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Infi

Just back from Coral Christmas/NYE cruise - any questions?

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Just got off the Coral Princess LA-FLL Panama Canal cruise yesterday morning. We had a wonderful time and wish we were back onboard right now! The Coral/Island twins are the nicest ships of the Princess fleet IMHO - perfect size, layout, and we never felt crowded. This was our fourth Christmas cruise with Princess and we truly enjoy how Princess celebrates the holidays. This was our first time onboard for New Year's Eve, and they did a fantastic job there as well.

 

Food, service, entertainment, and the ports were all excellent. I was a little nervous after reading recent posts on here complaining about the food onboard the Coral, but it was well done and certainly up to Princess' usual standard. This cruise has a lot of sea days (only 4 ports and then the canal), but you could make them as busy or relaxing as you liked. The canal was the highlight, with some great narration from the guest lecturer as we sailed through. We sailed the partial transit last Christmas and then wanted to do the full transit this Christmas and it did not disappoint. Great experience. Entertainment was excellent as well, with lots of guest entertainers and a good variety (comedians, ventriloquist, hypnotist, vocalists) of talents also. The special holiday activities (gingerbread house building contest, Christmas caroling, holiday fair, and NYE parties) were well-executed by the CD staff.

 

I will write a review later, when I get a chance to unpack and get settled here. But if anyone has any questions about the Coral or canal, please post and I'll do my best to answer them. :)

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We will be boarding the Ccoral on the 17th of this month, can't wait. Just wondering if they offered a wine package. I read that it was offered in the fall. thanks

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Infi,

 

How was the weather and the seas for the first couple days out of LA?

Did you do anytime or traditional dining? I’ve read lots of complaints on these boards recently about long wait for anytime dining. How was your experience?

Did you use sauna by any chance? If not, do you know if you have to pay to use it?

 

Thanks in advance and I look forward to reading your review.

 

Chelsea

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One more question for you, Infi.

 

How many formal nights did you have and on which days? I believe the answer is three, but want to make sure. Thanks,

 

Chelsea

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Did you by any chances take advantage of the Sanctuary? Was it full? Was it difficult to get a seat on any given day?

 

How did the ship handle all the time zone changes? Did the ship's clock change with each time zone?

 

How early did you have to arrive at the big theater each evening to get a seat?

 

Thank you so much for the info you've shared so far. Can't wait to read your review as we sail on the Coral next February.

 

Trish

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We have done 4 Christmas cruises on the Emerald and are looking for something different for 2012. I am looking forward to your review as we are considering Coral's partial transit for next Christmas.

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We will be boarding the Ccoral on the 17th of this month, can't wait. Just wondering if they offered a wine package. I read that it was offered in the fall. thanks

 

Yes, they had a wine package. Two of the other couples at our table purchased it and had their nightly wines from the selection offered. Not sure how much it was, but I do know it was 7 bottles for the 14 days. Enjoy your cruise, the Coral is a great ship!

 

Infi,

 

How was the weather and the seas for the first couple days out of LA?

Did you do anytime or traditional dining? I’ve read lots of complaints on these boards recently about long wait for anytime dining. How was your experience?

Did you use sauna by any chance? If not, do you know if you have to pay to use it?

 

Thanks in advance and I look forward to reading your review.

 

Chelsea

 

The seas were very mild when we left LA. I was expecting the waters to be much rougher, but they were as smooth as glass - not even a wave. One night (I think it was the third or fourth night out) the captain came on the intercom during dinner to warn us of high winds and possible rough seas in the late hours of the night/early morning. It was very windy the next day, but not rough.

The first two days out of LA the temperatures were cool, so I would recommend a light sweater or jacket. It didn't stop some other passengers from tanning out by the pool, though! It warmed up considerably by the third sea day.

