On Oct 1, 2011 we sailed from San Pedro on a 7 day California Coastal Cruise to Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Diego and Ensenada Mexico. Prior to the cruise we did a two day pre-cruise at the Hyatt Long Beach for the purpose of visiting the Queen Mary. They serve large helpings of nostalgia at no cost when you visit her. We found out First Class Staterooms cost $1000 or more back in the 30's. Our first port was Santa Barbara. We took the Trolly tour and found this to be a beautiful, but expensive place to live. A brief stop was made at Mission Santa Barbara. We visited Stearns Wharf and it being Sunday there was an Artists and Crafts show all along the beach. The day was sunny and warm. We had never seen the Golden Gate Bridge and sailing under it at dawn was something that will live long in our memories. I could write a full review on San Francisco alone. We took the 5 hour Princess tour which included Alcatraz and the the many local sights. A word of caution ! If you planto visit Alcatraz buy your own tickets online. We had less than an hour and a half on the "Rock" where you need two to two and half hours to do it right. By all means do the Audio Tour. The stories you hear from the prisoners and guards are chilling. We did did get a chance to visit Pier 69 and Fisherman's Wharf after the tour. The one thing we really wanted to do was ride the Trolley's but we ran out of time. We had a great time and about 10:30pm again sailed under the Golden Gate in a light rain. Magnificent ! May I mention at this point that our two days at sea were on a very smooth Pacific Ocean. Next port was San Diego. We had been there before so we opted for the two hour Harbor Tour. It was well worth the money. Again a warm sunny day. By the time we visited Seaport Village we did not have time to tour the carrier Midway. Next time for sure. Last port was Ensenada. We have seen many bad reviews of this port but were pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the town. We are not fans of Mexico ports anymore so we stayed on the pier and visited the nice small shopping plaza. We were entertained by a whole bunch of barking, smelly, Sea lions. Passengers who took the shuttle to town experienced no problems. Too soon we disembarked Sapphire and due to an early flight from LAX we took a cab. The cost was $57 + tip. Sapphire Princess has been reviewed many times on these boards so we will only say that everything was fine. No complaints in any area. We have booked this same cruise for Oct 6, 2012. Thank you for your time reading this review !
First, let me give a brief description of who was going on this trip. Me and my wife both in our early 30's with our 2 yr old boy (he turned 2 on the ship :) ) and my mom and aunt both in their mid 50's. We had been looking to go on a Alaskan cruise for so long and after lots of research and planning we chose to go on the Sapphire Princess. We chose this because we wanted a little bit of luxury but still have a really great play area for our son. We also liked the fact it went out on sunday in Seattle as we flew in Friday night and spent all day Saturday, this is highly recommended. We were about 1/2 - 2/3 right on our decision.
Ship: The ship was about what we expected. It was really pretty with room to move and never felt really crowded. The ship took about a half a day to figure out which I know isn't too bad considering some of the new ships with a maze for a layout. The atrium was beautiful, butdid not feel as nice as it could of. They could of made the atrium look a little taller and it would of felt even better.
Rooms: First this first... GET A BALCONY IT"S WORTH THE MONEY!!!!! We took 1 inside cabin for my wife, my son, and myself and my mom and aunt had a balcony right across the way. This turned out to be the best thing as we all got privacy and were able to use the balcony. To our surprise the inside cabin was quite large and spacious. We had more than enough room to have all 5 of our bags and a crib for my son. Never felt cramped at all. The rooms were very basic but nice. I have heard this ship is due for a refit soon and could use a little fixing up as there was couple of nics and scraps. Overall, nice. The biggest issue I had with the rooms (and the ship) was the toilets. They were the most uncomfortable seats I have ever used, and tis seemed to be a general consensus. Princess, please fix this.
Kid Area Ok this is where I need to unload for a second. We chose this ship because, out of the nicer lines, had the best play area for children. We knew we could not leave our son as he was under 3 but we were never prepared for the atrocity that we experienced. The 1st day at sea my wife and I took our son to play, and he started to love it. At that point we were approached by a CL worker who said "we understand you don't know but only one parent can be with the child at the time... but since you were uninfomed we will make an exception". Odd if I am on a family cruise cant my family be together? We said thank you and kept on playing. We took to the outside area where we noticed an unaccompanied 4 yr old walk over to the splash pool (by the way it was about 55 degrees out) strip to his skeevys and jump in. Being afraid for the child's safety my wife informed on of the 4 workers of the unmonitored minor in the pool. The staff member asked "where's his mom?" of course we don't know so she runs out yells at me with a "are you his parent". After I said no she yanks the kid out and yells at him. Another 5 mins later they asked one of us to leave as "there is only one parent aloud per child. Needless to say we did not return.
Food One word AMAZING. Everything was perfect. Especially in the Sterling steakhouse and of course Sabatini's. These are worth the extra as we would of paid to eat at those every night.
Service Princess has a great reputation for service, which they did not disappoint. Our big issue was that every employee and I mean every employee, sells. Right as you get on the ship, walking around and even at the dinner table. I got really annoying. I understand the 1st day trying to sell the soda cards and coffee as they are worth it, but ease up the rest of the trip. Honestly I also do not want my fantastic dessert disrupted by my waiter hocking a $25 cookbook every night. Take away the selling and you have impeccable service.
Ports We went to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria B.C. with a cruise in Tracy arm. All ports with the exception of Juneau were awesome. Juneau's issue was, though other ports had it as well, too much commercialism. It really spoiled the beauty. Make sure in Ketchikan you see rainbow falls and do the white pass train ride in Skagway, expensive but OH MY GOSH, Highlight of the trip. I was also impressed by Tracy Arm. I never heard much about it and when I woke up that morning I didn't need my coffee the beauty was my caffeine.
Overall this was an excellent cruise. Yes there are many opportunities that needed to be taken care of, especially with the kids area. But with the food, the pretty ship and the itinerary it all became perfect.
EMBARKATION Departs from The San Pedro World Cruise Terminal -- Berth 93
Got to the parking lot at 12:40pm. Pay upon exiting. ($84.00 for a 7 day cruise). We were in line inside the building at 1pm after giving a porter our luggage (group of 4). First filled out a public health questionnaire and then proceeded up the escalator and got to the check in desk at 1:05pm, very quick procedure. At 1:15pm we were in the line for security, no need to remove shoes. Hand luggage went through x-ray scanner. Stopped for the ship's photographer for an embarkation photo. At 1:20pm inserted cruise card for security photo. We were in our cabin (great midship location -- B437) by 1:25pm. The elevator was very fast.
Saturday about 2:30pm we met up with our fellow Cruise Critic roll call members in Skywalkers Lounge.
