CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Princess Cruises Sapphire Princess by Julie Mexican Rivera April 25, 2009

EMBARKATION Departs from The San Pedro World Cruise Terminal -- Berth 93

Got to the parking lot at 12:40pm. Pay upon exiting. ($84.00 for a 7 day cruise). We were in line inside the building at 1pm after giving a porter our luggage (group of 4). First filled out a public health questionnaire and then proceeded up the escalator and got to the check in desk at 1:05pm, very quick procedure. At 1:15pm we were in the line for security, no need to remove shoes. Hand luggage went through x-ray scanner. Stopped for the ship's photographer for an embarkation photo. At 1:20pm inserted cruise card for security photo. We were in our cabin (great midship location -- B437) by 1:25pm. The elevator was very fast.

Saturday about 2:30pm we met up with our fellow Cruise Critic roll call members in Skywalkers Lounge.

At 3:30pm we were in the Explorer's Lounge for Muster station D General Emergency station drill.

SHIP The ship is beautiful and shipshape.

This was I believe the first Princess ship bound for the Mexican Rivera of the season that did not end up at any Mexico ports due to the Swine flu. We got close to Mexico on April 27th before turning around and heading north.

OUR CREW Everyone was terrific. Captain Tony Herriott from England, Passenger Services Director (PSD) Shelia Griffin, Cruise Director (CD) Josh Dayboll, and the cruise staff Alex & Trevor. Our favorite bartender was Clint in Club Fusion.

CABIN We had a balcony cabin BC category. We were in a great midship location real close to the Panoramic elevators, but not that close that it was a noise problem.

Our cabin steward was Florin from Romania who was excellent in keeping 1 of 19 rooms stocked and cleaned. Luggage arrived very fast just after Muster Drill.

ACTIVITIES We went to the Champagne Art auction and listened to Rachel describe how Princess can offer art so reasonably. When the Patter says all in attendance receives a free work of art, well, it has to be shipped to you for around $20.00. You can't take it with you, and so it is really not free.

We went to listen to Jing the acupuncturists talk one day. It was very informative. We caught the end of the Captain's talk on Navigation at Sea one day in the theater.

We played Bingo, wooden horseracing, and trivia a few times, and we learned something new each time. We went to tequila tasting in the atrium, then to Explorer's lounge for guacamole and chips.

We really enjoyed the many activities. There is so much or so little to do on a cruise -- so it is up to YOU.

We attended the champagne waterfall and had our photo taken.

We went on a Scholarship at Sea program Princess Theater Backstage Tour which was truly phenomenal. Loved this up close and personal tour, we learned a lot of what has to go on to keep us passengers entertained. They all do a terrific job.

ENTERTAINMENT We went to see 3 great production shows -- Piano Man, Do you Wanna Dance, and I Got the Music, which were great and featured the La Passione String quartet.

The crew talent show is not to be missed. We saw the passenger feud game show, saw one show of Pop Star where passengers perform, enjoyed the music of Passion, and Los Brilliantes Mariachi's.

We loved comedian Kevin Jordan (flashlight man), he performed in the Princess Theater and another evening for those 18 years+ at an R-rated show in Club Fusion. Saw him both nights.

Dan Bennett, a comedy juggler/musician -- we did not care for him.

Steve Morris, a musician/comedian was ok the first night and the second night a little better. I understand the comedy, but wish he would just finish a song. Loved the music, the comedy was just ok.

Wavelength (Scott-Band leader/bass, Rich-guitar lead vocal, Phil-drummer, Chris-guitar) the wonderful band from Vancouver Island, Canada -- they played 4 types of shows for our seven day cruise; small venue rock at the sailaway party and in The Explorer's Lounge, an unplugged acoustical concert in Explorer's Lounge as well as a concert with the Princess orchestra, keyboardist Trooper, and La Passione strings in The Princess Theater. We attended the So You Wanna be a Rockstar with passengers singing the lyrics and Wavelength playing in The Explorer's Lounge. This was our very favorite music for the week and the highlight of our "girls" cruise. They are billed as a 4 piece classic rock band. They played every night except one when they had the day off. I guess a day off is in order. They have a MySpace page (Wavelength Roxx) and currently no web site.

The music in the Princess Theater was under Doug Tann, the singers were Becky Allen, Collin Mackenzie, Eric Ruiz, and Benjamin Perez. They were all very good, but we especially liked Becky and Benjamin.

Roger Carr played on the baby grand in Crooner's, and he seemed to have a following every time we passed by.

There are movies in either the Princess Theater, Explorer's Lounge or on your stateroom TV. Some of the movies on this cruise were Slum Dog Millionaire, Last Chance Harvey, and The Curious case of Benjamin Button, Defiance, and Body of Lies, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Tale of Despereaux, Australia, Quantum of Solace, Valkyrie, Revolutionary Road, Frost Nixon, Mall Cop, Not Easily Broken, The Reader, & The Dark Knight.

