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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We went with Princess again largely because of the 5-day pre-cruise land content in Beijing (for the Great Wall and other attractions) and Xian (for the Terracota Army). We enjoyed the experience with an excellent guide, top hotel ... Read More
We went with Princess again largely because of the 5-day pre-cruise land content in Beijing (for the Great Wall and other attractions) and Xian (for the Terracota Army). We enjoyed the experience with an excellent guide, top hotel accommodation and many fine meals. Well organised and highly enjoyable, Unfortunately the cruise that followed was not up to our past Princess experiences. High points like the excellent singers and dancers, some fine musicians and interesting ports were offset by poor organisation at times and a general malaise, possibly due to the Sapphire Princess being readied for a new life in the China market. Missing were some of the little touches we enjoy, like the crew show and towel animals in the cabin. The entertainment staff lacked sparkle (we had a change of Cruise Director part-way through), the food was generally good but unadventurous and even some of the waiters lacked flair. There was a general lack of communication aboard the ship (announcements of any kind were rare) and the organisation at some ports left a lot to be desired. Why can't Princess let its own tour groups off and into the coaches before giving the general call to disembark? It would get the tours away on time and save a lot of rushing and jostling (particularly for the elderly and lame). All in all, while we enjoyed the cruise, it was not up to the excellent standard set by the pre-cruise program. Although Princess Platinum members, our next cruise will probably be with another line. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Chose cruise for fabulous ITINERARY-Beijing China, Busan South Korea, Nagasaki and Kagoshima Japan, Shanghai and Hong Kong China, Ho Chi MInh City (Saigon) Vietnam, Bangkok Thailand and Singapore. Weather changed from 60F to 100F, cool to ... Read More
Chose cruise for fabulous ITINERARY-Beijing China, Busan South Korea, Nagasaki and Kagoshima Japan, Shanghai and Hong Kong China, Ho Chi MInh City (Saigon) Vietnam, Bangkok Thailand and Singapore. Weather changed from 60F to 100F, cool to uncomfortably hot and humid, and no rain except in Singapore. Some did pre cruise to Xian and Terracotta warriors but said they were worn out! We had 3 days in Beijing at the Raffles hotel, a superb refuge from culture shock! The breakfast was outstanding. EMBARKATION luggage dump ensure have labels, group numbering broke down, Princess failed to inform we were Platinum grade and so had priority boarding and drinks while waited. Eventually just joined swarm! Luggage arrived at cabin in good time though. CABIN Balcony was fine with reasonable room and storage. Most days was cloudy and misty so balcony and decks little used. (Unfortunately did not dock in Shanghai as port closed due to smog, so had 2 days in Hong Kong instead. Apparently happens often). DINING Anytime in Savoy, Santa Fe and Pacific Moon worked well, we obtained a table for two going early-we are not unsociable, but find sitting on a larger table slows the service.Found menu a bit limited especially desserts, so used Horizon Court buffet some evenings as alternative, though sometimes busy. Food and Service standard very good but need to appreciate that an American ship will cater towards American, Australian and and Oriental tastes on this itinerary. However the buffet with plastic cheese, few grapes, spam ham, just one hot pudding disappointed. There were no theme evenings experienced on other cruise lines.We understand the ship was sailing back with all Chinese guests and signage was being changed accordingly. We avoided speciality dining as we felt the US$25 per person surcharge was excessive, especially as the Sterling Steakhouse and Crab Shack venues were just roped off sections of the Horizon Court. DRINKS were expensive-after spending US$45 on one bottle of wine and one soft drink with 15% service charge added, we limited our drinking! Appeared that most others felt the same and wine waiters in the theatre particularly were unemployed. The Happy Hour in the Wheelhouse Bar with Buy One get One for a dollar was popular, though the 6-8 p.m. timing did not fit with dining. ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES very limited. Just one guest speaker who had very good material, but delivered it too rapidly. Need more speakers over wider subject range. ENTERTAINMENT only used theatre and piazza. Very variable in quality-Violinist, West End man and lady blues singers very good, production shows very average usual energy with electronic scenery and relatively basic costumes, mime artist failed to connect with audience though to not say a word for 40 minutes is not the easiest thing, Chinese folklore performance amateurish, piazza pianist and group good but not outstanding. FITNESS AND RECREATION Gym usual average range of equipment, seemed to lack supervision. Enjoyed Zumba but 9 a.m. clashed with breakfast. Missed whist and bridge director. Usual trivia, bingo, knit and natter, art auctions etc.need some innovation if seasoned cruisers are not to become bored. Galley and stage visits were good. SERVICE largely at an appropriate level without being in your face. For example not too much drink and photo sales pushing. Tipped cabin steward, but found hoovering a bit lacking, then again had 19 cabins to cover. SHORE EXCURSIONS. Usual problems if you wished to do it yourself. Was there a shuttle or not? Was it free? Where did it drop off? What time did shuttles start, when was last one? Princess only gave some information late the night before. Will try and do a separate review on shuttles and specific ports. Early ports we did our own thing-trams and taxis were cheap.There were taxis at all ports and could have done all tours much more cheaply than ship's excursions. However due to our ages &5/68, less stress and that holiday feeling, we decided to pamper ourselves and do a ship's trip on one day in Hong Kong, so we got an overview, and did our own thing the next day. Due to distance from port, high temperatures and humidity took ship's trips in Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok so we had an air conditioned coach and were guaranteed return to the ship. Grand Palace in Bangkok wonderful-but found 5 and a half hour round road trip wearing. (Would just do Pattya next time). Traffic meant real risk of not making it back to boat if did a private tour. SHOPS ON BOARD AND SALES usual expensive stuff. The extensive retail offering of malls and markets onshore satisfied any retail needs! OVERALL enjoyed culture shock experience rated very good, but cruise average. Prefer RC and P and O, but Princess has better itineraries. Entertainment and onboard activities need improvement. A cruise for over 55's not families! Need small notes in local currency otherwise faced queues waiting at terminal ATM's or banks. Good quality notes best and watch switching scam by taxi drivers and traders, as are fakes about. Generally main attractions do not accept credit cards, or US Dollars (except in Vietnam). BEIJING Flew BA direct overnight so managed to fit in visit to Temple of Heaven on first afternoon. Metro cheap but used Taxis also very cheap but need not just Pinyin (anglicised names) but Chinese characters to indicate destinations, even then some were illiterate so pictures of places even better! Pollution bad-a mask essential.Need a good hotel as a refuge! Raffles was nice and central, Concierge John Spooner was most helpful. Scale of city massive, all seemed a bit regimented with loudspeakers and armed soldiers in evidence. Did a whole day private tour Badaling Great Wall in morning as gets busy-used cable car 100 Yen each, then to usual expensive jade jewellery factory, and in afternoon Tiananmen Square, followed by Forbidden City, all quite demanding. Wangfujing Street usual western shops and malls but not on scale to be seen later in cruise! Distance to ship lengthy would advise a private transfer. A number of ports now required variably your passport, a photocopy (supplied by the ship, a landing card/visa, a customs declaration. Found this a bit of a nuisance, but essential to visit these places. BUSAN South Korea. Yeongdo terminal is 3 miles from city where metro and Ho ho bus can be accessed. Princess supplied a free shuttle but did not start till 12.30 p.m. Shuttle drops off near BIFF Square near Nampodong metro stop, and picks up on same side, fairly early 4.30 p.m. as ship left at 6 not 7 as published. Use lights to cross over road and go straight to 6 storey Jagalchi Fish market a must see! If then come out of market front and turn right can visit modern Lotte department store. City walkable. Underground cheaper stall shopping if go down to metro subways. Due to short time in port did not risk taking metro/bus out to Beomosa (mountain) and Haedong Yonggung (seaside) Temples. Ship had expensive tours to these places. Could do if took taxi from ship to nearest metro station. NAGASAKI Japan. Docked at Matsugae terminal. City walkable off ship. Was unclear if could get streetcar Day Pass Y500 without visiting a large hotel or the Rail Station, but there was a desk selling them in the terminal. Decided to walk (slight rise) to Glover Garden 600Y first, (assuming correctly that many would head first to the Peace Park). Was an oasis with Puccini and culinary links, and 9 large expatriate houses to visit. Escalators helped! Walked down to Ouratenshudo-Shita streetcar stop and caught to Matsuya-Machi stop-thence at main street take escalator diagonally opposite up to Peace Park and sculptures. (You will see the hypocentre park to your right, leave till later). Then walk down to hypocentre park, can also visit museum, but having done Auschwitz we were moved enough. Then back on street car to Dejima stop -can tour the reconstructed Protestant Seminary, is also a mall opposite. Can walk or take streetcar back to ship. KAGOSHIMA JAPAN. Princess night before "a local independent shuttle service will operate drop off near Hotel Sunflex. Will commence at 9.45 a.m. and last one 4 p.m." (All aboard 5.30 pm.) We went down at 9 a.m. and was already running! Was free. The Princess map was useless not showing the Hotel Sunflex. In the event was down from Tenmonkan shopping arcades, where can pick up local tram and City Bus tour. We bought a Welcome Cute extended 1 day pass Y1000 in the terminal which covered trams/buses PLUS the Sakurajima Island Ferry and Island View bus etc. We walked to the Sakurajima pier, ferries frequent, but alighting from ferry queues for hourly Island View bus meant once on do not get off! Unfortunately the volcano was shrouded in mist. Walked back to where shuttle dropped us visiting a dolphin display and hot spring foot onsen on way! Lastly took one route on the City view bus, but was single decker and sat down could not see much as people were allowed to stand. Queues for shuttle back to ship, but cleared quickly. Alternative to above was to take taxi from port to Wakita City tram stop, tram then takes to Tenmonkan and on to Sakurajima ferry. SHANGHAI Smog closed Wusongkou port, apparently happens often. Ships horn going most of night! So never landed. Had found impossible to find out if was a FREE local Port Shuttle-even contacting local consular officials to no effect. The night before Princess said "Today a bus service will run from the pier to Huangpu Park on the Bund. Commence approx. 