Coral Princess Reviews

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37 User Reviews of Coral Princess Cruise Ship

Panama Canal
Publication Date: February 7, 2007

Since all aspects of cruising is based on personal preference, and everyone has varying expectations, you should take every review with a grain of salt. Overall, we enjoy Princess cruises for the value, knowing that there are no luxury accommodations, gourmet meals or well-known entertainers. But, there is the enjoyment of being on vacation, doing as much or as little as you wish, getting a flavor of different countries/islands and enjoying the travel to each new port while the captain and his bridge crew are responsible for getting us there safely, meeting and enjoying the company of fellow passengers and enjoying all the onboard activities - the Princess Patter was a guide to planning our daily activities. Our vacations have not always been on cruise ships, and there will always be aspects of travel that will be unpalatable, but none so horrible as to keep us from cruising again. Even the incessant barrage of sales tactics can be easily ignored or politely refused.

10 night Itinerary: Ft Lauderdale, At Sea, Cozumel, Grand Caymen, at Sea, Limon, Panama Canal/Cristobal, at sea, Montego Bay, at sea, Ft Lauderdale

Ship The ship was beautiful and had an

impressive atrium. It was a nice size ship and well maintained. We stayed in D206 (Forward, Dolphin Deck, port side). The room was adequate for us. We had plenty of space for our belongings. Room safe was useful. The bathroom was very small. The shower, with humor, is tolerable - don't drop the soap! The balcony was fully covered and had a "partially obstructed view." There was a partial wall which blocked half of the balcony. But, it still allowed us to stand and view the trip through the Canal. It also afforded some shade from the sun.

We saw a beautiful Valentines Day display in the atrium and outside the Horizon Court.

They took hygiene seriously and were constantly pushing the use of hand sanitizer and telling us to frequently wash our hands, use our cabin bathroom whenever convenient, etc. Thankfully, there were no outbreaks of Noro viruses. I'd like to sail the Coral again to enjoy the things we missed.

Entertainment/Onboard Activities We attended a comedy magic show in the Universal Lounge (Greg Moreland) and two comedians in the Princess Theater which were very funny (Billy Vader & Scott Wyler). I enjoyed Dr. Lawrence Hall's lecture "The Incredible Mayans." We attended two cooking demonstrations by onboard chefs in the Universal Lounge. The second was more of a comedy show. The chef demonstrated his skill rolling out dough with a wine bottle. We took a tour through the galley. We would have enjoyed it more if smaller groups were taken through at a more leisurely pace—but, at least we got a peek of what goes on behind those shiny revolving doors! We attended a wine tasting (about $10 per person) which was held in the Bordeaux dining room. I thought it was very nicely done, but a bit rushed. We enjoyed Greg Watson, the piano entertainer in Crooners Lounge. If you meet Philip bartending in Crooners, ask him about his first day as a cruise ship employee. He had us in stitches! We watched a martini-making demonstration and the Mr. was a participant in the festivities! We tried our luck in the casino. The Mr. broke even and I left my deposit. I'm not a big gambler so it wasn't much of a loss. We enjoyed the pool & spas. Also enjoyable were our gatherings on the Lido deck with fellow passengers to shoot the breeze, have a cocktail or two and share a few laughs. Dining The Bordeaux dining room was very spacious and the seating at even the largest tables was comfortable. Service was better some nights than others. The food was good with a decent variety each night. It was our first time with "anytime" dining. We like the concept and enjoyed meeting new people every night. We experienced long waiting lines on three occasions, but once we got inside the door and said we'd like to be seated at any open table, we were seated immediately. The staff sporadically checked diner's cards to ensure they were "anytime" diners. We never made reservations. We thought it defeated the purpose of the concept. Reservations are allowed, which some passengers used to their full advantage at the expense of other "anytime" diners. We heard a group made multiple reservations at various time intervals for the same night under each of their cabin numbers, but only used the reservation at the time that was most convenient for them. I did mention this in the end-of-cruise questionnaire and hope Princess finds a way to eliminate multiple reservations and only accept diners who have signed up for "anytime" dining. But, until they work the "kinks" out of "anytime" dining, we will use the late Traditional seating for our next cruise.

We usually had breakfast in the Horizon. Lunch either in the Horizon, the grill or pizza, dinner in the Bordeaux dining room or the Bayou (one night).

The first formal night we had dinner in the Bayou with our delightful dinner companions we met the first night of the cruise. The ambiance was nice and the meal was decent.

Ports We only did shore excursions in two ports. The other port days we spent relaxing in the lounge chairs,near the Lido pool, which are scarce when all passengers are on board. We enjoyed the swimming pool and spa and enjoyed time with other passengers we met on deck.

Cozumel, Mexico: Our shore excursion was a Mexican cuisine cooking and tasting. We took a short bus trip to Playa Mia, where we were paired up with a nice couple, Chuck & Diane. An entertaining young chef guided us through our edible creations, as we sipped our margarita. During the cooking class, a heavy rainstorm passed through, but we stayed dry as we were under their new pavilion. We enjoyed eating our culinary delights with a glass of wine. We were also impressed that cleanliness and hygiene were stressed before starting the cooking class. They had a portable sink where everyone washed their hands before the class began. The portable cooking stations were immaculately clean. They also had a buffet and beach bar which was available to us during our stay. We brought our swimsuits and towels and had a bit of time to enjoy the beach before we had to catch the bus back to the ship. We really enjoyed the day!

Grand Cayman: We booked the "Island Highlights & Stingray City" shore excursion. We were disappointed that the Stingray City portion of the excursion was cancelled. But, they credited our account for one-half the cost of the shore excursion. We got conflicting stories from the Princess excursion staff why it was cancelled. It was beyond our control and didn't spoil our day on the island. We boarded a bus and rode around the island as the bus driver pointed out various places and a bit of the island history. We stopped briefly at 7-mile beach. Next we stopped in "Hell" which had a gift shop with the proprietor behind the cash register dressed as a devil. In the back of the property is black coral in jagged shapes. It looked like rock formations that would be found in hell. A popular picture opportunity was standing next to a wooden statue of the devil. You can send mail from "Hell" which will bear the postmark from "Hell." The bus driver explained there was major damage from Hurricane Ivan. The side of the building in "Hell" indicated how high the water became from the flooding. Our bus driver said that he is thankful to be alive because he spent a night hanging onto a tree. Next was a stop at the Tortuga Rum Factory store which was very crowded. We relaxed on the back porch while the crowd thinned and then sampled some rum and rum cake. Yes, I bought some delicious rum cake! Our last stop was the turtle farm. Our bus driver gave us a nice tour around the turtle farm explaining the history, purpose, and improvements being made to the facilities. Everyone was able to hold a turtle. Our guide said that if they start flapping their flippers to just rub under their chin and they will settle down. It worked! Another nice day, and an island we hope to enjoy again in the future. Maybe next time we'll take a cab to 7-mile beach.

Panama Canal Transit This is the main reason we chose this itinerary. We were up early and enjoyed the transit through the locks into Gatun Lake from our balcony. We watched our transit from Gatun Lake back to the sea from the Horizon court. We were fortunate to share a table with one of our previous dinner companions. We had a great view and kept cool while we indulged in some excellent desserts. I did get a few good pictures of the canal from one of the side staircases, without the blue windshields blocking the view. We enjoyed the history & marvel of the canal. This trip was another travel wish of ours fulfilled! Embarkation/Disembarkation Embarkation was a breeze until we were halfway up the gangway. There was some sort of snafu where folks with blue cards weren't being accepted by the scanner. We were asked to move back down the gangway. Not too long of a wait before we were told to proceed up for boarding.

