Coral Princess Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Contributor Level: Purser

7+ cruises


Helpful Vote

4 out of 5

Lovely Canal Cruise

Sail Date: December 17, 2015

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Suite

Very nice cruise.  The ship is a bit tired looking in places but spotlessly clean, well maintained and comfortable.  We had a suite and an adjacent veranda stateroom.  Both were very comfortable and the layout of the suite was far superior to suites we have had on Oceania and Holland America -- particularly the split bath and the separation between the living and sleeping areas.  On both Oceania and Holland America a suite is really just a large room.  The suites on the Coral and Island Princess are designed to live as two distinct "rooms"--one for sleeping and one for entertaining.  Service was very good overall but there was a greater "push" to purchase specialty drinks and extra cost add ins than we were used to based on other cruises we have taken.  We booked the Sanctuary for the whole cruise and that eliminated the issue everywhere but the main dining room where the "hawking" of after dinner drinks was a bit too intrusive for our taste.

Cabin / Stateroom
See general comments.
Embarkation and Disembarkation
Could not have gone more smoothly.
Ship Quality
See general comments.
Destinations and Excursions
Overall very good but the Cartagena city tour proved a bit too much for my mother in law and did not provide nearly enough free time. Ordinarily I would suggest doing a self guided tour in a safe (and beautiful) city like Cartagena but the traffic there is notoriously bad and striking out on one's own could result in missing the boat at the end of the day!
Onboard Activities
As noted we hung out in the Sanctuary and we're happy there. We also used the gym every day. The hydro spa was sub-par though (another area where both Holland America and Oceania surpass Princess--at least on this ship).
We attended one show which was corny but my mother in law seemed to enjoy it. Princess could use something like the BB King club that Holland America has developed. Had there been a venue for consistently good after dinner music -- we would have gone every night but there really wasn't anything like that.
Service and Staff
Food and Dining
The food was fine. Nothing extraordinary either way. The extra cost dining rooms on this ship are, in my opinion, nothing to write home about and don't really provide any incentive to stray from the main room. This is another area where Holland America's offerings are better.
Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida
Oranjestad, Aruba
Cartagena, Colombia
Panama Canal (Cruise Into Canal)
You can see the whole canal but you need to get off the ship at Gautun and take an excursion--either a boat ride to the Pacific or the antique train which runs along side the canal. Both are fun.
Colon, Panama
Colon is really a nasty spot--even the locals acknowledge that it is a dump. Get off the boat at Gautun and see something of the canal and spend as little time in Colon as possible.
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Nicer than Colon but not anywhere I would want to spend time. Get out and see the rainforest -- it is why you came to Costa Rica in the first place!


The Sanctuary is a must if you want to get away from the crowds around the Lido. But because Princess doesn't allow one to book the Sanctuary in advance, there is something of a crush to make reservations upon boarding.

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