We are a family of 4 (my husband and myself in our mid/early forties and our two boys, ages 13 and 10). We are from the Seattle, WA area and this was our eighth cruise (all on Princess).
First off, we flew Seattle to Long Beach on Friday, Feb 12th. (We refuse to fly in the day of a cruise - and on this cruise, I believe there were approximately 90 people from the east coast that were 3 days late boarding the ship due to bad weather). We took a shuttle from the airport to a hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach. Great hotel and actually quite a bit of stuff to do in the Long Beach Harbor area. We then took a town car the next morning from the hotel to San Pedro Pier.
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 10:30am. Check in was a breeze and we enjoyed the Platinum/Elite lounge. We were also the first to board and were in our room by 11:15.
Our Room: To back up a bit...we had originally booked an inside cabin for our two boys and an outside cabin for us two adults. Well, 20 minutes before we boarded our plane in Seattle we got a phone call telling us that we were upgraded to a Family Suite...so we didn't quite know what to expect when we walked in our room. Well, we felt like we had won the lottery. We were the very front cabin on the Dolphin Deck. We had two separate entry doors. The boys part was like an inside cabin. Our side was like a mini-suite, but then there was a living room (where the extension off the "inside" cabin part was. We accessed the balcony from our part, but the balcony was the length of 2 1/2 regular balconies. The family suite can accommodate 8 people - so it was incredibly spacious for us four. As nice as the room was the suite perks were awesome. The super nice bath robes, deluxe toiletries, fresh flowers in our room, corsage and boutonnieres delivered to our room for formal nights, priority tender boarding and one complimentary mini bar (pops, water and mini liquor bottles) were nice but not necessary. We did take advantage of the free laundry service (for both cleaning and pressing), the free unlimited internet, the ability to order dining room meals to our room for room service, the complimentary thermal suite access for us adults (I would actually buy this if we were maybe doing the Alaska cruise, but not so much necessary on a warm weather cruise) and the express line for questions at the purser's desk. But our favorite perk was the exclusive breakfast for suite only passengers in Sabatini's. It was quiet in there, the service was exceptional and the free mimosa's & speciality coffee drinks make breakfast our favorite meal of the day. As platinum members we visited the daily "cocktail hour" up in skywalkers. (our favorite night was Friday night for sushi up there - the rest of the nights were unimpressive).
The ship: The Sapphire is in great condition we thought. We did miss not having MUTS, Vines and The International Cafe. We did not miss the Sanctuary (again we have kids and wouldn't consider separating ourselves and us going to an adult only (never the less pay area). We did like Churchill cigar lounge and the putt putt golf course up top.
The Food: We thought it was odd to have the four anytime dining rooms. The decor can differ among them, but the menus are the same...except each dining room have their own speciality (The Savoy had, I think a veal or lamb dish, The Pacific Moon had chow mein, The Santa Fey had fajitas and we did not go to the fourth dining room (that one opens much later in the evening for dinner). Our favorite restaurant was the Santa Fey...because we liked the decor and we found to great servers (Michael from the Philippines and his assistant, Edward from India). The Horizon Court provided ample food selection. We love the pizza bar as well as the hamburger/grilled chicken/kielbasa bar - both poolside. There is free soft serve ice cream. We did buy our boys the Ultimate Kids Card which gave them free milkshakes, pop (including root beer), mocktails and smoothies.
The Crew: We thought the crew was cheerful, helpful and kind - we would say The Sapphire had the BEST crew we have ever experienced!
The Entertainment: Entertainment was good, usually production shows, a couple of good (not great comedians), the band and piano entertainer were again good (not great).
Cruising with Kids: Our boys visited the kids clubs rarely (our 13 y/o is intimidated in the 13 to 17 y/o range). We again thought the staff was overall, attentive to kids. The crew did reinforce no UN-potty trained tots in the pools (YEAH). Again, we had good quality time Putt putt golfing, swimming in both the covered and uncovered pools. Parents, do keep your under 16 y/o's out of the first three rows of the Princess Theater!
Disembarking: As suite passengers we were able to disembark at our convenience without having to fill our our flight times etc. That was nice. And as platinum members we did enjoy relaxing in a designated area equipped with beverages and snacks.