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31 Princess Diamond Princess First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

I’d never been on a cruise before. I chose Princess Cruises due to recommendations of friends and reading reviews. I wanted to visit Hokkaido as I’d previously visited other parts of Japan. Before the cruise I stayed in Yokohama for a ... Read More
I’d never been on a cruise before. I chose Princess Cruises due to recommendations of friends and reading reviews. I wanted to visit Hokkaido as I’d previously visited other parts of Japan. Before the cruise I stayed in Yokohama for a few days. I took the Airport Express Train to Yokohama and stayed in an hotel there and then took a cab to the Cruise Terminal. Embarkation went smoothly. When I walked through the partition I thought “its like the airport” but no, they have a lot more people processing passengers and I was soon at my cabin with my case waiting for me. The cabin was a lot better than I thought it would be. As a solo traveller my budget only allowed for an interior room. Later on, there was a safety muster and shortly afterwards we were on our way. I didn’t even know the boat was moving and the captain didn’t honk the horn. The only time I heard the horn was when we were in the fog along the western coast of Hokkaido. I had dinner in the International Dining Room most nights at the late sitting (7.45 pm) with a group of other solo travellers. The wait staff were excellent and would make a larger portion, add cream etc. and even bought one gentleman 2 mains. I also ate at the Horizon Court Buffet for lunch or if I was getting up early. Lovely selection of food and I enjoyed making my own sushi. Of course there is the pizza stand, grill, ice-cream counter if you are out and about and want a snack. I ordered breakfast the night before and had it each morning in my cabin. I called room service a couple of times for coffee. All brought in a timely manner. There was a jug in the room with green tea sachets. There is bottled water for purchase at US$2 plus gratuity .30c. Each night I went to the show in the theatre. They were great and on most occasions there were people standing in the aisles. They ask people not to save seats but they do, so go a bit early to avoid standing. I also went to a few lectures, learnt a bit of language and watched entertainers and dancing in the atrium which at times got a bit crowded. Ah… shopping. These days I get more joy putting something out than bringing something in so I only bought a lanyard for my Ship Card. For those who enjoy it there was plenty of shopping, lots of jewellery, artwork etc. and the merchandise on the tables changed regularly. The laundry was a bit poky and I accidentally knocked someone going in but it has the washers, dryers and ironing equipment. I used it only once. Cost about US$7.50 per load. On the final evening we were asked to put cases out around 9pm although some did it later and then out of the cabin by 8 am. I did a debark tour which met at about 8.15. I felt a bit rushed. I wandered around and had a look at some of the other cabin types and saw the oceanview obstructed let in quite a bit of light which I’ll be trying next time. I’m looking forward to my second Princess cruise in Nov/Dec on the Caribbean Princess and will stay in Miami the day the cruise finishes and fly home the next day so I’m not so rushed and repacking/changing some stuff at the airport. Excursions I took 3 Princess Excursions – Kushiro, Korsakov Russia and debark tour in Tokyo. Kushiro – was a bit disappointing as it was raining. When we went on the walk at the observatory about 2 km or so there and back, quite a few just headed straight for the coffee shop. Don’t blame them, the boardwalk was slippery with lots of fallen leaves and twigs, I had to watch where I was stepping. A shuttle bus was offered into Kushiro township for US$10 return. The boat sailed at 2pm so not much time to do something on your own. Korsakov, Russia – I enjoyed this tour. It made 6 stops. The second, bathroom break stop was at a sports centre where they were practising their ice hockey. Locals had a couple of tables of nice Russian souvenirs accepting US$ and JP Yen as well as roubles. With so many stops then you don’t get as much time as I would have liked at various stops. If you didn’t go on the Princess tour you would have needed a Visa. I found “going through customs” on the ship quite novel as well as the ride in the tandem boat. Tokyo Debark tour – This drove past various sights in Tokyo as well as a visit to the Meiji Shrine and Asakusa Temple and shopping area. It was absolutely packed with people being Japan school holidays but it’s a great place to visit but insufficient time to go up to the observation floor of a nearby building. Then we were dropped off at the airport like dozens of others so the lockers were all full and I had to pay for storage of my case for 3h until check-in opened. One small and one medium bag cost me about AUD$10. I then went to Narita township (1 train stop away) as I’d never been there. Otaru – I did my own thing. The map Princess gave me was just a mud map and needless to say I got lost on my way on foot to the station which was about 10 mins away (and the rest). A couple I’d asked assistance of actually drove me to the station which was nearly 10 mins in the car! From there I went to Sapporo for the day and came back to Otaru to visit the Canal area. Apparently in one of the tents on the wharf they had good maps. Hakodate – I did my own thing, assisted by 2 delightful Year 9 schoolgirls who as part of their school project had to assist visitors and practice their English. I have very limited Japanese so that was great. They took me to the PO, put me on a tram to the fortress and made sure I knew how to buy tickets etc. I spent an hour in the gift shop….a group tour would not let me do that! A shuttle bus took passengers into Hakodate for US$10 return. The ship didn’t sail until 11pm. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
It was our first cruise and we absolutely loved it! The ship itself was magical, we especially loved the Atrium and the Open Deck Pool on Deck 14. The Service was amazing! Every member of the crew we interacted with felt like old ... Read More
It was our first cruise and we absolutely loved it! The ship itself was magical, we especially loved the Atrium and the Open Deck Pool on Deck 14. The Service was amazing! Every member of the crew we interacted with felt like old friends. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. The dining was lovely, the ambience created in each dining room and at the specialty restaurants was great. Some of the food wasn't as fresh as we would have liked, some pieces a little more fatty than we were used to, but other than that it was great. The entertainment was great. We watched Pianoman and I've got the Music, as well as the singer, Monique and the Comedian, I can't seem to track down his name anywhere but he was a 62 year old from canada, who has a chinese wife and he was amazing. We loved our shore excursions, especially our market visit and cooking class in Ho Chi Minh City! That was the perfect day! We took a bus into the city and then went on a peddy cab ride through smaller city streets, (this was amazing!) and then we met the chef at the market and she took us around buying ingredients. Then we got an hour to shop at this market as it has a wet market and a souvenir section. (we got lots of great souvenirs and tea sets and tshirts and bags, it was great). Then we met the chef back at the Rex hotel and learnt how to make Vietnamese Spring rolls, the sauce that goes with them and we learnt to make tomato roses. then we did a little sightseeing and headed back. What an amazing day! I know I have already raved about the crew but they were seriously amazing. I couldn't get my hands on enough of those cruise nomination cards on the last day and I miss several members of the crew now that we have left. The day we were at Koh Samui, we used tender boats to get to shore and on the way back, there was a huge line at the dock to get back onto the cruise. It was a hot day and we were all tired. There were a few hundred people all waiting for tender boats and the shelter was full so we were lining up outside the shelter in the heat but the Princess staff managed to even make that a much better experience than it was. They had crew members handing out cold towels and chilled water as well as umbrellas to shield the sun. They also loaded up two tender boats at a time, speeding up the process. I was so impressed by their efforts to make the situation that much more bearable. We loved playing Pyramid at the explorers lounge one night. loved it even more because we won a bottle of champagne! haha. We made some lovely friends, we saw new cities and had new experiences. We loved every minute and we cannot wait for our next cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was my first time on a cruise although not my first time in New Zealand. Was looking for a relaxing no-fuss holiday and this pretty much fit the bill. I'll start by noting that towards the end of the trip we were alerted to a ... Read More
This was my first time on a cruise although not my first time in New Zealand. Was looking for a relaxing no-fuss holiday and this pretty much fit the bill. I'll start by noting that towards the end of the trip we were alerted to a gastro outbreak on the ship that made the news once we disembarked. The crew were very professional, gave regular updates and did everything possible to manage the spread of the virus - most notably no more self-service in the buffet and extra cleaning. Unfortunately some passengers didn't follow directions and apparently left quarantine (rather inconsiderate of them) or failed to report they were sick. Service was great. The room steward kept everything clean and tidy, food service was generally very good with some waiters making jokes and chatting to passengers and maintaining good cleanliness. The crew manning the activities had a great attitude and seemed to enjoy what they were doing. We initially had traditional dining but found the time inconvenient (we had selected 8pm for dinner) and so switched to anytime dining. Parts of the menu changed daily so there was variety but we probably split our dinner between the dining rooms and buffet at Horizon Court depending on what was on the menu and how much time we had to eat (it takes longer to eat in the dining room than the buffet). I sometimes found the dessert in the dining room better and the food is fresher. However the buffet has enormous variety and also changes daily with different nationality themes. I also liked the Trident Grill and Pizzeria which I went to for lunch when on the ship. Food was fantastic and you can definitely eat too much. We had an interior room which was fine for us since we spent little time in it and didn't miss the balcony. Being near Horizon Court meant food/water was only a short staircase away from our rooms (very convenient). The room had a power point that accepted Australian equipment so no adapter was necessary. There are plenty of different activities for those so inclined (even on shore days) such as trivia, demonstrations, games, dance/ukelele/singing groups. On the second last day some of the groups performed. There are many more other activities and a daily newsletter lists all of them. They showed