Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by pointpetre: A Paradise of Sea Days
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A Paradise of Sea Days
Repositioning cruises tend to be unique and don't provide good information for more routine and repetitious cruises. This repositioning cruise went from San Pedro port in L.A. to Honolulu, Guam, Taiwan, Okinawa, Shanghai, Kogoshima and Osaka.
This was the type of cruise attractive to veteran cruisers and lovers of sea days.
The ship was not full and there were only nine children on most of the cruise, although that changed modestly as we reached ports in the West Pacific.
Embarkation: Well, our air travel on AA from Dulles was arranged through Princess. We had to connect in Dallas. Everything that could go wrong just about did. Our plane to L.A. was not ready to fly. We disembarked and got a new plane, but it needed a toilet seal repair that required a trip for a part and further delays. In L.A. a vehicle was blocking the approach to the gate, which delayed getting off the plane. Our luggage came toward the end of the luggage delivery, panicking our Princess More agent, but the luggage did come. There was a taxi snafu. The ship waited for us, and we were the last two passengers to board. We were rushed through the boarding as fast as possible, which means I cannot give an account of how boarding went in general. We took all our luggage aboard and to our room.
The ship: This was a beautiful ship in very good repair and with lots of unobtrusive maintenance underway the entire voyage - as the ship prepared for an unusual Chinese charter period starting in late May. Since the ship was not full, there were no lounge chair issues around the pools and access to shows in the theater was fine. The theater was very well designed with good stage views from virtually all seats. It was easy to move around the ship, despite its relatively large size. The bars and lounges were nice, but, as an entertainment center, the Explorers Lounge was awkward in design. The lectures and entertainment were good. Not great but above average. The activities were average at best, but this was a ship full of passengers good as providing their own amusements. The fitness center was above average in design and equipment and extremely well used, despite the fact that a huge proportion of the passengers, including me, were senior citizens. The library was okay, but in this e-book age, that is becoming less and less of an issue or concern. The library provided daily sudokus and trivia quizzes. However, sudokus with more than one solution just don't seem kosher to me. I only encounter such sudokus on ships. I don't know why that is. One sudoku puzzle actually had three solutions. Yuck. The typical internet connection issues applied on this ship, but there were periods of good internet access.
Food: The buffet was good. Room service and the food offered via room service, such as hamburgers, was terrific. Our dining staff went the extra mile, and the food in the dining rooms was very, very good, which meant the specialty restaurants were not well frequented. Our table of six consistently ate together except for some port days.
Room: We had an excellent room steward. Caribe deck balcony rooms have large balconies. We very much enjoyed ours. Everything in the room was in good repair and the television was upgraded during to the voyage to a level well above average for cruise ships in terms of on-demand programming access and satellite TV. There was a good selection of movies on screens in the ship and on TV. Princess should upgrade its TV for interactive services, such as reserving tours and room service orders. The bedding has been upgraded, and the beds are very comfortable.
Laundry: Great washing machines and dryers. There was a lot of Elite passengers, who get free laundry. As a result, getting a washer and a dryer wasn't difficult.
Weather: Not much bad weather or rough seas.
Excursions: Ship excursions were good, but Guam was treated as a minimal afterthought. It deserved better. We mainly stopped there to refuel. The ship tours on Guam were not very good according to people we talked with. They should have offered water tours and snorkeling. A very good snorkeling site was within two miles of our dock. The Guam folkloric show on board was good, as was the sail away crowd on shore. We also have good on shore sail away crowds and entertainment in Okinawa and Kogoshima. Less
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Cabin review: C204
Tight space but quite comfortable. This was a smooth cruise, so no rough sea issues. It is easy to flood the bathroom floor from the shower, so shower curtain positioning is important to avoid this. The showers could use an extra shelf, but good counter and shelf space in the bathroom overall. Caribe deck balconies are spacious and a nice place to be on a tropical cruise. However, you cannot look directly down at the sea, so don't expect to watch flying fish.
Port and Shore Excursions
Good local buses and free shopping buses and free buses to Waikiki. Many interesting places within walking distance of the dock. The Costco is good and not far away.
We had a good tour including Osaka Castle and Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine. We did not have an opportunity this trip to go to Kyoto or Nara. Had we done so, I am sure I'd rate this destination as a six star place.
Lovely tour to a preserved, historic area. Shanghai has exploded in growth terms into a city of modern towers and freeways and expensive port facilities. It is vast forests of development and preserving some of the past is very important and admirable.
Shanghai has to be one of the premier destinations on this planet. It is awesome beyond words.