Sail Date: December 2014
We sailed in December, 2014, on our honeymoon. We took an 11 day cruise on the Coral Princess through the Panama Canal with stops in Aruba, Cartagena (Colombia), Limón (Costa Rica) and Ohio Rios (Jamaica). Our first impression of the ... Read More
We sailed in December, 2014, on our honeymoon. We took an 11 day cruise on the Coral Princess through the Panama Canal with stops in Aruba, Cartagena (Colombia), Limón (Costa Rica) and Ohio Rios (Jamaica). Our first impression of the Coral Princess was that it is a smaller ship (we'd previously cruised on the Royal Caribbean Allure). That being said, the Coral Princess is a well kept. The ship is classy, with an Art Deco meets the seas motif, gold, and marble as far as the eye can see. We chose cabin E201. One of the largest cabins on the ship (just below the mini suites). Cabin E201 comes with a 3 by 4ft window (est.), two desk areas, 1.5 by 4ft (est.), with seating, a mini fridge, and ample closet space. The only complaint my husband and I had regarding the cabin, was the bedding. The mattresses and bedding could use an update. The mattress was a little too firm and uneven. The pillows were either too thin or too thick. Be warned, there is an extreme shortage of nightlife on the Coral Princess. If I had to guess, I'd say that this is due to a shortage of the partying type of crowd. From what we've read and our experience thus far, Princess attracts a rather distinguished crowd of vacationers. You'll notice the entertainment is geared towards a more mature and easygoing crowd as well. Just a side note, our cruise was a partial transit through the Panama Canal and I'd previously cruised to Alaska on the Sapphire Princess. Based on our previous cruises, the older demographic could be due to the more educational destinations and not typical of Princess cruise lines as a whole. The food is really very enjoyable on the Coral Princess. This goes for the vegetarian cuisine as well. We've sailed Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian. Princess has some of the best food we've ever tasted. The Coral Princess offers a wide selection of vegetarian dishes, which includes their in-room dining selection. Speaking of in-room dining, be careful what you leave on the in-dining room trays. My husband left his retainer on the tray, our room attendant removed it, and it was never to be seen again. We chose anytime dining. Regarding the dining room atmosphere, we had few complaints. For the most part, the staff on Coral Princess are very friendly and accommodating. Aside from the over selling of alcoholic beverages. Our only major complaint, with dining, had to do with our distaste for the lighting in the 5th floor dining room. The lighting was far too bright, as if we were being interrogated every evening. Upon further examination, it would appear that the tables and spotlight lighting are not aligned properly, creating a less then desirable effect. On an interesting side note regarding the Panama Canal, currently the Coral Princess is the largest of the ships permitted to pass through the Panama Canal. That being said, a new canal is in the process of being constructed. The new canal will allow much larger ships to pass through Panama. According to our tour guide, the fee for the Coral Princess to pass through the Panama Canal was approximately 350 thousand USD. It took about an hour for the Coral Princess to pass through the Gatun Locks. An amazing sight to see. The Panama Canal is one astonishing engineering feat. We couldn't have asked for a better honeymoon and we'll definitely be sailing with Princess again. Read Less
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2014
My tips: *If you’re driving to the Port in Ft. Lauderdale, consider parking at Embassy Suites (no requirement that you stay there) at the parking lot operated by United Airport Parking. Only $4 a day, ten minutes to the port and ... Read More
My tips: *If you’re driving to the Port in Ft. Lauderdale, consider parking at Embassy Suites (no requirement that you stay there) at the parking lot operated by United Airport Parking. Only $4 a day, ten minutes to the port and includes free shuttle to the port. They’ll take you right to the ship. (www.unitedairportparking.com) Note that you must make a reservation in advance, and have your printed receipt to present to the staff when you arrive at the hotel. It’s much less expensive than parking at the port. *Standard cabins have only one electrical outlet in the main cabin (and one in the bathroom). Bring a small power strip (we were very happy with our three outlet strip) if you plan to charge any electronic devices. *If you plan to do your own laundry while on board (there are passenger laundry facilities on most decks) consider bringing along your own detergent to save money. Washers cost $3.00 per load, Dryers are also $3.00 per load and the cost is deducted from your ship account. So, no need for cash or coins. *Bring a lanyard with you, or buy a Princess lanyard in the ship’s store. You can ask the staff at the Passenger Services desk onboard to punch a hole in your cruise card, and then you can wear it around your neck if you’re heading to the pool, to work out, if you’re just wearing an outfit without pockets or if you tend to lose your cruise card if it’s not fastened somewhere. *Sabatini’s Restaurant serves Alfredo’s Pizza at lunch nearly every day of the cruise. There’s no extra charge, it’s delicious, and there are around seven varieties of personal pizzas (8” round pie = 4 slices) to choose from. *Find out when The Crab Shack Luncheon is being offered (usually only twice per cruise) and served in the Bayou Café. There’s a $20 per person service charge, but you get appetizer (hush puppies and popcorn shrimp with two dipping sauces), soup (chowder), your choice of four pots of different steamed shell fish (includes mussels, clams, king crab, shrimp, snow crab) and dessert. It’s filling and really good. *The Panama Canal (after all, this is why you chose this cruise!): Do not remain on one deck with one view for the complete transit. You will miss too much. There’s a unique perspective from each deck and different sides of the ship. Get up early so you can enjoy the entry into the Canal in the dark before dawn with the various ships in the Canal lit, and the Canal approach lit up like an airport runway. We got up early enough to be out on Baja Deck forward with our camera by 5:30am. A friend had told me it would be magical, he was right! See my Wednesday, November 26 entry for information about the not-well-known access to out-door viewing from the Baja deck (also available on Caribe). *Are you a wine drinker? Consider the special wine package and you’ll save money. We chose the silver wine package (you can buy a 7, 10 or 12 bottle package) which allows you to purchase any bottle of wine valued at up to $29 a bottle. There’s also a gold 7, 10 or 12 wine package for wines valued up to $45 a bottle. This package can be used in any dining location (excludes bars and room service), and if you don’t finish a bottle with the meal, dining staff will cork and store it for you and bring it out at your next meal. *If you’ve done a number of Princess excursions and would like to try something different, consider a private excursion at one or more ports of call. They’re much more personalized, flexible, frequently more interesting and usually less expensive. The reputable companies are just as concerned as you are with getting you back to the ship on time. See the description of our private excursion experiences in Cartagena and Puerto Limon. *“Motor City” and “On The Bayou” were our favorite theatrical performances on the cruise. Try not to miss them! “Motor City” is a must if you love the music of Motown. The comedian Scott Wyler was very funny. It was essentially 45 minutes of non-stop jokes, and he had two shows with different material (one earlier in the cruise, and one on the next to last evening). *You’re going to take a lot of pictures. I had brought an extra set of batteries for the camera and felt very smug about that until I had to replace that set of batteries with new ones. So, you may want to bring two sets of batteries along with you. *Into Zumba? A 45-minute Zumba class is offered on all “at sea” days, and it’s free! *Wine tastings. There’s a wine tasting that’s offered at the beginning of the cruise for $25/person, featuring top shelf wines, high-end small plates of food (e.g. caviar), linen napkins and the wait staff in dinner jackets. Towards the end of the cruise, there’s another wine-tasting for $9.50/person, featuring wines under $30 (except for one high-end red), cheese, grapes and a miniature cheese cake for tasting with the one dessert wine, paper napkins and the wait staff in more casual white linen jackets. We went to the $9.50 one and had a great time. Neither are advertised; your wait staff at dinner will tell you about it. The Coral Princess is an older ship (I believe it was commissioned in 2003) with a friendly crew. It doesn’t have all the amenities of the larger ships in the Princess fleet but the public spaces are attractive, the Promenade Deck goes completely around the ship, and one of the large outdoor pool areas is protected by a roof (great for inclement weather or when it’s just too hot to be at the open pool). The Universe Lounge is a very pretty venue with seating on two levels. It’s very different architecturally from the show lounges we’ve seen on the other Princess ships and I really liked it. One of the reasons we keep coming back to Princess is the food, and the Coral Princess did not disappoint. While Sabatini’s and the Bayou Café (specialty restaurants each with an extra cover charge) are fun to try, the evening dining room fare is excellent. It’s the same menu for dinner in both the Provence (traditional seating) and Bordeaux (“anytime”) dining rooms. The desserts are sinfully good from the flourless chocolate cake to the orange soufflé.. We are fish eaters and all the fish we tried were in every case deliciously seasoned and very fresh. This was our first cruise with so many days at sea (there were four) and we loved them. There was lots of time to relax, read, enjoy a small project, work out, attend a lecture or a film and just enjoy the gift of time. Our CruiseCritic roll call group sponsored a Meet & Greet aboard ship on our first full day at sea. Five members of the crew attended along with nearly forty CruiseCritic cruisers. It was a lot of fun and we made friends who we’ll keep in touch with long after the cruise ends. The rainy season for Cartegena, the Panama Canal, and Limon runs from May through November. While the temperatures were in the mid-80s, the humidity matched the temperature. So, when the sun isn’t hidden by clouds, it’s hot. For this cruise, the weather gods were mostly kind. The small amount of rain we did have came in the late evening or early morning hours. There were occasional high winds, especially when in the open ocean. There were also some swells. Probably the day with the most rocking was our at sea day between Colon, Colombia and Grand Cayman Island (Friday, Nov 28). It was cloudy and relatively cool on Grand Cayman, and some excursions that involved boats or diving were cancelled due to strong currents or the water having been stirred up by the previous day’s winds and swells. The Panama Canal was our favorite port of call, Cartegena was our second favorite. The old city has some gorgeous architecture (it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site) and there was so much to see. While we saw quite a few things in Puerto Limon, we were very happy to have an escorted tour. We would not have felt safe going off by ourselves beyond the confines of the port area. The ship offers bottled water for port days (for $2.00/bottle plus gratuity). Take it with you to stay hydrated. We saw a few people bringing their own 12 -18 packs of bottled water on board on embarkation day, but that seemed a bit excessive to us. Very efficient boarding. We arrived at the dock just prior to 12 noon and we were in our stateroom by 12:30pm. We took advantage of the sit down luncheon in the Provence Dining Room where they serve from noon to 1:00pm on Embarkation Day. Otherwise, the choice is Horizon Court. But the sit down luncheon with full service is a lovely way to start the cruise if you get on board early enough. On the day we visited the Panama Canal, we decided not to take an excursion, but remained aboard the ship. More than 1100 passengers chose to do an excursion, but we did not regret our choice. We enjoyed observing the ship pass through the Gatun Locks twice. We woke up early in order to be on the Baja Deck with our camera at 5:30 am. We were through the canal and on Gatun Lake by 8:30am. The following is a quote from someone else’s posting, and addresses the matter really well. “While the forward section has the best views of entering the Canal chambers, you don't want to miss the Promenade Deck either, as the ship different perspective of this Modern Marvel. “Also check Baja deck forward (and Caribe deck forward) for an area not normally accessible to passengers. If you walk all the way forward on Baja on either the port or starboard side, there is a door at the end of the hall that is normally locked. It leads through a short hallway (forward of cabin B201 or B202, depending upon whether you are on the port or starboard side). The door at the end of the short hallway leads to an observation deck. It's a nice spot to watch the ship go into the locks and gives a good perspective of the size of the ship, size of the locks and any ships already in the locks in front of you. The observation area spans side to side (Port to Starboard) and is fairly wide. Not much protection though if it rains! It’s not a huge secret – but the door is normally locked, and unless you know it’s there, you probably would never try to enter since it’s not a cabin or general passenger area/location.” We were blessed with a beautiful sunrise and a lovely sunny morning with sunshine and a gentle breeze. Being up on Baja deck while it was still dark out and with all the lights from the ships on made for a magical viewing experience. We had an outstanding view throughout the entire transit, and we were much more comfortable than the crush of people up on the Lido and Sun decks, especially because portions of those decks obscure the view (and picture taking) with tall glass panels. Seeing how the Canal gets the boats through was fascinating, especially knowing that Coral Princess had only two feet of clearance on either side of the ship. we also enjoyed watching the other ships go through ahead of us through both channels. This was clearly the highlight of our cruise, and we just LOVED it. We later learned that two of the metal “mules,” the heavily fortified trucks that guide the ships through the channels, had a minor accident. One mule drove into the back of another at the rear of the ship. A cable became caught, and it took about a half hour to free it up. Then things proceeded as normal.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