maybe 2-3 movies up on the deck every day of different genres and I enjoyed quite a few of them. There were various musical performances in the bars and atrium. Each night there were performances either by the Princess singers and dances or guest performers. The Princess productions were a bit too loud and hyper for me, I'd say Bravo is the only one that was really good and not to be missed. For the Princess cast shows, we had to get there almost 30mins before the start to get a seat. The guest performers were a bit of a hit or miss but I think a lot of it is just down to different tastes and preferences. If you're a book worm I suggest bringing your own books as I didn't find the library had much to offer (but does have lots of board games). For those wanting a slower pace there was usually space out on the open deck and lots of corners in the various bars to tuck yourself away. I found the walk around the ship on level 7 very pleasant and quite a few people did daily laps. So how you spend your time on the ship is really up to you. My friend packed her day with activities and met lots of people whereas I tended to look for solitude whether watching a movie on deck or just gazing out at the ocean and walking around (with a few activities sprinkled here and there). You will probably meet and bump into people a few times over as depending on your group size you might share a table during meals. The destination/port lecturer we had (Linda) was fantastic and if she's on your cruise I recommend going to her talks (they also put them on the TV). We stopped at Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Akaroa/Christchurch, Port Chalmers/Dunedin, Fiordland National Park (cruising). Fairly good selection of ports and luckily the weather was with us so we made it to all of them and had fairly stable cruising. We mostly did our own thing rather than organised shore excursions however the ones we did do were well organised (Hobbiton and Antarctic Centre). Christchurch CBD is still very much under construction with lots of vacant buildings. Dunedin is very small. Some of the touristy places took NZD, AUD and USD. Bring a lanyard so you can wear your cruise card around your neck and not lose it. Bring a secondary government ID (e.g. driver licence) as you need it to get back on the ship (if you don't want to take your passport on shore excursions). A lot of the public areas in NZ had free wi-fi. The ship wi-fi is expensive but worked pretty well. All in all it was a good experience for a first cruise. Good value considering transportation, accommodation and food is all included. You are somewhat restricted by time/port location but it was a worthwhile trade-off in this instance. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
This was our first ever cruise . Chose our 30th wedding anniversary for this trip . We live in Sydney south west so we rode the train in . Was in awe as soon as we set eyes on the ship . Embarkation was very well organised and we were on ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise . Chose our 30th wedding anniversary for this trip . We live in Sydney south west so we rode the train in . Was in awe as soon as we set eyes on the ship . Embarkation was very well organised and we were on board and settled in our stateroom sooner than expected . Started exploring the ship right away . Staff were friendly and courteous , made us feel welcome everywhere on board . Service in all areas was above and beyond my expectations . We had an inside stateroom and it was perfect for us as we didn't plan on spending too many daylight hours in there . Clean and well maintained . The room steward was fantastic and enjoyed a chat . Loved the ports of call , so much to see . We were however disappointed with the shore excursion we took in Hobart . Not enough time to explore . We were out for 4 hours , and most of that time was sitting on the bus . Not value for the price at all . Next time will do our own thing . No complaints back on board in the dining scene . Great variety and always delicious . Over eat much ? You bet i did . We didn't see much of the on board entertainment , mainly spent time at poolside , watching the movies or listening to piano in the Atrium or the guitar guy at Crooners . Just relaxing mainly . Disembarkation was a sad day , didn't want to go ! It was though , organised very well ( hats off to the staff who had to handle this task ) , and we were soon back on the train headed home. Overall my wife and i thoroughly enjoyed this cruise , loved the ship , and can't wait till we're cruising again . Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
The steward was absolutely amazing. He was so polite and friendly. He was thorough and aimed to please. I was lucky my cabin was on a higher deck as there were a couple of rough days but I didn't spend much time in the cabin. My ... Read More
The steward was absolutely amazing. He was so polite and friendly. He was thorough and aimed to please. I was lucky my cabin was on a higher deck as there were a couple of rough days but I didn't spend much time in the cabin. My fave part was the Lido deck where the Movies under the stars was. That was one of my fave activities. I did participate in karaoke one night and used the gym. Both were excellent. I felt as if some of the daily activities were targeted towards an older audience so I didn't participate in them but the movies were good. I would have liked to have stopped in Wellington instead of Picton. Overall though I loved this ship with a range of restaurants and bars, but the Lido Deck restaurants and cafes were best. There was one night where the food could have been better in the Horizon Court and by the last day it was starting to wear thin, more choices would've been good. I also noticed a funny taste in the water provided from the machines. I'm not sure if that was just a personal taste thing or if others have experienced that too. As I say though, I'd happily cruise with Princess again because the service was excellent and there were good movie choices on the stateroom TV if just hanging out in there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
It was interesting reading prior reviews about the Diamond Princess. If all were to be believed, I probably wouldn't have gone - lousy food, noisy engines, bad entertainment etc. Fortunately I ignored the majority of those whingers ... Read More
It was interesting reading prior reviews about the Diamond Princess. If all were to be believed, I probably wouldn't have gone - lousy food, noisy engines, bad entertainment etc. Fortunately I ignored the majority of those whingers and ended up having the time of my life! Certainly the ship missed two ports due to bad weather. That's not the ships fault and people who complain should be put in a lifeboat and sent on to the Island then picked up on the next trip. Same with the food, there were people who were like pigs in a trough, piled their plates high with as much food as would fit then complained about the quality. We took the anytime dining option, dressed up a bit each night and ate at one of the more salubrious venues, The service was immaculate (not in the religious way) and the food absolutely magnificent (and I'm a bit of a food snob). One critic also noted that the average age was over 60. Well, that's to be expected on a ship such as the Diamond Princess which apparently attracts a more, shall we say, upmarket clientele. I'm 66 but feel and act mid 40's so I was comfortable with any age group. I'm still working so could afford a Suite, it was just amazing and had a balcony about 5 X 3.5 metres at the stern. Great for reading, relaxing and (of course) drinking. I noticed one reviewer complaining that the Suite and Premium passengers getting preferential treatment in terms of disembarkation at Ports etc. Obviously he'd never travelled Business Class on an airplane. If you pay three times as much then there surely should be some benefits. The only letdown was the entertainment. The main Production shows in the big theatre were as good as you'll see anywhere. Some of the Singers/Comedians/guitar players in the lounges were pretty ordinary (I could sing and play better than most) although the House Bands were terrific. The Trivia nights and staff hosted nights however were just fantastic. The service from all staff was very, very good with the exception of bar staff. Not their fault but more staff were needed. I concluded that Cruising is not just about the destination but the camaraderie formed with fellow passengers. We met some "interesting" people and took home some indelible memories. I certainly will be returning to a Princess Cruise and would recommend the Diamond Princess to anyone/couple/party in the over 35 age group. It's not really a cruise to take children on, there are ships way more suited for them. That, however, is one of the benefits for us "older" folks as the lack of ankle biters makes for a more relaxing experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our first cruise ever and we had expectations of a great time. We could not have been more disappointed and definitely will not cruise again on any cruise line after this experience. For a cruise that only had 2 ports in 12 ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever and we had expectations of a great time. We could not have been more disappointed and definitely will not cruise again on any cruise line after this experience. For a cruise that only had 2 ports in 12 days, the activities were uninteresting and repetitive. There is only so much towel folding one can take. We were also expecting a high standard of night time entertainment rather than RSL standard. Unfortunately whilst we enjoyed the basketball court (not much else of interest to do) it was out of action after 5pm as the Elite passengers would be having some sort of function in the room below. I thought we all paid the same money? It seemed the biggest form of entertainment that Princess was interested in giving its passengers was to spend money at their "sales" or to spend money at other forms of entertainment such as the Day Spa. The hot water in our shower was tepid from day 3 and the television worked only intermittently. The food was average. We went to one of the paid specialty restaurants and two of the courses were inedible. The "buffet" had a reasonable variety but was basically rehashing the same food each day and coming to the end of the cruise it was really awful. It seemed like everything left over was made into some sort of strange "dish" to get rid of it. Not to mention the fruit and vegetables were getting older by the day to the extent that limp and brown lettuce was being served up in the buffet. I eat mainly vegetarian food and there was a distinct lack of imaginative vegetarian dishes except for tired vegetables and fruit. I will say that the wait staff were mostly polite and friendly. We came on this cruise at the recommendation of a friend who also was on the cruise and who had been on Princess cruises before and had really enjoyed them, but commented this was the worst one she had been on. So disappointed and can only view this as a colossal waste of money. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This report is a review of our first cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and can't wait to get back on board. I guess this means we are hooked already! Embarkation in Sydney was surprisingly quick, taking less than 30 ... Read More
