Sapphire 14 Day Hawaii - Long Review

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Los Angeles
6,775 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by Ahhh
My point is not really about the Cruise Director, or the Hawaiian experience on these two ships, since they are now about equal, but about the ships themselves. I have been on the Golden and did not care for it. Even before the drydock, I would have preferred the Sapphire. Now, for me, there is no comparison.
What did you not care for on the Golden? Since I am going on the Sapphire and the Golden to Hawaii, I thought it might be a good idea for me to do a detailed comparison of the two ships... If I can remember to take notes!
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November 30, 2017, Royal Princess, 10 Day Southern Caribbean Medley

2008 - Monarch of the Seas - 4 days
2009 - Carnival Paradise - 4 days
2010 - Sapphire Princess - 7 days - Mexico
2010 - Golden Princess - 14 Days - Hawaii
2011 - Golden Princess - 14 days - Hawaii
2011 - Golden Princess - 14 days - Hawaii
2012 - Golden Princess - 14 days - Hawaii
2012 - Sapphire Princess - 14 days - Hawaii
2012 - Carnival Splendor - 7 days - Mexico
2013 - Sapphire Princess - 7 days - California Coastal
2014 - Sapphire Princess - 4 days - Getaway
2014 - Crown Princess - 7 days - Mexican Riviera
2015 - Crown Princess - 7 days - Alaska
2015 - Star Princess - West Coast Getaway
San Francisco
831 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Originally posted by KruzPrincess
I have a Hawaii cruise on the Sapphire coming up in November. I'm enjoying your review. Thanks for taking the time to do it. I, too, like to eat many of my meals in the buffet because I don't like to sit for a couple hours in the MDR. I'm happy to hear that you seem to be satisfied with your meals there. That's good news for me.
We were constantly talking about how good the food was on this voyage. We never felt like we were missing out by not going to the dining room. I know that for most people, the dining room is a large part of their cruise. It is a opportunity to go to a beautiful room and be served by staff who want nothing more than to please you. It is an opportunity to be pampered and share your stories with tablemates. In an age of fast food and chain restaurants, it is special. It's one of the beauties of cruising, in that there is something for everyone. I have enjoyed my evenings in dining rooms on past cruises, and will again in the future. But we were both delighted with our decision on this voyage. You will love the Saphhire!

Wednesday, 2/8/12 – Day 5 – Sea Day

For most of this voyage we have had 7-12 foot swells. It had been rocky, windy, and overcast or cloudy for the most part. This morning I woke up to 15-20 foot swells, which was exciting to me, but I am in the minority.
At 6:45 I headed to my “office”, which offered my a quiet place to write since there was never anyone there. I stayed for a couple of hours, writing and having a snack before heading back to the cabin. I was surprised to see Mom up and ready so early.

We headed up to the buffet, which is very croweded at 9:00. I eventually found us a table in the very rear section. I ran into Bruce and invited him to join us. We taught Bruce how to play Triominos and chatted till 10:30. I needed some fresh air, so Mom and I moved onto the back deck, protected from the wind, to enjoy the 71* weather and a view of the wake.

At noon the Captain made his daily announcement and told us about the sea conditions forcing us to slow the ship down due to safety and comfort reasons. Because of all the slowing down we would be changing our itinerary. We would not be stopping in Honolulu on Thursday, as planned, but would be at sea all day with our first stop in Lahaina, followed by Honolulu on Saturday.

This change also meant that we would be missing the port of Hilo, altogether. I felt sorry for those who were looking forward to Hilo, but I was content that this was the port we would be missing, of the four.

We headed to the gym so we could each do our stretching and routines, and worked up an appetite. Hot soup sounding good, so we headed to The Piazza, and shared a table with another couple. They were from Kentucky, and it was their first cruise, which is unusual, since it was such a long one, and not just 7 days. We enjoyed our lunch and conversation while a pianist played soft melodies in the background.

From here we dashed to the Princess Theater to see, "Moneyball”, with Brad Pitt. It was a good movie, based on the true story of the Oakland A’s and their surprising rise to the top, which changed the business of baseball.

