Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by Heppers
- Sail Date: June 2018
- Destination: Baltic Sea
- Cabin Type: Interior
EMBARKATION: We sailed from Southampton and we were walking onto the ship within 15 minutes of leaving the dock. Perfect embarkation. Apparently there were 2800 passengers on board and 1500 of those were from the UK, as are we. The ship has had a recent refit and you could tell. The staff were always working in the background, unobtrusively picking up litter, clearing tables, keeping everything in good shape.
CABIN: Compared to RCI inside staterooms, Princess are far better. I like the way the wardrobe area separates the bathroom from the bedroom and it gives it the illusion of space. William our stateroom attendant kept it clean and tidy and the mattress is one of their new ones which are absolutely fantastic to sleep in.
DINING: We always used to go with traditional dining times on shared tables, but since a couple of bad experiences, we now opt for any time dining and prefer this. The food was always of an exceptionally high standard, always hot, well cooked and their creme brulee is just perfect. Doesn't matter which ship I'm on, they all do creme brulee and the Sapphire does them the way I like them. We never breakfast on a cruise because our waistlines expand enough, but during the day we would use the Horizon buffet or the International Cafe for lunch. Honestly, I can't think of anything bad to say. It was all lovely.
ENTERTAINMENT: Regarding the entertainment, our cruise director was called Duke, and he is definitely one of the better ones. Great sense of humour, he got everybody involved and didn't mind getting involved himself. His team were the same.
Sapphire Princess has one of the best entertainment programmes I've enjoyed. As I enjoy cruising precisely to take advantage of the entertainment programme, this praise isn't given freely. Their showtime singers are superb. One night they put on an opera style show and wow, they were breathtaking. So, so versatile, as well. They tackled all sorts of different musical genres throughout the week. The Atomic band were good as well but as the demographic of the ship was predominantly 60+ (I'm 55, hubby 53) and they were usually in the Fusion lounge, it was quite often empty. They were singing to an under capacity 'crowd'. I felt sorry for them, because they were really good! If you've been on RCI and seen Rock the Boat, they were quite similar to them.
We were treated to two 'star' performers; Gareth Gates and Ted Robbins. I remember TR as Kate Robbins brother, and from Spitting Image. He was also on Phoenix Nights but I don't watch much TV now and if it wasn't for the fact that he told us about three or four times that he'd done it, I'd never have known. Yep, I was being sarcastic there! Sorry Ted, if you're reading this, but if you are, I'd suggest you don't mention PN as often because not everybody can relate, even people from the UK, as I am. Also, it seemed to me that some of the jokes were recycled, and first told by the now-dead comedians that were mentioned such as Bob Monkhouse and Ken Dodds. As a comedian he was okay. I laughed a couple of times
We saw Gareth Gates around the ship a few times; it turned out his room was opposite ours. He's a very good looking guy, with a great voice. However ... and don't hate me ... his act felt stale to me. It was full of easy listening songs with no oomph. I'm pretty sure he asked us a couple of times if we were ready to party ... we'd say yes ... then he'd sing another slow song. It didn't keep the tempo up. I really wanted to love his act, but it just didn't get me roused.
In between 'star acts' the Sapphire singers and dancers performed three shows. As mentioned above, they were superb.
In our experience, the last night of a cruise always falls a bit flat. Not on the Sapphire. We were treated to Last night of the Proms in the Piazza and this was great. Later on in the theatre I was surprised it was 75% full because it's usually only about 50% full. I'm leaving the best act until last. They're a tribute band called Coyote and they were fantastic. They did an 80s Mixtape and their lead singer, a teeny, tiny woman wearing glitter and spandex had a huge stage presence. She got everybody involved and her voice was fab. Apparently it was their first ever Princess booking and I've just completed the Princess questionnaire suggesting that it shouldn't be their last!
SERVICE: Nothing was too much trouble for anybody. William, our stateroom attendant was very courteous, as was everybody else. Gratuities were $27 per day I believe and we didn't alter it. I have no idea if it's an urban myth that the cruise companies don't pay their staff or they do, but it's minimum wage. Regardless, we can see their staff work hard and never mind paying for it. We don't, however, add more.
PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: We didn't have good weather. At all. Unfortunately this tends to colour your judgment. We visited Stavanger, Olden, Gerainger and Bergen. Norway is definitely a place to book excursions rather than winging it. We usually get the hop on hop off bus wherever we go but to be honest, we did that the last time we visited. And we had paid excursions. The only one we did this time was to see a glacier at Olden.