This report is a review of our first cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and can't wait to get back on board. I guess this means we are hooked already! Embarkation in Sydney was surprisingly quick, taking less than 30 minutes. Our luggage arrived a few minutes after we boarded. We found the food to be good with a variety of places to eat (we were Any Time Dining). We had movie nights in the cabin a few times and the room service food was plentiful and delivery prompt. Dining room food servings, while not large, were adequate and we were comfortably able to eat three or four courses without being overly full. The Horizon Buffet was crowded only once, and was always busy from about 8am - 10am. We ate breakfast half of the time in the International Dining Room. We had a magnificent meal in the Steakhouse. Our room steward was very polite and friendly. He did a great job of keeping our cabin clean. The nightly theatre entertainment ranged from average to good - not as good as we thought it would be. There were a couple of very good pianists and singers in the smaller bars. There was a great range of movies on our TV and the afternoon movies in the theatre were generally very good. There was a great range of daily activities, happy hour rocked, and we loved being able to take early morning walks around the deck. Cons: Not many. On a ship with predominantly Australian cruisers it was frustrating to have two TV channels of British news (BBC and Sky). More local content would have been appreciated. It was usually difficult to walk past the Passenger Service Desk due to long queues - more crowd control needed! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My wife and I had gone to Sydney for a family reunion and decided to return to NZ by ship. we both had no great expectations. All we wanted was to relax and take everything in. we were looking forward to seeing the fiords, was not ... Read More
My wife and I had gone to Sydney for a family reunion and decided to return to NZ by ship. we both had no great expectations. All we wanted was to relax and take everything in. we were looking forward to seeing the fiords, was not disappointed. As for the ship, well it was more than I expected. Thought it was very well maintained, being an ex seaman I tended to look at all the little things the deckies were doing and the overall state of the ship. Could not fault it for a ship that spends more time at sea than tied up alongside. Our inside stateroom was on Caribe deck 245 it more than met our needs, heaps of space. Shower cracked us up, a bit small to say the least ha ha gave us a few laughs. The bed was good we slept very soundly no noise. would recommend Caribe deck not much ship movement. Keep away from the bow or stern if you suffer from mal de mere. Our steward was very good . We had anytime dining but didn't use the restaurants, not being foodies, we found the horizon court buffet more than met our culinary needs. In fact we thoroughly enjoyed it. Big ship but plenty of space to find a quiet place to relax. The vessel is a floating hotel with all usual things to try and entice you to spend your hard earned cash. Entertainment was ok but everyone has different tastes. One of the highlights was leaving Sydney in the evening. It was magic my wife is from Sydney and it was very romantic. well worth the trip just for that. The rest of the trip was brilliant. The fiords didn't disappoint. Arrived in Auckland feeling very relaxed and sad having to get off. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth and efficient. Thank you Princess will be doing another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
You know how you first felt when you found out Santa and the Easter Bunny were not real. This is how I feel at the moment after our family's first (and probably last) cruise. The adverts and brochures promise so much but the reality ... Read More
You know how you first felt when you found out Santa and the Easter Bunny were not real. This is how I feel at the moment after our family's first (and probably last) cruise. The adverts and brochures promise so much but the reality never really comes close. OK... getting off my soap box now. Let me first cover the Sweet sections of our cruise from Sydney - Melbourne - Sydney aboard the Diamond Princess. The ship (to me) is huge, with many restaurants, cafes, bars, lounges and pools etc'. The decor in the public areas is just to the right of over the top but impressive never the less. Everything was clean and tidy and I found the majority of staff to be friendly, attentive and efficient especially in our designated restaurant, the International. The food was wonderful and plentiful, with the exception of two hairs on my wifes steak on the second night out. The embarkation and disembarkation was relatively pain free. Now for the sour: Your spendings while on board are progressively put on hold using an estimate of your purchases for each day. They track your spending via the Ship Card issued on Embarkation which is in turn linked to your Credit/Debit card. When it comes time to settle the bill they then take the required sum from this account but do not un-hold the amount they have already reserved, therefore freezing that amount of money for up to a week. If you have a card with many thousands to spare this is no problem but if you think credit cards are evil and only have one with a $1,000 limit this tends to chew up your reserve very quickly. Oh yes, this is not advertised or disclosed at any time for newbie cruisers but ALL prices while on board are in US dollars and not AU dollars so you may mistakenly end up owing 20% to 25% more than you thought, and no the exchange rate via Visa or Mastercard is never favorable to the user. Every person gets a card and every card is charged $11.50US automatically per day per person as a gratuity tax. Over five days that is not too bad but what if you are on board for a Month? I only found out after the cruise that not every person is required to have a card, but they will push it on you as a security ID issue apparently if you don't want one issued and threaten you with not allowing you to board. If you want to query a charge to your account you have to line up for a considerable period, only half of the (mostly) Japanese reception staff can speak English properly, welcome to a world of frustration, confusion and finally anger. Want to get onto the internet to sort things out with the bank, sorry that is another $12.50US for 15Mins and then a little over a dollar AU per minute thereafter. And it is a satellite uplink so we are talking dial up speeds, remember those, hit enter and go and make a cup of coffee. Which reminds me you cannot get a decent cup of coffee on the ship, ever drank US coffee, there you go. Now for the one that really left a bitter taste in my mouth. My daughter stayed too long in the sun and got a bad case of sunburn. She was not feeling well so we called the medical centre on board. They send up a paramedic who after asking some questions wheeled her to the nearby lift and down to the medical centre where the Doctor spent the sum total of five minutes with her. I asked the paramedic how much a consult would cost, reply, "It all depends". I asked the receptionist how much this may cost me, "It varies from person to person". Beginning to see a pattern here. For five minutes and a tube of quarterzone gel it cost me just over $500AU or $404US. I know top flight specialist surgeons that do not charge $100AU a MINUTE. Price gouging much. Even the 30 Metre wheelchair ride cost us $35US that is more than a dollar US per metre. I would like to thank the princess line for ensuring that my family and I never set foot on another cruise ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We're a young couple on our first cruise and we went with another couple of young friends. Overall, we loved the cruise and would go again but some things cast a shadow over the cruise from poor communication and customer service. The ... Read More
We're a young couple on our first cruise and we went with another couple of young friends. Overall, we loved the cruise and would go again but some things cast a shadow over the cruise from poor communication and customer service. The ship is beautiful and lots of outdoor pools to enjoy a drink and a lot of sunshine. We were disappointed, however, when we heard rumours 3 weeks prior to disembark that our drinks package had been cancelled. I checked with our travel agent, and surely enough it had. Whilst our friends received a free upgrade for the inconvenience, we were offered nothing and the cruise line refused to talk to us directly (had to go through travel agent). I tried emailing them and received no response. We really enjoyed the food! We used Anytime Dining and tried all 4 restaurants and the buffet. Food was delicious and staff were very hospitable. We did get charged twice for some wine I purchased but this was pretty quickly fixed (after a long wait in the dreaded customer service desk line). We also really loved the food that was in the main pool area - cheeseburgers were the best! The gratitude (tips) did add up though as each drink/service transaction attracted a tip and in USD. It was fairly easy to keep track of our spending though thanks to some machines they had on board which you could swipe and would give you a running total. The gym was ok but would have liked more variety in the equipment. Although I'm guessing it's a small gym because people are busy hanging beside the pool! The spa was a complete rip off. A massage for my partner and I was over $200USD each and was nothing special. And for $40USD my partner got THE WORST mens haircut I've ever seen - I didn't know you could mess up a mens haircut but apparently so! I heard a lot of seasoned cruisers tell me the boat was overcrowded but we didn't mind it. I did like that they put a cap on how many children are on board. Our cruise only had 300 which was a good amount - not too many and they seemed to be preoccupied elsewhere away from the adults. General crowd was families and older folk, which was fine but is worth considering when cruising. They advertised young/singles nights at certain bars but whenever we went there there would be no-one there or just the usual crowds. The nightclub was also almost always dead but meant more room on the dance floor! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were a group of two couples – family related – and the few days before we left Australia were filled with uncertainty because of a typhoon heading for Japan. With much relief we did make it to Japan the evening of 4th Oct, and what ... Read More
