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David Rost

Age: 54

Occupation:Management

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Sapphire Princess

Sailing Date: 2010-03-13

Itinerary: Mexican Riveria

My wife and I just returned from a great Mexican Riviera cruise on the Sapphire Princess. We had a wonderful, relaxing time and since we received such great information prior to our cruise from various sources we thought we should return the favor. The Sapphire Princess is a beautiful ship and the 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise was great. We will definitely sail on Princess again. We highly recommend both the ship and the itinerary.

We chose Anytime Dining and it worked well for us. We did share a table with 2 other very nice couples on the first night in the Santa Fe dining room. We dined in Sabatini’s ($20 per person charge) on Valentine’s evening and it was very good. The other nights we had no problem getting a table for 2 and the times were anywhere from 6-7pm. The food was good but not overwhelming. I seem to remember from other cruises that on several occasions I left the dining room really feeling that we had experienced something special. Unfortunately, I cannot say that we had that experience during this cruise. Don’t get me wrong, the food was good; just not outstanding. The Santa Fe Dining Room was our favorite. We ate there 3 nights, in the Pacific Moon twice and in the Savoy Dining Room once. The wait staff in all of the dining rooms were excellent, very friendly and very attentive.

We ate breakfast in the Horizon Court every morning and had lunch there a number of times. The food was good and there was a lot of variety. A few times the area seemed crowded but overall it was fine. Wait staff were ever-present to offer coffee and juice. You could also get hot tea upon request.

We enjoyed the Pizza and Burger Bars at the Main Pool Area on Deck 14 on a couple of occasions and this was nice for a quick bite to eat. There is also an Ice Cream Bar near the midship Pool.

By the way, formal nights on the cruise are Sunday and Thursday.


Our stateroom was A704 on the Aloha Deck (Deck 12-Aft). We had a balcony and it was completely covered. We could look down on the open and partially closed balconies on the lower decks. We were a little concerned about being one deck below the Horizon Court because of potential noise from tables and chairs being moved around; but we hardly noticed any noise at all. Just a couple of times on 1-2 mornings did we hear anything. We were near the elevators (no noise) and the staircase which was very handy. We could walk up one flight of stairs and be at the entrance to the Horizon Court for breakfast, coffee, etc. Very Nice!! But the best thing was that we were only a few doors down from the Aft (Terrace) Pool Area. This was great as the Aft Pool area is less crowded and the pool itself is “adults only”. You really had a great view off the back of the ship. I cannot say enough about how nice this was.

The stateroom itself was nice. The 2 twin beds had been pushed together to make one Queen bed and the egg crate mattress really made for a comfortable night sleep (definitely get this). We found we had plenty of hanger space with storage above and below, a full-length mirrored door opened up to several shelves for storage. There was a nightstand on one side of the bed with 2 drawers and the desk had 5 drawers for additional storage. There were 2 outlets near the desk but we had brought along a power strip so we had plenty of outlets. There is also an one outlet in the bathroom. There was a desk chair and one other chair in the room. Each room also has a TV with a few channels and a refrigerator. The bathroom was small but nice. The shower was very small but the water pressure was great all cruise long. The balcony on Aloha deck is small but nice—enough room for 2 chairs and a small table.


We had seen a lot of negative comments about the production shows but we generally thought they were good. The Welcome Aboard Showtime on the first night was not that great—it was more of an orientation and a preview of Steve Moris’s comedy show scheduled for the next night. Of the production shows, we did enjoy “Piano Man” on Sunday night and “Do You Want to Dance” on Wednesday night. We were less enthusiastic about the “I Got the Music” show on Thursday night. The same production troupe did all three shows. We really enjoyed Steve Moris’s full comedy show in the Explorer’s Lounge on Sunday night. Tom McTigue (another comedy show) was also enjoyable. We did not care for Lorenzo Clark (comedy/magic) who performed in the Princess Theater on Tuesday night. A few funny moments but generally his act seemed kind of “forced”. The other musical groups (the Baby Dolls, in particular) which appeared in various locales around the ship were entertaining.

We took part in the Movie Trivia program in the Explorer’s Lounge on Tuesday night and our little team of 2 managed to tie for 1st place with another team of 4 getting 18 out of 20 correct. Both teams won a free bottle of champagne (we took ours to dinner on Friday night and our head waiter swapped it for a chilled bottle that we had with dinner).

Some examples of some of the special activities include:

*Captain’s Champagne Waterfall Party in the Atrium on Sunday night (formal night)
*Princess Pop Star (an American Idol style karaoke competition) on several nights
*Fiesta Deck Party on Pool Deck 14 at 10pm on Monday night
*Art Auctions
*Farewell Mexico Dance Party and Balloon Drop in the Atrium on Thursday night (formal night)

There is a 9 hole miniature golf course near midship and a Cyber Golf Simulator (which always seemed busy). The Promenade on Deck 7 is nice and wide. 3 trips around equals a mile; although you have to go up and down some stairs to Deck 8 to go all the way around. There is a walking track Forward on Deck 16 near the Lotus Pool. 10 trips around equals a mile.

