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42 Princess Kobe Cruise Reviews

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
Sail Date June 2017
This cruise was chosen for the excellent itinerary. We were able to travel the long distance to this part of the world and have a long, 16 day cruise after spending time in various locations pre-cruise. Several other cruises and tours ... Read More
This cruise was chosen for the excellent itinerary. We were able to travel the long distance to this part of the world and have a long, 16 day cruise after spending time in various locations pre-cruise. Several other cruises and tours didn't offer this length and this seemed very convenient given the distance from the US. We especially loved the "minority" status as most passengers were either from Japan or Australia, Europe, etc. The cruise was well-paced with interspersed sea-days after several touring days. However, this was our first Princess cruise and we would not do another. The food was extremely sub-par, we didn't like fixed dinner seatings, and the entertainment was very disappointing. The service was excellent throughout the ship except for the formal dining room. The room service menu was very limited. Princess did occasionally offer some Cultural Japanese classes (such as beginning Japanese Calligraphy). However, these were often so crowded that people couldn't always get a spot without standing in line for a "ticket" which earned them a place. Sometimes, this meant obtaining the ticket on a different day than the class. Not what I want to do on a vacation! There were no Enrichment lectures which seemed unfortunate when one is obviously wanting to learn about this part of the world. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We are three couples from Canada, we have chosen this 16 days itinerary because of its diversity – Busan/Korea, Taiwan and Japanese Islands. Our cabin was a standard balcony which we've been in few times with Celebrity and is ... Read More
We are three couples from Canada, we have chosen this 16 days itinerary because of its diversity – Busan/Korea, Taiwan and Japanese Islands. Our cabin was a standard balcony which we've been in few times with Celebrity and is adequate for our needs. Only one floor of stairs up to the Horizon Court buffet, one more floor to the gym and a very short walk to the atrium elevators for other trips. Everything was functional. Arriving Kobe port terminal we had a long wait at for embarkation as there was a lot of procedures to get through but this was no fault of the cruise line and it was all handled by Port authority. The same procedure everytime we change the country from/to Busan Korea and Taiwan, the Japanese and Taiwanese authority demanded a lot of procedure making embarkation/disembarkation longer. The food was just above average, too much seafood and Japanese foods in the main eateries for my liking but what we did have there was good. The ship had four restaurants all serving the same menu every night which seems a bit strange. Restaurant and bar staff were extremely good customer service staff and very helpful. Breakfast in restaurant started late at 7am and finished too early (9am) so we went only a few times. Lunch buffet was generally the same every day and did not offer a lot of choices. We ate most of breakfast and lunch in the Horizon Court restaurant. There was always lots to choose from and the menu changed daily. It was always crowded and some peoples opted to share table with us, and it was great meeting new people. We dined once in The Steak House, steak was amazing. Before boarding the ship we have chosen the 2nd setting with table for 4 for the first week and a table for 6 in the 2nd week. After the first night diner sitting in The Pacific Moon we asked to change to International Dining room with 2 waiters – James Bond and assistant waiter (I don’t remember the name). The meal portion was generally small and we could ask for a second dish if we feel more appetite. What's good on Diamond Princess is dining at Horizon Court buffet where there was a lot of fruit and vegetable. As it is a 'Japanese ship' so they have sushi, ramen, rice, miso soup and udon noodle everyday. One particular weakness on Diamond during our trip was coffee because it's too diluted/light. Entertainment was quite good. We went on just a few shows in the first leg of the trip and that repeated the same in the second leg. Entertainment was pretty acceptable as the production shows were well attended and the performers looked as if they had been together for a while. Service was pretty standard. We were 3 couples staying in rooms A200, B625 and L222 and we all seemed to have red spots/itching in our leg skins after few nights in beds of Diamond Princess. We thougth that the beds had some tiny bugs which must be properly exterminated. As the ship was built by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding according to the Japanese standards, therefore the bathroom and the shower were tiny for Western passengers. My wife liked the room steward because he was very attentive at times and always tried to please our requests. We took Princess excursions in the first 4 ports and cancelled the last four. We were deeply disappointed in all of them, except the Nagasaki one. The excursions seemed to be tailored towards walking and sightseeing, not for my favorite things. After the first stop in Nagasaki we really enjoyed the white Chimabara temple and the walk to the Samurai village with experienced guide tour. The 3 following tours were Miyazaki, Kochi and Tokushima we got disappointed because the landscaping and shrines are almost the same shape and architecture. It is not worth to visit all of them. Instead of taking the Osaka castle excursion we took the bus and special rapid train on our own to Kyoto visiting the Golden Temple. A stunning sight. What we liked most were Hualien, Kaoshiung and Taipei the best. In these places we hired private taxi cab for Taroko Gorge National park, Kaoshiung stunning temple and colorful Lotus pond. The last stop in Taipei we had a nice ride around town with an excellent tour in The National Palace Museum, tasting local Taiwanese lunch ending up at the Taipei 101 story building, it rained heavily as we could not take nice pictures. What we complained most was the check-in procedure in the Port Terminal. It was really a mesh. The terminal personnel ran back and forth to get people queuing in an inefficient and unnecessary manner. Please review carefully your deficient reception structure by the time of embarkation , which is a mess , a total chaos for the first-time ship passengers ! There was so much to do on board, it was hard to choose what to go to on sea days but we were certainly never bored! The morning exercise with a big screen on 14 floor beside outdoor pool was a great help. Despite our age, between 55 to 68 we enjoyed the Zumba sessions with Japanese instructor. The dancing lessons were also enjoyable like Cha cha cha and Walz. We are glad we did it once, but would not do this itinerary again combining 2 legs – first leg of 7 nights and second leg of 9 nights. We really enjoyed the Nagasaki of the first leg and 3 Taiwanese cities of second leg. Overall, service was very good. Diamond is not really that old as what some reviewers said, we think it's the same design of all Princess cruise, they look like that, traditional and classy, and thus majority of cruisers are probably in their 50s and above. That is also one reason why we choose Princess, everyone moving at a relaxing pace and we just feel like we are in our world. This was our fifth cruise and first with Princess it was our fourth most favorite, hence the three star rating. Pretty average. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We travelled on 3 Diamond Princess cruises out of Kobe... 1. Busan, Kyushu, Shikoku. 2. Ryuku Islands, Taiwan. 3. Hokkaido. Total of 27 days on the ship but we stayed 8 days in Kyoto between the 2nd/3rd cruises. Overall enjoyed the ... Read More
We travelled on 3 Diamond Princess cruises out of Kobe... 1. Busan, Kyushu, Shikoku. 2. Ryuku Islands, Taiwan. 3. Hokkaido. Total of 27 days on the ship but we stayed 8 days in Kyoto between the 2nd/3rd cruises. Overall enjoyed the experience very much. Below a few thoughts... Pros 1. Great itinerary! Really enjoyed exploring the diverse sites around Japan and Taiwan. 2. Three different cabins - no complaints - aircon worked well - no extraneous noises. 3. Generally good sea conditions including good visibility 'scenic crusing' through the Japan Inland Sea and later along the Shiretoko Peninsula/Kuril Islands. One rough stretch on the return trip from Hokkaido and Kobe but plenty of warning from the Captain - occuring through the night helped! Cons 1. No Anytime Dining - Very disappointed ‘anytime dining’ is unavailable while the Diamond Princess is in Japan - just two ‘fixed dining’ options available - 5.30pm too early especially on shore days - 7.45pm too late. Very few turned up to dine up at our pre-allocated fixed dining table so we opted to dine in the Horizon Buffet most nights. 2. No guest lecturer - disappointing as Japan is a country with such interesting and diverse history, culture, geography - sea day lectures would have been very welcome. Princess shuttle buses We prefer to explore on our own so took full advantage of the reasonably priced Princess shuttle buses at most ports along with very helpful english-speaking staff at wharf-side/city tourist offices. Princess tours In general over-priced but did book 3 Princess excursions... 