25 Beijing Senior Cruise Reviews

First of all I apologize for the lateness of this review as I've been busy with life since getting back. We went on the Viking Emerald Yangtze River cruise because a.) we wanted to see the real China, and b.) our daughter was ... Read More
First of all I apologize for the lateness of this review as I've been busy with life since getting back. We went on the Viking Emerald Yangtze River cruise because a.) we wanted to see the real China, and b.) our daughter was studying abroad in Shanghai and we decided to tack on a few days at the end of the cruise to visit her. It was our first Viking cruise, and if it was indicative of how Viking operates I am looking forward to being a repeat customer. Our journey started in Beijing. It took use four hours to get through the multiple lines, two artificial intelligence photos, one misplaced bag and countless immigration officials at the Beijing airport. We were sure that the Viking official who was to pick us up would have left by the time we made it through the gantlet. I was preparing to get a cab to our hotel. But no, Leo, who would serve as our guide throughout the trip, was waiting at the end of the maze for us. That got everything off to the right foot. It really is more of a tour than a cruise. You are split up into groups of about three dozen, and you stay in that group the duration of the trip with the same tour guide. You also start to make friends with a variety of people you did not know before. Leo was fantastic. The poor guy was herding cats the whole trip, and it started five minutes into our first tour at Tiananmen Square, where one person made a wrong turn almost immediately as we got off the bus. But Leo was patient, and eventually he was reunited with the group. China is a strenuous tour. But not impossible. There's a lot of walking, Viking did arrange a wheelchair for one person in our group, and even though China is not an accessible-friendly country, he did manage quite well with the aid of a Viking associate. Basically our tour started with land tours in Beijing, Xi'an, and Chongqing. That took about five days. In Chongqing we boarded the Emerald and traveled down the Yangtze for about six days. Then from Wuhan we flew to Shanghai to complete the tour. Viking offers the same tour in the opposite direction. In addition to the tourist sites, we got to see how regular people live, meeting an artist in her home in one of the poorest sections of Beijing, and visiting a primary school that is sponsored by Viking. The food was spectacular. We had Peking Duck in Beijing, and a variety of food throughout the trip both o the ship and in restaurants. I don't drink so I can't attest to the wine and beer, but I heard no complaints. The ship was great. The public rooms and our guest room were well-maintained and clean. The staff was friendly and always available to help. If China is something on the bucket list, I would highly recommend Viking. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Wanted a smaller, less crowded ship, as we are not fans of the 3000 person ships. This had an itinerary that was heavy in ports with many overnight stays in bigger cities. We do not prefer so many "at sea" days. The ... Read More
Wanted a smaller, less crowded ship, as we are not fans of the 3000 person ships. This had an itinerary that was heavy in ports with many overnight stays in bigger cities. We do not prefer so many "at sea" days. The smaller ship has less amenities, so "at sea" days are not as enjoyable. This smaller ship was able to dock closer the many of the downtown areas, since it could navigate the rivers to get closer to towns, making exploring independently easier. The staff on this ship was very competent and responsive to all the guest's needs. There were reviews the evening before each port, providing information about that port, as well as promoting the ship's excursions. This information was helpful, although sometimes not totally accurate on dress requirements of temples, etc. The cabins are very spacious, although they are getting somewhat dated. We were told that Windstar is remodeling and expanding their fleet, one ship at a time. We will definitely cruise again on a Windstar ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I chose this cruise as part of a tour to China Warriors and Walls experience. Embarkation at Tianjin was utter chaos, queues to check-in were chaotic, unorganised, and very very long. The immigration process was equally bad taking hours ... Read More
I chose this cruise as part of a tour to China Warriors and Walls experience. Embarkation at Tianjin was utter chaos, queues to check-in were chaotic, unorganised, and very very long. The immigration process was equally bad taking hours queuing. Our luggage was taken at 11.15am but was not delivered to the cabin until 8.20pm. The food in the main restaurants was poor. Mashed potato, undercooked carrot and broccoli served with every main meal. Service disorganised and waiters very defensive when complaints made about food being cold. We abandoned the main restaurants and went to the self service where at least the food was hot even though finding a table was a struggle. Drinks were very expensive with 18% tax and gratuity added approximately $22 for 2 drinks. The specialty restaurants were excelkent. Wonderlad was a fabulous experience and Chops Grill superb. Entertainment was poor. Insufficient shore excursions for the number of passengers on board. There are