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Just returned from Princess Coral Panama Canal Trip


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We just returned on Dec 8th from the 10 day Panama Canal Cruise. We had a great experience from day 1. This was our 3rd cruise, 1st with Princess.

 

Getting on the ship. We got to the ship around 11:00. There was a line outside but it wasn't that long. When it started moving, and we got close to the door, they started dividing the line and we ended up in the preferred line. That really moved things along. Within 5 minutes, we were checking in. We were then seated for maybe 10 minutes. Long story short, we boarded and were looking at our room by 11:45.

 

We were on the Aloha Deck, room A519. I was worried about being below the Lido deck and the ice cream machine. We never heard a noise. The room was very nice, mattress was wonderful, loved the balcony. The chairs in the room were showing wear and weren't comfortable but that just forced us to find other areas to relax. It wasn't a deal breaker!! I will say that you should bring your own shampoo and conditioner. I didn't, I have shoulder length hair and felt like a 3 year old with tangles as I attempted to comb it out every day. My mistake and I don't blame Princess but their shampoo is really bad.

 

We went right to the Horizon Buffet and beat the crowd. The food was good. Since it's a smaller ship, the choices weren't as great as the huge Carnival ships. But it was always hot, always fresh, and I never went away hungry.

 

My husband is 65 and I am 57. I felt like a youngster on the ship. I laughed everytime we walked through the pool area to the buffet as I have never seen so much skin, so many bikini's and smaller swimsuits on the 70+ generation. Keep in mind, we live in Iowa, are basically landlocked, but everyone was letting everything hang out. More power to them, it just made me chuckle.

 

We ate at the 5:30 traditional dining. We were at a table for 6 and I was worried about what are tablemates would be like. Both couples were a delight!! One was a retired couple from Pennsylvania, now living in Florida and the other was an 80+ year old couple that probably took their last cruise. Both could barely walk, conversations were repeated each night due to some memory issues but they reminded us of my husband's parents. Because of the awesome tablemates, we ate each night with them. The waiters went above and beyond helping this couple. They needed assistance sitting down, ordering, getting up but they always had a smile on their face. The waiters were always giving them hugs.

 

The entertainment on the ship was outstanding, especially the singers and dancers. I have low expectations for this type of entertainment and they were top rate. We were the first ones to see their new show, "Encore" and it was a showstopper. The soprano hit notes that I didn't think anyone could hit. The comedians, magician and others were what I expected. The music in the atrium was always wonderful, we sat and listened to it many nights.

 

Aruba - a short stop. We did the island tour and ocean swim. Meh. They spent way too much time touring the island and not enough time in the ocean. Seeing the natural bridge that fell down in 2005 was totally underwhelming. We know now for another time.

 

Columbia - We did the catamaran trip and that was great. Stopped by a beach and those who wanted could jump out and swim. Excellent sandwiches and rum punch. The negative thing was the tour guided added a stop at the old city. The reason 90% of us chose the excursion was to avoid the old city. He took us to his "buddies" to purchase things from them. I think he got the point the group wasn't impressed as it was a short stop. Several people were separated from the group and wandered back to the boat alone. But the boat ride was amazing.

 

Panama Canal - We stayed on board and loved it. We wandered all around the ship, seeing different views, and relaxed. We noticed that we were still in Gatun Lake well after we were supposed to be going back through the Canal. It turned out there was fog on the Pacific side and that delayed all ships. The people who had taken excursions had to wait in a very hot warehouse as that is the pier we were assigned to for over 2 hours. Some of the excursions were done at 3pm. We were supposed to arrive at 5:00 but was closer to 7. They kept warning everyone the night before and the day of the canal that many things were out of their control and everyone had to be patient. I didn't see too many really upset people, most were hot and hungry.

 

Costa Rica - We were supposed to go white water rafting but my husband tore his hamstring 2 days before we cruised and he was pretty limited with his activities. So we cancelled and took the Sloth tour. It was good but expensive for what it involved. When we went on the canoes, the mosquitoes were all around and HUGE. I asked the owner and she said it was safe. She wouldn't have moved her family to Costa Rica if there was going to be a danger to them. Her family is originally from Las Vegas.

