Coral Princess Cruise Review by Silver Spring Mom
- Sail Date: December 2017
- Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
- Cabin Type: Oceanview
Embarkation was smooth and our cabin was fine. We were slightly upgraded from an outside room with an obstructed view to one with no obstruction.
We asked for the 5:45 dinner time, but discovered once on board that it had been changed to 5:15. I would have preferred that the time had not been moved up sooner as it made some afternoon activities tight.
Both cabin and dining room service were excellent, as always. I worry about those employees as they seem to be on duty all the time, and yet they are always helpful and cheerful. I'm sure they aren't adequately compensated for their time, at least by American standards, which is why you never see American crew members in the service areas.
I thought the entertainment director, Martin, did a fine job. Most of the entertainment was very good. I especially enjoyed a trio of musicians who often played in the atrium area. The singers and dancers were talented, but the cast definitely lacked diversity. They did a holiday show (remember this is in early to mid-December) that only acknowledged the existence of ONE upcoming holiday, which is a little surprising in these times. Costumes, settings, and lighting in the shows were exceptional. The Cole Porter and "Motor City" reviews were very enjoyable, though the lack of diversity among the cast was especially evident in the latter. There was a Louisiana Bayou show that was kind of unusual in that it started to tell a story but didn't finish it.
I enjoy the trivia contests and there was one team that got together early on that were practically unbeatable. As is to be expected, the prizes are nothing much. There were some games/contests (particularly the evening ones) where the prize was a bottle of champagne. If you joined together with one or two other couples, as we often did, only one couple could get the champagne. We were on a winning team and explained that we didn't actually know the other two couples (you are encouraged to form teams of up to six players), but there was still only one prize. I heard several folks who, after winning champagne, commented that they didn't drink for one reason or another, so it seems like the crew might have a back-up prize or prizes available.
Princess has introduced an app for your cell phone with the day's events listed and a place to send messages to other passengers. This has a lot of potential, but there were inconsistencies and incorrect information, so they just need to work out the bugs.
I'm sorry to report that internet service continues to be unbelievably slow.
We enjoyed the ports in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Aruba. We were not allowed entry into Nicaragua because it was a tender port and the weather was too rough. We also stopped at Cartegena, which was just too darn hot. That's the only port where we took a Princess "tour," which essentially involved taking a Princess bus to an emerald "museum" (a waste of time followed by a shopping opportunity) and then to the old city. That would have been a lot more fun if it had not been so hot and if you were not approached every 10 seconds to buy something from a street vendor.
Aruba was lovely but our time was short. I recommend a taxi to Eagle Beach, and if possible, a couple more hours at port.
Of course, the piece de la resistance was the Panama Canal crossing. I'm not sure you can properly appreciate it without making the trip in person. It's a masterpiece of engineering. Very interesting and worthwhile. I'm sorry we didn't actually get to stop in Panama, though I understand that some itineraries do stop there. Maybe it's the ones that go in part of the way and then turn around. That would have been okay, though I'd heard in advance that a complete transit was preferable. I'm not sure it would have made that much difference. I have wanted to go through the canal for some time, but now that I've done it, I'm not sure there would be any special reason to do it a second time.
Most of the staff were great. A couple got a bit irritating, especially the lady in charge of shopping. Food was very good, if not great, and certainly plentiful. I didn't drink a lot of alcohol, so don't have any comment about bar service, but I can say the price of the soda package beverage card was ridiculously high.
While there were some minor irritations, overall it was entirely pleasant. Our cruising companions had never been on Princess before, and were happy with the experience. We are already looking into what we might do next, in another year or two. Australia and New Zealand might be nice...
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
ArubaWe took a taxi on our own to Eagle Beach. It was lovely.View All 1,636 Aruba Cruise Port Reviews
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Cartagena (Spain)We took the Princess shuttle (which was late and poorly organized) to the emerald "museum" and were forced to go through a stupid tour that lasted way longer than we wanted to be there. It's ridiculous, because they don't even leave you enough time to shop if you seriously want to buy an emerald. We should have just been able to go to the walled city, and there should have been numerous time options for buses back to the ship if you wanted to stay less time.View All 429 Cartagena (Spain) Cruise Port Reviews
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HuatulcoI went off on my own in Huatulco. I walked over to the beach from the ship--an easy walk. Later, I went on one of the independent taxi tours around the city with another couple. It was $30 for the 3 of us, and we drove around for 2 hours, which was very reasonable. We got to see a number of the highlighted spots in the area.View All 167 Huatulco Cruise Port Reviews
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Puerto VallartaBoat ride to Yelapa. Nice day, but waters a bit cold and rough for snorkeling or swimming. Walked to a small waterfall and then traveled to a beach/restaurant area. On the way back to P.V., we saw a whale and a group of dolphins.View All 12,810 Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port Reviews
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Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera)Wonderful tour and very reasonably priced. Eight-hour tour for $70 per person, and that included lunch. Small group of 16 was more attractive than the big buses. The guide spoke excellent English and knew exactly where to find all the animals/birds/crocodiles we wanted to see.View All 12,810 Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera) Cruise Port Reviews
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