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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
Princess Cruises is an American company and so I blame myself in part for not spotting the warning signs, even though I have visited the USA many times. Unlike the UK, where the price you see is the price you pay, every purchase made in ... Read More
Princess Cruises is an American company and so I blame myself in part for not spotting the warning signs, even though I have visited the USA many times. Unlike the UK, where the price you see is the price you pay, every purchase made in the USA will cost far more than its advertised price with all kinds of extras added - most significantly, tips. Which is why my extras bill following my 14-night cruise was approaching $2000, of which a significant proportion was "gratuities" On board the Sapphire Princess there are many examples of US influence, of which more later - but the first clue was when, as we stepped off the gangplank and entered the ship, we were approached by smiling Princess staff (as happens of other ships, of course) by the difference was that these staff were not there to guide us to our stateroom or even to point out the location of the lifts - that we had to sort out for ourselves. No, these staff were there to sell us extras - in this case drinks packages. By purchasing such a package we would be able to reduce the price of a bottle of wine to as "little" as $31 a bottle. And this selling of overpriced extras continued throughout the cruise. Of course, one can refuse them and that was the option I normally took. My partner also elected not to take any of the personal care extras such as the spa which, she assured me, was about three times UK prices (and doubtless would have required the payment of a gratuity). I have become used to the fact that drinks on ships are not cheap these days (when I started cruising they were UK prices or less) but the drinks prices on Princess were obscene. The glass of wine that would have cost Princess less than a dollar at wholesale duty-free prices was on offer to customers for $10 or more. And that's not all - every drink served attracted a non-optional "gratuity" of $14.50. So the bottle of beer that would have cost no more than $4 in a UK pub cost over $21 - of which probably $20 was clear profit to Princess. This rampant profiteering was actually counter-productive since those at my dinner table (and the other tables I could see) simply refrained from buying drinks and drank the free water supplied. Normally I would have at least one drink with dinner, as would have my companion. Had the drinks been half the price and the gratuity absent, Princess would still have made plenty of money on our dinner drinks; as it is they made next to nothing. The gratuity scam continued to the end of the voyage when a gratuity payment of $14.50 per person, per day, was added to my stateroom account. So that's over $400 just for tips - even though tips had already been added to many of the services. So I was paying tips on tips! So how was the cruise otherwise? Well, not bad - as it should have been for the money. My stateroom, with its balcony, was comfortable enough, although once again there were some issues related to the American ownership. I have never been on a cruise where the staterooms have sufficient electrical socket outlets and on a modern ship there is no reason why they should be supplied. After all, travellers will have such things as mobile 'phones, laptops, camcorders, curlers, hair-dryers and other things that need power. The Sapphire Princess provided 4 outlets and these were of US specifications, which had more disadvantages than that of simply being of the niggardly US voltage of 110V. US sockets are much smaller than UK sockets and thus, when an adaptor is used to convert the US outlet to the UK plug type, there is room for only one plug in each double US socket. So only two sockets can be used at any time. Of course, the obligatory bottle of mineral water was supplied at a high price ($2.36) should one not want to drink the warm tap-water. The on-board entertainment was good enough, although I have been on cruises where there is a greater variety. My major criticism of the entertainment was its timing. Passengers who had booked the second sitting for dinner, as had I, we simply unable to take advantage of many of the events as they started too early - 2030 or 2100 - when dinner rarely finished prior to 2200. I have never had this problem on other lines. But those intending to book with Princess would be well-advised to book an early dinner sitting. Of course, it would have been possible for us to have gone to the self-service restaurant - but when one has established a good relationship with one's fellow diners one wishes to maintain it. Overall the facilities were good and there were generally enough of them for all, although lounger-space around the pools was in short supply and some guests had taken to "reserving" a lounger with personal items - although this was supposedly forbidden. The "Movie under the stars" facility was impressive with its huge screen although it was a shame that nothing but the titles and ratings of the movies was given in the "Princess Patter" information sheets. So what is one to make of a movie entitled "Bohemian Rhapsody" if one has never seen its details anywhere. There was an in-cabin TV which gave some details of what was going on - but details of the movies were absent, although there was ample space to have shown such details in "Princess Patter" or on the TV. So would I cruise with Princess again? In a word, no, unless they do something about their prices. I can afford to pay them but I resent being ripped off - and, frankly, this is what Princess are doing. In conversation with our fellow travellers we found several who had been on multiple Princess cruises and were intending to pay a deposit for another one (on yes - the continuous on-board selling included forward bookings) but for me once was enough. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
It was a good trip as we got to see parts of Norway landscape and mountains as the ship travel thru the fjords. We visited a few of small villages where we took excursions that gave us some wonderful views of the valley. The only issue ... Read More
It was a good trip as we got to see parts of Norway landscape and mountains as the ship travel thru the fjords. We visited a few of small villages where we took excursions that gave us some wonderful views of the valley. The only issue a I had was the length of stay in Bergen as it was really not enough time to see the city as there were many things to look and see in this wonderful city. The cruise itself was average as the boat did sort of showed it aged but Princess did a good job of renovating it. Dining was fine as the menu selection was close to the local food. The sea was not too rough as most of the time it was smooth sailing. The entertainment was fine but was not too exciting as I would have expected. The comedian Juggler I think was the best of all of the shows. We liked the music playing in the piazza as we sat with out latte and relax. The movies under the stars was good - except it was kindof chilly which is expected. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I saved up to take my retired parents on their first cruise. The itinerary was good, the stateroom was beautiful and spacious but the dining was slow, on average it took 2 1/2 hours to serve a soup or salad, salmon or meat and veg ... Read More
I saved up to take my retired parents on their first cruise. The itinerary was good, the stateroom was beautiful and spacious but the dining was slow, on average it took 2 1/2 hours to serve a soup or salad, salmon or meat and veg and a cold pudding. We chose anytime dining which seemed to make the service slower. We tried going early /half time /later and always had to wait a long time for a table so we missed a lot of the entertainment too. The food was edible, like a bar meal or canteen catering but it wasn't delicious. However, the food on the last night was delicious and much different to the other nights which saddened me. The service overall was hit and miss. I would say that the staff were all overstretched. The guy cleaning the cabins had 19 to take care of and easily worked a 12 hour shift, there were hardly any waiters in the dining room which contributed to slow service - about 8 waiters per restaurant, the entertainment who were excellent, also had a triple shift - singing for over 3 hours throughout the night, which is a lot for a band. The ports and shore excursions were enjoyable. We visited Bruge, Copenhagen and Oslo. We couldn't dock at Skagen due to high winds. We had a lovely holiday but it certainly didn't have the cruise wow factor we expected for that price point. I feel quite cheated and I don't feel my parents got the real cruise experience. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This was our first Princess cruise, we have cruised with Royal Caribbean on numerous occasions and cannot help making comparisons. Pros: The crew were lovely and very helpful, our room steward Anna was great, our room was very clean. ... Read More
