We've just returned from Sapphire Princess April 7-14 sailing, California Coastal cruise - fantastic! Definitely one of our best. We are already considering doing this itinerary again.
This was our 14th cruise - 3rd cruise with Princess.
Embarkation - We arrived at the terminal around 10:30 AM and boarded around noon. We were in Group 1. Once the priority passengers and passengers needing assistance boarded, we were soon on our way.
Room - We had an obstructed ocean view room (E615), which we've had before. This was a very quiet area to stay in. We really like the bathroom/closet layout of Princess cabins. The closet is large with NO doors to get in the way. The bed, however, was not so great. Very firm. We asked our cabin steward to place 2 egg crates on top. That helped a little, but still very firm. (Carnival still has the best beds IMHO.) We missed the towel animals though.
Santa Barbara - Beautiful! We took the $0.25 trolley up State Street then got off and walked back down. A beautiful stroll in a beautiful area! We also walked through the art walk along the shoreline then walked out onto the pier. Great day and gorgeous weather! We wanted to do a Wine Valley tour or see the Mission, but both were closed for Easter Sunday. We also visited the Courthouse which was a pleasant surprise - so beautiful!
San Francisco - We arranged for an independent tour (Muir Woods, Sausalito and Alcatraz). It was rainy and gray all day, but we still had a great time. We also walked around the Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf areas. This was our first visit to San Francisco and hopefully not our last.
San Diego - We have been there several times before. We took the 2 hour bay cruise for a different perspective of the area - great! We then walked around the Seaport Village area for the afternoon. Great weather for a great day!
Ensenada - We had initially planned to not leave the ship due to security concerns in the area. However, a couple we met at dinner on the ship recommended one of the ship's tours to a couple of the local wineries. Absolutely wonderful! So glad we didn't stay on the ship - one of our best tours for only $35/person. The vineyards were beautiful and the the wine and food were a delight. We spoke to others who went shopping in town, and they said it was great as well and never felt unsafe at any time.
Entertainment - 3 production shows w/singers & dancers: very good; comedian, Jim McDonald - hilarious! Arrive early to the theater - if you do not arrive in the Princess Theater at least 30 minutes prior to showtime, you will not get a seat, at least not a seat next to your companion. The first night we had to stand in the back. Thereafter, we made sure we arrived early. I think it was only a problem for the early show. The theaters on the Sapphire, Diamond and Emerald are all too small. We heard lots of complaints about this.
Ship - The decor was elegant and not overstated. On the last day we stumbled upon The Sanctuary area. I'm not sure if you have to pay to use this, but it was quite beautiful and peaceful from what I could tell. The ship was fairly easy to navigate. The MUTS screen is the largest we've seen. All public areas looked nice and well maintained.
Food - We used anytime dining and enjoyed it. Food in the dining rooms was very good and service was almost always quick. I recommend either arriving by 6:00 PM if you use anytime dining OR making a reservation. We noticed long wait lines for those who did not. Dining room food was very good, although not excellent. Stay away from the Cornish Game Hen, but the Princess Love Boat Dream dessert is a must do! Horizon Buffet food was good. We never had trouble finding a table, even during peak times. Wait staff was very attentive!Alfredo's Pizzeria was great! We ate here one evening because we were too tired to get ready for the main dining room. We were seated at a table by the window and watched dolphins and seals in the water as the sun went down - a wonderful dinner!
Staff/Crew - Our Cruise Director, Billy Hygate was a delight. He's also a great singer! He did a brief performance in the theater prior to one of the shows. The crew members are some of the friendliest we've encountered. The Horizon Buffet wait staff get an A+! They were always so pleasant and efficient at refilling drinks and clearing dishes. Also, there was not the usual heavy push to purchase drinks like we have noticed on other ships, which was nice.
Debarkation - We vacated our room by 8AM as instructed, much to our sadness. We sat in one of the dining rooms for 2 hours before our group was called. From what I could tell though, most people stayed in their rooms until around 9:30 or so before arriving to their gathering places. Once we were off the ship we proceeded through Customs rather quickly and onto the shuttles outside the terminal.
We will definitely continue sailing with Princess. This cruise was one of our best! We especially enjoyed all of the ports. Happy sailing!