Gregg & Marcia
Number of Cruises: 41
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Coral Princess
Sailing Date: December 12th, 2006
Itinerary: Panama Canal
It was a wonderful feeling walking up the gangway of the beautiful Coral Princess. It was like going back to the old neighborhood to visit some old friends. We have sailed the Coral on two previous occasions and it’s our favorite ship of the Princess fleet. We look back on our sailings with fond memories of two of our favorite people, Maitre d’hotel, Generosa Mazzone and someone very special, our new/old friend Melania Parsinari. It is because of them, and the TLC of the crewmembers of the Princess ships that we are so passionate about cruising. We had such a wonderful, enjoyable cruise we booked the Coral again for February 17th for our Valentine cruise.
Cruising has added a complete new dimension to our lives and I believe it has added to our longevity. As you can see in this photo, taken at Mary’s birthday dinner, we are two happy campers. In 1996 when we were in our seventies, never in our wildest dreams would we have imagined, that when we were in our eighties, we would be on our 41st cruise celebrating Mary’s birthday.
Important Information About Pricing and The New Princess
As I have said, this was our 41st cruise. We write reviews to share our experience with our fellow cruisers, especially those that are new to cruising. We receive a great deal of e-mail. More than 12,500 cruise enthusiasts have read our June 6th posting of our Caribbean Princess review. Mary & I spend our retirement mornings answering e-mails from all over the world. The number one question we are asked is about pricing. We were overwhelmed with the number of readers that responded to our offer to send them our suggestion on, “How to Get The Best Price When You Book a Cruise.” We’re happy that so many of you wrote us, that our suggestion saved you a tidy sum. If you would like to receive our suggestion, we would be happy to send it to you. Send an e-mail to email@example.com and write ‘Best Price’ in the subject box. We will get it off to you as soon as possible. Write us and let us know how it worked for you.
Driving to FT. Lauderdale:
We live in New Smyrna Beach, FL; it takes 3½ hours to drive to the Port Everglades Terminal. Mary as usual, selects the CD’s to be played during our drive to Port. This time she chose our collection of CD’s of the groups that we danced to on our previous cruises. As I listened to the recordings, I thought of our many cruises and the wonderful moment’s my Mary & I shared while dancing. I once heard a phrase that perfectly describes those moments; ‘Dancing is Love Set to Music.’ There is something very special about weaving your way around the dance floor, while holding your sweetheart tightly in your arms, as the combo plays one of your favorite romantic ballads. Mary noticed that as Tom was listening to the sultry tones of Shelly Cafaro, the magnificent vocalist we heard on one of our RC cruises, she saw his Wimpy persona begin to materialize, and Macho Man began to slowly fade away. By the time we reached the terminal, Mary knew the transformation was complete. She could see by the smile on Tom’s face and the way he squeezed her hand that the Wimpy persona had now taken hold and he was in full cruise mode.
Embarkation: Princess Introduces New All-Electronic Tickets
Princess is the first in the cruise industry to convert completely to electronic ticketing. If you have a computer you will be able get your cruise tickets on their web site. Princess has adopted the eTickets program. It is very simple. After you have booked your cruise, you go to the Princess Home Page and go to the Cruise Personalizer. Enter your booking information. Then fill in the information requested and complete the Immigration form. After you have completed both forms, you can print your Boarding Pass and your Cruise Summary. That is the only paper work required. The embarkation was very smooth. At the terminal there are a few short forms to be filled out and you’re ready for the check in counter. Within 20 minutes we were aboard the Coral making our way to the Horizon court for lunch….
Our Balcony Cabin Caribe 535, Was Wimpy’s Base of Operations:
As usual Wimpy (Tom) attended to Wimpanizing the cabin. This time he brought with him the new double aromatic dispenser put out by Glades. Within moments of plugging it in, you could smell the fragrance of Gardenias, Mary’s favorite essence, wafting through the cabin. No sooner he had finished doing that, there was a knock on our cabin door and an attendant handed Mary a beautiful arrangement of exotic flowers. When Mary read the card, she let out a little gasp, “Can you believe it, it’s from Melania.” Just then another knock on the door and another arrangement, and I bet you guessed who it was from. Your right, it was from yours truly.
