Sun Princess Cruise Review by alewa123: Southern Japan (Shikoku and Kyushu) and South Korea
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Southern Japan (Shikoku and Kyushu) and South Korea
We booked the cruise and the flight via Princess when they offered discount on airfare in March -- which saved us almost $400/pp if we bought them on our own in May.
We arrived two days earlier in Narita, and bought the Narita Express + Suica (smart card which offers 1,500 Yen for subway and JR travel in Greater Tokyo area) and stayed at the JAL Okura Hotel which is within walking distance of the Osanbashi Terminal in Yokohama. The embarkation on the departing day is extremely smooth -- we were on board within 20 minutes and the baggages were already by our cabin.
(1) The ship is not fully loaded. So it is very uncrowded and our room is extremely quiet. The passenger mix is about half/half -- half from Japan and other Asian countries while the other half from US/Canada/Australia/New Zealand. Many Japanese passengers are courteous but shy. Service is as usual with Princess -- impeccable.
(2) To cater to Japanese palate, the dining room offers More Japanese entree in addition to western food. In Horizon Court, it served Okayu (Congee) every morning, set up a Ramen stand for lunch and dinner and even served green tea ice cream with red bean on top in the ice cream parlor.
(3) The ship has set up a new Platinum Studio which photographer takes fantastic black-n-white classic portrait.
(4) In every port, there are free shuttle bus taking you to town (back and forth). The local tourist bureau even set up booths at the terminal to offer passengers maps, juice and sake, souvenirs and some students dress up as samurai for photo-op.
(1) The water coming from the shower was sizzling hot. Even after the handyman fixed it, the temperature was still hot.
(2) Princess had apparently cut back on food. New York Cheesecake, which was available on the dessert menu in my previous Alaska cruise, is now available only on the Specialty Restaurant. The portion of the entree is so small that even my on-diet daughter had to order double entree. Moreover, the overall taste is somewhat too salty. The Japanese entree is also a failure. The Tonkatsu they served was dry and rough.
(3) The nightly show at Princess Theater, i.e. "British Invasion", is identical to the show that I watched on Sapphire Princess two years ago. The only difference is that there were 15-16 singers/dancers on the stage in Sapphire while there are only 11/12 on Sun Princess.
I didn't take any excursions for all 6 ports because they are either readily accessible by public transportaion or you can hire a taxi to get around. Highlights are:
(1) We hired a taxi at US$90 for a seven-hour tour around Cheju Island of South Korea. The island is exactly like Hawaii but with cooler weather. We covered the Sunrise Peak (the view from the Peak is even more maginificient than the view from Diamond Crater in Oahu), the 30,000 ft long underground cave and the Folklore Village.
(2) We timed the high tide to visit Miyajima and took the perfect pictures.
(3) The Kochi castle is also worth visiting -- and we tried the famous aku tataki (tuna slightly grilled outside but raw inside) at the local-frequented Hirome Market.
The disembarkation is also very smooth -- there is a shuttle bus connecting you to the subway station if you don't want to get on a taxi.
Overall, the cruise is very pleasant except the occasional rough sea and unstable weather (port temperatures ranged between low 60s and high 80s). But after the recent depreciation of Yen and Won, both Japan and Korea are quite inexpensive as compared with other destinations like Alaska or Europe. Less
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