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Cruiseteach

Coral, 3/4/06- part 1 (of many!)

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First, if you hate those long, cheery, “every single thing that happened” cruise reports, stop reading NOW!!! ‘cos this is another one :) (Instead, go re-read the post from the woman whining about no towel animals. )

 

Background:

We are two recently retired schoolteachers in our late 50’s, with a combined 72 years in the classroom. This is our retirement present to ourselves, and we earned it! We have been best friends for over 35 years and have traveled extensively all over the world. This is our third Princess cruise, although my friend took one Carribean cruise on Carnival, and was not impressed. We have previously cruised to Alaska on the old Crown and to Scandinavia/Russia on the Royal.

 

Cruise Day -2

Even though we both live 90 min from the airport and our flight wasn’t until 11:15 a.m., we opted to spend the night at Hampton Inn in So. Portland. There were several good reasons for this; first, weather in March in Maine is highly unpredictable and we didn’t want to take a chance on a snowstorm on departure day. Also, the Hampton’s Park and Fly price was only $21 more than leaving the car in the airport parking garage and schlepping our luggage through the garage and across the street to the terminal. For $21, ( $10.50 each ), we got to have a good night’s sleep, a nice free breakfast and have a limo driver tote the luggage. Clear choice, as far as we were concerned.

 

Cruise Day -1

Our two flights down to FLL were uneventful. Our first plane was a commuter. I don’t want to say it was small, but I think I saw Fisher-Price printed on the bottom. Ah, well, it did the job and it was only 90 min. We arrived in FLL on time, but OUR LUGGAGE DIDN’T!!!! I was totally freaked! Oddly enough, my friend, who is usually the nervous, more volitile one, was much calmer about it, probably because I was in melt-down mode and she figured one of us had to stay calm and positive. The Princess agent at the airport was an older lady who wasn’t very helpful and turned us over to another one because her shift was over or something. The second rep. walked us out to the sidewalk, told us to wait for a bus, and left! Fortunately, the bus driver was better and took us right to the hotel- the Renaissance. The Renaissance is very poshy and expensive, but, honestly, I didn’t think the rooms were any nicer than the Hampton. I think it’s a case of location. The R is almost port-side and walking distance, (if you are a strong walker) from the beach. We asked someone at the desk for a recommendation for supper and he suggested Bravo, an Italian restaurant right across the parking lot. Frankly, I thought it was horrid. I had spaghetti that tasted like it came from a school cafeteria. And very pricey. After supper, we walked to the causeway bridge and looked at the ships. We couldn’t see the Coral (as it turned out because it wasn’t there yet :) ), but saw a lot of expensive yachts and a few small cruise ships. We walked back to the hotel and watched TV for a bit. At 9:30 there was a knock on the door- the bellman with our luggage! I was so excited, I yelled “Oh, thank you, God!”, to which the bellman replied, “Oh, no problem, Ma’am. Just part of the service!” I laughed and laughed and tipped him big.

 

Cruise day!!

We had breakfast at the hotel. Expensive, but fairly good.

After breakfast, we walked back to the bridge and could see all the cruise ships. We couldn’t quite figure out which was the Coral because the two Princess ships were sideways, pointing at us. We were thinking of doing the water taxi, but worried that it would be a time crunch. As it turned out, it wouldn’t have been.

We were instructed to meet the Princess rep at 1:00, although there were no instructions as to where. Fortunately, the desk people directed us to the mezzanine. The rep finally showed up at 1:15. A total ditz!! She had just discovered that there were some passengers who were sailing on the Caribbean instead of the Coral and it threw her into a total frenzy. She had to call for another bus and then had all our luggage brought up to an empty meeting room, where we had to go in , five at a time to ID our luggage so it wouldn’t get mixed up. After that, we were told to wait downstairs, outside. (It was about 85 degrees). Turned out, there were all of 4 people going on the Carribbean. Wouldn’t it have been easier to have them pick out their luggage and send them in a cab? As it turned out, we didn’t get underway until 2:30. (I think the bellmen were ready to murder her!) It’s only a five min. drive, if that, to the pier. Once we got there, it was a breeze. We were very well directed to our check-in points. The only glitch was that I got upstairs and realized I had left my camera case back at immigration. Fortunately, it was still there. Had our embarkation photo taken (Turned out to be the best one :) ) and we were aboard at 2:45. We found our room with no problem, as there were Princess staff everywhere. We met our room steward, Norman from the Phillipines. Very nice guy, and very eager to help us, esp. after we pre-tipped him $20 . Lunch at the Horizon Court. Explored a bit. Went to the muster drill and then to dinner. Our table mates were two lovely couples, Bobbie and Joe and Arlene and Neil. We had a great time with them. Our waiter was Javier from Mexico, and his assistant, Joachim, from the Phillipines. As usual, the food was superb.

Poked in the shops, They had a nice deal in the Photo shop- your welcome aboard photo on two different backgrounds, including a route map, 5 “stock” photos and a really nice linen album for $49.

