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We chose this cruise for the interesting itinerary and to celebrate my 60th birthday, Christmas and New Year. We started with a good flight and a great stay in Singapore before embarking. A comment to begin as this is quite a negative review. We have cruised often and have never felt the need to criticise a cruise in over 20 years of experience. We are not given to complaining or excessive moaning and have generally placid natures and a live and let live approach to what happens in life. This just sets the scene for numerous issues which need to be addressed and I hope Princess will take note; I will be copying this review to them. EMBARKATION - Having dreaded the queues mentioned in previous reviews, embarkation was simple, quick and straightforward. Hooray! CABIN/SHIP - Once on board, it was clear the ship was a little tired in decor terms with obvious signs of wear and tear but it was clean and our cabin was clean and comfortable with one or two exceptions. The bed valance was filthy and the balcony was rusty and dirty with a small table which was in very poor repair - paint chipping off revealing the metal beneath. There was mould above the shower curtain rail and the sink was stained a light brown colour. The bed was extremely comfortable and there was plenty of storage space. The cabin steward was excellent. But NO TEA and COFFEE making facilities in the room???? What century is this? On my birthday, they put a poster on the door and balloons outside - a nice touch and with some onboard free offers for photos etc as well. Having said that, the hotel we left in Singapore presented me with a birthday card and a gift they day before - now that's what I call real service!! OTHER PASSENGERS - We began with a rough few days weather wise, with many people suffering sea sickness and although we felt sorry for them, laying about the public areas with blankets and paper bags beside them was not a good look for those of us that were trying to enjoy our holiday. Seeing other people being sick is understandable but unacceptable in public places. I think this could have been managed more professionally. Overall though, we met some amazing people from all around the world and they undoubtedly made up for the many cruise shortfalls. DINING - Food was the next consideration and it has to be said, we have ALWAYS had better cruise food than this. Although the menus in the dining rooms looked appealing, the reality was far from it. This was the first evidence of a company clearly in financial trouble and looking for ways to economise. Obviously cheap cuts of meat, poorly cooked and with food temperature never reaching the expected level and with us having to send back lukewarm food on several occasions. Its surprising how quickly your expectations can drop and you begin to accept poor quality and forget how much you paid in advance! Waiter service was slow and lacked warmth and enthusiasm but if I was getting that many complaints, I wouldn't be warm either; I'd be worn down and depressed. In the Horizon buffet it was a mixed experience but again cheap cuts of meat and you know what I mean when I say I had a small amount (2 tbsp) of chilli con carne and had to remove from my mouth in front of my dining companions no less than 3 large pieces of gristle!! There were some good options (scrambled egg) but fruit was hard and unripe and bacon was a jumbled mass of streaky fat. Sabatini's Italian restaurant was a different story with consistently good food and service but at $29 a head extra each, this was no less than expected. We have not been charged this much extra on other cruises and I have always praised e.g. P&O who are keen to be seen to recognise that you did already pay for dinner and so charge a lesser premium for speciality restaurants. Princess just look again like a struggling company trying to make the maximum from you. The Sterling Steak house was a sectioned off part of the upper deck and didn't feel special at all but the steaks were reasonable - though again $29 a head is excessive for the experience offered. I guess Princess are well aware of offerings on other company cruise lines but they'd do well to look at e.g. P&O Britannia for lessons on speciality dining. DRINKS - At our first lunch we spoke to a couple who had managed to buy a drinks package for him but not for her. This amazed us as it is not our experience of previous cruises - if one has the package, the other has to so that you don't share!! It would have been our preference as I don't drink as much as my husband. For him the drinks package makes sense as we calculated that it costs in at about 7-8 drinks a day. When you consider these are bottled beers this is easily reached on holidays. But had I known I could pay as I go with drinks, I would have done so. I queried this immediately with front desk who asked me how I knew about this!!??!! as if I'd discovered something they didn't want me to know. It took 36 hours to resolve but they would NOT budge and said that as I'd bought it, it could not be reversed. Scandalous attitude to a customer that had yet to spend more than a few dollars of it, which I'd have been happy to repay. I resolved there and then to get every dollar's worth!! On top of this, a few comments about the drinks package. When sold, there was scant information about what it included, that it was LIMITED to 15 drinks a day including water and coffee to go but not coffee in a cup?? I mean why limit it when it's that high anyway? All inclusive should mean just that. Again, it just smacks of meanness; their attitude is 'we'll pretend it's all-inclusive but we don't want to give you the impression you're getting something for nothing so we'll take the feel good factor away!' Who is their beverage marketing manager and what is he/she thinking here? And on the last day in Sabatini's the waiter offered me mineral water and checked if I'd like a large bottle. I said yes (to share with others) and was charged $4.54 because a large bottle of water is not included in the package but small ones are. The cost is negligible but the principle is important. At the desk, they were unmoved. Why didn't the waiter explain there was a charge?!!! But in any case, how mean can they be - they'll let me have several small but not one large in my package??? GRATUITIES - we're used to this now and remove them. We met people who did not know that you can ask for these to be removed once on board. Why be sneaky and why wait for onboard gossip to spread? It's deliberately unclear on the pre-cruise information and they'd win so many more fans if they were upfront