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Trip Report Trip report: Sapphire Princess May 11-18 2013/Wine Country Coastal

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We just returned from a cruise a aboard the Sapphire Princess which was a coastal repositioning cruise “Wine Country Coastal“. The cruise started in San Pedro, CA and stopped in Santa Barbara CA (skipped due to fog), San Francisco CA, Astoria OR, Seattle WA, Victoria BC and ended in Vancouver BC. I traveled with my parents so there were 3 of us traveling together. This was my 7th cruise on Princess and my parents 6th aboard Princess (I have also cruised Carnival and Disney).

We departed Boston Friday night on Jet Blue bound for Long Beach CA. Due to heavy traffic for Mother’s Day weekend, my parents began to wonder if they would miss the flight, as they came in from the suburbs and I met them at the airport coming from work. Well, they made it and the flight took off 20 min late, but arrived 9:15pm or so since they seem to build in time for delays nowadays. We always like to try to fly out a day prior to cruise departure, to allow for any delays or missing luggage etc. The Long Beach Airport is a small airport--no jet way, you just go down the ramp onto the runway and then enter the terminal building. The terminal building itself is somewhat open air. Luggage was about 15 min wait so by the time we got to the cab area it was about 9:35pm. The cab ride to our hotel, Doubletree San Pedro/Port of Los Angeles was about 15-20 min. This Doubletree is located at the Cabrillo Marina and we had booked a marina view room with balcony. As we completed check in, they signed us up for the shuttle to the pier for the next morning. The shuttles start running over there at 11am but we opted for the 11:30am.

Saturday morning we had been planning to get a cab to Coco’s in Rancho Palos Verdes, but the hotel ended up driving us there instead, which worked out great and was very unexpected and appreciated! Along the way we drove by the pier and saw the Sapphire docked. We had arranged to meet a relative who lives in California for breakfast, and since we love the Coco‘s chain and don‘t have them in New England, we opted to dine there. I am not really a breakfast person and don’t like many traditional breakfast foods unless they are sweet, so I chose to have a slice of Strawberry Harvest Pie for my meal which has a layer of chocolate ganache, layer of strawberries, and layer of strawberry mousse garnished with whipped cream and a fresh strawberry. I found this pie to be delicious--the perfect complement of chocolate and strawberry. Other selections in our group were German strawberry pancakes and a strawberry waffle (what can I say--spring is strawberry time at Coco‘s). The hotel picked us back up and we were back by 9:30am. I walked around the Marina for an hour and then sat by the pool. The marina area is quite extensive and you can walk pretty far in either direction from the Doubletree.

At 11:15am we met down in the lobby for our shuttle to the pier. There was only one other party of 2 onboard, so we had plenty of room. After leaving our luggage off on the pier we went inside and checked in for the cruise. There was virtually no line for check in and it only took about 5 minutes but after that we had to wait about 15 min to start boarding. Upon check in you are given a card with your boarding group number on it. We were in group A since we had a full suite.

On most Princess ships we book full suites, as we enjoy the space and some perks you get by booking a suite rather than if we booked 2 balcony rooms or mini suites. Our room was C421 San Remo suite. Due to the tiered nature of this class of ship, the balconies on Caribe deck (C ) are larger than others. Of the ships we have sailed this was the largest balcony we’ve had. We tend to prefer fully covered balconies and these are half covered, which we knew when we booked.

After dropping our bags in the room, we had lunch at the International Café after deeming Horizon Court too busy. In general this ship seemed more crowded than other ships we’ve been on--probably since this is the largest ship we‘ve sailed. It seemed like wall to wall people everywhere to us. Horizon Court seemed to have less space between serving stations to move around so it seemed more cramped to us. This was also the first ship we’ve sailed on with an International Café, so we wanted to try that anyway. For lunch I had the mushroom and leek quiche and a peanut butter cup dessert. I loved the quiche, as it was a nice size and cheesier rather than eggy (I don’t like eggs). The PB cup dessert is a layer of whipped cream on top, peanut butter mousse and a choc cake crust on the bottom, served in a little demi tasse cup. I love peanut butter so this was the perfect thing for me. My father had the chicken panini and a macadamia nut choc brownie. My mother had the quiche and tiramisu. We all really liked our food. There are tables in the atrium to sit at.

