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November 29th through December 6, 2008 (Seven Days)
Master: Captain: William Kent
Staff Captain: Heikki Leakkonin
Cruise Director: Josh Dayboll
Stateroom #B207, Deck 11, Forward.
This was our 53rd cruise overall, and our 22nd cruise with Princess Cruise Lines.
We drove from Las Vegas to San Pedro World Cruise Center arriving at 1:30PM. Dropped off our luggage to the waiting porters and found a great parking spot very close to the terminal. As a matter of information parking is $12 per day, payable after the cruise and they do accept credit cards.
Boarding process was quick, easy and painless; the entire process took about 10 minutes. There were no large crowds at this time of day. All staterooms were ready for occupancy when we boarded.
Our stateroom was quite far forward on Deck 11 was very easy to find. It was a typical Princess size stateroom. We found plenty of storage space and hangers for our one week cruise. Room was equipped robes and slippers, and a stocked bar since we are Elite members of the Princess Captain's Club.
The bathroom was quite small, but worked out fine as long as we both did not try and be in there at the same time. The shower was the smallest we have ever had aboard ship, but we expected that since we have sailed on the Diamond Princess the sister ship to the Sapphire. The shower water temperature and pressure never varied and was excellent.
We then went up to Deck 14 to the Horizon Court for some lunch. The array of offerings was quite impressive and we knew our cruise was off to a good start.
The ever-popular, mandatory Lifeboat Drill took place at 4:30 PM just before sailing out of San Pedro. Never much fun, but this one was less painless than most and well organized. Our Muster Station was in the Princess Theater and we were not required to go out and stand on deck.
Our luggage had arrived at our stateroom when we returned from Lifeboat Drill so we unpacked and skipped the Sailaway Party on deck.
We dined the first evening in the Savoy Dining Room. For the first time cruising we had "Anytime Dining." We had no choice since we booked this cruise just two weeks prior to sailing. This was a major disappointment of this cruise. We enjoy and assigned table at a set time with the same servers. I will do my best to see that this never happens again, simply not our "cup of tea." You may however, request the size table you prefer. On this first night we requested a table for two. We decided against going to the Welcome Aboard Showtime which featured the music and comedy of Steve Morris.
For the next two delightful days we were at sea, heading for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Will not bore you with day to day details, except to say the weather was perfect and so was every aspect of our Sapphire Princess adventure. The days were filled with all of the typical shipboard activities. We however opted to just take it easy and, other than a couple Art Auctions, did not participate in the activities.
We found the food aboard the Sapphire to be the excellent and were never disappointed. Having said that, I must say that the dessert selection was very limited and the portions smaller than on previous cruises. We had all our breakfasts in the Horizon Court as well as all but one of our lunches. For dinner we used three of the four Anytime Dining rooms. The Savoy, the Santa Fe and the Vivaldi.
The production shows in the Princess Theater were excellent. Never had a problem getting a good seat and there was no need to arrive very early as we have found on many ships. The guest performers were somewhat less than exciting and we felt we could have skipped those shows
Our favorite after dinner spot was the Wheelhouse Bar which we have enjoyed on many Princess ships over the years.
This was an Art Connoisseur Cruise (which had absolutely nothing to do with our booking, in fact we did not even know about it until we boarded.) World renowned artists Alexandra Nechita and Bill Mack were aboard for the entire cruise and we had a chance to meet and talk with both of them. They only piece which caught my eye was $34,000.00, so I resisted the urge to bid.
Our fellow passengers included some very experienced travelers, as expected most were from California or other western states. This sailing was complete sellout with about 2,800 folks on board.
Ports of call included Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. We have visited all of these ports many, many times, so booked no shore excursions. We did go ashore at all of the ports on our own. We did a little Christmas shopping, but little else.
Speaking of Christmas, the Sapphire was decked out for the holidays with at least a dozen Christmas trees, lighted garland on the handrails of the stairways in the atrium and many wreaths. Each dinner table also had a Christmas center piece.
The disembarkation was a breeze. We had reclaimed our luggage and were in our car heading for home by 9:00 AM. Overall, I would rate this cruise as "near perfect."