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Coral Princess Review – She’s Not The Best, But…

We recently enjoyed a return to cruising with a 3 night cruise to nowhere out of Brisbane. Here’s our Coral Princess review.

Is she the newest – no.

Is she the biggest – no.

Was the food perfect – no.

Was the service perfect – no.

Did the Medallion App work 100% of the time – no.

Would we cruise on the Coral Princess against – 100%, without hesitation, yes! Read on to find out why.

Which Cruise?

Pauline and I have several 2 week or longer holidays already planned which will use all our annual leave allowances for the next couple of years.

But……………when we heard cruising was finally back we had to book something, so we did. A 3 nighter out of Brisbane on a cruise to nowhere.

When we received our confirmation email, we were like little kids who just got their favourite present. It has been nearly 3 years since we cruised thanks to the dreaded pandemic. “We’re going on a cruise, we’re going on a cruise!” We were ridiculously excited about a 3 night cruise, but all our cruiseaholic friends will understand our little happy moment.

Pre Cruise – Check In/Registration, Covid-19 Protocols, Medallion App

Once upon a time, all check-in and registration was done via the Princess Cruises website. Now it’s all done via the Medallion App on your mobile phone.

Overall the process works well most of the time, but uploading documents can be a bit hit and miss, and sometimes they just disappear.

Pauline and I both managed to get all our documents uploaded and verified, and booked some specialty dining with the Medallion app prior to boarding. The staff at the terminal were wonderful and super helpful.

We realised while waiting in the queue that a lot of people had issues and their documentation on the app wasn’t complete, and this was causing a fair bit of stress. The good news is, you don’t need to worry. The Princess staff at the terminal were very knowledgeable and super helpful (and patient) and check-in was a smooth, painless process.

The photos we had uploaded didn’t meet the requirements, so new ones were taken by the check in staff and the whole process was pretty painless. Before we knew it, we were picking up our medallions with complimentary lanyards and on our way to boarding.

The photos we had uploaded didn’t meet the requirements, so new ones were taken by the check in staff and the entire process was pretty painless. Before we knew it, we were picking up our medallions with complimentary lanyards and on our way to boarding.

Once we were checked in and had our medallions it was time to get on board and that is a storey on its own that we cover next, but once onboard the medallions worked flawlessly around the ship. The Medallion app worked well for ordering food and drinks and we give it a big thumbs up for the onboard experience.

Princess Cruise Medallion & Free Lanyard
Our Princess Medallion and the complimentary lanyard

Brisbane Cruise Terminal

Brisbane desperately needed a new cruise terminal to allow bigger ships, giving cruisers more options. But it’s sad that this is the best they could come up with. I’ll be writing a separate post all about the new terminal next, so stay tuned.

We had priority boarding and overall the check in process was smooth. There were a couple of glitches, where the iPad that was being used to check and confirm all our info, wouldn’t save, so we had to repeat a few answers over and over, but who cares? We are going on a cruise!

Coral Princess Review – First Impressions

After a lengthy walk on a cool Brisbane winter’s day, that moment has finally arrived. It’s time to step foot back on a cruise ship – YESSSS!

Coral princess onboard at last

We step foot on Deck 7, Promenade Deck and I am struggling to describe the excitement as we walked up the gangway. My heart was racing, I was that excited to finally be back on a ship.

We had our medallions scanned and another photo taken and turned left through the brown stained double timber doors and walked into a lift lobby…. WOW! This is a bit anticlimactic. Where is the beautiful multi-storey atrium? We decided to head straight to the pool deck for a cocktail and switch on holiday mode. It was later in the day that we realised, if we turned right as soon as we entered, the atrium is only a few steps away.

Regardless of the confusion around the boarding, we have a cocktail in hand, ordered on the medallion app without issue, and set off to start exploring.

Pauline and I are so excited to not only be on a cruise but on a Princess ship. Most Princess ships are very similar in layout, so it is pretty easy to find your way around after a few cruises. We felt like we were back home. Being on a cruise really is our happy place. Emotionally, all the worries of life seem to simply disappear, and the world is all rainbows and lollipops for the next few days.

Walking around deck 14 (Lido deck) we find all the usuals;

  • Pool and hot tubs
  • Giant screen for Movies Under The Stars
  • Lido Bar and Pizzeria
  • Horizon Court Buffet
  • Lotus Spa
  • Gym
  • Adults only Solarium

After a relaxing walk around the Lido Deck and maybe another cocktail, we decide to ask one of the amazing bartenders where the smoking area is and we find out there are 2. One on deck 15 – Sun deck and 1 on deck 7—Promenade deck. Seeing we are on deck 14 we take the stairs up to deck 15 and find the smoking area which consists of 2 free standing ashtrays. No chairs or tables, no umbrellas or shade of any sort. Just a plain, empty deck area with an ashtray. Hmmmmm, guess they don’t want people hanging around. Have your smoke and move on, which I sort of understand.

Cigarette break completed, it’s time to move on to the rest of the ship.

Coral Princess Atrium

Jump in a lift and down to deck 5 – Plaza deck. The moment you enter the Atrium you feel at home. Princess lovers will understand exactly what I mean.

Coral Princess Atrium
The beautiful Coral Princess Atrium
Looking down into the Coral Princess atrium
Looking down into the beautiful atrium on Coral Princess deck 5

The colours, light brown polished timber, glass and gold are everywhere. Plenty of seating and a 3 piece band playing very chill instrumentals make for a great unwind spot.

Coral Princess Review – Deck by Deck

Deck 5 includes Guest Services, Captains Circle Loyalty Club desk, Future Cruise Booking desk and the beautiful Bordeaux Dining room.

