Earlier this year Sapphire Princess received an extensive upgrade as part of Princess Cruises’ “Come back new promise”. Guests sailing on board Sapphire Princess now enjoy new Club Mini-Suites, new youth and teen centers and an upgraded fitness center. The ship now also carries the widely recognisable seawitch logo.
Last year we visited the “old” Crown Princess. Since then the ship’s has received upgrades to some of her outdoor dining venues, new premium staterooms, a new youth and teen center and upgrades to the Lotus Spa and Fitness, Casino and boutiques. Some of these upgrades can now also be found onboard Sapphire Princess. Proud of the shiny new Sapphire, Princess Cruises invited us for a tour on board the modern “love boat”.
LOVE, EXCITING AND NEW. COME ABOARD, WE’RE EXPECTING YOU
The opening lines to The Love Boat keep going through our minds as we drive towards the port for our visit. Not that we’re expecting to set foot onboard the actual love boat, after all Sapphire Princess made her inaugural voyage in 2004, some 18 years after the TV series ended.
Sapphire Princess is the latest ship to receive the elegant and iconic “seawitch” logo. According to the cruise line the design “features the smooth and flowing gracefulness of ocean waves and represents the excitement and adventure of discovering the great destinations of the world aboard a Princess cruise”. To us she’s just a lady with her blue hair gracefully blowing in the wind, but in all honesty we’ve never seen a witch looking that good.
As we embark for the day we are greeted by the friendly crew in the impressive atrium. Just like all roads lead to Rome, onboard Sapphire Princess all corridors lead to the atrium which serves as the hub from where guests can reach the onboard restaurants, bars and shops. The central three-storey high open space is also where many activities and performances by street performers take place.
We begin our exploration on Deck 5, the Plaza Deck, home to the Piazza Bar, Vines Bar and the 24 hours International Café, all perfect for hours of relaxing and people watching while enjoying some wine, sushi and tapas or specialty coffees and pastries. Other dining options here include Alfredo’s Pizzeria, the Savoy and the Vivaldi Dining Room.
Cruisers looking to fulfil their artistic ambitions can find inspiration in the Princess Fine Arts Gallery.
The 705-seat Princess Theater serves as the heart of the entertainment onboard and is located at the front of the ship on deck 6, the Fiesta Deck. The theater features a “slightly-larger-than-your-average-TV” LED wall displaying high quality still images, video and live feeds during shows and other activities.
On our way out from the theater, the Churchill Lounge, with its comfortable leather sofas and snooker tables on the ceiling, draws our attention. Unfortunately as soon as we open the door we can smell the aroma of sigarettes and sigars. Luckily, as we’ll find out, there’s plenty of other bars to discover.
As Sapphire Princess spends most of her time in Asia, noticeable from the multilingual signs, it’s no surprise that the oriental-inspired casino, with its slots and table games, is centrally located near the atrium.
Also centrally located are the Guest Services desk and some of the onboard shops. The Shops of Princess received a complete makeover and offer an upgraded shopping experience.
Onboard Sapphire Princess the main dining room has been chopped up into five intimate dining venues. Three of them – Pacific Moon, Santa Fe Dining Room and the International Dining Room (which can only be reached from the aft staircase on deck 7) are located on this deck. The two other main dining rooms – Savoy and Vivaldi Dining Room – are located below on deck 5. Other complimentary dining options include the casual Horizon Court, the Trident Grill (for burgers and hotdogs) and the 24 hour room service. Sapphire Princess offers anytime dining between 5:30 and 10pm and the more traditional fixed dining.
Deck 7 not only offers a beautiful wraparound promenade, hence the name Promenade Deck, it also features some of the main public spaces: the upper decks of the theater, the Wheelhouse Bar, Promenade Galleries, Crooners Bar, Explorers Lounge, the Internet Café, the Photo Gallery, Sabatini’s (one of the five specialty dining options) and Club Fusion.
The staterooms onboard Sapphire Princess are mainly located on Decks eight to twelve (some interior and aceanview staterooms can be found on deck five front while deck 14 also offers some interior and balcony staterooms). Every stateroom features the Princess Luxury Bed. Developed by Princess Cruises in collaboration with a sleep expert and a renowned HGTV designer, the bed is said to offer the ultimate night of sleep and was recently voted the “Best Cruise Ships Bed” by Cruise Critic.
During the refurb Princess also installed 32 Club Class Mini-Suites. The new premium stateroom category, features some VIP amenities such as priority embarkation and disembarkation and exclusive Club Class Dining – with priority seating and expanded menu options – in a reserved dining area.
Pools onboard cruise ships are a classic feature and with five pools, and nine hot tubs, Sapphire Princess is no exception. While the two largest pools – Neptune’s Reef & Pool and Calypso Reef & Pool (covered) – are located on the Lido Deck (deck 14), the Terrace, Lap and Splash Pool can be found on decks 12 and 15 respectively. The pools onboard Sapphire Princess are located in a sort of enclave or amphitheater making them more intimate than on other cruise ships.
Another popular feature onboard Princess Cruises is Movies Under the Stars. During the day the large moviescreen above the Neptune’s Pool shows movies and sporting events, while at night it becomes part of an open air theater complete with cozy blankets and popcorn.
The Lap Pool on deck 15 can be accessed from the Lotus Spa & Fitness Center, which now features upgraded treatment rooms and the latest in fitness equipment.
One of our absolute favourite areas onboard is The Sanctuary on deck 16. The Sanctuary is an exclusive adults-only retreat offering a relaxing alternative to the numerous outdoor activities and entertainment available elsewhere on the ship. For an extra fee Serenity Stewards attend to your needs and provide beverages, light meals and al fresco massages.
While some cruise lines are cutting back on their programs for young cruisers, Princess Cruises has upgraded their kids program the Discovery Youth and Teen Center. Here kids aged between 3 and 17 years can take part in hands-on science experiments, scavenger hunts, destination-immersive activities that focus on the cultures and nature found in the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe and much more.
While Skywalkers Nightclub on deck 17 is a peaceful heaven during the day and the perfect location to read a book or drift away on the panoramic views high above the sea, when the sun goes dow it becomes the ideal setting for some serious “dancing under the stars”.
We’d like to thank Princess Cruises and the amazing Sapphire Princess crew for a wonderful day!
For more information on Princess Cruises or the book your next vacation on board of the cruise line’s 18 spectacular ships visit www.princess.com.