Disembarkation is a bit slower, but part of the cruise experience. After we located our bags in the sea of baggage---shame on us, only one of our bags had a special identifying "dohickey"---, we had a porter take our bags to our waiting bus. A few dollars for the porter services is well worth it!

Princess Air We opted for the convenience of having someone else take care of the reservations. The trip down was fine. The scheduled return trip was a bit convoluted: bus from the shipin Ft. Lauderdale to Miami Airport, Miami to Orlando on American, switch to Delta in Orlando to Atlanta, Atlanta to Myrtle Beach. Our flight out of Miami was delayed two hours and 15 minutes, causing us to miss our connection in Orlando. We were booked on another airline through Charlotte and touched down in Myrtle Beach sometime after 11:30 pm. We put in a claim for our missing luggage and received it two days later. But, we are counting our blessings that the luggage wasn't lost on our way to the ship! We've booked our own flight arrangements for our next cruise. Conclusion We love cruising and are doing it all over again on the Emerald Princess next Valentine's Day!
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Panama Canal
Publication Date: February 7, 2007

We chose this cruise for two reasons: the itinerary and the price. Of the four of us, three had never been through the Canal before. I had found an excellent price online in March, 2006 so we booked 2 balcony cabins amidships on the Aloha Deck. This was our first time on Princess. Our companion couple was my cousin and her husband who have been cruising since the 70's. It was their first time on Princess also.

Coming from Chicago in February, Karl & I had planned on flying down a day early to meet Sharon & Al in Fort Lauderdale. They were planning on wintering in Florida so they had started their drive down a week previous. We had booked Spirit airlines and their prices were good but the flight times were not. Our flight left Chicago O'Hare @ 6 AM necessitating a limo pickup at 4 AM. It was minus 6 degrees when we left the house and believe me--our jaws were flapping about this inconvenient time. This turned out better than we could have ever hoped for. Turns out we just missed the beginning of a major snowstorm

that delayed flights all day. While we were in Florida sunshine, Chicago was digging out from about a foot of snow.

Doing some research online, we had decided upon the Holiday Inn Express on SR 84 for our one night pre-cruise stay. We had booked this hotel about 8 months in advance. Because it was Super Bowel week, hotel rooms were at a premium and considered ourselves lucky to get this location. The hotel turned out to be an excellent choice and our timing couldn't have been better. The free shuttle from the airport pulled into the parking lot just as our cousins were getting out of their car. The hotel looked to be newly refurbished and painted. The beds were very comfortable and the room was clean with all the amenities you could want, including a coffee maker and hair dryer. Also included in the price was breakfast the next morning.

We did some shopping at the mall across the street for liquor to carry on board, the allowed 2 bottles of wine and some vodka which we put in our checked luggage for late evening drinks on the balcony. Al was smart and even had some Rose's Lime for gimlets. We weren't smart enough to buy a couple of limes. It was a nice day to do a drive by the port to familiarize ourselves with the layout and then we went to a cute vertical mall by the beach for a little last minute shopping and to soak up the atmosphere. I had heard about the water taxi ride in Fort Lauderdale. It takes you by the millionaires' mansions and lets you gawk at all the fabulous yachts. After a little misdirection by the bartender, we did find the "stop" and waited a half hour for it to come by. A word to the wise; try this during warmer weather or in the middle of the day. The sun is starting to go down by 4 PM and the ride in an open boat without windows got mighty chilly. This cost us $18/pp for seniors (over 65). Karl & I fudged a bit on our ages for that one. By the time we got back to our starting place, we had had plenty of fresh air and were thinking about dinner and bed. Our alarm had gone off @ 3 AM-Chicago time that morning and we were starting to feel it. It was so nice having the use of a vehicle to get around. The hotel was on a very busy street and you could walk to several restaurants but with a car we could go anywhere. Passing by an Outback, it got our vote for dinner and we were able to get right in. We were surprised it was so busy for a Tuesday evening but the waitress said that a lot of people had come down for the Super Bowl the previous weekend and had stayed for the whole week.

Check out time the next morning was 11 AM and we really didn't want to go to the port to stand around for a few hours so we elected to find a movie theater to kill a couple of hours. Here again, having the car was so nice. Got to the port around 2 o'clock and dropped our bags with the porters. Al went to park the car at the very spacious garage and we just walked in to check in for the start of our vacation. The charge for the garage was $12/day. There were no lines for check in so we waltzed up to the sign for Aloha deck, handed over the boarding passes we had printed up at home, swiped the credit card, received our room cards, through security and off we went to board the ship. There were people directing you to the elevators and someone on the elevator to direct you to your room. As I said, we were in the middle of the ship just off the elevator lobby. There was a privacy wall between the rooms and the lobby so as to cut down on noise. We never heard any real noise in the hall unless someone was yelling outside our door and that only happened once.

The room was lovely. I was surprised at how spacious it seemed. There was a very large, open closet with lots of hangers and a cupboard which contained the safe and shelves for our clothes. There were drawers in the nightstands and in the desk. The hairdryer was next to the desk which was pretty convenient. I did find the dryer to be woefully under heated. I have very fine, thin hair and at home it takes about 30 seconds to dry my hair. There was a lot of air blowing, it just wasn't very warm. The bathroom was very small with a small shower. Not as small as RCCL, but close. (No pun intended)

After 6 cruises with Celebrity, we were making a lot of comparisons. The bathrooms on Celebrity were bigger with showers that were more rectangular in shape and height adjustable shower heads. Celebrity also had dispensers on the walls in the shower with shampoo and conditioner. Princess had all the bath amenities in cardboard containers on the vanity. Celebrity had robes in the room. We had to ask for them on Princess. There was bottled water to purchase in the room and an ice bucket in the small fridge but no pitcher of ice water changed twice daily like on Celebrity. We had 3 sets of towels in the bathroom on Celebrity but only 2 sets on Princess. The trash baskets had plastic liners on X but not on Princess which made you hesitate to throw anything messy in the container. But these were comparisons we made among ourselves since our last cruise had been on Celebrity to Hawaii. Our cabin steward, Anthony was very efficient and took care of any special requests. There were no announcements on CP as well as X. If you wanted to know what was going on, you looked in the daily paper, the Princess Patter. The freshwater pools were great with plenty of deck chairs. Only one day did we have to go searching for a place to stretch out in the shade. We liked the unlimited pool towels on X. These towels were placed in your room doubled as your beach towels. Beach towels were separate on X and were bigger and thicker.

The ship had a 4 deck center atrium from deck 5-8 with 4 glass elevators. This was a lovely area with the shops (deck 6) and passenger services (deck 5), the library, internet café & card room (deck 8) and a couple of bars (deck 7). It was done in brass and chrome with twinkling lights and metal sculptures. It was a very attractive part of a very attractive ship. The art work was very nautical and consisted of several old portraits of dead English aristocrats in the halls on the way to the Princess Theater. But it had a downside too. Because the two restaurants were stacked on top of one another, this made it difficult to walk from one end of the ship to another without having to go up or down a deck. I think we were more than halfway through the cruise before we finally figured out to walk out of the restaurant, walk up one deck and go forward to the theater. For some reason, we never could get our bearings and constantly had to use the map to acclimate ourselves.

