CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews

Princess Cruises Sapphire Princess Far East/Orient November 26, 2006

What attracted us most about this cruise was the itinerary, ten ports in the Far East. Overall the cruise allowed us to sample these ten ports and if that is what you want you may find this cruise a good choice.

The ship is new and clean, however, the gym equipment is either recycled or low quality compared with older ships I have been on. The atrium area is smaller than most cruise ships of the same size or larger – apparently they made the atrium smaller to add additional cabins, and unfortunate choice.

The food was generally good, for example deserts weren't just puffs of cream which we've seen on several ships. However, there were no fresh berries at breakfasts and the selections often weren't as wide as on other cruises. We choose open seating which is nice in that you can go to one of three restaurants at the time of your choosing. However, since your server is not working for a tip service was slow and poor on many occasions – you could wait 15 minutes for a menu, for example, men were served before women, items were forgotten, and smiles were few and far between. Apparently with open seating you also loose specials found on most cruises such as fresh pasta options, cherries jubilee, crepe Suzettes, and baked Alaska.

However, there were a number of issues that made the cruise less than desirable:

To embark onto the ship we were dropped off in an open parking lot where we spent nearly 1.5 hours in near freezing temperatures (34 degrees F). During the process a group called Vantage tried to move 50 of its people to the front of the line.

A few cautionary notes – bring your own sodas on board, the ships prices are excessive, be wary of the tour descriptions such as “complete overview” - in Pussan this meant two stops and a show (which was very good) and the travel between them.

The ship did not advise passengers to cover their mouths and turn away when coughing and sneezing, a problem that was most apparent in the eating areas such as the buffets. One result was a lot of Norovirus going around.

The onboard TV movies repeated day after day – you would think that a cruse line could afford to vary the fare from day to day over a 16 day cruise.

A few general complaints – most tours, which are more expensive than you could do on your own, took you to a factory or jewelry outlet where the prices were no real bargain. So if you are up to it, do your own touring and don't buy at the cruise recommended stores. Special onboard sales also proved not to be “deals” at all – for example, two digital cameras were offered with "not tax or duty". One of the cameras went for about $299 the other for about $450. I checked the internet at and and discovered the same cameras for about $140 and $250 respectively.

Finally, be careful how you book your cruise with Princess – despite Washington Post articles to the contrary, if you purchase a cruise at one price and the prices drop Princess will not reduce your price to match the lower prices. So buying early may cost you big time.

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