Just as the Grand Class ships were instantly recognizable for their shopping-cart handle, so the 116,000 gross ton Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess (launched just a few weeks apart) were distinguished by their trademark funnel, which sported two side-mounted pods that most people likened to jet engines. They really served no purpose, other than to tell the world about a unique power plant inside—a hybrid system of diesel-electric and gas-turbine propulsion designed to run cleaner in the pristine environments where the ships operate, such as Alaska.
Based in large part on the highly successful Grand Class platform, the Sapphire Princess took the concept a step further, especially in dining. The ship has multiple dining venues including the casual buffet, alternative steakhouse, and Sabatini’s trattoria. Traditional Dining with fixed times for early or late seating is offered in two main dining rooms, while Anytime Dining is accommodated in four smaller themed dining areas—which really is one larger dining room that’s been subdivided to create a more intimate feel.
Public rooms are similar to other Princess ships, but the centrally located Wheelhouse Bar, just aft of the atrium, is a delightful refuge of Old World luxury, cushy leather couches, comfy chairs and nautical artwork. While much of the ship exudes a West Coast look and feel, the Explorer’s Lounge—an open-floor-plan cabaret lounge—offers up an exotic blend of African and Middle Eastern-inspired décor.
Like many other ships in the Princess fleet, the Sapphire Princess has two big pools amidships, one a conservatory space with a sliding glass roof for cover in inclement weather, as well as a tiered pool at the stern overlooking the sea (an upper level of the amphitheater-style design has outdoor seating for the casual buffet restaurant).
Despite its immense size, the Sapphire Princess is designed with nooks and crannies where you can curl up with a good book. A rather unique little spot is the Wake View Bar, a hidden retreat of dark wood, leather seating, oil paintings, and six portholes overlooking the back of the ship. The Internet Café, meanwhile, offers sea views and a selection of coffee drinks—kind of like a seagoing Starbucks. Kids are also catered to with their own private, and very well equipped, play rooms designed just for them.
Cabins are a bit bigger than aboard similar ships in the Princess fleet, but with the same basic layout and California-inspired décor of earth tones, off-whites, and light woods. Private cabins abound (a Princess trademark), but the tiered design means that people in cabins above can see down on you. It’s worth noting that except for the handful of mini-suites on Emerald Deck, the majority of staterooms in this category are situated on the completely-uncovered Dolphin Deck. Regular balcony staterooms one deck up on Caribe deck feature balconies that are half covered, half-uncovered.
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