This was our first Princess cruise, we have cruised with Royal Caribbean on numerous occasions and cannot help making comparisons. Pros: The crew were lovely and very helpful, our room steward Anna was great, our room was very clean. The entertainment was very good, especially the Princess Singers and Dancers, as well as other entertainment. However we were expecting a famous celebrity singer or comedian on board for one night. There were plenty of seats at Horizon Court both daytime and evening, with no queueing, disembarking on days out was very quick, only light queueing coming back on board. Cons: 18% tips is far too high for drinks. Signed receipts for drinks should be given automatically without asking. Account could not be activated on TV screens. Food was disappointing, hot food was cold or tepid, and not enough choice in both Any Time Dining restaurants or Horizon. Portions in restaurants far to small with not enough vegetables. Too much carvery pork in Horizon with no other choice. Cleaning: we did not see anyone cleaning banisters, lifts, buttons, toilets at any time. This should be done on a regular basis throughout the day and evening. We did not see any salad serving spoons in Horizon being changed during mealtimes. It is all very well having sinks but numerous people did not use them before meals. We both came home with streaming colds and coughs although we always leave our balcony door open both day and night. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Have sailed with Princess twice before, so knew what to expect. Had been on the sister ship, Diamond Princess, so the layout was very familiar I chose a balcony at the rear of the ship, as it is an nice quite place Embarkation at ... Read More
Have sailed with Princess twice before, so knew what to expect. Had been on the sister ship, Diamond Princess, so the layout was very familiar I chose a balcony at the rear of the ship, as it is an nice quite place Embarkation at Southampton was very smooth, with two items of luggage waiting when we got to the cabin, with the final item some twenty minutes later The cabin was attended throughout by Sdravko, who was most pleasant, efficient and unobtrusive. It was a pleasure. A nice touch was having a kettle. With so many from the UK on board, this was much better for making tea I think the beds have been upgraded from my last trip as they were much more comfortable than before. The same with the pillows. This is a good improvement For most of the trip, I dined in the Pacific Moon dining room, looked after by Sebastien and Luis, who did a professional job The menu was much as before. The same four Curtis Stone dishes popped up often several times during the journey. I had the pork belly on one occasion, which was ok, but not as good as before, not being crispy. Surely he can supply some new recipes after even the three years I have been using Princess? Most nights the food was good. There were occasional misses, but that's to be expected. I was happy with the food supplied The cafeteria on the 14th deck was as expected. I never tried it in the evening, but it was ok for breakfast and a light lunch. One puzzling thing though, was that on a far eastern cruise, smoked salmon was available for breakfast nearly every day. On this cruise in Northern Europe from the UK and from Alaska, it wasn't, which I found strange On the last night, I ordered a plate of "luxury" canapes to have with a bottle of Champagne. I did wonder at the low £14.99 + service cost, but assumed they must be ok. They were disappointing and I've included a photograph. The bread circles were quite dry and unbuttered. The breadstick with the prosciutto wrapped around it was soft and stale and there was none of the promised pate de foie. I tried them, but wouldn't again I didn't make any of the shows, but was impressed with the on demand movies available in the cabin. This is a great improvement on before and I enjoyed catching up with some newish releases. Moving to a flat screen TV is welcome, but left the space where the old cathode set used to be as an odd empty space. It did at least provide another power outlet.This needs remodelling Getting on and off the boat in port was very smooth, as a foot passenger, or on the one Princess tour I took. So much better than the experience with a different cruise company last October Now for the not-so-good: After a busy couple of days, my companion didn't fancy dinner the embarkation evening, so I went to the Santa Fe dining room alone and was accommodated. I ordered a bottle of Sancerre, had two small glasses, expecting to finish it on my next visit. I asked the chap who served it to put it on ice as it needed cooling further. He served me both of the glasses I had. The following evening, I didn't fancy wine, having had good beer in Bruges. I did mention that I had a bottle saved. The third night I missed dinner, but the fourth night, I asked for some more from the bottle. This was in the Pacific Moon dining room, as apparently the Santa Fe wasn't accepting "anytime dining". There was trouble locating the remains of the bottle, but the head waiter, was apologetic, offering two complimentary glasses while they searched The following evening I again asked for the remains of the bottle, but again it couldn't be found, so two more complimentary glasses were supplied. The head waiter again was very helpful, apologising that the bottle couldn't be found, promising some of the "chef's special limoncello" the following evening. I'm not keen so never did take this up. I gave up on the bottle being found, so ordered more for the remainder of the trip I was at the reception desk for a different reason and mentioned this missing bottle. They said they would contact the dining room to investigate. A short while later, a message was waiting for me from the head waiter who had been searching for the bottle. He said that the waitress'who had served me that first evening, told him I finished all the wine. I have on occasion finished a bottle of wine while dining alone, but not on this occasion, the first night. I was also disappointed as the waitress hadn't served the wine, just her assistant. That evening I was again offered complimentary glasses of wine, but I declined, as I had a bottle started. I should have taken a receipt, but haven't always in the past and haven't had a problem before. Whether the waitress was mistaken or being dishonest, I couldn't say. Later in the cruise I checked my on board account and noticed I had been charged twice for another bottle of wine. It was explained as an accounting error, caused by having to move the bottle from one dining room to another. This shouldn't happen though and it makes me wonder for those who don't check their accounts how often it happens This time I only booked one tour with Princess. Previously, I've booked all, but on this occasion, I was astonished at the prices charged. For instance, a round trip transfer from Zeebrugge to Bruges, through a different provider was around $20/person. Princess were asking $79/person. This seemed to be the same throughout the itinerary, so I booked independently. Possibly the most striking example was tickets for the ballet at the Mariinsky in St Petersburg. My tour guide purchased the tickets- good ones, for about $90/head, took us to the theatre and arranged for a port taxi to pick us up for a cost of around $30, which she said was extortionate. A total of just over $200 for the both of us. Princess were offering similar, admittedly with a glass of champagne and a tour of the theatres prior to the performance, for the grand sum of £299/person- three times the cost. I was talking to an elderly English about the tour costs and she agreed, but said she felt she had to order from Princess, just to be safe The one tour we took was in Gdansk and included a walking tour of the town and a trip to Malbork Castle. I chose this tour as it was about the longest on offer and included two lots of free time, one at each stop. There was a lunch included, that I thought we could miss, if we needed further free time The time was extremely tight on the tour, with only ten minutes given for free time in the city centre and five at the castle. The lunch, which was very good, by the way, was at a convention hotel off a motorway, so there was no reason to miss the lunch, as nothing to see. We got back to the ship just around 15:20, with all passengers due to be on board by 15:30. We weren't the last bus back If time is going to be that tight, tours of that length shouldn't be offered. The tour was interesting, but being so rushed didn't help One final issue from before boarding, was that I contacted Princess and asked if it would be possible to block casino access for our shipboard accounts. I was told that this wasn't possible, as it would block access to everything for our accounts and that I should contact the casino manager after embarkation to see what might be done. I very nearly cancelled the entire cruise after receiving this answer. I was told, by guest services on board, that you can choose from a menu of what services you don't want to access, be it casino, shops, spa etc. I think it odd the cruise consultant wasn't aware of this Overall, whatever you may think of the above, the experience was fine. I intend to use Princess again in the future, but will not be shy about exploring other lines or checking the services offered on board Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
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 and the first time I've felt the need to write a ... Read More
