Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by WendysMom
- Sail Date: November 2008
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation at the San Pedro harbor was the best ever. I would suggest, though, that if you have a GPS unit, program it with all your addresses before you leave - it just makes things go easier, especially if you're not familiar with the area.
There was only one negative about Embarkation/Debarkation and I'll mention it now. We all know about the fuel surcharges and the "will they/won't they" that's been going on. We were told that Princess would refund the fuel surcharge provided the price of oil didn't go over a certain point over the prior thirty days. In our case, it did -five cents a barrel over on one day (election day). Princess was under no obligation to refund any of our money but it would have been priceless in terms of PR if they had. There were no lines when we arrived at 2:00 p.m., and we literally breezed through check-in. We'd heard that Princess had new rules for debarkation in place, but you could have fooled us. We were up with the chickens only to sit with other sleepy people in a lounge waiting to get in line... remember the drill?
Our cabin was C302 on the Caribe Deck and it was phenomenal. Since I'm disabled, we were put into a handicapped cabin and for the first time ever, I didn't scrape my knuckles on the door trying to get in. When I asked, I was told that there were only 10 cabins for handicapped travelers - nothing to be proud of for Princess. Ours was immaculate and our cabin steward very attentive. My daughter and her fiancE had an inside cabin on Deck 14 and they both said they'd book it again - they had easy access to swimming pools, deck chairs, and the buffet as well. There were always deck chairs available, not only in the adults only section, but with the other areas as well.
Another plus was the elevators. We've gotten used to waiting in line, going up to get one going down, etc. etc. etc. With the Sapphire Princess, we very rarely had to wait and only once had to wait for a second car. Please let RCL in on your secret!!!
We chose the "Anytime Dining" plan and made reservations at Sabatini's for my husband's birthday on the 27th. We chose the Pacific Moon Restaurant the first night out and it was not a good experience - so bad that we asked for the Maitre 'd. We'll never know what he said to our waiters, but they became unbelievably surly - to the point where we got up and left midway through our entrEe, having been there for almost 90 minutes already. We spoke with the Purser's office about it and they called the next day, asking us to plan to visit the Savoy Dining Room the next night, and ask for the Head Waiter.
We did, and if you want our recommendation, ask for Table 242 and Mihaila. From that day on, our service was impeccable and we really enjoyed talking with her. In fact, we cancelled our reservations for Thanksgiving to spend it with her. The food was great and the service impeccable. It would have been easy to overdo Thanksgiving and turkey, but they struck just the right note. We were so pleased that we left her one of the largest gratuities we've ever given and did it happily. She and her husband, a chef onboard, will be leaving Princess next spring to return to Romania, and I'm sure she will be missed. This experience alone is why we prefer not to pre-pay gratuities - and it's our opinion that service has declined since cruise lines began the practice.
The entertainment was good, the ports as well. Wendy's fiancE is in the Navy and Naval personnel are not permitted to leave the ship during port calls, so we were concerned about that, unnecessarily. There were all kinds of things going on for him to do. In Puerto Vallarta, we booked a taxi tour that we had arranged ourselves. We asked to see the "real" PV as well as the tourist areas and thoroughly enjoyed our day.
In Mazatlan, we took a late-morning trek ashore to do a bit of shopping. Much of the merchandise is similar to other ports in Mexico and the Caribbean, but we thought their prices were higher. It could also have been that we're just more discerning about our purchases. Make time for a stop at the blue tent just outside the pier exit. They offer massages, hot stone treatments, etc. and I only wish I had left an extra hour, the masseuse was that good. Even with a $10 tip, her charges are less than half that of the spa onboard. My husband and daughter had intended to do an ATV adventure in Cabo San Lucas, but he developed a serious case of "Montezuma's Revenge" so they stayed aboard ship. She did not feel comfortable taking a cab alone to the site, and while she hadn't wanted to miss it, she found plenty to do instead. I had also planned to stay onboard because this was a tendered port and I wasn't sure how it would be with my scooter.
One of the big draws on the Sapphire, for us at least, was the at-sea time. There were only the 3 port calls, and in between plenty of time for leisure, but plenty of time for other things as well. If one is bored with this itinerary, it's their own fault!! We liked the formality in dress, although there were plenty of options if you didn't care for that. What man doesn't look great in a tux!!! We've done enough cruising that he invested in one online several years ago, and it's more than paid for itself.
All told, we would recommend this cruise to others, but with reservations. We got the feeling that we were "nickel and dimed" throughout. We're not big drinkers, and don't drink a lot of soda either. With Royal Caribbean and Carnival, we've been used to water, tea, coffee, and other "free" drinks being readily available. Not here. When he asked, my husband was told that he could get a cup of coffee at any of the bars onboard. The first time he did, however, he was given a bill for $1.50, and when he asked, was told it was "special" coffee. That special coffee came from a normal, ordinary coffee pot, and he swears that it tasted just like all the other "free"coffee he drank throughout the trip. Basically, if you wanted anything "free" to drink, you had to go up to Deck 14 to get it. If we sail with Princess again, we'll bring our own! There were other little things that are free elsewhere.
That said, this is a lovely way to spend a holiday and a nice tradition to start. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat. In fact, we made a deposit for 2009.
250,000+ people have entered their email