 

Jamaica - A life long dream was going to be fulfilled - Zip Lining - WELL - due to the hamstring, the dream is postponed. We stayed on the boat. We again were on the pier that was the furthest away from the activities and it was going to be a pretty good walk to wander into town. So we read, people watched and just enjoyed it.

 

Phone service - Those that have Verizon can sign up for the Travel Pass. It worked in Costa Rica and Jamaica. For $10, you have 24 hours of access to your regular plan of phone, text and data. It worked really well. I would do it again.

 

Internet service - I signed up for the pre-plan of 100 minutes as I wasn't going to be on the internet much. I was checking home and work email, no social networking or browsing. I made it through day 7 and then was going to go on the minute by minute as I had the 2 days of travel pass coming up. I usually went to the internet cafe as that was faster than connecting with the iPad and my phone is too small. Late on the evening of day 7, I did connect with my phone, screwed up and chose the 100 minute plan vs the minute by minute. My mistake. I then surfed the web for a while as I had 100 minutes to use in 3 days. I told the manager of the Internet Cafe that the next day and he adjusted my account. If you have problems, talk to them. Our tablemates didn't realize they needed to sign out after facetiming and their internet bill was huge on the min by min. On my advice, they talked to him and he really adjusted it. He was very helpful.

 

Dress in restaurants - I mentioned this on another thread. They did not allow shorts in the dining room. They really enforced it. People wore jeans, not many, but once you were sitting down, you couldn't tell what people were wearing. We had the perfect table, 79, back in the corner and we were in our own little world. My dresses for formal nights were alittle dressy but not a formal by any means. Most of my sundresses, I picked up at Kohls for less than $10 on sale. My thoughts were, no one will ever see me again from this ship, I don't care. I "owned" it and felt just fine. My husband brought 2 pair of dress pants with him, multiple collared dress shirts and did put on a sports coat and tie for formal nights.

 

International Cafe - I ate there multiple times. There was never a line. It was like the hidden jewel. I don't think they had panani as I never saw them but there were great salads, sandwiches and desserts.

 

Soda Card - We purchased it for both of us with no regrets. We had virgin strawberry daiquiris every day, lots of soda and easily paid for the card. If we wanted a beer, we just bought one. Listening to people in the shows, most were having a hard time drinking enough for the unlimited alcohol cost.

 

Ship activities - We didn't do any other than shows. We talked to people who did trivia, Bingo, late night games, but that isn't us. We did watch several Movies Under the Stars, they were nice.

 

Disembarkment - We had a VERY late flight, 3:40pm, so we were trying to delay things as long as possible. We chose the 9:00 am luggage time as we had to leave our cabins by 8:30. We were to meet in one of the dining rooms at 9:10 to leave the ship. We were not rushing at all, trying to get to the front of the line or anything. We were there at 9:00, left the dining room at 9:10, found our luggage immediately, went through customs and were getting a taxi at 9:30 am. So our airport wait was very long. Such is life.

 

Overall, it was a great trip. Everyone was very helpful, a very nice group of fellow cruisers and we had no problems. We would recommend the cruise to anyone. We won't go to these destinations again as there is too much of the world left to see.

 

Also, over half were wearing their cruise cards on lanyards. We fit right in.

 

Ask me any questions and I'll try to answer them.

 

Donna

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Linda and Rob,

 

I had TONS of questions before the trip. Ask anything. And your dad and aunt will fit right in. I wish had taken a picture of the cane/walker/scooter lineup at dinner one night. It reminded me of my parent's retirement community when they eat.

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It's nice that our seniors are still living life and not just sitting around waiting for life to end, like Morgan Freeman said in Shawshank Redemption " Get busy living or Get busy Dying" I took that cruise twice and both times it way nice to see seniors out and about and getting around the best they could. Also It's nice to hear there stories of there life even if it;s the same one from the night before !!! you might have missed something from the first one :) I say good for you and more Power to the senior. Remember you will be one, one day !!!