Stavanger: Been there before. Also in the rain. It's a lovely little town, but it would've been nice to see it in sunshine. We sought out Starbucks for their free WiFi - as did everybody else - and spent about an hour getting caught up on stuff.
Olden: Trip to the glacier cost $99 pp for a return coach ride lasting 45 minutes there and back. Okay, it was a glacier ... a huge chunk of ice held captive by two mountains. The air was pure, we were back to nature ... but the rain was so heavy it was horizontal, and we paid an additional £22 pp to get a ride 15 minutes from the glacier in a Troll car. Would I do it again or recommend it? Nah. Not really. My husband enjoyed it though, and he paid for it lol!
Gerainger: Small town, not much to see. We walked through a camp site towards a waterfall. My husband climbed to the top. Someone told him there were 2000 steps. Needless to say I waited at the bottom. The waterfall was very pretty though.
Bergen: I have no idea where we docked but it wasn't in the same place as we'd docked when we went on P&O's Britannia. Bergen has a lovely shopping centre and fish market that I recall from our previous visit. This time it docked at 7am, all aboard for 1.30pm. No time at all, and we were nowhere near the 'nice parts'. Waste of time, but we walked for 30 minutes and didn't get anywhere so we walked back to the ship.
NEGATIVE STUFF: We're not big drinkers and their daily charge of $59.99 + 15% gratuity for their drinks package wouldn't be good value for us. We were, however, looking forward to their happy hours that they usually have but were told they don't do this now. That's such a shame. They did it in 2016 and 2017. To me it's cutting corners by stealth.
Prior to sailing I read a few reviews and someone said that they were teetotal because they were charged $18 for two lagers. I don't know if they were speciality lagers but if you're okay drinking John Smiths that was about $5.75, same with Boddingtons. Cocktails were about $7-9 - all plus 15% gratuity automatically added to your bill. Not too bad. We pay about the same as that in pounds in Newcastle city centre. Minus the tip of course!
Next is the cost of the wifi. It was 79 cents per minute. No wonder people hogged cafes when they went ashore.
WOULD I GO TO THE FJORDS AGAIN? No, we're fjorded out now. It's a beautiful country and I would definitely recommend going but for us, it was more about the ship than the destinations.
WOULD I USE SAPPHIRE PRINCESS AGAIN? Absolutely. There's just something about Sapphy that we love. Plus, we didn't know that they're connected with P&O so we got the Britannia cruise added to our Captain Circle membership and we've now moved into the Ruby level.
WOULD I USE PRINCESS AGAIN? In a heartbeat. Okay, so they use wooden stirrers, plastic plates, plastic cups, and plastic 'glasses' in the buffet lounge but seriously I don't care about that. What I care about is the cleanliness, quality of the entertainment, and service. Probably in that order, too. You want china cups, real glasses, and spoons in the buffet lounge, go visit the dining room. (Yes, someone told me that she overheard someone ask for a china cup in Horizon!!)
One more thing, we didn't do enrichment activities on this cruise but they seemed to be entertaining and I don't want to mark them down as 'terrible'. There isn't an option for 'not applicable'.
This is the end of my epic, lengthy, review. I've tried to be impartial, but to be fair, there's not a lot I can pick fault with on this ship. If you read a bad review about the cruise I've just done, I honestly don't know what that reviewer would be looking for in a holiday. Sapphy ticked all our boxes. We could easily go 'up market' - and we all know who I'm talking about - but why would we when we're happy with these guys?
250,000+ people have entered their email
This is the first time we've tried an inside cabin with Princess and I like the practical layout.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
BergenLuckily we've visited Bergen before and we recalled being in a different docking area. We were 'all aboard' for 1.30pm and did an hour round trip walk and got back on the boat. We didn't get to see anything.View All 650 Bergen Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Bergen Cruise Port Review
GeirangerNot much to say about Gerainger. Small township with a camp site close by. We walked through it and found a waterfall. Nice. Pretty. Not much to say really.View All 146 Geiranger Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Geiranger Cruise Port Review
OldenBooked an excursion to see the glacier. I wasn't as over-awed as I thought I'd be and the horrendous rain didn't help. That said I can tick it off my list now.View All 160 Olden Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Olden Cruise Port Review
SouthamptonWe sailed from Southampton and have never explored it before.View All 990 Southampton Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Southampton Cruise Port Review
StavangerLovely town. We spent most of our time there in Starbucks using their wifi.View All 281 Stavanger Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Stavanger Cruise Port Review