At 3:30pm we were in the Explorer's Lounge for Muster station D General Emergency station drill.
SHIP The ship is beautiful and shipshape.
This was I believe the first Princess ship bound for the Mexican Rivera of the season that did not end up at any Mexico ports due to the Swineflu. We got close to Mexico on April 27th before turning around and heading north.
OUR CREW Everyone was terrific. Captain Tony Herriott from England, Passenger Services Director (PSD) Shelia Griffin, Cruise Director (CD) Josh Dayboll, and the cruise staff Alex & Trevor. Our favorite bartender was Clint in Club Fusion.
CABIN We had a balcony cabin BC category. We were in a great midship location real close to the Panoramic elevators, but not that close that it was a noise problem.
Our cabin steward was Florin from Romania who was excellent in keeping 1 of 19 rooms stocked and cleaned. Luggage arrived very fast just after Muster Drill.
ACTIVITIES We went to the Champagne Art auction and listened to Rachel describe how Princess can offer art so reasonably. When the Patter says all in attendance receives a free work of art, well, it has to be shipped to you for around $20.00. You can't take it with you, and so it is really not free.
We went to listen to Jing the acupuncturists talk one day. It was very informative. We caught the end of the Captain's talk on Navigation at Sea one day in the theater.
We played Bingo, wooden horseracing, and trivia a few times, and we learned something new each time. We went to tequila tasting in the atrium, then to Explorer's lounge for guacamole and chips.
We really enjoyed the many activities. There is so much or so little to do on a cruise -- so it is up to YOU.
We attended the champagne waterfall and had our photo taken.
We went on a Scholarship at Sea program Princess Theater Backstage Tour which was truly phenomenal. Loved this up close and personal tour, we learned a lot of what has to go on to keep us passengers entertained. They all do a terrific job.
ENTERTAINMENT We went to see 3 great production shows -- Piano Man, Do you Wanna Dance, and I Got the Music, which were great and featured the La Passione String quartet.
The crew talent show is not to be missed. We saw the passenger feud game show, saw one show of Pop Star where passengers perform, enjoyed the music of Passion, and Los Brilliantes Mariachi's.
We loved comedian Kevin Jordan (flashlight man), he performed in the Princess Theater and another evening for those 18 years+ at an R-rated show in Club Fusion. Saw him both nights.
Dan Bennett, a comedy juggler/musician -- we did not care for him.
Steve Morris, a musician/comedian was ok the first night and the second night a little better. I understand the comedy, but wish he would just finish a song. Loved the music, the comedy was just ok.
Wavelength (Scott-Band leader/bass, Rich-guitar lead vocal, Phil-drummer, Chris-guitar) the wonderful band from Vancouver Island, Canada -- they played 4 types of shows for our seven day cruise; small venue rock at the sailaway party and in The Explorer's Lounge, an unplugged acoustical concert in Explorer's Lounge as well as a concert with the Princess orchestra, keyboardist Trooper, and La Passione strings in The Princess Theater. We attended the So You Wanna be a Rockstar with passengers singing the lyrics and Wavelength playing in The Explorer's Lounge. This was our very favorite music for the week and the highlight of our "girls" cruise. They are billed as a 4 piece classic rock band. They played every night except one when they had the day off. I guess a day off is in order. They have a MySpace page (Wavelength Roxx) and currently no web site.
The music in the Princess Theater was under Doug Tann, the singers were Becky Allen, Collin Mackenzie, Eric Ruiz, and Benjamin Perez. They were all very good, but we especially liked Becky and Benjamin.
Roger Carr played on the baby grand in Crooner's, and he seemed to have a following every time we passed by.
There are movies in either the Princess Theater, Explorer's Lounge or on your stateroom TV. Some of the movies on this cruise were Slum Dog Millionaire, Last Chance Harvey, and The Curious case of Benjamin Button, Defiance, and Body of Lies, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Tale of Despereaux, Australia, Quantum of Solace, Valkyrie, Revolutionary Road, Frost Nixon, Mall Cop, Not Easily Broken, The Reader, & The Dark Knight.
DINING Marcello Berardi is the Executive Chef and Jacques Ghennai is the Maitre D Hotel.
Hours in the International dining room for breakfast were 7am-9am and noon to 1:30pm for lunch.
You may make reservations for anytime dining if that is the dining you have by dialing 3463 on your stateroom phone or push the dining button on the phone.
Early traditional was at 6:00pm in International & Vivaldi and late at 8:15pm in International only.
Sterling Steakhouse is $15.00 per person (we did not go here). Sabatini's is $20.00 per person. (we did not do this; heard it was very good, but make sure you go when you are really hungry).
Sabatini's offers a full array of appetizers, pastas, Italian entrees, etc.
We attended afternoon tea one afternoon. You can go anytime between 3:30pm and 4:30pm. It was held in the Pacific Moon dining room.
Our dining room waiter was Emmanuel from the Philippines and Jr. Waiter was Adelin from Bulgaria. Our head waiter was Michael from Jamaica who was so accommodating. We were at table #47.
On the last morning of the cruise the International dining room hours were 6:30am to 8:30am. Horizon Court Buffet opens 5:30am to 9:00am. Lobby bar, Crooner's, and Calypso open for cash sales.
Chef's Table is a brilliant insight into the workings of the kitchen. French champagne and hors d' oeuvres served in the galley during rush hour followed by a multi course tasting menu at the VIP chef's table. Includes wine pairing at $75.00 per person. Space is limited, call the dining hotline (we did not do this).
Our formal nights were changed to reflect our changed itinerary -- to Sunday, April 26th and Wednesday, April 29th.
Sorry, hope you are still with me. I try to be as accurate as possible and informative as well.
Room Service: Sandwiches-club, roast beef, turkey, tuna salad, & veggie. Garden salad, Caesar with chicken, & chef salad. Balcony dining is 7am-11am for breakfast or 5:30pm-10pm for dinner. The champagne breakfast is $32. per couple and includes the following: Heidsieck monopole champagne (1/2 bottle), oven fresh breakfast patries, cold smoked salmon, medley of fresh fruit and forest berries, and bacon & onion quiche Lorraine, & coffee, tea, or milk. The dinner is a 4 course meal for $100. per couple.
Spring water 1.5 liters in the stateroom is $3.50, 12 oz. cans of coke, diet coke, or diet sprite are $1.95. All are 15% gratuity added.
Complimentary stateroom breakfast is done by a door hanger found on your bed in the evening. Choices are juices, fresh fruit, yogurt, cold cereals, breads & pastries, preserves, beverages. Service times are from 7:30am to 10:30am.
Complimentary fresh fruit can be delivered to your stateroom via a door hanger. Choices are apples, bananas, kiwi, oranges, & pears. (we never had room service).
