This turned out to be a family and friends affair. It started with us and my one sister and her boy friend and then a few months before the cruise, my other sister informed us she was joining us along with some friends of hers. It had been so long since us three sisters had been together for this long as we are spread out through the US.
EMBARKATION: Very smooth. Checked in with no problems. There was a wait to board the ship, but not too bad. We were on by 1:00. We were able to get into our room and leave our carry on bags and headed to the Horizon Court for lunch.
SHIP: This was our second time on the Sapphire. First time was before the refurbishing. What a difference. The ship is beautiful and is in pretty good shape. The crew was wonderful--very polite and helpful.
CABIN: We had a mini suite which was wonderful. We had never had one. We enjoyed having the extra space. Our cabin steward, Freddy, was the best we have ever had on any of our cruises. I started to call him fast Freddy because he was so quick to do everything. It's a shame the mother nature was not kind to us at times so we could not sit on the balcony as much as we would have liked but that is not the fault of the cruise line.
DINING: What is nice about this ship is that there are 4 dining rooms for anytime dining--3 of which open at 5:30(Vivaldi does not open until 7:45 for anytime dining) so getting seated was never a problem no matter when went, however on the evenings when our whole group ate together, we did make a reservation. The staff in each dining room was wonderful. We also ate at Sterling Steak House one night and it was wonderful--great food and service. The International Cafe has great sandwiches, salads and pastries. We always managed to find something there. Alfredo's has good pizza but that's all they have. People were getting salads and desserts from the International Cafe. As far as Horizon Court, it was hit and miss for me, but I will not say that the food was bad, because what I don't like someone else does. I did always manage to find something there.
Entertainment: Each night there were three showtimes in the Princess Theater. The first two shows were always crowded. There were several production shows, a couple of comedians. All the shows were good. They also showed some good movies in the theater--Argo, and Lincoln being the largest draw. Also, on the sea days there were plenty of activities going on. We participated in the renewal of the marriage vows which was held in the atrium and officiated by the Captain. Billy Hygate our cruise director was wonderful along with his staff--a big shout out to Martin, Alex, David and Syndi(with an S) who were all wonderful.
HONOLULU: We took the city tour and Arizona Memorial tour. I felt that on the city tour part, they could have shown us more sites, but the Arizona was a wonderful experience. I got goosebumps just walking in there remembering what happened there. After the tour, we took the trolley to Waikiki and did some shopping and had dinner. It was a great day.
MAUI: We took the excursion to Haleakala Crater. What a beautiful place. The views were breathtaking. It was an all day tour that included lunch and we ran late so by the time we got back to the harbor, it was time to board the tender back to the ship so we didn't have any shopping time in the harbor area. When we got back to the ship, were able to see whales from our balcony. That was a cool sight.
KAUAI: We took the excursion to Waimea Canyon which people call the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. Just beautiful. When we got back to the ship, we walked over to the shopping area and beach near the ship, had lunch a did some shopping.
HILO: We went to Volcano National Park. The scenery is beautiful. We visited the Jaggar Museum and walked through the Thurston Lava tubes. That was great.
We also stopped at the Mauna Loa nut factory on the way to the park. Since it was Sunday, we could not see the production in progress.
ENSENADA; Nothing to brag about. We were there because we had to be. We got off the ship and walked around the marketplace near the ship.
DISEMBARKATION; Everything went smoothly. We were off the ship by 9:30 and at the airport by 10:30.
In closing, I would like to say that we had a wonderful time. We had very few minor problems--nothing worth mentioning. We would definitely take a two week cruise again. Aloha