The princess package included flights from the UK, 1 night pre and post cruise hotel in Beijing and Bangkok. The excellent ports of call and a reasonable price attracted us to this cruise. We added a further 2 nights hotel in Beijing, and wish we had done the same in Bangkok!
The Doubletree in Beijing was great. Nice room and good facilities. It was easy to get around Beijing using taxis.
Transfer to the cruise and boarding was efficient.
We were surprised at the quality of our cabin (Plaza deck ocean view). It was roomy and well laid out. Bearing in mind we were on the lowest passenger deck, this was in a good position. Near the lifts and stairs, short walk to the Atrium, 2 decks to the promenade and same deck as most public areas.
Noise was not a problem.
All the areas of the ship were spacious, we never had any problems getting a seat in any of the bars or public areas. In fact some evenings it was almost like a ghost ship. There was never any more than a couple of dozen people in The Wheelhouse, Club Fusion and Skywalkers in the evenings. Where was everyone? Because of this we felt the evenings in general lacked atmosphere.
The entertainment, in our opinion, could have been much better. The shows in the theatre and Explorers only lasted 30 mins each time, yes thirty minutes for a main evening show. These shows were then repeated in the venues every 45 mins. No wonder the place seemed empty, I think they all went to bed at 9.30 pm!
The show team and productions lacked the professionalism we have seen on P&O and Thomson.
Also, some of the guest acts were dire.
During the daytime I was disappointed that there were no interesting lecturers. I think there were only 2 lectures all cruise. (Not including the selling presentations)!
The food was in general very good. We had anytime dining for the first time and found it great for this type of cruise. It wa good having the choice of four main dining venues as well as the Horizon buffet. My main critisism of the food is that there was hardly and potatoes and vegetables served with the main course. Maybe this is just expected more by us Brits, we like something to eat our meat with! I got in the habit of asking the waiter for a side portion of veg. This was never any problem for them, they seemed happy to make us happy. This goes for the ships company in general. I have never sailed with what seemed a happier crew, very willing, always smiling and chatting when they saw us. They are a credit to the industry.
The excursions we did were in a word, poor. We only did two, Hongkong and Shanghai.
We cancelled the rest we had booked and ventured out on our own. We had pre booked a private excursion with two other CC couples in Siagon. This was brilliant. Good fun, informative and much cheaper than Princess.
It did seem that Princess was money grabbing. Money exchange for port visits was by machine.
This gave terrible exchange rates and charged a set 4USD per transaction. Bear in mind that we needed six different currencies during the cruise.
I hope telling you all this is not giving the wrong impression of a Princess cruise, these are all just niggles that I think could be put right easily. They in no way spoilt, what to us was probably the best cruise we have been on.
The things that made this cruise great were: The happy helpful crew, Loverly ship, the itinerary, the weather and meeting all the nice people inboard. (In particular our CC roll call friends. )
We would not hesitate in cruising on Diamond Princess in the future.