Enjoyed our first trip to Hawaii: Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by paratrooper888

Sapphire Princess 4
Member Since 2011
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Enjoyed our first trip to Hawaii

Sail Date: March 2013
Destination: Hawaii
Embarkation: Los Angeles
This was our first time to Hawaii and also, was the biggest cruise ship we have thus far traveled on. The ship is beautifully outfitted and while the cruise was sold out, one never felt crowded by the other 2,700 passengers - everyone seemed to find their own favourite areas. The outside areas were rarely crowded although this could have been due to the rather cool weather we encountered on our sea days. We just loved the time at sea as it gave us time to relax and enjoy the ship's amenities. The activity and enrichment programs were well-attended and enjoyable. We took beginner bridge lessons every day and met some nice people through this; we recommend that Princess bring Mr. & Mrs. Boomgaarden back again on future cruises.

Our cabin description and tour comments are separately mentioned elsewhere but we like to heartily recommend Ricky's Tours for any tours on Hilo rickystours@yahoo.com).

Special note is also made of the Princess Theater production shows which More were of a very high quality and not too long. The solo performers were only "so-so" and paled in comparison to the production shows. The final International Crew Show was a knock-out hit and should not be missed - ours was standing room only! There was other musical entertainment throughout the ship and these were of a high standard. There seemed to be quite a few trivia contests but given their popularity, were enjoyed by participants. One comment though, in awarding prizes, don't give a single bottle of champagne per team as it's a bit difficult to split it up with a just-assembled team of passengers!

Great kudos to Cruise Director Billy and assistant Colette led a group of young and energetic staff who, for the most part, really connected with passengers and made us feel that they were committed to making our cruise experience a positive and happy one. We still have visions of Billy's "tour de force" at the Crew Show!Unexpectedly, there were a few mis-steps on this cruise. Firstly, the Casino was invariably filled with cigarette smoke, even on the two "no smoking" evenings. The newer seating area was dominated by serious smokers , many of whom rarely got up to gamble. In other words, they regarded this area as their own private smoking area. The Casino is also placed across the entire width of the ship and as such, people have to transit through it to access areas forward and aft (e.g. Princess Theater")of the Casino - these includes those sensitive/intolerant to second-hand smoke and of course, young children. Princess needs to address this glaring deficiency soon.

The other aspect of our cruise which we found disappointing, was the Anytime Dining. On our last Princess cruise on "Coral" last February, 2013, we really enjoyed this form of dining as we met so many interesting people from all walks of life and cultures, four of whom we have remained in contact with. On "Sapphire," this experience was not repeated and while we usually indicated we would share, we were invariably led to a table for two alongside other similar tables. I asked Princess to comment on this but have yet to receive a reply. It could be that with four different options for Anytime Dining, there are simply not enough passengers to place at a shared table at any given time.

Those who complain about cruise line food are either unduly critical or dine at a level far above that fare! It is after all, a rather subjective thing. That said however, we found the level of food both in the Horizon and in the other dining rooms, surprisingly bland, although with standout exceptions such as the osso buccho in Vivaldi. While there are four different dining rooms, the menus in each are exactly the same with the exception of each one's "signature dish."
Room Service was quietly efficient although the addition of a tea pot and hot items other that the warmed-over and squished egg and ham muffin, would be appreciated.

Overall though, a nice cruise experience made happier by the wonderful staff at all levels. Less

Published 03/30/13

Cabin review: BBA605 Balcony

balcony: smallish but enjoyable; as we were on Aloha Deck, we overlooked lower deck balconies and were not overlooked by anyone. storage: great closet and drawer space cabin condition: looking somewhat aged with dents and marks on wood trim bed: major disappointment as bedding was old and pillows "lumpy" - replacements were not an improvement location: great location just rear of midships; quiet and no noise heard from hallway and public areas above; just a few doors down from clean laundry area

Read All Balcony (BB) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

We understand that the only reason the ship stopped here, was to satisfy some U.S. maritime law that required it to do so. In any event, we went ashore to stretch our legs and found the main shipping area inundated with beggars and places selling cheap souvenirs. Having traveled to Mexico before, we were not surprised to find these things in Ensenada. As the ship was in port for only three hours, it left insufficient time to take any tours, although on reflection, we should have stayed on the shuttle bus from the ship to downtown, and taken them up on a $10 tour of the area. This was not a great way to end our cruise and Princess should really come up with something else, as it did leave a bad taste in our mouths.
Read 416 Ensenada Reviews

Volcano National Park & Hilo Waterfall Tour

We booked Ricky as a result of a previous Cruise Critic review. We found him very informative and knowledgeable about the area as well as humourous. Our small group of 12 received great value for money for our 6 hour tour.

We decided to do a self-walking tour of Honolulu and visited Chinatown and the Iolani Palace. We walked towards Waikiki Beach but got waylaid by a shopping Centre! In hindsight, we should have done what another couple did and simply take a regular bus tour of the Honolulu area. The Iolani Palace was a pleasant surprise and we were part of a group of 14 who were escorted around by a very knowledgeable docent. Afterwards, we sat out on the grounds of the Palace to listen to a concert given by the Royal Hawaiian Orchestra complete with singers and dancers. We also learned through the MC a little of Hawaii's royal history.
Read 506 Honolulu Reviews

Wailua River

We booked this tour through the ship and while it was somewhat crowded, the short trip up the riven on a large flat-bottomed boat was pleasant as we were serenaded by a Hawaiin music group which included a lovely young dancer. We also visited the Fern Grotto which was a little underwhelming.

We walked around Lahaina for some hours and took in the shopping and restaurants; we also had a coffee at the free WiFi Starbucks and caught up with our e-mail! We plan on visiting Maui on a land vacation in the near future, so just wanted to get a feel for the area on this occasion.
Read 480 Maui Reviews

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