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Sail Date: November 2009
We have cruised on the Sun Princess from Sydney 3 times, so didn't expect to the Diamond Princess to be much different apart from size , but was pleasantly surprised. Service was wonderful , food was outstanding , everything was so ... Read More
We have cruised on the Sun Princess from Sydney 3 times, so didn't expect to the Diamond Princess to be much different apart from size , but was pleasantly surprised. Service was wonderful , food was outstanding , everything was so much better than what we had had on the Sun Princess.We had the aft cabin on Aloha deck A749, A bit of noise from the scrapping chairs above , other than that a wonderful cabin , great location , steward was very good, as this was the first cruise that we had princess "Elite" so had all the extras that came with it , the free washing was the most appreciated , we used it and it certainly helped with me enjoying my cruise . Found the ports very interesting and we only did our tours .With great success and saved heaps of money . We had a great CC roll call , meet so many wonderful people from all around the world.Thank you for your friendship everyone!!!! The Diamond Princess is a huge ship , still was getting lost 15 days into cruise . Did the Chef's dinner and thought it was really worth it ,had thought it was expensive but it turned out to be the best value ever.Would recommend it to everyone. Can't wait to go on the Diamond Princess again ! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
The four-year-old Diamond Princess looked as pristine and untarnished as when we sailed during her maiden voyage to Nagasaki. The ship's crew and hotel staff is doing a fantastic job keeping her in showroom quality. The hotel kept the ... Read More
The four-year-old Diamond Princess looked as pristine and untarnished as when we sailed during her maiden voyage to Nagasaki. The ship's crew and hotel staff is doing a fantastic job keeping her in showroom quality. The hotel kept the brass and glass sparkle in public areas. The CDC rated the ship with 100 points during two of her previous inspections. The ship came down with Norovirus in China, where the cruise begun but got contained by the time it reached Thailand where we set sail. Sanitizing stations and passenger joint action helped alleviate the problem. The wait staff has far exceeded themselves in friendliness, courtesy and excellence of service, much to the delight of the passengers. The conflict of theater seating and dinner times was resolved by rescheduling ship activities. The library no longer retained cruise cards from guests reading an atlas there. Internet is still 75 cents a minute. Cell phone service is now available on board. We opted for an ocean view cabin amidships at the plaza deck that measured about 182 square feet. It had a queensize bed, an old TV, a shower as large as a telephone booth and ample closet space for four suitcases. It proved very stable during rough weather and had easy access to the atrium, the library, and four restaurants. The Vivaldi, Santa Fe, Pacific Moon and the Savoy operated only for dinner and shared a common menu. The other restaurant called the International served breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Horizontal Court a 24 hour buffet for informal dining offered hot and cold dishes. Sabatini's specialized in Italian Cuisine and Sterling served steaks. Both required reservations and a cover charge. We had dinner at Vivaldi's and had the rest of our meals at the Horizontal Court. The cuisine was superb and beautifully presented. Osso bocco, salmon and shrimp cocktail were a menu standby. Eggs Benedict were regular offers at the buffet. Vivaldi's headwaiter David and his assistant Ernie from the Philippines graciously provided us with off menu items when requested. The ship was always full. Passengers cruised in segments and people were constantly embarking and disembarking. The Canadians and British topped the Americans who were normally the bulk cruisers. There were a number of Germans, and other Europeans. Some Australians, New Zealanders, Japanese, Hongkong, Taiwan and Mainland Chinese got on in Sydney, Australia bound for New Zealand. There were at least a hundred children. It was almost 2 a.m. when our 21-hour flight from Los Angeles, California landed in Bangkok, Thailand. The streets still teemed with people and most of the shops were open. We were here to meet the Diamond Princess in two days. Sailing through Asia, Australia and New Zealand had attracted us to be on board the Diamond P for a third time. After catching a couple of hours sleep in our hotel, we hired a cab with an English speaking driver to take us to one of the floating markets and the bridge