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 and the first time I've felt the need to write a review. 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. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise due to the destinations offered and we immediately disappointed when we weren't able to stop at our first port due to a 7-hour late departure due to wind at Southampton. My question about this is why didn't ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the destinations offered and we immediately disappointed when we weren't able to stop at our first port due to a 7-hour late departure due to wind at Southampton. My question about this is why didn't the captain dock aft end first, like the other 4 cruise ships in the harbor who were all able to leave on time? The afternoon wind was well reported and a known issue. The second problem was the Horizon Buffet. We like casual dining but were quite disappointed in the quality of the food as the week progressed. Powdered eggs, frozen hashbrown patties, rubbery fried eggs from sitting under the heat lamp way too long are NOT my idea of quality food. The lack of variety was another issue. They served virtually the same menu every day of the week. Also, they frequently closed half of the buffet which caused us to have to sit out by the pool which reduced our enjoyment. We did enjoy dinner in the larger dining rooms. The food was well prepared and flavorful. All of the main dining rooms serve off of the same menu. There were a limited number of excursions available. The excursions we took went to interesting places, but most of the stops were too rushed and crowded to enjoy. When they say photo stop, plan on spending most of the time walking to and from the site, with a few brief moments to snap a shot or two if you can get them through the crowds since all of the buses seem to arrive and depart at the same time. One of our tour guides said the tour we took was designed to be 8 hours but was condensed into 4.5. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Ship was not tired as others had advised and we thought it was in good condition. Embarkation and disembarkation were excellent and UK Customs Checks happened on board 2/3 days before docking at Southampton. Restaurants were all ... Read More
Ship was not tired as others had advised and we thought it was in good condition. Embarkation and disembarkation were excellent and UK Customs Checks happened on board 2/3 days before docking at Southampton. Restaurants were all excellent and we ate in 8 of them. Food was fantastic, however the service from the waiting staff was at best, variable. From shocking to good.Horizons was the worst and the Manager handled our constructive comments about the service, very well. But even now, 6 days after the cruise our overall thoughts and memories are that the service was the poorest we have ever experienced on any cruise. It was so bad it affected our enjoyment of the holiday. Cabin was excellent - large and good bed, pillows and shower (if a bit small). TV had Sky Sports live and Sport 24 (all the live football and golf you could wish for). On Demand service included the films from the previous day's shown in the Cinema and pool sire Screen. we watched - A Star is Born, Mary Queen of Scots and The Wife. All fantastic and recent releases. Signage for each floor is not clear or intuitive. The gym is good, but staff unwelcoming and stand-off ish. Information provided was mostly "selling" literature which was annoying. Good App, printers to run off on board expenditure and good street maps of the forthcoming ports to allow planning to get off ship. Library was shared with future Cruise Sales - so not a library - more a store for second hand books to be taken away. Ports were fine - best were Monaco, Barcelona and Gibraltar. Although I loved the walk to Le Harve and its museums and beach area. Unless Princess Cruises get their act together on staff attitude towards passengers (staff working in security, gym, restaurants, cafe on Deck 5, Guest relations, common areas and Horizons) we will not be back. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
I must have been on a different cruise than some of the other reviewers. After 20 + cruises on various cruise lines, I found this one mediocre. Perhaps I expected too much of the exotic 37 day Singapore to Southampton itinerary. I ... Read More
I must have been on a different cruise than some of the other reviewers. After 20 + cruises on various cruise lines, I found this one mediocre. Perhaps I expected too much of the exotic 37 day Singapore to Southampton itinerary. I have to admit the highlight of the trip, Petra, definitely did live up to its hype and my expectations. The Suez Canal on the other hand was a major disappointment to anyone who has been through the Panama Canal. The quality and presentation of the food at the buffet in the Horizons Cafe was something you would expect in a military mess, not on a cruise ship. The food in the dining room fared somewhat better but was definitely not what it used to be 5 or 10 years ago. Cost cutting is definitely evident. We asked about wine packages and coffee cards when we boarded and were told these were not available, yet we saw both being used by other passengers later on in the trip. It would be good if Princess would promote these packages and not just it's expensive beverage package. The ship itself could use a little TLC; and I have to say the (same) activities become a little stale after 4 Princess cruises. The entertainment was mediocre as well, just the usual magicians, comedians and ventriloquists. I found the enrichment activities uninteresting, however there were quite a few recent release movies available. Thank goodness for a wonderful stateroom stewart. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I recently completed a 10 day cruise on Sapphire Princess, sailing out from Singapore on February 28, 2019. I encountered some serious issues that I have not experienced on Princess before. While in the men's changeroom, I witnessed ... Read More
I recently completed a 10 day cruise on Sapphire Princess, sailing out from Singapore on February 28, 2019. I encountered some serious issues that I have not experienced on Princess before. While in the men's changeroom, I witnessed the spa staff give a master locker key to a passenger who claims he found his locker locked but he had not locked it. The passenger was allowed to use the master key in the men's changeroom unsupervised as spa staff said no male staff was available to accompany him. The passenger then opened the locker that he thought was his, found out it was not his and then promptly used the master key to open every locker near the one he thought was his, violating the privacy and security of property of the other passengers who had locked their belongings in the lockers. In addition, on two occasions when I was in the men's changeroom, once when I was in the sauna with another passenger also in the sauna and a second time when I was standing at the lockers while changing, I heard a woman's voice in the men's changeroom and found the female spa manager had entered the men's changeroom during operating hours unannounced and without any prior warning. I reported both the locker master key incident and the female spa manager intrusion into the men's changeroom to both the spa manager and front desk but did not see any serious response to the incidents from the ship (as shown by the spa manager intruding into the men's changeroom a second time when I was in there just a day or two after I reported the first intrusion). It was only after I e-mailed my cruise agent to complain and he passed on my complaint to Princess sales office that head office contacted the ship and arranged for the Customer Services Director to meet with me to explain they have reported the locker master key incident to the captain as a breach of security and that they have instructed the female spa manager not to enter the men's changeroom during operating hours. It was quite clear to me from my experience on this cruise that the spa manager and the ship was not taking these matters very seriously until head office contacted the ship and likely because I pointed out in my complaint that had a male spa staff member intruded into the women's changeroom unannounced while female guests were in the changeroom, there would likely have been a much more serious reaction. The cruise would otherwise have been much better rated by me but this serious breach of security of property of other passengers by the careless release of the master locker key to a passenger unsupervised and the repeated intrusion of the female spa manager into the men's changeroom unannounced, and the initial tepid response from the ship and front desk does raise serious doubts in my mind about the attitude of Princess to very basic expectations of passengers to security of property and privacy. I do want to credit the Customer Services Director Miguel Netto Rocha though with making every effort to reassure me the issues were being seriously dealt with and to ensure other aspects of my cruise met my expectations, once he became involved in the matter (he indicated he was off the ship when the incidents occurred and returned to the ship only the day before he met with me). He sent the supervisor of my cabin steward to drop in on me to make sure I was happy with my cabin cleaning and condition, and he did offer perhaps complimentary spa service but I declined the offer as I only use the gym, sauna and steam room and not the massage or salon services. He also gave me his card and his phone local number and asked me to call him with any other issues or concerns during the balance of my cruise. Part of the issue, according to my understanding, may be that the spa is subcontracted to a spa operator so the spa manager and spa staff are not Princess employees but employees of the contractor. Therefore the spa staff may be less focused on Princess cruise passenger concerns as long as the spa contractor retains its contract to operate the spas for Princess. The above serious issues aside, my cruise experience was generally good, noticing some improvement in food offerings, interesting ports even on an itinerary with only 4 port calls, some noticeable wear and tear on an old ship that could perhaps be better maintained and some sloppiness in materials provided to passengers. I boarded in Singapore and boarding