When this ship was launched in winter 2004 we were impressed. On a return visit we were even more impressed. The Diamond debuted as the Princess fleet's biggest, at 116,000 tons (sister ship Sapphire Princess also holds that title) and the first cruise ship built in Japan in more than a decade. This is one of our favorite ships in the Princess fleet and here are some of the reasons why:
Personal Choice Dining. There is one main dining room featuring set seating at 5:45 and 8 p.m. for those who like traditional service; in response to demand, Princess recently expanded to include the Vivaldi restaurant (for the first seating only). For those who want more flexibility, there are four, intimate, themed venues where you can dine fee free any time between 5:30 and 10 p.m.
Club Fusion is all about high tech with big high definition TV screens and a state-of-the-art sound system and a decent dance floor, and really redefines the concept of secondary show lounge. It's also the perfect venue for games shows and a redefined talent show called Princess Idol.
Skywalkers Nightclub, the sky-high disco introduced on the Grand-class ships, has been expanded and redesigned here to include more space and a balcony overlooking the aft pool.
The huge Internet Cafe on Diamond has, count them, 29 computer stations with flat screens and a coffee/pastry shop. It's rare to have to wait for a terminal. And rates are 35 cents per minute, which is cheap by shipboard standards.
The large number of cabins with balconies -- 748. Even though some of the balconies aren't exactly private (mini-suites on Dolphin Deck are totally exposed; cabins on Caribe Deck are partially exposed) they provide a wonderful space for stargazing, smooching, intimate outdoor meals and smoking.
We are even fond of the atrium on this vessel, a proud focal point including Art Nouveau glass-and-brass designs on the atrium elevators. The ship's shops are located on two decks and the atrium also boasts bars including the ship's martini bar, as well as the purser's desk. At only three decks the space feels like an upscale Parisian shopping arcade.
The dining rooms and variety of lounges disperse the crowds and make you feel like you're on a much smaller ship. That said, there are times the Diamond does feel big, particularly at night when you find yourself at the wrong end of the hallway from your cabin. We saw more than one woman take off her heels to make the trek.
Diamond Princess, with its four pools, plus a kiddie splash pool, extensive children's center and cutting edge entertainment and programs, is particularly well suited to families, and that's probably why there were a good number of multigenerational groups onboard: grandparents traveling with their kids and the grandkids. But couples will find much to like on this vessel too, including the fact the restaurants have a decent number of tables for two.
Mostly an American crowd, from west of the Mississippi (although there will be some Easterners too). Lots of multigenerational groups (grandparents traveling with their kids and the grandkids). Children and teens although not in overwhelming numbers. Couples in their 30's to 70's. Some singles of various ages (mostly traveling with friends).
For a seven-day cruise, there are two formal nights and five smart casual nights. On formal nights, men wear dinner jackets or dark suits and women cocktail dresses, gowns or fancy pants suits. On smart casual nights there's no need for men to wear a tie, although some will wear jackets. During the day, resort casual wear is the norm. T-shirts and shorts are verboten in the dining rooms.
Gratuities, which are automatically charged to onboard accounts, are $11.50 per person (including children), per day, for passengers staying in standard accommodations and $12 for passengers staying in mini-suite and suites. A 15 percent gratuity is added to beverage purchases onboard, including wine at dinner. Spa and casino staff members do not share in the gratuity charges -- if you use these services, tips are advised.