Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by jkocpa
- Sail Date: May 2010
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Balcony
We flew into Seattle two days early and stayed at The Inn at Harbor Steps. Great small boutique hotel, within a few blocks of Pike Pl. Market, and with a great hot breakfast included, a fireplace in our room, and wine and cheese in the late afternoons. Seattle was very cold and rainy and I worried that I had not brought enough warm clothes, but I was wrong. Alaska turned out to be much warmer and sunnier than Seattle!
On both of our trips we traveled with friends, just different groups each week. Made for a great time.
Embarkation was easy. Got to the port by taxi at noon and were in our room by 12:20. We had a Carib balcony cabin very far towards the aft. Great cabin and even greater steward! Marlon was one of the best stewards we have ever had. He was the epitome of great Princess service. He always had a smile, kept our room supplied with wine glasses, fruit, ice....and always wished us an "excellent day".
Quick ideas on the ports:
We usually do not do ship excursions (only rarely) so in Ketchikan we went kayaking with an outside guide. Had a wonderful time, saw loads of starfish, and some whales. It was a little rainy but they supplied us with the raingear, gave us all instructions, and we had a great, fun day. The second week in Ketchikan, the men went fishing for king salmon. They didn't catch any king salmon, but did catch fish. And, had the great experience of having an eagle come swooping down to take a fish right from them. While the men were fishing, the women had a "spa day" on the Sapphire complete with massages and facials. And, then went shopping.
In Juneau, we took the Mt. Roberts Tramway up and went hiking at the top one week and walked through Juneau the next week. (We had been to the Mendenhall Glacier five years ago when we did this same trip to Alaska.) Rainy in Juneau one week and hot and sunny the other week.
In Skagway on week one we had one of the best roadtrips that we have ever had. We rented a car (Avis for $130 for the day) and drove to the Yukon. We followed the Murray's Guide which we had purchsed on-line, and I can't say enough about how great that guide is. The author was spot-on as to what we would see, even to the point of saying where we might see bears if we were fortunate enough to be traveling in late May, which we were. We saw a very large (probably 500 pound) black bear, right next to our car by the side of the road. We got great pictures and videos of the bear eating dandelions. And, another bear was very close by on our return trip. So, in both directions we had great bear sightings. The weather was perfect - 75 degrees and sunny, but there was still snow on the ground and frozen rivers. And absolutely stunning scenery! A perfect day! The next week in Skagway we did our only ship excursion - the hike up the Chilcoot Trail followed by the return float trip on the Tyea River. Unfortunately, we did not see any eagles or bears - although we did see skat evidence of bears. Fun excursion for those of us who like active excursions.
In Victoria, we met a friend for one of the evenings and walked around on our own the other evening. The stop here is really too short to do any meaningful excursion.
The best views were the trips through the Tracy Arm Fiord. We had a wonderfully different two experiences. The first week there was still loads of ice, and we couldn't get too close to the glaciers because of it. But, the icebergs floating around the ship were spectacular. And, we got pictures of both eagles and seals floating on the bergs. The next week, we got much closer to the glaciers as alot of the ice had melted in that 75 degree temperatures that we had. I know that alot of people say if you go to Alaska you have to go to Glacier Bay. Well, we went to Glacier Bay 5 years ago, and this time to the Tracy Arm Fiord. They are both beautiful in their own rights. Either one is a spectacular experience.
Entertainment - we saw one of the production shows (it was fine...not spectacular), enjoyed all of the comedians (especially Kevin Jordan), played loads of trivia, and spent most of our evenings in Crooners, listening to the pianist/singer there - Arny G. He is the best entertainer on any cruise ship in our opinion. Every night is different with Arny G. He plays and sings all requests, so depending on the audience and what they want to hear, that is what he will sing. He sings in 7 languages, does musical impressions, and games like Name That Tune. He sings in so many genres - Broadway show tunes, rock and roll, jazz, pop, classics,......too many to name. Since every night was different, and we enjoyed them all, we found ourselves in Crooners every night to listen to Arny. What a treat! An extremely talented, personable guy - and a wonderful entertainer!
The other entertainment that was truly great was the band Amante in the Wheelhouse. Great variety of music and very talented.
The second week the ship got hit with the norovirus. I have read some peoples' comments about the long lines in the Horizon Court and the lines to exit the ship at the ports, etc. All of that was very true. But, to their credit, we found the staff was all going out of their ways to try to make the cruise enjoyable to all, despite the norovirus. Some of the staff was also hit with the illness (like the asst. CD), so others had to fill in for them. So, they were working harder than ever, in a situation that called for them to do more (since we could not serve ourselves in the Horizon Ct for example.) But, we found that if we just "went with the flow", adjusted our dining hours, etc. we were not really inconvenienced. We still had a wonderful time....had lots of laughs with our friends (both the ones we traveled with and the new ones we made), saw wonderful scenery, lots of wildlife, and made many memories.
The Sapphire is a beautiful ship, very well maintained, with a great crew.
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