My husband and I are a young 70, and we booked a cruise on the Sapphire Princess over the Thanksgiving holiday because we were not going to be with family. It never occurred to us that a holiday cruise would be populated by large family groups and 600 children! Silly me. Of course there would be children. Most of the children were well behaved and most of the parents/grandparents were attentive to their children. Some, however, were not and seemed content to let the crew and the rest of the ship's passengers do the baby-sitting.
We ate at all but one of the dining options available on the Sapphire Princess--Santa Fe, Pacific Moon, Savoy, and the International Dining room as well as at the premium Sabatini's and Sterling Steak House. It seemed that we were always eating!! Great food. Most of the dining room service was very good, and service in Sabatini's was outstanding. The situation at the buffet was occasionally less pleasant. There was one roving gang of 6 teens who made eating at the buffet unpleasant, even to the extent that they threw French fries at each other and even at other passengers. Complaints to ship personnel did not bring any improvement. These same teens snarled obscenities at me when I asked them to unblock the hallway leading to the elevator lobby. I observed them terrorizing younger children in the pool, and my friend reported that they even traipsed across her pool lounger while she was on it. I realize that it is the parents' responsibility to monitor their children's behavior, but the parents of these children didn't do it. My complaints and those of at least one other passenger to passenger services did not bring any results that I could see, but I honestly don't know what the ship's crew could do about it.
Staff and service otherwise was excellent. We had wonderful experiences at the Crooners Bar and in the shops. Our cabin steward kept things tidy and did so entirely unobtrusively. We were fortunate to have a mini-suite, but the uncertain weather did not permit us to take advantage of the balcony as much as we might have liked. I think if we were on the starboard side, the balcony would have been warmer. As it was, it was a bit chilly because it was mostly in the shade during the sail down and then sailing back, it was cloudy and chilly during the daytime so there wasn't much sun.
The shore excursions were OK, but nothing exceptional. In my opinion, Ensenada was not a really acceptable substitution for Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta. The buffadora was interesting, but not as interesting as, say, a visit to a colonial town might have been. And we're not beach people and don't party hearty, so an extra day in Cabo didn't really replace the cancelled ports either. I do not understand why Princess cancelled those ports because other cruise lines are still sailing there. The "safety" explanation didn't wash with me because I've spent a week or more in those ports recently and there was no more of a safety issue there than in Cabo or in Los Angeles, maybe less.
I was impressed by the disembarkation process. It went very smoothly; all that was required was to read and follow the instructions and listen to the announcements. The crew was, as always, polite and professional, sometimes in the face of considerable provocation from belligerent passengers.
In general, we found the cruise a pleasant experience and we'd recommend sailing on the Sapphire Princess to others.