New Look Sapphire Princess Sails for Europe

Sapphire Princess

The Sapphire Princess has embarked on her maiden Singapore to Southampton 38-night voyage following a two-week dry dock in Singapore.

This “Indian Ocean Grand Europe Adventure” voyage will visit 17 ports including Colombo, Cochin, Dubai, Petra, scenic cruising along the Suez Canal, Santorini, Monte Carlo, Florence, Malta, Gibraltar, Lisbon, Paris before arriving in Southampton.

Homeporting in Southampton for the first time, the Sapphire Princess also makes her maiden calls to the British Isles, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean and will sail three- to 14-night voyages to a total of 42 destinations in this region. The Sapphire Princess will also make Princess Cruises’ first port call to Skagen (Denmark).

Sapphire Princess will return to Singapore in November 2018 to continue her fifth Singapore homeporting season together with Diamond Princess.

The 2,560-guest Sapphire Princess now has a new livery on her bow that features the iconic Princess Cruises logo and has been outfitted with the Princess Luxury beds in all cabins, the company said.

Other upgrades during the drydock include the fitness centre, spa, and retail shops, among other areas.

Princess Announces 2019 Japan Cruise Program

Diamond Princess

Princess Cruises announced its 2019 program in Japan, featuring the Japanese-built Diamond Princess returning for her sixth season, sailing roundtrip from Tokyo (Yokohama) and Kobe.

The March-November 2019 season features 60 departures on 40 unique itineraries, visiting 41 destinations in seven countries, more ports than ever before.

“Japan is a culturally rich country with an abundance of local entertainment, historical sites and culinary experiences for our guests to embrace,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia group president. “Cruising is the best way to explore this island nation and Princess has been recognized the number one international cruise line in Japan.”

Deployment includes first-time port calls at Gamagori, Himeji, Matsuyama, Niigata, Miyako and Takamatsu as well as nine departures during the popular Spring Flowers season, visiting many top cherry blossom and spring flowers sites throughout all of Japan.

Seven departures provide access to some of the most popular summer festivals in Japan including the Aomori Nebuta Festival, Kochi Yosakoi Dance Festival and Akita Kanto Festival, Princess said.

Three voyages include viewing of the Kumano Grand Fireworks Festival visible from the decks of the Diamond Princess, a display of over 10,000 fireworks

There are five voyages with late-night stays in Aomori during the Aomori Nebuta Festival, which features Nebuta float figures, traditional music, and many vibrant dancers, easily accessible on foot from the port.

And their voyages provide access to many August festivals including Akita Kanto Festival, Kochi Yosakoi Dance Festival and Tokushima Awa Dance Festival.

Variety of Southern Islands cruises allowing guests to experience a different climate and culture, with calls to the isles of Okinawa and Ishigaki or Miyakojima, and to Taipei (Keelung), Taiwan.

There are multiple circles Hokkaido cruises including late-night stays in Hakodate, home to the Mt. Hakodate cable car.

There is also a nine-day circle Japan or Sea of Japan voyages circumnavigating the country.

Princess to offer land packages with Japan cruises

Princess Cruises said it will offer pre- and post-cruise land tours for 2016 Japan cruises on the Diamond Princess.

When Princess launched cruises from Japanese homeports in 2013, they were designed for Japanese travelers, but they have proved popular with North Americans.

The new multi-day land packages explore the departure cities Kyoto and Tokyo. The Kyoto tours will include sightseeing at Nijo Castle, the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), and popular Japanese gardens, Princess said. In Tokyo, there will be city tours as well as visits to Mt. Fuji, Togendai and Lake Ashi.

The 2016 season will again run from April through October and feature four- to 20-day cruises, including circumnavigations of Japan, two new ports of call on the island of Kyushu, along with visits to Korea, Taiwan and Russia.

Although the cruises have found an international audience, Diamond Princess remains customized for Japanese guests. The ship features a traditional Izumi Japanese bath, a restaurant with made-to-order sushi and a large selection of sake, a traditional Japanese breakfast omelet, noodle stations and unique Japanese entertainment offerings such as “rakugo” storytelling performances and origami classes.

Sales for the 2016 Japan cruises open April 16.