Ron & Sally Seta
Occupation:Engineer, Exec. Asst.
Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sapphire Princess
Sailing Date: October 1st, 2005
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
This was our first experience with Princess Cruise Lines. We have sailed with Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past.
The Sapphire Princess was by far an enormous, beautiful and immaculate ship. It is not quite as glitzy as the Royal Caribbean ships, but has a lot of class!
Arrival and Embarkation: Our journey was a 7-day cruise from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera. We drove from San Diego, Calif., to the Port of San Pedro in Los Angeles, arriving at 3:00 PM. We parked our car and immediately a shuttle came along and took our luggage and drove us up to the terminal for check-in. We walked right up to the desk, received our passes and boarded the ship right away.
We proceeded to our regular balcony stateroom on the Baja Deck (Deck 11) and our luggage arrived within 45 minutes. The room was somewhat small, but very clean and nice, had a large closet for clothes hanging, a nice doable bathroom with good water pressure in the shower, a 19” TV, frig., hair dryer, desk, phone, nice comfortable bed and sheets, extra pillows, and a safe. I was happy. I was glad we booked a balcony room on the Baja deck because it was totally private. There is no one from higher levels looking down into your balcony.
Staff and Service: I was impressed at the abundance of staff on this ship. I felt I had gotten my moneys worth. Everyone was very informative, polite, and courteous. Our stateroom and dining room service was wonderful (but missed the towel bedtime animals we had gotten on Carnival and RC). This ship’s staff is so well organized. It was the first time I’d been on a ship that knew how to efficiently handle large crowds especially when people are getting off the ship for tours. There were no long lines, but instead the staff had designated meeting places right on the ship for each tour. This way one group at a time could leave the ship.
Ship’s Stabilizer: If anyone tells you you’ll feel no movement on this ship because it is supported by high tech stabilizers, they’re wrong wrong wrong! If you’re sailing on calm waters, you feel slight movement. But if the water becomes choppy, you’ll be swaying like crazy. We were on the 11th deck and all through the night, because of the rough seas, we surely rocked and rolled. Neither my husband nor I get sea sick or mind the movement, but for some, this is just a forewarning to get prepared, just in case.
Food: The food was very good. We ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch, and in the main dining room in the evening. Some days the food was tastier than others (who knows, maybe I was just hungrier!) Overall, there is a good selection, and I don’t know how anyone could be disappointed at the food.
Tours: In Puerto Vallarta, we did the ATV Adventure and Village Tour ($99 per vehicle, 2 persons can ride on one vehicle). You’re taken to the countryside, and provided an ATV. The ride is about one hour, caravan style, through rugged terrain with two tour guides. Highly recommended if you don’t mind getting a little dirty, but you’ll have great fun!
In Matzalan, we did the Hacienda Las Moras & Horseback Riding Tour ($82 p/p). I especially liked this tour. It was about a one hour drive to the horse ranch out in the country. We ended up at a Hacienda resort and there was a large beautiful swimming pool and bar area. It was such a hot and humid day, the water was great. Then we went on a long horseback ride. (Note: These horses were allowed to do some trotting at your command, but are not allowed to run.) When we returned be had lunch at the resort, then back to the ship. This tour was well worth the money and highly recommended.
In Cabo San Lucas, we went horseback riding along the beach ($71). This was a nice tour, but I thought a little short. If we would have known, we probably would have chosen to do ATV riding again. But it was still enjoyable. (Note: These horses DO NOT run, only a little trotting, but mostly walking.) If you really love riding horses and the beachfront, I’d recommend this tour, otherwise pick something else.
Disembarkation: Was a breeze, a small line through customs, but well-organized. The shuttle bus picked us up along with our luggage, drove us to our car, then put all the luggage in our car! Hey, not bad at all! We then just drove away, back home as quickly as we could, to book another cruise!!
Comments: This cruise line definitely caters mostly to an age group over 60. If you want a slow to moderate paced, low-keyed, quiet type of vacation and lots of relaxation, then this is the cruise line for you. However, if you like to Shake a Tail Feather, then book on Carnival or Royal Caribbean for a fun time! I’d rather listen to a cool Reggae band by the pool than country western music and violins. I enjoy a good late night adult comedy act once in awhile too. This ship did not have that to offer. I noticed repeat shows as well. So if you miss the show one night, it’s repeated the next. I’d rather have different entertainment every day. I still have the desire and energy to keep up! I found the shows, jokes and activities a bit too corny for me, but I’m sure very enjoyable for others.
When it comes to booking a room, if you want total privacy, I suggest you book a room on the Baja (Deck 11) or Aloha (Deck 12). No one can see onto your balcony. If you book below, you will not have privacy. I’m sure this can be a disappointment to some cruisers. And there is a reason the new ships have SO MANY balcony rooms – it’s because people love ‘em! If you can afford a few bucks more, definitely go for the balcony room. Don’t be cheap, especially if you can REALLY afford it. You won’t regret it. Don’t listen to those people who say “I’m never in my room anyway!” Baloney! That’s because they have a sucky inside room, who’d want to!?
I must say, however, that this is a fabulous cruise line and by no means did I have a lousy time! But our next cruise, we will most likely return to Royal Caribbean.