Crooner's Bar: I think the bartender said there were 32 martinis; I tried to taste them all. Most of the Martinis were about $7.48 with the gratuity.
Fountain soda program with souvenir tumbler is $4.25 per day plus 15% gratuity. Unlimited fountain soda for the duration of the cruise, you get a sticker on your cruise card. (my cabin partner did this, and found it great).
MISCELLANEOUS Computer internet rates were .75 cents/min. & $3.95 for 1st time connection fee. There are packages also that drop the price per minute.
The Captain's Circle party was on formal night on April 29th. The passenger(s) with the most days on our cruise had 704 days with 78 cruises. Wow! Debi was our circle hostess.
The Ultimate Ship Tour offers a limited number of passengers the chance to participate in a behind the scenes tour of the ship for $150.00 per person. (some of our fellow roll call members did this and loved it).
Future Cruise Sales consultant was Ann; you put a $100.00 deposit down per person for a future cruise and receive shipboard credit for your next cruise. No need to book a particular cruise date, though you may if you wish.
We attended the onboard outlet sale held in the Santa Fe dining room, which was packed almost the entire 3 hrs.
The washers and dryers were $1.00 each; I did a load of wash and hung the rest to dry.
Had a great cruise on The Sapphire despite not going to Mexico. The crew went above and beyond. There were several Princess employees onboard cruising for their vacation and we enjoyed getting to meet them.
DISEMBARKATION -- May 2, 2009 We went to the International Dining room at 8:10am, done at 8:50am. We had all our hand luggage with us so our room steward could clean. Orange 3 was supposed to meet in the Casino at 8:40am, we were still eating breakfast. Went straight to gangway at 8:55am as orange 3 had already been called. The luggage was all lined up according to which color tag you had. It was all very organized. We were handed a traveler's alert health notice issued by CDC and we handed in a customs declaration form. There was no passport control as we never were in a Mexican port. We were in the car at 9:10am, saw Prime Time shuttle, plenty of taxi's, and the Super Shuttle.
Thank you to the whole crew of The Sapphire Princess.
Cruising with Kids to the Mexican Rivera.
Our family of four just went on the Sapphire Princess in February. When I was researching the cruise I found very little information about traveling with kids. So this might be a long review, but I assure you it will help your family have a great time.
We flew into Burbank, CA because the airfare was incredibly cheaper. Then we took a taxi to the cruise ship port. About $120 one way. Still cheaper!
Embarkation It took about an hour. Very straight forward. Get there around 2:00-3:00 and the lines aren't as long.
Hint: They have a new rule. All luggage must be checked at the ship's dock. You can only bring onboard luggage the size of a carry on. So, for us, that meant the suitcase that had all of our summer clothes and swimsuits in it could not be brought onboard the ship. Thankfully, I was surprised it did not take long for our suitcases to be brought to our cabin. Impressive!
Cabin We always choose an inside cabin close to the middle of the ship for several reasons. First, the motion of theship is not as noticeable. This trip was worse than others. Second, it's not as noisy during docking at the ports. (We were on Aloha deck and we didn't hear much of anything.) The last reason is that it's dark, so you can sleep in or take a nap during the day.
Note: Since our room didn't have a window, it was rather warm at night. The thermostat was set as cool as it would go, but it was still too warm for me and my husband.
Our cabin was small for a family of four. But it was manageable. The cabin was divided into two parts. The dressing area was to the left as you come into the room. It had a large spacious closet, with about 30 wooden hangers, a floor-length mirror (open that up and there were shelves). It also housed the lifejackets and safe. The bathroom is also in this area. Nothing fancy, but adequate. Stand up shower, commode and sink area. There are no plug-ins, but ample storage for two adults' toiletries.
The sleeping area was next. It was small. There were two single beds with two nightstands in between them. On each nightstand was a lamp. On the opposite wall there was a large mirror, TV -- in a cubby, which was hanging from the ceiling -- and a large desk and chair that covered the length of the wall. There was also a small refrigerator and small decorative round table. Each night the steward would come around and pull down the bunk beds from the ceiling. The kids loved sleeping up there!
Soda Cards Our family decided to buy the two kids all you can drink soda, "mock tails" and ice-cream cards. $60 something dollars. Mom and dad utilized the cards more than the kids did. We got free soda and drinks (non-alcoholic) as often as we wanted. We aren't big drinkers anyway, but this allowed us to enjoy something cold and refreshing for free. Carlos was the waiter that made the best mock tails and he never questioned us. I tipped him a little extra at the end of the cruise.
The Fun Zone was an area of the ship designed just for kids. The kids absolutely loved it! They didn't want to leave. Registration is on the first day. They will need your photo I.D. to keep on record, and to utilize when you pick up your kids. We only used the Fun Zone during sea days from 9-12 and 2-5. It is also open from 7 to later at night. They will provide you with a comprehensive list of events that the kids would get to do everyday. They weren't sitting around watching TV. They actually had things for them to do -- from arts and crafts to exercise games.
Dining We had fixed seating at 6:00 p.m. in the International Dinning Room. The kids enjoyed the experience and even tried all the unusual foods, like escargot, and liked them. Okay, I didn't tell them what it was before they ate it!
Hint: When there was entertainment at night that we wanted to go to, we told our waiter "Robert." He then worked harder and faster to get us out of the dining room before the 7:15 show. That way we didn't have to wait around for the 9:30 show. That was too late for the kids. It was extra work for Robert, but he pulled it off every time!
Photo Ops Take advantage of the photo ops around the ship most nights. We had pictures of the whole family taken on the formal nights. It doesn't cost anything but some of your time. At some backgrounds they took 10-20 photos of our family. They took individual photos, couple, siblings, father with kids, mother with kids and entire family shots.
Hint: Gather your photos every night. Look through them and only keep the "possibilities." Then wait until the last day to choose only the best of the best. You can get a better deal when you buy in bulk. They were pricy, but they put them on a CD for you to take home and there was no sitting fee. Christmas cards here we come!
Food We usually ate our meals in the dining room. We chose to eat at the buffet one morning and were very disappointed. But the food in the restaurant was much better. We would eat at the buffet for sweets and snacks during the day. Most of the meals were excellent. There were a few nights when either the steaks were overcooked, but were corrected right away, the lobster was too salty, or the soup was not blended.
Hint: Ask the server. He or she knows what is best that night. Trust their judgment.
Snacks You have to try the homemade ice-cream! It was excellent and my children ate it three times a day.
Hint: They have free cookies and milk at around 3:30 to 4:00. But they also serve free ice cream at the same time at the buffet. YUMMY!
