Last Updated on 08/25/23 by quiltripping
Towering icebergs floating in a pristine sea. Spouting whales and penguins lazing on the snow. Unending shades of white from one horizon to the other. These were the images of Antarctica that I dreamed of seeing.
My milestone birthday came and went, and I was not able to celebrate with a long planned trip to the white continent. Still, every birthday is special, so when it came around again this year, I finally treated myself to a cruise on the Sapphire Princess that went around South America and also included 4 days of scenic cruising in Antarctica.
I have wanted to see Antarctica for a long time and have studied the various cruise options. I knew I wanted to get there in comfort and at a reasonable cost. I like cruising with Princess so when I saw an itinerary that included stops in the Patagonia region along with scenic cruising in Antarctica, I was sold!
The fact that the cruise coincided with my birthday was an added bonus.
My Sapphire Princess review
Why did I chose the Sapphire Princess cruise to visit Antarctica?
There are many different ways to experience Antarctica and each person has different priorities. While it would have been nice to set foot on the continent and to have a longer visit, I was also looking for a comfortable and budget friendly option to see this part of the world, especially as a solo cruiser.
I was able to get a good last minute deal for solo travel which made the cruise very affordable (not in the tens of thousands of dollars). Also, since I was flying into and out of major South American cities (Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina) it meant that I had flight choices with reasonably priced airfare. As a bonus, the itinerary also provided for additional sightseeing opportunities. An all around win-win in my book.
What I loved about this Princess cruise to Antarctica
It goes without saying that the scenery in Antarctica was spectacular and unforgettable. And taking a Princess cruise to see it made it really easy. I have a separate post dedicated to the Antarctica portion of the cruise, What Is a Princess Cruise to Antarctica Really Like?
It almost felt like the Sapphire Princess was designed with this cruise in mind. Having a glass covered conservatory meant that you could enjoy a dip in a pool or hot tub in the colder environment. Even if you didn’t want to swim, this space provided a warmer and sunny spot to lounge regardless of the temperatures outside.
There were also a lot of public outdoor deck spaces all around the ship. As a result, even with 2100 people on board there was plenty of space for everyone that wanted to have a spot at a railing for views or photos.
There were also a lot of public indoor spaces, and I had no trouble finding a quiet corner to myself when I wanted one, even on the many sea days. The seats in the internet café were hardly ever used and the library was often empty. My favorite spot was the back corner table by the window in Vines (don’t tell anyone). I could look out the window at the wild waves while typing on this blog.
I also loved the traditional wide promenade deck. It was wide enough to hold a lounge chair and still have plenty of room for walking or jogging around the deck. And since it was covered, it was a good spot to see the scenery during rainy/snowy periods.
As with every cruise, I always appreciate being waited on and all of the Princess personnel did a fantastic job with that. From my room steward to the waiters and waitresses to the attendants on deck, service was always given with a smile. It was no surprise that the Sapphire Princess was voted to have the friendliest crew in the fleet.
By the end of a cruise, I am always quite spoiled, and it’s hard to go back home and have to make my own bed, clean my own room, and cook my own dinner. Sigh!
Another feature that was special to this sailing were the six destinations experts that we had on board for the full length of the cruise. During sea days there were always two or three lectures to attend.
If you missed one or just wanted to get the information again, the lectures were taped and were available to watch on the cabin TV. The topics covered were diverse, informative, and well presented.
While we cruised through Antarctica, we also had a lot of commentary over the ship intercom by all of our experts. They told us the names and history of the locations we were passing through and pointed out whale, seal and penguin sightings.
Most importantly, I felt very safe at all times. The waters that we sailed through can be some of the most rough and dangerous on the planet and just from the short amount of time I was there, it was clear that the weather was also volatile and variable.
The captain and bridge crew adjusted the schedule based on sailing conditions, always keeping safety at the forefront. I really appreciated the captain’s full transparency, always letting us know what was happening next and why the schedule was changing, yet still giving us the best experience possible while maintaining the overall schedule.
Sapphire Princess ocean view cabin review
I booked this cruise last minute and did not have very many cabin options available to me. While I like having a balcony, I knew that with the cold weather and the potential for rough seas, I would not use a balcony very much, so I happily chose one of the less expensive ocean view cabins on deck 8 and I was happy with my decision.
