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SE Asia Cruise Roundup

  • February 16, 2016
  • By 50 Shades
  • 12 Comments
Sapphire Princess

Sapphire Princess

I have recently returned from a South East Asia cruise out of Singapore and although I enjoyed the trip immensely, after all the times I’ve been to Asia for the first time I returned with an Asian tummy bug, which has been niggling away at me for the past week. On the plus side I guess it is a fast way of losing the excess weight I managed to accumulate from the cruise!

Relaxing on the rear deck

Relaxing on the rear deck in port at Singapore

The cruise was a 15 day Treasures of Asia foray into ten different ports, including Singapore and involved four ‘at sea days’. The itinerary was as follows:

  1. Singapore
  2. Penang, Malaysia
  3. Langkawi, Malaysia
  4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  5. Return to Singapore
  6. Brunei
  7. Nha Trang, Vietnam
  8. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  9. Cambodia
  10. Bangkok, Thailand
  11. Ko Samui, Thailand
  12. Singapore
Departing Port Klang Malaysia on Australia Day

Departing Port Klang Malaysia on Australia Day

In general the Princess cruiseline was fairly similar to our previous cruise, which was with Norwegian, however there were some things better with Princess and some things better with Norwegian and vice versa. So here is a summarised comparison of the two cruiselines side by side:

Sapphire Princess Norwegian Dawn
Passenger Capacity:

Ship Built:

2,678

2004

 

2,340

2002 *Refurbished in 2012

 

Cabins – Balcony:

 

Small Ensuite with small shower cubicle but bigger walk-in robe with cupboard of shelves. Desk in lieu of sofa. TV screen larger and better choice of movies. Small bar fridge. Decor a little dated. Large Ensuite with separate toilet, shower and vanity. Larger shower cubicle. Wardrobe rather than walk-in robe. A small sofa. Small screen TV with limited stations and movies. Small bar fridge.
Dining & Bars: 16 different dining options including 4 specialty restaurants. Sabbatini’s Italian Restaurant was 5 star, however the remainder of the restaurants were not that impressive.

There seemed to be a wider selection of bars on Princess including our favourite at the stern of the ship called the outdoor Outrigger Bar.The coffee shop was great and was open 24 hours.

17 different dining options including 6 specialty restaurants. The anytime dining restaurants were fantastic and served up good food. The Italian Restaurant was also quiet good.

12 bars with a great indoor bar at the bow of the ship which afforded lovely views. There was a coffee shop in the Atrium which served reasonable coffee.

Outdoor Areas: 4 swimming pools including an indoor pool & 8 hot tubs. Outdoor cinema with 3 showings every day around the main pool with food available from hamburgers, pizzas to icecream and milkshakes.  No live entertainment. Lots of sundeck space. 1 large pool area and a smaller children’s pool at the stern of the ship. Everyday the catering staff put on a different themed spread of food – buffet style around the pool. Also bands and other forms of entertainment featured daily.Large terraced sundeck area.
Entertainment: Every night there was live entertainment in the Piazza and Showroom, however it was not remarkable. Bands played in a couple of the lounge bars. Every night there was fabulous entertainment in the large Theatre from music, dance, acrobats, comedians, magic and special performances. Also lots of music playing everywhere all over the ship. Our favourites were Jose & Patti who played a great variety of music.
Other Amenities: Fitness Centre – average size and was lacking in some areas like floor size and equipment. Classes were substandard.

Library, Large Internet Café, Self Serve Laundromat, Table Tennis, Shuffleboard, Basketball Half Court, Walking Promenade

Beauty Spa – Huge with a full range of services including Accupuncture, Botox, Massages, Hair Salon and Facials.

Fitness Centre was reasonably large with good equipment and an array of classes to choose from.

Library, Internet Café, Laundry Service, Basketball Half Court, Golf Practice Net, Giant Chessboard, Shuffleboard.

Beauty Spa – Small but offered a good variety of beauty services.

Activities: Trivia, Card Games, Game Shows, Ice-Carving Demonstrations, Cooking Demonstrations, Photography Lessons, Dance Lessons. However overall there were less than on Norwegian. Trivia several times a day, Dance Lessons, Bridge Lessons, Ice-Carving Demonstrations, Cooking Demonstrations, Photography lessons, Table Tennis Tournaments, Pool Competitions. Overall a lot more on offer.
Offshore Excursions Many on offer but very expensive. Some excursions involved hours of travel. Very organised and efficient shore transfers. Many on offer but very expensive. Relatively organised and efficient shore transfer.
View from our cabin of Singapore

View from our cabin of Singapore

My thoughts on cruiselines is that it comes down to what type of cruise you are after. For some it is the cuisine, for others entertainment and nightlife or for some the comfort and features of the ship. The Sapphire Princess did offer more outdoor areas and swimming pools but lacked in quality entertainment, organised onboard activities and top class cuisine areas. However we weren’t at sea for that many days and we were mainly ashore exploring great destinations so we were never bored. Of an evening we were too exhausted from our shore excursions to really bother much with nightly entertainment.

