Diamond Princess Cruise Review by baer: A Sparking Holiday!
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A Sparking Holiday!
Do not read on if you want to hear complaints! We always make sure that we have a fabulous time and this was no exception. We were a mixed group of five, aged from 50 to 86 and everyone was catered for. It was our first Princess cruise and we are looking forward to the next. The ship was spotlessly clean. The weather was perfect - each day! No rain and clear, sunny skies. Seas were mostly smooth and on the days were we rolled a bit - the dramamine did its trick.
Overall the dining experience was excellent - we had a table in the international dining room - first sitting. We ate most of our meals in the international dining room - the waiters were outstanding. No request was ever too much trouble. They were all friendly and polite without being 'chummy'. It was lovely to have a large proportion of Thai wait staff.
We enjoyed going to the movies almost every afternoon in the Princess Theatre. I don't have time to get to the movies at home so this was a great part of More my holiday routine.
I agree with the previous reviews about the entertainment in general. We enjoyed a variety of daytime activities - there was plenty to do. I actually got very little reading done. Enrichment and bridge lessons were the most disappointing. Petra (who came on in Asia - provided some really good destination talks).
In Bangkok we had a transfer with Oriental Escape into the city (and a few days later to the airport. They were excellent with email communication, being on time, quality van, good driving etc. What a great city - it has changed so much over the years - certainly worth staying for 4 or 5 nights. Great public transport, gracious people, wonderful sightseeing which you can do on your own or with a tour, traffic is fairly smooth flowing, if you insist on using metered taxis they are another cheap and easy way of getting around. Finally wonderful shopping for those that need it.
Phu My - As we have been to Ho Chi Minh City we took the local shuttle to Ba Ria and wandered around there. We got some great Vietnamese red win form USD 2 per bottle and some beer. The market had beaded bags, hats, clothes - not a great selection but it's amazing how you can always find something interesting! I regret not taking a taxi or local but to Vung Tau - i was worried about the time - but I think that we would have had plenty of time. We changed our money at the local bank and I remembered that they close for lunch from about 1130-1300 so remember this if you want to get some Dong. Our friends took the ships tour and did HCMC on 'on your own' and enjoyed the experience. Shopping was big on the agenda for most people and my friend bought some beautiful lacquer ware. There were quite a few stalls by the ship (suitcases, clothing, lacquer wear) including DVDs and my husband was happy to get a boxed set of season 5 of 'The Wire' for USD 5. Works well.
Sihanoukville - This was an interesting port - and I would have liked to spend more time here. It is very much behind most Asian destinations and they are just working at improving infrastructure and facilities after years of genocide and destruction by dictator Pol Pot. Again a free shuttle was provided from the tender port to downtown. It's a largish town with a good sized market where some great buys can be made. They are also happy to take USD. We paid $15 (plus we gave him an extra $5) for a 2 hour tuktuk ride around the environs. He took us to a beautiful temple (lots of begging children - have a few gifts handy if you can think about bringing them - of course they want money too). We saw many beaches and resorts. The free shuttle also took us to Ochheuteal Beach where we had our feet/legs cleaned by fish (USD 3 which includes a coke), had a swim, the routine fingernails painted and just relaxed and watched the rest of the tourists vegging out. Beer is cheap - 50c a can. Less
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Cabin review: Diamond Princess Oceanview Obstructed Emerald E514
Good view over smallish lifeboat. Small shower but big enough for us. Liked the open wardrobe near the bathroom. Quiet location. No engine noise.
Port and Shore Excursions
Adelaide - Free shuttle buses were supplied by the Rundle Street Mall into the city - the trip took 45-60 minutes. A brilliant day with everything in walking distance. There is also a free loop bus to get a feel for the city. We met up with friends and then walked around before we got the free shuttle back. The free shuttle was only supplied for ten cruise ships this season so we were one of the lucky ones. Volunteers were very helpful. The Arts Festival was beginning so there was a lot of street theatre.
Singapore - a great way to ease in to Asia if you haven't been before. I love it - it has been so beautifully restored and it's a busy bustling city that has lush vegetation, parks and Malay, Chinese, Indian and British influences. Again a free shuttle was supplied, this time by the Orchard/Scotts Road shops (?DFS Galleria). We took the underground and went to Chinatown, then back to Orchard road for shopping and just wandering around enjoying the atmosphere. My Auntie and friends took a city tour (with Princess) which they enjoyed.
We sailed at 9 pm - what a glorious evening with the harbour bridge and the opera house lights blazing. The harbour was magic and most people that we spoke with thought that Sydney was the highlight of the trip for them. Most people spent a few days there and enjoyed every minute.