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  #1 (permalink)  
Old August 29th, 2002, 08:44 AM
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Default Coral Princess 1/23/203

I'm booked on the Coral 1/23 for a partial transit of the Panama Canal. I was wondering if anyone has ever been on a similar cruise and what were the best tours to do in the ports (Categena, Columbia and Limon, Costa Rica)? I've been to most of the Caribbean Islands and thought this would be different. Anyone know?
Cindy
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Old August 29th, 2002, 06:01 PM
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Default Re: Coral Princess 1/23/203

Cindy,

I'm booked on the Coral 1/23 for a partial transit of the Panama Canal. I was wondering if anyone has ever been on a similar cruise and what were the best tours to do in the ports (Categena, Columbia and Limon, Costa Rica)? I've been to most of the Caribbean Islands and thought this would be different. Anyone know?

First, you should be aware of two details on this itinerary.

>> 1. The ship does not transit the full length of the Panama Canal. In fact, she transits only a very short segment (from Colon, through the Gatun Locks, to Gatun Lake, which supplies water for the locks on both sides).

>> 2. Princess has suspended ports of call at Cartagena due to civil strife bordering on civil war. The current substitute port of call is Colon, Panama. There's no guarantee that your itinerary will be able to call at Cartagena, as it depends upon the situation there and nobody can predict how that situation will unfold.

That said, I'll answer your questions as best I can.

>> 1. When I called at Cartagena aboard MV Sun Princess two years ago, the ship offered four tours. One tour was strictly shopping (at two shopping areas, IIRC). The other three tours were substantially identical, all visiting La Popa monastery, the Eglisia San Pedro Claver ("Church of St. Peter Claver"), the maritime museum, and two shopping areas. The difference between these tours was that one tour visited the fort (meaning that you got off the bus and walked into it), another tour drove by the fort (but did not get off the bus) to allow somewhat more time for shopping, and the remaining tour skipped the fort completely to allow still more time for shopping. We also were hounded by vendors hawking their wares on the streets around most of these attractions.

>> 2. Many of the attractions in Costa Rica are in the central plains around San Jose, the capital, and thus are accessible from either coast. The down side is a rather long bus ride to and from the attractions, but the attractions are sufficiently interesting to make the bus ride worthwhile. This country also is phenomenally clean and lush, and it's considerably more prosperous than its neighbors. There might also be a few attractions near the port, of which I would not be aware since my cruise called at Puntarenas (Pacific Coast) rather than at Limon (Caribbean Coast). Be sure to buy some coffee to bring home while you are there, especially if you like dark roast.

Princess goes to great pains to make the tour descriptions as trustworthy as possible, even sending staff on tours to verify that the descriptions are correct. Be sure you read the descriptions carefully to determine which tourse are of interest to you.

Have a great cruise!

Norm.
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Old August 29th, 2002, 09:39 PM
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Default Re: Coral Princess 1/23/203

Cindypam wrote:

> I'm booked on the Coral 1/23 for a partial transit of the
> Panama Canal. I was wondering if anyone has ever been on a
> similar cruise and what were the best tours to do in the ports
> (Categena, Columbia and Limon, Costa Rica)? I've been to most
> of the Caribbean Islands and thought this would be different.
> Anyone know?
>
Cindy:
I didn't know that Princess won't be stopping at Cartagena anymore. I'm glad to hear it because we will be doing the real Panama Canal cruise from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco in April 03. I was not impressed when we stopped there on a previous canal cruise but some people like it.

OTOH, Costa Rica is a beautiful country with very friendly people. They have a very low crime rate. It is quite a contrast to Columbia.
Frank-in-CA
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Old August 29th, 2002, 10:05 PM
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Default Re: Coral Princess 1/23/203

Hi Norm

I'm booked on the inaugural voyage December 14 and in just checking Princess's site, they still are showing Cartagena as a port. When I did the full Canal on Princess in April, my cruise was one of the first to cancel Cartagena - gave us a few extra hours in Aruba. Been wondering if they were going to do the same thing for my 12/14 cruise. Is that for sure that they're going to Colon? If so, is there any info on shore excursions available ... or anything about the town? Thanks.

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Old August 30th, 2002, 08:15 AM
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Default Re: Re: Coral Princess 1/23/203

Norm,

Thanks for all the info. I'm a bit concerned about the Columbia stop and the transit of the canal only being a small part of the acutal transit. Are you saying that I might be better off on another cruise? My husband and I are golfers as are my mother and her boyfriend who are also going? Do you know if golf is offered anywhere near the ports we go to, or are the tours worth going to? I'm a bit confused now about what to do. I still have time to cancel and find another cruise, but I've been to most of the islands and figured this was different, but maybe this is too different?

