This is a review about the cruise of Asia and China.
We took the Princess 3 day pre cruise package of Beijing. It was well organised, well run and in our opinion excellent value for money. We were driven to Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, The Great Wall of China. We enjoyed the trips and lunches. The Marriott Beijing City Wall was elegant and comfortable.
Trip to Tianjin Port was 3 hours long but unfortunately unavoidable.
Embarkation at the port went quickly and smoothly. Cabins were ready and baggage came to our cabins promptly.
Dining - generally good but not fantastic. Soups were a bit boring. Main meals were predictable, desserts were good. Service was quick and friendly.
Horizon Court - good food, tasty and a wide variety. Staff were efficient and friendly. We did note that some passengers refused to use the hand sanitiser in the buffet area. Though staff insisted, passengers were allowed to enter the buffet area. I was standing behind a woman who refused and I told her that she should sanitise her hands but she told me she had just had a shower and that her hands were clean. I told her that I had just had a shower also but holding onto hand rails and pressing buttons on lifts she may just have picked up a germ, and that if she did not sanitise her hands she would be spreading germs on the utensils in the buffet area. She told me to get lost and she walked through to the buffet area.
In circumstances like that, for safety of all the passengers, we believe Princess should eject the people from the Horizon Court buffet. Also, no hand sanitisers were used prior to access to the dining room. Only after a severe outbreak of influenza did Princess consider it important to start using the sanitiser unit at the door. This appeared to be doing something too little too late.
Unfortunately, there was an outbreak of influenza on the ship. A LARGE number of people were quarantined. The more severe cases were quarantined and the lesser cases just struggled through the days with coughing and sneezing a regular occurance.
Entertainment - production shows were repeats. Apart from the odd entertainer - Phil trust me Cass (fantastic) and Thien Fu (also fantastic)they were of poor quality.
Sea Day Activities - apart from the usual, napkin folding and origami, there were no other craft activities eg; ceramics at sea, quilling.
Staff and Crew - overall, staff were very friendly, polite and efficient. Our cabin steward was a happy chappy always singing.
Ports and Excursions - We have done 8 cruises with princess and choose either to do some ports on our own or take princess shore excursions. We have never had any problems with the organization of tours. We have always departed on time and in our opinion some are well priced. Our one issue with this cruise was when we arrived in Phu My, we boarded our shuttle bus to Ho Chi Min city and we realised 1 hour into our 2 1/2 hour bus ride that the airconditioner did not work.
At 9am it was already 35 degrees celsius. I wouldn't say that the bus was a coach but just an everyday bus that is used around the city. We got to Ho Chi Min at 10.40am, by the time we looked around and walked the the War Remnants Museum and the Re-unification Hall they were both closing. We did not think the 1/2 hour that we had before they closed would be enough, so we went and had lunch. At 1.30 we headed back to the War Remnants Museum which left us only 1 hour as we had to catch the bus at 3pm. Again the non air conditioned bus was very uncomfortable and by time we got back to the port many people felt sick in our bus. In ports like this Princess should strive and stay in port till 11pm ( as they did in Bangkok) to give people more time in Ho Chi Min City.
Port lecturer "Hutch" had great lectures and we picked up on many useful hints.
Another port which is not listed is Busan in South Korea. We took a ships tour to the Apec Summit Building. It was a long walk and some elderly turned back as they found it a bit too hard to walk. We then went to the Yongungsa Cliff temple. A beautiful site but also the many steps were difficult for some of the elderly. Off to the markets. We only had 40 minutes but that was enough to look around.
In Singapore, our disembarkation was fast and efficient. We picked up our bags at the cruise terminal after taking the shuttle bus from the container port.We then headed out for a taxi which were plentiful. We are now in the process od booking another cruise with Princess - where? we still don't know.