This cruise we decided to upgrade our accommodations and reserved a full suite. We will definitely be sailing this way again! The full suite amenities offered by Princess are wonderful!
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Being a full-suite passenger afforded us an express embarkation process which was wonderfully quick and painless. We were inside our cabin with 30 minutes of checking in at the terminal. Disembarkation was less expedient and a little disappointing - during disembarkation, we felt as though we had been corralled into the cattle call they refer to as a disembarkation process. Considering we had driven to the ship in LA and we were responsible for our own luggage during disembarkation, we thought we (and others like us) should have been guided off the ship first in order to get us out of the way. The passageways were strewn with luggage from others doing the same 'walk off' disembarkation process (which means you, and you alone, are handling your belongings while trying to get off the ship and through customs.)
Most notable PRO(s):
(1) Breakfast at Sabitinis (exclusive for full-suite passengers) is exceptional! After our initial introduction to the staff, we were greeted by name every morning and even had our favorites delivered before we even requested them. And the morning mimosa is a wonderful way to start your day! As a full-suite passenger, please make sure you partake of this amenity! A high-participation rate is a sure-fire way to show Princess our appreciation for this excellent offering! Bravo!
(2) Located at the passenger service desk is a kiosk that allows you to print out your cabin charges as frequently as you like. There was never a line at the kiosk and it required no interaction with staff. An excellent tool for keeping tabs on your room charges.
Most notable CON(s):
(1) The casino is a disgusting smoke cave... one evening was deemed 'smoke-free night' and the place was packed! So, I ask you, why wouldn't Princess compound their profit margin by extending smoke-free night to every other night? Seems only fair to offer equal time to non-smokers.
(2) The LOTUS Spa offers wonderful deals and the idea of total relaxation, however... the location of the spa prohibits total relaxation. The Couple's Rasul and thermal spa (which is also offered to full-suite passengers as an amenity) are located directly next to the aerobic studio which means having to 'relax' while enduring loud beats from the aerobics studio music or the boisterous (yet encouraging) leadership of a fitness instructor. Also, paying customers of the spa must endure a constant parade of passengers heading to the fitness center since one must pass THROUGH the spa to get to the fitness center; poor layout planning in my humble opinion. The relaxation grotto is a place where paying spa passengers await their therapist and treatment room - unfortunately, since the fitness center has direct access to the relaxation grotto too, more than once we were waiting for the thermal spa in the grotto only to find it a hot mess. The flavored iced water and fruit offerings were depleted, the grotto was littered with empty water glasses, and the trashes were overflowing with half-eaten fruit. One day while trying to enjoy a couple's massage, we had to endure a rhythmic and never-ending sound of people running laps on the overhead deck. One could liken it to a thundering herd passing overhead... again and again and again and again... not easy to achieve total relaxation when every two or three minutes another herd passes overhead. Our next cruise is also onboard Sapphire; we have already decided to forego scheduling spa services and paying to endure the aggravation when we are there to relax and be pampered. (Last cruise we were on Coral Princess and enjoyed TOTAL relaxation at the LOTUS spa and thermal suite... that is why we believe this must be a problem unique to Sapphire.)
Meals: Also as a full-suite passenger, another amenity is the ability to order the same meals being served in any of the restaurants onboard to enjoy in the privacy of our own veranda. Our veranda table was dressed with a linen tablecloth and the same fine china and silver used in the onboard restaurants. It was lovely to enjoy the moon and stars, a bottle of wine, and dinner with the love of my life in privacy. (Full-suite passengers enjoy this amenity as part of their suite. This is different than the ultimate balcony dining and champagne breakfasts which are both offered for a fee.) We also enjoyed afternoon tea complete with cookies and fruit served daily in our suite (if we requested it). Let's not forget the deluxe canapes delivered daily! We looked forward to the daily chocolate-covered strawberries decorated in chocolate tuxedo design! We became so accustomed to the daily delivery of deluxe canapes that once we got home we actually missed our 5:00 pm chocolate strawberry 'fix'!
Another suite amentiy is that we received flowers to wear on the first formal night. And, private portrait sittings are available, if you so desire.
The three ports we visited were Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. In Puerto Vallarta, I took the Priness-sponsored "Swim with the Dolphins" excursion. My husband went as a spectator. My ticket was $129 and his was $34. We left the cruise ship, boarded a small craft vessel and ferried a fifteen-minute boat ride to the island that holds the dolphin/sea lion facility. The animals are well-cared for and obviously loved by their trainers! It was a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend doing it! Port 2: Mazatlan. Thanks to CC reviews, we knew not to schedule our Stone Island excursion through the ship. The ship-sponsored tour is $59 per person ORRRRR you can walk off the ship, out of the terminal area to the main street, turn left and walk about 1/2 mile to the water. There, you will find a small boat/water taxi that charges $2 per person to shuttle you to AND FROM Stone Island! Thank you CC Reviewers for that gem of advice!! Once on Stone Island, we walked the beautiful shore line and decided which beachfront eatery to settle into... we chose Leidys (pronounced Ladies). We were seated in chaise lounges under a cabana (no charge) where my husband enjoyed ice-cold Coronas (two for $3) and I had kick-a$$ margaritas (that are dangerous because they were as smooth as kool-aid!) You've been warned!! My husband knew that I was enjoying the margaritas far too much once he saw me holding a conversation with NYY fans and I am a die-hard Red Sox fan...LOL.... to my husband's credit, he had every opportunity to leave me basking in the sun at Stone Island and yet chose to scoop me up and deliver me back to the ship! Must be true love... LOL! In Cabo San Lucas (a very short-lived in-port period), we chose to just wander the streets and take in the markets and vendors. We thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere ...and bargains. All three ports have vendors and pesky natives that will try your patience with all their sales pitches. Get ready to hear more than your fair share of "Hey Lady", "Mi Amigo", "Hey, my friend...", "Almost Free", "Which do you want?" ... and so on. So much so that when we returned to San Diego, we went into a car dealership and the service manager answered our inquiry by saying, "I'll check, my friend..." and my husband and I busted out laughing.
All in all, our Mexican Riviera experience was wonderful! We have already scheduled our next cruise. We're taking the Wine Cruise up the coast of California which ends up in Vancouver, BC. (If you aren't aware, you can charge a Future Cruise Deposit for $100 per person to your room - which is a fraction of the deposit required if you book by another means! You have four years to use your future cruise credit so take your time to determine your destination and sail dates!) Each time we cruise, we place the $100 deposit and then begin shopping the cruise catalog for our next destination!
We hope that wherever you cruise, your travels are safe and exciting!