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Found 144 results

  1. Hi, Anyone on this cruise is wishing to share ground transport at various ports with us. We are 3 people and on doing some research private ground transport is cheaper if you have a small group. Ports we are probably looking at is Laem Chabang - looking at trip to Pattaya, Ho Chi Min, Phukett, and Port Penang (KL). Happy to discuss various itineraries in each port. Cheers
  2. I have just checked my Personalizer prior to our departure 8th October from Southampton. The on board reservations for Celebrations shows a birthday gift on board for my wife that is complimentary for the 9th October. Any ideas what it might be or why it has been given to her? Her birthday was yesterday 27/9/2019. Not that I am complaining.
  3. I have just returned from a wonderful five weeks in Europe which included a couple of days in Rome, four days in Malta, a great two weeks on Sapphire Princess on the Land of the Midnight Sun cruise to Norway and followed by ten days in the UK. We are a couple in our fifties who love to travel and usually travel a month or so combining a cruise and independent travel. We don't particularly like large bus shore excursions and try to organise independent tours or DIY where possible. We were blessed to be part of an active roll call where many members shared information, ideas and advice. There were also a number of members who organised independent tours. We even had a member who was on last year's Land of the Midnight Sun cruise who was wonderful with her advice and personal experience. I will start with a brief overview of our Rome and Malta visits as they are both cruise ports before I go on to the Norway cruise. We flew from Australia to Rome via Doha and arrived in Rome after nearly 24 hours of travel. We love Rome and have been there a number of times for up to a week at a time. This was just a quick visit on our way to Malta. As we had been there before there was no need to go into any of the big sites such as the Colosseum or St Peters but we just wandered around seeing some of our favourite places and visiting some of the less visited churches and sites. We popped into or past the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine and Piazza Navonna. I also had to visit my favourite statue in Rome - the elephant obelisk in Piazza Della Minerva just near the Pantheon.
  4. I'm just off the Sapphire Princess to the Baltic had a great time used SPB for all my tours and was very happy any questions?
  5. So it’s nearly time for me and my partner (Frflatt) to head out on our next Princess adventure. 14 nights on board the Sapphire Princess starting 31 August sailing to the Baltic. Looking forward to being back on board and sharing our adventures with our fellow CC members. Having blogged our last trip to New Zealand on Blogspot which turned out to be a nightmare, we are going to revert to just doing a “Live From” on Cruise Critic. Stephen will be doing the words (with editing and embellishments from me) and I’ll be doing the photos. This is all internet permitting of course 😃. Our itinerary is as follows. Lots of new ports for us. Especially looking forward to our two days in St Petersburg where we have booked a two day tour with Alla Tours. Will be playing it by ear in most other ports. This is other than Zeebrugge where we'll be making the trip to Bruges by train for our usual visit to the Beer Wall to sample some delicious Belgium Beer. Two weeks and counting.
  6. Hi, does anybody know why Sapphire Princess is still in Helsinki? She should have left the port 8 hours ago.
  7. Do full suite passenger get an internet discount or complimentary minutes?
  8. This cruise was a gift from my husband to celebrate my birthday which had occurred earlier this year. It was my 14th cruise and my husband's 13th. Most of our cruises have been on Princess and Celebrity and we selected this cruise based on the itinerary and date. This was our first time leaving from a port outside of the US, and since the ship was leaving from Southampton, England, this was also an opportunity to see some European ports we had never visited plus spend some time pre-cruise with our dear friends, Teresa and Steve, who live in the English Midlands. Overall, it was a wonderful and memorable trip. We flew from Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey overnight on Friday, April 12 and arrived in Heathrow around 10AM on the 13th. The flight was uneventful and we even managed to sleep through most of the night, arriving fairly refreshed and ready for our adventures. The only snag was the long lines to clear Customs/Border Protection; as it was the Saturday before Palm Sunday, there were a lot of families travelling, and it took about 2 hours before we were able to leave the Customs area. We have flown to Europe a number of times and had never seen such delays on our previous trips. In fact, by the time we were processed, our flight number was no longer on the board in baggage claim and we had to hunt around to find where our bags had been placed. Finally, we located our luggage and went to meet our friends who were waiting in the Arrivals area. And so the adventure began! PRE-CRUISE: It is always a treat to spend time with Teresa and her husband, Steve, and it was a perfect way to start our vacation. By way of background-- Teresa and I had been pen pals decades ago when we were young teens and she was living in Glasgow, Scotland while I was in Northern New Jersey. In those days, communication was by air mail which sometimes took weeks to arrive. Unfortunately, we lost touch after writing for a few years, but never forgot each other. Then in January, 2013, Teresa happened to see a television program about Superstorm Sandy, remembered I lived in New Jersey, and through the magic of Google, was able to find my office's website and send me a message. We started writing again, this time by email, and in October, 2014, Teresa and Steve came to New York, and she and I were able to meet in person for the first time in our lives. In September, 2016, it was our turn to visit them in the Midlands. While Teresa and I now communicate several times a week on Facetime and through email, when I saw that the ship was leaving from Southampton, I knew it would be a great opportunity to see our friends in person again. On the way to our hotels in Southampton, we stopped at Stonehenge, which I highly recommend. After parking the car, we decided to take the 1.7 mile walk to the stones rather than take the bus which costs about 20 pounds per person. A lot of other visitors were doing the same thing, and although it was a bit chilly and windy, the walk was very pleasant and finally seeing the stone formation in person was well worth the effort it took to get there. In Southampton, my husband and I stayed at the Novotel on West Quay Road, just a short distance from the cruise ship terminal. (Our friends were at the Holiday Inn about a 15 minute drive away.) The Novotel location is perfect for anyone cruising out of Southampton. The hotel is clean and the staff pleasant and helpful. Although a breakfast package is offered for an extra charge, we decided to take advantage of the proximity of the McDonald's just at the end of the hotel parking lot. It seems that a lot of the Novotel guests and the people staying at the other nearby hotels were doing the same thing as the place was always crowded. At check-in, the desk clerk was kind enough to let us know that there was going to be a boxing match at the hotel that evening, and she apologized in advance for the noise. It turned out not to be a problem; even though our room was on the first floor, we didn't hear anything out of the ordinary and it was actually fun to watch the people attending the match come in all dressed up for the evening's event. It was very different from the more casual attire worn by the boxing match spectators in the US. That evening was Teresa's birthday and the four of us celebrated with a dinner at Bill's, a restaurant not far from the Novotel. It was a bit difficult to find as the website listed the address as West Quay South, but after a bit of driving around in circles, we saw it at the bottom level of the West Quay Shopping Center. In fact, it was within walking distance from the Novotel! It was definitely worth the trouble finding the place. We all enjoyed our delicious meal in a relaxed setting and spent a few hours catching up, then it was back to our hotels to rest up for the busy days ahead. The next few days flew by. The weather at time continued to be windy and chilly, but none of us minded much as there was so much to see and so much catching up to do. Always the willing driver, Steve took us all around: On Sunday, to Bournemouth and to Poole where we walked along the beach and picked up shells, to Church Knowle in Dorset where we spent time in the pub in the New Inn and later took some great photos of the more than 1000-year-old Corfe Castle, then to a ghost village, Tyneham Village which had been evacuated by the government during World War II, and finally we ended our day with a traditional Sunday meal at a pub in Poole. (Can’t recall the name but the food was delicious.) On Monday, we had originally considered taking the ferry to the Isle of Wight, but the weather was still a bit windy and cold, so instead we went to Portsmouth where we did some sightseeing and then had lunch at the Ship and Castle. We returned to Southampton later that afternoon and spent a few hours on the self-guided tour of the Southampton Walls. I believe that guided tours are also available, but we did very well on our own and were able to go along at our own pace. The walls and the surrounding area are full of interesting sights and we were all glad we took the time to explore Southampton. Our last evening before the cruise was spent in The Duke of Wellington Pub and the Titanic Pub, both not far from the Novotel. The next morning, April 16, my husband and I treated ourselves to breakfast at Bill's and soon it was time to leave for the ship. Since unfortunately Southampton did not offer the Princess Bon Voyage Experience which would have allowed us to take our friends aboard before the ship left, we instead stopped at Mayflower Park on the way to the ship to show them the Sapphire Princess as she was docked at the pier a short distance away. (I understand that Princess has now discontinued BVE in the US as well.) THE CRUISE: This was our sixth cruise with Princess and our first as Platinum members. After our friends dropped us off at the ship, we breezed through embarkation and were able to get into our balcony stateroom on Baja deck right away. We find that Princess’ cabins on Baja in the midship area are a perfect location, allowing us quick access to Horizon Court and bars on Lido, two decks above, and the amenities on Promenade deck and in the Piazza (decks 7, 6 and 5.) We had previously cruised to the Mexican Riviera on the Sapphire in 2008, so we were familiar with the ship. Although the Sapphire is an older ship and parts of the decor are dated, it was clean, and overall we were pleased with the 11 days we spent on board. Our cabin attendant, John, was quiet but very efficient and he kept our cabin organized and spotless. Wherever we went, the ship’s crew were friendly and helpful and made our stay even more enjoyable. The weather when we left Southampton was still quite cold and windy, so for the first few days, the outdoor areas of the ship were not at all crowded. Many passengers spent time at the covered pool, while those venturing outside were bundled up. However, nearly all the passengers were out on deck as we left Southampton, enjoying the Great British Sail Away party, complete with British music from several decades, British-themed drinks, and miniature Union Jack flags for all. Over 90% of the passengers were from the UK, so many of the activities and events over the 11 day cruise had a distinctly British touch which we very much enjoyed. Although we were in the familiar surroundings of a Princess cruise, this provided us with an opportunity to “get away” without even leaving the ship. As Platinum members, we each received 250 minutes of complimentary internet access to be used over the 11 