We had heard horror stories about how ships after dry dock were not ready and construction was still going on. Well, not true for Sapphire. The ship was spotless and totally ready.
Embarkation was very smooth because we always take the Princess transfer from the LA airport to their check-in point at a nice hotel (with snacks, tea, and coffee), and then on to the ship. They take our luggage from the airport to the ship for us. We don't see them again until it is delivered to our stateroom.
Our stateroom was spotless and our room steward helpful and friendly. I loved the substantive cotton duvets Princess uses on the beds.
The food in the buffet was good but the food in the dining room was much better so we ate there most of the time. The new buffet dessert island with many more selections was a welcome addition. We also loved the food in the Piazza...esp. the delicious paninis and freshly baked cookies and pizzas. The waiters everywhere were gracious and attentive.
Not to worry, this ship had almost the same Hawaiian activities as was on the Grand Princess...lei making, hula dancing lessons, and ukulele lessons. The only thing missing was the live Hawaiian music and singing in the Piazza. I always enjoyed the Hawaiian duo, Elua, who provided the live slack string guitar music and Hawaiian songs on the Grand Princess.
For Valentine's Day, there was a mass Renewal of Wedding Vows in the Piazza.
The activities we indulged in on the ship were Zumba, line dancing lessons, working out in the gym, going to lectures, shopping, playing trivia and Bingo, watching movies, live dance and songs, and comedy shows, and walking around the deck (when not windy and cold) looking at the beautiful ocean. Our favorite live show was "The British Invasion".
The ocean sea was a little rough making it necessary to cruise at a slower speed which put us behind schedule so the Captain decided to cancel the stop in Hilo. (For the last two cruises to Hawaii, we missed two stops one time and were happy to stop in all the ports the second time. But there were few whales at the end of November so we had to go again.)
In Lahaina, Maui, we took a Princess Whale tour and saw almost 50 whales. Some curious ones even came up to the boat to check us out. Afterwards, we walked up and down the shop filled main street in Lahaina which was right there when you get off the tender.
In Honolulu, Oahu, we took an early local bus to the Hula Bowl Flea Market. We ate some delicious freshly cut mangos and pineapples and bought a few cheap souvenirs. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the Waikiki area and ate at a local noodle restaurant. We found the prices at the International Market Place to be comparable to the prices at the flea market. At 8:00, we took a local bus back to the ship and ate a late dinner.
In Nawiliwili, Kauai, we took a Princess tour bus to visit the Fern Grotto by river boat. A Hawaiian group entertained us with Hawaiian songs and dances on the boat. It was OK. When we got back to the small town of Nawiliwili, we looked at the few shops and walked the beautiful grounds of the Marriott Resort. Then we took a shuttle back to the ship (walking would have taken 20 minutes). We saw many whales in the distance from the ship.
Ensenada, Mexico, is a very short stop. We only had about two daylight hours there. We took a shuttle (about $3.00 per person each way) to the main shopping area (about 10 minutes by shuttle and 20 minutes walking). A lot of typical Mexican souvenirs and silver but were less expensive than the vendors right off the ship.
Debarkation was smooth as usual. We purchased the Princess transfer to the airport. When our color was called, we got off, picked up our luggage in the terminal, and boarded a Princess bus that took us to the airport. That was the end of our wonderful cruise to Ha