The show ( a piano player) didn’t sound like anything we wanted to see, so we went to see Capote, which we had missed in the theaters. I’m glad we never spent the money to see it, because it was not great. Maybe it was because we were so tired and its a movie that needs some concentration. We left halfway through and went back to our cabin to unpack and have an early night. The cabin, mini suite D511, was great. very roomy, lots of storage space. Thanks to the posters who advised bringing a power strip, though. The beds were a little small after being used to a double bed, but comfortable. The duvet is nice, but a little hot. The room was a bit warm throughout the cruise. We often kept the door open. but it makes for quite a breeze, not to mention the noise from the ship’s motor.

Day 2

Sea day

Breakfast in the dining room. It certainly is more “elegant” than HC, but I was a little surprised by the limited number of choices. Do not order the oatmeal unless you were a paste eater as a child. If so, you will love it. It is so thick that when you stick your spoon in, it comes up in one lump. HC is actually a better choice for breakfast. Many, many more choices and you don’t have to share a table with others unless you want to.

Went to the culinary demonstration with the executive chef and the sous chef. Very amusing and interesting.

Went to spa for the “spa mini-taster”: a combination of massage and facial. 55 min, of pure bliss!! My therapist, Rebecca, was from England, where she is studying to be a dermatologist and plans to go into practice with her father. The spa is lovely, very tastefully decorated, quiet, with restful music playing. I had heard that they really “push” their products, but I didn’t find this to be the case at all. Once I indicated I wasn’t interested, she backed right off very graciously. I was so relaxed, it was all I could do not to go back to bed.

Went to HC for lunch. Went to Lotus pool and hot tub. Oh, yeah! This is the way to live! Went to see Constant Gardener, but, again, didn’t care for it and left. Sat on our balcony and read. Went to afternoon tea. Played trivia with a nice couple from Minn. Had lots of fun. We ended up becoming a set trivia team and won a lot of times. (The prizes are nothing to get excited about- usually a passport wallet, luggage tag or water bottle). Couldn’t believe how intense some folks get over it, though. Dressed for formal night. Had photos taken. Not bad! Decided to try the Lobster Thermidor for supper. Gross!!! It was my own fault. As a Maine girl, I should have known better. Dessert made up for it, though- choc. hazelnut souffle. Heaven! The show was Dance! It was ok, but not up to the usual standards of Princess entertainment. Went to the end of the Academy Awards in the Universe Lounge. We should have done this from the beginning. It was fun. Blew $10 in the casino (on penny slots, no less!) in a disgracefully short time.

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Thanks for the first part of your review.. Can you tell me the name of the Maitre D'? Thanks.

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Thanks for the first part of your review.. Can you tell me the name of the Maitre D'? Thanks.

It's probably in my Patters somewhere. I'l look it up. Short guy, and very arrogant!

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Hi there, Cruiseteach- I'm a Maine girl, too!!!! My husband and I are sailing on the Coral Next Friday, the 24th! We head to FLL on Thursday, after a night in Boston Wednesday (what we Mainiacs will do for a direct flight!!!) Anyway, I am eagerly awaiting your next "installment"- thanks for the details- I love 'em!

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I don't think you heard the sound of the ships motors in you were in D511. We were on the 2/22 cruise in D609 and left the balconey door open every night. Heard nothing but the waves and a bit of wind.

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Thanks for the review. Looking forward to the next installment.

 

Marilyn

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Went to the culinary demonstration with the executive chef and the sous chef. Very amusing and interesting.

Went to spa for the “spa mini-taster”: a combination of massage and facial. 55 min, of pure bliss!! Blew $10 in the casino (on penny slots, no less!) in a disgracefully short time.

 

Love your "every single thing" approach. Pleased not taking Princess transfer. And, now I know to check the Patter for a culinary demonstration on that first sea day.

 

Was the "spa mini-taster" a special or did you pre-book it?

 

Happy to see there are some penny slots - discovered them several years ago in Aruba & looove them! One more thing to look forward to.

 

Thanks for your review -- waiting breathless for the continution.

 

ps --Are you southern Maine or Downeast? Just curious since DH's family is Downeast.

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The "spa-taster" is available pre-cruise on the personalizer for $107. However, later in the cruise it was on special for $89.

I'm from central Maine- the Augusta area. Part 2 is coming up soon, maybe tomorrow a.m., maybe even tonight.

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I'm on the Coral leaving Ft Lauderdale on 4/13 and was suprised to read that the first formal night was on the second night. Is that correct? With 4 at sea days, I would have thought that they'd wait for the second at sea day.

 

Thanks for the postings. I'm enjoying them.

 

Sue

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Hmmmmm.. I've posted Parts 2 and 3, but nobody seems to be reading them. :( Maybe I should have cotinued them at the bottom of this post.

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Hmmmmm.. I've posted Parts 2 and 3, but nobody seems to be reading them. :( Maybe I should have cotinued them at the bottom of this post.

 

Well I have read both parts 2 and 3. Waiting for more. People have read your reviews. There are a number of views on parts 2 and 3.

 

Marilyn

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