very classy shops in the Royal Promenade, but the sales items sold each night on stalls down the centre are complete rubbish, cheap tat that would not be sold in any if the shops on board. Debarkation at Singapore was horrendous. The ship was 5 hours delayed into port due to a medical incident which meant transfer times to airports etc were disrupted greatly. Passengers were told to join the express exit carrying their own luggage which resulted in hundreds of people queuing for over 2 hours to debark. Unfortunately the Ovation of the Seas is not on my favourites list and I cannot recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We went for this ship because of the advertising and the promises for the sail of a lifetime, Instead we experienced the worst cruise ever, 3 hours in Beijing lined up to board ship,booked a Junior Suite and unlike other ships it ... Read More
We went for this ship because of the advertising and the promises for the sail of a lifetime, Instead we experienced the worst cruise ever, 3 hours in Beijing lined up to board ship,booked a Junior Suite and unlike other ships it counted for no privileges at all even though it was advertised that suites would have there own speciality dining room when we asked why we couldn't make a reservation we were told that the restaurant was fully booked even though we paid the extra money for the privilege. The main dining area has a limited selection and is almost the same menu every day and the food is always cold and sloppy, speciality pay for restaurants are crap eg: Jamies Italian, Chops etc: overpriced and even home cooking would make it look like rubbish. Entertainment was poor and act mostly provided buy the crew were lame. Ports and Shore excursions should have been named shore extortion's, eg: $75.00 US per person for a bus to the centre of the city on a make your own way excursion and the price in a Taxi $18.00 for 2 to the same place. 2 hours lined up to just get off the ship in Singapore was the end of our cruise from hell NEVER AGAIN Royal Caribbean.....4500 People on board with no direction and poor facilities Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Friends told us but ours was different no zoo tour air food and lodging were bad we were sick the whole time and sick for 6 weeks upon return air born virus I broke 2 teeth eating at the restaurant inbejing first night and the insurance ... Read More
Friends told us but ours was different no zoo tour air food and lodging were bad we were sick the whole time and sick for 6 weeks upon return air born virus I broke 2 teeth eating at the restaurant inbejing first night and the insurance refused to pay Viking also refused any liability Way below Viking cruise standards we have done other Viking cruises this will be our last We had to repeatedly tell room service to clean the bathroom we and many passengers were sick from the food tubs were dirty the tour guide did not have sufficient bathroom stops they would have heavy breakfast at hotel and have us ride without bathroom stops for hours I learned quickly to put my breakfast in a napkin and not eat it till we arrived near a bathroom and not drink anything please understand cruisers are old people and must make bathroom stops Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Just wanted a short holiday cruise so chose this one. Ship is magnificent very large!!! Everything was carried out well. Beautiful meals in the 3 restaurants. All the little eateries were great as well. We were on a cruise with about 4000 ... Read More
Just wanted a short holiday cruise so chose this one. Ship is magnificent very large!!! Everything was carried out well. Beautiful meals in the 3 restaurants. All the little eateries were great as well. We were on a cruise with about 4000 chinese which was a little daunting but the staff treated us "internationals" very well indeed.As only 6 day cruise ports were limited Beijing Kumamoto and Hong Kong. We made some great friends who we hope to keep in contact with in the future. Probably would not go on an all asian cruise again. Would rather leave from Australia and return to Australia. I am not keen on flying so probably would stick to just flying to or from Hawaii and cruising the other way. Maybe just around Australia next time. Ovation was absolutely beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone, as I said very large and did not feel much movement from the rough seas we experienced. As I said limited Ports we had adays tour of Beijing going to Forbidden city, Jade factory, great wall and a health clinic. In Kumamoto we caught the bullet train in to see the Castle and had a bite to eat before getting normal train back to meet up with the shuttle to take us back to the ship. Hong Kong was great shopped and went sight seeing. We dined at three restaurants and found the service and the food wonderful So in all a lovely cruise> Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
