My wife and I, with two friends, had a great time on the Diamond Princess as we toured SE Asia. This was our ninth cruise, but our first with Princess. Overall, the trip was fantastic, but there are a few items I feel Princess could improve on. I will start with the few negatives and then move on to the many positives.
Over the past year, we have been on three cruises. The other two were on Carnival to New England, and Holland America to the Western Caribbean. I know it might sound crazy, but for us, Carnival had the best food of the three cruises. For the sake of brevity, I won't get into specifics, but the Carnival food was outstanding. Sadly, the Diamond food came in last. It is not that the food was bad, for us, it was just not special. Believe me, we did not go hungry, and the temps were always fine. Also, dinner was not a quick process. We had the 8:15 seating in the International Dinning Room. I guess it is my misunderstanding, but I thought the idea was to have 8:15 dinner and then make the 10:15 show. That did not work out for us, and it was not because of our talking. It took a long time to get the food and we typically did not leave the dining room until 10:15 or later. We learned to go to the 7:00 show and then to dinner. Oh yes, the shows were fine. There was a comedian who was very good, a juggler who was remarkable, and a very good Barbara Streisand like singer on the last night whose performance was way too short.
Our room steward was the worst we ever had on any cruise. We had an Inside on Caribe, and while the basics were done, I had to call and ask for ice virtually every day. In fact, I just started getting it myself as it was too much of a hassle calling. Then, in Singapore, our steward changed, and the new one never introduced himself. The whole room steward thing was a little odd, but the beds were always made, the room cleaned, and the basics were taken care of in good order.
Finally, the casino was the worst anywhere I have been. I found a few of the blackjack dealers to be as cold as machines. It was really bad and the casino was usually dead. In short, it was not fun at all. I got to a point were I broke even, left, and I never went back. In the end, I probably saved a lot of money.
Now, with all that rubbish out of the way, everything else was amazing. The ship was roomy, clean, and beautiful. We never felt crowded, and at times, it felt deserted. The SE Asian ports were phenomenal. We feel so lucky to have had an opportunity to visit them. Oh yes, we took the Princess tours in Hong Kong and Shanghai, and they were expensive and not so good. My suggestion is to book your own tours with companies or individuals you can find on the message boards. We did this at the other ports and they were much cheaper and far superior. That really surprised us that Princess tours were so bad, especially for what they charge. Someone in charge at Princess really needs to review the tours they offer and experience the tours offered by the competition.
As for some of the staff, the people at the Passenger Services desk were outstanding. We had a few issues to work through, largely involving leaving the ship for two days to visit Angkor Wat, and they were outstanding in how they helped us work through the details. Also, the activities guy, I think from Jamaica, the Cruise Director, and all the others who put on the activities were outstanding. They did a great job making the cruise a lot of fun. On a positive note, the photographers were there to take your picture if you wanted that, but they were not in your face all the time. They provided a nice service, but were not at all pushy.
I think my review is beginning to get a little long, so I will bring it to an end. However, I really want to say thank you to the Cruise Critic friends we made before and during the cruise. We knew the cruise would be fantastic, but the CC group made it extraordinary. The worst part of the post cruise is that we miss our new friends so much. Do yourself a favor. If you are reading the reviews to help plan for this cruise, and if you do indeed take this wonderful adventure, get involved with the message boards. I promise, you will not regret you did, and your adventure will be all the more memorable.