Of course, there is the usual array of activities (Bingo, trivia, etc.) everyday.


On Tuesday, we docked at Puerto Vallarta at 9am with a departure time of 5pm. PV is on Central Pacific Time and is 1 hour ahead of ship’s time. Since this was our first time in PV, we booked the City and Coastal Drive Tour through Princess. This tour gave us a nice overview of PV and the surrounding area. We disembarked the ship and met our tour group at 9:20am. We took an air-conditioned motorcoach to the Malecon (downtown shopping district) and made a 30 minute stop to do a walking tour of the Malecon and the Cathedral. We then boarded the motorcoach again and proceeded to a small shopping district where we could get some refreshments and use restrooms. We then continued on the Coastal Tour which ended at the site where the movie “Night of the Iquana” was filmed. Beautiful coastal scenery!! We then returned to the Malecon for a 30 minute stop to enjoy a free cold beverage of our choice, use restrooms and shop. We were given the choice of returning to the ship by motorcoach or we could stay and return to the ship on our own. We needed to be back at the ship by 4:30pm for boarding. We elected to stay and look around on our own. We took a yellow cab back to the cruise ship terminal and the cost was $7 US for the two of us. At the terminal, there were currency exchange facilities and a small shopping market. We boarded at around 4pm.

This was the only excursion we booked (with Princess or privately).

Here is our review and I hope it does not get too long. If it does, I beg your pardon but I am trying to think of things that would have been helpful to me in planning for this cruise.

Trip to Los Angeles

We left a day early and flew into LA from Kansas City on Friday evening, February 12th. We used our Marriott points and stayed at the Courtyard Los Angeles/LAX Marriott at Century Boulevard. It is literally at the entrance of LAX and has a free shuttle to the hotel. It is a short shuttle ride, but be aware, since it is so close it is the last stop on the circuit that stops at 3 hotels. Nice hotel, nothing fancy but ideal for a one night stay close to the airport. They have a small restaurant in the lobby area that serves a nice buffet style breakfast (for a charge) in the morning.

Transportation to the San Pedro Cruise Ship Terminal

We had purchased round-trip shuttle transportation through Princess Cruise Lines ($24 per person each way) so we had to take the hotel shuttle back to LAX. Since we had come in the night before, we had received information to meet at the Delta Baggage Claim Area between 12noon and 1pm to meet the shuttle. As it turned out, at least 3 other parties on our cruise were also on the airport shuttle so we followed each other to the designated site. Princess staff were there to greet us and assist with getting luggage on the bus. We boarded the bus almost immediately and shortly after we headed for the cruise terminal. The Princess person said it would take about 45 minutes, but traffic was not bad and the trip only took about 30 minutes. When you get to the terminal, they park the bus for a while and another Princess staff person gets on and passes out some health forms that must be filled out prior to embarkation. It is also a method to space out the passengers arriving on their buses. After a short stop, we were taken to just outside the terminal where we got off the bus and went in.

Embarkation

We are Gold members (just our 2nd Princess cruise) so we joined the line and it moved pretty quickly. We were on the ship and at our stateroom by 1:30pm. Two pieces of our luggage were already at the stateroom and the other two showed up about 5 minutes after we did. We met our cabin steward, Nilo from the Phillipines, right away and he gave us a quick orientation. We requested an egg crate mattress (as we had read on Cruise Critic) and he said he would get one to the room as soon as possible. Very smooth, quick and effortless embarkation.

We had received the $1000 Treasure Hunt card as we embarked so we headed out to get all our stamps. Besides the chance to win some prizes, this is an excellent way to get a quick orientation of the ship and its services. One of the designated spots was Sabatini’s (specialty restaurant) and this worked out great because we wanted to make a reservation for Valentine’s Day dinner. I wanted to make it a special evening because February 14th is also my wife’s birthday. After we collected all our stamps we headed to the Horizon Court for a quick lunch and then went back to our stateroom to unpack. We did the mandatory muster drill at 3:15pm (our muster location was Club Fusion) and then went up to the main Pool Deck for the Sailaway Party. Fortunately it was a beautiful evening for our sailaway and everyone had a great time as we began our journey.