1. Shikoku, Tokushima - wanted to visit the 1st temple on the 88 Temple Shikoku Pilgrimage - thought the tour was worthwhile especially as as no shuttle was provided that day. 2. Taiwan, Highlights of Taipei - worthwile mainly for the guide who expertly guided us through the busy National Museum and some other key sites during a deluge! 3. Russia, Drive to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk - worthwhile, found the visit to the capital quite interesting - people we talked to who went on the Korsakov walking tour found it rather uninspiring. Some notes from ports we explored on our own ... 1. Busan, South Korea - we had awfully long and poorly-organised queues off the ship but worth the wait for the free shuttle into the interesting fish restaurant/market area. 2. Nagasaki, Kyushu - so easy to walk off the ship and explore the atomic bomb area and more via the excellent public tranpsort - Glover Garden area was worth visiting and an easy walk (assisted by uphill escalators) from where the ship is docked. 3. Miyazaki, Kyushu - it's a long way from the shuttle drop off at Abaratsu! - like many, we just explored Abaratsu - interesting stalls at the wharf with Miyazaki specialities. 4. Kochi, Shikoku - friendly local women provided a free pressed flower card making stand in the main shopping mall - a lovely surprise appreciated by many cruise passengers. 5. Tokushima, Shikoku - festival dancing down on the wharf started well before the ship sailed - they encouraged passengers to participate - lots fun. 6. Ishigaki, Ryuku - took a ferry out to Taketomi Island - visited the museum across the road from the ferry termial - then took the free minibus shuttle to the bike hire shop then off to explore including Kondoi Beach an the local weaving centre. 7. Hualien, Taiwan. Pine Gardens was interesting - walkable from the shuttle point - it’s where Japanese kamikaze pilots wined/dined before setting off on their WW2 missions but watch out for the tiny kamikazi midges! As a result I had over 100 large bites which drove me crazy for over a week! My friend left with only 3 tiny bites... 8. Kaohsiung, Taiwan - worth getting up early to see the ship enter the harbour/port area. 9. Aomori, Hokkaido cruise. Took a bus out to the fascinating Jomon Archaeological Park (free ipad for extra site info with id). Then back to the city to see the Nebuta Festival Float Museum. Save some time to visit the interesting Aomori Museum of History before boarding - the museum is located right on the wharf! 10. Abashiri, Hokkaido. Took a bus out to the Drift Ice Museum (with cute clione 'sea angels'). Then walked a short distance down the main road, passing through forested areas, to the Museum of Northern Peoples for an insight into the Ainu, Japan's indigenous people. Back at the shuttle point, it was interesting to watch the charter fishing boats return and unload their catches. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We chose this cruise because we had never been to Japan or the Ryukyu Islands before. Husband and I flew from Perth, Western Australia to Osaka (KIX) via Singapore and were picked up by Diamond Princess shuttle bus for transport from ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had never been to Japan or the Ryukyu Islands before. Husband and I flew from Perth, Western Australia to Osaka (KIX) via Singapore and were picked up by Diamond Princess shuttle bus for transport from airport to ship docked at Kobe. The Terminal at Kobe was very crowded when we got there but embarkation was quick and efficient with lots of staff on hand. We were delighted with our Deck 11 Ocean View deluxe cabin overlooking the bow. We only expected a window but instead had full length double glass doors with access to a little balcony that overlooked the bow of the ship, just under the bridge. Access to the balcony was limited to when the ship was in port, our room steward locked it when ship was at sea but we made good use of it during port days especially when the ship sailed in the late afternoon when we would go out on the balcony and experience her heading out of port. Only downside was this cabin was a long walk from the nearest lift and a long trek to the stern of the ship where the Horizon Court dining room is. But worth it. We went to the late session (7.45pm) Fine dining every night and found the menu and service excellent with a mainly Western cuisine plus favorite International dishes on offer plus a side menu of Japanese dishes. Good wine list. There were 3 formal nights during the 14 day cruise and we were delighted to see some of the Japanese ladies in their Kimono's. Passengers were a mix of Japanese, European, American, Canadian, British and Australian. Over 50% were Japanese but they kept mainly to themselves and family groups, those we did come into contact with were extremely polite and accommodating. Lots of different dining rooms on ship, some with surcharge. We did not go to any of these, food in dining room was superb and Horizon Court offered huge choice of Western & International dishes with 'make your own' Sushi bar and Noodle bar on the side. Crew all spoke English, and all the Shows in Princess Theatre were in English. Any films shown had Japanese sub-titles. New show in the Princess Theatre every night for a 7 days, one at 7.45 and repeat at 9.45pm with some brilliant artists. Unfortunately the shows were repeated the following week, Lots of entertainers in the bars and lounges with plenty to choose from. Not many enrichment talks unfortunately, port information all on cabin TV and sadly our TV did not work some of the time (due to dodgy Internet reception) Plenty of Japanese based activities such as how to do Origami or wear a Kimono etc during day time. Jewellery store, Watch store, designer handbags, Perfume and Make-up all duty free, plus small store selling essentials, souvenirs, tee shirts etc. All in US dollars. All power points on board took American 2 pin plugs so take an adaptor that fits your device. Ship called into Okinawa, Ishigaki, Keelung (Taiwan), Kobe, cruised the Sea of Japan, Busan (South Korea) Nagasaki, Aburatsu, Kochi and Tokusima. We did 5 shore excursions with Princess. Would have liked to have done more but found the cost excessive. Ship docked at all the ports except Ishigaki where tenders had to be used to ferry passengers ashore and delays occurred because of a high swell and strong winds. Disembarking at the other ports was quick and easy and ship provided buses for those who did not go on a tour to transfer passengers into town. There were also markets set up by the locals on the dockside in every port, plus free WiFi. The tours we did all had English speaking guides who were fun and obviously enjoyed their jobs. Best tour (and most expensive) was from Nagasaki to Arita (porcelain factories) Highly recommend this one, scenery was breathtaking, a rare look at rural Japan and Arita a picturesque old Japanese town dating back to 1600. No temples or castles on this tour. Shopping in Japan is a delight and the Japanese handicrafts are exquisite but be warned, they are NOT cheap. HINT.... Make a list of the value of each Yen bank note in your own currency as they have 10,000 - 5,000 - 1,000 bank notes plus 500, 100, 50 and 10 Yen coins.(10,000 and 1,000 notes easy to mix up as they look alike) Lots of vending machines selling cold bottled water and flavored drinks on shore costing about 120 to 150 Yen. Have coins on hand. Best to change your currency to Yen at a bank or money changer before you get to Japan. Exchange rates on ship not good and not as easy to find a money changer in Japan as it is in Indonesia, Singapore or Malaysia. Some shops will change money for you but rates are not good. I changed all my money into Yen & currency for Taiwan & Busan at Changi Airport on the way to Osaka. Disembarkation in Kobe at the end of the cruise was quick and very efficient. We did an Disembark tour to Osaka Castle and bus dropped us off at airport at 2pm. Anyone who did not enjoy this cruise must be a grump, but unfortunately there are always passengers on these cruises that spoil it for others such as those who do not return to the ship or tour bus on time and create delays. Diamond Princess was in top notch condition proudly displaying her new logo on the bow. Crew did everything they could to please and help passengers, great food, good company, new places to visit on a floating palace, what more could you want? This is our 4th cruise with Princess and Yes we will go again and again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Choose because friends were celebrating anniversary and wanted this itinerary. Did not care for the cruise. Ports were ok but heat hard to take. Food in main dining room mediocre , tasteless with limited choices. In buffet if you wanted ... Read More
Choose because friends were celebrating anniversary and wanted this itinerary. Did not care for the cruise. Ports were ok but heat hard to take. Food in main dining room mediocre , tasteless with limited choices. In buffet if you wanted smoked Salmon had to request and the they had to goto deck 5 tog get it. Shrimp cocktails or simple Caesar salad was by special request to your. Our cabin b627 was small bathroom very small and shower with showere curtain little room. No toiletries were provided other then showere gel and shower gel shampoo. Hard to get shampoo out and onto hand. Refrigerator in room empty so you could not get a drink, I realize you would have to pay but not given the option. Cabin Stewart was very good. The shows were good except that three were repeats and since many w ere back to back there should have been new programs. Especially Ike's tiki Dave alone and with hie wife. The repeat show was when he appeared solo. The other repeat was the dance duo. Bravo was excellent also had several repeated numbers but second a how added the violonist. He was great. The cruise the director was just there. The Japanese interpreter was better and I don't speak Japanese. On the pool deck there was no service, no towels placed on chairs no one coming around to see if you wanted a drink. It was completely sef serve. Also. Missed the small newspaper that gives you a roundup of major news events world wide. When getting off the ship in first ports water was not available for purchase and it was very hot. A plus was the Japanese style bath in the spa area. All did not enjoy this cruise and would not sail princess again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
