Just off the Sapphire Princess on her Far East cruise from Singapore to Bali, Malaysia and Thailand and back to Singapore. I do like Princess as a brand but have not cruised with them for about 4 years and in that time standards have dropped. Embarkation was speedy and we did not have to wait long for the arrival of our cases. We had a junior suite which was very roomy and had plenty of storage space and an excellent room steward. There was nothing to fault in this area of the ship and in general in appeared to be in good condition and well maintained. We had paid for a drinks package and the first shock was to discover that cans of soda were not included and had to be purchased seperately. Paying over $50pppd for a package would appear not to be enough for Princess. There were 4 of us and we were on anytime dining. It was disappointing the first night to see how limited the menu has become and the fact that they want $20 if you decide to have a steak. For a so called Premium line to charge this is nothing short of a disgrace. We also found the menu limited and the portion sizes at times were a joke. Three of us ordered chicken breast one night and when it arrived it was no larger than a chicken wing. We looked at each other in disbelief and when the waiter asked what was wrong we pointed this out to him and he just stared and said nothing. Other people we spoke to found this an issue as well and quite a number had stated that they no longer ate in the dining rooms but used the buffet. Service varied from good to down right terrible. One night we had a glass of wine and as we finished our appetiser we asked for the glasses to be replenished. 25 minutes later we were still waiting and this was by no means an isolated incident. So now you have paid for your drinks package it appears that they are reluctant to serve you in the dining rooms. On another occasion when the service was slow we asked the waiter to double up the drinks order but he refused as he would have to make 2 trips to get them. On occasions there were time when the wait between courses was excessive and this meant on several occaions there was a wait of over 30 minutes between clearing away the appetiser plates and the arrival of the main course. We also found staff clearing plates away from the table before everyone had finished and when questioned about this could give no answer but just stared at you. This pair of waiters were either totally out of there depth or just plain uninterested. They were in the minority though there were many polite and dedicted staff who were keen to show some degree of professionalism in the way they conducted themselves. Also the staff in the buffet and International Cafe were excellent and always helpful. On the subject of dress code on formal night 2 males were admitted wearing the scruffiest jeans and tattered jogging bottoms but one passenger wearing white shorts, which actually looked smart compared to the jeans and joggers, was refused entry. Shorts, not dress ones, were allowed on other nights. Entertainment was good and the Entertainment team were quite visable about the ship. We enjoyed the ports of call and had trips arranged for all ports and did not use any of the ship's tours. Overall we enjoyed the cruise but given the cuts that Princess have introduced, especially the $20 charge for the privelage of having a steak, will certainly make us think again about using them in the future. This was a view also shared by a number of other passengers that we spoke to. If other cruise lines advertise that they dish up steak everynight then I think Princess would have to think about their policy again. In the meantime it will be interesting to see what they cut next.
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