This was our 13th cruise together. Being a Southern California resident, it was by far the simplest and easiest in so many ways. HIGHLY recommended for those living in Southern California. A perfect 1st cruise or a simple and easy cruise for seasoned Southern California Cruisers. No long flights or transfers to worry about. Just drive right up to the ship and board. As you can probably tell, we were excited about this. Being a "Christmas Vacation" cruise for most families on board, the cruise director wanted to be sure that everyone knew there were 700 children on board. Though noticable - especially those bouncing and jumping from the beds in the cabin next to us - it wasn't a complete take-over. Many of those falling into this (700 children) category, were teenagers. They seemed a little more "tame". We loved our balcony cabin for this cruise as the weather and temps were warm enough for us to enjoy out time using it. We also thought the itinerary was just right as far as ports vs. sea days. Usually, we are not "sea-day" type of people. But, for this cruise, having the 1st two days and the last day at sea was a nice thing. Here is a scenario of our cabin, the ship, service, and ports...
The Sapphire Princess is a very large ship. It keeps people spread out and only during meal times and mid-day at the pool do you recognize the "crowds". However, if you happend to be "early eaters" at any meal, it makes it much easier to manuever amongs the people - especially in the buffet area. The warm sea days also made the "pool-deck" VERY crowded during mid-day as well. Though the ship seems to have a thousand pool chairs, they all seem to get taken by 11am. If you are a "sunbather", getting on the pool deck prior to 10am is recommended for a better choice of chair. The entertainment and shows were not very good on this cruise. Again, being our 13th cruise, this was the over-all worst entertainment we have ever experienced. Basically, it was just boring. The comedians were lousy. To be honest, I think it's just too hard to find good entertainment to come aboard cruises. We were not impressed. That was the only part of the cruise we found unsatisfactory. As we continue to cruise and as the years go by, it has become more and more noticable and evident of the "cut-backs" in the ship's service and staff. Understanding this seems to be a trend in many business areas due to the economy, it has definitely impacted service times especially. From the dining staff to the room stewards, the number of "employees" are deminishing and it makes some areas have slower service. Example,...It takes about 90 minutes to get through a sit-down dinner meal because "your" waite staff has so many tables/people to serve.
Our Cabin...The only interesting thing we found about the cabin is that it did NOT have a "love-seat/sofa" as it shows and is advertised on the ship's web-site. If you actually look up the room diagram and "view", it shows a small sofa. It did not have this. No big deal. All other aspects of the cabin were typical and fine. TAKE NOTE,...The cabins on decks 11 and 12 do NOT have decks above them looking down on you - they are directly above you. The cabin decks are tiered. So, it is possible to look directly onto the balcony's of BOTH deck's 10 AND 9 from deck 11 and 12. If you are on a balcony on deck 9 or 10, you WILL have 2 to 3 decks above you looking down on you. Something to be aware of.
Ports,...We took an all day tour on a catamaran away from Puerta Vallarta. So, we were never in the city itself. The port itself was nice and if you can't seem to stay away from a Walmart, there is one within a 5 minute walk of the ship. We did not go to it. While ported in Mazatlan, it is an interesting situation. Because of it being a working ship yard, you MUST take a short (1 minute), free, shuttle ride to a gate/shopping area. Though it's a 3 minute walk to get out of the yard, you are unable to do so. There is very little near the ship. The best thing to do is take a shuttle or taxi to the shopping area "Golden Zone" about 10-15 minutes from the ship. It's a crowded shopping district. You are NOT docked in Cabo San Lucas. You are anchored away from the harbor and MUST take a tender (life boat) into the harbor of Cabo from the ship. Something to consider when doing so....Though the weather was beautiful and the winds were very calm, the sea was somewhat rough and it was quite a challenge to get into and out of the tenders. Even the crew was having a difficult time trying to "park" them at the ship's dock. It was quite an adventure all day long with the tenders. Due to the fact that we were only in Cabo's port for 7 hours and the fact that you needed to have time to both tender in and stand in LOOOONG lines (it may be a 1 hour wait) to tender back (which gives you a VERY short time in port), we just walked around the town and did NOT take any tours. Keep in mind that at this port, your time is limited. Don't plan on too much.
All-in-all, the cruise itinerary, ship, and service was fine and dandy. We enjoyed this cruise and there is a very good chance we will take it again...(NO air-fare or air-travel for us,...yeah!)