoon. We used the balcony a ton, which is why I wanted the larger space. The room itself was small but very functional. In comparison to Celebrity Solstice, the bathroom was lacking in space and décor. I much preferred the Solstice’s shower including glass door to the Coral and Ruby’s small shower and curtain. They have added a dispenser for shampoo/conditioner and shower gel; one more obstacle to avoid in an already crowded area. The closet space was much better than the Solstice. The amount of hanging and shelf space was significantly more. The bed was horrible; we clearly must have had a mattress topper on the Ruby. You could clearly feel that it was two beds and I have bruises on my sides from sleeping. We could have asked for a topper, but it was not a huge deal. The décor inside the room and the ship was not my style. I found it to appear dated just like the Ruby. I much preferred the décor on Solstice, but certainly this did not impact my vacation in any way. One tip I read on this board that always pays off is with respect to the carpet color difference on the port vs. starboard side. The port side had red in the side runners, vs. the starboard side which is pink. Sometimes you walk off the staircase and get turned around, but that always help steer you in the right direction. Food Highly subjective topic. We ate well and were satisfied. We ate in the main dining room for breakfast for the first three sea days. For Aruba and Cartagena we ordered room service. All other breakfasts we ate at the buffet. We ate Muesli with Soy Milk. For room service we wrote in Soy Mile and got it without exception. Also we asked for room service between 6:30 and 7:00. We got it at 6:30 each time. We tipped nicely for this extra service. For lunch, we ate in the main dining room every sea day. We each ate the vegetarian burger which was tasty. We ate at the grill on a few days and ate the same vegetarian burger. Many of our excursions included lunch also. For dinner, we had anytime dinning and elected to eat at 5:30 almost every night. The weird thing was they seemed to be open earlier than the flyer suggested so we would go a few minutes early. One night we got back late from an excursion and ate more like 6:00 and still did not have to wait for a table for two. My DH ordered fish most nights and was pleased. I ordered the vegetarian main course on all but one occasion. One night they did not have a vegetarian main course (only the pasta) and I could not eat that option. The head waiter accommodated my request to just provide the sample of all the vegetable sides from the other main courses. If you have a special diet, they are supposed to provide you the menu from the night before and take your order. I did this for night 2, but after that I would ask to see the menu and explain the process, but it became too confusing to explain to the wait staff so I just stopped. Overall the food was good. I would suggest the Solstice was much better in terms of options, quality of food science and overall taste. That is not to say I went hungry or did not like what I ate, I certainly did enjoy it. Beverage Package We previously purchased the unlimited soda and more package when we traveled on the Ruby, which was a great value for us. This time around we did not think it would be a good value as we did not anticipate our consumption of beverage would be 3 or more per day. However when we got to our room, we found that our travel agent purchased this for us as a gift! So very nice and unexpected! We did use it every day, but would not have been cost effective this round. The package was convenient since we did not need to sign anything. We tried the mocktails and really enjoyed the Chocobanana. Nightly Entertainment/Show Highly subjective topic. There were a few guest appearances (two comedians, a magician/illusionist and a hypnotist) and the house entertainers. The dancers were excellent. The house orchestra was ok. After the first show, we did not return to see any of the production shows because of the singers. The first comedian was funny but the crowd was not into him. The second comedian was not a comedian, but rather a singer and ventriloquist. I really enjoyed hm. We did not do the hypnotist. MUTS This is why we sail Princess. My DH really enjoys MUTS. We watched Oblivion, Man of Steel, Star Trek into Darkness, and Wolverine. Another highlight was watching the Lions beat Green Bay on Thanksgiving!!!!!!! We also watched The Heat in the Princess Theater and a few in room movies. Crew I would say this ship had overall the most friendly crew members. Everyone we encountered was friendly, helpful, talkative, etc. Sea Days We played basketball, played put-put, worked out, watched a few lecturers, watched an in room movie, etc. Pretty much hung out and relaxed. They were great, but I would not want more than we had in a row. Otherwise I am afraid that my DH would get bored. Ok so funny story. On the first full sea day, we were hugging the coast of Cuba. My DH always jokes that we are going to get bombed by them. We were in the room when I looked out and saw two super small boats racing towards us. Did you see Captain Phillips? Well we both grabbed our binoculars to check for machine guns. Nope nothing, whew! It was crazy, there was a larger fishing boat and then these two boats. Not sure why they were racing toward us, but it was a non-issue, but a good chuckle for us. Aruba I booked an independent excursion through Jolly Pirates. For $51.00 each, we stopped at 3 snorkel locations, had lunch and got to rope swing off the boat. To get to the location we took the public bus which was $2.30 per person each way. No problems with the transportation. The first snorkel stop was at the Antilla shipwreck; a WWII ship. This was very cool to do. I have read reviews that suggest this stop is for experienced swimmers/snorkels due to the current and waves. I would not characterize myself as a strong swimmer. I had no problems at this spot and in fact really enjoyed this stop. The other two stops were in more shallow water or closer to shore. I had my fill after the first stop as I get headaches from the water easy. My DH snorkeled at the third stop. Lunch was BBQ chicken, ribs and rice and beans. I had preordered a vegetarian meal and they confirmed this via email before we left for vacation and again at check-in. However, there was no meal on the boat. They gave me beans and rice which was fine. Another highlight of this excursion was the rope swing. My DH with his 3rd degree separated shoulder got in line and did a flip into the water. Crazy man! At least he had fun. The ships near us all stopped to watch us; you could tell they were jealous! The way back they played music and everyone seemed to be having a great time. I would highly recommend this excursion to everyone. We would do this again if we returned to Aruba. Cartagena I again booked an independent excursion through Segway Tours Colombia SAS. We did a Segway excursion in Puerto Rico before and loved it, so we wanted to do another one in a historic city. For $65.00 each, we booked the 90 minute historic tour. We also arranged for taxi transportation with this company for $15.00 each way. There was one other couple on the excursion with us. We stayed in the walled city and stopped at major churches, public squares and other relevant places. It was warm that day and there was no wind. At each stop, César, our guide, would