I would like to begin this review stating that this was our(my husband and myself) first trip on Princess Cruise Line. We have sailed 9 times on Royal Caribbean and once on Norwegian. Embarkation was very smooth and we were able to access ... Read More
I would like to begin this review stating that this was our(my husband and myself) first trip on Princess Cruise Line. We have sailed 9 times on Royal Caribbean and once on Norwegian. Embarkation was very smooth and we were able to access our cabin when we got on the ship which was around 12:30 pm. We found our cabin to be a nice size with ample closet and drawer space. There also were several shelves in the area where the safe was that held a good bit of clothing. The closet was apart from the main cabin area, adjacent to the bathroom, which made it seem as though it was a separate room. We liked this very much. The bathroom shower however, was not a good experience. It was not only smaller that we've had before, but the configuration made it very awkward to use. I realize that all cruise ship showers are small but this was just not well designed. And the shower curtain wasn't effective as water kept leaking out to the bathroom floor. I read years ago on cruise critic that clothespins with the spring clip attached to the bottom of the shower curtain help to keep it from moving inward and attacking you. It worked somewhat, but not enough to keep the water in or the curtain from hugging us while we showered! All cruise lines should follow Royal Caribbean's idea of having a shower door instead of a curtain. Yes, the shower is still small but with the rounded door, it gives the area a little more space. We did have a wonderful cabin attendant, Morvin, who in our opinion, was very efficient without being intrusive. A very soft spoken man & well mannered, who did a terrific job of keeping our cabin in order and kept us in clean towels our entire trip. Can say enough nice things about this man. We had early seating(5:30) in Provance dining room. Our waiters were Alex and Oliver. Very nice and polite, but we just didn't feel the connection that we usually have with our waiters, especially on a longer cruise like this one. Food was good, nothing remarkable.....we did, however, think the lobster served on the second formal night wasn't good at all. We always look forward to this dinner but no need for seconds this time! We usually had our breakfast in the Horizan Court, which was nothing ourstanding but good and fresh so we were satisfied. You can also have breakfast in the dining room, which was good or grab something quick like doughnuts(loved the cro-nuts) at the International Cafe which was adjacent to the Casino. They also served sandwiches & other things for lunch or a late night snack and were yummy! The food here is complimentary but there is a fee for coffee and other drinks. The entertainment was very good in our opinion. Kudos to the Princess singers and dancers. They are very talented. We enjoyed their productions very much. The two comedians were both great as was the young man who played the saxophone. The magician was good but not great. Bobby Brooks Wilson was terrific. He is the son of the late Jackie Wilson. He sang and danced......the best show of the cruise. One major disappointment was the size of the casino. It truly was the smallest casino we have ever seen on a cruise ship. Can't understand that. A lot of passengers were in there each night but there clearly weren't enough slot machines for each passenger to have a turn playing. They really need to address this issue. On the other hand, Sabatini's Italian Restaurant( a "for fee" venue) was practically empty each night. Only 1 or 2 couples were ever in there! It's quite large and really a wasted space that could be used to enlarge the casino. No real need for this restaurant, in our opinion. We did a couple of ship sponsored tours and they were just okay. The best being in Cartegnia, Columbia. Walking along the cobbled streets and visiting the churches and other landmarks were really impressive and we are so glad we did this tour. The tour in Limon, Costa Rica took us through a very impoverished area which was heartbreaking to see. I think they need to do away with this. Better to see the beautiful scenery in another area. And, before our tour, we took a walk close to the pier just to see what the locals had to offer in handcrafted items. We were practically attacked by these people wanting us to buy and take tours with them. Also, in walking a little further, we came upon people with limbs missing laying on the sidewalks, up against the buildings begging, including homeless people. This should not be allowed in such close proximity to the cruise port. We feel very bad for these people but very uncomfortable just the same. Aruba was a disappointment...just very touristy with pushy people selling their items. Not what we expected. The Panama Canal was quite interesting. We were able to see so much just from our balcony and from various areas of the ship. Did not participate in any tours. We did however get off the ship in Colon where we stopped to pick up the passengers who did do the tours of the Panama Canal. It was a nice little area with some good shops and a casino that we, along with our friends stopped in to see. We were really taken with the grocery store there and found it to be very interesting and enjoyed looking at the products sold there. Good experience. Cruise Director was Bob was personable but didn't win us over as we are spoiled by our experiences on RC having Richard Spacey and Allen Brooks as cruise directors early on. Sorry. To summarize, it was a enjoyable cruise, the ship is nice and the crew as well, but we will be going back to Royal Caribbean. We were glad to be able to see what Princess had to offer and compare them with RC.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
We just returned from our trip on the Coral Princess to the Panama Canal. The boarding was seamless as usual, of course we are Platinum members and do get to go to the head of the lines but the lines were short and moved quickly anyway for ... Read More
We just returned from our trip on the Coral Princess to the Panama Canal. The boarding was seamless as usual, of course we are Platinum members and do get to go to the head of the lines but the lines were short and moved quickly anyway for boarding. We bring along our own 12 pack of soft drinks and two bottles of wine to save a bundle over their prices on board. We still buy a few drinks on board but only take advantage of the two for one’s that are offered in the Wheel House in the afternoon and the Explorer’s lounge after 10PM. We don’t use the specialty dinner venues, I am an old time cruiser and just can’t figure why we would want to encourage the cruise lines to charge extra for food. I am not too above the food they serve that’s included in the cruise price and from the looks of the restaurants on this cruise I am not alone in this thinking. They offer a couple of specialty lunches also along the way where lunch is free if you buy your drinks. Think about it, a small walk to a different part of the ship gets you a free lunch period with your drink and service too. If we keep paying for services that were always included they will have you sliding your card at the buffet one day very soon, their frame of mind is whatever the consumer will bear. The trip itself is a very relaxing one, two days at sea heading toward Aruba. After a few hours there you are off to Cartagena which is only a short hop away and you basically float there for a day and a half. I don’t know but seeing that Curacao is right next door a stop there would be a passenger pleaser I would think but a slow float is quite a bit more profitable for the ship and that’s the route that’s taken. A very short stay in Cartagena and you’re out of there on the way to the canal. Probably your best and cheapest choice of this stop is to hire a taxi ($50 a day) and the driver will drop you anyplace you want and wait for you. You can see it all this way at your pace and save a pile of money. The canal is always a pleaser; I’ve been there 4 times now and never get sick of it. The stop in Colon to pick up the on tour passengers would be wisely avoided by those who didn’t get on a tour. They at one time stopped in Cristobel and the stop there was great with the Indian craft booths that were there, this stop now is what I would call dangerous and useless. On to Limon, Costa Rica is a great place with many great tours. Again I would think though that with a little pre-planning from home one could set one of the same tours at half the ships price. After Limon it’s off to either Jamaica or Grand Cayman, our trip went to Cayman. We have been there so many times from any other Caribbean cruise that we chose not to even get off the ship. I personally would have rather stopped in Cozumel but I wasn’t driving. After Cayman it’s a day and a half ride back to Ft. Lauderdale and back to reality. All in all a pretty nice cruise, the entertainment on Princess pretty much remains the same and we found that the production show we had was one we saw earlier in the year on another ship and we really didn’t want to see it again. We also had a comedian, a magician and a singer all of which kind of surprised us because they weren’t the normal British variety and were very adequate. They showed some movies inside the ships theaters and we chose to see those versus laying outside in the heat and humidity risking rain, wind and the sound of wind. The big screen outside is nice at times but we are regular Princess cruisers and find that we use it very little due to one reason or another. We prefer the indoor movies, quiet, dark and comfortable as it should be. We would take the cruise again, but of course we would take any cruise again, we just enjoy being at sea.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2014
This was my husband and I’s seventh cruise, we are in our mid thirties with three kids. It was a getaway for just the two of us to celebrate our 11th anniversary. We were in C223, a mini suite on the 10th deck. It was an excellent cabin ... Read More
This was my husband and I’s seventh cruise, we are in our mid thirties with three kids. It was a getaway for just the two of us to celebrate our 11th anniversary. We were in C223, a mini suite on the 10th deck. It was an excellent cabin with an excellent room steward named Reymond. He kept our ice bucket full, and never impeded on our private time. The water on the ship is almost unbearably hot. Even at the coldest setting our shower was almost too hot- that was our only major complaint regarding the room. We had a very nice large private balcony and spent an enormous amount of time out there. The elevator in the forward part of the ship is a bit of a pain since you can only go to level 7, and then have to walk down to the next bank of elevators to go lower. Not that big of a deal to us, but there was a lot of grumbling about it. We appreciated being only two levels below the buffet for our late night cravings. This is also the level with the not so secret employee break deck. Walk down your hallway toward the front of the ship and through the unmarked door. There is a deck there that is used by the crew. We never found it necessary to go out there except for Panama Canal day. It was completely empty and had a great view as you’re entering the locks. Thursday: Red eye from San Francisco on Jetblue, arrived at 9am- flight was a few hours late. Princess transfer doesn’t leave airport until 1130. We would just use a taxi next time, port is only a 15 min ride away. Smooth checkin and in room by 12. Lunch was being served in the Provence dining room. Called the dine line to be put in the list for chefs table. Muster drill was simple and in the theater. Friday: At sea, Signed up for Ultimate Ships Tour. Mani Pedi at spa was just ok- two hours long and included a hand and feett massage. For 200+ with tip I’ve had better gel manicures. Started chipping on the 9th day of the cruise but didn’t want to bother with a fix. Husband did "time for men", which was an ok shave- he bought a few of the products they were pushing but didn’t end up using them. They aren’t exactly pushy, but it’s annoying to have a relaxing time only to be pushed to buy something at the end (happened to me each time I went to spa). Since I frequent the spa’s at home I know this isn’t just unique to the cruise ships. We attended a Cruise critic get together with white elephant gift exchange- thought it was great to meet everyone in person. The gift exchange was filled with laughs and very fun. Picked up our scavenger hunt after and wish we had kept all our paperwork from first day since it’s included in the hunt. Attended the Port talks with Chris Roberts, which were all excellent and always replayed on television. Ate at the Bayou that night, very good. Had enough time to catch Guardians of the Galaxy (movies under the stars). This was the first Formal Night. Saturday: At sea, Had a couples massage that was seriously overpriced for what it was. Felt like our masseuses were just going through a routine, and they immediately tried to book us both for a follow up massage. Had a relaxing day as we were both feeling a little tired. Movies under the Stars was Edge of Tomorrow. The buffet was Asian Stir Fry (like Mongolian BBQ at home). Today was the gold level Captains Circle get together. Sunday: Aruba, Booked the Princess excursion Schooner Cruise. Thought it was very fun. The sea was a bit rough, but you get three scuba spots. My husband has a beard and mustache and didn’t realize he should have brought his own equipment with him, or shaved first. The snorkel mask can’t get a good seal and he was constantly dumping his mask out. Nose plugs and eye goggles would have been better. This is a great excursion for kids and we had several with us- there is an open bar so there was some heavy drinking going on by some of the younger clientele. Find the Starbucks in Aruba for free wifi. Good shopping but only a few stores open because it was Sunday. It was Indian Buffet night, we ate in the dining room. Sunday night football played all day on stateroom tvs and Movies under the Stars. Alexander the great was our magician for the night- heard he put on a good show although we didn't attend. He did two shows and up close magic on the last day. Monday: At sea, Made our Posters for Panama. Did the Chefs Table for dinner and it’s less expensive if you’re not drinking. There was only one on this cruise with only ten of us, so we were lucky enough to be chosen. 