days. The sign-up was a bit confusing at first and service was sometimes slow depending on the ship’s location, but overall we were able to use my iPad and my husband’s iPhone without too much of an interruption. I was even able to reach Teresa for some Facetime sessions and show her parts of the ship. Food and drink: We had breakfast each morning at the Horizon Court, arriving shortly after it opened, so we did not find it crowded at all. I agree that the Sapphire’s Horizon Court is smaller than the buffets on other ships, but we found the selections to be adequate and since we were there early for breakfast, we were able to make our selections without dealing with crowds. We always managed to find a table in the back section on the port side and found the staff there to be was very efficient and very entertaining as they went about their duties. For the times we were on board for lunch, we would go either to the Horizon Court, Alfredo’s Pizzeria near the Piazza, or when the weather improved as we were closer to Spain and Portugal, Prego Pizzeria or the Trident Grill near the pool. We found the food to be similar to that on our other Princess cruises, generally nothing unusual on the menu but nonetheless highly satisfactory and meeting our expectations for casual cruise ship dining. For dinner, we initially tried the Savoy, Vivaldi and Pacific Moon on the first 3 days, and for most of the cruise, went to the Savoy which we enjoyed the most. The menu was the same in each restaurant, and the staff was all polite and hard-working, but overall, we thought the service at the Savoy was the best of the three. One of the reasons we first decided many years ago to sail on Princess was the option for Anytime Dining, and on this cruise, like most of the others, we were able to find a table for two each evening without much of a wait. One evening, we went to the Crab Shack which was set up as a separate section for that evening in the aft part of the Horizon Court. We were celebrating our wedding anniversary which fell during the cruise and decided to treat ourselves to a special meal. We had gone to the Crab Shack on the Grand a few years earlier and really enjoyed the seafood, so when we saw that the Sapphire was offering the Crab Shack one evening, we immediately made a reservation. The $29 per person cover charge was definitely worth it; we were served a starter of popcorn shrimp, hush puppies, and clam chowder, then our entrees (a choice of King crab legs, a crawfish boil, mussels and clams, or a mixed steamer pot) with potatoes, sausage, corn on the cob and other sides, depending on the entrée selected. Finally, we were offered a choice of cake or pastry for dessert. In our experience, the Crab Shack is scheduled for only one night on each cruise and reservations are limited, so I would recommend that seafood fans look out for this offering and reserve a slot as soon as possible. We did not patronize either of the specialty restaurants as their menus did not offer anything much different than the restaurants near our home in Northern New Jersey. We did frequent the International Café on deck 5 for coffee, tea and snacks, as we have done on all of our other Princess sailings. The staff at the International Café was efficient and always smiling and we could always count on something delicious to tide us over until out next meal. A few days before Easter, a display of large elaborately-decorated chocolate eggs was set up outside International Café. It was a nice display and really drew a lot of attention, although unfortunately the eggs were not edible, likely for sanitary/health reasons since people tended to touch them despite the clearly-posted signs not to touch. We went to most of the bars on the ship during the course of the cruise, although some of the outdoor bars were closed during the colder days. We especially enjoyed the Wheelhouse and spent some time chatting with Dominique who was frequently working behind the bar and always made us feel welcome. We also loved Crooners, although it was often difficult to get a seat at any time of the day, and Vines, the Wine Bar, which was also crowded much of the time with people just sitting, reading and not ordering wine. When we booked the cruise, Princess happened to be running a Sip and Sail offer, so we each received a free Premier Beverage Package entitling us to unlimited free non-alcoholic beverages, tea and specialty coffees, as well as limited free alcoholic drinks (I believe 15 per day). We were aware of the beverage packages from previous cruises but had never purchased them because at $59.99 plus 18% gratuity per day for the Premier Package, we knew we would never consume enough to make the cost worthwhile. As it was automatically part of our reservation and at no cost to us this time, we used the package. We found it convenient to show our cruise cards and not have to wait and sign a receipt for each drink order, but it certainly would not have been worth the cost if we had to pay for the package. My husband has been a big fan of the coffee cards on our other Princess cruises and will be purchasing the coffee plans on future cruises, but for the other beverages, we will continue to pay as we go unless free Sip and Sail is offered on a future voyage. Activities and shows: The cruise director’s staff was small, but very busy and they had a lot of interesting and fun programs available. There was not enough time to see and do everything, but for those times we were aboard and looking for something to do, there was no shortage of options. Among the events we attended were the Marriage Match Game Show (even though we had seen versions on almost all of our other cruises, it is always a lot of fun); various versions of music, television and movie trivia (some entertaining and some not); the Princess Pop Star karaoke contest (although there were only a few contestants, most were very good); and the Passenger Talent Show (again, only a few participants, but all talented nonetheless, and in one instance, we were treated to a rather unique music video.) We especially enjoyed the “Oh So British” trivia event, in which the audience was divided into two large teams to compete in several types of games involving British history, music and popular culture. This event drew a huge crowd in the Explorer’s Lounge. On the final night of the cruise, Last Night of the Proms, another British-themed event, was held in the Piazza, complete with the national anthems and flags of the various constituent countries of the UK, lots of British music, and a balloon drop. We also attended the comedy shows of Rikki Jay and Paul Boardman, who both appeared in the Explorer’s Lounge on different nights. We were not familiar with either comedian, but they both appeared to be popular with the crowd and we found them both to be entertaining. Another night, Maggie Morrison, a very talented member of the Cruise Director’s staff, performed a cabaret act. We only attended two shows in the Princess Theatre: British singer and X-Factor finalist Ben Mills, and London’s West End entertainer Phillip Browne. As a huge lifelong fan of Broadway, I particularly enjoyed Phillip Browne’s performance and it was clear from the audience’s reaction that he is very popular in the UK. We did not have the time to attend the production shows but it seemed that the theatre was always packed for the live performances. There were also a few lectures on history and pop culture held in the theatre on sea days, as well as talks on the ports we were slated to visit. We did not attend the live lectures and talks but were able to view them afterward on our stateroom television. It was refreshing to see that the port lectures did not include an emphasis on shopping as had been our experience on past cruises on Princess and other lines. Another featured speaker was Irish sports journalist, David Walsh, best known for uncovering the doping scandal that resulting in Lance Armstrong being stripped of his Tour de France titles. Mr. Walsh spoke twice during the cruise, once in the Piazza and then in the theatre. Both events were well-attended. As on other Princess cruises, movies and concert videos were scheduled on the large outdoor screen, Movies Under the Stars (MUTS). Unfortunately, the inclement weather precluded some of the outdoor shows during the cruise. Films were also shown in the theatre and on stateroom television. The stateroom television itself provided a large variety of entertainment and information: movies, television shows, sporting events, news and game show programs, replays of live lectures and events on the ship, interactive maps of the cruise, and, of course, the always popular “Front of the Ship” channel, i.e. the live feed of the webcam located at the front of the ship. Every day, we enjoyed watching the morning show (filmed the night before, of course) with the Cruise Director, Paul, usually accompanied by his Assistant CD, Aaron (who reminded me of a young Neil Patrick Harris), discussing the events of the day and reading passenger comments and questions. We saw The Drop (the party band) in several venues and found their performance to be average but enthusiastic. The violinists, Sunshine String Duo, were very talented and performed several times daily in the Piazza. Some of the other musical acts playing in venues about the ship, we saw in passing. In short, there were many opportunities to be entertained during the cruise. At the same time, on many sea days, we were content to find a quiet place (usually Skywalker’s Nightclub) to read and listen to our personal music devices. In addition to dance and exercise classes, the ship also offered group ukulele lessons. Instruments were provided to the students for use during the cruise, and although my husband and I did not participate, we had a chance to watch one of the lessons held in the Wheelhouse Bar. It seems like everyone was having a good time with this different and fun activity. Passengers also had the chance to participate in the Princess Pop Choir, and after several rehearsals, the Choir gave a short concert in the Piazza during one of the sea days. We had seen other Pop Choir performances on other cruises and every time, the Choir and the audience enjoyed themselves. Only one drawback was that the music selections were the same every time. I’m sure the cruise line had to obtain permission to use the accompaniment recordings and musical arrangements, but perhaps Princess could consider obtaining other songs to give some variety on future cruises. Another enjoyable activity to watch was a competition among passengers who signed up in advance and were given a few days to create a device to protect a raw egg which would be dropped from one of the upper levels of the Piazza. The final event drew a large crowd and some of the "inventions" were really quite clever. The shops on board were similar to those on other Princess ships and it was fun to look through the merchandise. We didn’t buy anything except for a few boxes of British chocolates, some t-shirts and a pair of replacement reading glasses. As we were flying back to the US at the end of the cruise, there was a limit to what we could bring back in our already full luggage. Many of the shops had promotions and events, including the Effy store which seemed to have something going on every day and was very popular. We both enjoyed the activities aboard the ship as well as the opportunities to sit back and relax. Although the ship holds about 3000 passengers, for the most part, it did not feel crowded. However, one comment I have made in the surveys on past Princess cruises, and would repeat for this cruise—It always seems that certain popular events, such as comedy shows and audience participation game shows (Marriage Match, Liars’ Club, etc.) are scheduled in the Explorers’ Lounge which does not have enough space for the audience. Even arriving an hour early does not guarantee a seat or even a place to stand. At the Oh So British trivia event, the place was overflowing into the corridor, with many people (some elderly) standing on the steps and in the aisles. I understand that perhaps a larger venue, such as the Theatre or even Club Fusion may not always be available for these popular events, but perhaps