Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sapphire Princess
Sailing Date: May 15th, 2005
Itinerary: Alaska Inside Passage from Seattle
My husband and I cruised on
Sapphire Princess out of Seattle this past May. This was my second cruise
and my husband’s first. I read many reviews before choosing this ship-
most of the reviews were from Australia and New Zealand, but they proved
very helpful. I will try and separate our cruise into sections to make it
easier for you to find what you might be looking for in a review.
Embarkation- We sailed from Seattle, which is a very user-friendly port. The embarkation procedure took less than an hour and was very organized. I had been concerned since we did not have Princess transfers, but the cab took us from our hotel downtown for less than $10. This was a most cost-effective way to go. Our luggage arrived by 5pm and we were also visited by our cabin Stewardess, Carmelita, that evening as well.
Cabins- We had an inside cabin on the Lido deck. For those of you who may be prone to sea-sickness, this is not the place for you. When seas got rough later in the cruise our hangers in the closet were swinging so badly they were banging together. I had to lay them on the floor, just to get some sleep. You can really feel the motion this high up on the ship. Our cabin was very spacious and we had enough room for all of our clothes in the closet. There is also a good amount of drawer space. The bathroom was nicely appointed and stocked everyday with toiletries. The TV in our cabin received ESPN (my husband was thrilled) as well as many other channels. We did not spend a lot of time in our cabin, but it was very nice considering it was an inside cabin. My husband also commented on how comfortable he thought the bed was.
Ship- The ship is beautiful. You can tell she is new. It’s spotless. We stayed very busy. The indoor pool area on the Lido deck was a great spot to lay in a lounge chair and watch the scenery. That was the great thing about an Alaskan cruise- you get to watch the scenery go by most of the days. It’s not at all like being in the Bahamas, where you see nothing but ocean. The Grand Atrium is very nicely decorated and not at all “bright”. It was done in subdued colors and nice artwork. I went to the spa one evening and had a massage and facial and it was well worth the price. The spa is very lovely and I wish I could have had more spa treatments.
Food- We had Anytime Dining and it worked very well. We made reservations a day before each night and had no problems getting the times we wanted. The food was very good with the exception of the Grill on the Lido deck. We had hotdogs and fries one day for lunch and remarked how they tasted stale. The 4 Restaurants on board were very good and we had great service. The Horizon Court Buffet was also very good. We ate breakfast and lunch there most days. We had room service once for breakfast and it was very prompt. The one disappointment with the food was surprisingly Sabatinis Trattoria. This is the fee-based restaurant and we felt that the food was just too much and some of it was not nearly as good as that had on other nights. We also went to the afternoon tea, which was a lot of fun. I have never been to England, but if that is what it is like- I think I would like it very much. The tiny scones and finger sandwiches were very good. We are not big drinkers, but thought that the prices were about the same as any bar in a big city. We chose not to purchase the Pop stickers and just had water, tea and juice most of the time.
Entertainment- This is where my husband was absolutely shocked. Having never been on a cruise, he was amazed at all of the things you could do. We saw 2 shows in the Princess Theatre. They were both good; however, “Piano Man” was the better of the two. We saw several movies in this theatre as well. That was nice to do late in the evening, since we are not big on dancing. We went to the Crooners Piano Bar almost every night and really enjoyed the Hot Chocolate drinks that they have. The O’Riley was my favorite. They had several comedians that we saw as well as the Princess Idol in the Club Fusion. All of the entertainment was top notch. We went to the casino several times and really enjoyed playing roulette. I played slots as well, but had a lot more fun at the roulette wheel.
Staff- The staff was mostly Asian and European. They were all friendly and not at all aggressive. Our room was always well taken care of and the ship itself was spotless- which I believe indicates that the staff was working around the clock.
Ports/sights- Getting off the ship is not difficult. Only one time did we have a long line to get off the ship, which was at Victoria, B.C. Ketchikan was a cute city, but we wasted our time and money on the shore excursion. Do not go on the Rainforest Trail Hike. This was simply a hike through the woods for about 1 hour and then a stop at the gift shop. We wish we had gone to the Lumberjack Show- since many people seemed to enjoy this. We did do some shopping in Ketchikan and enjoyed Creek Street. Juneau was very nice. We went on the Mendenhall Glacier tour with a tour of the salmon hatchery and a salmon bake. We would not recommend this tour though, since you do not have much time at the glacier and we would have liked to do more hiking. Also, the salmon hatchery tour is a waste of time and the salmon bake was not that good. Skagway was by far the best shore excursion we had. We went on the Chilkoot trail hike and float. This was a 2 hour hike along the river and then a float back down it. We saw wildlife as well as breathtaking scenery. Victoria, B.C. was the worst weather of the whole trip and we had not booked an excursion. We ended up taking a double-decker bus from the pier to downtown and got dropped off right in front of the Empress Hotel. We were able to take pictures and shop in the downtown area for about 2 hours before getting too cold. We then went back to the ship and enjoyed a quiet dinner- since most of the ship was in port. Note of caution- we heard from many people that had booked the whale watching excursions here that they were cancelled due to rough seas and they did not get their money back. The best part of the whole cruise was by far cruising through Tracy Arm. We got up at 6am and had Hot Chocolate and watched all of the gorgeous glaciers and mountains. Our on-board naturalist, Susan, was very informative. The waterway here was filled with small blue icebergs. They were stunning. Unfortunately, our Captain did turn back prior to reaching the twin Sawyer glaciers at the end, due to those very icebergs. But it was still the best part of the cruise.
Disembarkation- This was probably the worst part of the cruise. We were supposed to leave the ship around 8:30am. They asked that we be out of the cabin by 8am and wait in a public area. We left at 8 am and went and waited in the Princess Theatre. We did not get our colors called until after 9:30 am. After we were called we ended up in line for about 15 minutes before actually getting off of the ship. The rest of this process went very well.
Overall we had a great cruise. My husband was amazed at it and we both felt very relaxed by the time we returned home. We definitely plan on cruising again on Princess and would like to take this same ship on a cruise to Australia. My husband wants to cruise to Europe as well, so I think this trip was a big hit. I would have to give this cruise 4 out of 5 stars if I were to rank it.