We were both ready for a nap afterwards, so headed back to the cabin. Mom got into bed and I decided I could really use some fresh air, since I had not been outside much all day. It was 4:30 and the tops deck were sunny and windy. I loved it!

There were small groups of people scattered in secluded pockets, that allowed for sun, but were somewhat protected from the wind. There was nobody up in The Sanctuary. I asked the butler if he had any guests that day. He said very few because of the wind, which did not surprise me.

When I got back to the cabin, Mom was up from her nap, so I fixed us drinks, and we relaxed while getting ready for the evening. At 6:45 we headed to the Wheelhouse to get seats for the 7:15, 'Big Band Blast' again. It was not too crowded when we arrived, as many people were still at dinner, but it soon filled up. We shared a table with an older couple who turned out to be the ones conducting the bible study classes every sea day. Though it was rocky, we managed to get a few dances in.

From here we went up for dinner, and again, enjoyed our meal – carved roast pork, which was delicious & tender, braised red cabbage, and mashed potatoes. I love that Princess has mashed potatoes available every day for lunch and dinner. We also both agreed that these were some of the best desserts we’ve ever had on any ship!

I found us seats in Crooner's, so Mom could listen to Bruce, then I wandered and checked out the musical entertainment in the other lounges, as well as the rest of the nightlife on board the ship. People watching is definitely one of my favorite past times on a ship.

I checked in with Mom, enjoying Bruce. I had forfeited my seat, which was fine with me. Bruce had joked that there was almost a fight (I can only imagine, knowing Mom). We stayed for a bit longer, and were in bed by 11:45 again.
Tampa, Florida area
12,057 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
I have cruised on both ships, the Golden to Hawaii, and the Sapphire ...... I spent 35 consecutive days (part of which included to Hawaii) on the latter a few months ago. I thoroughly enjoyed BOTH of the ships, and if I had to choose between them for Hawaii, my decision would be be based on which one had the dates I was looking for.
San Francisco Bay Area
2,145 Posts
Joined May 2005
Hi David,

I'm enjoying reliving the trip through your review. You can, if you want, tell your mom that when I read the embarkation day post, I was surprised to find out she's 83. I would have guessed much younger. (Although, now that I think about it, I might say the same thing about my mom who is just a couple of years younger).
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San Francisco
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Originally posted by flamomo
I have cruised on both ships, the Golden to Hawaii, and the Sapphire. I thoroughly enjoyed BOTH of the ships, and if I had to choose between them for Hawaii, my decision would be be based on which one had the dates I was looking for.
In April 2011 I did the Golden to Hawaii. It has a wonderful cruise, but I came away feeling that the ship was sort "ho hum". Even though she had the Piazza upgrades at the time, and had a Crown Grill, I still preferred the Sapphire.

I am a big fan of the Sapphire. Perhaps because it was my first Princess ship when she was still months new. I like the intimacy of the four separate, small dining rooms, in addition to the main one. I like the hidden Wake View Bar. I like the location of Skywalkers better, as it does not cast a shadow on the aft pools most of the time, as I found happened on the Golden.

The Spa is much more luxurious on the Sapphire. It is larger, due to the teen area being elsewhere. The sauna and steam rooms are part of the men's & women's locker rooms. On the Golden they are co-ed and outside, by the Spa Pool. They are prefabricated plastic and smelled musty/moldy. They were more conducive to going camping, rather than a relaxing, elegant spa experience. I was disappointed. The two showers in the men's locker room are also prefabricated plastic, not like the three on the Sapphire which are nicely appointed tile. Also, the Thermal Suite is a big bonus.

I found the staff on the Golden to be unhappy to a degree. It was hard to put my finger on it but I was not the only one to notice, among other frequent cruisers. The staff on the Sapphire were incredibly friendly and you could tell they liked being on the ship. I did not get that feeling on the Golden. It seemed to lack that sort of pride.

Although I enjoyed my sailing on the Golden, she would not be my first choice with Princess. I would choose the Diamond as my second, and the Star as my third.

