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Liz Dwyer

Age: 42


Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Coral Princess

Sailing Date: December 27th, 2006

Itinerary: Panama Canal

Just back from a 10 day Panama Canal cruise on Coral Princess. A beautiful ship but showing signs of wear. We were a party of 15 family members, so many experiences to draw on for this review. I hope to give you an accurate summary which will help with your decision making, whether choosing a cruise or whether helping you to make the most of your cruise on this ship.

Cabins were roomy, as cabins go. The balconies are not private on this ship. They jut out and everyone above can look out over on you. We had Aloha deck 12 cabins 629 and 631. (adjoining door) This balcony was relatively private as we were the top most cabin deck but had a walkway over our heads! (Thump, thump, thump until the wee hours) If you are a light sleeper beware; the halls are noisy. I am not sure the crew expects anyone to sleep. Vacuuming at 8 am or earlier, moving furniture or equipment overhead in the salon and gym at 3am?? My parents had a handicapped cabin and found it very roomy and convenient. However, my sister, who had a quad occupancy mini suite, opened the sofa bed to discover it was a single. So the room slept three of them uncomfortably and four…? We couldn’t figure out how two adults would share that sofa bed! It’s sagging mattress slept one uncomfortably. Pillows are two inch thick slabs of foam and mattresses are camp cot quality. I do not exaggerate. I don’t know what the beds in full suits are like. Room service was very efficient and don’t forget that you may request fresh fruit and robes in your room if you wish. You may also request a top sheet and feather pillows. Your mini fridge is empty so feel free to bring some soft drinks, wine or beer on board for consumption in your room.

Plentiful and always available. The dinning room service was very good and the food standard cruise fare. Chicken choice, beef choice, fish choice etc. Some very good seafood. It was hard to get a steak cooked to order. Med was sometimes well, sometimes rare. Send it back. I didn’t and I should have. It is not impolite, and I should have realized this. Horizon Buffet was small but efficient and seating was never a problem. The food was unexceptional. Lots of choice and international cuisine days kept the buffet from becoming monotonous. Desserts were never a disappointment. The soufflés were very nice. But just plain old chocolate chip cookies were amazing!

You may bring your own wine to the dining room and a $10 corking fee will be charged.
The wine list has a reasonable selection and pricing. However, I am used to Canadian alcohol prices.

Shore Excursions:
If you are a nervous traveler, book through the ship. Otherwise, go your own way! Use the internet before you go.

Panama: Note: You will not go ashore at the Panama Canal unless you book a ship tour. You will be allowed to disembark at (Colon) Cristobal for a very short time. You enter a warehouse of shops and stalls for souvenirs or a beer. Native dancers are on hand to give a small show. Kind of like visiting “Panama in a box”. It is worth a look around. Don’t buy in the first shops, go to the far end of the building in the “flea market” area. Prices for the same items are much less.

Costa Rica –use the internet and book a driver and guide for the day. Very good value. Tell the driver what you want to see and they will give you good advice. The ship does not have a tour to Cahuita National Park. Check it out online it is well worth seeing. We swam on a deserted beach, with howler monkeys sleeping in the trees over our heads. There are full facilities, well groomed nature trails and sand, jungle and sea all in one spot.

Mexico: Just get a cab and choose your beach!

Cayman Islands: book ahead on line for a dive trip or take the local bus to any of the beaches.

Jamaica: If you want a beach with no vendors, or hair braiders, or hassles grab a cab to Turtle beach (5min drive) or Island Village (walk or 3min drive).

It’s all a matter of personal taste. ‘Nough said. Go, enjoy, and don’t take it too seriously. The main show room fills up quickly and has limited seating. Go early but don’t reserve seats; it is not allowed and not tolerated after the second day or so by other passengers. Things can get ugly.

Kids Club:
We traveled with children 7 and 11. They 11 year old says the club was “boring”. The 7 year old loved it. However, activities were sparse compared to what we have had on other lines. I noticed movies were a frequent “activity”.

Princess bills $10.00/day per person to your account unless you remove it from your bill. The Crew was one of the friendliest and most helpful we have had the pleasure of sailing with. If it’s not right, don’t whine about it to one another, just ask to have it fixed. You paid a lot for this cruise, I know, but tipping is not part of that initial cost. Please don’t short these hard working people by canceling the tipping plan and giving less in those little white envelopes. It’s cheap and it’s tacky.

We had a great time and enjoyed our stay with Princess. However, I would not book again on this ship but would consider a larger Princess ship. It always felt crowded in the public areas, never enough seats at the pool, or shows or activities… average food, average entertainment nothing over the top or exceptional. The crew was great but they can only work with what they are given. (that includes the dances and singers)



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