 

We had traditional dining, so no personal experience with anytime. We met a few others onboard with anytime and some complained about being able to get reservations at the time they wanted and often had to settle for later dinners than they would have liked. Also saw people waiting all over the atrium during peak dinner times. This is probably my personal bias speaking, but after seeing all of this, I would not go with anytime.

 

Did not use the sauna, but I believe it's complimentary.

 

One more question for you, Infi.

 

How many formal nights did you have and on which days? I believe the answer is three, but want to make sure. Thanks,

 

Chelsea

 

We had three formal nights: the 21st (second night), 25th (Christmas), and 12/31 (NYE). Your dates may vary, considering ours were all holiday based.

Hope that helps! Enjoy your cruise.

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Did you by any chances take advantage of the Sanctuary? Was it full? Was it difficult to get a seat on any given day?

 

How did the ship handle all the time zone changes? Did the ship's clock change with each time zone?

 

How early did you have to arrive at the big theater each evening to get a seat?

 

Thank you so much for the info you've shared so far. Can't wait to read your review as we sail on the Coral next February.

 

Trish

 

Did not take advantage of the Sanctuary, but they were advertising it quite a bit so I don't think it was full. Sorry, can't be of much help there.

 

The ship's clock was moved ahead three hours to get back to east coast time, and then moved ahead one more hour to Atlantic time just for our one day in Aruba (and then moved back to Eastern after). They moved the clock the first night onboard, third night, and the night we were in Puntarenas so we were on Eastern time before reaching the canal.

 

We had to arrive VERY early to get seats in the Princess theater. We had early traditional and attended all of the early shows (which are usually more crowded to begin with). We would show up at least by 7:45 for an 8:15 show, and usually earlier than that. If you arrived even 15min before, seat pickings were slim. Lots of folks camped out with kindles and ipads in their seats before the shows. Getting seating for shows in the Universe lounge was not as bad.

 

Hope that helps. Have a great cruise!

 

Were taking the same cruise in april how many days into the sail did you get to warm weather to enjoy the outdoors,

 

By the third sea day out of LA, the weather had warmed up and was more humid. The first two days were cool, but by the third day the pools and outdoor decks were getting much more use.

 

We have done 4 Christmas cruises on the Emerald and are looking for something different for 2012. I am looking forward to your review as we are considering Coral's partial transit for next Christmas.

 

We did the partial transit last Christmas and enjoyed it very much. I don't think you can be disappointed with that one, and I think the Coral/Island are the nicest ships of the fleet. IMHO, the Gatun locks are the best of the three, and you can always take an excursion to the rest of the canal if you want to.

 

I hope all of those answers helped you all. If anyone has any more questions, please post and I'll try my best to answer them.

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Ok here's a possibly silly question - how cold is the AC in the dining room? My daughters, who both use hot water bottles in August, tell me ships are freezing, but then I see photos of people in off the shoulder gowns who are not apparently blue with cold. So, do I need to pack some sort of cardigan/wrap/jacket for evening meals?

 

Sue

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Thanks for your reply, Infi.

 

Here is some more questions for you:

 

Did you attend any lectures on board? Were they any good? My DH loves them, but I often find them boring.

What movies were they showing in the theatre and MUTS? We’ve been on the Island before, but it didn’t have MUTS at the time.

I would also like to know what tours you did and in which port, but realise you might want to include this info in your review. Please let us know when you review is ready.

Thanks a lot.

 

Chelsea

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We had to arrive VERY early to get seats in the Princess theater. We had early traditional and attended all of the early shows (which are usually more crowded to begin with). We would show up at least by 7:45 for an 8:15 show, and usually earlier than that. If you arrived even 15min before, seat pickings were slim. Lots of folks camped out with kindles and ipads in their seats before the shows.

 

 

The 10:15 shows almost never fill and are a good alternative for people who can wait until then. You can walk right in to most of those shows at showtime and get a seat. The exception is the international crew show because they only do one performance instead of two.