We were a group of two couples – family related – and the few days before we left Australia were filled with uncertainty because of a typhoon heading for Japan. With much relief we did make it to Japan the evening of 4th Oct, and what a delightful stay in the Rose Hotel, Yokohama. The rooms were large – two queen beds in each room, and the staff were fantastic. It felt like home away from home. And then messages started to come through about the impending typhoon – Phanfone, was it? – which was due to hit Yokohama and Tokyo Sunday night, causing a delay with our cruise. The day was a brilliant clear day, which we spent sightseeing around Yokohama. What typhoon, we thought. Anyhow, it arrived in the middle of the night and brought with it wind and rain. It did not dampen our spirits, though we were disappointed that our cruise ship was delayed two days – Princess Cruises reimbursed us the two days. Our cruise was now a seven day one, instead of nine. There is nothing anyone can do about the weather, so we made the most of it and had a great time sightseeing Yokohama and Tokyo. The Rose Hotel was able to accommodate us the extra two days, which was a relief to us. Embarkation came on the Wednesday morning of the 8th. It went very well, and it took all of 45 minutes from start to finish. Our balcony cabin was spacious, the wardrobe space – and hangers – was huge. We were pleasantly surprised. I can’t say enough about how good the crew were, and the food was fantastic, and the shows were wonderful. The ship lived up to its name. The captain had bad news for us as we headed for Kobe. The itinerary had to be changed yet again, due to another typhoon, a super typhoon heading our way. We spent a lovely day in Kobe, a ship’s excursion to Nara filled in most of the time, and it was an amazing experience for us. Osaka was a bonus – not on the original itinerary – and we were able to catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto – somewhere we really wanted to visit. And I’m glad we did. An absolutely enchanting place. We were told we had to divert out to the Yellow Sea, away from the super typhoon Vongfong, which meant a delay in returning to Yokohama. Another disappointment for us as the rest of the itinerary went out the window. However, we were able to stay with the ship as we had several days in Tokyo at the end of the cruise planned, unlike some of our passengers who had to disembark in Osaka due to flight plans. The Inland Sea cruising day was a calm and wonderful one. I was unsure how I would handle rough seas once they arrived but I survived without a hint of sea sickness. The ship handled the seas wonderfully, though once we were back on land we found ourselves rolling along with a sailor’s sea legs. We were worried for our safety and so therefore accepted any changes that would make for a safer voyage. It was an adventure. There was enough on board to keep us occupied for the remaining sea days. Disembarkation was a breeze. It took a matter of minutes before we found ourselves standing out in the sun at the Osanbashi Pier. Thank you, Princess Cruises for the extra day we had on board, plus the 100% cruise credit for a future cruise. We will definitely be cruising with Princess again.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
having just today returned from our 19 day cruise on the Diamond Princess, I could not have been happier with my experience. The staff are probably the best I have experienced and were very personable and willing to please. We started our ... Read More
having just today returned from our 19 day cruise on the Diamond Princess, I could not have been happier with my experience. The staff are probably the best I have experienced and were very personable and willing to please. We started our journey flying Singapore Airlines on an A380 in the Upper Deck Economy class and it was also terrific. Only 80 people in this area and a 2 4 2 configuration make it a reasonably pleasurable experience. When then had three nights at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore in their Club Class suite which was absolutely work the money. If you are looking for a treat, I can highly recommend it. Our cabin was a mini-suite and again, worth the extra to get the large balcony and additional cabin space, not to mention a bathroom that you can actually swing a cat in. Very comfortable lounge, chairs and bed. We made our own way to the ship using a cab which is very affordable in Singapore (less than S$10) and the cruise terminal is new and very functional. Boarding was a breeze and cabin was ready and bags followed soon after. We mostly ate breakfast in the Horizon Buffet which had a good selection of fresh fruit, yoghurt, baked goods, eggs, bacon, sausages etc. Lunch we tended to eat usually something light - sandwich or slice of pizza, small hamburger which were all good quality. Dinner we utilised Anytime Dining which we really enjoyed, meeting new people every night was a lot of fun. Food in the dining rooms was really terrific and the wine list was interesting and reasonably priced. Entertainment was Ok but not really anything outstanding. Loved the Lotus Pool - quite and secluded with plenty of sun and shade. Lotus Spa was great as well - enjoyed a lovely day of pampering in their facilities. Disembarkation in Sydney was simple and ran really easily. All in all we were very happy with this cruise. It gave us a lot of time to relax and recharge in a very pleasant atmosphere.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
It's funny but we have lived in Vancouver all our lives and this is the first cruise we have taken, go figure! Boarding in Vancouver was a breeze, once on board we were settled in our Stateroom and set out to find our way around, the ... Read More
It's funny but we have lived in Vancouver all our lives and this is the first cruise we have taken, go figure! Boarding in Vancouver was a breeze, once on board we were settled in our Stateroom and set out to find our way around, the Treasure hunt helped a great deal. The Princess Patter that arrived everyday was a great way for us to find out what was on for the sea days and also what to plan for when we were returning from excursions. To us the food was great, and Horizon court was the best for breakfast and lunch, with the Pacific Moon and Santa Fe filling in the rest, although we did have dinner a couple of times at Horizon, usually on Excursion days when we got back tired and didn't want to sit in a dining room setting. I will take issue with the claim that Internet is only ".35" per minute, that is only if you spend an initial $200 for a plan, the normal is .79 per minute so beware!! We purchased 90 minutes for $69 and that was sufficient as we were trying to escape modern technology, and only used it for updating family. Same thing for cell phones, ipad etc, be very careful or you may get a rude awakening when you get your next bill. I have to say that the only reason that this cruise was great was because of the staff, to say they are great is an understatement. They go out of their way to make sure that the folks on board have a wonderful time and Princess should thank their lucky stars that they have these dedicated people. All in all we had a great 1st cruise and if we do it again will not hesitate to use Princess. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We departed June 1 from Whittier and arrived Vancouver June 7. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime and it truly was! The ship was spotlessly clean, the crew was amazingly friendly and the food was great. We enjoyed every moment ... Read More
We departed June 1 from Whittier and arrived Vancouver June 7. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime and it truly was! The ship was spotlessly clean, the crew was amazingly friendly and the food was great. We enjoyed every moment (save for one) and would do the entire trip again beginning to end. The aft suite was incredible - and we enjoyed the various perks that came with it. Because we had done a land tour, having the free laundry service was fantastic. Being able to order room service off the main dining room menus was a huge perk. This allowed us to keep our eyes glued on the phenomenal scenery. Having a suite overlooking the wake was just lovely. It wasn't loud and could only be heard if you opened the balcony doors. And even moving at a speedy for a cruise ship 22 knots, we could talk quietly on our deck and easily hear each other. We felt we had a private box and the best seats in the house during the scenic cruising and traveling the inner passage. Whales and porpoise were easily spotted playing in the wake. Our room steward, May, was a delight and really made our stay special. Our room was always spotlessly clean and she anticipated every need. One morning we passed May in the hallway and mentioned we were planning to walk around Ketchikan and skip our planned excursion. When we got back from breakfast, two umbrellas were waiting for us. She was like a friendly ghost - we never saw her come or go but we knew she had been there from all the little things she did. If we could request May with our next cruise, we would. We didn't partake in any scheduled activities or entertainment on board. Sitting in a theater watching a show seemed silly when the real show was happening all around us 24/7 courtesy of Alaska! We chose Anytime Dining which was very convenient for us. We only ate in 2 of the main dining rooms (Santa Fe and Savoy). The food was good, service was good, decor was good. Not a lot of window seating which made this style of eating less interesting for us. Main dining room food, whether delivered to our room or served in the dining room, was 3 to 4 star caliber. We ate at both Sabatani's and the Sterling Steakhouse. We opted for Sabatini's while for dinner the first night of the cruise as the extra fee is waived on this night for suite passengers. Easily 4 to 5 star dining from the caliber of the food to the amazing wait staff. This was the best way to start our cruise. We checked out Sterling Steakhouse and because it had huge windows and generous window seating, we decided we would eat here on our final cruising day. Sterling easily compared to Capital Grille, Morton's or Ruth's Chris. We did eat at the Horizon Court buffet a few times for lunch or to grab a quick snack. 3 star caliber food. It was a buffet - Nothing to write home about. I will say that the wait staff here was quick to get drinks, clean away dishes and prep tables. As suite passengers, we had access to Sabatini's for breakfast each morning. This perk is worth every extra penny paid for the suite. We enjoyed the wait staff tremendously and when we remember our cruise, we fondly remember our friends Jiovannie, Agu and Leo and hope we see them again. The fresh orange (mimosas!), and best mochaccino's ever plus fruit plates, made to order eggs and pastries were all fantastic but it is the wait staff here that makes Sabatini's truly special. Afternoon tea delivered to our room (another suite perk) was fantastic, fresh and I wish we had done it every day. Embarkation and disembarkation was easy and well organized. Luggage delivery and pick up at the port was simple and easy. The entire trip with Princess (we did a land portion as well) was simple, organized and easy. We felt well cared for and never had a worry. The key to the success of the Diamond is the crew - from the Captain to the folks in the laundry (yes we did the ultimate ship tour and HIGHLY recommend it!). Everyone is friendly, helpful and seem genuinely pleased that you are on-board. It was our first cruise and most certainly not our last. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We spent one night in Vancouver and departed on May 25th for seven day cruise to Whittier. We were a bit overwhelmed with the size of the ship and trying to find everything. The little Scavenger Hunt game is a clever way to force you to ... Read More
