First, let me say thank you to all of you for the posts you provided. The information was so helpful to us!
This was our first cruise. We were traveling as one couple in our late 30s, a woman in her late 70s in a scooter/wheelchair and a woman in her 50s.
The ship We loved the Sapphire. On our cruise you could spread out and always find a spot that didn't feel too crowded. It looks a little las vegas-y or 1980s, but I think that is just how many cruise ships look. It was extremely clean.
The service I travel every week and have stayed at various Ritz properties, Four Seasons, etc. The staff on this ship provided service equal to or above that level. I knew we were not on a luxury ship, however I felt as if we were by the service. Our steward, Rod, cleaned both of our rooms every time we left (several times a day). He provided us anything we asked for. We only tipped after service. My grandmother tipped ahead, and we saw no difference in service - to settle the great debate on this board.
Food Every night we put a sign on the door with what we wanted and it was always delivered on time, sometimes ahead. We tipped about $2 per time. We wrote in times for delivery if we wanted it delivered earlier (as early as 5:30 am). I wrote in bagel, cream cheese, even salmon, and it was delivered. We did the champagne breakfast one morning (32 for two) and it was great on the balcony during the Tracy Arm part of the trip. Really enjoyed this.
We did anytime dining and only ate at the buffet a couple of times. We all agreed that buffet was mediocre at best and quite a pain. We avoided it at all costs. That being said, we made reservations at different restaurants each morning and always got a reservation. We ate at Vivaldi, Savoy, Pacific Moon, and Santa Fe. We ate breakfast and lunch at International. We liked Santa Fe best overall. The food in the dining room is good, not the best we've ever had, but they try really hard and all in all, it is quite good. The buffet, however, we found quite poor. Friday night was lobster night and we had Baked Alaska as well, really enjoyed. Again, not the best we'd ever had, but pretty good. We purchased champagne, wine, mixed drinks. Very fair prices. For example 70 for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, which is 40 at the liquor store, pretty fair restaurant price. Service was usually very good.
The rooms We were in A306, while the rest of our family was in A302 (a handicapped room for her wheelchair). Lots of storage, very surprised. Great tip to put suitcases under the beds! Also great tip on the clothes pins for the shower. In our room, the non-handicapped room, the showers were very small and we found the clothespins helped. The balconies definitely had room for 2 chairs and a table. A302 had room for 4 chairs (do not reserve this, please, unless you need a handicapped room).
Excursions We reserved all with the ship because of my grandmother in a portable wheel chair. We thought big groups were best. This really worked well for us. We thought they were all great. Ketchican - we did a city tour, which included saxman, salmon, something else? For this one, I would suggest you take the free shuttle or a taxi and go see these yourselves. I really didn't see a huge benefit to the tour and they were all wheelchair accessible. We took a cab afterwards and went to a great restaurant/lodge with a view, took a $2 tram down to the city and then shopped. We walked back to the ship. In Juneau, we did whale watching and salmon bake. We enjoyed both. The whale watching was a do not miss. We probably saw 50 whales! There was an indoor area for my grandmother where she could sit. In fact, many did. We even saw eagles, and a sea lion eating a fish, eagle stole the fish, flew away and dropped fish! Really amazing. Salmon bake was cute, but identical to the one we did the next day in Skagway (we would've skipped one, I think). In Skagway, we did the deluxe city tour which included the train (amazing), salmon bake, and brothel (just OK). I would highly recommend the train. Our bus driver, Thomas, was great. Victoria - we just walked around. It was a little cold in the evening for my grandmother.
Traveling with disabilities Everyone on this trip was amazing with my grandmother. She is mobile and actually in very good shape. However, due to an injury, she has some issues standing or walking any distance, so she needed a way to get around on excursions, the boat, and some assistance in the shower (since she can't stand well). We reserved a scooter from Special Needs at Seas. Well worth it! She used it every day. We brought a portable wheel chair which we used to get her on and off the boat and on tours. Someone always helped her on/off the boat and they did it well. We always tipped them. Every bus, shuttle, etc. was very helpful and took her portable wheelchair. She can walk a few steps, so not all these tours are wheel chair friendly. I wouldn't recommend the brothel for someone with disabilities. There were stairs and it was quite taxing on her. She did it, though! The bathroom in her room was ideal with a fold down seat and lots of room.
One issue was that she couldn't go everywhere on the ship on her own, like the buffet or pizza or grill, because the deck doors did not open unless you physically pushed them and she couldn't.
Packing We did not use bug spray. We were very covered up so didn't really see where they could bite us! We did bring rain coats, very good idea. We definitely got some rain. For people who are older, bring lots of layers, winter coats, etc. My grandmother did get cold, but fortunately, between her coat, several sweaters, she was OK. The damp air makes it feel colder, I think.
Entertainment None of us enjoyed the musicals. We thought it was really sub-par talent. Then again, we've never been on a cruise, but nothing as good as what we would pay for at a theater. One comedian was awful (we walked out due to all the burp and fart jokes his dummy made - my 7 yr old nephew would have liked it). One was hilarious. Lots of jokes about the cruise.
Misc With a wheelchair, boarding the ship was a breeze. We were on quickly and got our luggage quickly. We packed 6 bottles of wine in a back pack, no problem. We had a driver from the Marriott waterfront and we used him again on the way back, Usef. He made it a breeze. Disembarkation was easy as well. Based on your room level/floor, you are dispersed to different lounges. You wait there and then you get off at the assigned time. Ours was navy, so we were 9:30, I think. We just put our bags out the night before with the tags they provided, went to bed, ate breakfast in the dining room and went to the lounge. We just left the scooter in the room for special needs at sea. Very easy! We had someone help us pick up our bags from luggage claim. They were all right there. We gave him a few bucks a bag, and he helped us to Usef, our driver.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. We highly recommend the Sapphire and the trip!