Ship The ship itself was lovely and grand without being over done and gaudy. There was more than enough things to keep us busy -- Shuffle board, walking track, paddle tennis, 5 pools, tours and activities, and shopping.
Hint: I would suggest you wait and make your ship purchases later in your trip. They had 75% sale on the last day at sea.
Entertainment Our family enjoyed the music productions. Very good. But, they were not what I was expecting. I thought it would be more of a Las Vegas style show. It was more hip hop, jazz dancing. Still very entertaining. The singing was average, but the dancing was awesome. They really put all their energy into each show.
Hint: Get to the showroom at least 20 minutes early to get a good seat. It filled up quickly 10 minutes before the show.
As far as the piano player, singers, etc., we didn't really go to any of those shows, and the one we did see, we left soon after it started (below average!). We did see the comedians. One was from the Beach Boys many years ago. Funny! The other one was Dan Bennett. Hilarious! He was a comedian and juggler. Spectacular! He wasn't necessarily kid-friendly, but it mostly went over their heads anyway. What he was talking about, a lot of it went over my head too! A must see!
Weather We traveled in February and it was cool on board the ship with the wind blowing all the time. I packed sweatshirts for everyone and we used them just about everyday, whether in the dining room, on deck and even in port. Better to be safe than sorry.
Attire We always made a point to dress for supper as they suggested -- even with the kids. But I did see many kids wearing flip flops and shorts to supper.
Disembarkation We were amazed at how quickly disembarkation went. They only looked at our passports and the children's birth certificates once. They didn't ask questions or even look through our bags. WOW! Twenty minutes and we were out of there!
A few more helpful hints:I brought a shoe organizer, per someone else's tip, and discovered it was a great idea. I was not able to hang it over the bathroom door, but I was able to hang it, with a hanger, in the closet. We stored bathroom items, shoes, sunscreen and everything else to help stay organized. The kids loved having their own little pockets. We ordered two Princess robes to wear around the room. I noticed on the first night that the bedrails rattled when they were touched. Every time the kids kicked them, it woke me up. So, I figured out that when it was time for bed I used both belts, from the robes, to tie the kids bedrails together. I'm talking one bed's bedrail to the other bed's bedrail. Yes, the belts were in the middle of the room and in the grownups' way, but it decreased the sound of the bedrails jiggling and clanging while the kids slept. Bring an extension cord. There are only two plug-ins at the desk area. Sound machine. This really cut down on sounds you would normally hear outside the door, and the kids moving around. Motion sickness pills. I really thought since the ship was so large that there would be little motion. I was wrong. Over open water it was quite rocky. Things would even roll around and one night the hangers were banging in the closet!
Extra Useful Hints Bring plenty of small bills (ones, fives and tens) on your trip. We ran out!) Bring trash bags or Wal-Mart bags to put wet or dirty items in. Bring clothes pins to hang wet swimsuit in the shower. Bring Lysol spray to clean handles and door knobs or in case someone gets sick. The passenger services desk will make one free complimentary phone call for you. Ask for the complimentary robes. Utilize what the ship has to offer. If you're not sure about something, just ask! The passenger services desk will make change for you.
My husband and I had anticipated a fantastic cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary. Instead, we were disappointed.
We booked a balcony mini-suite and discovered the lack of privacy as your balcony can be viewed by anyone above you since the balconies are arranged like stair steps.
Our king-sized bed was actually two twin beds pushed together and we felt the side support keenly in our backs any time we ventured to the center of the bed.
The food in the buffet was not great. The saving grace of the cruise was the dining plan we chose (freestyle dining). The food in the various dining rooms was fantastic and the attendants even more so.
We asked for the "anniversary package" expecting a nice bouquet of flowers, but were greeted by three mass produced "Happy Anniversary" balloons taped to our door. Not much hoopla for your "Silver Anniversary."
The locations we stopped at were very beautiful and the selection of excursions was nice.
My husband and I first thought about Hawaii for our 25th anniversary. Too bad we didn't stick with that original plan and save the cruise for later!!!
Overall the cruise was great. I went with my husband , 15 year old son and extended family . We stayed on Emerald Deck 8. Our room had a window (partially obstructed view). We were on the lifeboat deck but were located between lifeboats, so the view was still good. We couldn't afford the balcony room, but this allowed natural light in and I didn't feel as claustrophobic. My parents had a balcony room, (Caribe Deck 10), so we took advantage of their room too. Balcony was larger than we expected. It fit a round table and 4 chairs. If you get a balcony, go deck 10 or higher. Deck 9 balconies did not have overhead covering and were exposed to sun/rain. My sister and husband had an inside cabin. All three cabins/bathrooms were the same size. We had a room that could sleep 3-4 persons. Each bed had another that pulled down from ceiling above it to form a bunk bed. Steward will put bunk beds back for you during the day. Room service is included. You can get breakfast delivered to your room - just ask. You canorder fruit to be delivered to your room in the afternoon also.
Ask for egg crate foam mattress toppers for the beds and robes (can be ordered online or calling Princess Cruises in advance). We were missing both when we got there but we told the Steward and got them within a day. We didn't have top sheets on our beds and my comforter did not smell like it was freshly washed so we requested the sheets and got them the rest of the week. Do not over pack! They have laundry mats on each deck. $1.00 for washer, $1.00 for 30 minute dryer time (I used two cycles per load, and $1.00 detergent. Change machine was finicky. Had to get quarters at purser's desk. Ironing board and irons also available in laundry room (they were free to use). There were large sinks for hand washables too. When packing - remember - layer, layer, layer. I didn't take enough short sleeve tops. There will be times when you're spending time mostly inside the ship. You can always keep a sweater or jacket with you if you go out on deck.
We had great weather. Every port was sunny and warm (even in September). This is not typical from what we were told, but if you layer, you'll be prepared for any weather. Raincoat with hood is best.
Traditional dining at 5:30 pm worked well for us. Waiters got to know us by name, and anticipated our drink orders and preferences. Get a table by the window if possible. We saw some wonderful views while dining. Buffet was open very early till late at night but we didn't like eating there as much. Waiters were sometimes slow bringing our drink orders. Twice I tried to get a waiter's attention and they acted like they didn't hear me (when it was obvious that they at least saw me trying to flag them down). Drinks that are available anytime are water, unsweetened ice tea, coffee, hot tea, and hot chocolate. My husband and son got the soda sticker for their cards. It totaled $34.00 for the week. It is only available for purchase on the 1st day. A sticker for $9 a day (more like $11.00 when you add the gratuity and taxes), is available for soda, milkshakes and mock cocktails. I didn't end up getting it and was glad I didn't. I don't think I drank enough to justify it.
