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We picked the cruise (Far East Explorer) as something of an afterthought... We are very frequent cruisers but hadn’t been to the Far East previously and therefore took the opportunity. The itinerary was the attraction, Shanghai, Nagasaki, Busan, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Min City, Bangkok, Koh Samui, then Singapore... It was a fabulous itinerary. We hadn’t sailed with Princess before but had been told it was comparable with Celebrity and therefore set our expectations about the ship on our past Celebrity experiences. that proved to be unfulfilled. The cabin (an interior on deck 11) was excellent. We almost always have a balcony but we were very happy with our cabin. It was much more spacious than we expected, and worked perfectly, the cabin steward was superb. Food which is so important on cruises was extremely underwhelming. It was far far behind Celebrity and out review grading in based largely on that shortcoming. We really didn’t care for the breakfast buffet at all, and the dining room options at breakfast didn’t inspire us either. Finding an unoccupied table at breakfast in the buffet was also quite a challenge. The buffet was divided into two pretty much identical section but with only a fraction of the selection options we’d had on say Celebrity, Cunard or Norwegian. Lunch in the buffet wasn’t much different although occasionally there was a pleasant surprise. I suspect the food had been prepared for a different guest mix than was on our cruise. We found it extremely odd that poppadoms and Indian breads were invariably available but there were few (if any) Indian dishes to go with them. There just wasn’t the space available in the buffet to provide the sort of buffet choice we have experienced on dozens of other ships. Evening menu I found OK. We had anything dining (which we liked) and could use any one of 3 restaurants (all served an identical menu). Over and above the someone dull ‘always available items’ the menu offered 6 choices daily, two vegetarian, two apparently local to where we were, one fish, and one meat... I was OK as I usually picked on of the interesting and spicy local dishes, my wife was far less satisfied, and often said there was nothing she particularly fancied on the menu... The food was usually pretty good (steak we had one night was awful) but in our cruising we have been used to reading menu where deciding which of several dishes to select was the challenge rather than, do I want any of these dishes... Entertainment across the ship was pretty good. The theatre shows were watchable, and when a new cast boarded for our last few days had a marked improvement. The speciality acts were the usual cruise fare, OK to pass on an hour or so. Daytime activities, trivia etc was fine, much as could be expected.. The music on the ship was really good. a band of young people (The Drop) we excellent as was a young piano singer. A classical duo were very good too. The ship itself. It seemed really dark to us, for a few days we thought some of it need a lick of white paint to brighten the place up, that said we eventually got use to the experience of often feeling you were in an old haunted mansion... There was plenty of social space, and we usually had no difficulty in finding seating wherever we wanted to be, including on the deck. We liked the deck set up and thought the decent sized pool was a bonus particularly as it was too deep for people to stand and clutter the water whilst enjoying cocktails (as you see on many newer ships). I haven’t mentioned the bar, on this trip we took the soda package (dry January) it worked just fine and made a pleasant change to our usual full drinks package. The ports of call were the definite highlights of the trip. We got off to an awful start in Shanghai where everything was severely delayed, we were told it was weather related but it seemed perfectly obvious that the delay related more to the current dispute between the USA & China in terms of trade.... After an almost 10hr delay (where bottled water and potato chips became the food for day 1 of the cruise) all was plain sailing.. We were rather surprised guests weren’t compensated with onboard credit to reflect the totally lost first day of the cruise as by the time boarding was achieved it was too late to get to the restaurant for most guests. Nagasaki was great, interesting, thought-provoking and emotional, Busan was a hive of interesting activity, Hong Kong we had a decent length stop but probably needed at least another 48hrs, Ho Chi Min City was probably our favourite port of call, we took the ship’s excursion to the city and again would have liked longer, we took a ship’s tour to Bangkok and maxed out our few hours there too, on Koh Samui we rented a car and toured the whole island, and we had a great short stay in Singapore... The ship organised numerous tours for every port of call, we thought the trips we took were well organised and fairly priced. Would we tour the area again, absolutely we would; will we sail Princess again, the answer is yes as we already have a reservation made with them not least because they offer some of the most interesting moderately priced itineraries... All in all a very enjoyable trip.

Great ports of call, ship somewhat uninspiring

Sapphire Princess Cruise Review by Turraloon

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2019
  • Destination: Asia
  • Cabin Type: Interior
We picked the cruise (Far East Explorer) as something of an afterthought... We are very frequent cruisers but hadn’t been to the Far East previously and therefore took the opportunity.