This was our 3rd cruise on the Spirit. The first was for an anniversary 10 years ago - October 2006. We have made Oct 2016-Oct 2017 and anniversary year. The cruise was from Hong Kong to Beijing with stops in Japan and Korea. We ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise on the Spirit. The first was for an anniversary 10 years ago - October 2006. We have made Oct 2016-Oct 2017 and anniversary year. The cruise was from Hong Kong to Beijing with stops in Japan and Korea. We had booked our own Air to Hong Kong but had problems finding a reasonable Business Class fare for the return. We checked with Regent and they were able to come up with a great fare and a much better routing then we were able to find. As we had booked a post cruise tour in Beijing Regent supplied the transfers to the airport on our day of departure. My preference has been to handle our air arrangements but this experience will have me checking with the cruise line for their airfares and schedules. Although , like many people who have cruised on Regent before its sales, the ship and the service is not quite like on our first cruise. However, Regent is still a 5 star cruise line with excellent service. Embarking or debarking in Hong Kong is an experience like no other. The cruise ship terminal is connected to a very, very upscale mall (Harbor Mall). You can not board or leave the ship without going through this mall. Keep hold of you wallets as the stores are extremely expensive. Keep in mind that this is a small ship - about 640 passengers, so getting around the ship, disembarking and accessing the dining venues about is fairly easy. From overheard conversations plus our own experience, the excursions were enjoyed by most of those who went. Regent, like many cruise lines, indicates the fitness level for each excursion. Note however that in some cases these were incorrect. One stop had many steps which made it difficult for a number of those with mobility issues. The had difficulty or could not manage the steps. This is not necessarily the fault of Regent, but those with mobility problems should keep in mind that they mnay have unexpected problems. One friend, on another cruise, was ashore with his walker and broke a wheel on the cobble stone street he was walking on. He had to purchase a new walker as no one had a replacement wheel. Excursions are included in Regent's rates. Note: we did not make use of the fitness center. If one includes the daily Trivia contest as recreation, the it was better then the listing below. this site should allow for a N/A-Not applicable One thing that is important to my wife is a bathtub. All of the ships accept the recently launched Muse have tubs. Looks like we will not be sailing on the Muse. We have sailed with Regent a number of times and itinerary permitting, will do so again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Viking 13 Day China trip with 5-6 Yangtze River cruise. We went from Beijing to Shanghai. Basically North to South. A better route in that the first 5 days before getting to the boat, Beijing and Xian, you do a lot of touring and night ... Read More
Viking 13 Day China trip with 5-6 Yangtze River cruise. We went from Beijing to Shanghai. Basically North to South. A better route in that the first 5 days before getting to the boat, Beijing and Xian, you do a lot of touring and night time events. The boat gives you a chance to unwind and relax before going on to Shanghai. An exciting journey that I highly recommend. Viking does an excellent job of taking care of all 250 guests. We were 2 couples 62+ and we had a great time. About the hotels Viking had us stay- Beijing, J.W. Marriott Central; Xian the Crown Plaza; Shanghai the Four Seasons. All hotels were 5 stars with excellent room accommodations. The Crown Plaza turns off the A/C Nov.1 st. This created a problem for many guests as it was very warm in Xian at that time and rooms were as warm as 80 deg. F!! Some tips on the Beijing airport Arrival/Departure. Arriving at the Beijing airport-arrivals must take a shuttle train to area T3-C to exit and baggage pick up. Return from Shanghai to Beijing, on arrival at Beijing, a bus took us to the terminal building where you have to pick up the shuttle train to area T3-C for Departure. At Beijing airport, the security inspection of carry-on luggage may be over zealous and all your items spilled out onto the counter for examination. You must then reassemble all of the items back into your carry-on bags trying not to forget items such as your cell phone, wallet or keys that may have been spilled out. At the Shanghai airport inspection was more “relaxed” and courteous. Some of the dining experiences- Viking uses local restaurants as we tour between places. The lunch time dining is at "banquet halls" associated tourist places selling stuff. 1. Beijing-Jade/jewelry, 2. Xian-Terra Cotta warrior items. 3. Shanghai-Art works. That is-Beijing (lazy Susan), Xian (was a buffet with long lines), Shanghai (lazy Susan). These banquet hall restaurants have no ambience and can use some cleaning up and a spruce up. The bathrooms are really (1) low low, low on a scale of 1 to 5. You should be aware that the toilets (Happy Houses) are easier for the men but a little less accommodating for the women. Not all the stalls are sit-down western style. Toilet paper is bring you own while out touring. The restaurant in Shanghai had us sitting on at least one chair that was totally broken. Those restaurants serving lazy Susan buffet style do not provide serving utensils that permit more than a single morsel to be picked up. It was obvious that they wanted small portions to be eaten to cut the down on the expense of serving a more sufficient quantity to the guests. At one restaurant the serving utensils were small Chinese soup spoons. Everyone laughed. In the end you still have enough to eat. Think each item as a small plate and you’re just doing a tasting menu. Remember, this is China where big servings of meats, pork, fish, etc. is not the tradition. A