direct us to a shaded location and provide informational narrative on the location. He was awesome and so was the excursion. We traveled down the streets and got to see some magnificent balconies with flowers. We would do this excursion again in a heat beat. At the end of the tour, the cab driver arrived to take us back, but for $20.00 each person, he would take us wherever we wanted to go before arriving back at the ship. The couple we were with wanted to shop for an emerald, so we agreed to go to various sites for the extra money. We stopped at a shopping center that the cruise ship stops at, and an emerald museum. Of interest to us, we stopped at the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. For $20.00 each we could have gone into the fort, but we just wanted to get photos. The last stop was at the La Popa Monastery. This is a top a large hill and gives some great photo opportunities of the city below. There was a $5.00 per person admittance charge, but again we were only looking for picture opportunities so we did not go in. After this we headed back to the ship. The taxi driver is the regular driver that César uses for his Segway business and is very polite and honest. Please note, the vendors in Cartagena are aggressive. If you are not interested, just tell them and they will leave you alone. If you act interested, they will continue to follow you trying to sell their wares. We had no problem, but saw others struggle with this concept. Panama Canal and Colon So the canal itself is interesting, but not the main reason why I wanted to do this cruise. I liked the various ports including this one. I have no idea how long it took to do the three steps of the locks, maybe 1 hour? It was raining hard as we approached the locks, but by the time we were in them, the rain was light and then stopped. There was a very pretty double rainbow. Ok so here was the first confusing thing about the ship. I read on this board that we could get to the bow of the boat from deck 10 and 11. However, when you try to get there, there are signs which clearly state for emergency only. As a result, my DH told me I was wrong. But I knew that this board would not lead me astray. So on the day of, I asked DH if we could just try. He agreed and as we got close to the door I asked a cabin steward if we could use the door and he said of course. So in we went. Yeah!!!! Thanks board! View was great from here because the upper decks are blocked by glass. We stayed here, then went to the 8th floor aft to see the gates close, to our room on the starboard side to see the landscape, to the 7th floor port side to see how close we were to the sides and back to the 10th floor bow. We booked PC1610A Monkey & Wildlife Nature Cruise on Gatun Lake. This excursion boarded the tender 50 minutes after clearing the locks. I think this was my all-time favorite excursion. We drove a bit to get to our location with commentary from the guide as we went. Once there we boarded our boats in the Chagres River, went through the cut and into Gatun Lake. The guides pointed out various birds and reptiles. We stopped at a few islands in the lake and called the moneys! They threw peanuts or banana’s on the bow of the boat and the monkey’s came. First we got to see a family of 3 Capuchin monkeys. They jumped on the front and side of the boat, ate, jumped in the trees, etc. It was the highlight of my life! I so love primates and have never seen wild monkeys. Next, we spotted a group of Howler monkeys high in the tree tops. They are a lethargic group, so there was no interaction with them, nor did we get to hear them. The last set of monkeys we encountered were Geoffroy's Tamarin. I have never seen them before. Super cute, fast and less social than the Capuchin. This excursion included a snack, which consisted of a box lunch of a turkey sandwich, mango slices and a banana muffin. More than we expected. Limon, Costa Rica We booked LIO105A Rainforest Aerial Tram, Tortuguero Canals & Lunch. Wow is there a reason to book through Princess. This was a 10 hour excursion. The first part of the trip took us to a river boat where we saw various birds and a sloth real close up. It was lovely! Then we got back into the bus to go to the rainforest where they provided us with a snack of various fruits. Now it was a nice bus, but we got delayed due to the government deciding that it was time to trim trees. We were stuck on the road for an hour. We thought we would not make it to the rainforest or have lunch. We were able to do both. The rainforest was beautiful and the air quality was unbelievable. We did not see any monkeys, but we did see the largest wasp known to man. Good lord! We also saw butterflies and wonderful varieties of plants and trees. The lunch was served buffet style and consisted of fruits, rice, beans, chicken, pasta and a dessert dish of plantains. Overall super yummy! In total we were on the bus for 5 hours. We got back to the ship and they drove us straight to the gangway because it was 15 minutes past the time we were set to sail. Oops! Grand Cayman We booked GCM450A Scenic Bike Ride, Turtle Farm, Hell & Snorkel. The tour suggests that it is strenuous as it is a 7 mile bike ride. I am not sure we actually biked a full 7 miles, but I could be wrong. This was a great tour, but a word of warning, you are biking. If you are not used to biking 7 miles, this is probably not the excursion for you. It was a slow pace and at the end there were several folks who looked like it was way too much for them. The tour took us to the turtle farm (not a big fan of what I saw here), rum place, Hell and back to the shop. We don’t drink so the rum place was of no interest. Hell was boring as…well you get the point. Then we boarded the bus and went to the Tiki Bar for a snorkel break off the shore. It was a good snorkel; saw three lobsters and many various fish. Disembarkation We were delayed getting off by about 30 minutes. Not sure why, but I would rather hang on the boat for extra time than hang in the airport. There was an announcement that I didn’t hear well, but I heard something about CDC. I won’t bore you with our flight back, but we landed in wind chill of 7. Not fun! Summary Overall, we had a wonderful time. I loved the balcony and chairs. The excursions were amazing! We have another cruise planned for April on Princess. Spending 11 straight days with my DH is priceless and I can’t imagine having a bad time on vacation ever. I would like to thank everyone for answering my questions along the way and more importantly having the ability to read your questions and responses so I was well prepared.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
A really good 14 day experience. My Stateroom number was C309, one of the staterooms with the small curved balcony. STATEROOM: The room was typical in size and in great condition. The balcony was small but was just fine. I liked the ... Read More