I would have to say this was hands down the worst cruise my husband and I have ever been on. My husband summed it up best by saying it was extremely underwhelming. The ship itself was pretty good, it's an older ship and could use to ... Read More
I would have to say this was hands down the worst cruise my husband and I have ever been on. My husband summed it up best by saying it was extremely underwhelming. The ship itself was pretty good, it's an older ship and could use to be updated but overall it seamed well kept. The service from the crew on the other hand was awful. It seemed like they went out of their way to be unhelpful. I'll start with our dining experience. We spent the first night at Sterling Steakhouse which was really good and service was excellent. The next night we went to our assigned dining room. We soon found out they had set the 3 of us (my husband, 2 year old son, and I) at a table for 6 with 4 other people. Leaving us scrambling to find a 7th seat, while the maitre'D was unhelpful and seemed to be blaming the head waiter for the mix up. The next night when we came in the table was still only set for 6. By the 4th night of our 5 night cruise they had finally fixed the problem and when we came in there were 7 seats at the table. The food in the dining room was less than spectacular, most nights nothing on the menu seemed all that appealing. The food on the buffet was also not very good. The last night we ate at the Crab Shack. We had previously dined at it on the Golden Princess back in February and had loved it. On the Diamond it is apparently located at the front on one side of the buffet dining room. It took us a while to find it, there were no signs up for it, the only why we found it was because we recognized the uniforms of the servers from our previous cruise. From the moment we set down everything felt very disorganized. When we ordered we tried to order our 2 year old a kid's meal. The waiter looked at us with a blank stare, like we had just asked for something crazy, and went to talk to the maitre'D about our request. The maitre'D then came over and offered to get him something from the buffet. A little confused we agreed. Quite a while later he came back with a plate of fruit for our son, most of which were things my son wouldn't eat. (For perspective, the Stirling Steakhouse is in the back of the same dinning room and they did not hesitate to bring him a kids meal when we ate there.) The soup was called Manhattan Clam chowder but was more of a vegetable soup. My husband and I ordered the king crab bucket. On the menu it was described as king crab legs and peel and eat shrimp. When it came there were 2 king crab legs and a whole bunch of muscles and clams. Since I was not wanting clams I asked the waiter about it and got the same blank expression I did about the kids meal. So when the maitre'D came back around I asked him. I saw him and some of the waiters looking at the menu and then he went back to the kitchen. He came by our table and said they would bring out some shrimp for us with on other explanation about the mix up. Overall the food wasn't very good and the service was terrible. Definitely not worth the extra money! We did however find excellent service at the Sterling Steakhouse and Sabatini's. We were in a suite so we got to eat breakfast at Sabatini's. The maitre'D there was absolutely fabulous! The picture area was extremely disorganized. On the last night, I know that can be a busy time but it was not all that crowded at the time, we were trying to find some of our pictures and couldn't. My husband asked the man working the counter for help and he pointed my husband to a section that was clearly wrong. After looking a while longer I asked another staff member for help, he actually attempted to help me but the section was so disorganized he told me to just have the person at the counter reprint them. So I waited in line until the guy who had been so unhelpful to my husband could "help" me. He would't, I told him what was going on and what the other man had said and he said he could not reprint them unless I had ordered them and would not help me find a way to see them. I finally just walked away having not seen my photos and not buying the ones I was intended to buy. Usually leaving a ship is the hardest part of the cruise but I was more that ready to get off of this boat. Overall our experience on this ship has left us not wanting to take another Princess cruise anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Our cruise was part of a package that started with 3 nights in Tokyo then a flight to Osaka with 2 nights there. We then joined the ship at Kobe for the cruise after which we spent another night in Osaka before flying home. It was our hope ... Read More
Our cruise was part of a package that started with 3 nights in Tokyo then a flight to Osaka with 2 nights there. We then joined the ship at Kobe for the cruise after which we spent another night in Osaka before flying home. It was our hope that the trip would give us an introduction to Japanese culture as well as being interesting, stimulating and enjoyable. Looking back I would have to say that it exceeded our expectations. We will sail with Princess again. Embarkation Seamless and quick. Welcomed on board to sounds of shamisen player then to cabin to be met by steward who proved to be first rate throughout the cruise. Went to breaking of sake barrel at 3.30 and enjoyed my first taste of the national drink. Safety drill was in English and Japanese, so pretty long. But sitting in an a.c. theatre made all the difference. Noted about 75% of passengers were Japanese: so glad I'd at least learned some basic phrases, such as thank you, excuse me, good morning etc. Actually not necessary as most of the Japanese had better basic English than my limited phrases: funny in lifts etc. Japanese guy says hello in English I say hello in Japanese!! Dinning: We had asked for, and got, a table for 2 on first sitting at 5:30pm. On days when we in port at Dinner time the ship operated open dinning; just show up at anytime during the service times. This worked very well for us. We never had any problems and the food varied from good to excellent. There were always two menus, European and Japanese but the items were interchangeable which enabled us to try some new dishes. The food and the service were good enough for us to always dine in the Savoy every night! Breakfast venue varied. Horizon Court was a bit busy on occasions but the selection and the quality of food were very good. I loved the almond pan au chocolate pastries. We went to the dinning room when wanted a relaxed breakfast: the service was consistently good and the environment pleasant. On a couple of occasions when we needed an early start we used room service; the food arrived on time and although the choice was limited it was pretty good. Lunch venue, when taken, was again varied. Again all the food was very good as was the service. I had the odd free ice cream, I really enjoyed the green tea ice cream although other flavours were available. Entertainment and enrichment. There were a huge choice of recent films, some shown in the theatre, some on movies under the stars and many free on the in cabin tv. One slight fly in the ointment was the use of Japanese subtitles on The Reverant that obscured the Native American translation. We really liked Diana Kichijitsu, a Liverpudlian who has lived in Japan for 26 years, who introduced us to Rakugo: comedic story telling. While in port in Hakodate and Aomori local folkloric performers did shows in the Princess theatre which we found interesting and enjoyable. Also it was pleasing to have the chance of learning some more Japanese in the lessons on board. Although the production company shows were o.kish I felt that they lacked a certain something but the 'Angelic Duo' two Ukrainian violinists,Christopher Watkins and the Vocalist Monique Dehaney hit the right note with us. Itinerary This worked well and we very much enjoyed the ports of call in Japan but I'm not a fan of ships tours and I did find the lack of information for independent exploration a little disappointing. It all turned out alright in the end and you may find my port reviews useful. One sour note was the visit to Korsakov: for various reasons we decided not to get off the ship here and reports from people that did tour suggest that we made a good choice. However, we still had to officially leave Japan and then re-enter Japan later. Computer problems in Otaru resulted in a very long wait to re-enter. We were scheduled for 8 and cleared immigration at 10.40. Shore Excursion Didn't do any. No "not applicable" in ratings so terrible doesn't mean anything! Disembarkation Seamless. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was my 25th Princess cruise and 1st one to Asia. This time I was traveling solo. I booked a 2 night pre-cruise package in Osaka. The flight on Cathay Pacific through Honk Kong was uneventful. Japanese emigration was quick and my ... Read More
This was my 25th Princess cruise and 1st one to Asia. This time I was traveling solo. I booked a 2 night pre-cruise package in Osaka. The flight on Cathay Pacific through Honk Kong was uneventful. Japanese emigration was quick and my driver was waiting for me. The drive to the Imperial Hotel was about 1/2 hr. My room was ready so I freshened up and at 2:00pm went to explore the Osaka Castle. The next day I had breakfast at the hotel and used the free shuttle to get to Osaka train station and explore Osaka. The following day at 11:30am we all met in the lobby to travel to Kobe for embarkation. The drive was about 1hr with no traffic issues. I was in my balcony cabin (free upgrade) at 1:30pm. Most of the passengers were Asian with many Australians and few Americans and Canadians. All of the activities on the ship were conducted in English and Japanese. I attempted to try couple of Japanese themed activities like furoshiki gift wrapping and origami lessons but gave up since everything took so long and became confusing with many people speaking different languages. There was no port lecturer on this ship. Each port had a short 2-3 minute video that could be played on the tv in the cabin. There were no lectures on Japanese culture or history. I took all Princess excursion and they were excellent. The Japanese tour guides were outstanding, easy to understand and very eager to tell us everything about their country. That made up some for not having a port lecturer on board. Our Busan, Korea guide was not so good as he spent most of the time talking to the driver. In all of the ports (except for Korsakov, Russia) there were shuttles or local buses to take passengers into town. The ports were very industrial with nothing of interest within walking distance. If one just wanted to wonder around town, there was no need for an excursion. I did not have an excursion in Hakodate and Otaru. I took the shuttle to train station in Hakodate and walked to the Hakodate Ropeway for a fantastic view from the top of the mountain. In Otaru I walked to the canal area and the main shopping street. In Korsakov I joined a Princess walking tour. They used local school buses to transport us to several points of interest where local college students acted as guides. We were not allowed to wonder around on our own. The tour ended at a culture hall with a very nice folkloric dance and song performance. We could take pictures with the performers afterwards. There were locals there selling food, souvenirs and handicrafts. They accepted US $, Yen and Rubles. In two ports where we left late in the evening, local folk groups came onboard to perform for us Japanese songs and dances. I my opinion the entertainment on this ship was above average. There was a Jamaican singer Monique that currently lives in Japan, that was excellent. Both of her shows were standing room only. In general one had to get to the theater at least 30 minutes before the show to get a good seat. Disembarkation was very smooth as I had a Tokyo tour booked since my flight did not leave until 5:30pm. Flight to Chicago was again uneventful. For the 1st time I used the new Immigration kiosk at ORD but there was still a line to see an officer face-to-face. I was a great cruise and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who would like to visit Japan for the 1st time. I am thinking of booking another japan cruise for 2017 - this one goes to other southern Japan ports and Taiwan. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Staff was great except one very rude tech guy in internet signup area. He grabbed my wife's tablet, made unrequested and un-needed changes including deleting some shortcuts having nothing to do with the cruise while saying "let ... Read More
Staff was great except one very rude tech guy in internet signup area. He grabbed my wife's tablet, made unrequested and un-needed changes including deleting some shortcuts having nothing to do with the cruise while saying "let me do my job". Loved the free shuttles in most ports when I didn't have a princess excursion. Loved the self service washers and dryers. Air bubble controls in every hot tub were disabled (Japanese don't like bubbles?) so could not have normal Jacuzzi type experience anywhere on ship. TV had no account information or ability to book excursions etc, and to watch a movie you had to first watch a commercial for their princess brand beer or some other self promo each time. Princess phone app ok but very limited functionality (did not show dinner or show reservations or excursions without you manually adding them and some events would just disappear randomly from app), sometimes app did not work at all. Very limited excursion desk hours making for as many as 60 people I counted in line once. Once they closed one of the two buffet lines just before it hit noon, resulting in very long food lines as well. Standing room only for many shows they held in atrium that should have been in one of the theaters or other venues. Poor event scheduling in general. In entire 17 night cruise only had one 'special dinner' with Beef Wellington, Lobster, and Escargot. A lot of dinners had to keep choosing the every night selection like pasta or other. Generally mediocre food (other more frequent Princess cruisers commenting that their food has been going down hill). Room was ok except toilet washlet that really doesn't fit (see cabin review). Also, always ask for receipts from the bars to check against your bill. So in summary, some good, some bad, some ugly. Selected this cruise because of all the Japan ports they stopped at, which is the only reason I gave this cruise an average rating and would recommend this cruise, and now the ports will likely be the only reason I ever cruise Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We chose this holiday for the itinerary as Japan was one of my bucket list places to go. It was actually a holiday of 2 halves as the first 6 days consisted of an escorted land tour with Wendy Woo tours. We saw lots of interesting places ... Read More
We chose this holiday for the itinerary as Japan was one of my bucket list places to go. It was actually a holiday of 2 halves as the first 6 days consisted of an escorted land tour with Wendy Woo tours. We saw lots of interesting places on this part of the holiday and really enjoyed being immersed in this totally different culture but it was quite intensive so it was nice to look forward to a more relaxing time by finishing with 8 days on Diamond Princess. We had been on Diamond before about 5 years ago around the Far East but she has had a refit since then to reflect the Japanese guests so we were interested to see what changes had been made. Embarkation was smooth and efficient - we had not realised that we had moved up to Platinum level (mainly due to the cruises we have done with P &O as these are counted in your Princess rewards) which meant that we had priority boarding. Our booking was for an outside cabin so I was more than thrilled to find that we had been upgraded to a balcony - I honestly thought this would never happen to us! The cabin (C224) was a good size with a lovely big comfortable bed. There is a kettle provided but be aware that only green tea is provided so you must take your own if you don't want this - you cannot get any coffee sachets from the cabin steward or even in the buffet. The cups provided are tiny so we did ask the cabin steward for mugs which he did get for us. It was good to see that a UK plug socket was provided so no need for an adapter. There is a fridge and a large screen TV. The bathroom was small and had the awful shower curtain but was adequate - combined shampoo and conditioner is in a dispenser as was shower gel. The balcony had 2 reclining chairs and a small table and was a fair size. It is overlooked by the balconies above and we could look down on those below us but that was of no concern for us. The food on board was very good and my gluten free needs were well catered for as always. We ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet and whilst it was always very busy we never failed to find a table and enjoyed the variety of food available. There is of course lots of food to appeal to the Japanese guests but plenty for Western tastes as well. We had second sitting for dinner in the Santa Fe restaurant and had a table for 4 - it was rather nice that those of us who had been on the land tour (76) had been seated with someone from the tour so we were with new friends. Again the food was pretty good although my husband was a little disappointed that there was no steak option always available as he is wary of trying new foods but actually that worked well as he did try different things and lo and behold found he actually liked them! The waiting staff were very friendly and looked after us really well and always ready to have a laugh with us. Entertainment is where we found the biggest change on the ship as on our previous time it had been excellent with lots of different things on offer in the various venues on the ship. This time there was the after dinner show in the theatre which was OK but usually lasted only half an hour. After that the ship was dead and felt strange. We did go into Explorers and the resident band would be playing (and they were very good but left the ship when we did) but the place was almost empty with only about a dozen people in. One of the waiters