over the river Quai some 50 miles from the city. (The original bridge is in Burma). We rented a small dugout canoe and navigated a shallow canal towards the market. The market was very busy and the place was a sight to see. Vendors were hawking food, souvenirs and T-shirts while paddling their small dugouts. We had lunch at a coffee shop overlooking the river Quai before returning to the city. Our next stop was Vung Tau, Vietnam. The ship had obtained a blanket Vietnamese visa charging $11 per cabin. We got our visa from Washington, DC but had to pay $65 each, long before the ship had notified us. While other passengers braved the almost three hour trip from Vung Tau to Saigon we decided to visit a small native farmer's home, a Buddhist temple and the local open market in Vung Tau. The ship docked at Kota Kinabalu in Borneo after a sea day. We visited a Dayak or Iban village in Mt. Kinabalu. The Dayaks are an indigenous native tribe once known as headhunters. One of their houses had human skulls hanging in the rafters. The villagers entertained us with their native dances and music. We were quite elated when they allowed us to photograph them in their natural costumes. Singapore was sterile and septic as when we visited several years ago. They still fine people heavily for chewing gum. The ship made its way through the Java Sea and after crossing the equator we make our next landfall in Darwin, Australia. We follow the Australian coast heading south through Cairns, then to the Great Barrier Reef. We reached Brisbane where some of the passengers left the ship. A slight drizzle meets the ship as she docks in the beautiful Sydney harbor. She couldn't get past the Sydney Harbor Bridge as her tall funnel overwhelmed the 456-foot high bridge. The Sydney Opera House was a wonderful sight to see. Melbourne has an equally superb port. The city's skyline glistened in the sunshine. They had greatly developed since our last visit. We drove to the Dandenong hills and stopped at a coffee shop next to a forest. Wild sulfur-crested cockatoos and brightly colored parrots clamber all over visitors feeding the birds. Melbourne frowns on feeding wildlife but is tolerant on approved birdseed. The Tasmanian Sea was calmer and less rough than we expected. We tried get tickets to see the Tasmanian devil in an animal sanctuary in Hobart. The ship had run out .We got tickets from the local visitor's center at half the price the ship was charging. Most of the ship's excursions are quite pricey and unreliable. We now book most of our tours from the ports of call. Tasmania Island, Australia is the only known habitat of the wild Tasmanian Devil. It is a ferocious, carnivorous, marsupial the size of a small dog. Their numbers are on the decline because of disease. The Fjordland National Park in the south island of New Zealand is quite a spectacle. Numerous mini waterfalls dotted the mist-shrouded mountainsides. Although it lacked the glaciers of South America and Scandinavia fjords, it has a unique charm of its own. Christchurch is the second largest city in the South Island in New Zealand. The Anglican cathedral is located in a beautiful square known as Church Square. Next to the cathedral is a museum that is always open and charges no entrance fee. Taurunga is a large tranquil seaport in the North Island. The ship brought a Maori dance troupe here to show native culture to the passengers. We left the ship in Auckland on the 24th of December. We spent Christmas there as our flight home to Los Angeles was scheduled for the 26th. The city shut down for the holiday, but we did manage to attend services at the Catholic cathedral celebrated by the archbishop of Auckland. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
We booked this cruise from BKK to SYD with Princess Cruises Australia. We are 2 adults and no children. The ease of the booking was very good. Three weeks prior to sailing we requested by fax, a Bon Voyage gift to ourselves as per the ... Read More
We booked this cruise from BKK to SYD with Princess Cruises Australia. We are 2 adults and no children. The ease of the booking was very good. Three weeks prior to sailing we requested by fax, a Bon Voyage gift to ourselves as per the Princess website & cruise guide,. (champagne and canapEs A$100.00 credit card details in fax as gift had to be paid before sailing)One week prior, we telephoned and emailed Princess Cruises Australia to be told that this would be taken care of by the ship. Embarking in Laem Chebang Thailand was well organized and quick. There were lots of crew available to welcome us aboard, including crew stationed at the lifts to assist in finding our cabin. We were also given a pocket sized map of the ship which proved very handy given the size of the ship. The cabin was a