Mostly Good Cruise thru the Panama Canal

Coral Princess Cruise Review to Panama Canal, Central America

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Reviews: 2
Helpful Votes: 84

Overall rating:

3.9 out of 5
Verified Review
Coral Princess

15 Night Panama Canal - Ocean To Ocean Westbound (Ft. Lauderdale To San Francisco)

Sail date: January 31, 2019

Ship: Coral Princess

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: B725

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

Despite some disappointments, it was a great vacation and a good cruise. In my opinion, Princess and Norwegian are equivalent, though my wife prefers Norwegian.


2 out of 5
Ship came from dry dock in the Bahamas, and was 4 hours late arriving in Ft. Lauderdale. Passengers waited in a large hall at the port, with no food, no water, no music or other diversions. We boarded the ship around 3 PM, and it left around 6 PM. It took the crew a couple of days to get their act together.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
Main dining rooms: Food was mostly good. However, the menu contained so many oddball combinations, that it felt like meals were from Food Network's "Chopped". Specialty restaurants: We ate at Bayou steak house twice. The first experience was excellent; the second not so great: The steaks were not as good the second time, and the service was inattentive. None of our group of 4 enjoyed our meals at Sabatini's. The flavors were not as good as Olive Garden, and the massive quantities of food - course after course - felt obscene!

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
Pools and hot tubs were good good. Fitness center was small and crowded early in the morning. Gym equipment had to be shared with other passengers who wanted to use the same machines at the same time.


4 out of 5
Musicians, comedians, etc. were mostly very good. A couple of shows weren't as good as the others. However, the 3 "production shows" were outstanding. Other musical performers throughout the ship were quite good. The Cruise Director, Gary Golding was excellent, with great enthusiasm and humor. His staff were also terrific.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Every one of the staff were friendly and personable. They always greeted guests with a smile and "good morning or afternoon". All of our requests were accommodated with friendly professionalism.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
The Coral Princess is a smaller cruise ship, as it has to fit through the old locks of the Panama Canal. The size was comfortable, and never felt crowded. Common areas were kept clean and in good order, however the ship is showing its age, as it is getting a bit threadbare.

Cabin / Stateroom

2 out of 5
Cabin B725 was small but adequate. However, it suffered from severe vibrations, which affected our ability to sleep. We complained, and Donny at the front desk was able to transfer us to B627, which is a handicap-equipped cabin, as the passengers who booked that room did not board the ship. In addition, Donny accommodated us with $200 each in on-board credit.

Ship tip

This cruise is geared towards an older crowd. We are both 70, so it was good for us. This itinerary is not for someone who is looking for a swinging party crowd, nor would it be good for children, as there were very few kids on board. I assume most children would be in school.

Ports of call

Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida

3 out of 5
FTL is okay. Been there many times, so it's not too exciting. Lots of good restaurants.

Cartagena, Colombia

4 out of 5
We went on an interesting city tour through Viator. We learned quite a bit about the history and culture of the area.

Panama Canal Transit

5 out of 5
This is a highlight! The canal is a modern wonder of the world. The on-board expert Umberto gave great lectures about the various ports, including the history/construction of the Canal.

Fuerte Amador, Panama

5 out of 5
Panama City is a modern, energetic city, with beautiful, modern architecture. It is the financial capital of Central America, and we enjoyed the city.

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

5 out of 5
Costa Rica is a beautiful country. We went on another tour through Viator, including a visit to a monkey reserve, a river cruise to see crocodiles and many different varieties of exotic birds, as well as a drive up to a mountain rain forest. The town of Puntarenas is a sad story. It is a fishing village that managed to drive itself to ruin by over-fishing the fish population, catching females and juveniles. Now, fishing is prohibited in the area, and businesses are closed the boats are abandoned.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

4 out of 5
We went on an excursion through Princess, including an active volcano, where we were able to look into the caldera that was spewing smoke. We also went to a street market where we were able to bargain for souvenirs, as well as a historic town square and museum that was formerly a convent. Our tour guide, Fito was outstanding. However, Nicaragua is a police-state, socialist dictatorship, which was uncomfortable. There is severe poverty in this country which should have adequate natural resources to thrive. Sadly, we saw many children begging in the streets.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

5 out of 5
We took a Whale Watching excursion through Princess, that was outstanding. We saw lots of whales - mothers and their calves. After Whale Watching, we ate a delicious fish lunch at the marina, and spent the rest of the time negotiation for and buying souvenirs.

San Francisco, California Did not visit port

After disembarking, we just got into a cab and went to the airport.


5 out of 5
This part of the cruise exceeded expectation. Princess had this process perfected. The time from our arrival at our designated meeting spot, getting off the ship, going through customs, and getting our luggage was 30 minutes.

Traveler Photos

Gatun Locks 2 Gatun Locks
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