13 Beijing Romantic Cruise Reviews

I had to wait for six months before I could write down this review more objectively. Meaning without the disbelief or all the other first negative reactions. So in short - everything the others have already written here is completely ... Read More
I had to wait for six months before I could write down this review more objectively. Meaning without the disbelief or all the other first negative reactions. So in short - everything the others have already written here is completely accurate. However, after telling the stories after half a year, it all feels quite entertaining. Not ever on our nine RCI cruises before have we felt like being in a candid camera. Or in a sitcom, not in the audience but on the stage before cameras. Because why and where else would all those silly things take place. You have the basic setup: A slightly unconfident captain that gets a totally inexperienced crew who probably was supposed to be somewhere else. Like repairing cars, milking cows, studying in high school ... who knows. Then they are given this brand new amazing shiny ship with all the features and gimmicks nobody has heard of and obviously have no idea how to use them. Then, the ones who have ever held a spoon are made chefs, etc. Train the ”crew” for an hour. Bring in the customers. Let the hell break loose. All the rubber cheese jokes, misunderstandings, arguments and mass fights will follow inevitably. No screenwriting needed. I particurally liked the calling for tender tickets scene, by a Jamaican crew member. ”A3!” - ”Was it E3 or I3?” - ”Yes!” Why am I writing this now is that we are thinking to go back on Ovation soon (19 Nights - Honolulu to Sydney). You have to believe in good and give everybody another chance. If things are still failing after one year from this review, they are never going to improve. Dining: We have eaten dinners on nine other RCI ships. I would rate the previous ones quite high, like 4/5 stars or so. However, the experience on Ovation was 2/5 at it's best. The waiters were pretty clueless in general, but the biggest disappointment were the ingredients of the meals. In Asia, particularly in China the dairy products are far from western standards. So the "rubber or cheese" was not really a joke but a real situation. However, after Hong Kong things improved a bit. Eventually we kept going to 270° for breakfast and Windjammer for the rest of the day. Entertainment: Not quite on par with other RCI ships either. The "Pixels" was only okay, you couldn't avoid feeling that that the crew was barely walking through the show but wanted to be somewhere else instead. Onboarding / arriving / departing: Pure chaos, lucky that not more people got hurt. Activities: Not so bad! All the latest gadgets were entertaining and even the queues were not bad. Maybe because there were not so many children on a transfer cruise. As a 30-40 yrs couple we drove more bumper cars than all in our lives before combined. Stateroom: The only safe haven where you felt like "home". The stateroom waiter was luckily of the normal RCI standard, which is awesome. Excursions: Didn't take. Ports of call were really intriguing, but usually all the action happened 1-2 hrs from the port itself. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The inside cabin was a bit small compared to other ships we have been on. They could never regulate the air conditioning even though they tried to fix it, they never could. The ship was always cold and most of the passengers were sick ... Read More
The inside cabin was a bit small compared to other ships we have been on. They could never regulate the air conditioning even though they tried to fix it, they never could. The ship was always cold and most of the passengers were sick with sniffles and coughs and the Asian flu. Going from very hot humid weather to freezing cold was ridiculous. The crew and staff were great. The entertainment was mediocre. The food was good as was the service in the dining room. Our waiters were very friendly and went beyond to please us. The ports were excellent. We did most of our excursions off the ship as they were pricey on the ship. These were done prior to boarding. There could have been more activities. The ones offered were okay. The areas where some of the shows were held were small and did not hold very many people. This needs to be planned out better so that more people can attend the entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This is not our first cruise with RCCL but tis is the worst.customer service was unprofessional did not meet our needs out of 4000 passengers there were only 15 international yet the shore excursions we only for 15 english speaking and ... Read More