Indoor Pool Area

Indoor Pool Area

There was another downside to the Sapphire Princess cruise and that was that three of the advertised stops, namely Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok, involved 2 to 3 hours of travelling time to reach. A lot of passengers were upset about this and the cruiseline should have made it clearer on their itinerary that these places were a long way from the port stop.

Special Dinner at Sabbatini's Italian Restaurant

Special Dinner at Sabbatini’s Italian Restaurant

It didn’t really worry us because we have seen the cities before and preferred to explore other options. For example we shopped at a mall near the port for Kuala Lumpur, we caught a taxi to Vung Tau in lieu of Ho Chi Minh City and we travelled to Pattaya instead of Bangkok. All three alternatives were good, if not better than the large city destinations.

Overall we had a wonderful time aboard the Sapphire Princess and the staff and crew did a marvelous job organising us, feeding us and cleaning up after us each day of the cruise. I would definitely recommend a South East Asia cruise to get a fantastic overview of some of these remarkable countries, culture and tourist attractions.

 

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By 50 Shades, February 16, 2016 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 12

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

12 Comments
  • Jan at retiringNotshy!
    February 16, 2016

    It looks like you had a good plan and made the most of the opportunity but as you say disappointing for others when the travel time is so long to an anticipated destination.

    • Kathy
      February 16, 2016

      Luckily we were able to do our research and find alternative day trips off the cruise. I couldn’t think of anything worse than travelling on a tour bus on a busy highway for hours upon hours and then only seeing a small snippet of the city. This is probably the downside to cruising. :)

  • Johanna
    February 16, 2016

    That’s a great comparison. There are so many cruises on offer that it’s a bit of a jungle. So this kind of post is really useful. I think both the cruises sounded wonderful, but as you say some people might prefer one over the other for different reasons. We would be like you with the shore excursions and go for something closer and off the beaten track.

    • Kathy
      February 17, 2016

      Thanks Jo. It is difficult choosing which cruiseline to go with. You hear varying opinions from different people. We tend to enjoy the ports of call more than anything and then having the luxury of returning to the ship to yummy food and a comfortable bed! :)

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    February 17, 2016

    I think I’d be enjoying my days and giving the nightlife a miss too. I must be the only person of my generation who has never been on a cruise. The Fairstar cruises were all the go when I was in my twenties but I never went on one. I did enjoy Singapore when I visited years ago. It was very clean and easy to get around. This was a great comparison post Kathy. You look fantastic in white by the way :)

    • Kathy
      February 17, 2016

      Cruising is a relaxed and easy way to see some of the world, however it only gives you a small snippet of each place you visit. There were several places we would have liked to explore further such as Cambodia and Langkawi. I think cruising has evolved over the past few decades and it is now very luxurious. You never know – you might like it!

  • Anne
    February 18, 2016

    Nothing worse than getting sick on holiday! Hope it didn’t put too much of a dampener on your holiday

    • Kathy
      February 19, 2016

      No it didn’t at all Anne. I enjoyed every minute of the cruise. It was only when I returned home that I fell ill. All better now! :)

  • Janet Camilleri
    February 18, 2016

    You’re right, the Sapphire Princess does look a lot like the Golden Princess! I was really interested in your comparison of the two cruise lines. We have cruised with P&O which had oodles of on board activities which is just as well as there is a long way between stops in the Pacific Ocean; and MSC on the Mediterranean, which didn’t have as much on offer but we were in a port pretty much every day – and besides, I think the multitude of languages on board made it difficult to offer options such as trivia quizzes and games nights!

    • Janet Camilleri
      February 18, 2016

      PS Oh and did I see you rocking a bit of off the shoulder action there too?! Very nice! ;-)

    • Kathy
      February 19, 2016

      Yes I think all of the cruise ships are a fairly similar layout with the same features. I thought it would be interesting to compare the two different cruise lines and really they evened out in the end. One having better entertainment and activities and one having better outdoor areas. Next cruise will be to the Mediterranean in 2017 so I will be checking all the cruise lines out with a fine tooth comb, now that I am a seasoned cruiser! :

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