Rick and Mary Jo Jansson
Age: 57 and a young 49
Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sapphire Princess
Sailing Date: March 18th, 2006
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Sailed on the Sapphire Princess from 3/17/06 to 3/24/06 to the Mexican Riviera, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.
History: This cruise was our 6th
cruise, the first with Princess. We have done 4 cruises with Norwegian and one
with Holland. My wife and I are the primary cruisers in the family. Our daughter
was with us in the first three, but since she married, she no longer goes with
Pre cruise: We flew into California the Friday before the Saturday departure and stayed at the Best Western Sunrise Hotel in San Pedro. Given that we came from the east coast, we thought a day early would help with the time shift. The hotel was nice and there was plenty to do within walking distance. We rose early the next day, around 5:30, and watched as the Sapphire Princess returned to port. It was a spectacular sight, the sun hadn’t risen and the ship was sparkling with lights. The channel is literally across the street from the hotel. It was a sight to see making it’s way to the berth.
We arrived at the Princess terminal about 11:00am and quickly made it through
the check in process and then went into the terminal to wait to board the ship.
We sat in the waiting area for close to 3 hours. Princess basically told us
nothing as to why there was a delay this long. This caused a great deal of
stress amongst a lot of the families waiting. Later we found out that there was
a crew change and the immigration was performing a random check of the crew.
With a wait this long, you would have thought that they could have given us some
food, cookies would have been fine, and something to drink, water would have
been OK. After this wait, we finally boarded about 3:00 and sailed a little
after 5:30, approximately an hour and a half later than scheduled.
Dining: After the long wait, the first stop Horizon Food Court. The food here is tasty, plentiful and much variety. We ate every breakfast there. The variety was good, the food cooked well and the staff friendly. It was crowded but no delays in getting food. Seating was not an issue as never hesitated to sit with other people and chat over breakfast.
Restaurants: We chose not to eat in any of the specialty restaurants. The menus in the three main dining rooms were sufficient to what we wanted. We even had a few dinners at the buffet. We ate at the Savoy, Santa Fe, and the Pacific Moon dining rooms. The menus were the same in all each night but each restaurant had a specialty item. The service was better at the Santa Fe. The waiter stopped to talk one night and told us of his life in Bucharest and his ambitions after leaving the cruising career. The Savoy appeared to be slower service. We had ordered three appetizers one night, couldn’t make up our mind, but only 2 selections arrived There the servers were wonderful, prompt, friendly, funny, and very professional. If we wanted to eat at 6:00 we made reservations. But if we chose to eat around 7:00 we didn’t and usually got seated in a minimum amount of time.
Public Rooms: The public areas showed some wear and tear from the previous nights activities. Since we sailed the end of March, we had spring break people on the ship. They are very messy and were not always courteous of others. We watched one young lady take the lime from her drink and throw it on the decking around one of the hot tubs. Going to breakfast in the morning relatively early, 7:00 am, we saw pizza left over from the night before, drink glasses etc. We also saw tiles lifted around the pools. The lounges all appeared clean and orderly. Service was good and prompt. On one occasion we entered an elevator and there was trash. To blame the cruise line for this may be out of line. We observed many young children, under 15 years old, being totally unruly and the parents were there. But they were too busy getting a tan than to watch their children. The attitude almost seemed like “I can do what I want, I paid for this, some one else will clean it”.
Entertainment: This cruise we did not make it to any evening productions They were shifting show schedules around near the end of the cruise. Announcing cancellations and reschedules of shows etc. with no reason given. We did sit in some of the lounges at night and listened to the entertainment there. It was enjoyable. We never saw the cruise director except on the cabin television.
Cabin: We occupied cabins D529, a minisuite. Our stateroom steward was Maria and was very good. The only issue is that she had 19 rooms to clean, way too many for one person. So, the room was not always done by the time we returned from breakfast and a walk. But, to her defense, never once did we not see her working on a room. She was busy all the time. She is not a slow worker, knows what she is doing and goes about her business in a very professional manner. If we needed something, she did not hesitate to get it. As compared to other cruises and steward we’ve had, she was one of the better. There was more than enough room in the suite for our luggage, etc.
Shore Excursions: In PV we did the Eco Tour. This consisted of taking a catamaran for approximately 1½ hours to an island that was a protected refuge for birds. We could not go on the island. Here we kayaked for about 10 minutes. They had minimum kayaks for a lot of people. So we shared time on the kayak. We also snorkeled there. Prior to entering the water we saw lots of small jellyfish. I asked if they would sting and was told by one of the tour guides that they would. But if there were dangerous ones, they won’t let us in the water. Needless to say, I got stung. It hurt, about like a bee sting. It went away quickly, in about 20 minutes. Many others were also stung. On the return, we then went to a beach and just sat in the sun for about an hour.
The high point of this excursion was when we encountered a mother whale and her calf. They maneuvered the catamaran close to the two and we watched them play. They were jumping and having a great time, oblivious to the fact we were there. The excursion cruise video taped the whole trip and were selling the DVD, with the promise to send it. The charge for the video was expensive, but they claimed to have the whales at play on it. As of this date, 4/8/06, we haven’t received ours.
In Mazatlan we did a Mexican country side tour to see a small Mexican village and how they really live. We didn’t know that small Mexican villages with a population of 60 people had street vendors. But other than that, we enjoyed the trip. Stopping at a roadside area to watch the making of bricks from mud and a little later, at a road side store that made and sold furniture. We also stopped in a large village for refreshment and a tour of a church, then stopped at the village of 60 for lunch and a walk through the village. Then the obligatory shopping in the golden zone in Mazatlan. Our tour guide was an wonderful woman whose full time job was in the DA’s office. Her narrative was very informative and she was very knowledgeable about the local area.
At Cabo San Lucas we did the
Historic Pirate Adventure. This was on a real two mast sailing vessel, the
Sunderland. Not a contrived pirate ship. The ship was built in 1885 and was a
cargo ship. We motored out of harbor, shut the motor off and the crew put up the
sails and we were under wind power for about an hour. This was great. The ship’s
captain, Mark Belvedere, was a very interesting man, an avid sailor and designer
of sailing vessels. His crew was equally as interesting and great to deal with.
You could tell they all enjoyed what they did. We snorkeled here as well, Mark
called it walking the plank. This was a very enjoyable excursion and well worth
Disembarkment: Leaving the ship was fast once we got going. We left about 30 minutes later than the schedule had called out. The lines at customs were long, but moved. It wasn’t bad.