We have sailed on the Sapphire now three times and with this move to Asia we new it would probably be a long time before we sailed on her again. Also, this cruise went to Guam where my DW grew up and she had not been back in over 40 years. These two items made this a special trip for us, a ship we like moving away and my DW's history in one of the ports.
We did not use a Princess Transfer as we stayed on the Queen Mary in Long Beach for the two nights prior to the cruise and then just took a cab over to the Sapphire. Embarcation went very smoothly and we were on board within an hour of arriving early at the pier. That was fine with us and we expected that, especially after all the news about L.A. customs and Health inspecitions slowing down the disembarcation and embarcation proceedings. No problems happened along those lines.
This cruise had a majority of Sea Days which we love, so we were able to really get into a routine for the first 2 1/2 weeks of the cruise with only two ports thrown in there. Very enjoyable. They rotated the entertainers in each port Honolulu and Guam so we had three different sets. Then Sammy Baker was a wonderful CD and was always around making everyone feel important.
Beverage and waite staff were some of the best we have experienced on Princess. We had AT dining and with the ship only 2/3rds full there was never a line or problem getting the Waite person we wanted. I think the menus in the Dining Rooms only repeated one time during the voyage. That was ok because it is hard to remember from one day to the next while cruising anyway.
We only used Princess tours in two of the 7 ports and all went very well with them. The guides were knowledgeable and spoke fair English. The bus rides were a little long on the Suzhou tour in Shanghai but the gardens were well worth it. In Kagoshima I took the Kamakazi Museum and Samurai Home tour, very worth it. We went on our own in Guam, Honolulu, Keelung.
The cabin was just what we expected and suited our needs fine. We had no real problems with the new TV system although I did hear of some who no TV for several days. We do not go on a cruise to watch TV in our room, but my DW did need it for two days when she was ill and she liked the new movie and program selection.
Disembarcation went smoothly for us, we asked for the late departure, so had a nice morning meal and then left the cabin around 0830 hrs. Then wandered through the ship saying goodbyes to cruisers and employee friends. Went right to our luggage and then with a short wait to a cab and on to our hotel in Osaka. All in all, a very organized disembarcation.
This was one of our best Princess Cruises, yet! The Cruisers were a very friendly and polite bunch and the employees were just super. A shame to lose both the Diamond and the Sapphire to the other side of the world, but business is business.