At roughly 150 square feet, the cabin was plenty roomy for one person. I had a queen bed configuration with Princess’ signature high end bedding. With crispy white sheets, fluffy pillows, a warm duvet, and the gentle rocking of the ship, I slept very well every night, as I always do on a Princess cruise.
On either side of the bed there was a nightstand with two drawers and a lamp that also had a USB port which made it convenient to charge my phone. Note that these are the only two USB ports in the cabin.
The cabin also had a desk area with three more drawers, three small open shelves, and an under counter fridge. Above the desk was a large flat screen TV.
The closet space was very roomy and came with plenty of hanging space and 30 hangers, as well as a large floor to ceiling cabinet with shelving, a safe, and a full length mirror. This is also where the life preservers were kept.
The bathroom wasn’t large but was certainly spacious enough for one person. The shower provided large bottles of shampoo and body gel. Around the single sink there were three shelves to store my personal toiletries and a long shelf under the sink. There were also large bottles of hand soap and lotion from the Lotus spa by the sink.
As with many older ships, I don’t think the cabin had enough outlets. Besides the USB ports by the bed, there were only two American style outlets by the desk. There was one outlet in the bathroom that could take a US or a European plug.
For just one person, these outlets were sufficient, but I think that with two people in the room, this will not be enough to charge all the electronic devices that we all travel with these days. I suggest bringing a multi port power strip.
Travel Tip – Note that you can bring a multi port power strip on board like the one in the picture below, but you are not allowed to bring a surge protector.
The Sapphire Princess ship details
The Sapphire is one of Princess’ smaller and older ships, but she is large enough to provide a lot of amenities. And she has been lovingly maintained.
- Grand Class
- Year inaugurated – 2004
- Last refurbished –2018
- Last dry dock – April 2023
- Maximum number of passengers –2670
- Maximum number of crew -1100
This is a list of all the public spaces on the Sapphire Princess with lots of photos to give you a good sense of the space and design details. My cruise was almost full with about 2100 passengers on board, but somehow it never felt crowded. I was always able to find spots to enjoy peace and quiet.
Deck 5 – Plaza
The Piazza –The Piazza is the beautiful, airy, three story beating heart of the ship. The design details had an Art Deco feel with different marble mosaics, gleaming fawn colored wood accents and an interesting industrial chic architectural detail which decorated the main elevator shafts. Gently curving staircases take you from deck 5 up to decks 6 and 7.
This was also where the champagne fountain was held on the first formal night.
Surrounding the Piazza are:
The International Café – One of my favorite spots for food on a Princess ship. I love their almond croissants and the little dessert offerings. There were also soups, sandwiches and salads, and since it is open all day and night, it’s the spot for satisfying those late night cravings. You can also get a variety of specialty coffees here for an extra charge.
Good Spirits at Sea – Lobby bar where you can get signature specialty drinks like the dirty banana (a Princess cruise favorite) and a variety of craft cocktails.
Vines Wine Bar – Cozy setting with views of the ocean where you can try some of the fine wines available on board. Food was not available here, but I could order room service to be delivered to my table through the Medallion app. I liked the cozy atmosphere and it was my favorite spot to sit and look out the window at the waves.
Alfredo’s Pizzeria – This is an intimate space where you can get made to order, yummy, pizzas and other Italian style dishes. Extra fees may apply if you don’t have one of the Princess packages.
Savoy Dining Room – Dark wood and traditional details decorate this classy looking dining room which is only open for dinner. It was in this dining room that I enjoyed the Chef’s Table experience.
Vivaldi Dining Room – As the name implies the décor here is Italian all the way. This dining venue is also only open for dinner.
Fine Arts Gallery – Showing new art for the art auctions at sea.
Deck 6 – Fiesta
Public spaces forward to midship:
Princess Theater lower level – Some of the enrichment lectures were given here along with the evening entertainment.
Churchill’s Cigar Lounge – Cozy, closed door escape for anyone that smokes.
The Library – An intimate space with comfy chairs, windows, board games, books on the shelf to borrow, and daily Sudoku challenges.
Future Cruise Planning and Captain’s Circle– You’ll find desks for these services located in the library. This is where I put down my future cruise deposit for my next Princess cruise
Shore Excursion desk – Across the hall from the library is the office to book or make changes to shore excursions.