9.30 a.m. last one 7 p.m. Cost US$8 each way". If adventurous could take taxi (16 Yuan) at port gate to Baoyang Road metro station on Line 3 with a 18Yuan day pass! Bus 9 is 2 Yuan if taxi too dear! Cheap and easy into Shanghai. HO CHI MIN CITY (Saigon) No shuttle, only one to local town by local authorities to Bia Ria market 8.30 a.m. start, 4.30 p.m. end. Now getting hot! Took ship's trip for comfort. Visited lacquer factory-expensive but wonderful items-small ones could be bought on local markets heaper. Bin Than market inside but lots of bargains. Toured city seeing sparse cathedral, remarkable Eiffel built Post Office, City Hall, Rex Hotel and Reunification Palace. While ladies shopped at Dong Koi Street I took a taxi to the Jade Emperor Pagoda, dark and dingy with lots of incense but being used! HONG KONG said would be tendered. Never found out where would be tendered to but assumed one of Central Piers on Hong Kong island. In event first day docked at Kai Tak Kowloon terminal with free shuttles to Hollywood Plaza Mall or AMP Mall in East Kowloon, probably provided by retailers. Could access Diamond Hill metro from Hollywood mall, or Kwantong Road metro from AMP Mall. We went to Hollywood Mall then took metro to Sha Tin stop, at front of station down ramp on left along to and left a short way along Pau Tau Street, then sharp left down an alley by a sports court to a sign to the 10,000 Buddahs monastery. 500 steps up but despite wild monkeys worth it. On return near Hollywood mall vsisted the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden. Second day docked at Container port (ship moved in the night!) with shuttles to Kowloon Ocean Terminal. Went on ship's trip to quickly get an overview of Hong Kong Island-Victoria Peak and cable car (more mist!), Aberdeen and a sampan harbour cruise, Stanley Market narrow and busy, City skyscrapers.. Good value and relaxing. In afternoon went to Ocean Terminal mall.-then took MTR (bought a Sold Octupus card for MTR etc. travel from station customer services desk-not available from machines, (got a senior discount and deposit balance refunded) crossed to Hong Kong island using Star Ferry, visited IFC Mall and lastly returned to Kowloon and walked Nathan Road and Temple Street night market. Ensure you remember where the shuttle dropped off as these malls all look the same-spent a worried half hour trying to find the drop off point! BANGKOK Again took ship's trip but 3 hours there and 2 and a half hour's coach back was very wearing with temperatures 100F+. Meant we had to be on the coach by 7 a.m. due to likely traffic problems.However the Grand Palace was outstanding, as were the Temples of the Emerald and Gold Buddah's. Chao Praya river trip a little disappointing as tour operator had to cut it short as some heat affected members used a bus rather than walk to the pier, which was delayed by traffic. Excellent lunch at Royal River Hotel included. A long day. Was an independent free shuttle to Pattaya 45 minutes distant start 8.30 a.m. end 4.30 p.m. SINGAPORE Disembarked shared transfer by Wang Express who also returned us efficiently to the airport 2 days later. HIghlights were Botanical Gardens particularly the National Orchid Collection-take taxi to gate near Gleneagles Hospital, as is a big area! Also Gardens by the Bay trees lit up to music 7.45 and 8.45 p.m. each night with a sky walkway not to be missed. Cheap Chinatown market and Marieammen living Temple also good. Stayed at Pan Pacific Orchard hotel-very good breakfast and service. Handy for Orchard Road shopping extravagance with malls galore! Highlight though was afternoon tea and a Singapore Sling at Raffles-not to be missed. Overall a wonderful trip, but not sure want to return unless is cooler and less humid! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We typically travel suite class. Because it has been going where we want to go, when we want to go, we've been traveling Princess. The Sapphire Princess is a large ship! The disadvantage is that it often is berthed in a cargo area of ... Read More
We typically travel suite class. Because it has been going where we want to go, when we want to go, we've been traveling Princess. The Sapphire Princess is a large ship! The disadvantage is that it often is berthed in a cargo area of the port Vs. "in/nearer town". Despite the number of passengers, there is enough space on the ship so you don't think it is crowded. The dining rooms serves good food. The alternative dining rooms, additional fee, are fine too. There are formal nights; however, the dress code is slipping (on all the cruise lines). The code is not enforced. Some passengers make a mockery of the code. The ships tours are good. Eliminates the need to arrange for private tours at the various ports (although we have arranged to be met by private tour guides). No matter what category you are traveling on the ship, check-in leaves a lot to be desired. Typically, check-in is the worst part of the cruise. They haven't mastered it yet. Some cabins do not have a separate shower from the tub; ugh! Bottom line: You'll enjoy your Princess Cruise! Late submission due to extensive overseas travel April-July Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
In keeping with the baby boomer penchant for cruising! and my wife's gentle persuasion(she had done a cruise to Europe);I decided to go on a cruise on the Sapphire Princess in April of 2016! quite a few setbacks e.g. ... Read More
In keeping with the baby boomer penchant for cruising! and my wife's gentle persuasion(she had done a cruise to Europe);I decided to go on a cruise on the Sapphire Princess in April of 2016! quite a few setbacks e.g. embarkation,visa problems,lack of communication, shore excursions. Embarkation: endless wait,form filling;chaotic! a young staff member suffered a seizure! mass confusion! no medical staff(God forbid if a passenger was to suffer a medical episode)!! visa: 24 passengers(including one in a wheel chair and some with infant children) were told to disembark at Nagasaki and rejoin the cruise at Hong Kong,as they did not have multiple entry visas to Shanghai! they hadn't committed a criminal act!! surely they could have been allowed to stay on board? a very stressful experience!!! this was ironic for 2 reasons: a 2 night stop at HK was altered to accommodate a stopover at Shanghai, this was cancelled due to fog(we sailed on to HK)!! as well, those passengers who had to disembark at Nagasaki would have had 'insult added to injury'. A 75 year old friend travelling with us,had to disembark at Bangkok! her visa for Singapore was incorrectly dated!! this ruined the rest of the trip for us!! money exchange: stood in a queue for an hour at quayside Nagasaki, to be told they only dealt in/with US dollars(no Australian or UK exchange)!! Cabin was clean and adequate( however,took 4 days to have a bed inadequacy fixed)! food was good(some dining areas had questionable service) first formal night was to meet with the Captain! after 2 hours,a no-show(had to stay at the helm due to heavy fog); second in command? * Letter of complaint to Sydney office! received an apology! recompense? never heard from (Senior Solutions; Sydney)again My first and possibly,last cruise with Princess Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2015
For the most part, liked the remodeling, especially the closet - more room and ease of unpacking. Did not like losing the hand held shower nozzle though in the tiny shower. Found the food less enjoyable - seemed like too much mushy stuff ... Read More
For the most part, liked the remodeling, especially the closet - more room and ease of unpacking. Did not like losing the hand held shower nozzle though in the tiny shower. Found the food less enjoyable - seemed like too much mushy stuff - though there were a few good nights with prime rib and lobster. Cannot complain about service. Excursions were ok but quite expensive. Drink prices increased by about $2 since 2013 cruise for exact same drinks and self serve laundry cost increased from $2 to $3 per load as well. Internet expensive and unable to get into on many parts of ship. Overall, glad we did this particular cruise but hope Princess is not lowering its gourmet standards as far as food goes. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
In Mandarin slang, ma ma hu hu means so so, not very good, or a bit of a mess. This cruise surely met that kind of definition. It ranks in the bottom five of the 40+ cruises we've taken. We joined the ship in Tianjin (aka the ... Read More
