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TorontoTL

Review Coral Princess Nov 4 to 14

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Just got back from a wonderful 10 days on the Coral Princess doing the Panama Canal and wanted to post my review while things were still fresh. Some background on us, for my partner and I this was our 7th cruise and our 5th with Princess.

We flew down with Air Canada and made it to Fort Lauderdale on the morning of embarkation day. We grabbed a taxi from the airport which cost us $15 with tip. Fort Lauderdale was visibly damaged by Hurricane Wilma with many power lines down and much debris, damaged homes and businesses apparent. Our hearts sank when we saw the state of the city. We made it to Port Everglades in reasonable time given the situation and were in the terminal by 1130 and on the ship within minutes of arrival. There were almost no lines and embarkation was a breeze.

We had booked an ocean view mini suite on this ship, Caribe 204, and were really pleased with our decision. The cabin is really large, 302 sq. ft. to be exact and our first mini suite. We had previously booked either ocean view or balcony cabins so this was a real treat to have such large quarters. The bathroom was really nicely sized with a tub/shower combination and a good amount of storage space. The large closet and enclosed shelving provided more than enough space for a 10 day cruise. We did have all the promised upgraded amenities in this cabin. The towels were really thick and soft. The bedding was as promised luxurious ivory coloured Egyptian cotton. The new mattresses were firm but very comfortable and certainly much better than the usual mattresses. We also were able to choose from a selection of pillows and ask our cabin steward for the orthopedic pillows like the ones we use at home. Finally we were offered and given our welcome glasses of champagne and in fact our steward brought us 2 extra for our friends who were cruising with us. I have to say that I didn’t miss having a balcony on this cruise. I certainly appreciated the extra inside space more than a balcony. The seating area of this cabin is very large, bigger than the bedroom area. It has space for 2 chairs and a couch large enough to seat 4. In addition there are two wide shelves on either side of the couch for more storage than we could possibly use. We often had both TV’s on at the same time to give us the ability to watch from the bed or the seating area at the same time. To those who like to be able to be outside, there is the balcony at the front of the ship which is just steps away from the cabin. This was a great vantage point to view the Panama Canal as we passes through the Gatun Locks. Our cabin steward George did a great job for the whole cruise, he was always available when we needed something but was never intrusive. Our cabin was always miraculously tided up when we returned from breakfast or dinner.

Service on this cruise was outstanding to say the least. From our previously mentioned cabin steward to the waiters in the dining rooms and buffet we had nothing to complain about in this regard. The buffet waiters quickly cleared plates and glasses from the tables. We never had a difficult time finding clean table to eat at in the buffet. We observed the buffet staff helping passengers with their plates and glasses on a several occasions when they were in need of assistance. We had anytime dining and made a standing reservation for a table for six. We did this after having a long wait for a table on the first formal night. We realized that on this particular ship, most of the passengers seemed to want to eat early and that if we didn’t want to wait, we should make a reservation. In fact, this was likely not necessary as the rest of the week there was never anyone in line waiting for a table. I think we over reacted to our one wait.

For those who haven’t been on either of the Coral or Island sister ships, I have to say that they are wonderful beautiful ships that I would recommend to anyone. They are well laid out and very spacious. We often wondered where the other 2000 passengers were even on sea days. The Lotus pool in particular was a great place to be. It is the covered pool area with two whirl pool tubs. It has a lot of greenery, wonderful teak floors and thickly padded teak loungers. I spent a lot of time there as well as the gym next door. My one complaint about this area is that the washroom is not in the change room for the gym as it is on other Princess ships. The gym is well equipped and we never had difficultly finding a treadmill to use. The ship is decorated much like the rest of the Princess ships, understated elegance which we find appealing and very little glitter and glam which we don’t. I do like the layout of the Horizon Court buffet. The buffet is set up in islands rather than one long line. This way one can jump from station to station rather than wait in one long line just to get a couple of things. The Horizon Court is up at the front of the ship and offers wonderful views. Two criticisms would be related to two of the ship’s show lounges. Firstly the Universe Lounge’s second floor has somewhat poor site lines due to the chromed railings. Secondly, the Princess theatre really isn’t large enough for the number of passengers who do want to attend the shows there.

