There has been an outpouring of love and affection for Coral Princess as its final season sailing out of Brisbane comes to a close. So is she Australia’s favourite ship?

Some passengers have nominated Coral Princess as Australia’s favourite – but what do you think? Do you have an Australian-based ship you’d like to nominate?

Coral Princess is in her second year in service Down Under and she has been one of the highest-rated ships in the global fleet, Princess Cruises Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, UK & Europe Stuart Allison told Cruise Passenger. Despite that, Coral Princess will cease to homeport in Australia from 2025. She only returns to Australia, briefly, in August.

Coral Princess is in her second year in service Down Under and she has been one of the highest-rated ships in the global fleet, Allison told Cruise Passenger.

“With Coral Princess homeported in Brisbane during the peak summer season, there’s a big Queenslander contingent sailing on the ship which has created a ‘great local’ community feeling on board,” he said.

“I just think there’s a great community on that ship. It’s a nice size, particularly for this market.

“Maybe it’s the guest mix – it’s a bit more Queensland skewed.”

And passengers agree. It is currently on an Easter-themed cruise of 31 days, one-way from Sydney, via Brisbane, to Auckland. The itinerary started on March 26 and ends on April 26. She then heads to Cape Town, South Africa, before returning to the Northern Hemisphere for good.  

Princess Cruises’ 2025/26 Australian summer program will also feature the debut of Discovery Princess. The program also features the longest ever world cruise to sail roundtrip from Australia. It’s a record-breaking 114-night voyage on Crown Princess.

Fun facts

“Australians spend more nights on Princess ships than they do on any other cruise line,” Allison said.

“We had more local capacity (cabins x nights deployed) than any other cruise line this summer. In addition, our itineraries are generally longer so more guests spend more nights on Princess ships than any other cruise line.”

Coral Princess at its homeported in Brisbane. Picture Facebook
Coral Princess homeported in Brisbane. Picture: Facebook

Queenslanders take tiny ship to heart

Queensland cruisers and those heading to the Port of Brisbane to join the Princess line’s smallest vessel have taken the tiny ship to heart. The 2000-passenger Coral Princess weighs in at just 91,267 gross tons and 294m. She was launched in 2002 and refurbished in 2019.

There was high praise for the food, the bars, the overall comfort, the promenade deck and library.

Julie Jester was one of many who summed up the benefits of cruising with Coral Princess when Cruise Passenger asked the question on the ship’s Facebook forum as to why she was so special.

“She’s big enough to provide a good variety of public spaces but not too big that those spaces feel too crowded all the time or to feel that you’re walking a marathon to get from one part of the ship to another.

“The decor is warm and stylish but still reminds you that you are on a ship not in a glitzy shopping mall. The layout of the MDRs, with its subtle difference in level for some parts of it, means you don’t feel like you’re dining in a barn. The Wheelhouse Bar is a decent size but the Good Spirits bar is small and cosy.

“There is a better flow throughout the public areas on the lower decks as the MDRs are forward rather than aft on most ships. She has two entertainment lounges – Universe which … also stages the On the Bayou show, and Explorers. Both are good for a variety of events. The theatre is a decent size so you don’t have (to) get there an hour before to get a seat for either show time. 

“Last, but not least, the physical aspects of this lovely ship are enhanced by the wonderful Princess crew members who work so hard but always have a smile and a cheerful greeting for you.”

Coral Princess staff made her feel like ‘home’

She was just one of many who poured out their admiration for Coral Princess while she sailed in Australia.

“The best thing we found were the staff (who) could not do enough for us,” posted Willie Kleiberg. “It is just a ship that makes you feel at home. I know it is an old ship and in places looks tired but when they revamp her what a ship she will be. 

“We just loved everything about her.”

Coral Princess in Sydney with the Sydney Opera House in the background.
There was much praise for Coral Princess in Australia. Picture: Facebook, Owen C Davies.

Passengers sing praises of petite Princess

Despite a few grumbles about her age and current condition here is a taste of other positive comments: 

“We always thought you could not beat Sea Princess but having been on the Coral a few times our opinion is firmly in favour of the latter. Great size, the very best crew, all in all just feel very comfortable and welcomed. Very very sad to see her go, hopefully she will be back – that is if the bean counters listen to their loyal clients. All the best to all.”
Keith Day

“I was on that cruise too & I’m on her again. I find many of the staff who were on in Nov are on now & remember us!”
Eileen Domagala

“My husband and myself both love the coral, but it is need of some TLC . We have been on her 5 times & we can never fault the staff .”
Cindy Ede

“ALL of the above, but mostly because it’s not a monstrosity of a ship. Love you Coral AND she sails out of Brisbane!!”
Kate O’Dwyer

“Love the smaller ships that’s what Brisbane likes with less than 2500 passengers . Staff are great on the coral. Entertainment needs to pick up and don’t judge the cruise entertainment on what age people are travelling on her. Not every one is over the age of 70. We noticed the difference in some of the things to do around the ship from Sydney to Brisbane when it went from being the Australia cruise to the Hawaii cruise.”
Jane Waddell

“Because she is a smaller ship she is more intimate, and easier to get around. She is old, she is comfortable, she hugs you. The crew are always amazing and feel like family, the food good, just love it. Back on there in a couple of weeks, can’t wait.” 
Christine Kennedy

And Polly Sargent summed it up best.

“I would say, firstly it’s the staff, secondly it’s the passengers ‘who like the smaller ships’ you get to meet so many people. The food is amazing, the entertainment is great. The experience I had on Coral was my best cruise by far. You didn’t feel like a ‘number’.

“The staff made you feel like you were someone special, even if you just asked for directions.”

And a final word…

Finally over to Rosalind Carson.

Coral is not the smartest looking ship in the Princess fleet, and she’s certainly not the youngest, but she has a special ambiance that is unmatched. Her relatively small size, by today’s mega ship standards, makes her appeal to both first time and regular cruisers. 

“There are many lovers of cruising who do not wish to see the world on a mega ship. Smaller ships can go where big ships cannot, and not every cruiser wants water slides, dodgem cars and wave machines. Coral offers personalised and very friendly service, and is staffed by crew that appear to honestly love their job.

“They take great pride in their ship and care for both her and her passengers wonderfully. Even when Coral is sailing with a full complement of passengers there is never a feeling of crowding in public spaces.

“Princess should think very seriously about their business plan, which seems to involve building bigger and bigger ships while scrapping the smaller ones. 

“The die was cast when they rid themselves of their two remaining R Class ship, the Pacific and the Ocean. Those ships now operate very successfully under the flags of Oceania and Azamara, and their small size makes them very appealing to discerning cruisers. Should Coral go the same way as the Princess R Class ships, consumer backlash will be felt in the pockets of Princess Cruises.”