A really good 14 day experience. My Stateroom number was C309, one of the staterooms with the small curved balcony. STATEROOM: The room was typical in size and in great condition. The balcony was small but was just fine. I liked the curved balcony because it offers a wide 180 degree view of the canal transit. Yes, you lose privacy, as other passengers on their balconies can see you, but for the canal experience I recommend this balcony type; also note you can see the other passengers. Bed was comfortable... bathroom shower was small; When one is on a cruise one should know that showers are smaller than in your house. No problem. STEWARD STAFF: A+. The room was tended to twice per day, on schedule, and quickly. Moore was the name of the steward... he was very professional and polite. FOOD: The food was good in all locations. Fresh, pleasing to eat, great to look at. Note, I did not say the food was "great,"... I said it was good. Nothing to complain about. The service however was excellent! ENTERTAINMENT: Very good, and was changed throughout the duration! I attended all of the choices, and was completely satisfied. The Scholarship@Sea program was fantastic. SHOPPING: I did not do any on-board shopping, and I did not feel pressured to by anything. SHIP TOUR: The behind the scenes ship tour (there is a fee) is well worth the cost. It lasts about 3 hours and is very informative. CONS: 1) This itinerary has many "continuous sea days." 2) The stateroom television had a faulty ship's course tracking system, therefore, one could not track the ship location. BE AWARE: Internet service on ALL cruise lines is very slow and very expensive. Princess Cruises did a good job of providing activities and its up to the passengers to take advantage of the offerings. I would do this cruise again and will sail with Princess again.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
This cruise was selected in order to witness the construction being undertaken for the new canal locks and channels. We booked the cruise in two segments, a two day cruise from Vancouver to San Fransisco in an inside cabin, B727, then the ... Read More
This cruise was selected in order to witness the construction being undertaken for the new canal locks and channels. We booked the cruise in two segments, a two day cruise from Vancouver to San Fransisco in an inside cabin, B727, then the 15 day segment onward to Fort Lauderdale in cabin B735 a balcony cabin across the corridor. Our logic was that we expected cool temperatures out of Vancouver and didn't expect to use the balcony. This proved to be a wise decision and we got a cruise credit toward our Elite status. The original plan was to arrive in Vancouver two days prior to sailing. The threat of an Air Canada strike the day before our flight caused us to re-book for two days earlier giving us 4 days in Vancouver. We chose to stay at the Quality Inn in Richmond near the airport. This was a reasonably priced, clean and comfortable hotel close to everything. The gorgeous Minoru park behind the hotel, the Foggy Dew pub across the street and numerous other restaurants and malls made this a delightful area to spend the time. We went by bus, a twenty minute ride, to Steveson, a fishing port nearby. This port offers a number of outstanding fish restaurants harbour-side. On boarding day the hotel shuttle took us to the Canada line train station which we used for the trip to the Canada Place dock. We walked with our luggage from the train to the reception area, about 2 blocks. Arriving about 11:30 we were in our cabin by noon. We were greeted by Petra our exceptional cabin Stewart for the 17 days. She anticipated all our needs and made our move to the next cabin effortless. We had done the 15 day cruise aboard the Coral 3 years before so we were familiar with the ship. The major change was the conversion of the rear adult only pool to the Sanctuary area. This was a disappointment because we had really enjoyed this area in the past. I believe all the ships should have an adult only area. The ship is very well maintained and generally spotless. The crew without exception carried on the Princess style of acknowledging everyone and being engaging. We encountered heavy seas from Vancouver to San Francisco which slowed our progress and delayed our arrival by 3 hours. Because of anticipated heavy swells we did not stop in Cabo because the Captain believed that tendering would be too dangerous. This meant that we spent 6 1/2 glorious sea days getting to Puntaranous. Many passengers and crew were anxious to set foot on land but we thoroughly enjoyed of sea time. Missing Cabo meant that we were not able to exchange our entertainment crew. Nevertheless we enjoyed the comedians and in particular the ventriloquist. We had seen two of the production shows before and did not attend. We did see the first showing of a new and outstanding show called "Bayou" in the Universe lounge. With few exceptions we would begin our evening activities by visiting the Elite/Platinum lounge in a corner Explorers lounge (5 to 7PM). There the chef, Christian, prepared everything that was presented often making each item to individual order. Whenever he was not serving he made sure he visited each table to speak with each guest. During the trip he learned that he had lost his home and that of his mother's due to a cyclone in Manila. Despite this personal tragedy he maintained his composure and continued to serve his guests as if nothing was troubling him. Each night this lounge offered a drink special at $3.99. This was a delightful way of trying drinks I would not normally indulge in. We wait staff consisted of Lerraine, Marcel and Venod. These servers very personable and made the lounge a special place. After the lounge closed we would either remain there to listen to Passion, a group from St. Lucia, or go to another venue for music until our usual dinner at 8:00 PM. Although we had Anytime Dining in the Bordeaux dining room we soon established a standing reservation for table 29. This is a table for 2 by a starboard window in an isolated and quiet corner. Its other important attraction is that it is staffed by Vaughn and Miguel an outstanding wait team. Vaughn always impressed us with his menu explanations and wine appreciations. He was friendly and funny and really encouraged Miguel to interact and improve his skills. A great team. We made use of a new feature, apparently introduced on this cruise, called a wine card, similar to the coffee card. It was offered as either a 7, 10, or 12 bottle card in two colors. The Gold allowed you to have any bottle up to $30 and the other color (Platinum?) allowed up to a $40 bottle. We bought the 12 bottle Gold card for $240 plus 15% thus saving the approximate cost of 2 bottles. I hope they introduce this on all ships. We took a city tour of Puerto Amador. After tendering ashore we boarded a minibus (19 pax) and had a delightful guide. Saw the old and new cities and considered this to be a worthwhile tour. We took a taxi with another couple into Cartagena, clock-tower gate. We were hassled approaching the taxi loading area and offered a taxi for $50. We declined. At the taxi boarding area there was a sign stating the fee for 4 passengers was $15 or $20 depending on the destination. We had hoped to wonder around the old town on our own but we found the aggressive vendors and hangers on coupled with the temperature too much to bear and retreated back to the ship. Will not try this again in Cartagena. In Aruba we took a Catamaran trip offered by the ship (Red Sail tours)and it was outstanding. We had good winds so we had great sailing to and from the two snorkel/swimming sites. The rum punch and music on the return sail were wonderful. As stated earlier the primary purpose of this particular cruise was to witness the new construction being undertaken on the canal. This did not disappoint. Much of the work is being done adjacent to the present