if the other venues aren’t available, there is a way to televise the shows live to other parts of the ship so everyone isn’t crammed into Explorers’ Lounge. During the cruise, there were apparently two major medical emergencies which were handled very well, with minimal disruptions to the passengers. If I recall correctly, the first occurred the night after our first port stop. We were awakened around 1AM by a very loud noise which we originally thought was related to some sort of storm as it also appeared to be raining. The next day was a sea day, and around 11AM, we were relaxing in Skywalker’s when the Captain made the announcement that overnight someone had to be evacuated by helicopter to Lisbon for medical treatment. For safety reasons, some of the passengers had to be relocated from their cabins temporarily for a while. Later in the week, we were sitting at dinner near a couple who had been among those moved that night, and they felt that the situation was handled appropriately and with minimal disruption. The second emergency occurred on our way back to Southampton. This time the ship stopped at the port in Vigo, Spain and the patient was taken off there. Again the situation was handled appropriately and the passengers were informed in advance of the unscheduled stop. THE PORTS: Vigo, Spain: A big factor in our decision to take this cruise was the stop in Vigo, the birthplace of my paternal grandfather, who left there to come to the US about 100 years ago. I had never visited Vigo before and was looking forward to the opportunity to see it. It was a great decision and I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent there. Vigo is on the side of a mountain, Monte del Castro and we left the ship as early as we could to wind through the steep streets, looking at the shops and churches along the way and also pausing at times to take in the views of the beautiful harbor and islands beyond. We made our way to Castro Park at the top of the mountain and walked among the remnants of Castle Castro and the gardens. It was definitely worth the climb. We then made our way down toward the harbor and found an excellent restaurant for lunch, O Porton, located on Calle Pescaderia. I was looking forward to one of my favorite dishes, Galician-style octopus (made with olive oil and paprika) and O Porton did not disappoint. My husband, who is not a fan of octopus, had a dish of clams in a tomato sauce and we each had a glass of the local Albarino wine. Although Pescaderia and the neighboring Ostras streets are considered “touristy,” I would recommend trying O Porton or one of the other restaurants there for a meal when visiting Vigo. As we arrived in Vigo on a religious holiday, Holy Thursday, a number of the shops were closed, although some were open, likely due to the fact that at least one cruise ship was in port. We did look into some of the open shops and my husband ended up purchasing a shirt for the local football (what we call soccer in the US) team. As we went through security to go back to the ship, we visited a shop in the ship’s terminal and purchased some locally-made cookies and sweets to take home. Madeira, Portugal: We arrived here on our 28th wedding anniversary and were looking forward to exploring another new place for us. The ship docked just outside the capital, Funchal, just a 20 minute walk to the city center. Princess had shuttle service available for $8, but it was a beautiful day, a bit cloudy but not too warm, so we and others from the ship decided to take the walk into town. On the way, we passed the CR7 Museum honoring professional footballer and Madeira native, Cristiano Ronaldo, who is known in the US for an Altice commercial from a few years ago in which he is locked out of his hotel room wearing only his underwear and his video goes viral. The museum is quite a popular attraction, although we decided to skip it and spend our day walking around Funchal. Not far from the Ronaldo museum was a Tourist Information booth and we picked up a very helpful local map. Another popular attraction we skipped was the 12,000 foot cable car ride up the mountain to the village of Monte and the ride down on the wicker toboggans pushed by local guides. While it seemed interesting and we read many online posts that the rides up and down were safe, we did not want to risk injury, especially on our anniversary. Back on the ship, we heard that a number of passengers tried the cable car/toboggan rides and had a great time. With the assistance of our map, we walked through town, looking at the buildings, beautiful gardens and shops, and stopping for lunch at Regional Flavours located on Rua Carreira. The food and service were both excellent. I had octopus again (couldn’t resist), this time in a Portuguese style, while my husband had cod. We each enjoyed a glass of 10 year old Madeira wine and agreed that we had made another good choice for our meal. While in Funchal, we walked through the beautiful municipal gardens where a craft market was taking place, and we bought some inexpensive jewelry and other trinkets made from cork as gifts for family members. We also walked through the municipal market which was very crowded with both tourists and local residents. We ended our visit to Funchal with a trip to a local supermarket, something we often do in new places. We enjoy looking at the different types of food for sale and comparing prices and the variety of products with what we have at home. It is always an interesting experience, even if we don’t buy anything. (Sometimes we do make a purchase or two at a big savings from the prices for similar items charged in souvenir shops.) We were in Funchal the day before Easter and the shop was bustling with local residents purchasing ingredients for their meals the next day. As we left the supermarket, it began to rain a bit, so we decided to go back to the ship and had another pleasant walk. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands: The following day we were docked in Tenerife. We took a short walk to the city center and found the nearest tram stop where we saw some fellow passengers. From there, it was a 30-40 minute ride through the city to San Cristobal de La Laguna, the former capital of the island, which had been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. As it was Easter, most of the restaurants and shops were closed, but we were still able to walk around and take photographs of the lovely historic buildings. We wandered around for a few hours, taking in the sights. We saw an Easter procession, complete with a marching band, and went into what was probably the most beautiful Starbucks we had ever seen. The courtyard alone was worth the visit. We then took the tram back to city center and found a small restaurant on one of the side streets near Iglesia de San Francisco. On the way, we saw another, more elaborate procession. The restaurant offered free WiFi so we were able to contact our family and friends and wish them a Happy Easter. The weather was rather hot, so we opted to take the ship’s free shuttle back from city center. Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands: The following day, we were docked at Las Palmas, which is the ninth largest city in Spain. It took a little bit of time to find the city bus (called guagua); even though the main bus station was located under the plaza right where the ship was docked, we couldn’t find a schedule or a place to purchase tickets. We went back to the plaza and a helpful young woman at the information booth directed us across the road to Catalina Park where we purchased our tickets and took a 15 minute ride to Vegueta (Old Town.) We toured the Mercado (market) and Casa de Colon (Christopher Columbus’ house), and walked along the cobblestone streets looking at all the interesting buildings. My husband, a dog lover, especially enjoyed the dog statues at La Plaza de Santa Ana. (The Canary Islands are named from the Latin word for dogs, not for the birds.) After a few hours, we took the bus back to the plaza, did a little shopping and tried to decide on a place for lunch. There were a number of options in the area, but it was also very warm, so we went into a large shopping mall, El Muelle, near the ship. We figured that the mall would be air conditioned and would offer some dining options. Unfortunately, about one-third to one-half of the shops and restaurants in the mall had closed, and we were not interested in the fast food chains which seemed to be the only places left to eat. We did walk around the shopping center a little bit to cool off and found mostly the usual clothing, jewelry, footwear, etc. shops similar to those we have at home. The mall did have a supermarket, HiperDino, so we were able to look around just like we had done in Funchal. We then noticed an outdoor bar/café on the mall terrace and enjoyed a light lunch of sandwiches and cold beer before going back to the ship. Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands: Unfortunately, our stop at this port, which would have been our final stop before our return to Southampton, was cancelled. The Captain was concerned about gale force winds and very heavy seas resulting from expected weather coming across the North Atlantic, and wanted to speed up to get ahead of the storm system. We of course were disappointed as we were looking forward to seeing Lanzarote for the first time, but this also enabled us to enjoy an extra sea day instead, which is never a bad thing. RETURN TO SOUTHAMPTON AND DISEMBARKATION: The trip back to Southampton was smooth and we actually arrived 12 hours early. Unfortunately, we were unable to get off the ship at Southampton that evening. It would have been nice to have another evening in the city we enjoyed before we left, but apparently the port was unprepared staff-wise to handle an early stop. We were fine staying on the ship, looking out at the city and preparing for disembarkation the next morning. As Platinum members, we were able to wait in the Platinum/Elite Lounge (i.e. Club Fusion) and shortly thereafter, our number was called, we left the ship, picked up our luggage in the terminal and boarded the Princess bus for Heathrow. We had purchased the Princess ship-to-airport transfer as we had done on other cruises and were pleased with the service provided. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time for a little duty-free shopping and a nice lunch at London’s Pride, a Fuller’s brewpub in Terminal 2. While waiting for the time to go to the gate, I was able to Facetime with my friend, Teresa and it was nice to be able to chat with both of us in the same time zone for a change. My husband and I then boarded our plane and had an uneventful flight back to Newark. We made much better time going through US Customs than we had two weeks earlier and were soon home. With our 3 pre-cruise days in the Southampton area and our 11 nights on the ship, we were away for 2 full weeks. It took me about a month afterward to catch up with my work at the office, but it was all well-worth it. We both enjoyed our trip, saw a lot of new and interesting things and places, and had plenty of time to relax. As noted in this review, some things did not always go as expected, but we have been cruising and travelling long enough to take things in stride and be thankful that we are able to enjoy time away together and have a good time no matter what happens. I believe that Princess only offers this itinerary once or twice a year, so when it comes along, I would recommend it for anyone looking for something new and different. I know this review is long, but I still may have missed something. I will be happy to answer anyone’s questions about our adventures, or hear from others who were also on this cruise.
  9. What pillows are they using on Sapphire in mini-suites? Loved them & would like to find. Thanks.
  10. I am in the process of booking an internet package for my up and coming trip. The maximum package is for 600 minutes plus 80 minutes bonus for 155 pounds. (OK you can buy more if you want) Over an 11 night cruise this equates to only 61 minutes per day. (Having 5 days at sea this seems expensive ) Is there a cheaper way to access the internet? I need the internet for my business whilst away.
