Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Sapphire Princess
Sailing Date: September 1, 2007
Three couples traveled together, 2 in our fifties one in their 60's. All have cruised on various lines in the past.
We flew the day before our cruise from Hamilton, Ontario to Vancouver, B.C. with a brief stop over for 1 hour in Calgary, Alberta with West Jet Airlines. The flight was fine, on time and the stop over exactly 1 hour only. Kudos to West Jet for efficient, friendly service. From Vancouver to Anchorage we flew Air Canada and what can I say? They need to take lessons in hospitality from West Jet. No comparison. West Jet has a much friendlier staff, they want to be there. Air Canada staff seem to just be doing any old job.
Princess reps met us in Anchorage to direct us to our bus that would take us to the port in Whittier. They were also very efficient with plenty of signage to greet us and direct us in the right direction. We retrieved our luggage put it in an area where Princess staff were located and forgot about it until it was time to unpack it later that evening when it was delivered to our room( approx at 6pm) not bad at all. Bus trip to Whittier port was in a comfortable bus and this trip alone was amazing. Beautiful scenery with a very nice driver who explained as we went along all the sites. Bus trip took about 1 hr and 15 mins but did not seem so long because it was so enjoyable.
What can I say about the Sapphire, except that it is beautiful. Very large and we were at almost full capacity of 2670 passengers but we never felt crowded and never had to wait in long line ups for anything. Embarkation was a breeze in Whittier. Disembarkation was just ok, a bit more confusing at the port as to where to go, i.e.. which bus to get on and which line to be in. But we just kept asking questions and eventually were on our bus to the Vancouver airport.
We had a mini suite with a balcony on Dolphin deck, mid ship by the elevators. Even though by the elevators it was not at all noisy. Our cabin steward, Ferdinand, opened up the doors between our 3 balconies right when we got in and this way we were able to go back and forth and enjoy the company of our friends while sitting outside. The balcony is so very worth the extra cost, especially on the first 2 days of scenic cruising. It is spectacular to wake up in the morning and be able to sit on your balcony with all of the beautiful glacier scenery around you. We really lucked out on the 2nd day at Glacier Bay, it was a sunny day all day. We sat out on the deck in the afternoon and just took it all in. The Champagne breakfast for $28.00 dollars per couple to have on the day you are in Glacier Bay is awesome. I had heard that you got a lot of food but did not expect the amount we did receive. A bottle of champagne, 2 portions of smoked salmon with cream cheese (4 pieces of smoked salmon each), 2 bagels, a large plate of assorted fruit and a large plate of assorted French pastries. Well worth the money, especially on this day when the Glacier Bay scenery was so special. We ate at the Horizons Court buffet for every other breakfast and every lunch. A wonderful selection of every food from pastas to fish, fruit, hot and cold cereals. Everything you can imagine. Every lunch hour there was also a different item at the carving area, ex. beef brisket, large leg of pork, meat loaf to name a few. Every evening we ate at the International Dining Room, late seating at 8pm. We were going to try anytime dining but the 8pm worked into our schedule perfectly. Our waiter Louie and the junior waiter Jorge could not have done any more for us or been any nicer. Extra portions of anything you wanted, small portion of anything you wanted to just try and suggestions were the norm for them. We purchased wine every evening and found the prices reasonable. Anywhere from $21 for a nice bottle of Pinot Noir to as much as you wanted to spend.
The menus are the same in all of the pre set times dining rooms and the anytime dining rooms. Just the decor changed and each one had their own pre set menus each day, ex. filet steak in the International, fajita in the Sante Fe. In our dining room (International) the food was excellent all the time. Only exception was the Rock Cornish Hen 2 at our table ordered one evening, it was edible buy very dry as if pre cooked and than left sitting too long. Other than this though everything else was perfect. There are 2 formal nights if you want to dress up which we did, men in suits and ties but if you prefer you can eat at one of the many other dining rooms where you do not have to dress up on these nights, or at the buffet.
Entertainment was good, shows in the Princess Theatre very well done. Comedian one evening was just ok. There is a band for every taste, Rock, plenty of Ballroom dancing music and a superb Disco, very loud if that's what you like on Deck 18, Skywalkers Lounge and Disco. Art auctions are very big on this cruise ship if you want to attend in the afternoons. We did not. There are also 2 ding rooms, Sabatini's Italian and Sterling's Steakhouse where there is a sur-charge per person, $20 and $15 each. We were going to go and did make a reservation but than found out the next evening was going to be Italian night in our dining room so we did not bother and were glad we did. Our meal was excellent and included our waiter Louie, singing O Sole Mio, just for us. Especially since he found out we were Italian and wanted us to feel welcome. After this we never even thought of paying extra to go anywhere else, it couldn't be any better than what we were getting. Food or service wise. The pools are well kept as are the hot tubs. The ship is spotless, our cabin was cleaned 2 times a day. Everything was beautiful. the only down side to the ship and we put it in our comment cards to them is that you have to pay for soda and for ice cream at the Sundae Bar, very bad taste for what it would cost them to include this, with everything else they provide. Seem to be pinching pennies in this area for some reason. Little Hint, there is free ice cream off to the side in the Horizon Court sitting area from 3 to 4 pm every day. Only chocolate and vanilla with a few toppings but free and very good.
We did the Best of Skagway tour on the White Pass Train. Train was good, Salmon bake ok, overpriced $195 per person for what you got. Better to just go on the 2-3 hour train ride without the lunch. We also did the Best of Juneau tour and this was much nicer at $169 per person. The Whale Watching was great. We were very lucky to see many many Beluga whales on this day, which is unusual to see so many. This tour also takes you up close to see the Mendenhall Glacier and museum, awesome scenery. The Salmon Bake on this tour is much larger and better run than in Skagway. There was more variety of food and better prepared and it cost less. In Ketchikan we just walked around the town on our own. Many many many (72) jewelry shops here all with excellent pieces at very good prices. You can bargain and deal prices with the merchants. Great Totem Village to visit here but we didn't have time. Too busy shopping, as this is the last stop ashore before sailing back to Vancouver.
beautiful ship, well run and all the staff are friendly everywhere you
Hope this review helps someone as the previous reviews helped me in choosing Princess Cruise Lines before our trip.