3 Appetizers, Pasta course, palate cleanse, surf and turf, cheese course, dessert, petit fours- all with a wine pairing (we did not indulge), all was delicious. I had a facial that was just ok- a little frustrated again at how expensive it was for what it was. No exfoliation and no extraction. The same facial went on half price special the next day. I’ll be unlikely to use a spa on board a princess ship again. Football for most of the day. Tuesday: Cartagena, We took a cab into town- negotiable. We ended up paying 15$ a person for a four hour cab tour. Our cabbie basically just took us where we wanted to go with brief explanations of the stops. Had to do a few kick back spots (places where we would go in and look around so the cab driver could get decent parking). This didn’t bother me since it’s pretty common in most countries. We never felt pressured to buy anything, just to go in and spend a few minutes looking around. I felt this was the best port of the cruise. The port itself is perfect for kids to look around- lots of animals and decent but overpriced shopping. We could not find free wifi. The buffet that night was also one of my favorites of the cruise- Tacos and fajita night, with chips and salsa! Wednesday: Panama, Got in very early- if you have a tour make sure you are listening to the correct channel to hear your tour departure time. We were outside sightseeing and almost missed our time. You won’t be able to hear the announcements from your own balcony if you don’t have the tv playing. We did the Princess excursion locks transfer on the smaller boat. We happened to go through very quickly (4 hours) although we’ve heard it can take several more hours. The lunch buffet is sad and you should bring your own snacks aboard if possible. If we had realized this we would have grabbed some fruit and things from breakfast. There is free water and sodas, which is nice since it’s very hot. It’s difficult to get a good seat on board this smaller boat, since there only a few really good seats and you can only get them if you’re lucky enough to be unloaded from you bus first. Otherwise you’ll be pushing for a good position to be able to see anything. Very annoying. The bus ride to and from this excursion is about one and a half to two hours and is narrated the whole time by a tour guide. We had perhaps the worst tour guide I’ve ever had- Lydia. If you take this excursion please try and avoid being on her bus. She would ask for questions and then proceed not to answer them, was very loud and quite obnoxious. Another of the tour guides did the narration on the boat and was such better (I don’t remember his name, but he was quite knowledgeable, and after learning we were Mormon pointed out the Temple to my husband and I). The buffet that night was a Panamanian feast and was delicious! This is the day to indulge in desserts! It was also 20$ laundry day, but you had to get your laundry to the Steward by noon. They did a good job of pressing all of our items and they were all returned the next morning. Thursday: Port Limon, We did the Princess Zipline/rainforest package tour. If we had known beforehand how long the day was going to be, we would have just booked the zipline through the company website and taken a taxi. Regardless this was a very fun tour. It was a small group which was much more personal. Our tour guide Josh stopped the van several times to explain the fruits and vegetation of Costa Rico, including picking fruit to show us up close. She was an excellent tour guide, but the tour dragged a bit, and was possibly a bit boring for the kids with us. This is a CASH only establishment, which was upsetting since there were several places we wanted to buy souvenirs. There was slow, but free wifi at the port. It was also Thanksgiving- there was a full thanksgiving dinner, and all the football games playing. Friday: At Sea, We did the Ultimate Ship tour today. It was 150 per person, and we received a beautiful robe, a framed photo and several good photographs taken at the various points, Chefs Apron, and customized note paper. It was an excellent tour and very interesting to see how the ship is run. Lots of walking, but they do provide you with water and lots of snacks along the way. Points of interest visited included, the Bridge, Mooring room, Engine room, laundry, galley including food storage areas, printing press, photography, and crew areas. Movies under the Stars was million dollar arm, which we thought was a great movie! It was our second formal night. Buffet was the excellent Asian Stiry Fry again. Saturday: Grand Cayman, our helmet dive was cancelled due to bad weather- several cruise ships had to skip the port all together so we felt very lucky to have Grand Cayman to ourselves. We ended up taking a taxi to Hell. Completely worth skipping- and would not do again if I knew how terrible and kitschy it was. Seven mile beach was worth a walk around but weather was very bad. Great shopping, but prices are comparable to home- didn’t feel we were getting any great deals. Excellent supermarket in town if you’re looking for some comfort foods- Kirks. We picked up a few treats and good chocolate! Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was our movie for the night. It was Gourmet Burgers for dinner at the Buffet. Sunday: At Sea, Spent most of the day packing. This was the demo day on board including galley tour, vegetable carving, ice carving, etc. Almost all the performers had one last show on board and various times of day. Our comedian Scott Wyland(?) was very funny and most of his material we hadn't heard before. We also took advantage of the future cruise credit for 100$ a person. Monday: Disembarkation: We ended up canceling our Princess transfer to the airport and scheduling the first walk off. We were off the boat by 740 and through customs before 8. We payed 11$ per person to take a shuttle and arrived at the airport by 830am. Our favorite meals on board were the fettuccine in a parmesan basket in the dining room, the hamburgers/hot dogs at the grill, breakfast at the international cafe (only place to find donuts on board), and we really enjoyed the steaks at Bayou (we ate there three nights and tried all of them). The Chefs Table was a do not miss if you have the opportunity and pocket book. We watched a Movie under the Stars almost every night and it rained on us most of the time, but it was warm and they provided blankets, cookies, and popcorn. We usually wore our bathing suits and got into the hot tub if the rain got really bad. One last note, the laundry is 3$ for washer, 3$ for dryer, and 1.50$ for detergent, etc. Iron is free. The laundry is located on Deck 5 aft. I never saw anyone else using them- the whites cycle was the longest cycle for drying (perm press didn’t get my clothes dry). Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Coral Princess Oct. 18 2014. Panama Canal partial transit. Cabin C220 deck 10 forward of front elevators. Mini suite category A. Total cruises for us 13. This was a repeat of the same cruise we took in 2006 on the same ship. The ship is ... Read More
Coral Princess Oct. 18 2014. Panama Canal partial transit. Cabin C220 deck 10 forward of front elevators. Mini suite category A. Total cruises for us 13. This was a repeat of the same cruise we took in 2006 on the same ship. The ship is in excellent condition and they have redone all the laundry rooms with new equipment. Let me start with some helpful tips at the top of my review for those that don't read it through. #1. Laundry is $3 wash and $3 dry with tokens you purchase in the laundry room with your cruise card. Soap and softener extra. SAVE money, buy Purex 3 in 1 sheets at about 25 cents apiece and bring them with. There is a laundry on each deck at the very very rear. Cabins in the 2 3 and 4 hundred numbers have a long walk. #2. There are plastic shower curtains in each room and they tend to flap around and stick to you while showering. Bring a bunch of old fashioned wooden spring type clothes pins to clip on the bottom to weigh them down. #3. If you are platinum, you get 250 internet minutes each. There is a $5 for 1 hour location at the Aruba dock plus a Starbucks in the mall next to the casino. Drinks in the casino are comp in Aruba. #4. Drink package: The liquor package is based on cruise days and on this trip it was $620 with tip included or $56.36 a day. A beer was $5.60 Vodka $7 , some a little higher up to about $9. The package includes drinks up to $10 and although it says all in a cabin must join only one was required. The package includes the specialty coffees, bottled water and soft drinks. So you pick up a water in the bar for the next shore day or for the room. A glass of wine with dinner can be $9 normally. We compared bills with and without the package and it came out less unless you were really hitting it. You also can buy a bottle of wine for 40% off which you can leave at your favorite bar . #5. Panama Canal excursion: We booked excursion PC 1615 which was the Panama Canal by boat trip. On line it was shown as 6 hours on a ferry boat with a light lunch plus bus transportation. On board we were given a letter saying the trip had been running 8 to 9 hours and you could opt out if desired. We left the ship at 9:30 and didn't get back till 8:45 which is over 11 hours. I found the tour long and boring, uncomfortable and we didn't get back to the boat until 45 minutes after scheduled departure. My party all rated the trip terrible. #6. Laundry day was the Panama Canal day. $20 for a bag full. #7. Formal nights were the first full sea day Sunday and the last Sunday which was also Captains Gala and lobster night. That's on a Sat to Wed cruise. #8. TV They had direct TV and we got all the football games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday. They showed the world series also. Had FOX news and CNBC. I only saw one show, that was the comic. We started our trip by meeting relatives in New Orleans for 4 days. We then flew to FLL and stayed at Comfort Suites cruise port on Federal Highway. Shuttle to FLL is free and to the ship is $6 PP arranged by the hotel. Hotel has breakfast buffet but no dining room. There is a Taco Bell, McDonalds and pizza places in walking distance. There is also a liquor store a few blocks away and a CVS on the corner. A little farther is an Outback Steakhouse. Have the desk call and put your name in. Nic clean hotel newer A/C units and a washer dryer at the end of the hall . About 11:15 took the shuttle to the ship got right on and boarded. Went right to our room and we purchased drink packages and wine packages. You get the package and pick the wine later, we went with Gold $262 for 7 bottles. Food throughout the trip was OK, nothing exciting. Had breakfast in Horizon most days. Didn't do any specialty dining or the Chef's Table which we've done before. Ports: Aruba, nothing planed, went ashore, stopped in the Casino and the Croc's store and a few jewelry stores as is required by law. Cartagena, did the city tour with claudia @ toursclaudiavidal it as hot and humid and the vendors follow you everywhere. Only in port till 2 PM so it was a little short. Panama Canal see #5 above Limon, Sloth sanctuary with Princess. Very interesting nice excursion. Grand Cayman, we had booked with Capt. Marvin but the winds were so rough that they shut down the sting ray city. We took the turtle farm tour instead and that was interesting. Got to hold the little ones and were there for feeding time at noon when they dumped 50 lb. bags in the pools. Kinda like the horizon cafe. Stopped for nacho's at Margarettaville and did some shopping. Then off for Florida. Got off the ship about 9:20 and were through the customs line and in a big cab in about 30 minutes. At the airport and bags checked within an hour. All 4 of us got in a big cab together.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We paid extra for a mid ship minisuite. Do NOT stay on the starboard side. It is excruciatingly hot and every time we complained, they said "well, it is the starboard side". The balcony door was so hot we could barely open it. ... Read More