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I've been looking for someone who just returned from my cruise in February. You are the perfect person (same itinerary, etc). Thank you for taking the time to answer all of these questions.

 

I saw a sample Patter. It looks like they offered a Sanctuary package for $99.00. Do you know what that might have included?

 

Which tours did you do? Was it with a ship or independent operators? Did anyone miss the ship? Specifically interested in Punteranas (to see mammals) and Fuerte Amador (Mammals, fort and locks).

 

Did Princess give you a coffee mug with the purchase of a coffee card?

 

What time did you board the ship? Was the dining room open? Were you allowed into your cabin?

 

Did you visit the Everglades while in Fort Lauderdale?

 

Guess this is a good start. Looking forward to viewing your responses (or from anyone else).

 

Aloha, Renee

 

 

 

Just got off the Coral Princess LA-FLL Panama Canal cruise yesterday morning. We had a wonderful time and wish we were back onboard right now! The Coral/Island twins are the nicest ships of the Princess fleet IMHO - perfect size, layout, and we never felt crowded. This was our fourth Christmas cruise with Princess and we truly enjoy how Princess celebrates the holidays. This was our first time onboard for New Year's Eve, and they did a fantastic job there as well.

 

Food, service, entertainment, and the ports were all excellent. I was a little nervous after reading recent posts on here complaining about the food onboard the Coral, but it was well done and certainly up to Princess' usual standard. This cruise has a lot of sea days (only 4 ports and then the canal), but you could make them as busy or relaxing as you liked. The canal was the highlight, with some great narration from the guest lecturer as we sailed through. We sailed the partial transit last Christmas and then wanted to do the full transit this Christmas and it did not disappoint. Great experience. Entertainment was excellent as well, with lots of guest entertainers and a good variety (comedians, ventriloquist, hypnotist, vocalists) of talents also. The special holiday activities (gingerbread house building contest, Christmas caroling, holiday fair, and NYE parties) were well-executed by the CD staff.

 

I will write a review later, when I get a chance to unpack and get settled here. But if anyone has any questions about the Coral or canal, please post and I'll do my best to answer them. :)

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Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Did you happen to notice if they are still offering the Panraven Photo Book through Princess? I willl be on the Coral in February.

 

Thank you

Cherry

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I, too, was on this Holiday cruise and might help with a response re: wine pkg. We bought the Gold pkg of 10 bottles for something like $300 with tax. You could choose any wine up to about $45.....NOT $46, which were a couple of wines we would have enjoyed! It was a most enjoyable cruise, and, for me, beyond my expectations all around. We ate in the Anytime dining but with an assigned/chosen nightly time and table for 2. I felt the temperatures in the room were variable and always took a light coverup with me. After all, how can men in shirt and tie and jacket be comfortible simultaneously with women in strappy/halter tops????

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So, do I need to pack some sort of cardigan/wrap/jacket for evening meals?

 

If you tend to get chilly, I would take a wrap/jacket. I found it would depend on where I sat in the dining room (even at the same table each night). I tend to run "hot" and while I noticed a bit of a chill at times, it was not intolerable in the least.

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Did you attend any lectures on board? Were they any good? My DH loves them, but I often find them boring.

 

I didn't attend any lectures, but my father-in-law likes them and really enjoyed getting to know the female lecturer, both inside and out of the scheduled lecture times. She even recognized my daughter as his granddaughter and said hello to her by name. She was the same gal who narrated the Canal Passage and I thought she was excellent. There was also a male who lectured on completely unrelated topics.

 

What movies were they showing in the theatre and MUTS?

 

There were not many movies shown, as it was the end of the NFL season and the middle of all the college bowl games. Most of what we watched were football games and concerts (Lionel Richie, PINK, Barry Manilow, Genesis, etc.). There were also nature videos and some port info videos shown. Most movies were shown in the evening. I would imagine you'll have more to choose from.

 

I would also like to know what tours you did and in which port.