personal bias - Living in NYC, and having the largest variety of Chinese and pan Asian restaurants to dine at, gives a biased view of the Lazy Susan/buffet foods served at the local restaurants. I was not impressed or excited by the items served. For example, Xian is famous for wide noodle dishes. None were served at our local lunch place. Yes, they served a small local tasty Xian burger, try it. Most Viking guests may not care or have the same experiences with the food for comparisons. In the end you won’t go hungry. On the other hand, the breakfast and dinner buffets at the 3 hotels had more expansive menus to meet the needs of the Asian and non –Asian guests. This was a great treat & very enjoyable. Obviously 4-5 star hotels do not cut costs with ingredients & small serving utensils. The Viking Emerald cruise ship provided a very good variety of dishes at all meals. Again the menu has to cater to majority of guests with non- Asian palates. The menu always had something Asian available. That was fun, even at breakfast. Don’t let the “on the road” dining dissuade you from this trip. It was well put together and unforgettable!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We've become quite addicted to cruising, but this cruise really burst our bubble. Embarkation in Tianjin Port was chaotic at the time we arrived, due to long holdups on the highway from Beijing and buses arriving at the same time - ... Read More
We've become quite addicted to cruising, but this cruise really burst our bubble. Embarkation in Tianjin Port was chaotic at the time we arrived, due to long holdups on the highway from Beijing and buses arriving at the same time - the trip took 4.5 hours. However once inside the terminal building embarkation proceeded smoothly. It probably would have been better to start the cruise at our first port of call, Osaka. There was sickness with coughs and colds on board right from the start, probably from the Beijing smog and many people caught caught the bug twice. The ports were excellent, however there was no port lecturer on board till after Hong Kong, the Captain Circle rep was disembarked early in the cruise, leaving the future cruise rep to wear both hats for the remainder of the trip. The queues at guest services were inordinately long due to the ship being understaffed at the beginning. The food in the MDR was uninspiring with a heavy bias towards seafood. We didn't eat there a lot of the time. However, the menu did improve after new supplies were taken on in Darwin. We loved the International Cafe, but would like to see coffee machines in more than one location. The ship leaked. We spoke to people with leaks on decks 5, 11 and 12. We were at trivia one morning and the Vista lounge was leaking from above in several places. There are no deck chairs on the promenade deck, the the public spaces inside were always crowded. This could have been alleviated if the art people did not rope off the Explorer's Lounge for hours at a time. We love Princess Hapy Hours, but the small size of the Wheelhouse Bar made afternoon happy hours chaotic. Most were getting their drinks "to go", there were not enough placs to sit. There was a constant changeover of staff early on, but things had settled down by the time we reached Australia. The entertainment, apart from just a few acts, was extremely poor, the worst we have encountered. Movies were often repeated. Daily activities in the Patter were poorly co-ordinated, with events overlapping at times. We booked a mini suite this time, and spent more time than normal in the cabin and on the balcony, largely due to the lack of available quiet space. We were lucky to have good seas, new destinations to see, and we met some wonderful fellow cruisers. The captain kept us informed of events each midday, and was very good at informing us of other events such as medical evacuations. There was a pilot on board through the Barrier Reef and his talks were very informative and interesting. Trivia was always fun and the crossing of the Equator Ceremony was well done and not overly drawn out. This is our thrid repositioning cruise but we will not do another one at the end of the Asian season to Australia. The organisation for the transition was not handled well. We have another repositioning cruise booked on the Golden, but given our experiences we have decided to cancel. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
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
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
Viking went over and above board to ensure we saw as much as possible in the time that we had. All my bucket list items were covered and I managed to bring back all the souvenirs on my list! Our tour escort was knowledgeable, courteous ... Read More
Viking went over and above board to ensure we saw as much as possible in the time that we had. All my bucket list items were covered and I managed to bring back all the souvenirs on my list! Our tour escort was knowledgeable, courteous and available to solve any problem. I left my keys in Xi'an (we had a very early flight) and they were waiting for me in Shanghai! In Chongqing we received an extra (secret) shore excursion for the inconvenience of the early flight. The Land Portion at both end of the cruise was just as awesome as the cruise on the Yangtze River (which was spectacular!) The entertainment (by the onboard crew) and on board activities were excellent. We participated in the not-included excursions - Beijing Opera, Peking Duck Dinner, Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show. The hotels were excellent and the food was plentiful; and varied between local and American style. I even tried pigs ears and chicken feet! Would highly recommend this trip to anyone. A word of caution. The "easy" part of the Great Wall is doable but taxing. Take your time and enjoy the experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We did the Rooftops of the World with an extension to Hong Kong. The tour started in Beijing and ended in Hong Kong. We spent 3 days in Beijing before we moved on to the next city. We traveled both by air and ship since covering China ... Read More
