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Coral Princess Panama Cruise with my Dad, March 17-27

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Just to give everyone fair warning-this will be a long review. Here we go!

It all started with a comment that my father made about a year ago. “I always wanted to see the Panama Canal,” he said, “but that probably won’t happen.” Since my mom died from cancer about 2 ½ years ago, my 80 year old dad doesn’t like to travel by himself. After years of giving him articles of clothing for Christmas, we decided to give him something different for Christmas 2012 – a cruise to the Panama Canal. We wrapped up cruise brochures and highlighted the ones for the Panama Canal. He was surprised and happy. After looking at different dates, he picked the 10 day partial transit on the Coral Princess departing March 17, 2013. We spent the gloomy Ohio winter days planning which excursions to do. Due to schedule conflicts with my brother and sister, and a job change for my husband, I was the only one able to go with my dad on this trip. Actually, it worked out for the best because the two of us had a wonderful, bonding time.

We flew to Fort Lauderdale the day before because we know that weather in Ohio in March can be a bit iffy. I booked the Sleep Inn because of the reasonable price, the free shuttle from the airport, free breakfast, and the fact that the hotel was within walking distance of restaurants, a grocery store and a Walgreens. Sleep Inn also offers a $5 per person fee for a shuttle to the port. With five cruise ships in port that day, we had to wait almost an hour for the hotel shuttle to come to the airport since they were also doing runs to the cruise port. Finally got to the Sleep Inn and decided to eat at Sal & Lou’s Italian restaurant at the nearby plaza. We bought some more school supplies to donate to the Embera school children (more about that later) and we turned in for the evening.

I made the mistake of switching our shuttle time to the port from 11 am to noon. With 8 cruise ships in port that day, our noon shuttle didn’t depart until 50 minutes later. We stopped at the Econolodge to pick up more passengers. The shuttle dropped off cruise passengers for Ruby Princess (huge line waiting to board), and Allure of the Seas first. Fortunately, the line for the Coral Princess was much shorter and in only 15 minutes we were dropping off our carry -ons in our home for the next 10 days, D306. We had a quick bite to eat in the Horizon buffet. Dad had a quick nap while I explored the ship from the Princess Theater to the exercise room. I found the Lotus pool area where we were to have our Cruise Critic meet and greet at 4:00. Little did I know that our lifeboat muster drill was to take place at that time. After the announcement for the drill, we grabbed our lifejackets and reported to the Princess Theater. With everyone practicing putting on their lifejackets, the field of orange reminded me of Browns stadium. Dad was nice to drop off my lifejacket for me back in the cabin afterwards while I raced back up to the Lotus pool and bar for the meet and greet.

It was great to finally put faces to all the names on our roll call. We congratulated Michelle and William, the newlyweds and chatted with Dolly, Barb, Frank, Irene (thanks for all the school supplies Irene!),John, Janice, Susan, and all the others. I also want to thank all those on our roll call who made my dad feel so welcome. We couldn’t stay long since we had the early dinner serving. Our luggage arrived in our room and after changing into slacks, we headed to the Bordeaux dining room. We met our dining companions for the cruise- Bob and Edna from Nova Scotia who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary early and Rory and Sarah from Rhode Island. We couldn’t have had better dinner companions. We had excellent conversations during the whole cruise. The food was tasty. I had the spring rolls, fish fillet, and topped it off with the Love Boat Dream dessert. Love that chocolate! We went to the Panama Fact or Fiction lecture by William Keene. Even though I’ve been reading David McCullough’s “The Path Between the Seas,” we learned lots of new things about the Canal. (Hint, if you plan to do the trivia games, pay attention to this lecture since you’ll learn some of the answers to trivia questions.) William Keene also did the live commentary about the Canal while the ship was going through the locks.

The Welcome Aboard Showcase introduced us to our cruise director, Stu McGunigall, the cruise staff, Captain Binetti, the Coral Princess singers and dancers, and comedian, Steve Caouette. Steve was great at doing sound effects for his jokes and using the audience to create his jokes. He teased one boy aged 14 about being the youngest one there even if he reversed the digits of his age. Steve was pretty accurate about that. Most passengers were 50 and up with very few children on board. We didn’t mind that. Someone has described Princess passengers as classy causal. I agree. The fellow passengers were classy without being stuffy and we enjoyed talking with fellow passengers from different states, Canada, and the UK.

After a long day, we went off to bed. Other things were happening on the ship. Barty Brown always seemed to have a crowd around his piano as he played, sang, and told stories. He was very popular with the older cruisers. “Premium Rush” was playing for MUTS (Movies Under the Stars). I must admit that throughout the cruise that there weren’t many people in the Explorers Lounge or the Wheelhouse Bar dancing to the ship’s band Opus. Just a few brave people did karaoke during the cruise, so if you want to be the Princess Pop Star, the odd of winning are good. Next report – the two sea days.

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Thanks Colo Cruiser. Here's part 2

 

Sea days are an excellent chance to do as much or as little as you want. After an early morning workout on one of the exercise machines, had an excellent breakfast at the buffet. Don’t forget to try one of the omelets. You pick the ingredients and they’ll make as you wait. It doesn’t take long. Next round of exercise was a fun Zumba class with Miko from the cruise staff. Lots of women and even a few guys came to try to sweat off the calories devoured the night before. My dad decided to watch. After a quick shower it was off to do one of my favorite onboard activities – trivia. We teamed up with a couple from Colorado and were in a three way tie for first place, but lost the tie-breaker. Just for you trivia buffs- the Army’s MREs are good for 3 years, not 5 as we guessed. Already we could see which teams were the powerhouse teams. Lectures, bingo, gambling, a scavenger hunt, line dancing, or listening to the classical music played by the trio “Ad Libitum” were just some of the activities. As my dad relaxed, I got to work on a Panama poster. The staff supplied poster board, paper, brushes, glue, glitter, and stencils to encourage people to make their own poster with a message to be captured on video as we went through the Canal. Telling me to get creative with all those supplies is like giving catnip to a cat. I made my first poster that day with our names and the Ohio flag and the Princess logo. I had to redo the flag since I goofed the first time. Fortunately, my dad reminded me that there was a picture of the flag on our license. Silly me.

 

 

Lunch at the buffet had an Asian theme and we tried foods that we had never had before. We did the ballroom class for beginners in the afternoon. That was loads of fun. I have two daughters who are engaged so I need to learn how to do more than hug and shuffle when I dance. My dad was a great partner, though he had to remind me that he was to lead. After losing another trivia game (note to trivia players- brush up on your mythology) we dressed up for the first formal dinner. I told my dad if I had to wear panty hose, he had to wear his tie. Some women really get dressed up for the occasion. They looked so elegant. We always had great food in the dining room. Remember that the left side of the menu is what they serve every day and the right side is the new food choices. The garlic shrimp and the berry and peach cobbler were quite yummy.

 

 

We rushed off after dinner to see Steve Caouette perform a hilarious set at the Universe Lounge. As soon as that ended, we saw the production show, “What a Swell Party” – a high energy song and dance show using Cole Porter songs. I don’t know how the cast does it with all those dance moves and rapid costume changes. They deserved more applause than what the audience gave them. We finished the evening in the Explorers Lounge playing Majority Rules where teams had to guess the most popular answers to various questions. Out of a possible 24 points, our team got 14. The winning team had 17 and received a bottle of champagne. I have no idea how the Wild Bunch party went because we were already in bed.

 

 

Our second sea day was much like our first-Zumba, trivia, lunch in the main dining room, working on another poster (this one with a toucan and tropical flowers), ice cream cones by the Lotus pool, and ballroom dance class. I found out that I can’t seem to dance the swing.:o I was rather pathetic. Winning at afternoon trivia made me feel less of a failure and winning a bottle of champagne for the evening Broadway trivia made me feel great.:) For any of the music trivia games, a section of song played and you had to write down the title and artist or for the Broadway one, the title of the song and the musical it was from. I do want to commend the staff at the Explorers Lounge who found my lost camera and kept it safe for me. I couldn’t have replaced the photos on that camera. Showtime had the magician/comedian Peter Gossemer who interlaced his illusions with some corny old jokes. We liked his trick with the microphone and handkerchief. We watched, but didn’t participate on the 50’s and 60’s Rock n’ Roll trivia. We didn’t stick around to watch “The Dark Knight Rises” at MUTS, but we did snag a bag of popcorn. Tomorrow- Aruba.

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Aruba

 

 

Wednesday, March 20, the Coral Princess was scheduled to be in Aruba from 7 am – 12:30 pm so our time on this island was limited. We met up with our CC friends, Dolly and her daughter Barb to share a taxi ride ($13 one way) to the beautiful Eagle Beach. Since it was so early yet, we had plenty of room on the beach. Dad and I rented lounge chairs under the shade for the half day. The chairs were $5 each for the half day. My dad relaxed as I made a seahorse sand sculpture and swam. There is nothing like a beautiful day at the beach doing not much of anything. We took a taxi back to the city where Dolly and Barb wanted to shop and we went back to the ship. I feel sorry for all the room stewards after any port that has a beach because no matter how hard you try to get rid of the sand before you board, you never seem to get rid of it all.