When choosing room location, I'd recommend the Starboard side (when facing front of ship). The views were best on that side. Also try to be mid to aft of the ship. Most nightclubs/shops/restaurants are located on that end of the ship. The only exception is the theatre which is in the front of the ship. The carpet color is different on the starboard and port sides of ship. This is helpful when returning to your room. Odd and even rooms are on either side of the ship.
Activities are fun. Just make sure you get there about 10 minutes in advance for ballroom and line dancing classes. The instructor always started them early. Shows in Princes theatre are good too, but get there at least 20 minutes in advance to get a seat. Some were standing room only. Naturalist is great. I loved her lectures. She speaks over intercom in common areas while cruising through Tracy Arm Fjord. Trivia was our favorite. We won once and got medals and champagne for a prize. Bingo is expensive - starts at $10 a card. Still popular though. Comedians were very good. Especially like Ron Lucas.
Ports of Call:
All ports have tour information available when you disembark. Ship's excursions are more expensive. There is a large tour building at Ketchikan with every tour available. You can bicker with the operators for a better rate! Tour of Ketchikan cost $50 a piece. My sister managed to get them for $40. My husband, son and I took the Duck tour. It was disappointing. We did get to see some bald eagles up close but wished we had spent more time in the town. Make sure you get to Creek Street. Salmon were spawning on our trip. Very thick in stream and saw them jumping up the falls. Two large seals were feasting on the salmon when we were there. Fun to watch. Lumberjack show a little overrated. Similar to other lumberjack shows that we've seen at local outdoor show. Incline plane to Fox Lodge was a little disappointing too. Not as scenic as I expected.
Juneau - We paid extra for city tour but there wasn't a whole lot to see. Breezed past Capitol building and state buildings. They took us to an island across from it but there wasn't much there. Recommend the bus to Mendenhall Glacier for $7 each way and walking through town on your own. Must see - the Red Dog Saloon. Sky ride was extremely expensive. We opted out.
Skagway was our favorite port but we didn't have enough time there. Shuttle bus to town is $2.00 each way or $5.00 unlimited. White Pass Scenic railway was awesome. If you buy the ticket as an excursion from the cruise line, you have to catch the train at the dock. Would recommend doing the train first and walk through town afterward. We took the afternoon train and had to shuttle to town, and shuttle back to dock to catch the train. Shuttle lines got long at times. More inconvenient. The train followed the trail of the miners during the Yukon Gold rush. Not good if you're afraid of heights. Try to get on the left side of the train (while facing the front of the train). Will change seats with those across the aisle from you at top of mountain, but best narration is on the uphill climb.
Architecture of town was just like the late 1800s. We didn't have time for the museum -very disappointing. Park service offers free tours. We had to leave it midway through to catch the shuttle to the train in time. Must see - Red Onion saloon. You'll feel like you stepped back in time.
Beautiful views on port side of trip after you leave Skagway. Lots of snow peaked mountains/glaciers/waterfalls. Liked it as much as Tracy Arm.
Victoria B.C. is the only place I would recommend getting a cruise excursion. Shuttle to town was inexpensive, but line was very long. We took a taxi for 4 which cost $10 each way. We didn't get to town until 8:00 pm and the stores closed at 9:00 pm! It beautiful to see but there wasn't much we could do at that time of night.
Teen program is great. We went after Labor Day so there were only 5 teens participating (the week before there were 80). They played video and board games/cards together and had karaoke/dance parties. My son loved it.
We began our trip with a few days in Seattle. Stayed at Maxwell hotel. It was close to everything. Don't need to rent a car. Walk to Seattle Center (Space needle/monorail). Monorail is $2.00 each way and will take you to downtown. Free bus service in town until 7pm. Don't miss Pike's Place Market and Underground Tour . Ferry ride is fun too.
Try to take the 10 day cruise if you can. I'm disappointed that we couldn't see Glacier Bay. Even so, it was a great experience overall. All the staff were friendly (not sure if it was sincere sometimes), but they did go out of their way to accommodate us. I've never been so pampered. I would highly recommend it.
Overall, Sapphire is an excellent ship. I researched quite a bit on this site and others and went prepared as well as I could. From my perspective as a second cruiser staying in an ocean view room, this is what I'm glad I did or didn't do. Some of it's specific to Sapphire, some not.
1. I'm glad I brought my cell phone. Clocks are hard to find on board.
2. Making a budget and putting a decided amount of money into envelopes for excursions, cabs, tips, souvenirs, and whatever else you like. Kept a rein on my spending and actually had money left over!
3. I brought a carry-on suitcase and was able to wheel it on at embarkation instead of waiting hours for my luggage to arrive.
4. Did express checkout (carry own bags). I had to meet earlier than others who had their luggage picked up the night before but we zipped out of the parking lot while others were still waiting on the ship.
5. Take showers in the spa. It was three times the size of my stateroom shower. You don't have to have a spa service todo this.
6. I'm glad I didn't bring duct tape or a power surge strip. If you need duct tape, buy better luggage or tell your room steward to fix whatever it is that won't keep open/closed in your room. The strip isn't needed unless you have a lot of things to plug in at once. Lastly, I wish I would have brought walkie-talkies. More efficient than leaving post-its in the room.
Regarding excursions, I swam with the dolphins in PV and rode horses in Mazatlan. Let me know if you have any specific questions!
A little background, I'm in my mid 40s and DH is mid 50s. This was our 12th and 13th cruise, 7th and 8th on Princess. We have cruised RCL x2, Celebrity, HAL and NCL. We booked this as two separate cruises…a 3 day Coastal followed by the first 7 day Mexican Riviera of the season. We were lucky to snag the aft corner BB Caribe 753 for both cruises.
Embarkation: Nightmare! But nothing we can blame on Princess. Unfortunately the lady that committed suicide by jumping off the back of Sapphire was being searched for the morning of our embarkation so Princess Staff had stopped the line and prevented anyone from boarding. We stood in the Security line for about an hour without moving. Princess staff told passengers that the Coast Guard was doing a "Drill".
Once we got through Security, boarding was a breeze. We found our cabin pretty easily and instantly fell in love with its location and balcony.
Cabin: Wow - what can be said about those corner afts that hasn't already been said? We loved it! The view was incredible. We had a lot of sea days on this10 day voyage and that balcony was perfect. The Cabin was laid out really well, tons of drawers and closet space. Suitcases fit under the bed no problem. The egg crate was already on the bed and robes were in the bathroom for us. Even the shower curtain didn't seem to hug the way it used to.
Ship: The Sapphire Princess is beautiful - absolutely beautiful and not showing any aging at all. We were on the Zuiderdam in May and she was a disgrace. Sapphire was truly spotless. She has so many great hidden areas for reading and relaxing and an abundance of pools. The first couple of days out the pools where far too warm. It felt like you were being dipped in soup. They cooled down a bit towards the end. I think they must have been heated for Alaska and just took time to adjust the temp.