For a complete review (and much smaller than this one) of my Hawaiian cruise on the Golden:
3,715 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Thank you for posting your review. I love it! Also want to say how wonderful it is that you and your mom got to spend this time together.
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San Francisco
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Originally posted by abbydancer
I'm enjoying reliving the trip through your review. You can, if you want, tell your mom that when I read the embarkation day post, I was surprised to find out she's 83.
Hi Abby. She will be pleased to hear that. We are lucky to have good genes in our family . We are lucky to be able to cruise together! David

Thursday, 2/9/12 – Day 6 – Sea Day

The ship continued to rock all night. Again, the swells were getting larger, 18-20 feet. They looked much taller and more spread out than the previous days. The ship continued to rock all night. Most of the men I talked with did not seem to mind much but the women were freightened by the rolling, pitching, and unexpected bumps that we would encounter. One older woman admitted that she actually enjoyed it and, like me, likened it to a cross between an earth quake and a roller coaster. I was up at 7:30 till I realized we had another time change and had not moved my watch back an hour. I wrote for an hour and the rest of the morning was spent playing games, having breakfast, and more games.

We decided to have a light lunch around 1:15 and then went to the 2:15 movie, “The Help”, which, like the other two, was another very good, thought provoking movie.

When it ended, at 4:30, I dropped Mom off at the cabin, and went out for fresh air and to get some exercise. Having done nothing but sit all day, I was in need. I was having fun, but sitting, none the less.

I stopped and chatted with a couple of the independent construction workers, who were still working on the yet to be completed mini golf area. They ripped out the old one, had just finished installing the new one, and were getting off the ship the next day. I got a look at the new one, which can be cross utilized for crochet, golf, or bocci ball. The workers told me it would be open in a day or two, after the ship's crew did a final clean up. Standing on the top deck, looking at the ship, I realized that this was Princess’s newest, most up to date ship in the fleet. “The Sapphire had once again become a Diamond”, I thought.

I went to the gym to stretch and have a light workout, and was ready for dinner by 6:30. It was roast turkey tonight with mashed potatoes, gravy & cranberry sauce, one of my favorites! This was followed by a “sampling” of 5 good desserts, of which 3 were excellent! One was a visually layered, jello/moose in 4 colors: The top layer was clear lemon yellow followed by a white cocolate, a creamy pink raspberry, and a creamy lime. I am not usually one for jello type desserts but this was attractive and delicious!

One thing I noticed since the dry dock, is that there were a lot of staff in the Horizon Court, making sure everything is picked up. There was also an abundance of attractive staff on this ship.

I thought we could stop in the Wheelhouse for some music prior to securing seats for the production show, “Stardust”. When I realized it was 45 minutes till show time, I remembered we had better get seats soon if we wanted to sit. Of course it was nearly full already, so I knew to grab the first two seats I saw, rather than try for better ones.

We sat in the totally packed theater for a good 40 minutes prior to it starting. The show was just OK. I wouldn’t go see it again.

We stopped in the Wheelhouse for their Latin night of dancing. Most of the songs were too fast for us to dance, so I dropped Mom off to listen to Bruce, while I went to the cabin and wrote for an hour before Mom returned. We were in bed by 11. On this particular voyage, I was in bed much earlier than I usually am!
OuiOn Beautiful Bedford Basin
990 Posts
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Cruising to/from Hawaii has always been one of our favourite holidays....thanks for the great review.....brings back a lot of fond memories.
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Friday, 2/10/12 – Day 7 – Lahaina, Maui

We were already docked when I got up at 7:30. I went upstairs to see the view and shower, before heading to my “office”, at Alfredo’s, to write. I went back to the cabin with coffee for Mom.

After breakfast, we packed a bag and took a tender ashore, since Lahaina does not have a dock for large ships. The weather was warm and beautiful, and the short tender ride fun. We were on shore by 10:30 and I found an internet café, to check email, while Mom relaxed on the patio, with her book.

We found the location of the local bus stop that would take us to Kaanapalli Beach. It was only $1. There were several hotel resorts there, and we made our way to the beach, in front of the Westin. It was not exactly the private, secluded, sandy white, warm water I was seeking for us. The water was rough and the sand was not pristine. We stayed only a short while before heading back to the ship.