and explained they think its the fairest way to recognise all staff but if you don't want to do it, here's how you can avoid it and tip how you wish. Our preference is to single out those who have made our cruise special and I don't want to feel I'm subsidising poor salaries for all those on board. SHORE EXCURSIONS - We mainly do the 'on your own' trips paying a smaller fee to get to places and then touring under our own steam. We paid $84.95 for a 90 minute trip into Ho Chi Min city and I cannot get a sensible explanation from Princess about why it was this price in Vietnam and yet $39.95 for a 150 minute coach into Bangkok. No other 'on your own' coach trip exceeded $40. In the end, we joined forces with other passengers and hired taxis at a fraction of Princess's prices. We didn't make it in to Koh Samui due to a row with local authorities over the use of tenders. They insist on using their 5 local tenders which means long disembarkation times and will not allow Princess to launch theirs without charges. This was presented dishonestly as though it was a surprise and had never happened before. However, cruise critics had mentioned this issue back in November. This should have been negotiated and resolved by the time of our cruise. We had no idea we were going to miss this port of call but Princess knew all along. Their response? We were given an onboard credit of exactly $1.40. SERIOUSLY??? What an insult! And in terms of complaint management the recovery should be better than the cause. This issue required honesty and a decent onboard credit. As I said, a company appearing to be in real trouble financially and clearly unable to afford the professional negotiating skills or complaint management skills to anticipate and resolve such an issue. We stayed longer at Laem Chabang and while some alternative excursions were arranged, our trip to Bangkok left over an hour late but still wanted to depart Bangkok at the pre-arranged time which would have left us less than 3 hours in Bangkok. Our coach guide said we would never make it over to the temples and main river etc and back from the drop off point at Hotel Asia. Another bus had agreed an extra hour with their guide so they were not even consistent. The late (9pm) bus back to ship was full and so we had to make our own way back by private cab with other guests. A shambles to be honest. FACILITIES - Lots of things worked well but many didn't! No soap powder available in the launderettes from 31st Dec onwards. They eventually provided some complimentary boxes. They ran out of Grolsch, Stella, Strongbow and Korbel in all bars by Bali and it was a day or two before the matter was sorted. No sun lotion in the shop (despite the obvious need) but you could buy Clarins at $30. ENTERTAINMENT - Maurizio banged out tunes in Crooners and attracted a good crowd and Teacake was by far the best turn in the theatre. There was a dreadful Elton John tribute - he could play the piano but oh dear, the voice! And other productions were extremely low budget and amateur when compared to Cunard and P&O who put on West End quality stage shows and fly in well known artists for the enjoyment of the passengers without charging any more than Princess. Again, Princess looks to be cost cutting and are clearly paying too little to attract quality performers. Christmas festivities were not much in evidence although the decorations were very nicely done. We were left a very mini Santa stocking in our room containing two small candy canes and a number of the free boiled sweets you can find around the ship!! Again, the lack of budget and quality was in evidence. If you can't do better than that, don't bother, Princess!! Deck entertainment was reminiscent of 70s Butlins and I don't think I have ever experienced such poor sailaway experiences. We are used to live bands and some real atmosphere. However, on Princess, DJ Anthony was the sailaway party host and only understands the nightclub approach to entertainment - put tunes on at maximum volume and they will come! Well instead, we went. On one occasion, music had been at an entertaining level and then he arrived, pumped up the volume and I saw a gentleman complaining about the fact that he and his family (who had been enjoying their sunbeds on deck up to that point) could not communicate without literally yelling at each other. I'm afraid I joined in and agreed that the volume was at an impossible level and us and friends were all having to shout. He said ' okay, I'll turn it off then!' I said that I didn't think that was the right attitude and that there was a compromise volume that suited everyone. He responded that he was trying to run a sailaway party and needed to create an atmosphere. I said it was OUR sailaway party and what about what we wanted? Suffice to say, he took his toys away and left the sound system on at a lower level. He just wasn't interested in feedback. Ted, the Cruise Director needs to get his team changed out and introduce some experienced and professional entertainers who believe the customer comes first. Just one comment about the LGBT meetings. With a number of family members who happen to be happily and privately gay, we are bemused at the ongoing facility (now well past its sell by date) for this particular societal group. We (and most people we know) regard all people as people first who are perfectly comfortable and willing to socialise with others regardless of their sexual preferences, so why lay on special meetings? It diminishes LGBT people somehow as unable to mix with others or worse, preferring only the company of those with similar sexual preferences when this is not how they feel about the matter. I don't think this separatism is to be encouraged in such enlightened times. We're all the same as people with the same needs for social interaction and our sexual preferences should remain the private matter that they are. Overall and for what we paid, this was a very disappointing experience overshadowed by poor service and quality that evidenced a cash-strapped company looking to make cuts wherever it could. Consequently it felt like very poor value. We would not travel with Princess again and it was astonishing how many fellow passengers on both legs were saying the same things. I met an officer on our flight who was returning home (Sheila) and she admitted the cruise had been beset with difficulties. All that said, we enjoyed it well enough and it was made most fun by the people we met and (unfortunately) a very few of the staff and our cabin steward. Most ports of call were interesting and worthwhile and the poor weather early on cannot be attributed to Princess.