was very efficient. I arrived before noon well before the official time of boarding for my cabin but had no trouble checking in and boarding quickly in time for lunch at the buffet. My cabin was ready when I boarded and luggage delivery was fairly quick. One thing I noticed is that my cabin steward did not put out the plastic mats on top of the bed for unpacking luggage on boarding day (or for packing the day before disembarkation) so this appears to be a change in procedure for Princess compared to prior cruises. I thought food offerings was improved on this cruise due to a new pastry/baked goods/dessert station being added to the Horizon Court buffet outside of the original buffet area. This allowed more appetizers and main courses to be offered in the original buffet area since it no longer needed to allow space for baked goods and desserts, and also as the new baked goods/dessert station is quite large, there were many more desserts and baked goods on offer during breakfast, lunch and dinner - pretty much as broad as the dessert and baked goods offerings on a Royal class ship with its separate bakery section in the buffet. Dishes on offer in the main dining room for dinner looked familiar compared to prior cruises, except that there was a local dish offering or two each evening such as Bak Kut The (or meat bone tea, a pork rib cooked in herbal broth dish from Singapore/Malaysia) which I had one evening. The local offerings are definitely toned down for Western tastes and so not quite authentically local in spiciness or herbal flavour, but still an interesting alternative to the dishes you can have on any other Princess cruise in the world. The ports on this cruise were Bali (tender), Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Phuket (tender). I particularly loved Penang as I enjoyed the visits to the Chinese merchant mansions and clan houses, and also the convenience of the ship being docked just off the main part of Georgetown where all the sites, shopping and food outlets are located (Chinatown and Little India both within easy walking distance, 5 minutes to an outdoor hawker stall market for many choices of cheap local food). Phuket was a bit inconvenient as we had to tender to a small town that had nothing and then take ship tours or local taxis to get to anywhere interesting and traffic was quite congested in Phuket. I opted for the Phi Phi Island excursion. We had two snorkelling stops but snorkelling was not great - some fish and corral but not as abundant as many other sites in Asia. We were not allowed to land on Maya Beach, made famous by the filming of the movie "The Beach" due to the government closing the beach indefinitely to repair the ecosystem but we were able to take photos from offshore and then snorkel in the waters a bit offshore of Maya Beach. Bali (Denpasar) was also a tender port and tender service was not very good - my excursion was about half an hour late departing as tenders were late getting to shore and returned about an hour late to the tender point where I found a very long line-up for tenders and no tenders in sight (thought Princess should have done better to coordinate with its tour operators to know when their excursion buses would be returning and making sure tenders were on hand to quickly transfer passenger back to the ship, the late return was particularly inconvenient as the late return of the excursion and the long wait for tenders meant I missed the lunch service hours so only sandwich/snacks at Horizon court or International Café was available). Kuala Lumpur was not a tender port but there was a long bus ride from the port to the city itself. I took a Princess excursion that visited the Batu Caves (very interesting), the Royal Selangor Pewter factory (very quick factory tour and explanation and equally short time for quick shopping of pewter products) and the National Museum (not much to see and no inside guided tour, just view on your own). I chose anytime dining and made a reservation each night at the Pacific Moon dining room on deck 6. Even if I call as soon as the reservation line is open, the only time slots offered are 5:30 to about 6:30 pm or 7:30 pm and later. I found arriving early before about 6:45 pm, there was no problem getting a table with or without a reservation, The busy time appears to be 7 to 7:30 pm. The first night, the service was very slow - over 90 min for one person dining by myself compared to the 30 to 45 minute range that is my usual experience on other Princess ships. However I spoke to the Head Waiter about this and every evening after that, he made sure I was served as quickly as I could eat (kudos to head waiter Luigi and Alex, my waiter for most evening, who were wonderful in addressing my concerns and ensuring my dining experience was to my satisfaction). I used the gym onboard frequently. It had the usual equipment. The gym was quite busy much of the time but I was able to figure out the slow times to go so that I would not have to wait too much to use the equipment that I wanted to use. As I mentioned above, I also used the sauna and steamroom in the men's changeroom, often after using the gym. The sauna was fine but the steamroom was not operating for the first 6 days of the 10 day cruise and there seemed to be confusion about the steamroom being out of operation as front desk said they were not aware the steamroom was broken notwithstanding passengers reporting the problem to spa staff continuously (I saw the engineers working on the steamroom on several days but they did not seem to do a good job of making sure the repairs actually worked after they were done and in addition to the steam generator issues, there were also issues with the steamroom door failing to close properly thereby letting all the steam out). According to other passengers who were on a back to back 20 day cruise prior to the start of my 10 days cruise, the steamroom was working fine during the prior 10 days to the start of my cruise so it may be a matter of bad luck on an old ship with the steamroom issues. The out of operation steamroom also meant the much smaller sauna was often over-crowded and sometimes, passengers would have to wait to take turns in the sauna. There were also problems with the showers in the changeroom - for several days, one of the three showers were out of operation causing line-ups for showers and for the first several days of the cruise, the shower stalls were missing the full set of toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel). The spa manager said the changerooms were considered to be part of the spa. That might explain the issues with the steamroom and shower stalls in the changeroom, the delay in getting things fixed, and the lack of knowledge at front desk of issues with the changeroom facilities - generally bad management by the spa manager and staff and very poor coordination with front desk and ship management. I also ran into issues with sloppiness in materials provided to passengers. There were obvious errors on the Princess Patter, such as listing a sushi buffet for lunch at Horizon Court one day when there was no such offering (I think they got the date wrong as there was a sushi buffet at lunch at Horizon Court on the final at sea day). There were also obvious errors in the maps provided as part of the port handouts for Bali and for Kuala Lumpur. When I pointed the errors out to the shore excursion staff, they indicated the handouts are provided by head office and not onboard so they do not control the information in the handouts - a bit surprising that obvious errors in the maps would be provided to passengers going to these ports on all Princess ships and not having anyone notice or point these out. I have been on many Princess cruises and earned up to the Elite level on Captain Circle. This cruise on the Sapphire Princess was one of the most problematic cruises I have been on with Princess. I normally have no reservation in recommending Princess as a good mid-priced cruise line with generally good ships, food and service, and good itineraries with strong infrastructure set-up in ports for excursions and issues. However this cruise has certainly shaken my confidence in Princess so I hope my next cruise on Princess in Japan in June will be back to traditional Princess standards and restore my faith in Princess. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise for the destinations. We had visited vietnam in 2004 and wanted to see how it had developed. Never visited Thailand and Indonesia. So this cruise was to tick off these destinations. Vietnam was a dissapointment. It was ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the destinations. We had visited vietnam in 2004 and wanted to see how it had developed. Never visited Thailand and Indonesia. So this cruise was to tick off these destinations. Vietnam was a dissapointment. It was dirty, smoggy and the touts are really in your face. Want to remember it the way it was on our first visit. Bali was a lovely surprise, a beautiful island and lovely people. Phuket I am glad I have seen, but have decided won’t bother to visit again. Loved Singapore and Kuala Lumpah. Basically I now feel I dont need to visit this area again, unfortunately Asia is smoggy everywhere and it was sad how much rubbish was floating in the oceans. Saw very little sea life or birds. Biggest dissapointment of the cruise was our dining experience. The buffet was repetitive, basically same thing every day. They were not strict enough with hand hygiene and there were many people coughing and sick. The dining room menus for all meals were rotated and after not many days became boring. I do like Princess but the Sapphire although a beautiful ship would not be my first choice. The staff however were as always magnificent. They are all friendly, courteous and efficient. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We wanted to visit the South Asian ports on this 20 day cruise and check them off our list to see. The ports o call were average with some exceptions. Some were very 3rd world and not very clean. Phuket was the worst. We have sailed all ... Read More