Since this is our third
cruise on the Coral, we won’t be giving you one of those nuts and bolts reviews.
We have enjoyed all our cruises but this one goes to the very top of our
all-time favorite list. I wanted Mary’s birthday celebration to be something
very special and I am so happy to tell you, it far exceeded my expectations. We
will be telling you about the many things that made this cruise so special.
The Ship is Immaculate:
The Coral Princess went into service in 2003, but from her appearance you would think she had just left the Fincanteri shipyard. It is in immaculate condition. Every place we looked we would see someone cleaning, polishing or painting. The Coral had a real festive air about her, being partially decorated for Christmas. The final decorations were going to be done when we returned to port on the 22nd.
Our Dining Experience;
When we learned that Franceso Ciorfito was our Maitre d’, we were going to have a wonderful dinning experience. We had sailed with Francesco on the Dawn in 2004, and had one of our better dinning experiences. Francesco and executive chef Martial Diffor make a great team and are doing a superlative job. The food is excellent and the service is impeccable. Having retired from the restaurant business I know the time and effort it takes to have a staff perform at such a high level. I take my hat off to both of them, they have produced a wonderful result and they should be proud of what they have accomplished.
We had a very nice table for two in PC dining, with two of the best servers we’ve ever had, Irina Taman and Florenta Grecu from Romania. Not only were they professional in every respect, but they also had the sweetest, charming personalities, that added immeasurably to our dining experience. We were completely taken by them. Toward the end of the cruise we kidded them, that we were going home and have our lawyer draw up adoption papers. Then we learned that this cute assistant server Florenta, who looked like a teenager, was married to another server aboard ship, and had a little 4-year-old boy. One day we had lunch in the main dinning room and Florenta and her husband were our servers. Irina continues to keep in touch with us by e-mail and we send her our ‘Teaspoon of Spiritual Nourishment’ each morning, so she can start her day with an inspirational thought. We are anxiously looking forward to seeing them again in February.
Catlin, a very handsome young man, is Francesco’s assistant and the maitre d’ of the PC dining room. He’s a charming young man with a low key, infectious personality. People are gravitating to PC dinning because they like the idea of being able to dine when they want too, instead of having a set time. That’s the major reason it’s become so popular. .
Whenever we sail the Western Caribbean, and Cozumel is one of our ports, having lunch at Pancho’s Backyard is a must. It is part of a complex of three entities; La Cinco Solos, our favorite store of the entire Caribbean, a fabulous women’s boutique, and Pancho’s Backyard, voted one of the outstanding Mexican Restaurants of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s indoor dinning room opens on two sides to an outdoor courtyard of beautiful flowering gardens and lush towering palms. While your having lunch you will serenaded by two Mexican men who play the Marimba’s, and have been there since the inception of the restaurant. It’s a very romantic setting, and take our word for it, you will love it. Over the many years we have been going to Pancho’s, we have become close friends with Manuel Hernandez the manager. He is a great fan of our reviews and four years ago, wanting to do something for us, he offered to give a free Margarita to anyone that told their waiter “Tom & Mary sent me!” We had lunch with Manuel on our recent cruise and he told us they are still getting people that tell them, ’Tom and Mary sent me.’ He told us it was good idea to remind our readers that he will continue doing that, but he told us to make sure to tell you that when you ask for the free Margarita, and the waiter gives you a blank stare, tell him to check with his Mgr. Manuel. We always look forward to visiting Manuel and having lunch at this fine restaurant. We have enjoyed every one of our visits and we look forward to many more. In fact we are going to take our two servers, Irina and Florenta for lunch at Panchos when we cruise in February.
