Our family + friends just returned from Sapphire's second voyage from Seattle to Ketchikan, Tracy-Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria( BC ) . First off , let me mention we are not new to cruising . Our adjoining / connecting balcony rooms on the Baja deck were stunning with continuous million dollar views of other cruise ships, sailing vessels, giant barges, Japanese fishing vessels , scores of Dolphin, Whales, Orcas, Eagles, Icebergs, however because of the highly unusual heat wave throughout the voyage we saw no seals, bears, wolves, or mountain goats . Even though this ship is brand new and should be spectacular it was beyond that . Because we chose " anytime dining " we ate in a different area almost every sitting . The 14th floor Lido buffet is easy to negotiate and serves exactly what the full service ding rooms serve , ( how about our party feasting on over 2 dozen lobster tails at one sitting with waiters patiently standing by refilling our water / coke/ coffee with only the wave of one's hand ) . With anytime dining , should you wish to get all dressed up and visit the Vivaldi, Sterling,Santa Fe, or Pacific Moon all you need to do is pick up any phone , dial dine, and they give you 30 minute reservations . Or , you can just walk in and they will seat you immediately or find you a table within 20 minutes . You can even even eat in the trad dining room by just asking the Maitre-d . Did we experience any significant annoyances while on board a ship that served approx 2800 guests plus 1500 crew members? The basketball net was broken within the first 30 minutes of the voyage by an over zealous 6' 7 " wanna b . When the extra drop down ceiling beds are in the down position one tends to bang their head quite frequently . The internet cafe which is awesome charges you as soon as you sign on , even before you connect , but the conciege reversed the charges for us . The casino was unforgiving by taking without giving .However , the direct from Vegas entertainment made up for all . The ports of call were what to be expected , small, party towns selling everything from Rolex to next months garage sale items . We were amazed that in town shows / bars/ stores operate with virtually no a/c . All in all we had a great time and thought the net returned value far exceeded the $ 7500 investment . No wonder they named this ship the " Sapphire Princess ". She shines !
however because of the highly unusual heat wave throughout the voyage we saw no seals, bears, wolves, or mountain goats
You aren't going to see any of these except the mountain goats- on the INSIDE PASSAGE. Mountain goats are almost always seen in the Lynn Canal, in and out of Skagway. Harbor seals frequently in Glacier Bay.- again your ship did not sail there.
we are booked on the 30 day cruise from Los Angeles to Sydney. We signed up for the traditional seating. So, like Helen10 's question, should we change to alternate dining? Can you still use alternate dining whenever you want, and keep the first seating reservation for when you want traditional dining??
Halen- Run dont walk , to make the change to anytime dining . Like I said before as soon as you board do like my wife did and make reservations in each of the rooms ( Santa fe, Vivaldi, Sterling , and Pacific Moon ) . Remember the personal dining also applys to room service -Yes Lobster tails in your room -I saw it with my own eyes . If you are shy about making reservations just walk up at any time , and the maitre-d will seat you by computor within 15 minutes . Now , check this out , one of our neighbors who was personal choice all the way went into the trad dining room on the night we hit Victoria ( it was empty , actually they are all empty on that evening ) and enjoyed a nice dinner while quite a few folks made a mad dash to get off the ship . By waiting only 30 minutes you get off so much easier and then wisk yourselves downtown on an all night $ 5.00 ( Canadian ) double decker , sure beats walking and I believe we actually beat the folks that skipped dinner and rushed off .
Dick, In Juneau we waited 1 hour before we disembarked because as always first timers tend to rush and make long lines . They tendered us with huge Life Boats that held over 130 people but guess what , if you wait 1 little hour at the bar , pool, lido deck, ceramic room, shuffle board , or even a message for 1/2 price ( when you are in any port ) you get to ridr in comfort -maybe 20 total and believe me a few hours in these little towns is more than enough . As you probably read earlier Victoria was a breeze getting off and on -truly the most fun of all .
We're on the same cruise as you, and we're also booked for Traditional dining - I want to switch but we can't do it through the Cruise Personalizer or our Australian travel agent. We're planning on just changing this as soon as we board.
Thanks for the great insight. We will be taking the Sapphire to Mexico in Oct. Is it a must to change to anytime dining? We can eat there even though we have traditional too right? I have also heard that each night in traditional they rotate menus from each dining room, has anyone heard of this?
Thanks! Have a great cruise all!!
Carnival Splendor (3 days of towing back to port)
We sailed on the Sapphire 7/25-8/1 and also loved the anytime dining... didn't make reservations and never waited for tables (we did eat early 5:30-6pm)
Also, don't give up on no wildlife on the Inside passage...
The captain made an announcement and we saw an Orca right alongside the ship while out at sea! Also saw several harbor seals in Tracy Arm. I'm sure if one were to spend a great deal of time gazing out into the water they would see more, too.
We're thinking of doing the Sapphire to Alaska in June/July 2005. For the anytime dining, do the restaurants charge an extra fee? Also - if anyone has sailed on NCL Star, how would you compare the two ships? I've read reviews that the buffet on Princess is usually leftovers from main dining. What are your experiences with the buffets? Any recommendations on shore excursions you book yourself instead of thru cruiseline?
Venus, the only restaurant that charges is Sabitini's -- the 4 anytime dining restaurants are all free.
We are on the Diamond in October, having done a 2-nighter pre-inaugual on her in March (she is the sister to the Sapphire). The choice of restaurants is fanastic! That's why we booked her in October. You can also order off the tradiitional dining room menue from any of the 4 anytime dining restaurants, so it's the best of both worlds.
I would highly recommend this class of Princess ships.
__________________ Harry Martin
Moderator - Mexico and G/L message boards