Coastal Wine Country Cruise from LA to Vancouver: Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by arizonaperson

Sapphire Princess 5
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Coastal Wine Country Cruise from LA to Vancouver

Sail Date: May 2012
Destination: British Columbia
Embarkation: Los Angeles
Sapphire Princess Wine Country Coastal Cruise May 12-19, 2012 (Saturday to Saturday)-7 days, 6 ports

No staggered boarding that I was aware of. I arrived at the terminal at 12:30pm, need to show boarding pass & passport, filled out a health form, went up escalator, went to Platinum line and turned in boarding pass and health form, changed onboard credit card, then went through security screening, a small line to the gangway, took security photo with a handheld machine(3 ship's security doing this), got on ship and 2 photo screens were set up to take embarkation photo near ship's elevator(s). Went straight to cabin. Met up with my 3 friends at 2:30pm who arrived from LAX and we had our embarkation photo together.

Santa Barbara
This is a tender port. We were here on a Sunday and there is an Art & Crafts show( along Cabrillo Blvd. We walked from the tender area(Sea Landing) there. There is a 25 cent each way shuttle with transfers called More the downtown waterfront shuttle-look for the black sailboat with blue circle signs. The bus has a colorful flower on roof.(
We did a brownie & wine tasting at Santa Barbara winery. ( or check out other wineries at(
We ate lunch at Mac's fish & chips on State Street, very good, casual place.

San Francisco
We docked at pier 35.We took a cab to The Walt Disney Family Museum in The Presidio area.($15. without tip, each way) Then a cab from museum to pier 39 near the ship. Cabs were near pier 39 at a taxi stand, a short walk from the cruise terminal #35.

Astoria, Oregon
The town is named after John Jacob Astor- sole investor in Pacific Fur. Co. 1810. We took the $7.00(paid in cash) all day bus/trolley to stop #1 and then walked a few blocks to The Flavel House.(river bar pilot/areas 1st millionaire) Cost is $4.00 AAA or senior. Then walked back a few blocks to shuttle stop #1 and went to The Maritime Museum,(nice exhibits of nautical and Columbia river facts & history) which was stop #2(trolley was also at this stop). Also included in Maritime ticket is Lightship Columbia. Cost was $11.00 for AAA discount. Got back on the bus and went to stop # 3 the transit area and walked a short distance to Cellar on 10th, elevator or stairs down to a basement store. We enjoyed tasting some Oregon wines here.
If you wish to walk from the port to town along the river walk it is about 1.5 miles.
The dock is just before the Astoria-Megler bridge which links OR with WA-US 101.
There are about 20 or so vendors under white canopies right at the dock, selling handmade jewelry, lotions, etc.

We docked at Bell Street Pier which is #66. We rented a car from Enterprise; they picked us up and dropped us off at pier. We went to 3 Woodinville wineries.(Woodhouse Family, Columbia, & Chateau Ste. Michelle) We had a tasting($5. or $10) and flatbread lunch($6-$12) at Columbia.
We were late disembarking in Seattle, we did not get off ship until 10:45am, we were ready to go ashore at 10am. We also went to Pike Place Market. The ship docks just below the market area. I believe there is a elevator and skywalk bridge that will get you close from where ship is docked at pier 66;we drove. We drove past Seattle center(space needle, saw Chiuly display from Broad St.)This is the only port we had to show ID and cruise card to get back on ship and go through security in the dock building.

We docked at Ogden Point. We took the $8.00 all day bus that dropped us off at The Fairmont Empress Hotel and they also had another stop(Shuttle center) further(don't know where it was though). Pay in cash(took USD) for this; go through sign area that says shuttle buses. Seemed to be plenty of cabs also lined up. Went to tea at The Empress that we had booked through opentable. The tea is $67.14 CAD with HST included. We also went to Rogers Chocolates off Government St., about 2 blocks towards downtown shops from the Empress on same side of the St. Rented a car from Enterprise and they picked us up at The Empress and dropped us back at the ship. We used the car to go to Butchart Gardens; the entrance fee was $30.86 CAD with HST included, no car park fee.
CAD to USD was even;$1.00 to $1.00.

There were 3 ships in port on disembarkation day.(Diamond, Sapphire and I believe Holland America-Zuiderdam)
We had pre -purchased a Princess transfer bus ticket for $49.00 from Vancouver Canada Place to Seattle airport.
There was also a NCL Jewel ship at Ballantyne pier.
We had to be in our lounge at 5:55am,the earliest I have ever met on a Princess voyage.