A let down, I'm afraid!

Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by supamac1957

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2017
  • Destination: Asia
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
We chose this cruise for the interesting itinerary and to celebrate my 60th birthday, Christmas and New Year.

We started with a good flight and a great stay in Singapore before embarking.

A comment to begin as this is quite a negative review. We have cruised often and have never felt the need to criticise a cruise in over 20 years of experience. We are not given to complaining or excessive moaning and have generally placid natures and a live and let live approach to what happens in life. This just sets the scene for numerous issues which need to be addressed and I hope Princess will take note; I will be copying this review to them.

EMBARKATION - Having dreaded the queues mentioned in previous reviews, embarkation was simple, quick and straightforward. Hooray!

CABIN/SHIP - Once on board, it was clear the ship was a little tired in decor terms with obvious signs of wear and tear but it was clean and our cabin was clean and comfortable with one or two exceptions. The bed valance was filthy and the balcony was rusty and dirty with a small table which was in very poor repair - paint chipping off revealing the metal beneath. There was mould above the shower curtain rail and the sink was stained a light brown colour.

The bed was extremely comfortable and there was plenty of storage space. The cabin steward was excellent. But NO TEA and COFFEE making facilities in the room???? What century is this?

On my birthday, they put a poster on the door and balloons outside - a nice touch and with some onboard free offers for photos etc as well. Having said that, the hotel we left in Singapore presented me with a birthday card and a gift they day before - now that's what I call real service!!

OTHER PASSENGERS - We began with a rough few days weather wise, with many people suffering sea sickness and although we felt sorry for them, laying about the public areas with blankets and paper bags beside them was not a good look for those of us that were trying to enjoy our holiday. Seeing other people being sick is understandable but unacceptable in public places. I think this could have been managed more professionally.

Overall though, we met some amazing people from all around the world and they undoubtedly made up for the many cruise shortfalls.

DINING - Food was the next consideration and it has to be said, we have ALWAYS had better cruise food than this. Although the menus in the dining rooms looked appealing, the reality was far from it. This was the first evidence of a company clearly in financial trouble and looking for ways to economise. Obviously cheap cuts of meat, poorly cooked and with food temperature never reaching the expected level and with us having to send back lukewarm food on several occasions. Its surprising how quickly your expectations can drop and you begin to accept poor quality and forget how much you paid in advance! Waiter service was slow and lacked warmth and enthusiasm but if I was getting that many complaints, I wouldn't be warm either; I'd be worn down and depressed.