The itinerary was the attraction, Shanghai, Nagasaki, Busan, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Min City, Bangkok, Koh Samui, then Singapore... It was a fabulous itinerary.

We hadn’t sailed with Princess before but had been told it was comparable with Celebrity and therefore set our expectations about the ship on our past Celebrity experiences. that proved to be unfulfilled.

The cabin (an interior on deck 11) was excellent. We almost always have a balcony but we were very happy with our cabin. It was much more spacious than we expected, and worked perfectly, the cabin steward was superb.

Food which is so important on cruises was extremely underwhelming. It was far far behind Celebrity and out review grading in based largely on that shortcoming. We really didn’t care for the breakfast buffet at all, and the dining room options at breakfast didn’t inspire us either. Finding an unoccupied table at breakfast in the buffet was also quite a challenge. The buffet was divided into two pretty much identical section but with only a fraction of the selection options we’d had on say Celebrity, Cunard or Norwegian.

Lunch in the buffet wasn’t much different although occasionally there was a pleasant surprise. I suspect the food had been prepared for a different guest mix than was on our cruise. We found it extremely odd that poppadoms and Indian breads were invariably available but there were few (if any) Indian dishes to go with them. There just wasn’t the space available in the buffet to provide the sort of buffet choice we have experienced on dozens of other ships.

Evening menu I found OK. We had anything dining (which we liked) and could use any one of 3 restaurants (all served an identical menu). Over and above the someone dull ‘always available items’ the menu offered 6 choices daily, two vegetarian, two apparently local to where we were, one fish, and one meat... I was OK as I usually picked on of the interesting and spicy local dishes, my wife was far less satisfied, and often said there was nothing she particularly fancied on the menu... The food was usually pretty good (steak we had one night was awful) but in our cruising we have been used to reading menu where deciding which of several dishes to select was the challenge rather than, do I want any of these dishes...

Entertainment across the ship was pretty good. The theatre shows were watchable, and when a new cast boarded for our last few days had a marked improvement. The speciality acts were the usual cruise fare, OK to pass on an hour or so. Daytime activities, trivia etc was fine, much as could be expected.. The music on the ship was really good. a band of young people (The Drop) we excellent as was a young piano singer. A classical duo were very good too.

The ship itself. It seemed really dark to us, for a few days we thought some of it need a lick of white paint to brighten the place up, that said we eventually got use to the experience of often feeling you were in an old haunted mansion... There was plenty of social space, and we usually had no difficulty in finding seating wherever we wanted to be, including on the deck. We liked the deck set up and thought the decent sized pool was a bonus particularly as it was too deep for people to stand and clutter the water whilst enjoying cocktails (as you see on many newer ships). I haven’t mentioned the bar, on this trip we took the soda package (dry January) it worked just fine and made a pleasant change to our usual full drinks package.

The ports of call were the definite highlights of the trip. We got off to an awful start in Shanghai where everything was severely delayed, we were told it was weather related but it seemed perfectly obvious that the delay related more to the current dispute between the USA & China in terms of trade.... After an almost 10hr delay (where bottled water and potato chips became the food for day 1 of the cruise) all was plain sailing.. We were rather surprised guests weren’t compensated with onboard credit to reflect the totally lost first day of the cruise as by the time boarding was achieved it was too late to get to the restaurant for most guests.

Nagasaki was great, interesting, thought-provoking and emotional, Busan was a hive of interesting activity, Hong Kong we had a decent length stop but probably needed at least another 48hrs, Ho Chi Min City was probably our favourite port of call, we took the ship’s excursion to the city and again would have liked longer, we took a ship’s tour to Bangkok and maxed out our few hours there too, on Koh Samui we rented a car and toured the whole island, and we had a great short stay in Singapore... The ship organised numerous tours for every port of call, we thought the trips we took were well organised and fairly priced.

Would we tour the area again, absolutely we would; will we sail Princess again, the answer is yes as we already have a reservation made with them not least because they offer some of the most interesting moderately priced itineraries...

All in all a very enjoyable trip.
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Cabin Review

Interior
Cabin IB B530
Excellent cabin on deck 11 (midships). Much better than we had anticipated.
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