I thought the food on Celebrity was more upscale. I was surprised to see plain white rice served with some of our entrees. This was not something you would ever see on Celebrity. I wonder if this is a new development since Carnival bought them. It seemed to cheapen the meal. We liked that the alternative selections were printed on the menu and you did have your option of white rice, French fries or baked potato with your choice. On Celebrity you have to depend upon your waiter to mention them to you and he usually only does it once at the beginning of the cruise. The salmon in butter sauce was excellent and we all had more than one shrimp cocktail. Sharon & I LOVED the dessert soufflés. Even if I was stuffed, I managed to choke down a few tastes of those. Had to try the Princess Love Boat Dream after reading about it and it was almost too pretty to eat. The service is more formal on X. If my DH chose not to order an appetizer or soup, they brought his salad out while we were eating the other items. On X, he would be served the same course with everyone else. The bus boy acted as your wine steward, no sommelier making suggestions. The wine list on X is much more extensive.

Our itinerary was 10 days with 4 sea days: Sea Day, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Sea Day, Panama Canal, Limon, Sea Day, Montego Bay, Sea Day, and Fort Lauderdale. We were glad to be cruising with our cousins as they are active cruisers who like to get out and do something at every port besides shop. Booking excursions online prior to leaving was very easy and they were billed to our room account once we were on board. Leaving Florida was smooth sailing and the seas stayed that way for our entire trip. The temperature gradually warmed up as we steamed south so by the time we reached Cozumel, it was in the low 80's. On this part of the experience, Princess really shines. The shore excursions were many and varied, with some unusual choices. You could be as active or sedentary as you liked. Celebrity's excursions are rather humdrum with more of an emphasis on shopping. Coming back from shore excursions on Celebrity though, there would a tent set up on the dock for X where you can get cold water and/or fruit punch and a cold cloth for your fevered brow when you are coming back from excursions. Nothing like that on Princess.

In Cozumel we had booked the snorkel/lunch excursion so we had to be ready to be off the ship by 8 AM. Princess had the early departees meet in the Princess Theater and we were separated into groups by the signs on the walls. Very efficient and easy as pie since we were docked at the pier and could just walk off the ship. Met our group at the end of the pier and then walked back to the ship as our excursion boat was parked right there. Sharon and Al had boarded the boat early to allow Sharon to get off her feet as her back was bothering her. The rest of us stood transfixed as the Costa Mediterraneana was backing up to berth right where our little excursion boat was parked. It looked like a Mexican standoff as the excursion captain was not making any move to get out of the way. In a move worthy of David and Goliath, the Costa ship stopped several feet short of the end of the dock (although it looked a lot closer) and dropped its lines. Only then did the rest of us get on board.

The ride to the other end of Cozumel Island took about an hour and included soft drinks and water (no beer until after snorkeling) and instructions on the use of the snorkel equipment. We dropped anchor over a reef and either jumped in or used the "chicken stairs" (my choice). There weren't too many fish but what we saw were very interesting. A new development since the last time I went snorkeling is that someone takes your underwater picture and then they sell them to you for $5 back on board. It's unbelievable how they try to get every dime out of the tourists by any method. One of the group got stung by a jelly fish and his arm was not pretty. There were a lot of jokes about the best way to treat it, all of them involving various mild acid solutions, i.e. vinegar. Those of us who had opted for the lunch portion of the excursion were dropped at a great beach area with loungers in the sun and a huge tent with lots of tables and chairs. The lunch consisted of salad, fish, chicken fajitas and assorted relishes. There was also fresh fruit for dessert. Our wristbands also entitled us to free drinks at 2 designated bars so after our soft drinks with lunch, Karl & Al wandered over and got us a couple of pina coladas while they tried the Mexican beer. There were some vendors selling trinkets and also a nice fresh water pool. We were glad to get out of the sun and to use the clean restrooms. Several of the people had been brought there by bus or taxi off our ship and the other ships in port just for the beach. This was the only time we had rain the whole trip and it was just a brief shower. It wasn't until much later in the cruise that I was kicking myself for not shopping in Cozumel for some vanilla to take home. It is dirt cheap there and a great take-home gift for friends and family.

The next day we were in Grand Cayman and had booked the tour to swim with the stingrays. We tendered in and were met by our tour guide who got us on a bus. There were about 10 of us. The driver took us on a short ride to where the catamaran was docked. He gave us a brief history of the island while we traveled and pointed out different landmarks and how much of the island had been damaged by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Arriving at the boat, we had to shed our shoes before boarding. It was about 40 minutes to the sandbar where the rays awaited us. I got a great picture of them swimming towards us while we docked. The crew stated that we were lucky to be the only boat there at that time and have the stingrays all to ourselves. Contrary to all the bad press they have received since Steve Irwin's death, the stingray is actually a very benign creature unless it feels threatened. They swam all around us looking for the squid we held in our fists for them to suck up. It felt like a big vacuum cleaner taking it out of my hand. They let you pet them and the guides held them for us to "kiss" and they took pictures of us doing it. They put all of your pictures on a disc for only $55. Sharon & Al did buy it but Karl & I decided against it since I was taking pictures of my own. After we got back to the dock, we wandered around downtown Georgetown for an hour or so checking out the souvenirs and didn't see anything we couldn't live without.

Our next day was a sea day and we took advantage of the pool, finding chairs in the shade to relax. We had decided to try Sabatini's, the specialty restaurant that night for dinner. After reading so much about it, I was really psyched up for the tremendous meal we were going to receive. People had raved over the 16 courses and how great everything was. We were all very disappointed. Certain items were good, like the pizza and the salad, but after eating in Celebrity's specialty dining room, it did not measure up. We were asked if we wanted caviar which was on the potato pancake and when we declined, they just skipped that course. Everyone else raved about the minestrone soup. I had the cioppino (fish soup) and while the broth was excellent, the seafood was so chewy it was inedible.

I can't even remember what I had as an entrée. And yet a year later, I can still recall my dinner in the Normandie dining room on the Summit. What a difference between food that is cooked to order and dishing up the same meal day after day.

Some other differences we noticed was that hot cocoa was free on Celebrity whereas you pay for it as a specialty drink on Princess. Of course it is served in a tall glass with whipped cream and sprinkles on top. You also had to pay for ice cream when you finally found the counter by the Spa pool. I had read somewhere that it was free at certain times in the buffet but we never found it. Karl liked the dispensers for the hot beverages which came out very hot. This made for a nice cup of tea. The cups were also bigger than on Celebrity which offers a barely 4 ounce cup. Princess had a decent sized cup for coffee or tea. Celebrity does have nice trays with cloth placemats in the buffet and waiters to carry it for you instead of just large platters that you have to juggle with your drink. They also have a sandwich station all during lunch but Princess only had it from 3-4 PM in the buffet. I didn't see it as a food option in the Princess Patter. Maybe it was only for those coming back from a late shore excursion. We had early seating so never would have used it anyway. The pizza on the Coral Princess was very good with an excellent crust. I do have to hand it to Princess for the continuous buffet even if I don't see the need for it to be 24 hours. Celebrity would shut down breakfast an hour before lunch where on Princess they would close one side of the buffet to get ready for lunch and continue serving breakfast on the alternate side until lunch was up and running. We never tried the buffet for dinner as we really liked the dining room experience for that meal. We also never made it to any midnight buffet or even the island deck party or the champagne fountain they had for Valentine's Day.

