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annimal

Coral Princess - amateur review (Xmas/NYE sailing)

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I've just returned from the recent Christmas/New Year's sailing (12/24 - 1/3) on the Coral Princess to Panama. I wasn't planning to post a review as this has only been my 2nd cruise, but I thought amateur cruisers like me might appreciate it. I am more than happy to answer any questions about this cruise as well.

 

To preface, I should state that my first cruise was Xmas/NYE 2003 on Celebrity's Millenium to the Caribbean. I had no real expectations as the main concerns my husband and I had were feeling "ship-locked" and seasick. Those were the main reasons we have never taken a cruise. My parents and sister (who have cruised twice previously) convinced us to go. This time around, we chose Princess because of it's itinerary and availability. Our other option for Panama was on Royal Caribbean, but they did not have a triple/quad room that our party needed. Again, I had no real expectations save for my experience on that one previous cruise on Celebrity.

 

DAY 1 - December 24 / Embarkation Day

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale around 10:30am and took 2 cabs (we had a party of 6) to the port. As we had experienced with Celebrity, we move pretty fast through Princess' embarkation and were on the Coral soon after. We had to swap a few people around between our 2 cabins (one quad and one double) and we directed to do so at the purser's desk. The gentlemen that helped us had told us that he wouldn't be able to issue new cards until the following day, but surprisingly, he worked his magic and minutes later, we had revised cards reflecting our changes. A couple people in our party picked up soda stickers and containers which came out to about $43 after service charge and taxes. We stopped by both rooms (B419/quad and D629/double) to check it out. The Dolphin cabin had a larger balcony with the lounge CHAISES (the ones that recline fully). The Baja cabin had a smaller patio with lounge CHAIRS. We didn't have to wait very long for our luggage to arrive at both cabins, so it was pretty efficient.

 

From there, we headed up to the buffet like everyone else. The buffet was not great. It was okay, but honestly, some things were lukewarm and soggy (or rather, not as "crispy" as should be).

 

In trying to remember what we did that first day, I think we had a tour of the Lotus Spa, booked some treatments and hit the casino and enjoyed ourselves. Overall, we had a good time at the casino throughout the cruise and really liked the majority of the dealers and the floor people were great. We had anytime dining, so around 7pm, we headed down to the Bordeaux dining room for dinner. We were seated soon, but we got a table that was right next to the revolving doors the staff goes in and out of to the kitchen. Was quite distracting. My parents decided at that time that they didn't enjoy that very much and preferred to have traditional dining mainly for the consistent waiter and assistant waiter in hopes of having more customized service. We really enjoyed that fact that on our Celebrity cruise, our sommelier, head waiter and assistant waiter were the same people each night and soon into the cruise, they remembered what we drank regularly, how we liked our steaks cooked, etc. I should mention that on the Coral, we only had a head and assistant waiter, no sommelier (not that it made a big difference to us). Anyway, I was directed to the Head Maitre D' and while we would have preferred to eaten around 7 - 7:30pm, he was able to get us a set dining time in the Bordeaux dining room at 6:30pm. He had 3 tables available and had someone lead us to each table to let us choose which one we wanted. I thought that was great. We were able to get a window table in a nice quiet corner. As far as I could remember, the food was good, but not great. However, it was only the first night, so I had an open mind. Actually, I found myself playing devil's advocate with my party each time someone wanted to immediately compare Princess to Celebrity, especially on the first few days. So hopefully all you readers understand that this review truly is what I think a fair opinion and not biased.

 

That evening, my parents caught the production in the theatre. They love going to those shows and we went to most of the shows on Celebrity. However, the next day, they told us that the show as so-so and not as well done or spectacular as they had experienced on their previous Celebrity cruises.