In the Horizon buffet it was a mixed experience but again cheap cuts of meat and you know what I mean when I say I had a small amount (2 tbsp) of chilli con carne and had to remove from my mouth in front of my dining companions no less than 3 large pieces of gristle!! There were some good options (scrambled egg) but fruit was hard and unripe and bacon was a jumbled mass of streaky fat.

Sabatini's Italian restaurant was a different story with consistently good food and service but at $29 a head extra each, this was no less than expected. We have not been charged this much extra on other cruises and I have always praised e.g. P&O who are keen to be seen to recognise that you did already pay for dinner and so charge a lesser premium for speciality restaurants. Princess just look again like a struggling company trying to make the maximum from you.

The Sterling Steak house was a sectioned off part of the upper deck and didn't feel special at all but the steaks were reasonable - though again $29 a head is excessive for the experience offered.

I guess Princess are well aware of offerings on other company cruise lines but they'd do well to look at e.g. P&O Britannia for lessons on speciality dining.

DRINKS - At our first lunch we spoke to a couple who had managed to buy a drinks package for him but not for her. This amazed us as it is not our experience of previous cruises - if one has the package, the other has to so that you don't share!! It would have been our preference as I don't drink as much as my husband. For him the drinks package makes sense as we calculated that it costs in at about 7-8 drinks a day. When you consider these are bottled beers this is easily reached on holidays. But had I known I could pay as I go with drinks, I would have done so.

I queried this immediately with front desk who asked me how I knew about this!!??!! as if I'd discovered something they didn't want me to know. It took 36 hours to resolve but they would NOT budge and said that as I'd bought it, it could not be reversed. Scandalous attitude to a customer that had yet to spend more than a few dollars of it, which I'd have been happy to repay. I resolved there and then to get every dollar's worth!! On top of this, a few comments about the drinks package. When sold, there was scant information about what it included, that it was LIMITED to 15 drinks a day including water and coffee to go but not coffee in a cup?? I mean why limit it when it's that high anyway? All inclusive should mean just that. Again, it just smacks of meanness; their attitude is 'we'll pretend it's all-inclusive but we don't want to give you the impression you're getting something for nothing so we'll take the feel good factor away!' Who is their beverage marketing manager and what is he/she thinking here? And on the last day in Sabatini's the waiter offered me mineral water and checked if I'd like a large bottle. I said yes (to share with others) and was charged $4.54 because a large bottle of water is not included in the package but small ones are. The cost is negligible but the principle is important. At the desk, they were unmoved. Why didn't the waiter explain there was a charge?!!! But in any case, how mean can they be - they'll let me have several small but not one large in my package???

GRATUITIES - we're used to this now and remove them. We met people who did not know that you can ask for these to be removed once on board. Why be sneaky and why wait for onboard gossip to spread? It's deliberately unclear on the pre-cruise information and they'd win so many more fans if they were upfront and explained they think its the fairest way to recognise all staff but if you don't want to do it, here's how you can avoid it and tip how you wish. Our preference is to single out those who have made our cruise special and I don't want to feel I'm subsidising poor salaries for all those on board.

SHORE EXCURSIONS - We mainly do the 'on your own' trips paying a smaller fee to get to places and then touring under our own steam. We paid $84.95 for a 90 minute trip into Ho Chi Min city and I cannot get a sensible explanation from Princess about why it was this price in Vietnam and yet $39.95 for a 150 minute coach into Bangkok. No other 'on your own' coach trip exceeded $40. In the end, we joined forces with other passengers and hired taxis at a fraction of Princess's prices.

We didn't make it in to Koh Samui due to a row with local authorities over the use of tenders. They insist on using their 5 local tenders which means long disembarkation times and will not allow Princess to launch theirs without charges. This was presented dishonestly as though it was a surprise and had never happened before. However, cruise critics had mentioned this issue back in November. This should have been negotiated and resolved by the time of our cruise. We had no idea we were going to miss this port of call but Princess knew all along. Their response? We were given an onboard credit of exactly $1.40. SERIOUSLY??? What an insult! And in terms of complaint management the recovery should be better than the cause. This issue required honesty and a decent onboard credit. As I said, a company appearing to be in real trouble financially and clearly unable to afford the professional negotiating skills or complaint management skills to anticipate and resolve such an issue.