mini suite on dolphin deck 9 midship, it was adequate and in good condition, ample storage room for our clothing and a bathroom with a shower over the bath. The cabin had two televisions with two remotes, which at times was a challenge, as one turned off the other turned on. The room steward had joined the ship in BKK and seemed a little overwhelmed. We asked for robes and a minibar setup as these were not in the cabin, we knew that these items were on request but it took more 2 days to receive these items. Also there was no sign of our Bon Voyage champagne or canapEs. The balcony was a good size, room for two deck chairs, two standard chairs and a small table. Privacy.. well the lack of was a issue. The cabins on all the decks above looked directly onto the balconies of all the mini suites, we were lucky in that we had very friendly people above. We actually have struck up a friendship with a couple on the deck above as a result. We chose three shore excursions during our trip Vietnam, Borneo and Darwin, all were well organized and very good. Price wise, not cheap. Other ports we did our own thing with no regrets. Half way through the cruise now.. still no sign of our Bon Voyage champagne and canapEs ! Food onboard was just ok with the exception of the Sterling Steakhouse (strange location, set up each night in the back of the buffet Horizon Court). The steaks here were absolutely sensational, well worth the $US 15 cover charge. The other stand out restaurant was the Savoy Dining Room, even though the menu was always the same as another 4 restaurants, The International Dining Room, Santa Fe, Vivaldi and Pacific Moon. The staff in Savoy were exceptional, Michael the Maitre D, Peter the waiter, were consistently efficient and professional and the two waiters serving the lemon cello were lots of fun. The buffet restaurant for breakfast was ok, mixed bag here, some staff very friendly and others very disinterested in their job but very happy to tell you that their contract was finishing soon and that they would be leaving the ship. Between the two of us we used the Lotus spa five times early in the cruise,(these visits were booked prior to sailing) treatments were good, staff extremely pushy in trying to up sell products and additional treatments and not shy in asking for a tip. We actually avoided even walking past the spa in the end in case we were harassed. The actual cruising conditions were excellent, it was as if we were sailing in a pond, we saw a sea turtle and twice saw dolphins. The Crossing the Equator ceremony was a lot of fun. Disembarkation in Sydney was busy, well organized and quick, staff at hand to thank us for choosing Princess and ground crew to assist with taxi's. Finished the cruise now.. still no sign of our Bon Voyage champagne and canapEs ! Not even as a farewell gift ! We did enquire during the cruise about our Bon Voyage gift, only to be told it had to be organized prior to boarding. There were times where we felt the ship was understaffed and the attention to detail was not there. Since arriving home we have learnt that on the previous cruise the Diamond Princess had a norovirus outbreak, we noticed that on our cruise that not a great deal of attention was given to sanitizing. There was a male toilet near the Internet Cafe that did not have any sanitizing equipment available. The buffet restaurant we observed passengers entering without sanitizing, the internet cafe sanitizing was available but almost no one used it. If you hadn't cruised before you probably wouldn't have known what to do. The internet connections were very slow and expensive, on average 30mins to login to home to check emails. Overall we did enjoy our cruise on Diamond Princess, but we felt that the cruise line or the size of the ship may not be for us, we prefer a cruise with more variety in food and better privacy. One last thing ! We never did see our own Bon Voyage champagne, but we were never charged the $100 for it either Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Sapphire Princess Bangkok to Auckland December 20/07 - January 21/08 For my wife and I, this was our 28th cruise together, our fifth and sixth with this line. Truly, it was an outstanding itinerary. The first 20 days, from Bangkok to ... Read More