  11. Hello, Does anyone have any recent experience with the wine package being available (or not) on the Sapphire Princess? We have been able to buy it on previous 10 day or more cruises, but I have read sporadic reports about it not always being available. We're trying to decide how much wine to bring on our upcoming cruise out of Southampton.😊 Thanks so much.
  12. Hi Can anyone confirm if the male steam and sauna is free on this ship or do you have to pay to use them as a part of the Spa. The floor plan shows they are in the Spa area. Thanks
  13. I am trying to decide which New Zealand cruise to book. We are deciding between 13 nights on either Regal or Majestic from Sydney, or 13 nights from Melbourne on Sapphire for January 2021. The Regal/Majestic cruises have 6 port days, 5 sea days and 1 additional day of scenic cruising, while Sapphire has 5 port days, 6 sea days and 1 additional day of scenic cruising. I love the idea of the wrap around promenade deck on Sapphire, which I know Regal and Majestic don’t have. Regal and Majestic look like they have considerably less public outside viewing decks from the deck plans I can see online. We are a family of 4, the only cruises we have done before now were 7 nights & port intensive itineraries. This time the cruise is longer than we have done before, with considerably more sea days, and the children will be 11 and 13 by the time January 2021 comes round. Swimming pools (that children can use), and pizza and ice cream on board is important, as are sports activities (somewhere for the children to kick a soccer ball? Basketball court?). Even when the children use kids club, we are not Sanctuary users. Anyone got advice for me? Many thanks in advance.
  14. Review of Sapphire Princess – Land of the Midnight Sun (Norwegian Fjords) – June 15-29, 2019 Hello fellow cruisers! I’ve been on and off Cruise Critic for many years, but haven’t been much of a “poster”. I’ve mainly read the occasional review or roll call, or posted a random question. This year was different though. Last summer a friend and I decided to book a Land of the Midnight Sun cruise to the Norwegian Fjords on the Sapphire Princess for July 15-29, 2019. Although I’m a frequent cruiser with Princess (this was my 19th cruise with them), this was my first big overseas cruise to a country I was completely unfamiliar with. Cruise Critic was a lifesaver to me. I relied on many different reviews and posts over the past few years, trying to gain as much knowledge as I could on the ports, excursions, weather, etc. I got off the Sapphire Princess two and a half weeks ago, and I thought it was best to return the favor to Cruise Critic and post some of my notes and experiences to help fellow cruisers in the future if they’re planning a trip to Norway. I know a couple of people have posted reviews about this same cruise, but hopefully it’s beneficial adding my own opinions and experience. My friend and I are in our late 30’s, and we did a mix of Princess and independent excursions, as well as planned our own thing in several ports. I’ll discuss the ship/cabin/food/activities briefly, but I’ll focus on the ports/excursions in more detail, as I think that’s what will be the most useful. I included a few of the approximately 2,000 photos I took and I hope they came out ok. They seemed to be a little distorted or blurry once I uploaded them to this post. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away and I’ll try my best to answer! I apologize ahead of time for the very long post, but in summary, the cruise and Norway were amazing! Norway is so beautiful and scenic that you really have to see it to believe it (the few pictures I included don't do it justice!). If you are thinking of visiting Norway, I highly recommend it! Ship This was my second cruise on the Sapphire Princess, the first time being in 2012. I thought the ship was in very good condition and all the public areas were clean and modernized. In my opinion, you couldn’t tell the age of the ship at all. The bathrooms in the cabins need an upgrade, but I’ve found that to be consistent among most of the ships I’ve been on. The service was great, as usual. In particular the buffet staff were on top of things. Only a couple of times did we have to get our own beverages, and as usual, if you blinked an eye your finished plate disappeared before you even knew it. We only ate in the dining room a few times and service was pretty slow. You’re looking at least an hour and a half to two hours to complete a meal in the dining room. And since we liked to make the first trivia session at 7:00pm, we decided to skip the dining room many of the nights. Being Elite I got 250 minutes of free internet. I contemplated purchasing an additional package at the beginning of the cruise, but decided not to. This was a good decision as after the first day or so, I lost interest in constantly checking my email and Facebook and enjoyed a break from being connected. The internet was quite slow in our stateroom but much faster in public areas. And there was a period of several days when we were in the far north or inside the fjords where we had no service at all. Cabin We had an obstructed oceanview cabin on the Emerald deck. As much as we would have loved a balcony on this itinerary, it would have cost us almost $2,000 more per person, and we decided it wouldn’t be worth it with the cost of flights, excursions, etc. We were hoping for the upgrade/upsell fairy to make an appearance, but unfortunately it did not on this cruise. The cabin was in good condition, with the comfortable beds and new, oversized TV. We had a wonderful steward, Pairut, who was fast and efficient and always had a smile on his face. The only negative to the room was that the blackout curtains on one side were about 6 inches shorter than the other side, which let in a quite a bit of light at night. Normally it might not be an issue, but with this being the Land of the Midnight Sun cruise, we had 24 hour daylight for much of the cruise. I never asked Pairut to address it because we both had sleep masks and they did the job for us. This was my first time with the new TV that has on-demand selections and I thought it was great! It was really nice being able to pick from a variety of movies and TV shows to watch and that you could stop/start/pause as needed. The only thing we never figured out was how to get announcements in the cabin. They told us to tune to the channel with the live feed of the ship’s camera; however, we never heard any announcements via the channel. It used to be you heard music on this channel, but now it’s silent. Food I thought the food was very good on this cruise and on par with previous Princess cruises, if not better. We ate in the buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner most of the cruise. We only ate in the dining room for dinner four times, partly because we wanted to make the early entertainment, but also because we wanted to enjoy the many scenic sailaways we had. We also had dinner in the Sterling Steakhouse since we each had a voucher for a complimentary meal, and we also tried Alfredo’s once. The food catered to the large volume of Brits on these itineraries, and I was perfectly happy with that. You could have a full English breakfast every day in the buffet if you wanted. I thought lunch and dinner were better in the buffet than I remembered before. Almost everything I tried was very good and I would be happy to have it again. They always had a carving station, a British pie (such as steak and kidney or beef and onion), two curries, two pastas, two soups, and a variety of other dishes, as well as the fruit, salad, and bread selection. The Sterling Steakhouse was good, but not great, in my opinion. Although similar menus, I think the Crown Grill has been better on other ships. I thought the pizza in Alfredo’s was good, but the service was very poor. We tried once early in the cruise to have lunch in Alfredo’s and we stood waiting at the entrance for at least 5 minutes…no one acknowledged us whatsoever, so we left. We tried Alfredo’s later in the cruise and this time were seated in reasonable time, however, we had to get up to get our own condiments and water refills as the servers were never around. Activities We love trivia and boy did Princess cater to our needs on this cruise! The first night there were four trivia sessions back to back starting at 7:00pm. From then on we had the usual morning and afternoon general knowledge trivia and then at least two themed trivia and game shows every evening; sometimes more! The only other daytime activities we frequented were arts and crafts, which they had every sea day, and speedy Sudoku. On this particular cruise we had an array of theater shows and specialty acts, including four production shows (Bravo, Let Me Entertain You, Born to Be Wild, and Do You Wanna Dance). For the most part they were good, although the Let Me Entertain You production show was very poor and not up to standard. We had various specialty acts, including comedians, magicians, and musicians. Some of the ones we particularly enjoyed included Martin Kaye, Yeah Beatles!, Phil Butler, Phillip Browne, and Gareth Oliver. Our favorite specialty act was Gareth Oliver, a comedian/ventriloquist who was previously on Britain’s Got Talent. He was very good and my stomach hurt from laughing so much. Itinerary Ok, now on the itinerary and ports of call. This was a 14 day itinerary with four sea days and 10 ports of call. A quick note on currency – I had read reviews that said there was no need to bring cash (Norwegian Krone) as it was primarily a cashless society. I decided not to bring any, and I used one of my credit cards that has no foreign transaction fees. This worked out great and I didn’t have any issues using it throughout Norway. When reviewing my bank statement after the cruise, I got a great conversion rate to USD. Just make sure if you’re given the option on whether to charge you in NOK or USD, that you select NOK. You will get a better exchange rate from your credit card (assuming you have no foreign transaction fees). Embarkation in Southampton We had stayed three nights in London pre-cruise (at the Premier Inn London County Hall) and took the train from London Waterloo to Southampton Central the morning of the cruise. We took an early train that arrived just before 10:00am into Southampton. We took a taxi from the train station to the pier, which only cost about £5-6. We arrived at the port quickly and were able to drop off our luggage and proceed to check-in. A couple of buses had arrived right before we did, so there was a bit of a line, even for priority check-in. It wasn’t a long wait and we were given our cruise cards and access to the Elite boarding area to wait. It was about an hour wait until we were allowed to board the ship. They had come over the PA and said something about a delay although I couldn’t hear why. There were no complaints though…it just gave even more time for the excitement to build! When we boarded about 11:30am our room was ready and we dropped off our bags and proceeded to the buffet for lunch. Stavanger, Norway Prior to booking this cruise, we had looked at the possible excursions for Stavanger and were excited about a hike up Pulpit Rock. Based on reviews, it sounded like it would be a great active day out with incredible views of the Lysefjord. Unfortunately, as we found out after booking this cruise, the excursion was not available on this particular cruise because we were not in port long enough. The excursion would take about 8 hours total and we were in port for exactly 8 hours. So that was a disappointment from the beginning; however, we decided to view Pulpit Rock from the water below instead. We booked an independent excursion for a 3-hour fjord cruise to Lysefjord through Rodne Fjord Cruise. The cost was 550 NOK per person, which was about $65. The equivalent excursion through Princess was $159.95 per person, so we saved almost $100 each. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and would recommend this company for an excursion. Reviews I read before said the cruise was not enjoyable because it was too crowded; however, we did not find this to be the case. Yes there were a lot of people on board, but we easily found space outside on the left side of the boat and set up shop. It was very windy and chilly on the cruise to the fjord, but once we slowed down in the fjord, it was quite pleasant. I would recommend being on the left side because this got us closer the cliffs and the large waterfall. We had a great view of Pulpit Rock from below, and when you zoomed in you could really see the detail of how the rock is jutting out from the side of the cliff. We also made a short stop at an area where they release goats in the summer to graze. A staff member on the boat threw some carrots to the only goat we could see. We decided our theme song for the day was “High on a hill was a lonely goatherd…” On the journey back we did go inside since it was chilly but easily found a seat. Once we arrived back in Stavanger, we had lunch on board the ship and decided not to venture out again since it looked like it might rain. Flam, Norway This was one my favorite days of the whole cruise. Based on reviews, it sounded like the train from Flam to Myrdal was a must-see and the most popular excursion, with many people booking the train independently. We chose to do an excursion through Princess which included a ride on the train and a 6 mile hike down through the Flam Valley before rejoining the train for the ride back to Flam. We could have done this independently by booking the train tickets on our own and then following a hiking map down the valley. Hiking through the entire valley would have been approximately 12 miles and we thought this might be too much for us and might take too long. We were thrilled with the excursion and it was great having knowledgeable guides explain so much about Flam and Norway. The excursion cost $219.95 per person, which is a lot, but in my opinion well worth it for the experience and views. We joined up with our guides once we got off the ship and walked the very short distance to the train station. There were technical problems that morning so the trains were delayed for about 20-30 minutes. We boarded the train and we had our own carriage for our tour group. Based on reviews I read, it was recommended to sit on the right side of the train for the ride up. This was definitely the best choice and we had amazing views on the ride up. Due to the delays, we did not stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall, where normally the train would stop briefly and you could get out to take photos. Once we arrived at Vatnahalsen, we disembarked the train and had a snack of waffles with jam and cream in the hotel. We then began the hike which started with a fairly steep downhill portion with a lot of switchbacks. It followed a large waterfall down the hill and provided the best views down the Flam Valley. After the initial downhill portion, most of the hike was fairly flat with a few uphill sections. It was very doable for our mixed group. One guide stayed at the front and one at the back and we were pretty spread out in between. That was nice because you felt like you were on your own hike without being in a large group most of the time. They gave you the option to rejoin the train earlier in Blomheller if you were struggling with the hike, which I believe 3 people from our group did. The rest of us continued to Berekvam where we had a little delay in the train picking us up. During the hike the scenery and views were spectacular, and I really enjoyed being in the environment rather than just looking at it from a distance. We also ran into a group of very friendly goats, with one of them choosing to use my leg as a scratching post for its head. The weather held out most of the day for us, but we did get a little rain off and on, and by the time we were waiting for the train in Berekvam, it started to rain a little heavier. The rain stopped by the time we got to Flam. We went back on the ship for lunch and decided to just stay on board the rest of the afternoon. Note to anyone sensitive to bug bites like I am – I got quite a few bites on my legs even though I was wearing long pants. I don’t react well to bites, so they got large and inflamed and I ended up going to the medical center for treatment. I will also add that I thought the sailaway from Flam was gorgeous and not to be missed. All my research ahead of the cruise talked about the sailaway from Geiranger, but I thought Flam was also spectacular. Hellesylt/Geiranger, Norway The ship anchored in Hellesylt in the morning to allow passengers on Princess shore excursions to tender to the port and begin their all day excursions. The ship then continued to Geiranger where it anchored from about midday. At that point any passenger could disembark and tender to the town for half-day excursions or to do their own thing. Based on my research ahead of the cruise, Geirangerfjord was going to be beautiful and the sail-in and/or out was not to be missed. The port information for both Hellesylt and Geiranger on the Princess website talked about Briksdal Glacier being a point of interest but unfortunately Princess did not offer any excursions that went to the glacier on our particular cruise. We decided we wanted to do an all day excursion from Hellesylt so we could soak in as much of the scenery as we could. We did a Princess excursion called Scenery of Geirangerfjord that left Hellesylt and ended in Geiranger. When we first booked the cruise there was only one excursion available out of Hellesylt, called Best of Geirangerfjord. For whatever reason we chose not to book the excursion right away but kept a close eye on it in case it came close to selling out. Well pretty much overnight the excursion sold out and we seemed to be out of luck with all day excursions. About a week later Princess added the second excursion, called Scenery of Geirangerfjord. Now to be honest, I’m not quite sure what was different between the two excursions. The descriptions were a little different but also similar. From what I could tell from the descriptions, the difference was that the Best of Geirangerfjord went to Grodås while we got to visit Eagle Bend viewpoint. But I never talked to anyone on the other excursion, so I’m not quite sure what was different. On our Scenery of Geirangerfjord excursion we left Hellesylt and stopped at a couple of viewpoints on our way to Stryn where we had lunch at Alexandra Hotel. We were lucky at our first viewpoint in that we were the last of the buses to leave Hellesylt and we got to see the Sapphire Princess sail from Hellesylt into the Geirangerfjord. We got some beautiful photos. Lunch was a three-course meal consisting of soup, a main dish of baked fish, potatoes, and vegetables, and ice cream for dessert. Coffee, tea, and other non-alcoholic drinks were included. We then had time to wander around the hotel and grounds, which were quite nice. We then continued on the bus for a lengthy but beautiful drive up to Mt. Dalsnibba. We had some great views of a glacier and frozen lake on the way up. The guide said they had quite a bit of snow several weeks before we arrived and the main road had only just opened up. The viewpoint at Mt. Dalsnibba was spectacular, with views of the Geirangerfjord, the town of Geiranger, and the ship anchored in the fjord. You could also see the hairpin bends of Eagle Bend behind the ship. We then continued down the windy road to another viewpoint at the Flydalsjuvet-rock overhang. It had similar views of Geiranger and the fjord, just a little closer. We then drove through Geiranger and around the fjord to Eagle Bend, which had a steep climb up the hairpin bends to the viewpoint. This provided views from the opposite direction to Geiranger and down the Geirangerfjord. We could see the Seven Sisters waterfall as well. I will say all of the viewpoints were very crowded, particularly Eagle Bend, which had very limited space for parking. The buses had to continue up the road, turn around, and hope there was space to pull in by the viewpoint on the way back down. Not only were there buses for the all-day excursions, some of the half-day excursions also went to these viewpoints and there was another cruise ship in Geiranger, adding to the crowds. All in all, it was a very good excursion with some of the best views and scenery of the entire cruise. The excursion cost $219.95, which is very expensive, but I think we got our money’s worth with it lasting all day. However, after saying all that, I think I would recommend considering the half-day excursions from Geiranger instead. Although it was nice scenery on the all-day tour, I think I would have preferred to watch us sail in to Geiranger and then just spend the afternoon on a tour that hit the main points. Princess offered an excursion that went to the three main viewpoints I discussed above for only $99.95. I’m sure there are also independent tours available, and quite a few people rented the little green tourist cars and drove themselves around Geirangerfjord. If I were to go back to Geiranger again I would probably choose this option. After we completed our tour, we tendered back to the ship, had dinner in the buffet, then went out on deck to watch the sailaway. It was definitely a gorgeous sailaway and you don’t want to miss the views of Eagle Bend, Seven Sisters, and Suiter Falls. Trondheim, Norway Trondheim ended up being one of the biggest surprises to me on the whole cruise…I loved the city! We didn’t have anything planned for Trondheim. None of the Princess excursions or independent tours appealed to us, so we decided not to book anything and to just wander in to town after lunch. When we got off the ship there was a little hut with maps and guides, so we picked up a city map which had a walking route marked on it. We decide to follow that route, which took us through the town to Nidaros Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace. We didn’t go into the Cathedral, but it was beautiful to see from the outside. After crossing the Old Town Bridge, we deviated from the walking route and walked up a steep hill that lead up to Kristiansten Fortress. The interesting thing about the hill was that it was outfitted with a bike lift that was free for cyclists to use. It was installed to encourage locals to ride bikes and it was cool to watch several