Grand Casino and bar – Lots of slot machine choices and gaming tables for those interested in gambling. Note that smoking is permitted here.
Guest Services – Large, well staffed desk where you can go to get any cruise issues addressed. I found the staff to be quite patient, professional, and genial.
Shops of Princess – Good for browsing when you are bored.
Pacific Moon Dining Room – Asian details inspire the mood in this dining room which is open for afternoon tea on sea days along with dinner every evening.
Santa Fe Dining Room – Dining room with American Southwest themed décor that is only open for dinner.
International Dining room – This large dining room can only be reached via the aft elevators or by using the aft stairs from deck 7. This was the dining room to go to if you wanted to be served breakfast and lunch. It was also open for dinner.
Deck 7 – Promenade
Indoor public spaces moving forward to aft:
Princess Theater upper level – Top level of the two story theater.
The Wheelhouse Bar – Big but cozy lounge space that has a pub feel, where you can get a drink and watch musical performances. The house band played great jazz sets here. Some of the enrichment lectures were also presented here.
The Shops of Princess – More options for spending your money.
Crooners Bar – Very intimate and popular area to sit and listen to piano player/singer. Grab a seat here early because they go quick and people stay a long time.
Explorers Lounge – Another large lounge, decorated with exotic African themes. A Variety of fun programs were offered here each day.
Internet café -This is the spot to go to get all your internet and Medallion questions answered. It is a big, modern space with lots of seating and quiet corners that were usually not very busy.
Oceanfront- Offering a variety of Medallion accessories for purchase.
Photo Gallery – The place to find and buy all those photos taken by the Princess photographers.
Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria – Specialty dining restaurant serving up delicious Italian dishes. This is not a large restaurant so make your reservations early.
Club Fusion – Another large entertainment venue where a varied selection of activities, lectures, and music were available throughout the day and into the night.
At the back and on the right hand side next to the stage in Club Fusion are a set of circular stairs that take you to the Wake View Bar on deck 6. This is the only access to this space. The bar here was not staffed but this was a very cozy and usually overlooked seating area.
Outside you will also find the Promenade Deck that encircles the whole ship and is good for stretching your legs or just relaxing in the shade on a deck chair. The Promenade Deck is quite wide and has room for many deck chairs and plenty of space for walking or jogging. In the front, a set of stairs continues the promenade space up to deck 8.
The whole promenade deck area was a good spot for looking at the scenery and the front was not as windy as the front observation area on deck 15. It was also a good spot to catch the sun set.
Deck 12 – Aloha
Terrace pool – Most of this deck is cabins except for the very back where there is a small outdoor pool with a deck and deck chairs.
Deck 14 – Lido
The front of this deck is cabins.
Public spaces from midship to aft are :
Prego Pizzeria – I love Princess’ Neapolitan pizza. They usually offered cheese, pepperoni, and a daily special pizza that you could get by the slice.
Mermaid’s Tail Bar– The spot to get sodas and drinks to go with that pizza or burger from next door.
Trident Grill – Satisfied my fast food cravings with made to order burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, and fries.
Neptune’s Reef and Pool – Outdoor pool with two hot tubs and lots of deck space with loungers. Note that when we were cruising during high waves, this pool was closed off but the hot tubs were open.
Swirls ice cream – I could get vanilla or chocolate soft serve ice cream all day. This area is also where you will find the fresh juice bar.
Calypso Reef and Pool and Bar – Large pool with two hot tubs and lots of lounge chairs in a glass covered conservatory. When it was cold and windy outside, this space was more temperate than the outdoor pool area. Note that when we were cruising during high waves, this pool was closed but the hot tubs were open.
Horizon Court and Café – Buffet restaurant that is open all day. There were two sides to the buffet with plenty of seating all around and lots of windows on both sides of the ship. I could also get self serve water, tea, coffee, and lemonade here.
Sterling Steakhouse – In the evenings, one side of the back of the Horizon court becomes the Sterling Steakhouse, one of the specialty restaurants on board. You will need to make reservations to eat here.
Horizon Terrace and Outriggers Bar – Outdoor seating area outside the Horizons court buffet with a bar for drinks.
Deck 15 – Sun
In the front of the ship:
A walkway wraps around the whole deck. In the front, sitting on top of the bridge, is a large open observation space that is accessed by a few stairs. This was a good spot for looking at the scenery but it was also quite windy.
