On Sapphire Princess we had a mini-suite on Deck 9. The cabin had been upgraded with two large flat screen TVs mounted on the walls. This meant that we now had more shelf space AND two more (US) plugs for charging things! The other good news was that the A/V system had been upgraded and we could watch movies without them stopping for a minute or more because too many folks were watching movies too.
The even better news was that we had a kettle, tea bags etc so I no longer had to traipse up to the buffet every morning for Linda’s morning cuppa.
Not a great dining experience
At dinner I was disappointed to see that the Princess favourites had lost the option of steak. This was replaced by a different beef burger every night. I tried one and it was burnt to a crisp and very dry – probably the health and safety worries about not providing rare foods. The evening menu did have a sliver of cardboard that listed optional steaks and lobster, but all were charged extra.
On the last evening I had New York Strip (ordered medium rare) off the main menus. This steak when it came was dry, chewy and basically inedible. It had probably been left under hot lamps for a while since being cooked. I should have sent it back but as we were with our Grandson we didn’t want any hassle.
We were on Anytime Dining which gave us the option of any of the four dining rooms in the Atrium. The Savoy always seemed to be the busiest and we were usually diverted to one of the other ones. The servers in the restaurants were absolutely brilliant, friendly, chatty, helpful and just terrific. We took our breakfasts in the aft International Dining Room. The servers here were simply wonderful – made our day every day!
Our Grandson loves pizzas so we did find ourselves in Alfredos in the Atrium most days. The International Cafe is just a short walk away for salads and desserts. Our lunches here were by the far our most enjoyable meals.
Our calls at La Coruna and Bilbao were OK apart from being chill and the odd spots of rain.
We stopped at Le Verdon, North of Bordeaux, a port with three cranes and a warehouse. A short shuttle ride and we were at the fabulous Soulac-sur-Mer. A wonderful beach and an interesting collection of shops, bars and restaurants. Like most French resorts they think that pricing drinks at Champs Elysee prices is acceptable. We forgave our bar as we enjoyed our drinks in the sun overlooking the beach. I can guess why Princess big up being ‘close’ to Bordeaux but not including Soulac in the Le Verdon port guide is inexcusable.
St Peter Port had again great weather and Sapphire’s tenders were queuing with Britannia’s to get into the harbour. The whole tender operation ran smoothly and our queues to return were a lot shorter than Britannia’s!
The entertainment was first class and we enjoyed it every night. Only the Americans on board were excited about going to hear Paul Burrell continue to live off his memories of Princess Diana. We avoided him like the plague.
No more wine at ports of call
Unlike all our other Princess Cruises we were not allowed to bring bottles back onto the ship at the ports of calls. I do not recall this rule change being announced anywhere. We hope that this is only a Southampton cruise rule and is not repeated on our US based cruises.
The balloon drop
Unusually again for Princess, the Atrium’s tables had not been cleared for the balloon drop on the last night. The event is always popular but blocking it off with tables full of folks looking miserable at their coffee time being disturbed did rather spoil it. I have pictures to prove this comment!
Despite all this, the house band plus the brass section from the ship’s orchestra did a great set especially their rendition of the Stones’ Brown Sugar.
Apologies if this sounds negative but we are comparing our time to our recent P&O Oceana Suez transit (absolutely best food we’ve had on P&O) and to recent Princess Cruises on Island and Coral. This cruise was one that we didn’t put any weight on either – unusual to say the least.
Would we go on her again? Well yes, we are on her again for another cruise and we just hope that the food has improved….