This was our first trip to Japan and we were really looking forward to this cruise and to spending some time in Tokyo after the cruise. It seemed a good way to see parts of rural Japan as well as the more populated areas. Having enjoyed a terrific Mediterranean cruise aboard Oceania’s Marina last year, we did not know quite what to expect on the older Sun Princess. Any concerns were quickly dispelled & we enjoyed this cruise immensely. The number of destinations & the number of sea days was a good mix as we prefer a port intensive cruise itinerary. The embarkation & disembarkation processes were quick and efficient with assistance readily available. All announcements were made in English & Japanese.
Our adult daughter was with us and the mini-suite was well worth the extra money & was most impressive. Our suite was always kept clean & ready for us and this type of service was reflected in all areas of the ship. The food was good (perhaps not as good as the Marina) and having many Japanese passengers ensured there was a menu to suit all. The waiters in the dining room were especially attentive. The entertainment each evening was first rate and we enjoyed all the shows. The Sun Princess has many different venues and one could always find a place offering great music.
This was the first time the Sun Princess had visited many of these cities and each had its own attractions. We were really fortunate to be able to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom at the Hirosaki Castle near Aomori. Busan was an eye opener and we made good use of the City Tour Bus to see a lot of the city. The Japanese Immigration on leaving Aomori & then re-entering through Kanazawa was a little confusing and bureaucratic. There were no inspections at all when entering South Korea. Kanazawa had much to see & we enjoyed our tour to the UNESCO Protected Villages of Shirakawago & Gokayama (cruise tour). The following day we had arranged to meet a Goodwill Guide and he showed us many of the town’s attractions. Maizuru & Sakaiminato are smaller ports but, again each had a number of different attractions. We only spent an afternoon in Nagoya which was pity as more time here would have been welcomed. I could have spent hours more in the Toyota Museum. In all ports the ship provided shuttle buses to nearby centres but in two places these were away from the town centre. We also would have preferred more accurate and more detailed information from the destination specialist on the ship. Once at the port, really useful tourist information was provided by the local tourist bureaus (ATMs & Wi-Fi). The welcoming & departure performances by local dancers & performers at each place were also very special.
One of our criticisms related to the fixed dining times – we opted for the early sitting and often had to miss the departure ceremonies (in fact, numbers in the dining room lessened considerably as the cruise went on). We would much prefer flexible dining times. The other relates to the number of add-on costs (soft drinks, water, Steakhouse Restaurant, internet, lanyards etc.). A few more washing machines might also help.
A great way to see Japan, meet the people and enjoy their culture and we would highly recommended this cruise and the Sun Princess.