We spent one night in Vancouver and departed on May 25th for seven day cruise to Whittier. We were a bit overwhelmed with the size of the ship and trying to find everything. The little Scavenger Hunt game is a clever way to force you to explore. Our cabin on Baja deck was quite nice. Our steward was perfect; efficient and professional. The balcony is a little more private because of no overhang. And, since the weather was unusually clear, we tended to use the balcony. Port side is nice for long afternoon sun. By the way, no one ever told us, but the carpets on Port side have a pink border. This helps getting out of elevators to find the correct side.We booked our own air travel and chose to book our own excursions on port days. We ate one evening in Sabbatini and it was quite good, but I'm not sure that it was worth the extra charge. The other restaurants only seem to differ in location and ambience..the menus looked identical. Other than one grumpy waiter, service was cordial and friendly. Breakfast buffet in the Horizon Court is more food than I needed. Twice, we simply ordered room service. Luggage and transfers were handled flawlessly. We can only compare to the comments of others. But, thumbs up from us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our first cruise but had been many years in the planning as a special trip to celebrate our forthcoming Silver wedding. We had a 3 night pre cruise stay at the Shangri La hotel on the river side which was beautiful and spent 3 ... Read More
This was our first cruise but had been many years in the planning as a special trip to celebrate our forthcoming Silver wedding. We had a 3 night pre cruise stay at the Shangri La hotel on the river side which was beautiful and spent 3 days exploring Bangkok and the surrounding areas doing trips independently booked through Viator. Our embarkation in Bangkok was faultless as Princess had organised pre booking the evening before at the hotel and all our luggage was picked up from outside our hotel room and taken direct to the ship. This meant that although our assigned time was to be 3pm we left the hotel just after 11.30am on the Princess transfer and were at the ship and on board by about 1.30pm with no queuing up required. Had booked a balcony originally but were upgraded to a mini suite which was on the Dolphin deck. The cabin was spotless and very roomy and the balcony was very large. It was overlooked from above but that did not bother us as there was plenty of room to sunbathe. The bed was one of the most comfortable that we had ever slept in and we never experienced any sea sickness and the majority of time you forgot you were actually moving apart from a slight vibration. We had a great room steward called Ramone who tended to our every need. There was always ice and fresh towels replenished daily without even asking and he was very tolerant to us being late dinner goers so preparing our cabin for night time was probably always the last to be done. The Diamond Princess is a beautiful ship and I found it to be in very good condition and very clean. You never felt that it was crowded and there was always somewhere you could retreat to for a quiet time. Hand sanitizers were always available before entering the Horizon court and all the other restaurants. We ate Anytime dining and found this to be ideal. The food was excellent and a good choice was available. Any waiters/waitresses that served us were lovely and attentive and we were always served promptly. I had pre purchased 4 bottles of Champagne before boarding at a reasonable price of $27.00 each because I worked it out that if you took on more than the two bottles per couple that you were allowed at no extra charge then with the $15.00 corkage that Princess would charge you for any over and above this meant that it would be very doubtful that you would get a bottle of Champagne for $12 or less that would taste that good. I expected them to be in the cabin on embarkation but what Princess do is leave you a card per bottle that you can either request room service to bring you a bottle or you can produce the card in the restaurants and they then get it for you. As no further corkage is added we chose to have it in the restaurants. Also like the idea that you do not need to drink it all in one sitting and the waiters will store it till the following evening. We took the opportunity to eat in the Sterling Steak House one evening and although it lacked a bit of atmosphere it certainly didn't disappoint with their steaks. Cooked to perfection and cut like butter. We went with another couple we had met on board who were also celebrating their Silver Wedding for a joint celebration to the other fee pay restaurant Sabatini's and had a great night. Food was fantastic and the waiters entertained us all night and presented us with a cake and serenaded us which was a lovely touch. Had afternoon tea on 3 occasions and had our cups and plates constantly refilled. Went to the theatres shows a couple of nights and the ones we saw were more than acceptable. We really enjoyed the end of Cruise Crew Talent show. Also liked 'Movies under the Stars' although had seen most of the films on offer but that's only because we go to the cinema all the time at home. There was always plenty of sunbeds available even although the weather was lovely and hot for the majority of the cruise and we expected there to be a shortage. Lots of different deck areas to go to and the pools were great. One of our favourite things to do was to be on deck once the sun went down and it was almost deserted and then we had the hot tubs to ourselves. Enjoyed the three formal nights and the majority of passengers dressed up for the occasion. This was a perfect cruise for the balance between sea days and port days. Thoroughly enjoyed all the ports we visited opting to do our own thing in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. We took organised trips arranged through our Cruise Critic Roll call in the two ports in Vietnam and Nagasaki and these were all excellent both for value for money and the itinerary offered. The only Princess tour we did was in Busan as it was only a short day and we wanted to visit the Haedong Temple and were doubtful of managing it on our own in the time. All in all it was a fantastic cruise and made all the more special by the people we met and the Crew we had dealings with. I have read many reviews before I went on the cruise and kept an open mind to the negative comments and my feelings are that you get back what you give and witnessing certain passengers attitude to the crew and lack of respect for them we are of the opposite nature treating them with courtesy and showing genuine interest in where they are from and a cheery hello and how are you today pays dividends in the way they then interact with you. As I have said it was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it with and perhaps if you have been on several cruises over the years there may have been changes in certain things but it more than met and surpassed my expectations and I would have no hesitation going on another Princess Cruise. On disembarkation at Beijing we spent a further eight days doing the Princess Land Tour and Yangtze River boat cruise. From start to finish we stayed in the best hotels and were taken to many of the amazing sites in China and the whole tour went like clockwork. So many happy memories of both the Cruise and the Land Tour and all the lovely people we came into contact with made it well and truly a holiday of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
What a fantastic experience!  Flew Heathrow - Beijing on KLM, via Amsterdam - excellent service and comfortable-ish for long haul cattle class. In Beijing, stayed at the Marriott City walls, which was lovely, although the food was poor ... Read More
What a fantastic experience!  Flew Heathrow - Beijing on KLM, via Amsterdam - excellent service and comfortable-ish for long haul cattle class. In Beijing, stayed at the Marriott City walls, which was lovely, although the food was poor value. Princess offered us several trips, which we took, as they seemed good value (I have reviewed the trips separately on Trip Advisor if you are interested.) Acrobatic show, Great Wall (foggy and cold, sadly), Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, all with great restaurants and local guides(especially the Peking Duck!. We had a 2hr drive to the port to meet the Diamond Princess.) She is beautiful and I can't fault her - service was great, public areas never crowded, shows excellent, and food good (we had anytime dining which gave us more freedom to eat where we liked)Our cabin on B deck was good (I wouldn't have liked lower decks, as they were overlooked, and not undercover from the downpours we had. Mind you, they were better for sunbathing) Catherine our steward was lovely, and when my husband said his back was stiff, she found us a comfortable topper for the mattress. We enjoyed our days at sea. Captain Bilton coped well with problems - an engine played up, a poorly crew member had to be airlifted off the ship at midnight, and Shanghai was too dangerous to dock in due to bad weather.(We had an extra day in Hong Kong instead - yippee!)The port talks by Elizabeth were excellent, and very funny Our first port of call was Busan, South Korea - beautiful city, with fantastic markets (and they don't hound you to buy either!). Nagasaki next, again beautiful and very welcoming - little children came on board to sing and dance. In Hong Kong we had to be tendered on the first day from Junk harbour, but everything was smoothly organised. Leaving Hong Kong, the ship sailed slowly through Victoria Harbour just as the 8pm laser show began - brilliant! In Vietnam, we had 2 port stops and again, we did the organised trips, which we thought were mostly good value, and more relaxed. Loved the country, very interesting -especially the CuChi tunnels, and War zone Singapore was beautiful, although we thought the Botanic Gardens trip would have been easier and a darn sight cheaper to do ourselves. Ended up in the Long Bar at Raffles. Time was wasted in Singapore due to the long immigration process. We disembarked in Bangkok (PhuMi), and did a city and temple tour on our way to the Four Seasons hotel, where we stayed for 3 nights - wonderful. Bangkok is easy to get around so we 'did it ourselves' - what a great city! In all. a fabulous experience - we have just booked for 2015 with Princess on their South America cruise (Rio to Santiago) - can't wait. The ONLY downside were the small groups of whingeing passengers who were vocal about the pettiest things (0ne woman had her passport on a string round her neck, and was reluctant to give it up, as she said she needed to know she would get home - dead or alive!), too little ice/too much, chopsticks in China and Japan - they even asked for forks!!), complained about missing out Shanghai (safety first!) and the very worst were rude and abrupt with the crew members, which is unforgiveable. Carpe Diem and stop moaning! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My wife and I had decided to take a retirement trip and although she had done a trip to the pacific islands, I had never been on a passenger ship, despite having been a deep sea captain for over 40 years. We found the ship to be very clean ... Read More