We paid extra for a mid ship minisuite. Do NOT stay on the starboard side. It is excruciatingly hot and every time we complained, they said "well, it is the starboard side". The balcony door was so hot we could barely open it. Also do not stay in any room starting with a 5. ALL the 5 rooms were without toilet service for multiple hours 6 times during this cruise. It was disgusting. The food at the Bayou Court was terrible and the service was so unprofessional. We ate the rest of the meals in the dining room, where the service was excellent and the food pretty good. All but one of the excursions we took with Princess were a waste. Go out and get a taxi instead and have them drive you around to where you would like to go. Then you will skip all the souvenir shops and LONG stays at places that needed maybe a half hour. I would never take another Princess excursion. Will probably never go on Princess again for that matter. They addressed NONE of our problems, just shrugged their shoulders and said "oh well" and when it is a toilet issue, that is NOT what you want to hear. On a better note, their pizza is delicious!! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Travelled 1st time to Panama Canal & 1st time with Princess. Comparing with other cruise lines I'd say quality of food was lower (menu was far too fancy) & level of gratuities (20% + tax on every drink as well as $11.50 per ... Read More
Travelled 1st time to Panama Canal & 1st time with Princess. Comparing with other cruise lines I'd say quality of food was lower (menu was far too fancy) & level of gratuities (20% + tax on every drink as well as $11.50 per day each as standard) far too high. There was loads of entertainment with nightly shows very professional & cruise staff couldn't do enough for you so felt very much 'at home'. Only point of not from a British beer drinker there was nothing available on tap albeit plenty choice of bottled lagers Pro’s Good quality ship Very attentive staff Good nightly entertainment – artists very professional & all in English. Had singers dancers & comedians Got auto gratuities removed which was no problem Alaskan amber bottled beer was excellent (albeit limited supply as left overs from previous Alaskan cruise) Movies under the stars – excellent atmosphere to watch films on the large outdoor screen from 21:30 in the warn night air Took soft drinks package (inc moctails)which was well worth it & saved money Con’s Drinks Very pricey + tax & tip on every drink which meant beer (bottle) was £4 and G&T was £6 (at converted rate of 1.6) No beer on tap & mostly bottled lager (had Guinness in cans) Food Breakfast & lunch in buffet restaurant was good with plenty choice & reasonable quality Dinner – menu choice was poor & quality def not up to P&O nor Celebrity. Managed to get something suitable but only a few courses lived up to the standards expected Tours In the main done our own thing but ones we did take can have no real complaints except the pittance we received for a snack on the all day panama trip Main complaint in the fact we booked an Everglades tour for Saturday 18th which dropped us off in Miami airport. This was cancelled & didn't receive notification until Thursday 16th by letter which was too late to arrange an alternative ourselves. The tour staff offered us a similar trip which ended in Hollywood airport with no help from the princess tour staff on how we would get from Fort Lauderdale airport to Miami airport not offering alternative tours. Most unhelpful We did end up booking a Fort Lauderdale trip for Saturday 18th which I’ll update later on how we actually got transferred to Miami Entertainment Nightly was good & always something happening in the 2 * main bars however, daily was fairly limited around the pool area. The outdoor large screen showed movies some days but in general the pool area was quiet with the princess staff not fully motivated to create the atmosphere we expected. We even hadNFL games shown some days which we should have expected from a USA focused cruise line. Sailaways are normally a highlight but only once (from Jamaica) did the band play & good atmosphere created All in all it was a good cruise, very relaxing & the highlight was worth the trip in itself. The only downside was the weather around the mainland Columbia, Panama & Costa Rica areas where it was wet on occasion but we were warned on arrival that October is during the rainy season. Best time for this cruise would be January thru April. Princess is more focused on the American market but that didn't detract from our enjoyment Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2014
This was one of the better cruises that we have been on. The ship looked as if it had just come out of dry dock with no obvious signs of wear and tear. The crew seemed to truly enjoy their job which probably reflects on the Captain's ... Read More
This was one of the better cruises that we have been on. The ship looked as if it had just come out of dry dock with no obvious signs of wear and tear. The crew seemed to truly enjoy their job which probably reflects on the Captain's outgoing & engaging personality. The itinerary was quite varied with interesting ports (in spite of some rain) and the Panama Canal experience was extremely interesting and memorable. While some of the ship board activities were pretty lame and the island night party was a joke compared to other ships, we really enjoyed the variety and quality of the many musicians on board especially the ship's orchestra and Rhapsody in the Wheelhouse. The only negative aspect was the hit & miss dining experiences. We chose the anytime dining option and some nights we were in and out in 1.5 hrs while other nights were over 2 hrs and while the food was well prepared, the menu options were less than stellar some nights. Overall it was a very good cruise and I would not hesitate to recommend the Coral Princess to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Great itinerary, food was good, not great. There were a couple really great items, The build your own pizza, great, but only out two days... The chocolate lollipop at Served during champagne fountain, great, but again only served once. ... Read More
Great itinerary, food was good, not great. There were a couple really great items, The build your own pizza, great, but only out two days... The chocolate lollipop at Served during champagne fountain, great, but again only served once. And one night at dinner they had a chocolate dome with pistachio which was perhaps the best dessert I've ever Had on a cruise. ( I have been on at least 12 cruises ) this was my third with Princess. A big disappointment was the captains circle welcome party for return Guests. It wasn't a reception, it was a sales pitch held in the theater, they Handed out a coupon at the exit! I have never felt like that on any cruise. The tv In the cabin same thing, between every show, and for extended periods constant Commercials for future cruises. I take cruises to RELAX, I really felt like I was in a Used car dealership. Cabin steward was very poor, ice was delivered after like 9pm Nightly? Soft drinks not refilled when requested. One morning breakfast arrived One hour early? The daily news letter arrived too late on several nights after turn down and after going to bed. One night there was no turn down at all. Also several times I would "bolt" the door, yet the steward would tap and then walk in? So the bolt doesn't assure privacy? Final issue is the thermal suite, I take this option on every cruise I Take, I have taken it on all three with princess and every celebrity cruise I have Taken as well. This one was the most disappointing. There were three steam rooms And one sauna plus two nice showers. Not once during the cruise did all of the Rooms work. The sauna wasn't usable on any day, the tiles so hot that you could Not sit even without a dry doubled up towel, at least one of the three steam rooms Was always down every day. And the special showers were constantly Malfunctioning. My impression was once it was sold no one cared. Yes I Complained twice at the spa, not impressed at all. Final issue was platinum studio, it was very nice, attendant very nice, prices... Oh my god! $200 for an 8x10 photo. Session was fun, after reviewing photos Then you see prices, welcome back to the car lot. Prices on photos taken around the ship, $25 for 8x10 not cheap but .... In studio cheapest package $599. Almost as much as the cruise for one person. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
This was our first cruise ever, so we did not know what to expect, though Cruise Critic was a good source of information. Overall, we were disappointed. The crew seemed tired and, in general, were not very helpful (perhaps understandable ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever, so we did not know what to expect, though Cruise Critic was a good source of information. Overall, we were disappointed. The crew seemed tired and, in general, were not very helpful (perhaps understandable as this was their last trip north for the season). The 1st day was a madhouse and we were not prepared for the zoo in the boarding area where we had to clear customs (we were directed to the wrong staging area and, in general, we did not get any directions on what do do and where to go). The minute we got on board, the push began to buy the unlimited alcohol passes - we were dismayed by this effort to take advantage of the passengers; either they would make an unwise financial decision (drink passes very expensive) or would drink an unhealthy amount of alcohol during their week aboard. We were also disappointed in that our special requests made at the time of booking were ignored. One member of the party purchased the unlimited soft drink pass only to find that the soft drinks were only available from the bars on the boat and were not carbonated (when we complained, we were told that is just the way it is - the bartenders apparently do not go to the trouble to hook up new CO2 cylinders when they run empty). The assigned dining room was okay, and the food is also okay, though plentiful; recommend going with anytime dining as this gives you so much more flexibility. Recommend the specialty restaurants, especially on formal nights, though they do cost an extra $35 per person per night - they made a nice change from the tiresome buffet. My wife had the best comment about the food in the buffet: "sure looks good but it has no taste". The buffet, though had some advantages: open most of the time and nice views (all of the other restaurants have no views). Overall, our opinion of the food was that it was mediocre, which was disappointing, since we were looking forward to it. Other more experienced cruisers told us that they shared our opinion. You should know that tipping is completely optional, despite the verbiage in the Princess literature (another tip from an experienced cruiser). You can see the purser at the beginning of the cruise and have that automatic tip removed from your bill. We would have much preferred to tip as we went, as the level of service definitely varied from good to bad. Recommend not using the Princess shore excursion booking service unless you like being moved around like sheep, paying more than you would like and being misled (we were wait-listed for tours that were no longer running!) We booked the cruise thru Costco Travel and they have a very nice shore excursion booking service. Another nice way to handle sightseeing on shore is to book a rental car in each port (offices always close to the docks) and see the sights yourself. We actually enjoyed when we did this and found our sightseeing much more enjoyable than the escorted crowded shore excursions we booked thru Princess. The end of the cruise was especially disappointing. Roused at 5 am, we were hustled outside in the dark into a cold rain and a long walk to the trains for the land phase of our trip. We were ordered not to bring any food (there were vague statements about Alaska not allowing food to be brought ashore, though the shore personnel said that no such policy exists). After we boarded the train, we found out the reason for the policy as were given the option to purchase expensive food and drink while we listened to sales pitches). Nothing like being a captive audience while sitting in a crowded little booth on board a train sharing leg space with strangers across from you! All in all, our first cruise was very disappointing. We gave Princess a chance to address our complaints; while they did respond, the level of their response was definitely disappointing especially in the light of their supposed attitude towards customer service. We honestly cannot recommend Princess. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
Overall very pleased with the cruise and would not hesitate to use Princess again for future cruises, but there are some things to be aware of prior to booking. We arrived in Vancouver the morning of the ship's departure. Princess ... Read More