 

 

Lunch at the Horizon Court had Mexican dishes and the dance of the day in the ballroom dancing class was the cha-cha. This time, my dad had problems with the steps, but I got it. I worked on my third poster (this one with a parrot) while I listened to the lecture on art history at the Explorers Lounge. We played another round of trivia with our new friends Chuck and Leslie, and our CC friends, Michelle and William. Dinner was a variety of seafood and finished with black forest cake. Dad said that there wasn’t a bad dessert to be found on the Coral Princess. He enjoyed them all. Showtime was vocal impressionist, Travis Turpin. He imitated Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, and Elvis (but not in that order). He had an entertaining show and a very nice regular singing voice.

 

 

 

 

Thank goodness that trivia can be played in teams when we played Flags of the World trivia! We teamed up with a couple from Finland and the husband’s knowledge of world flags was amazing. The champagne went to the Finnish couple because they supplied the most answers and we already had a bottle from the previous night. My dad went to bed and I decided to try karaoke. I give my profound apologies to those who listened to my “rendition” of “Master of the House.” I did “Hakuna Matata” with two young ladies. It wasn’t pitch perfect, but it was done with great enthusiasm and we had fun. Finished up dancing up on the Lido deck as the cruise staff passed out leis. Kudos to the cruise staff for the entire cruise. From trivia to dance classes and different onboard games, they made the activities fun.

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Cartagena, Columbia Thursday, March 21

A big thank you goes to Pat on our roll call who arranged the Cartagena city tour with Mare Ivy. I think there were 16 of us on the tour so the cost was only $57 per person for an excellent tour. We gathered at the end of the gang plank at 9:15 am where Mare Ivy was holding a sign for us. We boarded a nice air conditioned bus and were on our way. Cartagena is an interesting contrast between the new high rise apartments and the Old City, wealth and slums. Traffic was truly bumper to bumper in Catagena and I was glad that we were in the hands of a good bus driver.I don’t know how he was able to do some of those hairpin turns. First Mare Ivy took us to La Popa for the best scenic view of the whole city. La Popa was a convent, an inn, and headquarters and fortress during the independence and civil wars of the 19 th century. La Popa is surrounded by vendors of all sorts, but they do take no for an answer. We saw the same type of items all around the city. It makes you wonder if all the vendors get their stuff from some huge warehouse in Cartagena . The courtyard at La Popa has a lovely Old World charm to it with the arches and all the flowers. The gold altar built in honor of Cartagena’s patron, Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria may not be as large as some European church altars, but it is beautiful. Various historical displays are in the building.

 

 

 

 

We went to the Fortress of San Felipe (more vendors), and to the Old City (even more vendors). Since it was a hot day, I felt bad for the mimes dressed in all black posing as statues. The Old City has a mix of colonial and Spanish architecture. Small shops, brightly painted buildings, and lots of flower boxes dot the area. In Santo Domingo Square you’ll find (besides more vendors) the famous sculpture by Fernando Betero, “Reclining Woman”. The sculpture’s breast is shiny where all the tourists have touched it. We also stopped by a small park with a statue of Simon Bolivar in it.

 

 

 

 

We drove by the Bocagrande (translated as Big Mouth) area where there are many hotels, shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and beaches. It is their main tourist area. The tour finished with a 40 minute stop at a shopping area so some our group could shop for emeralds and other jewelry. My dad stayed in the bus while I bought a t-shirt for my husband and a shot glass for my daughter who collects them. Mare Ivy gave us a poster of Cartagena that her husband designed. She was an excellent tour guide and got us back to the ship by 1:30 pm. We wolfed down lunch at the Horizon Court and both took a nap. We played the afternoon trivia game with our table mates, Bob and Edna. We didn’t win, but we came in second.

 

 

 

“Motorcity” was the production show, but we had already seen parts of it during the captain’s party for returning Princess passengers. The MUTS movie was “Hunger Games” which is a bit of an ironic choice when you consider all the food you have on a cruise ship. It was 70’s night in the Universe Lounge. Fortunately, my dad never heard me doing karaoke-he would have had to turn off his hearing aids. But I did have a blast singing “Yellow Submarine” with CC friend, Susan. She also was in the Princess Pop Choir. Friday – Panama!

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A year ago my mom said the same thing- we leave next Monday on Island for our canal trip. I appreciate your review. Mom will turn 85 the day we are in the canal and we can't wait.

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Just to give everyone fair warning-this will be a long review. Here we go!

It all started with a comment that my father made about a year ago. “I always wanted to see the Panama Canal,” he said, “but that probably won’t happen.” Since my mom died from cancer about 2 ½ years ago, my 80 year old dad doesn’t like to travel by himself. After years of giving him articles of clothing for Christmas, we decided to give him something different for Christmas 2012 – a cruise to the Panama Canal. We wrapped up cruise brochures and highlighted the ones for the Panama Canal. He was surprised and happy. After looking at different dates, he picked the 10 day partial transit on the Coral Princess departing March 17, 2013. We spent the gloomy Ohio winter days planning which excursions to do. Due to schedule conflicts with my brother and sister, and a job change for my husband, I was the only one able to go with my dad on this trip. Actually, it worked out for the best because the two of us had a wonderful, bonding time.

