Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Princess Cruises
Cruise StylePremium
Ship SizeSmall

Launched in 2004, Sapphire Princess, and her sister ship Diamond Princess are the only two ships in the fleet that were built in Japan. Recent renovations have added many of the cruise line’s most popular signature elements, including Movies Under the Stars and The Sanctuary, a tranquil adults-only haven.Read More

Both launched in 2004, these sister ships include all the features traditionally enjoyed on Princess’s Grand-class vessels, but with a twist. They’re larger than their Grand-class fleetmates, yet carry fewer passengers relative to their size. As a result, they have sleeker profiles, a higher ratio of space per person and feel much roomier.

Inside, the arrangement of public rooms is a bit different, with the signature Wheelhouse Bar moved forward of its position on Grand-class ships and, in its place, an expanded Internet Café, where beverages and snacks are served. An Asian-theme full-service spa offers a relaxing thermal suite, for a fee. All the elements of a Princess ship are here, particularly the small-ship atmosphere and sparkling, yet understated, interior decor.

Princess Cruises may be best known for introducing cruise travel to millions of viewers, when its flagship became the setting for The Love Boat television series in 1977. Since that heady time of small-screen stardom, the Princess fleet has grown both in the number and size of ships. Although most are large in scale, Princess vessels manage to create the illusion of intimacy through the use of color and decor in understated yet lovely public rooms graced by multimillion-dollar art collections.

Princess has also become more flexible; Personal Choice Cruising offers alternatives for open seating dining (when you wish and with whom you please) and entertainment options as diverse as those found in resorts ashore.

Lovely chapels or the wide-open decks are romantic settings for weddings at sea with the captain officiating.

  • 13 passenger decks
  • 2 specialty restaurants, 5 dining rooms, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
  • Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator, DVD (some)
  • 5 pools
  • Fitness classes, gym, hot tub, sauna, spa, steam room
  • 11 bars, casino, 2 dance clubs, library, 2 showrooms, video game room
  • children’s programs
  • dry cleaning, laundry facilities, laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • no kids under 6 months, no-smoking cabins

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Pros
Cons
The higher passenger-to-space ratio of these two ships offers a less crowded feel than most of the Princess fleet
Closets opposite the bathroom leave cabin entrances unobstructed by multiple doors
The Churchill Lounge is a popular spot for smokers, leaving other public rooms smoke-free
The four intimate open seating dining rooms are smaller than on other Princess ships and can fill up fast
There is a charge for specialty coffee drinks and premium ice cream
To walk all around the ship on promenade deck you’ll have to negotiate a flight of stairs

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Layout
Suites
Accessibility

More than 70% of accommodations offer an ocean view and, of those, 78% include private balconies. Even the least expensive inside categories have ample storage and a small seating area with chair and table. Cabins that sleep third and fourth passengers are numerous. The best for families are family suites on Dolphin Deck, which sleep up to six in two self-contained staterooms that connect through a living room. Typical stateroom features are a safe, refrigerator, hair dryer, and bathrobes for use during the cruise. Bathroom toiletries include shampoo, lotion, and bath gel.

Suites have two TVs, a seating area, dining area, wet bar, large walk-in closet, and separate whirlpool bathtub and shower. Minisuites have a separate seating area, two TVs, walk-in closet, and a combination bathtub–shower.

Twenty-seven staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.

Food & Drink

Food

In addition to a dining room with two traditional, assigned dinner seatings these ships have four additional dining rooms for open seating Personal Choice cruisers. Each is smaller than those on other large Princess ships, but all offer the same menus with a few additional selections that reflect the “theme” of each dining room. Alternative dining options are the two specialty restaurants, Sabatini’s and Sterling Steakhouse, which have a surcharge and require reservations. The pizzeria, grill, patisserie, and ice cream bar offer casual daytime dining and snack options. A pub lunch is served in the Wheelhouse Bar. The Lido buffet and complimentary room service are available 24 hours. Ultimate Balcony Dining is offered to passengers with balcony accommodations.

Entertainment

Nighttime production shows tend to be Broadway-style revues presented in the main show lounge, and guest performers might include comedians, magicians, jugglers, and acrobats. Live bands play a wide range of musical styles for dancing and listening in the lounges and each ship has a disco. The entertainment staff leads lively evenings of fun with passenger participation. Movies Under The Stars with free popcorn is a popular option after dark.

Spa & Fitness

Operated by Steiner Leisure, spas offer a variety of massages, body wraps, and facials, including some designed for men and teens as well as couples. Acupuncture and medi-spa treatments are also available. The spas’ thermal suites have aromatic wet and dry saunas and heated loungers that are complimentary for those in suites (there’s a fee for everyone else). Complimentary to all are saunas and steam rooms adjacent to men’s and women’s changing rooms.

QUICK FACTS

SHIP STATS
Entered Service
2004
Number of Cabins
1,337
Passenger Capacity
2,670
Crew Members
1,100
Passengers to Crew Ratio
2.43
Gross Tons
116000
Width
123 feet
Length
952 feet
CRUISE LINE INFO
661/753–0000 or 800/774–6237

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