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Princess and the Pea

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    Princess and the Pea

    The title for me was inspired by the comfort of the cabin but I will come to that shortly.

    Our 3 day forum cruise on Sapphire Princess was a resounding success. I booked this cruise last November just because my OH and I wanted to try the Princess product, never having sailed with them before. We didn't want to risk a longer cruise with Princess because we guessed that it wouldn't measure up to our favourite cruise lines. However, I am a believer in the 'don't knock it until you've tried it' attitude so for 3 days thought it worth a go.

    It became apparent soon after we booked that the cruise was popular with others on the forum too and so it morphed into the 2018 Forum cruise.

    We were delighted of course because we knew from the experience of past forum cruises that we were in for a great time, whether or not we liked the ship.

    On arrival in Southampton, despite being given a boarding time of 12.30, we were whisked through check in and were on the ship well before the time given.

    The crew were very welcoming ( I've never known a crew be anything else) and we were soon up in the buffet restaurant having lunch. Before we knew it, we were joined by forum friends and began a 3 day catch up on life since our last meetings.

    Unfortunately, I was not impressed by the Horizon restaurant (Buffet). The food on offer for lunch was fine but as someone else said and I agree, I don't like melamine plates, dishes and mugs. I also found that the staff were so keen to clear away used plates, that my OH had barely taken the last mouthful of his lunch when his plate was whisked away whilst he was still chewing.

    We ate breakfasts in the buffet because we prefer to see the wide variety of choices before we help ourselves rather than go to the MDR and order a specific meal.

    After lunch, we made our way to our cabin, which was an inside on deck 14 forward. Our cases had arrived and so we set about unpacking and getting organised before the muster drill which was scheduled for 3.15 ish.

    We found the cabin to be more than adequate with plenty of hanging space in a walk in area opposite the bathroom.

    This is where the Princess and the Pea comes in. The bed was SO comfortable which scores lots of Brownie points for me, given that I do not generally sleep well. That said, I slept like a baby on this cruise.
    The downside of the cabin however, was the stained runner across the bed and the lack of a shower cap or extras that normally come as standard on most other cruise lines. When I asked the cabin steward for a shower cap however, he gave me 2! Nevertheless, it was a pleasant cabin and very comfortable.

    Our pre-dinner drinks gathering was soon upon us and so 21 of us spent a happy time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

    Although we had all chosen Any Time Dining, it soon became apparent that we would be breaking into 2 groups. We were among the early group and managed to get 10 of us into the Vivaldi restaurant at 7 pm. Those that wanted to eat later either had to wait ages for a table in either of the 3 designated MDRs or eat in one the specialist venues or the buffet.

    I'm not sure how the restaurant staff manage to juggle set dining times and Anytime Dining in the same 3 restaurants, except to say that if you don't book early in the morning for dinner that evening, you cannot guarantee getting a table without a significant wait.

    I have no complaints about the food on Sapphire but I did find the service a bit lacking at times. Maybe that was because tables were in demand, which is why some of our number felt rushed at times.

    The ship itself was OK but a bit underwhelming. I liked the many pictures on the walls but many of the bars were furnished with dark wood and the lighting made it look even more dismal. It reminded me of the Holland America ships.

    The 2 pools were popular as there quite a few families on board and the kids had little else to amuse them apart from swimming.

    The on board entertainment was varied, There was a sports bar, where I got got to see the Arsenal Match, having elected to stay on board that day. There was also a massive screen on the pool deck but too noisy for me and not very warm either. Films were shown in the evening on the open deck too, if you could stand the chill.

    Other bars offered live music in the evening and The Explorers Bar (dark wood again) was the place to go for games and quizzes.

    There were no guest speakers, which is always a disappointment for me but I suppose that was because it was a mini cruise.

    So, would we book another Princess cruise? I think it very unlikely.

    We will always prefer smaller, traditional ships (with the exception of Cunard) and are not keen on American style cruising.

    That said, if a future Forum cruise happened to be on a Princess ship, we would book instantly.





