On June 13-23, 2017, my wife, 11 year old daughter, 8 year old son and I sailed on the Diamond Princess out of Kobe. This was my 19th cruise, and I have sailed on RCCL, Princess, Disney, and NCL previously. Most of the people on this ... Read More
On June 13-23, 2017, my wife, 11 year old daughter, 8 year old son and I sailed on the Diamond Princess out of Kobe. This was my 19th cruise, and I have sailed on RCCL, Princess, Disney, and NCL previously. Most of the people on this cruise were retirees from Japan, with only about 5% from mostly England and Australia. Very few Americans onboard. The Japanese are very polite, mannered and well dressed. How refreshing to have such a cruise experience! We are Ruby on Princess. Pre-cruise we spent 5 days in Tokyo, and added Shanghai afterwards for Disney.
Transfers to the Kobe port: We flew from Tokyo to Itami Osaka airport and purchased from Princess transfers for all 4 of us. Princess requested and we gave them all of our flight information. However, upon arrival at Itami, the Princess representative was nowhere to be found. I also told my children to look for someone holding a Princess sign. We could find none. It was about noon, which was approaching the cutoff time for the transfer. I then asked at airport information, and they said there was another terminal so maybe they were there. I then RAN to the other terminal, leaving the wife, kids and luggage behind. I asked at the information desk there, and she just happened to point out the Princess rep standing there hiding her sign in her paperwork. I explained that I could find no Princess rep at our terminal, knowing that we were an hour away with our ship leaving at 5. Eventually the Princess rep from my terminal then met us, and she showed me her sign with our names on it, yet nothing about Princess, and I said I never saw her holding a sign. She said she saw me talking to the information desk there- to which I then thought why didn’t you approach me and ASK! The terminal was not very busy and we, a American family of 4, were the only Americans around, and stood out like sore thumbs. So upon arrival at ITM start ASKING those standing around if they are the Princess representative because they DON’T HOLD UP THEIR SIGNS.
Embarkation: We arrived around 1pm and they organized check in based upon your port arrival time. We then waited about an hour until we were called to check in.
Disembarkation: The easiest and most organized ship departure ever! Princess wanted $75 each to transfer to KIX by bus. $300 for a 2 hour ride seemed excessive. Instead we took the high speed ferry from Kobe airport across the harbor to KIX. Very EASY to do. As you exit the cruise terminal there are helpful people who will direct you the short walking distance to the subway/train station. They told me flat out don’t take a taxi as it is too expensive, and the train is cheap and easy. Turn right as you exit the cruise terminal, and you can see the above ground train/subway station there. Just a short covered walking distance easily done even with our small children and luggage! At the station there were workers who would help you buy the tickets which were only about $3 each. Take the elevator up to the platform where there were more workers to direct you to the right train. (And contrary to older posts, you don’t have to take the train back to the mainland station to transfer to the train to the Kobe airport.) Orange line does not go to Kobe airport, only the grey line. Trains come every 5-10 minutes. 6 very short stops to Kobe airport. The train station is attached to the Kobe airport terminal. Upon arrival you can see the ferry terminal to the right, which is within walking distance even with wheeled luggage. Instead we took the free ferry bus which comes every 30 minutes. GO down to the first level, and the bus to the ferry terminal is just outside to the left. Then purchase ferry tickets at the ferry terminal- the 4 of us cost about $30. You get a discount with your passport. The ferry ride is about 35 minutes, and the boat is very large and comfortable with plenty of room. They will help you with your luggage. Upon arrival at KIX they have buses that take you the short ride to KIX, although close by, the distance did not seem walkable with luggage in my opinion. Bus stops at terminals 1 and 2.
Ship: Our first time on the Diamond Princess. She is fairly new and was refurbished in 2016. She was in good shape. We would sail her again. However, there was a 15 minute ship power failure while docked in Abashiri. Good thing I packed a small flashlight!
Internet: I signed up for internet for 640 minutes for $200. No unlimited plans available! Connection is only wireless, and speed range was usually just OK but not great.
Food: Because we booked so late, we were stuck at the 7:45 pm dinner seating, which didn’t work well for us since we are early to bed. We never saw a 9pm show, but did go to 6:30 and 8 pm shows by eating at the buffet or the steakhouse. The Steak and Italian restaurants each charge a $29 premium per person. The steakhouse was worth it!
Pools- Not a lot of activity seen in them, including in the covered pool as the water was generally cool, even on several of the sunny days. The pools are not heated except on the last day the covered pool was hot tube temperature! The hot tubs were a hit.
Sports with the kids: Ping Pong was a favorite in the covered pool area. Enjoyed working on the cruise ship 1000 piece puzzle there while waiting for our turn to play ping pong. Great idea as many passengers participated. Putt Putt and a basketball court were on the top deck.
Kids Club- Similar to our experiences on other ships. They divide the kids by age but there were less than 60 kids under the age of 18 on this cruise. So our kids had the place to themselves with just a few others in their age range. Important to note is that when we had PRINCESS excursions around 7:30am, the club would OPEN just to accommodate as long as you were taking a Princess excursion. Otherwise, we would not have been able to go on several of our excursions. They also will keep your kids during mealtime, taking them to lunch/dinner for free. Usually we would take our kids early to eat dinner, and then drop them off at the club while we went to dinner. And unlike other cruise lines, here we did not have to pay for the club to take them to a meal if they are there during a mealtime.
What to do with the kids when you go ashore- You can leave your kids at the kids club while you go ashore. As I said above, if you are taking a Princess excursion that departs before kids club opens, if you tell them in advance, kids club will open to take your children early free of charge.
Entertainment- Princess singers- In the “I got Music” show, the women while dancing were not well synchronized, and there were 2 dead spots in songs. Overall, the quality of these singers was not on par with previous cruises. However, “The Piano Man” was an excellent performance by the Princess singers. The acrobatic show by the couple was very good.
Laundry room- Another reason we love Princess. The laundry room with 2 irons/boards was close by our cabin. Laundry cost $3 to wash, and $3 to dry. Use room key to get tokens, soap etc in laundry room.
Photos- we purchased the 10 for $169 but added more so should have bought the pre cruise offer for $199 for all photos. Includes digital copies as well as the hard copies from the ship.
Weather- We were very fortunate to have mostly overcast, cool weather (60’s-70’s) our entire cruise. I did not bring a jacket or long sleeve cover, and wore shorts on all excursions except for Russia. There were some sunny afternoons as well. It only drizzled one morning in Hakodate but then stopped with overcast skies. Cool air made the walks that much more enjoyable.
Overall - We enjoyed visiting Japanese ports that are not well traveled, and would recommend this cruise for those who are looking for just that experience. Read Less