did explain that they had just finished the Australian cruises and on those it was very lively but when they do the Japanese itineraries it was always very quiet - that is just how it is but it did feel a shame for the band performing to so few. Most nights we got a couple of drinks from the happy hour bar (Wheelhouse)and enjoyed them on our balcony. We did watch a film under the stars one night but again we were practically the only ones watching. It seems that the Japanese like to go to bed early (and they do also get up early) so this is just something to be aware of if you do this cruise. There is a self service laundry on board and it costs $3 for a wash an $3 for a dryer. You get tokens out of a machine and the cost is debited to your shipboard account. We always take our own liquid wash to use. We never had a problem getting a washer and there are also free to use irons in the laundry room. In Okinawa we just did our own thing. It was a hot but rainy day and we decided to just walk to the town area. It took about 25 minutes to get onto the main drag and it was nice to walk along soaking up the atmosphere and looking in the shops. We got as far as Macdonalds where we had a coffee and used the free wifi (I had not realised at this point that our platinum status gets us free wifi on board). There is a huge Pokemon shop next door which was great as the grandchildren had requested Pokemon presents. We then crossed the road and were delighted to find ourselves in little rabbit warren streets full of interesting stalls etc so we spent a happy couple of hours wandering around. As it was still raining we took a taxi back to the ship which cost 700 yen (1000 yen was about £6.50 at our exchange rate). Do be aware that English is not always spoken so it was a help to have the ship location on our Pincess Patter to show the driver to avoid any confusion. In Keelung we again did our own thing and just wandered around the town which is very close to where we were docked. In Kaohsiung we had booked on a ship excursion. We were taken to Cihou Island which I had read about and thought would be worth visiting however we had to stand in line for the ferry in very hot sun for about 40 minutes, the ride took about 5 minutes and then we were only given 40 minutes to wander round. There was a lovely temple and I would have liked to have a ride on the bicycle rickshaws but there just wasn't time. Other than that it was mainly a street of tatty shops. My advice if you want to visit the island is to get off the ship and do it yourself. We then had a 40 minute drive to see the World Games Stadium for just a 10 minute photo stop - really of no interest at all. We then went to Lotus Lake which some people thought was rather contrived. I know what they mean as it did look a bit like a theme park with huge dragons and lions but we rather liked it and would have enjoyed more time here. The Taoist Temple was really beautiful. All in all this was not good value for money as an excursion at $118 for 2 of us. In Hualin we had booked another excursion but this was excellent and cost $138 for 2 of us. We went to the Taroko Gorge about 40 minutes drive from the port. Our guide was a young man who gave us really interesting information and the drive through the gorge was hair raising at times as there is no room for coaches to pass so there was a lot of manoevering by our brilliant driver. The gorge is cut through a mountain and consists of marble rocks and is really beautiful - well worth a visit. When we got back to port we spent some time looking at the local stalls which had been set up and spent our last few Taiwanese dollars. We then had 2 sea days heading back to Japan. We were very lucky as the weather was glorious so it was very relaxing. That evening the captain warned that we may encounter some bumpy sea so recommended that anyone susceptible to sickness should take medication now - I thought that was really good. It was a bit bumpy but didn't cause us any problem. The day before we disembarked we went to the Internet Cafe to print our boarding cards for the flight home - the guys in there were brilliant and so helpful to everyone. There was the usual sale but as usual mostly rubbish (just my opinion). We were due to fly from Osaka late in the evening and discovered that we could book an excursion which would then drop us at the airport. The excursion price was $99 but as we had already paid for an airport transfer we could have $74 dollars refunded against that so it made sense to book. We left the ship and were taken to Osaka Castle - this did not make any great impression and would not make a special trip to see it. The next stop however was one of the best of our whole trip. This was Sumiyoshi Shinto Shrine. It was a beautiful place and we really enjoyed our time there before our long journey home. I will always look back on this trip with fond memories of enjoying a completely different culture. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
After being on over 30 cruises, this had to be in the top 2-3. It started off really bad when Princess didn't have any shuttle service at the airport with around 80 people there wondering what to do now. Somehow, someone procured ... Read More
After being on over 30 cruises, this had to be in the top 2-3. It started off really bad when Princess didn't have any shuttle service at the airport with around 80 people there wondering what to do now. Somehow, someone procured busses and got us to the ship. Several took taxis which cost around $200. After around a week, Princess inc. compensated us for all we went thru. As the ship is homeported in Japan, life revolves around the Asian culture. For the 25 days cruise we probably averaged 75-80% Japanese/Chinese people. To enjoy overseas travel, you have want to be there, which we do. It was really interesting to see all the differences between Eastern and Western culture. Starting with the food, salad and meso soup at every meal, little use of the bars, pools and casino. Also the friendliness of everyone on the ship. Most of the Japanese seemed to know at least several English words and even though most Americans didn't learn any Japanese, it didn't seem to matter. Was really surprised the ship didn't have Sim Do or Baccarat tables in the casino. The cruise director didn't speak any Japanese and was really out of his element. The rest of his crew was Japanese and were fantastic. They all spoke pretty good English, with an accent, which made it all the more enjoyable to listen to them. Everything on the ship, written and oral was in both Japanese and English. There was always more than enough to do. Every sea day had at least 6 different dance lessons along with classes in both languages, movies in English, in Japanese and with Japanese subtitles, the usual trivia contests and various other games. The best being the Yes/No game. If you have never played it, you need to have the staff on your next cruise run it. The food in the dining room was so-so with small portions and a very limited Western selection. The food on the Lido deck was some of the best I've experienced. The desert bar had un unlimited selection every meal. My only complaint was that it all wrapped up at 11PM. I have been on ships that it only opened up again at 11PM. I consider the shore excursions as "seeing a lot but not seeing anything" They took you to many places, but with very little time at any one place, so you never got much insight as to what you were seeing. All of the customer services, ie. front desk future cruise couldn't do enough for you and kept some exceptionally long hours. Debarkation went very smoothly Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Quote below from a previous review-and I could not agree more ! '"This ship is too big; there are just too many pax for comfort. Perhaps we'll try Seabourn next time. Evenings were pretty much a constant stream of people ... Read More
Quote below from a previous review-and I could not agree more ! '"This ship is too big; there are just too many pax for comfort. Perhaps we'll try Seabourn next time. Evenings were pretty much a constant stream of people making their way from one 'entertainment' to another. The very large and luxurious theater was full a good half hour before show start. The much touted shore excursions were to this Australian, grossly overpriced " Also, personally found the four different dining rooms depressing compared to having one large split level bright one-such as I am used to on HAL-the Diamond's are all dark with low ceilings and for me-claustrophobic! Preferred eating at the buffet-where there was a much better selection than the limited DR menu offered The experience was marred by the majority of Japanese being non English speaking, with Westerners being a real minority and consequently movies dubbed in Japaneses and live entertainment needing to be constantly translated-resulting in a feeling of being an outsider The above was anticipated due to the itinerary-but did hope for a more international group to also be on board, as interaction was extremely limited The lack of any enrichment program / lectures, was very noticeable on sea days-that happened to be raining too ! In summary-not a ship I would repeat Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
To celebrate my Daughter's 21st Birthday, my Daughter and I boarded the beautiful Diamond Princess in Kobe for 2 back to back cruises - one 8 night cruise followed by a 10 night cruise. I did my homework before we left and knew that ... Read More
