Hi to all,
Prior to rambling ---FYI, I have done 4 cruises - 2 Princess - 2 Renaissance, and have spent a good part of 15 years in the travel industry. I am no expert, but I have a good idea of what works and what doesn't.
Firstly, I loved the Coral Princess, it was like a floating Las Vegas hotel, with a bit more style.
Boarding was painless, considering that we had heaps of luggage, coming from an Australian summer via an Oklahoma winter and all. Staff were friendly, security tight, thank goodness, and as this was a brand new ship, first sights of the atrium and lobby was an experience I will never forget. Amazing. Everything shined and was spotless, carpets brand new, ah!!. As you would expect on a first cruise it was a little tense for the staff, but they handled it beautifully.
Coral Princess went thru a rather nasty storm to get to Ft Lauderdale on time and the staff were a little anxious. To be expected.
Cabin - we were in Caribe 403 (outside balcony suite) and it was fine. Sytlish with plenty of room, ample closet space without doors. Inroom safe was easy, drawer space under each bedside table. Good bench space. Hard bed. One issue - way to much paper deliveries. We were swamped with printed matter and no place to hide it, we were overwhelmed with paper. You need it so pack your favourite folder if you want to hang on to all this info. Back to cabin - Bathroom (head) Compact and a small shower stall. Very small shower stall. Don't drop the soap and shaving your legs is an issue. I eventually learned to flood the thing. But it works. Balcony was a great size and a social gathering at 5pm, with nearby neighbours. Yes they were tiered, The deck above us would have more privacy, but as they are at the moment, I could hang out in the nuddie and not be seen, just dont go to the edge or you will flash like I did a few times in moments of excitement, but all was fine. Lighting and cabin AC - works, but I am a fresh air fiend and only used it once. Usual princess cabin steward, great and from Thailand, so it took us 5 minutes of bowing to get off to a good start. Really good and fun. Sarwaadee Ka (sp)
Used room service for coffee in the morning and drinkies in the evening and did not have to wait for more than 5 minutes, pretty nice.
New everything, sheets, cutlery, glasses, carpets, bedspreads, how nice is that. A real treat.
Great gym and great equipment. I visited but did not stop to use. Good size with ample number of machines and on the aft of the ship with full size glass panorama over the stern of the ship.
Great view to work out by and CNN to keep the news freaks happy.
Pools - top deck, fun, clean, lots of happy holiday makers. Atrium pool (for want of a better term ) the roof opens, in Thai style - very kitchie but a nice place to relax.
Full promenade deck for the jogger who wants to run around the deck. Its wide and no problem. I walked it a few times.
I do not like eating at the buffet at all, the sight of 100's of people lining up to eat is too much so I only did it twice.
Horizon restaurant - Buffet - choice - great, presentation - great, taste - fresh - finding a table - a pain in the butt though. Send a scout to secure a spot and hang on to it with your life.
We ate mostly in the dining room - 1st seating, fantastic table #123 - next to the window and great waitress and attendant. Service at night was the same as on the Royal Princess - fantastic. Dining room selection was enough, and always available with a second choice if one of the 5 you have already eaten is not enough.
We did eat at the new feature "Sabatinis" the Italian restaurant, food was great but way to much, be warned. Do not let them serve you everything on the menu as you will not be able to eat the main course. We are a table for 6 and they served every item except for the mains, we had to choose one, the Veal Chop arrived (main) smothered in sauce and sweetbreads, with the best looking potato I have ever seen and no hunger to eat it, such a shame.
Poolside dining was fun, pizza, hamburgers, etc and all good quality.
We did not eat at the Bayou cafe.
Shopping was fine. Enough to get the die hards by and a very successful fine jewerlry store.
Casino, I won $100.00 US so I thought it was great. We did not have many gamblers on our trip, so the craps table was poorly attended, the only complaint from David about the place.
Entertainment was what seems to be the Princess quality. A fair selection and high quality dancers and singers and the comedy acts were mostly funny. Both of the lounges are fun and over the top with glitz and glamour.
Martini bar and Churchill lounge are a hoot - you can have any kind of Martini you desire, and the cigar lounge was a nice meeting spot for a short black coffee and a port after dinner.
All the bars were fine but a standout is the Explorers lounge and the Jazz pianist, brilliant.
Lotus spa - beauty salon, very professional, friendly and busy. Get in early if you want the full on treatment for best times. Formal nights book the day you board if you need to get done up. I did and it was fun.
Captains party - fabulous - We had captain Pickford who also was our Captain on the Cape Horn trip last year on the Royal. At the gathering, he remembered us and came to say hello, I just loved this. We have an Australian connection, and it is the small things that stand out on a cruise. We figure, to be offered the command of an 88,000t new turbine system ship, you must be pretty good at your job.
Thats about all I can think of write now, and have to get back to work. If anyone wants to ask specific questions go ahead and I will get to them later. Back to it.
For the couple getting married, congratulations, the wedding chapel is beautiful, webcam a nice feature so tell everyone, and plenty of opportunities for photos and 1570 passengers looking at you - have fun. You are doing the cruise I would like to do, Alaska is a long way for us though and airfares a killer.
All in all our family had a great time with no major complaints. One thing and this might offend some, we do not have children, (we are not old, just no kiddies) so finding a child free zone was hard. I think it would be a nice feature if Princess introduced a kid free zone for us adults. It became annoying only once.
I am sure that there are passengers out there who will disagree with my comments, but each to his own. I had a fantastic, fun, action packed, successful holiday and Coral Princess, her crew and staff helped make it so. I overheard one or two passengers complaining and one guy in a bar who was planning on sueing everyone, but we can get unreasonable. TV guides are not that important.
I hope that this has been informative and all anyone who is going for a ride, please say gday to all the Aussie staff for me, and have a ball.
We did the Ft Lauderdale return via Panama Canal cruise if anyones interested in Shore ex.