We stayed longer at Laem Chabang and while some alternative excursions were arranged, our trip to Bangkok left over an hour late but still wanted to depart Bangkok at the pre-arranged time which would have left us less than 3 hours in Bangkok. Our coach guide said we would never make it over to the temples and main river etc and back from the drop off point at Hotel Asia. Another bus had agreed an extra hour with their guide so they were not even consistent. The late (9pm) bus back to ship was full and so we had to make our own way back by private cab with other guests. A shambles to be honest.

FACILITIES - Lots of things worked well but many didn't! No soap powder available in the launderettes from 31st Dec onwards. They eventually provided some complimentary boxes. They ran out of Grolsch, Stella, Strongbow and Korbel in all bars by Bali and it was a day or two before the matter was sorted. No sun lotion in the shop (despite the obvious need) but you could buy Clarins at $30.

ENTERTAINMENT - Maurizio banged out tunes in Crooners and attracted a good crowd and Teacake was by far the best turn in the theatre. There was a dreadful Elton John tribute - he could play the piano but oh dear, the voice! And other productions were extremely low budget and amateur when compared to Cunard and P&O who put on West End quality stage shows and fly in well known artists for the enjoyment of the passengers without charging any more than Princess. Again, Princess looks to be cost cutting and are clearly paying too little to attract quality performers.

Christmas festivities were not much in evidence although the decorations were very nicely done. We were left a very mini Santa stocking in our room containing two small candy canes and a number of the free boiled sweets you can find around the ship!! Again, the lack of budget and quality was in evidence. If you can't do better than that, don't bother, Princess!!

Deck entertainment was reminiscent of 70s Butlins and I don't think I have ever experienced such poor sailaway experiences. We are used to live bands and some real atmosphere. However, on Princess, DJ Anthony was the sailaway party host and only understands the nightclub approach to entertainment - put tunes on at maximum volume and they will come! Well instead, we went. On one occasion, music had been at an entertaining level and then he arrived, pumped up the volume and I saw a gentleman complaining about the fact that he and his family (who had been enjoying their sunbeds on deck up to that point) could not communicate without literally yelling at each other. I'm afraid I joined in and agreed that the volume was at an impossible level and us and friends were all having to shout. He said ' okay, I'll turn it off then!' I said that I didn't think that was the right attitude and that there was a compromise volume that suited everyone. He responded that he was trying to run a sailaway party and needed to create an atmosphere. I said it was OUR sailaway party and what about what we wanted? Suffice to say, he took his toys away and left the sound system on at a lower level. He just wasn't interested in feedback. Ted, the Cruise Director needs to get his team changed out and introduce some experienced and professional entertainers who believe the customer comes first.

Just one comment about the LGBT meetings. With a number of family members who happen to be happily and privately gay, we are bemused at the ongoing facility (now well past its sell by date) for this particular societal group. We (and most people we know) regard all people as people first who are perfectly comfortable and willing to socialise with others regardless of their sexual preferences, so why lay on special meetings? It diminishes LGBT people somehow as unable to mix with others or worse, preferring only the company of those with similar sexual preferences when this is not how they feel about the matter. I don't think this separatism is to be encouraged in such enlightened times. We're all the same as people with the same needs for social interaction and our sexual preferences should remain the private matter that they are.

Overall and for what we paid, this was a very disappointing experience overshadowed by poor service and quality that evidenced a cash-strapped company looking to make cuts wherever it could. Consequently it felt like very poor value. We would not travel with Princess again and it was astonishing how many fellow passengers on both legs were saying the same things. I met an officer on our flight who was returning home (Sheila) and she admitted the cruise had been beset with difficulties.

All that said, we enjoyed it well enough and it was made most fun by the people we met and (unfortunately) a very few of the staff and our cabin steward. Most ports of call were interesting and worthwhile and the poor weather early on cannot be attributed to Princess.
supamac1957’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BF A223
Well positioned forward cabin and comfortable enough with plenty of storage, Very comfortable bed. Old fashioned shower curtain while screens are now on modern ships.
Generally very clean with the odd exceptions of mould above the shower curtain rail and a dirty bed valance
Balcony dirty and rusty with a small table which had paint flaking off it quite badly. The view immediately over the balcony is of the the three floors balcony below as these are staggered out further and so you are looking directly onto others on their balconies. To avoid this you'd need to book D or E deck.
Lido Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins