Diamond Princess Cruise Review by Ferryman'swife: Good trip for first timer
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Good trip for first timer
My wife and I had decided to take a retirement trip and although she had done a trip to the pacific islands, I had never been on a passenger ship, despite having been a deep sea captain for over 40 years. We found the ship to be very clean and we had paid a little extra for a mini suite, which was a good choice. It isn't a huge difference in size, just an extra seating area with a 3 seater settee and chair and table, but it seems to make the cabin much more liveable. The balcony is adequate but it does get overlooked by everyone above as it is further out on the ships side and has no cover, on the plus side, we could look straight down the ships side to watch the pilot boats and tenders coming and going. We also got a bath/ shower but only used the shower. You can see the insides on many You Tube videos for more details. We did bring a couple of bottles of wine onboard at Sydney & Darwin. Never questioned when they X-Ray the backpacks so good for a quick drink on the balcony.
More />We picked the early dining option which gave us more time to go to various venues after dinner, but we tried other dining venues on several occasions.
Get in early for shows and movies in the Princess Theatre as it is usually packed for the first week or two. The extra spend on dining venues such as sabatini is well worth the money. Get a good lounge early for movies under the stars as they are almost always taken, rugs and popcorn are free.
The forward end has a great private child free area which is worth the money. The forward pool is almost always lightly used and feels like more luxury. There are a few mini lounge/ bar areas which were always empty when we went in if you want privacy.
The ship has about 2700 passengers but it doesn't feel like it most of the time onboard but on two occasions in Japan & Korea, there were block long lines waiting for up to 40 minutes for coaches back to the ship, There were lots of coaches but also lots of pax and crew filling them up.
All in all, we had a wonderful time. The crew were all fantastic and did everything they could to make us enjoy the trip. If we had any real gripes, it was that there was so much to do everyday, we couldn't do it all. Sometimes towards the end of the voyage, we were glad to get back to the cabin.
We never took a ships excursion but found plenty to look at walking around by ourselves after the shuttle bus dropped us. They had a lecturer give a lecture in the theatre before every port and this is repeated on the TV.
2 ports not mentioned in the port reviews section, were Kagoshima in Japan (which was a very small port in the extreme south of Japan. They are very close to a volcano which is still active On some days, if the wind is blowing from the volcano, it pushes volcanic dust over the city. There is some good shopping department stores and restaurants but we had some problems getting coaches back to the ship.
We also went to Taipei which is in free China, We took a taxi with a few others and it was very good. Saw lots of places and the driver looked after us well. Bought our currency in Hong Kong and changed it back onboard.
After Japan, we went to Busan in Korea, Lots of shopping and good street markets. More trouble with long lines for the shuttle bus.
We then went to Shanghai in China, Lots of history here. Another town with the "Big Red Bus", Took one to the west side tour, then changed to another route taking in the shopping district. Had a great time here as well but not much time ashore so had to cram it all in quickly.
From there to Dalian, not much here.. some architecture, maybe should have taken the tour. The department store was very expensive but got some silk scarves. Got an early bus back.
Last stop was Beijing where we ended the trip. We had a tour guide company to take us off the ship to our hotel which was the Novotel Peace. It takes 3 hours to get to Beijing from the port. This hotel is within 3 blocks from the forbidden city, close to the big pedestrian shopping street. We got a top floor (9th) with a suite. If you are on the 8th or 9th, you get a free lounge to relax in from 1800 with free snacks and booze and free breakfast each morning. Less
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Cabin review: Diamond Princess Mini-Suite with Balcony Dolphin D303
We choose a mini suite for a bit of luxury. The extra space wasn't huge but made the cabin seem much larger. When we had friends over it made it very comfy and when we had breakfast in the cabin, it was great (we used the balcony too.)The balcony on Dolphin deck cabins are not covered so are overlooked by all cabins above and during light rain, they get wet, but so do the upper cabins if the wind is from that side. On the plus side, we could see over the side, straight down and watch all the tenders, pilot boats etc coming and going. The lifeboats are tucked in and don't spoil the view. We also got a bath but we didn't use it. 2 TV sets, one for the bed and one for the settee which is useful. You can see lots of passenger videos of many cabin types on You Tube.
Port and Shore Excursions
We actually anchored off Port Douglas, which is about an hours north of Cairns. Loved the town, had lunch ashore but had to dodge rain showers. There was only ships boats on the return and a choppy swell so a bit rough coming back and took a couple of small waves in through the side door of the boat.
Shuttles were quite good, the town is close to the port and we shopped a little, picked up goodies in Woollies, had lunch and a beer in the main street pubs, free WiFi in the mall and had fun. We were a little delayed getting off the berth as there was a huge Jellyfish invasion which blocked the cooling water intakes. Lovely lightning storm accompanied us out of town, amazing.
We were 2 days in Hong Kong. Got off at the container terminal and bus into town. We elected to stay there for the light show and the ship repositioned at 5pm to anchorage so caught the tender boat back at 9pm and went ashore again the next day. Hong Kong is huge so attend the port lecture beforehand if you are wandering around like us (and don't forget to take heed if the 2nd days tender pick up is at a different area than the drop off, we had 2 pax who did that and had a very expensive trip to rejoin the ship in Taipei.) Hong Kong is also part of the Chinese republic so if you don't leave the area, you are OK, but if you go to Macau or the mainland China, you will need a multi visa but if you stay in Hong Kong area, you will only need a multi visa if you enter a Mainland Chinese port and then go somewhere else like say Japan and then re-enter China.
We knew about the "Big Red Bus" tours from London (its the same company). You can get a 2 day pass which includes ferry rides. Well worth it. Hop On/ Hop Off.
Great for shopping and sightseeing. Good service, English commentary and they supply earphones and ponchos which are always useful.