Booked the 28 day Hawaii/South Pacific cruise on Sapphire Princess in late August 2013. Selected guaranteed inside. Received a great inside room, Baja deck, just aft of mid-ship. Room was quiet, a/c in room was almost too chilly and couldn't get it to warm up much. Others we talked with mentioned their rooms were too warm and couldn't get them cooler. Asked steward for a couple of extra pillows first day and he brought 8! Comfortable bed. Plenty of storage, closet and shelf space. Tuned in my stateroom tv to bridge cam each morning to check on outside weather. But we had 28 days of perfect!..calm seas, 2 hours of rain the entire time, 80ish temps every day. Great room location. 2 minutes from cabin to Lido deck/Horizon Court or International Café/Piazza for coffee in am!
We had anytime dining, generally quick seating. We met new shipmates all the time. We also made use of the Horizon Court buffet for many meals. Food for us was above average. We particularly enjoyed utilizing the International Café in the Piazza for Panini sandwiches. I was careful about not turning a 28 day cruise into a 25 pound cruise!...so moderation was the word of the day for me..but I still added 12 pounds..I will blame it on the salt in the food and the carbonation in my diet cokes! I can't speak for others that I saw :)
Ship was very clean and fresh, although the bottom of horizontal surfaces (under the table edge, under ship railings, the window frames ) seemed to lack regular wiping and had drips/stains/water spotting and some grime. (I know ---a salt water environment is tough to keep things spotless)
I also would have preferred a few more places to throw out my own occasional garbage...Kleenex, candy wrappers, paper coffee cups, napkins... etc than to just set it down...although some crew would generally grab it within a short time.
The crew that I met on a regular basis were wonderful. Attentive, polite and generally eager to please.
Couldn't always say the same for some fellow passengers. Passengers were heavily USA of course, plus lots of Canadians with a surprising amount of Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, Australian and Korean.
Wife and I are in our early 60's....being such a long cruise, the passenger cross section was skewed heavily to elderly...but I hope when I get 'older', I don't forget where I came from and lose all sense of manners. Way too many passengers were downright rude..to each other and to staff. Several adult arguments and ill manners over important things like the buffet line, saving a theatre seat, lines for tender, getting on and off an elevator....that kind of thing! Quite embarrassing actually...and they were not foreigners...most I ran across were from the good ol' USA.
Not Princess' fault of course, but it would wear on you if you had to put up with that month after month.
Entertainment for me was outstanding. Over the 28 day sail, the Princess Theatre NEVER repeated the same show. Princess brought on outside entertainers...singers, comedians, magicians, local talent ..etc..in addition to the 5 main shows performed by the Princess Singers/Dancers. While not all of the shows were my cup of tea, I saw them all! Kudo's to the entertainment staff, our cruise director Billy and his staff, all of the staff/lounge musicians, dancers and string quartet.
The Princess Patter was always awash with way too many activities...scholarship at sea programs were wonderful, trivia is always a hit and the staff and passenger talent show(s) are always fun. Movies at sea on Lido were always busy plus we even were watching the world series and NFL football live via satellite while floating in the South Pacific! How tough is that?
A special salute to the technical staff responsible for sound, lighting, equipment set up throughout the ship etc....very professional and always on time. We live in Las Vegas and the Sapphire tech crew is as good as any crew here.
Being an older clientele, the evenings got quiet quickly. The early theatre show was always standing room only, the second show was strong and the third show (10 pm) was a third full. Early mornings however got busy quickly, with many joggers/walkers on promenade deck and swimmers in the pools as early as 5 am.
Embarkation in Los Angeles was quick and efficient. Disembarkation was delayed by about an hour, with long lines at immigration...not necessarily Princess' fault, but it's funny how after spending 28 leisurely days at sea, passengers are literally yelling at staff to get off the ship at their 'assigned' time. Oh well. It would be nice though if Princess were to provide lemonade, or water or iced tea for these extended disembarkation delays.
Other: WiFi is horrifically slow at sea, but I could check my emails now and then. Shore excursions booked through princess were ok, albeit always more costly than doing the same tour 'on your own' once ashore.
Disembarking the ship on tender days is always a bit of a pain (unless you're some of the 'chosen' captains circle etc...who have their own, more secretive tender loading benefit). You never seem to get off the ship when you plan on being off...particularly annoying if you have your own shore excursion booked and need to meet someone at a certain time.
Constant marketing, sales of jewelry, t-shirts, souvenirs in the Piazza, pictures of you taken by the ship staff, art auctions etc.....are never ending. Plan on spending more than your budget.
Coffee card is a great value. Great choice of swimming pools at different temps. Lots of hot tubs also at various temps. Always plenty of towels on deck, blankets for cooler nights on deck chairs, courtesy umbrellas on shore ramps, cool-wet handtowels to wipe down with before stepping on board after shore visits.
Announcements over public address system were minimal and non intrusive and in clear English.
I would like to have more clocks located in public spaces as I don't wear a watch. Casino was very tight in machines. If you play, DON'T forget to cash out your account credits(if any) on your last day with the casino cage. They don't credit your Princess on board account with those. You can play with credits (say:money) FROM your shipboard account, but can't put any winnings BACK to offset your shipboard account. Interesting ploy.
As an ex-smoker I found the Princess smoking limits to be fair...certain outside deck locations, in the Churchill lounge, casino during the day.
All in all, a wonderful ship, great staff, great cruise director and staff, very good food and drink. A 4.5 out of 5 for me!