We wanted to visit the South Asian ports on this 20 day cruise and check them off our list to see. The ports o call were average with some exceptions. Some were very 3rd world and not very clean. Phuket was the worst. We have sailed all over the world including last year to NZ & AUS and the cruise and ports were outstanding. The food on the Sapphire was not as good as on the Sun Princess. Not very tasty lacking in menu selections with many of the same things offered every meal. Dinner seating being only 60% around our table reflected the lack of menu selections We and others went to the Lido Deck to eat instead of the dinning room. We are not big eaters but what we do eat should be flavorful and with several selections. Some items were the same every day listed as "Special" The Sun Princess chief now has transferred to the Royal Princess so I expect the food there is grest. We really enjoyed the meals aboard the Sun Princess last March 2018. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Well just back after a cruise visiting Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Check in was relatively easy at Singapore and luggage delivered to room quickly. Balcony room on Baja floor basic but adequate. No bottles of water or bottles in room ... Read More
Well just back after a cruise visiting Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Check in was relatively easy at Singapore and luggage delivered to room quickly. Balcony room on Baja floor basic but adequate. No bottles of water or bottles in room as advertised, no tea or coffee and no pictures on wall. Room attendant was fabulous and nothing was to much trouble. Bed very comfortable. Restaurants struggled to seat 6 of us. All except Vivaldi where we ate most nights. Lovely menu. Changes every day but it’s the same in all restaurants other than the ones you pay extra for. The steaks were lovely. Staff seemed to struggle daily with a my white wine and soda. Please train staff on this it’s not a difficult drink. A few annoying aspects of the cruise other than the above, staff eating in guest restaurants and drinking and taking part in bars on a night time, some childish entertainment, staff at the coffee bar who seem frustrated with you when busy and the urgency to get you off the boat on check out day. Good points, food, polite and helpful staff in shops, great choice of bars, The tours. One tip. Bangkok is advertised as 2 1/2 hours away. This is rare and it was 3 hours 45 to our first temple. A refreshment stop on Route was overcrowded and disgusting. Malaysia tour was disappointing and upsetting. The animals at the zoo were clearly distressed. Please please please stop the tour of riding the elephants at Koh Samui. The show is upsetting with baby elephants dancing to pop music and staff continually prodding the elephants ears with sticks with hooks on. READ the reviews on this awful place. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We travelled on the Sapphire Princess from Singapore to Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and back to Singapore. We had a state room with a balcony. The state room was ok (3 star if comparing it to hotels). The ship had supposedly been ... Read More
We travelled on the Sapphire Princess from Singapore to Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and back to Singapore. We had a state room with a balcony. The state room was ok (3 star if comparing it to hotels). The ship had supposedly been refurbished so I was expecting more. The fridge didn't really work and was obviously very old. The sink, loo and shower were old and had lost their shine. The decor in the rest of the ship was much better and I had no complaints. It was very clean throughout. The restaurant food was average, but he horizon was awful. The food and drink in the horizon was served on plastic plates and cups. Wine in a plastic beaker is not my thing!. The buffet are was small and tried to offer a little bit of everything, so it was really difficult to make a meal that really went together. Great if you don't mind curry, stew and pasta on the same plate! We only ate there once! The sit-down restaurant staff were lovely and helpful. Bottles of wine are exortionate. Beware: the wine list is misleading with starting prices only - we thought we were buying wine for $32 which ended up being $38 .... and yes these were the cheapest on the list! Cocktails cost about £8. Generally drinks are not cheap. We bought some wine and cokes on a shore visit. Although there was no quibble about this you could only drink these in your room. The theatre was large and comfortable. Only very late comers struggled to get seats. The ship's entertainment was excellent and the inhouse shows were better than the invited acts. On the top deck there was an outside cinema. Blankets were issued at night on the sun loungers for guest comfort - a nice touch. During the day, we didn't struggle to get sun loungers on the deck. There seemed to be plenty do on ship. Although their audience participation stuff needs work, i.e. two members of the audience being given ping pong bats (?) and asked to play a childs word game. e.g. name the decks on the ship - you're out if you repeat or can't name one!! Shore excursions were very expensive compared to the last three cruises I had been on. Some were very rushed: The Singapore Zoo/breakfast with the orangutans was really disappointing. There was simply no time to enjoy the zoo. By the time we got there, we had about two hours. With time lost waiting around, we had a rushed 25 minute breakfast and a queue to have a rushed photo with the orangutans. It left about an 1.5 to go around the whole zoo. Not sure why it was so rushed when the boat did not leave for hours after we got back. The zoo is generally very good with a positive feel for animal welfare, although it was not nice to see the leapard pacing up and down in its small cage. The city tours in Bangkok and in Vietnam were excellent - long days but well worth it. Princess's Thailand tours were very dissappointing with very little on offer, unless you wanted to vist a spa hotel (why??), wanted to vist an elephant Kraal, or monkey demonstrations. When I check on line ALL their animal centred tours had allegations of cruelty. It was shocking to me that a cruise company would support any tour with such allegations against them, especially when Ko Samui has an elephant sanctuary which it could have been supported!!! Lastly, the service from the steward and in the restaurants was very good. The same could not be said of the coffee bar staff, who appeared put out by customers. The upper deck grill, who had two guys that phaffed about. I watched them for 10 mins, whilst standing in a queue of 8 people ,while one put onion on a tray of lettuce and one assembled burgers nobody had ordered. They were like this every day until one day the head chef turned up and they both moved double time. The disembarkation/embarkation acted like airport custom's officers are were generally moody and didn't crack a smile. I have travelled with P & O and Tui and Princess is my least favourite cruise company so far. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
So just finished the Sapphire Princess starting from Singapore for a five night cruise. So this was my Fifth cruise so think i am in a position to start giving my views. So a few things. 1) No Broadway shows, very surprised. Yes ... Read More
So just finished the Sapphire Princess starting from Singapore for a five night cruise. So this was my Fifth cruise so think i am in a position to start giving my views. So a few things. 1) No Broadway shows, very surprised. Yes they had a few things in the theatre but no big show. 2) The staff looked tired. My first cruise where i can not even remember a member of staff name. 3) The buffet area was a massive let down. so small compared to others i have been on. 4) Good things- Movies under the stars, love the concept 5) None alcohol drinks package well worth the price. 6) No towel animals made up in the evening. Now considering that princess is meant to be a five star ship i must admit that this cruise has not left me running back to book a new cruise with Princess Read Less
Meh
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Of all the princess cruises I’ve been to, this ranks one of the lowest. The food was mediocre. Service mediocre. Tour excursion disappointing. We booked the phi phi island excursion ahead of time because of the famous maya bay. We were ... Read More