Sapphire Princess Bangkok to Auckland December 20/07 - January 21/08 For my wife and I, this was our 28th cruise together, our fifth and sixth with this line. Truly, it was an outstanding itinerary. The first 20 days, from Bangkok to Sydney, visited exotic Asian ports before cruising along Australia's northeast coast. It's a long way from home so we opted to continue on for 12 more days to six more ports, ending in Auckland. Embarkation was reasonably quick but our pre-registry both on-line at during our pre-cruise hotel stay failed to avoid a line-up. The ship was late leaving because of a medical emergency. If the captain had maintained a speed two knots faster, he'd have made our first port, Koh Samui, on time; as it was, the late arrival threw shore-tour arrangements into disarray. Tendering ashore, we discovered, is not a Princess strong suit. The Sapphire is too big to moor at some cruise terminals, so we'd be bused in from a container dock. The tour office insisted on assembling us in groups on board before anyone could proceed ashore; a bus-number sticker was required before assembly. This rampant bureaucracy delayed every tour but one of all those we took in our 14 ports. I saw no evidence whatsoever that anyone in the shore excursion office had ever taken any of the tours they sold. The ports, however, were fascinating, none more so than Vung Tau, the (far-away) gateway to Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City), which is a teeming place of seven million people and three million motorbikes. They're officially communists in Vietnam, though no one seems too worked up about it. At our next stop came an incident which illustrated how the people who ran the ship dealt with the passengers. After leaving Kota Kinabalu, we anchored offshore and a fuel barge came alongside for much longer than seemed normal. A rumor swept the ship: we'd run aground and had fuel offloaded, then reloaded after floating free! The cruise director denied the tale and pooh-poohed any notion that we should be told what actually happened, so the rumor fed itself. Many days later, we found out the truth: bunkering was not allowed at the dock in that port, so the fuel barge came alongside; its flow rate - 50 liters per minute instead of the expected 300 - kept it in place for many more hours than had been planned. But tell us? Nope. Communication about arrival times from Bridge to passengers was generally non-existent. And the daily Princess Patter might as well have been written in Los Angeles for all the help it was. Still free of charge, though. A daily newspaper, absent one written on board, cost from $3.75 to $15. The pattern continued: interesting ports on shore, myriad minor annoyances on board. And oh yes, the nickel-and-diming. Princess has turned squeezing every last dollar out of every last passenger into an art form. All the big lines do it to some degree; this one is by far the most egregious. Pay $3 for pizza delivered to your room, pay $5 for a rose, pay $25 for an 8x10 picture, pay 75 cents a minute for the Internet (plus another dollar for coffee in the Internet cafe), pay $3.50 a day for a soda card, pay up to 30 per cent more than the market rate for on-board currency exchange, pay for soft ice cream and freshly-squeezed orange juice on the Lido Deck. Never mind sky-high spa prices, very pricey shore tours and pushing sales of bottled water when we got it for free on every tour but one; one takes all that for granted, at least on this ship. There were some strong positives. The Princess Theatre is, in my view, the best showroom afloat: technically first-class, great sight-lines, great chairs. But at 700 seats, it's small for a ship carrying 2,700 and more passengers. The Brian Harding Orchestra was the best we've heard on a cruise, and all but one of the lounge bands were excellent; also the string quartet. The guest entertainers - comedians, jugglers, magicians, singers and the like - were pleasant but second-rank. Not one lifted the audience from the seats. The Princess singer/dancers were very good (particularly, after I met her on a back-stage tour, the nice blonde one from South Africa). We found the ship very clean, the cabin storage space very good, the service at the front desk pleasant and efficient. Disabled access is excellent in public areas: we saw several passengers happily moving about in electric scooters. Once we got our room steward working on our schedule and not his, he did a fine job. Breakfast room service was very punctual. The extra-cost Sterling Steakhouse was fine, though you paid $15 each for a meal that used to be served in the main dining room. The safety briefing and lifeboat drill was far and away the best we've been through: serious, informative and very thorough. And the line's website was easy to navigate and use. Now the negatives, nickel-and-diming apart. The lounges were well-designed for selling and serving alcoholic drinks, but not well set up for daytime events. I don't drink alcohol and I got very tired of Diet Coke, there being no mocktail of the day or lemonade available. The only forward-facing view lounge is Skywalkers, the late-night disco all the way aft. It was barely used during the day, but made a very quiet spot to put your feet up and read. Standard cabins, despite