In Mandarin slang, ma ma hu hu means so so, not very good, or a bit of a mess. This cruise surely met that kind of definition. It ranks in the bottom five of the 40+ cruises we've taken. We joined the ship in Tianjin (aka the middle of nowhere, at least for now), exhausted and suffering from chest colds, after an outstanding eight-day pre-cruise tour in China. As with most pre-cruise tours offered by cruise lines, we paid too much. But we really enjoyed the experience. Sapphire Princess should be renamed Asian Princess, since this area is now its full-time home. Our 14-day itinerary suffered from the fact that it was the third leg (9+8+14) of a 31-day journey from Singapore to Hong Kong, sold as such to many of those on board. The schedule-maker seemed more intent on saving fuel for Princess (with days spent cruising at 14, 12 and even nine knots) than in providing an enriching experience for the paying customers, particularly since that schedule was thoroughly put out of whack along our way. The ship was clean and well-maintained, the service generally good, our cabin (an upgraded mini-suite) not particularly to my taste but very good nonetheless. The dining-room food was an improvement on recent experience with, again, excellent service. Embarkation was efficient. Mostly downhill from there, I'm afraid. The Horizon Court buffet was the usual mess: planned brilliantly for passengers to go in all directions at once. Buffet food was below standard. So anxious was Princess to appeal to the nine per cent of guests with Chinese passports that food for other palates was noticeably in shorter supply. The entertainment, typically a Princess strength, was mediocre at best. The song-and-dance troupe, new to the ship, needed a lot more practice. The main lounge band, Evolution, featured an excellent female lead singer but her male counterpart was too often off key. With one exception (Irishman Al Brown), the comedians were not memorable; the other featured entertainers hard-working but uninspiring. The activities schedule was clearly set up to make early diners (like the Cruise Director, apparently) happy; people who dined at 8 p.m., as we did, were left out of many evening events, none of which was repeated. Entreaties to the smiley folk at the front desk (or the Captain's Circle lady) achieved nothing, but no big surprise there. The mix of passengers (30% British, 21% American, 15% Aussie, 9% Chinese), many of them not experienced cruisers, meant there was never the sense of community which can make a great cruise when groups are more homogeneous. Princess obviously recruits passengers wherever it can, but one result of such eclectic rosters may well be a reduction in the number of North American cruisers on exotic journeys like this one. Shore excursions were a major weakness on this cruise. In Korea, our guide was so bad that we got a partial refund. In Japan and Taiwan, tour groups were too large for most of us to grasp what we were being told. The blame for that goes not to local guides, but to penny-pinching Princess, which risks losing excursion customers if this kind of performance continues. The weather didn't help: cold and smog and fog most of the way, a day spent at anchor off Shanghai in the murk (as the port was closed until late afternoon), which led (though it needn't have) to cancellation of shore leave in Okinawa. Given the distances between ports, we could easily have spent two days in Shanghai and visited all the other ports on the itinerary. We finally arrived in Hong Kong on April 24, to go through the worst cruise terminal I've ever seen. I get it (without understanding why) that terminal designers everywhere want passengers to walk as far as humanly possible. In Hong Kong, we walked round in a big circle after a zig-zag trip through a loading bridge. No luggage cart was anywhere in sight and porters were scarce as hen's teeth. Shore excursion personnel who could help direct us were notable by their absence. My advice to people who might use this place: please don't. The HK authorities aren't dumb: if passenger numbers go down, they'll fix this mess. By way of compensation (metaphorically speaking) we had our best tour of the cruise en route to the airport. This "kill-time tour" took us to Victoria Peak, an Aberdeen sampan ride and Stanley Market with good commentary from guide Joanna. We arrived at HKG airport (where a new town of half a million people is under construction) ready for the long and cramped flight home. So why, you might ask, does this fella keep cruising with Princess if this cruise wasn't up to snuff? Answer: first, this was the worst of our dozen Princess cruises, but was, we hope, an aberration, probably because head-office attention to detail and quality control was sorely lacking on this trip so far from southern California. Second, Princess gives us free laundry and free Internet, saving $20-$40 per day, and that's not an insignificant incentive. Third, warts and all, we've found Princess to be a better cruise line over the years than its competitors with whom we've traveled. We won't be going to Asia with Princess again, though we wish it well in profiting from that expanding market. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
I'd like to add a voice of agreement with the negative critique entitled "Ma ma hu hu" posted April 2015. My husband and I also were on the same cruise, and it really was a major disappointment from our past experiences ... Read More
I'd like to add a voice of agreement with the negative critique entitled "Ma ma hu hu" posted April 2015. My husband and I also were on the same cruise, and it really was a major disappointment from our past experiences with Princess. We had the same experience and opinions as stated in "Ma ma hu hu" as it relates to service, itinerary, excursions, Hong Kong Terminal and especially the Buffet Court which was truly a complete mess and disaster. We also had a similar experience in the lack of responsiveness and caring by Ship's Management. On about the 4th day of the cruise we began to detect a distinct sewage odor in a few places on board the ship. Over the next several days, the odor became increasingly strong and more offensive over a broader area of the ship. It was not limited to just inside the ship, but clearly evident on the outside decks in the open air. We brought this complaint to Front Desk management on two occasions, and they simply acknowledged that they had been made aware of it and it was being taken care of. Over the remainder of the cruise, it was never resolved and the offensive odor persisted. After we returned home, we received a call from Princess Customer Service regarding the Post-trip Evaluation Survey we had submitted. We welcomed the opportunity to talk to them further to share what we thought was constructive feedback. Instead, we were greeted with a very defensive posture and again seemingly uncaring attitude. Our biggest concern was whether this experience was isolated to trips in this particular part of the world, or whether it was trend in overall decreasing service and performance by Princess. While we haven't decided to preclude Princess as a choice for future travels, I can assure you we will ponder our future cruise choices much more closely before traveling with Princess again. Additionally, we will continue to watch Princess critiques to see if others have similar experiences and this is, in fact, a downward trend in their service. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2014
We've been on a fair few cruises on five different lines. One thing you realise is people love to complain about any minor niggle and to take a lot of the complaints with a grain of salt. For that reason I'll start with the ... Read More
We've been on a fair few cruises on five different lines. One thing you realise is people love to complain about any minor niggle and to take a lot of the complaints with a grain of salt. For that reason I'll start with the positives because there were several. Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth and painless, maybe because we had priority but I think it flowed wherever you were in the line. The Piazza café was a great alternative to a longer meal or the buffet and the staff were helpful and attentive. The Alfredo's pizzeria also on deck 5 made great pizzas and you could mix and match toppings to create one that suited you. For those people who are eligible for the elite lounge it also offers a fantastic hideaway on deck 17 in Skywalkers nightclub that was away from the crowds for a pre dinner drink or just to watch the world go by. The less impressive things are due to ship design rather than the staff. The balcony design is ridiculous. The suites on deck 9 have no weather protection or privacy. Deck ten fares a little better with limited privacy and weather protection and 11 and 12 are overlooking 9 and 10 and in return they can be seen from the decks below. That leaves deck 8 as the only option for privacy. For me the ship is just too big with not enough variation to spread the 2600 passengers. That leaves several areas feeling overcrowded when some areas are vacant. Lining up for all meals for any time dining wore thin quickly. The promenade deck acts as the running / walking track rather than on the upper decks like on many ships so it isn't the pleasant place to read and watch the sea because of an incessant procession of foot traffic. The worst thing without doubt is the food. It was bad in almost every way. From arriving cold, to steaks being like boot leather, to being massively unimaginative and bland. I recognise that serving the numbers of people on a cruise ship means you don't have a chef hovering over each meal ensuring it meets their exacting standards but I fully expect better food than the airline on the way to the ship. The menus were limited and repetitive. The food style seemed to be Asian meets U.S. but failed dismally to achieve the best of either. It was honestly like hospital food. I don't like making a fuss while I'm meant to be relaxing so I grinned and said it was fine when asked, simply because I could have sent 30% of my meals back. As I'd picked the most appealing of the limited choices, there was no better option when it was appalling. We often left the restaurant for a pizza. The second worst thing is the constant badgering by the staff (I know it isn't their fault) to sell things to you. It was only rivalled in the street markets of Vietnam. "Do you want bottled water?" "Do you want a coffee card?" "Do you want a wine package?" "Do you want a drinks package?" "Do you want an after dinner drink with a memento glass?" "Do you want a champagne breakfast?" "Do you want a wine tasting?" "Do you want a photo with dinner?" "Do you want an affogato?" On average we were asked if "we wanted fries with that" three times a day not including the obligatory photos at the gangway. I saw many people get angry with the staff who in some cases looked pained at having to continue, especially with the irritable responses. Summary: The food is abysmal (worst I've ever experienced) and they need to stop the incessant upselling. If those things were fixed I'd probably put up with the poor ship layout. No way I'd sail on her again unless they were rectified and I'm dubious about sailing on Princess full stop if their quality assurance is so poor.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