 

DAY 2 - December 25 / At sea

This day was a bit confusing for all. To start off, many people including the bulk of the crew thought it was going to be a formal night. On our Celebrity cruise, Christmas and New Year's Eve were formal and when we asked a few of Coral's staff, they said the same. However, after checking a few times and to the confusion of some staff, for whatever reason, the formal night got pushed to the 27th. So it was weird to think that Christmas would be spent "casually".

 

I started my morning with an 8am seaweed/massage treatment. Very early, but the Lotus Spa was very limited on sea day availability (not surprising at all). I enjoyed my treatment, but 2 things stuck in my mind. During the course of my treatment, I could hear feet trampling above me several times. Sounded like a herd of elephants. I think later on the trip my sister mentioned that the kid's area was directly above the spa (although I never looked into it). The 2nd thing was that they really do push the spa products. I had a very nice masseuse and she was sweet, but the time did come when she tried to sell me products. I told her it was a bit early for me in the morning and that I was still half asleep and she completely understood and backed down telling me that I had plenty of time to think about it and she gave me a list of the items she suggested. Afterwards, I met up with our party and had breakfast in the Bordeaux dining room. Nothing really memorable, but the meal was fine.

 

We spent a bulk of the day playing bingo and hitting the casino. When it came time for dinner, we had our first "fixed" time dinner in Bordeaux. Our waiter and assistant waiter were friendly and it made us feel better that we would be sitting at this much nicer table than the first night and that hopefully the waiter and assistant would get to know us. Our waiter was honest with us and told us that many of the ships staff was also confused by the smart casual evening on this day instead of a formal night. He said many people weren't even aware until that morning that they would not be wearing their formal night uniforms. I had asked to see the menues for the rest of the week so we could plan our evenings at Sabatini's and Bayou Cafe, but our waiter said that due to the change from formal to casual on Christmas, it threw everyone off and they didn't exactly know what the meals would be for the rest of the week.

 

DAY 3 - December 26 / Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Prior to the cruise, we had pre-booked the Dunn's Fall and River Tubing excursion with Phil Lafayette based on the great reviews he received on these and other boards. The Falls were PACKED! However, I completely understand since it was the holiday season as we expected more people everywhere. Phil was very entertaining and we were very happy to have paid much less with him as Princess was charging twice as much. We were taken to the White River for tubing and because that particular event wasn't very organized, I can't say that we had a "relaxing" time tubing down the river as advertised but I personally had a pretty decent time. I should say though, that the river was COLD!!! Because we were running behind a little bit, Phil rushed through some of the sightseeing portion of our tour, but we understood and he kept us entertained. Overall, go with Phil - you won't be disappointed.

 

That evening, we went back to Bordeaux for dinner. Nice to go back to our waiter and assistant waiter as the night before. By the end of the cruise, we did realize however that every single time they brought drinks, they handed the one person that drank Coke a Diet Coke and the one person that drank Diet Coke a Coke. They consistently handed those two the wrong drinks. Also, we noticed that there would be periods of time where we would not see either the waiter or the assistant waiter for some time (I'm talking 15 - 20 minutes). I am going to go with the assumption that because it was a full cruise, they were probably over extended but at times, it felt like we spent most of our dinner meals waiting for service. Pleasant and cordial, but still with flaws and delays. We had not experienced that on our Celebrity cruise. Before we left the dining room, I asked an assistant maitre d' about the week's menu and our quest to plan the "right" days to eat at the specialty restaurants. While he wasn't able to show us the menus (again, this was due to the change on the first formal night), he was kind enough to tell me the "themes" of the daily meals and he suggested 2 days that would be good to try the speciality restaurants without missing much in the main dining room.

 

DAY 4 - December 27 / At Sea

If I recall, we ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet and again, we found the food to be the same as that first meal we had. Some items were lukewarm and other were soggy or limp (just not crisp when it should be). Spent the day playing bingo and at the casinos again. Dinner in Bordeaux as usual.