We flew to Fort Lauderdale the day before because we know that weather in Ohio in March can be a bit iffy. I booked the Sleep Inn because of the reasonable price, the free shuttle from the airport, free breakfast, and the fact that the hotel was within walking distance of restaurants, a grocery store and a Walgreens. Sleep Inn also offers a $5 per person fee for a shuttle to the port. With five cruise ships in port that day, we had to wait almost an hour for the hotel shuttle to come to the airport since they were also doing runs to the cruise port. Finally got to the Sleep Inn and decided to eat at Sal & Lou’s Italian restaurant at the nearby plaza. We bought some more school supplies to donate to the Embera school children (more about that later) and we turned in for the evening.

I made the mistake of switching our shuttle time to the port from 11 am to noon. With 8 cruise ships in port that day, our noon shuttle didn’t depart until 50 minutes later. We stopped at the Econolodge to pick up more passengers. The shuttle dropped off cruise passengers for Ruby Princess (huge line waiting to board), and Allure of the Seas first. Fortunately, the line for the Coral Princess was much shorter and in only 15 minutes we were dropping off our carry -ons in our home for the next 10 days, D306. We had a quick bite to eat in the Horizon buffet. Dad had a quick nap while I explored the ship from the Princess Theater to the exercise room. I found the Lotus pool area where we were to have our Cruise Critic meet and greet at 4:00. Little did I know that our lifeboat muster drill was to take place at that time. After the announcement for the drill, we grabbed our lifejackets and reported to the Princess Theater. With everyone practicing putting on their lifejackets, the field of orange reminded me of Browns stadium. Dad was nice to drop off my lifejacket for me back in the cabin afterwards while I raced back up to the Lotus pool and bar for the meet and greet.

It was great to finally put faces to all the names on our roll call. We congratulated Michelle and William, the newlyweds and chatted with Dolly, Barb, Frank, Irene (thanks for all the school supplies Irene!),John, Janice, Susan, and all the others. I also want to thank all those on our roll call who made my dad feel so welcome. We couldn’t stay long since we had the early dinner serving. Our luggage arrived in our room and after changing into slacks, we headed to the Bordeaux dining room. We met our dining companions for the cruise- Bob and Edna from Nova Scotia who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary early and Rory and Sarah from Rhode Island. We couldn’t have had better dinner companions. We had excellent conversations during the whole cruise. The food was tasty. I had the spring rolls, fish fillet, and topped it off with the Love Boat Dream dessert. Love that chocolate! We went to the Panama Fact or Fiction lecture by William Keene. Even though I’ve been reading David McCullough’s “The Path Between the Seas,” we learned lots of new things about the Canal. (Hint, if you plan to do the trivia games, pay attention to this lecture since you’ll learn some of the answers to trivia questions.) William Keene also did the live commentary about the Canal while the ship was going through the locks.

The Welcome Aboard Showcase introduced us to our cruise director, Stu McGunigall, the cruise staff, Captain Binetti, the Coral Princess singers and dancers, and comedian, Steve Caouette. Steve was great at doing sound effects for his jokes and using the audience to create his jokes. He teased one boy aged 14 about being the youngest one there even if he reversed the digits of his age. Steve was pretty accurate about that. Most passengers were 50 and up with very few children on board. We didn’t mind that. Someone has described Princess passengers as classy causal. I agree. The fellow passengers were classy without being stuffy and we enjoyed talking with fellow passengers from different states, Canada, and the UK.

After a long day, we went off to bed. Other things were happening on the ship. Barty Brown always seemed to have a crowd around his piano as he played, sang, and told stories. He was very popular with the older cruisers. “Premium Rush” was playing for MUTS (Movies Under the Stars). I must admit that throughout the cruise that there weren’t many people in the Explorers Lounge or the Wheelhouse Bar dancing to the ship’s band Opus. Just a few brave people did karaoke during the cruise, so if you want to be the Princess Pop Star, the odd of winning are good. Next report – the two sea days.

 

Thanks, Marjorie - I am looking forward to reading the rest! (By the way, I have found out a little more about the person overboard, if you think that it would not be insensitive to share.)

 

Dolly

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Thanks Dolly!When I get to that day, please fill in the details.czst-you and your mom will have a fabulous time. My dad and I had a vacation of a lifetime and made some wonderful memories.

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Loving your review AND your spirit! You are a trivia master!!!!

