Left March 19th for seven days aboard Sapphire Princess to Mexico out of L.A.
Background: we are a family of four ( kids are 12 and 14) that has cruised about 6 times with kids who LOVE IT and travelled with 3 other families with teenage boys.
Got to the port at 11:15am but the ship was one hour late coming in so everything was backed up. We did not board until 1:15pm so it took a while.
Service: Overall it was very, very good. Our cabin steward, John, knew all our 4 names by the next morning and was wonderful. All the staff in all areas was very friendly as well--no complaints at all. The cruise director is quite funny and was great. Our waiter in the dining room was good, not great. No real complaint about him but he was not over-the-top wonderful like other staff we met on the cruise. If we were in a restaurant I would say he was very good but on a cruise we expect a little more, right or wrong.
Kids Services: The boys really liked their time in the teen services and met lots of new people. Did some or lots of the activities each day, depending on their wishes to do certain acitivities. The 12 year olds felt a little old in the 10-13 age group as the activities seemed catered to the younger kids.
Sports: Golf simulator was fun, gym had lots of newer equipment. Lots of hot tubs and pools( check out back for less busy pools) to choose from. Every cruise has probs with people saving deck chairs with towels and never to be seen again so can not fault Princess with that. They had a pickle-ball court which was fun and different but NO basketball court which I thought was odd and really missed by the teens. The mini golf is a waste of space as it is quite slopy ( which is fine) but if the terrain slopes left, the hole is usually to the right which makes no sense. played once the first day and never wanted to go back--same with the kids. The gym is quite warm we thought and with a low ceiling that made it seem hotter. No rock wall, no in-line nor ice skating either.
CABIN: Balcony cabin was a decent size. Seemed quite cramped when the 2 beds came outta 'the sky' and were set up. The toilet always had a whiff of septic but was not too off-putting. The steward was AWESOME! 2 chairs and a table on the balcony and was nice to get a breeze in the room. The top bunks though were encased in metal and if the sleeper moved around alot at nite you would hear him/her hit the metal side of the bed which was a little irritating but you get used to it.
ENTERTAINMENT: Kelvin, the cruise director was very funny and did lots of the trivia contests and kept me laughing. Derrick Cameron the comedian was very funny. the second comedian/magician was above average. The Princess dancers/singers could dance but the male singers were not very good at all and we left 10-15 minutes into their show as it was painful. The piano player in the Crooners bar also played great but was an average singer at best.
FOOD: The important item! Overall it was FABULOUS and I love food. Never had a bad meal or even an average meal. Did dining room every night and Sabattini's one night---well worth the $20 as it was a 3-hour, 6 course meal. They brought a selection of ALL appetizers out for us so we did not have to choose and all meals were simply awesome.
The pastas in the dining room were all great and Princess deserves to call itself a 'great pasta cruise line.' Our only concern was that the breaky buffet , although it was good, was basically the same food every day--except the way they changed how the scrambled eggs were cooked. Lots of variety though so you did not have to have the same meal every day. Ice cream, burgers, and great pizza daily from 11-7pm. Really missed the Royal Caribbean lunches where every day they had a cook making pasta for you as you order it and a deli sandwich stand.
BEVERAGES: Pre-book beer and a latte card for your room before you go as you save on price and avoid the 15% tip surcharge. 6 beer for $22 and 15 lattes for $23. After 8pm in most bars, beer and Long Island Ice teas were $3 but they do not promote this very much----I think cuz the cheaper price lowers their overall tip collected since it is a percentage. They call it "POWER HOUR".
PORTS of CALL: Mazatlan was cancelled due to violence so they MUST be hurting. PV was gorgeous and Cabo was breath-taking. IF you want to zip line as an excursion, PRE-BOOK from home as they were ALL sold out by the time we boarded. We took a catamaran trip in Cabo to do some snorkelling. The good---we followed a few whales for a few minutes which was awesome and were just as close as those who paid double to whale watch. Open bar on the way back to port ( about 30 minutes) and they did NOT cheap out on the amount of drinks or the the booze in them--VERY generous. The problem was the snorkelling site had jellyfish and at least 1/2 the people got stung which does hurt. Still was a great time though.
PRINCESS SELLING: The BIGGEST turnoff of the cruise. WAY too much attempted upselling---espec. the wine!! I have no problems with all the sales they have on board---go if u want to, buy if u want to. They really push the wine tasting the 1st 2 days and ask you alot. We bought the teens a pop card ($4.25/day) but they ONLY advertised the 'super' pop card which included shakes and mocktails as well for $9.25 per day. You had to ask about the cheaper, pop-only card and then they would mention it to you.
EVERY meal in the dining room they tried to sell wine. They first asked if anyone wants spring or bottled water with dinner for a fee--did not bother me. But instead of asking if anyone would want to look at a wine list, the waiter brings out 2 bottles he recommends and proceeds to tell us about each one. CHECK OUT OUR WORST NITE FOR SELLING----Then, he asks us about going to a wine-tasting event. THEN, he tries to sell us a bottle of wine to cleanse our palate, THEN he tries to sell us a box of 3 wines for $159. All in the space of 6 minutes and I do not drink wine! IT got old fast, though the wine-tasting schtick was maybe 3-4 nites, the palate wine was once as was the box of wine but it was all the same nite. Defs the worst part of the cruise!!
5-stars and a basketball court, softer selling of wine, and more variety of dishes at lunch and breaky would have made it 5+ stars!