excellent storage space and quiet cooling fans, had the smallest shower stall I've experienced at sea, with inadequate hand-holds. The Horizon Court buffet on Deck 14 has too few seats and a very confused system of food selection which forces passengers to squeeze past each other to move through it. The food variety was poor and the quality mediocre. Bar service on this deck (and others as well) was slower than should be the case. We opted for the second sitting of 'Traditional Dining;' Despite excellent wait-staff at our table, we had trouble getting to the 10:15 shows on time in the first 20-day segment. Our second segment, 12 days to Auckland, began in Sydney, the pier a medium walk from the opera house, a work of genius from any angle. What a joy it was to experience the port as 2,500 people rushed to get off and an equal number rushed to get on. The mood changed. It was as if someone had read the Riot Act to the crew about the quality of service. The new cruise director, a solid pro, was a vast improvement on his predecessor. We always got to the shows on time. The shore-tour desk was no better organized, but the ports were interesting and the weather had cooled to a pleasant level. On January 21, we docked in Auckland and Princess got us off the ship efficiently. We got home to find that readers of a distinguished travel magazine had ranked Sapphire Princess last among big ships; not exactly a surprise to us. Were I a shareholder I would be both pleased with the impressive generation of on-board revenue and concerned that the number of passengers turned off by nickel-and-diming will outnumber those attracted by even deeper fare discounts. We had a wonderful cruise, have planned another on a much smaller Princess ship, but won't recommend this line without very compelling reasons which trump the problems we encountered. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Please enter your review. I have to agree with the review by Victor Meldrew. I am Canadian and travelled on this same cruise with my husband. We stayed precruise(booked through Princess) in Bangkok at the ShangriLa, where we have ... Read More
Please enter your review. I have to agree with the review by Victor Meldrew. I am Canadian and travelled on this same cruise with my husband. We stayed precruise(booked through Princess) in Bangkok at the ShangriLa, where we have previously stayed. Our stay was marred by the horrific flight we had courtesy of Princess with a 7 hour layover in Hong Kong having flown approx. 18 hours from Toronto -totally unacceptable in my book. Needless to say we were both exhausted on arrival which I have to say was executed perfectly.On arrival at the hotel we were greeted with a welcome drink but were shown to a city view room-this was quickly changed and we had the riverview as expected. We were too tired to do much sightseeing-fortunately we have been to Bangkok twice before so had seen the major sights. We had a precruise check-in at the hotel which was well done but the transfer could have been better as the driver and the guide got us lost and we ended up in Pattaya!! However we got on the ship in record time and found our cabin easily and were greeted warmly by our cabin steward,Robert. We proceeded to the Horizon Court buffet.The selection of food was always good but its arrangement a little confusing at times, e.g. bread in one area and butter in a totally different area! We didn't eat here often as found it to be very crowded most of the time, inspite of its size. I agree with Victor Meldrew regarding the restaurant arrangements-we too opted for anytime dining after the first night but on more than one occasion we were unable to be seated at the restaurant of our choice and were usually accommodated at another but not without a wait time of some sort. One M'D that was outstanding and always accommodating to us was Robert at Pacific Moon-a favorite of ours. The food was acceptable but not outstanding. I agree that the Eastern European waiters were surly and not welcoming at all. The Thai, Indian and Filipino waiters were always pleasant but you can't choose when you're on anytime dining. One outstanding night was New Year's Eve when we had booked a table for 10 at Pacific Moon- I have to say Princess went overboard on that evening with super party hats and tiaras for the ladies and supplied the necessary noisemakers, balloons etc. that go with New Year's. Some of our party proceeded to the atrium which was very crowded in anticipation of the midnight hour but it was a magical atmosphere, especially at midnight with the balloon drop.We ended the evening at the Skywalker's Disco and had a terrific time till the small hours. This of course was marred by our port day at Darwin the next day, when everyone was