On 27 April I sailed on the Sapphire Princess along the beautiful California coast and this was cruise #15 for me. This being a port every day, the experience is differing from the rural scenery of Alaska or New England/Canada. For one thing I found the experience to be more urban in flavor, with ports such as San Francisco, Santa Barbara and San Diego. The absence of sea days tended to drain me of energy.
Embarkation: I utilized Princess air and hotel package where I stayed at the LAX Marriott. The hotel stay more than met my needs. There is a restaurant in the lobby and fast food within an easy walking distance. My balcony room over-looked the fabulous swimming pool area. There was a representative greeting me at the airport and the more representatives at the hotel to assist me to the ship via a Princess coach. I found the embarkation process to be very simple and speedy.
The ship: after 15 cruises all the ships seem about the same to me...however I can say that the Sapphire met or exceeded my expectations. The 1730 fixed dining was standard cruise food which met my expectations ...not that I'm a discerning gourmet. One night I did dine at the Sterling Steakhouse and I truly enjoyed the Filet Mignon > Yes.....it is $20 extra but well worth it. My room was an inside on deck 12 Aloha ( A 314) which certainly was close to the Lido facilities. The various service people were excellent to me and I had no issues.
The Shows/entertainment: There were three production shows and I enjoyed Born to be Wild and Do You Want To Dance. Sorry to say I missed the comedy and other shows, being on a busy port intensive schedule. I absolutely loved the live band in the Explorer's Lounge & Club Fusion. The Skywalkers Disco way up high was a trill to visit. The trivia and Karaoke activities on-board were sufficiently to my liking.
Ports: San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Catalina, San Diego, & Ensenada. ~~ Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge and the night lights made San Francisco an excellent port of call. There is plenty to see in walking distance, but I opted for the Muir Woods/Sausalito tour, then the Alcatraz tour the next day. A word of advice...if one wishes to visit Alcatraz do book the ship tour since otherwise it will sell out. ~~ Santa Barbara is best done on your own without a shore tour. I found the 1786 mission and Spanish Colonial Revival Courthouse to be most fascinating. Also of note is perhaps the world's biggest ficus tree. ~~ On Catalina I did the ship's back-country off road tour and saw wild bison and other wildlife. This is an interesting place being mostly a nature preserve of native California flora. ~~ The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has to rank as one the nation's premiere animal parks. I opted for the behind the scenes Caravan tour where I was allowed to feed giraffes and rhinos. ~~ In Ensenada I enjoyed the ship tour out to the Baja wine country where we toured two wineries. Shopping for bargains in town was a hoot.
Disembarkation was as quick and simple as embarkation and I was at the airport in a timely manner.