The main reason for booking this cruise was that several Australian friends we met on the Dawn Princess were also doing Singapore to Sydney, so we decided to join them. Good choice and lots of fun and laughter, especially at meal times and trivia.
Needless to say, we had a great time overall, but from a purely personal perspective, my cruise was totally ruined by the inconsiderate heavy smokers in the adjoining cabin. By day two, the smell of smoke through the adjoining door and wafting in from the balcony day and night was enough to upset my somewhat sensitive sinuses, to the extent that at one point, I spent a day and a half in bed with the worst dose of sinusitis (and persistent cough) for almost 30 years.
A verbal complaint to the front desk (that was also smoke infected from the open doors to the casino...) elicited the simple and dismissive response "there is nothing we can do." A written complaint later elicited no response whatever, so I am one of many I suspect, who welcomes Princess's "no smoking in staterooms and balconies" policy, effective January 12th 2012.
Apart from that, the cruise lived up to expectations and regular Princess cruisers will know what that means.
Good (but not spectacular) food, brilliant staff/crew and plenty to do. Regulars will also know that the Princess tours can be a mixed blessing. Classic example was the Nong Nooch (I think I spelled that correctly!) gardens that included probably the best cultural show I have seen in any country, followed by an equally entertaining elephant display. As we were there early, we had a mere 20 mins to explore the 500 acres of gardens before the show and we were herded back onto the coach almost as soon as the show had finished, which was a shame. We chose this tour as it was only about 4 hours. The mixed blessing was the so called shopping stop afterwards.
This consisted of the usual high class/price emporium, in this instance, selling jewellery. Now as we all know, given the choice between 45 minutes here or even more time at the gardens or even a local shopping centre or market, the gem place would be in last place - particularly for the men. A shame really as I am sure Pattaya beach shops would have been preferable.
Tours within Thailand and Vietnam were fine and we did our own thing at Bali and the Australian ports. (We had to cancel the skyway/railway trip in Port Douglas as I was just too unwell to chance it.)
Back to the Diamond Princess. Having spent almost 3 months on the Dawn earlier in the year, comparisons were easy. Overall, we'd opt for the older but smaller Dawn every time. The major advantage of the Diamond is the central Calypso or Conservatory swimming pool, as this is totally covered and is deep enough to enjoy a proper swim - as long as there weren't too many kids in it of course!
The Vista lounge on the Dawn is much better for cabaret shows as it is tiered, unlike Club Fusion and the Explorers lounge, which are not. They are also very dark. Most of the entertainers and even the shows, we had seen on the Dawn, so that was little disappointing.
The morning Wake Show was not as silly or as much fun as the World Cruise and we understand that Princess want it to be more serious. Don't they realise we are on holiday and we want fun and laughter - including stupidity?
Probably the other downside was that the buffet is trying to cater for 50% more people, but the buffet servery is about the same size. Princess seemed to have changed their policy as THERE WERE NO CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUTS, nor jam filled doughnuts. I am not a fatty, so if this is an attempt to counter obesity, it doesn't work!
Disembarkation wasn't a problem as at the last minute, a matter of days before we sailed, we extended our on board experience from Sydney back to Auckland. All we had to do was wander off the ship and enjoy a day in Sydney and hope that the smokers had departed. Without our fun friends, how would we enjoy it?
Another review later for that part of the cruise - with a different cabin...