After a few days in Beijing at the Grand Mercure (very nice quiet room and great buffet breakfast) and a transfer to the port (Both not booked with Princess) we were onboard without too much waiting and straight to our cabin, which was ... Read More
After a few days in Beijing at the Grand Mercure (very nice quiet room and great buffet breakfast) and a transfer to the port (Both not booked with Princess) we were onboard without too much waiting and straight to our cabin, which was clean and comfortable with and excellent steward, The following day we had our CC meet and greet so were able to arrange several trips ashore with fellow passengers. After reading previous reviews of this Asian cruise we were a bit worried about the food, but have to say we had no complaints at all. We had fixed dining. We found there was plenty of choice, yes there was a lot of Asian, but that was a good thing and it was always possible to have a couple of starters. In fact sometimes my husband had 3 as he couldn't make up his mind. There was always a good choice of pasta and soup. Lots of variety and our waiting staff Belinda, Jordan and Sumit were excellent. Always cheerful, helpful and professional. We weren't so pleased with the choices at lunchtime in the dining room so usually used the buffet or pizza bar. Breakfast was also good in the buffet with lots of choice. Did not use the spa facilities or gym but really enjoyed the pools and Jacuzzis and because there were so many of them they were never really crowded. Also the big screen showing films and shows was great. Entertainment - here there was not a great deal of variety. We didn't attend the singing and dancing routines as not our thing, so can't comment on that. The comedian Al Brown was very good and also the male singer who had been in the Lion King in London was great. We did enjoy the onboard activities like Trivia (sometimes 4 a day), Line dancing, Zumba, Photographic sessions, and I thoroughly enjoyed attending the pop Choir. Zoe who got us to the final performance was a star. In fact all the staff we came in contact with from the entertainment crew to the dining room and buffet staff were so pleasant and not pushy in any way. We have been on the Sapphire before in Alaska and noticed a huge difference with the service. This time even the photographers were very low key and not pushy at all and we were very impressed with the talks on the ports given in the theatre. There was so much helpful information for those of us that wanted to do it on our own and unlike the Alaskan cruise there was no pushing for people to join excursions or order drink packages. Disembarkation could not have been easier. To sum up can't really find any fault with this cruise. The ports of call were fantastic and the sea days very enjoyable. Staff were great. Definitely would go on the Sapphire again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
We had never cruised in Asia and my husband was a little leery of taking this cruise. But then he did a complete turnaround and decided we had to do it. We loved the cruise itself and our destination port. Beijing we were not enthralled ... Read More
We had never cruised in Asia and my husband was a little leery of taking this cruise. But then he did a complete turnaround and decided we had to do it. We loved the cruise itself and our destination port. Beijing we were not enthralled with. Not a beautiful city. Too many people. Crazy drivers. Our Marriott hotel had hardly anyone working there who could speak English. However we were glad we got to see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. And we were lucky that we visited during the APEC conference so there were far fewer vehicles on the road and thus less pollution than normal. But getting to the cruise. Somehow we managed to get all the way to the id scanning station onboard the ship before we realized we had managed to bypass the princess checkin. It was a little disconcerting but the security people did not send us back. They got us cards as we stood there and it was all okay. We liked the ship very much. We had great service in the dining room (traditional dining). Our cabin steward was okay. We seemed to get our nighttime chocolates only occasionally, not every night as we used to get. There was a mixup on our first formal night and we almost missed it because the suit we sent to be pressed came back with the wrong jacket. We did make the dinner but we were late. The ports we visited were on and off okay. Busan was not very interesting. Nagasaki was beautiful. We chose a bad tour for Shanghai. Calling the little village we visited the Venice of the East was really a stretch. We loved Hong Kong and Macao. But be forewarned. Getting the Macao visa is a process that does not end with your visit to Macao. We had to cut our sightseeing in Hong Kong short the second day because the day after our Macao visit we had to present ourselves to the Macao officials onboard our ship to complete the visa process! Not just us. Everyone on our tour had to. Really annoying. Loved our extended land tour to Angkor Wat. An unforgettable experience. Not to be missed. Unfortunately we didn't get to see much of Ho Chi Minh City or Bangkok because we opted for the land tour but it was worth it. Loved Singapore and plan to go back in 2015. Our cabin was on the eighth deck forward so we had a window with a view. Do not be deterred from choosing a cabin with a window on a promenade deck. I had to press my face against our window to see into the cabin and it was still hard to see in. After I did that I had no hesitation to leave our drapes open. There was an outbreak of norovirus during our cruise. The ship's routine changed a bit because of this. No self service at horizon court. No bread and butter or salt and pepper shakers on the tables at meal time. Service was slower because of so much hand washing and individual service. But we did not get sick and we appreciated how the ship's crew handled everything. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
Ages m 61 f 58 Past cruises Princess 7 P&O 2 Celebrity 1 Regions: - Caribbean. Northern Europe, Mediterranean, South America and Alaska. Cabin Baja Balcony Grand Asia We took a short land tour before joining the ship from ... Read More
Ages m 61 f 58 Past cruises Princess 7 P&O 2 Celebrity 1 Regions: - Caribbean. Northern Europe, Mediterranean, South America and Alaska. Cabin Baja Balcony Grand Asia We took a short land tour before joining the ship from Beijing. The land tour was very rewarding and enjoyable. Our tour director Spike was excellent and involved everyone. Partly because Spike had set a very high bar we found the guides at Busan, Nagasaki, Shanghai, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Bangkok not up to the mark. Enjoyed the sites and culture but the info from the guides we found disappointing. Long trip in Vietnam to the tunnels and a very long day to Bangkok. At most of the ports there were delays in disembarking which truncated the sightseeing time but not the standard shopping stops times. Found the food to at best average. We tried Anytime Dining for the first time. Mostly this was a success and having good conversation at dinner. Formal nights are not what they used to be. At table on the first formal a fellow male thought that a collarless tee shit and baggies were suitable attire as did the staff I guess. At dinner towards the end of the cruise we were joined at table by 6 Australian 30 something’s. They were all on an All Inclusive drinks package. Their demeanour reflected this. During dinner the “F” and “C” words were used often. Their dining habits involved multiple first courses (3). We waited 25 mins for our second course to arrive. The image of snouts in troughs is etched in our memories.  I believe I saw them in the Crooners bar the previous night. They conformed it was them. The males were slumped over the bar. They were in drag and etched on their dresses was “Booze Cruise”  They found it humorous to make disparaging remarks about us.  What was being said at table could clearly be heard by adjacent tables. One of which had the Captain his wife and young daughter.  Judging by the Captain’s wife’s face I feel sure she at least heard what was being said.  We left the table before dessert. The following morning I made a complaint at the front desk before taking the early morning tour to Bangkok. When we returned in the late afternoon it was obvious nothing had been done to address our complaint. I asked to speak with a supervisor and I was refused. Later we received a phone call from the F&B manager. He suggested that the group may be spoken to. I suggested a far stronger course of action. He said it was company policy to speak to people first before any further action. The following day I was in conversation with a guest who was on the land tour. He was aware what had occurred at dinner. He informed me the same group were “performing” in Pop Stars at the Wheelhouse bar. He along with several other guests left. It would seem their was very effective. Since returning I have made a formal complaint to Customer Services. They suggested that many more people choose to cruise and they come from varied backgrounds. We will not be using Princess again as we feel our custom is not welcomed. Princess Cruises – Consummate Hosts – I think not!   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We booked a 9 night cruise from Beijing to Hong Kong via Busan Shanghai and Nagasaki. Unfortunately due to a typhoon we never went to Shanghai and Nagasaki even though the typhoon was nowhere near Shanghai. This decision was made before ... Read More