To celebrate my Daughter's 21st Birthday, my Daughter and I boarded the beautiful Diamond Princess in Kobe for 2 back to back cruises - one 8 night cruise followed by a 10 night cruise. I did my homework before we left and knew that the majority on board were going to be a much older demographic and would be majority Japanese/Asian passengers. This certainly was the case. We knew this was not going to be a party cruise but one to see snapshots of both Taiwan, Japan and Korsakov in Russia. Although I have cruised many times and my Daughter only 4 times, we have never cruised Princess before. We read many reviews however, as cruising is a personal opinion and perception, we wondered what it would be like. It was fabulous. From the first step aboard the ship we were welcomed and treated like VIPs. Spending 18 nights anywhere can start to wear thin however we enjoyed every single minute. Although there were definitely language issues with fellow passengers, a smile is universal and we became quite gifted in the charade department :) All crew and staff spoke English and most of them spoke Japanese. As we booked the cruises separately we had to change cabins after the first cruise. The first cruise we had a fantastic cabin mini suite E728. This cabin is at the rear of the ship and has an extended balcony. It was spacious and we enjoyed every minute in it. It has a bath, roomy bathroom (for a ship), twin beds (or they can go together to make a queen), plenty of space for clothing to be hung up and drawer space, 2 tvs, sitting room with couch and table and of course the lovely balcony with table and chairs. This was particularly lovely when coming in and going out of ports. Many ports put on a welcome or departure show - dance/drums/flag waving etc. Leaving the balcony door a little open at night gave a wonderful sea serenade going to sleep. Our second cruise cabin was inside as this was all they had left when we decided to add the second cruise. We were dreading moving from our beautiful cabin but we were just so happy to be on board that we embraced our new "digs" and looked for the silver lining. We slept well as it was dark and we still had enough room for all our stuff (2 women who just cannot seem to travel light). We moved to inside cabin C214. Perfectly adequate. The food was we were told, influenced by the majority of the passengers who were of course Japanese/Asian. There was a wonderful mixture of asian/western food and we enjoyed every meal. After the first cruise we decided we preferred to dine in the Horizon Court Buffet as there was no anytime dining and we had a late dining sitting 7.45 plus we much preferred the ability to choose a plate of mixed food. We always found something we enjoyed. More than the food was the Staff in the Horizon Court. Whoever does the hiring of these staff should receive a pay rise as they are amazing, beautiful people. Nothing was ever too much trouble from the Supervisors right through all the staff. Supervisors Robert and Luigi were professional, friendly and just lovely Gentlemen as were all the staff in Horizon. Genuine smiles a mile wide and could not do enough for you. Cannot rave enough about these people. Horizon Court service was PERFECTION. Ports were enjoyable - some more than others. Japanese ports were better however Taiwanese ports were "memorable". To be honest we cruise just as much for the ship life as we do the Ports so we are generally happy wherever we go. Probably the biggest surprise was Korsakov in Russia. The show that was put on in the large hall just down from Lenin Square by the Russian dancers and singers was fantastic and gave us a real taste of Russia. Audience participation by fellow cruise members was a delight. We reached Korsakov by tender boat and did a bus tour - 2 hours of fun. One thing that surprised me and will no doubt surprise many other cruise goers was that for the first time I am aware of you could purchase alcohol packages for just the sea days. So, from day one and two you could purchase just sea days. I think it worked out to be approx $65 Australian Dollars per day. We did not know this until we met up with fellow young Aussie fellows (of course they had the alcohol packages) and just paid for the sea days so they got the best value. They loved this. We did not buy the alcohol package but purchased the Bubbles and More package ($10 US per day including gratuities) which gives you Hot Chocolate, sodas, thick shakes, milk shakes, ice cream sodas and best of all Mocktails. We had plenty of these. Virgin Pina Coladas, Chocolate Banana (yummo), Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri and Nojitos. There are others but these are the ones that we tended to drink. We found this package to be super good value for us. When we wanted an alcoholic drink, we just paid for it. Another good thing we did is buy a bottle of vodka from Room Service. It cost us $17 US for a medium size bottle of vodka and we had mixers in our mini bar. We would have a drink whilst getting ready and it was very good value. There were lots of options of types of bottles of alcohol you could buy via Room Service. You do have to consume this in your room however. The nightclub, Skywalkers, closed at midnight as it was not patronised sufficiently to support keeping it open. That was fine. (I believe when this ship does Australian Cruises, the nightclub is open until almost sun up). We all (a group of people we had befriended along the way) congregated up there in the beautiful surroundings had fun and ordered double drinks at last call and talked on for another couple of hours. Sometimes the younger ones went hot tubbing, to the casino and/or went on to breakfast then hit the cabin for some zzzzs. There was great camaraderie amongst the members of this group and was a fantastic opportunity for them to meet up with people of other cultures and nationalities. I have read on other reviews that drinks packages were rammed down Passengers throats however, we did not find this at all. We had to seek out the drinks packages. They were available at a table at the Lobby Bar with a lovely young lady selling them however, they were not actively pushed nor was anything else. Unlike many other cruiselines I have been on, there was nothing that was being pushed. We received leaflets with our Princess Patter (daily activities guide) for massages or gift shop/specialty store sales etc but nothing more than that. Entertainment was a bit hit and miss. Some good and some average. We always found fun in sharing company with other passengers and rarely had an early night. TVs in rooms were great. Flat screen TVs and lots of channels to choose from. I was surprised by the amount of free movies you had to select from and they were on demand so you didn't have to wait for a start time. You could also leave your movie and come back and resume it from where you left off. Room Service was fantastic. 24 hours per day and lots to choose from plus it is free. Lots of other cruise lines charge for room service but not Princess. The only thing they will charge you for is Pizza delivery. Not the pizza itself but a one off charge of $3 for the delivery. So, you can have however many pizzas you like and just the one charge of $3. We LOVED room service. Pick up the phone, make your order and within 15-30 minutes your food delivered. Missed dinner or late night snack - tea or coffee - they are more than happy to bring it to your cabin for you with a smile and good nature. Breakfast can be ordered daily if you like. We did sometimes but often missed breakfast due to the late hours we kept. We usually had Brunch in the Horizon Court. Afternoon tea is also served in the International Restaurant. Beautiful little cakes, tarts, slices, sandwiches, scones with jam and cream washed down with freshly brewed tea and coffee. Boy oh boy have we missed room service since coming home !!! We found the ship to be a pretty ship. So many things to see in each room. Pieces of art to mummies and a bucking bronco. We loved it. I would definitely cruise aboard this ship again. If you are thinking of cruising on this ship, we would recommend it. Princess have definitely won us over. We would highly recommend them. Thank you Princess and particularly the staff aboard Diamond Princess so very much for making our trip so enjoyable and memorable and particularly my Daughter's 21st Birthday memories something she will always treasure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
The Good: The itinerary for this cruise was very interesting and took us to some locations not on the usual tour routes for Japan and Taiwan. Even though I had to pay a 100% supplement as a solo cruiser, the price was still fairly ... Read More
