For the most part, Sapphire Princess operated like a well-oiled machine.
While we only had a couple negative encounters, we didn’t find service to be anything special aboard Sapphire Princess. There were individuals who stood out favorably—our cheery cabin attendant, a couple of considerate waiters—but otherwise we found the services were often delivered in a robotic, obligatory fashion than with any unique dedication or warmth.
One particular staff interaction was unfortunate. While dining at Vivaldi, halfway through the meal we discovered a fruit fly in our partially drunk water glass. These things happen, and we removed the insect with a spoon, but when we pointed it out to our waiter he said “no problem,” and filled an empty glass from another table to replace the tainted glass. He then walked away, without removing the fruit fly sitting on the spoon, and without offering an apology. While weren’t looking for any major act of contrition, a sense of regret or perhaps a comped glass of wine would have been the appropriate response.
Princess adds a tip of $11.50 per day, per guest for crewmember services, other than bartenders ($12 per day for guests in Mini-Suites and Suites). The charge is automatically added to the statement during the cruise.
For bar service a 15 percent service charge is automatically added onto all beverage tabs. Tips for spa and casino staff are left to the discretion of guests.
Princess Cruises’ dress code encouraged sports wear and casual attire by day, with swimwear discouraged from public rooms and lounges. After 5:30 p.m., suggested eveningwear was Smart Casual—open-neck shirt and slacks for gents; and dress, skirt and blouse or trouser suit for ladies. On formal nights (there were two on our seven-day cruise), suggested attire was tux, slacks with dinner jacket or suit and tie for men; and evening gown, cocktail dress or trouser suit for women. Shorts, tank tops and T-shirts were not permitted in the dining rooms.
While there were plenty of passengers on board who dressed to the nines, there were just as many (especially teens) who kept their attire fairly casual.
Ahead of our cruise we inquired about Princess Cruises’ policy regarding bringing alcohol on board following check-in. We were told by agents manning the reservation line that guests could bring one bottle of wine per stateroom on their cruise. But we also heard of passengers who brought on board multiple bottles of wine for their journey.
The line has a zealous frequent-cruiser program called Princess Cruises’ Captain’s Circle and we found many returning Princess guests track their status assiduously. First-time Princess cruisers may be amused at the careful attention fellow guests pay the program, but the top 40 most traveled passengers aboard were invited to a private lunch with the captain, and the top three most traveled were heralded at a members’ cocktail party and awarded crystal trophies.
Passengers become Gold Level members following their first cruise, which avails some preferential pricing, launch savings and a members-only cocktail reception. After the fifth cruise, passengers are awarded Platinum status, which includes preferred check-in and onboard WiFi credits. After the 15th cruise, Elite Level benefits kick in, including free laundry, 10-percent boutique discounts, upgraded cabin amenities, complimentary minibar setup, and more.
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