Tips & Recommendations for upcoming Coral Panama Canal Cruise

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#1
Washington
379 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
We are counting down for our 15 day Panama Canal cruise
in January. This will be our first time on the Coral and our fifth
Princess cruise. I would love to hear about any tips, hints, etc.
for the Coral in particular and this itinerary. (Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, San Juan
del Sur, Puntarenas, Cartagena, Aruba).

Many thanks in advance!
#3
Central FLA
512 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Use the forward and aft viewing areas on deck 10. Not everyone knows about these. Lunch in Sabatinis is Alfredo’s pizza which is no charge, for brick oven pizza with relaxed table service.


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#4
Montana
279 Posts
Joined Sep 2011
Panama Canal on the Coral is the best! We loved the view from our balcony! Make sure and catch the movie on the building of the Canal in the theatre. It has a lot of good info. Pick up some Emeralds in Cartagena! Pub lunch is two different days! We would love to go back!!
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#5
WI
358 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
I guess I'm going to get a bit wordy here, and remember that it's only my opinion and observations relayed here. Others may disagree, and that's fine.

For the canal transit - it's an all-day event - make sure you move around in order to get the experience from different perspectives. Decks 10 and 11 at the front of the ship are opened up on transit day. You get a great view of the operation of the locks from the aft decks as well (decks 8 and above). We never went up to the Lido and the dreaded blue glass panels diffusing the view. If you don't have a balcony, the Promenade (Deck 7) will give you an unobstructed view of the lock operations. Otherwise, if you have a balcony - this is the opportunity to use it as well. Finally, don't forget to go down to deck 6 for one of the locks, looking through the windows near the Explorers Club. It looks like the ship will scrape the wall as it moves vertically, but the 'mules' keep everything in place.

Princess encourages you to make a 'homemade' sign for the canal transit. They supply the poster board, stencils, decorations, pens and markers. You are supposed to hold it up as the ship photographers snap photos and shoot videos of you going through the locks. Then you can buy the photo or see yourself in the DVD they produce and sell later on in the cruise. If you have an artistic side to your personality, you might want to give this some thought and come up with a good idea.

We had a very short stop at Aruba, and it was on Sunday morning (7:00 AM - Noon), so not much was open other than the Princess-approved shopping. We found the Dutch Pancake House in an outdoor mall near the helipad, and had an interesting and delicious breakfast there. Cartegena was short(ish), 6 hours, and HOT. We just took the Old City On Your Own excursion. Unfortunately it was a holiday the day we were there, so most of the museums and churches were closed. For Puntarenas/Costa Rica, get off the ship and help the economy. Hurricane Nate blew through there this fall, and they need your help to rebuild. Puntarenas itself is sort of remote and sleepy, so you probably will want a tour of some kind to see a highlight or two of the country. Our stop in Nicaragua was cancelled due to tendering problems in the high winds. It was replaced by Puerto Vallarta. Since it was short notice, we just took a cab to the Melancon and strolled.

We had a great port lecturer, Richard Munroe, a geologist from Winnipeg. He had very dry sense of humor, and worked in a bit of geology in his presentations. The theater got more and more crowded for each one of his entertaining lectures. He also did a fine job narrating the canal transit throughout the day.

All of the production shows were entertaining, especially 'On the Bayou' that's held in the Universe Lounge. The casino was tiny, with 'tight' machines, poor table game rules, and easy to avoid. Of the acts that they picked up along the way, I enjoyed Duncan Tuck the most. He is an accomplished guitar player, and put on an entertaining set of somewhat obscure favorites from the 60's/70's. I also enjoyed the classical artists and piano players that played in the atrium every day.


I never had a bad meal. I tried to watch my intake, and thought I did a good job, but my downfall was any 'Chocolate Journeys' offering. They were all fantastic and not to be missed! Breakfast and lunch were eaten in both the Horizon Court and the Bordeaux dining room. The dining room was closed for lunch on port days. Usually, if we ate one meal at one, we would have the other meal in the opposite venue. We ate dinner at our assigned 7:30 (late) dining time nearly every night. We did visit and enjoyed both the Bayou Café and Sabatini's. Our waiter at Sabatini's said the menu would be changing soon and the Lobster Three Ways and NY Strip Steak offerings were going away. I looked for the Seafood Shack at the Horizon Café, but it was never offered.


You're probably not going to pack enough clothes for a 15 day journey, and you will be doing laundry at some point. There are only 3 washers and 3 dryers on each deck with cabins (decks 8-12), so they are heavily used on sea days. Our secret was to use them on port days. We got back about 2 hours before sail away on Cartegena day, and our Puerto Vallarta stop was unplanned, so we had an early return there as well. We got back on board in time to keep up with cleaning the dirty clothes in the unused laundry room at those times.


I hope this helps! Enjoy your cruise in January!
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#6
Washington
379 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Wow... this really does help. Is Sabatini's lunch no charge
every day or on a certain day? Thanks for the tips and ideas.
#7
Crescent Bar, Washington State
41 Posts
Joined Mar 2017
Originally posted by ddloml
I guess I'm going to get a bit wordy here, and remember that it's only my opinion and observations relayed here. Others may disagree, and that's fine.



