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Cruiseteach

Coral- 03-04-06 Summary and ratings

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I sailed on the Coral, Panama Canal cruise, Mar. 4, 06- Mar. 15, ‘06.

Here are my ratings, based on a 5 star system.

 

Food: 4 1/2*

Breakfast in the dining room leaves something to be desired. Choices are limited, service is slo-o-w. Horizon Court is a better choice for breakfast and lunch. Despite what it indicated on the room service breakfast menu, you can get anything you want. Have at least one breakfast on your balcony. Makes you feel like a celebrity. The burgers at the Grill are good, french fries are great. I didn’t have the pizza, but my friend thought it was pretty good. High Tea is outstanding, but calorie-laden. (Go at least once, just for the experience- and the scones). Dinner is v. good. I only had one thing I didn’t like (Lobster Thermidor) but, as a good old Maine girl, I should have known better than to order it. The lobster tails were Maine lobster and were ok, but I am spoiled. I like my lobster steamed (broiling makes them tough). Also, the waiter takes them out of the shell for you, so you lose quite a bit of meat.( I also missed having the rest of the lobster. The claws and knuckle meat are the best part. ) I had one of the best prime ribs I’ve ever eaten. The Rack of Lamb was superb. I’m still drooling over it. The Tournedos of Beef (an Always Available item) were excellent, but I only had them once, as there was always something else I wanted to try. I loved being able to try different things. The cold fruit soups are wonderful. They could use more variety of salads. The salad was basically the same every night. The desserts were to die for, esp. the souffles. Overall, I thought the choices were a bit heavy on Italian cooking. (Odd, since the head chef is French).

 

Service: 4 3/4 *

Everybody on Princess knocks themselves out to wait on you. The only time I had a complaint was once in the dining room during breakfast, where I felt the waiter was a bit surly. Also, some of the waiters (including ours) tend to rush, although they are only serving 2-3 tables. I was a waitress long, long ago in my college days, and I was taught never to give the appearance of being rushed, even if you are.

Staff is very helpful to those who need extra assistance.

 

Cleanliness of the ship: 5*

It was spotless everywhere and they are constantly cleaning when they don’t think you’re looking. (My house should look like this!) I was never bothered by smoke odor anywhere. Seldom saw anyone smoking, come to that. One piece of advice: If you order a drink and have to leave the table, make sure someone watches it for you or a waiter is apt to whisk it away! :)

 

Ship Amenities: 5*

You never feel crowded. There is always something to do. Activities abound. There is everything here you could possibly want for a great vacation experience. There are shops with inexpensive merchandise and shops with very expensive merchandise. I didn’t feel anything was way over-priced, with the possible exception of photos. The casino is very big. There are two Internet cafes and there is always a computer available. There are tons of comfortable, quiet places to sit. If you want to sit in one of the lounges, nobody “bugs” you to buy a drink. On my next cruise, I intend to stay aboard unless there is something I really, really want to do ashore. The pools are great. Only once did I see kids in the adults-only Lotus pool. I am not sure if an attendant spoke to the parents or if they left because that pool is very deep, but they left. I saw no evidence of “chair-hogging”. There were plenty of chairs everywhere.

 

Tours: 4 1/2*

The tours are very, very well-organized and, for the most part, a good value. I would never advise doing tours on your own on this itinerary. With the exception of Cozumel (see my review), tendering was not a problem. The buses were good, air-conditioned and comfy, except for Panama. Most were the smaller , “midi-sized” buses, holding about 20 passengers. Great, because everyone can see and hear the guide when you get off. The local guides were very good, although one or two were a bit hard to understand. Do be aware that there is very little shopping time built in. This caused much whining on some of the tours I was on. If shopping is your priority, for Pete’s sake, stay in port and shop and stop trying to shorten the tour time for those of us who want to see something! How much 3rd rate gold and diamond jewelry do you need, anyway? I did think the choices offered were a little snorkel/scuba and otherwise physically challenging intensive for the average age of the passengers, which was probably 55-75. I noticed a lot of those things were cancelled, due to lack of participation. I would have liked more time at Tulum and in the rainforest, which I think are two things most people come to see. My only other quibble is that the lunches offered on these tours ranged from good in Costa Rica to outright vile in Tulum. Tulum and the Panama boat trip were box lunches which left much to be desired.

