The month of January was a whirlwind of adventure and exploration thanks to a 2-week cruise throughout Asia aboard the Sapphire Princess. The cruise started in Shanghai, China, visited various ports of call, and ended in Singapore. It was truly a trip of a lifetime being able to experience new cultures, people, and foods. Overall, I genuinely enjoyed my time on the Sapphire Princess; however, I do have some comments that did not necessarily deter from my experience, but may influence others’ decisions to book a trip on this ship. Continue reading to learn my overall impressions of the Sapphire Princess!
We took a taxi from our hotel, The Westin, to the port. There are signs indicating the port direction when you get close. Please make sure your luggage have the cruise bag tags on them before departing for the port. Also make sure to have all important documents, such as your passport and boarding documents, in your carry-on bag.
The embarkation process was actually pretty stressful and very confusing. Since this is the first time I have ever boarded a cruise ship in China, I have nothing for comparison, but I hope boarding does not happen like this all the time. Since
We stayed in an interior room, B510. The room was pretty spacious. As there were three of us, one side of the room were bunk beds and the other side was a regular twin bed. In between the beds were two night tables. In the corner was TV, and below was a desk and small fridge. The closet and cabinet space was big enough to accommodate all our clothes, and our luggage was able to fit under the beds. The bathroom was nothing extravagant, but it was plenty of space to hold our toiletries and take our showers. Although everything was bit on the outdated side, we were pretty happy with our cabin!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so make sure to start the day off right! We mostly ate on the Lido Deck for breakfast, or at the International Cafe when we had really early mornings. Sometimes we would find ourselves in the main dining room. As it was the struggle to find an empty table on the Lido Deck [especially during the colder days], I recommend heading to the main dining room to enjoy a more relaxing breakfast if you’re not in a rush. The dining room does not have as many options as the buffet, but you’re allowed to order as many dishes as you would like.
The buffet on the Lido Deck is always a favorite. There are so many different options to please the palate and taste buds of everyone in your party. You can always enjoy pizza or burgers on the Lido Deck as well, or head down to the pizzeria on Deck 5 [ or maybe Deck 6]. The pizza there was delicious and baked fresh to order!
Just like lunch, there are options on options when it comes getting your fill during dinner time. As always, the buffet on the Lido Deck is available. The main dining room is also an option. We had anytime dining, so we had the option between two dining rooms. We usually tried to eat in the dining room, and definitely made sure to eat there during formal nights!
I’m going to give the International Cafe its own section, because it is open 24/7. Do you have an early morning tour meeting time and don’t have time to run to the buffet and grab breakfast? Head to the International Cafe! During early morning hours, the cafe offers breakfast sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, and an assortment of pastries. Are you running short on time and need a quick bite to eat in between tours? Head to the International Cafe! During lunch hours, the cafe offers various options including sandwiches, salad, soup, quiche, fruit, and dessert. Are you starving for that midnight snack or meal? You know the deal by now; head to the International Cafe!
ACTIVITIES ON BOARD:
Every night, you will find the Princess Patter in your cabin detailing the various activities happening around the ship the next day. There are so many different things to choose from ranging from trivia to spa talks to art auctions to games. One of our favorite things to go to was trivia [which we actually ended up winning two of the games] and the destination presentations! The destination presentations talked about the ports of call before we arrived, and provided us with information about the city and country. As we hadn’t been to any of the cities we were visiting, we thought it was very interesting. I highly recommend attending them. Movies Under the Stars was another one of our favorite things to do onboard. It was a great way to unwind and watch a favorite or never seen before movie, while munching on some popcorn or ice cream. As the days went on though, I personally began to find the itinerary of events a bit repetitive.
PORTS OF CALL:
We started in Shanghai, China, visited six different ports of call, then ended in Singapore. I’ll share a very brief description of what we did [as I’ll write a post about each port of call].
Nagasaki was truly an amazing city, and I wish we had more time to explore. Although the city is marked with the horrors of the atomic bomb dropping, the city wants to look toward a future of peace while honoring the past.
Busan was filled with so many unique treats and adventures. We went on the tour that brought us to a beautiful temple, an interesting museum, and various markets.
Hong Kong was very interesting. We did two tours – the Highlights of Hong Kong during the day, and Hong Kong at Night in the evening. We visited Victoria’s Peak, Ladies Market, and saw the Symphony of Lights.
We actually did a tour that went a little outside of Ho Chi Minh City that explored the Cu Chi Tunnels. Not only were we able to learn the history of the tunnels, we were able to walk through two short segments of them.
Bangkok is filled with beautiful sights at every corner. We were able to see the Grand Palace [and boy is it grand]! We also went on a boat ride, glimpsed temples from the water, and later went on to see the Gold Buddha.
Ko Samui was like a tropical island paradise. We visited the Namuang Safari Park, took a dip at the beach of Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks, sampled authentic Thai cuisine, and had some of the most spectacular views. For this port, we had a private tour through Mr. Samui Tour & Travel – which we highly recommend if you plan to visit!
Singapore is where the cruise ended its journey. We spent about five days exploring the city-state and it was amazing. We stayed in the Marina Bay Sands, saw the Gardens by the Bay, visited Little India and Chinatown, and did so much more!
Compared to embarkation, disembarkation was a breeze! We had previously filled out forms indicating what time we would like to depart the ship. The night before, we placed our luggage outside our room, making sure to secure bag tags on each piece. The next morning, we ate breakfast in the main dining room. Afterwards, we made our way to the Wheelhouse Bar to wait for our group number to be called. Once called, we departed the ship, went through passport control, picked up our bags, and passed through customs. It was super easy, and relatively quick!
I would take another Princess cruise if the opportunity presented itself; however, I do not know that I would go on the Sapphire again. I’m not sure if it was the length of the trip, the time of the trip, or the ship itself that lended itself to be more of an older crowd, but I would try to shoot for more of a mixed or younger crowd. The staff did a really good job at trying to accommodate everyone and their interests, and that definitely did not go unnoticed!
Have you taken a cruise on the Sapphire Princess, or on any Princess cruise ship? How was your experience? Where did you go? What was your favorite part? If you haven’t been on Princess, what is your favorite cruise line and why? Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing about your cruise experiences!