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My husband is 65 and I am 57. I felt like a youngster on the ship. I laughed everytime we walked through the pool area to the buffet as I have never seen so much skin, so many bikini's and smaller swimsuits on the 70+ generation. Keep in mind, we live in Iowa, are basically landlocked, but everyone was letting everything hang out. More power to them, it just made me chuckle.

 

 

 

Donna

Every so often the crowd does get a little old. Sometimes as people age they don't realize just how ridiculous they look dressed as they once did 25 years ago. :D

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Great review! We're preparing for this trip with my dad (80) and aunt (75) so we'd like to figure some of it out before going. Your review was very helpful!

 

It's nice that our seniors are still living life and not just sitting around waiting for life to end, like Morgan Freeman said in Shawshank Redemption " Get busy living or Get busy Dying" I took that cruise twice and both times it way nice to see seniors out and about and getting around the best they could. Also It's nice to hear there stories of there life even if it;s the same one from the night before !!! you might have missed something from the first one :) I say good for you and more Power to the senior. Remember you will be one, one day !!!

 

I understand!! My parents are 84 & 88 and are less mobile than they used to be but still are active. We were just concerned about this couple at our table as they could just barely get around. One night they weren't there and we were concerned. Justly, as it turned out. He had fallen in the 14th floor mens bathroom and spent the day in the ships hospital. He had multiple cuts and bruises. They really should have had someone (family) with them helping them get around. The cruise staff was amazing. They helped them at the buffet, got hotdogs and hamburgers from the 15th floor and brought it to them on the 14th. We saw them when they were leaving and they were in wheelchairs being taken off the ship. We were their "family" for 2 hours everynight during supper making sure everything was in order. I'm glad they were able to get another trip in!

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My DH will be 83 in January, and could probably walk across Jamaica. I just turned 80 and am good for about a block.

I walk more on ships than at home, and our last 2 cruises were on Royal Princess and Oasis, so I did more than a block! We're doing the rt Panama Canal March 28.

Question about the catamaran in Cartagena, how far a walk was it to the catamaran. Usually I see them coming right by whatever ship I'm on, with all the slightly sloshed people having a good time till the last minute.

Did you board it near the ship? If so, I can do it. Wharves seem to get longer all the time, and unless there's a tram or other kind of shuttle, I just can't make it. We don't really want to see the old city again, but if it's quick it would be ok.

It's been a long time since I've sailed on a smaller ship and am looking forward to it.

Nowadays you never see the same people twice, I miss running into the people you did a shore ex with, or had lunch with.

I'm glad you enjoyed your first Princess cruise, and your second Panama Canal. This is our

second Panama Canal, and undoubtedly the last. I do wish they'd add more Caribbean islands to the itineraries......St Croix, maybe? Cuba would be interesting, but I'll bet the cruises will be expensive for a while.

Donna, if you're looking toward Europe, the Princess Baltic cruises are phenomenal!

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The catamaran was probably less than a block. It was our favorite excursion by far. They didn't serve enough alcohol on the boat for anyone to get sloshed. 1 small cup, 2 if you begged. They had a great chicken salad sandwich. If I were to do it again, I wouldn't leave the boat when they stop at the old town. Some people didn't, they just stayed on and talked to the crew.

 

The boat is small enough we constantly ran into people we had met. We were always waving at people. I am terrible with names but I recognize faces well.

 

It was 2.8 times around the Promenade deck to make a mile. I saw the same people walking, everytime I was down there reading. One lady did laps on her scooter. She was alone and just went round and round and round. It was cute!!

 

And we will look into the Baltic cruise! Sounds like fun!!

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"The boat is small enough we constantly ran into ............."

 

Your review was excellent, great commentary, thank you. We're sailing for the second time on "Coral" next weekend, (December 18), so I was happy to read all of your positive comments about this ship.

 

Now, I hope no one is offended, and I'm certain naval veterans reading the post were probably cringing. But Coral Princess is a SHIP not a boat. And if you need help distinguishing between the two, just remember: You can put a boat on a SHIP. You can't fit a SHIP on a boat!! L.O.L.icon7.gif

Edited by Grimsby
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"The boat is small enough we constantly ran into ............."