 

DAY 5 - December 28 / Panama Canal

Okay, I am not an early riser and neither are the 3 other people in my cabin. It was a little hard to get myself (and the others) out of bed at 6:30am to see the Coral entering the locks. We booked the "Experience by Boat" (formerly known as "Ocean to Ocean") tour through Princess because we were warned of the long excursion and the previous stories of buses breaking down and arriving in Cristobal late, etc. We didn't want to miss the ship! It really is an amazing experience to see and go through the locks. Being on a smaller vessel (200 passenger ferry), you really get to see the locks as a whole. On the ship, because you can only see so much, you get the idea and the sense that you're in the canal and passing a lock, but it is so much more of a different experience to do it on a smaller vessel. You really sense and see the rise and lowering of the water, etc. However, I really didn't think much of the actual towns we drove through to get back to Cristobal. I will go with the assumption that Panama City is a different case, but what we saw driving back didn't seem to be any different than Mexico. The experience through the canal on the ferry was great, but I can't say that the excursion is really worth $169 per person...

 

When we got back to the ship, we were starving. The boxed lunch you get on the ferry is terrible. We saw that Afternoon Tea was happening in the Bordeaux dining room so we gave it a shot. (We had wanted to have tea on the Millenium but we never got around to doing it.) Tea time on the Coral was yummy! What a nice way to unwind after a full day of touring and the sandwiches, scones and pastries were great. That evening, we had dinner at the Bayou Cafe. We enjoyed the band that played and the food was great. No one in our party could get steaks cooked the way we wanted it in the main dining room, to the point that by the last few days of the cruise, we knew to lower the "doneness" of our steaks (i.e. if you wanted a medium steak, you would order it medium rare; for a medium well or just well done steak, you would order it medium. The first time my husband ordered his steak well done, it came out grey and like a slightly softer hockey puck). At the Bayou Cafe, I ordered it medium the way I really like it and I can honestly say that my steak came out just the way I wanted it. I thought the steak was great but my father thought it was only a notch above the steaks in the dining room. Still decent though.

 

DAY 6 - December 29 / Limon, Costa Rica

We pre-booked a tour with Charlie Soto (again, because he came highly recommended on these boards and elsewhere). We started the tour at the zipline spot. 4 of our party of 6 did the ziplining and they had a great time except they thought it was a bit short. Also, some of the equipment stank of other people's sweat. Kind of gross as it's hard to understand why the helmets can't be cleaned or wiped down... My friend got a bit nauseous from the smell and finally had to switch out her helmet as the smell was too much for her. After the ziplining, we headed to the Tortugero Canals. This was a great little trip and we were fortunate to see birds, a crocodile, several sloths, butterflies and from a distance, a couple of monkeys high up in the trees. You could only really make out the black round spots. However, we really enjoyed this part of our excursion. We then went to Bonita Beach and grabbed a nice bite to eat. While we never met Charlie Soto on this tour, we did have a good time and again, you just couldn't beat the prices as booking through Princess would have cost so much more.

 

Since Afternoon Tea was so good the day before, we hit it again.

 

On a side note, I guess somehow I had this "mythical" idea of Costa Rica with its rainforest, etc. I guess maybe I was thinking it was more Caribbean-like. However, driving through town to get back to the port, I realized that like Panama, Costa Rica felt much like being in Mexico.

 

DAY 7 - December 30 / At Sea

My husband had an 8AM hot stone massage so I headed off to the gym. Had no problems with availability of the equipment but there were plenty of people in the gym and you could definitely feel more of the movement of the ship as the gym is in the front (bow) of the ship. Speaking of movement, I should note that we were very surprised and happy to say that from the moment we left Florida, the seas were extremely calm for us. We barely felt the ship sway except every now and then. Of course, the 2 people in our cabin that slept on the upper bunk could tell you that they definitely felt their beds vibrating. (but what do you expect, you're on a ship and your bed is hanging from the ceiling)

 

Spent the day again playing bingo and going to the casino. That evening we at at Sabatini's. A quick tip: don't fill up on the first couple rounds of cold appetizers. By the time the 4th round came with hot appetizers, we were stuffed! The food and service were wonderful and you really do feel that the food it authentic Italian.