 

Staterooms: 5*

We had a mini-suite and it was very roomy. Tons of storage space- drawers , shelves, closet-far more than the average hotel room. Do take a power strip, though, as the number of outlets is limited. The bathroom was plenty roomy, with lots of counter space. The tub is very deep and you do need to step up to get into it. This could be a problem for someone with bad hips or knees. I would advise getting one of those hanging make-up cases for each person. (There are two big knobs on the door to hang them from.) It really frees up the space and you’re not always hunting for stuff. There is also lots of room under the counter. We stored damp bathing suits and pajamas there.

The balcony was roomy and equipped with high-backed reclining chairs and a big table. There is a new type of matting on the balcony floor which stays dry. Not like that squishy stuff they used to use. The twin beds are a bit small, if you are used to a double bed, but the mattresses were nice. There are two pillows on each bed, and you can ask for different ones if you want to.

 

Spa: 5+*

Oh. My. God!!! You owe it to yourself. Despite what previous posters have said, they did not push their products. Once I indicated I was not interested, she backed right off, very graciously.

 

Entertainment: 4*

The big production shows were not as good as on my previous cruises. My friend’s comment was, “Now I know what Simon Cowell means by ‘cruise ship singer’ ” . The other problem is that there is not always enough seating, esp. in the Universe Lounge. You need to get there very early. Also, the stairs in the Princess Theater are very steep. I saw several elderly people fall.

There were first run movies all week in the theaters and on TV (Capote, Constant Gardener, Walk the Line, Pride and Predjudice, Good Night and Good Luck), as well as oldies on TV. The daily entertainment activities were very good. The cruise staff was fun and funny without being over the top and pushy. There were a number of special events, such as Oscar Night, that were well done. The trivia games were fun , except some players get a bit intense. (Com’n, guys- it’s a game- for luggage tags!! Chill out! )

 

Itinerary: 4 1/2*

 

I loved most of this itinerary. Even though Tulum was a highlight for me, I think Princess might be advised to reconsider Cozumel as a port of call until they get the port/tendering mess straighted out. (See my last review). I would consider offering two days in Costa Rica, where there is so much to do and see instead. Jamaica didn’t do much for me, but some folks liked it, I guess. None of the ports seemed crowded, and we were usually the only ship in port. Maybe it’s because we were the Sat. --> Tues. itinerary. Maybe the Tues.--> Sat. one is a different story.

 

Fellow Passengers: 5*

We met some wonderful folks on this trip. The average age was probably 55-75. There were very few kids or teens on this trip and the ones that were there were very well-mannered and well behaved. You will always have the few whiny, “nothing-is-right” and the show-off, “lookie at me” types, but they were few and far between.

 

Embarkation and Disembarkation: 5+++*

In a word: Incredible! You never wait in a line or have a chance to get impatient. (As I usually do in lines). Staff is everywhere to help you.

You are both on and off the ship in minutes.

 

Overall: 4 3/4 *

Would I do this cruise again? In a heartbeat!

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I just wanted to take an opportunity to thank you for your comprehensive review! I really appreciated it! I also enjoyed your ranking system - very well done!

 

Glad you had a wonderful cruise!

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Thanks Cruise very much for the review. I will be on her for the 2nd time this coming May for the repo cruise from FLL to S.F. The Coral is a great lady. Glad you had a great time.

 

Marilyn

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Glad you enjoyed your cruise on the Coral. As Mii said, she is a great lady and our favorite ship.

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Enjoyed your review and agree with your summary. We were on this cruise and felt it was one of our best ever. It was our first on Princess. We are the parents of one of the well behaved teens. They enjoyed themselves very much and even thought they were not acquainted before the cruise, bonded together and have been emailing since we got home. I especially agree that the bag lunches were terrible and the lunch in Costa Rica was outstanding. The guides were all exceptionally well informed and their English was phenomenal. Going through the Canal is an experience not to be missed. I also could have done without Ocho Rios and Cozumel, but stayed on board most of those days. You gave a very good review.

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Thank you for taking the time to write your review. I printed them & can't wait to read them later.

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It great to hear that my favourite ship is still in stunning shape and that the cruise experience is still top notch. Thanks for posting your review.

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Thank you, Cruisteach, for taking the time to post your reviews. We really appreciate the thoroughness and the format that you used.

 

We will be traveling on the Coral May 3rd and are looking forward to the voyage.