We booked a 9 night cruise from Beijing to Hong Kong via Busan Shanghai and Nagasaki. Unfortunately due to a typhoon we never went to Shanghai and Nagasaki even though the typhoon was nowhere near Shanghai. This decision was made before we boarded, once installed in our cabin the room attendant introduced himself and informed us of the change. Most passengers were travelling onto Vietnam and Singapore after HKG, but we and a few others were doing only half the cruise. Given that we were doing half the cruise and knowing the decision had been made before we arrived at ship I would have preferred we had been given the choice to cancel and a credit be made towards another cruise, as we had no interest in visiting any of the 3 cities we were now to visit in Taiwan. Princess cruises would have had the opportunity to redeem themselves. If I had seen an ad for a cruise to Taiwan I would have just turned the page. The safety issue was always mentioned which of course is very important, but no one could understand why we bypassed Shanghai on way to Busan. Because no explanation was made then rumours abound, the main one was that Busan was dropped on previous cruise and a deal was made that they would definitely pick up supplies there, so it was full steam ahead (after a late departure from Beijing) all night to Busan, we were sailing so fast our cabin was shaking all night. This was our 5th cruise and overall I was disappointed. We found the constant upselling was tacky and a nuisance. I thought the toiletries were very basic and was glad I bought along my own shampoo and conditioner as I was not going to use the shampoo/conditioner in the pump bottle provided. We ate at different restaurants with anytime dining, and found it didn't matter which restaurant we were sitting in, the menu was basically the same.. Other ships, big and small, have had full production entertainment in main theatre most nights, there was only one show with dancers and singers during our time on board. Luckily we had a very good NZ singer and an excellent Irish comedian. Movies under the Stars was a good idea and we did go to a couple of movies. On a previous cruise I joined the galley tour which was very interesting and the same tour was advertised on this ship so I went along. We met in theatre and it quickly became obvious this was a promotion for Sabadini Restaurant, one of those you pay extra for. When that had finished we then went to an empty galley and as we turned the corner there was a table all set up with goods to buy, olive oil $10, ship cookbook $25, wine pack $150, we then walked through the galley with no explanation of how and what happens and we entered Sante Fe restaurant which just happened to be set up for $10 sale of bags, ties, cufflinks etc etc,. It was a total waste of my time. The best thing I did on board was a photography course with Julia, brilliant. So, all in all, would we cruise with Princess again, no we would not. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
My wife and I are long time cruisers. We have reached Elite status on Princess. The pre-cruise extension to Xian was booked with Princess because we expected a first class experience. The hotel in Beijing was the Great Wall .Marriott. How ... Read More
My wife and I are long time cruisers. We have reached Elite status on Princess. The pre-cruise extension to Xian was booked with Princess because we expected a first class experience. The hotel in Beijing was the Great Wall .Marriott. How about black mold in the showers! How about tour guides in Xian changing the itinerary so they could take us to a souvenir store instead of sticking to the original agenda! For what Princess charges we should have had the best and instead we had the worst. The cruise itself was just okay. The Princess menu keeps going downhill as does the food. The captain did a great job keeping us out of a hurricane, but the two ports that they used to substitute for Nagasaki and Shanghai were only fair. If those two ports in Taiwan were on the original itinerary we would never had booked the cruise. We took this cruise on the Diamond Princess in 2008 and loved it. That is why we decided to take it again. Princess cannot control typhoons but Princess can control the sub-contractor they used in Beijing, the quality of food, and the substitute ports. Shame on Princess. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2014
I have recently returned from the Grand Asia tour from Beijing to Singapore. After a tiring day embarking we were informed that our ship would not be calling at Nagasaki or Shanghai due to super cyclone Yongpong heading in south of Japan. ... Read More
I have recently returned from the Grand Asia tour from Beijing to Singapore. After a tiring day embarking we were informed that our ship would not be calling at Nagasaki or Shanghai due to super cyclone Yongpong heading in south of Japan. After initial disappointment we realised it is better to be safe than sorry, Later in the cruise after rounding a corner off Taiwan we had a small taste of what a cyclonic sea is like with huge swells and 26 foot waves! After only travelling on smaller cruise ships I was a bit apprehensive about being on such a big liner but people seemed to fit in well in the various rooms. We kept fit by walking 320 steps to the International Dining Room each night from our cabin at the front of the ship. The outside movie screen was of a high quality and we were given excellent care with cookies and milk, pizzas and popcorn whilst relaxing under a warm Asian sky. Cabins had great hanging space and a good area to use as a dressing room. Bathroom was the same as all cruise liners but having a change of towels twice a day was a bonus. The tv screen was of also great quality..the movies were varied and plentiful and we watched one every night. The verandah was roomier than any other ship I have been on and it was a bonus to smell fresh air whenever we wanted! Despite fellow passengers mumbling about the quality of food not being up to scratch I had NO complaints and found it varied and beautifully presented...special mention to the soup and desserts! Congratulations to staff who were always happy and pleasant despite maybe feeling off that day of feeling home-sick. Only complaint is the constant selling promotions.....wine...jewellery...photos..internet...spa.....hairdressers...on and on it goes. If you stay strong you will not die of shock when you get the account on the last day! Well done Sapphire..it was hard to leave you in Singapore as our bus pulled away!! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We were attracted to this cruise because of the itinerary, and we had an enjoyable cruise previously around the Greek islands on the Ruby Princess. We had a couple of nights in Beijing at the start visiting the Great Wall and Tienanmen ... Read More
We were attracted to this cruise because of the itinerary, and we had an enjoyable cruise previously around the Greek islands on the Ruby Princess. We had a couple of nights in Beijing at the start visiting the Great Wall and Tienanmen Square, which were really interesting, and then transferred to the ship at Tianjin. Embarkation was appalling, much worse than we have ever experienced before, we had a long queue to register, and then had to wait ages for our number to be called. The facilities were extremely poor - no refreshments were provided - and it was very stressful and unpleasant. No reason was given for the delay and the staff treated you as if you were lucky to finally get on the ship! We very much enjoyed the itinerary even though Typhoon Vongfong meant we diverted to Taiwan instead of visiting Nagasaki and Shanghai. We found we enjoyed the Sapphire Princess less than the Ruby Princess even though the ships are virtually identical the Sapphire Princess suffered in comparison, particularly in the standard and quality of the food that was provided. Part of the problem was that half of the menus in the restaurants was given over to Asian dishes, and these are not to our taste, but we also found some nights the choice of the other dishes was poor and the quality of some was also lacking. The ship also seemed badly organised, for example they ran out of some wines right from the start of the cruise, and by the end several were off the menu. They also ran out of diet coke and Boddingtons beer. One area where the Sapphire Princess matched the Ruby was in entertainment however, unfortunately this meant that it was just as bad! Over the whole of the cruise we only found a few shows that we thought worth watching in the theatre, and nothing at all in the other venues. In our experience other cruise lines like NCL for example provide much better entertainment. We also find it baffling that Princess feel its appropriate to run things like hairy chest competitions, which jar with the general ambiance on the ships. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We have sailed on a few of Princess Cruises but it was disappointing this time. The good part was the pre cruise tour we took with Catherine Lu Tours. We stayed at Park Plaza Wangfujing at her recommendation and it was a nice hotel and ... Read More
We have sailed on a few of Princess Cruises but it was disappointing this time. The good part was the pre cruise tour we took with Catherine Lu Tours. We stayed at Park Plaza Wangfujing at her recommendation and it was a nice hotel and good location. We took a private tour bus from the Otani Hotel to the cruise ship at a cost of $45 each with tour-beijing.com. Embarkation was very disorganized and the line ups were terrible. We had already been requested to have photocopies of our passport made prior to the cruise and then they took two more copies at the port and we never needed them. They changed the schedule prior to the cruise for Busan and Nagasaki - switching the dates around. Then according to the Captain- due to typhoon - they cancelled Shanghai and also Nagasaki but included two ports in Taiwan. These would not have been ports of call on our wish list. The ship was clean and the activities adequate. The dining service was not up to par. We went to the Crab Shack one evening and the service was terrible. We were there two hours and had still not finished our meal, we were so disgusted with the service we left. Cabin service was excellent. The entertainment was marginal from other cruises we have been on. Usually, on previous cruises for anytime dining, the menu's have contained one or more different dishes, this time the menu was the same at all restaurants for dinner. One vegetarian plate for a lady sitting nearby consisted of two different rices and no vegetables. I thought it was a terrible presentation to give. The menu almost every evening consisted of an Asian selection and what we would call a Caucasian menu. The Asian menu for appetizers EVERY night was Cucumber Salad, Egg Rolls and one other dish. We were constantly hassled in Horizon Court with people wandering around wishing to sell different packages, eg Wine Pkg, Chefs Dinner pkg, Wine Tasting Pkg.. We felt sorry for some people at the next table to us when they were bothered 5 times during one lunch. (twice by the same girl). Shore excursions were disappointing. Busan, S.Korea you can do on your own as the shuttle bus takes you into town and the fish market is a short walk as is the international market. A large mall is also within walking distance and has free wifi and a clean food court. There is even a TGI Fridays but there are also several nice local cuisine restaurants. Excursions in Korea were not that good. Excursion in Hong Kong was good but it was easy to get around there on your own. Excursion in Ho Chi Min City was terrible but good if you like shopping. Seemed all the tours contained trip to the lacquer factory, then the market at some point. Bangkok is also easy to get around without a tour but not if you wish to do more than the City. Disembarkation was swift and good. Summary, it was disappointing as we had expected a higher standard than what Princess gave this time.