 

DAY 8 - December 31 / Grand Cayman

I had read some reviews that there is not much to see in Grand Cayman as the island is still recovering from Hurricane Andrew(?) in 2004. So we didn't make any specific plans except that we took note of the ships advice that it is a great shopping location. We figured we'd just take it as it comes. The ship anchored off shore and we tendered to the dock. We decided to rent scooters and get ourselves up to Hell and the Turtle Farm which happened to be nearby. We REALLY enjoyed this scooter trip. We only rented 3 scooters as everyone in our party of 6 paired up and it only cost $20 for 2 hours on each scooter. Had we taken cabs, we would have had to take 2 cabs and their would be no real experience there. We coasted up toward Hell and were in awe of how blue the turquoise sea was off the Seven Mile Beach. We rode past the Tortuga Rum Cake factory and made a note to stop by on the way back. We passed through Hell and made a stop at the Turtle Farm. There is construction going on at the Farm, so you are very limited on where you can go. It looks like they put all the turtles together in cramped quarters. We got to pick up the medium sized turtle and take pictures. My sister went to the cafeteria to get a drink and she saw turtle items on the menu (turtle chili, turtle soup, etc.). She asked the register person and the lady said that they raise some turtles to eat...I wanted to set all of the turtles free into the very beautiful and clear waters of the sea.

 

Of all the stops we made of this cruise itinerary, we LOVED Grand Cayman and would love to go back and spend a few days there. Wished I could have gone into the ocean. We stoped by the Rum Cake factory on the way back, sampled way too many cakes and made our purchases. We pulled over a public access area of the Seven Mile Beach and HAD to walk up to the water's edge. The view was unbelieveable and I will never forget it. After we returned the scooters, we walked toward the shops and did some shopping.

 

We had originally planned to only visit for a short time and go back and take a nap as it was New Year's Eve, but it was very hard to leave Grand Cayman and we would have stayed it all our belongings weren't still on the ship! :) When we got back, we rushed to get dressed for dinner. Here's where I tell you a little bit about our room steward...

 

I didn't have any real thoughts about our steward initally although my friend and sister said they had some not so pleasant experiences. I played devil's advocate and said maybe there was a cultural or language barrier and maybe they misunderstood that was communicated, etc. On this night, I finally saw what they were talking about. We were running late for dinner, rushing through to get ready for dinner, but we have 3 ladies in our cabin and we wanted to get dressed up properly as it was a formal night and it was New Year's Eve. Our steward came in while we were still in the room and I told her we were running late and wasn't going to be in the room for much longer. In 3 minutes, she returned again. Before we could run to the door to open it when she knocked, she unlocked the door and opened it. Somehow surprised to find us still there (all of 3 minutes later), I told her that we were almost done and it would be soon. She said she would be back later to make the bed. In less than 2 minutes, she returned again. This time I walked up to her and told her that we were rushing along and would need 10 minutes. I have always been nice and friendly to her and so she seemed to have had no problem that I needed a few more minutes, but before she left, she mentioned that she had to get through several other cabins and needed to get to the bed. I completely understand the logistics of her job but I did not experience this on Celebrity. One would assume that she could move on to the next empty room and just get back to our room late (really, we meant later like at least 15 minutes, not 1, 2 or 3 minutes later). During the cruise, my friend was tired one afternoon so she went to the room to take a nap. She inserted the do not disturb sign. At one point, our steward went ahead and opened the room to find my friend there trying to nap. When my friend got up for dinner, as she left the room, she passed the steward who said "it's about time".:eek:

 

Anyway, that evening, we headed up to the Lido deck for the NYE celebration. We were disappointed that there was nothing "spectacular" afterwards. On Celebrity, there was a grand buffet at midnight where the chefs came out and really outdid themselves. Ice scupltures, food carving, massive buffet, great food -- what a way to celebrate the new year. Nothing like that on Princess. Truthfully, we felt that the entertainment and "events" were a bit lacking on the Coral. No top notch theatrical production, no special events like the grand buffet show and while the service was fine on the Coral, we were very happy with the extra step the Celebrity staff took with everything. We felt that the Coral was on par but didn't go any further like Celebrity where I guess you could say you are made to feel like a celebrity.