The production shows were terrific on Coral Princess and except for the "banjo guy" most of the entertainment was very good. But the theater only had a capacity of 600 on a ship with 1980 passengers. The sightlines were excellent but this was not set up as a "show lounge" like the Universe Lounge. If you were not sitting on the aisle, you could forget about that after-dinner drink as the theater was stadium seating and the poor drink servers would have to crawl over several people to serve you. Because we had early seating and the age demographic of this cruise was leaning into the high 80's we found ourselves racing to the theater if we wanted to get 4 seats together. This was a 1/2 hour before the show time. We finally decided to hit the casino after dinner and go to the late show which was definitely less attended. Say what you will about X having an older demographic, it all depends on time of year and length of the cruise. I think I was the only passenger who was still gainfully employed besides the crew.

The next stop was the main reason for the cruise, the Panama Canal! We had been informed by the cruise director that we would be entering the Gatun Locks about 6:30 AM. Like everyone else who had a balcony, we ordered room service breakfast for the first serving of 7:30. Those poor guys and gals were really humping all those trays to us lazy people sitting on our verandas. We kept the TV turned up loud so we could hear the commentary on what was happening. A word to the wise; as it is very close to the Equator, Panama is pretty warm, even at 7AM in February. We had a port cabin and had the sun rising right in our faces. After a few cups of hot tea, I thought I was going to have heat stroke. I went inside to cool off and my face was as red as those Valentine balloons. I took a shower to cool off and watched the rest of our progress on TV with the bridge cam.

The process was very interesting as the captain only used the side jets to maneuver the sip into the lock. Then the "mules" or railroad engines took over by dragging the ship in by the front and back docking ropes. Once the lock is closed and the water rushes in and the ship rises 23 feet to the level of Gatun Lake. All the traffic on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides is incoming from daylight to noon. The ships that are traversing the rest of the isthmus continue on to the other 2 sets of locks (going west) and the ones going east come to the Gatun locks. After noon, the ships start going in the outgoing direction as we did after they took off all the passengers by tenders who wanted to take tours. We remained on board to enjoy the mostly empty pool and have our choice of deck chairs.

We docked at Cristobal and the souvenir hunters got off to check out the local wares at the pier. We were warned not to leave the area as it was not safe. There were several young native boys and girls dressed in lovely costumes posing to take pictures and I think there was no charge. There was a group of older women doing a tribal dance to drums performed by the men. Here was a real cultural clash. The men were barely clothed in loincloths and the women were bare breasted. There was nothing salacious in it, just a surprise to see it. The only other ship docked there was a Fred. Olson liner and I have to say that the Coral Princess put it to shame. I managed to get away with only spending a few dollars on a couple of Christmas ornaments to add to my vacation collection. Panama is known for its straw work and we saw some magnificent bowls and of course Panama hats. Knowing the limitations of my luggage, I restrained myself from buying a lot of "stuff".

Our next port was Limon, Costa Rica. We really liked the way this itinerary was broken up with the sea days. It gave you a nice break from the hectic pace of the ports. Limon was the first port where we had booked our own tour online with Charlie Soto's OkeyDokey Tours. We decided on the "A" tour for $49/pp. We were met at the end of the dock by a representative holding a sign with our names on it. Charlie himself stopped by to introduce himself, shake hands with each of us and thank us for booking with him. Our tour was to include a trip to the a farm to see the local flora and fauna, a Del Monte banana plantation, a boat ride down the canal to look at the rain forest, a stop at the beach and some shopping. Our van was just for the 4 of us, our driver Reynaldo and our guide Ed. Reynaldo only knew a few words in English but Ed was a university student on semester break who spoke excellent English. The van was spotless and came with a cooler stocked with beer, water and Coke.

He started out giving us a history and geography lesson of Costa Rica which we were glad to hear since we were all pretty ignorant about the country. A neutral country since 1954 (like Switzerland and Sweden); Costa Rica has no standing armed forces. They put their GNP into health care and education for its citizens. Its primary export is bananas. Our first stop was on the side of the road to look at the howler monkeys who resisted all our calls and showed their disdain of us by voiding their bladders from the tops of the trees. Good thing we were a safe distance away! We then went to a private farm to try some fresh mango, local bananas and some other fruit fresh from the trees. While we were there, Reynaldo spotted a baby sloth on the ground and gave it to Karl to hold so we could all touch and pet it. First time we had ever seen a sloth, much less hold one. Reynaldo and Ed then took us on a walking tour of the farm to look at the different vegetation. Reynaldo cut some sugar cane for us to chew and this was a first time experience also. This was an easy walk on flat ground and mostly even surfaces, which was a concern for us since Sharon has back issues. But she did fine through this and the whole cruise. There were bathroom facilities w/flush toilets at this farm also.

Next stop on this tour was the Del Monte banana plantation. We got a real lesson in third world economics here. We saw how the bananas grow very rapidly on stalks and how they are harvested green and placed on a conveyer that goes from the field to the processing area. Here all the work is done by hand to cut the large bunches down to a manageable size. They are washed several times and put on another conveyer where someone's job is to put the sticker on each bunch and then they are hand bagged and loaded into crates for shipment. We asked Ed how the Costa Ricans liked this job and he said that Costa Ricans would not take these jobs as they were too low paying! The people doing all this work were imported from Nicaragua and were "guest workers" who lived on the plantation. My cousins who had both worked in a factory environment all their lives were commenting about how all of the work done could be mechanized. I guess it was cheaper to hire the help than bring in the machines. These people worked 12 hrs a day, six days a week and were happy to have the jobs! The housing was nothing to write home about either. We decided that even in our rooms on the cruise ship, we still had a lifestyle that was 1000% better than most of the people in that country. Wave that Red, White and Blue because no one has it better than we do!

The rest of the tour was taken up with a boat ride which was actually pretty boring. There were some kids with turtles to look at and not much else. How many times can you look at the same type of bird? Then we went to a very nice beach but we were not dressed for swimming. We did not want to sample the local cuisine or buy any of the souvenirs there. What we really wanted to do is to go to a local supermarket and purchase some 1820 coffee which I had read about on the cruise sites. They did this for us and Sharon and I found exactly what we were looking for. They use the metric system so 500 grams of coffee is about 1 lb, 2 ounces and cost about $2.62 each package. We loaded up to bring this home for our kids since they are too big for t-shirts. Reynaldo then took us to an overlook to take a picture of the bay and our ship and then we were back to the dock. I think we were gone a total of 5 hours. No problems whatsoever but if we were to ever go to Limon again, I don't think we would even bother to get off the boat unless there was some great snorkeling there. It was after we got back that the incident with the Carnival passengers occurred.

Our third sea day was Valentine's Day and our second formal night. Karl & Al had decided to wear a tux for formal nights as they had for our cruise the previous year to Hawaii. There had been 3 formal nights on that 14 day cruise and quite a few of the passengers had elected to go "black tie". There were not many who did that on this cruise. Karl likes to rent the tux so as to cut down on the amount of clothing he has to bring. We did like the Princess dress code of Smart Casual most nights. Since Celebrity has an "informal" night, it requires the men to bring a sport jacket. It was very nice having Valentine's Day as a formal night. Our dear spouses purchased corsages for us and they were waiting at our places when we went in for dinner. Princess had set up a display of large heart cakes in the atrium on deck 5 at the base of the glass elevators and had a large heart made of red, pink and white balloons that stretched the height of all 4 decks! There was some form of decorating in all the public rooms. It was all nicely done and made a lovely acknowledgement of the day.