This is not our first cruise with RCCL but tis is the worst.customer service was unprofessional did not meet our needs out of 4000 passengers there were only 15 international yet the shore excursions we only for 15 english speaking and was sold out the north star is a waste of time and money we were left stranded at airport because we were the only one who brought transfer cost us over 150 on bus and taxi to get to pier on time customer service did not want to deal with any issues the food was horrible room service charge for eggs pancakes they nickel and dime you to death the shops on board were all over priced compared to use the room was very nice but too many negatives to sleep well they offered less for more money the entertainment was not as good as other cruises i know it was mainly for the local but they could have shown some consideration for the international that travel that far to be disappointedThis was our 48 th anniversary happy anniversary to us Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We enjoyed the whole trip, The tour guide was excellent. He did an outstanding job. Very knowledgeable, accommodating to your needs, nice and pleasant to be with. The places that we visited were all wonderful to see. Very educational ... Read More
We enjoyed the whole trip, The tour guide was excellent. He did an outstanding job. Very knowledgeable, accommodating to your needs, nice and pleasant to be with. The places that we visited were all wonderful to see. Very educational and lots of history that one can do a second visit and learn more about the culture and people. All the hotels we stayed in were first class. Food and service were excellent. The land tours were also awesome. The Three Gorges was a beautiful sight to see and see how the village people who were relocated high in the mountains live. They walk for miles on the rugged mountain slopes to get to their destinations. This is a daily life for them. I thought their way of life is so incredible. Note: When you are a first time booker, I recommend that the travel person who helps you set up your tour should guide you of what to expect in the tour package. Because I booked the tour 9 months in advance, when it came closer to the cruise date, I didn't look at the email as often as I should and missed a lot of valuable information about what you should do (example- you have to do your own set up of the land tours of which one that you want to attend - it was not automatic). The travel person you initial helped you should follow up and help you and guide you on these land tours. Each time I called, I got a different person to help me. Most of them were curious and nice but I truly think the original person who helped with the initial booking should be your guide. David you was the initial person was never there when I called. When I left messages, he sometimes called back in the beginning of the initial booking but after that when I left a message, he never called back. I talked to several people that help me set up the land portion of the cruise. I was very grateful that one person, forgot name was the best who helped me do an automatic checking on the website about the cruise. That is my only complaint I have about the initial travel booker that book our cruise. Other than that I would recommend Viking to everyone. In fact, I called several people to make sure to use Viking on their next cruise. I would recommend everyone to choose Viking for their travel. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
WE chose this cruise for the Terra Cotta Army and the 3 Gorges Dam. the hotels we stayed in prior to and after the crusie were magnificient. the cruise was great and up to Viking Standards. the Guide, Terry, was the best we've had ... Read More
WE chose this cruise for the Terra Cotta Army and the 3 Gorges Dam. the hotels we stayed in prior to and after the crusie were magnificient. the cruise was great and up to Viking Standards. the Guide, Terry, was the best we've had in all our 20 years of traveling. our time in Beijing was well spent, and to be able to stand in the very spot of the protest on the Tianimin Square and to visit the Forbidden City was captivating. we truly enjoyed our time on the Great Wall and we totally impressed with the amount of physical effort it must have taken. china is a growing country and the time we were in Beijing and the rest of the tour/cruise, the smog was bearable and in most instances almost not noticeable. the food aboard ship was as always with Viking, excellent with great size portions. the Chinese staff, not Viking employees, had limited English however, this was not a deterent. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was to be a special cruise for our 40th anniversary and as such we chose to go somewhere far away we may never visit again. This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean (15 in all) and to be honest probably the last. Although other ... Read More
This was to be a special cruise for our 40th anniversary and as such we chose to go somewhere far away we may never visit again. This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean (15 in all) and to be honest probably the last. Although other experienced RC passengers did say this was nothing like normal. This was a repositioning cruise moving the ship from Beijing to Singapore for 6 months. Before going into details it must be said that we found the ship very pleasant and most of the staff really good. Embarkation in Tianjin was farcical. Massive queues, no movement, no organisation and people shouting at you in Chinese in a militaristic manner. The absolute worst in our experience. Disembarkation on the other hand in Singapore was fine. We had some issues caused by our cruise agent and we spent around 91/2 hours queuing and trying to get a resolution as Guest services. We didn't manage to book any excursions at the Excursions desk as the queues were huge at