To avid foodies like us, the most exciting part of a cruise had got to be the FOOD. That is why I need a whole blog post for it, haha. Anyway, if you haven’t read Part 1 of my cruise review, here’s the link to it -> Sapphire Princess Cruise Review (Part 1 of 3) – The Best Holiday Experience Ever.
Imagine having breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner and supper everyday for the whole duration of the cruise and probably sneaking in a few extra light bites every now and then in between meals too. Our tummies were just spoilt, thoroughly spoilt by the variety and the quality of our meals.
On Sapphire Princess, there were several dining options to opt for:
- Traditional Dining – Dine at the International Dining Room (2 fixed seatings at 5.45pm and 8.00pm) and/or Vivaldi Dining Room (first seating only) each night with a pre-assigned seating arrangement and be served by the same waiter each evening
- Anytime Dining – Enjoy the same fare as in Traditional Dining with a more flexible arrangement i.e. you can make reservation separately between 5.45pm to 9.30pm at either of the four dining rooms – Santa Fe, Pacific Moon, Savoy and Vivaldi (after 8pm only).
- Casual Dining – A more informal dining option that included Alfredo’s Pizzeria, Trident Grill, Prego Pizzeria, buffet at the Horizon Court, International Cafe and a 24-hour complimentary room service
- Specialty Dining – A cover charge of US$25 applies per person to dine at Sterling Steakhouse or Sabatini’s (Italian food). There were also the Crab Shack (seafood but only available on certain days) and Ocean View Hot Pot (also available on certain days only) at additional charges.
Traditional dining wasn’t our preferred choice as we would rather explore the various dining rooms, interact with different neighbours and be served by different waiters too. And this option worked perfectly for us as we could plan our dinner reservations timely so they wouldn’t clash with whatever shows or activities we wanted to watch or do every evening.
Now, let’s take a look at the wonderful cuisine we had enjoyed during the cruise 🙂
For three nights, we made dinner reservations at 3 (Anytime) Dining Rooms – Pacific Moon, Santa Fe and Vivaldi respectively – we skipped Savoy as we had a British Pub Lunch there.
The menu for each evening was different but was the same across all dining rooms on the same night so whichever choice of dining room we picked on a particular evening didn’t really matter much.
Roasted Pumpkin & Turnip Soup – one of the best pumpkin soups I had so far! Rich and creamy, hearty and yum.
Fettuccine Alfredo in Crispy Parmesan Basket – I really swooned over this signature dish as it was the best Fettuccine Alfredo I had! And the crispy parmesan basket was just perfectly addictive. This is a must-eat for any pasta or cheese lover! So good, I had to order it again the next day, lol.
Cognac-Flamed Crawfish Etouffee with Louisana Hot Sauce – perfectly cooked crawfish cooked in a rich and aromatic bisque-like sauce
Slow-Roasted Corn-Fed Prime Rib with Natural Rosemary Jus and Horseradish Cream – once again, another winning dish for me cos’ the prime rib was just super tender and juicy! In fact, it almost melted in the mouth!
And for desserts, we had the creme brulee and chocolate souffle (quite cakey) which were just so-so.
Trio of Seafood, Citrus and Avocado – refreshing combination! Seafood were perfectly cooked.
Grilled New York Cut Strip Steak with Green Peppercorn Sauce – really love this! Tender steak cooked medium and the sauce was an excellent pairing.
All-American Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy – wholesome dish with a touch of home-style cooking.
On the last evening, there was a special menu in celebration of Princess Cruises’ 50th Anniversary that included signature dishes that were reflective of their history since the 1960s.
Blueberry Mojito Sorbet, Candied Lemon – looked like a dollop of messy slush but it was really refreshing.
Filet of Turbot, Truffle Chive Sauce – fish was so fresh, it just melted in the mouth.
Malabar Peppered Beef Tournedos – tender, moist beef with juices oozing out when cut into it 🙂
Moist Chocolate Dome with Raspberry Creme Brulee and Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse – it was a sight to behold! Not only was it a piece of art, it tasted so chocolatey and yum.
Every dish we picked from this 50th Anniversary menu was beautifully executed and was tasty except I wasn’t a big fan of poached pear which the husband picked.
