Review of the Sapphire Princess - Sailing 3/19/11 - 3/26/11
My Mom and I love Mexico, so we decided to take a week and go on a cruise. Although it was spring break there were not a lot of kids on board. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area so we took the earliest Southwest flight #883 out of San Jose for our arrival at LAX at 10:15 am.
Getting to the Ship:I pre-booked the Super Shuttle to take us to the San Pedro where the ship is docked. It takes between 30-45 minutes to get there. On Travelocity I was able to find a discount code which allowed us a $3 per person reduction. The fare was $17 per person and well worth it. The Super Shuttle was simple to find. Yeh! After collecting luggage, we proceeded to the outer curb under the Orange sign that says "Van Shared Ride", & found the SuperShuttle curb coordinator. Within 15 minutes we are on our way to the port.
Stateroom: It has been 7 years since I was on the Sapphire, and she is still a beauty. We were very happy with our portside stateroom C708 on Caribe Deck. All the cabins on this deck have a HUGE balcony. These balconies are partially covered and partially out in the sun. There are a total of 4 chairs, & a table. The only so-so thing about the balcony is that you can view the folks sitting/standing on their balconies that are directly below you, and the next deck down.
Dining: I prefer Traditional Dining, but since we booked this trip only 2 months in advance only personal choice dining was the only one available. The Savoy has wonderful English Pub Meals at lunch time on certain days, the days were listed in the Patter. We enjoyed all of the regular venues for eats, and the food was very good. I am happy to see they have brought back the scrumptious "Love Boat Dream" chocolate dessert as "always available." This was my 5th time on Princess. For several years now, Princess only had it one night during a 7 day sailing.
Casino: We had fun playing the penny slots, although the minimum bid is 18 cents per spin on almost all the machines. I did find one machine that took a minimum of 9 cents each spin. The slots were very tight. Yes they paid out constantly which is good, but you would end up putting in a lot more than what was coming out. For example wagering 18 cents and getting back 9 cents.
Service: Everything was good. A major change that I noticed was that they don't put up balloons on the outside of the stateroom doors for folks celebrating any longer. We did see several nice banners with the Princess logo stating something like "Happy Birthday or Anniversary from Princess Cruises."
Entertainment: All of the Broadway type shows were good. There are 5 pools on the Sapphire and since it was chilly on the sea days we spent time in the Conservatory where they had good hot tubs and the pool was covered.
Port & Excursions: Originally we were scheduled to go to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. Due to the violence in Mazatlan, Princess opted to drop that port, and instead give us 2 days in Cabo. Many of the passengers were very happy with the change including us.
In Puerto Vallarta we got off the ship, walked to the right and went down to the closest set of touristy shops. As we were walking from that area, one of the vendor's asked us if we would like to take a van to see the city and tequila factory. Since we have done this several times at $25 p/p. I asked my Mom what she thought. Then I told the guy that we would go with him for $15 p/p for 4 hours. No deal, he did however drop his price to $20 p/p and told us not to tell any of the others in the van with us. We had the most delightful day. They drove us downtown, then through up in the hills to see the beautiful homes and scenic views. Then we went to Chico's Paradise Restaurant which overlooks the river, and has a few vendor stalls. My husband and I had been there in the past. We had good chips and salsa/pico de guyo (spelling?)and 2 soda's. They take US currency and it was $8 total which we thought was fine. If you have peso's it would run you quite a bit cheaper. This is the spot where lots of people do zip lining. Fortunately, no one in our van signed up for it so we didn't spend anymore than 45 minutes here. It is a nice spot to sit and relax. We then went to one of the Tequila Factory's. This one was really good, too bad I don't remember the name of it, but it is all outdoors. We were then whisked back to town where we walked along the Malecon so we could see the sand sculptures, then back to the ship. The weather was great somewhere between 75-80 with a nice breeze, and sunny.
Cabo San Lucas: We just walked around here the first day. The weather was sunny and 75 degrees during both days we were there. Went to the fancy newer shopping center close to the Yacht Harbor. The good thing is that you no longer have people bugging you to buy their wares. They are now behind a fence which is much better for the tourista's. During the first day as we walked from the ship in the Yacht Harbor area there are a lot of guys selling trips. My Mom was interested in doing a Whale Watching Trip. One of the gentleman explained what we would see and that it would be 2 hours long. I asked him if it was 2 hours Mexican time or 2 hours real time. He assured me that the boat would leave on time at 9:00 a.m. and return by 11:00 a.m. the following day. He asked that we be at his office B-20 on the right between Senior Frogs and the Aquarium by 8:30 the next morning.
I must say I was a little leary of getting sea sick. I told the man that and he suggested we take one Dramamine the night before and another Dramamine in the morning an hour before we boarded the whale watching boat. It did the trick!
The next morning he met us and his amigo took us to the Double Decker Catamaran called CaboEscape. They had a very nice buffet with breakfast items, eggs, potatoes, bacon, etc, plenty of juice and good coffee. We then took off. Wow, what a phenomenal time we had. We saw many whales breaching in front of us, with their tails up in the air. The staff was friendly, and the music and food were awesome! The trip was $30 per person (the ship charged $58 p/p I believe) a great value. If we go to Cabo again between November & the end of March I will definitely re-do this adventure. If you want to pre-book on line their website is www.cabosanlucastours.net
Disembarkation: We elected to use the Self Checkout/Walkoff. We packed our bags the morning we got off the ship, and were off by 8:15 or so. I read on the Cruise Critic boards that there would be plenty of taxi's around. I was surprised to see only (1) taxi van when we got out of the port. We walked over and told the driver that we wanted to share the taxi with others. Thank goodness, one of the Super Shuttles was parked & the taxi driver sent us over there. I asked the driver and he said he could take Mom and I back to LAX. We got lucky. He charged $17 per head so I guess I didn't need that discount code after all. Hahhahah. We were on our way to LAX in no time flat. We made it in plenty of time to take our Southwest Flight 3898 departing at 10:40 am. We arrived back in San Jose at 11:45 am just in time for lunch.
It was a terrific trip