Cindy
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Old August 30th, 2002, 08:19 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Coral Princess 1/23/203

Cindy,

I'm a bit concerned about the Columbia stop and the transit of the canal only being a small part of the acutal transit. Are you saying that I might be better off on another cruise? My husband and I are golfers as are my mother and her boyfriend who are also going? Do you know if golf is offered anywhere near the ports we go to, or are the tours worth going to? I'm a bit confused now about what to do. I still have time to cancel and find another cruise, but I've been to most of the islands and figured this was different, but maybe this is too different?

I mentioned those two details because I don't want you to go on a "Round Trip Panama Canal" cruise with false expectations and be disappointed. I can't make the decision as to which itinerary is best for you.

>> If your desire is a full transit of the Panama Canal, you definitely should change your booking to another ship since the "Panama Canal Round Trip" itinerary does not do the full transit. IIRC, MV Royal Princess has several full transits between Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles in November and December of this year and MV [i] Sun Princess [/i[ offers two full transits between Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale in February of 2003. Several other ships also offer full transits on repositioning itineraries, including MV Sea Princess in October 2002, MV Dawn Princess in November 2002 and March 2003, and MV Coral Princess in April 2003.

Tip: Since a flight from your point of origin to Fort Lauderdale and a return flight from Los Angeles to your point of origin probably won't be a legal "open jaw" itinerary (which airlines treat as equivalent to a round trip), you might have difficulty obtaining a cheap air fare. If so, try booking an overnight stay in Las Vegas en route to/from Los Angeles. You probably will save enough on air fare to pay the hotel bill many times over. The same is true of flying to or from San Diego.

>> I don't see any golfing among the excursions offered at Cartagena or at Limon. I would expect that golfing would be offered at Grand Cayman, at Cozumel, and at Montego Bay, depending upon where your itiernary calls, but I can't verify it right now. If golfing is your primary interest in port, though, you might want to consider booking on either of the ten-day itineraries of MV Dawn Princess instead. Princess offers shore excursions to first-rate private clubs on many of the Caribbean islands. The descriptions of these excursions are available in the "Plan Your Voyage" section of the Princess Cruises web site (http://www.princess.com/planner). Go to the itinerary for the voyage of interest, then select the "View" link in the "SHOREX" column of the tabulated itinerary to view shore excursions for that port of call. Golf outings usually are excursion "XXX-P" where "XXX" is the three-letter key for the port of call. The "more information" link at the end of the abbreviated description on the listing retrieves the full description in the "Adventures Ashore" booklet for each tour.

The best thing to do is to discuss your expectations and desires with the other members of your party and arrive at a consensus before it's too late to change your booking. This way, nobody will have inappropriate expectations that might lead to disappointment.

Have a great cruise, whichever you all decide!

Norm.
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Old August 30th, 2002, 08:23 PM
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Default Re: Re: Coral Princess 1/23/203

Frank,

I didn't know that Princess won't be stopping at Cartagena anymore.

I believe that Princess intends to resume ports of call at Cartagena when the situation there permits. Unfortunately, there's no telling how long the present turmoil might last.

Norm.
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Old August 30th, 2002, 08:27 PM
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Default Re: Re: Coral Princess 1/23/203

Janie,

I'm booked on the inaugural voyage December 14 and in just checking Princess's site, they still are showing Cartagena as a port. When I did the full Canal on Princess in April, my cruise was one of the first to cancel Cartagena - gave us a few extra hours in Aruba. Been wondering if they were going to do the same thing for my 12/14 cruise. Is that for sure that they're going to Colon? If so, is there any info on shore excursions available ... or anything about the town? Thanks.

Unfortunately, nothing is "for sure" until it happens. My understanding is that Princess intends to resume ports of call at Cartagena as soon as the situation there permits -- which is why there's no announcement of a change in schedule.. Unfortunately, there's no way to know how long the problems there might last.

BTW, I'm looking forward to your review of MV Coral Princess!

Norm.
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Old August 30th, 2002, 11:26 PM
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Default Re: Coral Princess 1/23/203

Plan on writing a review, but being the holidays - it may be delayed a bit.

Do you know anything about what Princess has offered in Colon as to shore excursions - should their be a change in itinerary?

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Old September 1st, 2002, 05:58 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Coral Princess 1/23/203

Hi Norm,

Thanks for all the tips. I do think we're going to stick with this cruise, because I did want to visit some new places (I've been to many of the Caribbean islands and toured them ), and this trip I wanted to see more and not play as much golf. I've spoken to others and they feel a partial transit gives you the feel of the canal, and basically that's OK with me.
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