For the canal transit - it's an all-day event - make sure you move around in order to get the experience from different perspectives. Decks 10 and 11 at the front of the ship are opened up on transit day. You get a great view of the operation of the locks from the aft decks as well (decks 8 and above). We never went up to the Lido and the dreaded blue glass panels diffusing the view. If you don't have a balcony, the Promenade (Deck 7) will give you an unobstructed view of the lock operations. Otherwise, if you have a balcony - this is the opportunity to use it as well. Finally, don't forget to go down to deck 6 for one of the locks, looking through the windows near the Explorers Club. It looks like the ship will scrape the wall as it moves vertically, but the 'mules' keep everything in place.



Princess encourages you to make a 'homemade' sign for the canal transit. They supply the poster board, stencils, decorations, pens and markers. You are supposed to hold it up as the ship photographers snap photos and shoot videos of you going through the locks. Then you can buy the photo or see yourself in the DVD they produce and sell later on in the cruise. If you have an artistic side to your personality, you might want to give this some thought and come up with a good idea.



We had a very short stop at Aruba, and it was on Sunday morning (7:00 AM - Noon), so not much was open other than the Princess-approved shopping. We found the Dutch Pancake House in an outdoor mall near the helipad, and had an interesting and delicious breakfast there. Cartegena was short(ish), 6 hours, and HOT. We just took the Old City On Your Own excursion. Unfortunately it was a holiday the day we were there, so most of the museums and churches were closed. For Puntarenas/Costa Rica, get off the ship and help the economy. Hurricane Nate blew through there this fall, and they need your help to rebuild. Puntarenas itself is sort of remote and sleepy, so you probably will want a tour of some kind to see a highlight or two of the country. Our stop in Nicaragua was cancelled due to tendering problems in the high winds. It was replaced by Puerto Vallarta. Since it was short notice, we just took a cab to the Melancon and strolled.



We had a great port lecturer, Richard Munroe, a geologist from Winnipeg. He had very dry sense of humor, and worked in a bit of geology in his presentations. The theater got more and more crowded for each one of his entertaining lectures. He also did a fine job narrating the canal transit throughout the day.



All of the production shows were entertaining, especially 'On the Bayou' that's held in the Universe Lounge. The casino was tiny, with 'tight' machines, poor table game rules, and easy to avoid. Of the acts that they picked up along the way, I enjoyed Duncan Tuck the most. He is an accomplished guitar player, and put on an entertaining set of somewhat obscure favorites from the 60's/70's. I also enjoyed the classical artists and piano players that played in the atrium every day.





I never had a bad meal. I tried to watch my intake, and thought I did a good job, but my downfall was any 'Chocolate Journeys' offering. They were all fantastic and not to be missed! Breakfast and lunch were eaten in both the Horizon Court and the Bordeaux dining room. The dining room was closed for lunch on port days. Usually, if we ate one meal at one, we would have the other meal in the opposite venue. We ate dinner at our assigned 7:30 (late) dining time nearly every night. We did visit and enjoyed both the Bayou Café and Sabatini's. Our waiter at Sabatini's said the menu would be changing soon and the Lobster Three Ways and NY Strip Steak offerings were going away. I looked for the Seafood Shack at the Horizon Café, but it was never offered.





You're probably not going to pack enough clothes for a 15 day journey, and you will be doing laundry at some point. There are only 3 washers and 3 dryers on each deck with cabins (decks 8-12), so they are heavily used on sea days. Our secret was to use them on port days. We got back about 2 hours before sail away on Cartegena day, and our Puerto Vallarta stop was unplanned, so we had an early return there as well. We got back on board in time to keep up with cleaning the dirty clothes in the unused laundry room at those times.





I hope this helps! Enjoy your cruise in January!


Nice review, we’re doing this cruise next week and your information helps!


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#8
Ontario, Canada
1,805 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Thanks for all the tips for our February full transit.

To supplement the movie, The Path between the Seas, by David McCullough is a must read readable tome. We almost finished it for a partial Panama and sure plan to complete it before our February one.

Ruth
#9
Central FLA
512 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by nini
Wow... this really does help. Is Sabatini's lunch no charge

every day or on a certain day? Thanks for the tips and ideas.


I am not sure which days Alfredo’s was offered in Sabatinis. You could post that question separately I am sure someone knows.


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#10
WI
358 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Originally posted by knbcruisers
I am not sure which days Alfredo’s was offered in Sabatinis. You could post that question separately I am sure someone knows.


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We had pizza lunch in Sabatini's on canal transit day. I think it was offered once or twice at other times as well. We wandered by the Bayou Café once when the British Pub Lunch was offered. There was a very long line to get in, so we didn't try it. These were offered on sea days, so they probably alternated. Never happened where the special lunches for both venues were offered together. Both lunches were free.
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#11
3,009 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Second the recommendation for Path Between the Seas

There is also an aft viewing area on Emerald Deck.