In Montego Bay, we had reserved a van and driver with Barrett's Adventures. They offered several tours but we were not interested in tubing or climbing Dunn's River Falls or to take the all day drive to get to Ochos Rios. Chester was our driver and he was more than willing to give us a tour of his home town. We booked Barrett's Adventures because of all the recommendations on the cruise site. We decided to just to see Rose Hall (this was our 3rd time in Jamaica and none of us had never seen it) and wherever our whim took us. Our choice was the 6 hour private tour for $35/pp. There were 4 of us. We were late getting into the receiving building because we had to tender in instead of docking. (Freedom of the Seas took that spot. What a huge ship!) Chester was waiting just were they said he would be holding a paper with our names on it. He was courteous, informative and the van was spotless. My cousin asked that he show us Montego Bay since Al had only been to the Sandals resorts there and had not ever seen the town. Chester showed us the real Montego Bay where rich, middle class and poor lived. We never felt threatened or unsafe. People waved at us all the time. We saw the oldest church in Montego Bay and new housing under construction. The road construction for a new road between MoBay and Ochos Rios is very slow going. We estimated that it would probably take 5 years to complete as there were very few road graders and truckers doing the work. Not like we are used to seeing in the States.

Before we got to Rose Hall, we stopped at the Ritz Carleton White Witch golf resort for a bathroom break. This place was absolutely gorgeous! We really had to admire the manicured grounds and the view of the sea. I'm sure it costs a bundle to golf there. Rose Hall was beautiful but with a creepy history. They say Annie Palmer's ghost still walks even if her tomb is in the garden. They had a newspaper in the gift shop for free which showed the stages of reconstruction and I am sorry I did not pick one up. They also had several "ghostly" photos which people had sent which purported to show faces in the mirrors and other apparitions. The former dungeon is now the gift shop with an adjacent bar and restaurant. It was educational and interesting.

After Rose Hall Chester asked if we would like to stop for an authentic Jamaican "jerk" lunch. We all kind of hemmed and hawed as we were not sure if it would be to our liking, but Al jumped and said sure, why not. I thought Sharon was going to kill him. We stopped at a place called Scotchies and it had a dirt floor and a food counter. Sharon and Al had the chicken and pork 1/4 lb each, yams and breadfruit and something I can't remember the name of but was like a doughnut. We had the 1/4 lb pork and the other stuff too. It was delicious. Karl bought Chester's lunch and we all ate together. It was spicy but not too hot. I was thinking I was going to have to take a Zantac when I got back to the ship but I was fine.

He also took us to a place called Strawberry's for some shopping but it was very high pressure and the prices were not cheap. We bought some Jamaican coffee there. You would probably be better served going to a supermarket if possible. We also stopped at the Taj Mahal shopping mall for a short time but then headed back to the ship. You had to show your cruise card to get back into the port. There was lots of security with locked gates and armed guards. Chester told us that you had to be smart in MoBay and not go into the bad areas, which he obviously avoided. We bid Chester goodbye and thanked him for our lovely day. We felt we had gotten our money's worth and seen some of the real Jamaica. Getting through security to get back to the dock was a mess with very long lines and only 2 people manning the scanners and actually frisking you before they let you through the door. There were shuttle vans waiting to take you over to the dock where our tender was but after sitting all day, it felt good to walk a bit. We actually were on the last tender to the ship. Glad to be "home" and back on board.

The last sea day was real low key. We played bingo for the last time and did not win the big prize. The gambling on this ship was a big contrast to our previous cruise where I had won $1400 playing 3-card poker and split the big bingo prize the last day. Here I reverted back to my normal losing pattern in the casino. I finally switched to playing Blackjack and started winning some small amounts but too little, too late. They had the usually "tournaments" for slots, Blackjack and 3-card poker. They might have had one for Texas Hold'em also but I wasn't paying attention. Sharon and I did some last minute shopping in the boutique shops buying identical shirts to wear to the next family outing, but other than that we didn't see anything that really floated out boat. Dinner was "American" night and there were crab legs on the menu which were outstanding. It was the first time in 8 cruises that I had seen those on the menu. Not even in Alaska. We had done the automatic tips on our account so there was nothing to be done for that except to say good bye to our waiter and busboy. On Celebrity they gave you a little card to hand to your waiter and busboy indicating that you had added the tips to your account. Here I guess they had to wait to find out if we stiffed them or not.

The last day, we had breakfast and cleared out of our rooms with our carry-ons and waited in the place of your choice for your number to be called. Since we were leaving on deck 6, we waited in the lounge adjacent to the casino and had a table and four comfortable chairs to relax in before our color was called. We had no early plane to catch so we could care less when we finally disembarked. A big surprise when we walked off the ship as Fort Lauderdale was a chilly 55 degrees. Al and Karl had to catch a shuttle to the other end of the port to get the car since we were only one of several ships docked there on a Saturday. It was interesting seeing people arriving so early to get on the ship when we were not the last ones off. They were going to have a long wait. Sharon & Al dropped us at the airport and continued back to Fort Myers to continue their vacation while we settled in for a long wait for our flight home.

All in all it was a very nice cruise. Princess did a nice job with the shore excursions and the rooms. The ship was lovely and comfortable, except for the theater which was too small. We would definitely consider Princess again if the price and the itinerary were to our liking.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: December 22, 2006

First time Princess cruiser (many cruises on other lines). From the expedited embarkation to the orderly disembarkation, this trip was one to remember. Anytime dining was new to us vs. set seating times but, proved to be the better alternative where we made good friends and were able to dine with them for the duration of the cruise. Cabin, weather, ports, food, service were all first class. Cabin Steward "Rio" was the best and the Denise Canby Trio are great performers, played our kind of music, and were some of the nicest people we met and were able to spend time with. All in all, a wonderful cruise.

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Alaska
Publication Date: September 18, 2006

I cannot say enough about this ship or cruise. Everything was exceptional. The ship is so clean, beautiful and the staff was simply wonderful. Alaska is like no other place on earth. Best cruise so far.

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Alaska
Publication Date: May 21, 2006

First Alaskan cruise after two Caribbean trips. TERRIFIC! In so many respects. We went almost 1800 miles, and I'd say at least 90% of the way we were passing snow capped mts., often on both sides. The ride was incredibly smooth, not surprising with the "inner" channels predominant. Even the windier days with choppier waters had us with a VERY smooth ride - NO rocking. This ship rides so smooth.

It is also one of the prettiest ships I've seen, so nice with the wood, marble and brick effects. The shops were fair, but we shop offship mainly anyway. The embarkation was quick, though they really needed better signs to direct traffic. We were on by 12:30 and were eating lunch immediatly.

FOOD: Quite good. The 24 hour buffet was terrific, sometimes with choices like Mahi-Mahi, Grouper, a big bowl of peeled shrimp, beef, chicken and more, all at one time! The pastries were a little weak for my style (I like the sugary ones like doughnuts). But the fruits and veggies seemed quite fresh. My wife just oozed over the cantelopes. So, the 24-hour buffet gets high marks. The formal dining room

was good, and the portions were larger than the last two cruise lines we've been on. The beef was variable, but the rest was quite good. More "anytime" dishes always meant they have something we like. At least the dining room wasn't over the engines like on the Celebrity Century. Never got to the Lido grille because everything else was so good, but people raved about the pizza.

SHOWS: Quite good. This ship has TWO auditoriums in a sense, though one is more informal, but still large. That means many show choices. ROOM: Mini-suite, because, it was only about $50 more than a regular balcony. This ship has almost all balconies anyway. B431 is the perfect room, because the balcony rail bends around to the front allowing a view FORWARD! (It is on the end of the section).It really was a dream. The mini-suite (1st one we ever had) has the most reasonal price that can be imagined, esp. compared to other lines.