DINING Marcello Berardi is the Executive Chef and Jacques Ghennai is the Maitre D Hotel.

Hours in the International dining room for breakfast were 7am-9am and noon to 1:30pm for lunch.

You may make reservations for anytime dining if that is the dining you have by dialing 3463 on your stateroom phone or push the dining button on the phone.

Early traditional was at 6:00pm in International & Vivaldi and late at 8:15pm in International only.

Sterling Steakhouse is $15.00 per person (we did not go here). Sabatini's is $20.00 per person. (we did not do this; heard it was very good, but make sure you go when you are really hungry).

Sabatini's offers a full array of appetizers, pastas, Italian entrees, etc.

We attended afternoon tea one afternoon. You can go anytime between 3:30pm and 4:30pm. It was held in the Pacific Moon dining room.

Our dining room waiter was Emmanuel from the Philippines and Jr. Waiter was Adelin from Bulgaria. Our head waiter was Michael from Jamaica who was so accommodating. We were at table #47.

On the last morning of the cruise the International dining room hours were 6:30am to 8:30am. Horizon Court Buffet opens 5:30am to 9:00am. Lobby bar, Crooner's, and Calypso open for cash sales.

Chef's Table is a brilliant insight into the workings of the kitchen. French champagne and hors d' oeuvres served in the galley during rush hour followed by a multi course tasting menu at the VIP chef's table. Includes wine pairing at $75.00 per person. Space is limited, call the dining hotline (we did not do this).

Our formal nights were changed to reflect our changed itinerary -- to Sunday, April 26th and Wednesday, April 29th.

Sorry, hope you are still with me. I try to be as accurate as possible and informative as well.

Room Service: Sandwiches-club, roast beef, turkey, tuna salad, & veggie. Garden salad, Caesar with chicken, & chef salad. Balcony dining is 7am-11am for breakfast or 5:30pm-10pm for dinner. The champagne breakfast is $32. per couple and includes the following: Heidsieck monopole champagne (1/2 bottle), oven fresh breakfast patries, cold smoked salmon, medley of fresh fruit and forest berries, and bacon & onion quiche Lorraine, & coffee, tea, or milk. The dinner is a 4 course meal for $100. per couple.

Spring water 1.5 liters in the stateroom is $3.50, 12 oz. cans of coke, diet coke, or diet sprite are $1.95. All are 15% gratuity added.

Complimentary stateroom breakfast is done by a door hanger found on your bed in the evening. Choices are juices, fresh fruit, yogurt, cold cereals, breads & pastries, preserves, beverages. Service times are from 7:30am to 10:30am.

Complimentary fresh fruit can be delivered to your stateroom via a door hanger. Choices are apples, bananas, kiwi, oranges, & pears. (we never had room service).

Crooner's Bar: I think the bartender said there were 32 martinis; I tried to taste them all. Most of the Martinis were about $7.48 with the gratuity.

Fountain soda program with souvenir tumbler is $4.25 per day plus 15% gratuity. Unlimited fountain soda for the duration of the cruise, you get a sticker on your cruise card. (my cabin partner did this, and found it great).

MISCELLANEOUS Computer internet rates were .75 cents/min. & $3.95 for 1st time connection fee. There are packages also that drop the price per minute.

The Captain's Circle party was on formal night on April 29th. The passenger(s) with the most days on our cruise had 704 days with 78 cruises. Wow! Debi was our circle hostess.

The Ultimate Ship Tour offers a limited number of passengers the chance to participate in a behind the scenes tour of the ship for $150.00 per person. (some of our fellow roll call members did this and loved it).

Future Cruise Sales consultant was Ann; you put a $100.00 deposit down per person for a future cruise and receive shipboard credit for your next cruise. No need to book a particular cruise date, though you may if you wish.

We attended the onboard outlet sale held in the Santa Fe dining room, which was packed almost the entire 3 hrs.

The washers and dryers were $1.00 each; I did a load of wash and hung the rest to dry.

Had a great cruise on The Sapphire despite not going to Mexico. The crew went above and beyond. There were several Princess employees onboard cruising for their vacation and we enjoyed getting to meet them.

DISEMBARKATION -- May 2, 2009 We went to the International Dining room at 8:10am, done at 8:50am. We had all our hand luggage with us so our room steward could clean. Orange 3 was supposed to meet in the Casino at 8:40am, we were still eating breakfast. Went straight to gangway at 8:55am as orange 3 had already been called. The luggage was all lined up according to which color tag you had. It was all very organized. We were handed a traveler's alert health notice issued by CDC and we handed in a customs declaration form. There was no passport control as we never were in a Mexican port. We were in the car at 9:10am, saw Prime Time shuttle, plenty of taxi's, and the Super Shuttle.

Thank you to the whole crew of The Sapphire Princess.

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