Yes, the blue panels can be awful but I found I was able to slip my camera between them (with a lanyard around my neck) to take great pictures.

The promenade deck also a great place to be when the ship is down in a lock.
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#12
Washington
379 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Dear Retired 1064-
Have a wonderful trip! We are fellow Washingtonians.
Would love to hear about your cruise upon return.
Happy Sailing
#13
Crescent Bar, Washington State
41 Posts
Joined Mar 2017
Originally posted by nini
Dear Retired 1064-

Have a wonderful trip! We are fellow Washingtonians.

Would love to hear about your cruise upon return.

Happy Sailing


Sure will. We have been on NCL epic for the last 16 days and booked this Princess cruise for the trip back to the West Coast. Looking forward to a direct comparison as we have never been on Princess yet.


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#14
Washington
379 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
The January Coral PC will be our 5th Princess cruise.
We have only enjoyed the Golden and the Crown (which are
very similar). This will be the smallest ship we have cruised
on and most "exotic".
I (and we) will be interested in your comments for Princess and the cruise.
#15
Crescent Bar, Washington State
41 Posts
Joined Mar 2017
Originally posted by nini
The January Coral PC will be our 5th Princess cruise.

We have only enjoyed the Golden and the Crown (which are

very similar). This will be the smallest ship we have cruised

on and most "exotic".

I (and we) will be interested in your comments for Princess and the cruise.


Great. Looking forward to it!


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#16
Greeley, Colorado, USA
51 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
We were on the Coral for the full transit LA to FLL 9/27-10/12/17. I have just a couple of notes to add to previous comments. On our sailing, there was no lecturer providing history at any time during the cruise, so I highly recommend doing a bit of your own reading ahead of time. (The enrichment lectures on our cruise were by a very personable gent whose claim to fame was close encounters with celebrities...meh.)

Secondly, if you are on the Aloha deck by any chance, the photographers just don't go up that high. Most of the pictures in the video and on the displays at the photography shop were of lower decks, Promenade, etc. So be sure to spend some time on lower decks if you want to find a picture of yourself during the Canal transit.

The Coral is a wonderful ship - enjoy!!
#17
Reno Nevada
1,603 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Just got off Coral on Saturday ...wonderful transit with excellent views of new locks also in use.
Aft viewing decks on decks 10 and 11 were almost empty and provided much needed shade , our balcony was in full sun.
Pub Lunch was on a Port day , that was a new one to me however we went straight there from shore excursion and got straight in , long lines by 12.30 pm ..I think it was Columbia where we sailed early afternoon .
Casino ..save your $$$ very tight .
Great cruise now trying to shed the extra pounds .
#18
Marysville, Washington
931 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Retired1064.....WSP by chance? Anyway, wife and I did the eastbound Coral Princess on 9/27-10/12/2017. We had a Baja forward mini-suite on the starboard side. We normally spend a lot of time on our veranda but for this cruise we spent almost every morning after breakfast on the promenade deck in a lounge chair enjoying the view and warm weather.

For the canal, Caribe and Baja forward observation deck is open. You just go forward to a door that looks like maybe you should not go through it...and go through it. There is one more door and that takes you to the outside. For some reason, Coral does not allow passengers onto the open bow during the canal transit.

As a side note: After having dinner in the dinning room for the first ten days and the menu starting to become a little too similar we opted for having dinner in the Horizon Court. To our surprise the food, variety, quality and service made for a nice dinning experience. As always, food is subjective but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
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#19
Chico, California
9,549 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
There are both forward and aft viewing decks on both Caribe Deck (10) and Baja Deck (11). There are no loungers or seats on the forward viewing decks but the aft decks have loungers. Just go all the way forward or aft on those decks and then through the doors at the end. The naturalist will be broadcasting live from the forward viewing area on Caribe. He's happy to answer any questions you may have. It will be very crowded there but it waxes and wanes so you can find a spot.
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#20
Crescent Bar, Washington State
41 Posts
Joined Mar 2017
Originally posted by hawgwildterry
Retired1064.....WSP by chance? Anyway, wife and I did the eastbound Coral Princess on 9/27-10/12/2017. We had a Baja forward mini-suite on the starboard side. We normally spend a lot of time on our veranda but for this cruise we spent almost every morning after breakfast on the promenade deck in a lounge chair enjoying the view and warm weather.

For the canal, Caribe and Baja forward observation deck is open. You just go forward to a door that looks like maybe you should not go through it...and go through it. There is one more door and that takes you to the outside. For some reason, Coral does not allow passengers onto the open bow during the canal transit.

As a side note: After having dinner in the dinning room for the first ten days and the menu starting to become a little too similar we opted for having dinner in the Horizon Court. To our surprise the food, variety, quality and service made for a nice dinning experience. As always, food is subjective but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.


Yes WSP. Just retired a year and a half ago. Will definitely go to that viewing area! Thanks for the food advice! I would rather not look through blue glass while in the locks.


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