Mom enjoyed a glass of wine, having been traumatized by the rough seas getting off the tender, back onto the ship. We had a delicious buffet lunch featuring a carved roast pork. After this, we enjoyed a few games of shuffle board before nature put on a show, just off the starboard side.

Two whales, a mother and child, performed for over 30 minutes, splashing their fins and tails! It was quite a sight, so close to the ship! At 5:30 Mom headed for a nap while I went for my power walk. Our evening began in the Wheelhouse with music and dancing.

Afterwards we went for a light snack and a few rounds of Triominos in The Piazza, listening to the pianist. From here we briefly listened Bruce, at his piano, and then to the theater for the Elton John impersonator, but he was not to our liking. We were in bed by 11:30.
2,034 Posts
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Originally posted by Ahhh

..... I like the hidden Wake View Bar.
My understanding is that the Wake View Bar was to be removed in the refit. Can anyone confirm if that actually happened? I was looking forward to using that as a snug, comfortable, place, so would love to hear if it was "spared."
Culver City, CA
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Originally posted by Smokeyham
My understanding is that the Wake View Bar was to be removed in the refit. Can anyone confirm if that actually happened? I was looking forward to using that as a snug, comfortable, place, so would love to hear if it was "spared."
It's still there!
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Originally posted by Smokeyham
My understanding is that the Wake View Bar was to be removed in the refit. Can anyone confirm if that actually happened? I was looking forward to using that as a snug, comfortable, place, so would love to hear if it was "spared."
Originally posted by CulverCityCruisers
It's still there!
And the planned addition of the Crown Grill was not done so it's still Sterling's Steakhouse located in the sectioned off aft area of the Horizon Court seating area.
San Francisco
831 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Saturday, 2/11/12 – Day 8 – Honolulu

I was up at 6:45 to see that we were nearly finished docking, at Aloha Tower. I could see Norwegian's, Pride of America at the nearby dock. I made a couple of phone calls and went down for my morning ritual of writing.

Around 9:00 we went to breakfast, sharing a table with Ed & Maureen. We then moved to the indoor pool area and played Rummy Tiles for a few games. The rest of the morning was spent relaxing around the pool, and having burgers before heading off the ship at 1:00, with our beach bag.
We walked several blocks to the bus stop and waited for about 10 minutes. We got off in the center of Waikiki and strolled thru the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the oldest on the island, built in 1926. By 2:00 we were on the beach, in front of the "Pink Palace".

It was too hot to be in the sun for long, without shade. We went in the water up to our knees, but I felt it was too it rough for Mom, to go any further. After a half hour on the beach, it was time for some shade. I found us a bit of lawn, under some palm trees where we relaxed for 45 minutes watching people on the sidewalk. There's nothing like lounging in tropical breezes!

We took a local bus back to Aloha Tower, wandering thru the complex a bit, before getting back on the ship. I went to the gym for a workout and heard about Whitney Houston on the TV. I then secured lounge chairs for us, with a good view of the big outdoor screen for the 7:00 “Janet Jackson Live In Honolulu Concert”.

It was not scheduled as such, but for me it was a tribute to Whitney, being able to see a contemporary of hers, in a concert on the big screen, the day she died. At 7:15 I saw the Pride of America leave with the sight of the Aloha Tower, and the concert in the same view. I felt lucky to be able to enjoy my surroundings.

At 9:00 we went to the Wheelhouse for a couple of dances and then up to the top deck for the Ultimate Deck Party. Mom got some food from the poolside buffet. I was not impressed with all finger food offerings (chips, salsa, chicken wings, corn on the cob) so went to the Horizon Court and fixed myself a plate of real food. I brought it outside and ate, overlooking the pool party from above, with Mom.

As can be predicted with any pool party on a ship, they played 'YMCA'. I commented to the older, conservative couple, next to me about the origins of the song and how I find it odd that it is so embraced by middle America these days.

