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This was to be a short cruise of seven nights on Sapphire Princess, taking in Guernsey, Bordeaux, Bilbao and La Coruna. Unfortunately, the itinerary changed as we embarked, the French were on strike in La Verdon (port for Bordeaux) and we were going to La Rochelle instead. Sapphire Princess had just completed a refit and this was her first season based in Southampton. Embarkation/Disembarkation The ship was using the Mayflower Terminal in Southampton. The terminal works very well at getting people through as quickly as possible. Porters take your luggage from you in the drop off lanes, next time you see it is outside the cabin. We literally flew through the terminal, w have Priority Boarding but this was amazing. We arrived at 11:50 and stepped onto the ship at 12:15. Disembarkation is equally efficient. A couple of days before the end of the cruise a form was left in the cabin to be completed. We got the independent slot that we wanted and got off at 8:30. In the baggage reclaim hall the luggage is arranged in disembarkation groups, which are smaller than complete decks, and you can find you bags very quickly, we were in the line for a local taxi by 8:45. Dining We had opted for Anytime Dining which gives great flexibility, but it can get busy at peak times, the best strategy is to be prepared to share a table (requesting a table for two will probably result in being given a pager). We tried all four of the dining rooms, here is a good number of tables for two, although they are very close together. The selection of dishes each evening was good and there were at least two choices that we wanted to eat. The breakfast choices in the MDR are a bit limited and very much to the American taste. Lunch in the MDR is also pleasant, and fairly quiet with a good set of menu choices. Other dining options that we tried were the Horizon Court (buffet) is a useful alternative for breakfast, with a very good selection of fresh fruit. If can become very crowded at peek times, we tended to take our meals to the covered pool area which was a lot quieter. People did tend to spread themselves out and hoard tables. Alfredo’s Pizzeria is a nice place to eat, limited menu, but the pizzas are very good. Both poolside options, Prego Pizzeria and Trident Grill both produce quick tasty quality snacks, but you can always go back for seconds! Sabatini’s does excellent Italian food, there is a charge of $29, but it is always busy and they are not pushing this restaurant. This can be a four course meal, and the portions are big. The quality of the food and service is very good. When we needed an early start we did try room service for breakfast, it arrived promptly, and avoids the queues (lines). We did use the International Café for teas and coffees. We didn’t manage to try the Sterling Steakhouse or the Crab Shack. Bars We were both on the premium drinks package, and it’s a bit like being a big kid in a candy store! All the bars serve more or less the same selection, some of our favourites were the Outrigger Bar, Tradewinds, Calypso and Skywalkers Nightclub. Sky walkers was a regular haunt around five o’clock when anyone who is Platinum and above can have exclusive use for drinks and snacks. Our main drinking location before and after dinner was Vines Wine Bar where Ronnie Rodrigues did an excellent job on keeping our glasses full and providing entertaining conversation (definitely the consummate host!). It’s worth pointing out that the premium drinks package ‘limits’ you to 15 alcoholic drinks a day, I was never told that I had exceeded my quota! The package also covers unlimited teas, coffees and soft drinks. Cabin Our cabin was port rear on deck 11 (B227), this is a balcony cabin, starboard side, just forward of the forward stair tower. It has some very recent updates such as a large LED TV, a new mattress and topper along with soft new pillows. The bed is extremely comfortable, and we did get very good night’s sleep on it, The décor and fittings were in reasonable shape. Between the bathroom and main room is a spacious hanging area that really works well. The beds are high enough to take some pretty big suitcases underneath. Our steward Enzil looked after us well, and was always keen to do more. The carpet did look in need of replacement, and the doors onto the balcony creaked at night. This cabin was quiet. Entertainment We didn’t make it to any of the theatre shows and just took in the live music around the ship, which was very pleasant. Photography Although the quality of the photographs taken was high, we felt that they were over priced. Gym This has to be one of the best gyms afloat that I’ve tried and I used it 3 times (still put on weight though!). The 15 weights machines give you a complete workout. Plenty of tread-mills, cross trainers, bikes and rowing machines. Ports of Call St. Peter Port, Guernsey, UK Sunday morning in St. Peter Port is very quiet, most shops and bars do not open until 12 noon. We took the tender late morning, had a wander round the shops (cosmetics prices on board can be cheaper) and lunch in a nice Italian restaurant on the front. A large shore tender took us back to the ship, and as it was a nice sunny day we could sit outside and take in the view. La Rocelle, France This was instead of Bordeaux where at the nearest port, Le Verdon, the dock workers were on strike. We took the shuttle bus into La Rocelle, it is a pleasant town and it was a sunny day. After a good walk round we found a nice restaurant for lunch and enjoyed moules and frits! There was a wait of about 30mins for the return shuttle due to high demand. Bilbao, Spain Only got off briefly here, took a look around the terminal, which although new has not got any shops yet. La Coruna, Spain We took a ship’s excursion to Santigago De Compostela, a very interesting tour with a good guide ‘Jesus’! The ship berths in the middle of La Coruna, and the town is very accessible on foot. We were there on Assentation Day, which is a public holiday, and a lot of the town was shut. Anything Else? There was one bumpy night between Bilbao and La Coruna, bed was the best and safest place to be. On our last sea day there was a medical emergency, and blood donors were requested (always take your blood donor card on a cruise). In the end the casualty was taken off by helicopter and flown to Plymouth. It was very reassuring to see this being done.

Fine Wine!

Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by Broadhurstbob

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was to be a short cruise of seven nights on Sapphire Princess, taking in Guernsey, Bordeaux, Bilbao and La Coruna. Unfortunately, the itinerary changed as we embarked, the French were on strike in La Verdon (port for Bordeaux) and we were going to La Rochelle instead. Sapphire Princess had just completed a refit and this was her first season based in Southampton.

