After a dozen sailings with P&O we decided to try an alternative cruise line for comparison. We thought we had heard good reports of Princess so booked a 7 day cruise to France and Spain to try the Sapphire Princess out.
We arrived for embarkation well ahead of our allocated time. At 10:35 we handed our car to CPS and by 11:35 were sitting in the buffet on board the ship. To say this was an excellent experience was an understatement and something P&O should certainly get to grips with. We were fortunate to have qualified as “Elite” passengers, the highest level tier, due to our P&O loyalty points which only places us half way up the P&O ladder!
Our Balcony cabin had a good, large outside area with 2 chairs, footstools and large table. Inside was rather disappointing as it was quite small and insufficient seating to allow both of us to sit on seats rather than the bed. The bathroom was also small but the shower was very good. Overall the cabin was very clean and kept that way by our steward throughout the cruise.
The ship seemed to have a very happy crew who were very helpful and friendly. I did wonder if this was due to the significantly higher auto gratuity charges of $14.50 per day per person.
I thought the ship seemed jaded and in need of a refit. It did not seem that disability friendly but it did make a change to see signs in Chinese and English.
Entertainment we excellent and varied.
One of the things I was particularly looking forward to was the food and have to say I was very disappointed. We have had much better menus on the various P&O ships we have sailed on and with more variety and if a better quality. We tried the speciality Steakhouse and have to say our local Miller & Carter is much better with a price about the same as the Speciality restaurant surcharge! The best part of the menu were the chocolate desserts.
Drinks were expensive with a £7 supermarket bottle if wine costing $42 and drinks seemed to be around €10 a drink.
The ports of call had me scratching my head as the ship was as much as 2 hours travel away from the advertised port. We went on a ship organised excursion to Santiago di Compostela as we wanted to see the Cathedral there only to find there was very little to see inside due to renovations being undertaken until 2020. A warning would have been good but the trip, for us, was still worth it.
Disembarkation was again excellent being timely and very efficient. For the first time cruising we could spot our bags immediately.
Would we book another Princess cruise - probably not unless they were stopping at particular ports that other cruise companies were not offering.