After seeing the staff packing up the inflatable alligators in the pool, and seeing the Cruise Director leave, I took it as a sign that, we too, should call it a night. We were back to cabin, and in bed by 11:45.
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Originally posted by CulverCityCruisers
It's still there!
Thanks.... and thanks to Ahhh for such a great review of your trip.
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Brentwood, CA
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David, GREAT review!! Thanks for all your hard work.
You are so right about Ed getting some mileage out of the "Giants" story!!BTW, we ended up with colds after we disembarked on the 25th!
Plymouth UK
173 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
How often is it the case that ships have to miss an island due to the weather situation?
After four days at sea it is very disappointing!
I missed two islands in January last year, and thought it was probably a freak happening?
Have booked for this December,so fingers crossed.
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San Francisco
831 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Originally posted by HappiestWhenCruising
Do you remember the name of the Elton John Impersonator?
Craig A Meyer. I know some people really enjoyed him, but having seen Elton in concert years ago, I couldn't make the leap.

Sunday, 2/12/12 – Day 9 - Kauai

I was up at 6:15 and saw our approach to the island, which was quite beautiful. I threw some clothes in one of the washers on board. I love that Princess has laundromats on their ships. Meanwhile, I wrote and showered.

Mom was up early and we went to breakfast around 9:30. We then packed our beach bag and got off the ship, taking a short shuttle bus ride to nearby Kalapaki Beach, which was almost next to the ship. I rented a beach chairs and we relaxed, napped, and went for a walk along the beautiful beach.

I suggested that we walk around the gardens and pool of the nearby Marriott, before reclaiming our things and heading back to the ship. I sent Mom back on the shuttle, while I went to use a nearby internet cafe. It was closed, with a sign on the door saying, “Back at Noon”. Since it was 1:00, I walked the 10 minute hike back to the ship.

I found Mom in the Jacuzzi, relaxing. I had enough sun for the day so headed to the gym. We had a light lunch and then headed back to the cabin for a short nap, followed by Skywalkers, with Triominos for sail away. It was beautiful.

We went to the Wheelhouse and had a few dances, staying till the band went on break. I suggested we go to Explorer's where Dan Bennett, a juggling comedian was going to start in 30 minutes. I had seen him before and knew he was funny, incorporating bowling balls in his act.

The lounge was packed, but I spotted a group of 5 people abandoning a table and quickly secured the small sofa seats for us. After the show we went off to dinner.

We finished the night in the Princess Theater, catching the 10:15 production show, “Motor City”. I was so tired that I dozed for a good portion of it. Cruise life is so exhausting . I don't feel I missed anything. At 11:00 we made our way back to the cabin and to bed.
San Francisco
831 Posts
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Monday, 2/13/12 – Day 10 – Sea Day

We had breakfast at 9:15, and afterwards played Triominos at a small window table in Vines Wine Bar, on deck 5. It was very pleasant having a view of the ocean going by, while listening to the pianist in the atrium.

I needed an early nap, so stretched out at noon for half an hour while Mom took an hour. I left her a note that I would be back to pick her up to see the afternoon movie, and headed out to make a Valentine’s Day Card in Sabatiani’s.

I took advantage of some solo time and went to the International Dining Room for lunch. I had the tofu which not only looked good, in a wonderful presentation, but tasted great as well. It came with Asian Noodles and Chinese Cabbage. We went to the Princess Theater to see “J Edgar Hoover”, which we both enjoyed. It's such a treat to have a large theater and screen to see onboard movies!

Mom went back to the cabin to read, while I went for a walk. We made plans to go to the Welcome Back Party @ 7:15. I chatted with a group of guys I ran into for a bit, and then to the gym to workout. It was windy out on the decks, so I took advantage of enjoying it while I was by myself. It was great! Just what I needed.

Since Mom had not eaten since breakfast, we decided to have an dinner early. As usual, the food was delicious. We then went back to the cabin to change for Formal Night and got in line for the party. I was surprised they were serving cocktails, of your choice! We stayed the full 45 minutes, even getting in one dance prior to the announcements, awards and the Captain’s speech.