 

Your review was excellent, great commentary, thank you. We're sailing for the second time on "Coral" next weekend, (December 18), so I was happy to read all of your positive comments about this ship.

 

Now, I hope no one is offended, and I'm certain naval veterans reading the post were probably cringing. But Coral Princess is a SHIP not a boat. And if you need help distinguishing between the two, just remember: You can put a boat on a SHIP. You can't fit a SHIP on a boat!! L.O.L.icon7.gif

 

I wondered if someone would make this comment. I have a different issue but it seems to happen really often. Columbia is a river. Colombia is the country. :)

 

As for the rest of the post: We did 17 days coast to coast on Coral Princess through the canal and we concur that it was a wonderful ship. I love that the crew is so helpful and takes care of not only the very young but the very old. I'm hoping to live into my 80's and, if I can still do so, I will be cruising on Princess. I feel confident that the crew members will take very good care of me. Heck, they already do and I'm only 63. :)

 

Glad the OP had a great cruise and loved the ship. What more can one hope for on a cruise?

Edited by Thrak
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I too took that same cruise. 1st time on Princess for me too. Loved, loved, loved it.

 

Only 2 comments to your review:

 

Buffet - I don't know how they could have had more food choices. I was very happy and thought it had many more choices then the 5 other cruises I took in the last 12 months - 3 different lines, no mega ships though. Ate at this buffet almost all lunches and breakfasts.

 

I was on a Panama excursion so was in the warehouse like port building. I did not find it hot, but the day had been very hot. Tired and hungry for sure, (and the bathroom smelled of moth balls.) Our biggest complaint was no one told us much info. Had my group known how long the ship would have been, we would have gone off and sat in a bar or restaurant instead of hanging out. It was sad that the younger able body folks did not offer seats to the needy ones. I know, we can't always tell how able body people really are. Just needed some info.

 

I will definitely do Princess again. Our waiter too was wonderful, we had regular 5:30 time also. Never saw a crew member that wasn't smiling and polite.

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Thanks for the great review and all the information! We're going on the same cruise on the 18th!

 

I have a question, on the last port, which I believe requires a tender, do you recall if they use their standard lifeboats or a bigger vessel? I use a lightweight scooter to get around, I just wanted to prepare myself if I am able to roll on board or if my partner will have to carry the scooter on board. Thanks in advance!

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The catamaran was probably less than a block. It was our favorite excursion by far. They didn't serve enough alcohol on the boat for anyone to get sloshed. 1 small cup, 2 if you begged. They had a great chicken salad sandwich. If I were to do it again, I wouldn't leave the boat when they stop at the old town. Some people didn't, they just stayed on and talked to the crew.

 

The boat is small enough we constantly ran into people we had met. We were always waving at people. I am terrible with names but I recognize faces well.

 

It was 2.8 times around the Promenade deck to make a mile. I saw the same people walking, everytime I was down there reading. One lady did laps on her scooter. She was alone and just went round and round and round. It was cute!!

 

And we will look into the Baltic cruise! Sounds like fun!!

 

Thanks, that sounds perfect to me. I should be able to make it that far. DH can get off in old town and walk back, I'll stay on and bond with the other pax and boat crew. Cartegena is really interesting, but I don't need to see it again.

I'm looking forward to the smaller ship, it's been a long time since I've been on one.

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I too took that same cruise. 1st time on Princess for me too. Loved, loved, loved it.

 

Only 2 comments to your review:

 

Buffet - I don't know how they could have had more food choices. I was very happy and thought it had many more choices then the 5 other cruises I took in the last 12 months - 3 different lines, no mega ships though. Ate at this buffet almost all lunches and breakfasts.

 

I was on a Panama excursion so was in the warehouse like port building. I did not find it hot, but the day had been very hot. Tired and hungry for sure, (and the bathroom smelled of moth balls.) Our biggest complaint was no one told us much info. Had my group known how long the ship would have been, we would have gone off and sat in a bar or restaurant instead of hanging out. It was sad that the younger able body folks did not offer seats to the needy ones. I know, we can't always tell how able body people really are. Just needed some info.