Fitness area – Large space looking out over the water with plenty of equipment to work off those buffet calories.
Lotus Spa – The spa offers a varied menu of services and treatments. There are also steam and sauna rooms and a thermal suite, all of which are complimentary to use.
Lotus Spa pool – This adult only pool and two hot tubs is open to everyone, not just those using the spa. Note that during my cruise this pool was closed but the hot tubs were open.
Deck space with plenty of open railings to watch the scenery go by.
Tradewinds Bar -Another bar option for drinks as you enjoy the pool or watch a movie.
Movies Under the Stars – One of my favorite Princess cruising experiences. Concerts, sporting events, and movies are shown on a big outdoor screen throughout the day. It’s like being at a drive-in theater, or maybe it should be called a cruise-in theater.
The Conservatory – The second level of the Calypso pool area has a wrap around balcony with plenty of lounge chairs.
The Family Room, The Beach House Teen Lounge, The Lodge at Camp Discovery, The Treehouse at Camp Discovery, Outdoor Play area – Large space for young cruisers to hang out and take part in the youth programs.
Splash pool – Another smaller, circular, outdoor pool with surrounding deck space.
Deck 16 – Sports
The Sanctuary – This is a quiet, adults only space with views that look out over the front of the ship. You reserve a specific lounge chair for a fee for the whole day or a half day.
More open deck area with two larger hot tubs. This was my go to spot for looking at and photographing the scenery because it was more protected and was not as windy as in the front of the ship.
Oasis Bar – Another options for drinks.
Shuffle Board and Deck Chess -Areas with two marked shuffle board courts and a large chess board painted on to the outside deck.
Access to Skywalker’s Nightclub – Inside, an escalator located near the aft elevators takes you to Skywalker’s Nightclub.
Deck 17 – Sky
Star Deck – A set of outside stairs from deck 16 take you to this higher, outdoor observation level.
Skywalkers Nightclub – An escalator from deck 16 (next to the aft elevators) takes you up here. During the day this is a great indoor spot for looking out the wrap around windows. There is a lot of seating here and it was never busy. At night the space becomes a nightclub with drinks and a DJ playing music.
Note that the escalator only goes up to Skywalkers Nightclub. To get back down to the elevators you have to take a set of stairs. You can also access Skywalkers via two sets of outdoor stairways from deck 16.
Center Court – A netted basketball court above Skywalkers that is accessible via outdoor stairs only. On my cruise, access to this area was closed off.
One of my favorite benefits on a Princess cruise were the laundry facilities that were available on the aft section of decks 8 to 12. This was especially helpful on a long cruise such as this one.
With my medallion I was able to purchase tokens from a vending machine in the laundry room that I could use in the washers or dryers. I brought my own detergent pods, but laundry soap was also available for purchase with the medallion.
The laundry room also has ironing boards and irons for guest’s use.
My Sapphire Princess itinerary for South America and Antarctica
What I learned on this cruise is that the itinerary for sailing in this part of the world is dictated by the weather and is fluid. Unlike expedition ships, the Sapphire Princess is not designed to handle close encounters with ice of any size.
And though it is a big ship and can easily handle 30 foot waves, for the comfort of the passengers, the captain tried to minimize this experience, unique as it may be.
Throughout the cruise, the captain stressed that he was making the necessary choices to keep the ship and everyone in it safe and the schedule was adjusted accordingly. Flexibility was key.
Day 1 – Planned – Board at Valparaiso, Chile and set sail by 6 PM.
Actual – Weather conditions postponed the start of boarding till 7 PM.
Note that my passport was collected and kept by the Princess staff at check in and was returned to me toward the end of the cruise.
Day 2 – Planned – At sea
Actual – Cruised to nearby San Antonio, Chile during the night and spent the day refueling and restocking the boat. We finally set sail around 6 PM.
Day 3 – At sea as planned.
Day 4 – At sea as planned. First formal night.
Day 5 – Planned – Dock at Punta Arenas from 7 AM to 6:30 PM
Actual – Because of the delay with embarkation, the day in Punta Arenas was cancelled. We had a lovely day of scenic cruising through the Straits of Magellan instead which I much preferred.