Overall we found the food on this ship to be excellent. There were a few misses but the waiters were always quick to notice when we weren’t enjoying something and offered us an alternative choice immediately. Certain things in the buffet weren’t really very good, such as the hash browns, but strangely enough they were good in the dining room. A few excellent things we had included the lobster on formal night, beef carpaccio, chocolate hazelnut soufflé, pina colada chilled soup, rack of lamb, love boat dream and too many others to list here.

The entertainment on this cruise was some of the best we’ve encountered on a Princess cruise. There were two singers, Michelle Murlin from Broadway and Jonathan Kane who did an Elton John show that were both incredible. I don’t recall Princess having this type of show in the past, but I hope they continue to offer this type of show on future cruises. Curtain Up and Dance were the two big shows that I attended and both were very well received.

In Ocho Rios we spent a very nice afternoon at Margaritaville. For those who haven’t been to Ocho Rios Margaritaville is only a few minute walk from where the ship docks. There is a small beach there and we enjoyed a beach day there swimming and sunning.

Our day in Panama started early with the transit through the Gatun Locks which really are a site to behold. It is so hard to believe that our ship actually fit through the locks. There really is less than 3 feet on either side of the ship when in a lock. We did not do an excursion here but did get off the ship when it docked at Cristobal. Unfortunately we did not dock at Colon 2000 which I understand has much better shopping.

While in Costa Rica we did the Jungle Boat Eco Tour on the Mawamba boats. This was great as we were able to see many different types of birds, several howler monkeys, sloths and crocodiles. This was booked through Princess and the whole thing was well organized and well worth the cost.

Our Grand Cayman visit was spent walking around and shopping. They are still recovering from Hurricane Ivan and much construction was going on.

I’ve never been impressed with Costa Maya and unfortunately that was our stop instead of Cozumel because of Hurricane Wilma. I was looking forward to Cozumel, but I hope the people there get back on there feet quickly after all the destruction they endured.

There were very few children on this cruise and I expect that is the case with most cruises that are longer than one week and not during holiday season. Despite this, I was disappointed that Princess did not enforce their rules. Everyday there were several children in the Adults only pool. There are two other pools that are for everyone, there is no reason that children should be in the adults only pool. Princess needs to enforce their rules.

Overall this was a wonderful cruise. I would certainly book another itinerary on this ship again without hesitation. I would also recommend a cruise on this ship to anyone who asks.

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Toronto: My parents left on the Coral today. I am going to watch them go through the Panama Canal on Sunday (webcam). What time does the ship begin the locks? How long does it take? Thanks for the info.

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TorontoTL,

I enjoyed your well-written review. DH and I are planning to sail on the Coral in January, 2007, so I am eagerly reading reviews of this ship and itinerary. We will do an onboard booking while we're on the Caribbean Princess (second time) 1/28/06.

 

We will be in your part of the world this Saturday (11/19) to see the National Ballet of Canada at Hummingbird Centre. We have season tickets and make the trip 3-4 times annually. We stay at the downtown Marriott. We will have dinner at Oro on Saturday night before the ballet and make a quick visit to the AGO before driving home on Sunday. We live in north-suburban "Hockeytown" (Detroit).

 

Thanks, again, for the wonderful review.

Chris

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Rangerdog, the Coral approached the Canals starting around 630 AM. It took quite a while to completely pass through them. In fact we did get tired of waiting to see Matt Lauther and went to eat in the dining room. After we were done breakfast we were just exiting the last of the locks. I believe it was after 9am by that time.

 

CruizinCris I think you will thoroughly enjoy the Coral Princess and your visit to Toronto. Although it is starting to get a bit cold up here. One thing I forgot to mention in the review was that there wasn't much night life on the Coral during this itinerary. By that I mean there isn't much happening after 12 midnight in the bars.

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Rangerdog, the Coral approached the Canals starting around 630 AM. It took quite a while to completely pass through them. In fact we did get tired of waiting to see Matt Lauther and went to eat in the dining room. After we were done breakfast we were just exiting the last of the locks. I believe it was after 9am by that time.

 

CruizinCris I think you will thoroughly enjoy the Coral Princess and your visit to Toronto. Although it is starting to get a bit cold up here. One thing I forgot to mention in the review was that there wasn't much night life on the Coral during this itinerary. By that I mean there isn't much happening after 12 midnight in the bars.

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TorontoTL, Thank you so much for your wonderful review. Have been waiting a long time for one! Can you tell me if you had any problems with a lot of motion in your cabin? We will be in C229 and have been concerned about being too forward on the ship. One of us has a problem with motion sickness if it gets rough.

