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KSSS2013

Review of Coral Princess 4 day Alaska Sampler May 2 2015

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Hello, I wanted to a review of our first Princess cruise. My wife and I were doing a 10 day NCL Pearl cruise, and decided to tack on the Princess cruise to see if we liked it. We are in our early 40's are trying to do 1-2 cruises a year.

I'll start out by saying that it was a great cruise, Princess does a lot of things right, and some things on Princess we liked more than NCL, but overall we'll stick with NCL right now but will consider another Princess cruise if the price/itinerary is right.

 

Pre-cruise was pretty uneventful, we flew in the evening before and stayed at the Holiday Inn in Richmond, they have a free airport shuttle that continuously stops at the airport. We checked in, walked to the Aberdeen mall and I grabbed some really good Chinese dumplings for dinner. The next day, we asked the hotel to call us a cab and we arrived at Canada Place about 11.

 

Now, Vancouver seems to do things a bit differently that US ports. You have to go through the initial security, and then do US customs. Since we were early, the ship wasn't boarding yet, so after customs we had to sit in a holding area, after that we were allowed to check-in, and then say in another area until it was time to board. Not a big deal for us since we're on vacation, but some people were a bit grumpy about the delays.

 

Once we were on the ship, we went directly to lunch since we were hungry. I didn't take any pictures, but I had the veal carpaccio and the cod. Both were very good. We had a table for 2, but Princess likes to encourage table sharing, and it seems your penalty for wanting a table of your own is that you are literally 3 inches from the next table, it happened every time we did not table share. There were several times that we shared a table and had a really great time meeting other people, but we do like to have our own conversations and private time for some meals. After lunch, we decided to check out our room. We had B309 which is the last balcony on the forward bump out, we chose it for the great views that the balcony gave us.

 

Room

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Looking aft

 

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I will say that the bed in our room was amazing, it was very soft and comfortable, we slept great the entire time. I did miss having a couch in the room, but my wife really liked the table by the balcony. We both universally hated the shower, temperature and water pressure were great, but I was always banging my elbows on the side. Also, the closet space was really nice. The other thing that my wife really liked was being able to page the room steward, NCL doesn't have this. One morning the hair dryer died and she was able to get a replacement in about 5 minutes.

 

This is all I have for time right now, but I've been wanting to get this started....I'll post some ship pics and dinner later on today.

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We sail Coral 17 days through the canal in September. I'm glad we are going before Princess "improves" the ship. Looking forward to your thoughts and pics.

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Before sail away we took some time to explore the ship a little...

 

Lotus Pool area.

 

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Random ship photos

 

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Checked out the Sanctuary, which is a neat area, not sure if it's worth the money, but it seemed pretty quiet. It did not seem to get very much use during our cruise.

 

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We also did a tour of the spa. It was nice, but since the Coral is a smaller ship, the spa facilities were pretty small. There's also no views from the spa, I'm not sure if that's the norm on Princess or not. We declined passes on this trip, actually we've never bought spa passes on any cruise.

 

 

Some pictures of the mini-golf. Neat feature to have, but it's not very big, a game took about 10 minutes.

 

 

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The ship was almost ready to depart.

 

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Lots of people topside waiting to go under the bridge.

 

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And then we were officially on our way....

 

 

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Looking forward to reading this review and enjoying your photos...thanks!

 

Last year at this time we were getting ready for a week on the Coral...an absolutely amazing trip!

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So, I suppose it's time for some food photos! My wife hated that I dragged the camera to every meal.

We wanted to try traditional dining and did a table for 2 at the early seating (5:15). The line was really long the first night, but it didn't take long to be shown to our table, I guess we were really lucky, we had a private table. Later in the cruise someone asked us how we were able to get that instead of the tables that were a few inches from the next one. We must have been lucky. For us, that really made the dining experience nice. I will say that we enjoyed being able to walk in every evening and sit right down. The Anytime dining looked like it always had long lines and a longer wait.

