For our honeymoon we decided to get a glimpse of another part of the world with the comfort of a cruise. Princess had both the itinerary and timing right.
The ship came directly from 10 days in dry-dock but not a word was mentioned about any improvements. It did however look to be in very good condition. From talking to the crew we understood that during dry dock the casino had been completely replaced and expanded. This had in turn demanded the office space of the shore ex manager - a fact she mentioned during several port lectures.
Activities aboard were plenty but after 3 days at sea we felt that is was very repetitive. Other guests told us that they had been doing the exact same pop choir practice on 3 different cruises with Princess. As a consequence we're a bit wary to travel with Princess next time. The Enrichment@Sea lectures were outstanding.
Housekeeping did a brilliant job but waiters were hit and mostly miss. Some of them were very busy selling wine tasting, wine packages, special restaurants etc. As a result we had one dinner where we waited 20 minutes while our waiter tried to explain the fine details on how you can't split a 12-bottle gold wine package between two cabins. At other times our dinner was kept in sync with other couples that we didn't even share a table with.
Which brings us directly to dining (we had Any Time). After 2 days the Horizon Court became very crowded as many of the Asian guests gave up on the dining rooms. This made it easy to get a table - even without sharing. Sapphire Princess have 5 dining rooms but they all serve exactly the same. The menu changes daily and while you can be sure to find "Jus" with most dishes, words like "Local", "Season", and "Organic" aren't in the vocabulary. If you order wine be sure to order mineral water as well. The water is safe for drinking but it will do no good for your taste buds.
With port visits in both Bangkok and Saigon we decided to use the expensive "Best of" tours in both cities. Due to the size of the ship we berthed 2-3 hours away from both cities. The Bangkok tour was 11 hours for just 2 sights. With 22 buses doing the same tour it was the worst cattle herding ever. Avoid! Saigon was a completely different story - great guide, great itinerary, and they shuffled the buses around making each site less crowded.
The laundrette was a cultural experience. There are no instructions and no info on temperatures used. You need to be American or ask one to avoid costly mistakes. Luckily we did.
To disembark we needed to pick up our passports. That ended as a complete meltdown. We stood in line for 90 minutes with no information, and no refreshments. Just a very long queue. Other guests had to stand for 2.5 hours! This was all due to bad organization on the crew's behalf and not a single officer stepped up to handle the situation.
Which brings us to the conclusion. Cruising is great. You see so many happy couples and the eloquent travelers add to the atmosphere. Cruising on a large ship provides for smooth sailing but when all included restaurants serve the same, the berthing takes place hours away from the places you want to visit, and the number of guests completely flood the sites, it makes for a less than satisfactory experience. There will be a next time, but it will be on a smaller ship.
One final note. For the Jewish, the Passover wasn't allowed to take place in a part of one of the 5 restaurants. The cruise director assigned some tables in the cafeteria opposite the shellfish restaurant. It doesn't get much less Kosher. For the Christians - well, we didn't get a single decoration or activity for Easter. No eggs, no bunnies, no menu, and no prayers. Are all Princess ships this heathen?
Cabin is located on 14th floor, Lido deck, 1 room from the bridge. No noise from people passing by or from entertainment and not a sound from the fitness centre that is located directly above - and we did check that it was in use. Aircon efficient and quiet. Huge TV with great quality. Plenty of space for storage. Shower isn't the best and there was a bit of mold to be found.
2.5 - 3 hours drive from Laem Chabang (roads might improve in 2016). During cruise days, the place is flooded with tourists. The tour took 11 hours and only gave us a glimpse of the Grand Palace and 30 mins at Wat Traimit. This is properly the worst way to see Bangkok.View All 36 Grand Palace Reviews
Must-see city/country. After 50 years of independence it is even more British than London while at the same time making the UK look like a failed state. Everything is working to perfection, great for shopping, and the two gardens are both worth visiting. Public transport is excellent and brings you within walking distance of the cruise terminal.
Located 2 hours from the harbour at Phu My, the city of Saigon is a must-see. The tour was excellently executed, presenting both cultural heritage, colonialism, the war and the 'tiger economy' that is about to change the city. Do visit Saigon now!View All 104 City Tour Reviews