all times it was open. The on screen booking in the cabin didn't work, ever Musical entertainment around the ship in the lounges was OK but the main theatre shows in general were the worst we had experienced. I have never seen half full theatres before or such quantities of people getting up and walking out. We had general quizzes led by staff who could not read, write nor pronounce English. Pathetic organisation. In cabin entertainment was equally pathetic with endless loops of children's and a few other films. One friend saw 'Skyfall' 12 times as an example. The films on deck were the same ones in the cabin as were the cinema presentations in Studio B. Only near the end did some new films begin to appear. Who wants to watch a repeat of Shrek, or Cinderella as the movie under the stars at night. BBC world service appeared just before the end of the cruise. Prior to that on standard fare US news programs were available together with a multitude of Chinese / Asian channels. It would appear that nobody bothered to look at the passenger demographics. Announcements were generally unintelligible except for the Captain's The cabin 1603 (inside) was OK but it is difficult for an inside cabin to get much better than that. Size was smallish, facilities were adequate, storage was adequate and the cabin service was good. Service around the ship was always friendly in particular Rosalio in the dining room and Abel in the Wig and Gavel were outstanding. It has to be said that we found most of the crew to be very friendly and helpful. The food in the Main Dining Room was initially very Asian oriented, this only changed for the last few days. The food in the Windjammer appeared to be a reasonable selection but very repetitive. Disembarkation at the ports of call was very badly organised with very long queues. Often caused by the crew having to change the location of the gangway up or down. These are mariners for crying out loud, surely they realise by now that water in the sea is tidal and have the ability to choose the correct disembarkation deck first time? There were continuous shortages of food and beverage caused simply by terrible organisation. They (Royal Caribbean)are an international company and surely have changed ports and clientele before. Prior to this cruise, this ship had been used in the China market with around 97% Chinese guests. This cruise was roughly reversed. I can appreciate that to some of the crew members this was a major cultural change. Drinks on board are ridiculously priced and only by drinking more than usual of the most expensive items did we make a package pay. Even so the packages are roughly double the price of say Costa and even more than that of Fred Olsen. Nice ship, nice staff, appalling entertainment, average food, pathetic organisation, high prices, missed demographics in the planning structure. In all, we visited places we may never again get to which was good, unfortunately it was on this ship. A real let down and we could not recommend RC to anybody based on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The cruise started off with a long wait to get on the ship, but we barely had to line up for anything else afterwards, although a lot of older guests seemed to complain about lines to us. We only had to wait at Guest Services for about 10 ... Read More
The cruise started off with a long wait to get on the ship, but we barely had to line up for anything else afterwards, although a lot of older guests seemed to complain about lines to us. We only had to wait at Guest Services for about 10 minutes the entire time of the cruise and even less for our shore excursion. I guess you just have to pick the right time of day to go. This ship has been based in Asia for quite some time but the staff spoke English very well even though it was their second language, we even attempted to learn Mandarin from the Activities Manager and trying to learn a whole other language is quite difficult so I could forgive them if at times I didn't quite understand them. Many of the passengers were quite disrespectful and expected the Asian crew members to speak fluent English with no hint of an accent which was quite unfair. The food was good, probably not the best of the cruises I've been on but still enjoyable, we never went hungry. The service was fantastic in both the dinning room as well as the Windjammer. Being some of the younger guests (in our 20s) we found a lot of older passengers wouldn't let us join them during busy periods in the buffet so we sometimes had to leave and come back a bit later which did spoil some of the dinning experience. Although we did meet some fantastic people from all over the world on the ship. We only did one shore excursion because we found them to be a bit over-priced and we didn't mind catching public transport or taxis around instead. The one shore excursion we did had no wait times and every other time we got off the ship we just waited for the lines to go down so we could walk straight off but still had plenty of time to see what we wanted. We didn't see much of the entertainment but what we did see was enjoyable, especially the ice show which was fantastic. The activities on the ship were also enjoyable, we really enjoyed learning to ice skate, our Mandarin lessons and trivia. Our stateroom was a decent size and it was very well looked after by our stateroom attendant who was easily our favourite person on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Please think very carefully before booking this cruise. This was our first ever cruise and all I can say is so very disappointed. As a part of our cruise we were given a tour before embarking the cruise to the forbidden city,and the Great ... Read More