EXCURSIONS: Ketchikan - took float plane to a lodge for meal and then back. WONDERFUL. There are longer flights possible. Shopping was almost the best of all ports there to me, though Skagway wasn't bad, it seemed that there were just almost all jewelry stores out there. Did Salmon Bake and Mendenhall Glacier at Juneau - very nice. Train to White Pass at Skagway. A long but scenic ride. Since it was May, the snow was incredible up at the top. Very deep. They even had an avalanche the week or so before and they had to stop the runs until it was cleared. SERVICE: Room steward - okay, not remarkable. Dining waitress - outstanding. I guess it just depends on who you get. Did NOT constantly have people selling drink or taking pictures. Not bad. TRIP TO ANCHORAGE - you have to get a ride from Whittier to Anchorage, a significant trip. Princess will bus you there for about $55, but I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't rather take the Comedy Tour bus by Alaskan Leopard - http://www.alaskanleopard.com/Tours/ for about the same amount or less, and get a tour of Portage Glacier, Portage Lake, an animal reserve, and more, in a quite small but nice vehicle (water and snacks included). The video show and humor was great. I am glad we discovered this alternate transportation.

FINAL: The weather was strangely good - fair and mild with little rain (mainly overnight or early on). Temps were in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s the farther we went. Take your binoculars. If you're looking for the big Carnival "festive" atmosphere don't do this, but if you want and wonderful, scenic ride with an older group of travelers, then this is it. I could hardly take in all the constant beauty during the trip. I imagine a bit of this would be weather dependent, though. We had incredible visibilities - 50 mile views at times. Princess did well. The ship never seemed crowded, and even the buffet never had long lines. I'm trying to think of complaints, but they must be so small, I can't remember them now. Well, I think they should've had more chocolate, but that's just me. Happy cruising!

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Alaska
Publication Date: May 21, 2006

First Alaskan cruise after two Caribbean trips. TERRIFIC! In so many respects. We went almost 1800 miles, and I'd say at least 90% of the way we were passing snow capped mts., often on both sides. The ride was incredibly smooth, not surprising with the "inner" channels predominant. Even the windier days with choppier waters had us with a VERY smooth ride - NO rocking. This ship rides so smooth.

It is also one of the prettiest ships I've seen, so nice with the wood, marble and brick effects. The shops were fair, but we shop offship mainly anyway. The embarkation was quick, though they really needed better signs to direct traffic. We were on by 12:30 and were eating lunch immediatly.

FOOD: Quite good. The 24 hour buffet was terrific, sometimes with choices like Mahi-Mahi, Grouper, a big bowl of peeled shrimp, beef, chicken and more, all at one time! The pastries were a little weak for my style (I like the sugary ones like doughnuts). But the fruits and veggies seemed quite fresh. My wife just oozed over the cantelopes. So, the 24-hour buffet gets high marks. The formal dining room

was good, and the portions were larger than the last two cruise lines we've been on. The beef was variable, but the rest was quite good. More "anytime" dishes always meant they have something we like. At least the dining room wasn't over the engines like on the Celebrity Century. Never got to the Lido grille because everything else was so good, but people raved about the pizza.

SHOWS: Quite good. This ship has TWO auditoriums in a sense, though one is more informal, but still large. That means many show choices. ROOM: Mini-suite, because, it was only about $50 more than a regular balcony. This ship has almost all balconies anyway. B431 is the perfect room, because the balcony rail bends around to the front allowing a view FORWARD! (It is on the end of the section).It really was a dream. The mini-suite (1st one we ever had) has the most reasonal price that can be imagined, esp. compared to other lines.

EXCURSIONS: Ketchikan - took float plane to a lodge for meal and then back. WONDERFUL. There are longer flights possible. Shopping was almost the best of all ports there to me, though Skagway wasn't bad, it seemed that there were just almost all jewelry stores out there. Did Salmon Bake and Mendenhall Glacier at Juneau - very nice. Train to White Pass at Skagway. A long but scenic ride. Since it was May, the snow was incredible up at the top. Very deep. They even had an avalanche the week or so before and they had to stop the runs until it was cleared. SERVICE: Room steward - okay, not remarkable. Dining waitress - outstanding. I guess it just depends on who you get. Did NOT constantly have people selling drink or taking pictures. Not bad. TRIP TO ANCHORAGE - you have to get a ride from Whittier to Anchorage, a significant trip. Princess will bus you there for about $55, but I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't rather take the Comedy Tour bus by Alaskan Leopard - http://www.alaskanleopard.com/Tours/ for about the same amount or less, and get a tour of Portage Glacier, Portage Lake, an animal reserve, and more, in a quite small but nice vehicle (water and snacks included). The video show and humor was great. I am glad we discovered this alternate transportation.

FINAL: The weather was strangely good - fair and mild with little rain (mainly overnight or early on). Temps were in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s the farther we went. Take your binoculars. If you're looking for the big Carnival "festive" atmosphere don't do this, but if you want and wonderful, scenic ride with an older group of travelers, then this is it. I could hardly take in all the constant beauty during the trip. I imagine a bit of this would be weather dependent, though. We had incredible visibilities - 50 mile views at times. Princess did well. The ship never seemed crowded, and even the buffet never had long lines. I'm trying to think of complaints, but they must be so small, I can't remember them now. Well, I think they should've had more chocolate, but that's just me. Happy cruising!

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Panama Canal
Publication Date: April 13, 2006

My wife and I sailed the Coral Princess on its Panama Canal Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale April 13 - 23. This was our sixth cruise, but our first on Princess. Previously we sailed four times on Royal Caribbean, and our last cruise was in 2005 on Celebrity Millennium. We are both 58 years old.

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale Thursday, April 13, via air and all our flights were on time. Last year we sailed from Ft. Lauderdale on Celebrity, and arrived a day early due to advice we had seen on these boards. This time, we were traveling with friends who did not want to incur the additional expense of overnight in Ft. Lauderdale so we traveled the day of embarkation. I don't know if the baggage handling at the airport was peculiar to Princess or if all the cruise lines have adopted similar practices, but our last Royal Caribbean cruise on the Serenade in April of 2004, the cruise line picked up the luggage and had it transported to the ship. For this Princess cruise we gathered our own luggage from the baggage area and had to take it

outside where our luggage was then stored on the bus. Baggage handlers did unload the luggage at the ship.

Fast Check-in At 2:15 p.m. we arrived at the terminal. Check-in lines were based not on your last name, but the deck where your stateroom was located. Ours was on Caribe deck (Deck 10). One couple was ahead of us at check-in, and they were through about one minute after our arrival. We checked in and boarded the ship in less than five minutes. We had completed most of the information on the Princess web page prior to the cruise. I was a little disappointed that we did not board in the central lobby to get an immediate view of the centerpiece of the ship. Instead we were on an upper deck and boarded right beside a bank of elevators being held by Princess hostesses for arriving passengers.

We took the elevator to Deck 10 and found our stateroom with no problem. We had booked a mini-suite located about four staterooms from the stern on the port side. The room was large and beautifully decorated. It had a large balcony with two cheap plastic chairs, two plastic loungers and a plastic table. There was an overhang above us from Deck 11 that covered about two-thirds of the deck area. Our luggage was delivered about an hour and a half later, but was left in the hall outside our door. I just happened to open the door and saw it there.

We unpacked and found that we had a large, walk-in closet with more than adequate storage space, equipped with more hangers than we could need. A pleasant surprise was that we could store all four pieces of luggage under the bed (last year on Millennium, we could not get any of the same luggage under the bed so they had to be left out in the room). The bathroom was very large, with a deep tub and shower.