We spent the afternoon walking around the ship and made a dinner reservation at the Sterling Steakhouse for the first formal night Sunday (suites actually get to dine for free at the specialty restaurants on the first night, but we prefer to dine in the dining room the first night, so we gave up that perk). Our luggage arrived at the room about 2:30pm. The muster drill was at 3:15pm and sail away was at 4pm and we watched from our balcony while enjoying a glass of champagne.

That evening we had a drink at Wheelhouse Bar--2 toasted almond martinis and a Jack Daniels. We do Anytime Dining and we hadn’t reserved a time for dinner tonight so we tried to get into the Santa Fe dining room but they had a long wait, Pacific Moon also a wait and then we tried Savoy which also had a wait but it ended up only being a 15 minute wait. We received a window table so that was nice. For dinner I had fettuccine alfredo, pina colada soup and the luau pork with apricot drippings. The flourless chocolate cake for dessert was very moist, dense and fudgy with a layer of heavy whipped cream on top. My mother had the same things I did minus the fettuccine. My father had the spring rolls, shrimp etoufee and NY cheesecake.
After dinner I walked around the promenade deck to get my 2 miles of walking in.

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    The next day was Sunday and we were due in Santa Barbara. Around 6am I noticed heavy fog roll in and they commenced with using the fog horn. We anchored off of Santa Barbara about 7am.

    We had breakfast in Sabatini’s which was great. In our opinion this is one of the best things about being in a suite. It wasn’t crowded and the food was good. It took longer than eating in the Horizon Court, but not as long as eating in the main dining room. I had a mimosa, fresh squeezed orange juice and a waffle with whipped cream. My mother had French toast, and a cappuccino and my father had the bagel with salmon. While we were dining the Captain (Nick Carlton) came on the PA to announce we would be unable to go into town in Santa Barbara due to the dense fog. They had sent their shore tender in to check things out and it was determined it would not be safe to run the tenders due to very low visibility all the way into shore. So we pulled up the anchor and sailed away. Periodically the fog would burn off or lessen but then we would get back into the heavy stuff and they would need to use the fog horn again.

    We don’t especially like sea days that much but I used the time to walk around the ship and take pictures. I opted for lunch at the Horizon Court--pasta carbonara, a chicken finger, roast pork and onion focaccia. For dessert I had a warm chocolate brownie with fudge sauce. This was a dessert that looked more promising than it tasted. The sauce didn’t taste rich enough or have enough flavor for me, so I then I had a chocolate chip cookie and PB cup from International Café.

    That afternoon I watched Back to the Future on MUTS. It was less foggy by then but quite windy in any of the outdoor areas, so I had my pick of seats for the movie. One thing we found on this cruise that since it wasn’t an especially warm weather cruise was that people tended to camp out in the indoor areas all over the ship. This may be why we felt the ship was crowded, as if the weather was warmer it would spread people out more. One thing I’d do differently the next time would be to bring warmer clothes. I brought jeans, long sleeve shirts, a polartec and a windbreaker. Luckily I also had a quilted jacket I could wear under everything or I would have frozen. I would have been able to sit outside more if I had a warmer jacket though or even wind pants. If I had brought the clothes I brought on our Alaskan cruise (we had warm weather for that one, go figure) I’d have been able to be outside on the balcony more while underway.

    Tonight was the first formal night. We had a drink at the Explorer’s Lounge--2 strawberry margaritas and a martini. Then we went to our reservation for 6:30pm at Sterling Steakhouse. The Steakhouse is located on 14 in a side section of Horizon Court. I got the brie and papaya quesadilla, rib eye steak with sautéed mushrooms and baked potato with sour cream, bacon ,chives. My father had shrimp cocktail, ribeye steak with garlic mashed potatoes and corn casserole. My mother had shrimp cocktail, filet mignon, corn casserole and baked potato. We all had the chocolate pecan pie for dessert..
    After dinner I went to the fitness center and rode an exercise bike for awhile for my evening activity.

    Monday we got up by 6:30am to make sure we would be able to see the ship sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Too bad it was foggy and the bridge was barely visible! We had to use the fog horn again. We then went down to breakfast at Sabatini’s--I had the BLT (it comes with egg, but I asked for it without), my father had the waffle and my mother had an English muffin.

