Our Panama Canal Cruise of November 2011


To go to the page on Puntarenas, Costa Rica, click here
To go to the page on Fuerte Amador, (Panama City) part 1, click here
To go to the page on Fuerte Amador, (Panama City) part 2, click here
To go to the page on the Panama Canal part 1, click here
To go to the page on the Panama Canal part 2, click here
To go to the page on Cartagena, Colombia, click here
To go to the page on Aruba, click here
To go to the page on Ship Activities, click here

Dear friends,

We just returned home from a wonderful 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal.  I will attempt to describe our experiences, mostly with photos so hopefully you can share a portion of our enjoyment.

On November 21, 2011 Rosemarie McBride and I departed, via shuttle to Phoenix, where we stayed the night at a Hampton Inn, just about a mile from the airport.  After a wonderful complimentry breakfast, the hotel shuttle took us to the airport for our flight to Los Angeles.  Princess Cruises met us at LAX and took us to our ship, the Coral Princess.  This is the same ship on which we sailed up the Alaskan Inland Passage in 2009.

Of course, the first thing we did on board, after finding our cabin, was to go to the Horizon Court 24 hour buffet and have lunch.

Our itenerary was:
11/22 Depart Los Angeles
11/23 5 days at sea
11/28 Puntarenas, Costa Rica
11/29 At sea
11/30 Fuerte Amador (Panama City), Panama
12/1   Panama Canal transit
12/2   Cartagena, Colombia
12/3   Aruba
12/4   2 days at sea
12/6   Arrive at Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

We flew back to Phoenix from there, changing planes in Dallas/Ft. Worth.  The shuttle then brought us back to my house, where there was a 5 or 6 inch layer of snow on my driveway.

The Ship

The Coral Princess
The Coral Princess

Some of the specifications of the Coral Princess are:

Built by                                 Chantiers de L'Atlantique Shipyard of St. Naizare, France  December 2002
Port of Registry                     Hamilton, Bermuda
Class Notation                      A1 Passenger ship
Gross Registered Tonnage    91,627 tons
Net Registered Tonnage       53,394 tons
Overall Length                      964.3 feet
Total Width less wings          105.6 feet
Total Width over wings         126.0 feet
Total Height above keel        203.4 feet
Maximum Passengers           2368
Normal crew                        930
Propulsion Type                   2 Synchronous Electric Motors
Diesel Engines                      2 Diesel electric Wartsils 16V46C
Gas Turbine                         General Electric LM2500, 25 MW
Output of Main Engines        40,000 kW (52,000 HP)
Thrusters                              3 bow thrusters, 3 stern thrusters  Rolls Royce
Propellers                             2 Fixed Pitch Propellers, Five Blades
Rudders                                2 semi-Balanced Splade Rudders
Stabilisers                             2 ACH Engineering
Fuel Capacity                       1938 tons Heavy Fuel Oil (for the Diesels)
                                            1786 tons Marine Gas Oil (for the turbine)
Fresh Water Capacity          2199 tons
Cruising speed                      21.5 Knots (24.7 Mph)
Maximum Speed                  23.4 Knots (26.9 Mph)

The ship was refurbished in 2009 after our Alaska Cruise.  The most obvious changes were a very large screen TV on the Lido Deck, and flat screen TVs in the cabins.  I am sure there are many other improvements, but these were the ones I saw.

Big screen TV
The most obvious change to the ship since we took it in Alaska was the addition of a very large screen TV overlooking the Lido Deck.

They were constantly playing movies, NFL games, concerts, and other attractions on this set.  The speakers to the sides are capabable of VERY high volume!
We had a balcony type stateroom.  These sliding doors lead to the balcony and provide an excellent view.  The layout is pretty much the same as the one we had for Alaska.

The picture is taken from the edge of the queen size bed.  Behind that are our closet area, a cupboard including a small safe, the bathroom with a very small stall shower, and the entry door to the stateroom.

Our shipboad cards served as keys to our cabin, entry and exit documentation for the ship at all stops, and as an onboard credit card for all purchases onboard.
View from cabin
Our cabin
The arrow points to our cabin as seen from the outside of the ship.  We were on the starboard side fairly near the stern, on the Aloha deck.  This is the top deck with passenger cabins.  The Lido deck is directly above us.

This location helped get us exercise, as all the dining and entertainment were at the bow end of the ship.
The Atrium is the centerpiece of the ship.  It encompases decks 5, 6, 7, and 8 and is very beautiful.  All the ship's stores, the Pursers desk, the various excursion offices, the library, and the Internet Cafe are in the Atrium.  Here we see it decorated for Christmas.
Glass elevators There are two glass enclosed elevators which are constantly and very quickly moving among the 4 decks of the Atrium.

Getting Underway

Prior to our 5:00 PM sailing, we received our required emergency instructions at general muster on deck 7.  Here we learned the emergency procedures to be followed if needed and how to wear our lifevests.  Shortly after, we set sail.

Liberty ship
This is the view from our cabin prior to sailing.  At the dock across from us is a WWII Liberty ship.
As we were preparing to back out of our berth, a patrol boat stayed behind us in the channel to warn other boats.
Patrol boat
Haarbor lights As we backed into the main channel, the harbor lights were beautiful.
A Los Angeles fireboat escorted us until we were clear of the harbor.

After the excitement of leaving San Pedro and the Los Angeles Harbor, we settled down to a relaxing 5 days at sea.  During this time we relaxed, ate, attended lectures, attended shows, relaxed, ate, and did I mention - relaxed!  During our 14 days on the ship I managed to read 9 books on my Nook ebook reader.

We sailed south along the coast of Baja California, but never stopped in Mexico.  As we passed the tip of Baja we were able to see land for the first time since leaving.  It was Cabo San Lucas.

On our 2nd or 3rd day at sea we had a very pleasant surprise.  A steward delivered a plate of beautiful chocolate dipped strawberries to our stateroom with a note that it was from our AAA travel agent, Jan.  Thanks Jan, they were delicious!

As we passed the tip of Baja California, we were able to see Cabo San Lucas.

 To continue to Puntarenas,  Costa Rica, click here.


Dick Mason, Prescott, AZ  12/16/11