canal. Extensive dredging, earth-moving and lock building are easily seen. We were fortunate that we had dry mostly sunny weather for the passage. It was all I anticipated. We made the most of the small, mostly unknown and unused balcony at the stern of Baja deck. On days other than the passage we often had this balcony to ourselves and it was only two cabins removed from ours. There is a similar, slightly narrower, balcony directly below on Carib. Disembarkation went very smoothly at Fort Lauderdale. We had Red 3 tags for a scheduled disembarkation at 8:10. We were off within 5 minutes of that time, and through US immigration promptly. We took a cab to the airport for $15 including tip, the ship wanted $19 each, and were at the Air Canada counter by 8:45. Except for security the flights home were uneventful. This cruise was everything we had hoped for. We had a great ship and crew, good entertainment and outstanding dining and mostly super weather. We've completed 12 cruises with Princess and hope to be Elite for our 28 day South Seas adventure in October 2012. Dennis & Louise Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2010
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, ... Read More
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. Special Rooms: 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 • Crocheting • Painting green ware (Ceramics) • Card making • Journaling • 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. Entertainment: 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. ScholarShip@Sea: 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." Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
Generally, the ship and Princess compare very favorably to Celebrity. One thing that can be improved is the food. We ate in the Bordeaux dining room at "anytime dining." We enjoyed eating when we felt like it with different ... Read More
Generally, the ship and Princess compare very favorably to Celebrity. One thing that can be improved is the food. We ate in the Bordeaux dining room at "anytime dining." We enjoyed eating when we felt like it with different people most evenings. We met a lot more people that way and had different conversations each night. The lobster, shrimp and fish dinners were excellent. The beef was tough to us and to other couples we dined with. Some of the offerings did not sound appetizing. Also, the hot lunches in the Horizon buffet dining were not very tasty. We did not pay extra to eat in any of the specialty restaurants on board. The ship left Port Everglades on Thanksgiving Day. We were able to get on the ship easily before noon even though we were told we couldn't board until 1PM. Getting on was quick and so was getting off. Very efficient. We were able to get off first because we took all our own bags off with us. We took 4 shore excursions booked through Princess. We were happy we booked the Princess tour in Costa Rica because our bus got caught in a traffic jam and flood caused by 8 inches of rain! Our bus and 2 others were almost 2 hours late past sailing time and Princess held the ship for us because we booked through Princess. We had almost taken a private tour and were so glad we didn't!! The minute we were back on the ship, they sailed away. We booked this cruise last minute on Monday and left port on Thursday. Saved a lot of money and were upgraded 2 classes. We had the last cabin at the back of the Coral Princess on the Aloha deck. It was very quiet and comfortable. We had to walk a long way to the restaurants at the front of the ship but it helped us burn off some calories and get some exercise. The shows and entertainment in the Princess Theater were very nice. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
This was our fifth Princess cruise and we have never cruised with anyone else. All our friends in the USA think they are the best. However this one we felt a little disappointed. As always the ship was spotlessly clean.However we believe ... Read More
This was our fifth Princess cruise and we have never cruised with anyone else. All our friends in the USA think they are the best. However this one we felt a little disappointed. As always the ship was spotlessly clean.However we believe that the choice of food in the evening in our dining room had been drastically reduced and the service on our table on some evenings was truly diabolical. On many occasions we had to ask for refills of our drinks and on one night it took 90minutes before our first course arrived. In contrast the service in the Horizon Court was as good if not better than ever. Friendly cheerful staff greeted us at any time of day or night and tables were cleared efficiently without interruption or fuss. They were attentive and shared conversation with us whilst doing a superb job. The entertainment was ok but we loved Billy and Collette.The WAKE SHOW should be bottled and shipped to the world media. A real tonic and great start to every day. As always there was so much to do but the Panama transit and Cabo San Lucas were our favourites. Excitement broke out on the ship as we cruised away from Acapulco when many dolphins followed us but this was exceeded by the whales as we left Cabo. How priviliged we were to see such beautiful creatures especially as we never expected to see them. Christmas and New year celebrations were good but were better in 2005 and 2007 on the Sea Princess. Maybe because the guests on the Coral were mainly from Mexico and the USA whereas the Caribbean roundtrips attract younger people with families from England. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
We are a family of 6... 4 kids ages 21-13 we travel with my mother and her best friend. That makes traveling a little hard with 8 of us. That is why we "choose to cruise". We boarded the ship in LA which was nice. We are from ... Read More
We are a family of 6... 4 kids ages 21-13 we travel with my mother and her best friend. That makes traveling a little hard with 8 of us. That is why we "choose to cruise". We boarded the ship in LA which was nice. We are from the San Diego area, only an hour and a half drive! Embarkation was fast, it only took 15 min. We met my mother on the ship, by the time we got to our rooms our baggage was there. We had 3 mini suites with connecting balconies Dolphin Deck aft rms 710,712,714. This was our second time onboard the Coral. We took an Alaska cruise on the Coral 2 years ago. I think this is a beautiful ship and I love sailing on her. It is a little hard for me to find my way around this ship for some reason. I think the layout is a bit confusing. With that being said, I really have no complaints about the ship or it's staff. Everyone that we had contact with that worked on the ship went above and beyond the normal service expected of them. Our cabin steward Gil, was great. Our rooms were clean and when i requested an egg crate he managed to find one for me even though the ship was full. He even put an extra mattress on our 2 kids' sofa beds every nite! I liked where our rooms were, there was no traffic and it was for the most part quiet. The food was better than the last time I was on the Coral. But I still give the buffet a C-. We ate in the dining room every nite except when we got back late from shore excursions. They had 2 lobster nites and a good traditional Christmas dinner. We had early seating with our own group of 8 at the table. Our head waiter was amazing, and