 

DAY 9 - January 1 / Cozumel, Mexico

We had originally wanted to go to Chankanaab and then Hurricane Wilma hit. We read that the park would be re-opened by Dec. 20th, but that wasn't the case. So we had decided a few days prior to Cozumel to visit Tulum and Xel-Ha. We wanted to see some ruins and get a chance to snorkel as we hadn't done so yet. We also wanted to shop in Cozumel. We understood that the the tenders take you to Cozumel and then you would take a ferry to the mainland (Playa Del Carmen) for the mainland tours and getting back would be vice versa. We wanted to book the excursion independently to save a significant amount of money, but given the tendering process (Princess tours get off first) and the length of the tour, we felt it would be best to book with Princess in case anything happens. To our surprise, the tender took us directly from the ship to Playa Del Carmen. However, it wasn't going to be that way on the return trip. I can't understand why they couldn't offer tenders from Playa Del Carmen to the ship (like the outbound tender) as most of the Cozumel excursions were not running and so many of the excursions happened on the mainland. It would have given people some extra time and options.

 

The waters were very choppy (first we had experience on this cruise). I felt sick on the tender. The tour stopped by a little souvenir stop first. Seemed like a waste of time when all was done. We headed to Tulum and Xel-Ha afterwards and we would have preferred to use that time in Xel-Ha and/or Tulum instead of at a gift shop. The waters off Tulum as beautiful. Not as beautiful as the waters off Grand Cayman, but still turquoise. It was a good thing to see and experience. However, we really loved Xel-Ha. We were supposed to get 2 hours, but because the tour was running behind, we only got 1-1/2 hours. This is where it would have be useful if tenders went directly between the mainland and the ship. Also, this is where you wished you didn't waste time at the gift shop on the way to Tulum. The eco-park is massive and 2 hours is no where near enough to take it in. And of course, we didn't have time to shop in Cozumel.

 

At least we know that we might want to go back again and this time actually visit Cozumel, shop, take out time on the mainland to visit Xel-Ha and maybe see Xcaret as that tour had also peaked our interest.

 

DAY 10 - January 2 / At Sea

We really wanted savor our last full day at sea since we spent many days getting up early for excursions and staying up late at the casino.:D We took the time to play some shuffleboard and basketball (with the area all to ourselves -- I assume everyone was out by the pool!), played bingo, hit the casino, saw a movie, etc. We packed our luggage before our dinner, had our final meal back the Bordeaux dining room and caught the Farewell show in the theatre. We went back to the casino and played until 1am, trying to keep the vacation going. Finally, we accepted the fact that we had to get up early to disembark.

 

DAY 11 - January 3 / Disembarkation Day

Things moved pretty smoothly. We got up, opened the patio door only to end up inhaling the diesel scents at Port Everglades. Reality hit, our cruise had ended. We made our way down to the dining room for one last meal and at well that breakfast. For the first time on the cruise, my french toast were not soggy. My father ordered 2 plates as did my husband and the waiters were more than happy to accommodate and keep it coming. We disembarked fairly fast except that there was a hold up with customs so there was a little waiting (not Princess' fault).

