The 28 day Sapphire Princess cruise from LA to the South Seas ran the gamut of service and enjoyment.
THE EXCELLENT: Our mini-suite and our steward, Dionie. We had an AA mini-suite that more than fulfilled our needs and comfort and it was always serviced in a timely manner. Our waiter (waitress) Amyout was the best we've ever had in 35 years of cruising. An amazing lady. Our assistant waiter, Jeronimo, was excellent as well. The folks serving at the Savoy coffee bar were also at this level. Most of the staff on board was in this category (with exceptions to be named later) as they always were friendly and helpful. Most of our fellow cruisers also fell into this category.
THE GOOD: The food was good to adequate. Nothing really exceptional but nothing awful, either. The ports were good to excellent but it would have been nice to be in the S. Pacific islands (not Hawaii) longer. I would rate the entire cruise experience as GOOD.
THE BAD: Poor planning regarding Captain's Circle events. The CC party was 2,000 fellow Gold and Elite and Plat. cruisers wedged into the atrium for what? Maybe a watered down drink if you were "lucky" enough to snag one. Poor planning regarding activities on the 8 day voyage returning to LA. In some cases, the most interesting events were planned at the same time. The inability to get into the theater or Wheelhouse Bar to see the "entertainment." If you didn't get a seat and hour or more before the show, you didn't get one. The entertainment was stretched to the limit and most of the entertainers were repeaters that most of us had seen on other Princess cruises. The daily Patter was mainly advertisements for overpriced on board "sales" and services. It never listed the specialty buffets on Deck 14 held every other day or so. The only way one found out about them was to happen upon them. The Patter also tried to convey the message that there were limited taxis and transportation available in the Samoan Islands and Moorea trying to get passengers to book the ship's tours. However, there were always many, many taxis and private tour buses waiting at each port. I would imagine the Cruise Director is responsible for all of this so I guess I'd have to rate him "Bad." Noon announcements from the Bridge were given by a person with a very, very strong accent that made them completely unintelligible. Being from a bi-lingual family, I have complete empathy for his problem but the announcements were useless because of this. Two of my table mates asked me, quite seriously, if he was speaking English.
THE UGLY: The Future Cruise person was the rudest, most sarcastic, most snide and unfriendly cruise line employee of any category that I have ever encountered. At a very large Cruise Critic Meet and Greet she was at her worst--and she told us she didn't care if we liked her or her methods or not because she "had a very good pension she could retire on" at that moment and nothing was lost according to her. In another instance I was dropping off my future cruise paper in the proper box (I wouldn't talk to her) and I heard her comment to a passenger as she was writing down her name, "I don't know how to spell it and, frankly, I don't care." She was unbelievable.
OVERALL: My wife and I did have a good time on the cruise. We're into relaxing and taking it easy and so down time is important to us. On a trip of this length, there's lots of that. Our room steward made us comfortable in our cabin and our waitress made us comfortable at dinner and we met lots of great people and saw some beautiful islands--and it was a cruise out of LA, and that's important to us. The tours were adequate and, as usual, over priced but we knew that going in. So much of what takes place on a cruise is open to many levels of criticism depending on the individual. Would we take this particular cruise again? Probably not. However we will take Princess again and already have a 20 day Caribbean cruise on Emerald Princess booked for March of next year.