his assistant Arturo . We never had to ask for anything to drink. they figured out all of our tastes and just kept it coming! Our CC group was AWESOME!!!! We met some of the nicest people and I will remember some of them and the memories we shared for a long time. We had our M&G at the Wheelhouse bar and we had a gift exchange on Dec.26 at the same place. This really was for the most part a fun group of people! We were able to see two important football games in the theater on BIG screen. The USC Trojans and the SD Chargers. That was a lot of fun. Fight On!!! The ship was decorated beautifully, there was snow in the atrium while the Carolers sang it was quite an experience. My kids were a little sad about spending the holidays on a cruise ship but they soon got over it. One of the CC members even brought presents for them to open Christmas day. The last time we were on the Coral my kids complained that there wasn't enough for them to do. This time we were pretty busy. We went to tea, had wine tasting, sunbathed( Deck 10 and 11 nice and private), spent a lot of time in the gym,walked everyday on the promenade deck 7, enjoyed our balconies and spent time getting massages in the Spa. I think the attitude you have towards other people makes your traveling experience either enjoyable or intolerable. I saw a lot of grumpy people and a lot of smiles. There were a LOT of children on this cruise mostly in the" teens " Including my kids. Don't go on a holiday cruise if you don't like being around kids. I think Princess needs to step up their security at nite at certain areas of the ship. there were kids running up and down the hallways knocking over trash cans in front of the elevators and doing "inappropriate" activities late at nite. Everyone kept asking"where are their parents?" Good Question!!!!!!!!! We do things as a family, my kids don't go in the teen clubs because they are pretty close in age and they keep each other occupied. We were getting blamed for the actions of this wild bunch of kids right and left. We walked on a tour bus in Cartegena and it was full of "elderly" people and immediately one person said "oh no,not kids" and turned around and glared at me. a woman in the laundry room said" I hope those aren"t your kids running up and down the halls making all this noise" I guess this would be the only negative thing I have to say about this cruise is the way Princess handled the chaos and noise from the kids. Many people complained and Princess did nothing. The New Years celebration was something I will never forget. FUN FUN FUN!!!!!!!!!!! You have to experience it at least once. My one suggestion to Princess is to spend time actually taking the shore excursions you offer people. Check out the guides and the busses you put people on. There were quite a few breakdowns. Some of the tours were not what was described in the shore excursion listings. I think on this cruise I came to the conclusion that I will from now on book my own excursions through private operators. Overall,this cruise was everything I expected. We really enjoyed our time together as a family and time spent on the Coral. I would do it again and probably will, next Christmas. I forgot to mention the Entertainment. I thought it was pretty sorry. The comedians were mediocre and the dancers were pretty bad. We got most of our entertainment watching the Karaoke and Princess Pop Star contest. Maybe because my daughter was in it.LOL Seriously, Princess needs to improve their shows just take it up a notch or two. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Coral Princess Panama Canal 12-23-2008 to 01-06-2009 I recently returned from a 14 day Panama Canal transit where I was surprised by a rash of migraine headaches which completely disabled me and rendered me room bound for a good portion ... Read More
Coral Princess Panama Canal 12-23-2008 to 01-06-2009 I recently returned from a 14 day Panama Canal transit where I was surprised by a rash of migraine headaches which completely disabled me and rendered me room bound for a good portion of the cruise. Having said that, I cannot think of a better place to have a Migraine, the Coral staff was one of the best I've experienced so far. I got excellent room service and even was allowed to order some items off the main menu when I couldn't get out of the room. Lauren, the Assistant Cruise director, was the best, she made everything more enjoyable and everybody loved her. In spite of having some health problems on this cruise, I really had a good time and I learned a lot about how to travel better. I had a lot of misconceptions about some of the ports in Central America. I stayed back in ports that I otherwise wouldn't have and was pleasantly surprised at the small moments I found there. When I missed a port I made all my wonderful CC friends tell me everything! Strangers too. Our CC group was incredible; they all really made a difference for me. I made some mistakes and learned from them, always a bonus when traveling. The Coral is in good shape and if anybody is in E736 you will have the best room steward ever, Supatra. She took care of me like a mother. Our balcony room was a perfect place to watch the canal transit since it was the most aft corner portside; I even got to touch the canal sides a few times. Although I had a headache, we were gratefully not on the sunny side of the ship so I was able (after taking my migraine pills) to watch the transit from the bed and eventually go out onto the balcony. I had planned to go all throughout the ship while transiting but when I got sick I had to stay in the room and frankly that turned out to be wonderful as well. One note on this balcony; it is completely connected to the aft viewing area and not private at all. Anybody can climb onto your balcony and walk right in to your cabin so make sure you keep it locked. This only applies to the Emerald deck far aft balconies; all the other decks are not connected. Finally, only the Emerald deck aft port balconies are covered, all the rest are uncovered. I was not clear about this but we did not mind the privacy thing and were grateful for the shade. I took pictures of the balcony, if anybody is interested I'll post them on the Princess boards when I get them downloaded to my computer in the next few days. We enjoyed the ship so much because it was not unusual to walk through it and barely see a person. The ship was filled to capacity since it was a holiday cruise, but on this ship you hardly felt it. I never encountered lines during our traditional early seating in the dining room. We had a great diverse table which really made it interesting and the waiter was good if not great but our Junior Waiter Felipe from Chile was incredible, I can't praise him enough. We got there nightly at 6PM but often had to wait 30-40 minutes before our orders were taken and then things got rushed. Our table company was very good so it never was that big a deal, and I took my time eating anyway! We never encountered any angry or surly staff members all, I was struck by the happiness factor I encountered amongst all the staff. Nice. I liked but did not love all of the new menu items. I am somewhat picky, and frankly I don't really care that much about food so I am not a fair judge. I lost 9 pounds on the cruise so I am not complaining about it! I did have a wonderful Turkey dinner for Christmas. I heard that the executive head chef was on the ship and he created