Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by a1chemist
- Sail Date: June 2009
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Balcony
My wife and I just returned from a Princess cruisetour on Sapphire Princess June 27-July 4th and then land portion July 4-July 8. Here are some comments and observations.We started from Seattle airport and the cruise package included bus transfer to Vancouver. You find gate 00 at the south end of the airport and it is a site for turning in your luggage, which is then eventually transferred to the ship and your room. Well organized and we had no problems. Bus driver talked to us for most of the trip, acting as a guide. For those interested, stopped once at a road rest stop and a typical bus bathroom on board. Arrived around 2:30 p.m. and boarded ship relatively soon thereafter. Luggage arrived around 4 p.m.Ship left about an hour later than scheduled because one of the Princess buses from Seattle broke down and a new one had to pick up passengers. Sapphire Princess is a large ship and for this cruise it was fully occupied. No upgrades of any type were available from purser. Yet, I did not feel that population existed, so ship is well designed to house, move and serve passengers. Overall in nice shape, very clean, with some age showing in carpets. Room C119 is a balcony cabin on Caribe deck, forward. The balcony has a small overhang providing some privacy but extends forward and is one of the larger balconies. Great for viewing glaciers, whales, etc. Room steward introduced self and we had some language communication problems. Asked for robe but never saw it. Later asked for extra towel and had to ask each day, if I saw him. Left auto tip but no extra.On the second day of the trip, on transit to Ketchikan, we had bad weather and most people were seasick. Captain had maximum stabilizer but we still rocked and rolled. Captain said we had up to 10 ft swells. It seemed we also had cross winds and thus we were corkscrewing as a ship. I was not affected but wife was. Cabin stewards said I was one of the few of his cabin people who was not affected. This was on formal night and it went on, with fewer people.Overall I found Princess service to be very good. Food variety was decent but not expansive. Depended on time of day and where you sat. Staff was mostly friendly and helpful. Service in Horizon buffet was sometimes quick and other times slow. Wife, who likes starbucks coffee, drank the regular coffee and did not find it objectionable.Anytime dining: This was a mix bag and created some confusion. Many did not fully understand it until they experienced and learned about it. There were two dining rooms available for reservations for Anytime dining at anytime: Santa Fe and Pacific Moon. You could book up to three reservations. We called the first day, based on advice in a forum, and discussed the rules with the person taking reservations. Also tried to get Chefs Table but it was already fully booked by 4 p.m. of the first day. If you did not make a reservation you could show and then if there was no room you would be given a pager. I noted that after the first two days the dining rooms seemed less used and it was easier to get a reservation until the last day. Also available is the Savoy, but it has restricted reservation hours (two, if I remember).Quality of food. I like to dine out and so have experience great inexpensive food to great and not so great expensive food. I found the food mostly good, but under spiced for my tastes. The filet mignon is small, thin and frankly only OK. Someone else had pork chops and thought them tough. As others have stated, if you want fresh eggs, get them as singles, not scrambled. Portions were reasonable, perhaps on the smaller side, but since you could order more, size is immaterial. Wines were reasonable for the environment and typical of other restaurants, if you choose wisely. The fajitas at Santa Fe, the regular special of the room, really looked different and not what I find in CA Mexican restaurants. I decided not to order them. Someone next to me who tried them said they were not well spiced and not typical fajitas.Sabbatinis and Sterling Steak House. We tried both. No problem in obtaining reservations and in both cases the restaurant was not full. As others have mentioned Sabbatiinis gives you a lot of food..a sample of each appetizer; soup or salad; pasta; main dish; dessert. You choose your main dish and sour or salad and pasta, if I remember correctly. They tried to push a special wine. I found food was good but I would not say exceptional. It definitely is worth doing once. The Sterling steak house seems less used than Sabbatinis. It is housed in a section of the Horizon buffet. Around 4 p.m they take a section of the room, hang curtains, spiff up the area and it looks nice. The waiter brings a cart with samples of the meats available. We both tried the small filet mignon (a larger one is available). We ordered medium rare, and they were, perhaps a little more on the rarer side but wife likes it that way. Both were tender and flavorful. I learned from the executive chef that the meat in the Sterlings Steak house is of a higher grade/quality than in regular restaurants. I enjoyed the food more at Sterling Steak house. Waiter service in both restaurants was very good, I tipped extra, but I did note many did not tip extra.On morning of transfer to rail at Whittier, we had to leave around 6:30 a.m. Depends on which land tour you have. There were different varieties in terms of days, locations, etc and this determined you departure time. Horizon buffet was opened at 4 a.m. for breakfast. Easy transfer to rail, just get off boat and walk to train. You sit at a table, two forward and two backward looking, and the space is cramped. Do not bring a large carry on case or several jackets. When you get off Princess has buses waiting and they take you to your hotelMt McKinley Wilderness Lodge: We stayed two nights. I enjoyed this lodge the most. It is in a forest, near a river and sits on a hill. As others noted there is not much to do at the hotel, but there are a few short hikes. Moose and bear were seen, but we did not see them. Food is OK but not gourmet. Service is good.Princes Denali Lodge: This is a much larger property, and has a more tourist environment. Room had no fan and was not air conditioned. It was hot. Across the street are several businesses and food such as fish and chips, ice cream, hot dogs and hamburgers. Also a salmon restaurant and high on a hill a bar and restaurant. We stayed only one night and the room was smaller and older than at McKinley.Princess Fairbanks Lodge: More modern than Denali lodge and airconditioned...thank goodness as it was almost 90 degrees in Fairbanks. We had the sternwheeler 3 hour tour on the Chena river. I was not looking forward to it, but it turned out to be one of the best we did..for one two reasons. A bush pilot shows off taking off and landing next to the sternwheeler with comments from pilot on loudspeaker, and a stop next to a huskie-musher training home with again demonstrations and discussion with owner, who was the husband of an individual who won the Iditarod race (she died of cancer). We stayed on night and then Princess transported us to airport and then were were on our own. We arrived late in Seattle and Princess put us up in Doubletree.Overall a very nice experience and well worth what I paid for the trip in January. Some glitches and I always expect these in any trip, but very few.If you have questions please let me know.
a1chemist’s Full Rating Summary
C119 is a balcony room. Great view from room looking towards balcony. Also great to have access to balcony for watching glaciers and whales.Room is forward and does have more motion than one in center. We did encounter a storm and ship rocked a lot..in that case no area is calm.Closet is very adequate. Bathroom is functional but small. Bed is a little hard. Watch the step into the bathroom! Climate control is good.
Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins
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