 

I just did a South America cruise with my 75 year old mom and it was a magical time for us. I am so glad you had that time with your father. What a priceless gift for the both of you!:)

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And now for the big day - the Panama Canal!

 

 

We woke at dawn to watch our ship go through the Gutan Locks. All sorts of ships were waiting their turn. A huge freighter, the Ever Divine from Singapore, was ahead of the Coral Princess and the Carnival Miracle was behind us. William Keene made observations over the intercom to keep us informed what was happening. The locomotives called mules along both sides of the ship helped to keep the Coral Princess centered in the lock. Coral Princess is a Panamax ship – a ship that is the maximum size allowed through the Canal. When the new part of the canal is opened for use in 2015, much larger ships can transverse the Canal. I linked my three posters together with twisty ties and my dad and I waved at the cameras as we passed through the first lock. It was very hot on the port side of the ship already, so we didn’t stay out long on our balcony after we were in the second lock. We got ready for our Embera tribe tour. It was a confusing mess of people waiting to get in a tender to go on their various excursions. They just told everyone to gather at the Wheelhouse Lounge at 10 am. Our excursion wasn’t called to leave until 11 am, another group had to wait 2 hours before they could leave the ship. It could have been much better organized.

 

 

 

Once ashore we met our tour guide, Michael and boarded our bus for the 75 minute drive to Chagres National Park. We saw the new canal construction with at least 21 cranes in use. The four lane highway made a smooth ride for most of the way. Michael talked about the history of Panama and including the problem Panama has with litter. He said that schools are trying to educate the children not to litter and how to recycle. We got to the lake, donned on the required life jackets and boarded the dugout canoes. Note to anyone taking this wonderful tour- wear shorts, bug spray, and shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy. The canoes were powered by outboard motors so no one had to paddle. The water level on the lake was down due to dry season. I’ve read what CC member, Richard in Panama, has written about the Embera tours so I knew that we might end up at a display village for tourists since the lake level was down. We went past one village and landed at the village of Parara Puru. Fortunately the Embera had put out wood planks for us to walk on so we didn’t sink into the mud. We were greeted with music on drum and wood flute as we made our way up to the community hut. I was a bit surprised to see the uniformed Panama National Police there, but we were informed that they were there to help to put an addition onto the school.

 

Upon our arrival, we were offered sandwiches and cups of different sodas. Different families had an array of beautiful handicrafts on tables. Richard in Panama had recommended that if any tourist wanted to give something to the tribe’s children, it was best to bring school supplies and give them to the teacher, Red Cross worker, or tribal leader. The Embera don’t want their children to become beggars. Michael introduced me to the school teacher and my dad and I gave her the bag full of pencils, paper, colored pencils, a dry erase board, markers and other supplies. I forgot his name, but the man who was the former tribal chief explained about the lives of the Embera while Michael translated. He had been a leader for 15 years and had retired due to health reasons. When the Embera vote for their chief, the candidates stand in the community hut and whoever they want as chief, they will line up behind him. Literally, they will stand by their man.

 

The Embera’s land was declared a national park so they have to abide by the government’s regulations. They are not allowed to hunt, log timber, farm, plant crops, or raise animals other than chickens for food. They rely on eco-tourism and the making of handicrafts for income. Some of the Embera take an hour bus ride to work in the city. The Embera villages cooperate in taking turns hosting tourist visitations so all may benefit from the money from eco-tourism. I ended up buying a woven mask, a basket, two necklaces, two tagua nut carvings, bracelets, and maracas. The handicrafts they create are beautiful, especially the canastas, the woven baskets. A woman explained how they dry the fiber from a spiny palm tree (chunga) and dye the fibers with natural pigments. Red comes from achiate berries, yellow from the root of yukiya plants, and brown comes from boiled cocobolo wood chips. Each basket design is unique. The price of the baskets is determined by the time it took to weave it – normally a dollar a day. A 9 inch diameter basket I purchased was $25. A similar size Embera basket sold for $65 dollars in a gift shop in Cartagena. The men carve sculptures from cocobolo wood. That wood is resistant to termites and is also used for the posts for traditional Embera huts. The men carve tagua nuts into little animal sculptures and use paint they got from the city to paint them. A dried tagua nut is like ivory inside. The Embera also use a fruit dye called jagua to paint designs on themselves. It also acts as a natural mosquito repellant.

 

 

 

We were treated to a lunch of fresh fish (watch out for the bones) and patacones (fried plantains) wrapped in a leaf. We were told about the traditional outfits for men and women- loincloths for men and the colorful uhucs (10 foot long pieces of cloth wrapped skirts) for women. In more remote villages, the women go topless. With the heat and humidity in Panama, their dress makes perfect sense. The girls and women performed a traditional dance with men providing the music on wooden flutes, drums, and turtle shells. We were invited to join in the dance. After a few more pictures, we headed back to the canoes and waved goodbye to the children playing along the shore. We really enjoyed this excursion and would recommend it to anyone who wants to see a different part of Panama.

