Let me start by saying this was our first cruise and we really enjoyed it. Princess did a wonderful job and the Sapphire ship was beautiful and clean. The service was very attentive. The weather was nice this time of year as a whole. This particular cruise (late April) did not have many children or teenagers. We would sail with Princess again.
EMBARKATION: We purchased Princess transfers from LAX airport to the pier. Princess was at the airport earlier than expected and we went straightaway to the pier via bus. This went very smoothly. When we arrived at the pier, they proceeded to check us in quickly and efficiently. Once we got our cruise cards and through security, we only had to wait about 10-15 minutes before boarding. We were on the ship by 12:45 and went straight to our room that was already cleaned and ready for us.
DINING: We were pleased with the food on board. We ate the most at the Horizon Court buffet, which was tasty and had a different venue each day (along with some mainstay courses as well). We enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner there. One of my favorite places was the International Cafe that was open 24 hours. Very good desserts there, as well as some sandwiches and side dishes. It was all free except the specialty coffee. We tried both pizza places (Alfredo's and Prego's pizzeria), and we both preferred Prego's by the pool with the traditional pizza. Both however were good and served thin crust, which is our favorite. The burger from the Trident grill was nothing to boast about, not bad, but not the best either. We had anytime dining and only ate in the dining room 3 times--one breakfast and two dinners. The food was very good. For our two evening meals we ate in the Savoy one night and the Pacific Moon the other. Service was very attentive in the Savoy, but lacking at the Pacific Moon. We arrived at 5:30 both nights and were able to be seated by ourselves, with no wait. We did not participate in the two formal nights (as we only packed carry-ons, of which I am very proud, and we didn't use all our clothes that we brought anyway). Overall the dining rooms were a nice atmosphere, but the buffet was more handy to us and of course a lot quicker. The Sundaes ice cream was good and we helped ourselves to this soft serve ice cream way more than once. No charge for basic cones, but an actual "sundae" did have a charge. We did not eat at the two specialty restaurants on board (if you're like us, there's too much good free food, so why pay more? You can get steaks anyway without having to be at the specialty restaurant)
ENTERTAINMENT: We only went to one evening show, which was good--your basic singing and dancing. I appreciated that it was only 30-40 minutes and not a 1-2 hour production. They had a kitchen cooking show that was very comical and funny in addition to teaching some basic recipes.
CABIN: We booked a room at the very front of the ship on deck 11(Baja 103). After reading up prior to our cruise, I was worried about the potential movement in this room. My husband and I are not bothered by motion sickness but so many people talk about it that I went and bought some ginger and Bonine to take just in case. Now I like to tell people that sure enough, you stay true to who you know you are. We did feel motion in this room but were not bothered at all by it. I was actually hoping for bigger waves and more movement (I love roller coasters by the way). It really was not bad to us, but if you are a person bothered by such things, I would not recommend the very front of the ship. The room was a Deluxe Oceanview with a balcony, and a caveat...the balcony door had to remain closed during the sea days due to high winds off the front of the ship, and it had no furniture on the balcony. We thought the view was great--being able to see forward as opposed to only one side. The balcony could be enjoyed on port days and was larger than the others on this deck. Curtains had to be kept closed at night due to the room lights interfering with the bridge. We noticed this room was also larger than other balcony rooms, but still too small for a sofa, which we would have liked to have. Very comfortable room overall. The bathroom is small and the shower very small! We are both on the thinner side, and found the shower to still be pretty small. Our room steward always kept the room tidy.
OTHER ACTIVITIES: We attended a lecture about the bridge and navigation of the ship, and a separate lecture on the engine room. Both were very informative and highly recommended. Shopping on the ship was very basic (clothing, perfumes and jewelry) and not as many shops as I would have hoped for. The shop staff were very helpful and friendly. They had an interdenominational church service on Sunday that we appreciated and thought was done very well. The promenade deck was very nice and did go around the entire ship. I have read that cruise ships are doing away with or scaling down their promenade decks. Too bad, as it is very relaxing and closer to the water than you can get anywhere else on ship.
SPA/EXERCISE: We used the treadmills and at times had to wait for one. There were about 15 of them total. I used the "swim against the current" pool once. This pool did not seem to be busy every time we passed by it. I had wanted to get a massage on board and was waiting for a special on various days, but nothing was ever offered at a price I was interested in.
PORTS: Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, and Ensenada. We got off ship at all three ports just to walk around for a few hours. We did not book any shore excursions. The ports were all okay, but pretty much the same as far as shopping on the main strip goes. Tenders in Cabo were fast and we did not have a wait time for them.
DISEMBARKATION: Again, very smooth. Once off the ship we were directed to the correct bus for the transfer back to LAX, which left pretty quickly and got us to the airport with no problems.