CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Princess Cruises Sapphire Princess Mexico January 21, 2006

This was our first cruise, and we were not sure if we would like it, so we picked a fairly inexpensive Mexican Riviera trip. We bought the tickets only a month before the cruise and got a good deal ?" a balcony cabin was only a little more than an inside cabin. And since we live in the L.A. area there was no expenses for flights or hotels.

We absolutely loved it. And now we are spoiled with a balcony and won't even consider a room without one for future cruises.

Princess gave us the best service I have had anywhere. The steward was fantastic, the waiters exceptional, I can go on and on.

Here is one glitch: I did a lot of research on the internet beforehand and found that most people who had traditional seating raved about their dining experience, and most people who had "personal choice" dining complained about their experience. So, I was happy to get traditional late dining confirmed a few weeks before departure. Despite being confirmed, I discovered, after boarding, that I had "personal choice." I immediately complained to the concierge and they had it fixed by day two. For the first night they gave me a reservation. Despite the reservation, there was a long line we had to stand in before being seated. Once we had traditional dining we never had to stand in a line again, and we got fantastic service from our waiter who knew our every wish and whim.

Personal Choice dining is heavily promoted and sounds good on paper, but in practice it is a disaster. Princess should just realize that the whole thing was a mistake and do away with it. Apparently a lot of people agree, because there is always a wait list for traditional dining. Originally we took the late dining because that was all we could get, but it turned out that was for the best. Having late dining gave us plenty of time to shower and unwind from our shore excursions. We would feel a little hungry around 5pm, so we would either go to the afternoon tea, or slip into the buffet for some sweets (which we took to our room and ate on our balcony).

Our cabin was beautiful. We would sit on our balcony and watch whales while having breakfast or snacks. We are not very social, we are not the kind of people that hang around the pool, drink cocktails, and participate in activities, so it was good that we had a balcony. We spent most of our time there.

One other problem: We are non-smokers and are very sensitive to tobacco smoke. I only ran into tobacco smoke two places - the casino and our cabin. Smoke in the casino is expected so there is not problem, but I should not have had to deal with it in my cabin. The problem was that my neighbor was a chain smoker and would sit on his balcony and smoke one cigarette after another. The smoke would engulf my balcony, and since we are fresh air freaks, come into our cabin through our open sliding door. We first noticed it before the ship unmoored. We were very concerned. But, because the neighbor was directly aft of me, the smoke blew the other direction once we were underway. I would only notice it when there was a complete lack of wind, or we were in port. But it would be nice if Princess offered no smoking sections of cabins, where people can be assured of not having a problem like this.

As far as Mexico is concerned, I have never been impressed, and I continue to be so. The only port I really liked was Cabo San Lucas. Cabo was a true resort area and was beautiful. Puerta Vallarta and Mazatlan had some very nice areas, but both had horrid slums as well. And everywhere there were aggressive hawkers who just won't leave you alone. My next cruise will not be to a third world country.

Actually our favorite days were the "at sea" days, because the ship was so beautiful, our balcony view of the sea so breathtaking, and the fantastic service. It turns out I really love being at sea. Going south, the seas were calm, I could barely tell we were moving, returning north the sea was rougher and there was some definite movement, but I couldn't imagine it bothering anyone, but I suppose it did. The weather was very cool north of Cabo and very warm south of Cabo. We kept our balcony door open most of the time, day and night (except when there was too much smoke out there). North of Cabo we would wear sweat shirts and enjoy the cool sea breeze.

Over all I give Princess very high marks, but not a perfect score, because of the dining and smoking problems.

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