For the first night, my wife had app of the melon (don't remember what was on it exactly), and I had the vegetable sushi roll.

 

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For the main course, my wife had the steak medallions and I had the prime rib. The prime rib was very good, the corn was just ok, I really don't think you can do good corn on the cob on a cruise ship. I don't know what dessert was, I didn't take any pictures, but I know that we ate it all. We had no complaints about the service, I think our total time at dinner was usually about an hour.

 

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After dinner we did some exploring of the ship. We went to the Universe lounge and saw the comedian. I don't recall his name, but I can look it up from the patters. He was from Canada and honestly he was just ok that night, we did see him later in the cruise and it was a much funnier show. We really liked the Universe Lounge, the seating was great and it was a really nice looking venue.

 

After the show, we went up and cruised through the buffet to find a late night snack before going to bed.

 

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Edited by KSSS2013
Wrong pic

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Looking forward to the rest of your review! I wouldn't mind taking a shorter Alaska cruise such as this 4-day sampler, but Princess doesn't have the 4-day Alaska on the schedule for 2016. For the next two years with school and work, my availability will be limited and vacation days will be spread thin - so it's tough to spare enough time right now for the longer cruises. RCI has a 5-day Alaska cruise for 2016 but it requires as many vacation days as a 7-day, so we'll see....

Edited by undercat

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was in your cabin. I thought it was the best balcony on the entire ship. You were far enough back that you didn't catch any of the air turbulence. Terrific viewing for an Alaskan cruise.

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It wasn't too bad of itinerary for us...4 days is too short for us, but we went on a 10 day right after this one so it was a great vacation.

I agree, we loved that location and the wrap around balcony had great views!

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This was the first sea day. We had breakfast in the MDR, I don't remember what we had, but it was good, service was good, still hated the table for 2 being 3 inches from our neighbor.

 

We really didn't have a lot planned for today, we saw the naturalist talk on whales which was very good. We had reservations for the Crab Shack at lunch.

 

They dropped off some garlic bread while we reviewed the menu.

 

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Our appetizer was the shrimp and hush puppies, the shrimp was really good, the hush puppies were very dry on the inside.

 

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For the entrée, we both had the king crab and shrimp, it doesn't look like a lot, but this was just my portion. They offered us more food, but we were completely stuffed!

 

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After lunch we wandered the ship and relaxed. A bit later in the day we managed to catch some dolphins to the aft of the ship jumping and playing as we sailed by. We also saw a lot of whales that day. Lots of spouts, splashes, and flippers waving in the air.

 

Later in the afternoon we decided to try out the tea service, this was something new for us since NCL does not offer it. We sat at a table with 6 other ladies. We had a great time, the finger sandwiches were just ok, but the scones were awesome! We snagged them on the buffet a couple times later on in the week. The afternoon tea was a very enjoyable experience.

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Sorry, I've been busy and haven't had time to work on this!

 

We're talking about dinner.....

 

Started off the with fettuccini, which is very good as most of you know.

 

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And I also had to try the French Onion Soup, I do remember the broth was really good...the crouton was just ok, maybe it was too hearty of bread..it seemed heavy.

 

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We both did the tenderloin and shrimp. It was really good, mine was a bit overdone, but it was very tender so I couldn't complain.

 

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And I ended dinner with the Norman Love desert, it was really, really, really good. My wife must have had something really boring since I didn't bother to take a picture of it.

 

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After dinner we went and saw the magician in the Universe Lounge....he was ok. It started off slow, but he did improve with the larger tricks. I don't remember what else we did that evening, but we stopped by the buffet again before bed to grab a snack.

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Today was our only port day, which was in Ketchikan. I like Ketchikan, sure it's touristy, but it has some great history also. We had our breakfast in the MDR and headed out to explore the town. We had no excursions booked, our plan was to just wander the shops and the town a little and then relax on the ship.