All in all, we were really impressed with the dinner menus, variety and quality of food. Initially I thought as there were many guests in the dining room, quality might be compromised because the kitchen would need to get food out quickly but it certainly wasn’t the case. We waited for our orders to be prepared just like how we would in a restaurant. I was extremely pleased with all the beef mains as they were exactly cooked to my requested doneness and served with moreish sauces that I wished they could give more.
There wasn’t any Formal Night during our cruise so there wasn’t a need to dress smart. The dress code for dining at any of the dining rooms was Smart Casual just like how you would wear to any nice restaurant. It really wasn’t that strict cos’ even if you showed up in bermudas and sandals (saw a few people dressing quite casually), no one would reject you at the door. Just don’t come looking sloppy 🙂
My only gripe? I was shocked to see how beat-up and dirty the cup and saucer were. How can any staff miss that while setting up the table? Tsk tsk.
As mentioned earlier, we also had a British Pub Lunch at Savoy Dining Room that only happened once during our cruise (refer to Princess Patter to find out when and where the pub lunch would take place). We had Scotch Egg & Salad, Fish & Chips and Breaded Prawns. While I liked that there was provision of malt vinegar, the only dish that stood out for me was the flavoursome Scotch Egg as the rest were just standard fried food with thick batter. The thick cut chips were quite enjoyable though.
The Horizon Court a.k.a. the buffet place was where we had our daily breakfasts (continental breakfast from 5am to 6am, breakfast buffet from 6am to 11.30am), lunches (11.30am to 3.30pm), light snacks (3.30pm to 5.30pm), dinners and suppers (5.30pm to midnight, when we had space for second rounds lol) and during times when we just wanted desserts.
We ate breakfast like kings every morning. Biscuits with gravy, eggs florentine, English muffins, bacon (both soft and crispy types), eggs in all ways, muesli, cereals, french toasts, salads, waffles, pancakes and also plain rice congee with various condiments. The latter was probably what I enjoyed the most because the kimchi really whetted my appetite and nothing beat a bowl of hot piping gruel early in the morning (we had breakfast around 6.30am so we could catch the sunrise) especially when everything else was so rich and heavy. There was also orange juice upon request from the waiter. The breakfast buffet items were almost the same for all days.
Lunch and dinner buffets were like international buffets – a mix of American, English, Asian, Indian, Singaporean, European, Chinese and more. Everyday they had different main dishes so nothing was ever repeated which was a plus point. For soups, there would always be one Asian-style and one Western-style soup. And of course there were the usual breads, cold cuts, cheese platter, carving station, pre-mixed salads, DIY salad station and more.
Suppers were equally sumptuous as they were like an extension of the dinner buffets. Can you imagine we actually ate braised pork belly at almost midnight for one of the nights? Sinful but too good to resist!
For those with a sweet tooth, rejoice! There was always an impressive selection of desserts at the buffet – think cakes, trifles, puddings, tarts, sweet soups, muffins, cookies and more. I was a big fan of their fruit tarts 🙂
At the buffet, there were free flow coffee, tea (assorted tea bags or DIY lemon tea) and iced water that we could help ourselves to. And yes, this was one of the few beverage stations from where we would take a few glasses of iced water back to our cabin for consumption so there wasn’t a need to pay for bottled water 😉
Alfredo’s Pizzeria at The Atrium is a sit-down pizzeria that offers a variety of Neopolitan-style pizzas free-of-charge so you can eat as many as you like. Just pick a flavour from the menu and your pizza would be made on the spot at the open kitchen. Freshness and crisp guaranteed!
The pizzas had thin crusts and were really crispy. Exactly how I like my pizzas to be. We had the Sapphire Princess (parma ham & shaved cheese) and Vegetarian (assorted vegetables) pizzas. The vegetarian one was da bomb because the vegetables made the pizza taste juicy and there was this natural sweetness from these fresh ingredients too.
The Trident Grill on Deck 14 served up burgers, grilled chicken breast, jumbo hot dog, beef knockwurst, bratwurst and fries. Everything was prepared upon order so during peak meal times, there could be a long wait. I liked that we could help ourselves to the condiments and sauces (mayo, ketchup, mustard, tabasco, malt vinegar and Worcestershire). While the plump sausage had a nice crunch, I didn’t like the hotdog bun that was very dry. The chips were hot and crispy though with the interior all soft and fluffy.
