We had been looking for a cruise vacation with my friend and his family and decided to try Princess Sapphire. My wife and I have a 3 1/2 year old son and 18 month girl, while my friend and wife are traveling with their 6 year old son and 3 year old girl. We both decided to bring the kids grandmother for this trip. This was our 7th cruise with Princess, but our 1st since 1997. We used to love to cruise Princess when we first started cruising back in 1992, but kind of got away from trying different lines, especially after RCCL came out with their mega ships.
Since we lived in LA it was only a 35 min. ride for us. Parking and embarkation was a breeze with no lines. We arrived at 12:45PM. We originally booked 5 mini suites for us and my friend's family, but were upgraded to family suites. There are only two family suites on the ship and they are located on Dolphin Deck all the way in front, one on each side. We chose to take the upgrade, because it had the perks of a full suite amenities, which the mini suite didn't offer. Included were 24 hour internet service in room, free laundry and cleaning, VIP debarkation passes, breakfast at Sabatini's, dvd player with good selection of movies, a filled up bar and many other good stuff. I would only recommend these suites for parents traveling with very young children, and although these family suites worked perfectly for us, the kids and grandmother, I wouldn't pay for these rooms if I didn't get upgraded. The location was utterly the worst. Being in front of the ship, it was a long walk and stairs to basically everywhere that you wanted to go. These suites are basically connecting mini suites with a large balcony. The advances of these rooms is that you had one larger sitting areas so there was more room for the kids to run around and that the room were connecting. Although the balcony was very large, we found that it was very windy when the ship wasn't in the port.
One of the most disappointing things I found on this cruise was the food. My wife and I remembered some good meals served on previous Princess Cruises, but sadly I must say that on this cruise we were very disappointed. Also, for some reason, we found that the meals served in the free style dinning rooms were better than in the international dinning room.
The ship overall was in good shape especially since she is 7 years old. Although she is a fine ship, we both agreed that we liked the bigger, wide open area style ships instead this more intimate feel on this ship, but I guess that all personal preferences. I did some reading about the Sapphire kids program before and heard some bad reviews on them, but gladly to say I found the crew quite accommodating, although I wished they allocated a bigger space for the younger cruisers! I found that the gym was really small for this size ship. The Internet cafe was fantastic, as it was one of the largest I've seen. Btw, please bring your laptop and not an Ipad for you chose to have wireless connection. I had constant interruption with my Ipad and the crew told me that it didn't work well on this ship. My friend,who brought his laptop had a much better connection, although slow speed which we did expected. As for the entertainment, we only one show, because for those who travel with kids this age, it can be quite challenging. The overall service from the friendly staff was good and they were quite accommodating.
Overall everyone had a great vacation experience. Would we do her again? Perhaps...But I'm upset that RCCL took away their Mexican Riviera itinerary, as I found their ship was better suited for us.