My wife and I had decided to take a retirement trip and although she had done a trip to the pacific islands, I had never been on a passenger ship, despite having been a deep sea captain for over 40 years. We found the ship to be very clean and we had paid a little extra for a mini suite, which was a good choice. It isn't a huge difference in size, just an extra seating area with a 3 seater settee and chair and table, but it seems to make the cabin much more liveable. The balcony is adequate but it does get overlooked by everyone above as it is further out on the ships side and has no cover, on the plus side, we could look straight down the ships side to watch the pilot boats and tenders coming and going. We also got a bath/ shower but only used the shower. You can see the insides on many You Tube videos for more details. We did bring a couple of bottles of wine onboard at Sydney & Darwin. Never questioned when they X-Ray the backpacks so good for a quick drink on the balcony.We picked the early dining option which gave us more time to go to various venues after dinner, but we tried other dining venues on several occasions.Get in early for shows and movies in the Princess Theatre as it is usually packed for the first week or two. The extra spend on dining venues such as sabatini is well worth the money. Get a good lounge early for movies under the stars as they are almost always taken, rugs and popcorn are free.The forward end has a great private child free area which is worth the money. The forward pool is almost always lightly used and feels like more luxury. There are a few mini lounge/ bar areas which were always empty when we went in if you want privacy.The ship has about 2700 passengers but it doesn't feel like it most of the time onboard but on two occasions in Japan & Korea, there were block long lines waiting for up to 40 minutes for coaches back to the ship, There were lots of coaches but also lots of pax and crew filling them up.All in all, we had a wonderful time. The crew were all fantastic and did everything they could to make us enjoy the trip. If we had any real gripes, it was that there was so much to do everyday, we couldn't do it all. Sometimes towards the end of the voyage, we were glad to get back to the cabin.We never took a ships excursion but found plenty to look at walking around by ourselves after the shuttle bus dropped us. They had a lecturer give a lecture in the theatre before every port and this is repeated on the TV.2 ports not mentioned in the port reviews section, were Kagoshima in Japan (which was a very small port in the extreme south of Japan. They are very close to a volcano which is still active On some days, if the wind is blowing from the volcano, it pushes volcanic dust over the city. There is some good shopping department stores and restaurants but we had some problems getting coaches back to the ship.We also went to Taipei which is in free China, We took a taxi with a few others and it was very good. Saw lots of places and the driver looked after us well. Bought our currency in Hong Kong and changed it back onboard.After Japan, we went to Busan in Korea, Lots of shopping and good street markets. More trouble with long lines for the shuttle bus.We then went to Shanghai in China, Lots of history here. Another town with the "Big Red Bus", Took one to the west side tour, then changed to another route taking in the shopping district. Had a great time here as well but not much time ashore so had to cram it all in quickly.From there to Dalian, not much here.. some architecture, maybe should have taken the tour. The department store was very expensive but got some silk scarves. Got an early bus back.Last stop was Beijing where we ended the trip. We had a tour guide company to take us off the ship to our hotel which was the Novotel Peace. It takes 3 hours to get to Beijing from the port. This hotel is within 3 blocks from the forbidden city, close to the big pedestrian shopping street. We got a top floor (9th) with a suite. If you are on the 8th or 9th, you get a free lounge to relax in from 1800 with free snacks and booze and free breakfast each morning. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
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
Last July my wife and I took our first cruise on a cruise tour to Alaska with Princess. This was our first cruise. We are glad that we started with the land portion of the trip and followed that with the cruise portion on the Diamond ... Read More
Last July my wife and I took our first cruise on a cruise tour to Alaska with Princess. This was our first cruise. We are glad that we started with the land portion of the trip and followed that with the cruise portion on the Diamond Princess. We enjoyed our cruise very much. Things went very well with our trip. Our flights from CMH to ORD and from ORD to ANC went very well (we had quite a hike at ORD from the United flight to the Alaska Air flight, but we made it in plenty of time). We were met by the Princess folks at the airport in Anchorage. Things went smoothly on our trip into Anchorage to the Captain Cook Hotel in downtown Anchorage. Our bus driver on the way into Juneau told us about free films that are shown all day long at the Federal Building in Anchorage. The building was only a few blocks from our hotel some did catch the end of the film presentations that day. We enjoyed the hotel, and our brief stay in Anchorage. We ate at the fine roof top restaurant at the hotel, and we enjoyed our meal there very much. On Tuesday we began the land portion of our trip with a coach ride to the McKinley Princess Lodge. We spent two nights there. The lodge was very nice. The rooms were basic -- more like a Comfort Inn. We did enjoy good views of the mountain both days while we were there. I discovered as we were leaving on the second day that some of the best views of Denali were available from the road that leads up to the lodge. There is a marked trail for walking along the road. On the day we arrived at the McKinley Lodge, we had scheduled a float trip on the Chulitna River. The trip took about four hours. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day so we did not enjoy much of the scenery in the area. The young woman who was our guide did a good job navigating our raft down the river to Talkeenta. We enjoyed the little village that evening. We ate at a local pizza place (Mountain High Pizza), and then we finished our evening there with a cinnamon bun that we purchased at the Road House. The highlight of our trip there was the flight seeing trip that we booked to the Alaska Range from Talkeentna. We landed on the Kahiltna Glacier at the 7000 foot level, and then we were able to get out of the plane and walk around in the snow (the flight service provided us with snow boots). This is the base camp for the climbers on Mt. McKinley. It was a great trip. When we arrived back in Talkeenta, we took some time to explore the village. We visited some of the shops, and we were able to have lunch outside one the deck of one of the Wild Flower Cafe. After our second night we headed for the Princess Denali Lodge on the Princess dome cars on the Alaska RR. The three-hour trip was very scenic. The domed cars are very comfortable. Princess has a narrator on each car who describes points of interest and history along the way. I had reindeer chili for lunch in the dining section of our car along the way. We enjoyed our stay at Denali. It had a different feel with all the shops and restaurants across the road from the lodge. After arriving at the lodge, I went on a two hour nature hike that I had scheduled. The trail took us above the on a mountain side above the lodge area. I think the guide adjusts the hike according to the folks who have signed up so it was not a strenuous trip. He did point out several nature and geological features along the way. My wife enjoyed an excursion to one of the sled dog camps. She said it was informative and entertaining. On our full day in Denali, we opted for the all day school bus ride in the park to Kantishna. We only saw glimpses of the mountain, but we saw a lot of wildlife. We also enjoyed the park ranger interpretation from Wonder Lake to Kantishna. The lodge was nicely appointed at Denali, but again the rooms were more like what I would expect at a Comfort Inn. The all day train ride from Denali to Whittier went well. Checking onto the ship and boarding went well. It was nice that they're able to do some processing of our passports and our room keys on board the train. We really enjoyed the cruise portion of the trip. Of course this was our first cruise, but we enjoyed the Diamond Princess very much. The crew and staff were friendly and helpful. I was not impressed by the efforts to get us to buy diamonds, watches, and art, but I understand that is part of the deal. We enjoyed our mini suite with the veranda very much. I'm glad we chose the balcony room, and I am glad we paid a little more for the mini suite. It was nice to have the sofa and the extra room. Travel on the ship was very smooth. Most of the time I could not tell when we were moving and when we were in port. We never experienced any motion sickness on the ship or on any of our excursions. We had selected the any time dining option so we could choose from several restaurants each evening. All the restaurants have the same menu, but each may include a specialty item. We did try out the two dining rooms that an extra cover charge. I found those meals to be very enjoyable. The only nights that I made reservations were the nights that we dined in those restaurants. Usually we would strike up a conversation with folks who were seated at tables near us. We enjoyed our service and the meals. Everything was well prepared and nicely presented. We were glad that we chose the anytime dining. It gave us flexibility around when and where we wanted to eat. There was only one time for dinner that we were told that no seating was available so we just went to another restaurant. On three mornings we had continental breakfast in our room. Those meals were ok, but convenient especially when we had an early excursion scheduled in one of the ports. We went to the buffet the other days for breakfast. We went there for lunch when we were not in port. The buffet is kind of hectic because it is rather crowded and busy. The food was ok there, too. We also tried out the grill and the pizza place when we didn't want to go to the buffet. I appreciate the fact that the ship monitors persons coming into the buffet and requires everyone to use the hand cleanser before selecting their food items. Most evenings we took in the live entertainment in the theater. The shows were nicely done, and we enjoyed the shows. We also watched some of the movies in our room. We didn't do the "Movies under the Stars" because it was just too chilly for us. On days we were at sea, I enjoyed walking laps around the Promenade Deck. I also did lap swimming two days in the adults only pool. The "current" pool feature was not working, but the pool and hot tub were nice. On the last full day of our southbound trip, we enjoyed a presentation on board by the head chef of the ship and the matrie d. The chef did a cooking demonstration, and then everyone had a tour of the galley. During the cruise, we enjoyed the day in Glacier Bay. We got to see some nice calving of the glacier. We had a nice day in Juneau (we has some sunshine). We selected a combo of the whale watching (we saw humpbacks), a salmon bake (nice meal at a nice lodge with a nice view), and a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. We also enjoyed our trip on the Yukon RR. We had an extension to Frasier, BC with a coach ride to Caribou Crossing in the Yukon. We saw a lot of pretty scenery. We went to a little tourist place for lunch. We