 

 

We bumped into Colon rush hour traffic in our bus ride back to the ship, but we still made it back in time for our early setting meal. I had a wonderful surf and turf meal of steak and shrimp. Dad went off to bed and I played “Who’s the Cuckoo?” with the cruise staff. You had to guess who was lying and who was telling the truth. I was so gullible and guessed incorrectly most of the time, but it was a hilarious game to play. I played the 80’s and 90’s music trivia, but lost. I went off to bed after a very full day. Next – Limon.

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"Thanks, Marjorie - I am looking forward to reading the rest! (By the way, I have found out a little more about the person overboard, if you think that it would not be insensitive to share.) Dolly"

 

Tell me what you know on our roll call thread about the person overboard, then I'll decide what to include or to direct people to another thread if they want more info.

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Thanks for taking the time to post your very interesting review! We'll be on the Coral next March............a long awaited trip to the Canal. :D

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Thanks for the review. We will be on the Coral Princess next month. I can't wait!

 

Brenda

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Thanks for your kind words Tracie ABD, cruiseclues, Trysie and Rstamper.:)

 

Trysie and Rstamper,I hope you have as much fun on your Coral Princess cruise as my dad and I did. I will try to get the rest of the review up Wednesday.

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Thank you for the great review. I am enjoying your travels with your dad. This my first post. For some time I have been reading these forums without adding my two cents, but for some crazy reason I felt compelled to write to you. In Feb 2007, my husband and I were scheduled for the 10-day Panama Canal cruise on the Coral. Unfortunately, my dad died a few days before sailing, and we cancelled our trip. You are blessed to have this time to share with your dad.

 

Also followed Tracie on her trip around South America with her mom and the "smarty pants" trivia team. Ditto for her and her mom.

 

On 21 Feb, DH and I, along with six friends, took the 14-day Panama Canal cruise on the Coral. Loved every minute and I'm enjoying visiting her again through your review and wishing we were there instead of freezing here in Michigan.

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After reading my first post above, I don't think I was clear with the ditto. Meant Tracie and her mom were also blessed to have the opportunity to sail together. Sometimes what I write does not come out right. That is why I have not posted before; I'm always afraid of saying something wrong. Sorry.

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After reading my first post above, I don't think I was clear with the ditto. Meant Tracie and her mom were also blessed to have the opportunity to sail together. Sometimes what I write does not come out right. That is why I have not posted before; I'm always afraid of saying something wrong. Sorry.

 

Don't be afraid to post........... it's all good! It can be intimating posting initially. Most are very understanding & help the new posters..............sharing our travel info is the most important part. :)

Btw I always preview my post to check for spelling & and grammar errors.......:eek:

And I still "screw" up!:p

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After reading my first post above, I don't think I was clear with the ditto. Meant Tracie and her mom were also blessed to have the opportunity to sail together. Sometimes what I write does not come out right. That is why I have not posted before; I'm always afraid of saying something wrong. Sorry.

 

Sterling Heights resident(Cigarette sub area,if you know it).

 

Also, reading these posts ,,thanks so much for all the detail.

 

Thinking of this one next Dec.,but never been a large ship(only 700 max)and taking a 3 day cruise in 6 wks to see if I like it.

 

Want one without swarms of kids over xmas,and this sounds good ,so far.

 

PS.know what you mean about MI weather,moved to FL,whew:)

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Don't worry about your posts Sterhgts, I lurked here for a long time before I had the guts to post and I still don't know how to post my pictures to Cruise Critic. Maybe that's for the best or this would be a REALLY long review.

 

And the long review continues. Saturday, March 23 Limon

 

Coral Princess docked about 7 am at the industrial port of Limon, Costa Rica. Not much is around that port for visitors, except for a building that has vendors with different souvenirs for sale. We had booked the canopy zipline tour in the Veragua Rainforest. The ship excursions were so much better organized for departure. Each group was given a location and a time to meet. We were in a group of 12 , met our tour guide, Claudia, and boarded a small bus for the drive to the rainforest. We then had a little adventure that wasn’t planned- our bus broke down about 5 miles from the rainforest. The bus’s battery just died. We were in the countryside on a narrow road. Claudia’s cell phone had no reception in that valley so she couldn’t call for help. The men got out of the bus and pushed it downhill in an attempt to jump start it. It worked-for a few seconds; it died again. A passerby attempted to start the bus with her car and jumper cables. That failed. One man tried working on the connection to the battery with a rock. You guessed it-that failed too .Claudia collected some money from us to give to a driver to take our bus driver to the rainforest so he send back a bus for us. The rest of us were out of the bus, standing along the roadside and attempting to find some shade in the hot sun. Some of us had packed water, and some had not. The Garcia’s, a young family who were watching all these events, took pity on us tourists and let us wait in their shaded front yard. They even cut open coconuts for everyone so we had coconut water to drink. Actually it was nice to chat with fellow passengers and joke how we could never last on the TV show “Survivor” if we were complaining about the heat after only one hour. It was curious that two other tour buses went by and offered no assistance.

