There are some destinations where cruise ship size really matters, none more than the Panama Canal. The 2,000-passenger Coral Princess was built to fit the specific criteria needed to navigate the locks and (along with her almost-identical sister, Island Princess) spends almost the entire year traversing the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back, and also journeys north to the wilds of Alaska. The small size means the onboard activities are more laid-back than on megaships, with sitting back and enjoying the view a preferred way to pass the time.
What We Love
Wheelhouse Bar: There are plenty of cozy places for two at this Promenade Deck bar, and large windows frame the night sky over the sea. Live music adds to the atmosphere.
Good Eats: The Princess Pizza spot actually serves some of the best slices at sea, and there's usually a variety of toppings available. Over at the Bayou Café, you'll find a full menu of Cajun fare, with gumbo the all-time favorite.
Best Known For
Expert Narratives: Whether you’re cruising through the Panama Canal or Alaska, Princess is skilled at enhancing the sights with knowledgeable commentary.
Rooms With a View: 90 percent of the Coral Princess’s cabins have a view, including 789 staterooms with balconies — critical for the ship's popular itineraries.
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Who It's Best For
Cruisers With Time on Their Hands: Most of the passengers fall into the over-50 age range and have the kind of schedule needed to take the lengthier cruise through the Panama Canal. If you’re looking for youthful companionship or you miss having kids underfoot, this is not your ship.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It Needs a Refresh: Though it's not in bad shape, Coral Princess got its last major refurbishment in 2009. Although she had some other updates in 2013, you may feel the ship needs some refreshing.
Nancy Dunn is a Vancouver-based travel writer and a contributor to ShermansCruise.com.
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Coral Princess at a Glance
- Line: Princess Cruises
- Class: Coral
- Number of Passengers: 2000
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 2003
- Refurbish Date: 2013