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