Cruise Review of the Sapphire Princess on a Cruise to the Orient
Embarkation was a snap. We were at the dock and on the ship within half an hour. Our luggage did not arrive at the cabin for several hours but it got there before dinner so that was fine. We just enjoyed the ship and since there was an amazing Ferris wheel hanging right over the ship we decided to go ashore and take a ride to see the ship from 112 meters above … Fascinating view. The ship did not leave until Midnight and passengers trickled in through the evening.
The Ship … This is our second cruise on the Sapphire Princess and it felt a little like coming home. We already knew the trick to find the International Dining room … you either take the aft elevators to Deck 6 or you go to Crooners on Deck 7 for your before-dinner Martini and walk aft toward Club Fusion and down one flight of stairs to the dining room. Deck 6 does not go all the way through the ship. (We think Crooners is the better route) The Sapphire is still big and beautiful. It is so new that nothing looks dated or worn and the staff is as friendly as it was last time.
The Staff … OK everyone asks about the Cruise Director. Since we do not particularly like to go to the shows on cruises … it was not until I turned on the TV this morning (Day10 of a 12 day cruise) that I even saw the Cruise Director, and now that I know what Lee looks like I can tell you I have never seen him on deck this cruise. Perhaps I do not go to the same places he does.
Our cabin steward does a great job … of course he does not do it until 11:30 or 12:00 and that is a bit annoying but we can live with it. You have to flag down a server on the pool deck to get and drink and then it is very slow but that may be a good think. Now at Crooners you have Daisy and Catalin who are fantastic and seem to know everyone by the second night. Our waiter is great … he had a little false start but cooked on to the tables preferences quite quickly.
The Maitre D 'is there every night to tell you what time to set your clock to overnight … and it has changed a lot … but to his credit he did manage to get me a copy of the Osso Bucco recipe that is NOT in the cookbook that I bought (The cookbook is lovely so I am glad I got that too). Others at our table had a special request and he still has not come through but we will see.
The Food … Some of the food is fabulous but most is average. It is a bit hit and miss … some days the buffet is good some days it is so – so. At breakfast there is a made on the spot omelet stand and they do a Fabulous Job and cook it the way you like it (in my case well done). If you want grapefruit juice you just need to ask and it appears.
The specialty buffets on Sea Days will either please you or not according to taste … there was a sushi day, a stir fry, an Italian, Mexican etc. The hamburgers at Trident Grill are juicy and great … the pizza is OK but seems to be very popular. We are having too much fun at our table to bother with the huge amounts of food at Sabatini's so I can not comment there.
The Coffee … If you order room service coffee or coffee in the dining room it is fine. The coffee in the Horizon court tasted pretty bitter to us but again it is all a matter of taste.
Smoking … As a smoker I will say they have fewer places to smoke on the ship than a year ago but there are still enough to get by.
You can smoke at the bar at Crooners (not at the tables), a few tables each in Explorer and The Wheelhouse, Churchills & Wake View bar allow cigars and are all smoking, one side of the tables on the outside pool deck and the rail bar at the terrace deck. I have not seen or experienced any comment on the smokers nor have I seen anyone smoke outside of the designated areas so it seems to be working out fine.
Kids … This particular cruise has so few kids and you hardly see them and never do you see them running wild. This would be because of the length of the cruise and the overall age of the passengers I think. We did take pictures of all the kids' routes and they are on the website for those of you interested.
We had a fabulous time, got to see cultures vastly different from our own, sampled new foods, and saw things we really never thought we would see like ground zero in Nagasaki, the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square. Wow, what a trip!