Day 6 – Planned – Dock in Ushuaia from 12 PM to 7:30 PM
Actual – to avoid the predicted high winds in Ushuaia, we arrived early, at 7 AM, and stayed till 7:30 PM.
Day 7 – Planned – Cape Horn
Actual – High winds prevented cruising around Cape Horn. Headed down the Drake Passage toward the Antarctic Peninsula.
Day 8 – 11
Scenic cruising in the Antarctica Peninsula. We had about two and a half days of decent weather that allowed for scenic cruising and one day of high winds and waves which precluded any scenic cruising.
In the interest of keeping this post a reasonable length, I describe our Antarctica cruise in a lot of detail in my post What Is A Princess Cruise to Antarctica Really Like?. Let’s just say that the scenery we did see was incredible.
The second formal night was on the evening of day 11.
Day 12 – At sea as planned.
Day 13 – In Port Stanley, Falkland Islands from 8AM to 6 PM as planned.
Day 14 – At sea as planned. Third formal night.
Day 15 – At sea as planned.
Day 16 – In Montevideo, Uruguay as planned from 8 AM to 4:30 PM
Day 17 – Dock at Buenos Aires, Argentina at 5 AM as planned and disembarked.
I describe my South America and Antarctica cruise in a lot of detail in my post What Is A Princess Cruise to Antarctica Really Like?
Sapphire Princess dining review
I can honestly say that I had no trouble finding food on the Sapphire Princess that appealed to my pallet and that I found quite tasty.
I ate at each of the venues on the ship and besides finding good food I also experienced wonderful service. All of the wait staff I interacted with were attentive and eager to please and worked quite hard. Balancing a tray of drinks or plates as the ship was pitching back and forth as we were sailing through high waves took a lot of skill. I certainly could not do it.
Complimentary dining on the Sapphire Princess
The Main Dining Rooms
I really liked that there were five smaller dining rooms, each one decorated with a different theme. It made meal time feel more intimate and it was fun to have a choice of décor to pick from each day.
I did not make reservations for dinner in the main dining rooms and I had no trouble finding a table whenever I chose to eat. For larger groups, you may want to pre reserve your table each evening.
The dinner menus were the same in all of the dining rooms and changed daily. There was always a vegetarian option along with gluten free choices.
If I wanted a sit down breakfast or lunch, that was only available in the International Dining Room. I am not a morning person and don’t like a big meal before noon, but I do like breakfast food. I appreciated that the lunch menu included items like French toast or eggs benedict so I could have brunch at lunch if I wanted it.
One of the best things about sea days is that afternoon tea was served in the Pacific Moon Dining Room. Waiters walked around serving a variety of mini sandwiches, mini desserts and of course scones, cream and jam, along with pots of tea. Yum!
The International Café is my favorite eatery on a Princess ship. This is where I pick up one of their delicious almond croissants, a smoked salmon sandwich or a yogurt parfait for breakfast.
And if I am in the mood for a latte or a cappuccino, I get that here as well (note that specialty coffees are an extra charge unless they are included in your drinks package).
Since the International Café is open late, this is also the go to spot for a late night snack or for one or two of their good cookies.
Horizon Court Buffet
The Horizon Court buffet was open continuously from early morning till late into the evening. While the food serving area was not very large, they managed to offer quite a diverse selection for each meal which changed daily.
I found plenty of healthy salad and fruit options, hot foods on the cold days, cold foods on the hot days, soups, breads and many desert choices. And in the afternoons, they also offered scones, cream, and jam so I could get my afternoon tea fix without going to the dining room.
I also liked that besides the serve yourself options, there were individually prepared and presented choices as well.
The seating area around the Horizon Court was huge and I never had a problem finding an open table. Not surprising, the window seats filled up quickly though.
Waiters always came around promptly and took orders for drinks to go along with my meal. I could also refill my water bottle here with water, iced tea or lemonade, or get hot tea and coffee any time of the day.
Princess has been dubbed with “the best pizza at sea” and I would have to agree. This is where I got individual slices of pizza for lunch or a snack. Each day they make three types: cheese, peperoni, and a special pizza of the day and I liked them all.
I will admit that I do occasionally get a hankering for a burger or an order of French fries, even with all the other good food choices available. In a few minutes, the cook here will whip up a fresh burger, a pulled pork sandwich or tacos, along with an order of fries. With a soda from the Mermaid’s Tail bar next door, this was my choice for a meal while watching a Movie Under the Stars.