Staying in the Atrium we take the stairs up to deck 6 and this is where the ship really opens up. We have the Provence dining room, the Casino, the Princess shops, photo gallery, Explorers lounge, the lower level of the Universe lounge and one of our favourite places on the ship, The International Cafe. No Coral Princess Review would be complete without me raving about the International Cafe. Beautiful freshly made barista coffees and snacks during the day and great drinks served by talented bar staff at night. The best of everything and well worth a visit.

As we continue moving up the ship we make it to deck 7 or Promenade deck. As much as we love the big new ships, we feel the loss of a Promenade deck where you can enjoy a comfortable walk around the entire ship is a big loss.

Coral Princess Promenade Deck

Is there a better view than calm seas from the Promenade deck on the Coral Princess

Looking around deck 7 and there is a lot to see. At the front of the ship is the Princess Theatre where the production shows are held. Then there is the Wheelhouse Bar and further around is Crooners bar. Then we have the obligatory Art Gallery which I just don’t get. I don’t understand the appeal and have heard too many stories of people overpaying in the heat of the moment.

Further towards the bow or rear is Sabatini’s Italian Speciality restaurant and the right at the rear, is the upper level of the Universal Lounge.

Deck 8 is mainly cabins but does include the Internet Cafe, Library and Cardroom for a little quiet reflection time.

Decks 9, 10 & 11 are pure cabin rooms with no public facilities. Deck 12 is mainly cabins with the exception of the kids & teens clubs at the rear.

Deck 14 (No deck 13 on any Princess ships) is the LIDO DECK and the hub of all activities during the day. The Horizon Court buffet at the front for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner, the main Lido Pool and Bar, and Movies Under The Stars. It’s just amazing up here. The vibe on even a reasonably warm day is fantastic. Live music and/or a DJ during the day really add to the holiday experience.

Moving further to the rear we find the Lotus Pool, then the Lotus Spa for all your spa and massage indulgences. FYI – very pricey services and very hard sell on assorted products really takes the gloss off what should be a wonderfully relaxing experience. At the very rear, we find the Sanctuary and as the name suggests, this is a great place to chill and watch the world go by.

Deck 15 and there’s much here. The bar and grill, the Conservatory and the upper level of the Sanctuary.

Deck 16 is split in 2 with access via deck 15 at either the front or rear of the ships via stairs only I think. At the front is a splash pool and at the rear a basketball/tennis court, giant chess set and 2 x shuffleboard areas.

Coral Princess deck plans can be found on the Princess website here.

Coral Princess Food Review

We only had 3 nights onboard but we gave 110% when it came to checking out the food options onboard.

We went outside our comfort zones when ordering, or at least I did and tried lots of things I hadn’t had before.

As per most of our cruise experiences, we couldn’t fault the food overall. Of course, some meals were better than others but nothing was bad. We didn’t return or complain about anything during our time on board. The staples were there, lobster and steak but we also tried others like escargot and quail eggs.

Sadly, this was only a 3 night cruise so we didn’t get to try everything but what we did was very good. Here’s a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner. From hash browns to creme brulee and lobster. The food was very good.

Coral Princess Cabin Review – Bora Bora Suite

I surprised Pauline with our first ever full suite for this short little adventure. We loved the extra room and the little perks that came with the suite. Due to the cost, it’s not something we do for longer cruises but it’s worth keeping an eye out for specials to grab yourself that extra bit of luxury when you can.

Here’s a video we made showing this beautiful suite and everything it included.

Coral Princess Bora Bora Suite Review. Best cabin, best suite what's not to like? Watch to find out!

We loved the space in this suite. Having enough room in the bathroom for both of us to get ready at the same time was mind-boggling. Most bathrooms on ships are tight for one person, let alone 2. The nice lounge area with a separate TV and of course the larger balcony were all appreciated and enjoyed over our time on board.

On the second night, we did experience a strange scraping-type noise that was pretty loud for a few hours. Luckily it stopped before we were trying to get to sleep as it was loud enough to have been a problem. I tried to track it down and it seemed to be in the ceiling between the walk-in closet and the bathroom.

Entertainment On Board

The best way to finish our Coral Princess review is with the entertainment onboard. Being one of the first cruises after the restart following the pandemic, we weren’t sure what to expect.

In our opinion, the onboard entertainment was down slightly from what we expected but it was still good. We felt that there weren’t as many musicians on board as usual and the crew numbers in the shows in the Princess Theatre seemed down.Would We Cruise Again

Taking all this into account, we had a great time and would strongly recommend the Coral Princess.

Coral Princess Tips

Understand what you booking and manage your expectations. The Coral Princess is not one of these giant new resort-style ships.

She is a reminder of the more relaxing, traditional cruising days. There are kids clubs on board but she really isn’t, in our opinion, set up or equipped to keep hundreds of kids entertained. She is a grand old lady that will allow you to rest, relax and unwind. Let the stresses of the world pass on by while you sit on the promenade deck with a Pina Colada in hand.

Would We Cruise Again On The Coral Princess

As we started this Coral Princess review, she is old, she is a bit small, she is lacking water slides and go-karts but we will be sailing on her again and are looking forward to it.

The Coral Princess is without a doubt a Princess Ship from top to bottom and front to back. The layout and the decor are familiar even when walking onto a new ship for the first time. There is a sense of comfort in knowing what to expect and the Coral Princess delivers on this promise.

We give this grand old lady a big thumbs up and have no hesitation in recommending her for your next cruise.

If you are still trying to decide if cruising is for you, check out our Ultimate Guide to Cruising page here.

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