The Good: The itinerary for this cruise was very interesting and took us to some locations not on the usual tour routes for Japan and Taiwan. Even though I had to pay a 100% supplement as a solo cruiser, the price was still fairly good. And since the beginning and ending ports were the same (Kobe), it was easier to get a well-priced round trip ticket to Kansai. The cabins on this ship are not large but I found the storage was quite good. The television had an on-demand system which is wonderful as you no longer had to guess when a movie or ship’s video would be shown. There were also some “live” channels as well. It was nice to have MSNBC and BBC News to counter the idiotic Fox News channel. My cabin attendant, Lancy, was absolutely wonderful. The Shore Excursion department on board was very well managed. Each tour was called individually for passengers to get their bus number and then they were seated in the theatre in order in rows. When the tour bus was ready, each row was called in order to disembark which eliminated the usual pushing and shoving out the door. The Horizon Court, where I ate all but one meal, was one of the best managed ships’ buffets I’ve ever encountered. The serving staff was very friendly and quite quick to clear the tables. And they did an amazing job of satisfying the various ethnic food needs of the diverse passenger backgrounds. Each meal had a fairly balance mix of Japanese, American and other Asian items. The individual items did vary in quality from O.K. to quite good. There was always a salad bar with mixed greens, not just iceberg lettuce. And the Japanese noodle counter was always popular. The desserts varied but were often a bit too fussy for my tastes; however, I loved the simple cupcakes they offered at lunch time. Besides I often went for the chocolate malts at Swirls to satisfy my sweet tooth. The library was fairly well stocked with fiction in both English and Japanese. There was little in the way of non-fiction however. The only on board activity that I found of an intellectual substance was the photo workshop offered by the ship’s photographer. He was very good and I learned a lot. The two main swimming pools were open 24 hours a day—at least technically they were—which was great for an early morning swimmer like me. However, maintenance crew sometimes closed them for cleaning and you could not always predict when that would happen. The Bad: The Kobe cruise terminal experience was a bit disorganized. On embarkation day the usual health forms were not out in the waiting area, but inside the check-in room on a small table. This meant as check-in began everyone had to make a dash to the table and then try to fill out the form while standing in line; and since many new cruisers did not know about the forms, they lined up without them. Those of us with elite/express check-in did not have time to fill the forms out before we got to the check-in counter. Also on change-over day, those passengers who were in transit were given a special card to pass through the terminal. However, we were sent through the customs line even though we had no baggage and had not been given customs forms. Here again it was a mad scramble to fill out a form standing up while holding up disembarking passengers behind us. When we returned to the terminal, no one seemed to know where we were supposed to go to return to the ship. We were sent down and up an elevator and escalator twice before it got worked out. Since Kobe is the “home port” the Diamond, you would think they would have all these glitches worked out by now. Two of the three shore excursions in Taiwan were quite awful. In Hualien, I took the Taroko Gorge and Shopping Tour. The description mentioned a cultural performance, visiting a marble factory, and then time for shopping. The cultural performance was horribly tacky. We were then loaded back on the bus and driven all of about 75 yards to a shed where there was a 5-minute photo stop to see marble being cut. Then back on the bus and driven about another 100 yards to a giant over-priced marble/jade store where the sales force was quite aggressive. Those of us on tour had expected to be taken to an interesting local market area—not this factory store. In Keelung/Taipei there was a bit of a repeat experience. The Highlights of Taipei tour was suppose to consist of a visit to the National Palace Museum (which was fabulous), the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine (well timed for us to see the changing of the guard), and finally we were suppose to have 45 minutes at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Instead we got 15 minutes at this last place, but an additional 40 minutes stop at another bloody marble/jade store for shopping and a photo stop at Taipei 101. Neither of these two stops was on our printed itinerary. The Fitness Center was far too small for a ship with 2500+ passengers and it did not open until 7 am. I have never been on a ship where the gym opened that late; usually it’s 5 or 6 am. This late opening meant that on port days you really did not have time to use the gym, shower, eat breakfast and still get off on tour on time. The Horizon Court could really do with more two-person tables. At peak times, such as when tours returned at lunch time, you often saw folks wandering around looking for a place to sit. Because of the differing languages on this cruise, passengers seemed to be uncomfortable asking to sit at a large table that had empty seats. The beds in the cabins are very firm. If you want or need a softer bed you need to request a pillow-top or “egg carton” foam added. The inside cabins do not have an armchair even though one is shown on the floor plan on the website. I was very frustrated with the almost total lack of an intellectual content in the on board activities. There were only brief port lectures, but most of those were in Japanese only with a few English notes on the slides. The Future Cruise person seemed to be assigned solely for the benefit of the Japanese passengers. She had no brochures in English. I had read on the Cruise Critic forum that booking would open up for Princess’ exotic 2016 cruises on May 24th, I went to her to ask about them. She had no idea what I was talking about. Indeed she had never even heard of Cruise Critic! I could not stand the noise level in the Atrium which was frustrating as you could not avoid this area if you wanted to use the internet café, the library, the coffee bar, or needed to go to any of the service desks. There was loud music even going at 4 or 5 in the morning—why? And then when the cruise director was holding an event, he had his microphone cranked up full volume to be heard over the music. The Ugly: The Diamond Princess Customer Services Manager needs to be fired immediately. When I began getting sick in my cabin, I went to the front desk to ask about moving to another cabin. I explained that there was something coming in through the air system that was making me sick. [We later discovered this was caused by a passenger smoking in the laundry room a few doors down]. I even offered to pay for an upgrade if that was necessary. I have to use a CPAP respiratory machine at night which concentrates the air into my lungs; this means that any pollutants in the air system can cause medical issues. For five days I got the runaround. I demanded to meet with the Customer Services Manager, but she could not be bothered. I was allowed to speak to a “supervisor” who told me there were no cabins available. But then one minute after he left, another front desk person offered another passenger the chance to select an upgrade from a number of cabins. So he had outright lied to me! My wonderful cabin attendant tried to get his supervisor to help as well. Eventually I was moved to another cabin but not before I ended up sick enough to have to go to the ship’s Medical Center, where the doctor confirmed that I had severe allergy symptoms and needed two prescription medications. That cost me $180, all because the Customer Services Manager refused to do her job. While I was waiting at the front desk one day, I met another passenger who was in a motorized scooter. She had been having trouble with her handicapped cabin and had made several trips to the front desk without getting any assistance. She had tried to get a meeting with the Customer Services Manager as well, but was unable to get an appointment. I met up with this passenger a few days later and she told me that she and her husband had had to write the Captain two letters before anything was done to address the problems. In summation: The upshot of this “ugly” is that I returned home and cancelled my fall Princess cruise even though it will cost me several hundred dollars in airline cancellation/change fees. I have no desire patronize a cruise line that shows no concerns for passenger health, that believes lying to passengers is an acceptable practice, and that apparently practices discrimination. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Our cruise was around Honshu Island, Kobe to Kobe. Our enjoyment of cruising around Japan is based on our visiting locations we would not likely visit otherwise, the out of the way ports that are not standard tourist destinations. This ... Read More