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We chose this cruise for the dream destinations--Beijing and Xi'an, Nagasaki, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Singapore. Unfortunately, the itinerary changed three times, the last time being on embarkation day. The first change was ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the dream destinations--Beijing and Xi'an, Nagasaki, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Singapore. Unfortunately, the itinerary changed three times, the last time being on embarkation day. The first change was due to the unrest in Bangkok earlier in the year--Bangkok and Singapore were reversed in order. Understandable, but we had already made plans to spend a few days in Thailand after the cruise, and had to cancel that. It also meant that we made a reluctant decision to skip the Angkor Wat extension, for we would not have been able to see any of Bangkok. The second change was minor, changing the order of ports for Busan, Nagasaki, and Shanghai. No reason was given for this. The third change was due to two major typhoons. When I read the ship log at the end of the cruise, I did understand the changes overall--we had two nights with waves 7-8 meters high! While this was understandable, it meant that Nagasaki and Shanghai were cancelled for three, later changed to two, ports in Taiwan. I can understand cancelling Nagasaki, but cannot understand why Shanghai was also cancelled--no explanation was given. Taiwan was OK, but not what we thought we were paying for. We took the pre-cruise tour of Beijing and Xi'an. The hotels were fine. A few people complained about mold in the showers, but we didn't experience that ourselves. Our tour guide was excellent. Our one complaint is that the lunch and supper meals were virtually identical every day--got tiresome. I do think the ships are getting too big. The result is that that more and more often, they have to dock at cargo ports that are up to 2.5 hours away from the destination cities. We took Princess tours at most ports. They were fine, with only one tour guide that we didn't like--she spent quite a bit of time talking about her personal life and views. The food on this cruise was significantly worse than on any previous Princess cruise. There are multiple anytime dining rooms, and it would have been good to have some choices in the menus. Except for one day, they were identical. The menu changed little from day to day--most appetizers and about 1/3 of the entrees were the same every day. They had beef medallions every night with a sauce that changed daily, but really, there was little difference there, either. One night, Beef Wellington was served with a particular sauce; on the same menu were the beef medallions--in the same sauce as the Beef Wellington. When we went to the buffet, we saw many of the same menu items that were available in the dining rooms. We ate in the Sterling Steak House one night. While the $25 upcharge was known, some of the menu items they had included additional charges! We took the Ultimate Ship Tour, and thoroughly enjoyed it. On the tour, someone asked if the menu on the ship is the same on other ships, or if there is variety. The Chef told us that the menus are centrally planned, and therefore mostly the same on every ship. He has some flexibility due to region (we were in Asia, so almost half of the menu was comprised of Asian foods). The entertainment was "OK." The singers and dancers were very good, especially the night I watched them while we were on the outskirts of the typhoon--it took skill to perform their routines on a rocking ship! However, the production numbers are shorter than they used to be. I don't think any ran more than 30 minutes--not quite enough for many of us. The last two productions were truly excellent, and it was a good way to end the cruise. We did not see the other entertainers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
Before we went on this trip I read the reviews other people who just came off of the same trip had posted. My thoughts were you can't please everybody and maybe these people are just too picky. I was wrong they were right. I went on ... Read More
Before we went on this trip I read the reviews other people who just came off of the same trip had posted. My thoughts were you can't please everybody and maybe these people are just too picky. I was wrong they were right. I went on the nine day Yenisei river cruise prior to getting on the 17 day Beijing to Singapore cruise. The first day I got into my cabin I woke up and was shaving, my sink overflowed onto my only pair of clean trousers soaking them from top to bottom. I then went to my dresser drawer to remove a pair of clean boxers only to find out that the drawer was never cleaned from of sand from the previous guest. It took me three days to get a hold of the Internet tech. to find out why I could not log onto the Internet. I went up and scheduled three (Male) manicures and found out they charge $60 for each. When I went back up later to cancel them I found out they forgot to even book the time for them. I rented a tuxedo which is supposed to come with two shirts. I didn't receive the second shirt until I complained to 4 different supervisors and had been promised by each I would have the shirt in1hr at the most. I received it about 2 hrs. before dinner. When I did get my tuxedo package even that was missing a cuffling which I wasn't able to get until 30 minutes before I left my room for dinner. My cabin stewart did not replace my sheets until I noticed he had not replace them four days before we departed the ship and that was only because my girl friend had makeup that marked the sheets,comforter and pillow cases. I contacted three different supervisors who were absolutely incapable of understanding or handling any of these issues. After complaining about these issues they offered me free dinners and other amenities which I declined because I can pay my own way I just wanted a clean cabin. I looked at the sheets they replaced and found out that those were also dirty. Call the supervisor up again about the dirty sheets and asked why my cabin Stewart would make a bed that had sheets that were obviously dirty. He could only say he would take care of it. There were two women's bathrobes in my cabin. the destinations are of the chart great. Except, you only have 45 min. in each place to take pictures, hear you guides info and then try to find where they disappeared to !!!!! The rest of the time your waiting on wheel chaired guest and people who can't walk stairs ect...... Princess SHOULD NOT allow or make a separate trip for slow and or handicapped individuals. I could go on and on but I hope who ever reads this understands what they can expect from Princess. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
The ship needed to be totally and completely renovated. It was old, the furniture was chipped, carpet was worn out and it smelled old. The crew on the ship were definitely not interested in being there. The service and the restaurants was ... Read More
The ship needed to be totally and completely renovated. It was old, the furniture was chipped, carpet was worn out and it smelled old. The crew on the ship were definitely not interested in being there. The service and the restaurants was horrible maître d''s were just dropping plates on the table, walking away. When I got into my room the sheets on my bed were dirty from the people who stayed there before. When I asked to have them changed they did only to find hair and dirt on the sheets. After a few ports and about 10 days we realize that they had never changed the sheets on our bed since that day we complained about them. When going to the ship's desk to complain about the lack of service in our cabins (they would have a talk with our cabin steward)as well as absolutely no activities by the pool we were told that the weather was not good and they could not offer activities. Keep in mind that we were close to the equator and every day was about 95 Fahrenheit plus with humidity that was about 90%. We have taken many cruises and been to many places in the world and have red many cruise critic reviews as we did prior to taking this cruise. Our thoughts were it's hard to please everybody and maybe just most the people writing these reviews are too picky. Well that's just not the case from 01 to 10 (10 being the best )I would score the ship and its crew no more than two or three only because they were actually standing on the ship, food I would score a four destinations I would score a nine or 10. They do not give you very much time at any of these sports and feel a much better cruise with the 1 1/2 days in each port. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
We boarded in Tianjin on Friday May 03 without problems and the cruise through China, South Korea and Japan was very enjoyable in calm conditions with fine warm weather. The ports visited were Dalian (China) Busan (Sth Korea) Osaka and ... Read More