Overall very pleased with the cruise and would not hesitate to use Princess again for future cruises, but there are some things to be aware of prior to booking. We arrived in Vancouver the morning of the ship's departure. Princess has a station set up in the baggage claim area and will take your bags to your stateroom regardless of how you're getting to the ship. We had not pre-purchased tickets on the Princess transfer bus and used the Canadian metro to get from the airport to the port. The metro station is connected to the airport and is an easy 3 minute walk from the baggage claim area. The trains are clean, very inexpensive, and deliver you to within eyesight of the ship at the port. I would recommend using this option to transfer from airport to port. The embarkation process is a model of organization and efficiency. Have your passport and boarding pass ready to clear the two customs stations and pick up the Princess Coral ID card. It took less than 20 minutes from the time we walked into the facility until we were on the ship. Departing the ship was also well organized, but not quite as efficient. There is a one-way tunnel serving Whittier that operates at 30 minute intervals. We sat on the bus for nearly an hour waiting for late passengers that in turn caused us to miss the first one-way access of the tunnel. The ride to Anchorage is scenic and the hospitality center is centrally located in the historic part of the city. Shuttle service is provided to the airport. We used (paid for) the expedited luggage handling option, where your bags are picked up at your Stateroom and checked through to the final destination airport. While everything worked and our bags arrived with us in Washington, DC, the paperwork provided by the cruise line did not match our travel itinerary and we spent another anxious hour at the Anchorage and then Seattle airport trying to resolve the differences. I'd strongly recommend selecting the option of having your bags delivered to the hospitality center - which will hold the bags until you leave for the airport - and checking them in yourself at the airport. The ship itself is fantastic. We talked to other passengers who commented that it didn't compare to the mega-ships from Princess or other lines, but we found it met most of our expectations with a 24 hour buffet dining room, several formal dining rooms, two indoor theaters for the shows, an outdoor theater for movies, and more bars and sitting areas than we could use in seven days. Brief comments about all of the amenities - - Stateroom: We had a mini-cabin with balcony. I was surprised at the amount of space and the size of the bathroom. I understand that the interior cabins are much smaller and taller men complained about the size of the showers, but I was 110% satisfied with our stateroom. We sat on the balcony occasionally, using it for several hours during the Glacier Bay and College Fjord portions of the cruise. It was a nice extra, but not necessary since so little time is spent in the room. - Meals: There is no issue with quantity or even variety, but quality varied. The buffet dining room is on par with a discount buffet restaurant. It's not bad, but it's middle of the road food at best. We did tend to eat breakfast and lunch there to save time. Seating can be an issue during peak periods and sharing a table is the norm. The formal dining rooms are nice. The service is a throwback to elegant dining of 30 or 40 years ago. Regardless of the quality of the food, I always enjoyed dinners in the formal dining rooms. As for quality, it varied greatly by night and by meal. Some dishes were great, others not so good. Ask you waiter for a recommendation each night. On lobster night, he recommended the Beef Wellington. The rest of the table liked the lobster; my Beef Wellington was one of the best meals I've ever had. I'd laughed off reviews I'd read prior to taking the cruise that praised the pizza parlor and grill (both located in the pool complex), but both were exactly as advertised. By the 3rd day my wife and I couldn't walk past the pizza bar without grabbing a slice even if we were on our way to or had just finished a meal. - Excursions: We booked our excursions through Princess. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably use the local agencies. They each have booths set up adjacent to the piers at the port of calls. Booking through Princess ensures a spot on the trip, but going directly to the agency will save you 30-40% off the cost and you can select the excursion based on the weather. - - Ketchikan: We elected to simply walk through the town and visit the sites and museums on our own. We enjoyed this approach, but other passengers raved about the whale watching trip and the float plane "flightseeing" tour. - - Juneau: We did the Glacier tour / Salmon Hatchery / Salmon Bake in the morning and the Glacier Walk in the afternoon. My only complaint with the morning tour is that I would have liked 30 minutes longer at each site. The Glacier park is a compilations of post card shots of Alaska. The walking paths go left and right from the park buildings. We elected to go right to the waterfall, which was spectacular. Those going to the left were treated to black bears and cubs. The Salmon Hatchery is a small facility, but is interesting and well maintained. The highlight was a large harbor seal cruising the entry of a fish ladder as the wild salmon accessed the safe area to spawn. I spent so much time watching the seal chase salmon that I missed most of the rest of the tour. The afternoon excursion - a helicopter ride around the Juneau ice fields and an hour walking the upper reaches of the Mendenhall Glacier - was the highlight of the cruise. - - Skagway: We spent the morning walking through the town, which has been maintained as a 1900's version of an Alaskan boom town with raised wooden side walks and building facades. In the afternoon, we took the Evening Wildlife Expedition. This entails a 40 minute ferry ride to Haines and a short bus ride into the adjacent Park. You're guaranteed Eagles (by the hundreds) and seals / otters, but bears aren't a given. We were lucky - we had the opportunity to watch a Brown (grizzly) female feeding along the river for about 30 minutes before it became aggravated and charged up the trail that bisected our group. There was another feeding bear observed from the bus as we drove past. We enjoyed this excursion and the bear running toward will be a life long memory, but there's a couple of issues with this excursion that aren't on the brochure. First, the ferry to Haines is a commercial route and not exclusive to the tour. it holds ~ 200 people and was packed when we went over. We elected to sit on the outside, top deck thinking this would provide a better view. Unfortunately, the photographers lined the rails and all we saw was telescopic lenses and oversized butts for most of the 40 minute ride. Second, transportation into the Park is on school buses. The bus would move to a viewing spot, we would all dismount, and then walk 40 or 50 feet and stand and watch. After 20 or 30 minutes, we would reboard the buses and move to the next spot. the buses were noisy, cramped, and uncomfortable. When moving, those sitting next to a window had a decent view. All others were limited. Seeing the bear made the trip worth the price; had we not seen the bear, this would have been a very, very disappointing excursion with an unreasonable price tag. - Shows: Most are entertaining and some are exceptional. We thought the "Guitar Comedian" was as good as anything we've seen in a small venue and the comedian was also good. The stage shows are really well choreographed and the performers - who are all crew members - are good. - Fitness Facilities: Although advertised, we couldn't find the treadmills or the elliptical trainers. There were bikes, but these were used for spinning classes (which carried additional charges). Fortunately, the promenade deck was lightly used and we could run / walk there any morning without issue before 8:00 am. After 8:00 am it began to fill up and it became difficult to jog around the ship (3 laps / mile). - Extra Fees: - - Drink prices are about what you would pay at a hotel bar. They have all inclusive packages for ~ $50 a day. If you drink at all, you may want to consider this option. It's expensive, but I spent about $30 a day anyway on a glass of wine at dinner and a couple of drinks throughout the day anyway. - - Internet Service. Avoid like the plague. Seventy-nine cents a minute doesn't sound too bad, except that the service is unreasonably slow. I used this once to check my e-mail and send off two brief notes. it cost $18. Unless you absolutely have to access the web - and there's package deals to reduce costs - it's better to wait until you hit a port call and use your cell phone / I-pad access. - - The gratuity. I never like being told that a set percentage is added to a bill as a gratuity, but I have no issue with Princess charging me $12 a day in this case. The ship's crew, from the dockside security guy to the information clerks to the dining room staff, are exceptional. These kids deserve every bit of the mandatory gratuity. I also left extra tip envelopes for a number of the crew that assisted us in ways that I felt were far beyond normal expectations.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
My husband and I cruised for 7 nights from Whittier, Alaska to Vancouver, B.C. (one-way south bound). This was our 6th cruise, all of them week-long cruises, but our first with Princess. We spent two nights pre-cruise at The Hotel Captain ... Read More
My husband and I cruised for 7 nights from Whittier, Alaska to Vancouver, B.C. (one-way south bound). This was our 6th cruise, all of them week-long cruises, but our first with Princess. We spent two nights pre-cruise at The Hotel Captain Cook, which we booked through Princess. We had a great experience in Anchorage, which is a really clean, charming town. We also enjoyed the 2+ hour train ride to Whittier. You can stand on the outside platform between the train cars and soak up the gorgeous scenery. One really nice touch was the cruise line collecting our luggage from our hotel room and then depositing it outside our cabin door on the ship. It made traveling from hotel to train to ship very easy. Boarding the ship was a breeze. Within 5 minutes of stepping off the train from Anchorage, we were stepping onto the ship. Can't beat that! We had about 7 hours until the ship set sail, but not to worry, our cabin was ready and the buffets and bars were open. The weather was so nice and sunny and our luggage made it so quickly that we were in the pool enjoying cocktails by mid-afternoon. The pool area was very nice and clean, and was rarely crowded, except during movies. They show "Movies Under the Stars" here and give out blankets and popcorn in the evenings. Our kids would have loved it, but they did not sail with us this time. Our mini-suite was clean and quiet. It seemed longer and more narrow than other mini-suites I've traveled in, but was nicely appointed, made good use of space, and felt spacious and comfortable for two. Our room steward quietly went about his job and was always courteous, although we didn't interact with him much. We dined in the buffets for breakfast and lunch, but always in the Bordeaux Dining Room for dinner. We never had to wait for open seating, as we discussed with the head waiter our time/table preference and gave him a tip. All the wait staff were professional and friendly, although sometimes meals took awhile. It wasn't an issue, since we drank more wine and cocktails and relaxed; the whole purpose behind the cruise. All of the food was good, although I didn't like a few things I ordered. This was never a problem, I just asked for something else. I will say that the best thing I ate on the cruise was the Glacier Bay pizza special with white sauce, garlic, and four cheeses. Amazing!! The pizza on the ship was better than expected. We also ordered room service in our cabin a few times, and everything was fine. The Coral Princess is not as big a ship as we have sailed in the past, and that is actually how I prefer it. The ship is well maintained, albeit a bit outdated with the décor. The public spaces never felt cramped, and it is easy to find your way around this ship pretty quickly. We swam in the nice outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, worked out at the gym, ran on the running track (Deck 7), went to the Spa, and even played bingo. We never went to any of the shows, as those are not our thing, nor did I really visit the casino. The gym can be pretty crowded in the mornings. We booked two shore excursions through the cruise line. They were both nice, although pricey. You can walk off the boat and book your own tours to save money, which we have done in the past. There are tons of excursion vendors when you stop in all the ports, of course. Alaska is gorgeous and we especially loved seeing the glaciers calve in Glacier Bay. You are at the mercy of the weather in Alaska, and we had both good and bad weather. It poured in Ketchikan! It would have been nice to have some type of cover when waiting in line to re-board the ship, as we stood in the driving rain. Bring your umbrella there! I was curious to see how Princess would do in comparison to other cruise lines. It didn't feel any fancier or more upscale than Royal Caribbean, but it was very nice. There were very few children, which was a bonus for us this trip, but that might have something to do with the destination. I informed Princess about our anniversary before we set sail, and they gave us a nice 8x10 photo frame, a voucher for a free 8x10 photo, and a bottle of wine. Nice touch! Overall, a very positive experience. I would definitely sail with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
My wife, children, and I have traveled all over the world. Both on our annual vacations (typically one or two) and my time served in the US Navy. As far as Cruises go, this is our third different Cruise Line we have tried. We must say, it ... Read More