Casual Dining on the Sapphire Princess
Princess makes great pizza. At Alfredo’s I could get a freshly made, hot, straight from the oven, individual sized pizza that had the perfect crispy crust that I love. I ate here a few times over the course of the cruise for dinner and lunch. I also found that it was not busy during formal night.
Depending on the type of Princess package you have, there may be an additional fee to eat here.
In my opinion, one of the best things about a cruise is room service, especially for breakfast. You can order room service via the Medallion app or using the phone in your room. Depending on the type of Princess package you have, there may be an additional charge for room service delivery.
For breakfast, you can also put out a paper menu with your choices on your cabin door knob the night before and breakfast will be delivered the next morning at the time you chose.
Specialty dining on the Sapphire Princess
Sterling Steak House
The back starboard corner of the Horizon court becomes the fancier Sterling Steak House in the evening. This is one of the two specialty dining restaurants on board the Sapphire Princess and requires a reservation. Extra charges apply to eat here.
The Sterling Steak House menu is much like the menus at the Crown Grill on other Princess ships and the quality was equivalent. The night I ate here I had a scallop appetizer, French onion soup, and an incredibly moist and tender fillet of beef. I finished the meal off with one of Princess’ great Chocolate Journeys deserts.
Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria
Sabatini’s is the other specialty restaurant on board the Sapphire Princess (and will also cost an extra fee).
I had my birthday dinner here and it was excellent, though as always, way too much (great) food. Even though the portions were small, 5 courses is a lot of food.
The staff also surprised me with a special cake and candle and by (very enthusiastically) singing happy birthday which was a really nice touch (though also a little embarrassing).
Chef’s Table Experience
This was my second Chefs Table Experience with Princess, and it did not disappoint. A few times during a cruise, the ship’s executive chef presents a special menu that he has personally designed, and which is paired with fine wines.
The Chefs Table is offered only a few times each cruise to 10-12 guests per sitting and does cost extra. If you are interested in the Chef’s Table you need to go to Guest Services as soon as you get on board the ship and get your name put on “the Chef’s Table list”. You will then be notified when the dinner is offered and if you made it to the table.
For me, this was gourmet, foody type food that I love to try – food that stimulated my senses and titillated my taste buds. I am sharing my Chef’s Table menu on the Sapphire Princess below. Your experience will probably be different, but it will be just as good or better.
My Chef’s Table menu presented by Executive Chef Ravindra Dulipalla:
Lobster, avocado, and mango margarita
Crab cake with Maryland sauce
Slow roasted pork belly with honey soy sauce
carrot bisque infused with ginger and raisin
Spanish saffron fishmonger’s risotto
Cucumber and raspberry sorbet served with Beefeaters gin
Seared beef medallion topped with Maine lobster thermidor with béarnaise sauce, lambchop Villeroy with rosemary jus, salsa verde and fresh market vegetables
Passion fruit and Bavarian mousse with strawberry cheesecake garnish with fresh berries and chocolate
Sapphire Princess South America port excursion reviews
In Ushuaia I booked one of the Princess offered shore excursions “Penguin Rookery Navigation”. This was a new excursion for this itinerary that was offered for the first time on our sailing.
This was exactly the type of tour I was looking to do on my own once we docked at Ushuaia. I chose the Princess version because the logistics were easier, especially considering that our arrival time changed compared to the original cruise schedule.
We boarded a large catamaran that was docked on the same pier as the Sapphire Princess. Our cruise took us past rocky outcroppings with imperial cormorants, sea lions, and the famous Beagle Channel lighthouse.
We continued along the Beagle Channel to Isla Martillo, or Hammer Island, where the shore line was populated by many, many Magellanic and Gentoo penguins. To protect the penguins, we did not get off the boat, but the catamaran was able to get very close to shore which allowed for good photos.
It was interesting to see that the penguins were not at all bothered by our presence and went about their normal routines. In fact, one little guy or gal came right up to our boat and started, what can best be described, as dancing.
Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Wow – what an amazing day this was! I saw so many penguins!
The Falkland Islands are known for their penguin population which outnumber people 300 to 1. I didn’t know if I would be able to see penguins since all the ship excursions and the private tours were fully booked far in advance.