Please think very carefully before booking this cruise. This was our first ever cruise and all I can say is so very disappointed. As a part of our cruise we were given a tour before embarking the cruise to the forbidden city,and the Great Wall of china. Yes fantastic experience seeing these places but being given the hard sell at a jade factory we were taken to then on route back to the hotel we were told we were being taken to a herbal Doctor. When all the coach refused we were taken against our will and locked on the coach. We were told they would take us back to the hotel if we payed 30 yuan each to the company. Eventually we escaped the coach feeling a little frightened. Embarking the ship was farcical, people pushing and shoving no organization. Cabin was clean but had a funny smell. We reported this and nothing was ever done. Cabin boy very very good !!!! Fine dining !!!! NOT. !!!! Food served cold and poor quality, catering for the Chinese, repetitive menu and service was very poor, waiting 30/40 minutes between courses. Complaint made nothing done. Entertainment was rubbish, butlins not cruise ship. Constantly ping pong over the load speaker at a ridiculous high sound offering bingo it quiz. But to be honest it was very hard to understand them. Most staff tried but very broken English and the cruise entertainment director and Bonnie his double act were a pain. Couldn't sit round the pool some days for the shouting or her over the microphone speaking very poor English. Disaster!!!!!!! Windjammer poor was always a fight to the death for food and catering for the Chinese on board. Only holiday I have had were I have lost weight. !!!! My dress was stolen from around the pool area, I reported this to guest services, they said they would get back to me, hahahaa. No they didn't, what a surprise. Jacuzzis made awful noises going through cleaning process making it very hard to have a conversation with anyone unless they were on your knee. Tours with Royal Caribbean are a rip off and be careful as once you on the coach they try and take you somewhere else to hard sell you more stuff. !!!!! Thanks for reading. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was out second Viking River cruise. A fair amount of time was spent ashore, so the entire "cruise" was not on the river. The three hotels that we stayed at were magnificent. The staff in the hotels as well as on-board the ... Read More
This was out second Viking River cruise. A fair amount of time was spent ashore, so the entire "cruise" was not on the river. The three hotels that we stayed at were magnificent. The staff in the hotels as well as on-board the boat were extremely pleasant and very helpful. A lot of time was spent on buses traveling to and from out accommodations and places we were visiting. Some of the sites we visited were physically demanding. That being said, everything we saw was beautiful and a wonderful experience. The food and service, as with our other Viking experience was excellent. If you wanted something other than what was on the menu, the staff would quickly accommodate your wishes. The cabin was comfortable. I would suggest requesting a dehumidifier when you board the boat. We did and it arrived within minutes of our request. This was not our first Viking cruise nor will it be our last, We are sold on the Viking experience. Everything from accommodations to the food, service and the ours including the guides are the best. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was our very first cruise and it was absolutely amazing. We were looked after so well from the minute we were picked up at the airport until the minute they left us at the other end of our holiday. Our tour guide was Joshua and he ... Read More
This was our very first cruise and it was absolutely amazing. We were looked after so well from the minute we were picked up at the airport until the minute they left us at the other end of our holiday. Our tour guide was Joshua and he was so knowledgeable. The entertainment on board ship was really good and the service we received was excellent. The staff even managed to remember our names! All of the excursions were amazing especially the Terracotta Army, which was my personal favourite. We are now saving hard for our next trip with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was a combination 5 night cruise and 7 night land tour and it hit pretty much all the things we'd thought about seeing in China. Hotels were all 5 star (Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Shangri La) and the ship is a beautiful 5 star ... Read More