    We got off the ship about 9am which was about 2 hours earlier than we planned due to our early arrival into San Francisco. We walked to Pier 39 to see the sea lions, then up to the Hyde street terminus for the cable car. As “luck” would have it, something was wrong with the turntable at the other end of the line near Market Street, so the cars could only go as far Chinatown. Of course as soon as we got dumped off near Chinatown, the next cars after us went all the way through to the end of the line. Maddening! We had to stand on a street corner and call for a cab--as hardly any passed by to hail and those that did were occupied. Luckily I had written down the number of some cab companies before we left so calling wasn’t a problem. We took a cab to Coit Tower and enjoyed the views then took the Greenwich steps down. We then grabbed the historic streetcar along the Embarcadero. My parents returned back to the ship and I continued on to get off closer to Ghirardelli Square. I was in the mood for a sundae for lunch so I got the “Gold Rush” at Ghirardelli (chocolate ice cream, hot fudge, peanut butter sauce and whipped cream). Honestly, we have better sundaes (in my opinion) for half the cost and the same size at places near my house, but the Ghirardelli sundaes are a tradition for me in San Francisco so I always insist on going anyway! Next I walked to Fort Mason and then back toward town and up Hyde St hill before heading back to ship about 3pm and enjoyed the view from our balcony until dinner.

    We ate dinner early tonight at 5:30pm to make sure we were out in time to see the sail away at 8pm. Dinner was in Santa Fe dining room. Tonight’s menu “Princess Menu”
    didn’t thrill any of us especially. I had pineapple and prickly pear, beef fajitas (the specialty item in that dining room), fettuccine alfredo, and the Love Boat dream with a scoop of butter toffee ice cream. I also had a mocha coffee. The Love Boat dream was not as rich as it used to be and is made with more of a milk chocolate rather than dark. It was better in the old days!
    My mother’s selections consisted of the always available beef medallions and Love Boat dream. My father had Caesar salad, pad thai and rhubarb napoleon. We were done in plenty of time to watch the sail away and this time got to actually see the Golden Gate Bridge as we went under it, as the morning fog was gone. We viewed the sail away from the deck 8 forward portion of the promenade. It was cold and windy but was a good spot to see everything. We then went to Wheelhouse bar for a drink--Key Lime Martini, Jack Daniels and Black Star Liner. The Black Star Liner is a drink that used to be on the menu years ago, but hasn’t been published on there in quite some time. It’s a creamy mocha cocktail which is one of my mother’s favorites. Not all bars/servers will make it for you though, but our waiter tonight made sure she was able to get it.

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    Tuesday we had breakfast at Sabatini’s as usual. Today we all had the waffle! It was our planned sea day today. My mother and I went to the cooking demo that morning, then I went to a photography/lighting class with my father. The class had so many people, even the person leading the class seemed surprised so many had shown up--unfortunately there were so many people that it was hard for her to even lead the class effectively. We started out in a room (the chapel) talking about ISO and from there went to a window area to try to take some photos. Normally the class goes outside, but again, due to wind/cold we stayed inside which with such a large group was a challenge. The class ended with a stop in the platinum photo studio where she showed us about how the lighting in the studio worked. It could sort of be construed as a pitch for selling the services of the platinum studio but I found seeing the studio interesting.

    We went back to the room to meet up with my mother and then ended up doing separate things for lunch. My father went to the Pub Lunch offered in the Savoy dining room---he said there was a line out the door and it was very crowded/filled to capacity (unusual crowds were a constant theme on this ship for us). My mother and I went to Horizon Court and didn’t like any of the offerings except chocolate cake so we had dessert first. Then I had pizza and fries from the grill/quick serve pizza stand. My mother ended up down at the International Café for tomato and cheese quiche.

    After lunch I walked a couple miles on the promenade deck (windy!) and then went to the naturalist lecture about west coast wildlife.
    Later that afternoon my father and I tried to go to the wine tasting but there were literally hundreds of people and it was backed up the stairs from the International dining room from where it was being held. The line was up both sets of stairs and the elevator banks were filled. We left, as we hadn’t booked in advance and it just seemed like to much trouble and too many people. I’ve done the wine tastings on Princess before and I have never been to one so crowded--including the free ones they used to offer (this one was $9.50).

    As I mentioned before due to the windy/cool weather there was lots of seating options for outside but fewer choices for indoors, so I bundled up and sat on our balcony the rest of the afternoon. This was one of those times I wish I’d brought wind pants.