 

In Costa Rica we took a train ride and boat ride. I would hesitate to recommend the train portion, as our engine derailed! It was handled well and we did not miss out on the boat ride, but it was, of course, nerve-wracking along with nervous laughter! Our tour guide was OUTSTANDING and said they had not had an accident like this in the 9 years he had been working there. The boat portion was not much of a thrill for me, but would be for animal and nature lovers!

 

In Panama City we took a tour to the Old City, both old and new cathedrals, and few other key sites. It also included driving through the modern city and a very short shopping stop. Again, our tour guide was great and this tour, for me, was enhanced by the book I was reading called, "The Path Between the Seas" (highly recommend, as it thoroughly enhanced the Canal Crossing, as well).

 

Even though ships going through the Panama Canal is an everyday occurance, I still felt as though I was part of an historical event as we passed through. Truly unforgettable!

 

In Columbia we took a boat ride to observe the city from the water and then some shopping time and a stop at the old fortress. The tour guide and excursion itself was the least-impressive (most in our party - ages 11-70) fell asleep at some point of the boat tour). We seemed to spend a good 20-30 minutes (maybe more?) floating aimlessly around the water, waiting for our bus to arrive at what seemed like a random spot along the beach. The guides spent a lot of time texted one another on their phones and (I think) calling the driver of the bus to see where he was. I think they may have been inexperienced because they just didn't seem quite up to the "Princess Par" that we're used to on ship-endorsed tours. It could also have to do with the fact that being in Columbia naturally an little uneasy! haha. In the end, the city itself is somewhere I wouldn't mind going again. It was beautiful and felt pretty safe (only 1 million vs. much larger and dangerous Bogota).

 

At Aruba, we cancelled our excursion because it was New Year's Eve and none of the excursions would return in time for our (formal) dinner time. Instead, we grabbed a cab and spent a couple of hours at the beach. All the beaches in Aruba are public, so we researched the best beaches and asked to be dropped off in front of a nice hotel there. If this is something you decide to do, be advised that the hotel chairs/shades are not for public use, but you can rent chairs/shades from other vendors. Also, for your cab ride back, plan to either change into something completely dry, or give yourself enough time to have the hotel staff call for a "wet" cab for you. Most cab drivers will refuse to transport anyone who looks to be wet in any way (even if you are carrying completely dry towels). Also, some drivers will not take you to certain sites on the island because they are on dirt roads and they don't want their cars to get dirty. Clearly, being in the taxi business must pay well because they did not seem very hungry for business! Other than the taxi experience, we loved Aruba and wished we could have had more time there.

 

I hope this was not too lengthy!

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Which tours did you do?

 

See above. :)

 

Was it with a ship or independent operators?

 

We always do excursions (with the exception of taking a cab in Aruba) with the ship (mostly because my in-laws are not in the least adventurous).

 

Did anyone miss the ship?

 

No one missed the ship that we're aware of. One night during early dinner seating, we heard an announcement asking for a couple to report to the purser's (?) desk. The announcement came right around the time we were to be back on board, so we assumed the couple had not made it back or were somehow missed as they came back on board. I'm confident they did make it back, as things like that spreads like wildfire.

 

What time did you board the ship? Was the dining room open? Were you allowed into your cabin?

 

Our plane landed in LA around 9:30am and we claimed our luggage, tagged it for the ship and then were brought to a hotel where we receieved snacks and our cruise cards. I don't remember the time, but I'm quite sure we were on the ship by noon. It was very nice to avoid the lines at the terminal by being brought to the hotel first! Bravo to Princess for that one. We headed straight to our cabin with no problem. If I recall, our luggage was delivered by the end of the muster drill. We didn't eat in the dining room, but it is usually open (unadvertised). We ate at the Horizon Court.

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If you tend to get chilly, I would take a wrap/jacket. I found it would depend on where I sat in the dining room (even at the same table each night). I tend to run "hot" and while I noticed a bit of a chill at times, it was not intolerable in the least.