 

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Saw a seal by the docks...

 

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We explored Creek Street.....

 

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Checked out the fish ladder on Married Man's trail...

 

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Then walked up to the City Park and the Totem park that's there....did a little shopping downtown, and headed back to the ship.

 

 

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We decided to try out Alfredo's since I love pizza, and it wasn't crowded at all...it was by far the best cruise ship pizza that I'd had, and it was overall a very good pizza, we both enjoyed it.

 

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For dinner I had a tuna tartar style dish...it was just ok, it didn't have a lot of sauce and some of the tuna was a bit chewy.

 

 

 

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Luckily, I had a backup plan, and had the shrimp cocktail also...it was very good.

 

 

 

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My wife had the fish....I really don't remember what kind, it could have possibly been salmon, she liked it.

 

 

 

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I had the leg of lamb with mint jelly. It was very good, but I really enjoy lamb.

 

 

 

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For desert, I had the crème brulee which was really good. I believe my wife's dish was a warm cookie with chocolate and ice cream, the cookie was not warm, and it really wasn't good, our waiter noticed she didn't like it and he brought her a fresh one, which was really good, the cookie was warm and chewy.

 

 

 

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After dinner we did our usual wandering of the ship, I believe that the comedian played in the main theater last night, he was better than the first night, but just ok. I think part of it had to do with the demographics of the audience, he wasn't overly edgy, but we still laughed.

I think we also went to the newlywed game that night in the Explorers Lounge. Of course that is always fun to watch.

Later that evening we watched an amazing sunset as we sailed back towards Vancouver.

 

 

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Tonight, before we went to bed, we decided to try room service instead of the buffet. I was surprised at how quickly it arrived, it didn't take more than 15 minutes. I had a hamburger which was really good, and my wife enjoyed some chocolate cake.

 

 

 

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We just prefer the freestyle concept a bit more, eating whenever you feel like it. While I did enjoy our fixed dining with the same servers, we were lucky and had a private table. I'm not sure if the larger ships are like this, but for breakfast at lunch, our table for 2, was really a table for 4...there was only a couple of inches of separation.

I also think that the NCL ships feel more relaxed, the crew was much friendlier and outgoing on our Pearl cruise that we got on right after this one.

We also thought the entertainment was more to our taste on NCL, but I understand that this was a 4 day cruise and might not be typical of a normal Princess itinerary.

Will we do Princess again? Yes, the cruise was still great, and I think the food and overall service was slightly better, but we'll still do NCL cruises most of the time, especially since their prices are a bit lower, and they tend to throw in the drink package for free.

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So we're about to go on another cruise (NCL to the Mexican Rivera), in a little over a week, I thought that I should finish this review finally....

 

Our last day we relaxed around the ship, in the afternoon we finally made our way to the aft "secret" balcony.

 

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The views from the aft were just amazing. The naturalist was doing a narrative as we neared Seymour Narrows, we could tell the tide was really causing some current by the way the smaller ships nearby were struggling.

 

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Going through the narrows was pretty amazing, they cut the engines as we went through them and you could full the current pulling on the ship.

 

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We caught our final sunset before we got ready for dinner. Actually I think that we ate first, but I really like this picture.

 

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Our final dinner consisted of...

 

Beef Carpaccio

 

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I'm guessing some sort of crab salad.

 

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Cioppino, which was packed full of seafood, but the broth wasn't very good.

 

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Turkey?

 

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And Baked Alaska for dessert.

 

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I'm sure we went to some sort of show, but I don't remember what it was at this point. We packed up our suitcases and set them outside of the room to be taken away.

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And that brings us to the end of our trip, luckily we had one day in Vancouver and then went on a 10 day cruise on the NCL Pearl which was also amazing.

I will leave you with a few photos of the Coral Princess leaving Vancouver on her next trip, we went to the park to watch her sail away the next afternoon.

 

 

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Thanks for reading this, sorry that it took so long to complete!

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