Of all the princess cruises I’ve been to, this ranks one of the lowest. The food was mediocre. Service mediocre. Tour excursion disappointing. We booked the phi phi island excursion ahead of time because of the famous maya bay. We were told that it’s closed and the excursion will stop at Bamboo island instead. We cancelled that excursion and booked James Bond island tour instead. Found out that they substituted the buffet lunch with box lunch. The box lunch comprised of a tiny cold burrito (yuk), an apple (not sure if it’s washed) and orange (dry and tasteless). The chip was the only thing that tasted ok. We found out they changed to box lunch more than two years. Princess continues to advertise as buffet lunch. James island was beautiful. But the bus and long tail boat ride to get there was more than 3 hours each way. I was feeling light headed by the time we were there. Excursion in Ko Samui Peace Resort was nice and relaxing. Actuhad a buffet lunch. Taste of Penang was on. The only thing I recommend to buy is the coffee. I wish I bought more. My major complaint about this cruise is the visa fee that princess charge each person. $56 whether you get off in Vietnam or not. That’s a rip off. Vietnam charges less than $10, princess kept the rest. Other cruise lines don’t rip off their customers like that. We didn’t know when we booked the no refundable cruise. Only found out when we log in to provide personal info. By then it’s too late. The one thing I highly recommend is the Zumba and ballet dance classes. Rachel was great! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I chose princess cruises because I had cruised with them before in Alaska and enjoyed it. I wanted to experience parts of Asia. We enjoyed a suite on the 10th floor which was lovely. The sofa was a bit worn. Our cabin attendant Stephen ... Read More
I chose princess cruises because I had cruised with them before in Alaska and enjoyed it. I wanted to experience parts of Asia. We enjoyed a suite on the 10th floor which was lovely. The sofa was a bit worn. Our cabin attendant Stephen was very good. We mostly ate at Sante Fe Restaurant which we enjoyed. The waiters were excellent. We did attend the buffet and it was acceptable. Bar service was good. We had purchased packages. Entertainment was not exciting. I think Princess has done a better job in the past. The real disappointment was the excursions. We did our best to choose excursions we felt would give us an overview of the culture. The two things that stand out most were visiting temples......too many, and shopping. One excursion was pushing shopping 3 times. Honestly the merchandise at most places wasn’t worth buying. On another excursion we took a ride the river. At the end of the river we fed catfish. Really, Princess? We need to pay hard earned money to go on a cruise for this. Our flight was 18 1/2 hours. We don’t need to feed catfish. Singapore was the best and most interesting port. Much to see. I did go to the excursions desk to explain our disappointment. We were credited a total of $80. Unacceptable! We took an excursion in every port including the last day prior to tge airport. That excursion was good. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was the perfect trip for us as we wanted to get a taste of the Far East to enable us to decide where we wanted (and didn't want) to go next. Because the incoming boat was late arriving due to bad weather, we were very late ... Read More
This was the perfect trip for us as we wanted to get a taste of the Far East to enable us to decide where we wanted (and didn't want) to go next. Because the incoming boat was late arriving due to bad weather, we were very late embarking. We had to wait in the terminal for about five hours and didn't board until 9pm. There was nothing to do in the terminal although some biscuits and cake were eventually sent from the ship. Once we boarded it would have been nice if some gesture of apology was made (a glass of wine maybe) but nothing. We were very tired and didn't want to go anywhere for dinner. We tried many times over the course of the next hour to get room service but the phone number was constantly busy. We went to bed on the few crisps and a chocolate bar we found in our luggage. When we wandered around the ship the next day we were very pleasantly surprised by the standard of the public rooms. All of the staff we encountered, including those at the customer service desk were very pleasant and well trained. We had chosen anytime dining and although we read we could reserve a table as it operated just like a restaurant that wasn't strictly true. When we called to book a table we were always given either a 5.30 or 7.30 slot (the same times as regular dining). If we wanted any other time, we just had to turn up at the dining room of our choice. All of the dining rooms were elegant and well appointed. We went to tea once in the Santa Fe dining room and this was a very strange affair. The waiters were beautifully attired, down to white gloves. We were given a plate and a choice of tea - first along came a waiter with an assortment of filled small rolls and immediately afterwards another waiter with scones, jam and cream and yet another waiter with cakes. So even before I had started eating I had a small plate with a cheese and tomato roll, scone, jam and cream plus a cake. All on one plate!!!!! We didn't go again. My biggest disappointment was the entertainment, both in the theatre and around the ship. The resident band was simply awful and drowned out the guest pianist, there was a female singer who was excellent but she was the exception. I think the worst was a balloon person - you know the sort of thing - the person who makes balloon animals at a children's party. I thought I had gone to hell when I noticed that one of the activities during the day was a 'Men's sexy legs competition'. 60 years ago I went to Butlins with my grandparents and saw a knobby knees competition - not much different. The trivia and competitions that seemed to be on every day were very amateurish and aimed at the lowest common denominator. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We picked the cruise (Far East Explorer) as something of an afterthought... We are very frequent cruisers but hadn’t been to the Far East previously and therefore took the opportunity. The itinerary was the attraction, Shanghai, ... Read More
We picked the cruise (Far East Explorer) as something of an afterthought... We are very frequent cruisers but hadn’t been to the Far East previously and therefore took the opportunity. The itinerary was the attraction, Shanghai, Nagasaki, Busan, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Min City, Bangkok, Koh Samui, then Singapore... It was a fabulous itinerary. We hadn’t sailed with Princess before but had been told it was comparable with Celebrity and therefore set our expectations about the ship on our past Celebrity experiences. that proved to be unfulfilled. The cabin (an interior on deck 11) was excellent. We almost always have a balcony but we were very happy with our cabin. It was much more spacious than we expected, and worked perfectly, the cabin steward was superb. Food which is so important on cruises was extremely underwhelming. It was far far behind Celebrity and out review grading in based largely on that shortcoming. We really didn’t care for the breakfast buffet at all, and the dining room options at breakfast didn’t inspire us either. Finding an unoccupied table at breakfast in the buffet was also quite a challenge. The buffet was divided into two pretty much identical section but with only a fraction of the selection options we’d had on say Celebrity, Cunard or Norwegian. Lunch in the buffet wasn’t much different although occasionally there was a pleasant surprise. I suspect the food had been prepared for a different guest mix than was on our cruise. We found it extremely odd that poppadoms and Indian breads were invariably available but there were few (if any) Indian dishes to go with them. There just wasn’t the space available in the buffet to provide the sort of buffet choice we have experienced on dozens of other ships. Evening menu I found OK. We had anything dining (which we liked) and could use any one of 3 restaurants (all served an identical menu). Over and above the someone dull ‘always available items’ the menu offered 6 choices daily, two vegetarian, two apparently local to where we were, one fish, and one meat... I was OK as I usually picked on of the interesting and spicy local dishes, my wife was far less satisfied, and often said there was nothing she particularly fancied on the menu... The food was usually pretty good (steak we had one night was awful) but in our cruising we have been used to reading menu where deciding which of several dishes to select was the challenge rather than, do I want any of these dishes... Entertainment across the ship was pretty good. The theatre shows were watchable, and when a new cast boarded for our last few days had a marked improvement. The speciality acts were the usual cruise fare, OK to pass on an hour or so. Daytime activities, trivia etc was fine, much as could be expected.. The music on the ship was really good. a band of young people (The Drop) we excellent as was a young piano singer. A classical duo were very good too. The ship itself. It seemed really dark to us, for a few days we thought some of it need a lick of white paint to brighten the place up, that said we eventually got use to the experience of often feeling you were in an old haunted mansion... There was plenty of social space, and we usually had no difficulty in finding seating wherever we wanted to be, including on the deck. We liked the deck set up and thought the decent sized pool was a bonus particularly as it was too deep for people to stand and clutter the water whilst enjoying cocktails (as you see on many newer ships). I haven’t mentioned the bar, on this trip we took the soda package (dry January) it worked just fine and made a pleasant change to our usual full drinks package. The ports of call were the definite highlights of the trip. We got off to an awful start in Shanghai where everything was severely delayed, we were told it was weather related but it seemed perfectly obvious that the delay related more to the current dispute between the USA & China in terms of trade.... After an almost 10hr delay (where bottled water and potato chips became the food for day 1 of the cruise) all was plain sailing.. We were rather surprised guests weren’t compensated with onboard credit to reflect the totally lost first day of the cruise as by the time boarding was achieved it was too late to get to the restaurant for most guests. Nagasaki was great, interesting, thought-provoking and emotional, Busan was a hive of interesting activity, Hong Kong we had a decent length stop but probably needed at least another 48hrs, Ho Chi Min City was probably our favourite port of call, we took the ship’s excursion to the city and again would have liked longer, we took a ship’s tour to Bangkok and maxed out our few hours there too, on Koh Samui we rented a car and toured the whole island, and we had a great short stay in Singapore... The ship organised numerous tours for every port of call, we thought the trips we took were well organised and fairly priced. Would we tour the area again, absolutely we would; will we sail Princess again, the answer is yes as we already have a reservation made with them not least because they offer some of the most interesting moderately priced itineraries... All in all a very enjoyable trip. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