 

Diane

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Thank you so much for the great review.... We board Nov 24 I got so excited reading your great review.

Did you eat at the Bayou Cafe? I was wondering if it is worth the cover charge?

Did you run across any of the guys in the Gym and do you recall their names? Also did you do/observe any of the cycleing classes? I need my fix so I can eat desert. Welcome Home:)

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Thanks for the great review. I am glad that they have the orthopedic pillows. I am still debating on whether to take mine or not. I was in an accident in 2003 and still have neck problems.

 

Glad you had a great time!:)

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Toronto your Coral cruise brought back very good memories of our trip through the Canal. We did the exact same things you do except of course we were in Cozumel. We also enjoyed the Eco-tour in Costa Rica. We did do the Ocean to ocean excursion to see the rest of the locks in the Canal. The Coral really is a great ship and we are on her again next May for the full transit. Thank you for the review and memories.:)

 

Marilyn

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Thanks for the great review.

 

The Coral Princess is a beauty, and the Panama Canal a great itinerary.

 

I still think Jimmy Carter made a mistake giving it back - after all, we stole it fair and square, and if we had not built it, Panama would not be a country.

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I, like the others, wait for these reviews.

It was great to see yours posted this a.m. and such a nice complete review.

 

Counting the days until February:).

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Thanks for taking the time to write a review. Well written and very informative. Next week we board the Coral for the ten day Canal Cruise and after reading each new review I get more excited!:)

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I will try to answer questions, in no particular order though. As far as the cabin locations goes I was concerned about being so near the front of the ship and had read many bad things about this location. We were pleasantly surprised that it wasn't all that bad. At worse we had moderate waves up to 7.5 ft. Even with that the motion was not a problem whatsover, it was slightly worse than midships in the atrium but nothing worth writing about. In worse conditions I cannot comment but would expect it to be a bit worse than more midships. I would definitely consider booking this cabin again if that means anything.

 

We did not try the alternate restaurants so can't really comment. I used the gym solely for the treadmills so can't comment on aerobics classes. Johan was the fitness director and I had met him on two other ships and it was nice to chat with him as he actually came up to my partner and I and said he recognized us! That impressed me considering how many people he must have come across over the years.

 

I forgot to mention John Paul the assistant Maitre'D. We had met on our previous Sun cruise and he is such a great guy. We ended up chatting with him for about an hour one day when he was already off his shift that day. Great guy, chat with him when you meet him.

 

Someone had asked for the menus. I took pictures of all the dinner menus I think and once I get my act together I will try to post them somehow so you guys going on the Coral will know what to expect.

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Thanks for the review. Helps with the Coral fix since we're not sailing until 4/23/06.

 

Susan :)

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In Ocho Rios we spent a very nice afternoon at Margaritaville. For those who haven’t been to Ocho Rios Margaritaville is only a few minute walk from where the ship docks. There is a small beach there and we enjoyed a beach day there swimming and sunning]

 

Assume this was not a Princess tour, but something you did on your own. Were there any facilities there? Do you feel this would be safe for a senior lady travelling solo?

 

Thanks & thanks for the review.

Marion

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We saw the Coral in port yesterday as we headed to the airport in FLL after our Star Princess cruise. The sun class ships are considerable smaller than the grand class. She looked pretty though. Glad to hear your cruise was nice.

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Great review--we leave Feb 2, 06 in Balconys C303. C305. 11 weeks from Thursday. I watched you guys last week going through the locks on the Today show.

Been there to Panama w/o going through the locks--looking forward to it.

 

In the gym--do they have spinning classes--I have seen the bikes on the 360 tour.

 

How is the night life on board?:) :)

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I have organized my photos and shrunk my photos of the menus down to a smaller still legible size. If anyone would like to have the menus from our 10 day cruise I can email them to you...let me know.

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TorontoTL,

 

Thanks for the review. We will be sailing on 12/04, so eagerly await each review. Would love to get a copy of the menu pictures. My e-mail is zurekortiz@cox.net.

 

Welcome Home. Glad you enjoyed your cruise.

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Hey where was George from, Latvia? Was his last name Danilla? I think we had him on our Panama cruise as well but he left to go back home a couple of years ago and start a tour business. It was not doing to well so he may have come back. We were on Caribe deack as well.

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