somewhat fragile and to find Darwin essentially closed for New Year's Day! Princess could surely arrange their itinerary so that after 4 sea days we weren't in port on New Year's day!! The entertainment was very poor on such a large ship, especially as this was a Christmas/New Year's cruise and we found ourselves and our new found friends making our own entertainment most of the time!! We had a very nice balcony cabin on Aloha Deck but were amazed to find ourselves overlooking the balcony and mini-suite cabins below us-surely a serious flaw of this particular ship.We had early breakfast,actually just coffee and juice,in our cabin most days and it was delivered promptly and politely each day, while we drank it overlooking our fellow-cruisers down below! Although the ship is beautiful with plenty of space, it is not without its problems once in port.On most occasions we had to dock in horrible container ports because of our size and were shuttled into the various cities(at Princess'expense-otherwise there would have been mutiny!) This cut down on the time in port and we found we always had to rush to get the bus back to the ship. Princess should also be reprimanded for not being honest about facilities for independent travellers in ports.As I realize this is taking away from their vast profits on their shore excursions, they could at least be honest about what is available.We are not lovers of the Princess tour excursions in any event and we always find our own way around with new found friends and have a lot more fun. Some of the tour prices were prohibitive for many and some of the obscene prices were outrageous! Overall, we enjoyed the cruise and Princess went over and above with the Christmas and New Year's festivities. Our total Princess experience was good apart from our inbound flight. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
Booked the cruise in September 06, three months before flight schedules came out in January 07 - despite asking for World Traveller Plus seating on BA direct flights, were given Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong (as were quite a number of early ... Read More
Booked the cruise in September 06, three months before flight schedules came out in January 07 - despite asking for World Traveller Plus seating on BA direct flights, were given Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong (as were quite a number of early booking passengers we talked to). Would this have something to do with it being cheaper to fly indirect? The Sapphire Princess is a very large and beautiful ship but in our opinion, it is being mismanaged through incompetent staff, not to mention the cost cutting exercises - Captain's Champagne party where the captain did not attend, not was champagne served; instead we were given a very cheap sparkling wine. We didn't dare ask for red or white wine having sampled that once before (couldn't even drink that!). We booked for quite a number of shore excursions (mainly because they told us there wasn't going to be any taxis at the container ports where we were due to dock). They were overpriced; badly organized and were without exception late in taking off - however they always returned on time! The food in the dining room was mediocre at best - not what we have come to expect from this class of cruising. The dress code was ignored completely - a fellow diner in the International Restaurant wore denim jeans, T-shirt and baseball cap throughout his meal. Since the Maitre 'D was laughing and joking with him, he obviously thought it acceptable dress. The entertainment again was not up to the standard expected; the production shows were quite good but the hypnotist, comedian and juggler were very poor - we, like quite a number of others, left after ten minutes. They were more suitable for a pantomine. The group who sang in Club Fusion most nights were very good (I think they were called Deep Blue) but we felt the other group shouted rather than sang. We only attended the final Bingo session but personally witnessed an 85 year old man being deprived of half of the $5000 jackpot caused through the incompetence of the entertainment staff, i.e. David. Twice they agreed to half the winnings and twice reversed the decision - how ridiculous. We were one of the first ones to embark the ship and went straight to the library to get some books as we had quite number of days at sea - what a disappointment. The shelves were fairly empty. We visited the gymnasium on a number of occasions - plenty of equipment but absolutely no-one to show us how to use the machines. Tried to make enquiries to get some tuition but without any success. Surely there should have been someone there if only for safety reasons. Read Less

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