This was a combination 5 night cruise and 7 night land tour and it hit pretty much all the things we'd thought about seeing in China. Hotels were all 5 star (Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Shangri La) and the ship is a beautiful 5 star floating hotel on it's own accord! The Beijing Ritz Carlton provided by far the finest service that we have ever received at ANY hotel - they make you feel like royalty! As with all Viking cruises, local excursions at all stops/ports of call with knowledgeable local guides and they add a lot to the touring experience. Viking has also revamped the menu for a couple of onboard dinners to provide "western meals" and between them and the "western breakfast" available daily at the buffet (onboard and at the hotels) most folks shouldn't get "burnt-out" on Chinese food! I found the food to be generally very good - even though it is a little different from the "Chinese Food" we eat in the US - and beautifully presented Service onboard was also top notch. The crew really hustled to try and make sure everyone was well served and happy and even performed a couple of after dinner shows that were quite enjoyable. You just cannot beat Viking for a fantastic cruise experience. The best in service and facilities without breaking the bank to pay for it!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Asia was our next destination after cruising/vacations to Europe/Mediterranean and Middle East. We chose Princess based on a successful Baltic cruise on the Crown Princess. We chose to use Princess Air, Princess Pre/Post ... Read More
Asia was our next destination after cruising/vacations to Europe/Mediterranean and Middle East. We chose Princess based on a successful Baltic cruise on the Crown Princess. We chose to use Princess Air, Princess Pre/Post Hotels/Tours/transfers except for and extra night on our own at the Beijing Marriott City Wall Hotel which we had to make on our own since Princess could not accommodate us with the extra pre-cruise hotel night. In retrospect, we'll go back and do independent air/hotel/tours on our next cruise. Pre-Cruise Travel: On the way to the airport from our home, the taxi driver (small women) could not get our luggage out of the trunk of her taxi. I twisted something in my right arm helping her which rendered my right arm somewhat useless as lifting anything caused discomfort for the next 25 days of the trip (What a way to start). Korean Air was an excellent airline with excellent food, service and comfort (US airlines can relearn from how Korean Air treats their passengers). Upon arrival in Beijing International Airport, we had made independent arrangements with the Beijing Marriott City Wall Hotel to send a driver to pick us up as Princess Cruises had told and written to us that our package would not include the airport-hotel pre-cruise transfer since we were arriving one day early. Not only were we greeted by a Marriott Hotel Meet/Greet limo driver in black suit, but we also saw our hand-written name on a piece of cardboard by a women in a sweater who turned out be the local travel agency Princess uses. We went with the Marriott Hotel limo driver and told the Princess rep we would not need their van (we told her what Princess had communicated with us and she apologized on behalf of Princess and left). The Beijing Marriot Hotel (City Wall location) was a relatively new hotel with excellent service staff, great food/buffet and large clean rooms. I was surprised the rooms were even larger than Marriott hotels in the US with a great view of the city (separate review on TRIPADVISOR.COM). We spent the first day on our own which in Beijing was very easy due to the location of the hotel and nice weather. The Beijing Chinese tour agency that Princess contracts with was excellent. Their organization and guides were well versed in English, very efficient, always on-time and informative/entertaining throughout the 3-day Princess tours. Our primary tour guide (a college professor) had to leave us on the first day due to a family death, but his protege stepped right in and took over. She was just as fluent in English and provided excellent commentaries mixed with some humor. The transfer to the ship went flawlessly and we were off the bus through customs/boarding in less than 10 minutes. Our luggage was waiting for us in the balcony cabin (Aloha 619). ON THE DIAMOND PRINCESS: Our balcony cabin had upgraded LCD Television and everything was what we expected including the older-type shower vinyl curtain, vacuum flush toilets, refrigerator, hairdryer, safe, plenty of storage space/shelves. We even got brand new beds and pillows that they had to unwrap as we watched from the side. Our stateroom attendant (Glennard) was there to greet us and we exchanged information on our dining schedules and requested ice schedule every night. Since the ship was built in 2004 in Nagasaki, Japan, it was still in great shape and we constantly saw crew members repainting metal/wood, floors, and hulls during the entire cruise. The carpets were a little worn, but we saw no spots/discoloration anywhere. We took daily walks on the Promenade (Deck 7) deck that went around the entire ship from the bow to the aft. The Vivaldi Dining Room staff was absolute fantastic. Our waiters Euncil and Fernando remembered our food and wine selections and made recommendations every night. The Diamond Princess Cruise Directors had an absolutely great Entertainment Director. The singers and dancers were top notch performers of a higher quality than what we had experienced on other cruises. We looked forward to the shows in the Diamond Princess Theater and we always got front-row