Embarkation/Disembarkation

The ship was using the Mayflower Terminal in Southampton. The terminal works very well at getting people through as quickly as possible. Porters take your luggage from you in the drop off lanes, next time you see it is outside the cabin. We literally flew through the terminal, w have Priority Boarding but this was amazing. We arrived at 11:50 and stepped onto the ship at 12:15.

Disembarkation is equally efficient. A couple of days before the end of the cruise a form was left in the cabin to be completed. We got the independent slot that we wanted and got off at 8:30. In the baggage reclaim hall the luggage is arranged in disembarkation groups, which are smaller than complete decks, and you can find you bags very quickly, we were in the line for a local taxi by 8:45.

Dining

We had opted for Anytime Dining which gives great flexibility, but it can get busy at peak times, the best strategy is to be prepared to share a table (requesting a table for two will probably result in being given a pager). We tried all four of the dining rooms, here is a good number of tables for two, although they are very close together. The selection of dishes each evening was good and there were at least two choices that we wanted to eat. The breakfast choices in the MDR are a bit limited and very much to the American taste. Lunch in the MDR is also pleasant, and fairly quiet with a good set of menu choices.

Other dining options that we tried were the Horizon Court (buffet) is a useful alternative for breakfast, with a very good selection of fresh fruit. If can become very crowded at peek times, we tended to take our meals to the covered pool area which was a lot quieter. People did tend to spread themselves out and hoard tables.

Alfredo’s Pizzeria is a nice place to eat, limited menu, but the pizzas are very good.

Both poolside options, Prego Pizzeria and Trident Grill both produce quick tasty quality snacks, but you can always go back for seconds!

Sabatini’s does excellent Italian food, there is a charge of $29, but it is always busy and they are not pushing this restaurant. This can be a four course meal, and the portions are big. The quality of the food and service is very good.

When we needed an early start we did try room service for breakfast, it arrived promptly, and avoids the queues (lines).

We did use the International Café for teas and coffees.

We didn’t manage to try the Sterling Steakhouse or the Crab Shack.

Bars

We were both on the premium drinks package, and it’s a bit like being a big kid in a candy store! All the bars serve more or less the same selection, some of our favourites were the Outrigger Bar, Tradewinds, Calypso and Skywalkers Nightclub. Sky walkers was a regular haunt around five o’clock when anyone who is Platinum and above can have exclusive use for drinks and snacks. Our main drinking location before and after dinner was Vines Wine Bar where Ronnie Rodrigues did an excellent job on keeping our glasses full and providing entertaining conversation (definitely the consummate host!). It’s worth pointing out that the premium drinks package ‘limits’ you to 15 alcoholic drinks a day, I was never told that I had exceeded my quota! The package also covers unlimited teas, coffees and soft drinks.

Cabin

Our cabin was port rear on deck 11 (B227), this is a balcony cabin, starboard side, just forward of the forward stair tower. It has some very recent updates such as a large LED TV, a new mattress and topper along with soft new pillows. The bed is extremely comfortable, and we did get very good night’s sleep on it, The décor and fittings were in reasonable shape. Between the bathroom and main room is a spacious hanging area that really works well. The beds are high enough to take some pretty big suitcases underneath. Our steward Enzil looked after us well, and was always keen to do more. The carpet did look in need of replacement, and the doors onto the balcony creaked at night. This cabin was quiet.

Entertainment

We didn’t make it to any of the theatre shows and just took in the live music around the ship, which was very pleasant.

Photography

Although the quality of the photographs taken was high, we felt that they were over priced.

Gym

This has to be one of the best gyms afloat that I’ve tried and I used it 3 times (still put on weight though!). The 15 weights machines give you a complete workout. Plenty of tread-mills, cross trainers, bikes and rowing machines.


Ports of Call

St. Peter Port, Guernsey, UK

Sunday morning in St. Peter Port is very quiet, most shops and bars do not open until 12 noon. We took the tender late morning, had a wander round the shops (cosmetics prices on board can be cheaper) and lunch in a nice Italian restaurant on the front. A large shore tender took us back to the ship, and as it was a nice sunny day we could sit outside and take in the view.

La Rocelle, France

This was instead of Bordeaux where at the nearest port, Le Verdon, the dock workers were on strike. We took the shuttle bus into La Rocelle, it is a pleasant town and it was a sunny day. After a good walk round we found a nice restaurant for lunch and enjoyed moules and frits! There was a wait of about 30mins for the return shuttle due to high demand.

Bilbao, Spain

Only got off briefly here, took a look around the terminal, which although new has not got any shops yet.

La Coruna, Spain

We took a ship’s excursion to Santigago De Compostela, a very interesting tour with a good guide ‘Jesus’! The ship berths in the middle of La Coruna, and the town is very accessible on foot. We were there on Assentation Day, which is a public holiday, and a lot of the town was shut.

Anything Else?

There was one bumpy night between Bilbao and La Coruna, bed was the best and safest place to be.

On our last sea day there was a medical emergency, and blood donors were requested (always take your blood donor card on a cruise). In the end the casualty was taken off by helicopter and flown to Plymouth. It was very reassuring to see this being done.
Broadhurstbob’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BE B227
Our cabin was port rear on deck 11 (B227), this is a balcony cabin, starboard side, just forward of the forward stair tower. It has some very recent updates such as a large LED TV, a new mattress and topper along with soft new pillows. The bed is extremely comfortable, and we did get very good night’s sleep on it, The décor and fittings were in reasonable shape. Between the bathroom and main room is a spacious hanging area that really works well. The beds are high enough to take some pretty big suitcases underneath. Our steward Enzil looked after us well, and was always keen to do more. The carpet did look in need of replacement, and the doors onto the balcony creaked at night. This cabin was quiet.
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