    We tried to go to Crooner’s Bar for our drink this evening but it was filled, so we went to the Wheelhouse instead. I had a toasted almond martini, mother had a mocha martini (not the same as the Black Star Liner) and father had triple citrus margarita. I had a mojito as well. Our dinner tonight was at 6:30pm in Pacific Moon and it was Italian night, which is my favorite. I had peach bellini soup, fettuccine alfredo in the parmesan bowl (the appetizer portion does not automatically come with the bowl, so if you want the bowl you have to request it), veal marsala and tiramisu. I also bought a shot of limoncello. My mother had the eggplant parmesan, peach soup and beef pot roast and tiramisu and my father had eggplant parmesan, Caesar salad, mahi mahi, and limoncello sorbet.

    Wednesday we got up at 5am and saw the ship go up the Columbia River to Astoria. Another thing we like to do is watch them set up the gangplank etc. This morning we had breakfast in Horizon Court since we wanted to get off the ship early and waiting until 7:30am Sabatini‘s opening would not work for us. That was our only “complaint” with the Sabatini’s breakfast; we wished it opened at 7am. It wasn’t so much an issue on this cruise, but on other cruises like when we sail the Caribbean and do Princess excursions, you often have to be off the ship quite early and there wouldn’t be enough time to avail ourselves of the breakfast on those cruises. We got off the ship about 8am and had an Enterprise rental car booked. Previously Enterprise told us they would have a shuttle at the pier by 8:30, but we saw many people walking to Enterprise and wanted to get an earlier start to make sure they didn‘t run out of cars since it‘s a small operation. So, my father and I walked about one half to ¾ miles to get the car leaving my mother at the pier. Lucky we did, as my mother reported the shuttle never came--despite our calling when we got off the ship. There were about 8 people ahead of us in line and while we were there the phone was ringing off the hook with people wanting to know where the shuttle was. After about 30-40 min we got the car and drove to pick up my mother at the port.

    We set off down 101 south and enjoyed the scenery along the way. It was very green and lush; very pretty. It rained the whole way, but I suppose that is why it is so pretty; everything blooms well because of all the water.. We stopped at scenic overlooks along the coast and took beach photos. We ended our drive in Tillamook at the cheese factory. We did the self guided tour, got cheese samples and then had lunch. I had a Centennial grilled cheese--which was 2 types of cheddar and served with a pickle and choice of sides--I got tater tots. My parents split one. The sandwiches were fairly large and the bread was nice and crispy. Then we got ice creams--I got mocha espresso and sticky bun, then got Tillamook mudslide and caramel toffee crunch. My father got marionberry pie and udderly chocolate. Mother got mocha espresso and mudslide. Then we got a small slice of fudge to bring back home with us.

    We drove back to Astoria and drove around town and up to the Astoria Column. Dropped my mother at the port and returned the car. This time we were able to get a shuttle back. We were back on board by a little after 3pm. Our ship was docked next to a ship from China that was being loaded with logs, so we found that interesting to watch. We watched the sail away but it was delayed due to a Princess tour coming back late--one of the buses broke down. Overall we were delayed about 40-50 min.

    Once again we tried to go to Crooner’s but it was full so we went to the Wheelhouse--I had a margarita, my mother had black star liner and father had triple citrus margarita.

    Dinner was supposed to be in Savoy at 6:15pm but they didn’t have a table so they took us over to Vivaldi and sat us there even though it is traditional until 7:45pm. This was the second formal night and I think it was the Chef’s Dinner menu but I can‘t recall.
    I had salad with French dressing and beef short ribs. I selected the chocolate hazelnut souffle with crème anglais for dessert. My mother had shrimp cocktail and short ribs with chocolate hazelnut souffle. My father had eggplant tart with goat cheese sauce, salad with balsamic, lobster and the cherry trifle.
    I walked around deck, listened to the travel trivia show and saw the piazza juggler show for my evening activities.

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    Thursday we pulled into Seattle Pier 66. We disembarked after Sabatini’s breakfast and went our separate ways, arranging to meet in an hour or so at “Rachel the pig” at Pike Place Market. When you get off the ship there are several overpasses, steps or elevators that bring you up to the main street level where the market is. I strolled the arcade where the flower vendors are located. The last time we were in Seattle, we enjoyed the flowers and I vowed I’d buy a bunch when we returned, so I needed to decide on what bouquet to get. Having been to the market before, I knew what food vendors I wanted to visit. I started out at Le Panier and got a croissant type pasty filled with swiss style cheese. Next I bought a snickerdoodle at Cinnamon Works, a raspberry square and pecan bar at Three Girls and then some mini cheese cakes (Peanut Butter and a mocha one) at the Confectional. All these dessert items were for later/snacks on the cruise (I didn‘t eat them all at once or by myself!!). I met up with my parents and we got lunch at Beecher’s Cheese. My mother and I getting mac and cheese and my father getting a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Next I ran back in the market arcade to buy my flowers and then ran them and my dessert items back to the ship. On the walk back to the ship I got lots of looks with my big bouquet of gorgeous flowers. Several people commented on how pretty they were. The flowers at Pike Place are a great deal I think. My bouquet was $10 and it had iris, tulips and several other varieties in it. A bouquet like this would be at least twice that at home.

    Next on our agenda was getting a cab to the Museum of Flight which is south of the downtown area. This museum is extensive but we found the chronology hard to follow as it really wasn‘t chronological. The museum focuses on the history of airplanes and space flight. They have one of the old Concordes and an old Air Force One that you can board. After the museum we called a cab to the Space Needle. The museum has a list of numbers for cabs if you don’t have your own list. It says to meet the cab at the west entrance which wasn’t labeled, so we asked an employee which entrance it was and he pointed us to the wrong one. Therefore, the cab was waiting for us at a different entrance. Luckily I went to check and found him there. The Space Needle wasn’t busy when we got there. We waited maybe 10 minutes to get up in the elevator. The views were nice and we enjoyed it. We had bought the combo ticket which allows for the Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens and Glass exhibit, so we went to Chihuly next. The museum has regular galleries with some interesting installations, a glass house (which was closed for a private event) and a sculpture garden outside which I liked a lot.

    We raced back to ship for our 6:30pm dinner in Savoy. I opted for the Boston bibb lettuce salad with shallot vinaigrette, gnocchi with tomato sauce, coco rubbed pork, and chocolate 3 ways for dessert plus a dish of choc peanut butter ice cream. They also gave us a plate of cookies. My mother had the same thing except she had fettuccine instead of gnocchi. My father had Caesar salad, scallops and coconut cake. Then we had our drink in Crooner’s--finally. I had a passionate bellini , mother had toasted almond martini, father had Jack Daniels.

    Friday was our day in Victoria. After our usual breakfast in Sabatini’s where I once again got the BLT, we got off the ship. This was another port where we had an Enterprise rental car reserved. We called them to find out where to meet the shuttle and in order to get their shuttle you need to leave the port gates and walk out to a restaurant (about 3-5 min walk from the ship). They picked us up and we got the car and drove to Butchart Gardens. My mother had been wanting to go there for the longest time, so it was too bad it was raining all morning for our visit. We came prepared for rain, but they provide small clear plastic umbrellas. Despite the rain the gardens were beautiful and we really enjoyed it there. I especially liked the sunken garden and the Japanese garden. We drove back to Victoria and drove around the historic town area. My parents dropped me downtown and returned the car themselves. I walked around the town admiring the architecture and floral plantings. I then walked back to ship with enough time to spare to walk out on the very long pier that is right next to the cruise terminal. One thing that was disappointing about our stay in Victoria was that when we booked the cruise, it said we were scheduled to be there until midnight. Well, we ended up leaving at a little after 5pm instead. And they made no acknowledgment of the change in time. Other people on the ship were talking about it too--that we were supposed to be there later and they didn’t acknowledge any change; it was just glossed over with the usual announcement of when to return to the ship. Anyway, it turned out 2 more cruise ships were coming and the port can’t accommodate that many ships, so basically we got booted out for the Star Princess and Westerdam. We passed those ships on our way out. There was an NCL ship there while we were there as well, and I’m not sure if they too had to leave.

    As usual we had our drink in the Wheelhouse Bar--margaritas and triple citrus margarita. Dinner tonight my father had a seafood trio, fettuccine alfredo, NY strip with peppercorn sauce, Baked Alaska. Mother had pumpkin curry chilled soup, shrimp cocktail, NY strip, deep dish apple pie. I had fettuccine in parmesan bowl, NY steak and Baked Alaska.

