Sapphire Princess Entertainment & Activities
The two-story Princess Theater seats 705. In 2018, a new 270-panel LED wall was installed, which is used in select production shows and by guest entertainers. It can be used to display still images, video and live feeds.
The other striking element here is a huge, black backdrop curtain laced with twinkling fiber optic lights -- very, very neat (and no doubt very expensive). Seats do indeed fill up, so be sure to arrive early; drink service is available and prompt.
The Deck 7 Explorers Lounge often serves as a secondary theater for comedians or a live band.
Princess' daytime entertainment offerings emanate from its Scholarship@Sea program, which features a range of activities, from lecturers on various topics such as marine life, magic and history to more hands-on tutelage on computer skills, photography techniques and scrapbooking.
In addition to these offerings, there are regular wine-tasting sessions (Princess places a strong emphasis on wine), which vary in price. You can go for the $9.50 session, which features popular wines; or the $25 session, which features premium wines and canapes for food and wine pairing.
You'll also find film screenings on the pool deck with Princess' signature feature Movies Under the Stars. At night, complimentary popcorn is served.
There is also trivia, sports tournaments such as golf and table tennis and even a Wii challenge with the entertainment crew.
The ship is full of live music. The hub is the Piazza, where you'll hear various classical musical recitals throughout the day and then up-tempo dance tunes in the evening.
You'll also find live music in the Wheelhouse Bar, Crooners Lounge and Explorers Lounge.
Karaoke is a staple onboard, whether that's karaoke roulette or Princess Pop Star or Welcome Aboard Karaoke, all of which take place in Club Fusion.
On embarkation day, there is always a sail-away party on the Pool Deck (weather permitting) with a live band and dancing. The Captains Welcome Aboard Party -- complete with a Champagne waterfall -- takes place in the Piazza.
Princess Signature Movies Under the Stars takes place (weather permitting) most nights.
There are also various game show-type events such as Musical Charades or Majority Rules Gameshow in the Explorers Lounge most evenings.
The Asian-themed Grand Casino is a marriage of Vegas glitz and Far East glamour, with images of gondolas on the earth-toned walls surrounding clanging slot machines and gaming tables. Chips may be charged to your cabin account, but be aware there is a 3 percent surcharge for this.
Sapphire Princess Bars and Lounges
Vines (Deck 5): This elegant, wood-paneled venue is part of The Piazza and serves more than 30 wines by the glass alongside a selection of sushi and other small plate options (wine for fee, tapas free). Sapphire also has a "wine blending" experience (not to be confused with wine tasting, which is also available), which takes place in here. This involves blending four (or three if you choose the non-premium varietals) wines to find the perfect mix. The wines are from the Silverado Vineyards in Monterey, California, offering a nod to Princess' West Coast heritage. The 45-minute session is led by an experienced sommelier. The wines are a cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, a merlot and a Malbec for the full experience, which is $37. Take away the cab sauv and it drops to $15 per person. You learn a lot about the heritage of the wines and, of course, what your palate prefers, and it's a lot of fun to sniff, swirl and experiment to find your perfect blend.
Bar Piazza (Deck 5): One of a number of bars in the Piazza, this has plenty of window-side seating and is a great place for a coffee and a read (or even a nap) during the day, while at night it's the perfect spot to grab a pre-dinner drink and enjoy the live music in the Piazza on your way to dinner.
Wake View Bar (Deck 6): The Wake View Bar is hidden deep within the ship on the Fiesta Deck and is only accessible via the spiral staircase at the back of Club Fusion one deck up. This is a quiet place during the day to have a cocktail and collect your thoughts, or even to do some reading, with no music and little chatter. At night, though you can't escape the music from Club Fusion, it's far less hectic than upstairs.
Churchill Lounge (Deck 6): Sports fans and cigar enthusiasts should scoot down to Churchill Lounge, a combination cigar lounge and sports bar. Though an odd pairing, this is the ideal place to view satellite broadcasts of various sporting events when available.
Club Fusion (Deck 7): Club Fusion serves as a dance club and features a nice-sized dance floor and 42 high-definition video screens, which gives it the high-tech feel of a big-city hangout.
Explorers Lounge (Deck 7): Explorers Lounge, with decor inspired by an African safari, is a cabaret-style lounge featuring singing and dancing acts, as well as occasional magicians and comedians. Snag a spot near the Tangier-inspired windows.
Crooners Bar (Deck 7): This spot is situated at the top of the Atrium, looking down on the Piazza and serves a wide selection of cocktails. It's a space, rather than a room, and quite a small one at that but there's a pleasant after-dinner atmosphere, helped along by live piano and vocals.
Wheelhouse Bar (Deck 7): Princess' signature Wheelhouse Bar is another great place to meet, with friendly bar service, a cozy members-only-club atmosphere, and nautical art and history displayed throughout. It also has live jazzy music. (The scene -- and the dancing -- picks up a little later in the evening.)