We did the Rooftops of the World with an extension to Hong Kong. The tour started in Beijing and ended in Hong Kong. We spent 3 days in Beijing before we moved on to the next city. We traveled both by air and ship since covering China and Tibet is a huge distance. Most intra-country flights were under 2 hours. It is always so nice to have the representatives/guides from Viking meeting us at the airport and taking us back to make sure we leave smoothly, especially in a country where language can be an issue. On all our land flights, the Viking guides were with us in case there were any issues with either the checked bags or carry-on bags. Because of that degree of attention, all our transitions were smooth and easy. Our cabin on the ship was well appointed and clean. The ship was lovely and decorated well. We enjoyed all the shops on board - the master tailor, the pearl shop, the tea shop, the souvenir shop, the shop with the carved chops and the shop with the hand painted items. It was comfortable buying on board ship, I trusted the reliability of the shops, the quality was very good and the prices were competitive. The dining was diverse, you could dine on local dishes or keep with more Western fare. We enjoyed some of the more exotic offerings as well as some of the standard fare. Service was outstanding. The entertainment was fun - we particularly enjoyed the crew shows. Alice, who coordinated the shows is a real jem. We were so lucky as she also was taking care of us in the dining room. The singer in lounge was very good and we enjoyed her music as well. The lectures were helpful and the demonstrations were great! We learned more about Chinese history, pearls, painting and cooking! The ports we stopped at were outstanding and we really enjoyed the shore excursions. The local guides added their own knowledge which was helpful and educational. The sheer scale of some of the stops is amazing, but good walking shoes and the ability to walk is a must. Tours that are 4 hours means 3 hours of walking for the most part. Tibet was wonderful and key to our decision for this particular tour. The altitude did affect most of the group, breathing at 12,000 feet takes some adjustment. One of the things I liked was the local family stops - both in Beijing and Tibet. Overall, the guides were above and beyond amazing. Our guide, Matthew, was helpful, education and fun, he made the trip so enjoyable. I did not hear anyone complain about their guides, although we all felt lucky to be in Matthew's group. All the guides spoke very good English, including the local guides. I would definitely go again - wish there was a China - part 2 excursion. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
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
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
Sail Date April 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 is the second time we have sailed with RCI and before this trip it was considered our first choice, but after this it is most probably, the last. From basic organisation and communication the cruise failed in most aspects, as ... Read More
This is the second time we have sailed with RCI and before this trip it was considered our first choice, but after this it is most probably, the last. From basic organisation and communication the cruise failed in most aspects, as follows: 1. We had paid for "My Time Dining" which entailed paying gratuities in advance, only to be initially told it was unavailable. Then after considerable pressure from many customers it was re.instated. We were then told we were on a waiting list and after saying that, in which case we would like the gratuities returned, they miraculously said we were allocated a place! 2. Extortionate price of shore excursions.Other than Ho Chi Minh, you could do the main attractions yourself at a fraction of the cost and without the very limited time constraint. We did visit the latter and the excursion was over one hour late leaving, due to the chaotic organisation, and the guide made this up by cutting our time down. To highlight this the one feature involved a climb to a statue of Christ, which was over 800 steps high. To do this we were given about 20 minutes in 80+ degrees with 90% plus humidity. Needless to say most decided not to attempt. 3. Food quality and variety. This can only be described as average, with the same menu choices on most days. The quality also varied accordingly. 4. Staff and Service. Although in many case the staff tried hard, it was obvious that many were new to the ship and had not been trained in customer service, and hence stood back waiting for you to either do things yourself or wait to be asked. The latter then became quite an ordeal. The one exception we had was the Cabin Steward, who was excellent in all aspects. 