This was our 30th cruise, 8th on Princess Cruises, and 3rd on the Diamond Princess. Our cruise choices are based mainly on the destination and itinerary and we have enjoyed cruises on several other lines.
Golden Week in Japan was a fabulous itinerary. We especially enjoyed the cherry blossoms in Aomori, The Chonmachong in Busan, South Korea (their version of the Egyptian Pyramids), and the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Memorial Park and the Mitsubishi Shipyard tours in Nagasaki. Another highlight was the welcome the Diamond Princess received in most of the ports. Because the ship had never been in most of the ports, the local people were there to receive us with student bands and many people came to wave good-bye to us. It was very special moment for the passengers, as well as the the Japanese locals.
As always, the service on the Diamond Princess was exceptional. Our dining staff, Gary, Rommel (Mel), and Dennis made each evening enjoyable. Our cabin steward, Edwin, always greeted us warmly and kept our cabin comfortable and inviting.
However, there were some disappointments on this cruise:
1. The Diamond Princess had recently undergone some renovations and upgrades. Unfortunately, not all was completed despite the fact that this was the 2nd cruise after the drydock. Carpeting was still being replaced in halls, unfinished deck rails, new flatscreen TVs that continually lost their signals, etc. The internet service was most frustrating. We sailed across the Pacific Ocean last year on the Diamond Princess from China to Alaska and the internet was so dependable that we were able to Skype with our grandson. This year, we rarely could send short emails!
2. While we expected that the menu offerings in the dining room would include many Japanese dishes, it was disappointing that the regular everyday menu that we have become accustomed to was not available. No bbq steak, Caesar salad, baked chicken, etc. Also, we really enjoy a daily soup offering but soup was rarely on the menu except Miso soup.
3. There were no Enrichment lectures for English speaking passengers (2/3 of the 2,500 passengers). We had assumed there would be port and Japanese culture lectures. The only Enrichment lectures offered was a Japanese only speaker talking about spying.
4. We saw 5 different Princess production shows which we always enjoy. Beyond those shows, there was one VERY loud and brassy American female singer and a very weak Japanese magician. One night, a Japanese only story teller was the main theater offering. The only Japanese culture offered for all to enjoy were some drummers who were great. But again, where was the Japanese culture???!!!??? Surely, Princess could have offered some Japanese dancing or history!
5. On most of the cruises, they have a charity walk for Breast Cancer research, Make a Wish, etc. This cruise charity was for the Japanese earthquake victims. I arrived at the designated meeting location 5 minutes early and was the only one there. The cruise staff member arrived exactly on the hour and we waited a few minutes until 4 more people joined us. The cruise staff member then stated that she didn't know how the donations worked and she would have to call the Pursers' Desk to check. Several minutes later, she returned and said they didn't know either so she wrote down our cabin numbers and said she would let us know later. We never received any information and so I wasn't able to offer a donation. Surely, they know what's in the Princess Patter and could be prepared???!!!???
Again, we truly had a wonderful trip and highly recommend a visit to Japan. While there were some frustrations on the Diamond Princess, we would not hesitate to sail on her again or on another Princess ship.