seats. Disembarkation in Bangkok, Thailand was a different ordeal. Since we were on a Princess post-cruise hotel/tour package, for some reason Princess was not as organized and had little or no information on the itinerary. From the moment we walked off the ship, there was some confusion as our group seemed to be made of 130 to 140 people, half spoke English, 25% were Italians and 25% Brazilians/Spanish all directed to 4 buses with no indication of which bus to board. After waiting 55 minutes, we were told we would leave late as our bus had to wait for one couple who woke up late and were still in their cabin. We ultimately left without them. That threw our schedule off and we missed part of the tradition Thai folklore show at our first stop. After a long day hot, humid outdoor viewing of elephants and tropical plants in a sweltering sun, we had lunch and then started a 2.5 hour non-stop bus ride to the Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok. The hotel itself is a top-notch 5-star hotel on the river with its own boat dock. The Princess cruise passengers were directed to a ballroom for check-in where we were greeted by polite hotel staff offering water, a cool sweet ginger drink, and cool towels. It was all well organized as they gathered our passports to match up with welcome packages and hotel check-in documents. After about 75% of our bus was dispatched to their rooms, a crowd of loud, pushy and downright rude Italians and Brazilians barged into the ballroom and immediately swamped the hotel staff and ruined the tranquil atmosphere that hotel staff was trying to methodically maintain. After 45 minutes into the melee, our tour guide returned to the ballroom, saw what was going on jumped into the fray as well and started yelling at the hotel staff to get our rooms assigned. We finally got our room which we found out had a heavy smoking room which was unacceptable. Rather than go back to the ballroom, I went to the main lobby (I had noticed a number of Princess passengers returning to the ballroom complaining of wrong rooms, missing luggage, etc). The Shangri-La hotel main lobby was a sea of tranquility compared to the frenzy of the ballroom. I was greeted by the Resident Manager Marlon Hirsh who listened to our plight and immediately directed staff to get us a non-smoking room, find our luggage, and within 5 minutes we were taken care of and we settled into our non-smoking room with a great view of the river/city. The staff and service personnel of the Shangri-la Hotel are to be commended for getting everyone, including the loud, pushy, and rude passengers, processed. (See separate TRIPADVISOR.COM on Shangri-La Hotel review). The flight home went smoothly from the hotel to Bangkok Airport. We used United Airlines for the flight home with a connection in Narita (Tokyo), Japan. The (UA) airline attendants were very good but the food and entertainment program was a notch below Korean Airlines in terms of quality and selection. It was a wonderful and memorable experience, but we're glad to be home. Checked off several bucket-list sites to see and do. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Asia was our next destination after cruising/vacations to Europe/Mediterranean and Middle East. We chose Princess based on a successful Baltic cruise on the Crown Princess. We chose to use Princess Air, Princess Pre/Post ... Read More
Asia was our next destination after cruising/vacations to Europe/Mediterranean and Middle East. We chose Princess based on a successful Baltic cruise on the Crown Princess. We chose to use Princess Air, Princess Pre/Post Hotels/Tours/transfers except for and extra night on our own at the Beijing Marriott City Wall Hotel which we had to make on our own since Princess could not accommodate us with the extra pre-cruise hotel night. In retrospect, we'll go back and do independent air/hotel/tours on our next cruise. Pre-Cruise Travel: On the way to the airport from our home, the taxi driver (small women) could not get our luggage out of the trunk of her taxi. I twisted something in my right arm helping her which rendered my right arm somewhat useless as lifting anything caused discomfort for the next 25 days of the trip (What a way to start). Korean Air was an excellent airline with excellent food, service and comfort (US airlines can relearn from how Korean Air treats their passengers). Upon arrival in Beijing International Airport, we had made independent arrangements with the Beijing Marriott City Wall Hotel to send a driver to pick us up as Princess Cruises had told and written to us that our package would not include the airport-hotel pre-cruise transfer since we were arriving one day early. Not only were we greeted by a Marriott Hotel Meet/Greet limo driver in black suit, but we also saw our hand-written name on a piece of cardboard by a women in a sweater who turned out be the local travel agency Princess uses. We went with the Marriott Hotel limo driver and told the Princess rep we would not need their van (we told her what Princess had communicated with us and she apologized on behalf of Princess and left). The Beijing Marriot Hotel (City Wall location) was a relatively new hotel with excellent service staff, great food/buffet and large clean rooms. I was surprised the rooms were even larger than Marriott hotels in the