5. Entertainment. The main point for the evening shows was the Savoy Theatre, and the quality of the shows varied from very good (Violinist, Beatles lookalike and Jamaican Singer) to very poor (Juggler and Magician). The Ice Spectacular was excellent, and is highly recommended. 6.Layout and facilities. The ship caters for over 3000 passengers and the design is well laid out with the central atrium being the place around which the bars and shopping areas emanate. A great area to visit before or after your evening Dinner/Show. 7. Guest Relations. Due to the number of customers and the issues arising, this became a very congested area and if you wanted to perform some simple tasks, such as replacing a Key Card that didn't work, frustratingly you had in most cases to join a lengthy queue. To finish, the above issues are "fixable" with some basic organisation, as they are not fundamental design issues, but they seriously detracted, from what was a fabulous itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We were unsure what to expect from China, but we found the people to be so welcoming and friendly! Our hotels were all 5 star! Every hotel was more lovely than the one before! Very impressive. And the hotel staff were all very ... Read More
We were unsure what to expect from China, but we found the people to be so welcoming and friendly! Our hotels were all 5 star! Every hotel was more lovely than the one before! Very impressive. And the hotel staff were all very attentive! Our ship was also very nice. We saw all the main sights of China. But we also got to see a lot of the real China with small markets and a visit to a local elementary school. The children sang to us in English and then wanted us to sing to them! All of our shore excursions were wonderful and we had the same guide throughout the entire tour. We were on several different flights within China and the planes were all very modern planes and all went well. They don't give you much to eat on these flights but most were not more than two hours. The entertainment on our ship was put on by the staff and it was all top-notch! They are all very talented singers and dancers. We also had magicians and comedians! It was amazing that they have day-jobs and yet put on these fantastic shows in the evenings! Our cabin on the ship was very comfortable. We had a very heavy duvet and we asked for something lighter and they brought us a very soft lightweight blanket that was just perfect! Our guide was absolutely wonderful! When someone had a problem she was right there and took every step possible to help that passenger! We loved the scenery and thought it reminded us of Hawaii because of how lush and green it was! The food was also amazing! Very interesting presentation and the service was excellent. We loved everything about it. We would definitely think of going back some day. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
Our first Oceania cruise but 'seasoned' cruisers, we would sum up the experience as wonderful. First, the itinerary, because we know you are likely just like us, choosing the cruise company based on the itinerary. We wanted an ... Read More
Our first Oceania cruise but 'seasoned' cruisers, we would sum up the experience as wonderful. First, the itinerary, because we know you are likely just like us, choosing the cruise company based on the itinerary. We wanted an over-view of Asia and that's what we got in spades! This itinerary took us to China, S.Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Thailand. Excursions is our second consideration. Do they offer experiences rather than sight-seeing? We like to do, not just look. Oceania does this. We went on home visits where we met and shared food and conversation with actual families in S.Korea and China. We took a calligraphy class from a university prof, watched as potters created from clay in their backyard studio, took a relaxation class from Buddhist nuns in their home, met farmer who first discovered the terracotta warriors, canoed down the narrow canals around the Mekong river delta. It's important to read the descriptions carefully so you don't end up slogging through museum after museum and returning to the ship every night exhausted and bored. Living history is so much more interesting than looking at cold hard history behind glass. Don't pay the extra for the smaller group. excursions. You don't need to. No tour had more than 28 people. Secondly, because Nautica is a mid-sized ship, we could dock right in town so we had much better access than companies with huge ships that are forced to dock as much as 2 hours outside a city. A third distinction of Oceania, are the two-night stays that meant we could see so much more in one area and be ashore in the evenings, unlike so many itineraries that leave port by early evening. Fourth, the ship itself rides smoothly and quietly through rough China Seas. There none of that odd smell ships sometimes have as you walk the long hall back to your room or open the bathroom door and are hit with that sour odor. It was always fresh and airy. Fifth standout was the dining seating policy. The open seating goes a step beyond other companies by encouraging people to share tables. This means that by the end of the trip, you've shared meals with many of the 680 or so fellow-travellers, meeting really interesting individuals from all over the world. Within 3 days, we had developed a friendship with 2 other couples and ended up basically travelling together the rest of