people use the system. We got our workout in by walking up the hill and through a small neighborhood before arriving at the fortress. The fortress is free to enter and had beautiful views of Trondheim. We even caught a glimpse of the Sapphire Princess. After spending some time at the fortress, we wandered back down the same road into town and rejoined the walking path. We stopped in a couple of souvenir shops on the way back to the ship but held off buying anything. By the end of the cruise, I was feeling déjà vu since almost every souvenir shop in Norway had the exact same souvenirs. Overall I very much enjoyed Trondheim and we were lucky to have such beautiful weather. It was sunny with a nice breeze, and we were comfortable in t-shirts all day. Trondheim is such a lovely town with a mix of traditional and modern, along with beautiful canals, bridges, and cobblestone streets. I hope to make it back to Trondheim sometime because I really did enjoy it. The day after Trondheim was a sea day, so it was nice to relax and recover from several busy port days. At some point in the early hours of the sea day we crossed into the Arctic Circle. Early on in the cruise someone asked the Cruise Director on the Wake Show whether we would receive a certificate to mark the crossing into the Arctic Circle, similar to when you cross the Equator, and we were told no. However, at some point they must have changed their mind and on the final day of the cruise we each received a certificate marking the day, time, and latitude that we crossed Arctic Circle. It was a nice surprise to receive the certificate and something unique I will hold on to. Honningsvag (for North Cape), Norway Our day began early as we were told we’d be sailing by Nordkapp (North Cape) at 5:00am. Nordkapp, which is on Mageroya Island, is claimed as the northernmost point in continental Europe. Technically there is a part of the island that juts out a little further than Nordkapp, but there probably wasn’t room for a visitor’s center there. 🙂 We decided it was worth getting up for to watch the sail by since we may not get the opportunity again. We got up at 4:45am and I thought a lot more people would be up to watch, but it was pretty quiet out on the decks, although that may be because it was so cold! We positioned ourselves inside on the upper deck of the conservatory so that we could easily step outside for photos. It was definitely chilly with a sharp wind, so it was worth bundling up for. We were lucky in that the weather cooperated and we got some nice views of Nordkapp and Mageroya Island. Every now and then the clouds would roll in and cover the view of Nordkapp, but it was short lived we got some very good photos. I’m very glad we got up for this in the morning, as Nordkapp was completely covered in clouds during the evening sailaway. After we watched the sail by of Nordkapp, we sat in the buffet to warm up and wait for breakfast to start. As many do in Honningsvag, we did an excursion to Nordkapp. We chose an independent tour through Blue Puffin which lasted four hours, from 9:00am to 1:00pm. I read a lot of reviews ahead of time and they almost all had good things to say about the Blue Puffin company. The excursion cost 979 NOK per person, which ended up being about $115. The equivalent excursion through Princess cost $149.95 per person and only lasted three and a half hours. From reading reviews, the Princess excursion went straight to and from the Nordkapp Visitor’s Center while the Blue Puffin tour stopped at two small fishing villages along the way. Overall we were very happy with the Blue Puffin tour and would highly recommend them. We had a great guide who was very knowledgeable about Norway, and the fishing villages of Kamoyvaer and Skarsvag were very interesting and gave us a lot of insight into the importance of seafood to Norwegian culture. The drive to Nordkapp was beautiful with some amazing ocean views. We also saw a lot of reindeer. We were told the reindeer are brought to Mageroya Island for the summer to eat and fatten up ahead of the winter, and we saw a lot of young reindeer keeping close to their mothers. When we arrived at Nordkapp it was very windy and bitterly cold with the wind-chill. The clouds moved so swiftly and would engulf the globe at the tip of the island and then clear just as quickly. We were lucky in that the clouds cleared right as were at the globe and we got some nice photos with bright blue sky in the background. After seeing the globe, we entered into the visitor’s center. There was so much going on inside, but our first stop was to the post office to buy, write, and mail postcards to family at home. They include a special stamp and marking that it was mailed at the northernmost post office in Europe. We then wandered around the gift shop and went downstairs to the Cave of Light. That was interesting with a video and exhibits on the Arctic Circle and its seasons. You also pass by the northernmost chapel on the way to the cave, which is funny because apparently everything in Nordkapp is the “northernmost something” in Europe. We had about an hour and a half at the visitor’s center, which was enough time for us to see what we wanted to see. We then boarded the bus for the ride back to Honningsvag. On the way back we were given a snack of reindeer jerky. We had lunch back on the ship and decided to just stay on the ship the rest of the day as we were quite tired from being up so early. We did not have an early evening, however, as the Sapphire Princess had a Midnight Sun Deck Party that night. We went up to the deck around the pool about 11:45pm, expecting it to be a little quiet, but it was packed! I did not expect to see so many people up at midnight. Most people were of course positioned on the side of the ship where the sun was setting and there wasn’t much room along the railing on the main deck, so we headed up to the Sky deck area across from the funnel. We grabbed some railing space and got some lovely photos. There was a countdown to midnight and the ship blasted its horn as midnight struck. It was amazing to see how bright and sunny it was at midnight and the sun never even got that close to the horizon before rising again. There was also music and dancing, and at some point the conga line started winding its way around the pool. The weather was surprisingly calm and mild, as the Captain had slowed the ship down where it almost seemed like we were standing still. My face actually felt like it was burning in the direct sun, although that was partly due to the fact I had a slight wind burn from the windy day at Nordkapp. We stayed outside until about 12:30am and started to head back inside until an announcement was made on the open decks that there were some whales off the bow of the ship. We headed back outside and were able to see a few blow holes. This was the second time we saw whales, as we saw a large pod of Orcas between Trondheim and Honningsvag. We made it to the room about 1:15am, which resulted in a very long day since were up at 4:45am the previous day. It was all worth it though and we were able to have a lazy day in Tromso. Tromso, Norway Unfortunately I don’t have any information to provide about Tromso, other than a few photos taken from the ship, because we ended up not getting off the ship. We had nothing planned, and we were so tired from our long day in Honningsvag that we decided to stay on board. In addition, the weather was a bit iffy and looked like it might rain. Based on a tip from a fellow cruiser, we had planned to visit a botanical garden which was in walking distance from the ship; however, we never made it. If I were to go back to Tromso I think I would visit the Husky Wilderness Camp, which had great reviews from everyone I talked to. Right when we hit the time that we were supposed to be sailing away from Tromso the Captain made an announcement that the pilot we were assigned did not have the special certification required to sail the planned route through the islands towards our next port, Lofoten Islands. He said they requested permission to sail the route anyway and were denied. That meant we had to retrace our route to the north that we took coming from Honningsvag, which would then add about four or five hours to our journey, resulting in a delayed arrival to the Lofoten Islands. Lofoten Islands (Gravdal), Norway Due to the delay from Tromso we did not arrive in the Lofoten Islands until around 1:00pm when we were originally supposed to arrive by 9:00am. The good thing is that Princess was able to secure a late departure from Gravdal, so we still had a full nine hours in port. Luckily we had booked a Princess excursion for that day and they were able to rearrange most of the shore excursions to accommodate our later arrival and departure. I’m not sure if people who booked independent tours were able to rearrange their excursions or if they missed out on what they had planned. The excursion we booked was Trollfjord by Bus and Boat which was an eight hour excursion consisting of an approximately four hour bus tour of the Lofoten Islands and a four hour boat cruise to Trollfjord. The excursion included lunch. The excursion was very expensive, costing $299.95 per person. My honest opinion is that the tour was not worth it and I would not recommend it. Part of the reason is that our tour guide spoke very poor English and did not seem to talk about anything worthwhile. After a while I think I just stopped paying attention to anything he said. Our first stop on the tour was at a glass blowing studio and shop. The studio was nice and you could watch someone making glass objects, but it wasn’t that different to any glass blowing studio I’ve been to elsewhere. The scenery outside at the studio was beautiful and you could see the difference in landscape in the Lofoten Islands compared to other parts of Norway. The cliffs and mountains were very jagged and sharp, and there were a lot of beaches and turquoise blue waters around the islands. We continued on the bus tour, which stopped for lunch just before we reached Svolvaer, which is where we embarked on the boat portion of the tour. The lunch was ok, but not really to my liking. It was all cold options, with bread, sliced deli meat, cheese, and various salads. The cruise portion of the tour was on a smaller boat than we’ve had on other scenic cruises. At this point it had started raining pretty heavily and continued for a couple of hours. This was unfortunate, since we wanted to be outside to see the scenery. As a result, we got pretty wet on this excursion. In addition to the rain, there were low lying clouds and fog which covered the tops of the mountains and cliffs. So unfortunately we did not get to see as much of the dramatic scenery. It was still beautiful though, and as I said before, the landscape is very unique. The boat went into the Trollfjord which is a fairly short fjord and has a narrow passageway, steep cliffs and mountains, and a couple of waterfalls at the end. Now maybe I was spoiled with all of the amazing scenery we had by this point, but although the Trollfjord was beautiful in its own right, I wasn’t that impressed. Certainly, in my opinion, not worth the time and money we spent getting there. After the