 

I will definitely do Princess again. Our waiter too was wonderful, we had regular 5:30 time also. Never saw a crew member that wasn't smiling and polite.

 

Try the Royal or Regal buffet & you'll be surprised at how many more choices they offer for all of their meals.

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Great review. Thank you very much.

 

My husband and I along with 4 other friends will be sailing on the Coral March 18th. This will be our 2nd time on the Coral Panama Canal cruise. The itinerary is a little different this time. We stopped in Cozumel the last time.

 

My husband is 71 and I am 69. I have to smile when I see remarks that it is an older crowd on this "ship." I think because of the itinerary and cost it does not necessarily attract the young partying crowd. I myself, even at 69, want to live life to the fullest and dance like no one is watching. :D.

 

Thanks again for the great review.

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Thanks for the great review and all the information! We're going on the same cruise on the 18th!

 

I have a question, on the last port, which I believe requires a tender, do you recall if they use their standard lifeboats or a bigger vessel? I use a lightweight scooter to get around, I just wanted to prepare myself if I am able to roll on board or if my partner will have to carry the scooter on board. Thanks in advance!

 

Princess tenders are larger than the lifeboats but still are not large. You will not be able to "roll on". My son had to say on the ship when we ported at Maui as he is unable to leave his wheelchair and there is no way to board a tender while in the chair.

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Thanks for the great review and all the information! We're going on the same cruise on the 18th!

 

I have a question, on the last port, which I believe requires a tender, do you recall if they use their standard lifeboats or a bigger vessel? I use a lightweight scooter to get around, I just wanted to prepare myself if I am able to roll on board or if my partner will have to carry the scooter on board. Thanks in advance!

 

We were also on that cruise - our last stop was Jamaica which didn't require a tender. They do rotate between there and Grand Cayman, which might require a tender.

 

I loved the Coral too! I thought the ship was easy to navigate around and felt right at home after the first day. This was the first Princess ship we'd been on that had the buffet at the front of the ship rather than the back and enjoyed it the few times we went there. For breakfast we either went to the main dining room or used the International Cafe. We also had early seating for dinner, so only used the buffet a couple of times for a light snack went we got back from our excursions.

 

We did the "Highlights of Cartagena" excursion and thought it was only mediocre, and it didn't end up quite like the detailed description. We initially had planned on doing an excursion in Panama but opted to stay on the ship. In hindsight I think we made a wise decision. When we did the first transit through the locks we did our viewing from either our balcony or the Promenade deck. For the return we took advantage of their opening the viewing area at the front of Baja deck without the morning crowds. Then we hoofed it to the back of the ship to take of advantage of the rear viewing area where you get a better view of the locks moving. In Costa Rica we also did the sloth sanctuary tour and for Jamaica we rode the aerial tram to the top of the mountain.

 

I was impressed with the speed of the boarding and disembarking the ship - benefit of a smaller ship I imagine. The major "complaint" I had about the trip was the short times we were in port. I had read the itinerary and knew what the arrival and departure times were, but actuality seemed briefer - probably due to the distances we had to travel between ports but they felt rushed. I also realized that I'm not a great "sea day" person - our prior cruises didn't have that many.

 

Obviously this is a very popular cruise as we spoke to several people that had done it more than once previously. We even talked to two couples that were doing it B2B!

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Thank you so much for your through and thoughtful review! We are considering this cruise for Spring Break (in MD) with my 7yo DS and my 88 yo grandma. We love Princess and are platinum level (even my DS if they had levels for kids :)) and never had issues with passenger ages. Now I am a bit worried though... May be there will be more kids on spring break timing.

 

Couple questions:

- we have sailed on Caribbean, Ruby, Emerald, Crown and original Pacific Princesses (the one year round in Tahiti years ago). Which size is Coral?

- Does Caribe deck on Coral have larger balconies?

- Is there a difference from port to starboard for Canal viewing?

- If anybody sailed similar itinerary with kids, please give feedback on the experience

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Canal views, port or starboard ? The ship goes in thru one set of locks to Gatun Lake, then turns around and goes back out thru the locks,

If you stay in one viewing spot, you'll see the view of one side of the canal on the way in ... and the other side on the way out !

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