We Made Many New Friends:
Dr. Catriona Johnstone;
On the sixth day of our cruise Mary told me she was experiencing pain in her lower abdomen and she thought it might be serious. Mary had a similar problem last summer. We went to the sick bay and she told the nurse at the desk what was troubling her. In a matter of minutes she was ushered into a room, where we met Dr. Catriona Johnstone. She proceeded to ask Mary some questions and then had her lie down and to be examined. Knowing Mary’s past problems, she was concerned she might have an infection and ordered a blood test. I said to myself, this is going to take at least a day or so. It wasn’t twenty minutes and the lab had the results. I couldn’t believe it. It was another twenty minutes and she received three prescriptions, with the instructions how to take them.
Mary and Dr. Johnstone made an instant connection and I could feel the genuine concern she had for Mary. She had a gentle bedside manor and told Mary she would soon be feeling better. She asked Mary to come by in the morning so she could see how she was doing. The following morning we stopped by sickbay and had a very pleasant conversation with her. I took a picture of her with Mary, and somehow our ‘Teaspoon of Spiritual Nourishment’, came up in our conversation and Dr. Johnstone is now receiving it. No one should be concerned about medical care if they are cruising on the Coral. We look forward to seeing Catriona in February.
Kasia Kowalska-Room Service Manager:
This young lady is in charge of room service for 2000 guests and is doing an unbelievable job. Room service aboard the Coral is the best we have ever had. We normally order coffee and croissants on an order form the cabin attendants leave in the cabins. I filled it out and left it on the door handle. For some reason the card didn’t get to the galley and we didn’t get our order. I called room service and told them we didn’t receive our order. The girl that answered the phone was very apologetic and assured me it would not happen again. It seemed like moments when there was a knock on the door and we had our order. I was surprised when she called and asked if I received our order, and could she do anything else for us. We had several conversations and on our last day of the cruise, we had occasion to meet her.
Luncheon With the Captain and His Officers.
We were pleasantly surprised when we were received an invitation to have lunch with the Captain and his officers in Sabatini’s, one of the Coral’s alternative restaurants. Before we entered, a photographer took pictures of the Captain with each one of the 20 couples that were invited. The guests were seated at six round tables, with an officer at each table. The table settings were very tastefully done with beautiful centerpieces. The preparation of the food and the way it was presented was a thing to behold, as you can see by the pictures. There is no doubt that Martial Diffor is at the very top of his profession. This luncheon showcased his extraordinary abilities. It was without a doubt the finest luncheon we have every attended. (appetizer-entrée-dessert)
A One of a Kind Culinary Demonstration;
We have seen a number of these culinary presentations but we have never seen one like this, it was a riot. Seeing him in the dining room and then seeing him stage during the presentation, Francesco took on a completely different personality. I am not going to spoil it for you by telling you what he did, but suffice it to say, seeing him cooking pasta, was like watching Sid Caesar in one his hilarious comedy skits. You many not learn the best way to cook Pasta but you sure will have plenty of laughs.
Our Wonderful Romantic Dinners:
I want to, once again, tell you how much we enjoyed the food and service. I have been telling you what an exceptional Executive Chef Marital Diffor is, now I want you to see an example of the way some of his entrée’s looked as they were placed before us. I have also included a picture of our favorite dessert, a Soufflé.
Another display of chef Diffor’s talented
staff’s Sushi buffet served in the Horizon court:
Once again, Mary & I had a wonderful cruise and we collected a lot of wonderful memories that will line the walls of our hearts forever. Although we have made 41 cruises, we still find ourselves talking about our upcoming February 17th cruise on the Coral with as much interest and excitement as if it was our first. The reason is always the same. It’s because Mary and I can’t think of a more romantic, intimate, exciting way of spending quality time with the one you love then when cruising.
Thank you for reading our review. We share our cruise
experience with you, hoping some of our thoughts and ideas might be of help to
on your next cruise. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have,
especially those from first time or new cruisers.
May your next cruise be your best,
Our warm regards,
Tom & Mary
Bits & Pieces:
As we previously stated, our review would be about the highlights of our cruise and not the Nuts & Bolts. For those of you who would like to read a more comprehensive review of the Coral you can read our 2003 review: http://www.tomandmaryscruisereviews.com/CoralPrincess.htm