    Jill

    #2
    This was our third 2/3 nighter in the past 12 months, all on so called high end lines, Celebrity, Cunard and Princess, and if it were my first time on any of them, I would not be rushing to book with them again.

    I don't think these mini cruises do any cruiseline a favour except for cruise virgins, who are probably the target market. They just feel too rushed and slightly frantic to satisfy the experienced cruiser............Wilba
    Wilba

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Wilba View Post
      This was our third 2/3 nighter in the past 12 months, all on so called high end lines, Celebrity, Cunard and Princess, and if it were my first time on any of them, I would not be rushing to book with them again.

      I don't think these mini cruises do any cruiseline a favour except for cruise virgins, who are probably the target market. They just feel too rushed and slightly frantic to satisfy the experienced cruiser............Wilba
      Yes, I agree; although I chatted to a few people during the 3 days who were first timers and they really liked the ship and the Princess ethos.

      Would you compare Princess with Celebrity and Cunard Wilba? I think they are more like P & O.

      Jill

      Comment


        #4
        I have been on Sapphire Princess recently (September) and I totally agree with you about the melamine plates etc in the buffet, but I understand that it is because it is so close to the pool and, in warmer weather, people do take their meals there. I can see that any breakages in that area could be dangerous for passengers with bare feet. There are actually five MDRs on Sapphire.(Santa Fe is reserved for suite passengers, although the menu is the same as the other three in the same area). The dining room for set dining times is also on deck 6, but behind the kitchens so is served by a different set of lifts - ie you can’t access it from the forward area of deck 6. We were on anytime so didn’t bother looking for it although we did walk through it as part of an interesting presentation on the kitchens and menus on a sea day.
        This was our first cruise. I had wanted to do one for a long time, as several of our friends had cruised and enjoyed them, but my OH wasn’t keen, as he thought the ship would seem crowded with thousands of people on board and he might be bored on sea days. By the second day, he was loving it and we have already booked our second cruise (to the Caribbean) and are talking about a third one.
        Obviously, I don’t have any experience of other cruise lines yet, though I think I might not be interested in climbing walls, surf riders, indoor parachuting etc so will probably give those ships a miss. A comfortable bed, good food and nice places to sit, either on deck or indoors are all important to us, so a choice of line for a future cruise will probably depend on the itinerary as much as anything else.
        Last edited by CCPoole, Poole; 10th October 2018, 07:45 AM.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Wilba View Post
          This was our third 2/3 nighter in the past 12 months, all on so called high end lines, Celebrity, Cunard and Princess, and if it were my first time on any of them, I would not be rushing to book with them again.

          I don't think these mini cruises do any cruiseline a favour except for cruise virgins, who are probably the target market. They just feel too rushed and slightly frantic to satisfy the experienced cruiser............Wilba
          I think the majority of passengers, who have cruised before, and who take mini cruises will be aware a mini cannot be compared to a regular cruise.My longest cruise was 32 days and I enjoyed every day on my favourite ship.
          This trip was 3 nights on a ship I wouldn't dream of booking for anything longer than 3/4 nights, and I enjoyed every minute.Judging by the atmosphere on Sapphire, everyone/the majority of passengers also had a great time.
          Job done!

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Smith7 View Post

            Yes, I agree; although I chatted to a few people during the 3 days who were first timers and they really liked the ship and the Princess ethos.

            Would you compare Princess with Celebrity and Cunard Wilba? I think they are more like P & O.
            I think the order you have written is spot on for cruise quality...............Wilba