 

 

We had a good time and look forward to another cruise. We were open to trying Princess and I am still open to trying other cruise lines (except for Carnival as I have heard too many bad stories and my parents and sister had already had the unfortunate chance to experience it). However, so far I'm going to have to say we like Celebrity better. It's amazing how much more memorable a cruise line sticks out when the staff makes the slightest extra effort and touch. We felt that Princess was good, but not great. It seemed like some of the service was okay, but not the best we have experienced. I hope I have not offended anyone with my amateur review. These were my observations and experiences. I made sure to keep a patter from each day so again, I am more than happy to answer any questions I am able to answer.

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This may be a stupid question but if it was obvious you didn't like the buffet, why did you keep eating there? The dining room is open every day for lunch and breakfast and it doesn't take that much more time to eat there compared to the buffet. It just blows my mind that if you don't like something, you continue to do it and then it is mentioned as a negative through out the entire review. I looked forward to your review but it was so frustrating to read. You obviously did not research your cruise before picking it. If you had, you would realize that Princess does not do grand midnight buffets. They have a 24 hour buffet which is much different then the buffet on Celebrity which is only open during limited hours. So you list not having a grand midnight buffet as a negative when this is common knowledge that Princess doesn't do this. You probably would have saved a lot of comparisons if you had properly researched your cruise before going.

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Casey12, did you read the same review I did? :confused: The OP mentioned going to the buffet for two lunches and one breakfast! I wouldn't think that is enough to say they "kept eating there" and "mentioned it as a negative throughout the entire review"! Also, I don't think they were necessarily expecting a grand buffet every night, just more because it was New Year's.

 

Annimal, while it is a natural human tendency to compare previous cruises, I really don't think it is fair to compare Celebrity to Princess. I have yet to cruise on either one (although soon remedying that for Princess) but I'm pretty sure that Celebrity is a considered a higher "class" cruise line and as a result is quite a bit more expensive (ie. you get what you pay for!). That said, I felt your review was pretty unbiased and very thorough. :)

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Found your review to be very good. Liked the way you included the tour information.

 

Thanks for taking the time to write it for those of us still anticipating our cruise.

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annimal:

 

We were with you ziplining in Costa Rica. Two families with four kids (the moms did not zipline!)I thought your review was very accurate and great. We also enjoyed the cruise but as i mentioned to you while zipling we were unhappy with the kids program. It does sound like you got a bum cabin steward. Jon on Caribe was ours and he was amazing and soooooo sweet! Maybe we will catch you next Xmas on celebrity. We are booked on the Galaxy :)

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Annimal, while it is a natural human tendency to compare previous cruises, I really don't think it is fair to compare Celebrity to Princess. I have yet to cruise on either one (although soon remedying that for Princess) but I'm pretty sure that Celebrity is a considered a higher "class" cruise line and as a result is quite a bit more expensive (ie. you get what you pay for!). That said, I felt your review was pretty unbiased and very thorough. :)

I disagree with your statement that it is unfair to compare Celebrity to Princess. I have been on both and they both have good points and bad points. Each cruise line and ship have good and bad. A buffet is not a good experience as the food can be cold and soggy regardless of ship. Celebrity in my opinion is not a 'higher class' cruise line. Prices on Celebrity are high and low based on cruise. Never compare your first cruise with any other as your first cruise is the BEST! Just enjoy the cruise. People have a tendency to believe all they read or hear. Until you have experienced a cruise on a specific cruise line, consider the information as unfounded. They are all mass market unless you get into Crystal or Seaborne.

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.

...We started the tour at the zipline spot. 4 of our party of 6 did the ziplining and they had a great time except they thought it was a bit short. Also, some of the equipment stank of other people's sweat. Kind of gross as it's hard to understand why the helmets can't be cleaned or wiped down...

/quote]

 

I thought I was the only one noticing the helmet issue! We ziplined in Costa Maya, MX & the equipment also reeked, not just the helmets, but also the harnesses.

 

Scooters! If we ever get to really see Grand Cayman (which we should if we do the Panama Canal trip on the Coral SOME DAY)… we’ll have to try that!

 

LOVED your review. That is the kind of review I like to read... factual experiences that I can take what I want & leave the rest for others...

