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Pasadena Red

Age: 42


Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Sapphire Princess

Sailing Date: 2009-12-19

Itinerary: Mexican Riviera

Against our better judgment, we agreed to go on this cruise to celebrate our good friend's milestone birthday ... with our two-year-old twins in tow. If we had older children who could have swam in the pools and taken advantage of the kids club, it probably would have been tolerable. Alas, seven days aboard this ship with absolutely nothing to occupy two toddlers was just painful.

There was no place on board where we could just relax with the kids. There were only restaurants and bars, and a few pools they were not allowed to swim in because they aren't completely potty trained.

The burgers and pizza served by the pool were fantastic. They were a saving grace, and the only thing you could get cooked fresh.

For dinner, we chose group dining in the international dining room. Joining our friends each night for dinner was the highlight of our trip. However, the waiters served mediocre to bad food with the appropriate amount of apathy. Nearly every dish I was served came cold. The only exceptions were the first and last night. Many times we found the same dishes being served in the 24-hour buffet. Overall, the food was so salty, I had two pounds of excess water weight which disappeared two days after getting home. The Sterling Steak house was good, the 15 dollar cover charge was annoying. Ditto for Sabatini's 20 dollar cover.

Breakfast in the dining room was no better than dinner. Everything was cold ... and once an order of eggs over medium came with uncooked whites. You could see the raw egg white jiggling on the plate. I couldn't believe a waiter would serve that.

The buffet was what you might find in a lower middle hotel chain.

The stateroom was actually very roomy and worked well. We booked two rooms, one for us, and one for our friend and our twins. Our steward Ryan was terrific.

However, the balcony situation was dangerous for the kids. We were on Deck 9, and the balconies hover straight over the water, unlike upper floors which are terraced. We had asked for our deck furniture to be removed because our girls are climbers. The staff said no. So I spent a week moving chairs and tables around keep them away from the railing.

NOTHING for young toddlers on this ship. The play room for the 3-7 year olds was open for us, as long as we stayed with the kids. No problem, we wouldn't leave them anyway at that age. However, the staff was so unfriendly to us, we really didn't feel like staying there. They acted like we were invisible. When I asked for crayons, I felt like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel.

There were some special christmas activities, including a balloon drop at ... 11 pm on Christmas Eve. Hello? Christmas is for kids ... why they couldn't do this earlier was baffling.
Santa came x-mas morning to the atrium. it was a mob scene. Took us 40 mins. to get through the line. Of course the girls who were dying to see Santa all week cried once they got up there ... but that's just life with toddlers!

We loved the Beach getaway in Puerto Vallarta at the Melia resort. Great pool, fantastic play area for the kids, and a warm, welcoming staff. The food was fantastic. Best chicken I've ever had ... and I am a foodie and former professional cook.

What we saw of Mazatlan was a pit. We booked a shuttle to the so-called Golden Zone, because none of the other excursions were appropriate for young children. We were harassed by peddlers everywhere we went. We had lunch at Poncho's restaurant, and made the mistake of paying with a credit card. Five days after we got home, we get a call from our credit card company ... someone has pirated our account and is charging up a storm in Mazatlan. Thanks a bunch! Can't believe the cruise company funnels its people there week in, week out, like a bunch of sheep.

Cabo was gorgeous, and yet we were only in port a half day. We had booked a Baja 1000 driving experience excursion ... the only activity we were going to do without the kids. It was canceled! We were so disappointed. All we ended up doing was walking around the port area where we were constantly hounded by peddlers and tour operators. Ugh. We should have stayed on board and swam in the pool.

I am a novice cruiser, but a very experienced traveler. By reputation and watching a lot of The Love Boat as a kid, I expected Princess to be a little more high end than it was. I really thought it was going to be akin to a Hilton, and it was much more Holiday Inn.

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