Service: Another WOW - we've been on 5 cruise lines and about 11 different ships - Sapphire crew were the best - everyone that you ran into was friendly, happy and very helpful. Gerry our cabin steward was the best we've encountered on any ship. Bar Staff, waitstaff, officers, everyone was so nice. The staff in the Pacific Moon dining room were fantastic. I ordered a Cappuccino in Lobby Bar one morning and had a bit of a wait…just a couple of minutes, but I had three people apologize for the wait. Honestly, I can't say enough about the staff…..except… the pursers' desk…I'm not labeling them all as bad, but we certainly ran into our share. We had a problem with an internet credit that took 4 trips - over 4 days to the purser's desk to fix and you could tell she really didn't have a clue what she was talking about. The second instance was the billing on the ultimate balcony dinner. We did this with friends - in their cabin - and our cabin got charged for both couples. The men went down to fix it up and thought it had been done and sure enough on the final bill, it was still screwed up and charged to our cabin. The other couple just ended up giving us $100 cash as the Pursers desk was unable to fix it.
Dining: We had Anytime Dining and I think ate in the dining room 3 times. Had reservations each time and no wait. We did the pub lunch which was good, but doing it in one of the fancier dining rooms is a bit strange. The wheelhouse pub is a much better location. Couldn't believe when our drinks server at the pub lunch clearly remembered what we were drinking the night before - great memory - I barely remembered ;)
We had our anniversary dinner in Sabatini's - Fantastic! Alex our waiter was awesome as was the food except for the lobster which was overcooked - knew I should have had the Seabass. But the rest of the meal made up for it including the plethora of desserts he brought us.
Last formal night we dined with our friends in Sterlings. My Filet was very good but hubby's Rib eye had a lot of fat on it.
We also did the Ultimate Balcony Dinner which was superb. We did it for 4 on the other corner caribe balcony. 4 fit out there quite well. They brought a larger table. We had a Goat Cheese Salad, Crab Tart, then Steak/Lobster or both followed by dessert. They start you a cocktail of your choice then with dinner a ½ bottle of champagne per couple. I'd run down to a bar earlier and grabbed a bottle of red for dinner which they gladly served us. Service, food, ambience - all excellent. A photographer also comes up to take your pic and you get a free 8 x 10 per couple. We had about 4 shots to choose from. Cost was $100 per couple and well worth it in our opinion.
Horizon Court was actually pretty good. Anytime they had seafood on the buffet it was excellent especially the breaded shrimp.
Overall, I'd say the food everywhere was pretty impressive.
Entertainment: This part is going to be short, other than Steve Morris, we didn't see any. He was good though. We also attended some of the Karaoke (oh my ears are still ringing) and we won Passenger Feud.
The Ports: Well this was a 10 day cruise for us, with only LA, PV, Mazatlan and Cabo so a lot of sea days! Getting off the ship in LA as in "In Transit" passenger was very easy. We congregated in Club Fusion for about 20 minutes and where then led off. A short walk for someone to check your documents and you were back on board. We decided to leave the terminal and check out San Pedro…hmmm… don't bother. We were directed to "Ports of Call" there really wasn't anything there. We should have just stayed on board and enjoyed the solitude of the ship.
Puerto Vallarta - we just took the white shuttle buses into town $3 each. Easy and quick. We were dropped off outside Diamonds International..of course! We wandered around a bit. There were a couple of nice Silver and Leather shops that the ship recommended. We then went for a beer and walked around a bit more. We ended up taking a taxi back to Walmart to replenish water and pop. We also went to the mall next door to Walmart which was very nice and just walked back to the ship.
Mazatlan - we took a Ghetto Taxi (taxi driver's words not mine) down into the Golden Zone. Wow tons of construction going on and lots of stores added since the last time we were there. The cab driver asked if he could drop us off at Diamonds International as he gets $5 for doing so, we said sure and just walked straight through it. Taxi was $8 for the 4 of us. We walked around a bit, bought some silver jewelry and friends of ours bought some Pewter from a store we bought from 9 years ago - it was good to see they were still there. Went for a beer (starting to see a pattern?) walked around a bit more and then headed back to the ship. There are tons of stores in the port area to navigate through. Mazatlan runs a little shuttle in and out of the port area which is Mandatory and Complimentary. It's an industrial port area so they want you to be safe. Jewelry prices were pretty good in Mazatlan but watch your prices in the store sponsored silver store. They wanted about $160 for a bracelet that I found a few stores down for $72
Cabo - Cabo is a tender port. We got our tender tickets about 8:30 am and within about 5 minutes were being led to the Tenders. It was so hot in Cabo…it had actually been very hot and humid all cruise but Cabo seemed especially warm. We started walking around the Marina area and quickly ran into our friends who had done an earlier excursion… so even though it was only 9:30 am, we needed that beer to combat the heat ;) We shopped a little. Cabo prices were out of line compared to the other ports. Earrings that I had looked at in Mazatlan were starting price of $40 Cabo they were $70. I told him he was nuts and walked out the store. We ended up at Cabo Wabo for Margaritas a little later in the morning and wound our way back around the Marina back to the ship. We bought some Almond Tequila and some Pomegranate Tequila in Cabo and had no problem taking them back on the ship.
Disembarkation: A breeze! No announcements which is nice. You just head to your designated public lounge/dining room and disembark at your time. We were in the Platinum lounge and disembarked on time.
Highlights: Sea Days - we've never done a cruise with this many sea days before, we now know that we love them, so relaxing. We spent so much time on our balcony just watching the wake and the dolphins racing the ship. The Staff - can't say enough. We've never run into this much consistency of good service. The Ship - just beautiful and spotless The Food - shockingly good - especially the seafood on the buffet.
I went on a Princess cruise this summer. Although these problems may seem minor, what upset me most about this cruise line is they did nothing to fix them or make me feel like I was a valuable customer. When I got home, I mailed this letter to the President of Princess and two other senior level people. I mailed this over a month ago and got no response. If you plan on sailing Princess and have any issues, don't expect them to be resolved or even given consideration for your feelings. Once they have your money, they don't care if you are happy or not.
July 16, 2009
Alan Buckelew President and CEO of Princess Cruises 24844 Avenue Rockefeller Santa Clarita, CA 91355
Dear Mr. Buckelew:
My husband and I vacationed on the Princess Sapphire with the rail tour after our cruise, booking number XXXXX. We are disappointed with our experience. Despite our efforts to correct some of these issues, none of the Princess Tour employees assisted us. Then when I called to talk about it to customer relations, I spoke to Raymond, and he just told me to write an email.So once again, I felt disregarded. Prior to this cruise, we sailed with Norwegian which had superior service and activities. We were looking forward to this cruise line but it will be highly unlikely we would ever sail it again and we definitely would warn our friends and family about the poor customer service. Hopefully, we will get a response from this letter to show that someone at Princess still cares about their customers.