We boarded in Tianjin on Friday May 03 without problems and the cruise through China, South Korea and Japan was very enjoyable in calm conditions with fine warm weather. The ports visited were Dalian (China) Busan (Sth Korea) Osaka and Yokohama (Japan) The only Princess excursion we took was a Temple and Market one at Busan and this was not well run and ended up at the famed ? Fish Market. Really a take it or leave it affair. Strangely vendors at the Markets here tended to run away when approached and it appears that poor English skills may have been responsible. The other ports were quite delightful and we did our own thing often using public transport. There is some satisfaction in hopping on to rail transport and navigating in these large cities. (We took the rail from Yokahama to Tokyo without trouble) The cruise then set sail for Whittier via the Aleutian Islands, spending some time in the Bering Sea and arriving in Whittier on Sat May 18 to a quite magnificent blizzard which kept up most of the day. These 8 days at sea were where I thought Princess completely dropped the ball. I had been looking forward to this sector as little was known about this remote area that has a very rich history.and many Islands are quite spectacular, rising for 4 or 5 thousand feet out of the sea in near perfect snow covered cones. Now, we did a round Australia cruise with Princess some years back and were treated to an extremely interesting series of talks (Scholarships at Sea) about Australian people and history, including Captains Cook and Bligh, these resulted in the Princess Theater being packed out, one had to get there early. Alas for the entire cruise to Whittier we were treated to "the Art Museums of the USA" and "Bridge for Beginners", the popularity of which was shown by a max of 50 or so people in the large Princess Theater. I wrote to the Captain expressing my disappointment and the Bridge Crew did forward me some written information, but nothing for the rest of the passengers. During this sector an unscheduled deviation in course was made to stop in a small harbour on Adak island to offload a sick passenger who was then flown by air ambulance to Anchorage. Adak has an airport originally built during the second world War. Again the chance to discuss this fascinating place was ignored. Passengers were seen congregating around the chart trying to figure out where we has been, (it was midnight during the offload) So Princess, take note and don't bore your passengers during sea days!The sector South to Vancouver was extremely enjoyable with excellent talks and commentary by the State Park rangers and a naturist chipping in. We struck perfect clear weather for the glacier cruise.Vancouver was lovely. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
SUMMARY Lovely ship with nice atmosphere being well managed by Captain Roger Bilton and Cruise Director, Brett, who kept everybody informed. Food was good but not up to the standards enjoyed on previous cruises on Sea Princess. ... Read More
SUMMARY Lovely ship with nice atmosphere being well managed by Captain Roger Bilton and Cruise Director, Brett, who kept everybody informed. Food was good but not up to the standards enjoyed on previous cruises on Sea Princess. Entertainment was poor, especially in the theatre, evidently due to excessive cost cutting. Well managed port calls with minimal queues and formalities handled very efficiently. Good mix of passengers (31% UK, 30% USA, 42 nationalities) and friendly staff (50 nationalities with the majority from the Philippines). Great itinerary from Beijing to Bangkok. Avoided the Princess tours as it was easy to get around using the free shuttles. CRUISE In April 2013 my wife and I joined the Diamond Princess in Beijing for a cruise to Bangkok. Having cruised with Princess several times we had priority ("platinum") boarding, which avoided queuing for embarkation after the long flight from London. Previous cruises had been on smaller ships (notably Sea Princess with under 2000 passengers) so we were pleased to find that the Diamond Princess (with 2700 passengers) felt very similar. We had opted for an inside cabin because the first half of the cruise would be cold and the second half too warm to make a balcony useful. This worked well as the cabins were more spacious than the earlier ships. ITINERARY The itinerary had one sea day between most port calls, which worked really well and gave us time to reflect and prepare between busy days in different countries. Princess handled all the immigration formalities with amazing efficiency, which avoided queuing delays and the need to carry passports. Having previously travelled across most of the countries visited, albeit many years ago, it was fascinating to see how much had changed. We avoided the over-priced tours offered by Princess because the free shuttle buses made it so easy to do our own thing. Travelling on the local trains, buses, ferries and trams was cheap and easy and all the main sights were in easy reach. Passengers who attended the informative port lectures soon realised how easy it was to explore by themselves but some research before joining the cruise is always worthwhile. FOOD AND DRINK We opted for fixed dining, which worked really well on our table of eight. We also used the same (International) dining room for breakfast and lunch to avoid the busy Horizon self service on deck 14. We also took afternoon tea on occasions but found that the waiters tended to rush everybody through this rather than serve at a relaxed pace. Food was generally good but not up to the standards we have enjoyed on previous Princess cruises in terms of both choice and presentation. We were well fed but none of the dishes had that "special touch" to make them memorable. Choice of desserts was disappointing and even the souffles were rather boring. We appreciate that this is mass catering on a large scale but have enjoyed better. Wine prices appear to have increased by 50% over the past 2 years and drink prices seemed rather high, with no Happy Hour on this cruise. Princess coffee has never been great, as they encourage you to buy their speciality coffee. We did not try the Italian style Sabatinis (or the other small speciality eating places) because we were already eating too much and felt no need to pay the 25 USD per head surcharge. ENTERTAINMENT We have enjoyed some great entertainment on all previous Princess cruises but can only describe the theatre entertainment as poor. The theatre seated about 1000 passengers but was seldom full because the 30 minute shows had a single act with third rate, mainly Australian, artists. We walked out of a couple of shows, as did others, because they were so bad. The on board song and dance team produced five shows but they were low budget versions of tired shows, like The Piano Man, which were much better 5 years ago. The theatre was packed on two occasions, the first being a welcome back show by 5 and 6 year old children at Nagasaki, where the Diamond Princess was built. The children were amazing and must have rehearsed for months. The staff show on the final night was packed, as usual, with everybody behaving like juveniles and having a good time. Entertainment in the various lounges was better but often far too loud. One singer/comedian, who was actually one of the cruise staff, (Jamie something) was tremendous and a great entertainer. Trivia was as popular and competitive as ever with keen competition for worthless prizes. We won several times but there was no "bubbly" to celebrate with the team members, as enjoyed previously. The scavenger hunt lasted several days but timing tended to clash with other activities. The egg drop competition was fun but had few competitors. Bingo seemed as popular as ever but those playing commented that they felt cost was too high. The art lectures were interesting but poorly attended because passengers evidently preferred the sun deck. PLACES VISITED We did not see much of China because we opted for just an over-night stop in Beijing then the Shanghai port call was cancelled due to high winds. Others, who stayed longer, endured the smog and chilly weather to make quick trips to the Forbidden City and The Great Wall, which was barely visible. After a day at sea, we reached Busan in South Korea. The Jagalchi Fish Market was fascinating and the BIFF area featuring Asian movie stars was worth a visit. The smart roof area on the Lotte department store provides great views and their food hall is superb. The following day we stopped at Nagasaki, where, like most passengers, we visited the Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum. Ships dock right in the town, where the Glover Garden and Catholic Church are just across the road. The Captain was obliged to avoid the long estuary to Shanghai, where the port was closed due to high winds. This gave us an extra day in Hong Kong, which we loved, after three days at sea. We avoided the busy and misty Victoria Peak and used all forms of public transport, using an Octopus Card, to get around. Watching the nightly 8pm light show, around the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade area, from the ship as we departed was a bonus. We had two consecutive stops in Vietnam, the first being Nha Trang. The Long Son Pagoda, with its huge white Buddha and the reclining Buddha can be reached on foot from the shuttle stop, as could the smelly Cho Dam market. Ho Chi Minh city was only reachable on a tour because the ship docks at the Phu My container port, which is 2.5 hours drive. Ho Chi Minh is a vibrant unspoilt place with plenty to see. Singapore has become increasingly smart and, in our opinion, lost much of its charm, especially in China Town and Little India. The buildings get ever higher as more land is reclaimed. We finished the cruise in Bangkok with a busy day visiting the Grand Palace, Wat Trimitr, Wat Pra Keo and a river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
We have just returned from a Southeast Asia cruise on the Diamond Princess. The cruise was very good overall, but unfortunately we did not get to see Shanghai due to bad weather. The captain only told us two hours beforehand at ... Read More
We have just returned from a Southeast Asia cruise on the Diamond Princess. The cruise was very good overall, but unfortunately we did not get to see Shanghai due to bad weather. The captain only told us two hours beforehand at approximately 6am that we were unable to dock at Shanghai as the port was closed due to bad weather. We therefore remained at sea for three days and missed a very popular port that we were all looking forward to visit. To add insult to our disappointment, in the captain's final speech before disembarkation he mentioned our cruise "... had beaten the record of eating the most food on board". Perhaps missing a port on our itinerary and three consecutive days at sea drove us to comfort eating! I agree with other passengers reviews regarding the many problems on the Diamond Princess e.g. the ships mechanical vibration, the $25 per head dining surcharge, the expensive shore excursions, the mediocre entertainment and food to name a few. Furthermore, the gym was small for the size of ship and the classes almost non-existent e.g. the spinning only lasted for a couple of classes until the instructor disembarked at Hong Kong and was never replaced. The Skywalkers Nightclub was a waste of time and could do with an injection of someone like Jamie from the cruise staff. Diamond Princess has poor sanitation control and does not do enough to stop passengers bringing bacteria onto the ship. Most of the passengers had bad coughs by the end of the cruise. Don't bother complaining to the Princess Cruises customer services as they will only quote you their t&c's and then hope you will travel with them again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2013