But, the town of Stanley has a bus that for $20 takes you from the pier to nearby Gypsy Point and back. This cove was home to nesting Magellanic penguins, visiting king penguins, and a rookery of Gentoo penguins. There was quite a bit of walking along the beach to see all of them, but it was well worth it.
I spent almost the whole day at Gypsy Cove watching these engaging creatures and taking about a million pictures.
I don’t normally like big group, big bus city tours – too much time spent on the bus or time wasted getting on and off. However, I chose the “Montevideo and Carnival Performance” offered by Princess because it gave me a chance to see some of the unique Murga Carnival performances and costumes for which Montevideo is famous.
These type of performances can normally be seen in the evenings at dedicated venues around the city during Carnival time, but our ship left too early to be able to catch one. This particular performance was put on just for our Princess tour group so it was not something I could have done on my own.
The performance was at the Carnival Museum which actually is just across the street from the pier where the ship was docked. Before the show, the bus drove us around Montevideo so we got a window seat look at some of the main plazas and neighborhoods along with a couple of brief photo op stops.
The highlight though was the Murga, which is a form of musical theater performed by a troupe made up of a conductor, three percussionists and 13 vocalists. All were decorated in colorful costumes, fancy headdresses and face paint.
At the end of the performance, the audience members were asked to join in the fun as they too donned costumes and danced and sang along with the troupe.
Princess offered a variety of tour options of the city though I was not able to take advantage of them as I had booked a flight to spend two days at Iguazu Falls.
Additional Sapphire Princess cruise tips and information
The Medallion is a waterproof, round electronic button that holds all your personal Princess cruise information and also acts as your room key. Since I booked last minute, I picked up my medallion at check in at the port and wore it through the cruise on a lanyard. If you want something more fashionable, Princess sells a variety of Medallion accessories on board.
The Medallion automatically unlocked my room once I was within about 3-4 feet of my cabin door. I also used it for any on board charges for drinks, excursions, etc. It also acted as my ID to get back on the ship after getting off in port.
The Medallion App
I used the Medallion App to check in before my cruise. I was able to fill out all the necessary information to get into the “green” check in lane without too much difficulty.
Once I was on board, I could use the app to schedule dinner reservations, order room service, order drinks to be delivered to my seat, track and find members in my cruising party and look at my bill. I did not use mine very much in that capacity, but when I did order drinks it worked fine and they arrived promptly.
Interactive On Board Screens
Near each elevator, large interactive screens displayed a map of the ship or the current activities going on throughout the ship. These touch screens were convenient and very easy and intuitive to use.
I had the 4-device package for the full length of the trip so that I could use both my phone and my computer while on board. Signing up and logging into the Wi-Fi network was straight forward. Instructions were provided with all the welcome on board paperwork in my stateroom.
I used my sea days to catch up on blog writing and posting on social media. I did not try streaming movies or music. The internet worked fine for what I needed until we crossed the Drake Passage. Once in Antarctic waters, I could only use WhatsApp and Gmail; other internet functions were not working.
Travel Tip – Remember to switch your phone to Airplane Mode before you leave port so that you do not incur roaming charges.
Each night, my cabin steward dropped off the Princess Patter which listed all the following day’s onboard activities.
In room TV
Besides watching movies and TV programs, and listening to music, I was also able to watch the enrichment lectures that had been presented at the theater in the comfort of my cabin.
You can see where the Sapphire Princess currently is through its bridge cam at https://www.princess.com/bridgecams/. My family back home was seeing what I was seeing when we did the scenic cruising in Antarctica.
I hope you found this Sapphire Princess cruise review helpful. To book a Princess cruise, find all the upcoming Sapphire Princess cruises, and to see the most recent cruise deals go to https://www.princess.com/.
Cheers to another wonderful Princess cruise!
Please note that I received a media upgraded cabin from Princess. All content and opinions in this post are my own.
Other cruising stories you may like:
All my favorite photos from my Antarctica cruise: Penguins and Ice and so Much More – My Favorite Antarctica Cruise Photos
A full review of the Sky Princess cruise ship: Cruising Sky High – A complete Sky Princess Review With Photos
A full review of the Ruby Princess cruise ship: Living Like Royalty on a Princess Cruise – A ruby Princess Review With Photos
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