My wife, children, and I have traveled all over the world. Both on our annual vacations (typically one or two) and my time served in the US Navy. As far as Cruises go, this is our third different Cruise Line we have tried. We must say, it was pretty disappointing compared to the other two. I will try to be as detailed as possible so that this review is actually published. Embarkation: A fairly long, single line that moved at a relatively slow pace. All told, it probably took about an hour to get to our stateroom. We were allowed to bring one bottle of wine onboard, and I did like that our luggage was transferred to the ship directly from the airport. The embarkation crew were very polite and courteous. Stateroom: Our room was actually very nice and spacious, with a window view on the bottom level of the ship. The disappointment came with the bathroom, however. I have never in my life seen a shower that small. It was physically impossible for me to use it without completely soaking the floor and wasting towels trying to keep the mess manageable. The room was always warm, despite the thermostat setting, and the tapwater was HEAVILY chlorinated. The stateroom staff was very polite but they lacked a lot of the little extras you would experience on other cruise lines such as folded towel creatures or other little suprises in your room to brighten your day. That was disappointing. Dining: Breakfast had a wide assortment of fruits, parfaits, eggs, pastries, and the typical breakfast meats. The parfaits were made ahead of time so the granola was very soggy. Eggs were always overcooked, especially disappointing on the day they had eggs benedict. Lunch was hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, nachos, and other similar items. The hamburgers actually made my wife ill so we stuck with pizza for lunch. We attended the sit-down "fancy" dinners every evening. The waiting staff were extremely polite and would always seem interested in how your day was. They always remembered our names and our favorite drinks. The food was a hit-or-miss at these dinners. Some dishes were very good while others I could not even finish. The ones in between were very bland, with almost no seasoning. I'd like to mention that as much money as this cruise costs, the only free coffee you have access to is actually instant coffee from a spigot. Public areas: Areas were visually very appealing, but could get extremely crowded during any shipboard events. The hot tubs were very nice and relaxing.....when they were working. They had a total of six, but typically only half of that were actually hot or had all of the jets working. Out of the 2 or 3 that were fully functional they were typically filled with ten year old children so my wife and I considered ourselves lucky when we could actually get into one that worked. The pool areas were smaller than the other cruise lines I have been on and only about 5 feet deep. Bathrooms were typically well maintained but after the third day at sea one of the bathrooms had some kind of septic backup or failure. Every time you passed that area of the ship you were inundated with the foul, noxious odor of human sewage. This was not repaired at all during the cruise. Children's Areas: It was only my wife and I so I cannot comment on these areas, however it seemed as if all of the children were constantly in the hot tubs. Entertainment: One of the things my wife and I loved most about our previous two cruise experiences was the plentiful and varied amount of entertainment that was available to us as passengers. We were sorely disappointed with what Princess had to offer. Don't get me wrong, the quality was very good. But I can honestly say that there was MUCH less options and a LOT more "empty" or down time as opposed to our other cruises. Also, after every single event there was something they were trying to sell. It has happened on other cruise lines as well but the sales pressure on Princess was very, very intense. And it was with every entertainment venue. Excursions: They had a large variety to choose from but they were extremely expensive compared to just hiring somebody on shore independently. I will say that I heard a few of my fellow cruisers complaining about the professionalism of some of the independent contractors. We did not have that problem with the Princess excursions, but the politeness must have been included in the price. Customer Service: This is the biggest problem I had with Princess. You can only purchase items on the ship with your Cruise Card. Princess's finance department kept shutting my wife's and my own card off, which would sometimes even lock us out of our own room. We had to go to the service desk on 4 separate occasions to sort out the mess, and each time they neglected to annotate the problem in their computers so it kept on happening. When I complained, I received a call from the "Finance Manager" who first apologized, and then proceeded to tell me that it was all my fault and that even though I wasn't satisifed with Princess, 99% of their customers ARE satisfied. What kind of an apology is that? Just imagine how frustrating it would be if you are trying to buy a toothbrush in the ship store, or a bottle of wine at dinner, and you are told that your ship card has been shut off AGAIN. Disembarkation: We disembarked at 5:45 am, which seemed very early to us. However, it went smoothly and even though it was raining, Princess had these portable tube-like structures that kept the rain off of us until we could reach the train. Summary: For the price that we paid, we expected a lot more in terms of quality. The sales pressure and the poor customer service was perhaps the breaking point that will prevent us from ever trying Princess again. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
We had a wonderful time doing the August 2, 2014 Coral Princess Cruise, taking the southbound Inside Passage from Wittier AK to Vancouver BC. We preceded this voyage with a four day Princess land tour going up to both McKinley and Denali ... Read More
We had a wonderful time doing the August 2, 2014 Coral Princess Cruise, taking the southbound Inside Passage from Wittier AK to Vancouver BC. We preceded this voyage with a four day Princess land tour going up to both McKinley and Denali Lodges, returning to Wittier via the Princess glass dome train. This was our seventeenth cruise with five of those being on Princess. Overall a very good experience on this Princess Cruise. The Coral Princess we found to be in very good condition throughout and a pleasure to be on. The cruise staff was very courteous and professional in caring for their passengers. This time of year it is cool and it does rain a lot, so be sure and bring some wet weather jackets, pants, umbrella, and dress in layers as it is very cool of a morning and warmer in the afternoon. We flew into Anchorage a day early so we could have some time to explore on our own the city. Stayed at the Comfort Inn Suites Airport, five minutes away from the airport. It was $195 including breakfast and free shuttle and internet. This was a very nice facility and over a $100 less than the Captain Cook Hotel Princess uses downtown Anchorage. There is a free Princess shuttle from the airport to the Captain Cook Hotel to check in. The Captain Cook Hotel looked like a five star hotel, really wow. But at $295 a night it should be. Rooms were super with a separate sitting suite from bedroom, with frig and microwave. The restaurant on the top floor offered a very nice view of Anchorage and surrounding area. Upon checking in at the lobby Princess Desk, you are given your room keys and information regarding the bus departure the next day to McKinley Lodge. Princess does a nice job with moving your luggage for you. For example, you are given baggage tags for “going with you” to the Princess Lodges on the land tours and a “separate “go to Ship” luggage tags for bags you will not need for the land tour portion of your trip, they go directly to wait for you in your cabin when you board the ship. The downtown was an easy walk as the Captain Cook is centrally located. The Visitor Center was an easy two block short walk to plan our day exploring Anchorage. There is a salmon ladder we viewed near the train depot, the salmon were plentiful and easy to see trying to swim upstream here. Lots of eating options in downtown Anchorage including in the Captain Cook Hotel. If you don’t mind getting out of the hotel, you can save a lot. For breakfast, just one short block west toward the bay was the Snow City Café serving a good breakfast and lunch for half of hotel prices. In the downtown mall was a big food court, serving a nice variety of breakfast ,lunch and dinner choices. On the sidewalk are street vendors selling Reindeer sausage sandwiches. We made a reservation with Gray Line Tours located in the Westmark Hotel downtown Anchorage, for a 1:00 PM bus/boat tour to the Portage Glazier for $69 PP. This was a most enjoyable four hour bus ride south of Anchorage with the driver providing a lot of helpful information on the dozens of glaciers we passed on the way down the coastline. After about 45 minutes we arrived at the excursion boat to take us across Portage Lake to the glacier, a short 15 minute smooth boat ride. You can choose to ride inside and stay below and watch through the windows or go up on the top dck for better viewing. We stayed at the glacier for at least 30 minutes with the captain going back and forth a couple of times giving us great photo opportunities. The boat can get within 50 feet of the glacier so it was an up-close view, a lot closer than the Coral Princess could get later in the trip. There were two separate calving of ice falling into the water from the glacier. On the return trip, we had a half hour stop at the Alaska Wildlife Refuge Center where native Alaskan wildlife can be seen roaming free in separate fenced in areas. We were able to see several reindeer, caribou, moose, black bears, and eagles. On the second day, our bus picked us up at our assigned time for the ride to McKinley Princess Lodge where we arrived around one in the afternoon. Upon getting off the bus, we were given our room keys and went to our assigned cabin and found our luggage already in the waiting in the room. The rooms are very nice size and appointed with good furnishings. The cabins are all located within a short walk of the main lodge. A nice eating option is located near the lodge. The McKinley Princess Lodge is located in a pretty remote area so taking the princess shuttle ($10 Roundtrip) into Talkeetna is highly recommended. It is a short 45 mile bus ride. Talkeetna is a must see, lots of good restaurants and shops. The Lodge has free computer and internet access for guests. We booked a great flight seeing with a glacier landing with Talkeenta Air Taxi for $269/PP. The give a 10% discount for AAA and if you already have your National Park Pass that can save you $10/PP. This air Taxi service picked us up at the Princess Shuttle stop and took us to their office at Airport for the flight that lasted two hours with one half hour of this on Ruth Glazier. For me, this was the highlight of our Alaska vacation. The view is spectacular and great for photos. A nice six passenger plane with headsets provides so you can hear the pilots narration of what we were seeing. A must see. A little expensive but worth the extra money. Princess Motor coach took us the next day to Denali Princess Lodge where again our room keys were given to us as we departed the bus and luggage awaiting in the room. Pretty smooth. Lots of restaurant and shopping options both on site and across the street. The great big fresh baked cinnamon rolls across the street was worth going over to get. There also is a Subway to get a lunch for going into Denali National Park. The Lodge also offers free computer and internet access to guests. We booked thru Princess the Husky Homestead tour to see how the dogs are trained. We both really enjoyed this and would recommend this presentation from Jeff King, former Ididoron Champion. For the visit inside of Denali National Park, we passed on the Princess provided Historic Tour and reserved through the National Park service their 8 hour shuttle trip to the Eikison Visitor Center, 67 miles into the park. You will see much more of the wildlife and scenery on this tour which the driver narrates. For $39/PP we got to see grizzly bears, caribou, moose, sheep, glaciers, and great photo opportunities. The bus driver always stopped the bus at any animal sightings for photos. Princess provides a free shuttle every half hour over to the National Park visitor and transportation center. There is no place to purchase food or drinks on this tour so be sure and bring your own. After two nights in Denali Princess Lodge, our bus met us for a short 10 minute ride to the Princess Domed Railroad tour to Wittier. You are assigned to a certain passenger car and table. The downstairs dining car was also available. Upon arrival in Wittier to board the Coral Princess, you are given your cabin keys inside the terminal. We stopped at the grocery store on the pier to get some wine and soft drinks before boarding. The stop at Hubbard Glacier was a none event, as fog made it very difficult to see anything. The next day stop at Glacier Bay was much better weather and great for seeing several of the glaciers we passed by. Great photos to be taken hear. Seeing the many glaciers was worth it. First cruise port was Skagway. Lots of good shopping and restaurants in easy walk of the ship. We booked thru Princess the White Pass Scenic Railway and had a great time on this 3 hour train ride up and back down the mountain. The train comes right to the dock so getting on/off was no problem. Computer and internet found in downtown for $5 for 1 hour. Next cruise port was Juneau. At the pier, you can take for $20/PP roundtrip a white or blue shuttle bus that will take you to Mendenhall Glacier and Visitor Center. Bus leaves every half hour. This was very worth doing. Near the shuttle drop off is a viewing area for salmon and bears. We got to see both. A mother bear and her cub were fishing in the stream for salmon. What a great sight. Going into the Red Dogs Saloon is recommended in Juneau. Last cruise port was Ketchikan. Nice downtown area right at ships pier to walk around. One must see, was walking down Creek Street a restored gold rush era district. We took the city bus for $2/PP roundtrip out to Bright State Park to see the many totem poles. Caught bus at the downtown city museum and runs hourly. This is a worth while trip to not only see the totem poles but more of the area. Overall a very good Alaska vacation thanks to Princess and her fine crew.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
My wife had cruised over 25 years ago, and myself not at all, so really we were a pair of first time cruisers celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and 50th birthdays on an Alaskan cruise, then we spent a week in Anchorage visiting ... Read More