Heat and Flooding After unpacking we were both hot and sweating. The air conditioning was set on maximum cool, but it was not cool at all. Our cabin steward, Nestor from the Philippines, introduced himself and we learned this was only his second cruise. He also brought us two chilled glasses of Champagne. I told him the room was hot and he agreed, but said that it would cool off once we sailed and all of the various doors on the ship were closed. I wasn't sure of his explanation, but it turned out to be true.

Meanwhile, the first time we flushed the toilet it overflowed and flooded the bathroom floor. I called Passenger Services and within 15 minutes someone showed up and determined that some sort of ball had been flushed down the toilet, clogging it up. He removed it and I paged Nestor, who arrived within 60 seconds and mopped the floor.

The muster drill was held at 4:15 and our assigned station was a large lounge about three floors directly below our cabin. We had to take our life preservers, but did not have to wear them. The lounge was cool and comfortable; they showed a short video, made some announcements, and had everyone try on their life jacket and that was it. After no more than 20 minutes we were back in our room. Two years ago on the Serenade, which was sailing from Puerto Rico, it was hot as blazes and we had to stand out on deck in the heat all jammed together. This muster drill was so much nicer.

Dining We had tried to get first seating in Traditional Dining and were wait-listed for that. We made our cruise reservations in the first week of December 2005 (four months earlier), but we did not realize this was Easter weekend and the ship was going to be full. We started out about # 78 on the wait list, and by the time we sailed we were # 33. So much for traditional dining, we thought.

We showed up at the Any Time Dining room at 6 p.m.; we requested a table for four by the window and were pleasantly surprised to receive one. The next night we arrived at the same time and found that this same table had been reserved for us for the rest of the cruise -- so it worked out for us just like traditional seating. We had the same table and same wait staff. I might mention that I never saw long lines at the door for Any Time Dining, so this seemed to work well for everyone.

Impressions of the Ship The Coral Princess is approximately 90,000 gross tons, similar in size to the Radiance Class ships of RCCL and the Millennium class ships of Celebrity. We love ships of this size. The Coral is absolutely gorgeous. I saw no evidence of wear and tear as it is maintained beautifully. The woodwork, brass and carpeting are clean and beautiful. In particular I loved the colors of the carpeting. Previously I thought the Serenade of the Seas was the prettiest ship I had ever seen, but the Coral is close. I liked the colors better than the Millennium, which was elegant, but with somewhat darker tones and not quite as glitzy. The Coral had just the right amount of glitz without being gaudy.

The crew members on Coral Princess are unbelievably friendly! They are always smiling, saying " Good Morning, How are you today?" The crew on the Millennium was much more formal and withdrawn; I found the Coral's crew to be a perfect balance between formal and informal. I did not encounter one single crew person who was not friendly or had an attitude. It may have been our stateroom attendant's second cruise, but he was wonderful. On a few occasions when I needed him I dialed his number, received a prompt to hang up, and he was knocking on our door within 60 seconds. Our waiter, Joeven, and assistant waiter, Christopher, were wonderful in their service and attention. They were easy to talk to and seemed to enjoy chatting with us.

Dining We found the food on Coral Princess to be quite good. There were several choices, it was presented well, cooked properly, and always at the proper temperature. I thought the food on Celebrity was the best we had at sea, and if Celebrity was an "A," the Coral Princess was an "A-." The food was far superior to the Serenade's in 2004, which we found to be consistently cool in temperature and tasteless. The Horizon Court (lido deck informal dining room) had wonderful breakfast and lunch, though we never tried it for an evening meal. I found RCCL's Windjammer buffet dining room (with the " food islands") to be a better arrangement as the Horizon Court seemed slightly more congested. On the pool deck you could get pizza or hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. I have read bad reports of pizza on cruise ships, but this pizza was surprising good and hot. The hamburgers and hot dogs were very good.

The layout of the ship worked fine. We were sailing with 2,000 passengers, but it never seemed crowded and the elevators were rarely crowded.

There seemed to be an adequate number of loungers and chairs on the pool deck. The entertainment was standard cruise fare. They had a comedian who did two different shows on different nights; (he was outstanding, but I cannot remember his name.); an Illusionist who was average; and the usual production shows with the ship's orchestra (very good orchestra), singers and dancers. All in all, it was decent entertainment, but nothing that would blow you away.

Passengers Most passengers were 55+. There were a few teens and a few smaller children. I found no problem with the youngsters or the teenagers at all on this trip. I never saw the youths in the inside adults-only pool. I saw no problems with rude passengers; the overwhelming majority of passengers were very accommodating to others. I saw a small number of motorized scooter chairs, and those passengers seemed to have no problem getting around the ship. There were a few designated smoking areas -- the port side on the pool deck, a Cigar Bar, the Casino, and in your cabin. This was a 10-day cruise and I never witnessed a single person smoking outside of the designated areas. Even in the Casino, there did not seem to be a smoky cloud or bad odors.

Itinerary The itinerary was very nice. We stopped at Cozumel where we took the Atlantis submarine ride. My wife is slightly claustrophobic and has some back problems, and I was a little concerned with her getting down the ladder into the sub, but she did it. The trip was not too long and the claustrophobia did not rear up (but if it had been much longer it would have).

We then sailed for Grand Cayman and arrived on Easter Sunday. Many of the stores were closed so it was not a good shopping day. We did an excursion to Seven Mile Beach, and then on to Hell (not impressive to me at all) and a turtle farm which was quite modern; I have never seen so many turtles.

Off to Costa Rica next, where we did a sightseeing excursion which included a boat ride down a small stream where we saw monkeys, sloths, alligators, and many birds. That was a pleasant trip. We concluded with a visit to the Delmonte Banana Plantation. You could watch the bananas from being cut, separated, washed, waxed, stickers put on and then boxed for overseas shipments. (The day we were there, they put three different brand stickers on the bananas -- which means if you like Delmonte or Chiquita, they are the same bananas).

The highlight of the trip was the Panama Canal. We entered the first set of locks (three) and then sailed into Gatun Lake, where we moored and tendered to shore for our excursions. This was an utterly fascinating process and I recommend a trip to the Canal for anyone. Our excursion involved a bus ride to the Pacific side, and then we returned in an air-conditioned, domed railroad car which was very nice.

A Scheduling Glitch There was one major glitch in the Panama Canal portion of our trip. We were supposed to enter the Canal around 6 a.m. For some reason there was a delay. We had an excursion planned and we were told that we should plan to depart the ship around 10 a.m. We were late getting through the locks, so we finally moored in Gatun Lake and were tendered ashore around 11:40 a.m. Our excursion started around noon. Once all passengers who are going on excursions depart the ship, the Coral Princess reenters the locks and transits back to the Gulf, moving to a port and dock there to awaiting the return of all passengers.

It was my understanding that the ship was to be at the pier around 2:30. Anyway, we left on our excursion and were delivered to the pier at 4:30 p.m. There was no ship there. I talked to some passengers who told me that there tours concluded around 2:30 and they had been at the pier terminal for about two hours already. We waited and waited, and finally the Coral Princess came dockside around 6:30 p.m. For some reason the ship was unable to get back in the locks and was late arriving. There was a huge line of passengers waiting at the docks. Can you imagine half the passengers on the ship waiting to get back on board at one time? It was chaos! We finally got back onboard about 7:15 and we were tired, hot and sweaty. We had missed our assigned dinner time. We marched straight to the Bordeaux Room and asked if they would serve us dressed as we were -- in caps, shorts, and sandals or tennis shoes -- and they said certainly. We marched directly to our table and noticed some people staring, but I did not give a hoot.

