My about to turn 8 yo daughter wanted to go to Norway; so we ended up on the Princess Sapphire on a two week trip. We are a couple in our 40s and our daughter turned 8 five days after the trip ended; this was her 8th cruise and our I’ve lost count, though her first on princess and our second with the first being prior to having a child. This review is about our trip but will also serve as a guide for those travelling with school age kids as there is a paucity of information and that which I found on these boards was very useful.
We flew to London on a day time flight the day prior to embarkation – if the flight timing works I highly recommend that daytime flight because then we arrived, went to bed and were on the right time zone without a lost night/airplane nights sleep. We took the city bus for free to our Heathrow area hotel the Ibis London Heathrow – it is at the last stop in the free zone – I had managed to have a different stop name and we simply got off there as it was the last free stop and were trying to figure out where we needed to be and realized the hotel was 75 meters farther down the street. The hotel was clean, cheap £67.45 and slept three. It was not spacious but we needed nothing else. It also had a 24 hour restaurant in the lobby where we grabbed some dinner before passing out.
We took the public bus in the free zone back to the terminal 2/3 bus station and got on a National Express bus to Southhampton -£49.75 for all three of us. After our arrival in the Southhampton bus station we walked to a nearby store and bought two bottles of wine (our “free” bring on ship allowance). We then walked back to the bus station to get a taxi to the port –note there is no Uber in Southhampton as of this writing and the taxi only took cash so we did need pounds sterling.
Our room was an obstructed ocean view E400. The view had virtually no obstruction (there was a great website for checking out all the views from the windows of these rooms and we had chosen well). The beds were under the window and the third (and fourth if needed) bed came down from the ceiling. This meant our beds had to remain separated. It also meant that our daughter’s bed was put away during the day – this is the first trip where she has been old enough not to nap but if she was still napping age that would have been painful. As it was, crawling into and out of bed every night under the bunk was bad enough. Also if she had been a lot younger I wouldn’t have been comfortable with her climbing the ladder to sleep on a bunk and an adult would have had to have done that. We have sailed both Disney and Holland America in the same (obstructed oceanview) room category – I know that Disney rooms are bigger and designed differently since they cater to families but the HAL room was also big enough for a couch that unfolded and became her sleeping area and our beds could be together making the room much more comfortable. There was plenty of storage and I like the closet/bathroom configuration but the furniture in our room was quite worn.