Stayed 2 nights pre curise at the Mariott City Wall Beijing, lovely hotel. Did Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Great Wall at Mutiyanu all the same day. On reflection we probably should have stayed an extra night, doing the Square, ... Read More
Stayed 2 nights pre curise at the Mariott City Wall Beijing, lovely hotel. Did Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Great Wall at Mutiyanu all the same day. On reflection we probably should have stayed an extra night, doing the Square, Forbidden City, etc on one day and the Great Wall the next day giving us more time at the Wall. Tianjin the port for Beijing is about a 2.5 hour coach journey. We heard one or two horror stories about people arranging their own transfers. Don't go there! Embarkation was effortless, soon on board watching a Paul McCartney Concert on the big movie screen. Cool beer in hand. Second stop Nagasaki, which turned out to be our favourite port. We did the walking tour which was very interesting and informative, ie Ground Zero, Atomic Bomb Museum. But there was nothing you couldn't do on your own with the minimum of research or a little advice from the Tourist Info at the port building. There was also a money exchange there. If you do nothing else in Nagasaki, don't miss the sail away. We had a high school band and dancers turn out to playH, along with hundreds of locals to wave goodbye, very emotional. Then as the ship sailed under a huge bridge there were lots of people lined up waving us off. Missed out on Shanghai due to bad weather (bad news). Good news we got an overnight stay and an extra day in Hong Kong. If you only have one day in Hong Kong, would recommend the Ho Ho (hop on hop off) bus which takes you virtually everywhere, including peak tram and star ferries. HK is very easy! Vietnam quite difficult to do your own thing, in fact Princess would only let you take their own shuttle into Ho Chi Min City. We did the tunnels excursion which was excellent, very interesting adding a different perspective. Very hot!! In Singapore, Princess provided a shuttle service from port to centre. Very easy to do your own thing here with a little effort and using the Ho Ho bus. Everything we encountered on the ship was superb. We opted for anytime dining, having said that we ended up going to the Sante Fe Dining room every night. We had two excellent waiters, friendly but super efficient. Food was delicious. We did the wine package which saved a lot of money, but towards the end of the cruise, choice got a bit limited. The staff on board were excellent, friendly but not over-familiar. We now ask ourselves, did we pick the best ship and crew and spoil ourselves for any future cruises or are all the ships in the Princess fleet as good as this one? We finished the cruise spending 3 days in Bangkok, where we did a particularly memorable trip to the Bridge on the River Kwai (we booked this tour back in the UK). The tour included the War Museum and a train journey along the banks of the River which followed the route of the original railway. We have booked another cruise with Princess, this time to the Caribbean. If it's as good as this one we will be more than pleased.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2013
What a fantastic experience!  Flew Heathrow - Beijing on KLM, via Amsterdam - excellent service and comfortable-ish for long haul cattle class. In Beijing, stayed at the Marriott City walls, which was lovely, although the food was poor ... Read More
What a fantastic experience!  Flew Heathrow - Beijing on KLM, via Amsterdam - excellent service and comfortable-ish for long haul cattle class. In Beijing, stayed at the Marriott City walls, which was lovely, although the food was poor value. Princess offered us several trips, which we took, as they seemed good value (I have reviewed the trips separately on Trip Advisor if you are interested.) Acrobatic show, Great Wall (foggy and cold, sadly), Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, all with great restaurants and local guides(especially the Peking Duck!. We had a 2hr drive to the port to meet the Diamond Princess.) She is beautiful and I can't fault her - service was great, public areas never crowded, shows excellent, and food good (we had anytime dining which gave us more freedom to eat where we liked)Our cabin on B deck was good (I wouldn't have liked lower decks, as they were overlooked, and not undercover from the downpours we had. Mind you, they were better for sunbathing) Catherine our steward was lovely, and when my husband said his back was stiff, she found us a comfortable topper for the mattress. We enjoyed our days at sea. Captain Bilton coped well with problems - an engine played up, a poorly crew member had to be airlifted off the ship at midnight, and Shanghai was too dangerous to dock in due to bad weather.(We had an extra day in Hong Kong instead - yippee!)The port talks by Elizabeth were excellent, and very funny Our first port of call was Busan, South Korea - beautiful city, with fantastic markets (and they don't hound you to buy either!). Nagasaki next, again beautiful and very welcoming - little children came on board to sing and dance. In Hong Kong we had to be tendered on the first day from Junk harbour, but everything was smoothly organised. Leaving Hong Kong, the ship sailed slowly through Victoria Harbour just as the 8pm laser show began - brilliant! In Vietnam, we had 2 port stops and again, we did the organised trips, which we thought were mostly good value, and more relaxed. Loved the country, very interesting -especially the CuChi tunnels, and War zone Singapore was beautiful, although we thought the Botanic Gardens trip would have been easier and a darn sight cheaper to do ourselves. Ended up in the Long Bar at Raffles. Time was wasted in Singapore due to the long immigration process. We disembarked in Bangkok (PhuMi), and did a city and temple tour on our way to the Four Seasons hotel, where we stayed for 3 nights - wonderful. Bangkok is easy to get around so we 'did it ourselves' - what a great city! In all. a fabulous experience - we have just booked for 2015 with Princess on their South America cruise (Rio to Santiago) - can't wait. The ONLY downside were the small groups of whingeing passengers who were vocal about the pettiest things (0ne woman had her passport on a string round her neck, and was reluctant to give it up, as she said she needed to know she would get home - dead or alive!), too little ice/too much, chopsticks in China and Japan - they even asked for forks!!), complained about missing out Shanghai (safety first!) and the very worst were rude and abrupt with the crew members, which is unforgiveable. Carpe Diem and stop moaning! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2013
We booked on the Beijing to Bangkok cruise which has some amazing ports of call. We have done several cruises but never have we seen such a serious mechanical vibration which emanated from the engine room on the port side on the Diamond ... Read More
We booked on the Beijing to Bangkok cruise which has some amazing ports of call. We have done several cruises but never have we seen such a serious mechanical vibration which emanated from the engine room on the port side on the Diamond Princess. This spread through all of the decks and caused plates and tableware to rattle constantly. Luckily, our cabin was slightly aft of midships and so the vibration was less, but never the less unacceptable. It was bad enough to vibrate some cutlery and glassware across our table in the steak restaurant on deck 14!! We only ate there once. It was not just when we were moving, it was there all the time. The ship also had "a propulsion failure" during the cruise which caused us to slow down, but this was fixed overnight. Maybe the two are connected. The A/C was patchy with some areas of the ship ice cold. The "Movie under the stars" screen packed in as well. This ship needs some major mechanical repairs. Diamond Princess has poor sanitation control. No sanitizer was provided as we boarded at each port. It seems obvious to me that if you are visiting poor hygiene areas you will carry the bacteria back onto the ship. Lots of passengers had "cold like" symptoms by the end of the cruise. No sanitizers were provided for the restaurants, the only place they were to be found was the Horizon Court buffet on deck 14. Hand wipes were provided in the Internet room but this is a silly idea, hand sanitizers are needed here too, before you enter. We found service on the Diamond Princess very patchy, not what we have experienced on other Princess ships. Service in 2 of the dining rooms in the evenings was excellent, service in the other one was dire. Table service at breakfast was very slow too. Bar service in the Explorers lounge was a hit and miss experience and on too many occasions I had to go to the bar in order to get a drink after waiting ages for a waiter that never appeared. The waiters were just chatting to each other at the bar. This area is badly in need of a sharp supervisor. In the end we stopped going into this lounge. By way of contrast, the service in the Crooners and Wheelhouse lounges was excellent. We enjoyed the port tours with one exception. In Singapore the customs officials insisted on face-to-face passport checks. We were on a 4.5 hour tour starting at 9.30am. We didn't clear customs till 11am. But the tour came back at the normal time and so we lost 1.5hours off our tour. Very poor organisation, Princess should have kept the tour to 4.5 hours. Brett the cruise director and his team were excellent and so was the entertainment. Not all to our taste, but I will say that Sammy Goldstien, the resident singer and entertainer in Crooners, was one of the best that we have ever seen. The Australian comedy magician, Phil "trust me" Cass, was excellent too, as good as we have ever seen on the strip in Las Vegas. The 5 production shows were all new to us and excellent. Finally, the ship ran out of several types of wine. By day 10 we were down to one page of white wines and no rose wines at all!!! We bought a $29 wine package and we ended up with only a choice of lower price wines thereby eroding the so called saving. How can a cruise ship run out of wine? Read Less
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