This was our first cruise but had been many years in the planning as a special trip to celebrate our forthcoming Silver wedding.
We had a 3 night pre cruise stay at the Shangri La hotel on the river side which was beautiful and spent 3 days exploring Bangkok and the surrounding areas doing trips independently booked through Viator.
Our embarkation in Bangkok was faultless as Princess had organised pre booking the evening before at the hotel and all our luggage was picked up from outside our hotel room and taken direct to the ship. This meant that although our assigned time was to be 3pm we left the hotel just after 11.30am on the Princess transfer and were at the ship and on board by about 1.30pm with no queuing up required.
Had booked a balcony originally but were upgraded to a mini suite which was on the Dolphin deck. The cabin was spotless and very roomy and the balcony was very large. It was overlooked from above but that did not bother us as there was plenty of room to sunbathe. The bed was one of the most comfortable that we had ever slept in and we never experienced any sea sickness and the majority of time you forgot you were actually moving apart from a slight vibration.
We had a great room steward called Ramone who tended to our every need. There was always ice and fresh towels replenished daily without even asking and he was very tolerant to us being late dinner goers so preparing our cabin for night time was probably always the last to be done.
The Diamond Princess is a beautiful ship and I found it to be in very good condition and very clean. You never felt that it was crowded and there was always somewhere you could retreat to for a quiet time. Hand sanitizers were always available before entering the Horizon court and all the other restaurants.
We ate Anytime dining and found this to be ideal. The food was excellent and a good choice was available. Any waiters/waitresses that served us were lovely and attentive and we were always served promptly. I had pre purchased 4 bottles of Champagne before boarding at a reasonable price of $27.00 each because I worked it out that if you took on more than the two bottles per couple that you were allowed at no extra charge then with the $15.00 corkage that Princess would charge you for any over and above this meant that it would be very doubtful that you would get a bottle of Champagne for $12 or less that would taste that good. I expected them to be in the cabin on embarkation but what Princess do is leave you a card per bottle that you can either request room service to bring you a bottle or you can produce the card in the restaurants and they then get it for you. As no further corkage is added we chose to have it in the restaurants. Also like the idea that you do not need to drink it all in one sitting and the waiters will store it till the following evening.
We took the opportunity to eat in the Sterling Steak House one evening and although it lacked a bit of atmosphere it certainly didn't disappoint with their steaks. Cooked to perfection and cut like butter.
We went with another couple we had met on board who were also celebrating their Silver Wedding for a joint celebration to the other fee pay restaurant Sabatini's and had a great night. Food was fantastic and the waiters entertained us all night and presented us with a cake and serenaded us which was a lovely touch.
Had afternoon tea on 3 occasions and had our cups and plates constantly refilled.
Went to the theatres shows a couple of nights and the ones we saw were more than acceptable. We really enjoyed the end of Cruise Crew Talent show. Also liked 'Movies under the Stars' although had seen most of the films on offer but that's only because we go to the cinema all the time at home.
There was always plenty of sunbeds available even although the weather was lovely and hot for the majority of the cruise and we expected there to be a shortage. Lots of different deck areas to go to and the pools were great. One of our favourite things to do was to be on deck once the sun went down and it was almost deserted and then we had the hot tubs to ourselves.
Enjoyed the three formal nights and the majority of passengers dressed up for the occasion.
This was a perfect cruise for the balance between sea days and port days.
Thoroughly enjoyed all the ports we visited opting to do our own thing in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. We took organised trips arranged through our Cruise Critic Roll call in the two ports in Vietnam and Nagasaki and these were all excellent both for value for money and the itinerary offered. The only Princess tour we did was in Busan as it was only a short day and we wanted to visit the Haedong Temple and were doubtful of managing it on our own in the time.
All in all it was a fantastic cruise and made all the more special by the people we met and the Crew we had dealings with. I have read many reviews before I went on the cruise and kept an open mind to the negative comments and my feelings are that you get back what you give and witnessing certain passengers attitude to the crew and lack of respect for them we are of the opposite nature treating them with courtesy and showing genuine interest in where they are from and a cheery hello and how are you today pays dividends in the way they then interact with you.
As I have said it was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it with and perhaps if you have been on several cruises over the years there may have been changes in certain things but it more than met and surpassed my expectations and I would have no hesitation going on another Princess Cruise.
On disembarkation at Beijing we spent a further eight days doing the Princess Land Tour and Yangtze River boat cruise. From start to finish we stayed in the best hotels and were taken to many of the amazing sites in China and the whole tour went like clockwork.
So many happy memories of both the Cruise and the Land Tour and all the lovely people we came into contact with made it well and truly a holiday of a lifetime.