My wife had cruised over 25 years ago, and myself not at all, so really we were a pair of first time cruisers celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and 50th birthdays on an Alaskan cruise, then we spent a week in Anchorage visiting family. We were both very happy with the way our Princess cruise worked out, and glad we chose this ship and destination. Details below. We arrived in Vancouver one day early to tour the city and visit with other family who live near the embarkation area, we had great weather and took a 5 hour city tour by bus, which also hit the Capilano suspension bridge (WESTCOAST TOURS). For those who have been there you know that Vancouver needs little help showing her beauty, and on a very sunny summer's day...awesome. Loved the Capilano suspension bridge and park, a nice diversion. On sailing day we toured the Vancouver waterfront and saw the 2010 Olympic flame and exhibits, cool, a great city to return tom one day. Embarkation on the cruise was super smooth, lined up at the pier 11:40, in our room at high noon, 4 hours to eat a buffet lunch and explore the ship before pulling away , still in brilliant sunshine, a great start. The first two days are at sea, but in the Inside Passage there is always land in sight, being from bland Ontario it was literally a nice change of scenery, and again weather was on our side, so being on deck and even in the pool was very pleasant. Whale watching from the deck on the second day was a highlight, and the naturalist that helped you spot whales and dolphins was a help. On day 3 the first port of call was Ketchikan, Alaska's rainiest city, but not for us, after 4 days of rain we got sun! We had pre-arranged a sightseeing cab ride with Sourdough Cabs at half the cost of what the cruise would have charged us to see wildlife, nature, waterfalls, tons of bald eagles and salmon, totem poles. The tide was out when we left the ship at 7:30 am, so we went beachcombing on the ocean floor with our guide, my wife really enjoyed that! We still had time to wander main street after we were done, a great day to start our ports of call! Next was Juneau, weather still fair, and my wife and I chose different excursions. She went for a nature hike and zip-lining in the canopy, fun! I went on a whale watching expedition, arranged through Princess, expensive but worth it as we saw many whales and a sea-lion "haul out", true National Geographic stuff! No Orcas, which one trip in ten does get to see, otherwise amazing to see these humpbacks in their natural environment, I had not been whale watching before so it was a trip highlight, especially when one surfaced beside the ship on our way back to shore! The next port was Skagway, and we made no pre-arranged plans. We walked the town at dawn and then kept walking to reach the Gold Rush cemetery at the end of Main Street, a 20-25 min. walk each way from the ship, but worth it! Interesting, cool, look it up on tripadvisor! On the way back we wandered through town and booked a guided hike on the Chilkoot Trail (Gold Rush trail from 1898) and then a raft float back to your starting point. There had been a lot of rain so the trail was a little muddy but interesting, and the river had a nice current going for the floating part (no whitewater), an excellent guide who was a true outdoorsman, another great excursion! The next two days were meant for glacier sightseeing from the ship. Once we reached Glacier Bay National Park, the weather was now cloudy and drizzly, and although it was cool to see and appreciate the size of these glaciers and the floating icebergs, they did not capture my imagination as the wilderness and wildlife had done. Listening to the glaciers creak and groan was cool, and then the calving of icebergs big and small is exciting, but after 2 days I had seen my fill. On the last morning we were off the ship by 6:15 and our hosts picked us up in Whittier in a driving rain for another awesome week, different story for another time. My wife and I were thrilled to be on our own, away from our 3 university aged kids, and loved having our every need met, so can't really find anything to complain about on the ship. I loved even walking the deck and taking in the scenery as a daily activity. We enjoyed the comedian and magician for evening shows, as well as the trivia games in the Wheelhouse Bar. We had 4 dinners in our assigned dining room, we chose anytime dining, and met new people each night. The food was just fine each time out, and the buffet always had something that we went back for seconds for. The pizza on deck was too tempting, we had a slice on many occasions, delicious. The Princess staff seemed plentiful and helpful, no complaints. Our room was an ocean view with an obstructed view, we hardly were in the room except to sleep and change clothes, preferred to be on deck when there was something to see, generally from the 15th and 16th deck viewing areas, never had to "push" to see anything we wanted. I did not go in a balcony room, and meant to, when the weather was not as nice, it might have been nice to relax on the balcony and see the sights, can't comment on that. Overall a great trip that has us wanting to go back to Alaska and see Denali National Park, as many people on board were headed there with Princess and their extended land package, another year!! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We booked this cruise tour to celebrate our 40th anniversary. Princess seemed to have the advantage over other cruise lines due to owning their own lodges on the land tour so that played a major factor into our choice of cruise lines. We ... Read More
We booked this cruise tour to celebrate our 40th anniversary. Princess seemed to have the advantage over other cruise lines due to owning their own lodges on the land tour so that played a major factor into our choice of cruise lines. We did a 7 day northbound cruise and a 4 day land tour ending in Fairbanks. We have no regrets! Our cabin steward was wonderful and met every need. I booked everything online thru Princess with a few phone calls to confirm everything was done correctly and it worked out perfect for us. We were in Cabin A505 which was a great location and protected during our nasty weather so we were still able to be on our balcony where the people in the mini suite next door were not. The cabin was a little smaller than we have had on Royal Caribbean and I didn't like having a shower curtain vs. a door like we had on Royal. Closet space and storage was very spacious. The food was good but we didn't think it was as good as we had had on Royal Caribbean and the service from some of the waiters was definitely not up to par. We often sat with dirty dishes in front of us while the wait staff would walk by and never pick them up. It was often difficult to get them to bring you juice, coffee, etc. and one night at dinner I ordered coffee and never received it even though the rest of the table did. They really pushed the drink specials in the dining room. One waiter would come by first and then another one would come by and try again. I felt like it was a timeshare presentation. The entertainment was far better than we had experienced on other cruise ships but we did notice that the bars and shows were not well attended and things ended early which probably was due to the fact that you were often up early for excursions and to take in the beautiful scenery. In my opinion this is not a cruise for children even though there were a fair number of them here with their parents and grandparents. Too much time is spent sitting on buses, trains, etc. traveling from one place to the next. Overall it was a good experience.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
An Alaskan cruise had long been on my wish list and this year I finally managed it. My family and I (myself 52, wife 48 + 2 teenage sons, 17 & 13) travelled to Canada via Iceland and so even before the cruise started we'd had a ... Read More
An Alaskan cruise had long been on my wish list and this year I finally managed it. My family and I (myself 52, wife 48 + 2 teenage sons, 17 & 13) travelled to Canada via Iceland and so even before the cruise started we'd had a wonderful few days in Reykjavik & Vancouver. The latter is a wonderful city and I recommend you spend at least 2 days there to soak up its relaxed ambience (especially recommend renting bikes to cycle around Stanley Park. We chose Princess because we wanted a one way northbound itinerary that included Glacier Bay and so that really narrowed down the choice to HAL or Princess. Coral Princess has consistently high customer reviews and we also thought that the average age profile of the passengers would be slightly lower than on HAL so the boys were more likely to meet other children (In the event I'm not sure that was the case, and there were in fact very few children on board but they may have been because it was fairly late in the season) Embarkation at Canada Place was reasonably straightforward but being the first non-European port we have left from we were somewhat taken aback by the time it took us (being neither American nor Canadian) to clear US Immigration. We arrived at Canada Place at 12.15 and didn't get onto the ship until 3.30pm! Speaking to the staff in the terminal it appears that this is a fairly normal wait for a day when two ships are in port and when each ship has around 20% of the passengers coming from overseas. (For our ship it was predominantly Australians who made up the numbers). With hindsight it may have been better to have arrived later in the afternoon after the majority of the non-foreign passengers had been processed and more immigration desks were therefore open to deal with us... First impressions of the ship were good. Not quite as modern or "glitzy" as the two Celebrity vessels we last travelled on, but certainly looking well for its age (10+ years). Even though the ship was "full" it seemed to soak up all 1800+ passengers well and never appeared crowded. (Except in the Horizon Court Buffet at lunchtimes!). That ubiquitous feature of all recent ships the "atrium" is less impressive than on some of the newer mega ships, only going over 4 floors, but it still made a pleasant place to linger in or pass through. One feature which I particularly liked on the Coral was the large wrap around teak promenade deck (in my view an essential on any cruise ship) which we walked around daily. (1 mile = 2.8 laps) We had a 4 berth mini-suite stateroom on Deck 10 (Caribe) near the stern. We chose a mini-suite because it gave us slightly more cabin space (for the 4 of us) than the normal balcony cabin for only a small increase in cost. Even with all 4 beds in the "night-time" out position (1 Double, 1 Sofa Bed, 1 pull down bunk) there was still a reasonable amount of floor space to get around. There was plenty of hanging & storage space, and even though the fixtures and fittings were nothing special they were fine for a 7 day cruise (Although I think the standard of cabins & bathrooms on the newer Celebrity Eclipse class of ships are definitely a notch higher). Jojo our cabin steward was always friendly when we saw him, and coped well with the debris left by teenage boys every day. We ate in the main Provence Dining room (Fixed seating - 1st sitting) every evening bar one. Food & Service were good with plenty of choice each night. We had a table right next to window which was great for watching the scenery glide by, probably wouldn't have been so happy if stuck out in one of the main "traffic lanes" nearer the centre. Dress codes reasonably adhered to on formal nights. Very few dinner jackets but that's what I'd expected on a short Alaskan itinerary. We also used the Horizon Court buffet for other meals. Breakfast choices were good, but lunch less so. And the one night we tried it for diner we found very little to our liking and ended up eating sandwiches from teh International Cafe. (A much underappreciated location, probably due to it's rather noisy location between the casino and Photographer's Gallery, but great for proper coffee and pastries). We also ate the pizzas and burgers from the Grill locations near the Pool which were as good as any we'd had on other ships. (Our boys especially loved them and I think they ate there every day) We didn't try any of the extra cost speciality restaurants, although they always looked reasonably busy most evenings. Not so enamoured by the choice of bars on the Coral. Most of them double up as venues for other activities (such as the art auctions or quizzes) and all of them are a bit too cavernous to server as a pre-dinner or late night cocktail venue. It is only in Crooners Bar that the jazz pianist plays and as this is open to the atrium in my opinion this doesn't really work as a music venue. We attended 2 or 3 of the evening entertainment shows (which seemed to alternate between the Princess Theatre or the Universe Lounge). Fairly run-of-the-mill cruise fare, and not sure why Princess have shortened all their shows to 30 minutes. They also showed films a couple of nights in the Universe Lounge. Would have liked them to do this more often, as the Alaskan weather didn't really lend itself to the "Movies under the Stars" which were being shown on the open deck (to an audience of normally less than 10) We didn't use the Fitness facilities or Spa so can't comment on them, although the running machines always seemed to be well used when I passed by. Likewise I didn't use any of the pools although occasionally I did spy some hardy souls in the hot tubs. Our two boys used the teen ("Remix") facilities most days, but as there were so few children on board (less than 50) the staff there had a very easy time, so not sure how they’d copy on a mid-summer Caribbean cruise. (I'm not sure Princess are as really geared up for families as Royal Caribbean or Celebrity are) We didn't book any Princess shore excursions preferring to either go alone or book independently at the ports. (At Juneau where we booked a whale watching and glacier tour from an independent vendor and it was about half the price that Princess were asking for the identical tour...) In Glacier Bay, National Park Rangers came aboard and supplied information and a commentary throughout the day. Even though the weather was fairly grey that day their enthusiasm shone through and they really added value to the magnificent scenery we were cruising past. We arrived in Whittier earlier than expected (due to a medical emergency on board) and so had the added treat of seeing the town from the sea whilst still daylight. Disembarkation the next morning was very straightforward. We had no transfers arranged and so were in the last group off, but we were out of the terminal by just after 9am. In summary: I don't think you go chose an Alaskan cruise based on a particular ship, you are really going there to see the magnificent scenery. But having said that I have no reservations about having chosen Coral Princess. It had everything we required for our week, and the service we received form all the staff was always courteous and delivered with a smile. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Thoroughly enjoyed our balcony with room service breakfast and afternoon glass of wine. Weather was lovely. Gentle breeze., calm sea, almost no rain. Unlike the previous review of the same cruise, we thought the food was excellent. He down ... Read More