    Being the last night of the cruise we had to get the bags out in the hall after dinner and then walked around the ship enjoying the last night.

    Saturday we got up 5:30am with enough time to see the ship arrive in Vancouver. My father went to the Horizon Court for breakfast, while my mother and I had room service. We left our cabin at 8:45am to go to Explorers lounge for our luggage color/number to be called. It seemed a little disorganized to me as they didn’t really speak up so you couldn’t hear what color was being called. Upon disembarkation our luggage group light blue 5 wasn’t where it should have been. The group area was not labeled and we found it on the other side of the floor from where the sign actually was. Next we walked to Fairmont Pacific Rim where we were supposed to get a rental car from Hertz, only to find the location hadn’t opened yet--ever-- since it was going to be brand new. This was extremely annoying since they had booked and confirmed our reservation for that location which currently does not exist yet. The hotel doorman said we were not the first people to come through that day looking for it and I’m sure we will not be the last. We ended up taking cab to our hotel- Blue Horizon on Robson Street. One plus of the day was that they upgraded us to a suite so we had 2 separate rooms and bathrooms. After settling into the room we called the Hertz number for the location we were supposed to rent from but it just rang and rang. Next we tried another number for a different Hertz location in Vancouver and nobody answered that either. We finally reached someone at the Worldwide Reservations number but got disconnected before they could answer our problem. At this point we gave up on Hertz and called Budget who had an ad in a magazine in the room. Budget was able to rent us a car so we cabbed it over to their W Georgia St location. We received a Ford Flex, which we were thrilled with since one of our cars at home is a Flex. Finally we got on our way to Capilano Suspension Bridge. It was only about a 15-20 minute drive out of Vancouver through Stanley Park and over the Lions Gate Bridge. Once again it was raining steadily. The Capilano Bridge provides free ponchos if you want one. There are several attractions at Capilano: the suspension bridge, totem poles, cliff walk, nature trail and tree top walk. We did the cliff walk, then suspension bridge, then nature trail and treetop walk. For lunch we ate at the Bridge House Restaurant--cheeseburgers and a salmon burger. Drove back to Vancouver via the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge. Our next thing was to drive through Stanley Park. We went to Prospect Point and had an ice cream--maple walnut. I walked under the Lions Gate Bridge, and then up onto the bridge.

    Next we went on to Coal Harbor and heard the cruise ships departing so drove back to Stanley Park to Prospect Point to see departures of HAL Zuiderdam, Sapphire Princess and Oceana Regatta.

    Tonight we had dinner at Cardero’s in Coal Harbor. I had a pineapple express cocktail, strip steak, warm brownie with ice cream for dessert. Mother had the same except a margarita and my father had a salmon dish for his entree.

    After dinner we drove back to hotel. I spent the evening walking down Robson St to Stanley Park and then back up to Burrard St, taking some of the residential side streets along the way. I think Vancouver is a very pretty city and they really seem to value green space and the outdoors. Most of the apartment buildings seem to have balconies and there are so many trees and park areas around the city, it really doesn‘t feel that urban.

    Sunday we had breakfast at 6:30am at the hotel coffee shop--my mother had bread pudding muffin, father orange cream muffin and I had a chocolate ganache tart.

    Left for the airport at 7:15am and arrived in about 30 min, dropped the car and went to the flight. One nice thing was they didn’t ask you to take off your shoes at security so it was more convenient. I guess since we were flying within Canada to Toronto as opposed to going to the U.S. We flew Air Canada to Toronto; the seats had seat back entertainment, so that made the flight go by faster. We landed on time in Toronto and then had to make our connection to the U.S. Depending on where you are connecting to, you will need to follow different signs. For U.S. connections you follow signs to F gates. You clear U.S. customs and then go back through security. If you are flying Air Canada, US Air or United you do not have to claim your checked bags to clear customs.
    We had a little while before our next flight, so we had dinner at Molson Restaurant. My father had chicken pot pie, my mother the cheeseburger, and me onion soup and a soft pretzel.

    Our flight back to Boston was uneventful and we were lucky that our luggage came out very quickly upon arrival--like 5 minutes!

    Overall we enjoyed our cruise. I liked going to Victoria and Astoria, as those were 2 places I hadn’t been before. While the Sapphire was nice, it wasn’t our favorite Princess ship--the Coral and Island are my personal favorites, though they are all nice in their own way and it is always fun to try a new ship and discover new things.

