Diamond Princess 24th October - 4th November 2013
The new cruise terminal was being tested due to the Diamond Princess and a Celebrity ship in at the same time. Being relative early around 11.45am we had an easy and flawless passage, being on ship within 45 minutes. Later in the day passenger had to wait around 2-3 hours in the terminal.
Everything was in order and the cabin was ready as soon as we boarded the ship. All over we were meet by staff trying to sell Wine Packages, soft drinks packages, wine tastings etc. not what you want when you are looking around.
This was the 3rd different cruise line we had been on in the last 12 months, sorry to say Princess comes 3rd in the standard of hygiene. Most noticeable was the lack of hand dispensers at the entrance to the food court - only as you got nearer to the actual food dispensing area. There was no hand dispensers at or within the main dining areas - why.
On a previous cruise with another line you were not allowed to board the ship until you had sanitised your hands, this should be standard across the cruise industry.
The worst example of poor hygiene on this ship was the state of the Terrace Pool on deck 12, by the end of the cruise there was a ring of grease around the top, the pool obviously had not been drained down and the sides washed, on previous Princess ships the pools were drained and cleaned every other day.
Be aware of the potential pitfalls of asking to being put on a stand-by list for a tour that is full prior to booking, and removed from the cruise personalised. Princess will process this without confirming or asking to confirm by email or text and cancel any tour you have booked which clashes with the one on the wait list.
On this cruise dinner companions complained of high prices and poor itinerary, in Cambodia along with another couple we hired a local taxi for $20 and had the same tour as dinner companions, but they paid $98 each. The port of Laem Chabang entails a bus ride of between 2.5hrs and 3.5hrs, to reach Bangkok.
Brunie - Maura
Nothing near the port, no taxis and local buses are near extinct, it is a walk of around 45 minutes to the town, in the heat and humidity not a good idea. Locals put on a nice display of local music and dancing in the terminal building.
Vietnam - Na Trang
Excellent port, shuttle into the centre of town 25 minutes, markets very good but remember to haggle and walk away. Excellent beaches, Tours, again best bet is to arrange local taxi for sight seeing
Phu My - Port for Saigon (Ho Chi Min City)
Shuttle into the nearest town 30 minute journey, you are bombarded as soon as the bus doors open, not much to see (80% of units dedicated to motor scooters etc.) Had hoped to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels but the tour office mucked up my booking. Journey into Ho Chi Min city is around 2 hours.
Cambodia - Sihanoukville
You cannot go to Ankar Wat on a day trip - it is 3 days and you go from Na Trang at a cost of $1598. Again a shuttle into the town centre - you are immediately bombarded by beggars and Tuk Tuk drivers tooting for business. The poverty is over powering and you are aware that in the past there was wealth in this country with big ornate properties, now in a derelict state.
Thailand - Laem Chabang for Bangkok
Nothing within the port area, require to purchase shuttle bus to get to nearest beach / town. The journey into Bangkok is at least 2.5 hours, ship was delayed leaving due to coaches taking almost 4 hours to return.
Thailand - Ko Samui
Plenty of taxis when you disembark from the tenders, again haggle and walk away before agreeing a price. Fours of our table hired a taxi to take us to the Elephant trekking site, wait and return to the quay for $40. Ship tours were expensive and since the port time was short doing your own thing is easy and less expensive.
Based on previous cruises the standard food on offer has fallen to a lower level, in all of the outlets on offer from Horizon to the main restaurants.
Horizon Court - SS
The menu variety was not substantially changed day to day, the fresh fruit on offer during breakfast was bereft of choice on a number of days. The bakery products while not stale, lacked in appealing taste.
Burger and Pizza Outlets
The two outlets served what they advertised and fresh products were always on offer.
International Dining Room
The standard of service for our table was not the best we have experienced, on a number of occasions the waiter did not deliver the correct menu item ordered. Along with a number of our lines Princess has dropped the Silver Service in the name of efficiency, but also as a means to control / cut cost. Not the same and sadly missed.
As soon as you get on board and start finding your way around you are bombarded with staff trying to sell you soda, wine packages and bookings for the themed restaurants. This sales emphasis by staff has in our opinion delivered a lower standard of service across the whole ship. The costs while not the highest on first sight increase to high street levels when the service charge is added.
Not the best cruise we have ever taken, service levels lower and hard sell higher. Will have to think long and hard before booking a Princess Cruise in the future, this is hard to state because I am a shareholder in the parent company Carnival.