 

Thanks for the reply:)

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I've been looking for someone who just returned from my cruise in February. You are the perfect person (same itinerary, etc). Thank you for taking the time to answer all of these questions.

 

I saw a sample Patter. It looks like they offered a Sanctuary package for $99.00. Do you know what that might have included?

 

The only Sanctuary package I've seen (besides the whole-cruise package for $15 per day) was offered for Canal Day only on partial-transit cruises. Are you sure you weren't looking at a Patter from a partial-transit and not a full-transit?

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Hi Infi. :) Nice to see you.:)

So glad you enjoyed your Coral Christmas/New Year’s cruise. She is my favorite ship; we have sailed on the Coral 3 times.

We were on the Coral for the 2010 Christmas full transit canal cruise (Fort Lauderdale to LA) and had a fabulous time plus loved the ship and the crew as usual.

Please tell your daughter hello. I'm looking forward to reading your review and hope to see some of her wonderful cruise pictures. :)

Best regards,

JeanneJ

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Sorry all - have been sick for the last week or so. Caught something strange shortly after getting home. I see another cruiser jumped in and helped out with some answers, but I'll add my .02.

 

I've been looking for someone who just returned from my cruise in February. You are the perfect person (same itinerary, etc). Thank you for taking the time to answer all of these questions.

 

I saw a sample Patter. It looks like they offered a Sanctuary package for $99.00. Do you know what that might have included?

 

Which tours did you do? Was it with a ship or independent operators? Did anyone miss the ship? Specifically interested in Punteranas (to see mammals) and Fuerte Amador (Mammals, fort and locks).

 

Did Princess give you a coffee mug with the purchase of a coffee card?

 

What time did you board the ship? Was the dining room open? Were you allowed into your cabin?

 

Did you visit the Everglades while in Fort Lauderdale?

 

Guess this is a good start. Looking forward to viewing your responses (or from anyone else).

 

Aloha, Renee

 

I believe the Sanctuary package includes your space in the Sanctuary and that's it, but again, I did not utilize it.

 

 

We only did a tour in one port, Fuerte Amador. A tour (or at least, a taxi ride) is necessary here because Amador is about 20min from the mainland and the sights. Very easily picked up a taxi on the pier for $15pp for what ended up being more than a 4 hour tour. (Taxi rates and tour types are posted on the dock.) Make sure to visit Casco Viejo, the second incarnation of Panama City from the 17th c. It's still in the restoration process, but it's a fun place to walk around.

Our traveling companions did the eco cruise to monkey island here and were not as impressed with this tour. You're not allowed to get off at the island and the only interaction with the monkeys was through the boat.

 

No tour in Puntarenas, and that was a mistake. There is not much to see in Puntarenas itself (just a walk along the beachfront for some local culture). A tour is a must if you want to see anything worthwhile. Our traveling companions did the eco cruise and macaw sanctuary and were very pleased. They saw lots of crocodiles, birds, and of course, macaws roaming free at the sanctuary.

 

Cartagena: we visited this port last year on another PC cruise and took the whole big tour then. Great port. The old town is colorful, lots of sites to see (monastery, fort, and churches), and there's some great shopping in this plaza of converted former dungeons. Go with any of the recommended operators on CC (we went with Dora, but there is also Claudia and Lee Miles) and you'll do well. We saw far more than the cruise ship excursions and had a much more leisurely paced day.

 

Aruba: no tour (been here many times before). You can pick up a 2-3 hour island tour at the pier easily for about $15-20pp. Make sure to see the new/old Natural Bridge on the Atlantic side of the island and check out the beaches. Gorgeous.

 

 

Yes, Princess gives a coffee mug with the coffee card purchase.

 

 

We arrived at the pier around 10:45am. Check in was flawless, no lines at any of the desks. The platinum/elite waiting room was full to bursting, but the normal waiting room only had a handful of people. We were in our cabin at 11:30 on the dot. (On Princess, cabins are always ready when you board the ship.)

