We boarded the Diamond Princess in Singapore for 2-week cruise to Japan, via Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan. As independent travellers, we cannot comment on Princesses airport transfer service on either end, although disembarkation at Yokohama was a total fiasco - more below.
We chose this cruise based on the itinerary and were quite happy with the ports of call and the excursions we joined. We were also very satisfied with our inside cabin which was much more spacious than we have experienced on other ships. There was lots of space to unpack all our clothing for two weeks and to store our empty luggage and our cabin steward was conscientious and efficient ensuring we were always comfortable.
The ship’s public areas are tastefully elegant and welcoming even if the same could not be said for the staff and crew. Theatre entertainment was a huge disappointment. Most high schools could put on better and more professional shows.
Boarding in Singapore was More
relatively smooth although the lineups could have been handled better. It was on the gangway that the first instance of lack of professionalism on the ship was observed: passports were being collected (the objective was good; to have visas provided for all ports except Japan) in open boxes and carried through a mob of boarding passengers with no attention to security. or confidentiality. Anyone could have snatched one of these vital confidential documents from the open boxes as they were carried up the gangway; if the box had been accidentally dropped there would have been passports falling in the harbour and a mad scramble to retrieve the debris.
Before boarding, we were unaware that the ship was fresh out of dry-dock after major renovations or that our cruise would be a re-commissioning cruise. Several hours after scheduled departure, the captain informed us the ship could not safely depart because instruments on the bridge and the engine room were showing conflicting information. By that time we had already discovered the toilet in our cabin wasn't working. Same for one of our cruise-cards/room key. The line-ups at the passenger service counter were hours long as other passengers experienced telephones and televisions that didn't work, more broken toilets, more unusable cruise cards, etc. Compounding the insult was that the staff supposedly there to help passengers spent most of their time staring at computer screens before sending passengers along without solving their problem. They clearly lacked the training to solve problems or even to show empathy for the troubled passengers. We were told (after the representative consulted her computer screen) that they were aware of the issue and our toilet had been fixed. It had not been, although it was several hours later. A second visit to the desk was required later in the trip to have the cruise-card re-programmed again.
We speculated whether the restaurant staff were mostly new hires after the ship being out of service. They seemed to lack training in the duties of their jobs or customer service. In the buffet dining room, tables were not cleared promptly making it very difficult for passengers to find a clean and empty space. At one point, waiting for the server to finish cleaning and re-setting a table, I had to ask for a partially used setting to be replaced with a fresh and complete, clean one. The response: "that's clean". The layout of the buffet was further proof of lack of attention to detail as diners were forced to make conflicting circle-eights to fill their plates, Who designed a buffet line that placed salad dressings first, salads next and plates last? And who decided plastic plastic cups and plates are acceptable alongside cotton napkins and stainless steel cutlery? it was as though the buffet dining room was an outdoor picnic.
We reserved any-time dining. The hostesses were generally rude and the maitre d's uninterested and unhelpful. We witnessed passengers being told no tables were available when that clearly was not the case and were ourselves denied admission and a table until voices were raised (ourselves and other passengers in line) suddenly there was room for everyone waiting. Inexplicable and unexplainable. Only once were we offered a pager to call us to the dining room when a table became available. If this technology is present why isn’t it used consistently?
While the quality of the food was adequate (but not memorable either) the menus were repetitive and uninspied. We were left with the impression Princess’ philosophy is “we have to feed you but we’d rather not” and Princess would prefer guests serve themselves at the buffet or pool-side hamburger stand and clean tables after themselves.
The attitude and mannerisms of the ship’s officers was generally disrespectful to hostile. While on other ships we have sailed with, every officer would smile at and welcome passengers, on Diamond Princess the officers glared at passengers if they acknowledged them at all. Again it was al if they felt their jobs would be so much easier if they didn’t have to deal with the passengers. Passengers were treated as if they were getting in the way. What excuse there might be for blasting medical-emergency calls into every passenger cabin, awaking guests from sleep, escapes us. We experienced false (or so we were told) fire alarms, frequent late departures but never once received an apology. What we did hear was a captain’s rant against a host country for making him late. Even if his complaint was legitimate it was still wrong to make in to all the guests.
Our final arrival in Yokohama was marked by total chaos as the officers tried to herd hundreds of passengers into the same disembarkation lounge which was already overflowing with people and luggage. Passengers were literally forced to crawl over one another when their group was called to leave the ship. It was the last day, we had served ourselves our breakfast and Diamond Princess was glad to see us leave. No one was on the gangway to say “ goodbye - please come again”. We weren’t so unhappy to leave either.
This cruise and Princess Cruises consistently failed to demonstrate that the passengers are guests and their enjoyment of their vacation is the highest priority. In discussion with other passengers, we learned Princess Cruises are very inconsistent in their level of service - some good, some bad. We got one of the bad ones, we assume, but we will only consider Princess again if there are no other choice for our desired itinerary. It’s a business in which the operator cannot expect second chances when the job is bungled first time. Less
The cabin and steward were the best things about the cruise (once the non-functioning toilet was fixed) and the only aspect that met or exceeded expectations. The cabin, as noted above, was spacious and comfrotable.