A little background, I'm in my mid 40s and DH is mid 50s. This was our 12th and 13th cruise, 7th and 8th on Princess. We have cruised RCL x2, Celebrity, HAL and NCL. We booked this as two separate cruises…a 3 day Coastal followed by the first 7 day Mexican Riviera of the season. We were lucky to snag the aft corner BB Caribe 753 for both cruises.
Embarkation: Nightmare! But nothing we can blame on Princess. Unfortunately the lady that committed suicide by jumping off the back of Sapphire was being searched for the morning of our embarkation so Princess Staff had stopped the line and prevented anyone from boarding. We stood in the Security line for about an hour without moving. Princess staff told passengers that the Coast Guard was doing a "Drill".
Once we got through Security, boarding was a breeze. We found our cabin pretty easily and instantly fell in love with its location and balcony.
Cabin: Wow - what can be said about those corner afts that hasn't already been said? We loved it! The view was incredible. We had a lot of sea days on this 10 day voyage and that balcony was perfect. The Cabin was laid out really well, tons of drawers and closet space. Suitcases fit under the bed no problem. The egg crate was already on the bed and robes were in the bathroom for us. Even the shower curtain didn't seem to hug the way it used to.
Ship: The Sapphire Princess is beautiful - absolutely beautiful and not showing any aging at all. We were on the Zuiderdam in May and she was a disgrace. Sapphire was truly spotless. She has so many great hidden areas for reading and relaxing and an abundance of pools. The first couple of days out the pools where far too warm. It felt like you were being dipped in soup. They cooled down a bit towards the end. I think they must have been heated for Alaska and just took time to adjust the temp.
Service: Another WOW - we've been on 5 cruise lines and about 11 different ships - Sapphire crew were the best - everyone that you ran into was friendly, happy and very helpful. Gerry our cabin steward was the best we've encountered on any ship. Bar Staff, waitstaff, officers, everyone was so nice. The staff in the Pacific Moon dining room were fantastic. I ordered a Cappuccino in Lobby Bar one morning and had a bit of a wait…just a couple of minutes, but I had three people apologize for the wait. Honestly, I can't say enough about the staff…..except… the pursers' desk…I'm not labeling them all as bad, but we certainly ran into our share. We had a problem with an internet credit that took 4 trips - over 4 days to the purser's desk to fix and you could tell she really didn't have a clue what she was talking about. The second instance was the billing on the ultimate balcony dinner. We did this with friends - in their cabin - and our cabin got charged for both couples. The men went down to fix it up and thought it had been done and sure enough on the final bill, it was still screwed up and charged to our cabin. The other couple just ended up giving us $100 cash as the Pursers desk was unable to fix it.
Dining: We had Anytime Dining and I think ate in the dining room 3 times. Had reservations each time and no wait. We did the pub lunch which was good, but doing it in one of the fancier dining rooms is a bit strange. The wheelhouse pub is a much better location. Couldn't believe when our drinks server at the pub lunch clearly remembered what we were drinking the night before - great memory - I barely remembered ;)
We had our anniversary dinner in Sabatini's - Fantastic! Alex our waiter was awesome as was the food except for the lobster which was overcooked - knew I should have had the Seabass. But the rest of the meal made up for it including the plethora of desserts he brought us.
Last formal night we dined with our friends in Sterlings. My Filet was very good but hubby's Rib eye had a lot of fat on it.
We also did the Ultimate Balcony Dinner which was superb. We did it for 4 on the other corner caribe balcony. 4 fit out there quite well. They brought a larger table. We had a Goat Cheese Salad, Crab Tart, then Steak/Lobster or both followed by dessert. They start you a cocktail of your choice then with dinner a ½ bottle of champagne per couple. I'd run down to a bar earlier and grabbed a bottle of red for dinner which they gladly served us. Service, food, ambience - all excellent. A photographer also comes up to take your pic and you get a free 8 x 10 per couple. We had about 4 shots to choose from. Cost was $100 per couple and well worth it in our opinion.
Horizon Court was actually pretty good. Anytime they had seafood on the buffet it was excellent especially the breaded shrimp.
Overall, I'd say the food everywhere was pretty impressive.
Entertainment: This part is going to be short, other than Steve Morris, we didn't see any. He was good though. We also attended some of the Karaoke (oh my ears are still ringing) and we won Passenger Feud.
The Ports: Well this was a 10 day cruise for us, with only LA, PV, Mazatlan and Cabo so a lot of sea days! Getting off the ship in LA as in "In Transit" passenger was very easy. We congregated in Club Fusion for about 20 minutes and where then led off. A short walk for someone to check your documents and you were back on board. We decided to leave the terminal and check out San Pedro…hmmm… don't bother. We were directed to "Ports of Call" there really wasn't anything there. We should have just stayed on board and enjoyed the solitude of the ship.
Puerto Vallarta - we just took the white shuttle buses into town $3 each. Easy and quick. We were dropped off outside Diamonds International..of course! We wandered around a bit. There were a couple of nice Silver and Leather shops that the ship recommended. We then went for a beer and walked around a bit more. We ended up taking a taxi back to Walmart to replenish water and pop. We also went to the mall next door to Walmart which was very nice and just walked back to the ship.
Mazatlan - we took a Ghetto Taxi (taxi driver's words not mine) down into the Golden Zone. Wow tons of construction going on and lots of stores added since the last time we were there. The cab driver asked if he could drop us off at Diamonds International as he gets $5 for doing so, we said sure and just walked straight through it. Taxi was $8 for the 4 of us. We walked around a bit, bought some silver jewelry and friends of ours bought some Pewter from a store we bought from 9 years ago - it was good to see they were still there. Went for a beer (starting to see a pattern?) walked around a bit more and then headed back to the ship. There are tons of stores in the port area to navigate through. Mazatlan runs a little shuttle in and out of the port area which is Mandatory and Complimentary. It's an industrial port area so they want you to be safe. Jewelry prices were pretty good in Mazatlan but watch your prices in the store sponsored silver store. They wanted about $160 for a bracelet that I found a few stores down for $72
Cabo - Cabo is a tender port. We got our tender tickets about 8:30 am and within about 5 minutes were being led to the Tenders. It was so hot in Cabo…it had actually been very hot and humid all cruise but Cabo seemed especially warm. We started walking around the Marina area and quickly ran into our friends who had done an earlier excursion… so even though it was only 9:30 am, we needed that beer to combat the heat ;) We shopped a little. Cabo prices were out of line compared to the other ports. Earrings that I had looked at in Mazatlan were starting price of $40 Cabo they were $70. I told him he was nuts and walked out the store. We ended up at Cabo Wabo for Margaritas a little later in the morning and wound our way back around the Marina back to the ship. We bought some Almond Tequila and some Pomegranate Tequila in Cabo and had no problem taking them back on the ship.
Disembarkation: A breeze! No announcements which is nice. You just head to your designated public lounge/dining room and disembark at your time. We were in the Platinum lounge and disembarked on time.
Highlights: Sea Days - we've never done a cruise with this many sea days before, we now know that we love them, so relaxing. We spent so much time on our balcony just watching the wake and the dolphins racing the ship. The Staff - can't say enough. We've never run into this much consistency of good service. The Ship - just beautiful and spotless The Food - shockingly good - especially the seafood on the buffet.