the tour. But if you wanted to, you could always choose to sit alone. Afternoon tea sounded rather stuffy but on sea days it was a great time to meet up with friends and enjoy the china and goodies. The main dining room had good variety, flavours and service. It was gourmet quality but not over the top avant garde 5-star cuisine. The 2 specialty restaurants had limited availability and required reservations which made for a nice change from time to time. The services and food were not that different from the main dining room - just a more intimate atmosphere. So now that we've discussed the itinerary and ship in general, what about the cabins? We were on the concierge level balcony room, down scale from the butler-assisted suites but up from the basic balcony rooms, in price. What we got for that 'upgrade' was pretty minimal and I am not sure worth the extra cost. The cabin was identical to any number of balcony cabins we'd had on other large ship cruise lines. Bathroom was small, storage was good, bed was really comfortable (I wish I could have it at home), maid service was usual, amenities were okay (Bulgari products didn't impress me). Our room needed a new couch and some repairs done to the cabinetry. We heard Nautica was heading for a refit within a month. As I said earlier, we never had that odd wet bathroom smell (as if we were smelling the sewage treatment or something) we'd had on many other ships. Entertainment was varied, with many people coming aboard for a day or two to do a couple shows and then leaving. Four talented singer/dancers did 3 full shows (well choreographed and sung wonderfully) and some solo nights. They need to work on their chat between songs but the actually singing was great. Unadvertised but of great value was the lecturer, Terry Bishop. He talked on sea-days about the history of the areas we were visiting in a most entertaining manner. They also used him for evening entertainment on a few occasions that wasn't quite as successful. His wife led card making classes on sea days which were very good and needed ! Every trip needs some sort of hand-craft, I think. One disappointment was the Canyon Ranch spa. It was ridiculously over-priced. Their services were very basic, without any of the little extras I would expect for the prices they were charging. $171 for a for rejuvenation massage? I didn't go back. Oceania needs to reconsider out-sourcing their spa services. There's more I could say but this is too long already. I hope it helps you make you choice. Oceania is a good line if not the up-scale, luxury line they seem to want to portray. They are good. They offer good product. They attract 'well-heeled' 60+ aged people used to good service, wanting accessible adventure. Read Less
Sail Date March 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
The purpose of this report is to mention some Diamond Princess problems (by the way we have sailed Princess several times before and not encountered these things before). 1. There were no hand sanitizers before you entered the ... Read More
The purpose of this report is to mention some Diamond Princess problems (by the way we have sailed Princess several times before and not encountered these things before). 1. There were no hand sanitizers before you entered the restaurants or buffet. Even when many passengers had colds and flu and the Medical Officer put a report in the bulletin that we should wash our hands because there were alot of people sick on board! In the buffet there was one stand with sanitizer standing hidden by a wall a long way into the buffet but you really had to search to find it. Even the waiters in the Lido weren't sure where it was when I asked! 2. There was a very poor Captain's Party indeed. There were no hors d'oeuvres and very few drinks; some people didn't even receive a drink. The waiters just disappeared and never returned after about 10 minutes. They had a loud band playing - so loud that we couldn't even converse with the couple sitting next to us! Why do they have to play soooo loud? Does no-one control these boys? Do they think we need a "Carnival party atmosphere", or what is this? On a 17 day sailing in February there were no youths or teens on board to appreciate that racket. And the Captain didn't come. The cruise director made announcements and gave the usual presents to long-time members. No handshake with any officers or anything. 3. The Captain did address us for a "welcome" in the Atrium. He stood on a balcony and his words through a microphone into that space were so muffled that no-one could hear what he said. Many people just gave up and started to talk the others beside them, so that didn't help. Fortunately, most people at least got one drink as the waiters continued to circulate with trays for about 1/2 hour. 4. We were constantly pestered to buy stuff, more than usual for Princess. 5. There was no Princess blue bag supplied to take on shore excursions. That was a first for us. We could have brought a day bag from home had we known. 6. They only supplied cheap one-ply toilet paper that tore into bits when you tried to use it. The steward did not provide new kleenex, toilet paper, and soap unless we tracked him down and asked for it. He stopped providing anything fresh 2 days before the end of the cruise. Is this new Princess policy - maybe not. Guess he already had his standard tips by then? He sure didn't get anything extra from us - and we usually give our steward a little more on debarkation day as a thank-you. 7. Stateroom needed attention. There was a sharp needle sticking out of the carpet right in front of the bathroom door where you had to put your foot to enter. I cut my toe on it twice until I learned to put a hand towel over it. Of course every time the steward entered the cabin he took it up and I had to replace it. I must however commend the front office staff. They were terrific, sympathetic and efficient. I had left something important on shore in China and they managed to get it to me at the next Chinese port (albeit at some cost to me). Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
