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Ports of Call:
Port Everglades; Aruba; Panama Canal, Port Amador; ; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Huatulco; Acapulco; Cabo San Lucas; San Francisco. Eight sea days. Total distance at sea: 5,037 Nautical Miles.
This was our 18th cruise with Princess (168 days total) and our 46th cruise overall.
This was our first time aboard the Coral Princess. Our last Princess sailing was in January of 2005 aboard the Diamond Princess. The Coral Princess is a largest ship capable of a Panama Canal transit. Checking in at 91,627 gross tons and with a passenger capacity of about 1970 and a crew of 900. In command was Captain Georgio Pomata. The Coral was built by in 2002 and is beginning to show her age in some areas.
Check in was great for us as Captain?s Club Elite Members (16+ cruises). We arrived at the cruise terminal in Ft. Lauderdale at about 1:30 PM and there was no one at the Elite Member counter, so we literally walked directly on board after giving the desk our credit card imprint and picking up our room card/key.
Disembarking was the best we have experienced in all of our cruises. We were off the ship at 8:30 AM and at the Oakland airport by 9:15 AM. Prior to disembarking we cleared U.S. Customs and had breakfast in the dining room.
We had a stateroom with balcony, B514 on the Baja Deck. The room was almost identical the rooms we had aboard the Grand and Golden Princesses. Quite large as cruise ship staterooms go. I really enjoyed the little detailing that was evident in the room. Some of the extra touches included crown molding, a wood trimmed archway between the closet, bathroom area and the bedroom area. I would rate the stateroom as excellent to outstanding. We used the queen bed configuration and there was ample room on both sides of the bed to navigate. Stateroom did include a refrigerator which in our case was stocked at no charge because of Captain?s Club Status. Bathroom was typical of cruise ships. Shower was the smallest we have experienced aboard a cruise ship! Don?t really know how some of the larger folks aboard were even able to use it. I experienced no change in water temp. Supplied amenities were excellent (Lotus Spa soap, shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, etc.) I really don?t know if these were upgraded in any way because of our CC status.
Restaurants and Food:
There are two dining rooms aboard the Coral: The Provence on Deck 6 and The Bordeaux on Deck #5, both are located midship.
Breakfast and lunch were served in the Bordeaux Dining Room (open seating) and in the Horizon Court Buffet (Deck #14 midship). The quality and variety of the food was excellent throughout the cruise. We ate most all of our dinners in the Provence with the exception of a couple of evenings following long shore excursions, when we ate in the Horizon Court. All of our breakfasts and lunches were in the Horizon Court. Selections were all great; we particularly enjoyed the ?cooked to order? egg station, which had been missing on the Diamond. I am not fond of the large oval plastic plates used in place of a tray and smaller dishes. Missed the china used on Celebrity. The coffee all over this ship was outstanding except for the Horizon Court where it was made from syrup.
There were the usual mix of musical revues and guest entertainers spread throughout the ship in various lounges and of course in the theater. They also had the usual audience participation show (newly wed game, Deal or No Deal, etc.). Their show times and locations were quite a challenge to figure out and made it a job to plan your evening?s entertainment. I felt the Coral Princess Singers and Dancers did an outstanding job. This troupe was somewhat larger (in number) than we have seen on other ships. The only problem with the entertainment was that every show, lecture and presentation was packed to ?standing room only? regardless of venue. In order to get a seat for anything you had to arrive at least a half hour prior to the start, and if you wanted a ?good seat? it was more like a full hour.
Cruise Director Gavin Chandler did a creditable job, but I would not rate him as exceptional. Paolo Noonis and the Coral Princess Orchestra were outstanding.
For an after-show drink and dancing, I would recommend the Wheelhouse Bar. A great, comfortable lounge with fantastic furnishings, not quite as spectacular as the Wheelhouse aboard the Diamond however. The dance floor is exceptional and the music was above average.
The Princess Casino was the very well laid out with a British theme. And, since I live in Las Vegas I?ve seen a lot of casinos! There was actually room to walk around in this casino. They did not cram in all that they could as they do in most shipboard casinos. We did not spend any time in the Casino, but when we passed through it never seemed over crowded.
Other: The pool areas were great, especially the indoor pool. The exercise room in the Lotus Spas looked great although I must confess we did not use it.. The ship featured a so called ?Internet Caf?? which IMHO is somewhat of a joke. About a dozen computers placed in two corner areas of the Atrium on Deck #8. No privacy whatsoever and at any given moment about 5 or 6 of the units would be out of service. Connections were very, very slow and unreliable. At $.35 per minute it took about 10 minutes to get your email server open. It was free for us because of our CC status and I?m sure glad I did not have to pay for it!! This setup is a real bummer.
The gift shops were well stocked and stayed open most nights past 10 PM. The photographers were around the ship but never intrusive. Announcements over the ships intercom were kept at a minimum.
Ports of Call:
We were in port in Aruba on Saturday, May 6th from 8:00 AM till 5:00 PM. Ship tied up right downtown, so shopping was within easy walking distance. We window shopped for a couple of hours and returned to the ship for lunch and a relaxing afternoon on board.
Panama Canal and Port Amador
The canal transit was fantastic and a ?must do? for every cruiser!! Our full transit took all day Monday, May 8th. Our evening stop at Port Amador was a joke. Don?t even bother with this port. We tendered in, walked through their ?Mall?, and walked directly back to the tender pier and returned to the ship. Heard a number of complaints aboard about the two shore excursions offered here.
We were docked here from 7:00 AM until 6:00 PM on Wednesday, May 10th. During the morning we walked down the pier to an informal shopping area along the beach. Lots of very nice handicrafts and Costa Rican items. A very enjoyable experience and, yes we did purchase some things to bring back with us.
During the afternoon we did a bus trip to Sarchi about an hour and a half inland. Visited a factory where hand painted Ox Carts are made. A truly amazing place. We purchased a very small ox cart which is now on our bar. Almost purchased a much larger one for our screened porch to use as a serving cart, but simply ran out of time.
We docked at the new pier in Huatulco from Noon till 6:00 PM on Friday, May 12th. This is a new port being created by the Mexican Government and reminded us very much of Costa Maya. Prime attractions here are the many unspoiled beaches.
Docked from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM on Saturday, May 13th. We did an all day tour which was privately arranged by a fellow passenger we ?met? on the internet. We had six passengers in our van with our driver/tour guide. A fantastic day for a great price (when compared with what the ship offered.)
Cabo San Lucas
As most cruiser know this is a tender port. We did however, have a full day here rather that the typical half day on most of the other cruises we have been on. Just wandered around town shopping and enjoying the sights of a port we have been to many, many times.
I would rate this Coral Princess an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. The overall experience was excellent. I have deducted for the small shower, the internet caf?, and some little items needing attention like the railing of the balconies.