We had looked forward to going on the 3 day Sapphire Princess cruise out of Southampton for what seemed like an age! She was our first, second and third cruise ship but had been based in Asia in recent years and this was her first summer out of the UK. So this 3 day European Sampler Roundtrip was a perfect chance to revisit an old favourite.
Earlier this year we decided to make it even more special and paid extra to upgrade to a suite. We had always booked balconies on Princess before, and got upgraded to a mini-suite once, so this was something completely new to us. We chose Penthouse Suite C422 port side on Caribe deck midship. These are the benefits of a suite from the Princess website.
In the week leading up to the cruise, we had both experienced some minor health issues: Chris had a spiral fracture of one of his fingers and I had just been prescribed antibiotics for an infected fingernail which had to be taken 4 times a day on an empty stomach! So we decided we would probably be staying on board and taking it easy.
We drove down the afternoon before the cruise when it was lovely and sunny. Unfortunately the weather forecast for the next day was heavy rain. So when we looked out of hotel window the next morning, we only had a glimpse of Sapphire Princess in the mist at Ocean Terminal!
After a satisfying breakfast, we checked out and drove over to the terminal in the rain and got a bit wet waiting for CPS to check in our car for parking. We arrived at the terminal door at 11:52 and were whisked straight through the priority check in line.
We didn’t even need to sit and wait – we were directed to a separate security line with no queue and were on the ship by 12:10. The staterooms were ready so we headed straight to the mid-ship elevators and up to Caribe deck.
Our Penthouse Suite was a short walk down from the elevator lobby – a great location – and it had it’s own name: the Saint-Tropez Suite!
We opened the door to find a desk opposite a granite bar area. This then leads into a seating area with coffee table, sofa bed and two sets of floor-to-ceiling sliding balcony doors.
As you walk into the stateroom and turn to the right, you can see the bed right next to a balcony door. This is a Princess Luxury bed and seemed enormous!
To the left of the bed is a low wide chest of drawers, a vanity unit and the entrance to the bath/shower room.
The whirlpool bath is provided with luxury towels and the shower is very roomy with a fixed shower head and glass door – both are supplied with Lotus Spa products (shampoo, conditioner and shower gel).
There is a slatted wooden door to the left of the shower cubicle which allows access to the separate toilet and basin area. Also included is a small bag of bathroom toiletries.
The balcony is long and deep and is half overlooked from the two balcony decks above. It has two loungers with a side table and a main table with three chairs. Perfect for Chris’ last drink of the evening when he sits in the dark listening to the waves!
Other suite amenities include a walk-in closet containing bathrobes, umbrellas, slippers, a digital safe and a sewing kit.
In the centre of the suite, there are two large flat-panel TVs with movies-on-demand, a small fridge with mini-bar and tea/coffee making facilities. On embarkation, the suite is also provided with champagne on ice and plate each of canapes and chocolate covered strawberries. A fruit bowl will be delivered on the first evening and bottled water each morning.
Other nice touches include a standalone make-up mirror that lights up, a hairdryer that’s handily fixed to the wall, a premium Princess pen and complimentary cruise card wallets.
Suite guests are provided with a complimentary SLEEP by Princess Kit from the ‘Sleep Doctor’ Dr Breus which includes a “Sleep Well When You Travel” booklet and a free access code for using the Dr. Breus’ Good Night™ app.
The kit also includes items such as eye shades, earplugs, a shower cap, loofah and aromatherapy scents. There is also a dedicated SLEEP television channel in your stateroom.
As well as the usual Princess Patter and Shore Excursion paperwork, we received a Welcome Letter from the Hotel General Manager describing a selection of suite perks available: Suite Breakfast in Sabatinis, Exclusive Elite Lounge in Skywalkers, Club Class Dining in the Santa Fe Dining Room and Priority Tender Disembarkation.
There was also a card with the schedule for the Exclusive Elite Lounge for the whole cruise:
Shortly after we arrived, we received a phone call from the Maitre d’Hotel, Generoso, who asked if he could assist in arranging our dining that evening. As we were only on a 3 day cruise, we would not qualify for the complimentary embarkation meal in a Speciality Restaurant. So I said we would be doing Club Class dining which did not need a prior booking.
Exclusive Elite Lounge
We found our way up to Skywalkers Lounge on deck 18 aft at 5pm for the Elite lounge.
It’s a wonderful space with great views and comfy seats. There is a special cocktail menu which we revisited after first trying it on Majestic Princess the previous year.
The hors d’oeuvres were set up on tables over by the dancefloor with different offerings each night.
It got pretty busy over the two hours as there were clearly a lot of Platinum, Elite and Suite guests on board.
Club Class Dining
There are four Anytime dining rooms on Sapphire Princess and one of them, the Sante Fe, has been set aside as a Club Class Dining Room.
We arrived soon after 6:30pm and were seated immediately on a table for two and assigned two wait staff to attend to our needs. The Maitre D’ Generoso came over to welcome us which was a nice touch. Chris can confirm he has a very firm handshake – his poor finger! In the meantime, I noticed we had special Club Class napkins on the table:
In fact, the whole dining room was vastly different to our visit six years ago – the decor was a lot more muted and subtle. We were bought fresh bread rolls and butter. For drinks, we went for a large bottle of San Pellegrino and Chris chose a glass of Velvet Devil from the wine menu.
We were shown the same food menu that was available in all the dining rooms that evening, and advised that there was an extra dish available for Club Class diners – a Sirloin Steak.
However, we went for some Princess Favourites so not too adventurous: Fettucine Alfredo as Appetisers and Surf and Turf and Beef Cottage Pie for Mains.
The food did not disappoint. And, predictably, we chose Creme Brule and the Princess Love Boat Dream for dessert. Delicious!
The staff were very attentive and it did feel like you were in an exclusive club. Club Class dining is available for guests in suites and for those mini-suites which are classed as Club Class. Less chance of shared tables though so bear this in mind if you enjoy this aspect on cruises.
Suite guests are able to eat breakfast exclusively at Sabatinis, the fine Italian restaurant, on sea days from 7:30am to 10:30am and on port days from 7:30am to 9:30am.
We only had port days on this cruise, and are usually late risers, so had to make a special effort to get there in good time. We arrived at 9am and it was pretty busy.
There is a special breakfast menu but it is commonly known that you can order off-menu and they will usually satisfy any reasonable request.
For drinks, we selected freshly squeezed orange juice and freshly brewed regular coffee. All presented in lovely glasses and beautiful china crockery. Incidentally, I tried to persuade Chris to go for a Mimosa (as I don’t like Champagne) but he insisted it was too early to drink!
We started with some delicious pastries, croissants and Swiss bircher muesli.
For our main dishes, Chris selected the Brioche French Toast with Apple and Cinnamon Compote from the Speciality section and I went slightly off-menu by ordering Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Toast. Both were excellent.
The service was wonderful and we can see how this perk is really appreciated by suite guests.
We loved the Penthouse Suite – the separate sitting area, the huge balcony and the two separate rooms for shower/bath and toilet/basin and would definitely book one again if the opportunity arose (and budget allowed). Chris raved about the power shower which is a vast improvement on standard stateroom showers.
The Princess Luxury Bed was very comfortable but I did find the covers rustled a bit! The pillows were a also bit too soft for me. For the first time ever, our room steward did not introduce himself so we left notes out requesting a firmer pillow and some more ice. It would have been nice to discuss the pillow menu with him.
There were certain other suite perks we didn’t get to try:
- Complimentary Lotus Spa® Thermal Suite access- there was a separate card delivered from the Lotus Spa which we didn’t find until the last evening. We wish this had been included in the Welcoming Letter.
- Priority Tender Disembarkation – the stop in Guernsey was changed due to bad weather so we we didn’t get the chance to use a tender.
- Exclusive Disembarkation Lounge – this was in Club Fusion in the aft of the ship and we needed to disembark early on the first walk-off mid-ship so we chose not to go here.
If we were doing a longer cruise then we might have taken advantage of:
- VIP priority onboard shore excursion reservations
- VIP priority speciality dining reservations
- Complimentary Same Day Laundry
- Complimentary in-suite afternoon tea service – also available for Elite guests but so much more room in a suite!
- Upgraded room service menu with full breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings
And in warmer weather, the larger balcony would be the perfect spot for Ultimate Balcony Dining where you can book a tailored alfresco dinner or breakfast on your balcony.
Life is sweet in a Suite – if you get the chance to book one, go for it!
Addendum – and we have followed our own advice – our next Princess cruise on the Sky Princess Inaugural on 20th October 2019 is in a Suite!