Diamond Princess Cruise Review by jimrandie: Fantastic trip
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My husband being a Vietnam vet decided to fly from LAX to Vietnam via EVA air. We spent 4 days in DaNang Vietnam prior to flying to Thailand for this cruise. In Vietnam we stayed at the Hagl in DaNang. We did an open air jeep tour with looking glass jeep tours & another tour up to Hue w/Ann Tours. Both tours were fantastic. We then flew to Bangkok where we were picked up by BAT (Bangkok airport transfers) for transfer to Pattaya, where we spent the night at the Amari. The next day we booked a 3 hr tour through image limo & then transfer to Laem Chabang for the cruise. Our tour consisted of going to the Siam country club, the floating market (fun tourist trap), the big Buddha & went to Sanctuary of truth, but really didn't have enough time left to tour here.
We loved the itinerary of this cruise. The only drawback if I think you need to get rid of the auto tipping. The service has gone down since you started this. We didn't think our room steward was as up to par More as they should be. The waiter in the dining room we really liked...even though we had done anytime dining we almost always went to the same dining room w/the same waiter because he as so good.
On our 1st stop in Singapore the ship has free transportation to downtown, which was about 15 minutes away. We had already pre booked the big red bus tour & the ships transfer drops you off appox 2 blocks from the starting point. Worked out well. Really great way to see the city. Don't forget to have the Singapore slings at the raffles hotel. They cost $26 in Singapore $$$$.
2nd stop was in Saigon, Vietnam. We had pre arranged a private tour through Ann's tours (this company is great to work with). We went to the post office, Notre Dame church, reunification temple, Thanh that temple, war remnants museum, had lunch at Pho 2000, then did a little shopping at Ben thanh market. Keep in mind the ship docks appox 2 hrs from downtown Saigon & the ship doesn't have free transfers into downtown.
Next stop was Nha Trang, this is a beautiful beachside community. The ships has free transportation downtown, which we took & then paid $40.00 for a tour, which consisted of going to Long Song Pagota, the catholic church & the Cham temples. I wished we would have made an additional stop at the XO embroidery. We had our cab driver drop us off at the Louisiana brewhouse, which is right on the beach w/free wifi. We were able to Skype w/friends & family back home w/no problems. This place was really close to where we had tendered in.
Next stop was Hong Kong, where we again had pre arranged a big red bus tour. The ship offered free bus transportation to downtown, which was right were you could take the star ferry across to Hong Kong Island. Fun day, got to go to Stanley Market & take a Sampan ride. That night we were fortunate to sail through the bay to see the light show, right until it started raining. Very good shopping stop.
Next stop was Shanghai, again we had pre booked a big red bus tour. Ship had free transportation to downtown, which was about 1 hour each way & takes you to the bund area. Make sure & do a little walking on Nanjing road, especially when it gets dark, the street lights up like Vegas. This was a really fun stop.
Next stop was Nagasaki, where you can get off the ship & you are right in the city. We bought all day streetcar passes for $500.00 yen. It was very easy to navigate around the city & there was a map on the back of the pass. We were able to see a lot of the city, which if very hilly. The street signs are all have English translation.
Next stop was Busan, South Korea. This was our least favorite, as you we were not in port that long. The cruise ship did have free bus transportation to down town, which was about 30 - 45 minutes due to construction.
Onto Beijing & end of cruise. We had arranged to be picked up by ChinaTour.net. We were able to get off the ship by 7am, however our guide was a little late picking us up. Fortunately the traffic was not as heavy as I'd read about, so we were able to go to the great wall, temple of heaven, a jade factory, a silk factory, saw all of the Olympic sights, saw a hutong, drum tower. We toured until 6 pm & then were dropped off at the Park Plaza Wangfujing. Really nice hotel & right downtown. The following day the same co picked us & we toured forbidden city prior to being dropped off at the airport. Less
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