The January 5th Southeast Asia Cruise from Shanghai to Singapore aboard the Sapphire Princess began with the worst boarding fiasco I have ever experienced, and I expect that holds true for most the other 2600+ arriving passengers as well ... Read More
The January 5th Southeast Asia Cruise from Shanghai to Singapore aboard the Sapphire Princess began with the worst boarding fiasco I have ever experienced, and I expect that holds true for most the other 2600+ arriving passengers as well as an untold number of those trying to disembark and catch a flight home. I started to get the impression that this was not going to be a ‘smooth’ embarkation while checking the whereabouts of the Sapphire Princess on the MarineTraffic.com website the morning of our scheduled boarding. Though it was originally due dockside by 7:00 AM, it was listed as ‘at sea’ with a speed of 3 knots. Around 10 AM I received an email from Princess advising of a ‘delayed’ boarding time by two and a half hours. Fortunately, I was able to extend our hotel checkout by two hours along with our scheduled private transfer to port. I consider ourselves lucky, as it was Saturday and the hotel was fully booked for the night. Right towards the end of our ‘extension’ I received an ‘update’ informing us that the boarding time had been ‘pushed back’ by another hour or two depending on cabin location. By that time our room keys did not work and it was too late to reschedule our re-scheduled transfer, so down to the lobby we went. As luck would have it, our driver was 15 minutes early. Weekend traffic was light and we arrived at the terminal at about 4 PM for wat was an original 2 PM boarding that was now pushed out to 5:30 PM. The Sapphire Princess was the only ship docked at the International Cruise Terminal, but our driver was directed to another terminal at the other end of this huge complex. Once inside, we found ourselves amidst hundreds of people waiting in row after row of ‘banquet’ chairs. As we were ‘Elite’ level passengers we were directed to a designated area near the other end of the terminal. Trouble was, there was no one overseeing this area, so there were very few chairs available. We stood. While standing we noticed what appeared to be an impromptu ‘check-in’ area near us consisting of a bunch of folding tables lined up near the escalators at our end of the terminal. They were staffed, but no one was being processed. We wait. As we chatted with fellow passengers, we found out that some had been in this otherwise closed terminal since early morning. Remember we are in China. Our phones don’t work. (who buys a sim-card expecting to be in the country for a day or so?). Google products (gMail, Google Search, youTube) as well as Facebook and Twitter are all banned and blocked in China. Unless you have made prior arrangements through a private VPN, land communication (especially if you have an Android phone) is limited. Your ‘Smart Phone’ is little more than a camera and a calculator. There were a couple of Princess staffers doing their best, wandering the crowd giving any update status they could, but by now there were well over a thousand passengers in queue and the bottom level of the terminal was overflowing. Somewhere around 6:30 or so, they began the ‘check-in’ processing. Mind you, we were merely processed, not boarded. A cruise card was issued, but we were instructed to return to the terminal floor and wait. When we tried to return to the area where we were previously, we quickly noticed there were no open chairs, so Cruise Card in hand we stood and chatted with others in a similar situation. While standing, an official looking gentleman approached us an said it would probably be awhile. It turns out he was one of the Chinese officials in charge of coordinating this chaos. We asked what the problem was, and he related that, though we would probably hear different from Princess, the delay was primarily due to passengers boarded on the arriving Sapphire Princess that did not meet the strict (and somewhat confusing) `144 hour’ Chinese Visa requirements and were not being allowed to disembark in Shanghai. OK, I must admit, we had some difficulty boarding our flight from LA to Shanghai at LAX, but the United Airlines Rep. called the Chinese embassy and made sure our documents and travel plans met the somewhat complicated Chinese criteria before issuing our boarding passes. I guess Princess missed that step. (As it turned out, dozens of passengers were unable to disembark in Shanghai and had to stay onboard for two more days, disembarking at our first port of call, Nagasaki, Japan.) Since the ship was full, I wonder where they slept… Somewhere around 8:00 PM we noticed some passengers being escorted through a door behind the ‘check-in’ area. Though no one had made any announcement, we grabbed our carry-ons and joined in because it looked like they might be headed towards the other terminal where the Sapphire Princess was docked. They were! It was a long trek in the rain to the other terminal, but we were a bit more agile than many and wound up being among the first handful of passengers through Chinese Customs. The queues at that time were minimal and we were on-board before 8:30 PM. Once on-board our first thought was a warm meal, but we were told by our Cabin Steward that there would be a required Muster at 9:00 PM. We wait… Even though we knew that there was no way the passengers would be boarded by then. As we stood on our balcony and watched as the boarding queue on the gangway grew ever longer. 9 PM came and went as the line continued to grow. When the ship was finally boarded, they called for us to report to our Muster Stations. After which, we went to the only venue available for a warm meal… The Horizon Court. As our Muster Station was the Princess Theater (Deck 7, Forward) and the Horizon Court is Deck 14, Aft. When we got there, we joined about 2,000+ other passengers (some of which hadn’t eaten a real meal all day). It was chaos! Lines four wide, out the doors, winding around and past the pool. Once you were able to get to something, there were no open tables or cutlery available to go elsewhere (room?) and find a spot to sit. Things could certainly have been worse. After all, we were inside and there were occasional trays of cookies, plain cheese sandwiches and the random boxes of potato chips, but it certainly was far from ideal or what one would expect from a world renowned international travel corporation and/or a ‘First World’ country trying to promote international tourism. I have waited until near the end of this cruise to submit this recap of an Epic Fail, hoping (expecting?) Princess to offer some sort of ‘compensation’ to offset or appease our ‘day of discomfort’, but none has been offered. I went to the Passenger Services desk to find out the status of the situation and was told ‘It has been reported to the Main Office and we are awaiting a response’. Well, I guess 12 days of no response is a response… Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. To be upfront we are usually Celebrity cruisers, but decided to try Princess. Embarkation in Shanghai was a pure day, and evening, from hell. This was not the fault of Princess, but the Chinese ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. To be upfront we are usually Celebrity cruisers, but decided to try Princess. Embarkation in Shanghai was a pure day, and evening, from hell. This was not the fault of Princess, but the Chinese Port Authority who randomly closed the port to the inbound ship and refused to provide customs and immigration facilities. Princess sent emails, updating the times to come to the pier, but things quickly spiraled out of control. We did not board the ship until 9pm. Princess supplied snacks while we were all kept in a very hot and uncomfortable waiting area dockside, but there was no communications from any Princess reps to keep us updated. Easily the worst cruise experience ever . We found, overall, the ship to be OK, but nothing special. Our premium balcony cabin was small compared to Celebrity, and the bath/shower was a joke. I will give top marks to the bed : very comfy. The food overall, was very poor. In the buffet, it was the same things, over and over and over, with almost no variation over the two weeks. They had the worst bacon I have ever had, completely dried out ham, many breads were stale and the cantalope was, and continued to be unripe.One night I was surprised to see, and obtain, what looked like a large and delectable slab of prime rib. I took it to the table and asked the staff for a steak knife to deal with this 1 inch thick cut of meat. The answer : no, you cannot have one, we do not have any { this despite the fact that Sterling Steakhouse was only 30 ft. away - more on