Problems we encountered on the cruise ship
1. The nightly entertainment repeated. On Norwegian they had a different show every night and not just the cruise ship dancers. On Princess they had “Do You Wanna Dance” by the ship dancers on Sunday and Monday and “Piano Man” by the ship dancers on Thursday and Friday. Therefore, two nights on board we did not have new entertainment.
2. We could never sit by a window at dinner. Six of the seven nights we did anytime dining, and every night I asked to sit by a window, they said they don't have two person tables by the window. We don't understand why you don't have a few since you know couples will be on board. If you do, we don't understand why we always were seated as far from a window in the restaurant as possible.
3. One night, after I asked to be seated near a window, they put us against the wall, once again. Moments after we sat down, a couple were being seated near us, when they asked to be moved closer to a window, they got a better table near one. I complained to the maître d' who just apologized. He didn't offer to sit us by a window on another night or make any kind of compensation.
4. The waiter kept trying to sell us items. At dinner one night, the waiter asked us about the breakfast on our balcony about 5 times in a row. We understand being asked once, but a no should end the conversation. At this point it became harassment. I should have said something to someone else but was so aggravated and didn't want to talk about it anymore.
5. The only sit down restaurant's breakfast ended by 9:00 and didn't open for lunch until 12:00. If we did not get there by 8:30, the buffet was our only option for three and a half hours.
6. On the morning of departure, the main dining room didn't open until most passengers disembarked.
7. One day we went to get soft serve ice cream at 6:00 and the woman serving the ice cream said they closed at 6:00. We would understand if we came at 6:10 or if the machine was being cleaned, but neither were the case.
8. All the restaurants had the same menu for dinner so if we didn't want an item on that menu; our only other choice was the buffet.
9. There was no one to talk to about land excursions on the rail portion of our trip on the cruise ship. The cruise ship could only talk about their ports. We don't understand why they couldn't help us with the land excursions of the trip since it is all the same company.
10. No special event – Norwegian had midnight chocolate buffet, Royal Caribbean had midnight buffet as well.
11. Our reserved dinner in the main dining room was supposed to be by a window and it was next to the entrance.
Problems we encountered on land portion
12. We were told it was a rail tour but the majority of our trip was by motor coach. We had rail from Whittier to Talkeetna and the rest was by motor coach (Talkeetna to McKinley, McKinley to Denali, and Denali to Fairbanks)
13. The shuttles from the hotel to town cost money and they were far away from everything. In the land excursion brochure on page 26 it says shuttle is complimentary. In addition, it is a Princess bus so we don't know why it costs extra. For McKinley it was $10 round trip per person and Fairbanks it was $5 roundtrip per person.
14. We asked if we could switch the tour we were given with a lesser priced one in Denali and they would not do it. We did not pick that tour; it was assigned to us so we don't know why we were not allowed to switch to something that we would enjoy. When we went to the park, they switched it for us so I'm confused why Princess refused to do it.
15. The hotel in McKinley had neither air conditioning nor fans in the rooms. It was in the upper 80s and was very hot in the room!
16. None of the rooms on the land portion had a safe to lock up our valuables.
17. From Fairbanks to the airport they would not change the shuttle time. It had us leaving at 6:45 when the airport is 5 minutes away for a 9:30 flight and they refused to make a second trip.
18. There was a luggage fee for the Alaskan Airlines flight that we were not told about before we booked our trip.
19. We had a long layover in Anchorage when there were flights that left sooner to go to Seattle
What upsets us the most is the lack of any Princess employee's attempt to rectify even one of these items.
Lauren and Wayne
cc: Charlie Ball Jan Swartz
Two months got the cruise bug again. This time we are taking two adult daughters and a friend. Booked a balcony guarantee for three and a mini guarantee for us.
In short order we got cabin assignments; Baja 743 for them (second cabin from the rear) and Dolphin 215 for us.
Five days before the cruise, I learn the company I had used to obtain the booking has gone belly up. Triple check and our cruise has been paid for and is secure.
The morning of embarkation, we woke up to a weird cloudy sky. Found out quickly that the hills of North Eastern Los Angeles were once again on fire. The strange thing is this exact same thing happened last year when we took the same cruise. In addition, another large fire broke out to the East.
Got our junk together in record time and all five of us met down at the docks just before noon. We would have been on board in record time, except the wife recognized the person who checked us in as an old friend from 18 years ago. So after all the jabbering, we breezedthrough security and were in our cabin by 12:30.
The sky south of the ship was a bright blue, while everything to the North was a dark gray to black, from all the smoke. Went up for a snack at the Horizon Court. Rather strange to look out one side of the ship to a bright San Pedro, and then turn your head to see what appears to be the makings of a terrible storm.
Went forward on Lido to the pool area to watch Ports-O-Call to go by at "sail away". People were swimming, dancing and really trying to have a good time. Unfortunately, the sky was raining ash from the fire 20 or so miles away. Ash from dust-sized particles to large one-inch chunks of burned vegetation fell on the entire county. While most just brushed their hair off or swiped a towel at a chair, some folks were having a problem just breathing. We were not having a great time so decided to fall back into the cabin and wait for the ship to push back.
Just as we were entering the cabin an announcement came over the P/A from Captain William Kent. The brush fires were so bad, 50% of the freeways coming into Los Angeles from the North were closed this morning and were still closed. 300 or so passengers had not made it onto the ship; the Captain stated he had orders from Princess Corporate to delay departure from 4 PM to 7 PM. So much for the great "sail slower and save fuel" concept.
Went to dinner at 6 PM at the anytime "Santa Fe" room. Another disconcerting experience -- we were seated next to a window on the starboard side that was level with the second floor of the cruise center. Eating prime rib and glancing up every so often to see a longshoreman staring at our family eating.
7 PM came and went but the ship stayed put. Captain came on again stating he had been ordered to wait until 8 PM for the last 17 passengers. As it happens, we ran into a couple of the latecomers that night. They said they came into Los Angeles over the "grapevine" expecting to get to the cruise center in the usual 3 hours. Hit a wall of brake lights, waited a while and finally turned around and drove a couple of hundred miles to get around the problem. The 3 hour drive turned into an 8 hour endurance race. More about this later.
A little after 8 PM we pushed back and eased into the channel. The Captain once again came onto the P/A to say everything is fine and we will get into Puerto Vallarta on time.
