The main purpose of this cruise....the Northern Lights.
Spoiler alert.....we saw them!
Having spent a couple of nights in London and Southampton pre cruise the day finally arrived to board the Sapphire. Embarkation was delayed due to a satellite needing replacing on the ship but after a few hours waiting in relative comfort we were onboard.
I had an obstructed window E212, a step up from my usual inside. Although a lifeboat hung in the lower half of the window, it was sea views over the top. The room was spacious enough for my solo traveling needs and was kept spotless by my awesome room steward "Chai". The bed was amazingly comfortable, the television had a huge selection of new movies and tv shows.
This was my first time on the Sapphire and she had everything I love about Princess. Pizza slices by the pool, burgers, amazing milkshakes from Swirls. The cruise staff were great, the activities were good fun and there was plenty to choose from. I won elevator roulette (a game that is always a highlight of the Princess games).
Confession..... I'm not really a MDR girl but I did eat there a couple of times. I found the service to be slow but I think this is just how Princess does MDR meals (one of the main reasons I prefer the buffet). The food though was good, no complaints there. The Sapphire has one of the best buffets I've eaten from on a ship. There was a big variety and the food was hot and plentiful. If you get the chance, try the orange mousse OMG!
The Lido deck bar and food venues were shut for a few days due to bad weather (a good call from Princess to get staff out of the freezing temperatures and passengers away from the icy surfaces) but we certainly didn't go hungry.
I had the soda package and had no problems getting served (which has been an issue on other Princess ships). The bar staff were friendly and efficient. I also had the all inclusive photo package and found no end of opportunities to get a photo taken, I certainly feel I got my monies worth.
First port was Alesund where I did a privately booked tour with Calm Giant Tours. The guide was a lot of fun, very informative and the scenery was simply stunning. I highly recommend.
Second port was Tromso. Another private tour with Tromso Individuell. We had two buses and unfortunately the guide of the larger vehicle decided to spend a lot of the time preacher her religious beliefs. At lunch we weren't invited to pray, we were told we would be. Not ok in my books. The sights were nice but I wouldn't use this company again. Then I did a night tour "a light chase" with Tromso Guide. The snow was heavy and chances of seeing the lights practically zero but a good time was had, we even got to visit a Norwegian supermarket which was kind of cool.
Third port was Alta and an overnight stay. Day one, a private tour of Alta (museum, cathedral, Sami Lavvu) with Luuso. This tour was fun and informative, the guide was very good. In the evening another privately booked light chase with Paeskatun, the snow was falling so hard and the tour seemed to be overbooked causing delays and confusion when trying to board the buses. With no chance what so ever of seeing the lights we drove in what seemed like dangerous conditions for longer than we should have (these guys should know when to call it off but because they had booked so many people on the tours I guess they wanted to give us our monies worth). The guide was informative about the lights we wouldn't see but if I were to use this company again I would insist on it being the small vehicle that I booked, not a larger bus that they swapped to to take more passengers and make more money.
Alta day two was Princess tours. During the day a trip to the dam and a Sami Lavvu, both very interesting. At night a trip to Paeskatuns' head quarters to try and see the lights. The skies had cleared and lady Aurora danced across the sky for us. The slate quarry was interesting and the staff were really informative, I've almost forgiven Paeskatun for the shambles that was the previous night.
Fourth port, Stavanger. The sun shone and I walked the city then took a privately booked boat trip to Pulpit Rock with Rodne Fjord Cruises. A lovely day (with amazing internet on the boat which was well used on our way back to town).
For anyone thinking of doing the lights cruise or sailing on the Sapphire, I wouldn't hesitate in booking. The one downside was the internet. This ship doesn't have medallionet so the internet was slow and sold by the minute. Being in Norway in the fjords we didn't have service for a good amount of time, not Princesses fault but something to consider when purchasing.
The cabin was great. It has the new beds, super comfortable. A really big tv (with lots of viewing options). Plenty of power outlets (they put in new bedside lamps with usb chargers while I was on). Being a cruise from Southampton it had tea and coffee making facilities which I did not use). Plenty of clothes hanging space and hangers. The bathroom was adequate (it is what you expect from a cruise ship) and clean, plenty of towels refreshed daily.