Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by Phila Fred: Inexpensive getaway for 4 nites: worth the money
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Inexpensive getaway for 4 nites: worth the money
This was a 4-nite getaway from Los Angeles (actually San Pedro), with a stop in San Diego, a stop in Ensenada Mexico, followed by one day at sea and then back home in Los Angeles. By booking close to the departure date, we got a great price! Note on pricing, however. The price you see advertised is not the price you will pay: add $80 per person for taxes & port fees; and add around $100 (per couple) that will be charged to your onboard account for mandatory gratuities. Even still, it was a bargain. Where can you travel to, and book a hotel for four nites, and cover all of you meals, snacks, and evening entertainment for that kind of money....
The ship was very clean and recently refurbished. No lingering smell in the hallways. It was medium size, comparable to the Radiance class of Royal Caribbean. Took us a while to get used to the layout; we were spoiled by RC's central promenade that runs the length of the ship. Staff were all very friendly and helpful. Cabins are laid More out nicely, with a rectangular sleeping area cordoned off by a wall backing a large closet and the lavatory.
Breakfast buffet was very good. Lunch was okay, nothing spectacular. Not as many choices as some other ships, but nothing to complain about. On the pool deck there is also a real pizzeria (fresh, NY style hand tossed pizza) and also a grill offering up burgers, dogs, fries, chicken, veggie burgers, and sometimes even pulled pork or BBQ beef. Also, an ice cream (soft serve) counter. Main dining is par for ships. Food was okay but not memorable. Good staff, though. No formal nite nor lobster fest.
Internet service is available, but they charge from 80 cents to a buck per minute! Way overpriced. Inside the ship on the lower deck in the Atrium area is a gourmet pizza cafe (sit down waiter service) that reminded us of Calif Pizza Kitchen. Excellent, and free.
Evening entertainment includes the usual singer & dancer shows in the main theater, along with some comedy/music acts during the mid-cruise. All were very enjoyable! Also, the ship offers movies under the stars, shown on a jumbo tron monitor above the pool. Popcorn is served. On our cruise, the weather was really cold, so we all buried ourselves in warm coats and under (supplied) blankets. Cold, but fun!
In our opinion, the Cruise Director & Staff really fell short. It was too cold to hang out in the pools, but the decks were full of fans watching the championship football playoffs. The ship could have done tailgate parties and taken advantage of the situation, but instead they just hid or did boring stuff below decks. There were a lot of Chinese into playing majong, but the ship could have used one of the (empty) interior clubs and invited them all to play together. The C.D. just did not react or adjust to the pulse of the passengers. They just stuck to the script, and ignored it if it did not work out for them (such as poolside events). There were no late parties, such as poolside buffets and dance -- like we are used to on other ships. Last nite of the cruise, nada.
Did we have fun? You betcha! But it could have been done better.
Was the trip worth the money? Absolutely. We got away, we rested, we partied, we ate too much.
Ensenada??? We bought a ceramic gecko and some plates. Avoided eating or drinking, since you never know which places are clean and which aren't. Besides, there was a tone of free food onboard!
Ports of call: San Diego. A city, just like Los Angeles. Been there, done that. What we did was to go next door at the dock, and tour the USS Midway (a WW2 aircraft carrier) which is now a museum. Only $20 or less per person, and worth the time. It is history. Ensenada.... walked around the tourist area. Looked around in the trinket shops. Nothing impressive. San Pedro (home port).... berthed next door to the cruise ship is the USS Iowa, a WW2 battleship. Only $10 with discount flyer you pick up on the way out of the terminal. Also an amazing taste of history.
So should you book it? If you are offered a good price, go for it! Princess line is better run than Carnival, though not as good as Royal C. Less
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Cabin review: Sapphire Princess Baja deck
We stayed in an interior basic cabin on the Baja deck (deck 11) in the Forward section. Cabin was nicely laid out, with the two beds merged into a single queen sized bed. Very comfy, and the room was not claustrophobic. Nice (new) wide screen digital TV. Desk/make-up table & chair. Behind a wall, thus secluded from the main area, is a spacious closet and also a shelf closet w a locking safe. Opposite the closet is the lavatory. Small shower, of course, but okay. Room was very clean and no odor. Housekeeping did an excellent job!Since we spend most of our time around the ship, we did not see the need for a balcony nor even a small porthole. Our money was better spent on drinks or shopping!Also, note that interior cabins rock less than outside cabins, and lower decks pitch less than the upper decks. We opted for around half way up, so that we could take stairs either up to the pool deck or down to the dining rooms, clubs, or theater.
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