Trollfjord we continued on the boat ride, retracing our route part of the way but continuing onto to Gravdal, which is the port the Sapphire Princess was anchored in. We went inside for most of the remainder of the tour and boy was it a long ride. 4 hours on this smaller boat was too much. For most of it we were sailing in the open ocean waters. It was very choppy and quite a few people were sick. I’ve been on many cruises and some rough waters and never had any problems with sea sickness, but this boat ride got to me a little. I was ok in the end, but I was definitely ready to get off when the tour ended. Maybe the highlight of the boat ride was sailing by the Sapphire Princess as we reached Gravdal. We got some nice photos of the ship anchored in the bay along with the town of Gravdal. When we got to the port, ship personnel were anxiously waiting to escort us back to the ship. I think we were the last of the tours to arrive back. In summary, although it was a nice day out, as I said before, I wouldn’t recommend this tour due to various reasons , including the cost, our particular tour guide, the long boat ride, and by no fault of the company, the weather. Alesund, Norway For Alesund we booked an independent excursion through Norwegian Excursions AS called From Fjords to Trolls. It was an all day excursion, lasting almost 8 hours, and went to several scenic landmarks in the area. You had two options for the excursion, one that included lunch and one without. The tour without lunch cost 112 EURO and with lunch cost 132 EURO. We chose the option that included lunch which ended up being $149 per person. Princess offered a similar excursion which cost $229.95, so we saved quite a bit. This was the first time I have booked an all-day independent excursion. I usually stay with Princess for long excursions because I’m nervous about not making it back to the ship one time. Norwegian Excursions AS offered a guaranteed return to ship and our guide, who was amazing, was well aware of the passenger’s concerns about this and assured us we would make it back to the ship with time to spare. We were in a group of about 4 or 5 tour buses that were doing the exact same tour, some through Princess and some booked independently. Our tour guide said as long as we keep the Princess buses in sight, we’ll be fine. And in fact, at our final stop on the tour, he asked us to be back on the bus a few minutes early so that we could leave ahead of the Princess buses. There was only one route back to Alesund, so this guaranteed that we would make it back to the ship on time. Like I said, our guide on this excursion was excellent. Although he wasn’t a native Norwegian, he spoke some of the language and was incredible knowledgeable about the area. He was easy to listen to and provided interesting stories and facts. The tour started out with a stop at a viewpoint that had beautiful views of the surrounding fjords. We continued on and stopped at Gudbrandsjuvet, which is a narrow and deep ravine with a large waterfall flowing through it. There is a winding bridge crossing over the ravine which was really unique and interesting. We then rode through the National Park Reinheimen to the Trollstigen plateau and viewpoint. There is a large gift shop on site and you can follow a pathway to the two main viewpoints, one being a longer walk which includes an uphill portion and steps. The plateau provides views of the waterfall, Stigfossen, and of the winding Troll Road (Trollstigen) and large mountains in the background. Now unfortunately we didn’t see one bit of any of this as Trollstigen plateau was completely engulfed in clouds and fog. You could barely see your hand in front of your face. We still walked out to the viewpoints hoping for the best, but there was no view to be seen at all. We could hear the thundering roar of the waterfall, and at the closest viewpoint you could make out a small portion of it, but it was disappointing to miss out on the amazing views. I did take a picture of a postcard so I know what it was supposed to look like! We then boarded the bus and drove down the Troll Road, which includes 11 hairpin bends. Throughout many of the excursions we went up and down various hairpin bends and I really admire the bus drivers for maneuvering such large buses around the bends. I’m sure I would be nervous driving a small car, but they handled the buses and surrounding traffic so well. As we drove further down the Troll Road we started to leave the clouds and could make out the views of the Trollstigen. We then made a stop at the bottom of the Troll Road so we could get views looking up the Trollstigen and Stigfossen. After Trollstigen we stopped for lunch at a large camping area which had an onsite restaurant. We were provided with a hot buffet that included salmon, burger patties, potatoes, salad, bread, and ice cream for dessert. We then continued to our final stop on the tour which was the Troll Wall, or Trollveggen. Trollveggen is Europe’s tallest vertical rock face and is a popular location for rock climbing. Unfortunately we were still experiencing low clouds and the entire face of the Trollveggen was covered. After Trollveggen we headed back to Alesund and the guide gave us a brief tour of the city before dropping us off at the ship. Even with the disappointment of not seeing the main landmarks, I really enjoyed this excursion and would highly recommend Norwegian Excursions AS. I believe this company operates tours in several Norwegian ports, so they’re worth looking into. I just figured I will have to visit Alesund again when the weather is better so I can truly experience the beautiful views of Trollstigen! Bergen, Norway Our final port of call was Bergen, Norway. This is a much larger city and we only had limited time in port, with the ship departing at 2:00pm. We chose not to take any official excursions and just explored the town on our own. The Sapphire Princess docked in a working port and they wouldn’t allow you to walk through the port. The port provided free shuttle buses that took you from the ship to just outside of the port. They had maps available of Bergen, and the path to walk into the city center was marked on the pavement/sidewalk. You just followed the arrows and dots until you reached the center. It was only about a 10 minute walk. We chose to wander around the town center, which includes a large pond surrounded by trees and greenery. It was really beautiful. We also had views of Mt. Floien and the funicular, which many people chose to take. I heard there was beautiful views from the top and some nice walking paths. We continued exploring the city and walked over to Bryggen, which is a World Heritage Site and includes a lovely waterfront and historical buildings. We had read in reviews that Bergen was the best place to souvenir shop and that was definitely the case, as the historical buildings along Bryggen were filled with them. I’m pretty sure we went in and out of each one at least twice, trying to make up our minds on which souvenirs to buy. After we had our fill of shopping, we wandered through the Waterfront Fish Market which has a large number of stalls selling fresh fish and various prepared seafood dishes. If you’re into seafood, I’m sure it’s worth trying out some of the food for lunch. We then walked slowly back to the ship. It’s too bad we didn’t have a full day in Bergen as it was a very nice city that I would have liked to explore more of. If I visit again I would probably take the funicular and of course do my souvenir shopping. Disembarkation in Southampton Disembarkation went smoothly. We had purchased Princess transfers to Heathrow as we had a flight back home in the afternoon. We met in the Explorers Lounge for a disembarkation time of 9:30am. There was no real customs or immigration to speak of and it was easy to spot our luggage waiting in the large hall as most of the luggage had been picked up. Europe was in the midst of a heatwave and it was almost 90F in Southampton that day. We boarded the bus and quickly learned that the bus was not air conditioned, which made for a very sweaty and uncomfortable ride to the airport. The journey took only about an hour and a half and we were dropped off right outside Terminal 5. Final Thoughts Sorry for such a long post, but this was truly an amazing experience and cruise to Norway. I feel so fortunate that I was able to visit Norway and see so much of the country. When we started looking at possible cruises to take this summer, I had initially discounted going to Norway because I didn’t think it had this much to offer. Within a day of starting my research I was hooked on doing this cruise and it was well worth every penny we spent. I hope to visit Norway again someday and maybe even do this particular itinerary again in the future! Happy cruising!
  15. Semi live trip report dependant on WiFi signal which is a bit hit and miss. We have cruised with Princess a number of times, including the same itinerary. We were delayed leaving Southampton but we were kept informed. Ship is looking a bit tired but is clean, staff on the most part are happy and friendly. As mentioned many times on CC boards the cutbacks are noticeable, menu choices, portions etc. Classic soda package available, it includes mocktails which I will endeavour to taste test 😄 It was mentioned on a post last week about children loyalty status, on this cruise Children are still given a blue cruise card regardless of status and ours don't get their platinum privileges. I will post when I can questions I will try to answer
  16. Is there a sanctuary ( ie peaceful area on a deck for Full Suite Pax ?)
  17. DH has just been diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes-- a family trait that he has avoided until age 78. Hopefully some diet tweaks and Metformin will be all that is needed before we sail on the Sapphire Princess on October 31. What advice do you have for cruising on Princess ships while being diabetic?
  18. First time cruising! I was going to take a couple of laundry detergent pods, but then someone warned me that the machines might be the smaller, European size, and that would be too much detergent. Any one used pods on Sapphire recently? Or other laundry suggestions? Thanks all!
  19. Can I remove my debit card from my cruise account when on board so I can then pay cash for my purchases?
  20. Anyone recently cruised on Sapphire Princess able to give feedback on internet on how good it is regarding speed, connectivity and is it worth prepaying before our cruise in September? Looking to purchase a package pre cruise. Thanks
  21. I am looking at a cruise to New Zealand in 2021. We would book an internal cabin so outside viewing decks are important to us. We most recently cruised on Coral Princess which had fabulous outside viewing from a number of decks including a Promenade you could walk all around, and ability to view from the front and the aft of the ship. Can anyone help me with comparing Majestic, Regal and Sapphire's outdoor decks? Many thanks Lou
  22. Is the American sockets in the cabin two pin or three pin?
  23. Hello, I’m new to Princess, sailing out of Southampton soon on the Sapphire. Are the sockets US type or British, ie do I need an adapter? Thank you.
