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We chose this cruise for several reasons, the main one being we got it at a good price. We had cruised with Princess twice before, at the beginning of 2016 and again at the beginning of 2017. We liked the line, we had been to the Med before but this particular itinerary took us to four new ports, which was a big plus. We had read that the Sapphire Princess had been in for a refit and the two main things we noticed were the lovely new mattresses which were ever so comfortable and the big new TV screens. Unlike a lot of folk on holiday we seldom if ever watch TV in our cabin, we do enough of that at home, so having a lovely big screen did not bother us but I dare say it would make a lot of people happy compared to the TV sets they had previously. We noticed a number of changes from the two previous cruises we had taken with Princess, most of which would come under the heading of "cost-cutting" or "penny-pinching", but before we get on to the negatives let me mention the positives first. We have now cruised ten times with four different cruise lines and I can honestly say that by a distance the Theatre Troupe and the house band "Atomic" were both the best we have ever seen. We kept looking out for where Atomic were playing and tried to catch them whenever we could. We have another Sapphire cruise booked for next year and hope Atomic are still around then. The staff were excellent and very friendly from our cabin steward to the waiting staff both in Horizon Court and in the MDR. Embarkation and disembarkation both went without a hitch. Now for some of the downsides. We are in the Captain's Circle and on previous cruises we met for nibbles between 17.00 and 19.00 in Skywalkers, one of the best viewpoints on the ship for leaving port. The lovely food they laid on free was excellent, we would buy a drink and watch the ship leave port, it became a routine for us on departures. On the Sapphire the Captain's Circle met in Club Fusion, deck seven, no views and the nibbles were dreadful. We went once and never went back. On previous Princess cruises there were two Happy Hours each day when you could buy a second drink for a dollar, that has now been dropped right across the fleet. I used to look forward to playing bridge in the card room on sea days. The card room has gone and has now been turned into a bar, I guess there is more money in it for Princess, especially as it is a smokers' bar. In Horizon Court we found the selection and quality of food at Breakfast and Lunch was pretty good, to be honest we sometimes thought the quality was better than in the MDR, but Afternoon tea has really gone down market. There used to be little sandwiches, rolls, little savouries; now you have to make your own sandwiches with pate and cheese slices being the only fillings available. Everybody of course has different tastes for their evening meal, but we found ourselves going for the Favourites side of the menu far more often than we have done in the past. The thing which came over to me most, however, was the money-grabbing aspect which I had not seen so much previously. There were two specific things which happened which really upset us. In Barcelona we were told that the berth was five miles out of town and that there were taxis available. What we were not told was that the port laid on a shuttle bus for two euros. We discovered that ourselves online. In Marseille we were again told that the berth was five miles from the city and Princess sold shuttle bus tickets at the outrageous price of 16USD each. What we were not told was that the port put on a free shuttle bus just a few minutes’ walk from the ship. That was just downright deceitful and there were a number of angry passengers on the 16USD bus when they saw fellow travellers getting a free bus into the city. We spoke to a number of fellow passengers who all said the same thing, that they thought standards had dropped. Silly things like not being able to have a tray in Horizon Court, not being able to get juice from a machine but having to ask a waiter for it all help them to lower their costs but at your inconvenience. On my return I wrote a long letter to Princess Customer Services who replied with an error-laden email denying everything. This is a cut-throat industry and they are obviously doing everything they can to compete. They have good itineraries which means I will be travelling with them again as I dare say the others in the same price range will be taking similar steps to remain competitive.

Princess are cutting corners

Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by Chestfield Bill

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We chose this cruise for several reasons, the main one being we got it at a good price. We had cruised with Princess twice before, at the beginning of 2016 and again at the beginning of 2017. We liked the line, we had been to the Med before but this particular itinerary took us to four new ports, which was a big plus.

We had read that the Sapphire Princess had been in for a refit and the two main things we noticed were the lovely new mattresses which were ever so comfortable and the big new TV screens. Unlike a lot of folk on holiday we seldom if ever watch TV in our cabin, we do enough of that at home, so having a lovely big screen did not bother us but I dare say it would make a lot of people happy compared to the TV sets they had previously.

We noticed a number of changes from the two previous cruises we had taken with Princess, most of which would come under the heading of "cost-cutting" or "penny-pinching", but before we get on to the negatives let me mention the positives first. We have now cruised ten times with four different cruise lines and I can honestly say that by a distance the Theatre Troupe and the house band "Atomic" were both the best we have ever seen. We kept looking out for where Atomic were playing and tried to catch them whenever we could. We have another Sapphire cruise booked for next year and hope Atomic are still around then.

The staff were excellent and very friendly from our cabin steward to the waiting staff both in Horizon Court and in the MDR. Embarkation and disembarkation both went without a hitch.

Now for some of the downsides. We are in the Captain's Circle and on previous cruises we met for nibbles between 17.00 and 19.00 in Skywalkers, one of the best viewpoints on the ship for leaving port. The lovely food they laid on free was excellent, we would buy a drink and watch the ship leave port, it became a routine for us on departures. On the Sapphire the Captain's Circle met in Club Fusion, deck seven, no views and the nibbles were dreadful. We went once and never went back.

On previous Princess cruises there were two Happy Hours each day when you could buy a second drink for a dollar, that has now been dropped right across the fleet. I used to look forward to playing bridge in the card room on sea days. The card room has gone and has now been turned into a bar, I guess there is more money in it for Princess, especially as it is a smokers' bar.

In Horizon Court we found the selection and quality of food at Breakfast and Lunch was pretty good, to be honest we sometimes thought the quality was better than in the MDR, but Afternoon tea has really gone down market. There used to be little sandwiches, rolls, little savouries; now you have to make your own sandwiches with pate and cheese slices being the only fillings available. Everybody of course has different tastes for their evening meal, but we found ourselves going for the Favourites side of the menu far more often than we have done in the past.

The thing which came over to me most, however, was the money-grabbing aspect which I had not seen so much previously. There were two specific things which happened which really upset us. In Barcelona we were told that the berth was five miles out of town and that there were taxis available. What we were not told was that the port laid on a shuttle bus for two euros. We discovered that ourselves online. In Marseille we were again told that the berth was five miles from the city and Princess sold shuttle bus tickets at the outrageous price of 16USD each. What we were not told was that the port put on a free shuttle bus just a few minutes’ walk from the ship. That was just downright deceitful and there were a number of angry passengers on the 16USD bus when they saw fellow travellers getting a free bus into the city.

We spoke to a number of fellow passengers who all said the same thing, that they thought standards had dropped. Silly things like not being able to have a tray in Horizon Court, not being able to get juice from a machine but having to ask a waiter for it all help them to lower their costs but at your inconvenience. On my return I wrote a long letter to Princess Customer Services who replied with an error-laden email denying everything. This is a cut-throat industry and they are obviously doing everything they can to compete. They have good itineraries which means I will be travelling with them again as I dare say the others in the same price range will be taking similar steps to remain competitive.
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