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5th May 2018, our first view of Sapphire Princess was from the end of Hythe Pier and she looked terrific. After dropping off my car at the terminal, it was the fastest check-in and boarding that we encountered. No, we weren't late nor were we early - It was just quiet. Everything went so smoothly and so quickly and this time we tried a mini-suite which was big but a bit disappointing for the centre console which once held two televisions was really no more than wasted space and an obstruction. As for the bathroom well the bath was off-putting for neither of us like climbing in and out of a bath like an orangutan for a shower, our joints won't cope! I wish Princess would drop the 'Love Boat' themed TV intro and safety video which should be taken seriously and not against a dated musical background performed by aged has-been singers. We left Southampton quietly and after unpacking met the waiting staff in the Piazza, most of whom joined the ship in Singapore following her refit and being their first time in Europe were a bit shy of us Brits, they soon settled down when they realised that we're tame! Now for dinner! There are four restaurants off the piazza, two on Deck 5 and two on Deck 6, all four were approximately the same size and differently themed yet the menus are the same and service was exemplary. Theatre entertainment is always variable from the dire to the excellent. Jim Stevenson, comedian is an excellent ice-breaker on the first night and even better on a final night. Princess Singers and Dancers excel themselves on their performance nights but their shows appear to reduce in size and time each year. Breakfast is standard self-service in the Horizon and even though Sapphire Princess carries slightly less than her Crown and Emerald sisters, she is better laid out with no hint of overcrowding particularly in the Piazza and the Horizon Court. Now for the cruise, you all know how wonderful your room steward is and you all want to adopt him and take him home! So I'll gloss past that one. First Port of Call was Guernsey and we anchored and got off - Wow!! Excuse my enthusiasm but I usually see St Peter Port harbour in rough seas as the captain plans a diversion to the next port. So we were in Guernsey and it was Sunday and not being directly part of the UK (Guernsey has its own laws) the shops were closed!!! Just like the old days here, but the cafe's did a roaring trade out of us basking in the sun. La Verdon was meant to be the second port but due to a French dockworkers strike we went to La Rochelle and a day there is far better than looking at container cranes in a strike-bound port - it was 8th May and a national holiday in France so some shops and all cafes were open and what a lovely place to visit, it is definitely a 'Must Return To' place. Bilbao was our third port and the weather changed, for it was warmer in East Anglia than in Bilbao! We headed for the Guggenheim Museum and all I can say is that it has the 'Marmite effect' and I hate Marmite! The rest of Bilbao was interesting. La Coruna was our final port and we found a cafe (as we usually do) and then a spice shop where my wife bought bags of spices for home cooking - I think we have to do this cruise again even if it is just for bulk spice shopping in La Coruna! A final special word goes to Captain Paulo Rivera for it was his first time with Sapphire Princess in UK waters, he had to cope with the ship being audited continually by Maritime and Coastguard Agency assessors and Lloyd's Registry auditors for the ship to get its UK Passenger Certificate and he had to handle an emergency helicopter evacuation of a seriously injured passenger south of Plymouth. Well Done Captain. I returned to Sapphire Princess in October for another 7 day cruise but more about that in my next review.

Sapphire's first visit to UK

Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by Piermaster

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Trip Details
5th May 2018, our first view of Sapphire Princess was from the end of Hythe Pier and she looked terrific.

After dropping off my car at the terminal, it was the fastest check-in and boarding that we encountered. No, we weren't late nor were we early - It was just quiet. Everything went so smoothly and so quickly and this time we tried a mini-suite which was big but a bit disappointing for the centre console which once held two televisions was really no more than wasted space and an obstruction. As for the bathroom well the bath was off-putting for neither of us like climbing in and out of a bath like an orangutan for a shower, our joints won't cope!

I wish Princess would drop the 'Love Boat' themed TV intro and safety video which should be taken seriously and not against a dated musical background performed by aged has-been singers.

We left Southampton quietly and after unpacking met the waiting staff in the Piazza, most of whom joined the ship in Singapore following her refit and being their first time in Europe were a bit shy of us Brits, they soon settled down when they realised that we're tame!

Now for dinner! There are four restaurants off the piazza, two on Deck 5 and two on Deck 6, all four were approximately the same size and differently themed yet the menus are the same and service was exemplary.

Theatre entertainment is always variable from the dire to the excellent. Jim Stevenson, comedian is an excellent ice-breaker on the first night and even better on a final night. Princess Singers and Dancers excel themselves on their performance nights but their shows appear to reduce in size and time each year.

Breakfast is standard self-service in the Horizon and even though Sapphire Princess carries slightly less than her Crown and Emerald sisters, she is better laid out with no hint of overcrowding particularly in the Piazza and the Horizon Court.

Now for the cruise, you all know how wonderful your room steward is and you all want to adopt him and take him home! So I'll gloss past that one.

First Port of Call was Guernsey and we anchored and got off - Wow!! Excuse my enthusiasm but I usually see St Peter Port harbour in rough seas as the captain plans a diversion to the next port. So we were in Guernsey and it was Sunday and not being directly part of the UK (Guernsey has its own laws) the shops were closed!!! Just like the old days here, but the cafe's did a roaring trade out of us basking in the sun.

La Verdon was meant to be the second port but due to a French dockworkers strike we went to La Rochelle and a day there is far better than looking at container cranes in a strike-bound port - it was 8th May and a national holiday in France so some shops and all cafes were open and what a lovely place to visit, it is definitely a 'Must Return To' place.

Bilbao was our third port and the weather changed, for it was warmer in East Anglia than in Bilbao! We headed for the Guggenheim Museum and all I can say is that it has the 'Marmite effect' and I hate Marmite! The rest of Bilbao was interesting.

La Coruna was our final port and we found a cafe (as we usually do) and then a spice shop where my wife bought bags of spices for home cooking - I think we have to do this cruise again even if it is just for bulk spice shopping in La Coruna!

A final special word goes to Captain Paulo Rivera for it was his first time with Sapphire Princess in UK waters, he had to cope with the ship being audited continually by Maritime and Coastguard Agency assessors and Lloyd's Registry auditors for the ship to get its UK Passenger Certificate and he had to handle an emergency helicopter evacuation of a seriously injured passenger south of Plymouth. Well Done Captain.

I returned to Sapphire Princess in October for another 7 day cruise but more about that in my next review.
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MB D720
The mini-suite was big but a bit disappointing for the centre console which once held two televisions was really no more than wasted space and an obstruction. As for the bathroom well the bath was off-putting for neither of us like climbing in and out of a bath like an orangutan for a shower, our joints won't cope!
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