We returned from the 15 day repositioning cruise of the Coral Princess from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco on May 8th. The ship is now on its way to Vancouver and then Alaska. Although this was not the initial inaugural cruise, we had many firsts on this ship. This was the first time it went entirely through the Panama Canal, it was the first time it was in the Pacific Ocean, it was the first time they flambe'd a dessert (Bananas Foster) and it was the firt time the Coral had the traditional Baked Alaska parade. In addition to these flaming items, they also had some pyrotechnics in some of their production shows.
Overall, the cruise was very enjoyable. It started out on a low note though. First of all, Princess still doesn't have its act together in treating its Platinum customers. They had one person embarking Platinums and they had as many as 3 people taking in specific decks. We looked at the long Platinum line and went in the Baja line instead. When I asked why the Platinum line was so poorly staffed, I was told that they were overwhelmed because there were over 300 Platinums on this cruise. Duh? If one knows that, they staff up appropriately. Similarly, the Captain's Circle cocktail party in the Universal lounge was overcrowded. About two thirds of the 1950 passengers were members. That being the case, they should have separate cocktail partys for the gold and the platinum - if Princess really appreciated the return business. The only value I've found to being Platinum is the free internet - it would have cost me about $300 in fees if not for that. But then, I probably would have used it more sparingly if I was paying for it. (G)
Our cabin B205 is an AA category. It is mostly covered but there are pipes running above the balcony where water condenses and drips on the occupants or on the table where food or drink might be. Also, this cabin is right where the bridge juts out and each morning the railing and part of the balcony are wet due to the window wipers that they run. There were screws missing from the cabinet door and molding on the balcony that needed repair. We were upgraded from an AD level but I wouldn't pay extra for this cabin. At least the mini-suites have tubs and decent spaced bathrooms. People constantly complained about how small the showers were for the rooms smaller than minis. Even the slim people complained.
Food and service started out downhill. Two couples at our table went to Sabatini's and mentioned this to the headwaiter there. It turned out that he was a friend of our head waiter and things changed instantaneously. We got the best service from there on out, including special meals and appetizers. We were shown the menu for the following night and if we didn't find anything we liked, we requested something else that was provided. One night I felt like roast chicken and what I got was immense, looked more like a small turkey. And it was delicious.
Got to run but I'll be glad to answer any questions. Yes, they do charge $1 for laundry, for dryer and for soap.