The dining room was open for lunch (Provence, deck 6). There were about 6 tables of Bon Voyage guests there, and for the first time in 4 cruises, the staff refused to let us in the dining room because it was "only for the Bon Voyage guests". The waiter was downright dismissive and rude about it. Finally we managed to get in after mentioning that the dining room is advertised as available for lunch in the Patter and that we have dined there on embarkation day before. We were the only non Bon Voyage guests who made it in. The whole experience left a sour taste in my mouth, and now I understand all the others on here who have reported resistance for the embarkation DR lunch.

 

 

We live in Ft. Lauderdale, so no tours for us. We have done the Everglades many times with out-of-town guests and it's an enjoyable afternoon. You'll see alligators, the Everglades themselves, and maybe some alligator wrestling or other wildlife in a show. It's unique experience and worth seeing at least once. They did offer the Everglades tour (whether or not it's offered is usually dictated by passenger interest, so please keep in mind it might not be offered on your particular sailing.)

 

Sorry that was so long. Hope that helps!

 

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Did you happen to notice if they are still offering the Panraven Photo Book through Princess? I willl be on the Coral in February.

 

Thank you

Cherry

 

Yes, they were still offering the Pan Raven photo book. Enjoy your cruise!

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Ok here's a possibly silly question - how cold is the AC in the dining room? My daughters, who both use hot water bottles in August, tell me ships are freezing, but then I see photos of people in off the shoulder gowns who are not apparently blue with cold. So, do I need to pack some sort of cardigan/wrap/jacket for evening meals?

 

Sue

 

I am a person who's always hot, and I found the dining rooms to be cold the majority of the time. :eek: I especially noticed it at breakfast and lunch (when the DR is less full), but also in the evenings. I would definitely bring a cardigan or wrap if you get cold easily. We found deck 5 of the atrium to be very chilly as well.

 

Thanks for your reply, Infi.

 

Here is some more questions for you:

 

Did you attend any lectures on board? Were they any good? My DH loves them, but I often find them boring.

What movies were they showing in the theatre and MUTS? We’ve been on the Island before, but it didn’t have MUTS at the time.

I would also like to know what tours you did and in which port, but realise you might want to include this info in your review. Please let us know when you review is ready.

Thanks a lot.

 

Chelsea

 

I do not go to any of the lectures, but my daughter does, so this is her opinion. The Panama Canal lecturer is very good, and she offers a lot of helpful tips for DIY tours in the ports. We found this especially helpful for Fuerte Amador, as her lecture provided us with a list of must-sees that we communicated to our tour guide. The Panama Canal lecture is very good also (caught this one on the TV), gives a lot of historical background and fun facts about the canal. There was also a guest lecturer who gave lectures on ship travel, the West, and the oceans. DD said he was just okay, not the best or the worst. All the lectures are rebroadcast on the cabin TV if you miss them.

 

Movies: The Help, The Beaver, Limitless, Larry Crowne, Cowboys & Aliens, One Day, Crazy Stupid Love, Green Lantern, Captain America, and some others. Just think of newly released DVDs and that will be the selection. Lots of concerts during the day, as the other poster mentioned. They would also play nature documentaries during the day. They also had a few holiday movies prior to Christmas. A few NFL games on weekends, and the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowls were broadcast in Explorers/MUTS at the end of the cruise.

 

I wrote about the tours we took in the previous post, but I'll elaborate more on the Fuerte Amador tour in my review.

 

Thinking about the Coral for Alaska in May. How was the ship's condition?

 

Ship's condition was very good. I think she recently had a drydock and is very well maintained, both in terms of public spaces and cleanliness. They were even replacing carpet in the atrium as we disembarked, so they keep on top of things. I hope you choose the Coral, her size and layout makes her one of the nicest Princess ships IMHO.

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