 

Muriel

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Wow! Thanks so much for confirming our decision to take this cruise. We are tentatively booking on the Coral for next Feb and now looking forward to it even more.

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Thank you so much for the very enjoyable and through reviews, as I am in the final stages of packing & leave in 3 days for this cruise!!

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Thanks so much for your reviews!!!! I am so excited to be sailing on the Coral May 3rd for her repo cruise. Our 5th with Princess and our 5th ship!!!

 

Cheers, Denise

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Thank you for your review, I can't wait for my first cruise ever and will be on Coral Princess to Alaska in July.

 

Your review is great! Thank!:) Now I can't wait!!!:p

 

Lianaks

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My DH and I also was on this cruise. We were in cabin C518 on the Caribe Deck. Attached are some photos of the cabin for your info. I also have the patters if anyone is interested send me an e-mail and I'll send them to you. (The file is too big to attach).:)

 

http://community.webshots.com/user/shnichol

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Wow! I'm glad we opted for the mini-suite! Your bathroom was tiny!!!!! Greatg cruise, wasn't it? I may someday have photos, as soon as I learn how to post them :(

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Very interesting review. I also liked your rating system and the way you organized the review. The Coral sounds great. We loved the Dawn Princess, love the Princess product, & look forward to a cruise on the Coral in the future.

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Cruiseteach,

Yes, it was a small bathroom and a small shower. I'm glad we didn't spend too much time in there. Other than my DH got the Norovirus and was stuck in the cabin for 24 hours and was in and out of that small bathroom for a day and a 1/2 before we realized what it was. :( Thank goodness it was a sea day when he had to stay in the cabin.

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We were on this cruise also. We enjoyed the cruise very much. It was the second time doing the canal for us. The first time we were on the Sun Princess. I have to say we like the lay out of the Sun class ships better than the Coral just our HO. The one big disappointment for us was the Bayou Cafe I wanted to try it one night. Stick with the dining room the food is better and so is the service. Our favorite ports were Ocho Rio's and Cozumel in Ocho Rio's we did the white water tubbing I highly recommend it. In Cozumel we went to the beach. We love Cozumel one of our favorite places to cruise. We booked another cruise while on board for next year on the Sea Princess (14 day) already can't wait. The worst day on a cruise is better than the best day at work.

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Thanks for the review. This will be my second time and now, I definitely am having a hard time waiting. She was my favorite Princess ship after the first time and it looks favorable that she will still be my favorite after upcoming cruise.

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I loved this cruise. I am still in depression over being home. Just did my last (5th!!) load of laundry. Oh, well, at least my summer clothes are out and clean, if we ever get summer.

Shnichol- I am so sorry your DH got sick! Bummer!!

Our bathroom appears to have been at least twice the size of yours. I'd "guesstimate" the counter was about 5 ft long. Nice big tub and shower. The balcony also appears to be a lot bigger. Glad we sprang for the mini.

I'm trying to remember: Are you the one that is also from Maine?

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Hi Cruiseteach... I loved your reviews, I'll be on the Coral in April and you've got me actively dreaming of warm sun and breezes. (instead of 15 degree wind chill)

 

Anyway, my question.. rather than using travelers cheques, I'd like to use the AmEx check card. Did you notice if anyone was using them? I'm assuiming that the ship will accept them in the casino the same as they would the paper checks, and it's easier than carrying the checks.

 

If you didn't see anyone with them maybe another CC'er might know.

 

Pat

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What you want to do is use your AmEx at the Purser's desk to get cash, then use the cash in the casino. The casino charges, I forget what, but a lot, if you use your ship card or credit to get cash.

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Hi cruiseteach,

 

Great review. My family will be on the Coral 4/23/06 and we can't wait. Sounds like a great ship. I'm glad friends are coming with us since it sounds like the number of kids will be fairly low. Kids Program is vital for our kids because they love it so much. At least they're 10 and 14 so they can enjoy alot of other things as well.

 

We're actually from NH but spend our summers in southern Maine. I hope we need bathing suits for that cold Maine water this summer! A good day is when I can walk in the water and my calves don't hurt!!!

 

Take care and plan the next cruise!!

Bobbie

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That was our first exposure to cruising and first to Princess.

It was damn near perfect.........so what else is new w/Coral ???

 

I loved that ship and mucho glad to hear it hasn't changed.

 

Ciao,

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