Our cruise was around Honshu Island, Kobe to Kobe. Our enjoyment of cruising around Japan is based on our visiting locations we would not likely visit otherwise, the out of the way ports that are not standard tourist destinations. This was our shortest cruise in Japan with the fewest ports but we were not disappointed. We arrived in Japan a week early, anchoring our land vacation in Osaka, from which we traveled three days to Kyoto and once to Himeji Castle. Osaka is a bustling city, with lots of focus on food, and as we stayed at the Swissotel Namba, above the Namba railway and subway station, it was an easy place to call home for 7 days prior to the cruise. Embarkation from neighboring Kobe was without problem, although we had already set sail before my luggage made it to our stateroom. Osaka is known for its jazz, and a jazz band sent us off from the pier with several upbeat numbers. The Japan cruises on the Diamond do not have Anytime Dining. I understand this is because only some of the wait staff speak Japanese, and they make a concerted effort to be sure that Japanese passengers are served by staff who can speak the local language. We had requested a table for 2 at the early seating, and although the time was accommodated, we were put with 3 Japanese couples (because of our Japanese surname), somewhat problematic since we do not speak Japanese. The Maitre d' was very helpful in moving us, and although we had to move to late dining, we ended up sitting with another couple we had befriended beforehand from Cruise Critic; it worked out perfectly although it meant that we didn't partake in much evening entertainment because we like to relax before dinner and afterwards it was just too late. Ports of call included Hakodate (on Hokkaido), Akita and Fushiki-Toyama on the Sea of Japan, and Busan, So. Korea. Because large passenger ships in many Japan ports are a relatively new occurrence, the passenger ports do not have sufficient depth for a ship as large as the Diamond. We docked in commercial ports, but the local community provided continual shuttle bus service into each of the cities for those of us who do not take Princess excursions. (We had previously experienced this issue on the Diamond when we cruised from Singapore to Beijing, and I swore that I wouldn't cruise on such a large ship again because of the long wasted commute time between the ship and the cities, but Japan is small enough that these commutes were only about 20-25 minutes maximum.) We had been to Hakodate on a previous cruise so chose to take the shuttle to the JR Hakodate Station, where we wandered around the morning market (still open despite its being early afternoon) and enjoyed great very fresh seafood in a small restaurant. (You could buy live crab--the biggest I've ever seen--at the market and for a fee have the restaurant cook it, but we chose to order from the menu, which, typically for Japan, had photos you could point to; it was delicious.) Local high school girls were part of a welcoming committee at the JR Station, and they provided directions to the other places we wanted to visit in the afternoon. English may not be a strong point for them, but they were very helpful regardless. I'll note here that whenever we asked for directions in each port we were always told our walk would only be about 10 minutes. Japanese must walk very fast because we always took 2 to 3 times that long and eventually learned that we were better off hiring a taxi. Cabs in rural towns have a minimum fare, generally not more than $6-$8 US, and it was worth the price. From Hakodate we traveled to Akita. Akita does not have a very sophisticated bus system so it becomes somewhat problematic getting around. This also means that there are no Goodwill Guides in the city (Goodwill Guides are a free guide service available in many Japanese cities that you pre-sign up for, and we have used them extensively--visit goodwill guides in Japan on Google for information--but they use public transportation so I assume this explains why there are none in Akita), but there was an English speaking welcoming group at the shuttle stop, and they were very helpful. We took the Shinkansen from the JR Station (more than 10 minutes from the shuttle stop) to Kakunodate, an old samurai town about 45 minutes away. I had printed the train schedule from Hyperdia dot com so I knew the train times and could show that to the clerk at the station in order to purchase our tickets. This was a little problematic since she spoke no English, and it took a while for me to understand thru various gestures that she was asking if we wanted to purchase a reserved seat. We didn't, and had to move a couple of times because we sat in seats that others had reserved, but it turned out fine. We were quite taken with Kakunodate and would like to return on a future trip. (There is a Facebook page for Discover Akita, which I had visited several times before the cruise, sending messages with various questions that were quickly answered.) We also look forward to seeing more of Akita. We were sorry to have returned to the ship too late to see the special presentation from their annual lantern festival, which we had seen previously in Honolulu, so that, too, will have to wait for another time. Next stop was Fushiki-Toyama. The principal excursion from here is to Kanazawa (not to be missed) or to see the grassho houses at Shirakawa-go, but we had been both places before, and we were happy to wander around on our own. The local tourist bureau had arranged for volunteers at various locations around the city (wearing either yellow or red vests, depending on whether they spoke Japanese or English), which was very helpful. We wanted to visit Takaoka, an area within the Toyama vicinity that is known for centuries of copper work. (Most of the old temple bells in Japan were forged there.) From the shuttle drop off point, we were told it was only about a 10 minute walk (a very very long 10 minutes) but we had fun stopping in little merchant stores along the way. At one point a volunteer called to us from across the busy main street, offering the suggestion that we visit their new Takaoka Mikurumayama festival museum, containing one of the floats they use in their annual festival. It was only a couple of blocks away, and she cheerfully escorted us there. Although we didn't expect to enjoy it, we had a delightful experience. There were various hands on exhibits and a 20 minute video (in Japanese but very easy to understand even with no knowledge of what was being said). From there we walked to the Takaoka Copperware neighborhood, where we were again met by local volunteers, who explained the local history and briefly guided us around. On our return from Takaoka, we stopped at the Daiwa department store, where they were holding a Japanese food festival. It was a feast for the eyes, and we could buy small amounts of various foods, sampling others as we wandered around. From the port of Fushiki, we had a sea day to and from the port of Busan in So Korea. We have visited here several times so this time we just wandered around the fish market (huge) and the tourist shops, and returned to the ship. (This is one port in which we have taken Princess excursions on prior visits, including temples both at seaside and in the country, and the national museum. These were all worthwhile.) Princess is known for its great itineraries, and this one was no exception except we would have liked one more Japan port. Ahhh-next time. The ship itself is big but easy to navigate once you get used to it. We attended shows in the Princess Theatre twice, the first typical Princess entertainment and the 2nd a Shinto ceremony, which was enjoyable and fascinating. At the various ports a sail-away show was provided, generally by local students, and that was great fun to see. My husband enjoys dabbling in the casino but it was often closed (Japan regulations) and there was no video poker (his game of choice; previous cruises on the Diamond had had video poker). There was often entertainment in the Atrium. On our last Japan cruise there had been Japanese-English classes but not this time. There was a daily carpet bowling contest outside of the internet cafe, and it was well attended; the Japanese passengers appeared to enjoy this. Our port lecturer, Heather Hopkins Clement, was excellent. Although her lectures were in Japanese, she followed them with a lecture in English, which was also available on the stateroom television, and she had late afternoon sessions at her desk for any additional questions. Our cruise had about half of the passengers from Japan, and that added to the overall positive ambiance of visiting their country. Breakfast in the Horizon Court always included miso soup; lunch always had a ramen station. Dinner in the dining room was traditional Princess fare with at least one item of each course available with Japanese food. One thing we noticed (maybe an anomaly) this cruise was that it had much less emphasis on the sale of items, especially beverages, which were noted as available in the Princess Patter but not pushed on the passengers, as we have previously experienced. Although we didn't attend the Izumi baths, we did enjoy massages, a first for my husband. Asians are not shy about their bodies, so although there is every opportunity to be modest in the spa, I was initially taken aback in the women's locker room by women sitting around talking while wearing only their birthday suits. (The baths are communal, alternating areas available to men or women by the day; the locker rooms are same-sex only.) Disembarkation in Kobe was not as smooth as embarkation had been. We were going to spend the night in Arima Onsen in the hills above the city so we wanted to ship our luggage directly from port to Kansai airport, and that became an hour-long ordeal since there was only one English-speaking staff person for the luggage transport service. In the long run it was well worth the $25US that it cost us not to have to lug around our bags, and they were waiting for us the next night when we arrived at the airport. We took the train to Taketoritei Maruyama in Arima Onsen, where we actually did not even need our carry-on bags since our stay included traditional Japanese clothes, a fabulous kaiseki dinner and equally elaborate breakfast in a private dining room, and a hot spring in our hotel room; we could have arrived with little more than our toothbrushes (although they provided those, too). We love visiting Japan. You cannot experience more open and welcoming people. Besides the nightly sail-away performances, the ship was greeted in each port by folks from the tourist organizations, providing visit information and maps in English or Japanese. In Fushiki-Toyama, they even had bicycles available, free of charge, for anyone who wanted to visit the general area. We will be back. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
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
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