    One thing I thought was odd was that we were not invited to the repeat cruisers/captain circle cocktail party . Did they stop doing that in the last few years or did we just not get an invitation?? It doesn’t really matter, as I haven’t been in years and had no desire to go, but I just thought it was strange since we’ve always been invited before.

    Another thing that we have always had issues with and this cruise was no exception, was the suite perk of “preferred dining reservations”. We are aware that they don’t typically like you to make dining reservations between 6-7:30pm, however, when you state a suite perk is “preferred dining reservations” it seems to me that suite passengers should be able to book whatever preferred dining time they want---and I have read cases on these boards of other suite passengers being able to book blocked times. In fact I’ve read that some people receive a call from the Maitre D the first day of the cruise inquiring when/where they would like to dine and it is booked no problem. We have always had difficulty obtaining reservations for when we want them--on pretty much every cruise. Of course I’ve also read instances on these boards of others having the same frustrating experience we had--not allowing the preferred time. The only night that we were “allowed” to make a 6:30pm reservation was Seattle night and we suspect it was because the ship was in port so late they figured the dining volume would be lighter. Another night they wouldn’t let us make a 6:30pm reservation but would let us make it for 6:15pm at the latest.

    Now we have to decide where our next cruise will be. We are thinking about going back to Alaska, but are not yet sure.

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    I was on the Sapphire for the pre-Xmas cruise to Hawaii in Dec...great ship and great cruise staff! Was fortunate to hang out with Alex and David....they got me involved in EVERYTHING...had so much fun with those 2 guys!!!

    Am taking the Sapphire in Oct on a 28 day cruise to Hawaii, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Samoa....

    Can't wait!

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    Since I will be going on a California Coastal cruise in October on the Sapphire Princess I started to read your trip report on a Coastal Wine Country Cruise for information on some ports of interest but there was SO MUCH description of what your family ate and drank that to me it looked more like a description of what you can eat and drink on the ship.

    Hopefully, I won't have to bring too many "warm" clothes. And to me, "preferred time" for dining is either you prefer "early" or "late" seating. You cannot pick one seating and then ask for a special time for you to arrive and be served, that's why you always had issues with that on every cruise you took even though you had a "suite".

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    sorry whiteowlmtlca, I don't think you quite grasp the concept of "Anytime Dining" that Priness offers. With Anytime Dining one does not choose early or late seating, you can choose to dine whenever you want. This is all explained on their website.

    And, if you don't like my style of review, you simply don't need to read it.

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    I was not aware that one of the perks of a suite was breakfast accomodation at Sabatins. Nice. We are looking off into the future for an Asian cruise on the Sapphire and IIRC the price for a suite isn't that much different though we do enjoy breakfast in the MDR as you get ot meet people. Something to think about.

    Personally I enjoyed the TR. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

    Larry :-)

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  2. 2 Sailing out of San Juan, PR
  3. 3 AMA Waterways River Cruises
  4. 4 Shore excursions from Livorno, OTHER than Florence?
  5. 5 "Shore Excursions in Italy.net"
  6. 6 Trip Report Trip report: Viking Portraits of Southern France
  7. 7 Trip Report Carnival Ecstasy, Fun Times
  8. 8 Hop on Hop Off Buses
  9. 9 Trip Report Alaska Shore excursion on the cheap
  10. 10 Transatlantic cruises late Oct. to mid-Nov. & Celebrity ship choice
  11. 11 Choosing a stateroom on Rhine River cruise
  12. 12 Trip Report Sea Spirit to Antarctica
  13. 13 Trip Report Caribbean Princess Trip Report 2014
  14. 14 Alaska cruise excrusions
  15. 15 Carnival Miracle from LA to Mexico?
  16. 16 Trip Report Bad experience on Carnival!!!!!!!
  17. 17 Roundtrip to Alaska or one way
  18. 18 seascanner.com
  19. 19 Noordam VF4038
  20. 20 hotel park and cruise? Seattle
  21. 21 Norwegian Jewel or Canvial Freedom?
  22. 22 Mediterranean cruise
  23. 23 Viking River Cruise--Portugal
  24. 24 Vantage River Cruises vs. Viking River Cruises
  25. 25 volendam or Noordam
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