  24. Sorry if this is a bit long, a bit of background:- We are a couple in our late forties and this was our 8th cruise, we starting cruising with Princess but switched to celebrity to try a few years ago when Princess seemed more expensive and fell in love with the Eclipse and Silhouette but due to a price hike in celebrity we decided to come back to Princess on the Sapphire to Norway. It would be our 3rd trip to the Fjords. I admit I was nervous whether we’d fall back in love with princess or would we notice some cost cutting measures I’d read about and would we like the princess style ship decor compared to modern Eclipse. As it was a shorter cruise we decided to pay for a Suite and had C420. I didn’t need to be nervous, Princess didn’t disappoint and the Fjords as always were spectacular. Embarkation:- We got to the pier about 11.30, check-in was really quick, no queues in any of the lines and I liked that there was no health questionnaire to complete, just a sign about telling them if you’d been poorly (not sure whether anyone actually answers truthfully). We got through security really quickly and through to the departure lounge. It looked like everyone was being held in the waiting area and judging by the number of people leaving the hotel early that morning some had been waiting a while. We were given a priority ticket number and almost as soon as we’d sat down our number was called and we were on our way onto the ship. We went straight up on deck and had our first cocktail and happily took in that cruise feeling and then looked out to sea to soak it all in. From the taxi to ‘Karen’s first cocktail’ it took all of 13 minutes - not sure we could have done it any quicker. Big tick for Princess to the start of the hols. Suite:- A few cocktails later, we headed to the suite, we met Michael our Steward (more about him later), our cases turned up quickly and I got the unpacking done asap, I always feel truly on holiday once the unpacking is done. C420 is gorgeous, I’m not sure what was done in the refit but everything looked either new or didn’t need replacing in the first place. Loads of storage and hanging space, the balcony furniture had new ‘cushions’. We’d had a Sky Suite on Celebrity and a Suite without going for the mega ‘owners/grand style’ suite, Princess wins hands down. This felt like a suite, the Celebrity one (although v nice) just felt like a bigger mini-suite. Michael was great, we book a suite for the space and don’t like a steward who makes too much of a fuss, we like relaxed and laid back. Michael either understood this and adapted his approach or we were lucky and his style was perfect for us. One change we did notice was how many more cabins he has to look after. He had 6 suites and I think 11 other cabins or something like that. I don’t know how he’d cope if some of those cabins had over-demanding or ‘messy’ passengers who take up a lot of his time. As it was, he was also still there after 9pm when he was meant to finish his shift. He quickly worked out when we get up so would likely be out of the room and when we went for food, drinks etc. Can’t say any bad word about him, definitely an asset to Princess. Ship, food and entertainment:- The refit might have made a big difference, but we thought she was in superb shape, didn’t see anything that looked tired or needed fixing. There seemed to be plenty of crew about, we didn’t need to wait for drinks and they always had a smile and a friendly approach. In the buffet food was cleared quickly. I had heard we might get a bit of ‘hassle’ with crew trying to sell things but we didn’t experience this at all. We got asked a few times but a polite ‘no thank you’ was all that was needed and we were never asked about the same thing twice. One thing I did miss on Princess compared to Celebrity was ‘comfy’ outdoor seating. They seemed to have more ‘garden style’ furniture rather than just sun-loungers. Wouldn’t stop me choosing a Princess ship again, but do feel that Celebrity have put more thought into their outdoor spaces. The newer Princess Ships might be different. I did watch a couple of movies on ‘Movies under the Stars’. Needed a few blankets with being the North Sea but the crew came round with blankets and popcorn. I seemed to remember cookies and hot chocolate, so this was one of the ‘cut backs’ I did notice, but hey not a deal breaker, I have legs and can easily walk to grab a hot chocolate and cookie! If anyone is interested the movies included The Greatest Showman, A Star is Born, Mary Poppins Returns, Mamma Mia Here we Go Again, Galaxy Quest, Aqua Man. I have the princess patters so if anyone wants a full list I can find them. We didn’t find the entertainment that great, it was hit and miss but this could mainly be personal preference. The comedian Jeff Stevenson was very funny, he was on twice and both shows were funny. I’d not heard of Gary Lovini but it was described as ‘evening of music and showmanship’ so I was expecting dancing, singing and a stage show. Gary was a very talented violist and I can appreciate his skill but wouldn’t have gone if the description had been better. Some people left so I’m guessing they felt the same, but lots of others enjoyed it. One of the main acts was Gareth Gates (ex pop idol & west end). He was OK but just added to the feeling of not enough ‘big production shows’. Steven Jaymes was the pianist in Crooners and he was superb. Played a wide range of music and interacted with the audience. We thought the food was very good. We don’t like to eat in the main dining room as we find the food quite rich and for us we don’t like spending hours at the dining table. The buffet in the evening was busier than I’d expected, the food was nice, not as much choice as Celebrity but the fish and curries in particular were well cooked and tasty. Suited us nicely. We did eat at the Sterling Steakhouse one night and the food was perfect. Breakfast for us was in Sabatini’s (Suite perk) and this was great. Celebrity don’t have this perk and I think they are missing a trick. Everything was cooked perfectly. The service was slow sometimes when everyone turned up together, but it didn’t bother us, we had coffee so were happy. The International Cafe didn’t disappoint, the sandwiches/panini at lunch as nice. The pastries beat Celebrity hands down. We had one pizza at Alfredos and it was very nice. We tried the soft scoop ice cream and didn’t like it at all, it tasted very false and far too sickly/false sweet. Might have been an off day at the machine but it put us off trying it again. We found getting on and off at ports very efficient. The only queue was at Gerainger due to using tenders but the crew were doing everything they could so it’s just one of those things. The on demand TV was brilliant, the movies appeared on there after they’d been on Movies Under the Starts so if it’s too cold or clashes with something else, it’s nice that you can catch it later when relaxing in your cabin. They had a good range of programmes/films and I’m sure everyone could find something to watch. We didn’t see many officers walking about the ship talking to passengers, but this may have been more timing than they didn’t do it. One small niggle was you couldn’t hear announcements in the cabin and we couldn’t find a channel on the TV with them on. So we missed the announcement about the change to Geiranger (it was confirmed in the princess patter) but didn’t know when customs had cleared the ship etc. It’s nice not to have the announcements blaring out, but thought there used to be ships channel, but perhaps it was user error and we just didn’t find it! Ports:- Our ports of call were Bergen, Geiranger, Olden, Stavanger. We were meant to go to Hellesylt but they cancelled that Fjord so we had the full day in Geiranger. I think it was something to do with the tours not being taken up so there was no need to go. It worked in our favour as we had more time in Geiranger, but some people might have been upset if they particularly wanted to see the scenery. In Bergen we booked the funicular up to the top and walked down. We chose to book in advance and go straight there, we only had a 5. min wait but others said they’d had to wait 2 hours later in the morning. The view was spectacular and had a nice coffee and cake at the top before starting the walk down. I love Bergen just to wander around. Geiranger is worth getting up early to watch the sail in, beautiful. We walked up the waterfall, around the top at some of the trails and then around the shops. It was very busy as the MSC Meraviglia was in and she is big. We stood on top of the bridge on the way out. The waterfalls were in full flow still and the sun was shining. Nature at it’s best. In Olden we decided to do the Loen Skylift. We booked in advance, the shuttle was there and it was only about 5 mins to the skylift. Again we went early and didn’t wait. The views at the top were amazing. The cable car is more vertical than I’d expect, didn’t bother me but if you don’t like heights you probably don’t want to look down and stand in the middle. It’s only the second year it’s open so some work is still ongoing but it’s worth doing and I’d recommend to anyone wanting a good view. We walked around for a couple of hours and then headed back down. Some of the ‘slopes’ are a bit steep and it was slippy as they were loose stones so you need to be careful in some parts but it did feel like you were on top of the world. There was still some snow up there too which was nice. Unfortunately the rain came for Stavanger. We’ve been there before so had a bit of a wander, got very wet and then came back on board. Disembarkation:- Very smooth, we opted for self disembarkation at 7.30 but we went at 7.15 and they just directed us straight off so didn’t go to a lounge. Overall:- I’d happily cruise on Celebrity or Princess again. The decision would be based on price, ship and itinerary. The crew, ship, ports of call, food, experience was fantastic and for us a 5* experience. Any questions ask away.
  25. I have sailed on many ships over the last few years P&O, Cunard, Royal carribean and Fred Oslen but Sapphire Princess April 27th 2019 was my first cruise with Princess. Bad weather initially delayed our departure from Southampton and resulted in the cancelation of our first port of call which is no fault of the ship but it marked the begging of a cruise plagued with problems. Our Inside room was suffocatingly stuffy even with the aircoditioning at full blast to a point that after 30 minutes inside we began to feel like we couldn't breath and there was not enough oxygen in the room. This it seems was a problem also suffered by others who had to frequently spend the entire night sleeping in the conservatory section of The upper deck with bedding and pillows. After complaints were made to the front desk an engineer visited the cabin and fully opend the air-conditioning vent that had been closed to less than 30%. But this revealed the reason the vent had been closed in the first place, Water was now running down the walls from a crack at the top. Leaks were not isolated to our own cabin however, throughout the cruise leaks began to appeare in the main corridor between the plaza and Club Fusion and also in the Buffet. We were forced to stay in our cabin with water running down the wall for 3 nights before another passenger disembarked the ship for personal reasons and we were finally allowed to move. On a number of occasions throughout the week unhappy passengers could bee seen transferring luggage from one cabbin to another and I found towards the end of the cruise other passengers had been moved Into the leakey room after we had gone. The ship is relatively old and its really beginning to show, the jacuzzi's looked inviting until seen from decks above where the discoloured grime made them look more like over heated fishponds. Overall the food onboard was between good and avarage but far from excilent. The worst part of dining aboard was eating from Plastic Plates, and drinking from Plastic beakers for juice and water, and even plastic cups for tea and Coffee! The 2 wash basins at the entrance to either side of the Buffet were really inadequate for the numbers of passengers and always resulted in long lines out of the doors and into the pool area. And Buffet itself is poorly layed out with multiple large round tables that could hold up to 8 people but generally only sat 2 as most European passengers don't like to share tables for dinner, this made finding a table at peak times in the Buffet a challange. Changing these round tables to multiple tables for 2 could probably double the seating capacity of the buffet. The entertainment was great but this is not exclusive to Princess Cruises as all the guest artists hired by Carnival corporation can also be seen during the year sailing on P&O and Cunard. But evening entertainment always seemed to coincide with each other and the second sitting for dinner which resulted in a number of missed shows and often a difficult decision between one show or another. However the Comedian Jeff Stevenson was Amazing. The one thing that cannot be complained about was all the crew who were friendly, kind and really made us feel like we were a part of a big family. I had been mislead to believe from reviews and recommendations that Princess cruises was to be considered a 4★ Cruise line and superior to P&O and Royal Caribbean both companies I have sailed with multiple times before this was supposed to be reflected in the price but Sapphire Princess was a disappointment. Its NOT any better in my opinion, P&Os Brittainia if far far better and cheaper by comparison and the Prices for drinks was extortionate $5.50 for a single can of Coke! Sapphire Princess is showing her age and is far from the image Princess cruise want you to see. I believe she is due to drydock later in the year for a refit before returning to Asia. I think most cruise lines (Except a few) have an ugly sister within the fleet perhaps at its best Princess is a 4★ fleet but Sapphire Princess alone is only a 2/3★ ship.
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