US with a great view of the city (separate review on TRIPADVISOR.COM). We spent the first day on our own which in Beijing was very easy due to the location of the hotel and nice weather. The Beijing Chinese tour agency that Princess contracts with was excellent. Their organization and guides were well versed in English, very efficient, always on-time and informative/entertaining throughout the 3-day Princess tours. Our primary tour guide (a college professor) had to leave us on the first day due to a family death, but his protege stepped right in and took over. She was just as fluent in English and provided excellent commentaries mixed with some humor. The transfer to the ship went flawlessly and we were off the bus through customs/boarding in less than 10 minutes. Our luggage was waiting for us in the balcony cabin (Aloha 619). ON THE DIAMOND PRINCESS: Our balcony cabin had upgraded LCD Television and everything was what we expected including the older-type shower vinyl curtain, vacuum flush toilets, refrigerator, hairdryer, safe, plenty of storage space/shelves. We even got brand new beds and pillows that they had to unwrap as we watched from the side. Our stateroom attendant (Glennard) was there to greet us and we exchanged information on our dining schedules and requested ice schedule every night. Since the ship was built in 2004 in Nagasaki, Japan, it was still in great shape and we constantly saw crew members repainting metal/wood, floors, and hulls during the entire cruise. The carpets were a little worn, but we saw no spots/discoloration anywhere. We took daily walks on the Promenade (Deck 7) deck that went around the entire ship from the bow to the aft. The Vivaldi Dining Room staff was absolute fantastic. Our waiters Euncil and Fernando remembered our food and wine selections and made recommendations every night. The Diamond Princess Cruise Directors had an absolutely great Entertainment Director. The singers and dancers were top notch performers of a higher quality than what we had experienced on other cruises. We looked forward to the shows in the Diamond Princess Theater and we always got front-row seats. Disembarkation in Bangkok, Thailand was a different ordeal. Since we were on a Princess post-cruise hotel/tour package, for some reason Princess was not as organized and had little or no information on the itinerary. From the moment we walked off the ship, there was some confusion as our group seemed to be made of 130 to 140 people, half spoke English, 25% were Italians and 25% Brazilians/Spanish all directed to 4 buses with no indication of which bus to board. After waiting 55 minutes, we were told we would leave late as our bus had to wait for one couple who woke up late and were still in their cabin. We ultimately left without them. That threw our schedule off and we missed part of the tradition Thai folklore show at our first stop. After a long day hot, humid outdoor viewing of elephants and tropical plants in a sweltering sun, we had lunch and then started a 2.5 hour non-stop bus ride to the Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok. The hotel itself is a top-notch 5-star hotel on the river with its own boat dock. The Princess cruise passengers were directed to a ballroom for check-in where we were greeted by polite hotel staff offering water, a cool sweet ginger drink, and cool towels. It was all well organized as they gathered our passports to match up with welcome packages and hotel check-in documents. After about 75% of our bus was dispatched to their rooms, a crowd of loud, pushy and downright rude Italians and Brazilians barged into the ballroom and immediately swamped the hotel staff and ruined the tranquil atmosphere that hotel staff was trying to methodically maintain. After 45 minutes into the melee, our tour guide returned to the ballroom, saw what was going on jumped into the fray as well and started yelling at the hotel staff to get our rooms assigned. We finally got our room which we found out had a heavy smoking room which was unacceptable. Rather than go back to the ballroom, I went to the main lobby (I had noticed a number of Princess passengers returning to the ballroom complaining of wrong rooms, missing luggage, etc). The Shangri-La Hotel main lobby was a sea of tranquility compared to the ballroom. I was greeted by the Resident Manager Marlon Hirsh who listened to our plight and immediately directed staff to get us a non-smoking room, find our luggage, and within 5 minutes we were taken care of and we settled into our non-smoking room with a great view of the river/city. The staff and service personnel of the Shangri-la Hotel are to be commended for getting everyone, including the loud, pushy, and rude passengers, processed. (See separate TRIPADVISOR.COM on Shangri-La Hotel review). The flight home went smoothly from the hotel to Bangkok Airport. We used United Airlines for the flight home with a connection in Narita (Tokyo), Japan. The (UA) airline attendants were very good but the food and entertainment program was a notch below Korean Airlines in terms of quality and selection. It was a wonderful and memorable experience, but we're glad to be home. Checked off several bucket-list sites to see and do. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012

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