First to just get this out of the way. Do not cruise to ASIA in Sept. It was too hot and too humid and we could only stand about 1/3 of the normal time we usually spend siteseeing. Thankfully, public transport, stores and the ship were air ... Read More
First to just get this out of the way. Do not cruise to ASIA in Sept. It was too hot and too humid and we could only stand about 1/3 of the normal time we usually spend siteseeing. Thankfully, public transport, stores and the ship were air conditioned. But it really cut down on our enjoyment for visiting the port sites. The ship is older but they handled the international passenger list exceptionally well. The buffet was the best of any we have been to. There was a food bar for Japanese sushi, one for Chinese steam buns, pot-stickers, soups, congee, a bar for meditteranean salads and anti-pastas, a bar for English bangers, sausage, etc, a bar for Indian curry dishes, a fresh cooked stir fry, plus American foods, bread bar and dessert bar. We enjoyed all the dishes we ate. And there was food to suit every taste. It is the first time we have preferred eating in the buffet rather than the dining room. The dining room was too noisy and it was difficult to visit with other guests at the table. But the waiters were quick and efficient and the meal portions perfect. You had to ask for a starch if you wanted one with your meal. We were disappointed in the port Information kiosks. They were not set up at all in Shanghai to welcome the passengers. That was disappointing. The second day we discovered a Big Red Bus that offered a free shuttle ride into People's Square and then a 2 day HOHO pass if you desired. It would have been nice to know about that. We just happened to notice. The port information booths were not well advertised as to what was available in most of the ports. So it seemed a bit disorganized. Everyone just said, "Take a taxi" but we wanted some information about what to see. The Big Bus would have been ideal. Having done this trip now, I would recommend that passengers go to the ship's reception desk every night before porting and ask for a city map and information as to what is available besides the shore excursions. They don't seem to offer much, but they do have maps and they help. We did discover that there were things to do on your own--it was hard to communicate with locals and find out anything in China, but you can manage. We started in Beijing. Don't worry as you try to get to the ship at Tenggu Port near Tianjin. It's quite a ride from Beijing--maybe 1 1/2 hr if you take the ships bus. We took the city transport and got a bit concerned when we didn't see the ship or port for quite some time. They built a new port and it is way out away from any shops or city. So many of us passengers were concerned. The embarking is a night mare with all the papers and forms one has to sign, but it is organized and you know exactly what to do. It just takes time. Our ship was diverted from Seoul because of a typhoon, but here are our recommendations: 1-Shanghai--take the shuttle bus--Big Red Bus outside of port entrance leaves about 9 or 9:30 a.m. The 2 day pass is worth it. Taxi's are cheap but small and you don't see much. If weather is good you can walk the BUND and Nanjing Walking street. 2-Nagasaki--easy to do on your own. Tram pass will get you wherever you want to go. We enjoyed Peace Park and Glover Garden. Ask for Sr. Rates on all public transport and into museums and Garden. 3.--Okinawa--share a taxi if you want to go to Peace Memorial on the end of the island. YOu have time and it is beautiful--the museum is much better than Nagasaki's. It is cooler and more tropical. 4. Taipai, Taiwan--We did the ship 1/2 day to 101 and the Buddhist temple. It was worth the $55/person not to have to exchange money. But there is a train near the ship's port and you can do it all on your own. Very modern city and some English signs help you. 5-Hong KOng--So easy to do on your own. Remember the Star Ferry is free to all tourists and Sr.s All public Transport has Sr. rate. Shopping is O.K. but you can't beat the prices you get at Pearl Market in Beijing or Shanghai. We did the cable car on Lantau Island to the Biggest sitting Buddhai and that was breath taking. We stayed extra days at Anne Black YWCA in Kowloon and it was great. They had laundry facilities and they are next door to the public library where we used free internet. They are on a great bus line and we enjoyed the simple, clean, ensuite room with air conditioning and onsite restaurant. PErfect for the budget traveler who had been 2 weeks on the cruise and needed laundry facility. I think it got Asia out of our system. I know if the weather hadn't been so terribly HOT we would have done more and enjoyed it more. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010

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