 

 

Finally a bus came to pick us up. We thanked the Garcia family and some of us gave then some money too. You could tell that the one girl was excited and telling her mom what she and her 3 siblings get with that. We boarded the working bus (complete with air conditioning!) and continued on our way. It was a good thing that we didn’t try to hike the rest of the way to the Veragua Rainforest - the road was rough and uphill all the way. After everyone doing a bathroom break at the welcome center, we were fitted (very tightly:eek:) in our zipline harness and put on helmets and leather gloves. We saw the need for the gloves after our first training session. You use your gloved hand to pull down on the cable to slow yourself down. We had four guides ( 3 boys and 1 girl)at the different stations to help us at the platforms and to signal when the next person was to go. They also hooked our pulleys up to the double cables and made sure we landed at the stations without hitting the tree. I wonder if they ever get tired of yelling “Go! Go!” and “Brake! Brake!” all day? After a brief training session, we went off to the first station. The course had one short passage, two longer one, another short run, and two longer ones. My favorite one was the one that was longer than a football field and gave the best view of the valley below and the mountains around us. My dad and I had a blast and would love to do it again.:D How many people could say that they went ziplining for the first time at age 80? Even my daughter thought that it was so cool that she posted a picture on Facebook of her grandfather ziplining. We didn’t see much wildlife except for a toucan. I think our whoops of joy frighten them off. The guides were also helpful when one woman became a bit fearful of the heights. A guide did a tandem zipline with her and got her safely to the end.

 

 

 

My dad bought a CD of our zipline adventure and we got on a functioning bus with a different tour guide for the drive back to the ship. This guide pointed out different banana, plantain, and starfruit trees. He also plucked the leaves off the branch of one tree and told us that these leaves form the scent for Chanel #5 perfume. They smelled so good! We drove past the huge Chiquita banana distribution center where all the bananas are loaded up in trailer boxes. We were so hungry by the time we got back to the ship that we didn’t even want to take the time to go to the Lido deck. We stopped at the International Café for sandwiches, salads, and desserts. The International Café is next to the casino and is a great place to get a quick bite to eat any time of day or night.

 

We cleaned up in time for the afternoon trivia which we lost to the one powerhouse team. The evening meal had an Italian theme. The tilapia and tiramisu were excellent. One of the many reasons that I love cruising is that I don’t have to plan, cook, or clean up after meals. The production show was “Dance” and showcased dances from the US, India, Spain, and Ireland. It was one of several of my favorite shows on the Coral Princess. We got into the movie and television theme music trivia a bit late because of the show, but I gave a few answers to the winning team. We went to the Marriage Match Game show next. I think that every cruise line must have a marriage game and the fun is in the unscripted answers. The newlyweds were a couple in their 70’s who were sweethearts in high school, married other people, and after their spouses had died, they rekindled their relationship after a high school reunion. The one set of couples had been married for 15 years and the other couple, over 50 years. Important things to remember from this game – it is possible to make whoopie on a diving board or driving down a highway and never have family members in the audience who may not want to hear their parents’ answers. Dad went to bed and I went to the next game show, “Are you Smarter than the Cruise Staff”? It was silly trivia fun with the staff performing equally silly stunts (doing the Chicken dance or singing “I’m a Little Teapot”) if they lost. Good thing that the next day was a sea day because we had to set our clocks forward an hour.

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Sunday, March 24 Sea Day

 

 

 

The day started with my typical half hour workout, breakfast at the Horizon Court with my dad , then a fun, but exhausting Zumba class with Miko. I had had no problem finding an available washer and dryer to do some loads of laundry. They showed the video of our ship at the Gatan Locks and close-ups of the waving passengers and those holding signs. At the end they showed the winning poster and hooray –it was me!:D I won a free DVD of our Panama passage. I gave two of the posters to the video staff at their request to use as sample posters for future Panama cruises, but one I kept. We swam in the pool after lunch and talked to our CC friends, Dolly and Barb. I decided that it wasn’t enough to make a fool of myself at karaoke, I had to sign up for the passenger talent show for the final sea day Tuesday. Don’t worry, I didn’t sing. I decided to tell an African folktale. There weren’t too many brave souls signed up. We had a harmonica player, two tap dancers, and a young man doing a beat box routine.