enjoyed our float plane trip over the Misty Fjord. I wish I would have chosen the round trip float plane trip. The return jet catamaran was not very exciting. I thought we would cruise more in the narrower fjords than we did. We did most of our shopping on Creek Street in Ketchikan. I liked several of the shops in that area. Again I didn't care for the all the diamond and watch shops. Of course there are the other typical souvenir shops along the streets. I found more variety and more seemingly Alaskan artist and artisan items on Creek Street in Ketchikan. We did not care much for the shops in Skagway although we did enjoy the interpretive museum that is run by the National Park Service there about the gold rush. We did not have time to visit the shops in Juneau because of our excursion schedule and the ship's departure time. We were amazed on both the land and sea portions of the trip how well Princess kept everything organized and kept folks (and our luggage) going where they needed to be. The only small glitch we had concerned disembarkation. Princess had us scheduled to depart to the Vancouver airport. We saw the notice about selecting the self-disembarkation option. Before I was able to sign up, we received information about our transfer to the airport. I went to the passenger service desk, and they helped change my status. When it came time to disembark on Saturday morning, we were scheduled to be in a group that was to meet in a lounge. When we took the elevator down to that floor, they were letting the folks in our group off so we just joined the line and got off the ship. We were through customs by 8:00 am. Thanks for the heads up about the self-disembarking option. We basically had no lines when we got through customs in Vancouver. We got a taxi, and by 8:30 we were having breakfast in our hotel. All in all it was a great trip. It was a once and life time experience for us. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
EMBARKATION This cruise was out of Vancouver, which is a great city with a beautiful port. Canada Place is wonderful, modern and scenic. There were three cruise ships in port the day our cruise began, and embarkation was a mess. ... Read More
EMBARKATION This cruise was out of Vancouver, which is a great city with a beautiful port. Canada Place is wonderful, modern and scenic. There were three cruise ships in port the day our cruise began, and embarkation was a mess. Princess provided transfers from the airport by bus. But the terminal was so crowded with passengers, the buses could not approach. Instead, they stopped the buses in a "holding area" about 1/2 mile from the ship. Our bus was packed full, and on a warm day it had no air conditioning. So the bus was hot sitting there, as we waited permission to approach the terminal. People were overheated and complaining. My partner and I got out of the bus (against the advice of the driver) and walked to the ship. Despite the distance and getting lost on the way, we beat our bus to the terminal. After getting to the terminal, embarkation was smooth and efficient. The lines were long but moved quickly. Everyone was friendly and doing their best to deal with 10,000 passengers arriving nearly at once. Getting on the ship was a breeze, and we were warmly welcomed. Our suite (aft, Caribe 757) was clean and spacious. However, it looked lived-in. Colors were kind of dingy, fabrics a little bit frayed, and the carpet lumpy, but otherwise very nicely appointed and quite clean. For an Alaska trip, I recommend an aft cabin with balcony (or a suite like ours). It was the perfect location. More on that later. We left about two hours late because the terminal was so crowded. THE SHIP This is a big ship that holds 3,000 passengers, but the only time it feels crowded is when you want to get food. The lines at the Horizon Court buffet were always long, and there were rarely any tables available. The anytime dining was crowded with long lines, as well, but we always got a table. The wait for food in the dining rooms was sometimes very long. Otherwise, the public spaces never seemed crowded. We loved Movies Under the Stars (MUTS), though we read a lot of complaints about it. We only saw one movie in MUTS, but the experience was a blast, despite it being really cold outside. We just bundled up, and they brought us popcorn, food, snacks and drinks. It was a lot of fun. :) The spa is nice, but the technicians are young and inexperienced. THE CREW If there is a jewel on the Diamond, it is the crew. They were almost universally fantastic. Incredible, even. Friendly, enthusiastic, and they work very, very hard. We saw a lot of self-entitled passengers being rude or abusive to the crew, and where I would have killed such a passenger where they stood, the crew was amazingly patient, tolerant and helpful, to even the rudest of passengers. They do, however, have a term they like to use for rude passengers. The term is "FOCUS," and they will say it like, "Sir, you need to FOCUS." FOCUS, it turns out, stands for "F*** Off, Cuz U're Sh**." I heard them joke about it, but never heard them actually say it, even to a really rude passenger. I have to give a shout-out to Peter John, the Captain's Circle Host. First, he's gorgeous. That must be said up front. :) And when you get past his good looks, he's terminally friendly, with boundless energy and enthusiasm. What a great man, and he goes out of his way for absolutely everyone, and does it with wit, charm and grace. He's the best thing on the Diamond (though I hear his current contract will expire soon). There is a waiter in the lobby bar named Edwin. He is incredibly friendly, always wears a smile, and will go above and beyond the call of duty to make passengers happy. Fantastic man. There is also a waiter in Sabatini's named Christian. As suite passengers, we were allowed to have breakfast in Sabatini's. One day, the main dining rooms were serving blueberry pancakes and my partner wanted some. She asked for them in Sabatini's and was told they were not offered there and she could not have them. But Christian actually went to the main dining room and got her some blueberry pancakes and brought them back to Sabatini's for her, even after she accepted that they weren't served there. It was a great surprise, unexpected, and a real treat. I've heard that they will often do this for passengers, which is a testament to the crew's dedication to their jobs. They do things when they don't have to, and they do it with grace, style and flare. FOOD The food sucks. There's no other way to say it. We ate in every venue, and universally it was terrible. Oh, there was a nice dish here and there, but overall the food was cafeteria quality. I understand that they have to cut expenses somewhere to keep fares low, but the food has really gone down the tubes. It's really bad. Sometimes they make a nice presentation, but it's still terrible food. We couldn't wait to get off the ship because of that. At the last performance of the cruise, the cruise director joked, "You're going to have to start cooking your own meals now," and the crowd actually cheered this. That's how bad the food was. The Sterling Steak House was okay, but iffy. A filet was good, but a porterhouse was tough. A potato was good, but a vegetable bad. It was very hit and miss. Sabatini's was the best food. We especially liked having breakfast there just for the fresh squeezed orange juice. Elsewhere on the ship, the orange juice was from concentrate, with about three times too much water added. It was so weak, it was little more than orange colored water. And that's kind of how the whole food experience was. Like they were trying to feed 3,000 people with 1,000 people's worth of food, and cutting corners everywhere. When we got off the ship at the end of the cruise, we ate at the hotel at Canada Place (the Pan Pacific) and the food there was AMAZING compared to the Diamond's food. We swooned over simple scrambled eggs, when comparing the same basic dish to the Diamond's version. We marveled at how hard the Diamond must work to make the food as bad as it is, because no one can do that badly without some effort. So, am I getting my feelings across about the food? ;-) PORTS OF CALL We took no excursions, but instead went out on our own. Now, a caveat about my comments here. There are people who love the cruise experience of being on the boat and then getting off to shop in stores (which we found out are mostly owned or controlled by the cruise ship companies themselves) or to take some bus excursion to a glacier and salmon bake or some such thing. We are not among those folks. We are less "tourists" than "travelers." We like to immerse ourselves in a destination, not merely hit a few stores for some mass produced trinkets and then grab a drink in a tourist bar. So, if you are one of those people, then ignore these comments. SKAGWAY. What we found was that most of the ports were little more than excuses to get passengers to spend more money with the cruise line. For instance, Skagway is a fake town. It no longer exists except for cruise ship season. Skagway has had three "booms." The first was the gold rush. The second was World War II, when it was a military priority. And currently it is in the midst of a cruise ship boom. When cruise ships come into port, the "town" comes alive, and when they leave, it folds up shop. When the last cruise ships leave in September, so do almost all the town's "residents," many of whom spend the season living in temporary quarters like RVs and little shacks, only to return to their real homes when the ships leave. The excursions are almost all run for the profit of the cruise ship companies, and they are largely fake excursions. What I mean by that is that they run people by train and bus to other places that exist only for the cruise ships. Specifically, the White Pass and Yukon Railway to carcross, and then the passengers get on a bus that takes them to exciting places like Caribou Crossing, where they get a "famous" BBQ chicken meal and a chance to see a wildlife exhibit. We rented a Jeep and went to those places. Carcross has not a single person about or a single door unlocked when there are no trains full of cruise ship tourists about. But when the train comes in, it's as if the actors don their costumes and put on a show, collecting as much money from the tourists as possible, and then the town closes up when the tourists leave. At Caribou Crossing, there are no caribou and there is no crossing. The "wildlife" exhibit is a goat and a burro. The "famous" BBQ chicken is frozen chicken parts that are microwaved, then tossed on a grill with some canned BBQ sauce, and served to the tourists with 1/2 a plain baked potato. There's nothing "famous" about it. It's terrible and cheap, and in fact we watched them preparing it for the tourists that arrived by the busload. For this excursion, the tourists paid >$200 apiece. We, on the other hand, rented a Jeep from Green Jeeps for $180 for the day, which came with a cooler full of snacks and drinks. Expensive, but a far better expense than the terrible phony $200/pp excursion that we got to see the "behind the scenes" of. With that jeep we followed the same path that the railroad took and got to see all the same things, and we were able to go lots of places that the tourists could not. One thing we did was to drive to the historic Chilkoot Trail and hike the same trail that the gold rushers did. That was cool. And