At 8:30 we were playing Rummy Tiles in The Piazza, before heading to the Wheelhouse to listen to music. We got seats up front for “So You Wanna Dance?”, in the Princess Theater, and though we both enjoyed it, I dozed during most of it. We were in bed and asleep by 11:30.

Tuesday, 2/14/14 – Valentine’s Day – Day 11 – Sea Day

I was up at 6:15 and realized, as part of my new Platinum level of benefits, I had 250 free internet minutes to use. I went to the Internet Café, using 75 of them.

After breakfast we played a couple rounds of Rummy Tiles. Since I had been sitting all morning, I was in need of some exercise. I went for a power walk and some fresh air, while Mom headed to deck 7 with her book, settling at a comfy couch, outside Explorer's Lounge, with a view out the window.

I ran into Ed in Skywalkers, where we had a good talk about enjoying mothers while we have them. I was thankful for our conversation. I am always thankful for the people I meet on ships!

The new Lawn Court, which replaced the old Mini Golf Course, was now open. It was completely redone into a (relatively) flat area that can be cross used for golf putting, croquet, lawn bowling, and bocce ball. All these activities are being rotated during the day, every 3 hrs.

After hearing Ed’s story about the problems with the it, I checked it out and saw what he meant. It was sad, but funny to me. The wind gets under the astro turf (that was not glued down) and makes it ripple. It is hard to putt golf balls when the surface ripples, is too windy, or the ship is too rocky. The croquet balls are made of light weight plastic, so just a small wind makes them roll around a lot. The lawn bowling balls I am not sure about, but the Bocce Balls are much smaller than they should be. Some adjustments will have to be made.

The bridge's noon speech was about safety. I don't know if was just that particular officer, or word from the head office, to increase these sort of talks in light of the Costa disaster?

This was the coldest of the six Hawaii sailings I have done. It was also the most rocky and windy, not that the latter two bother me. In fact, I like feeling the motion of the ocean a great deal. But Mom can't do much outdoors as she does not like the wind, or being cold, so we are somewhat limited in our activities. There are some areas that we just cannot use because of it (Lawn Club, Pools/Jacuzzi, deck chairs, the new outdoor movie screen, Promenade deck, shuffleboard, and table tennis.

Today there was nobody at the Sanctuary. The butlers told me they had a couple of people come up for massages, in the tents, but those were thru the Spa, not the Sanctuary. There were few lounge chairs being used around the outdoor pool, and most people were bundled up. A few devotees found places that allowed them wind-protected sun. I did a workout at the gym and found Mom in The Piazza.

I joined her for a snack and watched the entertainment, a balancing act at 1:30. I then suggested some fresh air on the Promenade Deck, as it wasn't too windy by then. There were some empty lounge chairs that we made use of, and I got some blankets from the pool deck. One of the best things about the Sapphire is that the Promenade is extra wide, which accommodates lounge chairs, not just chairs. I wrapped Mom up well, so she would be warm. It was perfect with the view, fresh air, and the sound of the waves crashing against the ship’s hull.

We both dozed, a bit, lulled by it all, and then I walked laps around the deck, checking in with her at every rotation.

We headed to Skywalkers with Triominos and wine, enjoying a round of games with great views of the waves breaking off the bow of the ship. I also noticed 6 large rolls of new outdoor carpeting, on the port side of deck 15, ready to be put down on the outdoor decks.

Afterwards, Mom went back to the cabin, while I went for a walk on the top decks, then to the spa & gym.

Our first stop of the evening was the Wheelhouse where we got in a couple of dances. There were so many things we wanted to do that night that we decided to have a quick dinner. After dinner we rushed to Explorers Lounge to see the 8:30 comedian, Kevin Jordan, an ex LA police officer, who was quite funny! From there we headed to the Love & Marriage Game Show, in Club Fusion.

We stayed for the first round of questions & answers and decided to go to the Princess Theater to hear Linda Gentille, a pianist who was very accomplished and entertaining. She studied under Liberace and it showed. We were both tired by this time, and having to change our clocks forward an hour, decided to head to bed at midnight.