The first two full days of the cruise were at sea and we were blessed with great weather. Our first port was Puerto Vallarta and I outlined our day there in the Excursion section above. On Wednesday, we docked at Mazatlan at 7am with a scheduled departure time of 5pm. As we were standing out on our balcony in the morning, the Mariner of the Seas came into port and docked Aft to Aft with our ship. Thanks to some tips on various website boards we had decided to take the local Water Taxi to Stone Island on our own instead of doing the ship excursion. This would have been great except for the fact that we had lousy weather that day. It was very overcast with intermittent sprinkles. We decided to go anyway. At the port in Mazatlan, all passengers must take the complimentary shuttle to the terminal because it is a commercial dock. Once at the terminal you have the usual press of vendors and people trying to direct you to taxis. We had to wade through these folks (and say No Gracias several times) to get to the gate exiting the terminal. From there you turn left and walk a couple of blocks to where the street curves to the right. You proceed straight ahead on an unpaved street to a small yellow building. This is where you purchase your water taxi tickets. The cost is $2 per person for a roundtrip ticket. They will give you 2 tickets so be sure to retain one of the tickets for your return trip. The water taxi is pretty small with a covered roof and the ride is pretty quick across the channel to the small dock on Stone Island. From the dock it is a short walk over a small rise to a rocky entrance to the Stone Island Beach. As I mentioned, the weather was not cooperating. This had all the potential for a great day on the beach but the wind came up and it started to rain. We wondered down the beach to Victor’s (which we had heard so much about on these boards) and decided to take shelter to wait out the rain and hope for improvement in the weather. After a couple of beers, we finally made the decision (a wise one as it turned out) to give up and head back to the ship. We met a few other hardy souls on the way back who had also heard about Stone Island on the boards and were giving it a go. We made the return trip in short order and reboarded the ship. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the pool (under the covered part).

On Thursday, we anchored at Cabo San Lucas at about 7am. Since we were on the port side, we had a great view of Land’s End from our balcony. We had nothing special planned for the day, so we took our time with breakfast and then wandered down to the Vivaldi Dining Room as instructed to get our tender tickets. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there were no lines and we could immediately board the tender for the trip into the marina. It was a short trip and we were quickly on the boardwalk around the marina. We had stayed in Cabo in 2008 so we were very familiar with the Marina and Cabo in general. We spent our morning leisurely walking in the marina area and in the main Cabo shopping district. Around 11:45am, we stopped at the Nowhere Bar at the marina for a few cold beers and some chips/salsa. Very relaxing place to people watch. We then headed back around the marina walk to the tender pier. A long line had already formed for the tenders but it moved along pretty well. Soon we were back on the Sapphire for our 2pm departure.

It really is a shame that the port time in Cabo is so short. It is by far our favorite port and is really a beautiful place. We ate a quick lunch onboard and then headed to the Aft pool for the afternoon. It was one of the best weather days we had and it was a beautiful sailaway from Cabo.

Friday was another Sea Day on our way back to LA and the weather was pretty lousy once again; overcast, windy and cool. It was definitely not a “pool” day.

Staff/Service

We found the service from the staff to be excellent throughout the cruise. Nilo, our room steward, was excellent. He seemed to be out in the hall near our room every morning with a smile and a warm greeting. He took care of all our needs in a very professional manner. We cannot say enough about his excellent service. The wait staff in every dining room did a great job and were very accommodating; the same for staff in the Horizon Court and throughout the ship. Everyone was very friendly and were quick with a smile and greeting.

Disembarkation

We received our disembarkation packet and luggage tags on Thursday night so we had plenty of time to figure out what needed to be done. I went to the Internet Café on Friday afternoon and purchased a special 15 minute package (offered on Friday) for $8.25. Since I had a coupon for an additional 15 minutes with purchase of any plan, I had plenty of time to print our Southwest Boarding Passes for our return flight. By the way, there is a printing charge of $0.50 per page.

Princess has what they call “Silent Disembarkation”. There are no announcements made on the morning of disembarkation. Everyone just needs to go to their designated areas at their specific times.

We packed our two big pieces of luggage on Friday evening, filled out our luggage tags, attached them and placed the bags outside the stateroom just before we went to dinner. The next morning we arrived in LA at 7am and we ate breakfast for the last time in the Horizon Court. We finished packing our remaining stuff in our carry luggage and left the stateroom at the requested time (8am).

Since we had purchased a Princess Transfer and we had an afternoon flight, we were in the “Orange” Group and were instructed to meet in Club Fusion by 8:40am (our disembarkation time was 8:50am). Since we had to be out of our stateroom by 8am, we decided to go down to the area near Club Fusion to find a “nook” to settle in. We were surprised to be ushered into Club Fusion right away. Groups 1-6 in Orange Group were all gathered there and they had coffee and water available. Right at 8:50am, our Group was called and we disembarked the ship. 40 minutes later, we had found our luggage, been through Customs and were on our motorcoach for the trip to LAX. The whole disembarkation process went very smoothly and was very efficient.

We were placed on the transfer coaches by Airline designation so our bus deposited us at Terminal #1 at LAX for Southwest. Lines for baggage check-in and security were crazy but we were eventually on our way. Unfortunately when we arrived in Kansas City at 9:25pm that night, we found ourselves back to reality in the Midwest. The temperature was 31 degrees and it was sleeting/snowing. We had a harrowing 3 ½ hour drive (normally 2 ½ hours) back to Mid-Missouri on snow/ice covered highways. But we made it in one piece.

The Sapphire Princess is a beautiful ship and the 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise was great. We will definitely sail on Princess again. We highly recommend both the ship and the itinerary.

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