If you've ever wondered what it's like to be onboard a cruise ship, check out our writer's experience.
It had been a long time since I'd stepped onboard a cruise ship. So getting an invitation to check one out was quite exciting, even though I didn't actually get to go on a cruise. Pulling up at the Port Klang Cruise Terminal, I could not help but notice the shadow of the enormous cruise ship docked there - the Sapphire Princess.
I've been on a cruise before, on a lovely liner, but it pales in comparison to this gigantic beauty. This ship, operated by Princess Cruises, a leading cruise-line brand, recently made its maiden call at Port Klang. Starting in Singapore, the ship was on a four-day round-trip voyage around Malaysia with about 2,500 guests. She also called at Penang and Langkawi.
I noticed that the interior of the ship is elegantly decorated, with a European touch.
Our media group was led to the atrium, the heart of the Sapphire Princess. It is a soaring three-tier centrepiece where the elegant bars and refined boutiques are. The featured brands include Swarovski, Clinique and Gucci. Shopping on Sapphire Princess is duty-free, by the way. The only downside is that the shops close once the ship is docked, unfortunately for me.
We walked through the atrium towards the piazza, a gathering place where passengers can mingle while enjoying live music such as guitar and piano performances.
Our tour guide explained that passengers can take part in contests, such as the egg drop contest, where participants have to design something to prevent an egg from breaking when dropped from the seventh floor.
The piazza also houses the International Cafe and Vines wine bar, where passengers can get light bites throughout the day (and night) as well as enjoy some wine.
"The attraction is the ship itself. Passen-gers go onboard to try what our ship has to offer. It's the cruise experience, not the destination. But the destinations can add to the experience of going on a cruise," explained South-East Asia Princess Cruises director Farriek Tawfik.
Onboard the Sapphire Princess, passengers get to travel in style and enjoy the comfortable staterooms and suites, each with a balcony, allowing passengers to feel the fresh and cool ocean breeze whenever they please. There are five types of staterooms to choose from. A big plus point: There are wheelchair-accessible staterooms as well.
Our tour guide explained that passengers can plan out their day with the Princess Patter Guide (the daily guide to life at sea) which lists all the programmes available onboard. I didn't realise there were so many! They include savouring delectable cuisines from a number of restaurants, namely the Trident Grill & Prego Pizzeria, Crab Shack, Horizon Court Buffet, Alfredo Pizzeria and the upscale Sterling Steakhouse, named among the "Best Cruise Ship Steakhouses" by USA TODAY.
Passengers can start with breakfast at the Horizon Court Buffet for free. Don't feel like getting up early? Try ordering room service which is available 24/7 and also free of charge. All eateries onboard the Sapphire Princess do not require a cover charge, except for specialty restaurants like Sabatini's Trattoria, Sterling Steakhouse and Ultimate Balcony Dining.
These specialty restaurants impose a US$25 (S$34) cover charge for free flow of food. Meanwhile, drinks at all bars and restaurants come at an additional charge, except for water and tea. The various types of entertainment onboard are all free as well.