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Copyright © 1995-2004 
Linda Coffman


Coral Princess
Panama Canal
12/28/04 - 1/7/05

by Marilyn Easley

I’m back from my Coral Princess Panama Canal cruise, 12/28 to 01/07, that I took with my daughter, son and daughter-in-law. We had a blast. To begin we were on Baja Deck 519 and my son was next to us. They opened the partitions on the balcony which was great. The cabin was spacious and beautiful with more than enough storage for two women however I wish the shower was larger, if you dropped the soap you would without a doubt bang your head on the wall. It was like showering in a locker. The real trick was leaning on the wall to shave your legs. It was quite comical. The only downfall to the cabin was the wind. If you had the sliding door open it was like a wind tunnel if you opened the cabin door every thing would blow all over the room and the wind constantly whistled through the cabin. One other thing was there was a drain pipe on the balcony and it would flush very loudly occasionally or just trickle with water all the time.

The food in the Province Dining Room was outstanding (the desserts were not). Our waiter Miguel from Mexico and his assistant Nikusur from Romania were adorable and entertained us every night. If I went to order something and Miguel’s eyes didn’t sparkle I knew better than to order it. Against all the advice not to give a Christmas gift, we presented them with NYC tee shirts and they were so happy and pleased. We were talking to Nikusur and Miguel came up to us all out of breath and we joked that he was doing all the work while Nikusur was just talking to us but what Miguel had done was run down to his cabin and presented me with a beautiful hand painted ceramic trinket box to show his appreciation. He said he has been cruising for 14 years and it was the first gift he had every got and was extremely appreciative. We also tipped above the automatic deduction. We also presented a tee shirt to Jose who took care of our cabin and he too was grateful. He said he used to do the NYC to Bermuda cruise and always meant to get a tee shirt but never did and now he would have one. He was so smitten with my daughter he would put two chocolates on her pillow every night. 

The food at the Horizon Court left a lot to be desired but the desserts were better. Pizza and hamburgers were great and so was the ice cream bar.

We also had a large breakout of Norwalk Virus. 50 plus people came down with it and by the next morning the count was up to 60ish and by the end of the cruise it was up to 90 something. An elderly person was taken to the hospital. Upon entering the buffet or dining rooms you had to use an antiseptic wash on your hands and there was no longer any self service in the buffet you were not allowed to touch anything. Ship rails were wiped down constantly to sanitize them. The people infected were quarantined in their cabins. The last 3 nights of the cruise we were not allowed to have the bread basket on our table so we were not even allowed to touch the baskets. And they stated that the next cruise was also going to be the same absolutely no self service.

The cruise was pretty rough with 12 foot waves and extremely high winds. My bed would vibrate and shake all night long on the windy days. One day they had to close the pool because the water was being battered from one end to the other. And speaking of the pools twice they had to be shut down and drained because some thoughtless parent allowed their darling child in the pool and they left floating specimens. And we wonder how the virus gets started.

Now for the ports – Limon is so poor and dirty – the market by the ship had a lot of interesting things for sale. We did the Flores Tropical Garden tour it was pretty nice at the end everyone was presented with a beautiful bouquet of native plants, we were also treated to a road side stop of baby bananas that were out of this world.

New Years Eve was exciting--the inside was filled to capacity with people on the stairs and halls waiting for the balloon drop at midnight. Some people had gotten in the glass enclosed elevators and just rode them up and down until midnight. On the deck they had another party and they wanted to have a huge streamer throw at midnight but once the kids found the boxes of streamers well lets just say they were all tossed before midnight. And there was a huge downpour but it didn’t really bother the dancers they only left the floor for about 5 minutes and just went back out and danced in the rain. After midnight we retired because it was early call the next day for the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal was of course outstanding – I managed to be right in the front of the ship to watch everything while my children went all around the ship to experience it at different places. I really don’t think the experience would be the same from your balcony because you would miss the narrative and could not possibly appreciate it as much. We did the Lock tour and eco cruise which I don’t think was really worth it all though the Chagris River is gorgeous. The actual town of Colon where the ship is docked is very dirty and poor just like Limon. The market place has a lot of interesting things. My son and his wife did the Emberia Indian tour and absolutely raved about it.

Grand Cayman is still pretty devastated from the hurricane. You can see all the houses getting new roofs and our tour guide said that the locals that lost everything were given help and new furniture and appliances to get them back on their feet. One local I talked to said he still didn’t have electricity. We did the submarine, rum cake factory, turtle farm and hell tour they were interesting. The sub was the best. Then we got a cab for $3 and my daughter and I went to 7 mile beach for a couple of hours. The beach is gorgeous and the sand is incredible.

Next we were off to Cozumel – I loved it there. We did the Passion Island tour which I would say just find a cab and ask to go the beach because it was over an hour ride there so you only had 2 hours on the beach and to eat lunch. When we got back to town we just walked forever up and down streets and came across a beautiful market place. We didn’t make Senor Frogs but my son did and he could not believe what a party place it was he said it was wild. We had to leave Cozumel way too soon. The ship was delayed for an hour leaving because some passengers just couldn’t seem to make it back. So we were late the next morning docking at Belize.

Belize was ok I just did the port nothing exciting for me. My daughter did the Xunatunich Ruins and Marimba lunch at a hotel and she loved every minute of it. My son and his wife took a water taxi for what they thought was a 5 minute ride to the beach and it was actually a speed boat to some island that took forever to get there and then it rained. They weren’t happy about that but they said the speed boat ride was crazy.

We experienced rude and pleasant passengers. One teenager wanted a deck chair and the only one left was broken and he screamed at the deck attendant that, you work for me and just get me a chair. We had a couple at the next table who were waited on hand and foot by our waiters so they could be in and out quickly. The next table was extremely rude - one of the young girls was always late and expected to be caught up on the courses so she could eat with the rest and they would keep the waiter in the dining room until after 11pm. Overall the other passengers were just wonderful human beings and we enjoyed talking to them.

That was our wonderful cruise – I hope you all enjoy reading it.

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