 

I’m still not sure how to talk about what happened that afternoon, so I’ll limit it to what we know and what some eyewitnesses saw. While we were watching the movie “Argo” in the Princess Theater, at 2:48 an announcement came over the PA about a man overboard and a request for passengers to help look for a person in yellow clothing. The movie continued. A smaller boat (a Zodiac?) was sent out while the ship slowed down to a stop. All onboard activities were called to a halt and all passengers were required to report back to their cabins for a head count by the cabin stewards. I guess they were trying to figure out who was overboard. I heard at least two announcements for a woman to call the 5000 guest service number. Whether it was the name of the woman overboard or the name of her traveling companion, I don’t know. A search airplane was also dispatched. A woman’s body was recovered and brought onboard at 5:05 pm. The ship resumed her course to Grand Cayman at 5:36 pm. Cruise Critic member, Swimdolly had a cabin on the same deck and reported that cabin A304 had two women’s names on the occupant card and had Congratulations balloons above the door. The room was taped off for the remainder of the cruise. A cabin steward said that the woman had jumped. The crew and staff handled this tragedy with as much dignity as possible, but it did cast a somber mood over the entire ship. That evening and in the following days rumors about swept through all the passengers’ conversations. It just so sad that someone’s life ended that way. After this post, I’ll report only about the cruise.

 

The early dinner seating time was delayed due to the afternoon’s emergency. When something like that happens, all the crew and staff are involved. It was the second formal evening and escargot, lobster, and pheasant were just some of the items on the menu. I ate more delicious seafood dishes during this cruise than the past five months. At the Princess Theater, comedian Scott Wyler, kept the one liners coming. It had to be a bit difficult to make people laugh after the afternoon’s tragedy, but a think we were all desperate for a laugh. We then went to the Universe Lounge for the production show “On the Bayou”. It seemed a bit awkward (considering the day’s events) with the show starting with a New Orleans style funeral complete with a casket being brought onstage. The show was good with a great set, lots of dancing, and cool costumes, but I liked “Dance” and “What a Swell Party” the best. After my dad went to bed, I played Trivialized Jeopardy with CC friend, Susan and a couple from Toronto. We did well and bet it all on the final question. We got the answer right thanks to Susan, but we still lost. For karaoke that night I sang “Les Poissons” from “The Little Mermaid” in my best horrible French accent and acted out the motions of lyrics of “ Les poisons, les poisons, how I love less poissons, love to chop and serve little fish; First I cut off their heads then I pull out their bones: Ah mais oui,cac’est toujours delish.” I got people to laugh and that’s what I really wanted. A passenger named Cheryl did a wonderful job on a Celine Dion song and she advanced to the Princess Pop Star finals. Monday – Grand Cayman.

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Marjorie--thank you for posting the detailed review--it's like reliving the cruise.

 

Pat

Edited by PatriciaF

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Pat !:D It's great to hear from you. Thanks again for arranging the Cartagena tour. Our roll call should have had another meet and greet on the last sea day so we could have talked about our various cruise experiences. (The only problem I was out of buckeye candy to hand out by that time.:))

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Another CC friend, swimdolly was able to find out this information about the woman's death. I copied it from another thread.

 

"Her name was Bertha Travers, and her roommate's (possibly a relative or husband, even) name is Carol Imbeault. Bertha was born in 1957 (55 years old). Her funeral was through a French funeral home (Lepine Cloutier) in Quebec, and info about it was in French, with English translations available. She was married, had two children and three grandchildren. There was a picture (she was quite attractive), and a number of memorials in her register, starting about April 3, 2013, referring to "this painful" event and wishing luck to Carol. She was very involved in an organization called PAC-CMP (maybe a children's camp?).

 

Such a sad, inexplicable tragedy. We will probably never know what despair drove her to do what she did. "

 

I did a Google search on PAC-CMP and I found several different things including the CMP is Canada's chemical management plan which researches the risks of chemicals on human health and environment. So I'm not sure what PAC-CMP stands for. Perhaps some of our Canadian CC members could tell us.

 

I'm sure that all of us who were on that cruise offer our condolences to her family and friends.

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I'm loving your wonderful detailed review of your Panama Canal cruise with your dad on my favorite ship...the Coral!

So your 80 year old dad zip lined in Costa Rica and loved it! That is so neat! My husband and I zip lined in Costa Rica and will never forget the fun we had that day. I'm totally impressed that your dad did it at age 80! :) And...what a wonderful cruise you two had together. My mother is 86 and she absolutely will not go on a cruise. :(

About the tragedy...what a shame. So sad. We had a similar report of a man overboard on our recent Sapphire Princess cruise. However...after a couple of hours delay, with the ship slowing to a crawl and everyone being ordered to their cabins for a headcount, it turned out to be a false alarm.

Edited by JWJs

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