Thoroughly enjoyed our balcony with room service breakfast and afternoon glass of wine. Weather was lovely. Gentle breeze., calm sea, almost no rain. Unlike the previous review of the same cruise, we thought the food was excellent. He down graded the cruise based on service in anytime dining room. We were escorted to another dining room every evening because we wanted a table for 2. My husband is hard of hearing and can't manage a conversation with more than 4, and we found service for more than 4 takes too long. We also found a couple bathroom stalls closed and at least one else elevator out of service the entire trip. Can't comment on entertainment as we only went to the comedian show one night. We don't do bars or dancing so can't comment on that either. There were people of all ages this trip which we enjoyed. Our last cruise was in February and predominantly seniors. We thought service very good and everyone very friendly. Only complaint with food was the desserts. Everything very lovely but tasteless. Need some good American pies and cakes. Bed lumpy, mattress and pillows should be retired. We booked this cruise at the last minute for just a getaway after a stressful couple of months and it served us well in that regard. Didn't do any excursions. Just our own walking tours. The embarkation could have been handled more efficiently. Lines long and moved slowly. Would have been nice to have been offered water or snacks during the wait. Got a great last minute deal so no complaints there. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
This was the first time to cruise and we were so very pleased with Princess. We had a balcony room and was very happy with the size of the room and balcony. The meals in both the Horizon and the Anytime dining were great. Both offered a ... Read More
This was the first time to cruise and we were so very pleased with Princess. We had a balcony room and was very happy with the size of the room and balcony. The meals in both the Horizon and the Anytime dining were great. Both offered a nice variety of dishes and the desserts were out of this world. We were very happy with the entertainment the ship had to offer. We were able to see something every night while on the cruise. We were very happy with our shore excursions we had booked with Princess. They were everything we expected and more. The process of getting on and off the ship for excursions was very efficient and quick. We were very pleased with all of the people working on the cruise. We found them to be very pleasant and very helpful. They all seemed to enjoy their job! I would highly recommend Princess to anyone wanting to cruise and hopefully we will be cruising with them again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
I am so disappointed to see what has happened to Princess. This was my 12th cruise, and 7th with Princess. It is not the same. Here you have it: Dining - anytime dining apparently does not mean ANYtime dining as 2 nights we were given a ... Read More
I am so disappointed to see what has happened to Princess. This was my 12th cruise, and 7th with Princess. It is not the same. Here you have it: Dining - anytime dining apparently does not mean ANYtime dining as 2 nights we were given a pager to wait for a table. On 3 separate breakfast / lunch occasions the horizon Court was completely full and there was nowhere to sit. The food was the worst I have ever experienced on a cruise and variety lacked, esp if you wanted fruits and vegetables. And if you like decent white wine this cruise is not for you - I have never seen a more pathetic wine list (best bottle a $40 Chardonnay). Stateroom - the furnishings and size of the balcony rooms are nice and accommodating, but shampoo is horrendous (listen to me when I tell you it's worth it to bring your own) and towels are terrible. Playroom was pretty lame for our 3 year old boy - virtually no cars, trains, or trucks anywhere. Very few toys he was interested in. Staff seems tired. Princess needs some new management. Good luck. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Pros; Great day in Glacier Bay as we enjoyed beautiful weather and got to see both Margerie and John Hopkins Glacier. Highly recommend a balcony when on an Alaskan cruise. Coral Princess didn't seem crowded except a couple of nights ... Read More
Pros; Great day in Glacier Bay as we enjoyed beautiful weather and got to see both Margerie and John Hopkins Glacier. Highly recommend a balcony when on an Alaskan cruise. Coral Princess didn't seem crowded except a couple of nights when we tried to get into the dining room at 7 p.m. and had an hour wait I think the time in ports was pretty good so made good use of time. Embarkation went smoothly as well as getting off the ship. Overall very organized. Cabin steward did his job well though seemed less personable Some meals were quite good: my favorite was Chef's night. Servers in dining room (Bordeaux) were hit and miss. Some were wonderful. For the most part enjoyed food in the Horizon Buffet. Servers pretty prompt with serving coffee, iced tea, orange juice. Entertainment o.k. didn't spend too much time at this. Naturalist talks were nice though my husband didn't have positive feelings Ranger being on board for Glacier Bay Exercise work out area very nice. Remember to pack ear buds so you can listen to the TV while exercising. There is a plug in spot. It took me a while to find it. Cons The cons are enough that my husband doesn't plan to cruise with Princess again (our third cruise with them) Some high pressure sales techniques the first night at dinner to buy drink packages. Seemed a little misleading in how it was promoted. Since we are experienced cruisers and not big alcohol consumers we avoided alcohol package. Also can live without coke for a week so didn't go with that package. Also high pressure in the dining room to order wine for dinner. Some of the servers seemed a big miffed if we chose not too. Quality of the photo paper has gone down considerably. We didn't buy any photos because we were trying to find ways to save money. Asked for robes to be in our rooms when we filled out our preferences before the cruise. Had to ask for them again. We had trouble both with the shower and the sink in our room. The sink stopper was replaced and my husband had to make the shower work. Waited quite a while for someone to show up. We didn't use any cruise excursions as we always find them to be expensive and we needed to keep within budget. Highly recommend renting a car in both Skagway and Juneau. I can't speak to the land package offered by Princess as we did our own land tour prior to the cruise. The food could be somewhat hit and miss though overall I would say it was good. Many of the servers seemed like they were just doing their jobs but not expending any extra energy. This wasn't true of all servers. Entertainment venues were usually pretty full. I think the shows lasted about 30 minutes. Didn't like how the cigar smoke smelled from the smoking area. It wasn't contained and could smell it when we were in the area.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We flew to Vancouver on Friday, and Princess put us in our own taxi for the ride to the Westin Bayshore Hotel. Beautiful location, convenient to walk to restaurants, shopping, etc. On Saturday, they took our luggage and we just walked down ... Read More
We flew to Vancouver on Friday, and Princess put us in our own taxi for the ride to the Westin Bayshore Hotel. Beautiful location, convenient to walk to restaurants, shopping, etc. On Saturday, they took our luggage and we just walked down the waterfront boardwalk to the cruise terminal instead of waiting for the Princess bus. Our cabin C227 was ready when they let us board. In Ketchikan, we took the “Lighthouses, Totems & Eagles” tour, which was very nice. We saw many eagles and they provided hand sanitizer, binoculars, snacks and everything else we needed. In Skagway, we took the “Yukon Jeep Adventure and Klondike Summit” tour. This was really fun. The Jeeps were 2014, the scenery was beautiful, and we all had CB radios to keep in contact. We teamed up with 2 Australians, and we kept switching drivers so everybody had a chance to drive. The highlight of the cruise was Glacier Bay National Park. They delivered a map in our cabin, and we listened to the naturalist and followed along with exactly where we were and what we were seeing. The captain turned the ship to port for 30 minutes, then he turned it starboard for 30 minutes. Coral Princess is a beautiful ship. The elevators were very fast and never crowded. The halls are fairly narrow. Our cabin steward, Noel, was wonderful – always there when you needed him, but never hovering around our door. My only negatives were the scratchy, harsh towels and the limited choices in the buffet for lunch & dinner. I think they try so hard to appeal to all the different types and nationalities of people who are on the ship, then they want to accommodate the vegetarians, the gluten free, and other special diets, that they fill up the buffet with these items. Just my opinion. Breakfast was great and the servers always brought drinks quickly. Room Service was fast, accurate and cheerful. Now the worst part of our trip: Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage. We paid dearly for this extension (one night) with transfers, and we were promised a 5-Star hotel. I had to call the front desk and finally go down and visit with the Princess people before our luggage was delivered to us – 2 hours after we checked in. We were totally disappointed with all aspects of this part of our trip. The furniture was worn and dated. A half-wall was in the bathroom between the sink and the toilet/tub area. The only light in there was over the sink. Add a dark brown shower curtain and you have a very dark tub area. Our room location was absolutely the worst. Our memory of Anchorage will always be a parking lot view from the 5th floor of Tower 3. We were surrounded by beautiful mountains and the ocean, but you could not see them from our window. We heard noisy traffic all night, especially deafening motorcycles. Alaska is beautiful and one of the best ways to enjoy it is on a cruise ship.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
Fell short of hopes and expectations.  We have been on 7 cruises now with this one. And on various ships and lines. But 3 of ours have been with Princess. Never before have I felt this pressured to buy, buy, buy! Nor been bombarded with ... Read More
Fell short of hopes and expectations.  We have been on 7 cruises now with this one. And on various ships and lines. But 3 of ours have been with Princess. Never before have I felt this pressured to buy, buy, buy! Nor been bombarded with what I felt was not very high quality of the items. I felt like we were almost captive on the ship with the short shore stops, and slow leisurely cruise speeds. I was literally pissed off when at Glacier Bay the National Park Rangers aboard announced we couldn't actually enter Glacier Bay because there was "about 1000 seals on the ice flows having or nursing pups." Well, why wasn't such information disseminated before that so folks can plan accordingly? A later or earlier voyage could have availed to be able to actually see what we sailed to see. Oh, but then, they might have trouble filling the ship if people knew these details. After all, seals rearing pups in Glacier Bay probably isn't a new occurrence, I should think. And if you are thinking you will get anywhere as close to calving Glaciers as the video and brochures show, bring some hellish high powered lenses and viewing equipment. No one I talked to saw any calving activity our brief stay there. Nor at College Fiord either. Not that the ship can control glacial movement. But the ship did stop in College Fiord so a small raft with people in survival suits could take video and stills of ice floating and a lone black bear that made a mad dash for cover as the raft headed towards it on shore. Guess that is where they get the video and pictures they try and sell you aboard. Humm... While the cabin and accommodations were nice, I felt they were a bit tired looking. And I have been on more "ship shape" ships over the years. We did encounter a few of the crew who misdirected us to the places on the ship we were trying to find. Not a lot, but several times this occurred. Along the way towards the end of our adventure with this Sea-Land cruise, we found out that Carnival Corporation owns several of the ships we thought were under different ownerships. http://www.beyondships2.com/faq---who-owns-the-various-cruise-lines.html I told my wife that if I ever do return to Alaska (and I'd Love to) it will be in our RV where I can spend more time with the locals and get to know Alaska. More touring, less herding. 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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