This is the first time we have indulged in a mini-suite and it may have spoiled us. Dolphin 215, starboard side about 120 feet behind the bridge wing.
For those who have not had the privedge; bathroom is about three feet longer so a bathtub could be wedged into the space. The tub is rather deep and installed even higher to accommodate the plumbing pipes between tub and deck. Only after getting in and out do I find the hand bar that was hidden behind the towels.
I didn't think the extra 12 feet of "sitting room" would make that much difference. I was wrong. The sofa/couch is a welcome addition and the small table and second chair that have always been in the way in our balcony cabins, now have a logical place to be. Half the time when we are in the cabin one of us is on the sofa.
Being on Dolphin, the balcony is about 9' by 10'. A table, two ridged chairs and two reclining chairs fill this area. A table and two full loungers would have been perfect.
Plenty of storage room, about the same for the standard balcony. Only difference is the TV/refrigerator/sideboard looking thing. Shaped in a half circle on the wall opposite the desk, it has two TV's on the top shelf (one for the bed and one for the sitting area), a large granite counter space, refrigerator and two large shelves.
Need an electrical plug, no problem. Just inside the door, a double outlet near the floor, and in the bathroom a single outlet for low amp devices only. A double outlet at the desk and behind each of the two TV's. Nine outlets, no problem, right? The outlets are so close together and the plugs and transformers for my devices are so large, I can only plug in one thing at a time at any of the locations. I guess that power strip I forgot back at home would have come in handy.
We meet our steward, Rico Lalap, who is pleasant enough. The room is set up as twins, so when we ask for the bed to be changed to a queen, with egg crate and robes, he states he'll change the setup within the hour and will try to supply the egg crate and robes today, but can't promise they will be available. We say anything would be appreciated and more than likely these will be the only requests for the week. By the third day, we have no other requests and Rico has a true smile when we pass in the hall.
I set up the laptop at the desk and soon discover I can link up via Wi-Fi from the cabin. Don't know if the ship has been upgraded or it's because we were so close to the bridge. I don't care, just happy for the convenience.
When the ship was first put into commission, the plan was to have one large traditional dining room with an early and late seating. Four smaller rooms were to be used as P.C. (Personal Choice) dining. For this ship 1/3 traditional and 2/3 P.C. Over the years the concept of P.C. changed to "Any Time" with any nuance that the ship itself instituted over the years. Anyway ON THIS cruise this is what's going on. The Savoy, Pacific Moon and Santa Fe are the anytime dining rooms. The International and the smaller Vivaldi are traditional seating. Bottom line, we have anytime dining and have had to wait every night for a table no matter what time we arrive. Don't know if anytime is on the way out or if Princess just changes what dining rooms do, depending on how many people want traditional.
And now a word about dining room dress code. On the first night we saw someone turned away because he was wearing shorts that were mid calf. Ten minutes later a man with shorts and T-shirt was shown to a table. On the first formal night, a man was turned away from two rooms because he had no tie. The third room he was admitted without a problem. Whatever dress code there is depends on who is working the door.
We sailed South at the normal fuel burning 21 knots and arrived at the scheduled time of 10:00 AM in PV. Other than a walk over to Wal-Mart, we just enjoyed the empty ship. After leaving Puerto Vallarta, my wife spoke with a woman who lives in the "valley" in Los Angeles, a 90 minute drive on a normal weekend. Due to the fires closing freeways, they got to the pier at 8:45, long after the ship had cleared the break water. They flew down to P.V. to meet the ship.
In Mazatlan, we found the old cruise center had some new paint and another room had been added. But the passengers getting off the tram still have to deal with a gauntlet of time share salesmen, vendors and 20 or so men trying to get you into their limo, R.V., taxi or golf cart. Since the cruise center only allows certain sales people in, they must have to pay for the privilege. In other words, the cruise passenger is subjected to the pushiest salespeople I have ever seen with the approval of the cruise center. New paint on the cruise center, calling the clean part of town "Golden Zone" and calling every day hotels "resorts", Mazatlan is still a small industrial city that needs to clean up more than just the streets. Anyway, the five of us went to Stone Island using King David. Several hours of quiet time near the beach with some simple food and a plate of boiled shrimp. Yes there were a few vendors selling the usual stuff. A simple no and they move on. A return trip to Stone Island in the future is not out of the question.
In Cabo, we again opted to stay on the ship. This is the abbreviated stop so anything one plans can only last a few hours. After 1:30, the last passengers returned from shore but we didn't leave. There was a mechanical failure in the life boat's wenching system that was never actually repaired. It took hours to recover the tender/life boat and the ship did not pull anchor until long after sunset.
Princess had again scheduled the Sapphire to sail slower to conserve fuel and return to Los Angeles at 8:00 AM, two hours later than the usual 6:00 AM. Again the Captain had to drop the hammer and head North at full speed. We were told we would dock at 11:00 AM, but due to the lack of head winds we shaved an hour off the time. Our disembarkation group was to meet in the Casino, rather surprised that there were less than 30 people there. As we waited for our group to be called for disembarkation, we watched Christmas decorations being put up about the ship. We were off and on the way home by 12:20 PM.
The ship itself was in excellent condition. Bright paint, only sign of wear I found were the hand rails inside the elevators. Even the carpets looked new. I know the ship is more than a few years old, so I did look for anything negative I could find. Two burned out light bulbs, that's it.
Overall the food quality was good, only excellent quality we experienced was the one night we tried Sterling. Horizon Court food was sometimes cold and on the greasy side. Items on the standard room service menu tended to be dry. Service in the dining room was excellent as usual.
The CD and staff were bright and cheery but seemed plastic at times. Happened by a "repeat" show one night and saw the assistant CD do the exact four minute intro word for word. A number of different stage productions were presented during the week, I don't think there was a repeat performance of any one show. There were a few "comedians" who did 30 minute shows who only had a good 10 minutes of material. Quite a few pax were observed to leave the theatre in the darkness. Dan Bennett performed three shows one night but was sandwiched in between the Newlywed Show and movies; he had to cut his act short due to time constraints. Too bad, his act was the best available for the entire week. I can only assume Princess has cut back on the budget for entertainment and depends more on stage shows, movies and shows costing nothing since the talent is provided by the passengers for talent such as Princess Idol.
Hopefully Princess is paying attention. We have cruised with this line repeatedly because of the attention to detail and quality of product provided in the past. In my opinion, it appears they have started to cut corners as far as food and performers brought on board. As mentioned, they attempted to save money by reducing ship speed. It makes one wonder where else the bean counters have forced cuts.
All five of us had a great time. My 20 something who had turned her nose up at the thought of a cruise quickly planned her day around trivia and bingo. Like her father, she looked for somewhere to hide so she wouldn't have to get off the ship.