free. And real. We also met and talked with many of the "locals," who all confessed to us that most everyone lived somewhere else when cruise ships were not in, and that Skagway had really only one reason for existing: to sell trinkets to cruise ship passengers. That's why I call Skagway a "fake" town. If a town exists only to sell trinkets to cruise ship passengers, and would not exist if the ships didn't stop there, then it's a fake town. Skagway is a fake town. Now, some excursions are worth the money. If, for instance, you took the excursion to Haines (a real town) to visit the bald eagle preserve, that would be worth the money imho, because you get to see something real and interesting. But most passengers do not do that. They ride the railroad or shop for trinkets, and give even more of their money to the cruise ship company. JUNEAU is a real town, but you have to get away from the harbor to find it. The cruise lines have bought up most of the property near the harbor, and when passengers think they are buying souvenirs from local businesses, they are really buying more junk from a store owned by the cruise lines. To find a locally owned store, you have to really look for them. Almost invariably, they will post a sign in the window or indicate in some other way that they are locally owned. No sign = owned by the cruise lines in most cases. Juneau is very touristy these days. I spent a lot of time there 30 years ago, and it was a different town then. Amazingly, lots of tourists thought that Sarah Palin still lives there, and they all wanted to know where she lives. Goodness... There are some good whale watching excursions out of Juneau, but are pretty expensive, as the companies have to pay a percentage to the cruise lines (if they are not owned by the cruise lines, themselves). But rather than take an excursion to Mendenhal Glacier, you can catch a city bus for $1.50 each way. Or if you want to be taken directly to the visitors center, you can pay $16 round trip for buses that come and go ever 30 minutes. Much better than $200 for a bus trip excursion that then tacks on a (really awful) salmon bake (again owned by the cruise lines and not authentic Alaskan), imho. KETCHIKAN is a real town. It has the mandatory cruise line owned stores near the harbor, but there is a real town there to enjoy behind them. We blew off the excursions again, and opted to rent a car and explore on our own. We ended up hiking in the mountains, taking a 6.5 mile round trip hike to Lake Perseverance. We were all alone. With 10,000 cruise ship passengers in port, we saw only one local couple the whole time we were out there, and not another soul. And we saw the "real" Alaska of Ketchikan. And it was absolutely stunningly beautiful and unspoiled. Then we went back to town and did some touristy things on our own, like visit the totem pole village and do some shopping. It was hard, but we managed to find some true one-of-a-kind Haida and Tlinkit jewelry, but to do it we had to wade through a lot of pricey mass produced junk marketed to the cruise passengers as authentic. So, if like us you want to see the real ports and not just the facade that the cruise ships use to separate you from your money, you can do it, but it takes some effort. The effort is well worth it, though. We saw some truly stunning scenery and wildlife that the vast majority of cruisers missed out on. What surprised us was that most cruisers weren't interested in finding that. They were happy to be aboard the ship, and then to get off for a couple hours to sit in the Red Dog Saloon or buy a trinket or two before returning to eat at the Horizon Court buffet. That's not what we were after. Most were into the cruise ship experience. We were definitely destination travelers, and being one of those on a massive cruise ship takes a little effort and dedication, but it can be done. And cheaper than doing the typical cruise stuff. ENTERTAINMENT We thought the entertainment was universally terrible. Bad comedian. Bad magician. Bad dancing and singing shows (though the performers were giving it their all for tepid crowds). Bad string trio. Bad pianist. We didn't find one good performer. I am comparing it to Sitmar cruises to Alaska of 30 years ago, which provided top, if aging, entertainers. I recall cruising and mingling with Mel Torme, Harry James, Buddy Rich, Marilyn McCoo and others who had real star power in their day, and who brought their own professional back-up bands and singers. No headline acts these days. They market these shows as "Vegas style," but the design, choreography and execution are not very professional, and they have young but eager "talent" doing their best to make a show of it, and not succeeding very well. I did not like the entertainment. SUMMARY Some things were GREAT! The crew topped that list. The ship itself running just behind. And the destinations were amazing if you took the trouble to find them under the commercial cruise company veneer. We liked MUTS, too. Other things were truly awful. They were the food, the entertainment, and the aforementioned commercial veneer. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Having fought the idea of a cruise all my life I was finally persuaded by an old friend and his family who were traveling on the Diamond Princess. From the time I stepped into my stateroom (mini suite) I knew I was converted. The ... Read More
Having fought the idea of a cruise all my life I was finally persuaded by an old friend and his family who were traveling on the Diamond Princess. From the time I stepped into my stateroom (mini suite) I knew I was converted. The stateroom on D Deck was marvellous. Spacious, well lit, comfortable bed and lounge, brilliant bathroom and wonderful verandah. The corridor outside was some 400 metres in length so a quick walk from one end starboard side, cross over and back along the port side was almost a kilometre. Great for an early morning exercise before the serious chore of eating. Embarkation was a breeze assembling at the Marina Bay Sands before being bused through endless containers in the commercial port. But no problem...we were all so excited to finally be going after months of planning. After the compulsory bouncing on the bed and being introduced to the charming filipino steward, for me it was time to meet my friends in the first of many bars. The lobby bar quickly became our favourite and Christian, the filipino barman was a charmer who extracted zillions out of me so so pleasantly. The central atrium was an incredible affair, lots of chrome and glass but not crass at all. Then there were the meals. We had settled for late sitting traditional dining with the option to move around when we wished. There was a charming English couple at our table and we quickly became friends. I asked them if they ever used the buffet on lido deck for lunch or dinner, and both looked askance. "On a cruise, we like to dine, not eat" was their reply, and with such magnificent surrounds and attentive wait staff, I quickly followed suit. The dining room staff were quite outstanding, and the menus full of variety and imaginative. We tried most of the other restaurants over the next 16 days and the favourite was the Savoy which had a lovely atmosphere, and also served High Tea every afternoon. Upstairs on the Lido, the buffet was always full but I really do not know where people put all the food. I am an early riser and at 5 am I was up and walking.... a cup of coffee and a bagel was fine at that time but to see monstrous plates being carried by (monstrous) people was somewhat offputting! The morning lectures were excellent, especially the enrichment one given by an American ex diplomat. The entertainment each evening was ok, especially the chinese performers the night before arriving in Shanghai....but I preferred to sit in the bar, relax, have a drink and chat. Formal nights were great as we all paraded around in penguin suits and ball gowns...I know some people decry these evenings but I think they are great. If you were not interested, there was the option of more overloaded plates on Lido. Because I live in South East Asia (Thailand) most of the shore excursions did not interest me, and I considered most of them to be very overpriced. To experience 200 people descending on a temple just was not for me. The ship during these day excursions was just wonderful. Some 50 of the service crew were Thai and once word got out that I had an IPad and each morning downloaded the Bangkok Post, then I had a group around me anxious to learn about the flood situation which was devastating the country during the time of the cruise. I know some thai, but was able to be taught quite a bit more on this trip. I mulled over going on the Ultimate Ships Tour towards the end of the voyage. It attracted a hefty charge of $150. In the end I relented and afterwards was so glad I did. A marvellous tour from the bakery to the ship's morgue (empty!), from the laundry to the engineroom and finally up to the bridge where the Captain served Piper Heidsek champagne to all of us. And back in our stateroom, a bag of goodies for each participant, the value of which exceeded the amount charged. Every second morning I fronted up to the customer service desk to ask for my daily heart attack printout - of accumulated charges. This phrase struck the staff as highly amusing and my heart attack was always ready when I appeared. Well for goodness sake, on a cruise, it is not the place to scrimp and be stingy. Finally disembarkation came all too quickly, and once again, the procedure was smooth and effortless. Did I say I was a cruise virgin??? Not any more. I will quickly become a cruise junky. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This was my first cruise so I wasn't sure what to expect. I've read several other reviews with different lines and am certainly glad I was with Princess! Oh my, everything was just superb! Our room was wonderful. We had four so ... Read More
This was my first cruise so I wasn't sure what to expect. I've read several other reviews with different lines and am certainly glad I was with Princess! Oh my, everything was just superb! Our room was wonderful. We had four so we had the beds that dropped down from the ceiling and really weren't to bad. I'm 57 & I made it up & down just fine. The room had plenty of storage area for clothes etc even with 4 women! The tv was great and rotated so we could see and hear it even on the balcony when they were giving us the narration going through Glacier Bay. Which was unbelievable! So many FREE places to eat who wanted to go pay to eat at the 2 paying restaurants! Something different every night in the main dining room & as much as you wanted. The buffet was fantastic and then there was the hamburgers and pizza plus they had special things like reindeer chili and it was just food food food all the time. Ate to much and had to start in making sure I was walking enough. Entertainment and other things to do.....always something. You could stay as busy or idle as you wanted. Day trips were the usual. I have absolutely NO complaints. Trip was just wonderful in all ways!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Diamond Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 3.5 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.5 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 5.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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