Cruise Critic
We had a great CC group. We had a sail away party, a blind wine tasting get together, slot pull, some organized individual tours, and a meet & greet in Skywalkers(had about ½ of the people show up who said they wanted to meet) .

Elite, Suite, & Platinum Lounge was in Skywalkers from 5-7pm. Wednesday eve-2nd formal night there was no daily hors d'ouvres or 'party".
Our most traveled passenger was from California with 847 days on Princess.
Our Captain was Nick Carlton, CD Billy Hygate with Bex, Maitre d' Hotel was Rui Pereira, & Hotel GM was Shelia Griffin.
Our formal nights were Sunday and Wednesday.
Our general emergency drill was between 3:15pm- 3:30pm approximately, we set sail at 4pm.
The ship went through a dry dock January 2012 and added many public venues.
Near the passengers service desk were 2 'kiosks" to scan your cruise card and get a print out of your current bill. I found this very convenient.
Dolphin & Caribe decks had different(newer) balcony furniture than our Baja deck on the port side.
There was no power hour in the bars. A new system called clean Sweep Bar Bill card which is a punch card(30). Chance to win your bar bill being paid for in full. Beer is 1 punch, cocktails, wine, & spirits are 2 punches, bottle of wine is 6, beer bucket is 3.

Breakfast in The International dinning room was from 7:30am to 9:30am all days but embarkation and disembarkation days.
Lunch in Dining Room-closed on port days; open noon to 1:30pm on embarkation day and our 1 sea day.
Traditional Dining 5:30pm 1st seating, 8pm second seating.
Vivaldi (Anytime )dining room was also used for 5:30pm traditional, 8pm-10pm it was used for Anytime dining
Anytime Dining for dinner 5:30pm to 10pm in Pacific Moon, Savoy, & Santa Fe.
Sabatini's & Sterling Steakhouse 6pm to 11pm.($20. cover charge )

Horizon Court Hours:
5-6am continental breakfast
6am-11:30am breakfast
11:30am to 3:30pm lunch
3:30-5:30pm light snack
5:30pm to midnight dinner

Our room steward was Joselito, our dining room waiters were Dan from Romania & George from Philippines.
I did not notice any special wine tastings on this sailing other than the normal 2.(3:30pm on the day we were in Astoria -Grapevine wine tasting-$9.50 & sea day; 3pm Sommelier's Wine Club) So don't expect any just because it is 'billed" as a Wine Country Coastal-just an FYI.(I did not expected any special tastings,nor did I attend any of the ships wine tastings)
Pub lunch was offered on the sea day from 11:30am to 2pm in Savoy Dining Rm.

Don't Stop the Music, Comedian Rollin Jay Moore, Comedian Doug Funk-CD Billy sang 1st, Do You Wanna Dance, I Got the Music, Born to be Wild(a rock n roll road trip)
Indigo Band-they were wonderful, Oceans Quartet, Bruce Tilden at Baby Grand in Crooner's, David Pitchfork Orchestra,70's Revival Party, Illusionist Landon Swank.(his wife was his assistant.) , and DJ in Skywalkers & Club Fusion. There was much more entertainment than this, but this is a sample. Seemed to always have something going on in The Piazza on deck 5.
Born to be Wild is a new show and it was offered at 7pm,8:30pm, and 10:15pm-lasted about 45 min.
The 10:15pm shows had plenty of seats.
There was no International Crew show which I love nor was there a back stage production tour.

We pre-purchased the Princess transfer from Vancouver to Seattle airport. Because we were 1 of 3 ships at Canada Place, we arrived in Vancouver earlier than scheduled.(originally 7:30am) we met in Club Fusion at 5:55am and left the lounge at 6:35am. We did not have to claim our luggage, only hand in Canadian customs form, that was left in stateroom a few days prior to departure.
Only 1 "hiccup" to our trip was that our suitcases were suppose to be under our bus, but out of 4 of us traveling together only 1 of our suitcases was under the bus. The rest of our bags(4 bags) came on the very last Princess bus. We had a 4:05pm flight and the last bus arrived at 2:20pm with our luggage.(luckily we had time on our side)
We had a restroom onboard our bus, but 1 bus driver told me his did not have a restroom onboard.(make sure if you take a transfer that you have a restroom onboard) We left Canada Place at 7:20am and arrived at Sea-Tac airport at 11:20am. There was about 1 hr. wait, stopped in Saturday traffic to get across to USA. We made no stops along the way.

We liked the itinerary and we love Princess. These ports are easily done on your own, no need for a Princess tour. Less

Published 06/04/12

Cabin review: BCB312 Balcony

B312 was a great location, not far from the mid or forward elevators.

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