a Chef's table at the last minute, several of my friends were able to attend that and they raved about it. They also got to try Sabatini's Breakfast, which is normally reserved for Suite passengers only, and I think this was the trial run. Again, I heard good things. We ate one night at Sabatini's and they went above and beyond the call of duty in preparing my picky eater requests, bless them! I didn't feel at all like the pain in the rear that I usually feel like when I make all the special requests in restaurants and that was wonderful. The restaurant manager from South Africa was so nice. I loved his style, panache, and perfect attitude. The whole experience was fun and delicious. One thing I did notice was a reduction of security, particularly youth security. Last year I was on B2B Island Princess Canal transits during the holidays and there were a lot more visible security people present. I was told that there were undercover staff around but I didn't notice them controlling the teens much. Most of the kids were very well behaved and a delight to meet. There were a few permissive and somewhat aggressive families on the ship. I heard one large family kept calling the captain and asking him to move the ship closer to shore so they could whale watch, when they didn't get their way they threw a fit! They let their kids run wild, never a good idea on a ship as far as I am concerned. I saw things that shocked me regarding kids' and adults' behavior and I am a middle school teacher in LA Unified so you can imagine that I am pretty used to this. Parents, be very careful about how much freedom you give your kids here. I caught some youngsters "doing it" on the aft balcony at 4:30 am on New Years day, or rather they caught me as I was half asleep and looking for the line of ships waiting to enter the Panama Canal. Many parents innocently think nothing bad can happen on a self-contained ship. Think again about that private room for them and protect your precious cargo on cruise ships. Huatulco was wonderful, we took the Sail and Swim tour and swam in one of the bays and sailed around the others. We explored a cove and just floated around in the water with CC friends. As we swam back to the small boat a huge spotted Ray swam under us, it was so cool. The weather was perfect, the water was the same. You can easily do this town on your own, and a tour with Princess is also nice. You can walk to a great swimming beach right off the pier. There is plenty of shopping too. I missed my tour in Guatemala and was so bummed out that I made myself hobble out to the shopping area right off the ship with a raging migraine, I just had to buy something and I wasn't going to allow a headache prevent me. I pooped out quick but managed to get some beautiful woven purses at extremely reasonable rates ($4 each). It was worth it! Princess was generous and gracious enough to let me cancel my pre-booked excursion at the last minute without making me pay, or even making me go to the doctor. I really appreciated that, it made all the difference in the world. I also missed my private tour in Nicaragua, but was pleasantly surprised at the town of Porto Corinto. I was expecting it to be terrible, poor and filled with starving dogs and people but this was not the case. It was very cute; we caught a parade that was so interesting and different where they were carrying the statue of Mary through the streets and what a statue it was! I sat with my mouth open most of the time here, this is the kind of place where you get an authentic slice of the real locals, like it or not, but I really loved it! I bought a wonderful Chess set of the Conquistadors vs. the Mayans in ceramics for $30 bucks. I saw Crocodile purses for $35 and bought a wooden coaster set for $5! The prices were great, and the locals were very nice. Finally, I bought the best coffee beans here (I'm drinking it now) for $5 a pound. Wow. We did a tour in Costa Rica with Charlie Soto to the Tarcoles River; it was my 3rd and last time with Charlie. We had a large CC group and while it was enjoyable enough, there were some disappointing moments for some and there were quite a lot of us who didn't think we got what we were expecting or paid for. I might have been grumpy from the migraine medication which was turning me into a zombie. ? It was hot in Cartegena and there were 400 people on the "best of "tour so it was funny to see the massive line of buses, and soon we all descended upon the city like flies. But oh what a city, it is amazingly scenic and really not to be missed. The old city is gorgeous, narrow streets filled with colorful home and stores with balconies filled with flowers and flower boxes everywhere. I am certain I saw Carmine Miranda (and old movie star) walking down the street with fruit on her head. The views from La Popa Monastery were magnificent and we learned a lot about the history of the city from our tour guide. We even got to climb the fort and walk through the cave like passages. There was not enough time to shop for Emeralds yet I managed to buy one anyway. My only criticism is that there was not enough time to explore this fabulous port! Give us more time here Princess. Aruba was the only port besides Huatulco that I felt great at and didn't have to take Migraine medication. We arrived late and this was where I made a giant mistake; I got in line very early (an hour and a half before we got to port) because I had reserved a car and we were late and I was hoping to jam off the ship and grab my car late. We were 5th and 6th in line. About 10 minutes before we finally got to port, there were people cutting into line left and right and I started telling them to go to the back of the line and wait their turn. Needless to say, I was called mean names or ignored which infuriated me and hurt my feelings at the same time (not the best feeling combo) and by the time we actually disembarked there were 30 or more people in front of me. I could see the Princess staff with there hands full of complainers, and there was not enough security to manage the crowd which was getting aggressive. I missed my car anyway, and it was not worth the hassle and humiliation of being on that line. We walked around Aruba, hired a local to drive us to the Temple which was closed and went back to the ship early. One of my CC friends (hi Cathy) shouted to me from the ship as I was running off, she was wise to wait the 20 minutes it took to offload most of the passengers and next time that is exactly what I am doing! I don't mind making mistakes if I learn from them. After having some horrific experiences on past cruises with the hard sell at the spa, I broke down and got a message, which I sorely needed from all the tension of the migraines. This time I had a great masseuse, her name was Mai Mai and she was the best I ever had. ? She relieved me of all the knots and tension and I had to go back and get another massage the next day because it helped so much. Note to self, massages are much better than migraine pills on a cruise! We had an awesome trivia team and won a lot of games, so I have enough luggage tags to last a life time. We loved playing trivia on this ship, it was pack and fun and the staff that ran it was great. We participated in more stuff on this ship than any other we've been on, from game shows to Princess Pop star (go Amanda) and loved every minute. The shows were good to great although they were crowded