We concluded our itinerary in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where we docked at a new pier and just went shopping with no planned excursions. Every 10 feet, we were approached by taxi drivers wanting to take us sight seeing. They all promised "cheap," and I told them it could not be cheaper than walking. We stopped by Margaritaville, which was located on the water near the pier and had some Jamaican beer, which was excellent.

The Return Sunday morning we arrived around 6:30 in Ft Lauderdale. We left our room at 8 a.m. and went to a public lounge on Deck 6 (disembarkation deck) and awaited our color to be called. Our assigned time was 8:45 and our color was called at 8:50. We left, quickly found our luggage, and to my disappointment we had to roll four pieces of luggage and two carry-ons ourselves to Customs. Last year in Ft Lauderdale on Celebrity, the porters were right there to collect your bags as you found them. Once we cleared Customs, we secured a porter who took us to a cab, and it was off to the airport. We arrived and after checking in at curbside, we went through security and were in the waiting area by 10:05.

Problems A couple of minor complaints... I already mentioned arriving to a stopped up toilet, which overflowed, and a hot cabin. On our balcony, the wall section separating our cabin from our two neighbors was not one solid panel, but a panel and a door that is locked by the crew. I guess it is easier for the crew if they were working on the balconies to unlock the door and move down the balconies as opposed to going through the cabins' front doors. Anyway the locking device, which was welded to the hull of the ship, broke its weld due to rust. This allowed the door, which was heavy metal, to flop open, offering no privacy to my balcony or my neighbor's. I tried propping the door closed with a balcony chair but they were flimsy plastic and would not hold the door closed. We initially cruised on Thursday and the weld broke on Friday. I reported it to my cabin steward who reported it to his supervisor. She came on Monday to see it and it was repaired on Tuesday.

Another complaint -- we were so far aft we received a lot of engine vibration. Our bed shook a fair amount. I just found it irritating, but my poor wife hated it. I don't plan on getting a cabin this far aft again. Finally (and I guess this one is due to my stupidity so I can't blame Princess), in the shower there were two knobs, which I assumed one were for hot water and cold water. My wife took the first shower and told me it was cold. When I took a shower I too was cold. This was after turning the hot water on all the way and not even touching the cold water. After two days I complained to Customer Service and an officer came to check it out. To my surprise and embarrassment there was nothing wrong. The first knob was not hot water. It was water pressure. You could turn the knob up to increase water pressure. The second knob was a temperature knob. The more you turned it the hotter the water became. I guess the officer thought I was a nut, but honestly we did not understand the two knobs.

Overall the combination of the beautiful ship, the great crew, the good food, and the well laid out and designed interior plus the itineraries made this our best cruise yet. I thought after last year's Celebrity cruise I had found our cruising home, but now I can add Princess to the mix.

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Panama Canal
Publication Date: April 3, 2006

Embarkation at Port Everglades went very smooth and we had our Princess gold card and on the ship by noon. We checked out our balcony stateroom C309, and had lunch at the Horizon court. After lunch we toured the ship. It's a beautiful ship and new right away it would be our favorite from those we've sailed on.

The public spaces are very generous and very well decorated and maintained. The Universe lounge is fantastic.

We ate at the early fixed dinner in the Provence Dining room. We felt that the food was above average and the service was excellent. Our table waiter would bring the table a variety of entree's for us to taste what we didn't order. The shows were excellent. Out of 10 nights, there were only one commedian that wasn't that great. We loved being on the ship and enjoying all the unique spaces. We kept up with our son back home through email at the ships internet lounge.

Our itinerary included Ocho Rios Jamaica. We climbed Dunn's River Falls which was fabulous. The water was so refreshing on a hot day. Dolphin's Cove was a let down.

I wouldn't waste your time. We didn't get in the water with the Dolphin's, so that might make it a little better.

Panama Canal was fabulous! A real treat to experience. It takes an hour and a half to go through the Gatun Locks, so don't feel rushed. We were at the front of the ship through the 1st lock, grabbed breakfast at the buffet and went down to our balcony ate it while going through the 2nd lock, and then went to the back of the ship while we were going through the last lock. We took the vintage railroad excursion to the Pacific side which was a great trip. Next stop was Limon Costa Rica. We took the courtryside eco trip excursion. Great excursion to see the country, the canals and a banana plantation.

Next was Grand Cayman. Nice island. Looked through some stores, snorkeled and took a ride on the Atlantis submarine. After snorkeling, the submarine ride was anti-climatic. I wouldn't do it again. Then on to Costa Maya. We didn't do any excursion there. We only got off the boat for a while to walk around the shopping village. They have a big pool there and swim up bars and other resturants. Some of the local shop people would hound you to come into their store. There is a sand beach but not for swimming. Rocks separate the beach from the water.

There were four days at sea which we loved. The ship is wonderful and lots to do. The pizza by the pool is too good. The only negative is the cost of the soft drink pass. $39.50 plus 15% gratuity for about $46.00. Way to much to have a couple of diet cokes each day. Princess needs to offer an alternative drink like lemonade or something. Great cruise, we loved being on the boat for 10 days. Central America was a great place to visit, especially going through the canal.

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Panama Canal
Publication Date: December 14, 2005
I am a 64 yr. old paraplegic using braces, canes, and a four-wheeled scooter.  I've been this way since 1948.  Fortunately, I have traveled and lived abroad most of my life.  Cruising is the most attractive traveling I've ever experienced.  I believe, however, the Coral Princess is a prime example of a disconnect between policy and practice.  I purchased a land transfer between FLL and Port Seminole.  Upon arrival I was kept waiting for 2 hrs. as the Princess representative said she was authorized to call a van.  I rode the bus.  Upon disembarkation,  I was told I couldn't ride a bus because of insurance concerns and waited 1 1/2 hrs. for the Line to call a van.  I missed my flight!  The night before arrival, I asked the Purser's Office for early disembarkation to allow for the added time for my processing at Customs and airport TSA.  This was denied.  My scooter requires recharging nightly.  Other ships take it to the Purser's Office.  On the Coral Princess I was told to recharge it in the passageway.  It is more than 1/2 the width of that corridor.  I complained to the Purser's Office that this arrangement was unsafe and, therefore, probably illegal.  This all to no avail.  Keep in mind, the Line knew the exact dimensions of the scooter upon my purchasing the cruise.  My dining room table, 160, was at the back of the room and up stairs.  During the abandon ship drill, I was separated from my care-giver.  This is in violation of the ADA.  The Coral Princess appears not to want disabled customers.  That's okay.  But, please say so!  I'll go elsewhere!
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Alaska
Publication Date: July 23, 2005

My husband and I and another couple went on a 12 day cruise and land tour to Alaska with Princess. We began by spending 4 days at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, a beautiful hotel in a great spot. We have cruised on Princess before and as usual the embarkation on the Coral was a breeze. We had a mini suite all the way aft on the Caribe deck. It's a great location with that outside aft deck!

The food and entertainment were both good and I feel the service was overall excellent. The scenery with the wonderfully informative commentary from the on board naturalist was spectacular. The rangers who boarded the ship in Glacier National Park did a great job also. We did a ship sponsored tour in each port and we were very satisfied. We all enjoyed the cruise but I have to say that we absolutely loved the land tour part of our Princess vacation. The train ride scenery was quite an experience. The Princess lodges in Denali and Fairbanks were very comfortable and nicely decorated. Once again we also did a number of Princess tours and were

not disappointed. The only complaint...we took the red eye back to Boston. By the time we landed in Logan we were all exhausted and needed to recover from our vacation.
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