Outrigger Bar (Deck 14): This is a fine spot overlooking the aft pool, which makes it a perfect place to watch the sunset and the wake of the ship. What we particularly liked were the number of tables, which are ranged around and look down on the aft pool.
Calypso Bar (Deck 14): This bar is part of the ship's covered Conservatory, which also includes the Calypso Reef and Pool. The entire space is covered by a magrodome roof.
Mermaid's Tail Bar (Deck 14): This is the main pool deck bar, serving Neptune's Reef & Pool.
Tradewinds Bar (Deck 15): This bar overlooks the main pool deck and serves wine, beer and cocktails.
Oasis Bar (Deck 16): A small bar serving sunbathers and the hot tub users at the aft of the ship.
Skywalkers Nightclub (Decks 17 & 18): The ship's most stunning public area is Skywalkers lounge located high up on the Sky Deck; a spot we think should get the vote for the best positioned nightclub/lounge on a cruise ship. A Princess staple, the Skywalkers' on Sapphire Princess actually hangs over the aft end of the ship, so that its 125-foot balcony and dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows offer fantastic, unobstructed panoramas both day and night. (When you can, observe the ship's wake by moonlight.) The decor is a nod to outer space with stars and swirls, but done with great style -- we loved the brass table lamps with miniature moon-shaped cutouts.
After hours, Skywalkers' becomes a hopping club scene, but also works as a quiet place for a cocktail-with-a-view before supper.
Sapphire Princess Outside Recreation
Princess has a plethora of pools -- four in total (excluding a kids-only splash pool). Neptune's Reef & Pool, a spacious open-air area with colorful mosaics and lots of space for tanning, fills the ship's full-size outdoor pool requirement; the indoor Calypso Reef & Pool, covered by a retractable crystal magrodome, is decorated in a coral reef motif and the whole area is known as The Conservatory. Neptune's and Calypso Reef are located on the Lido Deck (14).
Elsewhere, you'll find the out-of-the-way Terrace Pool at the aft end of the ship on the Aloha Deck just below, and our favorite, an adults-only pool just below The Sanctuary on Deck 15. It looks as if it's part of The Sanctuary or Lotus Spa, but it's not; it's open to all.
The Sports Court is about as high as it can be on the ship -- on top of Skywalkers Lounge, which is effectively Deck 19. Here you'll find a basketball court, which is also used for soccer.
There is also a lovely secluded Lawn Court midship, above the Neptune Pool. Just climb a flight of stairs and find yourself in a bowl, with a grass lawn in between with a little shop for borrowing equipment. It's a nine-hole golf course primarily, but can also be used for croquet and bocce.
The best sun deck on Sapphire Princess is on Deck 16 aft. Not only will you find lots of space to relax, you've also got two hot tubs -- and a bar, almost like your own private sanctuary. If you really want to get away from everyone, and snag a great view, climb the steep stairs to the Sports Court on top of Skywalkers, and you'll find another sun deck. At the other end of the ship you'll find more sunbathing around and just above the adults-only pool, on Deck 16.
Sapphire also has Princess' signature, adults-only Sanctuary (Deck 16). The front-of-the-ship space features lots of thickly cushioned loungers, massage cabanas, signature beverages, complimentary light meals and on-call stewards. Enjoying the area comes at a price: It's $20 for half a day and $40 for a full day, plus there's a $3 service fee for dining orders. There's also a per-cruise price that varies.
Sapphire Princess Services
The heart of Sapphire Princess is its Piazza on Deck 5, the aforementioned Italian-style atrium. The bustling, three-deck-high space is a combination bakery, wine/sushi/tapas bar, pizzeria and performance venue. You'll find the guest services, shore excursion and Captain's Circle Loyalty and Future Cruise Sales areas on Deck 6, and an array of shops here and on Deck 7, including duty free, branded goods, essentials and some brand names such as Church handbags.
The Art Gallery is on Deck 5; one deck up is the library, a cozy reading room with a mediocre collection of fiction and nonfiction books and a number of comfy chairs.
The Internet Cafe is on Deck 7, sandwiched between Explorers Lounge and Sabatini's, and its huge size is likely a reflection of the ship's age. Even though most people have a handheld device nowadays, we found it surprisingly busy. Internet access costs 79 cents per minute if you pay as you go or you can buy a package: 100 minutes for $69; 200 minutes for $99; 400 minutes for $159 and 600 minutes for $199. Though pricy, the good news is it's fast and it's billed by usage not time, so you don't have to worry about logging out.
The Photo Gallery is just beyond here, and the Platinum Suite -- for professional photo shoots -- is up on Deck 16, forward.
There are self-service launderettes on every passenger deck.