What a fantastic experience! Flew Heathrow - Beijing on KLM, via Amsterdam - excellent service and comfortable-ish for long haul cattle class. In Beijing, stayed at the Marriott City walls, which was lovely, although the food was poor value. Princess offered us several trips, which we took, as they seemed good value (I have reviewed the trips separately on Trip Advisor if you are interested.) Acrobatic show, Great Wall (foggy and cold, sadly), Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, all with great restaurants and local guides(especially the Peking Duck!. We had a 2hr drive to the port to meet the Diamond Princess.)
She is beautiful and I can't fault her - service was great, public areas never crowded, shows excellent, and food good (we had anytime dining which gave us more freedom to eat where we liked)Our cabin on B deck was good (I wouldn't have liked lower decks, as they were overlooked, and not undercover from the downpours we had. Mind you, they were better for sunbathing) Catherine our steward was lovely, and when my husband said his back was stiff, she found us a comfortable topper for the mattress. We enjoyed our days at sea. Captain Bilton coped well with problems - an engine played up, a poorly crew member had to be airlifted off the ship at midnight, and Shanghai was too dangerous to dock in due to bad weather.(We had an extra day in Hong Kong instead - yippee!)The port talks by Elizabeth were excellent, and very funny
Our first port of call was Busan, South Korea - beautiful city, with fantastic markets (and they don't hound you to buy either!). Nagasaki next, again beautiful and very welcoming - little children came on board to sing and dance. In Hong Kong we had to be tendered on the first day from Junk harbour, but everything was smoothly organised. Leaving Hong Kong, the ship sailed slowly through Victoria Harbour just as the 8pm laser show began - brilliant!
In Vietnam, we had 2 port stops and again, we did the organised trips, which we thought were mostly good value, and more relaxed. Loved the country, very interesting -especially the CuChi tunnels, and War zone
Singapore was beautiful, although we thought the Botanic Gardens trip would have been easier and a darn sight cheaper to do ourselves. Ended up in the Long Bar at Raffles. Time was wasted in Singapore due to the long immigration process.
We disembarked in Bangkok (PhuMi), and did a city and temple tour on our way to the Four Seasons hotel, where we stayed for 3 nights - wonderful. Bangkok is easy to get around so we 'did it ourselves' - what a great city!
In all. a fabulous experience - we have just booked for 2015 with Princess on their South America cruise (Rio to Santiago) - can't wait. The ONLY downside were the small groups of whingeing passengers who were vocal about the pettiest things (0ne woman had her passport on a string round her neck, and was reluctant to give it up, as she said she needed to know she would get home - dead or alive!), too little ice/too much, chopsticks in China and Japan - they even asked for forks!!), complained about missing out Shanghai (safety first!) and the very worst were rude and abrupt with the crew members, which is unforgiveable. Carpe Diem and stop moaning!