            Wilba

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by CCPoole, Poole View Post
              I have been on Sapphire Princess recently (September) and I totally agree with you about the melamine plates etc in the buffet, but I understand that it is because it is so close to the pool and, in warmer weather, people do take their meals there. I can see that any breakages in that area could be dangerous for passengers with bare feet. There are actually five MDRs on Sapphire.(Santa Fe is reserved for suite passengers, although the menu is the same as the other three in the same area). The dining room for set dining times is also on deck 6, but behind the kitchens so is served by a different set of lifts - ie you can’t access it from the forward area of deck 6. We were on anytime so didn’t bother looking for it although we did walk through it as part of an interesting presentation on the kitchens and menus on a sea day.
              This was our first cruise. I had wanted to do one for a long time, as several of our friends had cruised and enjoyed them, but my OH wasn’t keen, as he thought the ship would seem crowded with thousands of people on board and he might be bored on sea days. By the second day, he was loving it and we have already booked our second cruise (to the Caribbean) and are talking about Alaska!!
              Yes, I suppose the melamine in the buffet makes sense being so near to the pool but I don't like using it nonetheless.

              I am pleased to hear that you are now keen to cruise again. My only advice to you is to try different cruise lines so that you can make comparisons and find your niche.
              Jill

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Smith7 View Post

                Yes, I suppose the melamine in the buffet makes sense being so near to the pool but I don't like using it nonetheless.

                I am pleased to hear that you are now keen to cruise again. My only advice to you is to try different cruise lines so that you can make comparisons and find your niche.
                As the poster who made the initial comment about the melamine, I would agree with pool deck safety as far as glass is concerned [I saw glasses from cocktails and wine etc around the pool area] and think polycarbonate stemware an excellent idea in relevant areas but the Lido [buffet] on QE and QV have the same issue with outside space and still manage to have decent plates etc. so I am with you on the use of melamine in the buffet.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Wilba View Post

                  I think the order you have written is spot on for cruise quality...............Wilba
                  ...and in my limited experience,taking an overall view, I would put Princess and Cunard,although giving totally different experiences, on a level pegging followed by Celebrity. I can't comment on P&O as our one and only cruise was too long ago to count.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Nice write-up Smith7! Glad you all had a great time!
                    Duncan S

                    See my blog!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by dst87, Falkirk View Post
                      Nice write-up Smith7! Glad you all had a great time!
                      Thanks Duncan but we wish you had been there.
                      Jill

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Wilba View Post
                        This was our third 2/3 nighter in the past 12 months, all on so called high end lines, Celebrity, Cunard and Princess, and if it were my first time on any of them, I would not be rushing to book with them again.

                        I don't think these mini cruises do any cruiseline a favour except for cruise virgins, who are probably the target market. They just feel too rushed and slightly frantic to satisfy the experienced cruiser............Wilba
                        I agree with you about mini cruises feeling rushed but sometimes its a good way of getting a quick fix to pacify the urge in between longer cruises. In this instance it proved an excellent way of getting you all together doing something that brought you together in the first place.

                        Its great to hear all the feedback and differing opinions which is what helps make this forum interesting to read.

                        A forum cruise is on my bucket list.
                        www.wansbroughs-cruise-blog.me.uk

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Mrs M View Post

                          ...and in my limited experience,taking an overall view, I would put Princess and Cunard,although giving totally different experiences, on a level pegging followed by Celebrity. I can't comment on P&O as our one and only cruise was too long ago to count.
                          Having done 10 each on Princess and Celebrity, I'd have to say Celebrity are way ahead of Princess. Each to his own.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by PeterM, Southwell View Post

                            Having done 10 each on Princess and Celebrity, I'd have to say Celebrity are way ahead of Princess. Each to his own.
                            You say each to his own. I say it's completely down to what your expectations are and your past experiences of a similar model which then might/will colour ''the'' experience. That then becomes an objective opinion asfar as I'm concerned.

                            Subjectively, none of the lines I've cruised with so far, beats Cunard!
                            Last edited by Mrs M; 10th October 2018, 11:21 AM.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Mrs M View Post

                              ...and in my limited experience,taking an overall view, I would put Princess and Cunard,although giving totally different experiences, on a level pegging followed by Celebrity. I can't comment on P&O as our one and only cruise was too long ago to count.
                              I don't agree with you there Mrs M. Having been on a few Cunard cruises, I certainly wouldn't put Princess in the same bracket. However, I have done a few cruises with P & O, which I feel is on a par with Princess.
                              Jill

                              Comment


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