and you had to get there early to get a seat. Also, there were some rude people who talked loudly during performances which bugged the heck out of me, and these people did this every night. Eventually, we stopped going to the shows to avoid this rude behavior. Manners do count. I took three pottery lessons on the ship during the first three sea days. I have taken Pottery lessons on several different Coral/Island Princess Cruises since they are the only ships that have a pottery wheel. I threw 14 pots but only had time to paint two, which is probably a good thing since I had to fly home. I love the pottery I made because I did it completely myself with only a minimum of help and they are both perfectly imperfect. Disembarkation was a breeze (just like embarkation) since we carried our luggage off on our own. We loved getting off the ship quickly so we had more time in Florida and got a full extra day of sightseeing. We spent three extra days in Key West (nice) and one in the Everglades (awesome) and I wish I had more time in the Everglades because I've never seen such a diversity of wildlife in one day including many different birds, rare trees and forests, American Crocodiles (much bigger than the Costa Rica relatives), and Alligators. We missed an Airboat ride because I had to spend some time picking up garbage dumped on the side of the road in the park. I couldn't believe people would throw trash in such a place and I couldn't just drive past it. It was well worth the extra time to drive to all the way to Flamingo (38 incredibly scenic miles) from the main park entrance out of Florida City because that is where we saw the Crocodiles, they were almost gone from the park (and south Florida) but are making a comeback. If you can, go to the Everglades. Pick up a few pieces of trash too! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Eight of us, ranging in age from 46 to 86, had a terrific vacation onboard Coral Princess from LA to Ft. L over the holidays. In Princess's parlance, the cruise "met our expectations," which is to say that we expected to ... Read More
Eight of us, ranging in age from 46 to 86, had a terrific vacation onboard Coral Princess from LA to Ft. L over the holidays. In Princess's parlance, the cruise "met our expectations," which is to say that we expected to have a fantastic time, and we did. After this, my third cruise with Princess (the others to Mexico and Alaska), I observe that Princess offers a total experience much greater than the sum of its parts, thus my 3s and 4s on the poll with an overall rating of 5. Very few parts of their cruises knock my socks off, but each cruise has been a vacation highlight. I really enjoy the journey, the whole scene onboard, and the chance to see new places, albeit very briefly. While it might not be my first choice for a vacation for just the two of us, it's an unbeatable way to travel with a large group, especially when it includes such a wide age range. I'll write this partly from my own observations, part from the aggregate experience of the eight of us, and another part from the experience of a four-person subset: my brother, his wife, my wife, and me. Our smaller group is my main source for bias: emphasis on fitness and good health, time with each other, seeing new places, learning new things, and experiencing the ship. We walk every morning, get additional exercise in the fitness center almost every day, take the stairs always, eat well (and most of us lost a pound or two), get plenty of sleep, enjoy each other's company, find private times for reading and writing, too, and aim to learn as much as we can about the places we're going. Embarkation in San Pedroa breeze. L and I had an Enterprise rental from LAX with a free drop-off in downtown SP, a 5-minute shuttle from the port terminal. I dropped L off with our bags at 11:00 and then circled back to drop off the car and return to the port. By the time I was back, the bags were checked, and we proceeded through the nonexistent lines for ticketing, waited a bit for our boarding group to be called, and headed onboard. (Others in our party joined later, including some with travel difficulties from the NW. Princess held the ship for two hours waiting for some with weather delays. Apparently about 10 caught up to us in Huatulco.) No problem with our Trader Joe's bags filled with wine bottles for the eight of us (since others were coming direct from the airport). Once again, Princess seems to have this process figured out. Oh, there was a problem with my cruise card, some mixup with my brother and me, but that was good for a laugh, and they got it straightened out. Public Rooms: beautiful, comfortable, clean, not crowded, opportunities for alone time as well as group gatherings, nice bars, game room, library, etc. Cabin: comfortable bed, cozy bathroom (we like them and we were glad to have remembered a nightlight), terrific Caribe balcony aft a few cabins from the midships bumpout. To rate a 5, we'd have to pay more, and I'm not really interested enough in a cabin to do that. Fitness and recreation: As I said above, we took great advantage of this. Among the four of us younger folks, we took only a handful of elevators during the entire trip, took Pilates and yoga, used the fitness center, met on the Promenade Deck for morning walks, etc. It rates 4 only because we're all used to excellent fitness facilities, and Princess's are very good. To be a 5, there'd have to be a wider variety of exercise machines, a refurbished aerobics floor, advanced yoga and Pilates, co-ed sauna, and a more welcoming spa staff. But again, we're happy with a 4. Enrichment: We heard two lecturers. The first, someone with an entertainment and talk-show background, was ill-prepared for a lecture on the Maya. L and I left after 5 minutes. Others in our group left about 5 minutes later, while a couple stayed for the duration: "I wanted to hear it all, so I could tell you how bad it really was." We weren't surprised that someone scheduled to give talks on 1) the Maya, 2) stress, and 3) communicating with teenagers wouldn't be much of an anthropologist, archeologist, or historian. The other lecturer, an academic, provided very good presentations on the canal and Mexican music (as well as others that we didn't catch). Belying our academic bias, we didn't mind his pacing around the stage, but rather enjoyed his more scholarly approach to the topics at hand. Some in our party noted that the theater on Oceania would have been proportionally SRO for such talks. Again, the Princess clientele has broad interests, and enrichment is clearly not highest on the list. We're okay with a 3, since we all read lots anyway. Dining: Again, Princess delivers a high quality product, and I'm regularly impressed with their consistency. The food is really good, but it's not great, and that's fine with me. As a group, we were very satisfied. A number of us would prefer spicier, more ethnically-varied cuisine, but I won't hold my breath for fresh tortillas, falafel, pad thai, and other more savory fare to supplant the staples of traditional dining. We're fans of the early seating, a great carefree chance for all to gather at the end of the day, and many dishes (soufflEs, lobster and crab, NY strip steak, shrimp fra diavolo, cold soups, etc.) were big hits. They're very accommodating and helpful for folks with food allergies or vegetarians, too. Our travel agent had provided vouchers