Helps figure out what we would like to try based upon the experiences of others. And I liked the comparison of a different cruise line because it gives an idea of what YOUR tastes & experiences are...helps me to read between the lines & decide how your taste relates to mine. Excellent. Thanks for taking the time to post.

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Casey12 -- At first I thought I misunderstood/misread your post, but I read it over a few times along with the comments from other people and I have to say that your comments were a bit offensive. This is my first review (as I had stated) and I feel like you bit my head off. To be clear, I opted not to dine regularly at the buffet. Instead, I did catch some breakfasts and lunches in the main dining room and after we discovered the good food at The Grill (above the Lido deck), I ate there too. At the main dining room, you are limited to the serving hours (I can't specifically remember, but I think breakfast ended at 10:00am and one day when we went in, they closed early at 9:30am). It was a little hard to get up early just to eat breakfast in the main dining room, which was why we opted for the buffet (breakfast through 10:30am). Also, eating at the main dining room requires some time. It's proper service which means it can take over an hour to finish a meal. We didn't always have that kind of time to spare, especially on port days unless we got up at the crack of dawn.

 

As for not being prepared for the cruise, you are completely off base on that. I have spent at least an hour each day (if not more) looking on Princess' site, Cruise Critic and any other website I could find on this particular itinerary and ship. For MONTHS I looked and researched and I am a very detailed person (hence the long winded review). If you happened to have come across where it said that there was no grand buffet (at any time), please share because I never came across that piece of info. We did not expect a grand buffet each day, just something special for New Year's. Was that too much to expect?? If you know of a more thorough site, please let me know as I'd be happy to log in more hours of research for any future cruises as long as the info is out there.

 

 

Redsgi -- Having spent 2 weeks researching the differences and similarities between Celebrity and Princess before we booked (we were rushed to book before the cruise was sold out), I had read several reviews on these boards mentioning that Princess is equal to if not just a notch above Celebrity. That's why I felt confident about booking with Princess when we did. I didn't know that Celebrity was considered a higher class than Princess. As for comparing the two, I don't think it's unfair to do so as plenty of people have the dilemma of which cruise line, ship and itineraries to book. There are so many sailings out there. We are open to experiencing other cruise lines, but if it weren't for other peoples reviews and comparisons, we wouldn't be able to assess which cruise, ship or itinerary is geared towards our preferences without actually paying thousands of dollars to try them all. :) In any case, I'm glad you were able to understand my review.

 

 

Mmsoko -- Thank you for your positive feedback. It took a while to write it and my husband came up to me at one point asking "how long can it take to say 'I liked this, I didn't like that, etc'." Glad you found it worthwhile!

 

 

Kgn -- Good hearing from you. Glad you could back me up on my review and assesment. I swear I'm not making any of this up! :p I think our next cruise will be to Tahiti... not sure if it will be Xmas of this year or sometime next year... but have a great time on your sailing!

 

 

Dreamgal -- Unfortunately I didn't really check out any of the lounge acts, so I can't give you any feedback on that.

 

 

Jimkat02 -- Thank you also for the positive comments. Makes me feel that the time it took me to write the review was worth it. Hard to do sometimes after a long day of traveling back home.

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Annimal,

 

I really enjoyed reading your review. It was interesting and thorough and included enough details without listing every single thing you ate or did :).

 

And this from a person who is a review-a-holic ;). I have three vacations planned this year, two cruises, neither of which is on Princess - although Princess is my fav cruise line. So, I read lots of reviews...you never know when you will learn something helpful.

 

From your review, I learned that I probably would be disappointed in a holiday cruise on Princess. We went away once - land vacation - on Thanksgiving and it was the worst Thanksgiving we ever had. Like you, I would have been disappointed that there wasn't something "special" done for New Year's Eve and would have hoped that Christmas would have been a formal night.

 

So, thanks for posting your review and don't start off your next review apologizing for it only being your third cruise's review :).