Sterling later ). I struggled to cut the meat with the butter knife supplied, and eventually gave up. That whole slab became waste. The one bite I did manage I spit out because all I could taste was hot mustard : apparently the whole prime rib had been rubbed with hot mustard - WHY ? Who would do that to such a beautiful cut of meat ? The buffet food service area was small, chaotic, and extremely hot due to the very low ceilings. I held out hope until the end, hoping they would do a special Grand Buffet on the final night of the cruise a La Celebrity. NOPE. More like a boarding house weekly review. We ate twice at Sabatinis. Service was good, the meal - mediocre. We then tried Sterling Steak House. What a JOKE ! This extra cost venue is simply a portion of the Horizon Buffet curtained off and presented as fine extra cost dining. No wonder it was empty most nights. SHAME on you Princess. The staff were mostly excellent. The ports and excursions were good - although the excursions were overpriced and of low value like most cruise lines. I had ordered the Premium Beverage Package only to discover onboard that there was a daily 15 alcoholic drink limit, and yes the bar staff knew exactly how many you had had to date each day : Big Brother was surely watching. Leaving the ship was efficient in Singapore. For the small size of the cabin and the torture of the bath and especially the shower,, the drinks limitation ( although I never used 15 on any day, I find that monitoring offensive ) but mostly for the extremely poor food, I am sure this will be my first and last Princess cruise. If their fees were half of Celebrity I could understand, but they are not, so value for money is not good. It was interesting to sail on a ship where the majjority of the guest were not American but Aussies. Very different dynamic K Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Left Heathrow on 4/1 on my least favourite airline - British Airways, flight was uncomfortable and food was mediocre, as British Airways always is. Shanghai - An airport and a cruise terminal to be avoided. Endless form filling, endless ... Read More
Left Heathrow on 4/1 on my least favourite airline - British Airways, flight was uncomfortable and food was mediocre, as British Airways always is. Shanghai - An airport and a cruise terminal to be avoided. Endless form filling, endless fingerprint scans, endless photos, endless baggage scans. Then we were told that the ship will be late docking due to poor weather visibility. Thankfully Princess arranged several coaches for a tour of Shanghai including a lunch and visits, we were shattered and just couldn't muster any enthusiasm and losing the will to live! Eventually got to the Cruise Terminal and more fingerprint scans, more photos and more baggage scans, then a long route march to the ship, and so to bed! Nagasaki - A very interesting city that we visited on a Princess tour and a city I would like to revisit. Busan - A city I could take or leave, the tour of Boxcheon Tombs and their associated museum started off interesting then it was like doing a degree course in an hour or so, an hour in a department store was underwhelming. Hong Kong - Pity the ship's Port Lecturer kept harping on about Kowloon, Kowloon and Kowloon and ignoring the existence of Hong Kong Island, thankfully we have friends and family there so we did our own thing on the Island including riding on the famous Hong Kong Trams. Ho Chi Minh City - Stayed on board and I can describe Phu My as one of the least interesting Container Ports in the World! Bangkok - Been there before, so we stayed on board and Laem Chebang is one of the more interesting Container Ports in the World with plenty of activity! Ko Samui - Very Interesting but the road journeys reminded my wife of her early days in the Philippines. Two Buddhas and a coconut-picking monkey later, we headed back to the ship and then to Singapore where we spent a week with family there. Singapore - Been there 12 times in 20 years and can't keep up with the changes, but we love the place! Now for the Ship - This was our third cruise on Sapphire Princess since May 2018, so we're used to the ship. Here are the significant differences between an Asian cruise and a Southampton-based cruise. Food - extremely salty and played havoc with my blood/sugar levels, being Type 2 diabetic, I chose to eat less and not eat every night in the main dining rooms, I quite like Asian cuisine but after a week my stomach was yelling for something less salty and much more substantial, Alfredo's Pizzeria came to the rescue! Entertainment - Other than the Princess Singers and Dancers productions, the guest entertainers varied from the dire to the downright awful, had they performed on a Southampton-based cruise, they would risk playing to either an empty Princess Theatre, or facing an audience reminiscent of one at the bad old days of the Glasgow Empire whose stony silence saw off an act in minutes! Piazza Entertainment - Great watching Princess Singers and Dancers rehearsing on a port day and having a chat with them afterwards and great seeing their polished performance, but some of the Cruise Directors staff must've forgotten that they were on a cruise ship and thought they were working at Butlins, especially with games designed for children to be played by adults. Overall Summary - Good in parts, but give me a Southampton-based cruise at any time. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This cruise cover the countries I like to visit. Good Cruise but poor front desk service spoils my trip. I also missed my flight home due to delay in disembarkation due to no fault of the ship. Food at Horizon was about the same everyday. ... Read More
This cruise cover the countries I like to visit. Good Cruise but poor front desk service spoils my trip. I also missed my flight home due to delay in disembarkation due to no fault of the ship. Food at Horizon was about the same everyday. Would have loved food specialty at each country. The shows were good but not as good as the performers at the previous Sapphire Princess we had been to. Zumba and dance classes were good. I personally witness a few rubs with the front desk reception. They should be trained to deal with all kinds of situations, unfortunately they were not. They dont seem to know some of the basic questions like how far the ship to the terminal and how far the terminal to customs/immigration. They could not help me when I requested for assistance to disembark on express as we needed to catch the plane as my for my wife was on a walking stick and I have too many luggage to handle alone. Some of those front desk staff should be sacked for being too high and mighty attitude. Overall a good cruise but this encounter with customer service spoils my day Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We have cruised with Princess several times and found them to be excellent. Unfortunately this cruise from Singapore to Shanghai was not. We found the entertainment disappointing and the cruise director didn’t inspire a spirt of ... Read More
We have cruised with Princess several times and found them to be excellent. Unfortunately this cruise from Singapore to Shanghai was not. We found the entertainment disappointing and the cruise director didn’t inspire a spirt of enjoyment. The Stevie Wonder show was dreadful; we and others walked out as he started to sing his songs in Japanese! The pool attendants were non-existent with plates left uncollected and no one around to ask if you wanted drinks and also we found very few recliners for the movies under the stars. We have booked another cruise - and hope this will be better. Princess seem to be cutting some of its quality, which is a shame. Please remember guests vote with their feet and wallets. Disembarkation was terrible. The plus point is loyalty rewards, but only worth it if you continue sailing. Please, please, provide good entertainment and enough staff. Gratuities paid but we not did get good service. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Overall, the cruise was acceptable.Cruise was acceptable. To illustrate this, I break it down into the various services as follows: - - Cabin - (See below.) Cabin Stewards (3 of them) were very attentive. I have no idea why the stewards ... Read More
Overall, the cruise was acceptable.Cruise was acceptable. To illustrate this, I break it down into the various services as follows: - - Cabin - (See below.) Cabin Stewards (3 of them) were very attentive. I have no idea why the stewards change twice, during the cruise. - Restaurants - Main Dining Room food was generally very good. They ran out of staple selections on occasions (middle of dining session) and didn't replace. The food at other Restaurants was very good. What improved it was the excellent service from friendly attentive staff. - Entertainment - Generally very good without the Wow factor. - Cabin - Cabin Stewards (3 of them) were excellent. I can't understand why we had 2 changes of staff, on a short cruise. - Medical Centre - I had the unfortunate need to avail myself of their services. I found the entire Medical Centre staff to be caring and thorough. They receive my ultimate thanks. - Customer Service Desk - This is the area of my main concern. Staff did not handle passengers 'pushing in' the desk line, at all well. Also, there was an occasion when another passenger opened our locked cabin door, using his you'd expect this major breach of security and privacy, would receive urgent attention. Instead, I got the impression they either didn't believe me or didn't care. Read Less
Sapphire Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 5.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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