The burger fared better than the hotdog as the patty was juicy and flavoursome but again the burger bun was just dry and unpalatable.
A few steps away from Trident Grill was the Prego Pizzeria that served up pizza by the slice. The signature Sapphire Princess pizza was delicious 🙂
For light bites, the International Cafe at The Atrium operates 24-hour so anytime you feel peckish or greedy, this is the place to come.
They served salads, pastries, pies and paninis as well as…
…sweets like cakes, tarts, puddings and more.
We visited the cafe twice on the last 2 days and tried a prawn & fennel salad (crunchy!), mushroom quiche, beef & guinness pie, cinnamon roll, English muffin and trifle. All cafe-worthy bites 🙂
Also, you got to try their Vanilla Bean Latte at US$2.50. It was the best Vanilla Bean Latte I had ever drunk! No kidding! It was deep, delicate, smooth and creamy – totally loved it!
To further satisfy our sweet tooth, there was the sundae/ice cream bar that served up soft serve (vanilla, chocolate or mix) on a cone. Milkshakes were also available at additional costs.
The mix was my favourite. I really liked the texture of the ice cream that was somewhat between creamy and icy and it wasn’t saccharine sweet too so it didn’t feel over-cloying for me. Yummy 🙂
If you feel hungry in the middle of the night but don’t want to get dressed and head to the International Cafe for a bite, you can get food (free!) delivered to your room. We ordered room service for a really late supper one night just to try it out.
Since I was craving for some Singaporean/Chinese local eats, I ordered the Chicken Wanton Soup and Fish Ball Noodle Soup on top of my usual choice of a Club Sandwich. The sandwich was good (well, I’ve never had a bad one before anyway) but the wanton soup and noodle soup weren’t spectacular though they were still comforting for my tummy.
Do note if you’re ordering pizzas, a nominal service charge of US$3 will be applied to your shipboard account for each delivery. Didn’t make sense to me cos’ everything else was delivered FOC (and pizzas are free at the pizzerias) but oh well, that was how it was.
If you would like to have breakfast in your PJs and in the privacy of your own cabin, you can order breakfast to be delivered to your room. Just need to indicate on the above order sheet (limited selections only) and hang it outside your door every evening for your room steward to pick up.
Beverages in general weren’t that expensive on the ship. We had a couple of drinks during our cruise which I thought were quite reasonably priced. For example, a red or white wine was US$7-8 per glass, beer was US$4.95-5.95 per bottle and a mocktail was US$5 (prices were before 15% gratuities).
However, for those who consume a lot of alcoholic beverages, sodas or coffees, here are some packages to consider if you want to enjoy greater savings:
All Inclusive Beverage Package at US$49 per person per day – entitles you to any individual beverage up to value of $10 for cocktails, wine, beer, bottled water, tea, sodas and specialty coffees
Unlimited Soda & More Package at US$7 per person per day – entitles you to unlimited fountain soda, root beer, fruit mocktails, juices and hot chocolate
Cafe Selects Coffee Card at US$29 per card – entitles you to 15 specialty coffees
Wine bottle packages are also available for the wine lovers.
Overall, the standard of the food onboard Sapphire Princess clearly exceeded my expectations. We thoroughly enjoyed the sublime food during fine dining in the evenings that were complemented by lovely plating, great ambience and flawless service. I highly recommend everyone going on the cruise to make reservations for dinners at the various dining rooms because the quality and execution of the food were way better than the buffet’s. Well, the buffet standard was just like any average hotel buffet and it obviously didn’t knock my socks off because the dinners had already set a high benchmark so why not keep the buffets for your second rounds instead. I was a little disappointed by the Asian food that only fared competently because I was so looking forward to trying them after feeling overwhelmed due to an overdose of Western food, haha. I did like the rest of the casual dining options like the pizzeria, grill, cafe and ice cream bar so there was something for everyone anytime.
Well, fellow foodies, even if you think a cruise holiday is not your cup of tea, how would you not be tempted to go on one after seeing this endless supply of glorious food? 😉
In my 3rd and final instalment of this post coming up next, find out what you can do on a cruise if food is not enough to convince you (yeah that’s right – the adventures, the going-ons and the fun!). Also, join me in my exploration of the two ports of calls, Georgetown (Penang) and Port Klang. Till next time!