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We've been Celebrity fans for five years, but agree with many of your comparison points. I tried Coral last April and found to my surprise that I liked many things better than Celebrity, and also found that I liked Celebrity better in some regards. We deserted Celebrity this winter because their Century-class ships didn't have an itinerary that worked with our schedules, but didn't feel too bad about it. We're getting a 10 day cruise for much less than we've traditionally paid for a 7 day on Celebrity, we know what the differences will be, and it's still a privilege to be able to leave New England for the sunny Caribbean in January! ;> We'll definitely return to Celebrity because, as you say, the "family" feel is very attractive, but I'm sure we'll enjoy our upcoming cruise on Coral as well. It sure beats working.

I enjoyed your review - thanks for sharing!

Cheers,

Kirsten

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Kirsten -- I definitely agree that a vacation is way better than no vacation at all. We did enjoy our trip and take back some nice memories with us on this Coral sailing and of course, if given the opportunity to sail again with Princess or not at all, sign me up first! :D

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Annimal, thank you for the review. As another poster stated, I really enjoyed your info on the ports.

 

Diane

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Thanks a lot! We are booked on the Regal, Acapulco to San Juan, next Christmas and appreciate your detailed review as the other Princess option would be the R/T on the Coral approx same time. We've also done several X cruises and can agree on some of these things. As for Christmas being formal, on our last X cruise, that was a port day in Acapulco and was casual in the dining room, but it did have one of the special touches you mention, a local mariachi band brought in to play for us during dinner.

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What a great review. We were on this sailing also and I agree with your thoughts on Princess vs Celebrity. As a matter of fact, my husband and I kept telling my sister and her hubby that we are going back to Celebrity.

 

We were with you in Ocho Rios, we were the family (okay, the loud family) who didn't do Dunn's River Falls. And the River Tubing wasn't relaxing at all. The last time we did it the river was like the Lazy River...NOTHING like what it was this trip. But we did have fun on the tubing. Just not what we expected.

 

We did Ziplining with Oscar Brown in Costa RIca and after my husband hung from teh first cable for about 10 minutes, I only made it three cables. I quit after that. I can honestly say, I have NEVER been more scared in my life. It was a fear I don't want to experience again. Although I can say I did it, I'm never doing it again. ANd I think I was on the tour with KBG and families.

 

We did eat at the buffet a couple of times. We did breakfast every day as it's easy and pretty good. Lunch was okay and after the first day, I ate at the Grill and/or Pizza for lunch most days. We did eat in port a couple of days also. Dinner on the other hand really stunk. We ate at the buffet after Ocho Rios as we didn't get back early enough to nap, get ready and be at the Provence DR by 6pm (early dinner for my Dad who only made it to dinner three nights...not doing that again.) After Cristobal my husband and I went to the Boudeux DR and had dinner instead of the buffet and because of the terrible tendering at Cozumel, we didn't make it back in time for our 6pm dining, so we went to the buffet and when we got back and then to the Bourdeux about 9pm for appetizers and dessert (it was Carpaccio night and we couldn't resist.) Both times we went to the Bourdeux we were able to get a table for two, no problem. I think if, and it's a big IF, we go on Princess again, we will Anytime Dine and get a standing reservation for 7 or 7:30pm.

 

Our steward, Mauricio Herrera, was tremendous. My sister's really stunk and my mom and dad's had to be patient because my dad didn't leave his cabin much. Of course, my nephew and his friend had a great steward for them.

 

Overall, it was a GREAT vacation and an okay cruise. I loved the days at sea, saw two ports I had never visited and enjoyed being with my family but not in the cold and snow for the holiday's.

 

Oh yeah, I asked why Christmas was not formal and it was because the last two years it was formal and they had gotten tons of complaints. So they changed it for this cruise. I wish they hadn't, but you can't please everyone.

 

THanks again for the reveiw. You did a great job. Until next time...

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