for the eight of us to have a night at Sabatini's. It was great fun and very good, but I doubt I'd do it again. Service: As on our other cruises with Princess, service rates a 5 easily. Our cabin steward Chan, and our dining room servers Christen and Adrian were simply outstanding. They clued into us well, and we all had a great time with them. We appreciated Adrian's nightly recommendations (including his nonverbal disapproval when we'd ask about some non-recommended dishes), Christen's enthusiasm for the less expensive wines on the list (my favorite a CaliterraChileanred), and Chan's attention to every detail. L's vegetarian need to vet any "stealth meat" (e.g., chicken stock) was dealt with very attentively and discreetly by Adrian, also. On an earlier cruise, our niece, who is highly allergic to nuts, was treated royally. She cited "the food" as her favorite part of the cruise. So our expectations for Princess are high, and they delivered again on Coral. Entertainment: Several of us are connected to the performing arts, and we mainly assume that cruises are great employment opportunities for our students. And that's clearly the case. We were also pleasantly surprised by the featured performers we sawsinger, magician, and comedian. Again, nothing floored us, but we enjoyed the few shows we caught. Shore excursions: This was a mixed bag. Some of our group had terrific excursions out of Puntarenas, the train/boat combo and the river rafting, and one had a positive experience in Cartegena. Seven of us took the Cartegena by Land and Sea, and it wasn't a very good experience. Princess later reimbursed us for 75% of the tour costs, due to bus overcrowding, lack of attention to older members of the group, and the guide's lack of communication and knowledge. Clearly, the tourism infrastructure was strained by having three ships in port at the same time. Cartegena is beautiful, though, and motoring around the harbor (albeit in full sun) was very cool. Four of us caught a cab for beach time in Aruba nice walk, a quick swim, and happy-hour drinks at a beach bar. Perfect. We'd avoided the long disembarking lines that day by dallying over lunch in the buffet and waiting till we could just walk right off, still with enough time to walk the town and get some beach time. The shore highlight for me was our non-Princess excursion with Turansa during the Puerto Quetzal day. Guide Lionel and driver Wilfrido took the eight of us on a 7-hour tour of Antigua, a place not to be missed. I recommend Turansa highly for their pre-tour communication, the guide and driver, and the chance to see colonial marvels in a spectacular location. And for $48 per person, including gratuities and ccard fee, it way undercut the cruise line's price for a busload. With just the eight of us, we were never rushed nor ever in herd mode. The canal daywow!! Okay, I know that at least a couple of our CC friends from the roll call thought it was kind of boring, but for anyone with a bit of engineering or history nerdiness, it was a jaw-dropping time. Coral Princess ghosted its way toward the canal just as sunlight hit the skyscrapers of Panama City, and we gaped at the Bridge of the Americas. Once in the locks, we wandered all of the various vantage pointsCaribe fore- and afterdecks, Horizon Court (a cool feature of CP's layout up in the bow on Lido Deck), La Patisserie (which provided below-lock-level views), and our balconies, as well as a dining room lunch by the windows as we cruised Lake Gatun. Most of us had read the McCullough book, had seen films about it, and attended the onboard lecture on it, so seeing it for real was truly spectacular. We're happy to be nerds. The ship: Coral is my favorite of the three I've cruised (Star to Alaska, Sapphire to Mexico). Its layout is terrific, never feeling crowded even on our overbooked holiday cruise, and finding each other onboard is easy. I'm interested to try a smaller ship (Royal, maybe) next time. Disembarkation: easy and efficient, as we've come to expect. Next time we disembark in Ft. Lauderdale with afternoon flights, though, I'll hire a driver for our group and spend some time around the city before heading to the airport. Our airline (Delta) at least, didn't allow us to check in till three hours before the flight, so we had a lot of waiting time both before and after check-in. Other great stuff onboard: coffee card at La Patisserie for morning lattes, soda cards kept us hydrated with soda&lime, blackjack tournaments with a terrific casino staff, a wacky film trivia contest that featured refilmed scenes starring CP staff, dancing to Geraldo Osa's trio, formal nights, New Year's Eve celebrations in Universe Lounge and Lido deck, champagne balcony breakfast, lots of time just to hang out with each other, and of course amazing tropical weather. And probably my favorite thing to do just sit or roam the ship, watching us make our way toward the next port. It's no surprise that many of us put down deposits toward next cruises! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Princess Elite passengers spent pre-cruise night at LAX Airport Marriott. We found a better rate through AAA for the same hotel that Princess uses and were able to use the Princess "airport" transfer from the HOTEL to the ship. ... Read More
Princess Elite passengers spent pre-cruise night at LAX Airport Marriott. We found a better rate through AAA for the same hotel that Princess uses and were able to use the Princess "airport" transfer from the HOTEL to the ship. If boarding in Ft.Lauderdale a cab is the way to go...less than $20 to the ship includes a stop at "Total Wine" on the way. The Coral Princess was decorated for Christmas with holiday music playing in the atrium. Our balcony cabin E210 was ready when we boarded at 1PM. Our category "BG" was the lowest priced unobstructed balcony at the time of our booking on a "guarantee" basis seven months prior to sailing. We did not get upgraded. The Horizon Court was well stocked for the hungry travelers. Pizza was available on deck 14 and burgers and hot dogs on deck 15. The only fault I could find with the food in general was weak coffee and watered down juice. I switched to tea which had lots of different choices. We had second seating traditional at 8:15 PM which was wonderful. The new menus are great with lots of choices. The always available steak went away (tornados still available) and the fettucine alfredo was not as good as in the past. The caesar salad is still available every night, with anchovies on request...yummy. There were three formal nights on each 14-day cruise. You can expect lots of children on any Christmas/New Years cruise. We had 350 minors, mostly teenagers who were not very well behaved, ignoring most of the rules and roaming the ship in groups of ten or more. Our second cruise which began on 1/6 had 26 well behaved children. We only took part in one shore excursion"Colonial Granada and Las Isletas Boat Ride" out of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. It was a long bus ride (4 hours plus) for a so so meal and a 45 minute boat ride. A total waste of time and money. We went mainly for the "cruising" and not the ports. Our favorite ports were Huatulco and Aruba. The highlight of this trip is the Panama Canal and of course the beautiful Coral Princess. Read Less
Coral Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.2

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